11 Steps to Building Your Content Marketing Machine

In organizations, processes are setup to produce consistent, repeated, and predictable results with minimal friction. These processes are refined overtime (if needed) in order to make the organization as a whole better and more efficient. It should be no different in the marketing department. How you set up these processes determines how effective your processes will become.

This focus on the process shouldn’t be any different in the marketing department. Agile marketing is a process that dictates how the marketing department runs. This process is carryover from agile development, which in part has the goal of delivering value to users at a much faster pace than traditional development. Both agile marketing and agile development share the key principle – delivering value to users quicker. Spending too much time with your heads down (known as ‘sprints’) without releasing anything may mean you’re late to market.

Today’s infographic is courtesy of OpenView Labs. They share with us the 11 steps you’ll need for successful content marketing. It’s a small, guiding part of the process that you’ll need to setup to get the most out of your efforts.


The KISSmetrics Marketing Blog

The secret to Pinterest: no faces and new heights [Infographic]

Ripen Pinterest Infographic 2A psychologist could spend a month explaining why we’re attracted to certain types of photos but we haven’t got that kind of time. What we do have is a new infographic from Ripen eCommerce that shows us which kinds of Pinterest pins are more likely to succeed.

Before I give away the secrets, let’s talk about why Pinterest is an important tool for eCommerce sellers.

The average check-out value of a Pinterest customer is $ 140 – $ 180 dollars that’s about double Facebook and way higher than Twitter. With more than 2.5 million page views per month, Pinterest is the second highest referral platform after Facebook.

The downside to all the traffic on Pinterest is that you have a lot of competition. I couldn’t find out how many pins go up on an average day but I found a stat that said 5 million (!) articles were pinned every day and another saying 1.5 million places were pinned every day. And those aren’t even the most popular types of pins.

So let’s just say, there are a lot of pins on the site so you have to do all you can to stand out.

Ripen Pinterest InfographicFirst thing to do – eliminate the faces. Weird, right – people love faces on magazine covers but they don’t like them on Pinterest. Images without faces get 23% more repins.

Next, soar to new heights. Tall images are shared 67% more often that short images. This is probably due to the way Pinterest is laid out. Tall images simply look more impressive. So think California redwoods instead of mushrooms.

Let there be light! Lighter images are repinned 20 times more often than dark images.

Text counts: 200 to 300 character pins get shared 57% more often than shorter or longer pins.

Doing business:

Pins with prices have a 36% higher chance of being liked and if you want people to click, ask them to click! A call-to-action in the description increases your engagement by 80%.

The Clock is Ticking

Like all social media networks, Pinterest moves faster than a kid heading out on the last day of school. You have about 1 week to make your pin work for you and that’s being generous. 40% of activity happens on the first day so don’t think you can set it and forget it.

Ripen Pinterest Infographic 3

Want to learn more about how to get the most out of Pinterest? Visit Ripen eCommerce for the full infographic and more tips.

Marketing Pilgrim – Internet News and Opinion

9 Awesome Examples of Copywriting Headlines (That You Can Steal!)

They say that writing the headline is the hardest part of publishing. Some people have even devised specific strategies to make it easier – ranging from fill-in-the-blank templates to waiting until the last minute to whip up something good and creative.

Whatever method you choose, these nine examples will make you re-think the way you craft headlines. Why? Because they all have several points in common that are worth analyzing from a copywriting point of view. Let’s take a look:

1. Avocode: Simple, Straightforward and To-the-Point


Avocode is a beta service that allows developers to gather important details from a PSD file, without the need for Photoshop. The headline works in that it states exactly what you can do with the site, and then welcomes you to request an invite. Nothing loud, pushy or overly complicated. A small “Questions and Answers” link in the upper right helps relieve any lingering doubts the visitor may have.

The sub-headline here gets into the nitty-gritty of the offer, but does it flawlessly in a single sentence. Simple, straightforward and to the point.

2. Bing: Let the Facts do the Talking


I’ve kept this ad from Bing for a while, just because it was so good. A newspaper-style clipping and a pair of sinister eyes completes the picture, and it’s easy to tell exactly at-a-glance what this is about. Google said it wouldn’t do something, and they did it anyway. Of course, Bing is not immune to having its own search records seized, but there’s no mention of that.

Bing doesn’t even go into a full-fledged bullet-point frenzy over what they do better, because as we all know, you could probably count those things on one hand. Instead, it lets the facts speak for it and backs them up with the original sources. Unsurprisingly, this ad was targeted specifically at Google-using Safari browsers for the best possible targeting results.

