With so much content about content on the web, where should you begin as a current or aspiring content marketer? You could search for “content marketing articles” on Google, and you’ll get more than 300 million results.
Luckily for you, the Vertical Measures staff has combed through all 307 million blog posts about content marketing (that’s right), and we’ve identified the best 30 — that’s the top .00001 percent!
All kidding aside, what do we mean by “best”? We surveyed our content marketing experts from across our agency, and asked them to identify online articles from the past 18 months that matched at least one of the following criteria:
- struck a chord with them philosophically
- was so good that they bookmarked it and/or refer back to it on a regular basis
- significantly helped them tactically. Whether they’re in strategy, SEO, content creation, or another area, they now perform their role better.
These 30 pieces will provide you and your team with an excellent content marketing primer. Enjoy!
Content Marketing Strategy
Content Marketing Strategy: How Do You Do Marketing With No Budget?
Author/Source: Michael Brenner, NewsCred
This article could more aptly be titled, “Content Marketing 101 Q&A.” I recommend that this be the very first article you read in this list. It’s an entertaining, concise interview with an industry expert; he sets the table for how to get started with content marketing, who it is for, why and how it can be effective, and basic measurement concepts to know. One of the basic tenets to understand is that content marketing is the “gap between what brands produce and their audience actually wants.”
Content Strategy Explained in 180 Seconds
Author/Source: Andy Crestodina, OrbitMedia
Bite-sized video (with transcription!) that walks you through what content marketing is and what it isn’t. The questions addressed here (that you will need to answer) can serve as your minimum viable strategy as you jump into content marketing.
12 Content Marketing Lessons Learned in 12 Years of Blogging
Author/Source: Lee Odden, TopRankBlog
Lee Odden has been in the trenches of online marketing for more than a decade. In addition to compelling stats about how content is consumed today, this piece will help you understand how to approach content marketing philosophically. For example: “Great content isn’t great until people find, consume, and act on it.”
Simplify Your Content Marketing Strategy with a One-Page Plan
Author/Source: George Stenitzer, Content Marketing Institute
Simplicity is beauty. Here’s how to create an insightful and actionable content marketing plan in just a single page. Even if you already have a detailed strategy, you may be struggling to implement it. In that case, “boiling it down to one page” can be the difference between progress and stagnation.
State of Content Marketing: Why So Many Companies Fail at Content Marketing
Author/Source: Joe Pulizzi, LinkedIn
An expert look at what content marketing is now, and what it might become in the future. See how effective organizations understand that content marketing is more than just digital.
The Nifty Guide to Local Content Strategy and Marketing
Author/Source: Mike Ramsey, Moz
Moz has a knack for publishing in-depth, tactical articles. Follow these 7 steps — and dozens of tips — to kick off your local SEO strategy. For most companies, Ramsey says the goal should be to increase the rate of growth in revenue/traffic so that it is “greater than the cost of continued content creation.”
Content Marketing Case Studies
8 Qualities of the Most Successful Small Business Content Marketing Case Studies
Author/Source: Kevin Phillips, The Sales Lion
If your organization can follow these 8 qualities — or at least most of them — you have a recipe for content marketing success. The top takeaway: “A successful inbound marketing strategy hinges on the collaboration and cooperation of everybody in the company.”
12 Lessons From Warby Parker’s Annual Report
Author/Source: Ross Crooks, Forbes
Warby Parker is an e-commerce eyeglasses website. Among the many content marketing lessons they’ve learned: Show your personality, talk about your people, and this gem: “If it’s not news, it’s bad news [i.e. makes for poor, irrelevant content]. You are better off just posting a picture of your fax machine dressed as Gov. Chris Christie.”
These Are the Top Branded Content Marketing Campaigns of 2015
Author/Source: Darryl Gordon, Tech.co
Wait, branded content? I thought this was a content marketing best practices article! Remember that content is still ultimately tied to business goals, so check out these four brands, whose content marketing campaigns succeeded in 2015 by — you guessed it — telling stories.
How Long Should Each Blog Post Be? A Data Driven Answer
Author/Source: Neil Patel, QuickSprout
Patel busts myths surrounding the “right” length for blog posts and reinforces that quality matters more than length. “When it comes to web content, length is only one of the factors to consider… There’s no magic formula on word count that’s going to put your rankings through the roof.”
Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die
Author/Source: Rand Fishkin, Moz
A glimpse into the future of the Internet! See why creating “good” content isn’t going to be enough in the years ahead. The minimum bar for content and SEO success is incredibly high. If you can’t consistently say, “We’re the best result that a searcher could find in the search results,” then Fishkin says you won’t have an opportunity to rank.
Why Strong Writing Is a Skill to Prioritize in 2016 (And How to Hire Great Writers)
Author/Source: Michele Linn, Content Marketing Institute
See why writing is perceived to be such a low priority these days, and why that means opportunity for your business. In this roundtable discussion, find out how to hire people with genuine writing talent, and how to improve your existing teammates’ writing abilities.
5 Research-Based Findings Show Content Marketing Beats Native Advertising
Author/Source: Kelsey Libert, Marketing Land
A research-based approach to the effectiveness of content marketing as opposed to native advertising, which can have exorbitant costs for most brands. Did you know that content marketing secures an average of 27 links per campaign, but native advertising secures just one?
