Tag: Content Marketing

6 Best Practices For Creating Great Content

Over the years the phrase ‘content is king’ has been thrown about to inspire marketing teams to create more and more amazing material for audiences, resulting in a huge increase in articles and content creators on the web.

With more people venturing online, more social media users and the rise of the blogger and “influencer” the competition for creating amazing, unique articles, imagery and marketing campaigns is high.

To keep you on your A game for creating content, we’ll take you through the best practices that will transform your content to dull and boring so you can stand out from the crowd and create truly great content.

1. Think of The Audience

This is the single most important point you need to take away with you. Your audience is the sole reason you are creating content in the first place and so they are your priority when it comes to copywriting.

Whatever it is you’re writing about and the reason behind it, the fundamental reason is to satisfy them, may that be through answering a question, entertaining them, encouraging them to buy a product and fulfill their needs or similar.

As a result, you must always think and refer back to what it is they want, why you’re creating the content and make sure every piece of information within the article relates to this and fits this purpose.

2. Write For Long Tail Keywords

A common flaw that copywriters fall into is writing content for short, highly competitive keywords. For example, say you were a rare vinyl seller looking to create bespoke articles on how best to clean and care for vinyl.

Although ‘clean vinyl records’ has 1,000 average monthly searches, ‘how to clean vinyl records with soap and water’ has 40 average monthly searches which hence has a lot less competition and a bigger chance for you to rank well for this keyword.

If you can create a piece that is optimized for this keyword, once you’ve secured a high search ranking, you can start to create more pieces of content, may these be videos, social media imagery or so on, that target ‘clean vinyl records’ specifically.

This way, because you’ve already gained a high authority and relevance ranking on search engines for the long tail keyword, you’re chances of ranking for the shorter, more competitive keyword is more achievable.

3. Complete Your Keyword Research On Multiple Tools

Just because Google Ads Keyword Planner shows that ‘clean vinyl records’ has the highest searches, doesn’t mean you should settle for this information. Explore the web – that’s what it’s there for. Use other tools like BuzzSumo to get title ideas, complete social media searches and see what hashtags are trending.

Take a leaf from a scientist’s book. They must do lots of research, consult multiple sources of different types may that be a book, the internet, physical experiments and so on, to get a proper understanding of what it is they’re focusing on.

Sources often contradict themselves and offer varying opinions so it’s good to see what other people and tools are saying about the keyword or topic you want to talk about. Finding your next golden nugget of wisdom is often in the places you don’t commonly visit, so research about.

4. Know Your Text Structure Before Writing

Having a strong idea of the format of your post is essential before you start writing. Good structure means your blog post will be SEO optimized, highly readable for your desired audience and so, will make it a quick read. Something that’s becoming increasingly important in the online world.

It’s known from research that typically, users read the title, first paragraph, headings, subheadings and the first sentences of paragraphs. This is how people learn what your text is about and urges them to continue reading. Take this information on board and run with it.

How To Set Up Your Blog Structure

To set up your structure, you first need to follow the below steps to create the skeleton of your article.

Step 1 – Know the main question you’re answering i.e. what it is your audience is asking or wants to know.

Step 2 – Know the message you are trying to convey in your blog post i.e. what your answer to the question is and include this in your first paragraph.

Step 3 – Create a list of things you will cover in the article i.e solutions you’re offering, tips for doing something and so on.

Step 4 – Bundle these ideas together with headings and subheadings.

Step 5 – Finally order these topics either thematically, chronologically or step-by-step problem-solving.

  • Thematic ordering will be based on different subjects at a time, perhaps colour then size, then style.
  • Chronological ordering will be in time order that an event has happened or how to do something.
  • Problem-solving will be stating the problem then offering a new solution with each new heading and paragraph.

Best Practices for Creating Great Content | Kanuka Digital

You can see in the above image that there is a clear structure with the paragraphs clearly answering the questions within the subheadings, making it extremely easy to read and digest even at first glance. This post has been ordered in a thematic style.

5. Start Writing Where You Feel Most Comfortable

Start where you feel most comfortable. Sometimes people can stress over getting the first part of the post written. Don’t. The first paragraph is usually the hardest. It’s got to be the most intriguing, of high quality and optimized for SEO purposes.

Perhaps there is a certain point in the post you’d prefer to write about or have more information on. Start there and you’ll then get into your own flow of writing the next paragraphs.

Don’t fear that jumping from paragraph two to paragraph four will disrupt your flow and make your post sound “jumpy”. You can easily enhance your sentences in the correction phase of your post if it doesn’t flow exactly how you’d like.

Tip: Yoast suggest blog content writing is made up of three parts. Preparation which amounts to 40%, writing which amounts to 20% and correction which amounts to the final 40%.

6. Avoid Referring Back To Previous Paragraphs In First Sentence

So, as we know people read the first sentence of your paragraphs first, it’s important to never start a new paragraph with “this means that…” Your audience would have to read the previous sentence or two to get a proper idea of what you’re discussing which can interrupt their flow, damaging the posts’ readability and usability.

Instead, each new paragraph should be easily readable without having to fully understand and read the previous. Of course, you’ll want to continue the flow of conversation as you create a new paragraph though it should be expanded slightly or merge onto a new topic, time or place.

No one enjoys reading massive chunks of text so it’s simple. Split them up when it’s relevant to, without making them hard to read if the first chunk of text isn’t present.

Summary

When it comes to creating content, if your post is useful to your readers, it’ll be useful for Google and will usually be SEO friendly too. By focusing on your audience, prioritizing its readability over SEO – though not to neglect it completely – you’ll find over time, the post’s bounce rate will decrease and your search rankings will improve.

For more handy tips to improve your digital marketing practices, check out the Kanuka Digital blog.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

The post 6 Best Practices For Creating Great Content appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2018/10/6-best-practices-for-creating-great-content/

How Ahrefs and Buffer Drive 300K+ Sessions Per Month with Evergreen Content and Social Media

  • Learn how we drive the growth of our blog here at Buffer using free, organic traffic strategies.
  • Understand how to amplify blog content by reverse engineering social media videos that your audience will love.
  • See how we generated more than 30,000 clicks to to our content using paid acquisition channels, and how we optimize ads to lower CPC while simultaneously increasing CTR.

Building your website traffic in 2018 is no easy task.

Today, businesses are faced with an ever-increasing amount of online content as well as ongoing changes from search engines such as Google, and constant algorithm updates from platforms like Facebook.

But, if you’re in a competitive industry that is dominated by established sites, all is not lost.

You can still get tons of website traffic with a resourceful content marketing strategy that revolves around producing quality, evergreen pieces of content.

We recently teamed up with Tim Soulo, head of marketing and product strategy at Ahrefs, to discuss what the most successful businesses are doing to generate quality website traffic in 2018.

Prefer video? Check out our webinar below:

Generating quality website traffic

Did you know that more than 90 percent of website pages generate no organic search traffic from Google? In fact, if you look closely, less than 1 percent of website pages drive the majority of organic traffic online:

Ahrefs Web Traffic

That’s why it’s critical to have a content strategy in place that incorporates well-researched, evergreen topics that will drive long-term traffic to your website.

The Buffer blog, for example, gets about 1.3 million visits every month, and more than 80 percent of our website traffic comes from people searching for social media marketing topics on Google and finding our blog posts. This 80 percent is also known as organic traffic and is the most scalable and reliable traffic source for most websites.

We achieved this with having only two content writers for most of the past seven years. If we can do it, you can, too!

Here’s how we approach traffic growth:

Write about evergreen topics and promote them regularly

This first chart shows the traffic of most blog posts written nowadays. The blog post gets a nice spike of traffic from social media and email on the day of publishing. But the traffic fades away over time because the blog post doesn’t rank well on Google and isn’t being promoted on marketing channels anymore.

Spike of traffic example

Now, compare that chart with this second one:

Sustainable traffic example

This blog post also had a nice spike of traffic on the day of publishing. But the traffic didn’t drop over time. In fact, it continues to grow and grow. After three years, this blog post has been viewed more than two million times.

There are several ways to generate evergreen content ideas, but Soulo recommends two proven tactics to consistently increase your success rate.

1. Find popular search terms

Using a tool like the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, you can search for a single word or phrase related to your product or service:

Ahrefs Keyword Search Tool - Website Traffic

Not only will you be able to view the search volume around the term entered, you’ll also be able to view all related keywords and search volume – providing you with even more content ideas.

2. Research your peers and competitors

Another way to generate keyword and content ideas is by research your peers and competitors.

We particularly like this strategy because it helps to provide even deeper insights into the exact pages other businesses in your industry are ranking for. In other words, you can discover exactly what problems and challenges potential customers are trying to solve.

Ahrefs Site Explorer provides you with an in-depth look at the organic search traffic and backlink profile of any website or URL:

Ahrefs Site Explorer - Website Traffic

Of course, you should never rely on organic search volume alone to help generate evergreen content ideas for your website or blog, but performing the two steps above is one of the best places to start when planning your content for the month, quarter, or year.

“It’s all about studying. Studying what people search for in terms of the topic that you are targeting. If there are a lot of searches, you might want to create an article that would cover most of them. If there aren’t a ton of searches around a particular topic, then there isn’t much opportunity to have your page rank for several keywords and bring you a healthy amount of search traffic.”

Tim Soulo Ahrefs
Tim Soulo (@timsoulo)
Head of Marketing, Ahrefs

Besides choosing the right topics to write (through keyword research) and promoting the blog posts regularly (which you’ll learn more below), we also consistently update our blog posts.

Updating and relaunching your blog posts

Another thing we do is to regularly update our old blog posts to ensure that they are still relevant and useful to our readers.

In the social media space, many things, such as social media image sizes, can change frequently. Many of the blog posts that we write would no longer be helpful to our readers if the information is outdated.

