The Complete Guide to Building a Successful YouTube Channel



There are opportunities everywhere for content marketers.

Different channels, different types of content, and different websites.

One that I think is criminally underutilized is a little site you might have heard of:


It’s by far the largest video sharing site—nothing even comes close to it.

Get this: YouTube has over 1 billion users.

Those billion users account for over 4 billion video views a day.

You can find literally any type of audience on YouTube, which means that just about any business can find a way to benefit from marketing on it.

image15And while other video sites have decent levels of traffic, most businesses could start today on YouTube and do fine because it’s far from saturated.

In truth, few businesses actually invest in YouTube marketing.


Because it’s difficult. Compare a video and a blog post about the same topic and of similar quality levels, and the video will cost more.

Smart businesses know that the cost can be worth it, but the higher barrier to entry scares away the rest.

If you’ve been considering marketing on YouTube, or you’ve just started and haven’t really found your feet, this post is especially for you.

I’m going to show you all the key components of creating a YouTube channel that thrives. Your videos will get views, and those views will lead to subscribers and sales for your business. 

Video is still content, so you need to start with an audience

You should treat a YouTube content strategy just like you would treat a content strategy on any other channel.

Your content needs to be created for a specific audience you want to reach.

The more you define your niche, the more your content will resonate with viewers.

At this point, there are three main aspects you need to determine.

Aspect #1 – The type of person: First up is the type of person you want to create content for, which should be the same type of person who buys your product(s).

For example, if I were creating a channel from scratch today, I would be creating content for business owners and marketers because they are also the ones who buy my training courses and hire me as a consultant.


Try to get even more specific than that. For example:

  • beginner marketers
  • expert marketers
  • marketers in North America

You can often narrow your audience by being more specific about their knowledge level of your topic and location.

A narrow audience is a good thing because it allows you to make your content just that more targeted.

You can’t create content for beginners and experts at the same time, so if you try to, at least half will always be dissatisfied.

Aspect #2 – What do they want to do? The second part of defining your audience is to specify their main goals.

Are they trying to make more money? make their home look better? learn to cook better? get in shape? And so on…

Determine the things they care about the most. Ideally, it will relate to your product as well, but it’s not always necessary.

For example, I could create content for “expert marketers who want to get in better shape.”

Even though those videos wouldn’t be directly related to my products, they still attract the attention of my target market. This would allow me to get my marketing advice in front of them and, eventually, my products as well.

The main point of content marketing, including videos on YouTube, is to attract the attention of your target audience.

So, if you see a need that hasn’t been filled, jump on it regardless of whether it’s directly tied to your product.

Aspect #3 – How do they want to consume it? Finally, you just want to do a common sense check and determine whether the audience you’ve nailed down actually wants to get their solutions in the video form.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be the whole audience, but it should be a large part.

Video is great for certain types of content:

  • tutorials
  • overviews of strategies
  • education on a specific topic
  • demonstrations
  • product reviews

Marketers, and just about any audience, would love to get fitness tips through videos. It makes sense because it’s the simplest way you can show movements and explain complex topics.

But it won’t suit all types of content.

For example, let’s say your audience wants to find resources.

You can’t exactly put a list of tools and resources in a video because it’s not easily scannable.

Once you’ve come up with an audience with a specific need that can be fulfilled with video, you’re good to move on to the next step.

3 Steps to videos that attract views

Marketing on YouTube has a lot of similarities to SEO.

To get views, one of your main goals will be to rank in YouTube’s searches without putting in more effort than your initial promotion.

You could try some black hat tactics, just like in SEO, to get the extra views, but that’s never a long-term solution.

Instead, you need to create videos people actually want to watch. There are three steps to it.

Step #1 – Accomplish or entertain, pick one: Ask yourself why someone watches a video. There are really only two reasons why.

Either they want to learn something to solve a problem, or they want to be entertained.

You need to make sure that your video accomplishes at least one of these, if not both.

The reason why understanding this is so important is because it will shape how you make your videos.

Does a super long introduction help your viewer learn what they want? No, they don’t care about a theme song. This isn’t a TV show.

Does the viewer care about an in-depth history to the problem? Again, no.

They want their solution delivered as concisely as possible.

Your goal is to make your videos as useful as possible because that’s what’s going to bring you subscribers and long-time viewers.

Step #2 – Quality always comes first: Even though YouTube is far from saturated, one aspect that really impresses me is the quality of the videos put out by popular channels.

They’ve quickly figured out that viewers won’t watch low quality videos.

Compare this to blogging: the standard level of content has only gotten to a high level in the past few years, and there are still plenty of businesses producing ugly content without much value.

There are two main types of high quality videos that you’ll come across and that you’ll probably want to produce yourself.

Let me clarify what I mean by quality: I’m talking about how good the video looks.

High quality videos look professional: they have good lighting, aren’t blurry, and look like someone invested some time and effort in them.

The first type is the classic white background. Derek Halpern often uses it in his videos:


Not only does it look professional, but it keeps the focus on you rather than some random things in the background.

The other kind of popular video is the whiteboard video, where narration is done alongside drawings on a whiteboard:


These look great and are an entertaining way to explain complex products.

How do you make videos like these?

Well, the white screen background (you could also go with a green screen) type of video is pretty easy.

It’ll cost you a few hundred dollars in a photography store to get set up the first time (for a low cost version), but that will last you a long while.

Here’s a great video on how to get your own setup:

Once you have the screen in place, you just need a decent camera, and you’re good to start filming.

The whiteboard videos are a bit trickier unfortunately.

If you don’t have the illustration skills yourself, you don’t have any choice but to hire someone to do it for you.

Create a job posting on any of the major freelance sites to find a whiteboard explainer video creator or designer, and you should get a few applicants with experience:

On top of filming a high quality video, you will also need to edit it.

Good editing allows you to make the video flow nicely from one section to another to keep the viewers’ attention.

Again, you’ll need to hire a freelance video editor if you don’t have the skills yourself.

Step #3 – You need to make a name for yourself: Having your own YouTube channel is a lot like having your own TV show. You need subscribers who will watch your videos on a regular basis.

That’s why a single video, no matter how good it is, is not enough for YouTube marketing success.

Compare it to the pilot episode of a TV show. Even if it gets good ratings, that doesn’t ensure that it gets picked up for a second season.

You need to commit to making regular videos for your channel.

Take Derek Halpern, whom I mentioned before. He has close to 90 videos on his channel from my quick estimations.

He created those over a period of a few years.


This does a few major things.

Firstly, it gives him the chance to accumulate subscribers. Even if your first video doesn’t impress a viewer enough to make them subscribe, maybe another one of your videos in the sidebar will.

On top of that, every time a subscriber sees a video, there’s a good chance they will share it. This will lead to more views every time you release a new video.

The number of views your videos will get is not linear. It will start slowly, but like a snowball, it will grow exponentially over time.

If you’re going to do whitehat video marketing on YouTube, plan to give it a year or so before you see real results—but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to get them sooner.

Start with basic video SEO

The next step of making your videos work for you is optimizing them for search.

Your primary goal is to get a video to rank in the results of YouTube searches, but it’ll have an added benefit of ranking in Google results as well:


Videos often show up in Google results, and it can drive a decent number of views to your video.

I wouldn’t rely on showing up in Google because videos don’t show up in all searches. However, it can be a nice boost to your views, and you can maximize your chance of showing up in searches by targeting phrases with the following keywords in them:

  • tutorial
  • review
  • test
  • what is ____
  • video
  • explanation
  • how to ____
  • walkthrough

Now back to YouTube optimization. There are two major parts of the ranking algorithm that you need to optimize for.

Part #1 – Your video information: The first thing YouTube looks for is whether your video is relevant to a search.

It’s a fairly simple search engine; it looks for keywords in three areas of your video:

  • the title
  • the description
  • the tags


You don’t need to—and shouldn’t—keyword-stuff.

Include your keyword once in the title, once or twice in your description, and in the tags if it makes sense.

Here’s an example of the description from Brian Dean’s “advanced SEO” YouTube video that he ranks highly for:


He mentions the keyword at the very start and the very end of it.

But notice there’s a lot more to the description than just the keyword.

YouTube doesn’t have much to work with when it comes to ranking videos. The title is only a sentence long, and tags can’t be weighed too heavily because they contain limited information.

This makes the description the main source of additional information for YouTube’s algorithm.

By including a detailed description of the video, you’ll naturally include related terms the algorithm can use to understand the topic of your video. This will make it easier to rank for relevant terms.

Part #2 – User engagement and feedback: Not surprisingly, YouTube’s algorithm has taken an approach to ranking videos that’s similar to Google’s approach.

Instead of just using the basic information an uploader provided with a video, it also looks at how users interact with your video.

The simple concept behind it is that if users are indicating they really like your video, it’s probably a good one to show to more people. Naturally, the algorithm ranks it higher.

So, what does it look at?

There are a few major areas of user feedback YouTube can consider when evaluating a video.

The first is how much of the video most viewers are watching.

If they all drop off after the first 10 seconds, that’s a bad sign. But if 50%- 60% of your viewers watch the whole video, that’s fantastic.


You can check this in your account’s statistics, where you’ll see a graph similar to the one above.

Where else can YouTube get feedback from?

  • Overall views – From YouTube’s perspective, if a video is getting a lot of views without its help in the search rankings, it must be good. More views typically lead to better rankings (as long as the audience retention is good).


  • Rating (thumbs up and down) – Users can also rate a video by giving it a thumbs up or thumbs down. The higher this ratio is, the better.
  • Views to subscribers – If a video is really good, a lot of people who view it will click the “Subscribe” button underneath. Similarly, no one will subscribe after watching a bad video.
  • Views to favorites or social shares – Just like with subscribing, people will also share a video only if they like it.
  • Comments – If a video is inspiring a lot of comments, it may be good. YouTube can’t put much weight on the comment count since comments could be negative too.

Using all these factors, YouTube comes up with an appropriate score for each video to decide how to rank it.

The biggest thing you can do to optimize these engagement factors is to make high quality videos (as discussed above).

There are a few other small things you can do as well, which I’ll show you throughout the rest of this post.

Views rule YouTube rankings

While there are several factors that contribute to YouTube rankings, quality views are the most important.

When I say “quality views,” I mean a situation when the average viewer watches most of the video.

For almost any term you search, the results will have one thing in common: all the videos will have a lot of views. Here is an example:


For “advanced SEO,” the lowest view count of the top results is over 3,600.

It’s important to understand what “a lot” is to an algorithm.

The difference between zero and 2,000 is greater than the difference between 2,000 and 200,000.

Once you have a few thousand views, you have what you need to rank.

Why? Because now YouTube has a large enough sample size to compare your video’s engagement to the others’. Things such as retention and rating become viable ranking factors.

The takeaway:

You don’t need to get hundreds of thousands of views to rank well, but you do need to find a way to get your first few hundred and, if possible, first few thousand on each video.

As you get more and more subscribers, you don’t have to focus on promotion as much because your videos will automatically get thousands of high retention views from your fans.

When you’re starting out, you have many options to promote your videos. I’m going to show you four of the best ones.

Option #1 – Cross-promotion: If you already have a bit of a name in your niche, cross-promotion is a great place to start.

The idea is to participate in a video hosted by the top YouTubers in your niche in order to get exposure to their audiences.

Rand Fishkin does it often:


At the end of this video, you should be able to ask the viewers of the channel your video is featured on to subscribe to your channel. Make sure you place a link for it in the description.

To find these channels, search for big keywords in your niche on YouTube, and check out the number of subscribers the users on the first page have.

For example, I could take a look at Josh Bachynski’s channel as he ranks highly for “advanced SEO”:


Clicking his name under the video will take you to his profile, where you can see his subscriber count in red:


Obviously, the bigger the number, the better.

Try to target at least 20-30 users with a solid base of subscribers. Find their email addresses, and send them a pitch offering to create a video for them.

Ideally, you’ll get at least a few guest opportunities.

Option #2 – Promote your videos to your email subscribers: If you’re producing high quality videos, why wouldn’t you share them with your audience?

Better yet, why don’t you create a blog post to accompany each and embed the corresponding video into the post? This is exactly what Derek Halpern often does:


Then, readers can choose whether they want to read your post, watch your video, or do both.

When they watch the video while it’s embedded on your site, it still counts as a view.

If you have a couple of thousand email subscribers already, you can get your YouTube channel going really fast if a good portion of those subscribers watch your videos as well.

Option #3 – Email outreach: Videos on YouTube are just like any other type of content. One of the most effective ways to promote them is with email outreach.

Make a list of top bloggers in your niche, and send them an email about the video.

Ask them to share it with their audience if they think their audience would enjoy it, but also explain why you think the audience would.

Option #4 – Advertising: YouTube also allows businesses to buy ads on the site to promote their videos:


The average cost is about $10-$30 per thousand views. With practice, I think you could get the price down even further.

If you’re spending a few hundred dollars (at the minimum) to make a video, doesn’t it make sense to spend $50 to promote it initially?

I think it does, particularly when you don’t have many subscribers.

Here is my complete guide to using YouTube ads for businesses.

