Month: May 2015

Mobilize Your Content for a Growing Mobile Audience

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We all know that content is king, where search engines and social media platforms rule the digital landscape. Brands like Red Bull and GoPro have embraced the concept of being publishers, and sales have followed. While it is easy and comfortable to predict content creation, optimization and syndication will continue to be a focus for business owners and marketers in 2015 and beyond, there is a bigger opportunity looming.

mobile marketing

The Mobile Opportunity

I believe smart companies and marketers will focus on developing compelling content designed specifically for mobile audiences. In 2014, U.S. adults spent 23% more time on mobile during an average day than in 2013, according to eMarketer. Furthermore, 79% have their smartphones with them a whopping 22 hours per day. According to a recent Harris Poll, 40% of purchases are directly influenced by smart phones.

Make Content for Mobile Users

So what are your plans for mobilizing your content strategy for that growing part of your audience moving to mobile? Content isn’t just about a blog and smart copy – consider the power of video, podcasts and images, beyond the written word. Multimedia is infinitely more engaging and shareable (and thus has a higher probability of going viral).

Related Class: YouTube: The Digital Video Advertising Opportunity

Engage your target audiences to understand what they want and need, and rethink your content strategy to give it to them. Talk with your sales and customer service team for additional insights into trends. Evaluate the overall marketplace and provide content your competitors are not.

mobile marketing

2015 will be a big year for mobile content, and it’s likely that 2016 will only build on that trend. Don’t be left behind. Start planning your content strategies today and be prepared for a very engaged group of mobile customers and constituents. Visit Anvil's Resources section for insights and inspiration.

Want to learn more about mobile strategy and emerging trends? Check out this OMI class for more: Mobile PR and Content Marketing.

 


5 Real-Life Reasons for Agency Decay

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A look at why we may lose deals, talent, and our very own soul after years of being in the agency world.

At a recent visit to the dentist, he started rattling off the reasons why I have some tooth decay. You know…what you eat, acidity levels, proper care, genetics – and that you’re old and so are your teeth.

agency decay

It got me thinking about the analogy to the agency business, one I know well after a decade of building one. And more recently, I’ve had many conversations with agency leaders and friends about what’s happening and how they get their agency mojo back.

Here’s what I found.

5. Leadership Lethargy

For many agency founders and CEOs, the game wears you down. After five years, you get a little toasty. After 10, you start thinking about "lifestyle business vs. selling," and beyond that, you just get plain old burnt out. The clients milk you to the bone, your staff turnover makes you hesitant to invest in anyone, and the cash-on-hand ebb and flow has caused too many sleepless nights.

You’re tired. And it’s OK.

You have a responsibility not to let that affect your company. But we also have to own that feeling and address it head on. And that doesn’t mean you need a vacation. Leadership MUST get out of the way of progress. When it’s time to hand over the reins to those itching for them, go for it. Or find someone that can help drive the energy level up and allow you to be the mentor vs. the boss.

Trust me, your team can see that you’re worn out. They feel it implicitly and it’s affecting every part of your organization.

4. Talent Talkathon

Everyone talks about it. We all bemoan it, yet rarely does an agency truly invest in its number one resource, talent. You’ll hear endless internal chatter about talent retention, acquisition, and building a great company culture. I swear the conversations are the same as they were 15 years ago, and little to nothing has changed. There are two options here: a) you just accept it as a part of doing business, manage the turnover, and maximize output per employee. Or b), you do something different. Toss "Lunch & Learns" OUT THE FREAKIN’ WINDOW! Stop having conversations with the team about their education budgets to use. Move beyond team-building events. Just cross it off the list once and for all. And then see what happens. You’ll probably end up asking, "Well, heck…what do we offer now? How do we build good culture, what do we really invest in to help our employees, and how is real loyalty built?"

The answers and new tactics will at least show everyone that you’re doing more than just another year of lip service about how important they are.

3. Deals You Want vs. Deals You Can Win

I have heard the phrase uttered so many times, it just makes me cringe when it comes up again. You know the one when someone says, "I really want this deal Bob, let’s figure out how to win it." In many instances it’s like the one-legged hobbit saying he really wants the 7-foot Amazonian princess. He wants it but that is not reason enough to spend time on trying to get it. And even if he got it, don’t think he’d be able to handle her needs (yep, I went there for a little levity in a serious article!).

What needs to happen instead is a ruthless look at which deals you are most suited to win, and having every RFP, deal lead, and referral for new business go through the same objective analysis. Go get ‘er because you can win, not because you want to.

There is one exception: the relationship. If you have the relationship, that always trumps everything else. So be sure to spend more time building those and less time extolling how great an agency you are.

2. Playing the Game You’re In

One of the most common mistakes at agency level is trying too hard to differentiate. With your oh-so-clever five-step process, or that new tool you built…and so on and so on. If you are a great digital agency, then just be a great digital agency that has a specialty or two.

Think baseball. You can be a great baseball team known for its killer pitching rotation. But that’s it. You’re not inventing a new sport to define the industry, let alone client need. You’re not inventing any new rules to the sport and quite frankly, you’re not going to be setting any world records for your clients. You are going to give them the best chance to make the playoffs (i.e. see some great results) and possibly the World Series (exponential market share gains), but don’t cloud your positioning, thinking, or time trying to play any other sport than baseball.

