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5 Ways Online Team Training is More Effective Than In-Person Training

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Online team training is vital to your team’s effectiveness. The digital era has ushered in a compelling focus on online team training, offering more value on the whole than  traditional training methods. Benjamin Franklin said it best when it comes to investing in your team:“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

In a 2015 survey with more than 200 participants, one-third of employees said that their companies’ training strategies were not productive. Another third of those participants said that company training is not interesting or engaging.

But marketing strategies continue to change, and employees that stay up-to-date on those changes will certainly be more effective. To stay up-to-date requires training. The equation is actually quite simple: effective and engaging training methods equate to a more effective team.

Your team may be lacking the training necessary to make moves in your unique industry. According to HR Professionals Magazine, “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that employers with fewer than 100 employees provided only 0.8 hour – that’s only 12 minutes of manager training per six month period.”

Online team training is all-encompassing. In addition to gaining skills, your employees can brush up on product knowledge and access important resources via online training as well. This puts your workforce ahead of the competition, ultimately enhancing your company’s bottom line.

From startups to industry leaders, online team training is essential. Last year, L’Oreal, the leading cosmetic company in the world, took online team learning to the next level: they utilized the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) model to train 160 of their employees.

Your workforce has become mobile, and your team training program needs to follow. Let’s take a closer look at how online team training is more effective than traditional hands-on methods.

  1. Online Team Training is Cost-Effective and Employee Compatible

Online team training is more cost-effective than traditional training. When you keep your employees engaged, they are more likely to stick around. Your team is an investment, and your team training strategy should reflect and protect that investment.

A 2014 survey by Gallup found that, “The bulk of employees worldwide -- 63% -- are ‘not engaged,’ meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes.”

A mandatory training course that takes your employees away from projects they need to get done will only decrease morale. And when morale is low, employees tend to move on. The value of training your team effectively will subsequently help your retention efforts, according to USA Today Money.

People’s attention spans are also decreasing, according to Learning Solutions Magazine. The publication notes that, “Current researchers argue that the average attention span of American adults has dropped and it is limited to 20, 10, or even five minutes.”

Finally, online team training is easier to swallow for many employees. Many effective online training modules run for a maximum of 15 minutes. This helps employees stay focused; two hour long in-person training sessions just won’t cut it anymore.

  1. Online Team Training Bridges Gap with Mobile Apps and Gamification

Online team training has introduced exciting new ways for employees to learn, such as gamification. The PowerPoint training days may very well be dead - your team wants their training to be fun and engaging, similar to their online lives. Online team training essentially bridges that gap, by using what employees already love and are familiar with.

Treating online training like traditional methods will therefore yield the same ineffective results, according to Training magazine.  Virginia state performance support coordinator and instructional designer Sherri Dosher,  says, “If an organization simply puts PowerPoint bullets online, the end result will still be death by PowerPoint. It’ll just be DOA at the computer versus the classroom.”

In an effort to combine what employees already know and love with online team training, companies are using mobile apps and gamification as tech resources. Integrating gamification is making online team training more engaging than ever.

Jiffy Lube learning and development manager Ken Barber,  says, “More graphics, more videos, more voiceover, more knowledge checks, and fewer word slides will make the course engaging and fun for the students.”

Combining mobile apps with online team training will also increase effectiveness for your employees and business. A 2015 study by Global Workplace Analytics found that 25 percent of U.S. employees work remotely in some form. With so many of your employees connected and on-the-go,  keeping them plugged-in to online training via apps will only increase effectiveness.

  1. Many Company Topics are Simply Geared for Online Team Training

Online team training offers simplicity when it comes to many business topics that  are simply geared towards an online platform. Compliance-based courses such as software technical skill building on Office, Java, etc., and HR required training like sexual harassment courses can be easily tailored for online access.

Online team training can also be implemented for new hires. A series of courses can help new employees get up to speed faster, allowing assimilation into the team dynamic more effectively, according to employment solutions platform TrainingToday.

