Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing

Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing

by Andy Crestodina

Paperback(Fifth edition)

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The result of thousands of conversations about web marketing with hundreds of companies, this handbook is a compilation of the most important and effective lessons and advice about the power of search engine optimization, social media, and email marketing. The first and only comprehensive guide to content marketing, this book explains the social, analytical, and creative aspects of modern marketing that are necessary to succeed on the web. By first covering the theory behind web and content marketing and then detailing it in practice, it shows how it is not only critical to modern business but is also a lot of fun. This edition has been updated to reflect new technology and marketing trends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780988336490
Publisher: Orbit Media Studios, Inc.
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Edition description: Fifth edition
Pages: 282
Sales rank: 413,812
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Andy Crestodina is the cofounder and the strategic director of Orbit Media Studios, an award-winning web design company, which has completed more than 1,000 successful website projects. He is a top-rated speaker at national conferences who is dedicated to the teaching of marketing. His favorite topics include search engine optimization, social media, analytics, and content strategy. He has written more than 100 articles on content marketing topics. He lives in Chicago.

Read an Excerpt


Welcome to Content Chemistry


It started back on January 1, 2000, when I quit my job as an IT recruiter and started a new career on the web. I've immersed myself in digital ever since that day.

In April 2001, I co-founded a web design company, Orbit Media Studios, with my great friend Barrett Lombardo. Today, Orbit is an award-winning team of 40 specialists with hundreds of happy clients and thousands of successful projects.

Through all of that experience, I've tried all kinds of marketing tactics and techniques with both amazing success and staggering failures. At times I've had amazing teachers. And at other times, I've had to experiment my way through things on my own. Orbit started as a scrappy little company without a real budget, so our focus has always been on organic growth. In digital marketing, that means content.

This book is a compilation of the most important and effective lessons I've learned in content marketing, web design and analytics. The simplest way to summarize all of it goes something like this.

To be successful, websites must do two things:

1. Attract visitors

2. Trigger action from those visitors, converting them into leads and customers

To do this, web marketers must do two things:

1. Create content

2. Promote it

Simple right? That's where the simplicity ends. Those few big goals and actions break down into several channels, hundreds of tactics and thousands of possible actions.

For thousands of businesses, great content marketing is the difference between success and failure on the web.

Once you've finished this book, you'll have a solid understanding of how to grow a business through the creation and promotion of digital content. You'll know which actions lead to which outcomes. You'll know where you're going and how to get there.

Beyond this, my hope is that your new insights into web marketing will motivate you to get started and stay active. I hope you find web marketing enjoyable, because it's both creative and analytical. There's nothing intimidating or mysterious about it. You may discover that, yes, digital marketing is critical to modern business — but it's also a lot of fun.

Andy Crestodina

Chief Marketing Officer, Orbit Media Studios

Who This Book is For

This book is for people who want to improve their marketing, increase sales and grow their business. You don't need to be a social media celebrity or a best-selling author to benefit from these lessons. You do need to be yourself. And regardless of who you are, it's almost certain that you're well-suited for content marketing.

If you're a thoughtful, detail-oriented person who enjoys researching and writing well-considered articles, content marketing is for you. If you're a fast, informal writer who can produce quick posts based on today's news, content marketing is for you.

If you're analytical and prefer digging through data over chatting with people, content marketing is for you. If you're a social person who would rather connect with people than analyze numbers, content marketing is for you.

Introverts and extroverts, number-crunching researchers and big-picture thinkers — content marketing has something for everyone. The one non-negotiable for any content marketer? You must write.

How to Use This Book: Experiment and Measure

This book is called "Content Chemistry" for a reason. As in chemistry, content marketing is about experimentation and measurement. Like a chemist, we'll mix chemicals (content), add energy (promotional activity) and observe and measure the reactions (analytics). Then we'll repeat or try something new.

Experimentation: These practices will continue to evolve. Adapt the techniques to suit your business. It's an ongoing process of trial and error and gradual improvement.

Measurement: Virtually every aspect of web marketing is measurable, much more so than with traditional advertising. This is part of the fun, but it's also a necessary part of the work. If you're not measuring results, you're not doing content marketing.

Results will often be unexpected, but the purpose remains constant: We seek awareness, relevance and trust.

How This Book is Structured

This book is broken into two sections: Lecture and Lab. The Lecture section includes the theory of web marketing, which consists of attracting visitors (traffic) and getting them to take action (conversions). The Lab section covers content marketing in practice, how to create, promote and measure content.

Whenever we reference something online, we've added a footnote. At the end of each chapter, you'll find links to those articles, resources and tools.

