Content Marketing

How to Create a Blog That Converts

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If you are like most bloggers, you aren’t blogging as a hobby: you want to make some money. Making money boils down to converting traffic into sales. The first step is to figure out what you want to write about. It should relate to your business, and be valuable to your readers. Next, you need traffic, and various ways of getting visitors to buy your product or service. That's the short of it. Let's dive in a little deeper with 9 tips to help you on your way to a successful blog.

1. Speed Up

You need to have a fast website. Otherwise, your visitors are going to move on to one that is faster. According to Google, speed is one of the main things looked at in search ranking algorithms. Make sure that your site is as fast as possible, and don’t use a lot of high resolution videos that will slow things down. Videos are important, but to prevent long loading times,  it’s best to sparingly use shorter videos that will retain the attention of your visitors.

2. Make Sure Copy is Scannable

Many users will not give your page their full attention, so you need to make sure that it’s scannable. Keep paragraphs short so readers can easily discern the structure of your content. Use bullet points, dashes, arrows, etc. to get your points across, and readers will be more apt to pay attention to what you have to say. This will let you effectively lead them to the CTA.

3. Build a Subscriber List

It’s important to have an email marketing list if you want to grow your blog. Use your list to make connections and market your products or services. You will need to find the right email marketing tool, and you need a platform for storing subscribers. Once you have your list, you can send out regular newsletters, announcements, personalized notes, etc. to keep your business fresh in the minds of your customers. Be sure that your email content offers something of value to your customers, and draws them back to your website.

4. Use Visuals

Our brains process visuals a lot faster than text: 60,000 times faster, in fact. So, it goes without saying that content containing  a lot of visuals are going to be viewed more often than content with no visuals. Having awesome visuals engages visitors, and show readers what your business has to offer. Visuals include both photos and videos; the better they are,  the better your sales are ultimately going to be.

5. Use Your Call-to-Action

In order for you to get sales, customers have to act. That is why you need a call-to-action (CTA). You must ask your customers to do something. Use a CTA that is going to grab their attention, but make it simple: think titles like “Buy it Now” or “Download Now”. Make sure that the offer is tempting enough that they will want to take advantage and click on the CTA. If your CTA is persuasive and the customer finds your product valuable, chances are that they will go to the next step.

6. Make the Design Stand Out

Your landing page should be attractive and eye catching, and never cluttered. Take advantage of color psychology; soft blues create a calming sense, and red stimulates. Leave a bit of white space so that the page is easier to read. Use images and videos to grab attention, but don’t go overboard and bombard the senses of your readers with too much flash and bang. This often comes off as pushy and inauthentic.

7. Conduct Regular User Surveys

In order to know what your customers really want, you have to come right out and ask them. This is why it is so important to do customer surveys on a regular basis - for instance, users who create CoSchedule accounts are asked to take part in surveys at the point of registration, which allows CoSchedule to see what users are looking for.  You will need to use the right tool, such as Survey.io, which lets you create user surveys regularly. Use this feedback to make sure that you are giving customers what they need.

8. Offer Validation from the Big Guys

When you are able to do affiliate marketing, you can use name brands to draw readers to your own brand. It may take a bit of time and effort, but try to get brands that are well known, and avoid the lesser known brands. When people see brands they recognize on your site, they are going to associate you with the brands that they already know and trust.

9. Start a Podcast

Podcasts are a great way to build your personal brand and credibility. Through podcasts, you can inspire other bloggers and help them by offering guidance and support, using various online marketing tools. This is a great way of adding personal touch to your blog. Seize every opportunity to connect with your audience and deepen the relationship between your brand, and your readers.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here. 

 


How to Develop a Crushing Video Marketing Strategy

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Video was bound to become the new go-to marketing tool sooner or later. Good videos can communicate as effectively as text and image based content, and often more powerfully. With new video sharing technologies and a myriad of formats to choose from, video should become an integral part of any marketing campaign. Since this is still a relatively new medium, marketers are still in the process of understanding what works best and what goes into making a crushing video marketing campaign. To help you along the way, here’s a list of points to consider when developing your video marketing strategy.

Choosing the Right Type of Video

There are so many video formats and techniques you can choose from, it can be overwhelming. Each can accomplish a different set of goals, so when it comes to choosing the right one, you should consult the broader plan for promoting your business. One of the first things you need to consider is video length - a conventional TV commercial lasts for about 30-45 seconds. On the internet, video ads can last even longer than that, since they are not constrained by the rules that apply to TV ads.

When it comes to choice of style or format, there are a number of valid choices. Animation tends to be the preferred format when it comes to explainer videos, since it can easily represent abstract concepts. Animations are also much easier to make than live action videos, and offer a broader range of stylistic choices and storytelling options.

Live-action videos with actors, props and sets can be more expensive, but they also lend a certain credibility to your brand. This format is especially suited for testimonial videos, which are also fairly easy to produce. Unfortunately, effective live-action videos can be more expensive and less permissive than animation. Both of these styles have a place, so take some time to consider what will work best for your individual needs.

Hire a Team of Professionals

When it comes to the production of your videos, there is a lot of free video-making software you can use. These may suffice for some organizations, but tend to offer only basic customization options. It’s also likely that many other companies use these free programs, so your video may end up looking like those produced by many other companies. That runs counter to the whole point of crafting a video strategy: to generate brand awareness, and create a memorable look for your business. With generic tools and software, it’s unlikely you will be able to create a memorable video. And failure to differentiate can mean the failure of your entire strategy.

