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How to Craft Long-Form Written Content

Blogs are a major player in helping elevate your brand to thought leader status. They engage your audience and offer up an easy way to get across expert information. After reading your posts, your audience should leave knowing how to do something new or with valuable knowledge they can apply to their life, business etc. Here’s how to get started.

The Topic
The entire idea behind thought leadership is that you are publishing content that places your brand as an expert, so that’s a great place to start when brainstorming content ideas. You want to be very intentional with what type of information you’re providing your readers. For example, one subject has many different angles. You could write a How-To Guide on making cupcakes, but you could also write a piece on Top Cupcake Trends. Both posts are placing you as an expert on cupcakes, but take very different approaches. The key here is whether you’re offering a How-To Guide, the Do’s and Don’ts or even Three to Five Things You Should Know about a certain subject post, you need to provide insider information that you (someone who is an expert in the industry) would know and your audience wouldn’t.

The Structure
Due to the flexible nature of blogs, there isn’t a hard and fast rule on the best way to structure them, although you should also be aiming to make your blogs as digestible as possible. You should also ensure that each of your blogs have an introduction and conclusion.

See your introduction as an appetizer. You want to get your audience hungry, you want to hook them in. Introductions should be brief but also inform your readers in an interesting way what the next course is going to be. Your conclusion should wrap up the ideas you introduced in the blog. View this section as your dessert. Your readers are mostly likely pretty full on information, but they’re looking for a little something sweet to end the meal. Now we get to the entree, whatever happens in between the intro and conclusion is up to you. You can structure your blogs with bulleted lists, paragraphs and even graphs and charts, the only thing to keep in mind is that you don’t over serve. Make sure your main ideas are clear, easy to read and don’t present an overwhelming amount of information.

Making a Content Series
One great way to increase your thought leadership credibility is by implementing a content series. A content series is basically just a series of blogs. For example, you would have a mother blog on a certain topic, such as thought leadership. Then you would have 2-3 subtopics of that main topic outlined in that mother blog – like long-form written content, visual content and media. Having deja vu? That’s right, you’re currently in a content series. The beauty of a content series is that you have the ability to take a deeper dive into a specific subject in a cohesive way.

By integrating a robust, knowledgeable blog presence on your website, you’ll not only reinforce your authority to website visitors, but you’ll also increase searchability and have the functionality to share across digital channels such as social media and newsletters.

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F.A.T. Stacks 101: Putting It All Together

Your website backend is properly configured. Your contacts are listed and tagged. You have digital ads running to drive new traffic and engage with existing users. What’s next? It’s time to tie it all up and put everything together utilizing what you’ve set up.

First, you’ll want to design a specific content series on a topic your audience is interested in. Say, for example, you’re a marketing company that focuses on small businesses. Perhaps you could create a blog series on the topic of small business marketing covering the specific topics of branding, digital marketing and thought leadership. Your contacts would be tagged according to actions they have taken on your site or completed in your newsletter – maybe they read a branding blog or clicked through to an article about digital ads. So you know this is a topic they care about.

Then, you’ll want to create some sort of lead capture to draw people in to the series. This could be something like a downloadable resource or guide – something that people find valuable and will input their information to receive. Once someone submits their information to download your guide, they will automatically be entered into the content series and tagged appropriately.

Your digital ads now serve two purposes. You can use a retargeting ad to engage with users who have submitted their information and shown they are interested in your topic (creating custom audiences based on their site activity may prove useful here). You can also run ads to drive new traffic to your site and push your content series out to a broader audience who might be interested.

So a user’s journey might go something like this: I’m a small business owner looking to grow my brand. I’m wondering about custom audiences and doing some online research when I see a digital ad directing me to an online resource guide for small business marketing tips. I see one of the topics it covers is – aha – custom audiences! I click the ad and am taken to your lead capture page where I enter my information in order to receive my downloadable guide. From there, I am automatically entered into your content series where I also receive emails about other topics I may find interesting (branding and automation, perhaps). Based on my tagging, I also often see retargeting ads. This leads me to click through to your website, decide I like what I see, and reach out asking for more information. Ta-da!

If this still seems like a bit too much, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t despair, contact us for a free assessment or to inquire about our simple stack install package.

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F.A.T. Stacks 101: Digital Ads

After you’ve properly set up the backend of your website and carefully curated your contacts, you can utilize what you’ve set up to really get in front of people using digital ads. Read on for the basics in beginning to use digital ads to both drive new traffic to your site, as well as engage with existing users.

Driving New Traffic

Digital ads can be used to drive new users and increase overall traffic to your website. One way to do this is by creating a general ad to get in front of new audiences that do not already exist for you. Not sure who to target for your first ad campaign? Start with the data you already have. A great strategy for targeting new users is to create a look-alike audience based on the data of people who have already been on your site. This will allow you to cast a wide net, but with parameters by targeting people with similar features or attributes as those who have already interacted with your brand. 

Also important to note – you should exclude from this particular ad the audience that has already been on your site. The message to people who haven’t engaged with your brand will be different than the messaging you want in front of people who have previously interacted with your brand

Engaging With Existing Users

Digital ads can also be used to engage and re-engage with people who have already been on your site. You can create these ads to be more specific based on users’ activity while on your website. Remember those pixeles we talked about setting up? That’s how certain ad platforms track activity. You can now use that data to create an ad to specifically target people who have viewed a particular product or read a certain blog on your site.

An important step to keep in mind here is that these two types of ads (driving and engaging) should be run concurrently. This is important because it will allow you to get initial engagement, and also to send those new contacts through your retargeting systems. Now when someone in your new audience clicks through to your site, the brand will be reinforced in front of them as they convert over to an existing user.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t despair, contact us for a free assessment or to inquire about our simple stack install package.

Interested in the digital aspect of marketing? Read here to learn about contact curation, the other side of marketing.