How to Become an Indispensable Full-Stack Content Marketer
This is a guest post by Mark John Hiemstra
Not long ago, internet copywriters were forced to write copy that didn’t make much sense. All that had to be done was to get down some words somewhat related to a keyword subject, insert that keyword every 75 words or so, buy a bunch of links back to that page, and BOOM, your page is at the top of the search results.
Actually finding answers to your search engine query was, to quote Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan, like finding a needle in a stack of needles.
And then Google decided that people should actually be able to find answers to their questions. Searchers should be able to gain an in-depth understanding of topics they were researching. And so, writers had to be employed by businesses who wanted to appear in search results in order to actually provide those answers.
Along the way, digital marketers discovered that if you provide real value to people, you can actually turn them into customers. And it wasn’t just about webpages. It was about ad copy and emails and white papers and ebooks and infographics and every other kind of content that could reach potential customers.
It was about providing value everywhere possible.
And since then, we’ve discovered that there are people who have become adept at using all of these content tools available to us today to reach our audience.
Let’s call those people full-stack content marketers.
The full-stack content marketer is able to use content to reach audiences and show them how spending their hard-earned money on a particular product or service is the way to solve a specific set of problems. These copywriters are helping businesses to find new customers, and guide them along the path to conversion.
Think you’ve got what it takes to be a full-stack content marketer? Want to learn more about how to become an indispensable part of a critical aspect of any company’s digital marketing strategy? Let’s look at some skills you need to make it happen.
Back your content strategy with solid research
Research is as essential to the full-stack copywriter as a content strategy is to a marketing campaign. There is no point in getting started if you don’t know who you’re going to be talking to, and what problems they have. By understanding who they are and the difficulties they face, you can begin to more fully understand how to answer their questions.
Content marketing expert Beth Hayden, writing for Copyblogger, has broken down a six-step process for great content marketing research. Let’s take a look at two of her most important tips.
Research your audience’s mindset
You want to discover what the needs, and desires of your audience are. You want to understand the way they see the world around them, and find out what things are important to them. And above all, you want to understand what their values are.
Beth says that you can go a long way towards understanding your audience by simply listening. How do you do that without going around putting microphones in people’s living rooms (aside from the inherent creepiness and illegality, what a huge pain in the butt that would be!) or tapping their phones?
Social networks like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook are great listening posts. Find out who is interested in the product or service you’re promoting and see what they’re talking about. Create a list of values and desires, and make sure that you make use of that list when writing your copy. Make sure you’re uncovering the things that motivate your audience to act.
We get closer to understanding their motivations by understanding their problems. Beth says:
“You can discover not only the problems that are keeping them up at night, but the inconsistencies and troubles with your competitor’s problems and services, too.
You can discover what’s not being done well in your industry — and how you can handle it better.
Discovering unsolved problems or dissatisfaction gives you the opportunity to satisfy needs no one else can, because you have information they don’t have (or haven’t noticed yet.)”
By understanding the problem, you can present your audience with a solution.
Write killer web page copy
A website is often a potential customer’s first interaction with a business. As such, you want the copy to immediately speak to your customer’s needs.
The way to do that is to have a kick-ass value proposition.
Conversion expert Peep Laja has a great explanation of what a value proposition is.
“In a nutshell, value proposition is a clear statement that explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation (relevancy), delivers specific benefits (quantified value), tells the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from the competition (unique differentiation).”
And it should be the first thing that a reader sees when they visit your home page. and should also be visible on all major entry points to your site (read: everywhere).
Here’s what Peep’s article says about what makes a great unique value proposition:
- Clarity! It’s easy to understand.
- It communicates the concrete results a customer will get from purchasing and using your products and/or services.
- It says how it’s different or better than the competitor’s offer.
- It avoids hype (like ‘never seen before amazing miracle product’), superlatives (‘best’) and business jargon (‘value-added interactions’).
- It can be read and understood in about 5 seconds.
He uses the example below to demonstrate this concept.
What we see on this page by Geekdom is a clear statement about what their business is all about. There is a list of benefits, and there’s also a relevant image to help the reader better understand what’s at stake.
With a great value proposition, you’re giving your readers a clear picture of what you do, and why they’d do business with you. And now you’ve got a chance to actually turn them into customers.
Become an expert blogger
It’s no secret that blogging is a big part of content marketing. Did you know that marketers who use blogs get 67% more leads than those who don’t?
Blogging is not about selling your company or telling people about your products. It’s about providing real value to people and answering their questions. This gives you a chance to interact with them, and lets them know that you’re an expert on those subjects.
It gives you a chance to interact with them further if you can get them to sign up to be a regular subscriber to your blog or follow you on one of your social media channels.
The good news is that by following a simple formula, good writers can create awesome blog posts that will stand apart from your competition. Because it’s all about getting your customers’ attention.