Wasting your time on building technology (save a few rare cases), thinking of a new sexy way to position your offering, or just creating new value models (ex: pay for performance) won’t win the deals. Building relationships, playing the game better than the next guy, and helping the client see what it looks like to win with you - that’s what wins deals.

1. Spark Curiosity to Fan the Fire Within

Where agency work gets to be monotonous and uninspiring is when we lose interest in trying something new, or creating a new way of looking at the challenges we face. Most of that is because we are devoid of good material to stimulate that kind of new neuronal activity in the brain. Simply put, we need to gather new ideas, insights, and ways of thinking through learning. Do more of that curiosity-based learning you get when reading a good book, watching a good video, or even having a conversation with a new person.

agency training

This may well be the hardest thing to accommodate within the culture of a hard-driving, big hours, play hard/work hard agency. But I believe it is one of the most critical. Create and encourage an environment to learn. Explore new ideas. Offer outlets to gain new insights week in and week out and reward them, beyond the 15-hour day worker bee. It takes commitment at the senior level, and you’ll have to bake "learning" into your 360 reviews and talent rewards systems, which takes true commitment and belief from those that manage the teams. Just as with the Amazonian with the hobbit, this is not something you can fake.

Final Word

The battleground of the agency war is one that commands the highest level of respect. It is a challenge every day that requires new thinking, big energy commitments, and a big mother-load ton of patience and emotional intelligence to manage all the various individuals from client to talent, team members to bosses. It’s not easy and nothing I wrote above will make it any easier. Go forth knowing – it is a worthy battle to fight. The lessons here will serve well in agency business and in life as well.

 


8 Social Media Rules Businesses Should Learn from Fashion Brands

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The apparel industry in the US alone is worth $225 billion dollars. Fashion brands, more than ever, have to look for new ways to stand out from the crowd in a saturated market. Lying at the heart of what the industry is about, a creative philosophy can thrive on social media and help to drive traffic and ultimately sales figures.

There are key areas that can and should be emulated when analyzing a fashion brand’s successes online – we’re looking to explore what should be taken and applied to start-ups looking for a social media voice.

1.  Get Creative

Social networks have developed into multimedia-hosting and sharing platforms today. To engage audiences, businesses should offer content that makes use of different media, and explore novel ways of doing so.

London Fashion Week, held in February 2015, was ruled by live streams and video sharing. A host of brands such as designer Mary Kantranzou live streamed their collections on the catwalk. This allowed for engagement by those who would have otherwise had to wait to see photos of the event and clothing – a creative way to give followers insight and create conversation around your brand.

social media for fashion

One of the most exciting new developments in live streams is Periscope, a streaming app owned and hosted by Twitter that allows users to watch live video through the social network.

2.  Know Your Audience

Any business should already have a clear idea of who they are targeting.

Considering the set of interests of your following will build engagement and ultimately grow your brand. Sometimes this is as simple as knowing what other accounts your target audience is following, since these could be the accounts that you should engage with to create the common link in your audience’s mind.

3.  Invest Time and Money

Burberry is a prime example of a brand remodeling its image to appeal to a digital market. The high-end fashion company is well-known to have invested heavily in this, with 60% of their marketing spend going towards digital. The return on investment that has been seen from this, purely in social media presence, has made them one of the most followed brands in high fashion.

fashion social media

Their efforts on social media have given them approximately 17 million followers on Facebook, and 3.8 million on Twitter. This has given the brand the opportunity to expand their efforts into hosting offshoot content, such as the Burberry Acoustic live music videos. In brand awareness alone Burberry have given themselves a solid following that are freely and easily contactable through their social media, meaning any new products or promotions in the future automatically have 20 million people to push out to.

4.  Know the Social Network

You should use different language and content on each social media platform – considering how each fits into your business’s ethos. Facebook has come to be used by many brands as a hub for customer-facing activities, giving the widest audience potential with 1.415 billion users.

Brands should produce visual content, including both images and video, for audiences to share, and to direct traffic to both the company website and other social media platforms where they have a presence. Twitter is widely used by brands as a more casual means of communication with customers, offering customer service advice as well as brand news and visual content.

5.  Constant Interaction

Regular updates and posts on a brand’s social media account make the brand seem active, and help to keep the brand name on the social feeds of their followers. It isn’t enough to only join in on conversations over social media – the conversation should be started by the brand online.

social media post

Starting a conversation could be as simple as asking a question related to current events, or making use of content to react to a news story. Keeping on top of any viral or news content can be a great way to show that your brand is on the button and worth following.

6.  Celebrity Endorsements

Today, more than ever, celebrities wield a huge amount of power over social media due to their pre-existing following and fan bases. British fashion brand Superdry recognizes the role that gaining influence online can play in breaking the lucrative US fashion market. Celebrities spotted and shared wearing the brand include David Beckham, Idris Alba, and Nicole Scherzinger.

social media endorsement

Instagram and Twitter are increasingly used for product promotion. Companies such as BooTea will gift celebrities in order for them to post or promote their product through their accounts. Using image-based platforms such as Instagram lets companies match celebrities with their ideal brand image.

