Creating stellar content should be the prerequisite for any blog. But is that really enough to boost your blog presence?
Given the millions of blogs floating over the net, it’s even challenging for your great content to attract a pretty number of readers. It happens to all of us, a piece we expect to be a blockbuster falls short.
Still, if you implement these ideas below, you’ll be well on your way to a more popular, traffic driving blog.
Increase the Number of Articles You Post
Quality content is a given, but not enough alone. According to Hubspot, websites that post over 16 blogs in a month get 3 times more traffic than those having 0-5 blogs posts monthly. Further, having more than 400 blog posts is said to double traffic over those having between 300 to 400 posts.
Similarly, online marketing Guru Neil Patel has found that increasing the number of blogs you post per week can significantly grow your monthly visitors.
Simply put, more blog posts on your website means more visitors. Many recommend publishing 2 or more articles a week. Make sure to keep some blog posts long form, meaning about 2,000 words, so they can be easily cached by Google or other search engines.
Tweak Your Social Media Sharing
Social media can play a crucial role in the visibility of your blogs. This means building an effective social media strategy by targeting similar interest groups, networks, and pages to share your blogs. Stick to the basic principal of constant post updating and uploading.
Put an Emphasis on Guest Posting
Guest posting is the good way to increase your following. Find other websites or blogs that seem to have a good ranking and see if the editor is open to you placing a link to your website either in middle of the content or in the author bio. These links will drive traffic to your website, improving your site visibility. Besides dropping the website links, you can give the links to your social media profiles. Needless to say, if a reader likes your blog, they may think to follow you on your website and social media networks.
Choosing the right blogging site for guest posts can make the difference. Here are some tips from Kissmetrics for what to look for in a blog or website you want to guest post to:
Must Have Good Ranking and Traffic
Must Be of Your Genre
Must Have Engaged Readership
Must Have Active Blog Owner
Use Videos for Your Tutorial Blog
Apart from the textual content, a video is an impactful tool for engaging the reader. If your post is tutorial in nature, consider including a video summarizing the post. This increases engagement and SEO.
Make Your Newsletters Powerful
Email newsletters are not only beneficial for your web traffic but are great lead generators. If you’re a product based company an email newsletter is a must. All you need to pump it up is an active blog, and RSS feed and good pop up technique.
Switch to Responsive Design
Searching the net with mobile phones or tablets is common place. So, ensure your blog is responsive, thereby making it fit for every screen. Google has started rewarding mobile friendly sites in its SERP rankings. In other words, mobile ranking is crucial for your blog to be in the Google’s good graces.
Link to Other Bloggers in Your Article
Link to other blog posts or bloggers in your article and inform those blog owners or authors about your article via email, asking them to share. it’s a win-win situation for both of you.
Include Expert Opinions in Your Posts
Adding expert opinions gives your post/blog extra dimension. For example, if you are writing a medical blog on child diseases, adding a pediatrician’s commentary can add credibility to your post. Similarly, you can compile the opinions of different authors on any product launch or services. You can then ask the featured blogger or expert to spread or share the post. As a result, your website receives more attention.
Although some of these tips can take time, when taken together, you’re bound to be rewarded by new traffic and new leads. Good luck!
Author Bio: Varun Sharma is a Co-Founder at KVR WebTech Pvt. Ltd., one of the fastest growing seo companies in Chandigarh, India. He analyses Digital Marketing strategies, trends and practices emphasizing Mobile, SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
A writer’s greatest battle is between him and a blank screen, or a sheet of paper, if you still prefer the old way. Battling against a looming deadline only comes second.
I’m willing to bet you’ve suffered from the hurdle of a writer’s block at least once in your life. Personally, I think I may have had a face off with this enemy every single time I am working on a writing assignment! It comes in so many forms, but the effect is still the same--a creative slowdown.
A writer’s block is an umbrella for all sorts of mental and creative blockages, which is why it is often considered as a huge, insurmountable hurdle. Most cases of writer’s block are commonly caused by the following: timing, distraction, and fear.
Among the three, it is fear that often leads to creative paralysis. You may have an idea, but you’re scared it might not be the right one or the right way to tackle it. Or you begin exploring a concept, and do actual writing, but at the middle of your work, you stop because you’re unsure of where you and your content is heading. After all, I’d like to believe that any kind of writing can grow a life of its own as it is being formed. In cases like that, the skill of restraint comes in handy to ensure that you can guide your writing into the expected output.
Given that writer’s block can spring from various reasons, let’s try to break it down to its different reasons, and identify solutions to each.