Don’t waste those views! Here’s how to make them count

At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of how you’re going to make videos and get those initial views.

Assuming your videos are solid, you should be getting a stream of organic traffic from YouTube itself.

But remember what the whole point of creating a YouTube channel is.

It isn’t to get views. It’s to increase your business’ sales.

To do this, let’s take a step back and consider where YouTube would fit within your sales funnel:

Get your social media leads into the sales funnel

It’d be right at the top.

It’s the marketing channel where you get the attention of your potential customers.

But the next step has to be to get them onto your website and onto an email list.

Part #1 – include a call to action to get subscribers on YouTube: When you want to get someone to do something, you need to ask them to do it.

In this case, you want your viewers to subscribe to your channel.

Subscribers will get notified of your latest videos, and a decent portion of them will watch all your videos as you release them.

Not only does this help you rank better, but it also gives you another opportunity to get these people to your website.

And sure, some viewers will subscribe to you without any prompting, but most won’t. A call to action will significantly impact your viewer-to-subscriber conversion rate, which is why all top YouTubers do it.

You have a few different options for a call to action; I recommend testing them all with your audience.

The first option is to create a nice big “Subscribe” button at the end of your videos.


You can see why that’d be effective.

To add the button, you’ll need to modify your Google Adwords settings to allow you to have access to the CTA (call to action) panel in YouTube itself.

Here’s a great video that shows you the entire process:

Your next option is to simply use annotations on your videos, which you can configure when you upload your videos.

For example, look at the way “BBALLBREAKDOWN” uses annotations to prompt viewers to either subscribe or watch another video hosted on the channel:


They compared the conversion rate of this approach with not having any CTAs and found that CTAs converted an impressive 31 times better.

Finally, you can also take a few seconds at the end of the video to ask viewers to subscribe. This can work better because most viewers won’t shut off the video while you’re (or your narrator is) still talking.

Part #2 – put a link to a landing page in the description to capture email addresses: In order to get people to your website, you’ll need a link somewhere.

You can test adding it to your videos, but the best place is your description.

You should add a link to a landing page for a relevant newsletter to all your video descriptions:


Don’t just link to a blog post because those won’t convert nearly as high as landing pages will.

3 Simple but crucial tips about YouTube marketing

By now, you know just about everything you need to know about building a successful YouTube channel.

However, there are a few final tips that I’d like to give you that can make a big difference in your success.

The first is that building a successful YouTube can take time.

If you have a large email list or existing relationships with influencers to leverage, you can get thousands of views in no time.

But if you don’t, like most businesses, expect to create great videos for at least a few months before you start getting thousands of organic views. Don’t give up if a few videos fall flat—keep going.

The second tip is that you will get negative comments from time to time.

There are two types of negative comments, and you should handle them differently:

  • troll comments – these are not serious comments; they are made just to get a reaction out of you. There’s nothing you can do about them except ignore them.


  • honest comments – when you first start out, you have a lot of room to improve. If someone says something legitimately negative about your video, take it as an opportunity to learn and improve your future videos.

My final tip is to remember YouTube is a marketing channel. Like with any other marketing channel, you should not build your business on it.

Instead, always look to drive those YouTube users back to your website so that you can grow your email list. This way, even if YouTube bans your account for some reason, your business will still be fine.


YouTube is a fantastic marketing opportunity for businesses interested in content marketing.

Almost all audiences use YouTube, and there really isn’t too much competition yet.

I’ve shown you everything you need to know, including the type of videos you should be making, how you can get consistent, how to get free views to them, and how to turn viewers into customers.

Now, you need to take action.

If you’ve been considering YouTube marketing, pull the trigger. Create a plan based on this post, and create your first video as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about how to determine whether YouTube is right for your business or how to make the most of it, let me know in a comment below.


How Eventbrite Built and Scaled Their Marketing Organization

Picture this: You’ve just been hired as the marketing head for a promising startup. Your job is to help the company build awareness and find users.

Where do you start? Certainly, you know that getting off on the wrong foot can have disastrous consequences. Bad hires and processes not only hurt the company, they also make you look bad and can destroy your credibility and trust within the company.

On the other hand, if everything goes smoothly from the start (barring some inconsequential missteps), you’ll know that you helped the company grow and played an important role in its success.

How do you know where to begin, and what mistakes should you avoid?

These are the challenges that Tamara Mendelsohn faced when she joined Eventbrite in 2009. Mendelsohn built the Eventbrite marketing team from the ground up, to a team of 60.

And the company has turned into a pretty big success, hosting over 1 million events per year and processing over 4 million tickets.

Mendelsohn and her team deserve a lot of the credit for helping establish Eventbrite. They grew awareness of the company, helped it reach new user groups, and built a solid marketing team.

Mendelsohn learned a lot of lessons along the way, and she shared what she learned at True University. This blog post is a recap of her presentation.

Mendelsohn broke her presentation into three sections:

  1. Laying the Foundation
  2. Driving Growth
  3. Building a Team

Each section is chock full of good advice. Let’s get into it.

1. Laying the Foundation

These are the lessons Mendelsohn learned in the first year at Eventbrite. They are the foundational pieces you have to get right.

Understanding Your Customers

At the time, Eventbrite had thousands of customers. Because of the self-service nature of the business, they didn’t have a sales team. When Mendelsohn joined the company, she launched the blog. Unfortunately, she didn’t know much about events or event management. So she emailed customers who had used Eventbrite to run events, and she interviewed those customers and posted the interviews on the blog.




The value in these interviews was not just blog content, but also being able to talk to and understand customers.

Mendelsohn says that hearing from customers helps shine light into areas you may not think of regarding your brand, messaging, and positioning.

Crystalizing Your Value Prop and Positioning

After talking to a lot of customers, Mendelsohn created a list of all the reasons people were using Eventbrite.

There were about 20 different reasons. Here are just a few:




From there, Mendelsohn sent out a survey to users. She kept it short and sweet, limiting it to three questions. This was the first question:

  • How do you use Eventbrite?
    • I love it and would recommend it to a friend
    • Eventbrite suits my needs but I’m open to other solutions
    • I’m really dissatisfied

From there, she cut the data with this second question:

  • What originally prompted you to use Eventbrite?
    • A dropdown of the 20+ reasons list

And this was the final question:

  • After using Eventbrite, what is the greatest value you find from it?

She got two takeaways from this – the perceived benefit and the realized benefit.

Then Mendelsohn created a series of paid search campaigns that paired a perceived benefit in the headline with a realized benefit in the text underneath. There were a lot of different combinations to test. She took the top three perceived and realized benefits and then created dozens of ads based on the different combinations. So, for example, the #1 perceived benefit could be paired with the #2 realized benefit. And the #3 perceived benefit could be paired with the #1 realized benefit. All these different ads were then tested against each other.

She found a big winner, which was this:

Headline: All in One Solution


Text: That lets you get access to your money quickly


This process can give you a place to start. (In the case of Eventbrite, their positioning and messaging have evolved a lot over time.) At the very least, this gives you a starting point for your messaging, and you’ll know you have something that gets people to click on an ad.

Considering Your Brand and Culture

Once Eventbrite raised their venture capital, the team sat down and asked themselves some introspective questions:

  • What kind of company are we?
  • What kind of company do we want to build?
  • What do we want to stand for?
  • What do we want to represent?

This was the beginning of their “brand and culture” discussion. Mendelsohn thinks that brand and culture go hand in hand, and she uses the terms interchangeably. She says:

Your employees and the culture of your business will make its way into your brand whether you like it or not, and vice versa.

There are two important exercises for building your culture and brand. We’ll start with the “why” question.

The Why Question

Mendelsohn recommends starting with one question:


She recommends viewing this TED Talk from Simon Sinek (and watching it again if you’ve already seen it). It has been so influential, in fact, that Mendelsohn watches it every couple of months just to remind herself of the importance of answering the “why” question.

Mendelsohn expounds on the reason the question is so important:

If you want to create a brand that people have an emotional connection with, that outperforms the market, outperforms the competition, and outperforms your expectations because people feel an emotional connection to it, the heart of creating [such] a brand…is the answer to this question: Why do you exist? What is your authentic reason for being?

In addition to watching the TED Talk and answering the “why” question, Mendelsohn also recommends reading this AdAge article.




Understanding the reason for your existence will be the core of all your marketing and messaging, and it will make its way into your culture and your customer experience.

Airbnb is the quintessential example of this. They make it clear: It’s not just about renting a room, it’s about a feeling of belonging, and belonging anywhere. And when you travel, you don’t have to feel like a stranger.




Their ad campaign made this clear as well:

That is what they stand for, and that is why they exist.

If you can develop a relationship with your customers, that will translate into loyalty. And loyalty translates into higher lifetime value, greater word of mouth, and all the great things that come along with sustainable business metrics.

After poking around and doing some brainstorming, Eventbrite came up with this:




At its core, this is what Eventbrite is about. This was what they sold investors on in their first pitch deck. Even as technology advances and people spend more of their time in front of screens, the power and importance of connecting in person, with real people, remains. Humans will always want to learn together, grow together, and celebrate together. That will never go away. That’s Eventbrite’s pitch. If they can help bring the world together around live experiences, then ultimately they’re doing some good.

So that takes care of the “why” question. The second exercise for building your culture and brand is the “brand tenets” question.

Brand Tenets

In that very first customer survey (that Mendelsohn created after talking to customers), if a person answered that they loved Eventbrite and would recommend it to a friend, they were asked an additional question: What are the words you think represent Eventbrite?

They got a huge list of words.

Then they did a similar exercise with the executive team, asking them what Eventbrite stands for, what are the company’s principles, and what do they want to build?

Once Mendelsohn got answers from both customers and executives, she put the lists of words up against each other, and there was a lot of overlap between what the customers said and what the executives said.

To put it another way, instead of deciding what they wanted to be and forcing that on customers, Eventbrite went to users and asked them what they thought Eventbrite was. Then they asked themselves the same question, and finally they found the marriage between the two sets of responses.

This gave them the list of brand tenets. This may change over time as the brand changes with the business. For example, an early word for Eventbrite was disruptive. They wanted to disrupt the industry and get people’s attention. But once they got that, they felt they didn’t need to keep disrupting.

You may want to look at your tenets a year or two down the road to see if they still match who you are.

Over time, as Eventbrite grew, they realized that it wasn’t just marketing that owned the brand voice. There were sales people and product people writing copy. People outside of marketing were talking to users. Because they needed to speak with one brand voice consistently, Eventbrite created the voice and tone guide.




When doing this, you don’t need to create a huge manifesto. Just some easy to remember guiding points. Note that the above screenshot is not their entire guide.

2. Driving Growth

How do you build on this foundation and drive growth?


It is important to maintain focus on 1-2 metrics. The metric(s) will change over the life of the company. In the early days, you may choose an acquisition-driven metric, and, later, you may focus on a retention-driven metric.

Once you know your metric, you can define the funnel to get to that metric.


You need to define each stage of the funnel and measure it appropriately. Look at it at least every week to see your progress.

Eventbrite’s funnel had these steps:

– Visited signup page


– Signed up


This conversion rate was important. They dug deeper into the next steps:

– Signed Up


– Saved Event


– Published Event


– Sending out invitations


Once you have your funnel reporting, you can break down the data and decide where you want to optimize. Is there an area that’s doing well that you think can do better? Or do you want to improve an underperforming step?

It’s also important to find the people that dropped off in the funnel. Send them a survey and ask them why. You may think they won’t respond, but people actually do. Getting this qualitative feedback from people will uncover insights you haven’t previously thought of.

The Eventbrite funnel became so important that Mendelsohn hired a full-time person whose only job was to optimize their funnel. This person is the equivalent of what is now known as a growth hacker.

This was her third hire. Her first was a designer and second was someone to work on all their channels – social media, the blog, etc.


This was Mendelsohn’s job in her first couple of years. Her MO was this: Figure something out, and then hire someone better to do it.

When Mendelsohn was running channels, she used data to figure out what worked (social was a big driver of growth) and put more horsepower (resources) behind it.

Here’s what she discovered (your results will vary, of course):

– Display was unsuccessful for the first couple of years, but retargeting worked. It’s important to experiment with retargeting – test your messaging, who you retarget, where you retarget them, etc. Mendelsohn retargeted people who visited the press page. Why? Because these people were either journalists or people looking for a job. Suddenly, these people were seeing the Eventbrite brand everywhere. These are low-cost things that are not directly for acquisition, but they make the brand appear bigger than it really is. Here are some more tips for retargeting users.

– PR was brought in-house after about 6 months. Having a PR person working only for Eventbrite helped them create much more creative PR ideas than an agency ever did.

You’ll need a good analytics tool for measuring all these channels. You need to know what you want from the start, and you’ll need a tool that’s flexible enough to fit your needs as you grow.

As your company grows, you’ll want to look at your marketing campaigns from three perspectives – paid, earned, and owned media.