It’s not known whether or not usage of Bing increased as a result, but it’s a safe bet that many people were concerned about their privacy, and decided to at least try Bing as an alternative.

3. Name Badges: Easy and Fast


What I love about this example is that it doesn’t mince words. And when it comes to something as mundane as name badges, writing a thought-provoking, interesting and unique headline would make most people leap into oncoming traffic.

The supporting image copy illustrates just how these conference badges are different from the typical “Hello, My Name Is” stickers, and invites the user to easily create their own badge in minutes.   When it comes to designing something, “easy” and “fast” are the buzzwords that get clicked.

4. Pinterest – Create Your Own Outcome


Let’s imagine for a moment, that you’re not really sure what Pinterest is. Maybe you’ve heard about it, but you don’t understand why everyone’s pinning and sharing and creating. This headline makes it relevant. “They used Pinterest to plan a dream trip” is just one of many possible outcomes of using the site. You’ll have to sign up to discover yours.

Fortunately, Pinterest adds a little enticement to the headline by letting you know that it only takes around 45 seconds to sign up, and that there are billions of pins to explore – so you can use Pinterest to do whatever inspires and motivates you.

5. Oscar: Make the Impersonal, Personal


Debuting in New York, Oscar is a health insurance company that, as its introductory paragraph describes, is using technology to simplify insurance by making it friendlier and more accessible. The “Hello, We’re _________” is a type of headline that you’d typically find on freelance creative portfolios, but it’s good to see it expanding. By taking something as boring, frustrating and confusing as health insurance and making it friendly and open, Oscar has the potential to get a lot of positive attention through just the power of words alone.

6. IconJar: Get Comfortable with Action Words


This one isn’t specifically a headline, but rather the sub-section that typically appears below the headline. When you’re crafting headlines for your landing pages, it’s important not to lose steam after the big reveal (your offer). So what IconJar has done here is a trick that you can easily duplicate – use action words:

Boost, organize, drag & drop. It’s easy to say something like “IconJar keeps your icons tidy so you can find them anytime”, but that’s bland and uninspiring. Instead, the copy uses action words and references them to “you”, so that not only do you have these movement-inspired words, but you could actually picture yourself using this app in the process.

And if someone can picture themselves using your product or service before they’ve even hit the buy button – congratulations, you’ve already sold them.

7. Montage: Photo Books, Simplified


The idea behind Montage is captured brilliantly in this page – which not only has a direct, concrete headline that would appeal to anyone looking to create a photo book (effortless, made with love), it also has a gorgeous hero shot of the product in close, crisp detail.

Under the headline and hero shot are five supporting “feature pillars” that goes into a little more detail on the layout, sizes, materials and other specifics. Clicking each one takes you to a specific section on the same page that provides more information.

The only thing unclear about this page is the “Request an Invite.” Nowhere above the fold does it show that Montage is in beta, nor what requesting an invite actually entitles the user to – do they get to create a photo book or just be invited to use the service once it goes live? Clarifying the call-to-action could go a long way toward increasing sign-ups here.

8. Schnapps – Clear Headline, but Hero Shot Could Be Better


Schnapps is an app that is in beta, which lets you create time-lapse videos of your design work. This would be a great addition to a portfolio, in order to illustrate the start-to-finish production work that goes into making a beautiful, elaborate design of any kind. The headline is simple and says in just a few words, exactly what the program does.

The hero shot on this page, however, could be better. It’s not entirely clear exactly what the process is: do I put PSD files into a timeline of sorts? How are they ordered? Can I save or share the finished product? If so, in what format? There are a lot of unanswered questions on this page that a combination of a sub-headline, and perhaps a video in place of the hero shot, would do well to answer.

9. Scratch: Making You Think


Scratch Wireless’ headline makes you think – Wireless should be free. Its sub-headline is where it hits that light bulb moment – look at all the things wireless can do using your existing internet. Why are you paying so much for it, in fact, why are you paying at all? (emphasis mine).

Scratch’s philosophy in its headline seems to be that, just because “we’ve always done it that way” doesn’t have to mean we have to keep doing it. Rather than just talking about “free wireless” which could make a visitor’s B.S. detector shoot straight up, it throws a question right back at the visitor – why?

So What Can You Learn from These Headlines?

