Two of the most popular trends in marketing right now are growth hacking and content marketing.
Growth hacking is a marketing technique designed to turn clever hacks into fast-paced product growth. Content marketing is also about growth; if you’re creating content, you’re doing it because you want to grow your traffic and reach more people.
If you’ve incorporated either into your marketing plan, you’ve likely seen promising results… so why not take it a step further? What if there was a way to apply growth hacking principles to your content to achieve fast-paced traffic growth?
Well, there is a way. It’s called content hacking.
Here are nine ways that you can apply growth hacking tactics to your content marketing efforts for impressive, fast-paced growth.
1. Get your OpenGraph tags in order
Almost every social network uses embedded OpenGraph HTML tags to generate link previews so readers can preview page content before they click through to read the post.
Link previews are generated using a small bit of meta-tag code that is included in the <head> of your HTML page. This simple snippet of code tells the social network what image, title, and description to use when a post goes live.
Configuring and testing the tags may require some technical wrench time, but it is worth it; OpenGraph tags can help improve click rates.
If you are using WordPress, the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast does an excellent job of making things work for all of the major networks.
If nothing else, you should test how your link preview looks using these handy validation tools:
- Facebook OpenGraph Debugger
- Twitter Hovercard Validator
- Google+ Structured Data Testing Tool
- Pinterest Rich Pins Validator
2. Use microdata and rich snippets
By now, most of us know about Google Authorship, the functionality that displays the author’s profile image next to search results. These little gems have been proven to increase attention and click-through rates, but the opportunities don’t stop there.
Microdata (also called rich snippets) are the few lines of text that appear under every search result. They were designed by Google to “give users a sense for what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their query.”
In other words, rich snippets provide you with a few additional characters to convince your readers that your link is worthy of their click.
Luckily, if you have some HTML skills, you can control what is seen here. This is an advanced topic, but worth exploring if you want to get the extra oomph out of your content.
Google also has two great tools for putting your rich snippets into practice. First, test your current data using the free Structured Data Testing Tool. Then, check out the amazing Structured Data Markup Helper for assistance in modifying your HTML. You might be surprised by how easy it actually is.
Bonus tip: if you want to take it a step further, take a look at Google’s In-Depth Articles markup.
3. Share your business data with your readers
Readers love stories, and even more importantly, they love sharing compelling stories with their friends. Technical support software startup Groove learned the truth in this when they re-launched their blog as a way to tell their story as a startup attempting to grow their revenue from $30k per month to more than $100k per month.
Social sharing app Buffer is another company that is making their story public with a content hack built on their company’s business data. Going beyond telling their startup story, Buffer shares every detail about their business on their website, including their employee salaries.
The Buffer Open Blog has featured content about their business on a weekly basis, including their revenue numbers, website traffic and the key metrics associated with their business. They even display their content in real-time using a public dashboard.
While some may see this strategy as extreme, others may see it as a brilliant content hack.
By sharing the data-based content that they use internally, Buffer is opening itself up to an entirely different audience and traffic source. Undoubtedly, there are mental hurdles associated with making “private” data public, but your readers will appreciate the transparency.
4. Make your content load faster
We rarely equate site speed with traffic, but they are in fact related.
Matt Cutts, one of the official spokesmen for Google Search, has made it clear that site speed is a factor that Google uses for determining search rankings. In addition to this, the average website visitor will leave your website in 10-20 seconds if they don’t feel that their needs are addressed.
You don’t want to waste that time loading your website.
A great place to start is Google’s web performance best practices guide, which outlines a number of things that you can do to optimize your site speed.
If you are using WordPress to manage your site, be sure to look into plugins like W3 Total Cache and Hammy for image resizing. Additionally, CloudFlare is a web performance and security company that can help with site load times.
Optimizing site speed can be a bit complicated, but it definitely pays off. Online retailer Shopzilla reduced page load times from seven seconds to two seconds and saw a 25% increase in page views and a 7% – 12% increase in revenue. Not bad for a little time spent under the hood.
