Content Marketing Mastery by DigitalMarketer walks you through the entire process of content research, creation, and publishing—even hiring other content creators.
Presented by Russ Henneberry, the editorial director for DigitalMarketer, the course discusses what you would expect a content marketing course to discuss; one difference though is that it outlines a detailed plan of all the goals, content types, and metrics for each stage of the funnel, which makes the job of the content marketer much simpler. Russ also illustrates everything with a ton of diverse examples from DigitalMarketer and other companies.
I especially liked the list of the 212 blog post ideas and the editorial calendar—extremely useful if you’re a full-time content marketer. Overall, the course really covered a lot of ground. If you’re thinking about doing content marketing, this course might be all that you need.
The following notes from Content Marketing Mastery by DigitalMarketer are meant to be concise, reminding me of high-level concepts and not trying to recreate the whole course. This summary is basically a bunch of notes and lessons paraphrased or quoted directly from the course and does not contain my own thoughts.
Module 1. Creating Your Customer Avatar
• Content marketing is the intersection of advertising and publishing. Traditionally—although, this model is still used—people create content, that content will develop an audience, and then around that content—if there’s an audience—advertising will be placed. Content is monetized through advertising. However, in the last 10 years or so, content and advertising have started to blend.
• You want to own the content and the products and services that are advertised. This has only become possible over the last 10-15 years for the average business owner because of the internet and technology. You need to start to think and run your company like a media company; this is the only way to survive.
• You not only need to produce content, but you also have to make it great content if you want a chance at building an audience. When you create an audience, you create the ability to advertise. Copyblogger is a software company, but it was built on the back of a blog—they created the audience and then started to advertise their software around the outside of their content to that audience. McDonald’s started to use content in order to guide the conversation around their brand—a lot of people blame them for the obesity problem in America.
• Media is anything that aggregates the attention of a definable market segment into a specific location at a predictable time. Harley-Davidson, for example, is media because they can turn the attention of their market to anything they would like to sell.
• Create avatars and give each avatar a descriptive name to identify it, and include their demographic information.
• You want to find what your avatar is interested in and wants from a content perspective—their goals and values.
You also want to add the places that they go to in order to get information because it’ll come really handy when you’re doing things like advertising. This is particularly important in B2B environments.
Challenges and pain points are big. This is helpful when you want to create content, as well as, creating offers.
Lastly, you want to know what their objections are and what their role in the purchasing process is. What would be their reason for not buying from you? And what is their role in the purchase process—are they just a decision influencer or do they actually make the decision to buy?
• If you google the word “funnel”, you’ll find many funnel models; some of them have 5 stages, some have 10, some have more. We’ll talk about just three stages that you need to move people through—with your content—in order to create a new customer:
- Awareness: This is where the person may or may not be even aware of a problem they have, and you need to make them aware of that. Or they aren’t aware of your solution, so you need to make them solution aware.
- Evaluation: People who go down into the evaluation stage are starting to look at the different solution available including the solution of “I’m not going to do anything about this!”, which is actually chosen quite often. But other things they can choose are your competitors or completely different solutions that you don’t even offer.
- Conversion: This is where you get a new customer, and this stage requires its own set of content where you’re going to move people from kicking tires into conversion.
Module 2. Top of Funnel Content
• At the top of the funnel, we’re using content to raise awareness. You’ll be talking to very cold prospects that may not be aware that they have a problem, they may not be aware of your brand, and certainly, they’re not aware of the solution that you have. This how your company can widen the net at the top of the funnel and bring in more cold prospects, and then warm them up through content as they move to the middle of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel.
• The following are the type of goals that can be met at the top of the funnel. This is not an exhaustive list; there might be other goals that for your particular business, could fit into a top of funnel goal:
- Increase Offer Awareness: If you’ve ever said: “I have this great product/service; if people just could hear about it…”, then you need top of funnel offer awareness. By increasing offer awareness, we’re talking about people becoming more aware of the things that you sell. This is when people start Googling the name of your product or service. You’ll also see an increase in the number of new visits that come to your site.
- Grow Retargeting Lists: Actually, at all the stages of the content lifecycle, we’ll be looking to grow retargeting lists. You need to have your own semi-owned media.
