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Content Marketing

5 Scrappy Content Marketing Hacks For 2018

What do you do when your contacts don't care about you?

Despite downloading one of your white papers, they don’t open a single one of your carefully crafted newsletters. Your followers on Twitter occasionally “favorite” your tweets, but nothing else. They download a lead magnet that piqued their interest, then ignore your attempts to engage.

Perhaps they went to a competitor. Maybe they’re still trying to evaluate their options, got abducted by UFOs or heck, just kept living their life.

It doesn’t matter.

The bottom line is they are just not engaging with your brand. But, that doesn't have to continue. There are some easy things you can do to increase engagement in 2018.

The Hard Truths About Engaging With Prospects

In a recent #HubSpotMasterClass, Noah Kagan, the Chief Sumo at Sumo.com, spoke candidly about establishing relationships with prospects.

The main takeaway was that prospects are overwhelmed with options, lackluster content, and problems that seem to have a lot of possible solutions. Meanwhile marketers, while well-intentioned, can be too eager to try new ideas and get distracted by the feeling of momentum.

In this piece, we’ll review the scrappy social, content and email marketing content engagement tips Kagan discussed. Use these to create personalized, higher performing content. We’ll also cover how streamline and get the most out of your content marketing efforts.

(We’d also recommend following Noah on Twitter if you don't already. If not for the content, his cover photo is something to aspire to.) 

#1. Get More Ideas From Social

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"The results you get are a function of your input." @noahkagan

A lot of brands simply maintain and manage social media channels. Here’s how you can actually use social to refine and tweak your content strategy.

  • Keep an eye on what’s working for others. Use the posts, tweets, and content that other brands distribute to your advantage. Then weed out the subject matter that regularly falls flat from your content plan.
  • Ditch what’s not working. During the #HubSpotMasterClass, Noah admitted that SumoMe decided not to use Pinterest because it just wasn’t working. They ended up doubling-down on LinkedIn because that's what was driving a lot of traffic.
  • Get really involved in FB Groups. With over a billion monthly active users, Facebook Groups can be great for growth. Join a group that already exists, or have a subject matter expert that represents your company join. Be the most helpful person in that group for a month, see what happens.

Repurposing content for social media is part science, part art. Content Repurposing Toolkit

Download our free content Repurposing Toolkit. We provide specific examples of how we repurpose content on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Slideshare, Youtube, and more.

#2. Gather At The Watering Hole

Speaking of Facebook groups, the next suggestion inspired by the #HubSpotMasterClass was to zero in on where your prospects are spending time.

Let’s start with briefly discussing buyer personas. Personas break down the demographics, professional background, goals, challenges, and pain points of your ideal customers.

Through research, surveys, and interviews, 3-5 buyer personas are developed. With this knowledge, marketers craft more personalized campaigns, messaging, and impactful stories for their audience.

Buyer personas also break down where your ideal customer conversates, consumes content, and openly talk about their challenges.

Sometimes referred to as “watering holes”, these websites are places prospects feel safe talking, without being excessively sold to. A good example is Lonely Planet’s Travel forum, Thorntree, where travel enthusiasts talk, swap content, sell gear, and meet travel buddies.

By joining and regularly contributing to these watering holes, companies can:

  • Get a better idea on which industry topics are trending
  • Position themselves as subject matter experts
  • Find influencers to collaborate with
  • Learn what makes a successful “watering hole” and potentially become one

Once you find your tribe, you can build more productive relationships with like-minded prospects.

#3. Actually Use Email To Communicate

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"Your email is your ATM. It's not the quantity of your email list, it's the quality." #blogging #growth #conversion #HubSpotMasterClass @wunder_lins

Have 10,000+ people on your email list? Well, how engaged are they? As Kagan pointed out during the #HubSpotMasterClass, your list size doesn’t matter if they’re not engaging with you.

Here are some tips to help engage more prospects with email marketing campaigns.

  • Build a relationship. HubSpot ran a test comparing email senders, and acquired 292 more clicks when the email came from from an actual person. Use a person to actually build a relationship with the people on your email list.
  • Go beyond just knowing their name. Personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates. Extend your personalization with curated email lists based on attributes and subscription levels.
  • Consistently communicate with your email list. “If you stop watering your plants,” says Kagan. “They’re going to die or decay.” Same with your email list. About 54% of marketers send out 1-3 emails a month, yet, about 61% of the respondents surveyed in one of our studies said they would like to receive emails weekly.

#4. Take Lower Risks With Content

During the #HubSpotMasterClass, Kagan talked through the 80/20 rule of content creation. This 80/20 is the concept that you should spend 80% of your time creating content, and 20% of your time promoting that content.

Here’s how you can make the most out of that 20% of time spent on creating content.

  • Start simpler. When experimenting with a new, untested topic, put a blog post out there, and see what the engagement is. If it's good, then go harder with a more developed post.
  • Treat blog posts like an appetizer. Use blog content to generate interest about more substantial topics, then point them towards a more substantial offer.
  • Create more detailed buyer personas. Utilize additional information from your CRM and social listening tools to increase your understanding of what kind of content your personas are looking for.
  • Be a people person. Learn and connect with your network while you develop content. Interview subject matter and industry experts. Teach other people what you know.

#5. Actually Measure What’s Working

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Marketers get so excited to do new things, but they don't focus on what's working. @noahkagan

Back to that point about marketers loving momentum. Marketers also love momentum when it comes to creating and distributing content.


Stop. Revisit. Debrief. Figure out what's worked. Be diligent about reporting. If you’re not measuring the success of your content, and not tying it to a particular goal, how do you know what’s working?

Track and measure your content goals by:

  • Monitor performance with a proactive dashboard. An effective content marketing dashboard connects all of the dots. It ties in all of your performance sources, compiles a ton of data, and translates that data into digestible tidbits of actionable information. Dashboards are also great for tracking the performance of current campaigns, in order to make pivots if needed.
  • Evaluating from start to finish. Only 39% of marketers consider themselves to be successful at measuring the ROI of their content efforts. Really get a read at how well your entire process works by also considering the time and resources that goes into a blog post or white paper.
  • Re-prioritize and adjust your goals. Kagan recalls that with some of Sumo’s content, they “grew traffic, but it didn't actually impact revenue.” As a result, the Sumo team set a goal based on MQL rather than traffic. At the end of the day, the likes, shares, and retweets don’t matter if you’re content isn’t generating leads or hitting other crucial business goals.

The Results Of Scrappier Content Marketing

As HubSpot put it, the results you get from content marketing are a function of your input. By that logic, scrappier, but more intentional tactics can finally give you a ROI from your content marketing.

Content, emails, and outreach need to be developed with the goal of building long-lasting, meaningful relationships. Authenticity, education, and genuine interest in your prospects will kickstart smarter content marketing tactics in 2018.

Want to kick off the new year on the right foot? Free Ebook: Climbing the Inbound Marketing Mountain

Download Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain and get ready for the climb. Our free inbound marketing book offers insights into inbound marketing goal setting, planning an editorial calendar, and more.

Written by Melissa Elise Randall / January 31, 2018

As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa enjoys writing and curating real content for real people. When she's not producing inbound content, she's an avid traveler and blogger for her site, Driftyland. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her oversized panda/Ewok hybrid, Morrie.

Articles by Melissa Elise Randall