7.  Be Unique                                        

Ted Baker’s recent Instagram campaign made use of the available filters, asking people to repost an image from their account and try the different effects. Using these filters revealed hidden messages in the image to play on people’s intrigue. Novelty on social media can often harness successful results; while newsfeeds can sometimes churn up similar content, a unique angle for content can help a brand to stand out from the crowd.

social media engagement

8.  Give Great Customer Service

Small fashion labels have been able to take advantage of not only the coverage that can be attained online, but also online customer service. Any start up business relies on word of mouth to help the company grow. Being attentive to feedback or complaints on social media can play a large part in aiding this.

gap social media

Social media has, more than ever before, given companies the opportunity to reach large audiences without spending big money. The fashion industry has been able to showcase how social media can be multi-faceted as a business tool, where creativity and customer service is aided through the open nature of social networks.

 


How to Get the Most Out of Video Content on YouTube

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A certain video platform just celebrated its 10th anniversary, which means we’ve been hearing even more about this runaway success than usual. The first video clip (elephants, if you must know) was uploaded in April 2005, and YouTube’s beta version launched in May. To commemorate the anniversary, YouTube has announced a month-long Blogspot series called “From A-Z: A Letter a Day Throughout May,” highlighting everything we’ve come to associate with the platform (at the time of writing, that was A – animals and B – beauty).

youtube anniversary

But it’s not just a time for retrospective nostalgia about cat videos and David After Dentist (my guesses for C and D, obviously) – this is a great time to reflect on what your business is (or isn’t) doing on YouTube, and what you can do to squeeze more life, leads and value from your video content.

Content Is Still King, But Video Is the Imperial Overlord

I most likely do not need to tell you that people today want, and have even come to expect, video content. This has been the marketing trend for some time, and everything from search results to social media algorithms are adjusting to make way for the true marketing trump card, great video content.

Related Class: B2B Video: Expert Tactics and Tricks

No matter how specific or niche your audience, it’s likely that they’ll reward you for creating and sharing great videos. And it’s a guarantee that social platforms like Facebook will reward you for native video content (with exponentially better reach, autoplay functionality, and more – read it all here). But did you know that even Google rewards video content these days?

The YouTube Boost in Search Results

We all know Google works to prioritize the content that it thinks searchers are most likely to want, so it shouldn’t be too surprising the videos get some preferential treatment in search results. It also probably doesn’t hurt that Google owns YouTube (bought in 2006 for $1.65 billion). All in all, it’s generally easier to get your YouTube video onto the first page of Google search results than it is to get a webpage or blog post up there.

The other major benefit of creating YouTube videos is that Google allows rich snippets for video content in the search listings. So instead of just the usual title-URL-date-text line, you get a thumbnail of the video and a credit for your YouTube channel:

youtube search results

The battle for top of the page search rankings can be cutthroat, but you can do well with snippets that stand out in a page full of text listings, even if you’re not at the top.

Can Your Video Rank in Google’s Search Results?

Google does not always show video results; a great video is far from a guarantee of good listing in the search engine result pages. This depends a lot on the keywords you’ve used for the YouTube video. Only so-called “video keywords” will trigger video results – depending on whether Google believes that searchers using those keywords would prefer text/reading to video/watching. For example, searching for words like “how to” or “demonstration,” or a musician or movie, will likely yield some video results along with typical text-only listings, whereas a product keyword is more likely to bring up Google Shopping results and then regular listings.

The easiest way to figure out if a potential keyword might help your video rank is to Google that keyword and see what you find – if no videos appear on the first page, you’re probably better off trying a different keyword. You can read more about this on Search Engine Watch.

There’s a lot more that goes into optimizing your videos for top performance. For now, check out this class from SEO expert Liana Evans: Video Marketing and YouTube. You’ll learn everything you need to know about getting the most from the platform, and get advice on YouTube advertising, featured videos and more.

 

 


Leverage the Right Data to Deliver a Truly Customized Mobile Experience

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mobile data

For decades, consumers roaming grocery store aisles had to talk to store employees to find the products they needed; grocers simply didn’t have the means to communicate with shoppers in real time — until now.

With the rise of smartphones, mobile apps, and location-based technology, shoppers can open a grocer’s app to access shopping lists and receive relevant content on the spot. This trend will only accelerate in the future.

According to the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of Americans own a smartphone. And Forrester Research predicts that 42 percent of the world’s population will own a smartphone by the end of the year, a phenomenon it calls “The Mobile Mind Shift.”

Related Class: Wrangling "Big Data" To Make the Best Marketing Decisions

Today’s consumers possess a new level of mobile sophistication, and by making the app experience more individualized, digital marketers can better connect with these savvy shoppers.

The mobile revolution has created the potential for a more efficient and pleasant customer experience not only in grocery stores, but also in many other settings. But it’s up to digital marketers to meet consumers’ rising expectations.

Feed the Need for Constant Connection

As consumers increasingly rely on mobile devices, they expect relevant, timely content served up when and where they want it. To stay relevant, marketers must meet these needs.

But before determining the when, where, and how for communicating your messaging, you have to clearly understand your customers and what they want. Truly individualized marketing practices vary based on your customers’ behaviors; your content should be more relevant today than it was even two days ago.