Mendelsohn explains:

You don’t just launch a campaign in one channel, because you won’t get the maximum benefit from it. So when you’re thinking of reaching an audience with a specific message, [think about] how [you’ll] create campaigns that have this 360 degree view [and] think about each of those. So, what is the content you’re creating (that’s owned media), then how will you amplify that through paid channels…and then how do you get the stage where it’s earned? And that’s when your customers are sharing things, press is picking things up….if you get those three (paid, earned, owned) to work together, [then] that’s the golden triumvirate because you’re getting so much more value for the initial work that you do.

At some point during your growth, you’ll want to coordinate your marketing campaigns around those three buckets and how you can get them to work together.


Mendelsohn is a big believer in content marketing. She saw it work at Forrester Research and took what she learned to Eventbrite.

Here’s the blog post that started it all:




When Mendelsohn was an analyst at Forrester, she understood that people wanted to know how social media impacted commerce. However, no one at the time knew the answer, except Eventbrite. When she got to Eventbrite, she connected the dots and released the report.

This was the first time they got all three buckets working – they put out some paid advertising for this report, the press picked it up (even Zuckerberg mentioned it in a press conference), and people shared it across their social network. It was one idea and one answer to a question that drove a ton of traffic and signups for Eventbrite.

As Eventbrite breaks into new verticals, they need to reach new audiences and gain credibility. The way they approach this is to listen to these specific user groups. Figure out what they’re talking about, what questions Eventbrite has, and then get answers to those questions.

One user group they discovered was the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) subset. There wasn’t anyone dominating this event market, which presented a big opportunity for Eventbrite. They went and talked to the promoters of EDM. The promoters didn’t know who the fans were, but they wanted to know, and they wanted more of them.

Eventbrite then worked with a company called Mashwork to gather social data on what EDM fans were talking about. All the data led to this popular infographic:




They also published a report showing the differences between EDM fans and traditional music fans:




This led to an explosion of coverage. Eventbrite competitors covered it, and Billboard magazine wrote about it. Ticketmaster, a competitor to Eventbrite, mentioned the data in their analyst calls.

Mendelsohn says that content has been the best way for Eventbrite to break in to a new domain. They don’t force their way into the conversation. Instead, it’s organic, relevant, and people are willing to embrace them.

This content approach doesn’t always work for Eventbrite. They’ve had a few that have flopped, and it’s usually a result of picking the wrong topic and not doing enough research.

3. Building a Team

Mendelsohn’s strategy for building a team was simple – what deserves investment, find the best person to do it, and then move on.

Early on, Mendelsohn hired people who were young, not very experienced, but really hungry to learn and really curious. After a couple of years passed, she began hiring more experienced people as she realized that the young people had reached their capacity for growth and she didn’t have the time or the knowledge to help each one.

To put it another way, her formula was this:

Start with a rock star, hungry team of junior folks and then over time, start layering in more experienced people to help the juniors continue to grow. Today, her direct reports have a minimum of 15 years of experience.

Wrapping Up

Not every company is the same. Some of what worked for Mendelsohn won’t work for you.

Does your first hire have to be a designer? No, not unless you have that need.

But there are some key lessons to learn. Never underestimate how important it is to learn about your customers. After all, these are the people you are targeting. You need to know about them and how to get more of them. And always do your research before you enter new user groups. Content may not be the best way for you, but whatever you do, you’ll want to make sure your name gets out there in a respectful and organic way that users are receptive to.

Here are some other key takeaways:

  • First, understand your customers, and then crystallize your value prop and positioning.
  • Watch the TED Talk from Simon Sinek and answer the “why” question.
  • Test channels and see what works for you. Pour more investment into what works.
  • Get a funnel that measures your key goals. Measure every step and optimize every which way.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.

Measuring Content Performance for Higher Sales Conversions

In the Mad Men era, marketing was considered a cost center where “creative types” made glorious advertising campaigns but had very little ability to measure their impact on sales. Now, thanks to the Internet, marketing automation, and marketing analytics solutions, we can measure nearly everything in marketing, tracing our impact all the way down to influence on revenue and ROI. This ability to measure marketing’s performance and receive instant feedback on what works has revolutionized marketing.

Analytics are the key to performance optimization. Real-time feedback on what is working empowers us to improve message quality, creative, channel and offers to quickly improve the outcome. Without accurate performance analytics, we’d be back in the Mad Men era of creating content and launching campaigns into a black hole with no idea if they worked.

And yet, that is exactly the scenario in which most organizations find themselves today when it comes to content—no ability to measure whether their content has any impact at all.

Most marketers and sales enablement professionals (research shows greater than 85%) have no ability to objectively measure whether sales reps are using their content, how often it is being used, how effectively the content engages the customer, which customers, and whether the content has any impact on sales. Without this feedback loop, these content publishers lack the technology and processes to systematically optimize content.

Why is it, that a practice we consider de rigueur in top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) lead generation marketing has not been adopted in bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) analysis?

Well, ‘best-in-class’ organizations have figured out that closed-loop sales enablement is the answer and are seeing incredible gains from it including 3x higher revenue growth and 50% greater sales quota attainment (compared to ‘average’ companies). By closing the loop on the ‘content value chain’ between marketing, sales and the customer, organizations have created a systematic process to improving customer engagement, communication and sales’ ability to sell.

9 Metrics for Measuring Sales Content Performance

Content Management

Content Coverage of Buyer’s Journey – To ensure that the right content is available for each of your sales teams, map content to the buyer’s journey in each of your sales segments (could be product line, geo, industry segment, or whatever else makes sense for your business.)

For instance, if you have targeted 4 stages of the buyer’s journey with your sales content (interest, education, solution assessment, decision validation) and you have 3 product lines, you want to ensure you have the right content for each stage for each product line—12 squares in the matrix. Similarly, if you have teams in Brazil, Germany, Japan and the U.S., you’ll have 16 buyer’s journey needs and 16 matrix cells to consider.

Content Freshness – Ensure that content does not get stale and out of date by tracking content age and version dates.

One of the primary activities of content managers is to keep track of the content in the system. And one of their primary checks is whether the sales teams are using outdated content.

A simple report to watch for outdated or stagnating content is to run a content aging report based on last versioned date. Content that hasn’t been updated in a long time, or before the last messaging or branding refresh should be reviewed.


Content Awareness – Are sales teams aware of new content? Can they find it? Are they adopting updated versions?

A fundamental question for sales content management teams is “Are the sales reps not using my content because they can’t find it or because they are choosing not to use it?” A report that measures the views (has a rep viewed the content), pitches (have the pitched or emailed the content) and downloads helps content owners understand why or why not their content is being used. In the figure shown, you can see that the case study “Freezone Holdings” was viewed by nearly everyone, but hardly ever used. The content owner could then follow up with sales teams to discuss why they weren’t using the new case study.




Content Usage – What content is being used in various sales deals? Which pieces are being used the most? By what segments?

SiriusDecisions research in 2015 stated that 60% of the content generated for sales is not used. One of the first things sales enablement teams must do after implementing a sales content management platform with good analytics is to understand what is being used, what isn’t, and why.

Start with a basic report on content usage (shared with the customer), first by looking at top performers and then by worst performers. Then drill into the data by sales team group, region, and product line. This often surfaces pretty useful insight. The last step is always to follow up with front line sales reps to ask why they don’t use the content. This is key to understanding how to fix it. But proper analytics will point you in the right direction and help you identify which questions to ask.




Pitch Activity – Track pitch activity by content piece, rep &/or account. Measure what is working and what’s not. Understand the pitching practice of your best sales personnel and share best practices with the rest of the organization.

Customer Engagement

Customer Engagement – How is the customer responding to content and pitches? Measure opens, views, downloads and shares. Measure how much time customers spend on each particular page to understand what topics interest them the most.

In many respects, measuring customer engagement is the same as measuring content usage, but focused on the activities of the customer, not the sales reps. Measuring how a customer engages with your content is a powerful measure of content quality and effectiveness.




Content Evolution

Content Evolution – Most sales content, and particularly sales presentations, are modified in the field to customize to a specific selling situation. Often this entails updating the title of a sales presentation to customize it to the intended prospect, adding a prospect’s logo or modifying key messages to adjust to the particular sales situation. These are all practices that help engage the prospect and increase sales effectiveness. In short, these are modifications that you want your sales teams doing.

This helps marketing, too. Marketing needs to know how the content is being modified in order to improve content quality, by aligning with sales teams’ needs and getting real-time feedback on how the messaging needs to change to more effectively engage its audience.

In the image below, the presentation in the column on the left is the original file. The columns to the right show slides (pages) that are similar enough to the one on the left to be considered part of the same family. In this way, content owners can see what other “similar” content is out there and how the message is evolving.




Performance analytics that track how content evolves provide insights into what new messages are more successful in the field are very powerful in improving content quality.

Additionally, all the content performance metrics discussed here should account for content “families” –all content that evolved from the same original piece. This is a deep pothole that many analytics solutions fall into and should be avoided. If a single sales presentation is pitched 1000 times in one month, but modified for each presentation (even a little bit), many analytics solutions treat that as 1000 different pieces of content, and in so doing, throws off all analytics on content usage, pitch performance, influenced deal conversions or influenced revenue. Only by grouping this content into a “family” of virtually the same presentation, do these analytics become useful again.

Business Impact

Influenced Revenue – Measure how content has been used to help drive revenue. What content has the biggest impact on revenue? What content is being used, but not helping close sales?

While ROI on content is not achievable, at least not yet. (I have not seen the complex attribution models necessary to accurately measure return on content. But they will come.) This is a good early proxy. By measuring the amount of revenue a piece of content has influenced, marketer’s finally have one data point on the value of content. Inherently, we know some content is used in nearly every sale. By measuring content’s usage in Closed Won deals, by revenue, it gives us a much better picture of content’s importance in the sales process.

Conversion Uplift – Measure content usage against sales stage conversion rates. What content is most effective in moving a deal to the next stage?

Content should be designed to solve a specific need for a specific stage in the buyer’s journey. Measure how effective that content is in progressing the buyer to the next stage by measuring content usage in deals that advanced vs. content in deals that didn’t advance. Between this reporting capability and the content to buyer’s journey mapping exercise, content managers have the tools to know which content is most effective in advancing deals in their specific buyer’s journey stage. And that is the holy grail to improving sales content performance.




A Phased Approach

Technology has advanced considerably in the last 3-5 years to help you with this analysis. Modern Sales Enablement platforms have moved beyond being just a content repository to also providing customer engagement (email, online pitching), integration with CRM systems and content performance analytics. Most Sales Enablement platforms provide some level of reporting—often starting with content awareness and usage. Pick a platform that meets both your short-term and longer term needs. For a complete list of Sales Enablement solution providers go here.

After you have put a closed-loop sales enablement solution into place, you can begin to take advantage of its features to enhance your engagement with customers. We have found that companies typically start with the basics, and then over time move to applying data-driven techniques to their entire sales process in order to analyze and optimize it.

Here is a typical path that companies follow in applying the analytics capabilities of the system.




It’s an evolution in which companies can very quickly establish a process to get the analytics they need to drive improvements, and then work continuously to optimize and drive greater impact. But once they have the closed-loop process for measuring content effectiveness, the improvement in content quality and sales practices drives a significant uplift in sales effectiveness.

About the Author: Jeff Day is the VP of Marketing at Highspot and a veteran of sales enablement for over 10 years. As a marketing leader for companies including Apptio, HP, Sun and PolyServe and the VP of Sales for DomainTools, Jeff understands the need to train and enable the sales force from all sides. Jeff’s current soapbox mission is to elevate the role of the sales enablement professional and help them drive continuous effectiveness and productivity improvement among their sales teams. Learn more at

Top 6 Mistakes Marketers Make on YouTube Influencer Campaigns

According to recent studies, up to 75% of marketers are now investing in influencer marketing and 60% of brands will increase the amount they spend on it in 2016. Moreover, the latest research shows that YouTube has the best ROI above any other social media platform.

Couple that with the fact that YouTube is the second largest search engine and has a monthly user base of more than 1 billion people, it’s no surprise that YouTube sponsorships are one of today’s top-ranked customer acquisition tools.

YouTube marketing offers big rewards, but the path to success in this uncharted territory can be bumpy. In this article I will share the top 6 mistakes marketers often make, as well as strategies for avoiding them.

Mistake #1 – Action Without Strategy

One common mistake marketers make when launching YouTube influencer campaigns is to only have vague goals and objectives in mind. Often marketers’ only goal is to reach a certain amount of views and interactions (likes, comments, shares) per video or across several channels.

Managers start allocating marketing budgets and choosing talent before clearly defining which metrics should be used to measure a campaign’s success. Is it a sales play campaign measured by lead to customer conversion rates, revenues and acquired customers’ lifetime value? Is it a brand awareness campaign measured by increase in brand recognition, referral and direct traffic or lift in brand conversation? Is it brand channel growth activation campaign measured by an increase in new visitors and subscribers? Or maybe the objective is a combination of any of the above.

An ROI positive YouTube influencer campaign requires a well thought out strategy. Along with numeric campaign goals, marketers should define KPIs – key metrics indicating whether a campaign’s performance can achieve these goals. This will allow for better decisions and strategies to meet the ultimate objectives.