Ginny Soskey, Manager of Content Marketing Strategy at Hubspot, knows all too well what goes into creating attention-grabbing blog posts. Ginny has shared her secrets in the amazing infographic below that outlines the secrets of a killer blog post.
Here’s the most important thing you should take away from this infographic: Your post title matters. A lot. As Ginny says, “The only part of a blog post your reader is guaranteed to see is the title, so make it stand out.”
Follow the steps that Ginny has laid out here, and you’ll find yourself getting a lot more audience share.
Write landing page copy that converts
The full-stack content marketer knows that landing pages are an essential aspect of any marketing campaign. As Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner is fond of saying, never start a marketing campaign without a dedicated landing page.
In her post, Landing Page Copywriting Secrets the Pros Never Share, Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers talks about the importance of proof in your landing page copy. Joanna says:
“See, the biggest problem with marketing copy is this: it’s written by the very people who want to sell what’s being sold. It’s not objective. So, in your prospects’ eyes, your copy is unlikely to give a balanced view of the product or service under consideration.
Prospects are always-already in a state of suspended disbelief when they read our words. They’re suspicious. They’re watching for gotchas. They, quite simply, don’t believe you.”
So, this is a problem. The solution? Assess whether or not you’ve explained the real value of the product to the prospect, and then prove it. The image below outlines Joanna’s process with an example from the life insurance industry.
Once you’ve added these messages to the page, you’ve added a degree of believability that shows your prospects that you understand their needs, and that you can provide a legitimate means of solving their particular problem. And that’s golden.
Don’t forget to check out our 9 steps to a high-converting landing page, as well. You’ll be glad you did.
Learn how to convert leads with email
All of the above is done with the intention of collecting leads. You’re getting people to sign up for your blog so you can email them. You’ve set up landing pages to collect email addresses. And now you’ve got to send them messages that convert them.
Every full-stack content marketer needs to know the ins and outs of email marketing. The two aspects that you’ll need to know are the crafting of emails, and the use of automated tools to make sure the emails are reaching the right groups of people.
Writing emails that get opened, and convert
Neil Patel, the mastermind behind Crazy Egg, is no stranger to email marketing. It is the very backbone of his business. Neil has outlined an eight-step process to writing emails that your subscribers can’t wait to open. Here are the broad strokes:
Step 1: Start with an enticing subject line
There’s a lot that goes into this, but here are a few basics.
- Use numbers to make your subject lines stand out
- Induce curiosity by promising to answer particular questions
- Keep your subject lines short and to the point
- Test, test, and test again
Step 2: Provide value
No one is going to open an email that isn't offering them something they want. Make sure you are providing value to your subscribers, and they’ll open that email.
Step 3: Get personal
You've done your research, so you know something about your prospects. Now find ways to speak to them personally, and from your personal experience. Don't be corporate — be yourself. Remember, you want them to get to know and trust you. Personalization goes a long way towards building trust.
Step 4: The cliffhanger
There’s a reason that TV shows end with some incredibly dire situation that makes you want to know the outcome. The same applies in email marketing. By showing people that there’s something they need to find out on the other side, you can get them to click through and find out more.
Step 5: Make it about them
Your emails are not about you as much as they are about your prospects. Allow your readers to reach out to you in your emails and give them a voice. It’s a powerful way to create ongoing engagement.
Step 6: Keep it simple
Emails don’t have to be tomes. In fact, they really shouldn’t be. Your email should provide just enough information to get your subscriber to click through to your blog post, or landing page. Research shows that shorter emails get the best click-through rates.
Step 7: Reduce clutter
Writers sometimes have to keep designers in check. Don’t get too fancy with formatting and images — just present your email in the most readable way possible. And don’t forget to format for every device a reader might use to open your email!
Use these tips as your foundation, and you’ll have a great recipe for email success.
Know how to use email automation tools
Being a full-stack content marketer is more than just being able to write the correct words. You also have to be able to pull the right levers to get the machine in motion in order to make sure that those words get in front of the right people.
If you can get an understanding of the basics (lead scoring, email scheduling, audience segmenting), then you’ll be able to use any of them with a little prep time. Using these tools is a very important aspect of being a full-stack content marketer, and should be a skill every indispensable copywriter has.
Create your own path to content marketing domination
The great part about being a full-stack content marketer is that, instead of going to be interviewed by companies, you can go to interview them and find out if you want to work there. Here’s what makes you so valuable:
- You can quickly understand an audience and what their problems are
- You have the ability to quickly assess how a product or service solves those problems
- You can demonstrate value to the audience in your copy
- You possess an expert-level understanding of the tools that help you reach audiences via the Web
Concentrate your efforts on learning how to optimize and test copy. Keep writing and keep testing. Keep learning by paying attention to the experts. Never stop learning.
Now get out there and create some great content marketing campaigns!
Mark John Hiemstra is a writer at Full Stack Copy where he helps businesses increase their visibility through highly targeted content marketing strategies. He is loathe to discuss himself in the third person, but can be persuaded to, from time to time.