“Repetitive content, especially for new employees in a high turnover environment, is ideal for e-learning,” says Ken Barber. “While these could be taught in an ILT class, the information is easily communicated in an interactive e-learning course.”

Verizon is another company that effectively  uses online team training to its advantage. Via VerizonTech IT, the communications company offers knowledge-based courses online to deliver information consistently. And they do it across multiple channels, focusing on the end-user’s pace.

  1. Online Team Training at the Micro-Level Keeps it Simple

One major pitfall of hands-on training is the risk of over-training. A Sales Performance International report warns about the ineffectiveness over-training has. The study finds that multiple day training sessions could cause  50 percent of information to be forgotten within five weeks.

Massive amounts of information via marathon in-person training sessions are simply no longer effective. Overtraining leads to more employee stress, poor cost-benefit ratio, and a loss of interest, according to Houston Chronicle. Online team training, however, has picked up where traditional methods  have failed.

TED Talks are an excellent example of effective micro-level online team training. Through TED, you can access industry leaders and learn a variety of topics in short 15 to 20 minute increments. This allows information to be processed in a more meaningful way, keeping you and your team engaged.

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  1. Online Team Training Offers Freedom and Flexibility

Research suggests that 47 percent of employees want freedom and flexibility in their company training. Online team training serves those in need of just that. With the mobile workforce on the rise, companies are taking a hard look at how they implement training programs.

A 2014 survey by the Association for Talent Development found that 16 percent of the 340 companies surveyed use “at your own pace” online training. Not allowing employees to learn at their own pace can be counterintuitive. Employees who do not learn at their own pace often rush through training and simply brain dump what they’ve learned in a short period of time.

Interestingly, a 2015 Harvard Business School study found that those who reflected on learning tasks performed at higher rates with higher material retention. Online team training that emphasizes freedom and flexibility will certainly be more effective. Employees will not be as inclined to rush through training if they know they can do it in parts.

Online team training clearly offers more value to your employees than traditional in-person training. From marketing to the art of negotiation, your team can gain invaluable business assets such as planning, strategizing, tactics, techniques, and software development, among other skills needed in an effective workforce. Implementing a cost-effective and flexible online team training program is powerful strategy to increase employee output and expand your bottom line.

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. 

 


7 Best Productivity Tools for Digital Marketers

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Multitasking and productivity

Multitasking and productivity

As a digital marketer, you know that you must utilize tools like social media, analytics, data visualization, technical skills, teamwork, and others. But all this complexity can take up a lot of time, and time is money! For your digital marketing to actually be efficient and productive, it’s important to use everything at your disposal.  Unfortunately, there are so many productivity tools available that it can be difficult to choose the best ones that will work for all your digital marketing campaigns. That is why we have put together the following list of the top seven productivity tools for digital marketers to help keep teams on track and get work done more efficiently.