- Increase Engagement: If you or your clients complain about people not re-tweeting, not sharing your stuff, not staying on the website long enough, or not visiting more pages per session, then this is where you want to look. If you’re creating great content, then you should see more social shares, more people commenting, lower bounce rates, higher page views per session, etc. but don’t at these “vanity metrics” when it comes to your content strategy. Vanity metrics are easily manipulated—if you ever decide to hire an agency, you need to be really careful—and do not necessarily correlate to the numbers that really matter.
- Grow Website Traffic: If you want more traffic to a site, then you’re at the top of the funnel. However, traffic is also a type of vanity metric.
TOFU Content Types
• Top of funnel content types include:
- Social media updates
- Digital magazines/books
- Audio podcasts
- Video/Video podcasts
- Print magazine/newsletter
- Primary research
• You need metrics to measure whether the top of funnel content is doing its job of raising awareness of your solutions or of the problems that your potential customer have.
• Top of funnel metrics include:
- Offer Awareness: How many people are becoming aware of your offers?
- Retargeting List Growth: Is your retargeting list growing or not?
- Site Engagement Rates
- # of Inbound Links
- Traffic by Channel
TOFU Content Plan
• If you’re responsible for TOFU, you’ll be moving people from awareness to evaluation. You should tick the first box in the plan. Next, you need to choose your goal(s). After that, you’ll decide on the content types you want to use and the technology. The last thing is looking at the metrics you’ll need to measure at the top of the funnel.
Module 3. Middle of Funnel Content
• The middle of the funnel is the evaluation stage for your prospects and even existing customers who looking into migrating into different product lines or up-sells. Your content strategy should naturally change at this stage in order to push people from the middle down into the bottom of the funnel where they’ll convert. The ultimate goal in this phase is acquiring people’s contact information so you can follow up with them.
• The following are the type of goals that can be met at the middle of the funnel. This is not an exhaustive list; there might be other goals that for your particular business, could fit into a middle of funnel goal:
- Email list / Lead Growth
- Grow Retargeting Lists: This will be done differently at this stage.
- Initial Customer Acquisition: A lot of funnels talk about how conversion happens only at the bottom of the funnel; however, at DigitalMarketer, they use a system that allows them to compress the time that people take when they go from awareness to evaluation to initial conversion.
MOFU Content Types
• Your content types have to change because your goals have changed. In order to get leads, you need a lead magnet.
• A lead is an irresistible bribe that gives a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information.
• Middle of funnel content types include:
- Educational resources
- Useful resources
- Software downloads: This is when they’re still evaluating. So you can offer them a free trial for 14 days, for example. This offer gets them to give you their contact information so you can follow up.
- Discounts / Coupon club: You see people in the e-commerce or retail space offering promo codes in exchange for contact information. Secret sales is another one.
- Quizzes / Surveys
- Webinars / Events
• We want to know if our MOFU is producing news leads and customers and growing our retargeting lists. Middle of funnel metrics include:
- # of Leads / Email List Growth
- Offer Conversion Rate: This is where you measure the rate of eyeballs who opt-in for your lead magnet or tripwire.
- Retargeting List Growth: We want to retarget the people who visited the squeeze page but not the tripwire page—they didn’t opt-in for the lead magnet.
- Newsletter Email Open / Click-Through Rate
MOFU Content Plan
• This works the same way the TOFU content plan works. Again, you may want to put your own goals—in the Goals section—that meet your organization’s needs.
Module 4. Content Marketing Metrics
• BOFU is the conversion stage. This is where we acquire customers, and customers are making higher-dollar purchases from us. We’ve come a long way from the top of the funnel where someone wasn’t even aware of our company and solutions, and may not even have been aware of their problem, so we used content up at the top of the funnel—blogs, social media, infographics, and so on—to educate the market and move them beyond the awareness stage into evaluating solutions that are available, including your competitors and the choice to do nothing about their problem.
Those that get down to the bottom of the funnel are the folks that are considering your flagship products and high-ticket stuff. At this stage, you need to think about how you’re going to take these people that you’ve been nurturing all the way through this funnel and convert them into higher-ticket sales.
• The following are the type of goals that can be met at the bottom of the funnel. Again, this is not an exhaustive list; there might be other goals that for your particular business, could fit into a bottom of funnel goal:
- Lead / Customer Nurture
- Grow Retargeting Lists: In this case, we’re looking for people that are visiting our high-ticket sales pages but are not buying.