Here is an example of a sales play campaign goals and KPIs:

Goal: 3000 app downloads, CPA ≤ $10

  • KPI 1: 3% website leads/video views conversion rate
  • KPI 2: 20% app downloads/website visits conversion rate
  • KPI 3: 500,000 video views
  • KPI 4: Cost per view ≤ $0.06

In this example the maximum campaign spend has been defined at $30,000 (500,000*$0.06). We know how many views and at which conversion rates we have to hit in order for the campaign to be successful.

Mistake #2 – The Blind Date

Discovery is a crucial stage and will define a campaign’s success. During the stage, marketers tend to fall into a common trap: choosing talent based solely on the channel’s number of subscribers and latest video views.

However, YouTube hosts a much larger amount of data on video watching behavior and habits. The rise of Big Data analytics provides online tools to help marketers dig deep to find the highest-quality talent for their brand. There are several key data-driven aspects marketers should analyze when choosing talent: Relevance, Reach, Engagement, Influence and Consistency.

Relevance identifies whether a channel’s audience will be authentically interested in your product or service and is determined by keywords and audience overlap.

Reach looks at the average number of views per video and is calculated as the average number of views during a set period of time.

Engagement measures how actively the audience interacts with a channel’s content and is usually computed using total views and interactions.

Influence indicates whether a channel stimulates action and audience growth and is calculated based on how content is shared outside the channel and if viewers turn into subscribers.

Consistency analyzes how often the channel is delivering meaningful content and is measured by averaging various channel performance metrics from video to video.

Failure to analyze any of these crucial parameters may result in a poorly targeted audience, low conversion rates and washed budgets.


The AngryJoeShow gaming channel has significantly less reach than TobyGames (2.3 million versus 7 million, respectively), but more engagement — 300K – 400K views and 7K likes on average per video, versus 30K – 40K views and 1K likes for TobyGames. We can also see a striking difference in daily subscriptions growth between the two channels:




Without digging deeper into the data, we can already see that although TobyGames has a better overall reach, AngryJoeShow performs better on the engagement and consistency scores, which determine true audience response.

Mistake #3 – Shiny Object Syndrome

Each industry has its most popular YouTube celebrities with millions of subscribers, which may seem like the fastest and easiest solution for a brand, but they only represent 1 – 5% of all influencers.

With hundreds of new channels popping up every day, marketers tend to play it safe: activate the largest channels to secure the best results, ignoring smaller channels. This strategy may lead to disappointment, providing only mediocre outcomes. Here’s why:

Lack of targeting. If a channel has a large scattered audience, it is difficult to predict what portion of subscribers would actually be interested in the particular topic or brand. As a result, subscribers can see videos irrelevant to their interests, which hurts both the influencer (jeopardizing a follower’s trust) and the brand (triggering negative sentiment). On the contrary, small and mid-sized dedicated channels attract a homogenous audience of highly engaged followers.

Lack of authentic admiration. There is a lot going on for the most popular influencers. They cover a variety of topics, experiment with different video ideas, spend a good chunk of time on marketing and let’s be honest – often treat brand partnerships as just another business. As a result, brands do not get any special interest or authentic excitement about their product or service. At the same time smaller, niche channels are sincerely interested in the particular topic and product, which leads to higher quality endorsements.

Marketers should explore the small and mid-sized niche channels, which can become the most loyal and dedicated brand ambassadors and open doors to a highly targeted and authentically engaged audience. Another advantage is that for the same amount of marketing dollars (or less), brands can reach a greater variety of audiences and produce multiple pieces of content.


Rooster Teeth, a very popular gaming channel with more than 8M subscribers covered a popular, but rather niche video game (World of Tanks) to its widespread audience of gamers gaining 350K views. Compare it to the video produced by SideStrafe, a smaller channel with 190K subscribers, published several months later and resulting in 1.5M views and much higher engagement. SideStrafe is highly focused on the topic of military and combat games and as such attracts higher quality traffic. SideStrafe’s video content is also more effective and engaging, as he understands the game very well.







Mistake #4 – Fear of Losing Control

Marketers still fall into the trap of treating influencers as actors and editorial content as video ads. Brands underestimate how keen their users are, how fragile their trust is and how shortsighted it is to fake authenticity.

Research and case studies prove that the more authentic the content is the better users react to it, which leads to higher reach, better engagement and ultimately stronger campaign results.

Think of the Proactive case study. The company tried to mirror user generated video testimonials and hired actors to produce similar endorsements. They saw 10-20 fewer video views in comparison to the testimonials created by real users. Proactive learned its lesson and today is tapping into YouTube influencers, providing talent with creative freedom, which is essential for campaign success:




In addition to the lower reach, “over-controlled” campaigns may result into a wall of negative sentiment from the community. Once users sense content irrelevance, disingenuous feedback or any other signs of inauthenticity, they will let you and everyone else know. In the realm of YouTube, these comments hurt both the talent and brand.




Let the talent run the show. They do it for living and know how to organically mention your product or brand, so the campaign gets a response.

Mistake #5 – Betting on an Agency

With the rise of YouTube influencers there has also been a rise of agencies to help brands with campaigns. The promise is that marketers can fully outsource the efforts and simply reap the rewards.

But there are pitfalls hidden in this approach:

Limited access. An agency only has access to talent in its network, and those channels may not always be the best fit for the brand’s needs. Marketers should assess each channel’s value and not limit their reach to only one “ideal” partner.

Lack of connection. Marketers often underestimate the level of personal connection required between brand and influencer. Influencers seek strong relationships with a brand, so that they can truly understand its values and speak on its behalf. It is impossible to achieve that level of connection via a third party, so marketers should be involved and engaged as much as possible.

Lack of niche understanding. The majority of agencies cater to brands within multiple industries and don’t fully understand the nuances of particular spaces. This is where a brand manager should step in and make sure that both talent and video content choices take into consideration industry specific aspects.

Working with agencies, managers need to carefully evaluate the emerging costs compared to the delivered value. What would be the overhead associated with launching campaign in-house and how does it compare to agency fees? What are the key competencies and resources your team is missing and are they provided for by the partner? These are key questions to ask before hiring an agency.

Mistake #6 – No Bang for Your Buck

One of the biggest challenges for marketers in YouTube influencer marketing is a lack of transparency and standardization in pricing models. They end up getting unreasonably high quotes and overspend, not realizing the room for negotiation in this developing market. There is no transparent, consistent pricing model in the world of YouTube influencer sponsorships for several reasons:

Different payment models. Different channels and agencies work on different payment models (pay per view, pay per action and pay per activation). Many agencies/talents work solely on pay per activation model and often do not tie their fees to guaranteed campaign results.

A new marketplace. YouTube influencer marketing is still in its infancy, and with a lack of benchmarks, the market hasn’t determined average rates. Currently influencers and agencies charge anywhere between $0.02 and $.20 per view, so there is a lot of room for negotiation.

Secretive transactions. Agencies rarely share their pricing structure, which leads to partners offering different fees for the same talent or campaign.

Marketers need to compare prices across the space and negotiate aggressively to get the best deal, which will secure a ROI positive campaign.

Try reaching out to the same talent via different channels: directly, through matchmaking platforms like Famebit or Grapevine, or via Multi-Channel Networks like Fullscreen or Maker Studios and learn the difference. Sometimes you will get a better deal with an agency due to their negotiated rates and sometimes you are better off with a direct connection without third party cuts.

Example: In my practice one agency quoted the same campaign at 3.6x higher than its competitor (90K vs. 25K).


The rise of YouTube influencers has created a new lucrative, scalable communication channel for brands, but only if approached in the right manner. Knowing the common pitfalls of YouTube influencer marketing can help brands maximize the return on investment and secure long-term rewards.

About the Author: As a thought leader in influencer marketing, Polina Haryacha has built and grown influencer programs with talents ranging from 50K to 10M subscribers, resulting in more than 50M views. Polina’s expertise in YouTube influencer campaigns has been featured in key industry publications such as TechCrunch and [a]listdaily. She has also created a course to empower other marketers, featuring her experience with talent discovery, content creation and campaign optimization. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

The 6 Ways Your Content Marketing Might Be Broken (And How to Fix That)



I understand your frustration.

I see it every day.

I’m talking about marketers, or aspiring marketers, who put a lot of effort into their content marketing but just don’t get the results they need.

The truth is that effort does not equal results.

Working hard doing the wrong things won’t produce any significant results.

And that’s what most marketers do. They have a broken content marketing system.

While a lot of the pieces are right, they’re making a few big mistakes that are making their efforts fruitless.

I realize that it can be disheartening to hear that, but let me assure you that you are not alone.

According to a recent survey, only 30% of marketers rate their use of content marketing effective.


Very few (6%) say that their content marketing is “very effective.”

Everyone seems to realize the potential of content marketing, but very few are getting the most out of it.

So, instead of showing you a new tactic today, I’m going to show you 6 symptoms of a broken content marketing plan.

If you recognize a symptom, that’s actually a good thing because I’m also going to show you how to fix these flaws and get back on track to success.

I realize that no one likes making mistakes, but try to keep an open mind and honestly evaluate whether you have any of the problems I am about to describe in detail here.

There’s no shame, everyone (especially me) has made many of these mistakes at one time or another. Every marketer needs to find their own path to success. 

1. You’re not getting as many backlinks as you’d like (i.e., stagnant search engine traffic)

If you know me at all, you know that I love organic search engine traffic.

It’s very consistent and typically grows over time if you’re doing content marketing right.

You can see what I mean in the 100k case study.

As you might know, search engine rankings and traffic are tied to backlinks, and that isn’t going to change any time soon.

The more high quality backlinks you have pointing to your content, the more traffic you will get.

I’ve written about how to get these backlinks and how to optimize your content for search engines many times in the past:

In this post, however, I want to focus on determining whether something is wrong with your content marketing.

If all is well, your organic search traffic should increase fairly steadily. Otherwise, we have a problem.

Symptom: Organic search traffic has plateaued or is slowly declining.

Step #1 – Check the numbers: Just as doctors turn to machines to provide them with data about their patients’ health, marketers have analytics to turn to.

Start by going to Google Analytics.

Using the left sidebar, navigate to “Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels,” and then select the “Organic Search” grouping.


The important part is to look over a long enough time period.

I’ve often had a span of 1-3 months during which traffic remained relatively constant, but if you have a plateau for longer than that, there’s probably an issue (with the exception of a highly seasonal niche):

Here’s an example that shows that there is something wrong:


There was a really nice increase of search traffic over a few months, but since then, it has either stayed the same or declined.

That indicates that there is something really wrong with this site’s content marketing.

Step #2 – Find the cure: This is a bit tougher but doable with a little bit of effort.

I’m going to assume that you know how to detect a Google penalty and that you’ve already done some basic technical SEO (like having a decent page speed).

Aside from those potential issues, the most common problem by far is not getting enough backlinks to new content.

Let me clarify – high quality backlinks. A link on a forum isn’t going to do much for your search rankings (although it won’t hurt either).

To confirm this, you need to use a link database tool. Ahrefs and Majestic are the best options.

First, input your domain into either tool:


Once the page loads, you’ll see a graph of the growth of all the links to your site.

Hopefully, it will look something like this:


As long as your backlink count (and total referring domains) are both steadily increasing, you’re doing something right, and search traffic will almost always go up.

But what if you see a downward trend or a plateau?


That tells you that your site as a whole isn’t attracting any new backlinks.

Uh oh.

That needs fixing.

It’s a clear sign that your content promotion isn’t up to par.

You should be spending at least as much time promoting your content as you do creating it. If your blog is relatively new, you should spend even more time.

Aim to get at least 20 high quality links from your promotion efforts. This takes a lot of time and persistence. You might have to send out 500+ emails per article. Do it.

You won’t see the results immediately, but after a few months, your search traffic will increase and keep rising if you keep up the work.

If you’re not really sure how to promote your content, I’ve got you covered. Read through these guides I’ve written in the past:

2. Your current audience is not finding your content useful

Think about the basic principles of content marketing.

Your content needs to have value in order to accomplish anything. If your audience isn’t finding your content useful, they’re not going to continue to read it.

This is something you want to catch as quickly as possible, or it can become tremendously hard to reverse.

Here’s what happens with most somewhat loyal readers:

  • they generally like your content, maybe even love it
  • but then they read a post that isn’t very useful. That post alone won’t deter them from coming back.
  • if they come across more posts that aren’t useful within a short time period, they will not come back.

Take a second to understand that sequence.

It’s easy to produce a less than stellar post and let it slip by because your numbers won’t take a hit. In the short term, most of your readers will still be loyal to you.

But if you let 2, 3, or 4 posts that aren’t very valuable slip by, you’ll start seeing your readership decline exponentially.

It happens all the time to even popular sites. They lose a large percentage of longtime loyal readers in just a few months because they start to cut corners.

You can’t afford to do this…ever.

Diagnosing ‘weak’ content: In order to evaluate how your audience perceives your content, you need a few different metrics to get a full picture.

There are a few different symptoms that you’ll need to keep an eye out for.

Symptom #1: Your email open rate goes down…down…and down

I suggest keeping a close eye on your email subscribers at all times. These are typically your most loyal readers, which means they provide reliable, accurate information.