This book is a training manual. It's used by the marketing departments of companies big and small. It's also a textbook in universities. If you're just beginning your adventure into digital content, be sure to read the Lecture section carefully.

This book also is a reference. There is no need to read it cover to cover, so feel free to jump around. Each page has insights and ideas for you to try. If you're already a skilled practitioner, you may skim the Lecture section and go straight to the Lab section.

The techniques in this book are intended to demonstrate the concepts. I have tried them all and found each to be successful. Once you understand both the theory and the practice, try a little chemistry of your own!

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the art and science of pulling your audience toward your business. It is based on the concept that relevant prospects are looking for your product or service right now. If you can connect with them, help them and teach them, some of them will become loyal customers.

Content marketers create and promote useful, relevant information with the goal of attracting and engaging website visitors, and then converting those visitors into leads and customers.

We do this by creating, publishing and promoting content that is relevant to our clients and prospects through three main channels: search engine optimization (SEO), social media and email marketing.

Content marketing is sensitive to the behaviors and psychology of potential buyers. Whether we're looking for jet engines or consulting services, a wedding DJ or a local florist, we are all more likely than ever to look to the internet before making a decision. Every day, we search, research, read recommendations and seek advice from experts.

Where traditional advertising aims to interrupt and distract, content marketing aims to attract and assist.

The Evolution of Marketing

To understand the future of marketing, we must first understand the past. Let's take a brief look at the history of marketing.

In the beginning ...

Marketing was dominated by advertising, and that meant buying media. It meant buying space in newspapers, hoping consumers would notice before they turned the page. It meant buying time on TV, hoping consumers would keep watching when the show cut to a commercial break.

Businesses sent postcards and letters to our homes and called us during dinner, pushing out their messages with whatever budget they could muster. They hoped that consistent, repeated distractions and interruptions would convince us to buy. Some businesses still do.

But that magazine ad had limited space and the TV commercial had precious little time, giving the business a tiny window to make its case. If the company cut its ad budget, the message disappeared completely.

Even if these methods were successful, it was always so hard to tell which tactic was actually bringing in sales. There was an old saying among marketing executives: "I know I'm wasting half of my advertising budget, I just don't know which half."

Then the web came along and, like magic, advertising messages weren't limited by space and time. Once online, that brochure could be a hundred pages, but printing and postage wouldn't cost you a penny.

So, the web became another channel to push out those ads. "Brochureware" websites were born, and businesses simply pasted in the sales copy from other advertisements. They made little, if any, effort to treat the web as a unique channel with new opportunities.

Unlike traditional marketing, web traffic was measurable. People began to talk about how many "hits" their online brochures were getting.

Then, a shift ...

Slow, steady changes in technology and consumer behavior reached a tipping point. Traditional ad campaigns began directing consumers to the web. Every billboard, TV commercial, radio spot and magazine insert had a web address at the bottom.

Suddenly, the website was the center of all marketing efforts.

As people began to see the value of web marketing, companies moved billions in marketing budgets toward search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and email marketing.

During this time, consumers also gained more ways than ever to dodge the interruptions of advertising. Spam filters blocked unwelcome email. DVRs skipped distracting TV ads. Banner blockers cleaned the blinking boxes off websites. "Do not call" lists helped keep the telemarketers away.

Traditional advertising became less effective.

Welcome to modern marketing! It's new and improved, with more creative ways to connect with the people who matter to you. And the best part is, if you create meaningful content, those people will come to you.

The barriers have been removed and, rather than advertise on television, you can be your own TV station. Rather than seek publicity through PR, you can start your own online newsroom and grow your readership. You'll spend less money on printing and postage, and more time teaching something useful. You are on the web, and the web is now in everyone's pocket.

This is a golden era of social, video and mobile marketing, and it's built on content. The simple act of reading this book means you are likely to take advantage of these combined mega-trends.

Ready? Let's go.

Content Marketing vs. Advertising

Content marketing (also known as inbound marketing) is actually nothing new. It is simply using content to connect with potential buyers and partners. The content earns the interest and trust of the audience by being informative or entertaining.

Content marketing is not only different from advertising, it's the opposite of it. Advertisers inject themselves into other relevant media, hoping to be noticed. Content marketers attract their audience by being relevant. It's pull versus push.

You're probably like me.

You probably don't like to be interrupted by TV or magazine ads. You probably don't click on banner ads. You probably use a spam filter.

You probably like to look for things on your own, research the options and read reviews. You probably listen to input from friends, and you may even share recommendations with them.

That's why content marketing is emerging as the winner over advertising. It's a friendlier, more credible and more sensitive way for us to connect with information ... including the information that drives our purchasing decisions.