Hopefully by now you’ve come away with some great “headline ammunition” that you can use when crafting your landing pages. Just remember these bite-sized points when you write:

  • Keep your headline straight, simple and to-the-point. The best headlines don’t need to be witty, clever or complex. Simple sells.
  • Let the facts speak for you. If your company was featured in the news, you’ve created an amazing case study or otherwise “made headlines”, use that information to make your own headlines!
  • Put the user in control. Just because people use your service one way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Put the control in the user’s hands and let them explore everything you have to offer.
  • Make it personal. Whether you’re selling lingerie or lawnmowers, there’s a part of your business that many people might find intimidating, frustrating or confusing. How can you make the process friendlier and more welcoming to them?
  • Don’t forget the supporting cast – Although your headline will do most of the selling for you, don’t forget that great visuals, strong “feature pillars” and a clear, concise sub-headline add so much more.
  • Ask questions that make people think – If you’ve got a feature that others might term brilliant or revolutionary, why not ask the kinds of questions that make people think? Jolt them out of their rut and make them start questioning. They’ll thank you for the insight.

What are some of your favorite headlines? Share your most compelling ones below in the comments! We’d love to hear your feedback!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps businesses improve website design and increase conversions with user-focused design, compelling copywriting and smart analytics. Learn more at iElectrify and get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up. Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for more articles like this!

The KISSmetrics Marketing Blog

Majority of YouTube gamers say no to pay for play

The FTC says it’s okay for bloggers and YouTubers to accept money and free products in return for a review as long as those facts are clearly disclosed. So it’s legal – but is it ethical?

Gamasutra surveyed more than 100 YouTubers who specialize in video game coverage and asked them if they’ve ever been paid for coverage and here’s what they found out:

gamasutra pay for play

The chart is divided into two sections; YouTube channels with less than 5,000 subscribers and those with more. Under 5,000, only a tiny percentage have ever been paid to play. Clearly that’s the breaking point for video game companies. Over 5,000, the majority still say no but 21% said yes.

But this is only half the story. Those who haven’t taken money. . . was it because it wasn’t offered or because they think it’s ethically wrong?

So Gamasutra asked the question: “What is your opinion of YouTubers charging money to developers for video coverage, and is it ethical?”

64% of smaller channel owners said YouTubers should NOT take money for video coverage. When you move up to the larger channels, 60% say no to cash. Why? Mostly because they feel it undermines the integrity of the content and YouTube as a whole. How can you trust a reviewer to be honest if he’s being paid by the company that made the game?

A few YouTubers said it was okay to accept money if all you’re doing is playing the game, not actually reviewing it. Others said it’s just a part of doing business.

“Copyright holders don’t want us to monetize, no one likes ads, no one likes paid content — but we invest our free time into covering the games we love and want to share, basically giving free PR for the game itself. If a YouTuber asks for money for delivering great content, it’s not wrong — it’s compensation.”

And that’s the problem. . . most people think all YouTubers run their channels just for fun and you shouldn’t get paid to have fun. Bloggers used to suffer from this same misconception – still do to some extent . . .  Tell the average person that you make a living on YouTube and they’ll look at you with this blank, confused stare. A living? As in, you make money? But it’s not a job so . . . how. . .

Even people who make their living elsewhere on the internet find it hard to comprehend.

Getting back to those video game tubers. . . they have a special problem. When Miss Crafty partners with a rubber stamp company for a series of design team projects, that’s business as usual. But when a channel that’s aimed at young viewers accepts a partnership, they often get accused of selling out. Instead of being happy for the YouTube star, a sponsored video is more likely to receive a hundred sneers and jeers.

So what’s a popular YouTuber to do? Take their chances. Take the money and put a huge disclaimer on the video: this review was bought and paid for by XYZ Games. Transparency above all else if you want to keep your audience coming back for more.

Marketing Pilgrim – Internet News and Opinion

OkCupid says experimenting with consumers is a good thing

science-students-419554-mEarlier this month, someone at Facebook mentioned running a news feed experiment to see how people respond to positive and negative posts. What they found out was how people respond when they find out that they’ve been manipulated in the name of social science.

There was much ranting and raving, angry virtual mobs and the FTC was called upon to investigate this abuse of power.

Seriously – this is the internet people, not a hospital. Besides, once you signed the Terms of Service agreement (you know, the one you didn’t read) you gave Facebook permission to manipulate your data as they see fit.

Whether Facebook was in the right really doesn’t matter though, does it? Because once the public gets angry, there’s nothing to do but apologize and back away until the storm passes. . .

Or, they could own it just like dating app OkCupid.

This morning’s post on the OkCupid blog is titled “We Experiment on Human Beings!” Clearly, it’s an attempt to ride the coattails of the Facebook trend and I’m okay with that because the blog post is truly interesting! Forget the sensationalism, the lies, the manipulation, and look at the data.