If you’re looking to develop an amazing video marketing strategy, there’s no better option than to hire a professional team. Trust these video professionals to handle the creative side of things, and you can focus on strengthening the rest of your campaign.

Know Your Audience

Obviously you should enjoy the final cut of your video, but remember, you are not the target audience; your customers are. 

So, when you are planning the strategy, it is them you should be thinking about. Consider the age group you are addressing, but also the context in which these videos are likely to be seen. Are customers going to view them at work? In that case, you should invest in videos with a focus on descriptive imagery, so the story is easy to understand even with the sound turned off. Is your audience more likely to view the videos on mobile devices? In this case, animations with simple shapes and bright colors can work better for the relatively small screens of smartphones or tablets.

You don’t need to do special research to understand what kinds of videos your audience will appreciate. You can target your audience using the same metrics you’ve used for other marketing strategies. You can certainly ask more specific questions as the campaign evolves, but to begin, you can segment your audience in much the same way you have for other purposes.

Don’t Neglect Entertainment Value

When creating video campaigns, many companies focus on providing their customers with information about their business, offers and promotions. And that’s definitely what the ultimate goal of a video campaign should be. 

But that agenda is only relevant  to you and your company. Audiences certainly want to learn something by watching a video, but they also expect videos to be entertaining. Ignoring entertainment value will make your videos dry and uninteresting, and in the end, your audience may tune out your humorless infodump.

That is why, no matter what information you want to share, you must consider how you’re going to package it. The best way to get your audience’s attention and keep it is crafting  a story around the information you want to deliver. Envision a situation in which that information could become relevant to your customer and say something meaningful about it. Entertaining stories can bridge the gap between your business offers and solutions, and your customers’ needs and preferences.  

Consider Each Part of the Video

Creating a compelling story for your video might seem like a daunting task. But you don’t have to be an award-winning scriptwriter or director to understand how to craft a video that delivers a message effectively. The key is timing the different segments of the video so they form a coherent narrative. In a sense, it’s not much different than writing good text, which is why videos always begin as a written script.

You will have an introduction. This is where you establish your character/characters and the context in which the story happens. Next, you’ll want to establish some sort of conflict or issue that needs to be resolved. The middle of the story is the climax: how the issue escalates, and the implications of that escalation.

Arguably, the most important part is the ending, or resolution. Here you will weave your solutions into the plot. This is the message you want to communicate: that your solution solved a problem for the characters. How you end your video determines the meaning of the content, and the effect it will have on your viewers.

Don’t Give it All Away in One Go

Depending on how long you want your campaign to last, you should also consider the broader story your videos will construct. In order to make your whole strategy effective, you need to spread out information, and deliver it bit by bit.

That way, audiences will keep coming back for more. Curiosity is a very powerful force, and if you’ve hit the mark with your first couple of videos, your viewers will be hooked. Resist the temptation to give it all away in the first try, or your viewers won’t have any reason to tune in later.

If you do want to extend a campaign that’s been going well to maximize its potential, you can switch up the format you’ve established. Perhaps change styles in a radical way. But always try to maintain the same basic tone and principle. Serialized videos need to have some consistency in order for your audience to see the bigger picture that is fundamentally about your company, and how it is relevant to them.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

Author bio: Cristopher Tuckerman is a digital marketing strategist and a zealous writer who's interested in all things SEO and design-oriented. He believes that since almost 50% of our brain is involved in visual processing and 70% percent of our sensory receptors are eyesight related, it’s reckless not to be interested in design principles. Do yourself a favor and follow Cris’ advice: make your business more visually striking!

 


5 Alternative Marketing Strategies for Niches

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Find your niche

Find your niche

Creating marketing strategies for niches is a daunting task for any marketer. Niche businesses can only cater to a small audience and address very specific issues. Unlike commodities or retail, which cater to a broad audience, niche markets have a harder time getting people interested. Here are a few key strategies for getting your niche business off the ground.

Build a Community that Generates Content

Communities, whether online or offline, are built around the specific interests and traits of their members. These groups are bound by the things that set them apart. You’ll probably never see a group of people who get together to discuss a very generic topic like eating. Everyone eats. On the other hand, a community might spring up when several people who are interested in a specific aspect of eating come together, like people who enjoy cooking and meet to swap recipes, or those who enjoy exotic foods and want to share their experiences.

Your niche can be just the thing to plant the seeds of such a community. With readily available social media tools, all potential customers need is a small incentive: a rally point. From there on, your clients and potential clients can do a lot of the marketing work for you. But it’s absolutely vital that you create a solid, customer-centric culture. Your customers should be your top priority, and they should know your business is geared towards them, not selling as many products as you can.

That’s why you should encourage debates and even constructive criticism in your community. On the one hand, this is going to give you some valuable feedback and insights that will help to improve your business. On the other hand, you’re going to encourage a conversation that has the potential to raise brand awareness and promote customer loyalty. When each customer feels like their opinion is valued, they are more likely to promote your business and generate useful content.

You can also engage with influencers to help consolidate this community. Influencers already have a group of loyal followers with common interests. If the influencers you choose to engage with are a good fit for your brand, raising awareness will be a piece of cake.

Focus on Client Needs, Not Product Specifications

There are certain products that tend to sell themselves. Marketers often focus on highlighting all of their product’s assets to make it stand out, but neglect to tell customers how exactly this is going to help them. For certain products or services, this approach works just fine. All customers know why they should buy clothes; all they need to know is what makes one brand superior to another.

