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Top 10 Content Marketing Posts of 2017

top content marketing posts
Content makes the Marketing world go ‘round, especially with our work here at TopRank Marketing. While content has been a steady drumbeat in the marketing mix over the past 7-8 years, marketers are still hungry for best practices, examples and the latest trends.

Lucky for our readers, we have excellent content marketers contributing to our blog including Ashley Zeckman, Josh Nite, Caitlin Burgess and one of our new content team members this year who has made quite a splash: Anne Leuman.

As a body of work, this collection of our top 10 content marketing posts represents an incredibly useful resource, full of practical examples and relevant topics for CMOs to copywriters. As you put finishing touches on your 2018 content marketing planning, I hope these posts prove useful.

I’m going to take the most popular content marketing post with 5,500+ social shares (50 Influential Women in Content Marketing 2017) out of the list below because it’s not an article per se. You may still find it useful though, as it recognizes 50 talented professionals in the content marketing world ranging from Ann Handley to Amanda Todorovich to Amisha Gandhi and many more.

Now, on to the top 10! These are ordered by a combination of search visibility and social engagement:

Data Informed Content Marketing
What CMOs Need to Know About Data Informed Content Marketing – Lee Odden
39% of marketers are increasing spending on content marketing but only 41% are clear on what an effective content marketing program looks like. The missing link is data and this post highlights 3 sources of data marketers can use to better inform their content and 3 areas of focus for creating better content experiences. Expertise is also shared from experts including Tami Cannizzaro from CA Technologies and Josh Mueller from Dun & Bradstreet.


How 7 Startups Skyrocketed to Success with Content Marketing – Anne Leuman
Anne hit it out of the park with her first post ranking in the top 10 content marketing posts of the year! As marketers, we learn from examples and in this post, Anne outlines 7 blog and content marketing success stories ranging from Blue Apron to Glossier.


[Infographic] The In-Flight Guide to Content Marketing
– Ashley Zeckman
It wouldn’t be a great list of content marketing posts if it didn’t include an example of how we co-created content with content marketing experts to promote the Content Marketing World conference to other content marketers! With a “fly the friendly skies” metaphor, this infographic and advice from top experts highlights how marketers can plan their content marketing programs more effectively. Experts featured include: Tim Washer, Michael Brenner, Zerlina Jackson, Adele Revella, Ardath Albee and many more.


11 Content Marketing Tips to Build Your B2B Business
– Josh Nite
Josh brings his special writing magic to the topic of content marketing more consistently than any writer I know. In this post Josh builds upon another post on content marketing strategy (also included in this list) to highlight 11 practical steps B2B marketers can take to make content more valuable to customers and in turn, driving business goal achievement.


Content Conversations: Top Content Marketing Lessons Learned in 2017 – Ashley Zeckman
During the MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Ashley and our team shot video interviews with an impressive cast of content marketing influencers including conference organizer Ann Handley and famous content marketing pros like Joe Pulizzi and Chris Brogan. The post also includes highly quotable tips from brand marketers at GE Digital, LinkedIn, and Cisco as well.


How 6 B2B Brands Climbed to New Heights with Content Marketing
– Anne Leuman
At TopRank Marketing, we are very much focused on B2B marketing and in this post, Anne shines a light on 6 examples of B2B brands ranging from IBM to Slack plus takeaways for each to help marketers learn from the success of others in our industry.


The 5 W’s (and an H) That Guide Your Content Marketing Strategy
– Josh Nite
This post should be a pre-requisite for anyone making decisions about how their company will invest in, plan, create and promote content to affect business goals. Josh outlines the essentials of who, what, why, when, where and how of content marketing that is sure to guide you in the right direction.


Feeling Stuck? 5 Tips to Restart your Content-Creating Brain
– Josh Nite
Every writer and content marketer that is responsible for creating high quality content on a consistent basis runs into this situation: being stuck. With great empathy for his fellow content creators, Josh outlines 5 practical tips that content marketers can use to put your brain back on the track to creative content success.


