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7 Stolen Content Marketing Ideas You Can Use Today


In 2013, Joe Pulizzi published a popular post called 8 Remarkable (and Stolen) Content Marketing Ideas. In it, he shared his favorite ideas from others in the content marketing space.

While those original “stolen” ideas are definitely worth revisiting, here are seven more from 2015 that came from blog posts and Content Marketing World speakers. Each of these things has changed my thinking, directly attributed to better content, or is expected to be implemented in 2016. (Not only am I stealing people’s ideas, but I’m also stealing Joe’s post format.)

Try one new thing in every piece of content

Stolen from: Jay Acunzo | @Jay_zo

When to try this: You are in a content rut and/or want to continually challenge yourself to create better content.

In August, Jay threw down the gauntlet with this challenge:

The next time you’re creating anything, be it for work or for fun, here’s what I’d challenge you to try: At the top of your notes or your draft, write out a placeholder that simply reads, “One Different Thing.” Then, by the end of your work, before you hit publish, make sure something is written next to it.

I pass this challenge along to you. How can you try something new every single time you publish something? Some things may work – and some things won’t – but I guarantee you’ll start thinking more creatively.

Figure out which keywords you almost rank for

Stolen from: Andy Crestodina | @crestodina

When to try this: You want to get more visibility for some key terms.

One of my goals for 2016 is to be systematic and diligent with the data we are collecting – and make certain how we are using the data we take time to collect. While I have been compiling a lot of tips and have been working with the CMI team on creating internal dashboards, I love this tip from Andy that truly is easy:

Search engine optimization is the slowest form of marketing I know. It really is. But there’s one big shortcut … It’s the only fast SEO tactic that I know of.

Andy’s post, How to Rank Higher in Google in 5 Minutes Using Analytics, outlines how to do this, but, in essence, you can view which keywords you rank for and then optimize those pages.

Focus on referral traffic

Stolen from: Rand Fishkin | @randfish

When to try this: You want your content to truly help your biggest influencers.

Rand shared this tip in a roundup post about how to get the most from Google Analytics:

Look at the list of websites (not social media or search engines) that have sent you the most traffic. See what the top 20 to 50 are writing about, to whom they link, and what their writers or founders are sharing on social. Use that intelligence to create content that you can feel confident is up your referral viewers’ alley. Chances are that you’ll be much more informed about the types of stuff that will earn you amplification, links, traffic, and mentions from influencers.

I remember reading this tip in particular and immediately copying it into Trello (where I store the ideas I want to try out). This is a great exercise from Rand — and one that is certain to help you uncover some ideas of your own.

Consider pop-ups

Stolen from: Aaron Orendorf | @iconiContent

When to try this: You are struggling to convert people once they get on your website.

Pop-ups as an idea to steal? Really?

Yes, pop-ups are a decisive tactic in the marketing world. As users, many of us hate them, but as marketers, we love them because they work. But, as Aaron pointed out in his wildly popular post on 11 email sign-up strategies, there are many types of pop-ups to consider.

Create a core content strategy statement

Stolen from: Meghan Casey | @meghscase

When to try this: You want a sure-fire, efficient tool that keeps your whole team’s content ideas on target – for customers and for the business.

Meghan wrote a brilliant yet simple article about one construct that content strategists use – the core content strategy statement. This brief statement is generated with a four-step process that helps get stakeholders on the same page. It also helps content creators focus on topic ideas that hit the sweet spot – that elusive intersection of customer interests and business goals – every time.

Set priorities

Stolen from: Neil Patel |@neilpatel

When to try this: You are overwhelmed with your list of things to do.

I think we can all relate to having too many things to do and too many ideas. Where do you focus? I love this simple yet true sentiment from Neil:

A list is useless. Why? There is no priority. A priority is a thing that is regarded as more important than another. If you had to pick a single goal of your content efforts, what would it be? Focus on that until you achieve it in a measurable way. What about side effects like growing your social media presence? Forget it.

Gary Keller, author of The One Thing, wrote “You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.”

You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects by @garykeller Click To Tweet

Focus on your one thing.

As you move into the new year, ask yourself what your one thing should be. If there is something getting in the way of that, why?

Identify your content tilt

Stolen from: Joe Pulizzi | @joepulizzi

When to try this: You think your content sounds like everyone else’s.

I know I’m biased, but I adore Joe’s newest book, Content Inc. It sets up such a clear model for how to use content to build a successful business. These tips are useful for both entrepreneurs as well as those in larger organizations. While I had a lot of aha moments while reading it, my favorite concept – by far – is that of the content tilt.

In short, the content tilt is how your content is different than what anyone else is publishing. How can you become the leading informational provider in a certain niche?

He shares the story of Ann Reardon to help you understand this concept. Ann is the founder of the website, How to Cook That. You may be thinking, Baking? There are thousands of sites on baking. And you’d be right. That is where the content tilt comes in.

Ann specializes in how to make impossible dessert creations, such as a cake that looks like the Instagram logo or a giant Twix bar.


Honestly, if you are ever stuck on how to be different than your competitors, try tilting your content. I have used this exercise extensively over the past year.

A huge thanks to everyone in our community for all of the wonderful ideas they have shared. It’s tough to choose just a few. Please share your favorite ideas from the year in the comments.

To steal content marketing ideas throughout the year, subscribe to CMI’s blog posts.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute