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5×5: My Content Marketing Framework (+FREE Downloadable Checklist)

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 This post is part of The 30.000 Word Challenge. See all the articles in the series! 

 

Crafting content is hard. Marketing that content gets even harder. Why not simplify things – use a proven method! Read on for my Content Marketing Framework – FREE Checklist at the end of the article.

I’ve been creating and marketing content for about a year now. In that time, I’ve noticed a few changes and trends along the way. I’ve also noticed some things that haven’t changed. I’ve pulled all that information together into a neat little effective package, that I’m releasing for FREE today.

Benefits Of Using The 5×5 Content Marketing Framework

  • You gain time.
    When you’re not fidgeting around or looking for ways to get organized with your content, you gain time. You become more confident that your content will be successful and following the checklist should become second nature. This will make you more efficient.
  • You gain experience.
    Using a framework means following a few rules. It also means applying it multiple times. You’ll start seeing patterns and trends. You’re going to gain more experience – you’ll understand why something works or not.
  • You gain traffic.
    Once you see how organized you can be using this framework, you’ll want to create more content. You’ll optimize your older pieces of content and gain more traffic.

5×5: My Content Marketing Framework

It’s called 5×5 because it contains 5 main topics and each topic has 5 actions. Easy, right? Let’s start with Research.

1. Research

I like to gain knowledge by immersing myself in the subject matter. Opening up multiple tabs at once, jumping from one to the other and writing things down. You should use the methods you feel comfortable with, these are the actions that help me.

1.1 Topics

I have 3 methods to initially research topics: Scoop.it (also useful for Content Curation), Buzzsumo Trending (what’s most shared around the web, in specific categories) and just browsing marketing blogs, sites and communities (Inbound.org, GrowthHackers.com are great places to start).

I mainly want to get a feel for what’s hot right now and figure our the topics I could work on next.

1.2 Keywords

Keywords are important; not necessarily the most important thing in SEO, but they’re still relevant. I use Google Keyword Planner and Keywordini or Ubersuggest to find keywords related to my topic.

I also organize my ideas and sub-headings according to these keywords, as much as I can.

1.3 Influencers

Buzzsumo and Topsy are great tools to start the search for Influencers. What you’re looking for are people to share/tweet a lot and have lots of followers. Since they’ll also spread your message, you want to make them as relevant as you can.

I gather these into a basic Google Spreadsheet and make sure to gather some data like: Topics he/she talks about, Number of followers, Number of tweets/shares per day. In the last column I update when I’ve emailed/tweeted him/her for my previous article (I’ll explain why at 3.3).

1.4 Competitors

The Influencers search in Buzzsumo can also be used for finding competitors (if we’re thinking of them just as websites/blogs that have already written on the topic you’re interested in).

If you have a few blogs you visit on a constant basis (either from your bookmarks or from a tool like Feedly), those are the ones you’ll be trying to beat. The best part of this approach? Content Marketing is such a fun and lovely place these days, that even competitors will share your content if it’s top notch.

1.5 Types of Content

In Step 1.1 I talked about researching topics. But since we’re pretty clever and pay attention to the details, I can tell you that you’re also free to look at the types of content created by each possible competitor.

Are most articles about writing just that – articles? Could you shake things up by doing a great video or an infographic?

Once we’ve done our research, time to move on to our next phase – Create.

2. Create

I love this part. I probably spend the most time here, although some recommend I don’t. On the 80-20 Content Marketing rule I like Heidi’s response, although that seems to take even longer in terms of time spent crafting content.

2.1 Title

This is what makes or breaks you. Negative format, adding numbers and much more can help you turn a so-so title into one that’ll make people pay attention and actually read your article.

As tools go, I use a few of the tools on this list. I sometimes ask for advice from my friends and colleagues using Title Tester. But since this takes longer, I guess I use it on 1/10 titles.