Updating your old blog posts not only keeps your content relevant to your readers but it can also help you rank better on Google and get more sustainable traffic. For example, when we updated our social media analytics tools blog post last year, the number of daily page views more than doubled!

Updating old blog post example

Here’s what we did with that blog post:

  1. Update the content: We added new tools, moved dysfunctional tools, and updated screenshots.
  2. Fine-tune the writing: We re-wrote certain parts to make them read better, added a section on what’s social media analytics, and added anchor tags to make navigation easier.
  3. Relaunch the blog post: Then we updated the published date within WordPress and promoted the blog post on social media and via our email list.

“A good way to look at generating sustainable traffic (or organic traffic) is to think of it as creating helpful and relevant content for your target audience. What topics are your audience always searching for? Write a blog post to help answer their questions. Are your blog posts becoming outdated? Update the content so that your audience will still find it useful.

We have a blog post that goes into more details about how we grew our readership to over a million visits per month. If you are interested in learning more about the intricacies of SEO and generating organic traffic, I would recommend following Ahref’s blog and Moz’s Whiteboard Friday.”

Alfred from Buffer
Alfred Lua (@alfred_lua)
Growth Editor, Buffer

But even with the most quality content in the world, potential customers won’t visit your website unless they know the content is there.

That’s where social media, particularly video and advertising, can help boost the results of your evergreen content strategy above.

Here’s how.

Amplifying content success with social media video

Video is one of the most compelling ways to reach your audience because video is the preferred way people consume information in 2018 and will be for the foreseeable future.

Here is a simple formula for amplifying the success of your content and boosting website traffic.

1. Create video topics from what works

Video is not a whole new type of marketing  – video is a way to amplify your existing marketing strategy.

Start by sorting your most visited blog posts or pages from the previous 90 days in Google Analytics. To access this information, head to Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages:

Google Analytics Data - Buffer

Sorting by Pageviews gives you a precise look at what people are most interested in learning about from your business. It’s a good indication of what sorts of content will make for an engaging video topic.

Next, we create a list of possible video topic ideas based on our most popular website content in Excel:

Video Topic Tracking Spreadsheet

Feel free to “make a copy” of the above Excel spreadsheet template for your own use!

This strategy has helped us create well-liked videos such as this and this on social media as well as drive additional website traffic (traffic we would not have gotten without video content).

2. Create video topics from scratch

If you don’t have a ton of existing content to amplify, that’s alright! You can still drive traffic to your website by creating compelling video content ideas from scratch.

There are lots of great (free and paid) tools available that will help you to uncover popular topics. Here are two of our favorites:

  • BuzzSumo

You can use BuzzSumo to find the most shared content from any URL – instantly allowing you to determine what content has worked for your peers and competitors. You can also find the most shared content for any topic.

For example, let’s say we were interested in driving website traffic based on the topic of social media marketing. We’d simply enter that search term into BuzzSumo and the results would look something like this:

BuzzSumo Search Tool

Discovering relevant topics using search terms and website URLs are my favorite way to use BuzzSumo.

  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Another great way to generate a list of video ideas to drive quality traffic to your website is with a keyword tool such as Ahref Keywords Explorer.

Keywords explorer can allows you to identify thousands of keyword and topic possibilities in a matter of seconds (and which topics are most popular based on search volume!)

For example, let’s say you’re interested in driving website traffic focused on healthy juices. Simply enter your search term into Keywords Explorer and Ahrefs does all of the work:

Ahrefs Keyword Tool

The best part is that the tool provides “alternatives” for your selected keyword and related topics that might be useful for your business.

Other great tools for generating engaging video topics:

3. Create videos to promote your content

Once you have a list of video topics, it’s time to create the content. There are plethora of great marketing tools to help you create video content, but to help dwindle it down, here are a few of our favorites:

Video Tools

At Buffer, we regularly use Animoto  to create short, engaging blog post summaries that we can share across social media to drive website traffic back to Buffer.

There are tons of best-practices that help to make videos on social media engaging, but quite possibly the most important factor is video length. Keep in mind that people are often browsing social media from their mobile phone and so quick, compelling videos will perform best.

Optimal Video Timing

For a complete guide on creating engaging short videos for social media, check out our in-depth blog post where we cover everything you need to know.

Amplifying website traffic with social media ads

Social media advertising has been an effective way for us at Buffer to boost website traffic around top performing blog posts, strategic marketing initiatives, landing pages, and even our podcast.

When comparing Facebook and Instagram advertising to other options such a PPC, we realized that we could generate hundreds of thousands of visits at a fraction of the cost (often less than $0.10 per click).

Buffer Advertising Stats

The best part is that it’s extremely easy to get started. Here’s our simple approach to social media advertising.

Boost your top-performing content

A straightforward way to drive traffic to your website with advertising is to boost your top performing content on Facebook and Instagram. Here’s how:

  1. Start by posting your content organically to Facebook and Instagram
  2. Check your analytics to see which posts have a high engagement rate (engagement / reach * 100)
  3. Use Facebook Ads Manager to create a custom audience that is likely to interact with your content
  4. Create a custom “Traffic” campaign in Ads Manager or use the “Boost” button to promote your top posts
  5. Generate social proof by regularly responding to comments and interacting with your audience

For example, we posted an article to Facebook about “how to grow your Instagram account” and it immediately received higher-than-normal organic interaction.

In order to promote the post, we created a new traffic campaign and ad set, targeting folks interested in topics such as social media marketing, social media manager, and Social Media Examiner.

Audience Targeting Facebook

We then set a daily budget of $20 and promoted the post. Here’s what it looks like:

Instagram Growth Facebook Ad

To date, this ad has generated more than 125,000 visits to the Buffer Blog for right around $0.06 per click, which has led to thousands of trials and hundreds of customers.

Create social media advertising content from scratch

Naturally, there will be times when you’ll want to promote content, initiatives, and projects that aren’t necessarily classified as top-performers.

We wanted to increase the number of downloads to the Buffer Podcast, for example, and looked to social media advertising as a means to do so. Today, we’ve generated more than 30,000 clicks to the Buffer podcast on iTunes, resulting in a 65 percent increase in downloads in less than six months.

Buffer Podcast Ads to Generate Website Traffic

Here’s how we did it:

  • We set up a Custom Audience targeting all traffic to the Buffer Blog and buffer.com knowing that brand awareness would increase our CTR and decrease our CPC.
  • Next we added an additional targeting filter to only deliver ads to iPhone, iPad, and other iOS devices and linked directly to the episode on iTunes (rather than the show notes or podcast landing page). This reduced the friction of going from podcast ad >> podcast subscriber.
  • We chose the most popular episodes from the podcast and started there — $10 per day using the “Post Traffic” campaign option in Facebook. We keep a close eye on CPC and whenever it creeps above $0.25–0.30 we shut it off and start a new ad.

“Social media advertising has been an effective way for us at Buffer to boost website traffic around top performing blog posts, strategic marketing initiatives, landing pages, and even our podcast. In the past year alone, we’ve used Facebook and Instagram advertising to generate more than 100,000 unique targeted visits to our website for less than $0.25 per click, which has resulted in thousands of leads and hundreds of new customers. Plus, it has had a huge impact on brand awareness and word-of-mouth marketing.”.

Brian Peters (@brian_g_peters)
Digital Marketing, Buffer

Social media advertising best-practices:

  • Test images, captions, and headlines until you find the right combination
  • Look for a relevancy score of 8-10 on brand awareness type content
  • Increase budget with successful posts (immediately shut down others)
  • Keep an eye on frequency rate (try not to exceed 2.0)
  • Evergreen content can run as long as you want!

If you’re just getting started with social media advertising or you’re looking to build upon what you already know, we have a brand new Skillshare class all about advertising (we’re happy to offer you a free month of Skillshare Premium)

Over to you

We hope you enjoyed our webinar with Ahrefs and all of the content included in this post!

We’d love to hear from you as well.

What tactics and strategies have worked for your business to generate lots of quality website traffic? Feel free to drop a comment below!

Learn more about how Ahrefs can help your business here or check out more of Tim Soulo’s work here.

Want more content like this?

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http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bufferapp/~3/h_3cuoah3jY/increase-website-traffic

4 Instagram Features That’ll Get You More (Real) Followers

4 Instagram Features That’ll Get You More (Real) Followers

https://socialmediaexplorer.com/content-sections/news-and-noise/4-instagram-features-thatll-get-you-more-real-followers/
— Read on socialmediaexplorer.com/content-sections/news-and-noise/4-instagram-features-thatll-get-you-more-real-followers/

£51 Million Boost to Wales’ Hi-Tech Electronics Industry

£51 Million Boost to Wales’ Hi-Tech Electronics Industry

£51 Million Boost to Wales’ Hi-Tech Electronics Industry
— Read on welshbizuk.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/51-million-boost-to-wales-hi-tech-electronics-industry-4/


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What Adobe’s Latest Acquisition Says About the Future of Marketing

Marketers love sharing “content” as part of campaigns, especially the free sort, like social media commentary or videos created by happy customers. That obsession inspired marketing software company Adobe’s Tuesday buyout of Livefyre, a startup that names dozens of large consumer products companies like Coca-Cola, Hallmark, Kimberly-Clark, and Warner Music Group, as its customers. Terms…

http://fortune.com/2016/05/03/adobe-livefyre-acquisition/

Twitter Marketing Tip 7

Step up your social media game with this Twitter marketing tip to get you standing out from the competition:

Share Content More Than Once 

Not everyone can be on Twitter at all times, and most people won’t make a point of visiting your profile in case they missed something, so don’t feel shy about sharing your content multiple times.

On average, your second post of a piece of content will receive 86% as much engagement as the first time you Tweeted it. 

An added bonus of this is that you can experiment with different text or images when sharing the content and compare performance to help with your Tweeting strategy going forward. 

For example, Tweets with URLs in the middle are 26% more likely to get retweeted than Tweets with URLs at the end. If this isn’t something you’ve tried on a previous Tweet, give it a go now. 

If you like this Twitter Marketing Tip you might also like these Twitter Marketing Tips:

This Twitter Marketing Tip 7 page was posted “By Mike Armstrong”

Content Marketing Altering the Future Predicted in ‘Minority Report’

New post on Online Marketing Hub

Content Marketing Altering the Future Predicted in ‘Minority Report’
by christopherjanb
marketing-2054-how-content-will-save-coverJust 13 years ago, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report envisioned the year 2054 as one in which marketing and advertising are so invasive that holograms make frenzied, customized sales pitches to people as they walk through the mall.

In an unnerving scene, protagonist John Anderton’s eyes flashed as retina scanners identified him from a customer database and pushy holograms pitched him items based on his previous purchases, personal attributes, and preferences.

We still have almost 40 years to go until the film’s setting, but it’s already pretty obvious what the screenwriters got right about the future of marketing (big data, personalized ads) and what they probably got wrong – aside from our endless cultural obsession with holograms. Hollywood often shows us how exotic technologies might revolutionize well-worn concepts like display advertising (or heck, even malls), but how well does it predict the totally new concepts that might replace them?

The inescapable sales chatter in Minority Report’s mall scene was meant to raise privacy questions, making 2002 audiences uncomfortable with how much marketers might know about each consumer in the future. To marketers, the scene demonstrates the potential of big data and why marketers need a complementary personalization strategy to make a better first impression.

Now, cue content marketing, which provides value to people and businesses researching their purchases. Its softer approach may be the thing that spares us from the suffocating ad bombardment Spielberg’s film predicted.

One marketing channel is always on
In 2015, businesses have a content channel from which their target audiences never walk away: mobile.

Last November, mobile ad company Flurry found that Americans now spend nearly three hours per day on their mobile devices – more than they spend watching TV. Even more remarkable is that mobile time jumped almost 10 percent in just nine months. As wearable technology enters the mainstream in 2015 and beyond, one would expect that mobile time would grow.

Today, most of us sleep within reach of our smartphones, continuing to read them late at night and first thing in the morning. If a question comes into our heads as we hit the pillow, we have to Google it before we can fall asleep. It’s not difficult to imagine that these habits may even affect our dreams.

According to a Salesforce Marketing Cloud study, searching for information online is the third most frequent activity performed on mobile devices – surpassed only by checking emails and text messages, and more popular than social networking.

If someone in your target audience has a problem that you can solve, the only important question is whether your content is relevant and comprehensive enough to be the best answer on the web during your prospects’ mobile searches. That is the difference between tons of business and very little.

We know quality content is increasingly important to marketing, and that trend is likely to continue as search volume creeps higher. So how could this affect the way marketing is practiced later in the 21st century? Or is 2054 marketing already here?

Advertising will build a better case for products and services by figuring out whom and what we trust
Unilever Senior Vice President of Marketing Marc Mathieu says, “Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling it and is now about finding a truth and sharing it.”

Minority Report was right to imagine advertising messages tailored to individuals based on their behaviors, interests, and purchase histories. But rather than using unknown virtual sales assistants to make the pitch, today’s brands highlight social media recommendations from our friends and colleagues. If those aren’t available, they send us the kinds of stats or stories to which we have a history of responding.

Expect this trend to continue as our homes become populated with web-connected technology. In 2054, if you start preparing Korean barbecue tacos with Huy Fong chili paste on your “smart” countertop, the kitchen interface may ask if you want to share this recipe with friends. These friends might receive an ad informing them that you use this brand and a list of the recipes you’ve made with it – or even a video of you putting the meal together.

Big brands will purchase virtually all major media companies
In the short term, media companies will continue to amass portfolios of niche and special interest publications to increase ad revenue. This makes them increasingly attractive to major brands, which are starting to see the media outlets as a way to immediately acquire engaged, targeted audiences to whom they can advertise directly.

Many people might consider this to be a dystopian future for journalism – one that would scare away readership. But the Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi does a good job of explaining why brands might actually do a better job of delivering quality content than today’s media owners.

The things you talk about will influence the type of content marketing you see
If you use Gmail, you know that Google has been serving you ads relevant to the topics discussed in your emails for years. The same concept is expected to be applied to wearable devices that will be able to transcribe your conversations. Advertisers already can tell some of our interests by analyzing our hashtags and follows on Twitter and Instagram. But as image-recognition technology improves, brands will be able to understand what we care about by identifying the subjects of our photos and videos.

Content will be delivered based on our activities and emotions, not just our location
Location will continue to determine the kinds of ads we see. For example, our favorite local retail store may send a mobile notification about a sale to us as we walk by the shop. Wearables also will give businesses plenty of other data such as heart and perspiration rates, and even emotional states so they can determine when content might be welcome and when it might be considered a nuisance.

Some brands will invest in wearable products primarily for the potential to create content relationships that strengthen brand loyalty. Imagine receiving a personal evaluation and video tutorials on adjusting your running style from a fitness brand after jogging in your new Ralph Lauren fitness tracking shirt. Or maybe your future shirt “learns” you typically run between 6:45 and 7:30 a.m., starting at the intersection of Damen and Wabansia streets. So a brand monitoring your wearable-tech shirt emails you a blog post about the best breakfast foods to eat before a run and lists stores and restaurants near the beginning of your route that are open.

And if we leave our Microsoft HoloLenses at home, we won’t be harassed by holograms
After all, public three-dimensional projections look the same to everyone and isn’t mass messaging a bit old-fashioned?

Want to learn more about the future of content marketing? Check out the CMWorld 2014 sessions available through our Video on Demand portal and make plans today to attend Content Marketing World 2015.

The post Content Marketing Altering the Future Predicted in ‘Minority Report’ appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

For more on this article including images see :
https://omhub.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/content-marketing-altering-the-future-predicted-in-minority-report/

Content Marketing Altering the Future Predicted in ‘Minority Report’ page was posted “By Mike Armstrong”

Can You Grow Your Organic Traffic Without Generating Content?

New post on Online Marketing Hub

Can You Grow Your Organic Traffic Without Generating Content?
by christopherjanb
content marketing

Did you know that the average web page that ranks on page 1 of Google has at least 2,000 words of text?

That means if you want more organic traffic, you have to create tons of content, right?

What if you don’t have a content bone in your body—does that mean that you’re out of luck when it comes to your rankings?

There has to be another solution…

Luckily for you, there is. Before we get into that, let’s first dispel the myth that you have to generate more content to grow your organic traffic.

Does more content mean more organic traffic?
When you think of the best ranking sites on the web, which ones come to mind? Sites like Wikipedia, The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Mashable, right?

The reason all of these sites rank so well is because they have thousands—if not millions—of pages with unique content. In general, if you create more content, you’re giving search engines more keywords that will help them rank your site.

word count

If you look at the image by SerpIQ, you’ll see that the average web page that ranks on page 1 of Google contains at least 2,032 words (see link). And when you look at the top three positions, you’ll notice that those web pages have at least 2,400 words.

When you start dissecting the keywords that most of these content-rich sites rank for, the majority tend to be long-tail keywords. Just look at Quick Sprout: 91% of my organic traffic is generated through long-tail terms due to the fact that I write content on anything related to marketing.

long tail traffic

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get rankings if you don’t produce content. Take UpWorthy as an example: they get millions of visitors from search engines when they rarely write more than 100 words of content on a page.

If you search for the phrase “unrealistic bodies,” you’ll see UpWorthy with the first spot on Google.

upworthy rankings

What’s even more impressive is that the body of the post contains only 55 keywords.

You may say that “unrealistic bodies” isn’t a popular search term. And it isn’t. But UpWorthy is competing with 19 million other web pages that also rank for that term. Which means they must be doing something right…

Plus, it’s not the only search term they rank for. They rank for 17,112 more popular terms according to SEMrush. And some of these terms are indeed popular… such as “Rosa Parks” or “Robin Williams.”

But UpWorthy still generates content
I know what you are thinking… UpWorthy only gets organic traffic because they generate content. And sure, they may not create as much content as Wikipedia, but to some extent they still create text-based content.

Airbnb, on the other hand, also generates millions of organic visitors a month, and they rank for competitive terms like “vacation rentals.”

If you look at Airbnb’s home page, what don’t you see? You don’t see much content.

airbnb homepage

Even when you look at listing pages, the only content you see is short descriptions and reviews, both provided by users. The user-generated content might be helping them rank, but it doesn’t perform as well as it would if it were Airbnb-generated content.

Just look at this warning I got from Google last year…

google warning

It shows that Google knows the difference between user-generated content and content created by the website owner. Still, Airbnb ranks for long-tail terms like “Brookstone apartment by Central Park.”

airbnb rankings

And if you want to see a site that ranks well but contains little to no content, check out WhitePages. Just perform a search, and you’ll see that their listing pages contain little to no content, yet they rank for competitive terms like “people search.”

So, what’s the secret to ranking high if you don’t want to focus on content generation? It’s backlinks.

Do backlinks help with rankings?
What Upworthy, Airbnb, and WhitePages have in common is they have a lot of natural backlinks pointing to their websites. When I compared them to QuickSprout.com using my analyzer tool, I saw that both sites have more organic traffic than Quick Sprout even though Quick Sprout contains web pages with more in-depth and longer content—over 2000 words per page.

analysis

If that doesn’t help convince you that links are important, consider this: Moz asked 120 search marketers what they felt impacts a site’s ranking on Google. Can you guess which factor they listed as most important?

rankings analysis

As you can see from the chart above, links are the most important factor (see link below). Twelve out of the top 15 ranking factors were all link-related.

When you look at these popular sites that contain thousands of backlinks and little to no content per page, you’ll also notice that they have something else in common…

They have a lot of web pages indexed. Airbnb has around 45 million pages indexed; Upworthy has close to 10,000; and WhitePages has 105 million.

So, how can you grow your organic traffic without generating more content?