A successful strategy starts with using data to build robust customer profiles. To deliver a new level of personalization, start by collecting and analyzing data in these five areas:

1. Demographics

First, try to gather as much user-generated information as possible. You can ask users for information when they download an app or sign up for an email list, for example. Consider asking for gender and age data initially, then seek out more detailed information later on.

In addition to basics such as age and gender, you should try to get lifestyle information, biographical details, and more. Use information from social media to complement your user profiles. Twitter and Facebook amass valuable user data, but you’ll need to get permission to use it. Once you get the green light, however, you’ll have access until it’s revoked.

2. In-App Behaviors

This information shows user behavior within your app or on external platforms. Gather data about app navigation, commonly used features, ignored features, and the whole user journey. In addition to documenting user behavior, make sure to track the frequency of these behaviors.

Knowing what a customer does while in your app can highlight areas where you can improve the experience and deliver more personalized features.

3. Contextual Research

Attaching a definitive “why” to contextual data is a complex task because these actions occur as a result of more psychological – and less empirical – motivators. Consider using customer surveys to pinpoint the motivation behind their behaviors. You can then match the “what” to the “why” to get a better picture of your customers. This understanding will enrich other data points by revealing the motivation behind them.

4. Real-Time and Historical Location Data

You can look to a number of sources for location information. Start with GPS and beacon technology. You can access this data in real time and analyze historical trends.

Related Class: Roadmap to Mobile Marketing App & Web Strategy

Next, look at correlations. Where did users access your app? What was the physical journey through your store? Do you notice any patterns in where they use the app and how often? You can get insights into purchasing habits and more from location data.

5. Time-Based Information

Find out the times and days that users activate your app. How frequently do they tend to open it? Do you spot a clear trend in the time of day they’re accessing the app? Perhaps that’s a good time to send push notifications to see whether they open them. Send the push at a time before a user typically opens the app, too, and compare the results.

using data for mobile optimization

A truly customized app experience spans every user touchpoint. Simply targeting push notifications won’t provide savvy consumers with the high-quality experience that will make interacting with your app more enjoyable. By focusing on the right data, you can start making informed, strategic decisions to individualize your entire mobile marketing experience.

 


Wouldn’t You Like to Optimize Your Content Quickly for More Traffic and Engagement?

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content marketing

Who wouldn’t like more website traffic and engagement? If you’re looking for tips that you can apply today for making your quality Web pages perform even better, you’ve come to the right place.

In my last post, I shared with you some foundational steps for making your content stand the test of quality both by Google and your target audience. In this post, I’m going to show you the basics of formatting and optimization so that:

  • Your Web pages can be crawled, understood and indexed with ease by the search engine bots
  • Your content is presented in a way that makes it effortless for your visitors to engage with

Ready to get started? OK, let’s go!

Mind the Functionality of Your Web Pages

You may have never thought about the impact that the layout of your content has on the reader or that a Title tag has on a search engine bot – that’s OK, because that’s what we’ll talk about here.

Beyond the art of content writing, you have the science of layout, formatting and optimization.

Here, I’m referring to laying out Web pages in a way that’s easy for your audience to navigate, and offers something engaging for everyone. I’m also referring to making pages structurally sound in a way that the search engine spiders can crawl and index easily.

In general, here are some of the things you want to consider with your individual Web pages …

For your audience:

  • Does it cater to the way different people like to consume information with a mix of video, audio and text?
  • Is it easy to read? What about on different devices? Remember that long walls of text with no formatting can turn readers off; make the experience effortless.
  • Does it offer suggestions for additional content on your site where people can learn more information? You want to keep visitors as long as possible by continuing to answer their demand for information.

Two oldie-but-goodie articles I wrote on these topics are worth a read over on the Bruce Clay blog and in their newsletter:

For the search engines:

Meta Information

Ensure the page’s Meta information has unique titles and descriptions. Meta information is found on the code side of the page and helps the bots understand what the page is about; it also serves as the title and description in the search engine results pages – so you want it to be compelling.

Here are a few guidelines:

  • If you have a WordPress site, install the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin that allows you to easily input Meta titles and Meta descriptions
  • Depending on the content management system you use, you may not be able to easily update the Meta information on your website; check into this and look for an SEO-friendly CMS if it’s giving you a problem (chances are, it’ll be giving you more problems from an SEO perspective than just that)
  • Meta titles should be around 55 characters including spaces, and each Meta title should be unique on your site
  • Meta descriptions should be 156 characters including spaces, and offer a compelling and straightforward description of the page. You want to entice clicks from the search engine results but easily communicate to the search engine bots what the page is about.
  • If you are targeting specific keywords, ensure the main keyword for the page shows up in the Title tag and Description tag once.
content optimization

Heading Tags

You want to use Heading tags for your headline and subheads on the page. This helps to organize the content both for the readers visually (as Heading tags have formatting associated with them) and for the search engine bots so they can better understand the main points and secondary points in the page.

We typically refer to these tags as H1 (main headline), H2 (sub-headline), H3 (sub-sub-headline) and so on. On the code side of the page, these look like the following:

<h1>Main Headline Here</h1>

<h2>Subhead Here</h2>

<h3>Subhead of H2 Here</h3>

An H2 tag always comes after an H1 (of which there should only be one H1 tag). And H3 comes in as a sub-point of H2, and so on. When it fits naturally, include your main keyword in the Header tags.