Early on, they conducted an experiment called Love is Blind. They removed all the photos from the dating app then compared that day’s activity to the activity on a typical Tuesday. What they found was that people responded to each other more often, had deeper conversations and they were quicker on the draw with their contact information. When they turned the photos back on, conversations dropped off.

Conclusion: “people are exactly as shallow as their technology allows them to be.”

OkCupid learned something about their users from that experiment and they can use that data to make their app more enjoyable. A enjoyable app makes for a better user experience which in turn leads to more users and more app revenue (upgrades, ads, etc.).

Ipso facto: user experimentation is a good thing for everyone.

The reality is, we’re all just guinea pigs in this giant internet experiment. Who will click on this versus that? Will you watch the short video or the long video? Will a smiling child be more effective than a cute puppy? It’s all trial and error and that’s how great, new things are born. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?

What do you think? Should companies have to declare their intentions before manipulating user data or is this just a lot of noise about nothing?


Marketing Pilgrim – Internet News and Opinion

Six Things You Should Learn from the PostJoint Penalty

Every now and then a little bomb explodes in the search community. Blogs erupt with geysers of information. Authoritative sites spawn dozens of articles, examining the issue from every angle. Webinars offer “answers” to the new issue. And you and I are left to figure out what the heck just happened, and what we need to do about it.

One such bomb is the PostJoint penalty. This one is important, because of how it’s tied to Google’s stance on guest blogging, the future of SEO, and the strategy for content marketing. There are some critical lessons that we need to learn from the PostJoint penalty.

The Story on PostJoint

First of all, let me tell you what happened with PostJoint.

What is PostJoint?

PostJoint connects bloggers with marketers. Bloggers receive content from marketers, publish that content, and often get compensated for doing so. Bloggers like it because they get content. Marketers like it because they get marketing buzz and backlinks.

The website says, “PostJoint turns typical outreach around on its head, and lets marketers and bloggers mutually arrange deals in no time.” Then this — “We’re fast, secure and there’s no footprints.” Apart from the grammatical error in that sentence, PostJoint had a more serious error they committed.

What did they do?

Another term for a site like PostJoint is “guest blogging network.” Although posing as an “outreach” agency or a marketing site, PostJoint is actually in the business of guest blogging.

Guest blogging, as you will remember, was the same primary activity of MyBlogGuest.com, famously penalized by Google in March.

Furthermore, guest blogging, as you will remember, was the primary target of Matt Cutt’s salvo on January 20. His point was that “guest blogging for SEO” is over. While his comments needed some clarification, his words now ring with proven clarity: “If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”

(Subtext: “And if you don’t stop, then we’ll stop you.”)

The issue at PostJoint was guest blogging, which is the new worst sin in SEO so far this year. Guest blogging, at least on a blog network scale, will get you nailed.

What happened?

Google’s response was definitive and thorough. Go ahead and Google “PostJoint.” Their branded keyword returns no links to their site on page one of Google, except their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

postjoint serp

In the words of PostJoint’s Saleem Yaqub, “So Google has knocked us off their engine too.” What follows is his Yaqub’s take on “what Google meant to say.”

(Note: This is not an actual image of the penalty message. It is merely a fictional recreated one.)

postjoint business model violation

Though he doesn’t post the actual message from Google, we can assume that it was the dreaded manual penalty violation. Matt Cutts tweeted this:

It’s probably safe to conclude that unless PostJoint completely revamps its business plan and core activity, then it will take them a very long time to recover from this penalty.

What We Need to Learn

I’ve given you this story and context, because we need to learn some valuable lessons about what works and what doesn’t in this new era of SEO. The SEO methods of the past are dead and gone. PostJoint provides the perfect case study for discussing these lessons.

1. Don’t stick it to Google.

Some pundits believed that PostJoint taunted Google, which may have led to the penalty. The verbiage on their website makes this plain:

no footprints

Saying we have “no footprints” is like saying, “Psst, come over here. We can help you not get caught by Google!” And Google knows this.

That’s probably why Cutts later tweeted this:

PostJoint’s own blog suggested that they were nervous when MyBlogGuest was penalized before their own penalty. They quickly published an apologetic on how they were different from MBG:

difference between us

Some of PostJoint’s explanation, however, called into question the legitimacy of Google’s algorithm and technique:

And some of it even crossed the lines of what could be considered polite.

What was galling to Matt Cutts, however, was PostJoint’s oft-repeated claim, “PostJoint does not leave any footprints whatsoever.”