How to grow your organic traffic
Just like Airbnb, Upworthy, and WhitePages, you can get hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of organic visitors per month as long as you do the following:

Build more pages – whether your pages are content-rich or not, you need more web pages. The more pages you have, the higher your probability of ranking for more long-tail terms.
Make your pages count – if Google doesn’t like the content quality on your web pages, you will get slapped with a Panda penalty. To avoid this, you want to utilize technology that helps you create valuable web pages, like White Pages has done. Or you can choose to focus on creating user-generated content such as reviews, like Yelp and Airbnb have done.
Press builds links – UpWorthy, Yelp, and Airbnb all did a wonderful job getting media exposure. By getting mentioned on sites like The New York Times, not only were they gaining traffic but they were also building up their backlink profiles, which helped their search engine traffic. To get media exposure, you can either hire a PR agency or use a free service like HARO.
Be proactive – there are dozens of ways to build links if you are willing to put in the time. This article I wrote recently breaks down seven tactics such as leveraging Quora or using broken link building. And if you find yourself with more free time, check out this guide on link building.
Be patient – if you aren’t writing in-depth articles, your search traffic won’t grow that quickly. In the long run, you can still gain organic traffic, but don’t expect miracles overnight. I remember when I first started checking out Airbnb, they were getting over 100,000 visitors a month from search, and most of the organic traffic came from people searching their brand name. Things are different now, but it took time.
Conclusion
You can grow your organic traffic without generating content. It won’t be as easy as leveraging content marketing, but it is still possible.

Just look at companies like Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon. They all receive millions of organic visitors a month, and none of them truly focus on blogging. Instead, they focus on creating great products or services.

If you want to grow your organic traffic and you don’t want to create content, focus on building backlinks. It’s the best way to generate more search traffic, even though it is hard work.

How many backlinks does your site have?

For more including images and charts see:
https://omhub.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/can-you-grow-your-organic-traffic-without-generating-content/

Can You Grow Your Organic Traffic Without Generating Content page posted “By Mike Armstrong”

What You Need to Know About Content & Influencer Marketing in 2015

New Post on Online Marketing Hub

What You Need to Know About Content & Influencer Marketing in 2015
by christopherjanb
influencer co-created content

Influencer Marketing was a hot topic in 2014 and will continue to gain momentum in 2015 for both B2C and B2B marketers, especially when it comes to content co-creation.

“Why” the warm and fuzzy for influencer content you ask? According to CMI and MarketingProfs, over 90% of B2B marketers are investing in content marketing. Yet, in an age of information overload where 74GB of data are delivered per person, per day (USC), standing out to business buyers can require unreasonable budgets and resources.

Inspired by the need to scale content marketing performance, a growing number of B2B marketers are creating better quality content that gets shared more often, reaches more prospects and grows their influencer network – all at the same time. How so? Through influencer content programs.

Influencer Content Marketing Case Study:
Content Marketing Wonderland eBooks

In 2014 TopRank Online Marketing worked with Content Marketing Institute to create an influencer content program to promote the Content Marketing World conference. The campaign theme of “Alice in Wonderland” aka “Content Marketing Wonderland” borrowed from the conference theme of “Beyond Storytelling”.

The program involved 40+ marketing industry influencers from major brands including: Altimeter Group, Caterpillar, Indium Corporation, charity: water, Bittorrent, Bed, Bath & Beyond, SAP, John Deere, Lattice Engines, Kapost, Progressive Insurance, Boeing, MarketingProfs, ExactTarget, Copyblogger, Red Hat, Facebook, EMC Corporation, Cisco Systems, Tumblr, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Dell, Content Marketing Institute, NewsCred, Kraft Foods and more.

Objectives:
Develop an opportunity for influential speakers to participate in content creation that would promote their presentations, the CMWorld conference and create a useful and infotaining resource for all marketers interested in content marketing. The underwriting sponsor for the program was Curata.

Implementation:
Influencers were drawn from the roster of nearly 200 speakers for the event. Based on criteria, influencers were identified, qualified, recruited and engaged to provide advice according to one of 4 themes (Content Marketing Strategy, Audience Development, Visual Content, Content ROI) that coincided with the programming of the event.

Insights provided by the influencers were compiled according to theme into 4 Visual eBooks. Each eBook was complemented by a long form interview with select influencers and posted here on TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog. Each Visual eBook was also supported with an infographic (4 in all) featuring Tweetable quotes from each influencer.

Content Assets Included:

Content Marketing Strategy eBook, infographic, long form interview and blog post
Audience Development eBook, infographic, long form interview and blog post
Visual Content Marketing Strategy eBook, long form interview and blog post
Content Marketing ROI eBook, infographic, long form interview and blog post
All assets were supported with social shares on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ from participating influencers, CMI, Curata and TopRank Marketing.

Performance:
Primary objectives for the program were conference awareness and speaker/influencer exposure measured by page views, and leads for the underwriting sponsor. Leading up to the conference (mid Sept), the eBooks earned thousands of social shares, over 145,000 views on SlideShare and 20,000 page views on TopRankBlog. By the time the conference was held, there were 2,000+ PDF downloads, 800 leads and 200+ event referrals.

All campaign assets remained live for several months after the campaign and the total views, downloads and leads as of Dec 30, 2014 were:

218,971 Total eBook Views:
4,023 Total eBook PDF Downloads:
1,040 Total Leads Captured
The net result of the program was substantial and sustained exposure for the conference, speakers and sponsor leading up to and after the event. Of course TopRank Online Marketing benefitted from exposure through virtually every single content asset, social share and download resulting in numerous inquiries and several ongoing consulting engagements and projects. Overall it was a successful campaign and is the reason we’re producing another conference eBook program for CMI in 2015 – the 5th year in a row.

Along with this case study, I’ve realized that we’ve literally written an eBook-worth of content on the topic of influencer and content marketing.

If you’d like to make working with influencers and co-created content a more productive part of your digital marketing mix in 2015, here are 18 posts to get you up to speed from strategy and planning to winning a budget to tools to performance measurement and optimization.

The Fallacy of Influence – Lee Odden
8 Things You Need to Know About Influencer Marketing – Brian Larson
How Content Plus an Influencer Network Can Grow Your Business – Emily Bacheller
The Hidden Value of Influencers in B2B Content Marketing – Lee Odden
How to Get Executive Buy-In for Your B2B Influencer Marketing Program – Brooke Furry
Customer & Influencer Research in Social Media – Lee Odden
Influencer Marketing and Content FTW! 7 Steps to Co-Created Awesome – Lee Odden
9 Tools to Discover Influencers in Your Industry – Lee Odden
Influencer Marketing in 5 Simple Steps – Jesse Pickrain
The Power of Influence in Content Marketing – Lee Odden
Content and Influencer Marketing is A Powerful Way to Grow Your Business – Lee Odden
5 Tips on Crowdsourcing Your Brand’s Influence – Nick Ehrenberg
Influencer Outreach – 5 Ways to Fail – Lee Odden
How to Incorporate SEO and Influencer Content – Lee Odden
How a Shift from All SEO to Social & Influencer Content Boosted Page Views by 500% – Lee Odden
B2B Marketing Innovation: Tips On Creating Social Influence in B2B Marketing from Alan Belniak of PTC – Lee Odden
The Truth About Influence in B2B Marketing from Master Strategist Paul Gillin – Lee Odden
New Report: How Content Co-Creation With Influencers Beats Information Overload – Lee Odden
If that isn’t enough, here’s info on an upcoming presentation on influencer and content marketing I’m giving for the fine folks at BMA Colorado on February 11th, “Create Demand and B2B Marketing Influence with Co-Created Content“.

In the presentation, I’ll talk about best practices and how we’ve worked with organizations like Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs and LinkedIn to leveraged influencer content programs to attract and engage business buyers.

Some of the takeaways include:
– How influencer content creates solutions for multiple audiences
– How to identify, qualify and recruit the right influencers
– How co-created, modular content is planned, collected, assembled and repurposed
– How to inspire co-creators to help amplify your content
– How to use the Attract, Engage, Convert model for influencer content performance optimization
– Best and worst practices when working with influencers on an ongoing basis

Of course, if you’re not in Denver, then here’s a variation on that presentation that I’ll be giving at the B2B C2C conference in Scottsdale, AZ on February 17th, “B2B Content at Scale – How to Create a Competitive Advantage by Crowdsourcing Marketing Content with Influencers“.
| http://ift.tt/faSbAI

For more including images see:
https://omhub.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/what-you-need-to-know-about-content-influencer-marketing-in-2015/

The What You Need to Know About Content & Influencer Marketing in 2015 page was posted “By Mike Armstrong”

5 Steps to Run Effective Large-scale Content Projects

New post on Online Marketing Hub

5 Steps to Run Effective Large-scale Content Projects
by christopherjanb
5_Steps_Large_Scale_Content_Projects_CoverLarge content projects involve lots of content creation, be that content in the form of words, images, or videos in a relatively short time. Is such a project on your road map, but you’re not sure where to get started? Or maybe you work in a business that produces only small amounts of content, but you’ve always wondered what goes into erecting the girders of large content production projects. I’ve worked on my share of large-scale projects. Think writing 1.6 million words in 12 weeks, auditing 3,000 URLs in 50 days, and updating 910 hotel websites weekly. It’s not always pretty, and it’s not always easy, but it is definitely doable and – dare I say – even enjoyable if done correctly.

Operationally, there are a lot of moving parts to consider when setting up a large-scale content production team. The larger the project, the more opportunities exist for Murphy’s law – what can go wrong will go wrong – to show itself. It’s important that you take the time to properly lay the foundation to guide and support a great team of content producers before beginning your content production. Although this post primarily focuses on the production of textual content, the principles can easily apply to other content forms, including images and videos. Similarly, many of the core principles can apply to smaller production teams.