When it comes to marketing for niches, however, you can’t just focus on how good a product is (although that can be important, especially when you have competition). Many times  - especially when it comes to cutting edge technology and recent developments -  customers won’t understand what a product even does, and won’t have incentive to buy unless you specify its practical functions. If you find it difficult to promote a niche product or service, try to focus on your client’s needs and how the product is tailored to address those needs, instead of trying to constantly prove it’s better than the competition. Although potential customers  may not know what your product does or how it can help them, they certainly know what their problems are.

Highlight What Makes Your Niche Business Special

Many products that are now wildly popular had a very limited appeal in the beginning, and didn’t catch on at first. But they knew how to make the most out of their uniqueness, and they are now household brands: they offered something no other product did, and that’s what made them so popular.

When you operate in a niche market, there are two situations you can find yourself in when it comes to competition: either you are faced with a small number of powerful competitors , or you are the only company providing the specific products or services that you offer.

In both cases, there is always something that sets your company apart. In the first case, you are already providing a service few other companies are. From a marketing perspective, you should use that as an asset rather than a downside.

If you do have competitors, it’s worth  analyzing how they do business. Maybe your products are similar, but your brand’s personality can make the difference. Combine this with an in-depth analysis of your target audience to figure out how you could approach your customers differently, or diversify your client base.

If your niche tends to focus on senior professionals, for example, maybe it’s time to reach out to the growing millennial market, even if it may seem like that won’t work. When it comes to marketing strategies for niches, there is no beaten path: whatever makes a brand special - whether it’s reaching a new audience or just finding solutions to unique problems -  is worth investing in.

Marketing Strategies for Niches Are Like Stage Performances

Though it may not seem like it, marketing and entertainment have a lot in common: they both imply an audience, and they both imply a space in which to meet this audience. The context of this space determines who will come to a performance, what they expect to see, and what shape the performance should take.

When it comes to marketing, there are many different stages you can use to reach out to your audience. Social media platforms are fast becoming the go-to place where brands and customers interact. And while we tend to discuss these social media networks as a group, just by using them you’ll quickly come to realize that each has its own unique perks and disadvantages when it comes to crafting marketing strategies for niches.

For example, most Twitter users claim they use this platform to stay updated on current events, traffic and weather reports. But the site is less popular when it comes to entertainment. And even though it has far more users than Instagram, teens believe Instagram is the second most important social media platform, which proves Twitter has a more mature audience.

We shouldn’t forget offline marketing either. While the digital world has become one of the most popular marketing playgrounds, there is still very much we can gain from traditional marketing strategies. This is especially useful when it comes to physical products. An image and good copy can do a lot to promote your brand, but nothing compares to sampling the products in real life or getting a behind-the-scenes look at your business.

Concentrate Your Efforts

Obviously, it’s a good idea to test out new and untapped markets. The more people you can reach, the better your chances of converting leads and raising brand awareness. But ultimately, you cannot turn every potential lead into a loyal customer. You need to focus on the audiences that work best, lest you end up angering your current customers while chasing leads that won’t work out.

Testing out how your product is received in different markets can show that some audiences are just not a good match. You can try to adapt your products and your brand to match the preferences of these groups, but if after months of trying it’s still not working out, perhaps it’s time to cut your losses.

In order to encourage customer loyalty, your current customers need to feel like they are important for your business. If you are constantly rebranding in order to reach out to increasingly diverse groups of people, your loyal customers might feel like they are no longer respected.

Sometimes, the best way to create brand awareness and maximize revenues is simply to consolidate a consistent brand image. Especially when you are operating in a niche market, it’s important to maintain coherence when it comes to the tone and personality of your business.

Conclusion

Marketing strategies for niches must be extra careful when it comes to tailoring campaigns to the requirements of the business. The uniqueness of the products, services or field in which the business operates can be the greatest asset a marketer can depend on. If you’re having trouble developing a marketing strategy for your niche, try one of these tips today, and embrace the strengths of your brand while building it.

Dustin Ford became interested in technology at an early age. He read as much as he could and now he enjoys writing about gadgets, online trends, and apps for TechExploring. He wants to share his knowledge with others and help everyone who has technology-related questions.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

 


How to Set the Stage for Highly Engaging Content

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Five years ago, I was not a writer. I liked reading books. I would devour them all day long if I had the chance. But somehow, with a pen in my hand, I was unable to create engaging content. Everything seemed synthetic, robotic and my efforts seemed fruitless. So, one day, I decided to stop forcing the issue. Instead, I started to analyze any interesting article that came my way. I took them apart, and the things that I discovered helped me blossom  from a wannabe writer into a professional content creator.

Today, we’ll go through the key elements that create highly engaging content. Even if you feel like you are neither a designer nor a writer, the following formula will give you the ingredients to make text interesting and effective. Once you understand these ingredients, you’ll be well on your way to creating thought provoking, engaging, relevant, educational content that supports your business goals. Let’s begin! 

1. What is Engaging Content?

Before starting this great journey of creation, let’s understand what we’re in for. First, the reason we’re creating content:  the attention, eyeballs, and time of readers.

Content has become a form of marketing that enjoys the greatest popularity today. This happened when billboard advertising or TV commercials began to take a back seat. How? The public has gained access to an almost infinite source of information: the Internet. Now, it is in their power to research, read, and educate themselves on any product or purchase.