Based on this activity by PostJoint, plus the response tweets by Cutts, it seems fairly obvious that PostJoint was penalized, at least in part, by the nature of what they were saying (not just doing) — imprudently claiming impunity for their guest blogging activities.

I’m not saying that you should cower in fear of the all-powerful Google. But as it stands right now, they rule search. Don’t antagonize them.

That leads me to number two.

2. Play by Google’s rules.

Search has evolved to the point where it’s very unlikely that you will not be successful unless you follow Google’s rules. Unless you’re working on the Deep Web, and thus under the radar of standard search engines, then you’ve got to do what Google says is best.

the deep web

From Wikipedia.

With more than 100 billion searches per month, Google is still by far the dominant leader in search, claiming more than 65% of global searches. Bing and Yahoo just aren’t a big deal, claiming less than 10% of number of searches.

If you have any interest in successful SEO, you should be complying with Google’s rules.

If you don’t follow the guidelines, your site might be penalized.

3. Don’t use a guest blog network.

True to his word, Matt Cutts is lowering the boom on guest blogging networks. Barry Schwartz tabulated recent targets of the guest blogging penalty in an article on the PostJoint penalty. His list is fourteen long.

We should take heed.

If it feels like a guest blog network, looks like a guest blog network, or sounds like a guest blog network, then it’s a guest blog network. Stay away.

As I’ve reiterated many times, guest blogging — the legitimate, high-quality, and squeaky-clean variety of it — is not dead. But guest blog networks are dead, at least in Google’s eyes. So far, Google has blown several of them out of the water. More penalties may be coming.

Here are two telltale signs of a guest blog network:

  • Any site whose primary purpose is connecting publishers (websites) and writers. There are plenty of places to post legitimately as a “guest.” But other sites, sometimes touted as a site for “connecting” or “blogger and publisher networking,” are actually just a guest blogging network.
  • Any site which claims to be a “guest blogging” site. If a site claims to be a “guest blog network,” then they’re probably telling the truth. This is your cue to click the “x” on the browser tab, and do something different.

There are other ways of gaining great content and awesome backlinks. Guest blog networks are dangerous.

4. Be courteous to your users.

A manual penalty doesn’t just harm the penalized site. It can also affect sites that are connected. The “bad neighborhood” rule of SEO is still true. If you hang out in a web neighborhood with penalized sites, spammy sites, or suspicious sites, you’re going to lose rank.

When PostJoint went down, they took others down with them. Their blog reported this:

You will get penalized for being a guest blogging network, and maybe for purchasing the services of a guest blogging network.

Penalties have a ripple effect. If a site receives a penalty, then sites to which it links may receive a vicarious decline in rank, albeit in a smaller proportion.

There’s an automatic quid pro quo built into the complexity of the algorithm. If you link to authoritative sites, it can lend your site authoritative favor. If your site is linked to by authoritative sites, then it gives your site more authority.

And the reverse is true, too. If you participate in spammy linking efforts, then you will bring SEO guilt upon those who associate with you.

Focus on boosting your site’s credibility by steering clear of spammy sites for destination linking. Occasionally clean up your link profile to erase the negative SEO from spam sites.

5. Engage in alternative marketing methods.

Linkbuilding or guest blogging alone is not sufficient to make your business successful. You simply can’t depend upon it. As recent history shows, the guest blogging networks of today are the keyword stuffing of a few years ago.

It’s time to participate in a diverse array of online marketing methods. At present, content marketing is the most successful, safe, and effective approach to online marketing.

6. Content marketing will accept linkbacks because of great content, but content marketing steers clear of any attempt to manipulate linkbacks.

Content marketing is the high road in online marketing. But, sadly, some have conflated “content marketing” with a tweaked approach to linkbuilding.

Content marketing is not linkbuilding, and isn’t a modified approach to selling, swapping or sharing links. Of course, content marketing has the corollary upside of linkbacks, but that’s not the primary goal.

While we may nod in agreement with the PostJoint penalty, we must make sure that we aren’t engaging in any effort to coax more inbound links apart from purely awesome content.


PostJoint and other guest blogging sites like them have fallen away. They can no longer hope to be successful in the new era of SEO. We should understand and admit that the search environment has changed.

We have new skills to learn and new fields to explore in order to gain a tactical advantage for marketing. Success is still attainable, as long as we make the appropriate strategic shifts.

What other lessons should we learn from the PostJoint penalty?

About the Author: is the Chief Evangelist of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

The KISSmetrics Marketing Blog