Maybe you’ve run out of ideas, or you’re in a creative rut. Whatever it is, you can’t get started because you don’t have anything to start with. Ironic as it may sound, you’re done even though you haven’t even started.
What you can do:
Although I have to disagree with the above mentioned problem, as I think that there can never be an absence of idea, people who experience it can overcome it by simply beginning to write.
Do free-writing exercises. You don’t have to write about something spectacular at that instant. Ideas are always there, and can be triggered by even a simple object. You could actually write about your realizations on your previous project, your breakfast, or even the yellow paperclip on your desk. It’s a matter of getting your fingers or hands moving, so your brain would follow suit.
Consult other writers.
A conversation can stir up your brain for ideas. You can exchange thoughts with your friends and colleagues to get your creative brain muscles working.
A great online resource you can check out is EduGeeksClub writing service. It’s a group of professional writing assistants that you can consult with regarding your writing process. Their competent writers and editors can help you get started with your idea through insightful comments and guided discussions. Moreover, EduGeeksClub offers proofreading, formatting, and editing services for instances you need to focus on just the actual writing, leaving you more time to focus on that task alone.
Problem: I have a lot of ideas in mind, but I can’t pin one down.
The thing about having too many ideas is the risk of an incoherent content. You will tend to put everything you want to say into your writing, but without sufficient and effective substantiation. You don’t want an output that’s all over the place, do you?
What you can do:
Organize your thoughts by mind mapping.
Mind maps are your thoughts laid down and dissected with the use of visual cues and codes. This process can help you untangle your jumbled thoughts, and put them into order. Identify your main and central concept, then work your way to a coherent outline as you branch out subtopics. This way, you also get to enrich your thoughts as you work with your visual outline. MindNode is an app you can use for easier mindmapping, especially if you work with a number of gadgets.
Plot an editorial calendar.
A mind teeming with ideas can be advantageous for writers like us. We don’t have to put everything in one go. It would be wise to have an idea bank, where we can select one, and work on that for a content. Keep in mind though that ideas can peter out, unless we note them down.
The best way to handle an idea bank is to have an editorial calendar. You can lay down your ideas and the appropriate story angles for each, and schedule a date for its output.
Once you’ve come up with an editorial content, you can turn to social media management apps like Buffer or Hootsuite to handle your varied content for Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Problem: I find it difficult to express my thoughts in words.
I admit to having encountered the same in my writing experience. Sometimes, writers look for the word that would be a perfect fit to their ideas. The search for that word can take some time though. The next best thing you can do? Don’t say or write a word then.
What you can do:
Communicate via visuals.
When words fail you, you’ve got images to talk for you. After all, didn’t they say that a picture is worth a thousand words?
In addition, visuals add a layer to your content through the use of colors and shapes. Visual content is also more appealing than text alone, especially if you are targeting to publish your output in social media platforms.
Helpful apps for this aspect are ThingLink, which allows you to include interactive images and videos in your content, and Easel.ly, which provides you with a wide range of templates for your infographic needs.
Problem: I need my Muse to inspire me.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s not a problem. That’s an excuse that keeps you from writing. You’re either without an idea to begin with, so see answers to the top most problem, or distracting yourself from distraction...and the number one form of distraction at this age are your social media apps.
So if you want to produce great content, disconnect from your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Messenger.
Stay Focusd is a Chrome extension that prevents you from wasting time on online activities other than work. You identify the websites that you want to block after you used up your allotted time per day for browsing through them.
This way, you can still go visit your social networking sites, but you’re more mindful of the time you spend on them unless you want to temporarily lose access to those sites once you’ve used up your time.
Another great app you can use is the Pomodoro time. You have the option to set up the amount of time for work. Say, you settle for 25 minutes, which means you need to work for 25 minutes straight, without getting distracted. Once time is up, you can take a short break. Cutting your working hours into short segments keeps you focused on the task at hand, and makes sure you’re consistently productive throughout the day. Frequent breaks also prevent your mind from being overworked.
Author's bio. Karen Dikson is a writer and blogger from New Jersey. She finds her inspiration in reading and travelling and she cannot imagine her life without writing. Connect with Karen on Twitter.
The last remaining VCR manufacturer ended production last month, signaling the end of the Be Kind, Rewind Era.
To be honest, news that VCRs were still on assembly lines past the century mark is shocking, especially with the rise in digital video viewers. Even more remarkable are the advances we are seeing this year with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), underscored by the massive Pokémon Go audience.
It seems pretty clear that our methods of delivering video content have changed drastically. What hasn’t shifted over time is our fascination with video itself.