In response, marketers started creating and delivering content to help customers learn about their products. This means your content must be informative, original, valuable, and add something new to the conversation.  Other elements that are secondary, but also very important are inspiration, entertainment, and the desire to receive more.

In short, readers need to love your content.

2. Start with a Boom

We all know that titles are important, but the first sentence is as valuable if not more so. The ultimate purpose of this introductory phrase is to let the readers know what to expect from the content and peak  their curiosity.

Your title  must create the same disruptive experience that an ad does. You don’t need to do that through overly long  words or exclamation points. This is best achieved through simple words that pack a powerful punch. 

In Google results, an article will show users the title and first sentence. Consequently, the first impression should be clear and poignant so that readers will be intrigued and want to know more. This is how you win more click-through rates.

However, once on your page, the writer shouldn’t disappoint readers. The text should continue to immerses the readers even deeper in the topic.

It is important to start strong since most people have an unconscious intention to skip the introduction and dive right in the subject they are passionate about. When this happens, readers lose context, and your article becomes much less effective.

3. Use Conversational Vocabulary

Consumers are not in for the ultimate metaphor. They want facts, examples, jokes, and lists. If they were looking for prose, they’d be reading Shakespeare. Content should be written as if the writers are talking to their friends. It’s a conversation, not a statement. The reader should receive a new angle on an old topic, a new solution to their problems, or an unexpected laugh. This can be accomplished with the simplest words. The difficulty here is how to combine these small words to deliver big messages.

4. Create Minimalism

The best-looking content is one with a short title, simple sentences, on point subheadings, and natural images. And the reason for this is that you are writing for the web, not a book.

Both of them have the intent to inform or entertain the reader, but they offer two different reading experiences. When you open a book, there are only the pages in front of you. Once you start it, you don’t have the urge to start others at the same time. When you are finished for the day, you simply bookmark the last page and resume reading another time.

However, reading an online article is a completely different experience. First of all, readers know there are a million other similar articles to read. So, while they are reading, they are simultaneously weighing the benefits they’re getting from your article over the cost of their precious time. If you lose them anywhere in their reading, they’ll likely move on without finishing. Secondly, it’s a distracting environment, where banners, ads, and columns on a web page can distract a reader.

Moreover, studies that observed the eye movement of web users noticed that people employ an F-shaped pattern for reading a website. So the process follows a vertical approach and moves away from the horizontal tradition. This means that while on the web, people prefer to scan an article rather than read it entirely.

A text that nurtures the attention of the online reader will follow the F-shaped formula. This means that the first two paragraphs should be good enough to create curiosity for the entire article or offer enough useful information to entice readers to read on.

Furthermore, the information found on the left side of the webpage should be highlighted and well built. These include subheadings and bullet points.

5. Use Power Words

Not all decisions are logical. One trigger that can spur someone to read an article all the way is emotion. Often, people choose a new product that resonates with their value system or past experiences and feelings. Highly engaging content should summon powerful feelings from within the reader. This process doesn’t imply a shaman or voodoo practices. It is all about simple words otherwise known as power words.

These tiny weapons are used by content creators to influence web users to perform an action, whether it is purchasing or writing a review. The power words will attach a certain feeling to your content. If you write about the last 24 hours left for your special offer, you can choose the simple words that inspire concern, fear of losing something, or the pressure of wasting time. In this case, you can use worry, risky, beware, caution, mistake, blinded or several other options.

On the other hand, a few types of engaging content want to build a connection between brand and consumer. This process requires winning over readers’ trust so you can use words such as safe, authentic, protected, secure, privacy, official, verify, lifetime, money-back, refund, research, and others.

6. Speak the Language of Your Audience

Every generation speaks a different language. So, to avoid speaking the wrong language, you need to identify your audience. To do that, you can create a persona. By gathering all the information you have about your existing customers, you will most surely identify a pattern regarding age, demographics, preferences, hobbies or career. This pattern will represent the character profile of your target audience and enable you to adopt a personality they will relate to.

Before starting to write your text, visualize this person that represents all your readers. Write for him or her only, and not just with the purpose of selling something. Write for this person's enjoyment and education. Your vocabulary will likely adjust to the type of language your audience uses. 

Conclusion

After going through all these steps for creating highly engaging content, you will realize that it is not about finding your inner Shakespeare. Professional content creators use simplicity as the secret to success. So, turn on a new blank page, and use meaningful and simple words to create an impactful conversation with your readers.

Interested in digital classes on the topics discussed above? OMI recommends the below classes to get started:

Content Marketing Strategy for Social MediaCreating and Curating Content People Love

Browse over 400 classes in the digital library at OMI. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

Amanda Wilks knows digital marketing and the online milieu better than most marketing professionals – if she can say so herself. She’s been passionately contributing to Customer Survey Report for a while now with the purpose of helping entrepreneurs throw the ball out of the field. If you want to learn more about Amanda, you are kindly invited to follow her on Twitter @AmandaWilks01.   

 


Effective Event Management with Social Media, an Infographic

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If you are an event manager, your favorite superheroes are probably not the cape-wearing, shield-wielding kind. Any successful event marketing professional knows that planning a successful event requires a great deal of organization and communication, not to mention heaps of positivity. You know that the success of your event depends to a very large extent on the way you use social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for marketing and reaching your targeted audience, which makes them the coolest and most powerful social superheroes the industry has ever seen. Check out this infographic from Maximillion which takes a close look at some of the coolest social superheroes of event management!