1. Properly vet content producers
The content is only as good as the people who create it. It is critical that you pinpoint people who are creative yet task-oriented to complete the job by deadline according to your specifications. Evaluate experience and ability in light of the available budget. One main factor that could affect cost and quality is the type of writer you need – a generalist who is an all-around good writer with a broad base of experience who can do research to educate herself and write for a lay audience, or a true expert who is deeply knowledgeable on a subject and can really explain the nuances or cutting-edge issues for a specialized audience.

Vet_Content_Producers_Image

Some people assume that writers and editors are interchangeable, but this is not the case. You need a team where each role – from writer to project manager – has specific skills. With any writing, editing, or proofreading role, you want to ensure that candidates have experience, employ proper grammar and punctuation, and can share a portfolio of their work. However, you can’t stop there. Here are some additional standout qualities unique to each position:

Writer

Creativity in brainstorming ideas and giving a fresh perspective
Quick and efficient research skills
Accurate and interesting work
Editor

Proven ability to coach and lead small teams
Willingness to provide feedback in a positive manner
Ability to balance the big-picture focus and organization of the article while still attending to small but important grammatical details
Willingness to daringly reorganize items and/or cut items
When vetting writers and editors, we often ask them to complete a writing-and-editing test in addition to providing work samples. These tests usually yield more accurate results because they require on-the-spot creation with the provided subject matter. This small time investment by writer or editor candidates is usually worth it when they want to acquire a large amount of work from you. However, don’t rely strictly on the test. We’ve found that some highly specialized writers may have a wealth of information to share, but also may need a strong editor.

Proofreader

Attention to detail and organization
Ability to stick to proofreading and not rewrite a piece or edit for content (it’s harder than it sounds)
Project manager

Experience guiding teams through content creation projects
Workflow mapping and editorial calendar creation experience
Familiarity with relevant technology
Proven ability to juggle many different items at once
Ability to communicate and answer questions
Capability to coach, teach, and lead teams
Fearlessness in pruning non-performers from the team
Attention to detail and organization
Proven writing and editing experience
2. Develop a content style guide
Create a content style guide that is shareable with both your client and contractors/employees. The style guide should not be about how to do it (see No. 3 on training materials for that), but rather a what-to-produce document. Style guides often offer the guidelines on format, logo size, logo color, font type, etc. A content style guide certainly can include those elements, but it also focuses on the vision of the content, including:

Target audience
Strategic objectives
Tone, voice, and style
Samples of approved work
Examples of pieces that don’t make the cut (sometimes these are even more helpful than approved pieces)
Examples of tactical items such as headline format, meta data, and specific grammar and usage rules
3. Develop training materials
The better your training materials are, the less time you will spend providing feedback and revisions, and the happier your client will be with the end product. Create a detailed training manual and instructional videos that should be the ultimate reference guide for the project. The manual should be required reading for all contractors and employees working on the project. Focus on:

Audience: Address new-to-the-project contractors or employees; don’t make knowledge-based assumptions.
Pathways: Write for multiple roles (e.g., writers, editors, proofers, project managers).
Process: Clearly spell out workflow and who does what when.
Checklists: Provide role-specific checklists and focus on the most important items each role must perform.
Samples: Provide several samples of quality work.
Screenshots: Provide lots of screenshots to illustrate instructions; pictures are easier to digest and remember.
Table of contents: Provide organization and easy access.
Appendix: Provide further detail if needed.
Instructional videos are hugely useful in training large teams; they distill the information in the training guides into quickly digestible image and sound bites. Videos don’t have to be super polished as they are meant as internal resources to help content producers catch the vision for the project and understand the ground rules. You can use inexpensive software like Camtasia, KnowledgeVision or Adobe Voice to create helpful training videos. Create a series of four- to five-minute videos that focus on specific topics or specific roles (e.g., writer, editor, proofreader).

Training_Video_Example

4. Establish clear deadlines, chain of command, and workflow
Make sure each contractor or employee is provided with clear assignments and deadlines, and understands the importance of meeting those deadlines. Clearly state ramifications if deadlines are missed. Each person on the project should have a direct supervisor to whom he can go with questions, problems, emergencies, etc. Limit the number of people reporting to each supervisor so the project stays manageable. The bigger the project, the more small teams you need to keep production chugging along. Keys to a smoothly running project:

Content management system: Use an easy-to-understand and constantly accessible online tool (your own CMS or Google Drive) to provide access to assignments and deadlines.
Communicate: Provide updates when assignments or deadlines change. Setting expectations early and reminding often are key.
Workflow: Make sure all roles know when and how to share their work with the next person to work on the content. Map a crystal-clear workflow (and include in your training documentation).
5. Provide feedback regularly
It’s important to provide feedback to writers and editors early in the process. Put a team system in place so every writer and editor’s work is reviewed promptly and revisions are guided and double-checked. This prevents the log-jam effect wherein writers are toiling away on their third or fourth piece only to be told their first piece was done incorrectly. They have to go back and revise all the pieces. It’s much easier to revise one piece first and then do the rest correctly than it is to revise three or four pieces and still produce pieces five and six to stay on schedule.

Project managers or senior editors should coach new writers and editors through the process, providing clear and specific feedback about ways their work is making or missing the mark (remember, positive feedback can be just as helpful as critical feedback). Project managers should actively look for:

Dead weight: There are some poor or non-performers in every large-scale project. Set criteria in advance for what dead weight means to your project and be prepared to make cuts accordingly. Criteria could include:
o Number of revision requests by the editor or project manager

o Number of mistakes in the copy

o Number of missed deadlines

Shining stars: There will always be people who are very good at the project and there might be some who can advance to new levels of value. These can include:
o Writers who might make good editors

o Writers or editors who might make good senior editors or project managers

o Contractors who might work great for future or other projects going on within your company

Finally, quality assurance should be a continual part of the process. Don’t assume that once everyone’s been vetted, instructed, reviewed, and coached that production will stay top shelf. That opens the door for Murphy’s law. Stay vigilant, performing random quality assurance checks on all work at various stages – writing, editing, and proofreading.

Large-scale content production is a complicated business, but organization and pre-game planning can make the difference between success and failure. There are hiccups in every project, but by following these five steps, you will be well on your way to setting up a top-notch content production team.

Want more instruction on how to manage today’s biggest content marketing challenges? Sign up for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Access over 35 courses, taught by experts from Google, Mashable, SAP, and more.

The post 5 Steps to Run Effective Large-scale Content Projects appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

For more including pictures see:
https://omhub.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/5-steps-to-run-effective-large-scale-content-projects/

5 Steps to Run Effective Large-scale Content Projects page posted “By Mike Armstrong”

How to Know When You Need a Content Marketing Agency

New post on Online Marketing Hub

How to Know When You Need a Content Marketing Agency
by christopherjanb

Content marketing agencies don’t try to compete with the full-service marketing agencies. They aren’t the be-everything-to-everyone resource, but they do offer unique value to a cross section of the business community that can benefit from an agency dedicated to content.

Here are five situations where this specialized service might be what the business needs:

1. Early-stage startups that need a flexible marketing solution
You worked out your business plan, logo, website, and all that important stuff. You have seed or Series A funding, but still need to be frugal. Until you receive a more significant investment round, you’re not ready to hire a full-time marketing employee.

You can pay a retainer to a content marketing agency and gain a dedicated content solution that can be customized to meet your evolving needs. Look for agencies that allow clients to modify their retainer packages at least quarterly to allow for the flexibility that a startup requires. Content marketing agencies can assist with planning your online marketing strategy. They can assist in developing written content that meets the diverse needs of a startup, including web copy, case studies, blog content, and white papers. Because your marketing strategy may evolve quickly, an agency gives you the ability to tap into a pool of talent that can be scaled to meet your company’s demand.

2. Mid-sized or large organizations without sufficient internal resources
You’ve got a solid marketing strategy, but when it comes time to execute, you don’t have staff members who have the time to produce content along with all the meetings, trade shows, and other tasks on their plates.

A content marketing agency can collaborate with your internal team to create the content on your editorial calendar, including working with your CEO and subject-matter experts to create blog content and demand-generation papers on their behalf. However, as CMI’s Michele Linn points out, if you don’t have executive buy-in for your content marketing efforts, it will be difficult to tie in an outsourced provider’s work with your larger marketing strategy. To be most effective, it can be helpful to first plan a content marketing strategy and rough editorial calendar internally before you contract with an agency. In addition, a several-month trial run with an agency can help you determine how successful the effort is, and whether it may be worth investing in a full-time employee to assist with content marketing.

3. Organizations with temporary staffing challenges
If your marketing manager just put in her two-week notice or needs to take a three-month medical leave, your blog, and other content marketing efforts don’t need to take a hiatus. A content marketing agency can fill the gaps to sustain your content efforts.

When possible, it’s important to bring in the agency while your employee is still working. While an agency’s role may be limited to content development, it is important to give the agency a clear picture of the company’s overall messaging and voice so that it can develop appropriate content to meet your goals. Many agencies are willing to step in for a set duration, which can be much more fruitful than hiring a temporary employee who is likely on the hunt for a full-time job.

4. Business professionals who want to build their industry reputation
Many business professionals, including CEOs, consultants, doctors, attorneys, and other leaders, want to build or manage their reputations online, but don’t have the time to blog regularly. Hiring a content marketing team to ghostwrite content on your behalf and develop an influencer outreach strategy can be an ideal solution. It’s important to ensure that your content accurately supports your opinions, so you can’t put your strategy on autopilot. By collaborating with an agency to identify the key messages to share with a broader audience, you can build your reputation with minimal time investment. If the agency acts as your ghostwriter, it is important to have a non-disclosure agreement.

5. Marketing agencies without in-house content marketing expertise
You may not have the content expertise to complete a client project that relies heavily on long-form content because your agency focuses on ad copy and design work. In this case, subcontracting to a content marketing agency can be helpful. You can choose to brand the content as “white-label” content, which does not reveal the content marketing agency’s involvement, or identify it as outsourced work so your client can correspond directly with your subcontracted team. While white-label content may help maintain the image of a firm that can do it all, you’ll need to be careful that you don’t run into communication errors when passing feedback to the subcontracted agency or a project could easily get off track.