Site Speed and Mobile Responsiveness

Site speed is a signal in Google’s ranking algorithm and for good reason: nobody wants to have to wait for his or her content to load. Being mobile friendly is now more important than ever, too, as mobile devices continue to rise as the device of choice for both research and purchasing online.

Improving both of these areas when it comes to your Web pages improves your chance of being found in the search results and keeping visitors on your site. In fact, Google just recently launched an update to its algorithm that expands the use of its mobile-friendly signal.

What that means to you is that if you’re not mobile responsive, you could be losing traffic as of April 21. To learn more about that, check out my blog post over at bizbuzzcontent on the algorithm update and mobile content.

The good news is: you can improve at any time. Use some of the tools I mentioned in the article I just linked to for mobile, and you an also dig into the page speed metrics on your site via Google Analytics to see how specific Web pages are performing, and what you can do to improve them.

Great functionality on your site not only allows the search engines to better do their job of crawling and indexing your site so that it can be served in a search result, but also boosts user experience.

For more information on basic optimization techniques, refer to Google’s “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.”

I hope this two-part series on creating quality content that drives traffic and engagement helps take the anxiety out of content creation and gives you what you need to optimize your content in a way that drives more traffic to your site, and keeps your visitors longer.

Now go forth, and create quality Web content!

 


7 Reasons You Should Not Use Social Media For Business

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There are thousands of social media authors, experts, consultants, mavens and gurus.

Some of them are self-proclaimed, preaching on top of a soapbox about the wow and now of social media. Others have earned the right to preach and share their encouraging messages, but too often it’s only the “good word” of Social Media. They’re all preaching – they need to fill their donation plate – and they’re all making money when you buy into social media. By the way, thank you for purchasing my book on social media.

It also appears there is no shortage of books, articles and whitepapers showcasing the success stories of businesses using social media to meet their goals. Every story has a happy ending, and someone gets something you wish you had in the end. Like statistics, there are more than enough success stories for you to reference (p. 229 in Satellite Marketing) to make your case to choose social media. But what most will not share with you is the cold, hard truth of it all.

One of my mentors has been Keith Hall, the CEO of Leadership Advantage and an all-around great guy. Keith and I worked together for years, and as our personal friendship developed, Keith would share his wisdom as my “Dutch uncle.” Very to-the-point and for my own good, he would tell me all the things I didn’t want to hear but needed to know.

At times, I didn’t want to hear anything other than that I was right – I had an idea in my mind – but in the end, his insight was on point and it served me well. So, for that same purpose (for your own good, with your best intention in mind), I’m going to tell you NOT to use social media for your business.

Not what you were expecting? Neither is social media.

social audience

Reason #1: Your audience isn't there.

Social media is current and trending as a communications channel, but that doesn’t guarantee the people you are trying to reach are there. Pew (2013) reports 87 percent of Americans are online, which means 13 percent are not. Of those 87 percent online, 26 percent don’t use social media. Depending on your audience demographics and psychographics, there’s a good chance they’re not there.

Before you invest any time in developing a social media presence, be sure your audience is using social media and you know where they are. The Internet is a big place, and just because Facebook is your favorite social networking service doesn’t necessarily make it the best starting place for your business.

social audience

Reason #2: Social media doesn’t work for every business.

Despite popular opinion, social media marketing does not work for every business. And no matter how much using social media to communicate makes sense to you, it has to make sense to your audience or it just won’t work.

You have to be in an industry that uses social media to communicate, and you have to use the right type of social media. If you can’t communicate with the people and share information in a public space, it doesn’t make sense for your business to use social media.

news vs social

Reason #3: There are easier ways to get in front of your audience.

One of the biggest attractions for businesses to social media is the potential audience, but one of the biggest myths is that you can get one.

“Social media is not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be,” concludes Gallup Inc. U.S. companies spent $5.1 billion on social-media advertising in 2013, but Gallup says “consumers are highly adept at tuning out brand-related Facebook and Twitter content.”

If you do include social media in your communications plan, utilize it as part of an integrated marketing plan. Connect social media with advertisements in print, promotions on television, sales on radio, events on billboards and targeted digital campaigns online.

social planning

Reason #4: You don’t “get it.”

I see business after business create a profile or a page, upload a logo and some pictures, then plan to figure out what they’re going to do with social media. Then… nothing. While it sits idly, it acts as a giant billboard telling people you don’t know how to use social media for business and you don’t have a plan.

Despite all the definitions and metaphors, sometimes people just don’t “get” social media – and that’s okay, just don’t them put in charge of the decision-making or execution. We each have a role on the team, and everyone can’t play quarterback (obligatory sports reference). If you don’t understand why somebody you don’t know wants to be your friend or why someone you don’t know “likes” your page, then social media is not for you.

social planning

Reason #5: Social Media is not free.

Social is the IKEA® of media. It’s the DIY (do-it-yourself) of communications. You have to pick something you think matches the current setting, in a size you think is going to fit, that serves the purpose for which it’s selected. The out-of-the-box cost is cheaper than other choices, but it’s not free. You have to pull it down from the shelf. You have to wheel it down the aisle. You have to strap it to your car, get it home safe then up two flights of stairs. When you finally get it home, you have to try and build it with tools you’re not sure how to use, with directions that just don’t make sense. What seemed like such a value can cost so much more in the end.