2.2 Article

I just love writing, so organization in blog posts comes easy to me. I’m also doing this September Challenge, so I must be doing something right in producing 1 article/day.

I’ll have more about how I write an article in this post.

2.3 Search Engine Optimization

Once I’ve got my article ready in text form, time to figure out what little SEO tweaks I can make to it. I focus on the Snippet Preview in the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin. Not only are you optimizing that for keywords, but also for higher click-through rates, if you add a Call To Action within the description.

I also look through my text and title and figure out if I can replace any words with SEO keywords, without making it sound artificial.

2.4 Call To Action

I never think of an article as “done” until it has at least 1 Call To Action. Either in the form of a button or a proposal (See more articles, Become a newsletter subscriber, Check out this tool, etc.).

I make sure to frame these elements as providing more value for the user. The Call To Action text also has to be highly specific to the article itself, otherwise people won’t feel the need to click on it.

2.5 Images

Visuals are what makes people remember your content even easier. Have an article cover, add compelling images and infographics for each article to make it a truly unique reading experience, on any device. Canva, Adobe Photoshop are the tools I use to generate great images to accompany each article. If there are .GIFs involved, I rely on ScreenToGif. And if you’ve got great video editing tools, insert vids in your articles. They seem to be the future of content marketing.

In terms of sourcing raw files, my go to sources are The Noun Project and All The Free Stock.

Creation is a fun process, but the framework doesn’t end there. We now need to Promote the content we’ve just created.

3. Promotion

This is where I failed miserably in the beginning. I’d write a kick-ass article (or so I thought) and then…nothing. No traffic, no shares, no anything. Until I’ve discovered content promotion.

3.1 Social-Media

I’m active on twitter the most so I’ve relied on that for my promotion, but I do intend to spread my efforts on other networks as well.

Buffer is great for scheduling tweets, but so is MissingLettr in terms of tweeting a different version of the same message, over time. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can give newcomer FanChimp a try.

3.2 Newsletter

Gathering email subscribers is a great idea, no matter what. Sending them personalized information – that’s even more amazing.

I use NinjaForms and create specific forms for each article/page. That way, I know to prioritize sending a newsletter about Writing to someone who showed interest in that topic before.

3.3 Email & Tweet to Influencers

This is where I’ve gotten the most bang for my buck. Using the list I gathered at 1.3 I start sending personalized emails/tweets to influencers. To find their email addresses/twitter accounts, I use Topsy and Email Hunter.

Once I feel I have a pretty good “I’ve mentioned you in this article” email, I save it as a Canned Response in Gmail. See this article on how to get it set up and how to use it. If you’re crazy about getting a reply back, use Sidekick or BananaTag.

Also, Marius over at MarkinBlog has a kickass article on reaching out to bloggers. I highly recommend reading this article.

3.4 Paid Ads

Many people ignore this side of the promotion process. Truth be told,I did too in  the beginning. It didn’t really make sense to me. I felt like SEO and influencer outreach should be enough.

Then again, I tried promoting a few blog articles and could clearly see the benefits: new readers, interested readers – fast! Start small with paid promotion and pay close attention to your target. Also make sure you use a special landing page as destination, not your homepage. Try to get your paid visitors’ email for future emails.

3.5 Homepage Banner

If your blog is just attached to your official website, make it a rule to promote the newest piece of content on the homepage. That way new users won’t miss the blog button and returning website users will get fresh content every time.

You can also do this on social-media by pinning a post, creating a special cover or board.

Now you can finally rest for a while, at least until you get to our next segment: Measure.

4. Measure

Measuring content is tricky (I’ll have an article on this topic this month). I try and break down my results into main categories.

4.1 Traffic

This one is pretty basic. I use the WordPress Dashboard for a quick overview of my overall performance. I get behind deep into metrics using Google Analytics.

I haven’t set up any fancy filters or segmentations yet. I mainly take a look at a few Key Performance Indications: Time On Site, Bounce Rate, Number of Visited Pages. I also make sure to analyze all the sources I got traffic for, in order to have a good base to promote my next piece of content.