If you run a content marketing agency or you’ve hired one for your organization, what are some other scenarios where a standalone content marketing agency might be a good choice? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Want more expert insight on how to address your content marketing challenges? Check out all the fantastic CMW sessions that are available through our Video on Demand portal.

Image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post How to Know When You Need a Content Marketing Agency appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

For more including images see:
http://omhub.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/how-to-know-when-you-need-a-content-marketing-agency/

How to Know When You Need a Content Marketing Agency page posted “By Mike Armstrong”

30 Quotes From Content Marketing Influencers in 2014

New post on Online Marketing Hub

30 Quotes From Content Marketing Influencers in 2014
by christopherjanb
shutterstock_22026175

As a newer member of the TopRank Agency blog team, I spent a good part of my first couple weeks here digging through the past year’s blog posts and getting up to speed with TopRank content and best practices. As I did, I found that I was jotting down quotes and notes that stood out to me — some from industry leaders, and others from up-and-comers I haven’t yet met. In sharing this list with you, I hope that you’ll find the same insight and utility that have discovered.

Here are a just a few (OK, 30) of my favorite quotes from some of the best brains in the business. You may have your own quotes that you remember well from conferences, books or blog posts in 2014. If so, feel free to share!

As you will see, I have categorized my favorite quotes into four topic areas: Strategy, Tactics, Predictions, and ROI. In doing so, I noticed that some people’s quotes fell into multiple categories, also that some individual quotes could have fit more than one category. (I don’t know that this changes the relevance of the quotes themselves, just an interesting side note.)

Content Marketing Strategy
30Content_Michael_Brenner

Michael Brenner
@BrennerMichael

“Content is the atomic particle of all marketing across paid, owned, and earned channels. A Culture of Content starts with an obsession of customer.”
Content Marketing Best Practices Report: Creating a Culture of Content

30Content_Brian_Clark

Brian Clark
@brianclark

“The best “native” advertising helps build an audience into a a long-term business asset, and that’s a goal worth spending on in conjunction with owned content creation.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2015

30Content_Andrew_Davis

Andrew Davis
@TPLDrew

“Some of the best content has no CTA. There’s an implied action that sparks a new journey!”
A Writer’s Guide: Calls to Action – Tips Inspired by Tweets from Content Marketing World

30Content_Gurdeep_Dhillon

Gurdeep Dhillon
@gurdeepd

“Modern marketing is about taking risks and not being afraid to fail. No matter how much we research and study our audience, we’re not always going to hit the mark when we create content. The key is to recognize the failures, learn from them, and move on. And the way to do this is simple … measure everything!”
How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy eBook

30Content_Kevin_Green

Kevin Green – Dell (client)
@KevinMGreen

“Many people forget how new search and SEO really is to the average user. Most digital marketers are still thinking in terms of keywords, but consumers are getting more conversational. Search is getting smarter and more effective at understanding the nuances of a user’s requests and serving them not only the results they are looking for, but in an experience that helps them better discover and learn.

Digital is now the first touch point for the consumer and a channel where the consumer has greater control over what they see and when they see it. In a world where the intended target has limitless choices, it’s up to Digital Marketers to understand the customer journey, customer expectations and desired outcomes from a myriad of scenarios.”
Digital Marketing – What Does It Really Mean? Insights from 9 Brand Digital Marketers

30Content_Ann_Handley

Ann Handley
@annhandley

“Does your content lead readers on a journey, or does it merely stuff them as leads into a pipeline?”
Infographic: How to Grow Your Audience – 10 Tips from Facebook, MarketingProfs, ExactTarget, Copyblogger

30Content_John_Jantsch

John Jantsch
@ducttape

“I believe organizations will go deeper into overall strategy with digital marketing – Chief Digital Officers will help organizations lessen their focus on demand creation and heighten it on organizing an end to end customer journey through digital storytelling tactics.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

30Content_Deanna_Lazzaroni

Deanna Lazzaroni (client)
@DigitalDL

“Social has a powerful way of connecting great minds. Don’t be afraid to tell the world why you’re one of them. Build your brand.”
15 Women Who Rock Social Media at Top Tech Companies – Career Advice & Insights

30Content_Rebecca_Lieb

Rebecca Lieb
@lieblink

“Content strategy is the infrastructure of content marketing. Without answers to ‘why’ & ‘how’ the result is chaos.”
Content Marketing Strategy Infographic – 12 Tips from SAP, Boeing, CAT, Progressive, John Deere, charity: water

30Content_Jason_Miller

Jason Miller (client)
@JasonMillerCA

“Standing out is overrated. As a content marketer you really need to ask yourself: “Do you want to stand out or do you want to truly connect with your customers and prospects?” The answer is a balance of the two.”
Rock & Roll Social Media & Content Marketing Interview with Jason Miller of LinkedIn

“We don’t need more content — we need more relevant content,”
Welcome to the Funnel, We Have Leads & Names – Jason Miller of LinkedIn at MnSummit

30Content_Joe_Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi
@JoePulizzi

“If we only talk about ourselves, we’ll never reach customers”
5 Content Marketing Best Practices Most Businesses Aren’t Doing, but Should! #SMMW14

30Content_Mark_Schaefer

Mark Schaefer

“Are you human? Isn’t that the essence of how this online world started, why we love social media, and what people expect if you are going to build trust and loyalty? And yet, this is getting increasingly lost in a world preoccupied with traffic, search rankings and automated marketing software.”
5 Must Read Perspectives on Social Media Marketing Strategy

30Content_Scott_Stratten

Scott Stratten
@unmarketing

“I’m the first person to preach about customer experience, but if your product is terrible, I don’t care if you’re the greatest customer/community believer in the world, it won’t help. We always talk about the importance of social media, of being where the customer conversation is, but we need to tend to our own home first.”

“What it comes down to is transparency in marketing, that’s where the consumer comes in. Marketing is no longer about what brand message the company wants to put out, it’s what the customer thinks. Good or bad. You don’t define your brand. If you want to know what your brand statement is, ask a customer.”
What’s Next in B2B Marketing? #MPB2B Interview with Scott Stratten @UnMarketing

30Content_Nazil_Yuzak

Nazli Yuzak – Dell (client)
@NazliYuzak

“Be prepared to fight the good fight! Social media is still about building human to human relationships. There may be a lot of content to share from your organization but you have to defend the customers’ perspective and make sure that they are being presented with the most relevant content to where they are in their journey.”
15 Women Who Rock Social Media at Top Tech Companies – Career Advice & Insights

Content Marketing Tactics
30Content_Ardath_Albee

Ardath Albee
@ardath421

“Let’s say you develop 5 resources to help prospects reach an objective. A prospect reads the 2 resources about and solving a specific problem and a case study about a company similar to theirs, but ignores the 3 that take a different perspective. Now you know exactly what type of information will be relevant to entering into a dialogue with the prospect.”
How to Show Real ROI For Your Content Marketing eBook

30Content_Brian_Clark

Brian Clark
@brianclark

“To please your audience, research their problems & desires, observe their content interactions & iterate.”
Infographic: How to Grow Your Audience – 10 Tips from Facebook, MarketingProfs, ExactTarget, Copyblogger

30Content_Jason_Miller

Jason Miller (client)
@JasonMillerCA

“Take your content and treat it like leftover turkey. Slice and dice it and use it in as many ways possible.”
18 More Amazing Search & Digital Marketing Takeaways from #MNSummit
30Content_Ann_Handley

Ann Handley
@annhandley

“Writing doesn’t have to be long to be meaningful. I’d argue that the words we use everywhere – on our websites, on our landing pages, on our LinkedIn profiles and so on – are just as important as the words we use in places we typically think of as ‘writing.’ ”
Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content – Interview with Ann Handley
30Content_Michael_Stelzner

Michael Stelzner
@Mike_Stelzner

“Those that pitch are becoming ignored. A little bit of selling here and there is great, but those marketers who do nothing but sell, sell, sell, are gonna get ignored, dismissed and overlooked by consumers and prospects. Get cracking folks, it’s time to actually care. That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track, like answering customer questions and providing more value online.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

30Content_Amy_Higgins

Amy Higgins – concur (client)
@amywhiggins

“When crafting a blog post, think about the title – if just the title is shared in a tweet, will someone what to read it?”
Content Plus Social is A Sweet Song to Sing – Interview with Amy Higgins of Concur

Content Marketing Predictions
30Content_Brian_Solis

Brian Solis
@briansolis

“I’d love to say that by 2015 we will truly see digital strategies that are integrated across social, mobile, advertising, marketing, comms, et al. But, we won’t. What we will see though is a more conscious effort to bring disparate groups to the table to learn how to collaborate across screens, channels, and moments of truth to deliver ONE experience to customers wherever they are in the lifecycle.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

30Content_Jay_Baer

Jay Baer
@jaybaer

“With content marketing reaching near-ubiquity, the success pendulum will swing toward boosting consumption of content. That will put a new focus on math, testing and optimization as content production and content distribution become equally important.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

30Content_Pam_Didner

Pam Didner
@PamDidner

“The major change for 2015 is NOT about digital marketing. The major change will come from Marketers by Going Back to Basics: reevaluate the target audience, determine what works and what doesn’t. Re-prioritize and be smart about resource allocation and investment.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

30Content_David_Meerman_Scott

David Meerman Scott
@dmscott

“Marketing (one to many) and sales (one to one) are beginning to use the same techniques of content creation and real-time engagement. The best organizations will not run marketing and sales as separate “departments” but will merge the two functions into one customer facing organization focused on revenue generation.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

Content Marketing ROI
30Content_Joe_Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi
@JoePulizzi

“Skip analytics reports for your CMO. Instead, focus measurement reporting on performance: sales, cost savings, and customer retention.”
Infographic: Achieve Real Content Marketing ROI – 10 Tips from CMI, Dell, Kraft Foods, Curata, NewsCred

30Content_Michael_Brenner

Michael Brenner
@BrennerMichael

“Content Marketing ROI is no harder than ROI for the rest of marketing. But many folks ask the question more as a defense mechanism for change. You will hear marketers ask this question despite not knowing what the ROI is on the rest of their marketing spend. So start with that benchmark. What is the ROI of marketing? Content marketing ROI is easier because content marketing results are easier than something like advertising.”
Lessons on Marketing Strategy and Content Marketing ROI – Michael Brenner Interview

30Content_Mark_Schaefer

Mark Schaefer
@markwschaefer

“The way I measure content marketing success would vary by every customer. I would start with this question — ‘What is the behavior or attitude we are trying to change?’ Usually we can backward engineer from that response to find a set of measurements or leading indicators to determine our progress.”
A Practical Approach to Content Marketing Success – Interview with Mark Schaefer
As I mentioned, if you have any memorable quotes from 2014, feel free to share. There are surely more than 30 I could have pulled from the past year’s archives. I’m looking forward to 2015 at TopRank, where I’m sure I’ll fill a notebook or two with quotes from even more great minds we come across at TopRankBlog.