  1. Coschedule – Coschedule is a marketing calendar that will help you to plan, promote, execute, and automate your digital marketing by eliminating miscommunication, complex spreadsheets, and disconnected workflows, creating  total visibility among projects. Coschedule brings together content marketing, social media marketing, marketing projects, and blog management, making it the central location for all of your inbound marketing. There is one calendar for everything that your team is involved with, which you can use to plan, publish, promote, and automate all of your content.
  2. Time Doctor – This slick time management tool will give you the insights you need to know what is truly going on with your business at any time.  Time Doctor helps users to see how they are really spending their time, so they can make changes to dramatically increase productivity. Features include time tracking with screenshot monitoring, time spent in meetings, track time to clients and projects, see websites and apps used when working, a payroll module, login portal to see work done for clients, and dozens of other features  to keep your team on track.
  3. Skimlinks – Use this tool to monetize your content and get the most out of your digital marketing efforts. Skimlinks gives marketers the power  to create much more compelling content by leveraging insights about content that performs best, and determins what your readers want to see more of. This tool comes with busloads of features  that can  increase your earnings exponentially, and the data generated will help you to earn more from premium ad sales. The more you learn about what your readers want , the better your content is going to be. The better your content, the more your customers will make purchases!
  4. Infusionsoft – This  sales and marketing automation software is created specifically to help small businesses succeed. Using Infusionsoft, you can amp up your digital marketing efforts to capture more fresh leads, improve your conversion rates, become a master at e-commerce, manage every step of the sales process, and save a lot of time so you get even more done. You will learn about the tactics that others are using to achieve their digital marketing goals, and you can use these tactics to do the same for your business. And if this sounds like a tool you’d like to try, there are currently three sales promotions going on, so be sure to check out Infusionsoft’s website to learn more!
  5. Crowdfire – This is a Twitter and Instagram friend management app that makes gaining new followers easier than ever, especially when you apply your amazing digital marketing skills to your campaigns. Crowdfire  lets you clean and grow your Twitter accounts with automated DMs to send customizable messages, Instagram post scheduling, the ability to copy followers of competitors’ accounts, and to see who is not following you after you follow them. There are a number of pricing plans, from a free basic account to a high-usage Jupiter account, which is specifically for social media and communications agencies at $199 per month. This is a no-nonsense SaaS solution for increasing your Twitter audience.
  6. Hightail – No matter what type of marketing campaign your team is working on, you need tools  for sharing files, getting feedback, and bringing all your marketing projects from conception to completion. Hightail is a tool that allows creative digital marketing teams to collaborate on  the best marketing campaigns for your business, enabling them to work faster, and storing projects files in a single location that all team members can access. The feedback feature is especially useful, saving collaborators from the headache of organizing responses, and freeing up more time for creativity. You can sign up for free right now to try this tool, and see how it can improve every aspect of your digital marketing workflow.
  7. Basecamp – It’s  pretty easy to get off track while you are working on any type of digital marketing campaign, unless you are using the right tools for communication and organization. Basecamp allows you to run  digital marketing campaigns without resorting to email, texts, and meetings. This tool is a much better way to stay organized and get all of your marketing projects completed, by keeping your whole team on board and involved every step of the way. With everyone on the same page, potential problems can be mitigated and taken care of as soon as they arise.  Basecamp can improve every element of your digital marketing by keeping the most important priorities in view at all times.

These are just a few of the tools you can use to increase the effectiveness of all of your digital marketing. From being able to track time spent on projects, to maintaining open communication across the board and keeping project resources and tasks organized, these are practices that all digital marketing teams can benefit from. 

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.   

 


9 Ways to Save Time on Your Social Media Efforts

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SOcia

Social Media Network

Social media has become a crucial part of any online business. Social media provides a number of benefits, including  additional exposure  for your content. This can lead to increased brand awareness, and potentially position you as a thought leader if you are putting out great and useful content.

But social media isn’t only about brand engagement, it can also be an additional avenue for customer service. Customers these days assume a social channel is an opportunity to reach out, interact, and get help. Having an active social media presence can help you get closer to your customers, and potentially serve them better.

All the benefits aside, it does take a lot of time to manage social media networks.  Here are nine ways to make sure managing your social media doesn’t turn into a full time task.

# 1 – Understand how each social network  works

Before you start creating profiles everywhere, spend some time learning about each social media network. Find out which kind of content they are more likely to host, how the conversations happen there, and which formats are the most popular.

Want to dig deeper into understanding how each social network works? OMI suggests 5 Fundamentals of Integrating Social Media Into All Digital Efforts, check it out here

# 2 – Understand your target audience

You need to know where your target audience hangs out, which social networks they prefer, and what they chat about. It's important to try to find a trend in the kind of content they share most often. Use these findings to guide your post creation.

# 3 – Learn your competitors

Find out which social media networks your competitors have joined, and what kind of content  they provide.

To ensure that you won’t be following the wrong role model, read the comments shared on your competitor's content to learn how your audience reacts to them, and how often their posts get shared. Use these findings to guide your post creation.

# 4 – Read and watch what experts are saying

Read and watch what other digital marketing experts are saying about social media and it’s use and evolution. They are highly specialized professionals. Follow their social channels so you can stay up to date and adapt quickly.

# 5 – Ask for help

If you can’t do it all, ask for help. Help may come in the form of another  person to support you or you can enlist some of the best tools or apps, such as:

  • Hootsuite: Hootsuite will let you create, schedule, and publish your social media posts much faster and more efficiently. Hootsuite will also provide you with analytics reports and courses to improve your social media skills.
  • Buffer: Another content automation tool. Try both, and see which you prefer.  
  • Smart Paper Help: An online writing service specialized in writing any kind of text. Their team of professional writers can also help you to edit and proofread your content.  
  • Sprout Social: If you have a social media team in place, get them organized with several collaboration and sharing features that will allow them to work as a group in a much more efficient fashion. 

Want to learn more time saving tips for executing high performance social media marketing programs? OMI suggest Social Media Marketing Best Practices for SMB's, check it out here.

# 6 – Create a content vault

You probably spend a lot of time looking for images, resources, videos, and other materials to round out your content.  

To avoid burnout, create a content vault, a kind of library where you will keep all materials that you will need to create your posts so you can easily access them and don’t waste time browsing around.

# 7 – Brush up your skills

Pay attention to each part of the creation process, and check if anything needs improvement. It might be your writing, it might be the way you do research online, it might be how you choose and prepare the visual resources.

As soon as you identify what is slowing you down, either find a way to outsource that part, or find the time to practice.

# 8 - Plan your posts in advance

Create a month by month spreadsheet, and list every post you will create, the topic to be covered, where it will be published, the visual resources that will go with it, when you will publish, and which goal you are trying to achieve.

This upfront work will make the process much faster down the road.

# 9 – Use monitoring tools

Last but not least, you should consider adopting tools and services so you have a better view of how your content is performing. Some good options are Google Alerts to get daily or weekly updates of your chosen keywords. Or you can use Topsy or Social Mention to provide you with real-time information about your social media accounts.

The bottom line

There  are a number of  ways to save time on your social media efforts. Some of them will cost you some money, but most of them won’t be noticed by your budget.

Good luck!

Interested in getting certified in Social Media? Check out OMI's certification in Social Media Marketing, here.

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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.

About the author:
Rick Riddle is a marketing consultant and an up-and-coming blogger whose articles aim to help people with digital marketing, blogging, entrepreneurship, and career. Feel free to follow Rick on twitter and LinkedIn.

 


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.

 


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.

 


How to Create Incredible Content even if You Feel Uninspired

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Content Marketing

Brainstorming your next content piece

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:

Simply write.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 10.05.10 AM

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 Most Common Mistakes on B2B Websites

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Shaking hands and business team in business a hall ** Note: Shallow depth of field

Marketing in the B2C (Business to Consumer) space is very different than marketing in the B2B (Business to Business) space. B2B marketing is unique for a lot of reasons. In the B2B market, the sales cycle tends to be longer, multiple decision makers are typically involved, the partnerships are often long-term, and the products or services carry a higher price tag than many B2C products and services.

Approaching B2B marketing the same way one would approach B2C marketing is a huge mistake. Organizations need a website and digital strategy geared towards their unique B2B customers. Read on to learn what common mistakes that marketers make when designing websites for a B2B firms.

Going for the Close Right Away

Traditional B2B industries covers a broad range of industries including, but not limited to: medical devices, recruiting services, manufacturing products and financial services. One of the few things most B2B industries have in common is a long sales cycle. These sales cycles tend to be 6 months or longer, often spanning to nearly a year.

