9 Ways People Respond to Your Content Online by Rajesh Setty – A review

We’ve been talking about Content Marketing for some time now, providing you with what we hope are insightful thoughts and advices on building great content. We haven’t approached yet how to measure if your content strategy is proving to be successful or not and thought it was time to do so! Indeed, producing meaningful posts is one thing, but if you can’t engage your audience, you’re wasting both your time and your reader’s time and money. So how can you determine the level of engagement you’re getting from your readers?

Rajesh Setty is a prominent entrepreneur and blogger. If you haven’t had a look at his LifeBeyondCode blog yet, please do! Rajesh has produced a very interesting article last week on Lateral Action called 9 Ways People Respond to Your Content Online. This struck us as a fantastic way to determine how readers are engaging with your content. As you can see from the image above, Rajesh pinpoints 9 elements that describes how readers interact with a piece of writing – it starts with content seen as spam up to content so good you want to subscribe. Simple scale, high impact.

How does your content measure up next to these steps? If most of your content can be classified as high value, congratulations! You’re doing a great job and keep going! If you get very little feedback from your readers, this could mean you create very little engagement with your content. How can you know for sure?

  • No one comments on your blog, though you do get visitors.
  • Your feedburner stats are desperately low.
  • You can’t seem to be able to generate discussions or reactions from other blogs or sources.
  • Your Alexa ranking is decreasing.

These are all elements that could let you think you are not successful at creating content that engages your audience. A great way to remedy to this situation is to ask your readers how you can improve your content. Have a look at Uservoice, a website that enables people to leave feedback and suggestions on your site. You can set up a free profile for people to use. By the way, we would love to know how we can improve this blog. You can share your thoughts on our own Uservoice page, by email or through comments. As Rajesh pointed out, “learn from the feedback and incorporate this learning into your next article.” That’s exactly what we’re intending to do!

White Papers – List of “How To” Blog Posts

White papers are an essential item in your marketing toolbox. Every Monday of this month I will compile and publish lists of the many exceptional blog posts from thought leaders on the topics of white papers. The first installment will be a list of ‘How To’ blog posts about white papers.

