Every now and again you get the opportunity to learn from someone in your industry who really deserves their reputation as one of the most important experts in their field. For me this opportunity came yesterday, when I sat through two intensive content marketing knowledge sessions with serial-entrepreneur Neil Patel. Neil is the  founder of KissMetricsCrazy Egg and Quick Sprout and one of the most well-known evangelists of the power of content marketing. As to be expected, Neil’s talk was epic, providing gem after gem of actionable, content marketing takeaways, from how often you should blog, to how to get someone to guest post to you, to the value of SEO (and Google+). I’ve tried to sum up his most actionable takeaways here, and I really think there’s something to be learnt here for all content marketers, both those who are new to the field and more experienced marketers. Enjoy! Identifying and reaching out to your users 1. There’s no black magic to successfully attracting customers via the web- Rand Fishkin Rand_quote_jing 2. Identify:

  • Who are your customers?
  •  Where do they hang out?
  • How should you engage?

3. Selling to zebras Figure out exactly who you are targeting, and go after them You want zebras. If they look like a lion, ignore them. 4. Find your zebras, and sell to them Which hashtag do your users use? My zebras (marketers) used the hashtag “measure” Create content, be consistently awesome Neil Patel talk image one 5. Start a blog, create content, be consistently awesome 6. Start with WordPress. It is a free platform, and open source, so it has had awesome things build for it. 7. When you create content, make it useful. Your users should say- I got something from this. 8. Be continually awesome, have no fear. Like a kid, it is ok to fall along the way. If you don’t fall you aren’t trying hard enough. 9. You have to create a conversation,  creating a conversation keeps your readers engaged 10. Use headlines- 3-5 times in a post Neil Patel talk image two 11. Aim for posts over 2000 words 12. 6 words in your headlines is ideal 13. Odd numbers perform better than even 14. Know all the marketing rules, but be ok with breaking them. You’ll never manage all 7 rules, aim for 4-5 15. When you do list posts aim for high numbers, lower numbers don’t convert as well 16. Be careful with puns, depending by your audience. Better to keep it simple than confuse a percentage of your target users 17. Hooking two things together is smart, but make sure they have the same target audience 18. Go Negative to connect to people’s fears: 11 reasons why your business won’t make a million dollars a year, Here’s why no one is reading your press release etc Successful guest posting 19. Guest post to grow awareness of your blog, NOT to back-link. 20. When writing a list and including yourself, always put yourself as number 2 on a best of list, past number 3 or 4 no one will read down, number one is too promotional. 21. Post the best content on your blog, if you have a smaller blog, post on the place where you’ll get a bigger audience 22. If people don’t believe it, they won’t read it. (so save on the BS) 23. Don’t worry about SEO, don’t try to optimise for search. Write headlines for people. What would they type in to Google? Make it better for consumers than for search engines example headline- Neil Patel 24. Respond to comments. When someone leaves a comment, you have to respond! 25. Why didn’t you get comments? You forgot to use a conversational tone. 26. What should you do about negative comments? Kill negativity with kindness 27. Ask one simple question at the end. Question should be in Italics, and one line 28. Write an introduction to your blog post. Discuss what your post will be about, no more than 3 paragraphs. 29. When someone is reading a blog, you want them to answer you. Pose a question, then answer it. Evoke their pain or curiosity. 30. Interviewing is a great way to grow traffic, interview people with one question or more 31. Dumb down the vocabulary to reach a wider audience, even for a more technical blog. Your readers don’t want to feel stupid. Write content for your peers, because that’s where your money is 32. Guest posting is all about finding the popular person. There’s no point getting tips from somebody nobody cares about Making your content sharable 33. How-to and list posts worked 100 years ago, and it still work now. If the traffic keeps going up then that’s what matters. 34. Infographics are a great way to bring in traffic infographics 35. Make sure your infographics are relevant to your expertise and knowledge 36. Make it visual, they should tell a story. Make complex data easy to understand 37. 5-6 main points for an infographic. Make sure the points flow together 38. Use simple colours. You want it to show up on all devices 39. Make sure you have your URL at the bottom. 40. Make sure you have an embed code so people take it 41. If you don’t have time for research use ODesk When to send out your content 42. Most people are online at Monday 11am, people get lazy (so hit them on social media then) 43. Send emails early in the morning 8:30/9am, when people are clearing out their inbox 44. Don’t email too much (you’ll get annoying) 45. Noon and 6pm are the best for Twitter engagement 46. Be consistently awesome! Blog regularly to build a following 47. Build, Measure, Learn Build, learn, measure (Disclaimer- words are mostly Neil’s, images are mine, taken with my Ipad Mini in a darkened auditorium.) If you want to find out more about content marketing you can follow Neil on his personal blog. Which of these takeaways will you try to implement in your content marketing strategy? Let me know in the comments below.