Social media is a lot of things, but it’s not free, it’s not a magic bullet and it isn’t going to fix a bad business.

social media ROI

Reason #6: You can’t find the ROI.

My father taught me something was either a cost or an investment. A cost is something you spend money on and then it’s gone. You have nothing to show for it. An investment is money you spend, and you get something in return. Before you run to social media, ask yourself, “What will have to happen for my business on social media to realize a return on investment?”

If you can’t tell somebody where your business will find the ROI, then you should not use social media for your business.

social media

Reason #7: Shit happens.

There are issues unique to social media that most businesses never consider until after the fact or until it's too late. Even with the best of plans, what happens when something goes wrong? Something, on some scale, always goes wrong - then what? You find yourself on the front of something with a headline that isn’t flattering. You turn into the butt of a joke, and suddenly, there are a lot of questions about “How did this happen?” and “Who is to blame?”

A Fair and Balanced Report

I know I’ve presented social media in a hard light, and I’ve provided numerous reasons – based on my knowledge and experiences – not to use social media for business. Perhaps this is a bit odd for an author who is teaching a webinar about how to use social media to create engagement, but not from your Dutch uncle who has your best interest at heart.

Kevin Popovic popexpert workshop

Too often, media, especially social media, share stories of success that are too good to believe: shortcuts to 1,000 fans, tips to getting 10,000 followers or “how to make a viral video” that gets 100,000 views. That usually does not happen.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have success using social media to create engagement – that’s what I’m teaching in my upcoming webinar and in my book. As you move forward now in deciding if and how to use social media, you do so with eyes wide open.

Learn More About Creating Engagement

To learn more about making smart decisions on social media for your business from Kevin Popović, join his May 13 session, “Satellite Marketing: Using Social Media to Create Engagement,” at the Digital All Stars Virtual Event from OMI.

Or join Kevin's June 1 video workshop, "Satellite Marketing: Using Social Media to Create Engagement." 5 days, 5 lessons, 5 steps forward to creating engagement with your audience. Register now at PopExpert. 

 


Create Web Content Like a Pro with These Proven Steps to Drive Traffic and Keep People Engaged

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So the time has come for you to create content for your website because you want to drive more traffic, but the thought of it gives you (and your team) the sweats – what will you even write about?

content writing

Never fear: with the right plan, you can ensure your website content is set up with search engine optimization in mind, addresses your audience’s intent, speaks to your personas and offers something useful.

The tips I’ll share in my two-part series will help drive website traffic, keep your visitors on your Web pages longer, and leave them feeling satisfied that they found what they were searching for.

The first post in this two-part series will discuss the foundations of Web content quality using Google’s criteria when evaluating Web pages, in addition to how to create content that speaks to the intent of your target personas. To learn more about crafting content that brings in real results, join OMI's Digital All Stars Virtual Summit on May 13th, for my session - Web Content Playbook.

First, Take Notice of Google’s Quality Guidelines

You may or may not remember when Google’s search quality evaluation guide was leaked back in 2012 and then again in 2014. Google then made the 2012 edition publicly available; now you can find the cached copy here.

These guides serve Google’s “human rater” staff – people who would spot-check the quality of Web pages against specific criteria. This data then serves as a feedback loop for engineers at Google testing algorithm tweaks. 

content handbook

One theme in these guidebooks is the idea of delivering on the purpose of the page. So whatever that page is meant to do, make it the best that it can be at that.

If you’re an entertainment site, make that blog post the most entertaining and engaging it can be. If you’re a medical site, ensure you have the most factual and up-to-date Web pages as possible, and so on.

The purpose of the page may vary simply by the nature of the topic. For example, if you are discussing services, the purpose of the page would be to clearly communicate what those services are about. On the other hand, the purpose of your in-depth blog post on an important issue may be to educate.

As we’re all playing in Google’s sandbox, it’s wise to understand and deliver on what it believes to be quality at bare minimum. And then of course you layer your own quality standards on top of that.

So Rule No. 1: Define the purpose of the page, and then deliver on that. How? I’ll share with you two ways to help you do so.

Next, Create Content That Fulfills Intent and Speaks to Your Personas

The first piece in having a relevant Web page is examining intent. Let’s look at that next, followed by understanding personas …

1. The Intent

What was the intent of the person who typed in that query into Google’s search engine? What did they expect to find?

The traditional way of understanding keyword intent is by bucketing it into categories like “these keywords are related to general research” and “these keywords are related to shopping and buying.”

More general terms, for example, “Yorkshire Terriers” typically mean that people are just learning about the subject, as they are searching in very broad terms. More specific, for example, “Yorkies for adoption” would indicate where in the buying journey this person is.

And so your content approach – what you write – changes from page to page based on the search terms your website is targeting and where in the cycle the user is.

So when examining the page you are about to write or have written, the question is: does the content on the page help them facilitate which place they are in the search journey?

Better intent targeting on your website = less occurrences of people coming to the page from organic search only to leave quickly when they don’t see what they are looking for.