I have categorized this list into 2 sections

  • Blog posts on Writing White Papers
  • Blog posts on Marketing White Papers

Blog posts on Writing White Papers  

How to Write a White Paper – A White Paper on White Papers
What should the objectives of a white paper be? How long should it be? Read Michael Stelzner’s How to Write a White Paper – A White Paper on White Papers.
How to Write an Effective White Paper
Nelson Acquilano writes about How to Write an Effective White Paper. This article gives information about the purpose, length and style of white Papers for maximum impact.
How to Use Descriptive Paragraph Starters
Using descriptive paragraph starters will engage your readers better. Jonathan Kantor shares his insights in his blog post How to Use Descriptive Paragraph Starters.
How to start a white paper
Gordon Barker points out that forethought and some structure will help you get started with writing your white paper. Read his blog post on How to start a white paper.
How NOT to Format a White Paper!
Business exectuives today have very limited time for reading complex information. You have to format your white paper to draw and retain attention of your readers. Read How NOT to Format a White Paper! for Jonathan Kantor’s insights on what mistakes to avoid when formatting your white paper.
How to Make Your White Paper ‘Good to the Last Drop’
Apryl Parcher recommends to have a good balance between education and marketing in her blog post How to Make Your White Paper ‘Good to the Last Drop’.
How to Craft White Papers that Stick in Readers’ Minds
How can marketers apply the principles from Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick to produce powerful white papers. Stephanie Tilton discusses this in her blog post How to Craft White Papers that Stick in Readers’ Mind.
How to Clone Your White Paper for Different Audiences 
Most white paper readers want content directed right to them. But what if you have two or three different audiences in different roles or sectors? Gordon Graham discusses this question in his article How to Clone Your White Paper for Different Audiences.
How Many Pages Do You Really Need?
A frequently asked question of many white paper marketers, is “How many pages should I have for my white paper?”. Jonathan Kantor answers this question in his blog post How Many Pages Do You Really Need?
How Your White Papers Can Become “Weapons of Influence”
How can you apply lessons from Robert Cialdini’s classic book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion to writing and marketing white papers? Stephanie Tilton’s discusses this in her blog post How Your White Papers Can Become “Weapons of Influence”.
How to Generate Leads and Establish Industry Prominence by utilizing white papers
Jim Lodico has a white paper on How to Generate Leads and Establish Industry Prominence by utilizing white papers.
How to Write a White Paper: The Five Laws
How to write a marketing or technical white paper by focusing on “the five laws”? Read Hoffman Marketing Communication’s article How to Write a White Paper: The Five Laws.
How to Write White Papers that Drive Sales
White papers can be extremely useful sales tools for IT solution sales people, serving as education and decision-support materials for customers. Read Hoffman Marketing Communication’s article How to Write White Papers that Drive Sales.
How to Write a White Paper: A Closer Look at White Paper Definition
What is a White paper? Read Hoffman Marketing Communication’s article How to Write a White Paper: A Closer Look at White Paper Definition.
How to avert the big don’ts in creating a white paper
What are the big mistakes to avoid that can render your white paper virtually useless? Read Larry Lange’s article How to avert the big don’ts in creating a white paper.
How to Use Valuable Content to Attract Opportunity
Are you struggling to attract prospects? Read Michael Stelzner’s thoughts on how to leverage white papers to grow your business in his blog post How to Use Valuable Content to Attract Opportunity.
How to write White papers
Adriana Iordan discusses the benefits of writing white paper to promote your business in her eBook How to write White papers.

Blog posts on Marketing White Papers  

How White Papers Can Turbo-Boost Your Lead Generation Campaign
Generating quality leads is a growing challenge for many marketing professionals. Michael Stelzner shares his insights in his article How White Papers Can Turbo-Boost Your Lead Generation Campaign.
How to Build a Comprehensive (But Simple) White Paper Marketing Plan
In order for a white paper to have its desired impact, it has to be read. Just posting white papers on your website alone is clearly not enough. Sheldon Gladstein’s thoughts on this topic are at How to Build a Comprehensive (But Simple) White Paper Marketing Plan.
How to Create a Viral Marketing Buzz
Michael Stelzner says that good white paper is like the Energizer Bunny. It keeps going places you never imagined. Michael Stelzner ‘s blog post How to Create a Viral Marketing Buzz recommends you go viral with your white paper because people like valuable information and can easily forward it.
How To Drive Traffic To Your White Paper… Fast!
You just finished writing your white paper and set up a page on your website where people can download it. Vittorio Bosio discusses what steps to take to attract readers in his blog post How To Drive Traffic To Your White Paper… Fast!
How to use eNewsletters to drive interest in your white papers
Assuming your customers will simply come to your web site and seek out your white papers may be unrealistic. Scott Gradert’s shares tips on how to leverages newsletters to attract more readers in his blog post How to use eNewsletters to drive interest in your white papers.
How Can White Paper Marketers Tap the Power of Podcasting? 
Will podcasting help engage an audience and increase white paper conversion? Read Nettie Hartsock thoughts on How Can White Paper Marketers Tap the Power of Podcasting?
How to Improve Your Profits with White Papers
Jonathan Kantor says that white papers provides a greater number of uses than any other business marketing medium today and share his insights on How to Improve Your Profits with White Papers.

I hope you have found this list useful. No list is by any means exhaustive. Please add to this list.

Tips on How to Write a Better Case Study from Experts

Case studies are the perfect marketing tool. The best way to convey your marketing message is through the voice of a successful and happy customer. We have invited Case Study Experts to shed light on the following question: If you could give our readers one tip on how to write a better case study, what would that be? Read on to get their insights.

