When creating a new piece of content, there is a lot to consider. We pulled some of the best writing from our blogs on content creation and put together this monster of a post: Content Creation 101. This will have all of the information you need to create a really stellar piece of content, get it to the right people, and then repurpose it again and again to get the most you possibly can out of it.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Creating Content
Content marketing may seem like an impossible mountain to climb, but writing marketing content can be broken down into three principles:
Before tackling a piece of content, whether it is a web page, a blog post, or a video broadcast, marketers ask themselves three questions: who (and where) are my clients, what is my intention, and why will this piece of content help?
Here’s how insurance agents & brokers can apply these tactics to their marketing.
Who (And Where) Are Your Clients?
We’ve talked before about the importance of finding your niche market, which is a specialized but profitable corner of the market. Finding this niche market is finding the answer to the question of who your clients are. There is little point in creating content that is not addressed to this market because your niche market is going to be your most loyal readers.
Why Will They Read?
There is a sea of information available at our fingertips, so why would someone choose to read your blog or website above all the rest? This is the content marketing million-dollar question. How do I set myself apart, help my readers, and address their concerns?
What is Your Intention?
Now that you know who your clients are and where to find them, think about what you want your content to accomplish. These “calls to actions” motivate your reader to take action. Depending on your content and business model, these CTAs vary, but some common calls to action inspire clients to:
- Follow you or your firm on social media
- Subscribe to your blog
- Subscribe to your email newsletter
- Reach out to schedule an appointment
- Share your post
- Comment or like your post
Content vs. SEO: Which is Better for Your Firm?
Over the last few years, Google has increasingly placed more and more emphasis on authoritative content, and less on traditional search engine optimization tricks (such as keyword density). Other search engines, like Bing, are following suit and focusing more on quality content.
All of this means one thing for advisors: content marketing will get you much more bang for your buck than SEO.
Creating Authoritative Content
One of the key things to take from this is that the emphasis is on “authoritative content.” This refers to content that is relevant, newsworthy, and comes from a legitimate source (whether it’s a person or company). Here’s how you can get started:
- Be Knowledgeable. Write about what you know and take the time to research any topics requiring statistics. You should come across as a trusted authority on the topic you’re covering.
- Be Relevant. Don’t create content for content’s sake. Everything you produce should have a purpose. Why would someone want to read this? How will it benefit a client or prospect? What new information can someone take from this piece?
- Double Check for Errors. The best content is well-written and error-free. Make sure your content is clean. Use a grammar checker, like Grammarly, or work with a professional writer.
- Share. Creating your content is just the first step. The second is sharing it with your online community. Post it on social media, share it within a LinkedIn Group or online forum, and send it via email to your contacts. The best way to build authority is to make it easy for people to find your content.
For small businesses and service professionals, SEO can quickly eat up your marketing budget without producing results. Content marketing, on the other hand, offers the greatest ROI for advisors.
Like other content marketing strategies, whitepapers are great resources to show your knowledge of the insurance industry and to establish yourself as a thought leader. But this longer form of content may have you wondering where to start. As an agent, you might not consider yourself the most creative writer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t produce educational, high-quality whitepapers like the marketing pros.
These seven tips will get you started on your first whitepaper in no time.
1. Choose a Strong Topic
This is the first, and probably hardest, part of writing – finding a good topic. When writing a whitepaper, you want to choose something broad enough to capture your reader’s attention but specific enough to make a point. Most whitepapers are 5-10 printed pages, which means you have plenty of space to fill. But make sure those pages are used wisely and not just there to take up space.
2. Start with an Outline
On that point, you should always start with an outline. Some novice “agents-turned-writers” may want to skip this step to save time, but outlines are a great way to organize your thoughts and figure out the direction your whitepaper is going to go. There are few worse feelings than setting out to write something only to get lost in the weeds. An outline will help you stay focused on the points you want to get across.
3. Write in a Fun and Professional Tone
Traditionally, whitepapers were produced by scholars and academics to convey very high-level topics. In the marketing world, whitepapers are a little more casual. Adopt a tone for your insurance whitepaper that is friendly yet professional. This will help you gain the attention of clients and prospects while also providing valuable content.
4. Write First, Edit Second
Even the most seasoned writers often get hung up on self-editing and never get a piece completed. To avoid this mistake, try to get as much down as you can in the first draft and edit later. If you edit as you go, you might end up making very little progress and getting frustrated with the process. Instead, try to edit once you have a complete draft and just focus on getting words on paper in the beginning.
5. Write a Whitepaper as Part of a Broader Strategy
Like all content pieces, your whitepaper should be part of a bigger strategy. For example, if you are doing a big content push about tax planning during the beginning of the year, throw a whitepaper into the mix. All of your content should feature the same message and direct traffic back to your website.
6. Recycle Content
If you’ve been implementing a content marketing strategy in the past, good news – you won’t have to start your whitepaper from scratch. You can easily repurpose blogs, emails, and social media content and turn it into a longer whitepaper.