This article was originally published on www.maximillion.co.uk

Interested in digital classes on the topics discussed above? OMI recommends the below classes to get started:

Social Media Strategy for BusinessCreating and Curating Content People Love, 7 Elements of Highly Effective Facebook MarketingContent Marketing Strategy for Social MediaPinterest Promotions 101

Browse over 400 classes in the digital library at OMI. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

 


Do Your Marketing Videos Cause “Failure to Differentiate”?

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Workplace with person working on laptop watching video player, concept of webinar, business online training, education on computer, e-learning concept, video tutorial vector illustration

Person watching marketing video

When buyers can’t figure out what differentiates a company’s solution, bad things happen:

  • They rule out the company.
  • They spend more time consulting third parties.
  • They put off the decision.
  • They just do nothing.

That’s according to a recent Gartner report titled “Failure to Differentiate.”

I’ve come to believe that the traditional approach to technology “explainer” videos may be contributing to the buyer’s failure to differentiate.

How traditional explainer videos can get in the way of differentiation

“Explainer” videos have been around for a dozen years or so. They started with IT solution and software vendors who needed to explain unfamiliar concepts that are hard to grasp quickly in text format — concepts like business process management, service oriented architecture, etc. These short video overviews became popular with tech companies and their salespeople as a way to engage prospects with content that was quick and easy to understand.

The traditional approach was straightforward: tell the viewer what problem you solve, how you solve it, and how it all pays off. This is still how most explainer videos are structured.

The trouble is that now there are many more technology solution vendors who claim to “solve” the same problem in different ways. And so many short videos are competing to get buyers to do something. The result is that the buyer is seeing lots of videos that start out with dramatizations of the same problem.

It’s true that animated characters coping unsuccessfully with problems have featured in terrific cartoons for more than a century [seek out Fantasmagorie (1908) on YouTube]. But in view of today’s short attention spans, the first 20 seconds or so of a video are crucial. If differentiation is your goal, you probably shouldn’t use those 20 seconds to tell the same story others are telling — even if you tell it better.

Stories around buyer motivations

A 2015 OpenView B2B Buyer Insight survey set out to find out what motivates buyers to contact salespeople. This is interesting from the standpoint of explainer video production for two reasons:

  1. Explainer videos are generally viewed during the part of the buyer’s journey where the buyers are doing their own research and actively avoiding contact with salespeople
  2. The main purpose of a technology solution video is to get the viewer to seek more information — the same thing they do when they reach out to sales

Here are the main reasons buyers said they would reach out to a salesperson:

  • To research a market
  • To replace a solution that isn’t working well
  • To bring about a major change in the organization

Keeping these motivations in mind as you plan out a video makes sense. You will develop the story buyers want to hear, and one that will immediately differentiate your message from the old problem-solution-benefits story your competitors are probably telling.

Videos for buyers researching a market

Buyers who are researching a market are probably not trying desperately to get out from under some problem — more likely, they wonder what cool new thing they might be missing. This calls for a cooler approach — like dramatizing the new possibilities your solution opens up for them. For example, Cisco’s Workload Automation solution has been around for a while (as Tidal Enterprise Scheduler), but was recently updated to integrate cloud and big data workloads. This is good news, but it means different things for people with different responsibilities. If you’re responsible for Big Data jobs, you may be looking into better ways of getting data into and out of the Hadoop ecosystem. If your responsibilities extend across a hybrid data center, things would be better if you could integrate new kinds of workloads into the job schedule. Cisco made short videos geared to these specific points of view, in addition to a traditional product overview. Same product, but different messages about big data workloads and hybrid cloud integration.

Buyers motivated to replace an existing solution

Many IT managers in non-profit performing arts organizations are looking to replace existing box office management and ticketing solutions because older solutions lack agility and don’t talk to software used in other parts of the organization — notably marketing and fundraising.

A video we produced for the software vendor PatronManager redefines the problem instead of dramatizing it. Instead of contrasting the confusion of siloed systems with the efficiency of integrated operations, the video simply shows how everyone can easily share quality data on the people who support the organization by buying tickets and making donations, and how that contributes to business success. You can see the PatronManager video here.

Buyers motivated to bring about a major change in the organization

Buyers who are eager to bring about a change certainly don’t need to be told what you think their problem is. You just need to encourage them to find out more about your better way of doing things. It’s “Here’s something you can change right now” (vs. “Here’s what we can do for you”)

So, for example, Software AG is a vendor active in the government market for solutions to help improve government service delivery. So their explainer video on the subject starts out “Sometimes, you just need an app.” It assumes that the viewer is motivated to make a big change in how things are done, and shows how new applications can be quickly assembled from pre-built components in the cloud. You can view the Software AG explainer video here.

Thinking differentiator-ly

The examples here are not templates for videos or meant to be prescriptive. They do illustrate our conviction that if you want to differentiate your solution, you need to stop talking about problems your buyers already know about.

A good way to come up with different approaches is to think about some of the reasons buyers reach out to sales — which are probably the same reasons they have for visiting your website and watching your videos.

  • To learn about what’s new in the market
  • To replace a solution that isn’t working well
  • To bring about a major change in the organization

Giving buyers some of the information they’re looking for in a video will encourage them to seek more information. And we believe that should be the goal for a tech company’s videos.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Browse over 400 classes in the digital library at OMI. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

About the Author:

Since 2004, Bruce McKenzie, founding partner of 2 Minute Explainer has been developing videos to increase sales engagement for companies such as IBM, Cisco, Brocade, Compuware and many B2B technology startups. His free guide “Apply eLearning insights to improve your technology marketing videos” shows tech marketers how they should be designing their videos for sales enablement. Download this free guide here.