Here, you need to examine your email open rate. All major email marketing service providers offer some sort of report in your account that should show you your overall email open rates over time.

Something like this:


If it’s staying steady or even going up, great. You’re doing something right.

But if it’s steadily going down, that’s a sign that people are losing interest in your content. If it’s only a slight downward trend, you may be doing okay, but you’ll want to keep an eye on it.

The reason why this is a good metric to look at is because these loyal readers will open most of your emails if they expect there is valuable content in them (why wouldn’t they if your content will improve their lives?)

If your numbers are dropping, it means that more and more of your readers aren’t expecting to find useful content in your emails.

Symptom #2: The number of “actionable comments” goes down dramatically

Truth be told, I don’t really worry about the sheer number of comments I get on posts.

Sometimes I get 20 comments; other times I get 300. A lot of that depends on whether what I am writing about is interesting to all or only certain parts of my audience.

What I do care about is how many actionable comments I get.

For me, an “actionable comment” is a comment that demonstrates that the reader not only liked the content but actually took action to apply it.


Makes sense, doesn’t it? If you want to see whether your readers find your content useful, see if they actually use it.

Cranking up the value and winning back your readers: The reason behind either (or both) of these symptoms is usually the same.

Some time in the recent past you started publishing content that wasn’t up to the standard you set before.

It’s really easy to do, and there are many things that can cause it:

  • distractions in your personal life
  • falling into a content creation “grind”—feeling burnt out
  • getting overwhelmed by other parts of your work or business

First of all, know that it’s okay. Everyone (including myself) has dips in the quality of their content once in awhile.

But the best marketers spot it really quickly and fix it.

The solution is actually quite simple: start putting more effort into creating more valuable content.

If you can’t do that for some reason, it might be time to at least temporarily hire a writer or editor to help you.

If you’re just feeling a bit lost with your content creation, it may be time to learn some new ways to add value to your content. Here are a few posts I’ve written that will help you inject some new life into your work:

3. Your traffic is barely growing

I think every content marketer has experienced it near the beginning of their career.

They create content on a regular basis, but the traffic never amounts to anything more than a few hundred views a month.

But there are many possible reasons for that, including publishing boring content in the first place.

I’m going to assume that you know better than that and that you’re already producing some good content.

If this is your situation, the problem likely lies with your current content promotion systems.

Here’s how you diagnose it:

Symptom: You get great engagement metrics, but your traffic barely grows.

Engagement metrics tell you how much your users enjoy and interact with your content. They include:

  • average time on page
  • bounce rate
  • average pages per session

To find these, open Google Analytics, and navigate to “Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.”


In this report, you’ll be able to see the average time on page and bounce rate of each piece of content on your site.

Two metrics will help you diagnose this problem.

In general, your content is pretty darn good if you can achieve the following numbers:

  • average time on page over 2 minutes
  • bounce rate under 60%

However, if you’re producing really long content (like I do), you should aim for even better numbers.

The point of checking these numbers is to make sure your readers enjoy reading your content, which is a signal of its quality.

If you see that you’ve met these standards for almost all your posts, it’s a sign you have the problem of poor content promotion.

The solution to getting the traffic you deserve: If you have good content but poor traffic, you need to re-evaluate your promotion strategy.

You might be faltering in two ways:

  1. You’re not promoting your content enough.
  2. Your promotional tactics aren’t effective.

For the first one, it comes down to priorities.

If you’ve found a way to get traffic to your content, spend more time and effort on it whether it’s forum posting, advertising, email outreach, or whatever other tactic that has worked for you on a small scale.

If you have a low level of traffic, any tactic that brings in a bit of traffic will work if you devote enough time to it.

You should spend at least as much time promoting your content as you do creating it. In most cases, you should spend more.

If that means you need to create less content, so be it. Put quality over quantity.

Now, if your promotional tactics aren’t effective, that’s a completely different problem.

That means you need to spend time learning new tactics and testing them out until you find some that are effective for your business.

As always, I have a few resources that will teach you just about everything you need to know to do this:

4. You’re doing everything on your own

There is no sustainable way to do everything by yourself once your business reaches a certain size.

If you do try to, three things can happen:

  • you get burnt out
  • you can’t keep up, and your business suffers large setbacks
  • you have to limit your growth

All these cases are obviously bad. And if your current content marketing system relies on you doing everything, it’s broken.

It is not set up for long term success, no matter how passionate, persistent, and intelligent you are.

If this sounds like you, and you feel that one of those three scenarios is happening (or has already happened), you need to take a step back.

Know when it’s better to get help: You wear a lot of different hats as a content marketer.

Content marketing requires a lot of different skills:

  • research
  • design
  • copywriting
  • editing
  • promotion
  • PR
  • link building

And more…

Unless you’re an extremely rare exception, you’re not amazing at all those things.

Like most marketers, you’re probably good to great at a few of them and mediocre at the rest.

By all means, you can improve those weaknesses, or you can get help.

When I tell business owners and marketers to spend more on freelancers (or additional employees), they always resist, saying something along the lines of:

I can’t afford to do that.

They’re right and wrong at the same time.

With their current content marketing system, they can’t afford it. Their growth and results can’t justify increased spending.

But what they don’t realize is that by doing everything themselves, they are costing themselves a huge amount of money.

Hiring good freelancers almost always makes you more money than it costs for a few main reasons:

  • they’re better than you – instead of struggling with one of your weak skills, like design, you can hire a professional graphic designer who spends all their time improving that one skill.
  • it frees up your time – with help, you have more time to spend on the parts of content marketing you excel at. For example, I love creating content, so I do that. Getting help with other things allows me to write several posts a week, and you can’t do that if you’re doing everything else too.
  • it minimizes catastrophes – if you get sick and you’re doing everything on your own, everything shuts down, which is extremely costly. When you have help, others can fill in to keep everything running smoothly.

I really hope that makes sense.

When you hire intelligently, you make even more money, AND you’ll get to do the work you enjoy the most.

How do you hire intelligently? I’ll be honest, hiring the right people isn’t easy. If you hire people who aren’t professional, they might leave you hanging unexpectedly, which can mess up your content strategy.

My first big advice is to know exactly what you want.

Hire for a very specific position (e.g., copywriter, funnel expert, designer, etc.), and make your requirements very clear.

As an example, take a look at 3 job postings I posted on Quick Sprout in 2015:


You’ll notice that the main thing I look for, besides knowledge, is passion.

I like working with people who love their work and spend a large part of their lives doing it. These are the most likely people to act like professionals and always deliver on their promises.

As long as you return the favor by paying promptly and treating them like professionals, they will make your life a lot easier.

One more thing that you absolutely must do when making hiring decisions is to talk to the person you are considering to hire (phone, Skype, or whatever you prefer).

Get a sense of their expectations so you can determine if they’re a good fit for what you can offer.

Sometimes, you’ll get a gut feeling telling you that you should hire a particular person; other times your gut will tell you to pass. More often than not, that gut feeling is right, so trust your instincts.

Finally, don’t hire all at once.

Once those marketers and business owners see how hiring could actually help them, they often hire too many people too fast.

When you’re planning on working with someone long-term, rushing is the biggest mistake you can make.

Start with one position.

Even if you find a great person to hire, chances are you’ll still do a few things wrong. When you start with just one position, it gives you a chance to learn from your mistakes and then apply those lessons to the next person.

Slowly transition to the business structure you want instead of trying to make it happen overnight.

5. You’re getting views and subscribers but no sales

One of the biggest reasons why business owners think that content marketing isn’t very effective is that they don’t know how to turn it into sales.

They do a good job when it comes to creating high quality content, but then they expect that their readers would spontaneously start buying their products.

Or they don’t want to upset their audience by selling something to them.

If you relate to either of these types of people, you need to understand that the whole point of content marketing, like most other types of marketing, is to increase profits (sales).

Without any return from content marketing, how are you supposed to justify the investment in more content? You can’t.

Additionally, why would you feel bad about selling a product that will genuinely help your customers?

If you’ve been having success with your content, you understand your reader very well. No one else is in as good a position to create a useful product for them as you are.

So if you don’t have a product to sell, get one.

The more interesting problem to diagnose is when you have poor sales of an actual product despite getting a good amount of traffic.

Possible diagnosis #1 – Your conversion funnel needs work: All products have conversion funnels; some just aren’t very well defined.

A conversion funnel simply describes the path that a customer takes to become an actual customer from being a first time visitor:


Yes, there are many different paths in each step, but you should be able to define the main channels they pass through.

For example, “visitor > email subscriber > sales pages > customer.”

Once you have your funnel defined, you can use analytics to see where they are dropping off in this funnel.


You can create a sales funnel in Google Analytics or use some more advanced sales analytics software like Kissmetrics.

If you’re not sure how to build an effective conversion funnel, I have an in-depth guide that will show you how to.

Possible diagnosis #2 – You don’t have product-market fit: Now, if you actually have a good funnel but you can’t figure out why barely anyone is buying your products, you likely have a poor product-market fit.


Your product-market fit is basically a measure of how well your product meets the needs of your audience.

If no one is buying, it means one of two things:

  • your product sucks
  • you’re targeting it to the wrong audience

Be honest with yourself about your product: is it really good enough to sell? I rarely see this problem with content marketers, however, since they tend to give as much value as possible.

The more common problem is creating the wrong product for your audience.

For example, if you had a blog catered to SEO beginners, would it make sense to try to sell an advanced technical SEO crawler to them?

No, it wouldn’t. Instead, a basic rank tracking tool or email outreach tool would be much more useful for them at the moment.

It’s not that your product isn’t good—it’s that your audience doesn’t have a need for it.

Instead, you should have been writing content that attracts experienced SEOs rather than beginners. Then, you’d be selling the right product to the right audience.

To fix this problem, you either need to create a different product or pivot your content marketing strategy to target the right audience for your product.

6. No other bloggers are willing to help you out

The final big symptom of broken content marketing is that everything seems to be an uphill battle.

Then, you see guys like Brian Dean who start a blog from nothing and turn it into a leading blog in their niche within just a few years.

A big reason for Brian’s success was that other influencers in the marketing and SEO niche loved his work and shared it with their audiences.

Symptom: No influencers are willing to mention you or any of your content, no matter how many of them you interact with and send emails to.

In this scenario, a few different areas of your content marketing might be broken.

Possible diagnosis #1 – Your content isn’t unique enough: You have to understand things from the perspective of a blogger with an audience.

They receive dozens of requests from other bloggers every day asking them to look at their content.

Almost all of it looks exactly the same.

It’s not bad, but it’s not unique.

When Brian started publishing his content, people took a look at it and said, “Wow.”

He created new SEO tactics and presented them better than almost everyone else in the niche.

Your takeaway: your content needs to be exceptional if you want other influencers to share your work.

The best incentive to share your work in particular is if you’re the only one who has written about something, so be unique.

Possible diagnosis #2 – You need a better outreach approach: This ties in with your promotional efforts, which we went over earlier.

One of the biggest challenges for you is to get an influencer to take a look at your content in the first place.

Your content may actually be excellent, but if you’re coming off as another blogger who just wants something, your email will be deleted.

How do you solve this?

It’s a complex subject, but the first thing you want to do is stop approaching these bloggers as people you want to do something for you.

Instead, approach them to try to build a relationship. Let them know that you enjoy learning from them and would like to become their peer in the future.

Don’t just shove a link in their faces the first time you email them. Try to research a mutual connection and send a few emails over a few weeks with no objective other than to develop a deeper relationship.

You’ll be surprised how much of an effect that little change can have.


It’s no secret that content marketing can produce great results. But at the same time, the majority of marketers are not having success with it.

It’s because their content marketing approach is broken.

I’ve shown you the 6 most common symptoms of broken content marketing as well as what you need to do to fix them.

Now, it’s your turn to honestly evaluate your results and determine if there’s a weakness that you can fix.

As always, if you have any questions at all, ask me in a comment below, giving me as much detail as you can.

The Little-Known Marketing Issue that’s Secretly Killing Your Sales (And How to Fix It)

Not long ago, “Big Data” was all the rage. The race was on to collect as much information about people as possible – creating a giant, looming cloud of detail that was nearly impossible to sift through and a challenge (at best) to market to. Today, we have more tools than ever to wrangle that information and use it to present clear, compelling reasons for customers to want what we’re offering.

But there’s still a lingering problem.

As marketers, optimizers and improvers, we focus a great deal on the performance of our campaigns. We track open rates, click-throughs and conversion rates without giving a second thought to where that data comes from.

And that lack of attention is costing us – big time.


What Exactly Is Bad Data?

Information collected from prospects usually isn’t wrong when you’re first connecting with them. But over time, people move up (or move on) in companies, change email addresses, merge with other companies or segment their division into an entirely separate entity.

And it happens more often than we realize.


percentsIs Bad Data Really Worth Worrying About?

You may think that an incorrect email address or a wrong company contact here and there wouldn’t really make an impact – especially if you’re getting solid results from your existing campaigns. But for every lead that enters your funnel, there’s always the possibility that the information is changing quicker than your CRM database can keep up.

A study by DiscoverOrg found that sales and marketing departments lose approximately 550 hours and as much as $32,000 per sales rep from using bad data.