Cracking the Code: 3 Steps to Building Influence with Content Marketing
– Ashley Zeckman
At TopRank Marketing, we walk the talk with our own marketing, especially when it comes to content collaboration with industry experts. Evidence of that fact is that many of the posts in this top 10 list include contributions from influencers. In this post, Ashley shares some of the secret sauce of how companies of any size or type can approach their content marketing collaboration efforts more effectively.


5 Outdated Content Marketing Tactics (And What to Do Instead)
– Josh Nite
Up to his neck in content creation on a daily basis, Josh has deep experience to draw from when it comes to sharing advice with other content marketers. In this post Josh highlights what he feels are tired tactics and their fresh replacements.

There you go – 10 of our top content marketing posts for 2017. A HUGE THANK YOU to Ashley Zeckman, Josh Nite, Anne Lueman, Caitlin Burgess, Nick Nelson, Tiffani Allen, Alexis Hall and Elizabeth Williams for contributing posts on content marketing topics!

We published well over 100 posts specifically about content marketing this year and we’re working to improve the effectiveness of those efforts. To that end, we’re making a number of editorial changes to our blog in 2018 and one of them is a refinement of our topical focus to make sure we are delivering what our community is most interested in.

What content marketing and content focused topics would you like us to focus on for 2018? Data? AI? Technology? Video and Interactive? Basics or advanced tactics? Case studies? We’re all ears and welcome your feedback.

Of course, with the success of our content marketing efforts for brands like LinkedIn, SAP, Dell and many more B2B industry giants, we are continuing to grow our content marketing dream team. If you’re an experienced B2B content marketing manager that wants to start 2018 with a great team of smart content marketers, you’ll want to check this out.


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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

Check Also

How A Best Answer Content Strategy Drives B2B Marketing Results

Best Answer Content B2B Marketing

Best Answer Content B2B Marketing

For many B2B marketers content is a numbers game, especially as the number of channels for discovery and engagement grow right along with competition for attention.

We all know how the information overload story ends: buyers disconnect, they start to ignore marketing content and they lose trust in the brands trying so desperately to reach them.

Smart voices like Ann Handley in the B2B marketing industry have called for a focus on quality and even brevity over the hamster wheel of content mediocrity. Many have listened and yet many more B2B marketers are still fighting the uphill battle of creating uninspired blog post after blog post, ebooks, white papers, case studies and who knows how many social messages - and to what end?

Is your marketing about creating content or answers? Think about what your customers really want.

The failure to communicate by B2B marketers has numerous causes ranging from flawed thinking that more is better to content quality issues to what I like to call “invisible content syndrome”, or content without visibility to the buyer.

Answering buyer questions is nothing new. While best answer content is a topic we’ve been evangelizing at TopRank Marketing since our book Optimize was published 7 years ago and since, changes in voice search and what Google shows in search results has put Q and A content marketing into the SEO spotlight.

The new SEO is optimization for answers. Along those lines you can learn about AEO (Answer Engine Optimization) which focuses on voice search.  There’s also Google’s "People Also Ask” feature which now show up for 79% of search results according to Moz. The difference between optimizing content through AEO tactics or for PAA visibility with a best answer strategy is the difference between visibility on a single channel like Google and consistently visibility across channels for a specific topic.

Being the best answer is hard, but that's the price for being in the winner's circle of consistent top visibility. While it’s more difficult to achieve best answer authority on multiple channels than just Google, in this world of information overload, self-directed business customers are searching for useful, credible information they can use to educate, evaluate and make purchasing decisions.

If buyers don't see consistent, credible and engaging "best answer" content across channels from your brand, they'll begin to trust competitors who are.

B2B buyers are using Google but they are also asking their social networks, listening to influencers, seeing some ads, consulting with peers in forums, reading industry editorial, blogs, and a variety of offline information sources.

