How to Start an Effective Content Marketing program from Scratch | Furlough Mastermind

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Join us every Wednesday at 2pm EST in the Furlough Community Discord for our Mastermind session hosted by Joe Casanova & Ophir Gadot. Our guests change every week and range from experts, entrepreneurs and creatives to influencers, brands, nomads, investors and more!

 

In this session Joe Casanova and Ophir Gadot take the time to teach you how to start an effective content marketing program from scratch.

 

You can also watch the replay of the mastermind here:

 

 

Joe Casanova 

Some exciting stuff. How do you start an effective content marketing program from scratch? Like most things, alright, Ophir. Let’s start with.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Everything starts with research.

 

Research Process pt.1

Research Process pt.1

Joe Casanova 

Of course, you have to do some market research. Understand plenty of things, for one, understanding your audience, right? Understanding where you’re targeting, who you’re speaking to, where they’re at, where they’re going on. Basic information, okay. And it’s always great when you’re in this space, to have competitors that are doing similar to what you’re doing, if not better.

 

Ophir Gadot 

I know that only WordPress, 3 million pieces of contents are being published every day. And no matter what content they’re gonna publish, it’s being addressed this way or the other. Like, by looking at what’s working for our competitors. And looking in your niche, it’s more beneficial than just posting. To understand what’s going on. Because that is, I mean, I don’t know if guys are aware, but Twitter strategy, one of the most successful Twitter strategy per content is posting other people’s contents, not creating your own contents. So just by being mindful of what’s going on out there. And seeing trends and learning what, what people are engaging with, and what’s not worth more than posting one more piece of content a week. So if you ask me: Post less, do more research.

 

Joe Casanova 

100%. Focus on the quality and not the quantity. On platforms like Tik Tok early on, in that case, that’s a unique use case, go ahead and sprint. The algorithm is still learning. But ultimately, they refine their algorithms to promote high performing content and high performing content takes some time to make because there is a research element involved to that. So going back to what you said, also, there’s a reason why every one of these social media platforms, LinkedIn, Twitter, obviously, and they have what’s trending and kind of piggybacking off of trends is also a great thing to do. So if you see your competitors riding a trend, understand where you can kind of inject yourself in the conversation especially. I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily say injecting yourself in your competitors’ conversation. Unless it’s fun, like you can see on Twitter between the rival fast food companies, some great stuff there. But let’s keep it going. So you have your audience, you have the idea of what your competitors are doing. Now we got to map it out. We want to see what works for them, what they post in the blog, social media channels and marketing efforts. Okay. And I love it. Because Ophir when you came in, the first thing you told me was, we got to map funnels, we got to map personas, where they’re going, what we’re doing, how the onboarding journey is, and I’d love for you to expand a little bit about your audience and mapping these funnels exactly mapping out the content as well.

Research Process pt.1

Ophir Gadot 

I mean, just to highlight on the reference you just mentioned, when Joe told me about Furlough, the first thing I did was joining him 15 Different communities. First thing before even posting on Furlough, because if you come from that position, that I don’t know, and you’re receptive, and you’re coming to other communities, like factors it by looking at others learn what they already learned in an instant, rather than spending time, money and efforts. So always trying to understand what others are doing, then, try to map “what is the purpose of what I’m doing”. Because you always want to have that connection between your action, your knowledge and your purpose. And this is like where it all adds up. Like all these free steps, your audience, I want to get something out of them, I want them to become customers, I want them to give me content, I want them to comment on my content, whatever it is, but I have a purpose there. Your competitors are just another element that showcase to you what works and what’s not. It just saves you time. And mapping out contents that work and what’s not, is again, is just taking that next step and giving references of good content that work with similar audience or look alike audience or your own audience with different companies, the basic step of mapping them up and having them all in one place rather than do guesswork and work too hard for no reason.

 

Joe Casanova 

Purpose Driven content. That’s the word right there. And going back to the research process, right. And it’s finding the most engaging content from all competitors. And everything in that niche and field. This is as easy as looking at a hashtag maybe in your niche and seeing what’s the top performing content all the way down to using these tools, which we’re going to go a little bit into in today’s session and understanding what your competitors are doing and what’s performing. And one of the best things that you can possibly do is see what they stopped doing as well. Because that can kind of lead to you know, that data actually saves you time. And learning from let’s say your competitors’ mistakes instead of doing it yourself. Look, this is heavy on the research side, right? It goes down to listing all the top social media accounts on the niche. And that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be companies or brands or competitors. It can be personal brands. It can be thought leaders right?