To date, live streaming video is available on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter – with Instagram and Snapchat releasing their own versions of collected videos from live events. Two million VR headsets will be sold by the end of this year. Though, to be fair, this medium isn’t expected to go mainstream for another six to eight years. In technology, that feels like a lifetime.
Augmented reality, however, soared past virtual reality this year with the introduction of Pokémon Go. This location-based mobile app blends the real world and the fictional world for some insanely impressive video gaming. Some are concluding the gloss is fading, but 9.5 million users can’t be wrong…right?
From live streaming to virtual and augmented reality, I think it’s fair to say we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Where Video is Headed
Digital video natives are leading the way, tapping into cord cutter audiences that abandoned cable television for online and streaming programs.
Content writing is unlike any other business skill. In most areas you can go off once a year to get a refresher course. But if you’re a content writer, you know this is not the case, as content writing is constantly changing from day to day. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, then you have to find the right tools to help you stay there. Every single day you have to teach the old dog new tricks.
That is where these 9 awesome online tools come in. Every one of them will help you and your employees take their content writing to the next level and put your content on the map.
Starting off this list with a bang we have the Ideator from the clever people at Content Forest. You can’t write good content without knowing what people want to read about. You also can’t run any sort of curation without knowing what is out there on the internet. Ideator lets you track what content is going viral and which on which social media networks it is most popular. You can search in specific niche interest areas to identify your audience and you can choose topics based on what is trending from minute to minute. Before you ever start blogging this is where you need to go to decide what to write about.
For some of you content writing is only a part of your job. It might not even be your favorite part of your job. Daily Page helps you to get into a writing routine, producing at least one page of content every single day. First thing in the morning it will prompt you with a topic, and you have the rest of the day to write that post. At the end of the day, you decide whether or not you want to share it. If you are just getting started in the content writing world and want to hone your skills, then Daily Page might be just the right tool for you.
Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything that you need done. On days like that you can turn to X-Essays writing services. They can turn out content at a high speed on any topic and they can do it for a lot less than you might think. Their content is all custom written and plagiarism free so it is safe to insert it in amongst your own content freely. The bottom line is this, to run a content based business successfully you need the raw material to keep up momentum. Boom Essays can give you that.
This is one of those tools that you never even knew existed, but once you try it, your won’t be able to live without it. Ideaflip is a brainstorming program that lives in the cloud. You and your employees can access it from anywhere in the world using any device. It eliminates the need for endless meetings to discuss every single idea and instead creates a risk-free environment for everyone to pitch their content and blend their ideas into the best final products imaginable. The bright simple design makes everything easy to understand, you can import your own content directly into the application and the “brain-map” design makes every connection between ideas crystal clear. You are going to kick yourself for not using it sooner.
Everyone who has passed high school English knows what a Thesaurus is. When you are trying to brighten up your writing and eliminate repetition of your favorite phrases and words you open that little fat book and start looking. What makes Power Thesaurus different is that it is alive. While the old thesaurus was a fixed list of words and most of the websites that offer thesaurus services are much the same Power Thesaurus crowd sources its responses. Synonyms for words are listed in order of how many times they have been voted up by users. This lets you find out not just which words you can use in place of others, it also lets you find out which words are the most popular replacements for others. Power Thesaurus reflects the English language as it is now, not how it was decades ago when the first thesaurus was written.
Sniply is a neat little tool that lets you link from your content back to your website in the form of an unobtrusive little pop-up call to action. As well as driving a lot of readers back to your site it also allows you to track where your site visitors are coming from and modify your marketing strategies accordingly. This tool turns every guest post that your bloggers produce into another stream of readers heading to your site.
This service is all about generating copy for you to use where you see fit. Where they differ from other companies is that they have a ton of experience in writing search engine optimized material for websites. All of the content that they generate is custom written for you to your specifications with a lot of back and forth communication to make sure that it is exactly what you are looking for. Combined with Ideaflip this can completely change your whole business. With a guarantee of unique content you don’t have to worry about finding the exact same information anywhere else on the internet and have to deal with the ensuing headaches.
So you are writing content but nobody is ever seeing it. All those hours of work are going to waste and your business is no better off than it would have been if you had done nothing. That is why you need Keyword Tool. It gives you the data direct about which long-tailed keywords are going to drive readers to your content. You can use it for Search Engine Optimization while writing your content and you can use it when you are planning out the online advertising campaign that is going to make your brand into a household name. Huge bonus, it is 99% effective and free while every other Keyword Tool out there charges you.