Successful B2B marketers understand their buyers preferences for information discovery, consumption and engagement. They use customer insight and understanding of intent to create best answer content that is easy to find in search, credible and a great user experience. They also create a cycle of optimization where ongoing performance analysis is used to refine and improve.

So how do B2B marketers create best answer content?

Josh Nite from our team has outlined a few good best answer content examples here. Let's also look at some of the characteristics of best answer web pages aka “power pages”.

Power Page Layout

1. Customer Insight - Whether it’s keyword research, CRM or conversion data from your web analytics, it’s important to step beyond your own intuition about what topics to focus on and rely on data.Consider what is it that your brand should be the best answer for and what customers are looking for that best represents your solution. Metrics that give you an indication of demand like keyword research and intent like analytics and conversion data can point you in the right direction as to what topics to validate.

2. Best Answer Topic(s) - The research and insights work should help you identify the general topic to focus on for best answer content. Then you can leverage answer research tools like BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer which pulls data from Q/A sites and forums to surface the actual questions being asked about those topics.

3. Hub and Spoke Publishing Model - I first outlined the idea of a hub with distribution channels back in 2010 and the idea has endured. At the center is a comprehensive treatment of your best answer topic. Today we call them “power pages”, more about them below. The spokes have evolved from simply being places to promote your hub content to also include other content representing variations of your main best answer topic.

accounting software hub and spoke content

15% of the daily queries used on Google have never been seen before, so it's important to surface the most important variations on your primary best answer topic. Those variations present a more comprehensive representation of your brand's dominance on the overall topic and also provide many repurposing and content promotion opportunities.

4. Power Page - The hub or Power Page provides specific and deep coverage of a Best Answer Topic in a way that appeals to search engines and buyers alike. Whether a buyer's intent is to understand the topic broadly or to start evaluating what specific solutions can mean for their problem, a Power Page provides an easily findable, deep and engaging explanation. Some common characteristics of the best performing Power Pages include:

  • Leverage keywords/topics in titles to inspire clicks
  • Include page features that increase engagement (interactive, visual)
  • Provide comprehensive content on specific topics: examples, research, models
  • Cover related topics as well

5. Distribution Channels - Power pages are often hosted on a company website or blog. But that’s not the only place buyers will look for your solution topics. It’s important to have an integrated content plan that incorporates owned, earned, paid and shared media.

Hub Spoke Promotion

Whether you partner with industry influencers and industry press to boost credibility or run paid search and social ads for ultra specific targeting, the best answer topic should be consistent across channels where buyers are looking - not just on search engines!

What it takes to be the best answer:

  • Specific, in demand topic
  • More valuable and useful than other sites
  • Credible
  • High quality
  • Engaging
  • Device friendly, accessible
  • Loads fast

By doing the homework of leveraging customer insight and validating with keyword research, you can then identify the actual questions buyers are asking about topics important to your solutions. Answering those questions through a hub and spoke content publishing model ensures a deep focus and coverage of variations on your topic across the channels where customers are seeking answers.

But that's not all. There are many ways to create even better Best Answer content experiences. Having industry experts help answer customer questions segmented by stage of the buying cycle creates and a more credible and targeted experience. In fact, showcasing industry experts in a brand context for best answer content that is more visual or interactive content can really set a B2B brand apart. Easy to find, credible content that’s also a great user experience is exactly what a Best Answer content strategy can do for B2B customers that are actively looking for solutions.

There’s a lot more to this topic and I will be digging in more deeply during an upcoming Webinar with BuzzSumo on January 23rd at 2pm EST.

B2B best answer marketing webinar
How A Best Answer Strategy Drives B2B Marketing Results

This presentation will show you:

  • The modern content marketing integration model
  • How to use SEO question data to inform credible content and influencer selection
  • What "best answer" content looks like with examples from B2B companies

Check out the details here on the BuzzSumo site and I hope to see you there!

The post How A Best Answer Content Strategy Drives B2B Marketing Results appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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