Have you ever turned on the radio and heard two stations broadcasting on the same frequency? You can’t hear either clearly, and amplifying the volume doesn’t help. Unfortunately, overlapping radio signals of equal strength simply seem to cancel each other out.
Something similar can be said for content marketing companies. Just Google the term “content marketing” and something like 3,270,000,000 results will appear. Unfortunately, so many of the agencies associated with those sites don’t know what they’re doing—and as a result, we’re getting a lot of interference.
So who really knows what they’re talking about in content marketing? We’ve identified the following eight people as actual experts in the field. Their high-quality contributions stand out, making them rise above the noise. That's why we started following them in the first place—and recommend you give them a listen, too.
People Who Know Their Stuff: Our Top 8 Content Marketing Gurus
1 The Crew At Databox: Survey-Driven Content
Databox has an agency partner program of 500+ marketing agencies and surveys them regularly to create articles—essentially crowdsourcing for survey data. And while many companies conduct surveys, Databox is unique because they survey aggressively—for almost every blog post they create—and get the data directly from other marketers. Take a look at the screenshot below for proof that what Databox is doing is working:
Why it stands out:
- The content is authentic. These articles are chock full of real data that makes a case.
- The articles are crowdsourced. Databox pulls in ideas from numerous agencies around the world, not just a handful of people in their office. Plus, the data is unique and original, as they created the surveys and gathered the results.
- There's a sharing mechanism built-in. Meaning their content gets shared frequently—more so than that of other content marketers—because everyone who's featured in an article winds up sharing it with their network.
If you have a partner network or host a conference, tap into that readily-available network of like-minded people to conduct unique, timely, and relevant surveys of your own.
2 Neil Patel At neilpatel.com: Generating Traffic
Neil Patel is the master when it comes to bringing traffic to a website. Proof: According to SEMRush, neilpatel.com has 29,000 page one keywords. How does he do it? He produces thoughtful, carefully crafted posts around original ideas you won’t find anywhere else. Patel’s posts all share certain things in common:
- They are in-depth and filled with screenshots that support his ideas.
- They share proven methodologies he’s tried himself, and the data he supplies is his own.
- They focus on actionable ideas that actually work (and can be proven) vs. sharing generic tips with no context.
Tell stories rather than cover generic topics. You can still target keywords this way: If you have stories to tell—our consulting work for this client produced amazing results—explain the details of what you did and why it worked.
3 Brian Dean At Backlinko: Complete Content
If you’re trying to master creating quality content that generates (you guessed it) backlinks, pay attention to Brian Dean of Backlinko. Backlinko creates impressive posts with custom graphics, data, multiple chapters, screen shots, results, and precise, step-by-step instructions.
He creates the guides through the “Skyscraper Technique,” a three-step approach to link-building that includes:
Step 1: Finding link-worthy content.
Step 2: Making something even better.
Step 3: Reaching out to the right people.
Backlinko’s content is geared toward proving that, if you create the best piece of content on a specific keyword, people will link to it, which will increase its ranking in Google. Proof: Backlinko ranks #1 for the coveted keyword “SEO tools.”
- Cover topics in-depth and specifically.
- Focus on your experience and area(s) of expertise.
- Use things like screenshots and original data to strengthen your content.
4 Mimi An At HubSpot Research: Data-driven Content
If you want access to real studies that will help your content marketing agency make better decisions, check out HubSpot Research, headed up by Mimi An, Principal Research Analyst. HubSpot Research articles include statistical analysis of big data sets and build charts you can use in presentations, or even your own posts. According to SEMRush, HubSpot Research has 105,000 backlinks to research.hubspot.com; this shows just how reputable HubSpot research is.
5 Barry Schwartz At Search Engine Roundtable: Daily SEO News & Advice
Barry Schwartz is editor of Search Engine Roundtable, an award-winning website that covers everything related to SEO/Google updates. Search Engine Roundtable has forums, discussions, reports, studies, and blog posts. If you need to learn anything about what's going on in the world of SEO and Google, this is the first place to go. According to SEMRush, Search Engine Roundtable has 5.4 million backlinks, proving it is one of the best resources out there for daily SEO news and advice.
6 Nathan Barry At ConvertKit (And NathanBarry.com): Transparency As A Marketing Tool
Nathan Barry is super transparent about the results of his business, ConvertKit—much like Buffer and Pat Flynn with Smart Passive Income. What he's doing well and uniquely is building his personal brand on NathanBarry.com with really useful, transparent articles for small business owners.
This is beneficial for ConvertKit’s branding and awareness, which is also an audience of small business owners—they get a chance to see what’s working and what isn’t working from another business owner and then can apply the takeaways to their own companies.
Proof: The image below, from Barry’s personal blog, connects readers to ConvertKit by linking his personal experience to his company through transparent content.
7 Ardath Albee At Marketing Interactions: Buyer Personas
Ardath Albee is a master in teaching content marketers and content marketing companies how to engage prospects by using buyer questions. We hear a lot of noise out there about how to build buyer personas, but buyer questions matter a lot more. If you can accurately identify the questions your prospects ask along the journey, you’ll be more successful in attracting them. Albee has found a niche that’s critical to content marketing success, but that no one is talking about—and covering it well.
Albee’s 25,800+ followers are just one way to prove she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to personas.
8 Mark Rogers At Carney: High-quality Email Newsletters
Email newsletters are coming back (or did they ever go anywhere?) as an effective way to reach a specific audience. We think The Daily Carnage from Carney is one of the shining examples of an old-school tactic, the email newsletter, that is working really well again because it’s done right—with a focus on quality. Proof: The Daily Carnage started with 200 subscribers in 2017, and grew to more than 11,000 subscribers in just one year.
We actually interviewed Mark for our post, How The Daily Carnage Email Newsletter Leads New Client Growth. (Check it out to get some great insight on how they get a 32% open rate and have brought in 10 new clients in the previous year by using email effectively.)
Unlike a social audience, you own your email audience—use it to your advantage. Like anything else, sending email newsletters requires a lot of effort and must be done well, and for a specific audience, to be a success.
Clearly, there are a lot more experts out there—in this article, we wanted to highlight who we really trust for specific types of content. Are there any content marketing companies or thought leaders you think we should have featured? Leave a comment telling us why below!