Where Keyword Tool stops, Uber Suggest begins. It finds the keywords that Google Keyword Planner hasn’t even thought of yet. The strange little idiosyncratic phrases that the right group of people put into their searches that will drive them directly to the your content. It is incredibly easy to use, clearly explained and even offers the option of downloading a spreadsheet of your keywords as a CSV file to use later.
Putting it all together
The unpleasant truth is that content writing is never going to get any easier, there is more and more competition for views every single day and there are only so many eyes out there looking at screens. Your competitors will be using everything at their disposal to keep those eyes pointed their way. Using tools like these can help you ensure your content is what people see first and what they will want to share with others.
Mary Walton is a professional editor and online tutor, currently living in Santa Monica. She's starting educational blog Simple Grad to share her thoughts on education and writing. Follow Mary on Twitter and Linkedin!
Do your employees know which countries giraffes reside in? Have they ever heard of the Challenger disaster? While these questions may seem pointless and completely unrelated to social media, they have actually been the cause of several PR disasters. During the 2014 World Cup Championship, Delta Air Lines congratulated Team USA on their victory over Ghana by tweeting a picture of the Statue of Liberty for the U.S. and a giraffe for Ghana. Twitter users quickly pointed out that there are no giraffes in Ghana.
That was a relatively minor slip up compared to a month later, when American Apparel posted a picture of the space shuttle Challenger explosion on their Tumblr. According to their official apology, their social media manager was born after the disaster and was unaware of it.
This doesn’t mean that all of your marketers should receive history and geography lessons. The dozens of other PR disasters that happen on social media every year occur for any number of reasons. What it does mean is that your organization needs a social media policy to prevent PR mistakes and to mitigate the damage if any potentially harmful messages are released.
Preventing Social PR Disasters
The best way to prevent social media blunders is to only allow company messages to come from one person and one social media account. Unfortunately, that’s not the best way to receive any real engagement on your social channels.
Social media messages that are shared by employees reach 561% further than those shared by official company channels.
Using employee social advocacy safely and successfully requires that you and your employees have a clear understanding of what messages are encouraged and which should be avoided.
Build a Strategy and Social Media Policy to Guide Your Employee Advocacy
If you have a social media strategy, share it with your employees. Giving them an understanding of what your social goals and positioning are will show them how their networks can best support the brand. In addition to strategy, a clear social media policy should also define what employees can and cannot do online.
Establish Guidelines for Posting
Avoid sending your employees a 50-page document of Social Media Don’ts. Your guidelines should encourage sharing! Make your guidelines simple and based on common sense. Most of the information will be better communicated through training, but it will be valuable to have an official document in case any incidents occur.
Train Your Employees on Social Media
53% of salespeople say they’d like social media training. Despite this fact, 93% of them have received no formal training from their company.
Look to Dell for an example of an excellent social media training program. Over the past 5 years, Dell’s Social Media and Community University has trained over 15,000 of their employees on social media best practices. The benefits they’ve seen extend to all areas of their business:
Sales via social media has seen a 69% year-over-year increase.
With 4,000 customer service cases a week on social media, they hold a 98% first-time resolution rate.
89% increase in the number of external hires coming from employee social referrals.
Provide Employees with Social Media Content to Share
Supplying employees with suggested social media content is another way to increase advocacy while also controlling the messages being sent out. You can send out regular post suggestions or for certain salespeople and brand advocates you can post on their behalf through a social media lead generation tool like Socedo. This is particularly valuable for sales reps who need to regularly share messages to leads in a timely and relevant manner.
Responding to Social PR Disasters
No matter how well trained and informed your employees are, eventually a social media crisis will strike your company. However, that doesn’t need to spell disaster for your brand. Many companies have been applauded for how well they handled a PR disaster.
Entenmann’s responded by avoiding Twitter for years until they had lived down the crisis. On the other side, DiGiorno personally responded to offended Twitter users and went to great lengths to own their mistake.
Because of their response, DiGiorno was able to limit the damage done to their brand and continue to use Twitter as a valuable channel.
Create a Social Media PR Disaster Plan
In addition to your social media policy, you should have a formal plan in place that defines what a social media crisis means to your brand and what actions you will take in the event of one. Some incidents may require personal apologies to every offended customer, like in DiGiorno’s example. Some incidents may require you to put out a press release or issue a formal statement. Understanding what is required in various situations and having the resources in place to respond quickly will greatly reduce the damage a social media PR incident can have on your brand.
Monitor Your Online Reputation
Responding to PR disasters and regular customer complaints in a timely manner requires that you actually know about them. While users reference brands on Twitter all the time, less than 3% directly @mention the brand when they do. Monitoring real-time keywords can help you identify potential disasters the moment they occur so your response can be quick and effective.