But putting a price tag on the number of sales lost from bad data isn’t just about the money. It’s about the time lost that could be better spent working on engaging leads rather than chasing down lukewarm non-responders. It’s about that burst in morale and spirit that comes from closing a sale when everything you do is right on target. It’s about maximizing efficiency and productivity on every level.

And at the heart of it all is the very data you’re collecting.

The Bad Data Snowball Effect

As more time passes, the effect of bad data seems to snowball. Not only is time wasted chasing incorrect or outdated data, but information (especially online) becomes outdated very quickly.


The last thing you want is a database full of duds. But by the same token, incorrect or outdated information caused by the sheer vastness of data out there can also be improved by it – if you know where to look and how to keep your existing CRM data squeaky clean.

Getting Everyone On Board

The good news is, bad data doesn’t have to drag your conversion rate and closing numbers down. Now, more than ever, marketers are coordinating their efforts across multiple channels, which means the need for accurate data is one of their primary focuses.

That means that while the sales department likely has its own automation system for follow-up, marketing also needs to have its finger on the pulse of this information. Both parties should ideally be able to access, update and reference this information to form a complete, cohesive “big picture” of the data.

Even bringing customer or technical support into the fold is a smart idea. If service calls show that a certain problem is common but easy to fix, sales can break down that resistance early on, while marketing can pinpoint a way to introduce more customers to the solution based on its ease of use. All of these groups working in tandem helps create a more concentrated, goal-focused, customer-centered unit – and customers appreciate that kind of familiarity.

Practicing Good Data Hygiene

Inaccurate information can not only affect sales and productivity, but credibility as well. Good data hygiene means taking the time to clean up, verify and organize data so that common issues like duplicates, mismatches and missing elements no longer plague the system.

But in addition to scrubbing your CRM, it’s also a good idea to look beyond the details you’ve collected already. Can you connect social media usernames or accounts with these leads? What about mobile device information? If you’re just now opening the floodgates to sharing data between departments, are there any areas where information can be appended or merged so that you have a more complete picture of the customer?

Of course there is no shortage of both free and paid tools to help ensure optimal data cleanliness, many of which are already part of existing CRM software (like Salesforce) or other analytical tools. Oftentimes, companies will hire dedicated data-cleaning teams whose sole purpose is to keep records up to date and relatively error-free.


Even the most accurate information will change over time

Even if you’re doing it yourself or with a small team, it’s easy to look at waves of bad data and feel like you’re drowning in inaccuracies. It’s no small task to not only correct bad data but keep it fresh and up to date. Creating a sort of “data plan” can help you eat that elephant one bite at a time. In creating such a plan, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who has access to what information? Not only are there privacy and security policies to keep in mind, but also the fragmented nature of the data collection to begin with. Getting everyone on the same page and making sure the right people have access to the right information is crucial to making the most out of every campaign and strategy.
  • How do we measure data quality? – You already know fields like name, phone and email address have to be accurate, but how else can you measure data quality? Knowledgent has an insightful white-paper on the topic, including analyzing key points that can degrade the quality of the information you collect, like consistency, timeliness and uniqueness.
  • What path does our data take and how can we make it better? – Let’s say a customer in your database has just switched jobs. In addition to putting their new position in your CRM, consider things like whether or not they are still a key decision maker in their new role, and if not – who is. The last thing you want to do is compound the time lost by sales staff in chasing down referrals who don’t have the authority to move forward.
  • What goals can we set to make data cleansing more valuable? Turning bad data into good data is no small job. Taking it step by step by focusing on the high ROI targets will keep everyone engaged and motivated to improve. Set real, measurable, attainable goals and focus on the journey instead of the destination.

By putting these steps into practice, you’ll not only walk away with a squeaky-clean database, but improve your business credibility, resonate with your target audience, increase sales productivity and build stronger relationships with your customers at every stage in your lead generation funnel.

Have you been the victim of bad data? How has it affected your business? Which tools do you use to keep information current? Share your insights with us in the comments below.

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

The 8 Most Important Skills for Content Promotion (and How to Learn Them)


The bar has been raised.

Creating great content isn’t enough anymore if you want your content marketing to be successful.

Today, you need to not only create that content but also promote it.


Many marketers have started to wake up to this fact, which is a good thing.

However, just because they recognize that promotion is important doesn’t mean they know how to do it effectively.

In my experience, only a small percentage of marketers possess the skills that make them effective promoters as well.

The big problem is that if you don’t have these skills, you’ll struggle to learn how to promote effectively.

The reason for this is that there isn’t much help out there.

When it comes to creating great content, you can study the content your favorite blogs publish and attempt to replicate it.

But it’s next to impossible to understand all the work that goes on behind the scenes to promote that content unless the creators are generous enough to share it with you.

It takes a special kind of marketer—the cream of the crop—to learn both from resources (like blog posts) and experience.

These are the complete content marketers that get the results everyone else wants.

Honestly, I don’t know if you’re one of them—maybe not yet.

The good news is that you can become one of them if you’re willing to learn new skills.

In this post, I’ll explain in detail the eight most important skills needed for effective content promotion.

If you recognize all these skills in your own work, you’re probably doing pretty well.

If you see you’re lacking a few of these skills, I’m going to show you exactly how to acquire and develop them.

Are you ready to put your skills to the test?

If so, let’s dive in. 

1. The best content marketers all have this skill…

This first skill might be the most important.

Critical thinking.

As a marketer who is still finding your way, you’ll be spending a lot of time learning about different tactics you can use to promote your content.

These might be email outreach tactics, link building tactics, or social media tactics…you get the picture.

But not all marketers who try a specific tactic will succeed with it. You probably know that already from firsthand experience.

It’s not because of luck or skill. Although these factors may play a role, the main factor that determines how successful you are with a tactic is fit.

Some tactics work in some niches and situations better than in others.

If you blindly try different tactics, you’ll have some success but not as much as you’d like.

The really good marketers, or the ones who seem to “get it” really quickly, are the ones who can critically think about a tactic.

They don’t just read a blog post and think, “This is pretty cool; I’d better try it!”

Instead, they think about questions like these:

  • Why does this tactic work?
  • What niches would it work best in? why?
  • Will this work for my content?
  • Can I can tweak it in any way to make it even more effective?
  • How can I test this?

Understanding a tactic before using it is different from just applying it blindly. I hope the reason behind those questions is clear.

Once you truly understand the tactics you learn, all of a sudden you are able to see where they fit together in an overall strategy.

The good news is that no one is born with critical thinking skills—these skills are developed.

And even better news is that you probably already have some, but maybe just need to consciously use them more often.

Regardless of where you are, let’s go through a complete example of how you would approach a tactic in real life.

Examining infographics with critical thinking: Here’s the situation: you come across an article I wrote about creating and promoting infographics.


Of course, your first reaction is excitement when I explain how infographics can be used to get thousands of visits.

And they can, for sure. But not in all situations.

After you read the post, you want to ask yourself the same questions I listed above.

Q: Why does this tactic work?

Infographics work because they are attractive, easy to consume, and can convey complex information quickly.

On top of that, really good ones stand out and get extra attention.

Because infographics are so shareable, you’ll get a ton of traffic if you can get the initial views to them. Providing an embed code underneath the infographic makes it easy to share (and gets you extra links).

Q: What niches would it work best in? Why?

Infographics are an image-based type of content. Therefore, they probably work best in image dominated niches. Think clothing, design, food, and even marketing to a degree.

The most important factor mentioned was that the topic needs to be interesting, which means that viewers need to care about it.

In “boring” niches like heating or bug removal, which are not that interesting to people (in general), it’s going to be tough to get the infographic to spread.

Q: Can I tweak it in any way to make it even more effective?

The reason why the effectiveness of infographics seems to be declining is that they’re becoming more commonplace.

So, if I can come up with a way to make mine more unique, I should be able to get better results. Perhaps, I can make a gifographic instead.

Q: How can I test this?

To test this tactic fairly, I would need to produce at least 5-10 professionally designed infographics.

This means I’ll likely need a budget of around $2,000-4,000.

I will then determine its effectiveness by looking at a few key metrics:

  • cost per subscriber
  • cost per link
  • cost per visit

Then, I will compare those metrics to the metrics of other tactics I’ve used to determine if I should produce more infographics.

End questions. In reality, you’d probably want to ask yourself even more questions.

How many readers of this blog or any other marketing blog honestly do this after reading about a tactic?

While I have some of the most active readers I’ve ever seen, which is great, I would guess far fewer than half of the readers who read a post do this.

If you want to develop critical thinking skills, you simply need to practice thinking. Ask yourself hard questions and try to get the best answers you can.

It’s okay if they’re not perfect; you’ll get better over time.

2. How far can you dig?

One question that I get all the time is: “How long does it take you to write your posts?”

Truthfully, it doesn’t take that long. Typically, I can do the actual writing in about 3 hours plus some time for editing.

But creating a post takes longer than that. It also takes a lot of research. Some posts, of course, will require more research than others.

Research is one of the most undervalued skills in a content marketer. Research is definitely important when it comes to creating content, but it is probably even more important when it comes to content promotion.

A lot of modern day promotion is based on email outreach, and it’s important you understand some basic numbers.

Most effective tactics will have a conversion rate of 5-10%. That means that for every 100 emails you send, 5 to 10 will end up in links. The actual percentage will depend on a lot of factors, e.g., your niche, copywriting skills, and quality of content.

Keep in mind that the conversion rate I quoted above is for the best tactics. Most tactics will have a lower conversion rate.

What does this mean in terms of research?

It means that you’ll have to send a ton of emails as part of your promotional campaigns. You’ll want to get at least 20-30 links to the content you’ve spent a few hundred dollars on creating.

In most cases, that means you’re sending 400+ emails, sometimes thousands.

Over time, that number won’t seem that big, but at first, I understand why that would seem like a ton.

In reality, there are two big components to this:

  • sending the actual emails and
  • researching hundreds or thousands of good prospects

The research usually takes more time than sending the emails, at least until you establish key relationships in your niche.

Since you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of data points, it’s crucial that you work efficiently.

This usually means working with tools and knowing how to use them effectively.

For example, you could manually search for resource pages to target for a link. You could probably create a list of 100 in an hour or so.

Or you could simply find a similar type of content, plug it in a tool such as Ahrefs or Majestic, and have a list of hundreds or thousands of targets in seconds.


Work smarter, not harder (when possible).

3. Are you able to determine what is and isn’t important?

By now, you understand pretty well what promoting consists of.

And to be honest, it’s an insane amount of work.

You could easily hire someone (or multiple marketers) just to do promotion for your content.

In most cases, you can’t do that.

Instead, you need to find a way to balance content creation with content promotion while running other parts of your business as well.

Introducing the 80/20 rule: The skill I’m focusing on in this section is your ability to identify which of your actions produce the most results.

There’s a fairly established rule called the 80/20 rule (or Pareto principle).


It states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. And it applies to just about everything.

One of the things it applies to is content promotion:

  • 80% of your traffic will come from 20% of the links
  • 80% of your links and traffic will come from 20% of your promotion tactics

In almost all cases, if a sample size is large enough, these numbers will be fairly accurate. They may differ by 5-10% in each direction, but the effect remains the same.

Using the 80/20 rule to eliminate fluff: The reason why I showed you this rule is because it’s possibly the most effective way to save a lot of time without losing much in the way of results.

In fact, you can often get better results in less time once you understand how the rule works in your case.

By breaking down your efforts and results, you can determine which of your efforts are contributing the most to your results.

Then, you can cut out all the rest. Why spend 80% of your efforts on only 20% of the returns you want?

Instead, use that extra time you freed up to double or triple down on that 20% of activity that actually produces results.

Here’s what it might look like in practice…

Track all your efforts and results, then eliminate waste: You never want to guess what is and isn’t effective.

Instead, start by tracking what you do to promote content, how much time you spend on it, and what you get in return for that effort.

Tracking time is pretty straightforward, but you’ll have to track your other metrics using tools such as Google Analytics (for traffic) and Ahrefs (for links).

Here are some hypothetical results:


The traffic per hour value is calculated by dividing the traffic from that activity by the time spent on the activity.

I used traffic as the main goal for this promotional campaign, but yours could be links, social shares, or whatever else you’re looking for.

Finally, you can calculate the percentage of results value by dividing the traffic per hour value by the total “traffic per hour” amount (e.g., 300/1466 for email outreach). This is a fair comparison since they are all based on a “per hour” basis.

What we see is that almost all of the results come from email outreach and emailing subscribers (about 88%). Those two activities take up 5.5 out of 11.5 hours of effort, or a little under 50% of the total effort.

This also illustrates that it doesn’t matter if there’s a perfect 80/20 ratio. You just want to see which activities are producing the least from your efforts.

In this case, you could cut out over half of your effort and lose only about 12% of the results, a great trade off.

Even if this time was spent just on more email outreach, you could take your total traffic from 2,500 to about 3,500 (a 40% increase).

If you wanted to spend more time emailing your subscribers, you could do it indirectly by spending the extra time trying to get more subscribers. This could be done by creating lead magnets or by employing other tactics to try to improve your conversion rate.