 


What’s the Best Strategy When Making a Viral Video?

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While some people might get lucky when it comes to getting a video to go viral, most of the time when it comes to videos made by brands, there is a highly tactical strategy in place before the video ever gets made. Did you know for example that the average viral video is anywhere between 15 seconds and five minutes. 15 seconds you might ask? Well think about Vine and its highly popular six second loops.

The golden rule of course for making any video with the aim of getting it to go viral is to focus on extracting an emotional response from the video’s target audience. Whether your aim is to make them laugh through slapstick comedy antics, make them cry with a heartfelt sob story or make them angry by purposely portraying a controversial topic in all its grandeur, the bottom line is connecting your audience with a story they will want to watch.

Have a look at the below infographic for a snapshot of top tips to assist you when planning a viral video, or for a more in-depth read around the strategies behind them, see this guide produced by One Productions.

one-productions-top-tips-to-make-viral-videos-igWant to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Browse over 400 classes in the digital library at OMI. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

 


How to Create a Successful Online Ad Campaign to Accomplish Brand Awareness

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Man creating brand awareness campaign Concept

Man creating brand awareness campaign

While technology has significantly changed how companies market their products and services over the years, the guiding principles behind successful advertising campaigns have remained constant.

Before you launch an advertising campaign, whatever the media and channels, you first must know be able to answer these questions:

  • What is the marketing budget?
  • How long will the ad campaign run?
  • What are your marketing goals?
  • Who is your audience?
  • How will you measure your marketing goals?

It also helps to know what your competitors are doing. More on that later.

First things first

Let's not put the shopping cart before the horse, so to speak. That is, one of your first tasks is to determine the campaign's overall goal. If your goal is to sell products or services, you will be creating a much more aggressive campaign than if your goal is to increase brand awareness.

You can find a great deal of information on digital advertising campaigns designed to drive conversions. Somewhat less prevalent are articles focusing on the creation of online advertising campaigns simply designed to create brand awareness. We're talking apples and oranges or, in this case, conversions and clicks.

The ultimate goal of an online brand awareness campaign typically is to drive traffic to your site. Once the visitor clicks through to your site, you have the opportunity to educate and engage via relevant, valuable content. But we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here.

Your ad campaign will be impacted by the factors listed above, which means you may have to tweak your original goals along the way. For example, if your original goal was simply to create top-of-mind awareness for your brand, you might want to inundate the web with banner ads. You would place ads based more on reach and frequency than on targeting a specific audience. However, if your online marketing budget is limited, you probably would have to rethink such a broad-based approach.

Consistency is key

You may not be able to blanket the web with your banner and search ads, but you can (and should) be consistent in your creative efforts. In doing so, you will build visual recognition with your online audience. Over time, elements such as your color scheme, logo and fonts will instantly resonate with viewers.

The banner ads below are good examples of consistency in advertising. It just so happens the ads are promoting BP, which has had to dig its brand out of the PR hole created by the oil spill back in 2010. And with the release of the "Deepwater Horizon" movie, the BP brand may take a bashing again.

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A brand awareness campaign such as BP's hovers between the worlds of advertising and public relations. Because BP is already a known brand, the overarching goal may be brand awareness, with a campaign devoted specifically to altering the public's perception of the brand.

Note, too, the call to action (CTA) for each of the banner ads. It is not an "in-your-face" CTA like BUY NOW. Instead, the CTAs encourage the viewer to "Learn more" or "Read the Report." In the most simplified sense, brand awareness campaigns are soft sell vs. hard sell.

In fact, your brand awareness campaign could be the precursor to a straight sales campaign. This ties in perfectly with the consumer buying process:

AWARENESS --->  RESEARCH --->  EVALUATION --->  COMMITMENT

Just keep in mind that it most likely will take longer to see results from a brand awareness campaign. Patience and persistence will pay off in the long run.

If you want to learn more about brand strategy and awareness, OMI recommends How To Be The Most Talked About Brand. 

How to get the most bang for your buck

The Google Ad Network is a popular choice for setting up a digital advertising campaign. According to Google AdSense, the most successful banner ad sizes are:

  • 336x280 large rectangle
  • 300x250 medium rectangle
  • 728x90 leaderboard
  • 300x600 half page
  • 320x100 large mobile banner

Whether you're resizing an image within each ad or the ads themselves, this can eat up a lot of valuable time. That's when a tool like the Image Resizer comes in handy. Simply upload your image, plug in the desired width and height in pixels, and you've got yourself a resized image.

The tool also comes in handy when prepping ads and images for social media. That's right, don't overlook advertising on social media sites. These can be particularly effective for brand awareness campaigns. Admittedly, it all can be a quite overwhelming. Here's a helpful guide to ad sizes on social media.

With search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns, be careful in your keyword bidding. If you're running more than one campaign at a time, you don't want to bid against yourself. With Google AdWords, you can use the AdWords Editor to avoid duplicate keywords.

As mentioned above, it's important to know what your competition is up to online. This is especially true when it comes to keyword bidding. Your competitor may be bidding on your brand name, and you can return the favor.

If you want to learn more about Social Media and Branding, OMI recommends Brand Advocacy Strategies for Social Media.