Social media PR disasters happen. However, if you create clear guidelines so you and your employees can be authentic and communicate with honesty, you can limit the potential for major incidents and limit the damage they will have on your brand.
Teena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. Socedo is a demand generation system that empowers marketers to discover, engage with and qualify prospects through social media to generate revenue at scale.
We all know Facebook is awesome for advertising — but SO many people don’t know how to use it properly! The biggest problem? Following Facebook’s exact specifications! That’s why WebpageFX created this infographic about the exact specifications advertisers need to follow on Facebook:
Created by WebpageFX
There are few digital realms that captivate more people these days than social. The social space is an evocative one. Social media can be rather personal. This makes it fundamentally intriguing, allowing people to peek behind the curtains of our lives - or rather, our companies lives. Whether we portray an authentic image is up to us, but - that notion of transparency is why our customers love to visit us in our ‘social homes.’ They walk through our social doorways to get to know the product more deeply, see how human our organizations are (or aren’t), and interact with whatever useful and free content we’re happily providing. And, as the age old psychological phenomenon reveals, proximity breeds affection and attention, so it behooves us to to build social homes wherever the customer might wander. The same side of that coin a mantra worth repeating: as marketers - we must always, always watch new and emerging channels. New and emerging channels are likely where our audiences are - or in the least, exploring. Their actions, interactions, engagement, disengagement, can give us incredibly useful information on what our potential customers are - and aren't interested in, and of course, where the eyeballs are, at any given moment.
With that, here are a few emerging social channels to watch in 2016.
Hyper: Instagram and reddit got married, and had a baby...meet hyper.
With Hyper, user post images directly to areas that interest them. Others who have previously subscribed to that interest area, will get notified. Users provide instant feedback in the the form of up votes and down votes. Hyper still feels a little shaky where UX is concerned but - by taking some of the most popular features from other highly successful social media forums (photo heavy, hashtags, voting, and geographic tagging), hyper may be poised for a ton of growth and eyeballs in 2016.
Blab: Live streaming - that doesn’t suck.
Blab is simple, intuitive, and provides a higher sense of engagement than Google hangouts in that it is outfitted with a panel for live chat on the left, and a panel to tweet on the right. The medium also limits guests to 3 people, with an option for one of those seat to be left open for a “call in” during the blab. This cultivates a sense of exclusivity, unlike Google hangouts, where you can host up to 10 video participants. And unlike Facebook mentions, Meerkat and Periscope, Blab is not limited to mobile only. Further, it’s easy recording feature has made it relatively popular tool for use in podcasts, after shows, interviews etc. Blab’s versatility, simplicity, built in live chat and social integrations, might just be enough to position them as a leader in live streaming in 2016.
Crafted by the creator of Vine, Dan Hoffman, peach is a new app that some are claiming might be ‘the one to take on the giants’, (read:Facebook, Twitter). For those who enjoy social media (most of us) peach is intriguing in that is ups your potential ‘social creativity’ by acting as your social media assistant, pulling images, gifs, songs, moods, emoji etc., based on “magic” words typed by the user. Still, it’s lack of timeline and inability to follow those who aren’t friends, leaves me questioning its’ realistic lifespan.
According to a study done by Capgemini Consulting in conjunction with MIT Center for Digital Business, they uncovered some staggering stats that will help us understand the phenomenon.
Over 90% of companies lack digital skills
77% of companies considered ‘missing digital skills’ as a key hurdle to digital transformation
87% of companies believe a digital transformation is a competitive opportunity
Only 47% of companies are investing in developing digital skills
Only 4% of companies are ensuring their training efforts are aligned with their overall digital strategy
Companies are spending no more than 20% of their training budget on digital
Only 30% of organizations mentioned HR as being actively involved in skills development
Companies across the globe felt the biggest holes in digital skill sets across their organization in the following areas: social media, mobile, internal social networks, process automation and analysis.
According to the same 2013 study, the below skills are most relevant for the digital age:
Big data analytics
To get a bit more granular, skills in this area range from light tech to heavy tech-centric skills. Light tech skills in the digital age include things like social media management, brand building online, online community management, virtual (webinar, presentation, etc.) facilitation, writing for different digital mediums, marketing automation tools management, customer service and public relations. Heavy tech skills in the digital age include things like user interface design, mobile device management, mobile device security, data analysis, app management and design, and much more.