The bottom line is that you need to be efficient.

Find any effort that isn’t producing results (like screwing around on social media), and cut it out. You don’t have time to waste if you want to be a good content promoter.

4. Social skills on the Internet?

Marketers come from all sorts of backgrounds.

A large portion of the new generation of Internet marketers was attracted to the profession because it offered a chance to make money without truly interacting with people.

Or at least that’s what they thought.

If you want to be a legitimate and successful marketer, you need to have at least basic social skills.

You need to know how to communicate with co-workers, influencers, and your readers in a way that doesn’t seem awkward or manipulative.

This comes down to basic human interaction, especially in emails.

A lot of promotional success comes down to building relationships with people, and if you can’t hold a conversation, in any medium, it’s going to be tough to succeed.

Most people have these basic social skills, but if you think yours can be improved, read Ramit Sethi’s The Ultimate Guide to Social Skills, which is by far the most useful guide on the subject I’ve come across.

5. The ability to care about others will take you far

It’s a harsh truth.

No other website owner truly cares about your content.

So, when you email them asking them to take a look at it and give you a link of some sort, it’s tough to get a positive response.

That’s why good marketers never just ask for things.

Instead, they provide value upfront.

They do something nice for an influencer, and most people return the favor. It’s called the rule of reciprocity.


That’s a very simple concept that every marketer should know.

What really sets good marketers apart, however, is empathy.

Empathy just means that you’re good at viewing things from the perspective of others and understanding how they feel.

It’s an important skill in all parts of marketing, but especially promotion.

It’s another one of those skills that help you understand when certain tactics should be used.

For example, consider broken link building.

The idea is that you find broken links on someone’s website and then you let them know about the broken links and suggest yours as a replacement.

It’s a completely valid tactic in some cases…

Empathy allows you to understand what people care about.

The guy managing a resource page in your niche? He probably cares about keeping the page as up-to-date and useful as possible.

Why? Because the whole page is dedicated to links that help the visitor. If those links are dead, it has a big impact on the usefulness of the page.

Here’s an example of what one might look like.


What about the guy running a small blog? He also probably cares about broken links.

What about me? If someone emailed me telling me that I have broken links on Quick Sprout, how much would I care?

To be honest, not very much. I have hundreds of articles on Quick Sprout, so it’s inevitable that I’ll have a few dead links here and there.

I realize that dead links aren’t good for readers, but it’s honestly a small concern compared to all the other work I currently have to do for the site (and my other sites).

So, when people email me about dead links (they do quite often), they are not going to get my attention.

They’ve failed to understand the value I place on the broken links.

The reciprocity principle can work on just about anyone, but first, you need to give the other person something they value.

Can you develop empathy? I’m of the opinion that you can develop empathy just like any other skill.

However, it’s probably the most difficult skill to teach because I can’t just give you a guide or offer a course on it.

Instead, the only way to get better at it is to consciously put yourself in someone else’s shoes as often as you can.

Try to guess what they care about, and if possible, confirm it by having a conversation with them.

My best advice would be to pick five people you know every day, and answer questions like these for all of them:

  • “What are the things I value most in my life?”
  • “How much do I care about my professional life?”
  • “How often do I try to do something nice just to try to be a good person?”
  • “How loyal am I to my friends?”

You’ll probably have to do a little bit of Internet snooping for each person to answer these questions. Hopefully, you’ll begin to notice that you start thinking from another person’s perspective automatically when you’re trying to contact someone to promote your content.

6. A sloppy marketer is an unproductive one

Even though this article isn’t directly about promotion strategies and tactics, you’ve still gotten a good glimpse at what effective promotion looks like.

One of those things was the scale that you need to achieve.

A single piece of content may often have an entire campaign created around it, consisting of hundreds or thousands of emails.

Mix in a few different tactics, and there is a ton of data you need to keep track of.

This skill is a basic one: organization.

If someone asks you why they should hire you, they won’t be impressed if you tell them you have amazing organization skills. That’s because it’s expected.

If you can’t keep track of what you’ve done and what you have to do, there’s no way you’ll be able to run an efficient promotional campaign.

I’ve gone into it in great detail in the past, but for now, understand that there are three main components to organization as a marketer:

  1. Attitude – You need to want to be as productive as possible for yourself, your boss (if you have one), and your readers. This means you understand the importance of organization and put in the effort required.
  2. Technology – I write a lot about different tools you can use to be a more effective marketer. There’s a reason for this. Tools are a key part of working efficiently and staying organized. Even basic tools such as Google Docs and Trello go a long way when it comes to keeping track of things.

image033. Adapting – Staying organized is a commitment. You need to commit to staying up-to-date with relevant tools. You have to commit to keeping track of all your work, even on days when you feel a bit lazy. When something new is added to the promotional campaign, you need to find a way to fit it into your organizational structure.

When you have thousands of emails to send and keep track of, you need to have an organizational system in place.

I realize it’s not fun, but it ensures that you reach all your targets and that you don’t do anything stupid like email the same person twice asking for links.

7. Will your content promotion be effective in the future?

A sign of a good content marketer isn’t how much they know.

That’s because in a field such as marketing, knowledge goes stale quickly.

What worked even a few years ago doesn’t work now.

What’s more important is that you are continuously learning.

One part of that is reading other marketers’ blogs. Since you’re here, I’m guessing you have that covered.

Even just reading one post a day adds up quickly.

I suggest using a tool such as Feedly so that you don’t waste time monitoring when posts come out (or just become an email subscriber of your favorite blogs).


A good portion of marketers do that first part.

What they don’t do is experiment.

Marketing may not be a field of science, but you constantly need to test different tactics and strategies.

You need to be able to quantify what does and what does not work effectively.

For the most part, this involves split-testing.

For example, you might want to determine the effectiveness of sending an initial email to someone without asking for a link in that first email.

To do this, you would send some emails that did ask for a link right away and some that didn’t.

Then, once you had a valid sample size, you could compare the results.

From there, you could continue to test different approaches.

It’s crucial to test on a regular basis because all tactics will become less effective over time. It’s up to you to try to find more effective tactics before they become “ruined” by all the other marketers out there.

If you’re new to testing, it can seem intimidating, but it gets simple once you know what to do. Here are some guides to testing that will walk you through the entire process:

8. Can you lead AND follow?

Content promotion campaigns can take many different forms.

One component that often changes is the role you have to take.

Sometimes, you’ll do all the work yourself. That’s pretty straightforward—you just do things the way you like.

But you might be part of a marketing team and will likely need to follow instructions.

Even more common, you might find yourself having to lead. I say it’s more common because even if you do all your marketing yourself, you can start hiring freelancers to help you with certain parts of promotion.

Or you might want to hire content creators so that you can spend more time on promotion.

Here are a few good guides on managing help effectively:


Don’t get me wrong, content creation is incredibly important.

However, as far as the overall content marketing effectiveness goes, content promotion is often more important.

Furthermore, there’s a smaller percentage of marketers who know how to effectively promote content, so it really separates them from the rest.

If you want to be the best content promoter you can be, you need to develop all of the skills I went over in this article.

Take a minute to honestly assess your skill level in each area. Then, come up with a plan to improve it, but focus on your biggest weaknesses first.

If you’d like to share your results or you have any questions about the skills, I’d love to hear from you in a comment below.

How to Choose the Best Solar Panel Company


Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular due to its ability to produce electricity at home with no monthly fee. Strategically located on its property, a solar panel company will ensure that the panel absorbs sunlight and provides power 24 hours a day.

The production of energy from the solar panel can be translated into costs of your electricity bill. If your panel generates 75% of the required electricity, the monthly payment of its electricity will also be reduced.

In the long term, the solar panel will create added value to your home as an asset. If you decide to sell your home, your investment in a solar panel to pick a healthy return.

When looking for a residential solar contractor, look for someone who has extensive experience in the installation of a solar panel and make sure they are licensed and insured. It never hurts to ask if both are accredited by the BBB.

The longer someone has been in business, the more experience they have and other tips and tricks you know. It also tends to be a reflection of good business due to bad company do not stay for long! Probably also they experienced more problems than a person who has been in business for a short time in order to have the knowledge to help avoid these problems.

Feel free to ask questions or ask for references. A good contractor will be happy to provide you with everything you need and take the time to explain all the details and make sure you are comfortable. Learn about financing options and ask if you can show an estimate of energy savings over time. A reliable and qualified contractor offering residential solar financing options include lease with zero down so you can save money on electricity costs immediately.

There are state and federal incentives programs that can be tapped to help finance the cost of your solar panel. Ask what kind of incentives are available in your area, a competent contractor update this information.

Ask about warranties and learn about the best manufacturers – not all solar panels are created equal and are manufacturers. You want to make sure to protect your investment by using a top manufacturer and receives a guarantee not only of the panels, but also the installation and manufacturing.

6 Ways to Make Your Posts More Actionable



Do you ever feel that your content just isn’t reaching your audience as well as you’d like it to?

…and that even though you’ve created something of value, it doesn’t seem like anyone’s actually taking your advice and implementing it?

I’ll let you in on a secret…

Almost every content marketer has felt this way at one point or another.

It’s difficult to create content that resonates with your readers, but it’s even more difficult to create content that inspires action.

And not for the reason you think. 

Yes, people are lazy. Not all, but I’d say it’s fair to call most readers in a typical audience lazy.

But still, some of those lazy people should take action, right? And most of the rest of your audience should take action too, right?

So, why aren’t they? The most likely reason is that your content isn’t actionable enough.

Content marketers talk about storytelling, copywriting formulas, and other tactics to make better content. And all of that is important.

But actionability is a concept that’s rarely talked about, and it’s enormously underrated. Actionable content is almost always great content, and it’s one of the main things you should be striving to create.

Why actionable content is difficult—but crucial—to make: The reason why it’s hard to make your content actionable comes from your inability to fully empathize with your readers.

You might write something that seems obvious to you, but it won’t be to someone with less experience in your niche.

As soon as you do that once, a reader can’t fully follow the rest of your content.

And there are a few really big consequences of this:

  1. Your reader can’t take action because they don’t know what to do. Figuring it out might be possible, but it’s quite difficult to figure out some things without some guidance.
  2. Your reader loses interest. If it’s not clear how to apply some of your advice in your content, then there’s really no point for the reader to pay close attention.

To put it simply, content that isn’t actionable is not good for the reader.

But it also sucks for you too. You put in a lot of effort to create your content, and you want readers to get the full value of what you made.

It’s disappointing when your work has no real impact.

That’s why I’m going to show the six ways you can make your posts more actionable.

If you implement most of these on a regular basis, you’ll see some great things.

All of a sudden, you’ll get comments from readers telling you how your advice helped them improve their lives in a big way. And it’s going to be one of the most rewarding parts of creating content for you.

Pay close attention, and then actually apply the tactics I’m about to show you. I made them really actionable so that you can implement them right away.

1. Use this one phrase as often as possible…

If there’s one instant change that you can implement to make your content more actionable, it’s this:

Whenever you finish giving a piece of advice, follow it up with a sentence that starts with “For example,…”

If you’ve read my posts in the past, you know that I use this phrase all the time:


At first, this will take a conscious effort to do. Eventually, it will become your second nature.

The reason why it’s so powerful is because it makes it next to impossible to miss anything that requires further explanation.

For example (see what I did here?), pretend you are writing a post on building a website.

One major topic that you would include is picking a CMS.

Here’s what a snippet of your content might look like:

To make managing your website and its contents easier, you can use a simple content management system (CMS).

Next, you will need to pick a theme…

It might be obvious to you how to choose a CMS, but to someone new to the topic, it isn’t.

Let’s try that again, using our new phrase:

To make managing your website and its contents easier, you can use a simple content management system (CMS).

For example, you could choose from:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Drupal

Next, you will need to pick a theme…

I think it’d be good to go into more detail on each of the platforms, but this is already much more actionable for a reader.

Instead of having to read up on what a CMS is and what the different options are, the reader now has three good options to start with.

This quick example also illustrates that what comes after the “for example” phrase also matters. But don’t worry, I’m about to show you a few different ways you can make sure it’s as useful as possible.

2. Visuals are usually better than text

Earlier, I mentioned two main reasons why your readers don’t take action.

Some are just lazy, so you can’t really worry about them.

But the other ones just don’t have all the knowledge and guidance they need to take action. And that’s something you can fix.

To do that, we have to look at different ways readers might be missing information.

The first is they simply don’t understand what you wrote. Some things are very difficult to explain clearly in text.

Often, though, they are easy to explain with pictures.

The best example of this can be found in articles about building or baking something—anything to do with a procedure.

A simple picture can illustrate exactly what you’re talking about, like this picture in a pie recipe:


If you just explained the step in writing, maybe half of your readers would know for certain what they’re trying to do here.

But with the picture (and text), I’m sure just about everyone would understand what they need to do.

Add up that difference for the 10+ steps in the recipe, and you can see how having pictures to accompany each step makes the content as a whole much more actionable.

There’s no more guessing or uncertainty about whether the procedure would work because a reader can follow along your example.

The takeaway:

Any time you describe how to use a tool or item of any kind, include a picture demonstrating the procedure.

