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7 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2013

Like a lot of content producers I’m using the end of the year to look back and reflect on the body of work produced throughout the year.

chucksI’ve intentionally chosen to focus on the most “popular” posts as a way of illustrating a bit of what makes a piece of content popular.

Now, mind you, that’s not the same as saying the “best” posts of the year. Well, it might be, but it might not. In the world we live in today popular content is made so by your audience’s willingness to share it, comment on it, and otherwise voluntarily talk about it.

Factors such as a provocative headline, the tried and true list format and the particular and somewhat unpredictable nature of the crowd on a given day have a lot to do with making content spread.

The following seven posts were judged most popular through an analysis of Google Analytics, social and link data. It’s also worth noting that the more popular a post the better chance it stands to rank higher in subsequent related searches, which only serves to make it more popular.

1. 8 Alternatives to Google Keyword Tool – Keyword research is vital. It’s an essential tactic for developing a powerful content strategy, targeting pay per click advertising campaigns and improving search engine optimization. For many years Google offered what was undoubtedly the most used free tool . .

My most popular post of the year benefited greatly from search traffic over the last few months of the year.

2. The Best Books in the World on Writing – It’s entirely possible that the title of this post is completely off. I mean, what I’ve really compiled is a list of the books on writing that I love the best. But isn’t that the thing about great writing – it allows us, compels us perhaps . . .

This post benefited from a Listly list that took off in content networks and embeds on other sites.

3. 5 New Realities of SEO – Back in the day, SEO was more technical and less, well, semantic. Now I realize that for most a term like semantic query relevancy might as well be the name of computer programming language, but the fact is Google’s customers, the searcher . . .

A list, with the word new and about SEO – all ingredients for social sharing!

4. How to Create a Total Content System – As content becomes increasingly important in the marketing mix, it must take on an elevated place in your strategy and planning. The use of high quality, education based content . . .

Posts about content marketing were very popular in 2013 and this one benefited from the fact that it offered a “how to” system and had an audio explanation. (It was also one of my top podcasts of the year.)

5. How to Be Quiet and Why You Must – Business is noisy. A typical day might involve dozens of conversations, meetings, decisions, tasks and insights. Every thought, conscious or otherwise, roars through our heads like the intersection . . .

This may have been my favorite post of the year and I believe it benefited from a bit of a curiosity factor as well as the universal longing we all have for a little more peace.

6. 12 Month Total Online Presence Blueprint – I’ve been taking business owners through the beta of my Total Online Presence Program of late and the comprehensive nature of this mindset is certainly reinforcing the overwhelming amount of stuff there is to do online if you are to tap the full potential of building a Total Online Presence. . .

This post benefited from a Facebook ad campaign that drove people to a very popular webinar, which sold an online training program. This is a great example of using social to create awareness for content to create sign up for email to create customers!

7. 7 Marketing Metrics Worth Obsessing Over – Marketers need to measure a lot of things in order to get better. Not everyone does and those that do sometimes measure the wrong things. The obvious things like leads and sales revenue are important, but they’re quite often just a measure of what is and not . . .

This final post was about numbers and that usually spells boring, but this was a list with the word obsessing in the title that came during the first week of the year – my guess is people were finally obsessing over planning for the year. Most shared LinkedIn post of the year.

5 Ways That Content Marketing Has Changed The Art Of Selling Forever

I’ve often said the difference between sales and marketing is that marketing owns the message and sales owns the relationship.

Farm over hunt

Harvest by St0rmz

Some folks suggest that the onslaught of social media, content publishing and real-time search has rendered the need for a traditional sales department unnecessary and to that I still contend: sales still owns the relationship. While content and context are easier to put out there, online connection and community are still best supplied by a person.

So, the fundamental purpose of a professional salesperson has change little, but the function of an effective salesperson in today’s content-driven environment has changed dramatically.

The skills once required, and sadly still taught in most sales training programs, are no longer applicable and organizations and independent salespeople that get this are exploring, evolving and adopting an inbound selling mindset.

Below are five ways that content marketing has changed selling.

1) Listen over say

Salespeople have always been taught to probe, listen and offer solutions. Well, in today’s world they must listen intently before they ever pick up the phone, send an e-mail or draw up a solution.

Salespeople must monitor the social graph of a prospect in order to begin to mine for opportunities, frustrations and buying signals. They must also be adept at constructing ways to put the pieces of information together in a package that opens doors and starts relationship building.

2) Insight over information

A great deal of the salesperson’s role at one time was to deliver information. Most salespeople today face the possibility that a prospect may actually know as much or more about the product, service or solution being offered as the salesperson doing the offering.

Today’s salesperson must provide context and meaning, must aggregate and filter and must become a resource of insight for today’s information overloaded buyer.

3) Proof over promise

Price is a direct reflection of the buyer’s perceived value. This doesn’t always mean it’s a reflection of the true value or even rational reflection of value, but the ROI question will never go away unless, and until, an organization can show proof of value rather than promised value peppered throughout marketing materials.

Today’s salesperson must commit to working deeply with clients to help measure and communicate true value received as a completion of the sales process. With that piece in place, today’s salesperson can offer proof as part of the trust-building, lead-conversion process.

4) Publish over prospect

Marketing departments around the world are scrambling to feed the market’s expectation that they can instantly find content on any subject or need imaginable. Search engine usage has made consistent content production mandatory.

Few salespeople see writing content as a good use of their time, but it’s a skill that today’s successful salesperson has embraced. Not every organization will allow their salespeople to blog, but the ones that do have the opportunity to create a stream of content that is potentially informed with real-life customer stories and experiences. Smart salespeople have also begun to curate content as a way to become a resource for their clients as well.

5) Harvest over hunt

This last change probably runs counter to traditional selling as any of the others outlined above because it sounds so passive. Salespeople have been taught to hit the street, knock on doors and close deals.

The problem is the street is closed, the doors are made of bits and no one answers the phone anymore.

Working the soil, planting seeds and watering the harvest with care is the new metaphor for turning “know,” “like” and “trust” into “try,” “buy,” “repeat” and “refer.”

This post originally appeared on American Express OPENForum