A major mistake that marketers make in designing a B2B website is going for the close right away. Asking a prospect for their contact information before they’ve gotten the opportunity to learn more about the product and services a firm is a huge turn off. This is particularly true in our new age of information, where a person’s name and e-mail address are coveted. And generally, B2B companies aren’t offering low value widgets that a consumer can return if they decide they don’t like it. B2B products and services ten to have price points in the tens of thousand, and products and services that require a lot more thought and consideration before a commitment is made.

Instead

Instead of going for the close right away, a B2B website should tell a story, draw the prospect in, and educate him or her on why the firm’s products and services are of value to them. Calls-to-action should be clearly placed and encourage the website visitor to take the next step, such as Read Our Blog, Download Our White Paper, Learn More, etc. A well-designed B2B website nurtures a lead through the sales funnel, often over an extended period of time.

Lack of Helpful Information

A bare bones website works for a variety of B2C companies that offer a quick experience with a service or an inexpensive product. However, in the B2B space a bare bones website lacks credibility and the information a prospect needs to make a decision.

An all-too-common mistake we see with B2B websites is a lack of actionable or educational information about a company’s service or product offerings. Services and products in the B2B space have a tendency to be detailed, customized, and/or complicated. As such, prospects need as much information as possible to make a well-informed decision. Firms that are able to provide helpful information to prospects set themselves apart from their competition and establish themselves as a true resource and authority in their field.

Rather

We often see B2B firms who have a plethora of offline marketing materials but very few materials available online. Rather than keeping all these great, educational materials in only print format, we encourage B2B companies to digitize these materials by adding them as pages on the website, creating case studies online, writing blogs about how to use their products or services, or create other content marketing materials that can be housed on their website.

Content Isn’t Accessible

Accessibility. It has a lot of definitions, but for marketers and those of us in the B2B space, accessibility translates into whether or not out content is available and easy to comprehend for our intended audience. We live in the age of information where everything we want to know ia at our fingertips. To continue to compete in this landscape, it is important to have information that is easy to find and to understand. If you’re not saying it, someone else is, and that someone is likely taking your traffic.

Content For All Decision Makers

A pervasive issue on B2B websites is that content isn’t accessible for all of the decision makers. A firm’s main prospect may be an engineer, but the engineer may have to get the approval of a CTO or a CFO before moving forward with a deal. If all the content on the website is aimed at the engineer, the firm isn’t providing tools that make it easy for the engineer to convince the CTO or CFO that the products or services are necessary.

Alternative

An alternative to creating content just for one client persona is to create content for each of the decision makers in the target organization. This sounds like a lot of extra work, but with the right planning, it’s quite simple to integrate into a website. For example, a CFO may be more interested in the financial costs and benefits of a particular service, whereas the engineer is likely interested in the technical aspects. Creating accessible content for the CFO, such as case studies or cost savings comparison sheets, and for the engineer, like spec sheets or technical guides, that are both hosted on the website worthwhile. While often overlooked, it’s an easy solution to effectively communicate with multiple decision makers.

Few Credibility Elements

In most industries, there are more than a few players. Competition can often be dense. However, most B2B firms have a unique value proposition that sets them apart from their competition. A firm may not be the cheapest or fastest, but there is a lot of value in being the most thorough or the best at something specific.

This issue is that they often don’t clearly communicate their value proposition clearly. Many B2B websites lack the credibility elements that build their case for the value they offer and why prospects should trust them. Long-term partnerships are founded on trust, respect, and added value. In the B2B space, this is true for almost all partnerships. As such, a B2B website and digital presence absolutely must engender trust and build confidence in a firm’s products or services.

Try This

There are so many ways to build credibility with a website. Instead of a firm saying they are better, faster, or more compliant, they should try showing they are better, faster, or more compliant. This can be done through client testimonials, industry awards, before and after demonstrations, a portfolio of work, and case studies. How the website performs (page speed, ease of navigation, imagery, etc.) should also uphold the value proposition and credibility assertion.