Top image: Shutterstock

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For more on this article including pics see:
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30 Quotes From Content Marketing Influencers in 2014 page posted “By Mike Armstrong”

16 Stats That Explain Why Adaptive Content Matters Right Now

New post on Online Marketing Hub

16 Stats That Explain Why Adaptive Content Matters Right Now
by christopherjanb
folded measuring tape

Big data. Content. Growth hacking. Pivot. Engagement. A few words and phrases that make us want to stick a fork in our eye each time we hear them. Or stick a fork in the eye of the person using the words.

We all hate buzzwords, but it’s hard to get away from them. A phrase sticks and soon a parade that rivals Macy’s is trailing behind it. That popularity begets even more popularity, and, well after the phrase has worn out its original meaning, everyone is using the damn word.

Thing is: behind each buzzword is a meaningful truth. And quite possibly, a trend worth joining. For instance, anyone who jumped on the big data or content bandwagon did not miss out. In fact, they were rewarded.

And I’m going to make a similar statement about the buzzword for 2015: adaptive content. Pay attention.

Adaptive content 101
Some of you might recall the phrase “adaptive content” from the last episode of The Lede podcast. And some of you might recall the difficulty we had defining the phrase. The definitions we shared span a spectrum of ideas.

Garrett Moon from CoSchedule described adaptive content as the idea of creating once, then publishing everywhere, which was at one time NPR’s official content policy (see COPE).

This is a concept we use here at Copyblogger, and we’ve talked about this before with the asset pillar, especially with infographics. That definition is useful, but it’s just a start.

Dig further into the research (what little of it there is) and you’ll probably think to yourself: “This is nothing more than sophisticated personalization.” You know, the email newsletter you get every day that begins, “Dear [your first name]” or Amazon’s recommendation engine.

While this is true about adaptive content, these examples are all rule-based. We tell our machines, “Okay, if he does X followed by Y, then we think he’ll appreciate Z.” Marketers and search engines both want to guess the user intent.

Very primitive. Very clunky. We should be able to do better.

Our hope with adaptive content is to tailor content to a customer’s experience, behavior, and desires. Like a custom-built mold.

In essence, adaptive content is a culmination of everything we’ve been talking about — experience maps, storyboarding, empathy maps — and what we’ve been saying for so long about creating an experience.

Adaptive content merges all these disciplines under one roof.

It’s almost like choosing your own adventure
I’ve got two examples for you. Let’s start with a simple one.

Mars Cyrillo, product and marketing VP at CI&T, pointed to the experience of buying an airline ticket. Normally we’ll go directly to the airline’s website, find the best flight, and then go to Expedia to buy the ticket.

Instead, Mars explains, adaptive content would be American Airlines recognizing that people behave this way, and then delivering an incentive or specific content that would keep visitors on their site.

This could be as routine as a pop-up offering car rentals or hotel rooms at a reduced rate exclusive to the American Airlines website. It just depends on how much American Airlines knows about its customers.

Noz Urbina wrote about another great example on Content Marketing Institute. He describes a wine-tasting adventure with his partner where the winery provided tablets at the table during the event, but that was it.

Fun, but pointless.

For starters, Noz said they could have:

Allowed check-ins by social media (which should’ve been a no-brainer).
Displayed a personalized welcome screen.
Suggested wine lists and accompaniments like cheeses or crackers.
Adapted the micro-copy and tone of the website based on his visit.
But the winery missed the mark, especially this mind-blowing opportunity:

What they should have done was display a personal welcome screen on the tablet that they gave, and allowed people to add items to the shopping cart that would then add to their final bill so that when they went to the cash register, they paid for what they drank there.

That would’ve been adaptive content in action.

And the reason this is so important: We all come to expect this kind of service (just like Noz did). Whether it’s at the gas pump, the golf course, massage parlor, movie theater, or in our living rooms and offices, we all believe that our experiences should be more interactive.

Why? Smartphones.

Some seductive stats
This overly attached love affair with smartphones has been building all along — and is not going away any time soon. Witness:

About 13 percent of Internet traffic comes from global mobile users. In 2009, that number was just one percent. What contributed to this rise in mobile use? Shopping.
Seventy-seven percent of mobile users use search engines and social sites on their phones.
According to a Google Smartphone User study, “88 percent of those who look for local information on their smartphones take action within a day.” Read: smartphone users are highly-motived buyers.
More importantly, nine out of 10 searches on a mobile device end in an action: reservation, purchase, appointment, download.
Commerce success begins with a superb mobile experience. A Compuware study suggested that if you deliver a bad mobile experience, then more than half of those users will not recommend you — and probably recommend the competition instead.
According to Google search data, one-third of all CPG (consumer packaged goods) searches now originate from smartphones. This trend will only continue to rise since, as Google wrote in a 2011 paper called Zero Moment of Truth, “Search is always accessible — from anywhere, on any device and at any given time.”
Deloitte Consulting confirmed the power of smartphones over commerce in a 2013 paper that demonstrated the devices influenced $159 billion of U.S. retail sales in 2012.
But what it comes down to is the merging of the offline and online world as McKinsey stated: “According to published reports, 48 percent of U.S. consumers believe companies need to do a better job of integrating their online and offline experiences.”
Fifty-four percent of U.S. consumers want in-store digital, mobile touch points.
Often the buying phase starts long before the purchase. Eighty-eight percent of consumers research (and these days, the research could start on a mobile phone, laptop, tablet, watch, or pair of glasses) before they buy, consulting an average of 10.4 sources.
Online research efforts often involve visiting online reviews, ratings, and recommendations, which according to Prestige Marketing leads to 105 percent higher conversion rates. Are you taking advantage of ratings and reviews?
Showrooming — when consumers use their phones to comparison shop in stores — is no longer a threat to brick-and-mortars and reverse showrooming — when consumers go online to research products but then head to brick-and-mortar stores to complete their purchases — is actually on the rise (69 percent), creating an opportunity for forward-thinking businesses to capture more sales.
In other words, smartphones rule the commerce roost. In addition, opportunities for creating personalized experiences through adaptive content are abound, as these further studies suggest:

56 percent of U.S. consumers are happy to buy from a retailer that offers a good (not even great, mind you) personalized experience. (Registration required to view study.)
In this 2012 Consumer Search report, 65 percent of respondents said they look to friends, family, and social media for gift-giving ideas. Interestingly enough, 64 percent also said they look to companies to provide that sort of inspiration.
Companies seem to recognize this desire because 94 percent of them say personalization is critical to their success.
And it’s been long known that personalized e-commerce sites can increase conversions by 70 percent.
So the question is: Are you inspiring your customers with this type of personalized experience?

The challenges that lie ahead
Let me highlight some keywords from this data dump: search, website, mobile, personalization, and engagement. These are the key concepts behind adaptive content, which leads me to think the new environment we are in is less about content and more about experience.

As Jerod said in our conversation on The Lede, “It serves up almost a customized experience for them that is different from what another person gets. Each experience is individualized to have maximum impact.”

Of course, experience is built on content.

But adaptive content presents at least two challenges for a marketer:

Implementing the technology.
Creating the content.
The technology is not easy to figure out and will vary depending on each business’s individual needs. That disadvantage, though, is the perfect opportunity for companies to say, “How can we make software solutions to make adaptive content easier?”

The other challenge is finding the resources to create the content. If you have six customer avatars, then you have six different paths, and each of those paths break off two, three, or four different times. You’ve got a lot of content to create.

No problem if there were 48 hours in a day.

So, with those challenges and some unanswered questions before us, in 2015 we will be diving into the deep end of the adaptive content pool. Our hope is to provide answers and solutions for these challenges so we can all be on the right side of cutting-edge marketing and emerging technology.

Welcome to 2015, and stay tuned.

Adaptive content in action
Have you seen businesses successfully employ adaptive content?

Or have you observed missed opportunities for businesses to use adaptive content? What could the companies have done differently?

How can adaptive content help your business create a superior customer experience?

Let’s continue the discussion over on LinkedIn …

Image by Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash.

About the author
Demian Farnworth
Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

The post 16 Stats That Explain Why Adaptive Content Matters Right Now appeared first on Copyblogger.
For more see:
http://omhub.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/16-stats-that-explain-why-adaptive-content-matters-right-now/

The 16 Stats That Explain Why Adaptive Content Matters Right Now page was posted “By Mike Armstrong”

Content Repurposing Tips

New post on Online Marketing Hub

Falling Behind on Content? Catch Up With These Content Repurposing Tips
by christopherjanb
content marketing repurposing

Remember all that content you were going to have completed before you left for holiday break? Remember the editorial calendar that was going to include all of Q1 2015 that you scaled back to be only January, 2015, that you scaled back to be … well … nothing?

