What tools does the content marketer need to stay organized? What to do about subscribers who aren’t confirming opt-in? And what’s the difference in approach between B2B and B2C marketing? I answer these questions (and a few more) this week …
Time again for your questions! Thanks to everyone who submitted a question for this week. If you’d like me to answer your question in a future episode (these run about every third week), just drop a comment below!
In this 19-minute episode, I answer questions about:
- The best tools for content marketers and copywriters to stay organized
- How I manage email overwhelm
- The best background to look for in a content marketer
- How to approach B2C vs. B2B marketing
- What to do about subscribers who don’t confirm their opt-in
The Show Notes
- Marie-Hélène Dibenedetto, a content strategist in Belgium (site is in French and English)
- Thomas McCallum, our UK-based copywriter wondering about the best background for a content marketer
- Lionroot.com, Bryan’s site for his independent game development
- Megan’s membership site about Baby Wellness — this was the site with the confirmed opt-in question
- Ryan Holiday’s post on keeping a Commonplace Book
- My earlier podcast on How Not to Be a Dirty, Rotten Spammer
- My podcast on Productivity for Flakes, Head Cases, and Other Natural Disasters
The Difference Between B2B and B2C Marketing (and Other Questions)
Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at Rainmaker.FM/Platform.
Sonia Simone: Greetings, superfriends! My name is Sonia Simone, and these are The Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer. For those who don’t me yet, I am a co-founder and the chief content officer for Copyblogger Media.
I’m also a champion of running your business and your life according to your own rules. As long as you don’t lie and you don’t hurt people, this podcast is your official pink permission slip to run your business or your career exactly the way you think you should.
The Best Tools for Content Marketers and Copywriters to Stay Organized
Today is all about the Q&A. I’ve got lots of questions from around the interwebs, so I’m going to dive right on in.
We’re going to start with Marie-Hélène Dibenedetto. She comes from Belgium. I caught up with her on Twitter. She wants to know about organization tips for a copywriter or a marketing professional. Specifically, what kind of tools do I use to organize copywriting, content marketing kind of endeavor?
For anyone else who’s interested in this topic, I would point you to my podcast on Productivity Tips for Complete Flakes and Other Natural Disasters.
This is a great question. This is a personal question, but I’ll let you know what works for me. You can certainly adapt it for what works for you. The most important tool if you are producing blog content is to have some kind of an editorial calendar. In fact, if you’re producing any kind of content regularly, I really advise you to use an editorial calendar. I have a couple of those.
One of them is a plugin on the Copyblogger blog. That helps us work with the team to keep everything organized and cohesive so that we can look at a glance and see what still needs to be created, what still needs to be scheduled, and any holes that we might have in the calendar — and also just to check for balance. To make sure that there’s a good balance of different content types that serve different purposes.
I have a smaller, private version of that calendar for this podcast so that I have a list of upcoming episodes, what the episode number is, when I recorded it, when I submitted it to the team for editing and transcribing, what the publication date is — just to keep me organized and so I can see, at a glance, the overall shape of the project.
Any kind of content marketer, or really anybody responsible for marketing and communication, I would recommend that you keep a good calendar where you can see very quickly how the balance looks, how the mix looks.
I happen to also keep — this is kind of eccentric — but I keep whiteboard calendars. I keep a full quarter of whiteboard calendars, so four months. I do that to manage my commitments because I have found, for myself, it’s very difficult for me to manage my energy effectively if I can’t see the whole thing in a very concrete way. You would think I could do that with Google Calendar, but it doesn’t work for me. For some reason, actually marking the different responsibilities and expectations on a physical thing is very helpful for me.
A lot of writers are that way. A lot of writers will do well to use physical tools, paper tools, whiteboard tools. There is just something about the particular way our brains are wired that, a lot of us, those tools work really well.
If you think that might be you, experiment a little bit. Try out some physical tools in addition to the virtual ones. Digital tools, obviously, have huge advantages of being available and accessible from different devices, being something you can back up, et cetera. Possibly for that reason, I have never found an app that was as good at keeping track of the thing I need to get done today as a piece of paper. I have tried.
I have tried all kinds of different apps, techniques, Getting Things Done, David Allen products, all kinds of systems. And I have never found anything that works better than just sitting down with a piece of paper of a finite size and writing down my priorities for the day. That’s really useful for me. My favorite to-do list app is just a piece of paper and a pen.
Now, the professional content marketer or the professional writer is also going to probably need some kind of collaboration environment to work on projects because, normally, we do not work on things all by ourselves.
Right now Copyblogger uses an app called Trello. We have no relationship with them. We have no affiliate anything with them. It’s just what we use. We’re getting good use out of that. It’s organized pretty well. Everybody seems to be able to make good use of it.