 

Ophir Gadot 

Again, remember, most of the audience engagement is not with brands, influencers, it’s with thought leaders, it’s and so on. So A, gives you an understanding what kind of collaborations you want to pursue? What kind of user generated content do you want to add to your content mix? It also gives you like kind of perspective, like, if a brand communicates like that, what kind of potential he has to untap with that audience, because a lot of brands are stuck doing the same thing their competitors are doing. But if you go with the approach of what the blogs are doing, and what the influencers are doing, and not necessarily the brands, the brands are limited under focus to drive sales, when blogs and influencers are focusing on driving engagement. So this is a little different than and I highly recommend, it always was beneficial for brands…

 

Tools to Use for Content Marketing Research

Tools to Use for Content Marketing Research

Joe Casanova 

You touched base on it right there. And it’s listing top five blogs, in your niche, non branded. And content marketing doesn’t just happen on social media, of course it happens online. And the beauty about online, especially with these fantastic tools, you’ll see right over here, a lot of this information is easily attainable. And the metric is ultimately how they’re ranking on Google. Because Google was actively spending billions of dollars and improving the algorithm to see what type of content is actually performing.  So Let’s talk about tools. Right, and we touched base on the session yesterday. The UI UX is a company effort not an individual effort, and I got to go back vouching for Google by far one of the best tools you can use. And I mean, on the technical side, I think SEMrush is so powerful. Buzzsumo is extremely intuitive and resourceful. I have not used SimilarSites, SimilarWeb, Ophir, can you shed some light on those?

 

Ophir Gadot 

SimilarWeb is phenomenal. And I don’t do any research without touching SimilarWeb. The free version is good enough. SimilarWeb gets you a high level view. It’s not 100% accurate, let’s say 10 to 80%, it gives you a highlight of where the traffic comes from geographically and referral wise, along, how much. What’s their interests, similar websites, what social media platforms work, and so on. And it is just a one snippet that gives you the whole picture other than SEMrush, it is fully focused on search traffic and paid traffic.

 

Joe Casanova 

And Zane you’re absolutely right, AnswerThePublic is great for figuring out what the audience actually wants because it figures out all the questions that are being asked.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Buzzsumo, for blog content and for social content, just to get a sense of what’s working the most for each party that you researched. It’s Amazing. And it’s very straightforward. Like I tend to invest a lot of time on research. And I found myself many times going on Instagram feeds, Facebook feeds, and just checking post after post, what gets the most engagement, what gets the most comments, what gets the less and kind of mapping it all up to have that information. Because it’s not easy to get. Buzzsumo kind of extracts the most engaging ones from whichever link you’re going to put. It’s also going to do it throughout multiple social placements like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram. You’re gonna see the amount of shares, likes and comments on each and every one. It is super beneficial. I can’t stress it enough, like Buzzsumo for content marketing is a must have.

 

Joe Casanova 

It’s actually quite affordable. I remember the price point was very reasonable.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Yeah, it’s not too expensive. Their free version is solid, it gives you a top five, which is enough to do basic research, especially if you have enough competitors. It’s an amazing tool. And I mean, I know a lot of companies that spend fortunes on resources for content. And CPL was a great example for that without using Buzzsumo, which makes no sense. Before you hire another copywriter try to use their plan.

 

Joe Casanova 

Absolutely, that was my only experience using Buzzsumo, I have to say at the time we were in the CBD space, it made research so much easier. And understanding trends and what’s performing, what people want to see. And ultimately did really impact our social media strategy.  

 

Research Process pt.2

Research Process pt.2

 

Going back to the research, because the research is not over. This is by far the most important part when it comes down to your strategy, right. It’s understanding the market, understanding the audience, understanding the opportunity, and you know, going down to our SWOT analysis. And the research process is organizing all these references in one place, making sure you highlight them and engage with the customers as you have defined them. So organization is something that seems to be missing as your skill can become an issue. So make sure everything is clean. Everything from down your audiences, your personas, the content strategies, finding out once all this content is out there, what’s performing the best and keeping all that organized, structured, as should be.  So break it down, because your social content, your blog content and your website content. It’s going to be different, okay, but it’s still an omni approach. There should be similarities in the messaging and the voice, the tone, how you speak. Last, but definitely not least, ask for feedback on the content you gather. And half the time you don’t don’t even need to ask. And it will be given just because of the level of engagement. Okay? This is a fantastic part, especially with something like YouTube, you put out content in YouTube, people can comment on the exact timestamp. And that timestamp on long form pieces of content can be repurposed to short form pieces of the content. So always ask the people that are actually taking in your content, what they think about it, what they want, what they like. And I mean, I have a thing about focus groups and forums. Focus groups are very tricky. It’s a great way to get information. But at the same time, the people that you’re asking aren’t actually in the flow of the journey there. They know that I’m in a focus group. Right now I’m being asked this question. So is that data accurate?