One way we do this at Agency Revolution is to take an existing ebook or whitepaper and select key excerpts to share as a blog post. For example, our recent State of the Insurance Industry report by Michael Jans, ‘The Death of the Old School Agency: The Rise of the New Marketing Masters‘
While we didn’t simply copy and paste this content verbatim, we took some of the same ideas that we saw were popular and repackaged them in a new way.
7. Market Your Whitepaper
“If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” With the old saying as with any marketing asset, if you take the time to create content but don’t market it, no one will read it. To get the most traction out of your whitepaper, create a marketing campaign to drive more traffic and visibility to it. This could include pushing it out on your social media channels, sending an email to clients and prospects, and running some pay-per-click or social media ads to attract new audiences.
You might also want to create a lead-generating landing page to house your whitepaper that requires some basic information from users before they download. With this gated content, you can keep track of who is consuming your content and use these pieces as a platform to reach out in the future.
Whitepapers and ebooks are becoming the new norm in the world of content marketing, and for agents & brokers, they serve as a great way to get information across, establish yourself as a knowledgeable resource while generating more web traffic and leads.
5 Tried-and-True Strategies for Promoting Your Whitepaper
Creating content is no simple task, and whitepapers usually require the most commitment. Whether you’ve written your whitepaper yourself or relied on the help of a writer, you want to ensure you get the most value out of it – quality leads and engagement from prospects and clients. Once you’ve created your whitepaper, it’s time to promote it. As we’ve said before, when it comes to marketing, if you build it, there’s no guarantee anyone will come unless you share it with your network.
To start seeing amazing results from your whitepapers, try out these five tried-and-true strategies.
1. Create a Landing Page
The absolute first thing you should do is give your whitepaper its very own landing page. Ideally, you should gate all of your whitepapers and require information from the person interested in your content. Through a form, you can require any number of fields. Research shows you should keep your form fields to a minimum, so you may just ask for a name and email address.
Using Agency Revolution’s Attract™ package, gating your content is an effortless experience. In just a few easy steps, you can choose a whitepaper and automatically add a form to your website to encourage people to download it.
2. Promote Your Whitepaper on Social Media
Social media is one of the best platforms for sharing content and driving people back to your website. If you’re using a landing page, grab the link and share it on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Be sure to include a quick summary of the whitepaper, including why someone should download it.
Don’t make the mistake of only sharing once on social media. If you use a scheduling tool, like the social scheduler integrated with Attract™, create multiple posts with different descriptions and schedule them to go out five or so times over the next few weeks. This helps your post reach a larger audience.
3. Add a Section of Your Whitepaper as a LinkedIn Publication
The LinkedIn publishing platform is a great way to notify your network that you have shared new content. Rather than give all of your content away, share the introduction or a section of your whitepaper as a post on LinkedIn. At the end of the content, mention that this is part of a whitepaper and is available to download. Then include the link and a quick summary of what else will be shared in the whitepaper.
If you blog on your website or use Medium, you can do the same here, as well.
4. Announce in an Email
Like social media, email is a great platform for sharing your content with prospects and clients. Depending on your contacts list, you may want to segment and send different versions of your announcement. For example, you may not want to gate your content for your current clients, especially if you work with a smaller group of people. For these individuals, consider sending the whitepaper as an attachment within the email, and then share some details about the whitepaper and the benefits of reading it. This helps you remind your clients that you’re up-to-date in your industry and regularly sharing education.
For prospects or referrals, you may drive them to your site to download it and encourage them to peruse some of the other content and resources you have on your website. And for strategic partners or centers of influence, consider asking if they wouldn’t mind sharing the link to your whitepaper download with their contacts.
5. Run a Social Media Ad
Social media ads are inexpensive and offer you the chance to reach thousands more people than you normally would. For the image, you can use a shot of the whitepaper cover. Then include the link to the landing page and a description of the content. If your whitepaper is on a niche topic, such as retirement planning for physicians, use the audience features to target individuals within certain age ranges who work at hospitals in your area.
As a forewarning, LinkedIn ads are much more expensive to run than Facebook or Twitter ads. If you’re on a tight budget or new to advertising, start with Facebook, where you can spend less than $1 per click. As a comparison, LinkedIn can cost upwards of $10 to $15 per click (and everyone who clicks may not necessarily download your whitepaper).
Dedicating time to promote your whitepaper with your audience is the best way to ensure you get maximum exposure and an increase in leads. After trying out these strategies, see which works best for you and focus more of your energy on that strategy.
Everything You Need to Know to Get Started with Content Distribution
If you have any background in content marketing, you know that the number one rule is to create content that provides value for your target market. But what you might not know is that this is only the first part of the equation. The next step is making sure that content gets in front of the people who will find it valuable.
There are many content distribution methods that can help you get your content in front of a wider and more specific audience. Let’s examine what content distribution is and the different avenues available.
What is Content Distribution?
Content distribution (also known as content syndication) is the process of creating content and disseminating it throughout different channels to generate more traction, leads, and website traffic.
There are two primary types of content distribution, free and paid. Both play vital roles in a content strategy, and many marketers find that using both promotional and organic tactics lends to a strong content plan.