13 Stats That Should Thrill CMOs
Author/Source: Jordan Teicher, Contently
According to recent Forrester research, 75 percent of marketers generated positive returns from content marketing. Read more about this and 12 other nuggets in this eye-opening, data-driven piece. These statistics are particularly helpful if and when are making a case to invest in — or increase investment in — content marketing.
How Content Completes The Sales Cycle
Author/Source: Andrew Wright, Visually
This article explores how to create your content based on personas, and then align their customer decision journey with unique content for each stage. By following this recipe, your content marketing efforts can help support sales and drive leads.
Reach Executives With Your Best Content Engine: Your Clients
Author/Source: Roanne Neuwirth, Content Marketing Institute
Your how-to guide on involving clients in the content creation process. Learn to extract business insights, determine which stories resonate most, and disseminate those ideas in the most effective ways.
Top 10 Online Marketing Experts to Follow in 2015
Author/Source: Josh Steimle, Forbes
Even though 7 of these 10 thought leaders have first names that start with “A,” we still like this list. If you want to stay on top of the ever-changing digital marketing landscape, start here.
Build your Content Marketing Around a Hub and Spoke Model
Author/Source: Mike Huber, Vertical Measures
Producing a series of content pieces around a single theme not only streamlines content production, but it can also drive massive SEO value. Google wants to see that you’re an authority on a given subject, so here’s a playbook on how to perform keyword research, then create multiple related content pieces, and finally inter-link between them.
Google Answer Boxes: The What, Why and How
Author/Source: James Perrott, Search Engine Watch
People are looking for answers to their questions, and Google is getting better every day at providing them — quickly. This article dives into the things you need to understand when creating and optimizing your content to be found on the search engines. A heightened demand for relevance means that, “if your content does not answer the user’s question, you will not rank competitively.”
The Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Powerful Headlines
Author/Source: Neil Patel, NeilPatel.com
Get five simple tips to improve your headlines. One of the most important notes is that today, the “average person’s attention span is 8.25 seconds.” That number continues to decline year over year, so you have to make your headlines (your H1s) powerful and clickable. If you don’t, every other marketing step you take “will be a total waste of time.”
Tools, Tips, & Tricks
8 Essential Tools to Simplify SEO for Content Marketing
Author/Source: Kristi Hines, Search Engine Watch
Learn how to simplify the process of optimizing your content. This article walks you through half a dozen steps, all of which keep SEO in mind as the ultimate goal as you go through them: ideation, keyword research, competitive analysis, writing, editing, and promotion.
How to be a Google Power User
Author/Source: Who is Hosting This
Want to speed up your day and get to better results, faster? Get familiar with all kinds of Google search commands you never knew existed! Do you know what an asterisk does in the Google search bar?
How To Hack the Amplification Process
Author/Source: Rand Fishkin, Moz
Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Fridays represent some of the absolute best digital marketing content out there. You can consume the content via a 5- to 15-minute video, or read the transcript. Here, Rand shares easy hacks to make sure your great content gets seen, across the Internet. Test, measure, learn, and improve.
How to Make Marketing Meetings More Productive and Less Soul-Sucking
Author/Source: Michele Linn, Content Marketing Institute
If you must meet, here’s how to increase efficiency and get productive outcomes. Quick tip: “[One reason we’re] effective is we don’t have enough meeting rooms. So we always have to stay exactly on schedule, because someone is going to kick us out at that top of the hour when it’s their turn.”
How to Test Short-Form Content Before Making Long-Form Investment
Author/Source: Siddharth Bharath, Content Marketing Institute
Videos, infographics, and e-books can be expensive. Here, get tips on types of short-form content that you can use as a testing ground before going “all in” with your dollars. Plus, you can generate results even with these formats, such as ads, landing pages, and social media posts.
The Ideal Length of Everything Online According to Science
Author/Source: Kevan Lee, Buffer
The title is self-explanatory. Find the sweet spots, in terms of word count or character count, of various web content formats. Did you know the ideal length of a blog post is 1,600 words, which should take 7 minutes to read?
14 mobile marketing trends that will dominate in 2016
Author/Source: Scott Gerber, Mashable
From mobile video ads to the endless debate on designing for mobile devices, 14 experts from across the mobile landscape share their predictions for the new year. Speaking of design and user experience, a recurring theme here is that brands will realize that they need to “customize content for each device.”
How Content Marketing Can Rock Your Brick-and-Mortar Business
Author/Source: Neil Patel, Forbes
Content marketing is about information — not promotion. Consumers have questions and are starting their search online before they go in-store. These questions can be answered and their research extended through digital content.
Millennials coming of Age
Author/Source: Goldman Sachs
This immersive infographic is so well-designed it actually has text embedded within it, so the content can still easily rank in Google (and therefore, can technically count as an article for our purposes here). Plus, it shares data that can help your organization market successfully to millennials — who, by the way, are “the largest in U.S. history. As they reach their prime working and spending years, their impact on the economy is going to be huge.”
Succeeding With Content In A Mobile World
Author/Source: Barbara Starr, Search Engine Land
How can you make content digestible for mobile users, while considering on-page and off-page factors? What is entity search? What kinds of obstacles should you eliminate on mobile but keep on your desktop site? Will you answer any of these questions, or are you going to make me click the link?
Go forth and read, young padawan! Enjoy these 30 articles and get answers to all (or at least most) of your burning content marketing questions.