Newsletter #7

Glossary growth hacking, high-value content and the "so what?" test

The weekly newsletter for content marketers seeking exponential growth in their work and personal lives.

Links

🔥 The Glossary Growth Hack [Foundr]

Many keywords - like metrics and simple concepts - only need a basic definition to satisfy the bulk of their search intent. I've seen variants of this "glossary approach" work for several companies: Profitwell's pricing dictionary; Investopedia's financial dictionary; and the 10,000 word SaaS pricing glossary I created a few years ago.

"...one strategy my company successfully put to use was building a glossary, or knowledge base. Over time, it helped us land an extra 8,000 monthly site visitors and better understand what keywords our audience uses to search for our content."

🔥 The Myth Of The Non-Technical Marketer [Simo Ahava]

I love this essay: in a world where marketing rubs up against the digital world a thousand times an hour, there's no such thing as a "non-technical marketer." Everything we do is shaped by code and data, and learning how to write CSS or scrape websites isn't a departure from your core discipline - it's a continuation of the skills you already possess.

"The whole polarization of non-technical vs. technical is silly and artificial, and nothing irks me as much as this constant undervaluing of the human capacity to learn new things."

🔥 6 Actionable Web Scraping Hacks for White Hat Marketers [Ahrefs]

Ready to indulge your inner technical marketer? Ahrefs show us how to use Screaming Frog and Google Sheets in half a dozen creative ways, from scraping Reddit to understand the type of content that performs best, to revealing your most active Twitter evangelists.

"...there’s much more to web scraping than grabbing a few title tags—it can actually be used to extract any data from any web page in seconds."

🔥 A Better Way to Identify High-Value Content [Derek Gleason]

"Good performance" is a relative term - depending on your business, a thousand monthly page views could be a reason for celebration or an absolute disaster. This article from ConversionXL's content lead explain how to use change-point analysis to understand the performance of content relative to the performance of similar content. 

"...to identify real high-value content — you need to measure which articles outperformed each site’s average at that point in time."

💩 42 Agencies On the Traffic Sources That Will Grow & Decline Next Year [Databox]

Statistics are not inherently useful. They offer a very specific snapshot of a very specific moment in time. They can be shaped to suit any conclusion. To be useful - to provide information that you can actually act upon - they need to be surrounded by context and explanation... both of which are sorely lacking here. Case in point: what am I supposed to do with the following information?

"23% said that paid social as a traffic source would decline for clients over the next 12 months."

Tools

🔨 Station

This is how I overcome the whole "death by a thousand tabs" problem.  Station is home to my communication apps - Slack, Front, Asana, Google Calendar - while Chrome is reserved for research, writing and editing. I can switch contexts cleanly and efficiently, and mute notifications with the press of a single hotkey.

Opinions

The "so what?" test
Becoming a better writer is a gradual, iterative process, punctuated by a few perspective-altering epiphanies.

One of my epiphanies came care of the "so what?" test: whenever you review your writing, be it an article, email or performance report, evaluate every claim, quote and suggestion with a single, simple question:

"So what?"

Most of the time, we leave vast tracts of our thought process in our heads. We understand the significance of our idea, but we fail to see the logical gaps we've left in the communication of that idea. Other times, we speak in generalizations that seem to make sense, but if we dig a little deeper, we realize we're covering up the absence of an idea.

The "so what?" test takes away our crutches, and forces us to evaluate our writing from the cold, stark perspective of a disinterested, time-pressed reader; a reader that will only keep reading if they find clear, unequivocal answers to questions like:

"Why should I care about this?"
"What impact does this have on my life?"
"What can I do with this information?"

It gets your thought process out of your head and onto the page. It helps you weed out vagaries and fluff, and find the core point you're trying to communicate. It forces empathy with your reader, and encourages honest, critical evaluation of your writing. It improves your writing with the simplest, easiest heuristic you'll ever find. Just two words:

"So what?"

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