Basecamp is another good one that’s popular. A lot of people like it. A lot of people use it. You’re going to need some kind of environment like that where you can work collaboratively and pass documents back and forth.
I have to say I get a lot of mileage out of Google Docs, out of Google Docs Spreadsheets, and then shared documents and Dropbox. Those are tools that almost any content professional needs to get comfortable with and get accounts for.
And I use Evernote, like everyone else in the world, to keep track of notes, scripts, and scraps. One of the things about being a writer, that writing side of my content marketer brain, is that everything is material. Everything I run across is something that I might be able to write about later or talk about later. So it’s important for all writers to keep some kind of book, some kind of record of all those little snips that you find all over the place — ideas, links, images, all that stuff. Evernote is the tool I use for that. It works really well.
Do be very mindful if you’re taking words, if you’re cutting and pasting words, you must develop an absolute habit of documenting where you found those words. It is easier than you might think to come back to something two years later and think you wrote it and inadvertently plagiarize somebody. So be very, very mindful about attributing every single thing you take a note with.
A very old school thing that I do — Ryan Holiday, who’s a really interesting writer about marketing and how marketing works in today’s world for good or for ill — he turned me back on to the idea of having what’s called a ‘commonplace book,’ which is just a little physical book that you physically write down quotes from things you read that strike you.
Again, this is a great place to put quotes that are not necessarily related to your topic. It could be quotes from anywhere — just quotes that resonate with you, quotes that really spark some meaning or some connection with you. I love to do this. Mine is two-thirds full of quotes from Terry Pratchett, which doesn’t have anything to do with what I do for a living, but I love the way that he plays with language.
You certainly can keep a digital one within Evernote. Again, for writers, sometimes there’s a special connective spark that could happen if you put pen to paper. If that spins your wheels, then I would really recommend that as an ongoing development practice for you as a creative person.
Thank you for the awesome question.
How I Manage Email Overwhelm
I’m going to move on to a quick one that was sent to me by ChairmanAdams on Twitter, @chairmanadams.
He asks, “How do you deal with email? Would you ever quit email like Jim Collins?”
This is a big question, but I think it’s one of those that distracts us because we think this is a question about email. It’s not a question about email. It’s a question about how you manage the information fire hose that everybody lives in who lives on the planet and has a computer, and how you manage your own priorities.
I manage email the same way I manage social media, the same way I manage all of the distractions and interesting things there are to look at in the world — which is, you have to learn to not see most of it. The more email I delete, the happier I am. In fact, John Jantsch, I know somebody asked him what he did for a living once, and he said, “I delete email for a living,” which I thought was really lovely and perfect.
How I manage email is most of it I dump, I get rid of, I unsubscribe. I still get ferocious amounts of it. I think the main challenge for all of us with email is figure out which are the messages that you actually need to take some action on. Then take that action.
I would go back to David Allen’s Getting Things Done — which I mentioned a few minutes ago. If you can do it in two minutes or less, do it. If you can’t do it in two minutes or less, get it into a trusted system so that you’ll do it.
The other thing you absolutely must do, in my opinion, anybody in the 21st century who wants to actually get their work one, you have to batch email. You have to turn off those notifications that tell you when you’re working on something else, “Hey, guess what? You got email.” That’s just a horrible, evil invention that should be done away with.
If you are not a brain surgeon who needs to be on call 24/7, turn that mess off and get your work done. Email is not work. All email is, is a set of signals that alert you to the fact that some work needs to be done. Try and remember it’s not work that could be helpful.
The Best Background to Look for in a Content Marketer
“From your experience, have you found the best content marketers come from marketing or writing backgrounds?” This may, to some degree, be a response to a post I wrote called What’s the Difference Between a Professional Writer and a Content Marketer?
In my experience, I’ve had the best results turning to people who have writing ability first and maybe they need their marketing ability to be polished, than the other way around. It’s hard to make a writer out of somebody who’s primarily a marketer.
Having said that, an awful lot of people in marketing are closet writers. Secretly, they love to write, or they’re good at writing. Maybe they’ve written poetry, screenplays, short stories, or just wonderful letters to their families. There are writers all over the place, all around us. They don’t always identify themselves and say, “I am a writer.”
Any kind of content marketer needs to be a writer first. You have to have the passion for creating an emotional response, for inventive and meaningful language, and for the music of how words go together. All content marketers have to be writers at their core, but not every writer self-identifies as a writer. It’s worthwhile delving a little bit. See who has a secret passion for writing on your team and cultivate that person.