This is another way to make your content instantly more actionable, and it doesn’t take any special kind of genius, just an extra bit of effort.

You can create the pictures yourself or try to find some online (always give credit).

3. How is just as important as What

Any advice you give in your posts revolves around what to do.

You tell your reader what they should do to achieve certain results.

For example, I’m showing you different tactics that you can use to make your posts more actionable.

But as we talked about earlier, not all readers will be able to implement your advice just based on the “what.”

If they don’t have the prior experience and knowledge, your advice isn’t going to be all that useful.

The solution is to always provide detailed procedures of “how” to do things or to illustrate concepts.

The image tactic from the previous section may fall into this category, but there are other ways to clearly demonstrate procedures. You can use:

  • screenshots
  • gifs
  • videos
  • drawings

They all have their best uses, depending on a particular situation.

Screenshots are great for showing readers how to do a particular step on their computer.

I use screenshots all the time. Here’s an example of one I included in a past article where I was showing you how to create goals in Google Analytics:


In another post I wrote, I explained how to create great explainer videos because my readers might not have much experience with video marketing.

An example of a great video would help them know what to expect and what a great video looks like. I embedded it right into the content:


Videos are better when you’re trying to illustrate more than just a few things; otherwise, images are easier.

The great news is that it’s really easy to embed videos.

You can find high quality video tutorials or examples of concepts for just about everything on YouTube.

Once you found a suitable video, scroll underneath it, click the “Share” button, and then click the “Embed” tab:


This will give you a simple iframe HTML code that you can copy and paste into your content.


Finally, there are animated gifs (small clips of video without sound).

Gifs are great for a few different purposes. First of all, they’re entertaining and can make your content a lot more fun to read.

But since we’re focusing on actionability, know that gifs can be used in place of videos. At times, you might want to show a small part of a video as an example without having to embed the whole thing.

I’m going to show you in a second how you can clip a part of a video and make it into an animated gif.

Actually, I’m going to show you a few tools right now that will make creating any of these much easier.

Tool #1 – Techsmith Snagit (for screenshots and video): As I mentioned, in almost every article I write, I include annotated screenshots for the reasons we went over above.

This tool is a simple browser plugin that makes creating screenshots really easy.

To use it, click the icon on your browser (once you’ve installed the tool), which will trigger a black sidebar to pop up on the right.

From here, you have four different options. In most cases, you’ll pick “region,” which allows you to take a screenshot of a certain part of the screen only:


If you pick the “region” option, you simply drag a box around a part of your current browser screen that you want to capture. You can drag the corners to resize the box if you mess up on your first try:


When it looks good, click the camera icon below the box.

That will capture your selection and open a new tab with it. Here, you can add arrows, boxes, circles, and text.


The only downside is that you have a limited number of colors to choose from, but that’s not usually a big deal.

Once you’re done annotating the image, you click the blue button in the bottom right to download the picture or get a link to it.

If you’re trying to explain a multi-step procedure, a video might be better than several pictures. In that case, choose the video option from the original black sidebar. It will capture your screen as a video until you stop it.

Tool #2 – Evernote Web Clipper/Skitch (for screenshots): Snagit is typically the simplest option when it comes to annotated screenshots. However, sometimes it’s not enough.

Sometimes, you will want a more attractive screenshot, or you want to take a screenshot of something not in your browser (like your desktop or a folder).

That’s where this second option, made by Evernote, is better.

The web clipper is again a browser plugin. When you click its icon, you’ll get a pop-up, just like with Snagit:


These are the same options, just with different names.

Mostly, you’ll be using the “screenshot” option, which allows you to select a part of the screen.

One drawback is that once you select a part of the screen, you can’t adjust it. If you mess it up, you’ll have to do it again.

After you get what you like, it’ll open in a new tab where you can annotate it.


This tool has two main advantages over Snagit:

  • More options – In addition to having all the basic options, you can add labels, draw, and even blur parts of the picture.
  • More attractive – In my opinion, the arrows and other annotations look better.

Then, you can save the picture to your Evernote account and use it whenever you need it.

Sometimes, you’ll want to add annotations to pictures that aren’t in your browser. In that case, you’ll want to use Skitch, which is simply the offline equivalent for the web clipper that you install on your computer.

It has all the same options plus a few extra (like more colors):


Tool #3 – Giphy Gif Maker (to make animated gifs): Very few marketers use gifs, and even fewer know how to make them.

This tool makes it easy to create gifs, and it allows you to make them straight from YouTube videos.

Let me quickly walk you through the steps.

First, you input the URL of the YouTube video (or URL from Vimeo or Vine):


For this example, let’s use that video I showed you earlier in the article, the Dollar Shave Club ad.

Once you put in the URL, it will automatically load a preview of the video with a few key options:

  • start time – the timestamp in the video where you want the gif to start
  • duration – how long you want the gif to go for (from the start time)
  • caption – any text you want to display on the gif


When it looks good, scroll down and click the “advanced” tab. From there, click the download button to save a copy of the gif.


Finally, just upload it into your content like you would with a normal image, and voilà:


You can also use Giphy as a gif search engine. Instead of making your own gif, you might one already made by someone else. Just search a few keywords.


If there is a gif, you’ll likely find it.

4. Make the right things actionable

This is where things get a bit tricky…

There is a such thing as having too much actionability.

If you, by default, explain how to do every single thing you mention, your content is going to be filled with some very useful stuff and some very useless things.

While too actionable is better than not actionable enough, you want to find the sweet spot.

Let me give you a few examples of where it would be a bad idea to expand.

First, consider my example of baking a pie that I gave you earlier that illustrated how effective images can be.

Imagine if I had included a full tutorial on baking a pie. Would that add any value to my post?

No, of course not.

You don’t need to know how to bake a pie in order to understand how images can improve actionability.

That’s an extreme example so that you get what I’m talking about in general.

Now, let’s look at a more subtle example.

I often write about tools, e.g., tools that help you work as a team to create content. In these, I’ll provide tutorials on the most important functions of the tools in my list.

For example, here’s a tutorial of how to use the sharing function in Google docs:


But Google docs has tons of features. There are probably hundreds—if you really dug in.

Should I give a tutorial for each and every one?

What about how to make tables, or format a page, or create custom bullets?

The simple answer is no, I don’t need to include tutorials for those.

That’s because only a minority of my readers would find those useful.

Even if I mention in my post that a table can be useful, that doesn’t mean I need to provide a tutorial on tables to make the post more actionable.

You want to focus on making the essential concepts you are explaining actionable, not the secondary ones.

You will have to make some judgement calls.

When you’re not sure if you should expand on a concept, ask yourself: “Do my readers need to know how to do this in order to put my advice into action?”

In the case of the Google Docs tool article, readers would have to know how to share articles with their co-workers, but they wouldn’t necessarily need to know how to create tables.

That’s the difference.

5. Calls to action can be powerful motivators

We’ve already looked at some reasons why people don’t take action when they read your content even if it has a valuable message.

One of them was not knowing what to do. But once they know that, it becomes a question of when to do it.

As you might know from firsthand experience, if we don’t do something right away, it’s very easy to forget about it and never do it.

That’s why so many readers simply bookmark articles and tell themselves that they’ll come back later and take action. Most never do.

This means that your goal is to get them to take action right then and there, while they’re reading your post (or immediately after).

To do this, you have to call out your audience. You need to explicitly tell your readers to take action and do something at a specific time.

There are two general ways to do this.

The first is to include these call-outs as instructions throughout your content.

In posts about step-by-step strategies, this works very well.

For example, here’s an excerpt from a post I published about creating a content marketing plan.


In that sentence that I put in a box, I explicitly tell the reader to take action. They’re supposed to apply the advice I just gave them about naming their audience and then take action by writing it down.

What you’ll find is that if you make that first step easy to do, you can get a lot of readers to start taking action. Then, they build the momentum, and it’ll be increasingly easier to get them to continue taking action as you move them through the steps.

Later in that article, I again urge the reader to write down a list of their readers’ problems:


Before that point, I’ve given them all the advice they need to take that action easily.

I’m not going to go through them all, but throughout that post, I’ve broken down overall big actions into small, manageable steps at the right times.

The second approach is to put a call to action at the end of the post, in a conclusion.

This is useful for posts that aren’t necessarily step-by-step or for those cases when you need to understand all of the material before you can apply any of it effectively.

In most of my conclusions, I give next steps a reader can take:


In the post I am using as an example, I specifically tell the reader to make their own list of points to include in their content and then to use it.

It’s not complicated, but it basically singles out the reader and makes it clear that the time to take action is now.

One final thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to ask too much of your reader.

If you tell them to create a website from scratch, that’s a lot of work, and most readers won’t have time for that.

If the takeaway advice from your content is a big ask, then give them a way to make it easier.

Either tell them to start with one small piece of it, or give them a tool that helps them do it faster.

For example, in that same post, I offered a printable sheet of my 11-point content framework:


I knew it would be easier for the readers to create their plans based on my summary rather than start from scratch using the full article as their knowledge base.

6. Engaged audiences are more likely to take action

This final way of making your posts more actionable addresses the elephant in the room:

Readers are lazy.

According to the 1% rule, only about 1% of forum users actually post regularly; most of them will only read, passively lurking around:


The same is true for most blogs. Most readers will skim posts but never take action.

I told you it’s difficult to get lazy people to do anything, and it’s true, but there is something you can do to encourage even lazy people to take action.

The solution is to get them to engage with the content.

That means to get them to the point when they are actively reading it, thinking about what you wrote, and taking some sort of action throughout the content.

Creating engaging content is actually pretty hard. Surveys have shown that up to 58% of marketers struggle to produce engaging content:


But don’t worry, I have a few easy solutions for you.

The first is a big one, and it’s using interactive content wherever possible. Interactive content describes any content with which the user can interact (shocking, I know). This might mean clicking, typing something in, etc.

The reason why interactive content leads to engagement can be seen in a recent study on university students.

They looked at different teaching methods and found that the teachers who used interactive teaching methods had an engagement rate that was double the norm and had an attendance rate 20% higher than normal.

So, on top of getting your readers focused on your content while creating some momentum so that they apply your advice, you’re also going to attract more readers in the first place.

Pretty cool, right?

The main way you can do this is to embed social media. This breaks up the content with something different and allows the reader to take action and engage with it, leading to all those other benefits.

Embedding social media in posts: In most cases, you’ll stick to embedding tweets and Facebook posts.

While Twitter has some native embed options, I suggest using a plugin such as TweetDis, which allows you to insert attractive tweets in seconds.

If you buy TweetDis, once you install it, you’ll see an icon in all of your post editors:


In order to use it, highlight the text you want to be tweetable, and then click the icon.

The resulting pop-up has a few simple options.


The first menu, “Add,” lets you pick the type of tweet you want. A “box” tweet looks like one that you’d see on Twitter itself, while a “hint” simply adds a highlighted link to your content that readers can tweet.

The hint is shown below:


Getting the reader to switch from a passive consumption mode to an active mode (of sharing in this case) is a great way to boost engagement.

I haven’t come across any great options to embed Facebook posts, so you’ll have to do that the hard way.

If you make a post that you want to embed (or find someone else’s), you can click the drop-down arrow in the corner and choose the “Embed Post” option:


That will give you an HTML code that you can paste into your content. Then, it will show up just like a Facebook post in your content:


Your readers will be able to like, comment on, and share it right from that embedded post.

There are many other ways you can use interactive content effectively, which is why I recommend reading my full guide on the topic.

Ask questions frequently in your content: The other way to engage readers in your content is to simply ask questions.

Don’t let them just read your statements; ask them questions that make them stop and think a little bit.

I do this all the time in my posts:


Overall, it makes the content feel much more like a conversation rather than a one-sided lecture.

Finally, there are two important things to keep in mind when you ask your questions:

  1. Don’t ask stupid questions – Readers will feel that the questions are out of place.
  2. Always answer your own questions – Even if most of your readers might know the answer, not all will. Answering the question yourself ensures that everyone stays on the same page.


If you want your content to have a big impact on your readers’ lives, you need those readers to take action.

Not only is it good for them but it’s also good for your content marketing results. Readers who experience good results from your advice will become loyal fans and, often, customers.

I’ve shown you six different ways to make your posts more actionable.

Start with one or two tactics, and once you are comfortable with them, come back and apply the rest.

I’d love it if you shared the results you’ve had from implementing any of these methods. Leave your thoughts in a comment below.

Where to Start If You’re Lost with Selling a SaaS Product (Infographic)

At a small SaaS company, resources are constrained. Money is tight and everyone is wearing multiple hats while trying to find product/market fit. And most companies don’t have the money to hire the next David Ogilvy. It becomes the job of the founders and a few of the early employees to sell the product.

If you’re new to SaaS selling and don’t have time to read SNAP Selling, then today’s infographic is for you. Even if you’ve never sold anything in your life, you can learn some basics about the stages of selling. The infographic below includes step-by-step directions on how to sell a SaaS product. We thank Marketo for providing us with it.

7 Steps for SaaS Sales Success

Brought to you by Marketing Automation Software by Marketo

We thank Marketo for providing us with this useful infographic.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.