There is rhetoric out in the marketing world that there is no B2B or B2C, that it’s all the same type of marketing. However, it’s simply not true. Building and designing a B2B website according to the same principles used in B2C marketing is designing for failure. Having an understanding of what makes the B2B audience different enables a firm to create messaging, content, and a digital presence that accommodates, nurtures, and compels that audience.

 


24 Of the Best Local SEO Posts for 2015

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Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 1.26.02 PM2016 is going to be an exciting time for digital marketing. The new year is sure to usher in new ideas, trends and strategies with itself.

Don't be surprised if you find Web marketers increasing their focus on creating high-quality content, along with optimizing for SEO to boost rankings. That's right, SEO is here to stay. And if you thought local SEO has lost its spark, the following list of posts will dispel that notion in no time.

Mentioned ahead are some of the best local SEO posts of 2015, which also throw light on what this year has in store. We got in touch with a few local SEO experts and asked them questions related to local SEO. We have included the answers of those who responded to our query.

Local SEO Area

1. Local SEO Competition Analysis
2. Local SEO Statistics
3. Local SEO Infographics
4. Local Search Ranking Factors
5. Social Networks for Local SEO
6. Google Local SEO Updates
7. Why Local SEO is Important
8. Local SEO on a Budget
9. Local SEO Site Audit
10. Local SEO Citation Audit
11. Mobile & Local SEO
12. Local SEO Strategy
13. Local SEO Tips & Advice By Expert
14. Local SEO Tools
15. Local SEO Guide
16. Local SEO with Google+
17. Local SEO News & Trends
18. Reviews For Local SEO
19. Advanced Local SEO Presentation
20. Local SEO Content Marketing
21. The Local Link Building
22. Local SEO Questions Answered
23. Local Paid Search
24. Multi-Location Local SEO

 


12 Uncommon Content Marketing Productivity Tools That Save Hours Each Day

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Content marketing can be very exhaustive and time-consuming.

However, with a good plan, you can make it more effective.

Using the right content marketing productivity tools should help you achieve that goal.

Here are 12 of the most uncommon content market productivity toolsthat should help save more time.

#1 – SEMrush.com

You can use this content marketing tool to identify how your competitors are ranking on Google.

Using SEMrush, it’s easy to assess the amount of traffic going to your competitors’ websites as well as the keywords being used to get higher rankings.

What you need to do is enter the web address to your competitor’s website and this tool will reveal the list of keywords used for ranking on Google.

semrush content marketing tool

Steps to get started with SEMrush:
Open a free account on SEMrush and register yourself and you can gain access to the top keywords your competitors are using to drive traffic to their websites. You can begin by entering their web addresses (URLs) and watch for both the organic and paid results, traffic numbers, cost per click and more.

If you’re aware of these keywords, maybe you can use some of them to bring more traffic to your own site.

#2 – BuzzSumo.com

This content marketing tool allows you to discover the type of content that gets shared the most. Naturally, you want to create content on your website that gets shared across numerous social media platforms.

Using Buzzsumo, you can find out the commonly shared content and shape your own content around the same topics.

buzzsumo content marketing tools most popular posts

Steps to get started with BuzzSumo:
Using this tool, you should enter your own address or your competitor’s website address and find out which content is mostly shared across different social media channels.

Also, you can search for keywords and find any content related to these specific keywords that’s shared the most.

You can use Buzzsumo to examine the type of content shared on specific social media channels and produce content to similar to what’s targeted on these channels.

You can use this to get statistics about what’s working, and use it to get new ideas for your own content marketing strategies.

#3 – Canva.com

Canva is a power tool used to prepare any promotional visuals to be used on your website. It might be very expensive to hire graphic designers for every image that’s need to go on your website.

Well, through Canva, you can perform any graphic design features needed on your site without the need for graphic design skills. You can produce professional and impressive images using a streamlined and simple interface.

Even better, you can create similar images to be used on the same content rather than using the same image over and over again.