- Maximize Immediate Customer Value: You want to think about other offers you can make to increase customer value. If you’ve converted people from the top of the funnel into the middle of the funnel using a lead magnet, then converting them into clients, you want to convert them into higher-ticket products and services. You do this using content.
- Increase Retention: This for companies that are doing anything that is more than a one-time purchase—subscription businesses, etc.
- Increase buyer frequency
BOFU Content Types
• Top of funnel content types—to help you convert people into high-ticket buyers, multi-buyers, cross-sell buyers, and up-sell buyers, etc.—include:
- Demos / Free trial
- Customer stories: At the bottom of the funnel, people are aware, and they’re almost done evaluating. All you need now is that extra piece of content—a demo, free trial, or a relevant customer story can do wonders.
- Comparison / Spec sheet
- Webinars / Events: We used webinars and events in the middle of the funnel to gather leads; now, we’ll use them to convert those leads. The content of these will change from being educational to being a hybrid of education and a pitch.
- Mini-class: A mini-class is a type of event that you can set up and teach someone about a particular topic Again, this is a hybrid of education and pitching for your high-dollar offers.
• Bottom of funnel metrics include—again, you can add anything you want to this list that makes sense for your company:
- # of Sales Qualified Leads
- Offer Conversion Rate
- Promo Email Open / Click-Through Rate: How many of your promo emails are being opened and clicked? Your promo emails will probably receive lower open and click-through rates than your newsletter emails at the MOFU.
- Retargeting List Growth: Again, people who visited your sales page but didn’t buy. You might also create audiences out of people that visited your mini-classes or customer story pages or attended your webinar; these are great audiences to build at the BOFU and bring back to your offer sales page.
- Average Customer Value
- Retention Rate
- Buyer Recency / Frequency
MOFU Content Plan
• This works the same way as the other content plans except that you’re now going to put a check mark on the technology that you’re going to use.
Module 5. Blog Marketing
• The content type of blog appears at the top of the funnel as a way to increase offer awareness, grow retargeting lists, increase engagement, and grow website traffic; it absolutely does all of these things. However, the blog is used at all the stages of the funnel. All of the content types, no matter what stage of the funnel they belong to, can live on the blog.
• The blog is such a useful tool throughout the entire content process that there’s almost no business that can’t benefit from having a blog.
• The Editorial Calendar (This about creating the content plan of the blog):
- Pick a date to publish your post.
- Decide who the creator is going to be.
- Choose the post type (there is a drop-down menu in the planner).
- Choose the vehicle or the format of the post.
- Choose the category of the post (this might help with custom audiences).
- Decide on an offer. You want to offer something that’ll move people to the MOFU.
- Finally, come up with a headline of your post.
• There probably isn’t a better use of your time as a content marketer than to learn the art of writing and science of writing great headlines. We live in a world of snippets —the social web has turned into a place where all people do is take a little snippet of something and put out there, whether it’s a tweet, Facebook status update, or a quick email. Whatever that snippet is, it needs to compel people to click on it in order to get the rest.
• You should be spending more time coming up with and thinking about headlines. Headlines are the first thing that people see, and if your headline is bad, then it doesn’t matter how great your content is.
• You need to start a headline swipe file. Create a Word document—you can name it Headline Swipe File, for example—and start saving good headlines that you come across in the document for later use.
• There are eight ways to quickly create outstanding viral content. In fact, most of these blog types can be written without you writing anything or writing very little, and they’ll do much better than the stuff you spend hours and hours on.
1. The Embed Reactor: You go and find a really popular video, infographic, article, SlideShare deck, etc. from an expert—you can search YouTube or any of the popular sites—that would be interesting to your audience. You embed that on your blog and react to it.
The reason you want to do this is that the content has already been proven. The content is from an authority figure and it has a ton of views. The person who created the content is usually happy that you’re sharing their stuff. You can use Buzzsumo to find popular stuff.
2. The Stat Roundup: You basically compile a list of stats and link to the source. If you can take some of them and turn them into charts and graphs, it’s even better. People love statistics. This is a great type of post to outsource to an outside writer.