5. Repurpose old content
A great way to extend the life of your evergreen content (content that will not lose relevance or interest over time) is to turn it into a simple autoresponder email course that is dripped out to subscribers over time.
By giving “old content” a new life in this way, we have collected thousands of new leads.
For example, we restructured and repackaged a combination of our best blog posts for our 6 Free Marketing Tips course. In the same vein, Unbounce’s Landing Page Conversion Course is an extension of their Ultimate Guide to Landing Page Optimization ebook.
The easiest way to start is to choose a common theme on your blog and find a group of posts that match your topic of choice. Next, aggregate the posts in your email autoresponder account so that they drip out to your subscribers over time.
Create a dedicated landing page for the course and start promoting it; soon you will see that autoresponder courses are content pieces that keep on giving.
6. Repost your content on Medium
Medium has made a big splash in the content world by taking a community-driven spin on content publishing. Its wonderful interface allows you to write collaboratively alongside many other quality writers.
It is also a great place to occasionally repost your content; Buffer has recently been using the Medium platform to share their content, new and old.
Curious about this ourselves, we decided to explore this technique on our own.
After trying it on one of our recent posts, we happily discovered that sharing the post on Medium resulted in an additional 144 views. Not bad for such little effort.
7. Promote your content on social media more than once
Sharing your content more than once on social media is a polarizing practice.
Some people don’t care for the continued promotion of a piece, but as is often the case, it’s hard to argue with results. A while back, I shared my startup’s strategy for promoting blog content on social media. Guess how many complaints we’ve received from the practice?
The truth is that no one cares or even notices that you’re posting your content more than once, provided you don’t act like a spammer. You don’t want to be sending your messages out in too close succession, which is why you need to create a plan for pre-scheduling across your social media accounts. A well-executed schedule may look something like this:
- Social message sent when blog post goes live.
- Further social messages trickle out to your accounts over the next 2-3 hours.
- Messages are shared again on the appropriate social channels the next day.
- Another series of messages are pre-scheduled and sent the following week.
- More social messages are pre-scheduled for the following month.
- Additional messages can optionally be scheduled for the three-month mark or beyond.
8. Develop a guest blogging calendar
You may have recently heard that guest blogging is dead, but it’s not. It’s just misunderstood.
Guest blogging is an age-old content hack and as a link-building tool it probably is dead. That being said, as a way to build trust and awareness for your personal brand, it’s still very much alive. If you are doing it right, guest blogging is still a powerful method for promotion and professional networking.
At my startup, we’ve had an aggressive guest blogging campaign since launch and there isn’t a day that it doesn’t pay off; many of our top referrals come from guest posts.
On top of this, guest posting helps us build our influence online. For example, this post on Unbounce from just a few weeks ago resulted in thousands of tweets and shares, as well as many new social media followers and email subscribers.
Guest blogging is still a classic way to growth hack your content marketing – as long as you’re using it to build influence, not SEO.
9. Understand what content marketing is… and what it isn’t
Everyone knows that content marketing can drive traffic if it is done well, but it’s not an overnight process.
Getting the most out of each piece of content that you create is a great start, but you also have to account for the fact that content marketing takes time.
Rand Fishkin of Moz recently hit the nail on the head here.
Content marketing isn’t about bringing someone to your site once and immediately converting them into a customer; it’s about bringing them back time and time again. It’s about building trust with your audience and earning their business over the long haul.
This means that one of the greatest content hacks of all time is to simply create the best content that you can – content that is better than anything anyone has ever created before.
Before you create your next piece of content, do some research on your competitors first: what are the top 10 results of a Google search for your topic?
Then ask yourself how your content can be better.
More videos or images?
Content hacking isn’t all about tricks and games. Sometimes it is just hard work at the keyboard. Make sure high quality content is at the foundation of your content hacking efforts and you’re guaranteed to drive traffic like crazy, even if it is over the long haul.