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Jen Barrell

By Jen Barrell

Nov 5, 2019


Content Marketing Content and Inbound Marketing 101
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Content Marketing  |   Content and Inbound Marketing 101

6 types of digital marketing content you need to stop creating in 2020

Jen Barrell

By Jen Barrell

Nov 5, 2019

6 types of digital marketing content you need to stop creating in 2020

As a content consultant at IMPACT, I work with multiple types of digital marketing content every hour of every day. 

Aside from the diverse assortment of materials I see from my clients, I’m constantly scanning the internet, looking for examples — both good and not so great — of content that can be used either as something aspirational or as a cautionary tale.

Sadly, the list of marketing disasters I find out there on the web far exceeds the column of content that excels.

To be clear, not everything out there is terrible. For the most part, the mistakes being made are probably not intentional. Digital marketing has evolved at a record pace over the past decade, and largely what I’m finding is marketers who’ve gotten stuck in the past.

Some of this is old content that’s living long past its due, stumbling zombie-like through cyberspace in an outdated format. Yet there’s also clearly new material dressed up in its circa-2008 finest. Both types need to take a bow and make way for the present.

As my friend Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The same goes for digital (and especially) content marketing. The times have changed and we as marketers need to keep up.

In that spirit, here are six types of digital marketing content we all need to stop creating so we have the time to look around and devote ourselves to better efforts.

After all, you don’t want to miss out.

1. STOP creating keyword-based SEO pieces

Back in the day — way, way back — marketers tried to game the SEO system by stuffing as many keywords into their copy as they could. They’d fill paragraphs of text by repeating the same keyword, they’d mention it in every heading, and they’d fill every photo caption and alt text opportunity with the same darn keyword.

Some of these marketers weren’t trying to be dishonest. They merely saw it was working and thought it was the right thing to do. And it did work. Yet others who weren’t so honest filled their pages with repeated word after word, knowing they’d get the ranking without providing any value at all to the reader.

Fortunately for those of us who like to read relevant bits of information, SEO has matured past this point. In fact, today keyword stuffing does serious damage to your SEO.

The solution is to write like a human. It’s that simple.

When you use your articles to fully answer the questions your customers have — and when you do so in understandable, everyday language — you’ll get the ranking without having to resort to devious tactics.

Here’s how:

Embed your keywords into robust articles

The longer you write, the more opportunity you’ll have to use the keywords that matter most. Here at IMPACT, we recommend articles run at least 750 words. This lets Google and the other search engines know you’re providing a “bulky” article that, due to its length, has a high chance of adequately coving a topic.

Longer articles also give you a better chance to keep your keyword density under the recommended 2%. To figure your density, divide the number of instances a specific keyword shows up in the copy by the number of total words in the article. A longer blog post means more words and, ideally, a lower keyword density.

Use your keywords wisely

Just because you aren’t forcing the keyword into every possible position within an article doesn’t mean you should be shunning it entirely. Following SEO best practices will give you a strategic edge for how you use your main keyword in the text, within long-tail keywords, and in conjunction with secondary keywords.

Other places you can (and should) include your primary keyword are:

  • the URL
  • the title
  • your metadata
  • one or more of your H2 headings
  • within the first two paragraphs
  • at least one of the alt tags

With so many ways to place keywords in a meaningful, strategic location within your articles, stuffing them in just for the sake of it is a big mistake — and a tactic of the past.

2. STOP posting bland videos (or no video at all)

With the popularity of video marketing (the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video) and the availability of accessible tools and skilled videographers, there’s no excuse to continue using stock video for your business.

Just as with your blog content, video marketing is done best when you approach people in a professional and human way. 

Stock video (and its infamous cousin the stock photo) misses the mark by showing a view of your business that’s inauthentic and, let’s face it, clearly fake. 

It’s okay to show your staff, your office, and your personality in video. From landing pages to blog posts to emails, you can show a real and creative side to your business by following some basic video best practices.

You can also take video a step further with tools like Vidyard that allow you to insert personalization into video.

And speaking of being human, the Vidyard team frequently uses video to show why marketing as a human — and using video to do so — is always relatable. Take a look at their recent release:


3. STOP sending annoying emails

Sure, the idea of sending “annoying” emails is subjective. But is it really? Can’t you tell when you’re about to send an email that people aren’t asking for? Sure you can.

Frankly, many of us have done it.

I know this because there are 293 billion emails sent and received every day. That’s just too many for them all to be relevant, focused, and necessary messages.

So let’s collectively agree to stop it.

That means that we’ll no longer use tricks and click-bait in our subject lines. Our recipients deserve better than to click into an email expecting one thing only to find out they’ve fallen for a bait and switch.

Of course your subject lines can be quippy and clever, just keep them true and meaningful. Do what you say and say what you’ll do.

Our pact to stop sending annoying emails also means we’ll no longer send without purpose or context. Our recipients deserve better than to be inundated with messages that arrive completely out of the blue. They don’t want their inboxes to fill up with offers they don’t care about, without knowing why they’re receiving them.

