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Digital marketing is hard. It truly is. Every year, it gets even harder.

What makes digital marketing so difficult is that, in the digital world, all marketing performance metrics are relative.

For example: Google doesn’t only take into account what you are doing from a digital point of view – it also takes into account what you are doing against what everyone else is doing at any given moment in time.

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How does this work?  If you were investing in content marketing ten years ago and did it by the book, following all standard SEO rules, you will have been at the top of Google search results and raking in traffic and fortune, so to speak.

In 2018, marketers are confronted with a simple paradox: because the marketing discipline as a whole has matured, it is hurting everyone, one content piece at a time. According to the 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report, 91% of marketers are using content strategy as part of their marketing mix.

If everyone is getting better at publishing and promoting great content that actually helps organizations get more visibility, traffic and customers, this entire process is more difficult than at any point in the past.

So how do you stand out of the crowd in 2019? That’s the key question we want to focus on today.

As the CEO of Digital Authority Partners, a Chicago creative agency, this is a question I ask my staff every single day. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but I definitely ask that once a month.

In 2018, we’ve seen tremendous success with one content strategy which has simply outperformed every other single digital content marketing technique we’ve used. And that is what I want to talk about here.

First, though, a quick review of where we are today.

“Traditional” digital marketing strategies in 2018

Content strategy in 2018 has become a commodity. If you ask every marketer out there, each one is likely to talk about the same strategies:

  • Creating content on company blogs
  • Social media management
  • Digital ads (Adwords, Facebook, Twitter etc)
  • Search Engine Optimization (both technical and on-page)
  • Whitepapers & Ebooks
  • Influencer endorsements & Outreach

These are some of the most common marketing techniques used across verticals and company sizes.

There is nothing wrong with ANY of these strategies. If you check our company website we do the same.

These strategies work. If you create a clear marketing plan with very specific deliverables, and you do it consistently each month, you will see the results. But these will come in steadily over time, versus a big bang that will wow and delight your stakeholders.

Which brings me to the one strategy that can really spice up your marketing efforts and really make you stand out of the crowd.

Create an in-depth industry research study to educate your potential customers

What is an industry study?

An industry study is an in-depth data-driven report. Think of it as a “state of the union” report that addresses one issue in detail with background information, trends, data points, data visualization techniques and forward looking predictions.

Data is king. Everyone wants data.

Everyone wants to know whether they are on the right track in their line of business. The reality is that a study can literally be done in any single industry. You can do a study on the adoption of artificial intelligence in healthcare, a study on the state of content marketing in financial technologies, a study about industrial technologies. Basically, you can create a study about anything as long as there is a clearly defined audience.

Why are studies so important? It’s simple – when done right, studies serve as foundational pieces of content that help B2B decision-makers choose what to do next in their line of business.

Let’s look at a specific example.

I’m personally a huge fan of Brian Dean. Brian is the mastermind behind Backlinko – an SEO training platform (you can buy his courses to teach your team SEO) and educational platform (you can read his insanely actionable blog posts). I am such a huge fan of his work that every time he publishes a new article, I make my marketing team read it.

Earlier this year, Brain and his team published the first (to my knowledge) comprehensive study on how marketing companies can optimize their online copy for voice search.

The report simply covered 10,000 Google Home Search voice results (wow!) and provided detailed insights into the top 11 factors that affect which articles are quoted by Google Home when users ask a question in the comfort of their living room.

What was amazing about this report:

  • New information tied to a very hot topic for marketers (voice searches)
  • Large scale (analyzing 10,000 results is no small feat)
  • Clear actionable recommendations for industry professionals to act on
  • Executive summary that any executive can browse through

So how did the report perform? Incredibly well. But… seeing is believing. Here’s an SEO report for the report link.

From a pure marketing and SEO perspective, publishing this report was incredibly powerful for the company. Almost 500 websites picked up the story and linked back to it. Even more importantly, this industry report is ranking for over 1,000 individual keywords.

Now, if you work in marketing, it will be even more amazing to see who is picked up the story. Here’s an extract showing the top backlinks the report received. For professional marketers, some of these names should ring a bell: Hubspot, Neil Patel, Search Engine Journal, SemRush, Verizon and Content Marketing Institute all picked up the story.

So there you have it. In an over-crowded market, you should consider investing in creating in-depth studies. This will not only help with your PR activities (media shoutouts) but also SEO goals (get plenty of backlinks for your core business). We think this is one of the most effective ways to showcase your thought-leadership in 2019. Go for it!

Author Bio Codrin Arsene is the CEO of Digital Authority Partners & HealthcareWeekly. He is an experienced marketer and a big fan of artificial intelligence & predictive analytics.

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