Getting them to 'click' with your content

So someone clicked on your ad and ended up on your website; now what? Your first inclination might be to take the visitor to your home page. For best results, however, create a dedicated landing page. Even better, create (and test) several landing pages to see which ones perform best. If you don't have the bandwidth or budget to design multiple landing pages, use an online service such as Unbounce, which provides landing page templates (no HTML coding needed).

The content on the landing page should follow search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. It also should be tailored to complement the banner ad. That way, when the visitor arrives at your page, there is no disconnect. It's a seamless experience. We often think of site design and functionality when we're discussing user experience (UX), but content also can dramatically affect the online experience.

Are we there yet?

How do you know if your brand campaign is a success? Many marketers are leery of brand awareness campaigns because they can be more difficult to measure. But that's the beauty of digital advertising; it's easy to track your campaigns online.

In addition to monitoring your Google and other paid search campaigns, you can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to track the volume of searches for your brand name.

Be sure to conduct social listening, as social networking sites offer keen insights into how consumers react to your brand (or not). Several social listening platforms, such as Hootsuite, offer both free and paid plans.

Assuming you've integrated an email component into your online campaign (as you should), you also could conduct a survey to gauge brand awareness.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

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Darcy Grabenstein is a freelance copywriter with more than 20 years experience in print and digital advertising. In the digital world, she has worked extensively with e-commerce and email campaigns. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

 


10 Practical Tools For Writing Outstanding Content

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copywriter, gamer, freelancer, designer, man in headphones with beard at computer

copywriter, content creator, in headphones writing at computer

 

Writing cannot be taught overnight. It requires a lot of effort, knowledge, and dedicated time. Thankfully, the Internet today can provide almost everything we need, writing skills included. Online apps can provide certain guidelines, motivation, proofreading, editing, and many other useful tools to help you craft stellar content. By using them, a novice writer can become much more proficient in relatively short period of time.

However, with the endless number of these apps on the net, it can be cumbersome to find the ones that best suit your needs. So, I've created a list to help you wade through all of your choices, so you can get down to what’s most important - crafting amazing content.  

  1. Bubbl.us

Any writing project regardless of the size and intent requires a certain amount of time dedicated to brainstorming, which helps us come up with ideas about the structure, content, and plot. Bubbl is a great tool to help speed up the brainstorming process. Specifically, the site helps to organize the ideas you have about your project and customize them by using different colors, font, and text size. Other advantage - it's absolutely free!

  1. A-Writer

A-writer is a writing company that offers a wide range of services for the customer from native English speakers with PhDs. Although the primary focus of the site is writing academic works, the experts are capable of providing writing assistance for about every kind of written work, including novels, short stories, and promotional texts. The blog of the site is also a rich source of materials related to improving writing skills.

  1. ProWritingAid

This tool is used by thousands of writers around the world. It allows editing your work in a quick and efficient way by improving  readability and eliminating errors. The motto of the developers at ProWritingAid is to “turn good writing into great writing,” which is exactly what occurs on the website. This editing and proofreading online environment is rich in functions and can be tried for free! Moreover, the site has a blog with a wide variety of how-to articles related to writing.

  1. yWriter5

This site is home to a great tool for a specific group of writers: novelists. According to the site, the tool was developed by Simon Haynes, a skilled computer programmer and writer, who has done a lot of terrific works in both areas (for example, see the science fiction comedy series he wrote). The tool needs to be downloaded and works for Windows PCs only at the moment. It does require an Internet connection and provides the writer with the opportunity to break the work down into parts and keep track of all scenes, including unfinished.

  1. Q10

This is another downloadable software piece that transforms the computer into a powerful work station without any distractions and all kinds of goodies. The user only has to download a small installation file (400kb) and set up it on the Windows PC to begin enjoying the benefits of the program. They include spell check, grammar check, a timer to remind to take a break, word count goal for the day, word choice, automatic save, and many others. Also, it opens the document where the writer left off, which is very convenient. Another advantage of Q10 is support of a number of languages besides English, including Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, and Italian.

  1. Write 2 Lite

If you like to write on the go, this app could be perfect for you. It is compatible with iOS devices and great for about any kind of writing, including note taking, writing texts & markdown editing. Write 3 Lite data can be synchronized across the Apple devices and provides a very user-friendly interface. The app can be a great companion for those who get their ideas visiting places and otherwise being on the go because it does not require to look for pen and paper to make sure the train of thought does not leave. According to the developer, the app also has an Emergency Model that can be accessed only through a special pin to help the user in dangerous situations.

  1. Zen Writer

Another great piece of downloadable software the goals of which include minimization of the distractions and focus the user on the process of writing. All the essential formatting, proofreading, and editing functions are built-in, and they make the process very enjoyable along with the therapeutical music in the background. The screen of the computer becomes a completely distraction-free environment and the app prevents the notifications from distracting you from your writing (these functions are customizable). It is available for $9.90 and compatible with the Windows PC and devices.

  1. ByWord

This is a good and simple tool that allows the users to write the piece on one device and easily share it with others, regardless of the type of the content. It is available for both PC and Mac and also enables to export the work to various file types, including pdf and HTML. The developer proposes using iCloud and Dropbox to store the data without the risk of losing it.

  1. Wordcounter

According to the site of the tool, it ranks the most frequently used words in the text and highlights them to help to make it better. It is completely free and allows achieving amazing tasks, such as removal of small words, count the words in the text, and spot overused words and phrases. Wordcounter can be especially useful for writer working on SEO texts because it tracks to the number of keywords in the content.