In decades past, the sales associate was a key source of product and service information. The prospect had to reach out early in the process just to get information and options. But now that so much information is online, we tend to not reach out until we have a strong sense for what we want. We've read the reviews, qualified (or disqualified) options and we're closer to being ready to buy.

This escalates the importance of marketing and content. It's critical to give lots of information early in the research process, to publish it online, to give away your best advice and answer the top questions your audience is asking. If visitors can't find key information on your website, they'll look for it somewhere else.

Web Strategy and Website ROI

Whether you're spending your own cash or just investing your time, the return on investment (ROI) in web marketing comes down to three main factors:

• Traffic (number of visitors)

• Conversion rate (percentage of visitors taking action, becoming leads or subscribers, etc.)

• Maintenance costs

That's it! Generally speaking, traffic multiplied by the conversion rate equals leads. Subtract the time and cost of managing and promoting the site, and you have your ROI. Simple, right?

Everything a content chemist does should increase traffic and conversions, while minimizing the cost and time in any way possible.

Going one level deeper, we can see how the variables are determined. Let's look at a fictional business that wants to generate leads from visitors who find the site through search engines, and show how that business could calculate its ROI.

Case Study: Libby's Laboratory Services

Like a lot of businesses, Libby's business provides a service that people look for online.

Libby offers laboratory staffing and training to research facilities. She's been doing this for a while and she's good at it. But Libby needs more leads if she's going to grow her business, and it's hard to connect with researchers looking for lab services.

So how much money will Libby make from her website and content marketing? How much new business will she get? How many leads would the site need to generate to pay for itself? What is the return on this investment? Let's figure it out.

Traffic ...

Well, Libby won't have any leads if she doesn't get any traffic. She has a relatively unknown brand. She's in a small niche and wants search engines to help people find her business.

To estimate search engine traffic, she'll need to investigate the popularity of her top keyphrases. She needs to get some sense for how many people are searching for "laboratory staffing" every month. If she can rank high for this phrase, people will find Libby's site in search engines and might visit.

Each time her site appears in search results is an "impression." The more phrases Libby's site ranks for, the more visible she'll become, so she'll want to target a range of phrases.

But how high she ranks for each phrase is also a big factor. A higher rank means exponentially more clicks. All other things being equal, the number one ranking page in search results gets a LOT more traffic than number two, and so on down the line. The effect of rank on traffic is exponential.

Two factors determine the total number of impressions: the number of keyphrases a site ranks for and the rank for each keyphrase. Therefore ...

(Number of Keyphrases) (Search [VolumeRank) = Impressions

When the site ranks, it attracts an audience, and some of them will click. The percentage of searchers that click on Libby's listing is the "click through rate," or CTR. Each click is a visit.

Impressions* x CTR = Visits

So the more phrases Libby chooses, the more popular those phrases are among searchers, and the higher she ranks for each phrase, the more impressions and, ultimately, more visits she gets. Sound complicated?

Fortunately for Libby, her cousin Dale is a web strategist. Together they research keyphrases, checking search volume and competition using research tools (seeChapter 5 for details). Then they estimate click through rates and make an educated guess of traffic volume. They estimate that with a well-optimized site, they can eventually expect 1,000 targeted visitors per month from search engines.

... times conversions ...

Getting traffic from search engines is great, but it's not the same as leads. If a researcher looking for lab services finds Libby's website, he's not a lead yet. He's just a visitor. If (or when) a visitor calls or fills out Libby's contact form, he is officially a "conversion." The better the site, the higher the "conversion rate."

There are many factors that determine the conversion rate, including design, usability, evidence, specificity and clarity. These factors combine to determine the percentage of visitors who decide to contact Libby for help.

Visits x Conversion Rate = Leads

Libby meets with Dale again to do more research. They study industry benchmarks and look at other laboratory services sites. They assume Libby's new site will be excellent — or at least good — in all of the conversion factors listed above. In the end, they figure a 2% conversion rate is attainable. Thanks again, Dale!

... equals leads ...

Now all they have to do is multiply the projected visits by the estimated conversion rate. They calculate that the site should generate 20 leads per month.

... times closing rate ...

Now they need to convert the leads into actual customers. Dale can't help here, but Libby has a pretty good sales process in place and she can close around 50% of her leads. Each time she does this, she sells $1,000 worth of lab services. It costs her about $500 in time and overhead each time she provides this service. So generally speaking, the value of a lead to Libby is about $500.

Now that we have all the pieces, we can put them together in a (very cumbersome but comprehensive) set of formulas for estimating the return on the investment for a marketing website.


Excerpted from "Content Chemistry"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Orbit Media Studios, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of Orbit Media Studios, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Part One: Lecture,
Part Two: Lab,

Customer Reviews