How to Approach B2C vs. B2B Marketing
Brian, over at LionRoot.com had a question I thought was interesting. I get this from time to time, and it’s a topic that interests me.
He asks if it’s best to split B2B and B2C marketing.
Brian’s an independent video game developer. He learned about content marketing in more of a B2B context, but now he’s wondering if he’s doing it wrong and maybe he should focus on the people who identify him as an artist, as a video game developer, as an artist, B2C.
The thing about these distinctions is, to some degree, they are artificial because all marketing messages have to hit a person. They have to speak to that person’s problems in the context that they’re making a connection with you. You need to speak to the person who signs the check, if I can boil it down. You need your marketing to speak to the person who’s going to make the decision to move forward with what you have to offer.
If you are offering your games to individual gamers, then you definitely want to think about it in a B2C way. The problem I see with ‘B2B marketers’ is that they forget that marketing to a business isn’t exactly possible. The building, the office equipment, and the assets of that company do not sign the purchasing order. There’s a person who signs the purchasing order. There’s a person who makes the decision to purchase, even in a B2B context.
What you need to do is figure out who signs the check. Who makes the buying decision? Maybe in your case it’s a question of you want to build an audience of gamers so that they create the demand to push a game production company to produce your game. Then, yeah, I would talk to gamers. I would cultivate an audience of gamers.
Think about ways that you can give them something that they want. It might be simple games. It might be simple app-based games. It might be something else. It might be insights, gossip, swag, or something else around their favorite games.
Think about what your audience wants and needs. If you are trying to build an audience of gamers in order to influence the purchasing decision of a game company, I think that’s worth exploring. You’re going to have to do it at scale. You’re going to have to figure out how to do something kind of epic.
In your context, I would think the most epic thing you could do would be to create some kind of really fun, simple, app-based game that you could get an audience of people who love. That would be a great way to get the attention of a more B2B organization.
What to Do About Subscribers Who Don’t Confirm Their Opt-In
I’m going to wrap it up today with a question from Megan. Megan just launched a free membership website using Rainmaker, which is cool. Seems to be going well. Still definitely building that audience. She’s picking up subscribers, and she’s building her email list. Now, she’s finding that about a third of the people who sign up for the membership — so for the information behind her membership wall — are not on the email list. They’re not confirming the opt-in for the email list.
She asks, “Is this just the nature of double opt-in? Are all the members who are not on the email list lost forever, or would it be OK to add them to a special list and send out a little hello at some point?”
In my opinion, absolutely. It would be OK because they have opted in to get communication from you about the membership site. I think probably they’re just not understanding that they have to take that confirmation step.
The way I would structure it for you would be to put valuable things on the other side of the email confirmation. For example, let’s say it’s a free membership site that’s designed to grow your audience, and it has two videos and one ebook. Let everybody know that once they have confirmed the opt-in to your email list, they’re going to get an extra video and an extra ebook on some very desirable topic — something they really want to know more about. They have to have a reason to confirm the opt-in, and they have to know that they want to do it.
I would definitely communicate. The whole purpose of a membership site is to communicate with members. It’s totally legitimate and OK to communicate with your members. Yes, it’s absolutely OK to keep nagging them, keep reminding them that there’s something that they haven’t claimed on the other side of that opt-in, and that they’re not getting the total experience.
You could even do something like not include all of the information that they’re going to need to get the most out of the membership in the thank you page for the email confirmation. Just try playing around with how you structure it.
You can, for this context, if you want to, you could also change your email to a single opt-in. Once they get through to the membership site, then you just count that as a single opt-in. I like to do confirmed opt-in, but this is not a law handed down by Moses. As long as you’re doing good work and doing good things for people, it is OK to have a single opt-in. That’s a click on AWeber — or whatever your provider might be — in most cases.
Not every email provider will let you do that, but it is an option. At some point, I think Rainmaker is going to have a little bit tighter integration with email. At that point, we would have a little bit more robust tools for you to enforce that opt-in before they get all the goodies of the membership site.
For right now, I would just make it enticing and keep reminding people. Remember, people are not paying the attention to you that you are paying to you. They’re just spaced out, most of them, and it’s perfectly OK to remind them.
I want to thank you all for the awesome questions. These will pop up roughly every third week or so. I usually try to alternate a Q&A, a rant, and an interview. About every third week, we’ll be doing Q&As.
If you would like to ask a question, just drop it in the comment box below. If the transcript is up, then you’ll have to scroll all the way down to get to the question box. I’d love to hear your questions.
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Thank you, guys, so much for the great questions and your time and attention. I will catch you next time.
This is Sonia Simone, The Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer. Thanks, guys!