  1. TextFixer

Do you often write lIKE tHIS, forgetting to turn the caps lock off? A Sentence Capitalizer is a tool capable of repairing such mistakes in a couple of moments. Forget the last time you had capitalization errors in your texts with this great app that only requires the content to be inserted in its online environment.

Summary

These apps and tools are great for novice and expert writers alike. They carry both essential and advanced functions that significantly increase the speed of writing and make the process enjoyable. Enhance your writing skills in no time with the help of some of these apps. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

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Scott Ragin is an experienced writer and content writing expert at Aussiessay. Scott loves guiding other people through their content marketing practice and shares his ideas as a blogger. Feel free to contact him at Facebook.

 


How to Maximize Your Blog and Work Smarter, Not Harder

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How to Maximize Your Blog and Work Smarter, Not Harder

How to Maximize Your Blog and Work Smarter, Not Harder

Reduce, reuse, recycle. You’ve heard the mantra, only now it doesn’t just apply to saving the planet. This mantra can also be applied to marketing, specifically digital marketing. Rather than ramping up content creation, it’s time that digital marketing professionals work smarter, not harder.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize the content on your blog and work smarter.

Build Themes into Your Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is not merely a holding place for blog topics and content ideas. It’s the ideal place to put down in writing the overall trajectory of your content marketing strategy.

Start by building themes into your editorial calendar. The easiest way to do this is to pick a larger topic for each month and have all the blogs for that particular month address certain aspects of that topic.

For example, an editorial calendar for a corporate recruiting firm may cover resume writing in May, preparing for an interview in June, and negotiating benefits in July. In May, the four blog posts will cover the main things to include in a resume, common resume mistakes, tools for checking grammar in resumes, and unique takes on resumes. Each of those blog posts will roll up to the general topic of resumes for month.

Repurpose Blogs into Downloadable Guides

A successful content marketing strategy does not rely solely on creating blogs. Rather, it incorporates multiple types of content to appeal to a variety of potential clients.

Instead of starting from scratch for each ebook, case study, white paper, or how-to guide you create, look to your blog. You can take content from a blog, especially a popular or well-received blog, and repurpose it into a white paper that can be gated and downloaded from the website. Or if a particular blog discusses what works, use a particular client to demonstrate how those approaches work and create a new client case study.

Turn a Blog into a Visual

Many marketing departments are fully utilizing their awesome designers or design team. Take advantage of their wonderful skills by having them turn a blog or ideas from a few blogs into a visual, like an infographic, tip sheet, or chart. This is one of the easiest ways to repurpose content, mainly because it requires chopping down content to the very basics so that the visuals tell the bulk of the story.

A great opportunity to create a visual content piece is a how-to article. How-to blog posts are the easiest to convert into an infographic or a presentation because a visual can take the place of a 200-word description. For example, if the recruiting firm creates a blog on what to include in a resume, they can work with a designer to turn it into a downloadable visual that a job seeker can reference while drafting his or her own resume (without writing new content!).

Use Analytics to Pick Topics

When topics aren’t resonating with prospects, ditch them. Stop covering topics that prospects and clients don’t care about. Eliminating the topic duds is a great way to streamline your process and focus on what matters to your potential clients.

The only way to know the difference between a dud and a winner when it comes to your blog posts is by reviewing the analytics. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website or blog, take a look at the traffic and track the downloads of your content pieces. We always suggest looking at a couple of months of data to weed out seasonal traffic spurts.

If a particular blog post does well, add more topics to your editorial calendar that address different aspects or takes on that particular topic. Using the recruiting firm again, if they wrote a topic on how to dress for an interview and it got 2x as many views as a topic on how to clean up your social media when job hunting, they should add more topics that discuss dressing the part for an interview.

Not sure where to start with Google Analytics, you're not alone?  Take, Getting started with Google Analytics, to learn to identify your preforming channels, and how to optimize them. 

Promote Your Blog Posts

It’s very rare that a blog post goes viral after sharing it on one social media channel. Don’t produce 20 blog posts hoping to hit on a topic that will have a viral reach. Instead, focus on producing 5 – 10 quality blog posts and spend time promoting them.

First, share them on all your social media channels. If you have multiple blog posts to share, be sure to share each post multiple times (at different times and days of the week). This will enable you to reach a higher portion of your audience and put more eyeballs on your blog posts.

Next, pay to promote your posts. Sponsoring your posts on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest enables you to reach users that aren’t part of your existing audience. Allocating a portion of your budget to promotion enables you to maximize the value of your blog posts. Even a small budget can have a dramatic impact in helping your post reach a brand new (targeted) audience.

Want to learn more about how to get the best visibility for your blog posts?  Take Getting Your Blog Content Shared On Social Media, for practical tips that work really well to get more of your blog content shared.

In an ideal world, you have the bandwidth to create a ton of blog posts, but in the real world, there just isn’t time. By following the tips here, you can maximize the blog posts you are able to create and increase the ROI of each one.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

Jeremy Durant About the Author: Jeremy Durant is Business Principal at Bop Design, a B2B web design and digital marketing firm. Jeremy works closely with businesses in need of a website, marketing and branding strategy, helping them to develop their unique value proposition and ideal customer profile. Jeremy received his BA from Merrimack College and his MBA from California State University, San Marcos.