When you think of creating a branded content series, does your brain draw a blank? Bear with me while I explain, and then you will understand the compelling value it has for your content marketing.
Creating long-form “ultimate” content is a new trend but it isn’t always the best way to go. While “ultimate” content, in general, is a good idea for step-by-step and how-to guides (it removes the need for a reader to click elsewhere to get the full instructions), it is not always possible for other types of intent.
What if a user simply wants to get a quick understanding of a topic before going deeper? This is where a 101-type of content would work better than a huge long-form article going into all kinds of specifics.
What if a user wants to know more about a very specific and narrow question? In this case a more specific article would make much more sense.
How to cover a topic in-depth while still being able to target all types of reader intent?
This is where creating a branded content series comes into play.
What is a Branded Content Series?
Put simply, a branded content series is several content assets covering one topic that is related to branded content.
There several benefits of creating a branded content series:
- Most importantly, it builds anticipation encouraging readers to look forward to more ideas and articles on the same topic
- It increases user engagement (and decreases your site bounce rate) by sending your readers to previous parts of the series
- You feel more motivated to create more content. When your readers are waiting for the next article, you will feel more inspired to make it really great!
- It helps create an effective internal linking strategy (as all the parts end up being interlinked). In other words, it serves as a topic cluster (where each single piece helps the whole to rank higher while the whole helps each individual piece in return).
How to Create a Branded Content Series?
Start with the Spreadsheet
This is where your content series ideation ties nicely with your keyword research. When collecting and organizing your niche keywords, come up:
- Your core topic (Ideally, this is something broad enough for you to be able to say a lot on the topic). For example, if you are like me and write a lot about digital marketing, your core topics might be “content marketing tactics”, “seasonal digital marketing”, or “monetizing your content”
- Supplementary keywords: These are search queries that supplement your core topics while still contributing to the general core topic.
My favorite way to branch out from the core topic to underlying subtopics is using semantic research. TextOptimizer will suggest dozens of ideas within a few seconds. For example, by typing [content marketing tactics] into the tool, I immediately know that my individual content pieces will be:
- Content marketing tactics based on your goals:
- Customer acquisition
- Brand awareness
- Content marketing tactics based on your business nature:
- Types of content assets you can create:
- Content marketing distribution tactics:
- Content marketing tactics driven by different types of research:
- Customer-journey-driven content,
- Competitor-research-driven content,
- Influencer-driven content, etc.
Just like that I came up with 22 content ideas and it took me a minute at most:
Now, you can choose whether you want to build a branded content series around your initial parent topic (content marketing tactics) or whether you want to start by focusing on any of those subtopics (e.g. “Types of content assets you can create”).
Either one is fine: Let your inspiration guide you at this step. Which topic or subtopic do you feel more excited to cover? How can you relate each topic to your branded content?
Plan Things Out
Planning helps on a few levels:
- It keeps you more productive
- It helps you create a more organized campaign
You can even share your whole schedule with your audience and ask for their input. If you have a team of writers, planning is even more important. For multi-author teams you can use timesheet software from Deputy to manage the schedule and the workload of each contributor:
Create Your First Article
This step is no different from your usual content creation routine, just don’t forget to make it clear that you are working on a series and there will be more articles coming soon:
- Mention your parent topic and how you are going to cover it
- Ask your readers to contribute ideas on which other topics they’d like to see covered within your series angle
- Mention the upcoming article topic you are planning to cover next
Don’t forget to include contextual CTAs! Something like “Don’t miss the next article on XX: Subscribe for updates”. In-content opt-in option will help you grow your list.
You may also want to experiment with different types of optin methods, like Yes/No optin and a Slide-in optin which both have proved quite effective for me personally.
Build Anticipation for the Next Article
When you are focusing on writing, publishing and promoting one article, all you need is to market it well once it goes live. When you are publishing a piece within a series, you need to always be thinking about both: Promoting the one you already have and building anticipation for your upcoming one.
The whole point of working on a series is getting your own audience excited. That’s what will help you boost your site engagement and grow your list.
While you will be including contextual CTAs inside your article, use your external channels to drive anticipation from everywhere you can, for example:
- Schedule tweets inviting followers to contribute quotes and data for your upcoming piece
- Announce your future schedule on Facebook and Linkedin
- Send an email blast to your current readers announcing your future piece and inviting them to contribute questions they’d like to be answered
Don’t forget to use video marketing too! Renderforest allows you to put together teaser videos in seconds which you can publish to Youtube, Instagram and Facebook:
All you need is to select a cool template, customize it with your images and logo, put your own message and include a call-to-action with instructions on where to learn more.
Using teaser videos helps you on so many levels, including cross-channel promotion, increased engagement and an ability to run high-performing social media ads.
Try Something New for Each Asset
This is rather a reminder than an actual step: Building a content series allows you to try more engagement tactics and measure their effectiveness right away. Don’t miss this opportunity! For example:
- Experiment with optimizing your content for People Also Ask results by covering related questions. Here are some awesome question research tools.
- Integrate surveys to generate more feedback and engagement. Here are a few ways to integrate surveys into your WordPress blog easily.
- Create all kinds of visual assets (pinnable images, infographics, flowcharts, tweetable quotes, etc.) Visuals have been scientifically proven to boost engagement but you need to experiment with a lot of visual marketing tactics before you find the ones that really work.
- Diversify your content marketing tactics by using more content formats,
- etc. etc.
Just never stop experimenting! Again, why not involve your readers and social media followers into your experiments. Ask for their feedback on some new interactive content assets you are implementing and invite them to share what else you can do in your next article.
Re-Package Your Series into One Piece
Finally, when you have a lot of articles around the same topic, it is only natural that at some point you may want to consolidate your work into one single piece. Look at this as your pillar page that offers a well-organized map of everything you have created so far.
You can keep growing the page as you have more content within this series going live but ultimately the goal is to give your readers an easy access to everything you have published.
If you need inspiration, look at how Neal is structuring his content marketing page by breaking it into subtopics and allowing an easy way to find any previously published piece easier. This is much more effective than just using WordPress categories to organize content.
Besides, it is much more SEO friendly as it links to previously published articles in context which is more effective than a simple list of links.
Apart from creating a growing pillar article to structure and re-market your content series, think of more ways to reuse your hard work through content re-packaging, for example:
- Collect all published content, turn them into a PDF and market it as a lead magnet. Here’s an easy way to create an eBook using Google Docs
- Create an automated mini-email course to engage more of your readers: Using automated campaigns you can schedule to send each of your published articles via email every week. Automation is a great way to boost email marketing engagement rates.
Once you have additional assets created, use Finteza to create personalized ads to engage your new visitors. Finteza is a web analytics platform that allows you to create custom ads based on traffic (e.g. new / returning) and landing pages (i.e. any of the parts of your series).
As such, using Finteza you can effectively introduce your new site visitors to your series and get them continue using the site. You can also engage your returning visitors by announcing your downloadable asset based on something they have already read.
There are quite a few more analytics solutions to monitor how readers are engaging with your content series and which CTAs are doing the best job at converting them into your customers or subscribers.
Creating content series offers lots of benefits (including more SEO opportunities and better on-site engagement) but more importantly it saves a blogger from hitting the writer’s blog. When building a content series, you always know what you work on next which keeps you always pumped and motivated. Good luck!