 

Ophir Gadot 

I think there’s two points of feedback here. One point of feedback is the content itself. Think about it this way, once you have all the types, top five contents for each and every element of your content marketing strategy, this is basically as close as it gets to a content marketing strategy, except for goals and frequency. So before you go down the schedule, and start working on the content, I really recommend getting that feedback internally with your team, just what do you think? Do you have any additions? Maybe they can do a little bit of research and have their input and find something else which is super important. A lot of times, and I’ve seen it as well, the content marketing manager comes and there’s a schedule, and nobody has an input, it doesn’t make sense.  Now after that, when you start posting, I really recommend using an advertising budget for that. I’ll explain. I don’t know if people are aware of the numbers. But if you do boost posts on Instagram, or on Facebook, it’s like one hundred dollars a month, they’re gonna get way more traffic and reach, then you’re gonna get on your organic reach,

 

Joe Casanova 

For sure.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Just think about how much time and money you spend on creating that content. So putting that $100 For testing on a monthly basis is doable. And I highly recommend it. Same thing with pushing your blog contents for advertising, let’s say I’m saying, Okay, I invest on content marketing $1,000, on content creation, I want to spend $250, at least on testing, they’ll have enough spent $700 on content creation, and $200 on testing, because you’re not going to get traffic in the beginning. So you want to push that and get some traffic and get some attraction. From there, you’ll see what CTR is better on video, each blog post, you’re going to see a time on site you have on each blog, to get to understand, you’re just going to see how many engagement to have on each post. This is the best way to validate more than focus groups. Because you can also target specific audiences, you can play with it once you go on the advertising route. And a lot of parties are afraid of that because it’s expensive, and it’s paying money. But listen, labor costs money as well. So be mindful of that. And don’t be afraid to spend a little bit of advertising budget to get that data. And to get to a place where you understand what you’re doing. Rather than work for guys in neutral.

 

Joe Casanova 

You kind of left me speechless there. But I really hope those that are watching this appreciate that because people spend so much time on content. It’d be such a shame if no one sees the content. So advertising and validating, especially on SEO, which that’s a whole other conversation for another time. For now, we’re going to stick to content marketing, so you’re ready for your content marketing plan. 

 

Social Media Content Plan

Social Media Content Plan

We’re jumping into social media, and your social media content plan, as you guys know, starts with … You’ve already done the research. Now you have to define how you talk, your voice. And this is based on the content, and probably the best performing content of your competitors. And those categories that you chose for your brand. For we like to use Furlough as an example. We have 10 different categories from eCommerce, content marketing, UI/UX, branding, SEO, PR, email marketing, and the list goes on. So those are what our contents can be focused on. And Ophir’s personal brand, his contents focus on mindset, entrepreneurship, innovation, right venture capitalist. So understanding what content you’re going to be using for your brand and defining your voice, how you speak to them.

 

Ophir Gadot 

What is content is ways to communicate with audiences, right? And when we say voice, it’s basically how we want someone to react or feel when they engage with their content. So it’s a question if I want to be funny, if I want to be educational, if I want to be authoritative, it’s like a position I want to take in the market. A lot of it comes down to what I want, and how I understand it is serving my best interests within that niche. But if this has to be defined, because otherwise, if it’s not defined, whoever you’re going to hire for social media is going to put and incorporate their own voice.

 

Joe Casanova 

Absolutely. As we go back to goals and you guys know that we love being referred to as a global growth community. And growth applies to goals because if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will lead you there. It’s setting up these KPIs key performance indicators, so that you’re able to hit certain goals and make way to that direction. So when it comes down to KPIs and Content Marketing Ophir, are we looking to vanity metrics; likes, followers.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Reach is a key metric. Because if the algorithm made a decision to show it to more people, meaning this is favorable by the algorithm, oh, I want to keep on doing that the more people see it, the more chances I have to get viral or to get traffic.