Finally, our agreement to stop sending annoying emails certainly means that we’ll send relevant messages to the right people. Our recipients deserve better than to get targeted by an email they’ve opted out of or that isn’t meant for them. (Can I get a hallelujah?)

Making it clear in your messaging why you’re sending what you’re sending and keeping on top of your list hygiene will make for happier recipients, more meaningful email sends, and more trustworthy marketers who abide by this solemn oath.

4. STOP limiting yourself to live webinars

I’ve been known to promote live webinars a time or two (or 40), so I know the value of having experts talk directly to the audience and be able to answer questions in the moment.

The truth is, however, so many of these webinars don’t capitalize on actually being live.

The majority of webinars last 60 minutes, with 10 to 15 minutes reserved for questions. But due to the restrictive reality of most webinar platforms, there isn’t a natural give and take during the Q&A period. That leaves us with 1) moderators asking questions submitted either in advance or in a chat panel, 2) the expert answering them, and then 3) that’s it. Rinse and repeat.

Plus, the average webinar attracts 50 attendees. The stress of coordinating a live production coupled with the inevitable technical issues and low attendance (because you know you’re going to send out a recording anyway, right?) is enough to drive a marketer mad.

So why does this need to be live? Why does it need to be an hour? Isn’t there a different way?

Of course there is. In fact, there are a few alternates to live webinars you can explore.

Consider virtual conferences, where experts in various locations come together for an extended amount of time for a live broadcast. Global Marketing Day just completed its 2019 forum, which was held over the span of 24-hours and across four global locations.

Yet another version of a virtual forum is the Fast Forward Video Marketing Virtual Summit, airing a mix of live and on-demand recordings over the course of an afternoon.

If a day of plugging in to your earbuds sounds too daunting, there’s also quick webinars. These bite-sized educational opportunities can go as short as six or seven minutes, as long as the expert has the time needed to convey the important information.

Some companies air these live and some offer them in an on-demand podcast style.

The age of the webinar isn’t over. It is time, though, to think about webinar alternatives so you can bring some variety to your viewers…and to your marketing.

5. STOP building a strategy around static PDF downloads

There’s a time and a place for the one-off PDF download — once heralded as the ultimate offer in marketing departments of the past. The time and the place for these, of course, is while you build up content to include in your pillar and topic cluster strategy. Instead of building a full strategy around getting someone to download your PDF, however, you can use that one-sheet as part of a larger content approach, known as a pillar and topic cluster strategy

Because the pillar content strategy depends on interlinked content on a massive scale, that one-off PDF becomes part of a greater, more organized, more targeted ecosystem of information.

The extra beauty of pillar content is that it’s ungated, meaning that anyone can read everything you have to say about a particular subject without offering a single piece of personal information.

IMPACT’s pillar pages do offer a downloadable version as well. As Liz Murphy, our resident pillar content expert, explains

"It embraces the pillar mentality, while also providing the courtesy of a download option — and, candidly, a visitor-to-lead conversion opportunity for us — in a way that doesn't force information out of a visitor in order for them to get the value or expertise they seek."

Adopting a pillar strategy involves a lot of hard and rewarding work. 

Where the PDF download provides lead-capturing, the pillar strategy makes you an authority on a particular subject. It drives traffic, increases leads, and bolsters your reputation as the expert.

6. STOP turn-styling content

Imagine being invited to attend a movie for free. You drive to the theater, you grab your popcorn and find a seat, and you’re quickly immersed in the first 30 minutes of your film. 

Then, bam.

The ushers show up and tell you that you have to pay in order to watch to the end.

That’s turn-styling. And, yes, it’s obnoxious.

No one wants to start a video, get 10 paragraphs into a piece of long-form content, or begin an education course, only to be told they have to pay (with an email or with real dollars) for the remainder.

The debate over whether marketers should gate content at all still rages. And it’s a worthwhile discussion, given the rise of pillar strategies (see #5 above). We won’t be fighting that battle here.

The line in the sand I’m willing to draw, though, is about honesty.

There’s a big difference between offering a sample and saying in advance what a content asset will cost versus telling people something is free and then charging them once they’ve started.

Setting expectations from the beginning sets a genuine tone with your readers — one you’ll lose if you fib about that free offer.

Digital marketing content in 2020

The good news about being a digital marketer is that the job never gets boring. As soon as you adopt a new way of doing things, an even better, more efficient, more interesting tactic comes along. 

For everything we used to do that we should jettison, there’s a new solution to learn and master.

Digital marketing content allows for a great deal of flexibility when it’s time for a change, from historical optimization of pages and blog posts to simply un-publishing faulty pages that just don’t work anymore (but make sure you’re not going to lose any SEO juice when you take down those old pages).

At the start of each month, it’s good practice to stop and look at the old way of doing things and ask if there’s something new you could adopt.

You’ll be rewarded with a fresh outlook, some fresh content, and a fresh batch of leads. 

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