Tips on how to use social media marketing for promoting white papers

Social Media Marketing is now getting a lot of interest not only from cutting edge startups but also from mainstream brands. How can White Paper writers and marketers leverage social media marketing? We have invited White Paper Experts to shed light on the following question: How to use social media marketing for promoting white papers? Read on to get their insights.

Michael Stelzner

Blog WritingWhitePapers Twitter Mike_Stelzner

“Social media is not about promotion, it’s about engagement”

Michael Stelzner’s Bio

Michael Stelzner is one of the leading authorities on the topic of writing and marketing white papers. Michael is also the author of the bestselling book, Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged.

Michael Stelzner’s Tip

Do NOT “promote” white papers with social media.  Rather monitor discussions on topic-relevant subjects and then interject by saying, “Have you seen this white paper on…”. Social media is not about promotion, it’s about engagement.

Michael Stelzner Recommends

Jonathan Kantor

Blog WhitePaperPundit Twitter Jonathan_Kantor

 “Modify information for the short attention span of your audience”

Jonathan Kantor’s Bio

Jonathan Kantor is the principal and founder of The Appum Group, “The White Paper Company“, and has been producing enterprise white papers for the past 11 years. He is also the author of the “White Paper Pundit” blog.

Jonathan Kantor’s Tip

If you are going to participate in social media, understand that your audience has a limited amount of time, and more importantly, a limited amount of attention with each message that you may post.

With this in mind, you need to keep your information messages short and sweet. If you are posting a white paper on Twitter, you must use the 140-character limit very efficiently. Try to describe the type of post, such as “White Paper:” or “Case Study:”, then use the remaining number of characters you have left for the white paper title and a brief description.

Most importantly, use the “Shorten URL” feature rather than your own URL link and directly link critical files such as white papers, case studies or articles so your viewer doesn’t have to navigate across several web pages before they find the download link.

With attention at a premium, if you have too many landing pages, users will give up. Once you’ve lost them, it will be more difficult to get them back in your camp when you need them.

Jonathan Kantor Recommends

  • WritingWhitePapers Blog
  • WhitePaperSource online forum
  • Scribd for reference and distribution of white papers
  • Google Alerts set to keywords such as “white paper” or “white papers” for news, articles, stories, or examples of white papers

Jim Lodico

Blog WhitePaperSolution Twitter Jlcommunication

 “Go where your target audience is and join the discussion”

Jim Lodico’s Bio

Jim Lodico is a white paper specialist who combines more then 20 years experience in writing and editing with a background in journalism and education.

Jim Lodico’s Tip

Go where your target audience is and join the discussion. If they’re active in a LinkedIn group, become an active member of the community. If there are bloggers in your industry, get to know them and offer the white paper as helpful information. Everyone wants to jump on the latest social media bandwagon but it’s not the medium that matters, it’s who’s using the medium. There is no value in 20,000 followers on Twitter if they have no interest in what you have to say. Find your group, become a member of the community and offer your white paper as a way to help the community. Remember, you’ll be much more successful if your white paper offers truly valuable information and not just glorified sales fluff.

Jim Lodico Recommends

Phil Dunn

Blog QualityWriter Twitter PhilDunn

 “Social media communication is about connecting with specifically targeted audiences”

Phil Dunn’s Bio

Phil Dunn helps companies sell more and communicate more effectively with clear, compelling marketing and advertising writing. He’s also co-author of The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing

Phil Dunn’s Tip

When you get right down to it, social media communication is just about connecting with real-life, flesh-and-blood people. Yes, there are pixels, keyboards and Internet connections between us. But relationships are relationships, after all. And social media is not about collecting oodles of followers that have no specific relevance.
So, let’s assume you’re already set-up on Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In and such with some connections and followers. One of the best things you can do is ask your people (those with experience or interest in the paper topic, of course) if they would comment on your paper and offer suggestions, improvements or criticisms.
Use their ideas to improve the paper, thank them profusely, send them the paper with their improvements highlighted, and let them know specifically how they can help spread the word about the paper (you might even reward them with a book on the topic, a Starbucks card or something you know they like).
Remember, social media channels feature explosive scaling factors that help you touch exponentially more people than you imagined. By enlisting the help of those in your circle who are passionate about the particular topic, you’ve effectively empowered and developed a “hub” person to push the campaign forward. If you cultivate these kinds of relationships, you’ll get a big hub factor ROI when a 100,000 follower person in their Twitter group notices your idea and pushed it forward… and so on.. and so on (obligatory 1980’s shampoo commercial reference… apologies).
Of course, those who have the expertise and enthusiasm to comment on your paper will also have the connections into populations you expect to target. Growth of the promotion is organic and robust from that point on.

Phil Dunn Recommends

The 7S’ of Content Marketing

The challenges marketers face today are multifold.

  • How you do create content is such a way that it not only addresses an individual’s informational need but also reaches the masses?
  • How you present content so that your target audience does not loose interest?
  • What language, style and marketing vehicle will you adopt to reach your prospects and customers?
  • How will you connect employees, vendors, partners, and customers and help them make better, faster decisions?
  • How will you build competitive strength and boost customer satisfaction?
  • How can you leverage technology investments and improve training offering to grow your customer’s success?

These are just few of the questions faced by content marketers today. Using frameworks to tackle these questions is one way sure shot way of ensuring you are headed down the right path.

Let us take a look at the 7 S’ of Content Marketing. Strategy, Segment, Simple, Succinct, Scannable, Steak and Sizzle and Social Media

You can divide up these 7 S’ of Content Marketing into 3 categories.

2 Essentials of Content Marketing

  • Strategy – Do you have a Content Marketing Strategy?
  • Segment – How do you use Content to engage with different Market Segments?

4 Essentials of Content

  • Simple – Is your Content Simple?
  • Succinct – Is your Content Succinct?
  • Scannable – Is your Content Scannable?
  • Steak and Sizzle – Does your Content have both Steak and Sizzle?

1 Bonus must-have for Content Marketing

  • Social Media – Is Social Media part of your Content Marketing Plan?


“Strategy 101 is about choices: You can’t be all things to all people.” – Michael Porter

Identify the goals for why you want to create and market content. For examples, your goals might be to grow your business by educating your prospects and training your customers. Once you have identified your goals, you can deliver a consistent message that your target audience will find relevant and valuable. If you don’t have a strategy then content creation will end up as haphazard tasks – a press release here to combat the news your competitor throw at you and a quickly concocted FAQ there to answer the questions your customers have been asking. Take a step back and look at your content marketing strategy. Investing this time upfront will help you pick the right tactics to grow your business.

Rohit Bhargava gives a useful checklist of questions you should ask yourself in his blog post How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy. Also read Valeria Maltoni’s Top Ten Reasons Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Fails.

Key questions to ask about your Content Marketing Strategy

  • What goals do you want to achieve by creating and marketing content?
  • How do you measure the progress you make on your content marketing goals?


“A market segment is a community with a shared worldview.” – Seth Godin

Marketing 101 teaches you to do segmentation, targeting and positioning. You need to know your different types target audience and how they consume content. Have a good understanding of your target market segments.This will in turn lead to providing relevant, compelling information to convert prospects to customers, driving greater engagement with your content and also encourage repeat sales through cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Key questions to ask about your Market Segments

  • Who are the different types of target audience in your various market segments?
  • How do you use different types of content to engage with different market segments?


“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

Keep your content simple but do not over simplify in a way that it doesn’t meet the goal of creating it. Charles Mingus said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” Getting to simplicity is indeed a complicated road. Invest time upfront to simplify your content. Your target audience needs to understand and take action based on your content. To make it easy on them, you have to think and rethink about how best to present content. The more buzz words you use in your content, the greater the chance of confusing or losing your reader.