 

Joe Casanova 

100%

 

Ophir Gadot 

You see engagement, you want to favor comments over likes, because like as an engagement form is not as strong as someone commenting on you and making himself visible and actually engaging with their post. I’m saying that like is not valuable. It’s just not on the same tier. As the social media manager I worked with for a while told me we’re not worried about followers, we’re worried about engagement. So we were asking constantly, so where are we going to do if those followers and she says like “if people like your sh*t, they’re gonna follow you”, as simple as that, if you have loads of followers and your content is sh*t, they’re going to unfollow you. So whatever you’re thinking, and while measuring followers, it’s not the point. Engagement period. Another thing to do is to check cross followings. You have someone who follows you on Facebook, on Instagram, on LinkedIn, this makes them a fan. So which is like on the hierarchy of engagement is literally way higher than just commenting or liking or following. There’s tools to track that I don’t think it’s relevant for most of the small businesses and build-from-scratch kind of businesses and bootstrapping. But once you get to a certain scale, this is a key metric, because these people are the most engaged with your brand,

 

Joe Casanova 

And the biggest supporters of your brand. On top of funnel campaigns and advertising, as we are discussing the similarities between content marketing and overlapping, advertising. There’s a reason why we do reach campaigns and video view campaigns. And it’s not to drive traffic to the website, it’s not to get people to buy something, it’s just so that they get familiar with us, with their brand, with the name, with the story. And they actually understand what we’re ultimately doing. So that we can bring them in and actually make them into a fan. So definitely agree with all the points that you just stated, Ophir.  And last, definitely not least, is creating that schedule that incorporates the content that resonates with your audience and influence. And you know, there are people out there and especially when you hire social media agencies, the first thing they want to do is do a whole entire content calendar for the next three, six months, there is something planned months ahead, but not necessarily making the content months ahead. So there’s a big differentiator there, when it comes down to scheduling, the schedule should ultimately be what has to go out on what day. So giving it 90 days, I think we should bump this up a little bit, just a minimum of 90 days. But let’s do 100 days, right, do a 100 Day Challenge where you can review your results and get enough data. This is a quarter, a quarter is a good enough time to see if you’re getting traction, if you’re getting movement, if this is the right thing to do. What content performing, what’s not performing, what you should eliminate, what you should keep putting focus on. And if it’s working, keep going. If it doesn’t go back to the research, now that you have 90 to 100 days worth of research from all the performing posts, you can now make data driven decisions to what tweaks and adjustments you have to make. But ultimately, two four weeks, it’s not enough and even SEO when your content marketing efforts online with it. Because say you’re blogging and your posts. Half the time these things don’t index for the first month, right? So you should give it 90 days. And with social media, if you’re posting consistently, the platform itself, understand this person is a power user, they’re actively engaging across every one of our features from Instagram highlights, reels, stories, feed and providing content to us. So we’re going to start rewarding them. And that was just a little example right there.

 

Ophir Gadot 

If you’re going and starting a content plan, and this is true to social media and the blog as well, you need to come with two approaches at first. One, after one hour days, assume nothing will get much engagement and so on purpose theory is to test as many options, see what works and move from there. Secondly, your focus should be again I’m kind of highlighting which one works with whom and fine tune your content strategy towards q2, but not to kind of okay, this content is not working, I’m going to scratch it take quarter one for testing purposes, don’t expect results, just see what working better than the other more of a comparative view and quarter 2 to when you start scaling and pushing the ones that works better, then you can actually get to conclusions. Okay, this is working. This is not but it’s like two phases of testing rather than validation if content marketing is working after 100 days.

 

Joe Casanova 

So it’s an ongoing commitment to review results and improve and you know, in this case, we talk about brands and content marketing strategy for businesses. But ultimately, everyone in this room right now and seeing this video or the past recording is a personal brand. And that’s where I think I want you to start because it’s easier to identify your tone, easy to identify your interest and easy to commit to yourself and get that experience and get that ball rolling to a 100 days.  

 

Blog and Website Content Plan

Blog and Website Content Plan

So social media panel, let’s talk about blog, and website content plan. Going back, of course, to find your voice, you guys know that. Next up, setting your KPIs, and right here, I think is the big differentiator, creating the same thing, content calendar content schedule, and using the tools, because your social media research tools are going to be very different from your blogging website tools. And using these to focus on high quality content, especially with the power of what these algorithms are doing from the search engines. They’re not focused so much on authority. They’re not focused so much on Forbes, and CNN and NBC and all these top blogs are talking about this blog getting backlinks and boosting them and this person in authority, and they wrote about this, they’re really focusing on content. Okay. So if you have no backlinks, and you write this great article, and every person that saw and read that article, because you’re and your close friends actually shared that article. And then every person that went to it ended up not jumping off and they stayed and they read the whole thing. And then they can see how much time on page, there is a high probability that that content will end up performing on the search engines. Focus on high quality content. When publishing on the web.