4.2 Shares

I use SumoMe’s Share tool and I sometimes play around with the arrangement and button look/size. For instance, I didn’t think people used Buffer to share my posts, but I’ve added the Buffer button and Buffer Shares have increased thanks to that little action.

A great tool for checking out someone else’s performance is ShareTally.

4.3 Comments

Traffic and shares are great, but what I’m looking to build is a community. You can’t have one of those without people actively reaching out to you and commenting on pieces of content.

I try to reply to each comment as soon as I can – whatever the platform may be (own blog, Inbound.org, GrowthHackers.com, Facebook, twitter, etc.)

4.4 Email Replies

Influencers are amazing, so I also keep track of the number of people who’ve responded to my outreach campaigns.

I’ve talked about reaching out to influencers in my Medium article, about The Stalking Vampire Technique. Read it for great tips and actual replies!

4.5 Potential for Repurposing

Does this post work better as an infographic? Could this infographic be turned into an interactive quiz?

I mainly take a look at comments, tweets and think about great ways my original content could reach new people. Once I have that, I get back to work with a modified checklist for Content Repurposing.

We’ve created our content, promoted our content, measured our content. We now need to look further at what we’ve found and move on to our last phase: Optimize.

5. Optimize

Having all the data available means you have to filter for nuggets of insights. Here are 5 content marketing elements you can optimize.

5.1 Call To Action

Was your Call To Action too subtle? Or too aggressive? Use SumoMe’s Content Analytics to check if people even scrolled down to see it.

Also think about colors and size. There’s no single way to get this right, just test, test, test.

5.2 Content Upgrade

Provide people with more value in exchange for their email or a share. You can easily implement this with a few free or paid plugins.

Bryan, PatBrianGael and Mark, Tim and Adam (to name just a few) have written posts on the topic of Content Upgrades. Go read them, they’re ace at this!

5.3 Types & Number of contacted Influencers

Sometimes your best outreach campaign comes from the most unlikely sources. Don’t be afraid to contact a lot of influencers, if you feel your content is truly amazing and it’ll help their communities.

Also think about what types of influencers they are – if they share things a lot, if they tweet more than share on facebook, what they tweet about the most. Gather all that data and optimize your outreach campaign.

5.4 Additional Content

Additional content doesn’t have to be hidden behind a sharewall. You should also think about the type of content that works best with your piece of content.

Podcasts are great, but transcripts are a welcome addition. Bulleted lists are easy to follow, but infographics are way easier to share and remember. Videos are fun to watch, but an actionable checklist will help the user even more.

5.5 Images

Since images are so important in Content Marketing, you want to make sure yours are top notch. Think about getting someone on Fiverr or Upwork to help you design a better one, if you’re not a designer yourself.

Used icons? Think about adding stock images. Added stock images? Try a nice flat image or gradient for your next post.

The 5×5 Content Marketing Framework has one last piece of the puzzle: Rinse & Repeat. Once you’ve taken these steps for one piece of content, time to move on to your next one. You are also free to take older articles into account and use Steps 3-5 on them.

My Hopes For 5×5

[bctt tweet=”I hope this framework helps you gain some basic insight into the process of Content Marketing.”]

I’d really enjoy it if you’d use it as a starting point, not a strict checklist. It’s there to help you, but you can work on improving it, if you feel I’ve missed something (I’m sure I did).

I also hope you won’t feel restricted by the checklist format. It’s there to give you a sense of structure, not box you in.

Now for the FREE Checklist I was telling you about. Just click HERE and you’ll be taken to Process Street where you can save the Checklist to your account. Or click HERE to download it as a Word file.

1 Comment

  1. Andreea

    Great article, keep up the good work. It really helped me

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5×5: My Content Marketing Framework (+FREE Downloadable Checklist)

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