2. The Persona

Your personas are archetypes of your target audience, whether it’s a client, an industry influencer, a certain type of prospect or someone else. Basically any person that matters to the success of your business is someone you want to create a persona for.

Once you understand whom you are creating content for, the angle of your content changes based on what’s important to them. Whereas the intent helps drive the overall approach to the topic of the page, the persona refines what you say.

To create your personas, you want to start brainstorming a list of all possible people who matter to your business.

You can start by examining what you know – your current customer base. As you ask questions about these people, distinct patterns will emerge that will give way to perhaps more than just one typical customer. But it’s perfectly OK to start with just one.

You may also find “hidden” customers during this process that you don’t interact with but who are ultimately the decision-makers.

Questions you’ll want to explore for each persona are things like:

  • Age and gender
  • What matters to them in their daily lives?
  • What problems are they having?
  • How does your brand become a part of the solution for them?
  • How do they make decisions about what you have to offer?
  • What are the barriers to entry?
  • Why do they choose you? Why do they choose the competition?

If you have the ability to gather quantitative data about who your target audience is, grab as much as you can during research.

  • You can look at things like your Google Analytics “Demographics” and “Interests” reports if they are enabled
  • Dig into your customer relationship management system to see what you can find
  • Mine the data you can on Twitter, for example, who are the influencers that matter to your brand? Followerwonk is a nifty tool to use.
  • What does your Facebook page have to say about your demographics in its Insights analytics?

Then, qualitative data helps provide even more insight, as numbers can only tell you so much. Consider things like:

  • Interviewing those who are closest to the customer base, like the sales people
  • Interviewing those who hold the vastest or most historical knowledge of the industry like the owner, CEO or someone similar
  • Reaching out to past and current customers on the phone to ask key questions
  • Sending out surveys to all stakeholders
  • Conducting remote video-capture interviews with a panel that represents your target market. YouEye Inc. is one qualitative research company in this space that offers this (full disclosure: they are a client)

When you’re done, you’ll write up profiles about these folks, add a picture that is representative of them and give them a name. Then, your content creators will have a “real” person with real needs to write directly to.

For example …

“Miranda the Mid-Level Marketer”

content personaProfile:

  • Age: Late 20s
  • Company type: Mid-size B2B corporation
  • Career: Mid-level
  • Has decision-making capabilities but collaborates with direct report for approvals
  • Spends between $10,000 and $60,000 on Web marketing per month
  • Is digital marketing savvy, and has been doing it in house for years
  • Believes in ethical Web marketing and following Google’s rules
  • Lacking knowledge of how to create a Web content strategy from the ground up that aligns with business goals
  • Doesn't have a clear grasp on the ins and outs of Google’s ranking algorithm and how quality content factors

Personas not only help you decide which topics to write about, but how to frame up the message in a way that your target audience can relate to, making your Web pages that much more relevant.

More relevance = more time on your website engaging with your brand.

The overall goal of your Web content strategy is to create relevancy by balancing information that is of interest to your target audience, and presenting it in a way that makes it simple for your target audience to get what it needs.

Of course, building relevancy also helps those Web pages be the best “answer” to a person’s query within the search engine results. In my next post tomorrow, I’ll show you how to optimize your pages to get maximum visibility online.

Want to learn more about creating Web content that drives traffic and engages with your audience? Join Jessica's session "Web Content Playbook" on May 13th as part of OMI's Digital All Stars Virtual Summit, a one-day event with sessions led by digital marketing experts.

 


How to Hit a Home Run With Your Content

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It’s every content marketer’s worst nightmare…

You pour all your resources into creating a major piece of content, such as a white paper or webinar. You think the topic will resonate with your audience. The production quality is excellent. Your message is clear and concise.

B2B content marketing

But then you press, “publish” and nothing happens. No downloads…no registrations…no rush of customers calling your sales reps.

So, what happened?

You might have picked a topic that doesn’t interest your target audience. Many B2B marketers have a disconnect between the content they publish and what their customers want. If your content doesn’t hit the mark, buyers won’t respond.

Here are five steps you can take to pick the right topics and hit a home run with your content:

1.  Look for trends.

One way to bring more people to your content is by writing about trending topics. And no, you don’t need to blog about what the Kardashians are up to this week. Here are three tools – other than Google Analytics – that will help you find trending topics and keywords:

  • Hashtagify.me helps you find trending hashtags. Simply enter a hashtag, and the service will tell you how popular it is. It will also recommend related hashtags that can help you reach a wider audience.
  • BuzzSumo gives you insight into top-performing content. When you enter your key phrase, BuzzSumo will display the most-shared content containing those words. This helps you see if your key phrase will attract readers.
  • Google Trends shows you how searches for a key phrase have increased or decreased over time. You can narrow your results by country or time period. For example, you can see how searches for “cloud computing” have changed over the past year or 90 days.

2. Get to know your target audience.

If you haven’t updated your buyer personas since the first season of Breaking Bad, it’s time for a refresh. Updating your personas will give you insights into your audience’s top challenges and goals, so you can create content that speaks directly to their needs. Here are some questions to ask about your buyers:

  • What are their roles?
  • What industries do they work in?
  • What is their typical day like?
  • What are their top challenges?
  • What are their biggest goals?
  • How have their goals, needs and challenges changed from the last time you updated your buyer personas?
  • What stage(s) of the sales cycle do they influence?
  • Where do they get information about your products or services?