Free Content Distribution
You’re probably familiar with the majority of free content distribution channels. They include your blog, social media profiles, and email lists. There’s no “one size fits all” content distribution strategy that will work with all businesses, so you will need to find the channels that work best for your audience and play around with your outreach. Some examples of free content distribution include:
- An active social media presence, including being on the Big Three
- A healthy mix of videos, infographics, blogs, newsletters, and other marketing collateral (mixing text and visual content is ideal!)
- Free content sites that drive traffic back to your website (think YouTube, SlideShare, or applicable insurance industry publications)
- Encouraging and rewarding sharing, reposting, and other organic outreach from your audience
Free content syndication methods will get your toes wet if you’re new to this method, but they aren’t the full story. Let’s also look at the paid channels you can start with.
Paid distribution channels can be a great resource for driving traffic back to your website or an intended landing page, encouraging engagement, and getting your name out there. Plus, they might be more affordable than you think! Three of our favorites are paid syndication networks, social advertisements, and native advertising.
Content Syndication Channels
Similar to traditional pay-per-click advertisements, paid content syndication puts your pieces in front of audiences around the Internet, and you pay for their exposure. Two industry leaders, Outbrain and Taboola, are good examples of how this type of advertising works. They disseminate your content pieces to specified audiences, and their teams have access to a number of networks around the web.
Social ads are the new way to gain exposure on social media because the algorithms on these sites are slowly morphing into a “pay to play” structure. Each platform will vary on the type of content ads offered. Here are the most popular on the Big Three platforms:
- Facebook allows you to target your audience and provide them with ads in their News Feed or on the right side as a banner ad. Facebook ads can have images and text, but the text can’t take up more than 20% of the whole ad.
- Twitter has a variety of ads, including ones that promote app downloads, Tweet engagement, website traffic, and more. But remember, these ads must be less than 140 characters!
- LinkedIn’s main types of social ads include sponsored content, which is a boosted update that comes from your page, and Sponsored InMail, which delivers ads right to the inbox of targeted accounts.
These ads will vary in cost, depending on the duration and reach of your advertisement.
Forms of native advertising have been around for ages, but new platforms seem to be popping up everywhere. From ingredient-sponsored recipes to advisor-sponsored insurance blogs, native advertising is a great way to get your name in front of prospects without coming off as too self-promotional.
A robust strategy of paid and organic content distribution is key to getting your content in front of the people who will find the most value in it. By targeting your ideal market, creating valuable pieces, and implementing new tools and techniques, you will quickly see the benefit of these distribution strategies.
Five Brilliant Ways to Repurpose Content
We get it. You’re busy, and content marketing is hard. Getting the most traction out of the pieces you create will help save you time, resources, and will even generate a new audience. Below are five of our favorite ways to repurpose content.
Turning Old Blog Posts into Whitepapers
If you notice that you’ve posted a few blog posts about a similar topic, it might be a good time to group those posts and turn them into a longer piece like a whitepaper or guide.
Turn Data Into Case Studies
If you are using a Client Relationship Management software or manually keeping track of your clients, you likely have a lot of data about their investments, portfolio performance, engagement, and more. While case studies can be a bit of a compliance tip-toe, you can use this (anonymous) data to create case studies of your own.
Case studies are similar to testimonials because they establish proof that the tools or services you offer work. They are often framed as stories, showing the progress of one customer’s journey. A customer may have a problem, turn to a company, and find a way to solve their problem. A testimonial is often a customer saying something positive about your company but not sharing how they use the tools. Both are great marketing aspects, but it’s important to understand the difference.
Turn a Presentation into a SlideShare
Any insurance agents who has hosted an event with a PowerPoint presentation understands the hard work that goes into preparing these slides. And thanks to SlideShare, LinkedIn’s slide sharing social media, you can reuse and recycle this material.
Chances are, there were people who wanted to attend your presentation but were unable to. By posting your slide deck on SlideShare, you can make it easy for prospects and clients to receive the information and get even more traction out of your hard work. You can also easily embed SlideShares into your blog, post them on social media, and direct traffic back to your site. Content marketing is one big loop and recycling content closes some gaps you may not have known existed.
Turn Visual Content into an Infographic
Have some pictures from your last community event, graphics that an internal team drafted up, or images from your website? These visual assets can quickly be turned into an infographic, which breathes new life into them. We suggest using sites like Canva or Easel.ly to create infographics quickly and easily. Get leads from these infographics by gating them on your site, embedding them into blog posts, or sending them out through email.
Consolidate Into a Newsletter
Lastly, after creating all of the above assets, create a newsletter for your company and grow your email list! One of the best ways to repurpose content is to group it together, send it out to your email lists, and drive traffic back to your site. We offer customizable newsletters in all of our packages that make it easy to gather your content, design your newsletter, and generate leads.
Content marketing does require some upfront commitment, but with a little tweaking and work, you can reuse your content and attract new audiences. All in favor of more content with less work, say “aye”!
And that concludes our massive guide to content creation! We hope you got a lot out of it and that you feel ready to start creating content, distributing it and repurposing it today!