How To Do Content Marketing Well – Interview With Jeffrey Kranz
Yuliya Skorobogatova 20 February 2017
Jeffrey Kranz is a content marketer who co-founded Overthink Group. His agency manages content strategy for US and international brands in the SAAS, finance, publishing, and faith-based space. He writes about content, entrepreneurship, and how to run an agency at his personal site.
Let’s start with a controversial question. Is content marketing dead?
No. Not by a long shot.
Content is alive and well. And marketing will be around for as long as people buy things. So people are going to keep using content to do marketing.
One of my favorite definitions of content marketing comes from Jay Acunzo: Content marketing is “solving the same problem or conveying the same emotion as your product, using media you create and distribute.”
That’s still happening today. But people do content marketing with various levels of skill, which means you have a lot of terrible, awful content marketers out there.
Some people will do content marketing well, experience great results, and keep at it. Others will execute poorly, fail, and tell everyone it doesn’t work.
When it comes to a content marketing strategy, there are too many things to consider: KPIs, keywords, audience, etc. So, let’s focus on KPIs and planning. What metrics do you use to measure the impact of your content marketing strategy?
There’s no blanket answer to this. You need to use different strategies to achieve different objectives.
For example, if I want to establish a client as a dominant thought leader, then I look at engaged audience size (the amount of people who regularly open emails, Like Facebook posts, click ads, return to my website every month, etc.).
But if I want to make money, then I look at sales goals.
What’s most important is to start with a goal and work your way back.
So if we need an audience of 10,000 engaged people who will open an email every time we send it, then I work my way back by asking:
What’s a reasonably ambitious open rate in this industry?
How many total email subscribers will I need in order to get 10,000 engaged subscribers?
Where are those people now?
How will I get them to subscribe?
There’s plenty of documented praise for the concept of One Metric That Matters. Find the one metric you should focus on, and focus on that. Build your strategy in a way that influences that number.
Plans and trends don’t always work well together. Is it possible to create a long-term content plan? If yes, what can marketers do to follow the plan and still be in tune with the trending topics?
Honestly, I don’t see this as a huge conflict. But if someone were struggling with this, I'd suggest getting ahead of schedule. If you get a few months ahead, then you have some breathing room to write timely content.
I think sticking with a plan gives you more flexibility to adapt when the winds really change, instead of constantly shifting gears without gaining momentum.
What are the biggest mistakes marketers make when it comes to creating and implementing a content marketing strategy?
Oi. I’d better keep this brief:
1. Approving content ideas without seeing if they have legs
Seriously. A great way to wreck creativity on your team is to come up with blog post and ebook concepts, approve them, hand them off to your writer, and them give you a blank look saying, “What am I supposed to do with this?” Don’t just pitch cool ideas. Make sure that there’s actually something you can produce before getting the approval.
2. Not promoting content
Too many companies pour hours and hours and hours into producing blog posts that get zero attention. When the content is created, it’s only half done.
You need to find influencers to share it.
You need to email your own audience to get them to share it (and enjoy it).
You need to build links to it.
You don’t necessarily need to promote every single piece of content you produce to your entire audience. (That can be a great way to tire them out.) But don’t just waste money on content if you’re not going to leverage it, either. That’s dumb.
3. Creating vague or amateur content
If you’re trying to establish yourself as a thought leader, do the work of creating excellent content for the audience you’re courting. Do not shill out a list of “3 tips” that everyone already knows anyway.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to grow an audience of budget-conscious moms. You publish an ebook titled, “3 tricks for a managing your budget.” (Which already sounds way too basic.)
But let’s say someone actually downloads your ebook. And the first tip they see is, “spend less.”
They’re going to think, “Seriously? That’s the best you could do? I’m moving on to find someone who can actually help me.”
This is a big problem for two reasons. First, it makes you look dumb. Second, it wastes a ton of your time into creating content that’s not going to do you any good anyway.
Creating excellent content is already a challenge. But unfortunately, all marketers know that even the greatest articles have a little value if people don’t find them organically. Can you share any strategies to amplify content?
I disagree: I don’t think organic traffic is the make-or-break determining factor when it comes to content value.
Case in point: the AHrefs blog.
Tim Soulo and the gang have been creating high-end, highly useful content for content marketers for a while. And you know how I hear about it?
I seriously just opened my Facebook feed and saw this:
I am not an Ahrefs customer. I am not even on their email list. But guess what? They’re the next tool on my wishlist.
Still, I suppose I should answer your question.
Email your list when you create relevant content. Ask them to comment and share.
Reach out to influencers with whom you have relationships. If it’s relevant for their audience, they may let you write a guest post about your content, or even agree to interview you about it.
Make sure you’ve implemented the Facebook pixel on your site. This way you can retarget visitors with links to new (useful) content you’ve created.
Interlink your content. Make sure your articles and ebooks are all part of a content ecosystem that allows people to find more.
Who are the best content marketers in the world right now in your opinion? First, individuals, then companies?
That’s hard to say, because the best content marketing has a way of slipping under the radar. There are plenty of big names out there—so I’ll list a few people that you may have never heard of, but consistently wow me.
Nathan Barry on providing valuable content for his audience, and almost nothing else.
As I mentioned above, I really love what Tim Soulo has done at Ahrefs.
Lauren Jung and The Shelf team do a terrific job with infographics. Sabrina Fenster is one of the few people whose outreach emails I look forward to receiving.