The second half of the puzzle lies in corporations needs to match tech skills with business acumen. The true value of digital skills are born when they are combined with a deep understanding of the business. This is leading to an increased need for employees who have both technical skills plus business and leadership abilities.
So - what can companies do to ‘plug the skills gap?’
Let’s first take a look at what some companies are currently doing. Google partnered with P&G to implement an employee exchange program to help teach their employees how to sell things online. They focused on digital and search marketing to help bring their e-commerce into the 21st century. Nike partnered with Techstars in an incubator program to create new products.
Upskilling employees is an ideal way to empower those who already know your business, with the digital skills needed to close the gap in your organization.
And, this upskilling does not need to be ‘Google-sized.’ Small and medium sized business have options. There are ways to invest in current employees that don’t require you to be P&G or Nike.
Organizations, like ours - offer affordable options for digital and online training for companies of all sizes. We’ve been training teams since 2007 and have supported corporate teams as large as 10,000 employees, and as small as 10. We offer fully customized eLearning programs with the added benefit of leveraging over 400 + hours of existing high quality content taught by Digital Marketing thought leaders, authors, and leading practitioners.
We begin with an assessment to test employee’s digital knowledge to help us build a program to fill your skills gap and augment your employee strengths. We’ll then help design a custom based learning pathway comprised of classes that fit your organization's’ particular skill(s) gap. We also offer LMS integration, marketing support, reporting dashboards, and robust user role access to support any size organization.
Tis’ the season for lists! Christmas lists, lengthy grocery lists for holiday gatherings, itineraries for holiday travel. If you’re a marketer, surely you’re poised for the onslaught of ‘2016 trends to watch,’ lists, popping up all over our favorite blogs, periodicals, and websites; Top digital marketing trends to watch in 2016, 5 Marketing tactics that will make or break your company in 2016, 7 Digital marketing tactics you need to master in 2016. So, to ease your burden, we’ve read most of them for you - and prepared a snap-shot of the most popular from the list of lists. Here are the Top 10 digital trends and tactics to plan for in 2016.
1) Social Media - From Ugly Duckling to Swan
With a number of alliances between Google and big social media players (read: Facebook and Twitter) it’s no wonder marketers are starting to head the social call. The product of these marriages will increase the importance of a company's social media presence. Bloomberg was quoted saying, “[tweets] will start to be visible in Google’s search results as soon as they are posted.” It doesn’t seem likely that Google will slow down forging more partnerships with leading social platforms. The result? Allowing social results to influence search engine results!
Next, if you haven’t experienced the upgraded targeting ad features on Facebook, take the time to get acquainted now. The retargeting and integrations within Facebook Ad’s manager are powerful data driven features that have marketers excited. Serve ads based on retargeting, custom lists, actions, behaviors, page visits ... the list goes on.
Lastly, social media has become one of the number one place customers go to thank (or complain). The highly transparent and public nature of social media makes users feel like they’ve ‘cut to the front of the line’. If you’re not hearing their complaints (or accolades) and acting accordingly, you can be certain other people are.
So what should you do? Tweet. Be active, transparent, human and timely across social channels. Allow people to know what you’re up to - build brand trust and intrigue. Invest in your Facebook content and strategies, and get social listening tools so your customer service team can be a part of (and control of) the ‘social goings on’ of your company.
2) Now You See It, Now You Don’t - The Rise of Ephemeral Marketing
Sometimes termed ‘temporary social media’ - Snapchat is leading the way in ephemeral marketing. Snapchat is useful for generating excitement around a new product or feature, or driving specific marketing actions, such as promos or discounts. Many companies (Food Network, Vice, BuzzFeed, Mashable, Cosmo, ESPN, to name a few) are capitalizing on the younger generation, aka millennials, who flock to Snapchat where they can consume content that feels ‘straight to the point’ and, where they can access ‘limited access content’, that is content with an expiration date - read as: exclusive.
Think content is only used to strengthen SERs? While that is absolutely one of the key reasons you should be creating regular, original, relevant, brand enhancing and engaging quality content, check out these statistics that tell a compelling story about the other important roles content plays.
90% of customers find custom content useful while 78% believe that companies with custom content are interested in building positive relationships
Content marketing costs less than traditional marketing, 62% less per lead, to be exact
Content builds brand trust and loyalty, and helps define you as an expert in your field. If you don’t yet have brand advocates upping your credibility, you’ll have to be the one to do that - and one of the best ways you can accomplish this is with content. In 2016, if you don’t have the budget or resources to create a robust brand advocacy strategy, think about getting influencers on board to help tell your story. It comes down to this, if you’re not doing it, your competitors are, and as content and consumption becomes a larger part of the buyer's journey, if you’re not making noise with your content, you’re getting drowned out by the noise of others.