Figure 1 – Easy designer layouts and editing

canva-graphics-options

Figure 2 – Preset sizes and images + custom dimensions

canva design options

Steps to get started with Canva:
Create a free account, and login via Twitter, Facebook or email. Using the app in your browser is free, and many textual and picture elements can be used for free to start. If you want to upgrade, you’ll get additional images and tools to make it even better. There is a team version, starting at $9.95/month, but the first 30 days is free.

#4 – QuillEngage.com

This tool allows you to monitor your results without the need for using Google Analytics which can be quite exhausting and time consuming.

Steps to get started with QuillEngage:
Create a free started account, and connect with your Google Analytics profile. Pick the template you need, and save. Quill Engage will send a weekly (or daily) email with a complete interpretation of your website’s results which is simple and easy to understand.

#5 – EditFlow.org

Using Edit Flow, you can build your own editorial calendar which is an essential part of content marketing. If you plan your content accordingly, you can become more productive and produce better content for your visitors.

Steps to get started with EditFlow:
This tool is a free WordPress plug-in that allows you to view all the drafted posts to adjust dates accordingly, send messages to all the team members and also set custom status updates that match your workflow. Create an account, and follow the simple instructions.

#6 – Do Share (Google Chrome Web Store)

This is a Google Chrome plug-in that allows you to post content to your personal Google+ profile. Currently, it’s not possible to schedule any posts through Google to your personal profile.

However, by using Do Share you can hold any content until the time for posting it arrives. Of course, your browser must be open when posting time comes around in order for the tool to work properly.

Also, you can pick content from Google+ and send it to the tool for later posting.

#7 – Zapier.com

This is an automation tool that allows you to link 300+ applications and perform automated tasks.

Using Zapier, you can create a triggering task (referred to as Zaps) that automatically initiates different applications.

For instance, you can use this tool to create posts of Facebook and put the rest on queue to post on other social media channels. Check out IFTTT recipes also.

#8 – Buffer.com

Just like Zapier, Buffer offers an automation feature where you can post to numerous social media channels.

Therefore, you don’t have to necessarily log into each one of your social media profiles in order to copy paste your posts.

Let this content marketing tool do all the job for you.

#9 – Momentum (Google Webstore)

Yet another Google Chrome Plugin, Momentum allows you to plan your tasks and provides daily reminders.

Therefore, if you plan on updating your website’s content on any particular day, you can use this tool to keep everything in check and make sure that everything is completed in time.

You can also use this app to monitor the rest of the tools you’re using for your content marketing efforts. Once you confirm your account, you’ll be ready to go.

TIP: combine with calm.com to get more work done with less distractions.

#10 – Self Control App.com

Do you always find yourself distracted every time you are on the internet?

Do you need an app that blocks your access to other distracting websites when you’re working on your site’s content?

Well, thanks to Self Control , you can achieve exactly that.

Specifically for Mac users, the app blocks your access to any distracting websites allowing you to allocate more time to your site.

Basically, you set a period of time and a number of sites to be blocked then your access to these sites will be blocked during that time.

Regardless of whether you delete the app and restart your computer during that time period, nothing changes.

#11 – Slack.com

If you’re working with a content marketing team, you need a platform where communications are easy and effortless between all the team members.

Well, using Slack, you can achieve exactly that. Here, everything is in one place and you can search for it very easily.

It’s the best communication tool for most modern content marketing teams.

#12 – Evernote.com

When creating and marketing content for your website, you’re likely to create notes and comments you need to add or follow-up on.

Keeping track of these notes can be very difficult.

Well, if you’re using an app like Evernote, you can easily get access to these notes whenever you need them.

IMPORTANT!
Don’t forget to include the amazing co-schedule product when discussing calendaring and team work for your content marketing and social media projects.

It fits right into your WordPress CMS, and has a nifty Chrome browser plugin too. It’s our mainstay product.

We also hear great things about hipstersound and defonic, but have not installed/tested them yet.