3. The interview: The interview hijacks the authority of other people. While you can’t get authority figures to write blog posts for you, you would be surprised by who you can get to do an interview. Asking for interviews activates people’s egos.
4. The Quote Post: This is another type of post that can be outsourced. You basically compile interesting quotes and voila.
5. The Crowdsourced Post: Ask 3+ experts the same question and aggregate their answers. The nice thing about this type of post is that the people mentioned will actually share the content, and you don’t have to do anything except ask a question. Remember to always be cool and link back to people.
To find experts/authority figures to ask, you can google things like “most influential sales trainers” or “top blogs on selling”. You can also type in a particular keyword like “sales” on Amazon and see which books come on top; reach out to the authors and ask them. Here’s an email template that you can use:
Subj: Quick question
I just finished [reading/watching/listening to] your latest [book/article/podcast].
I run a blog called [Name of the Blog] and I’m putting together a post on [topic] and
I’d be honored to get a little blurb from you that I could put in the article.
My audience would absolutely love to get your take on this topic.
I’ve already received a quote for this article from [other influencer] and
I’d be so appreciative if you would participate as well.
Please reply if you are interested and I’ll shoot you the quick question. I only need
a 3 to 5 sentence response and, of course, I’ll link to your [book/blog/podcast].
I promise the whole thing will take less than 5 minutes.
6. The Compilation: You can go out there and find lots and lots of content and compile it in one single post. Most of the time these will be lists. None of this will be your content; it’s 100% curated content that you summarize and link back to.
7. The YouTube Cut Up: Try to find top performing YouTube videos with millions of views, play the videos, take still screenshots, and then summarize all the steps. This is great for how-to posts. Again, be cool and link to the original video.
8. The Roundup List Post: Find the most viral stuff that works better than anything else and aggregate all together into a giant list post. You can also do the same for your own content.
• You have two things to trade a writer/content creator:
• If you have more exposure to trade—you can give people more access to an audience that they want—you can trade in less money. In fact, you can get to a point where you’re not spending any money on content. Most of the bigger blogs on the internet are not paying for articles.
• The best of the best writer out there are only interested in exposure; and since you have to build a large audience first in order to get them to write for you, you’ll have to start out by paying money to less famous writer until you build a large enough audience.
• It’s a good idea to over-invest in your content strategy at the beginning in order to get to the point where you’re not investing any money. Take your time to find the best content creators and pay them even more money than they ask for to create that large audience.
• If you make the mistake of building an average blog at the beginning, you’ll never reach the stage where you have enough of an audience that’ll make people approach you to give you content. And it’s actually more expensive to go that route because you’ll just continue to wallow in the averageness of the content you’re publishing and pay for content forever.
• You need to understand that just because you got someone to write you an article, for example, doesn’t mean that your work is done. When content is not good, you or your team will still have to read it and edit it. If you get low-quality writers, it’ll actually take more time, in aggregate, because you’ll constantly be fixing content pieces, going back to them for revisions, or going out to find other writers.
• You need to understand that your content not only needs to be good, but it also needs to be consumable. It needs to pull people through it so that they consume it and get value from it. The reason for this is that it’s the only way to get them to see your calls to action and move to the next stage of the funnel.
• It’s not necessarily about the volume of content that you create that’s going to dictate the success of your blog and content strategy; it’s more about figuring out what is working and doing more of it—repurposing what is already working.
• The first thing you want to do with content that’s doing well at the TOFU is to turn it into a MOFU offer. Think about how you can turn it into PDF resource, a template, a checklist, etc.
Module 6. Content Distribution
• Content distribution is about getting traffic through your content or putting your content out there on the social web or in other places through email, etc. in order to get exposure to your content.
• Organic traffic is traffic that is not directly paid for. Some people call it free traffic but it’s not really free because it costs you in terms of time and energy.
• It’s extremely critical to build an email list, which is why it’s built into your content strategy. The reason why it’s important is that email is still the most appropriate place for you to make offers and to send more content.
While it is acceptable to send content to places like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, it is less acceptable to make offers through them—unless you’re paying for ads in there.
• You want to make sure that your content is absolutely stellar, that you have your follow-up systems in place, and that you have your retargeting in place before you start investing in paid traffic.
If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read, and you would like to invest in this course, you can do it here (this is not an affiliate link): Content Marketing Mastery by DigitalMarketer