3. Speak to each stage of the sales cycle.

In Demand Gen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, 61% of respondents said they selected vendors who delivered a mix of content that was appropriate for each stage of their buying process. Reviewing your buyer personas will help you see what topics will engage them during each stage of the sales cycle. Provide them with the information that they need when they move through the following stages:

  • Awareness
  • Investigation
  • Evaluation
  • Decision
  • Loyalty/advocacy

4. Learn some new tricks.

Many B2B marketers create the same type of content all the time. For example, they might publish only sales materials or educational content. However, varying your topics will keep your audience more engaged. Mix it up by creating the following types of content:

  • Fun
  • Educational
  • Persuasive

5. Answer customer questions.

Your customer’s questions are a treasure trove of potential content. When you find a question, save it in a spreadsheet. Then, you can decide if you want to answer it in a new piece of content. What questions are customers asking in your forums? What are they emailing your sales and customer success reps about? What are they asking you on social media?

content strategy

When you go through these steps, you’ll find a lot of great topic ideas. Which of these topics will your audience find the most compelling? Which topics will help you get the biggest bang from your content investment? Add these topics to your editorial calendar.

Want to learn more about how to fill your content calendar with topics that engage your target audience? Register for my session, “How to Plan Your B2B Content Calendar,” part of the Digital All Stars Virtual Summit on May 13th.

 


3 Easy Ways to Perform an SEO Site Audit

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When was the last time, if ever, you had an audit performed on your site? Regular website audits are important to make sure that your site is running like a well-oiled machine. An SEO site audit helps identify problems your website may have, and provides suggestions on how to fix those problems. Think of it as a tune-up for your car or your yearly medical check-up. You wouldn’t drive your car without ever having an oil change, or participate in an Ironman triathlon without knowing that your body is actually able to endure the physical stress; right?

SEO Audit: Professional vs. DIY

There are a lot of options for a full-scale SEO audit, which can cost a company plenty of time and money. However, a Lite version of an SEO audit can be an excellent alternative for smaller websites or businesses on a limited budget. Smaller websites will take less time to analyze and audits can actually be performed on the fly by an in-house digital marketing expert. A Lite SEO audit will still help determine possible issues that are not contributing positively to the performance of a website.

seo site audit

The Online Marketing Institute recently invited me to lead a session that we’re calling “Learn How To Perform An SEO Website Audit On The Fly,” and I encourage you to join this session if you’d like to perform an audit by yourself.

Professional SEO site audits usually start at $1,000 and can easily exceed $5,000 depending on the size of the site and the actual scope. Benefits of a professional SEO website audit include:

  • A professional SEO expert to conduct the audit
  • You’ll receive 30-100+ pages of findings and recommendations
  • You’ll have a list of action items and instructions on how to fix potential issues
  • The SEO expert is available for follow up consulting and to help fix issues if needed

But why not get started and just take a stab at it yourself? The below notes will give you some ideas and I’ll also share some tools that will help you facilitate this process.

1. Analyze the Technical Health of Your Website

Improving the technical performance of a website is one of the most important aspects to increase your site’s overall visibility in search engines. Potential technical aspects that you need to consider and analyze include:

  • URL Canonicalization
  • IP Canonicalization
  • Default/Index Page
  • Content Duplication
  • Page Title Duplication
  • Page Description Duplication
  • Clean URL
  • Robots.txt
  • XML Sitemap
  • Frames
  • Flash
  • 404 Page
  • Page Speed
  • Text Navigation
  • 4XX Errors and 5XX Errors

After you’ve watched the OMI session I’m leading, you’ll understand how tools such as Google Webmaster Tools, Google PageSpeed Insights, Google Mobile-Friendly Analyzer, SEOquake, Woorank, and iwebchk will help you during this process.

2. Analyze Your Website’s Functionality

Google cares a lot about how people interact with your website. You’ll lose a ton of “SEO points” if you optimize your site for search, start to get increased website traffic, but then people immediately leave your site because they can’t find what they are looking for. This dramatically increases your site’s bounce rate and Google will naturally penalize your site in search results. Make sure to get access to Google Analytics so that you can analyze your website’s traffic. Also, you’ll definitely want to read and adhere to Google’s design and content guidelines.

3. Analyze the Content of Your Website

A professional SEO site audit usually includes the review of your website’s content and how it’s optimized for search. By creating materials that draw the visitor in and entice them to delve more deeply into the website's pages, optimized content will create a welcoming and interesting environment for potential new clientele – and will reduce your site’s bounce rate. Get started by conducting keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner tool, which is part of Google AdWords.

site audit

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to performing an SEO site audit, but this intro will get you started on the right coutse. If you don’t have the funds to invest into a professional audit, then at least take a stab at these recommendations in order to improve your site’s visibility in search engines. You’ll get more hits and create more revenue for your business – sort of a no-brainer if you ask me!

To learn more about performing your own SEO site audit, and the handy tools that can help you, sign up now for Chris's session in the Digital All Stars Virtual Event on May 13th.