 

Ophir Gadot 

I think the number one KPIs here to track are A) CTR in case you push to blogs, in advertising channels, B) time on page, … is not important here. I know people look at bounce rate on websites, but think about blog behavior for a minute, if I’m reading a blog post, and I’m not aware of the brand, I’m not aware of what’s going on, I’ve been there enough. It’s a strong enough statement for me if it’s interesting for me or not, even if I bounced when I finished, I don’t care too much about the bounce rate. I only care about time on page and CTR. These are the key metrics here.

 

Joe Casanova 

Absolutely, CTR (click through rate), time on page. Of course, the time that they are on the site, the probability of more content they are consuming of yours, which ultimately end up aborting. And then you see here, GSC, which is Google Search Console performance, and listing down understanding what content is performing for which keywords, how many impressions, how much people are actually clicking through it, and a little pro tip or the minimal KPIs for blog performance, Ophir.

 

Minimal KPI’s for the Blog Performance

Minimal KPI’s for the Blog Performance

Ophir Gadot 

So more than two minutes just to showcase that they actually read it. Good blog posts that I’ve seen are like getting 10 minutes, even per page looks like this is the kind of number you want to aim for. I’m saying less than 65% Bounce Rate when it’s over 80. For example, it means that most of the consumers and the readers bounce even before they read it. The number one thing here is time on page. But if you see the time on page is low, then you want to check if bounce rate is an issue because the first paragraph can showcase to you as a problem. That’s why people don’t keep on reading. So the bounce rate can showcase that. The bounce rate on its own is not a key metric here.

 

Joe Casanova 

If you want to expand, the more time on page, quite a quick little simple trick is embedding a video. Because if they’re sitting on your page, and they’re watching a video, they’re going to spend more time on your page. Using all the tools at your disposal. So with that being said, that is how you make a content marketing plan from scratch. How long would you implement a strategy? By the way, three months, six months? Or 12 Months? Great question, Zane.

 

Ophir Gadot 

I think to me, it’s supposed to be six months, when the first three months are for testing, the second three months is for fine tuning, then you can start getting an understanding of what’s working and what’s not. Ideally you want to keep on going. But if you make it like that if you reach a conclusion, after six months, let’s say it doesn’t work and doesn’t work for resources. This is the conclusion as well.

 

Joe Casanova 

Three months is enough to have enough data to say okay, that’s cool. Keep refining it. And with that data, you can then implement changes for the next month. But the strategy itself should be ongoing. If this goes right, you’re going to do it as long as the business is in business. So when it comes down to a content marketing strategy, at least I could speak on behalf of Furlough, we break it down into a pretty much monthly strategy that we’re duplicating each time and all the actual content within it is what’s changing. It’s kind of building that schedule, going at it for three months, making tweaks and implementing it for the next three months, so on and so forth.

 

Ophir Gadot 

To outsource content strategy to have a single social media manager can do that. It depends on the talent you find. Most of the time, they said someone that is good on Facebook is not that good and Instagram and vice versa. So ideally, you want to have someone who is a good communicator in each platform. If you don’t have enough resources, focus on one two platforms rather than going all over the place trying to get 20 birds in one hand. They’re just not capable of doing so. So this is up to you and up to your resources.

 

Joe Casanova 

Absolutely agree with that. And if there is a middle ground when you’re there heating up social media channels, right? So if someone’s good at Instagram that probably can translate to Facebook. So having that one person manage those two channels. There’s no single right answer to that. But Ophir also definitely hit that in the head now, if you have a company, okay, and you have 100 employees in your company, and your Instagram posts are getting five likes and two comments, your company’s employees don’t care about you. These are active supporters that are working with the company and believe in a company, and yet they’re not engaging with the content. So I think it’s an easy way to get fans and it comes back to company and organizational culture. But there are assets in place in an organization. And one of the simple things that you can do and, you know, we did this back in the agencies, every time the social media person posted was like, go get every single person to engage with. It is 20-30 pieces of likes, of comments, of shares. And ultimately, it does help out with the campaign, the performance so thank you, Zane, for that. Ophir any closing remarks, talks, think comments you want to share with anybody?

 

Ophir Gadot 

It was a time and just saying like content is your way to engage especially in the first time with your customer. So putting that extra effort A) to engage with them, B) to learn from that and see to scale it? It’s the best way for you to build your business and scale it