Location based marketing is particularly important if your company regularly hosts events. Through the use of fancy tech (Radio Frequency Identification - RFID) marketers can utilize wearables, applications, or even cards with a unique RFID identifier, to amplify social sharing by creating a seamless and integrated consumption and sharing experience.
Although a lot of the freshest and coolest location based marketing is geared towards events, location based marketing isn’t just for event marketers. Other location based services and technologies have been created to locate nearby devices that can detect prospects at the time of engagement with a particular product or retail establishment.
Minority Report? Anyone?
5) Relationship Marketing
This boils down to creating loyalists (brand advocates) instead of focusing on quick, short-term sales and aquisition. The focus is on long lasting customer relationships. Those companies that do this well are the envy of many, having created an ecosystem where customers are creating brand awareness that feels organic, authentic and credible.
Coca-Cola kills it when it comes to relationship marketing. This is one of my favorites (of hundreds) of relationship campaigns they’ve run all over the world.
Coca-Cola caps as currency - genius. Not to mention, this one’s a real tear jerker.
Marketing automation has become increasingly necessary as more and more companies are understanding the importance of content and leveraging content as a leading tactic for led gen. Automation tools make it easier to manage everything from blogging to the customer/prospect lifecycle. Curious about what tools are out there? Check out this list of The Top 50 Marketing Automation Tools and Apps.
Recommended Class: Marketing Automation Best Practices for Success by Carlos Hidalgo
7) Virtual Reality
Virtual reality will emerge, and has the potential to change the way we tell stories. Obviously we expect 3D to take off first in the game industry, however, the benefits this tech add to the customer journey are intriguing. Imagine taking your next car out for a test drive or taking a tour of a potential vacation home, without leaving the comfort of your own living room? As personalization continues to be top priority, savvy marketers will find ways to bring their products and stories to life. Whether this will be a massive game changer remains to be seen, but with billions of dollars of funding around, it surely will be entertaining to watch it all unfold.
8) Wearables and the Internet of Things
What has felt like a slow and steady burn for wearable tech popularity in 2015, will likely continue into 2016. What this means for marketers is even more opportunity for targeted marketing, data and behavior driven marketing. It also means you may be making marketing choices based on the day-to-day behaviors of your potential consumers. Wearables will also change the way people share content, so the whole social landscape will shift accordingly, plus more wearable tech means less dependence on RFID’s or ibeacons for geo-location marketing efforts.
9) Video or Bust
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google? The number of searches on YouTube tops Bing, Y!, Ask.com, and AOL combined. YouTube also boasts an audience reach of more US adults ages 18-34 than any other cable network. Makes you squirm a little thinking about all the search you’re missing out on - doesn’t it? Live streaming takes video to a new level entirely. With ephemeral marketing gaining popularity, anyone with a smartphone can capture ‘exclusive’ content. In 2016 make sure you’re exploring snapchat, periscope, and Facebook and seeing where you can incorporate live streaming into your marketing strategies as well as planning for a YouTube presence if you don’t already have one. Check out this article for examples of these 8 brands live stream video for innovative marketing.
10) Optimized for Mobile
At this point, mobile and responsive websites should be a no brainer. For the past few years, we’ve been sprinting towards mobile dominating desktop, and we’ve passed it. Mobile has officially passed desktop browsing. What does this mean for you? In 2016, a mobile-optimized site will be an acceptable placeholder for an app, but not for long. An app can (read: should) do everything your website can do, just in a more accessible, intuitive and convenient way. Not to mention, an app is both touch screen (read: less barriers to clicks) and is a advertisement/reminder of your product that goes with your user everywhere they go. Talk about location based marketing 😉 2016 is the year to create a plan and market strategy for your app, get familiar with the latest app indexing best practices, and get an app to market, that for all intents and purposes, could replace your website.
Which trends and strategies do you think will dominate 2016? We’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to share!
Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us in no time and every self-respecting business will be sending out letters, greeting cards, emails or logo-stamped gifts. Direct marketing is one of the most fascinating branches of marketing. From the days of yore, it has made people talk, share and take action. With so many messages thrown at people throughout the day, direct marketing provides one of the least risky – and anticipated and accepted, if a bit interruptive – ways to connect with customers. I love creative mailers that come through my door. Some are thoughtful, some are clever, and some are downright cheeky. However, one common point amongst all these mailers is they are all prohibitively expensive for small businesses.
This is where small budget ideas come in. These ideas make it possible for small businesses to connect with their customers in surprisingly affordable and effective ways.