Read Guerrilla Guide: Keeping marketing simple for ideas on how to keep marketing simple. See this simple example of a 2 minute video – Simplicity of Twitter.

Key questions to ask to keep your Content Simple

  • Is your marketing message simple enough for your prospect to understand and convince his colleagues who will make the buying decision with him?
  • Is your content simple enough to stand out amongst all the other content that prospects have to wade through?


“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

Ensure that your content conveys what you want to say in a crystal clear fashion. Content should be crisp to retain reader’s interest. Good writing is defined by its clarity. When writing content, do multiple revisions until a crisp and polished final version emerges. Choose the right marketing vehicles to get the content to reach your target audience. For example, instead of writing a 100 page training document, record a training video. If you are recording a training video to educate your customer about a complicated product think about how you can divide it up into smaller chunks.

Key questions to ask to keep your Content Succinct

  • What is the marketing vehicle that will get your message across crisply to your prospects and customers?
  • How do you retain and foster the interest level of your target audience by keeping your content crisp?


“Most people read online by scanning the page for individual words or phrases, headings and other visual cues.” – Darren Rowse

Your customers and prospects are bombarded with information in this digital age. Ensure that your content is scannable quickly so that your target audience will benefit from the huge investment you have already made to create and market your content. Use lists and bullet points to make it easy for your readers to digest your content. Leverage a variety of media options available to get your message across to your readers. Photos and video are a great way to enrich your customer’s and prospect’s experience. Offer checklists for your prospects instead of a sales brochure. For example, create a checklist of ’10 Things to Consider when purchasing your server’ for your prospects.

Read Darren Rowse’s Scannable Content, Daniel Scocco’s How to Write Scannable Content: A 6-Step Approach and Five ways to make a scannable Web page.

Key questions to ask to keep your Content Scannable

  • Is it possible for your customers and prospects to quickly look over your content?
  • Can your customers and prospects get the main points and identify what is the call-for-action in your content?

Steak & Sizzle

“Sell with Sizzle, Sustain with Steak.” – Erik J. Barzeski

One of the common expressions in marketing is “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” It implies that the goal of a marketing message is to excite the customer. Today customers and prospects are very information savvy. You can’t just “WoW” them with sizzle. In order to persuade them with your content, you need both steak and sizzle. Steak/Substance is the meat of the content and the message that you are trying to get across. Sizzle is the structure and style that constitute the packaging of your content. It doesn’t matter how good your content is. You need to dress it up so it sounds, feels and looks appealing to your target audience. Include visuals in your presentation so it is appealing to the eye. Your website should have an uncluttered look. Your marketing videos should be short and informative as opposed to long and sounding pitchy.

Key questions to ask about Steak and Sizzle for your Content

  • What is the steak i.e., message you want your customer and prospects to get from your content?
  • How do you sizzle up your content to attract and retain your target audience’s attention?

Social Media

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” – David Alston

This list of S’s of Content Marketing will not be complete without mentioning Social Media Marketing. Marketing is not just a ‘push mode’ one way street activity any more. Don’t brush aside Social Media as just another useless hype. There are lots of resources to give you a jumpstart. Find out which types of social media you need to use to reach your target audience. Leverage social media tools to listen, converse, collect information, build and grow your business.

Chris Brogan’s blog Community and Social Media Business Strategy and Guy Kawaski’s The Art of Creating a Community  are two great resources for insights on how to build communities. The Top 50 Social Media Blogs Of The Year and Alltop’s Social Media Category are also useful lists to explore ideas on social media.

Key questions to ask about Social Media for your Content Marketing

  • Where is your target audience going to for their informational needs to listen, converse and collect information?
  • Which social media tools should you leverage to reach your customers and prospects?

Over to you…

What questions do you ask when creating your Content Marketing Strategy?