Vine set the precedent in making hastily-shot amateur videos all the rage. With Instagram and Periscope only confirming that video-clip marketing is here to stay, small businesses have an amazing opportunity to post a series of Vines leading up to Christmas and New Year. All you have to do is grab your smartphone and look around for cute and quirky opportunities to make a video.
Check out this cute and funny Vine made with zero dollars’ investment:
Embed Vine: https://vine.co/v/OgIwBEnLKPv
Take a look at the other videos on Christmas Channel – the channel that hosts the above video for more amazing ideas.
Share your Vines on other social platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook.
Embed links to your Vines on product pages on your website, blog posts, and email.
Make a series of Vines on a particular theme. For instance, think Harvey Nichols’ famous “I Spent it On Myself” commercial, break the idea into smaller videos – and you have a series!
Scour the app store for video editing apps that come with tons of effects to make your videos funny, creative and cool. Use these liberally.
Inboxes are invariably flooded with the same old “formulaically creative” emails during holiday times. So the chances of your email being read are infinitely small.
But with a little proactive and out-of-the-box (we desperately need a more out-of-the-box word for out-of-the-box) thinking, you can ensure your holiday emails are read.
First things first – stop being stingy when it comes to photos. Say goodbye to the ubiquitous boring vector backgrounds and illustrations, and invest in high quality pictures; or better yet, hire a good photographer. Yes, this still counts as “small-budget.” You can borrow creative “ideas” instead of “images” – Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration.
If you are short on time, try online email creators. They are intuitive and easy to use, and you are done in minutes. Plus they come with a lot of beautiful, seasonal templates and forms, so you can create highly engaging emails with designer-like finesse. Most likely, your email marketing suite has such features too.
Don’t leave it for too late – start emailing at least weeks in advance.
Include creatively modified photos of your staff for more personalized email greetings. Other than being great for employees’ morale, it also lends a face and identity to your company.
Turn the banners on your homepage and category pages into online billboards. The banner or slider on your homepage is the first thing your visitors notice, so it makes sense to create one specifically for holiday season. Personalized card and gift item retailer FunkyPigeon.com is known for putting out banners with timely messages relevant to upcoming events, days or seasons.
More effective than just banners are entire landing pages with customized elements, each of which appeals to customers’ holiday moods. You can do this (without much coding) using DIY ecommerce platforms such as Spaces, which allows you to create product pages or even single-page websites with mobile-optimized, easy-to-A/B-test banners that give you more room for creativity while showcasing your merchandise.
If all your DIY or in-house efforts fail, you can always fall back on community-powered design marketplaces like 99Designs to not only get yourself a customized banner but pick and choose from dozens of entries submitted by the community.
In perfecting your means, don’t forget your message. Content marketing still remains the #1 small-budget marketing medium. Done right on your email and social media, and especially on your blog, content allows you to drive traffic to your business.
X Things You Can Fill in That Dog Christmas Stocking (for a pet food company)
X Original Setups to Capture Awesome Christmas Selfies (for a camera or smartphone company)
Why Santa Is Going To Pay Us an Extended Visit This Year (for anyone to share their annual success stories)
Send teasers through emails and share them on social networks from at least a month before, while there is still ample chance for them to be read.
Though content and email marketing have proven to be highly effective ways of marketing, it is always a good idea to send out physical gifts during holidays.
But you need to think beyond personalized pens to logo-engraved mugs – there never seems to be a shortfall of such boring “corporate” gifts.
And what’s more, these gifts are just that – gifts. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take on the festivities with more smart (read eco-friendly) and creative ideas for direct marketing (without the overwhelming expenses, of course)?
So here’s a thoughtful gift idea for which clients and customers will remember you for a long time:
Costing just around $2, plantable paper can make awesome gifts to help your customers stay focused on their goals. Simply send a letter with the plantable or seed paper (with your own custom messages such as “Hope our association grows stronger by the day!”) that explains the concept of your gift and how to use it, and you are done!
Plantable papers are available in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and many other countries, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get hold of it.
The best part about such gifts is you can follow up with timely cross-sells or reports and cement your relationship in the process.
Over to You
The new truth of marketing is that no single channel is enough these days. You cannot say with conviction that you’ll be successful just by milking a channel you’re good at, whether it’s email, social or television ads. You need to create a multi-channel marketing mix with all the ingredients perfectly mixed together to create awesome holiday season campaigns.
With mega-sale days just round the corner, don’t waste much time – start experimenting with as many guerilla-budget campaigns as you can. Like, now!