The holidays were great, and you were able to only half occupy your mind with pending work deliverables scheduled for early January. If you are like me, you even planned to use some of your off time to work ahead on a few work tasks, then the holiday events and the family fun got in the way (in a good way, of course).

But you know content is important to your business, and you’re definitely not alone: 86% of B2B companies are using content marketing. If you find yourself behind in your planning of content for your company’s blog these first few weeks after the holidays, you should consider repurposing content that performed well in 2014.

Why Repurpose Content?
Sometimes it’s important to recognize that some of the best content marketing we can produce is already in the works and actually may have done quite well in 2014.

Repurposing can take the form of a summary of successful content, a breakdown of larger content into smaller blog posts, or even a wrap-up of smaller pieces of content into a larger presentation or eBook.

Our own Lee Odden has pointed out five ways to repurpose content. These five repurposing methods bear repeating here.

Turn Powerpoint decks into articles / blog posts
Aggregate email interviews
Break up a long article you’ve had published
Repurpose press releases
Revise old blog posts
Know What has Worked and Why
Have a handle on your analytics and see what is doing best for your blog. At TopRankBlog, Lee identified some of our best social media marketing content to feature in the post Our Top 10 Social Media Marketing Posts of 2014. In looking at our blog’s analytics, Lee saw that the top read blog posts pertaining to social media marketing told a story of varying social networks, as well as social media conference coverage. The post received more than 1,300 shares on social media.

As he compiled this post, it became evident that several of the posts that he was curating were written by different TopRank team members. This offered the opportunity to repurpose the content by asking for input from each of the contributors.

I asked each contributor to the top five posts in Lee’s top 10 list, to share what they learned from putting the post together. These quotes I then used in the post 5 Lessons From Our Top Social Media Marketing Posts of 2014. By bringing in a number of different perspectives into a new blog post, I was able to earn our blog another 1,100+ social shares.

Get It On A Calendar
If repurposing some content buys you time to look ahead a bit in your blogging schedule, we highly recommend that your next step be to put together an editorial calendar. By now you’ve probably learned that editorial calendars and planning are the key to producing consistent content. Many successful marketers are already working off a Q1 2015 editorial calendar and probably have been since just before the end of the year.

There are plenty of editorial plan templates available, and many content management systems and automated marketing tools offer free templates that vary enough so that you can certainly find one that fits your needs.

If you’re looking at basic editorial calendar setup, our friends at Content Marketing Institute provide a great resource to set you up on the right path.

Repurposing On Purpose
To learn more about content repurposing, be sure to check out Lee’s presentation at Social Media Marketing World in March 2015:

How to Create Personalized Content for Specific Target Audiences Without Breaking the Bank.
Creating original content takes resources many small and medium sized businesses don’t have. Content curation and repurposing are great ways to gain more value from content investments, but at what cost to quality? Learn how to plan social content repurposing as a form of personalization that increases content relevancy, efficiency and impact.

For more see:
http://omhub.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/falling-behind-on-content-catch-up-with-these-content-repurposing-tips/

The Content Repurposing Tips page was posted “By Mike Armstrong”

The Startup Journey: My Lessons

New post on Online Marketing Hub

The Startup Journey: My Lessons
by christopherjanb

This time of year brings with it a lot of introspection; emotions are heightened and people become much more sensitized to their environment and the people that surround them.

Everyday my newsfeed contains at least two posts about inspiration and motivation. In many ways it’s helping me validate the road that I’ve chosen to take.

As someone who decided to make the leap into entrepreneurship a few years ago, the journey has been wrought with mixed experiences and emotions. Lately, I’ve taken the time to pause and reflect on..

where I’ve been,
where I’m going,
and why the heck I am going to make it.
Where I’ve been
Many of my close friends know this about me. I work…. a lot. I’m a workaholic. There, I’ve admitted it. In the past, I have denied it, and have tried to justify why I pour my mind, time and energy into my work. My husband can pinpoint the exact day that I changed; it was the day I started talking more about possibilities and how things could work if conceived of differently. I knew the advent of social media would fundamentally change how we observe, measure and predict human behaviour. It was the day I became enamored with figuring things out vs. remaining complacent and unsatisfied with the way they were. I was agitated and clearly frustrated as I internalized this struggle. I was hell bent on trying to fix what was clearly broken.

From that day forward I was different. It impacted my personal life – both as a wife and mother. Balancing the deliverables of my career with the needs of my family has always been a challenge. I continue to struggle with this daily; I am thankful I have a partner who gently reminds me and keeps me honest.

Conceptualizing is Exciting
We’ve all been down this road; the world is our oyster. “Imagine the day when… I am sure there is a way to…. If we could combine this with that, you could….”

I started theorizing and playing with possibilities. My thoughts were all-consuming and sometimes they overwhelmed me to a point where it seemed I’d lost my bearings. It’s an amazing feeling when what you conceive seems nearly within reach. The only thing you think about is making it happen.

Amy Tobin, my partner at ArCompany, has ventured down this path with me many a late night. We dreamt up new ways of doing things… carving out a path for ourselves that made us different and better than what was currently out there. Dreaming is exciting; implementing is twice the work… and twice the charm.

The Hard Lessons
The whirlwind of the last two years has not been without its challenges. Trying to realize your dream means you have to voluntarily go to some pretty dark places.

Getting up in the morning can be tough. There was a time when I had a purpose. A full-time job dictated that for me. I had a place to go. I had a paycheck to earn. That was my external motivator. While the excitement of a new business makes me jump out of bed most mornings, human emotion fluctuates in rhythm with the ebbs and flows of the business momentum. There are days I just want to crawl under a rock and hide from the disappointment. That’s when I muster up the energy to make it through the day and try to find a glimmer of hope. I have friends who have gone through similar experiences; their counsel gives me comfort.
Making mistakes is a good thing. Agility is imperative. This is the only way I’ve learned to be better. When we first conceived of ArCompany we knew that social would inevitably weave its way into the operations of business. As people who’ve lived and thrived in this environment both personally and professionally, we knew that positioning our brand to assist in the transformation would be easy. We were wrong. The market wasn’t ready for us or this social business concept. All of the work we had done to build our value proposition was not taking root. We had to go back to the drawing board and appeal to current market demand. We spent another few months conceptualizing the revised positioning. We decided to focus on the immediate impact of business intelligence and its direct influence on how a company could make better decisions. This seemed to resonate.
Sell your value no matter what. As a new company coming into a market doing something no one else did, our prospective clients expected us to prove our worth. Unless our solutions have been proven, prospects would be reticent to buy…. they wanted a less risky option. If it meant a sale… if it meant building a business case then ‘why not’? We realized that by acquiescing to a lower price we were, in essence, devaluing our service. Once it became clear that what we provided was indeed a valued service, we started fighting to keep the price associated with that value. In many respects, that meant we would need to be willing to walk away from potential clients who didn’t ‘get’ or value what we do.
The customer is not always right. I wrote about this earlier this year. It became clear that it was our job to force our customer to allow us to do our jobs properly so that they could be successful.
When things go wrong, someone needs to be blamed. The client will never take responsibility because they don’t have to. When a deliverable is late to market or when things go awry, this knee-jerk reaction to find the culprit always points the client in one direction: the onus is always on the agency to explain what has happened.

One thing I’ve learned, especially in this nascent space, is that our clients have come to us because we do something no one else does. It is extremely frustrating when our strategy is questioned before we get out of the gate. It is even more frustrating when the client changes things midstream. But once I began having transparent discussions about the client’s anxieties: investor expectations, and management pressures, I began to have full context into their world. And this changed things. The relationship became symbiotic as we worked together to manage those business anxieties and make the client look like a rock star in the process.

You don’t know everything. I had no trouble admitting to this. Becoming a freelancer was a piece of cake, but starting a company was an entirely different beast. It meant looking at the business longer-term and planning for it. Where was the market going? What resources would we require? What specific talents would we need to hire for? How would we scale the business? I’ve been fortunate to lean on a few advisors and a business coach. At least a few times a week, I turn to these trusted sources to provide some sage advice and be brutally honest in the process.
Not knowing everything also means hiring people who are smarter than you. I relish in my conversations with Susan Silver, who continues to impress me with her knowledge of human behaviour and data.

Joe Cardillo is also wise beyond his years. As we grow this company, his steadfast hand to make this company more streamlined, efficient and grown-up has not only changed the way we operate, it’s also made us much more productive.

Plan for scalability or else. Bob Jones, my partner, has used this crazy line that makes me smile every time I hear it:
At some point, the dog is going to catch the bumper of a cement truck

This is a good problem to have, however when the sh** hits the fan and there is no plan in place to resource properly, this will fail… and fail fast. At ArCompany, we’ve always been focused on the one thing that we do best. We’ve also realized there are aspects of our business that are extremely time-consuming and would not allow us to put the necessary resources into our prime offering. We’ve had to forsake revenue to ensure we deliver to client expectations, and it has been an internal struggle at times.

At the end of the day, growth means creating a system that delivers a properly executed end to end solution. Relying on partners who have succeeded in their respective arenas is important. It lends more credibility to the business and creates an engine that will able to accommodate more volume as required.

The things I’m thankful for:
I regrouped with my team last summer. It had been an exhausting and difficult road until that point, but we were able to move the business and gain positive momentum in just over a year. When I think about the successes we’ve had to date: the clients who we’ve had an impact on, and new clients that are coming our way because our approach to solutions is refreshing and different, I am reminded how we got here: Amy Tobin wrote this great post about team chemistry being “absolutely everything” in building a superb team:

We discussed how blessed we are to have a team that has inherent chemistry, but we also created it this way with intent. What’s more, we safeguard this chemistry when we bring on new hires. It is important to us that our team is positive, forward looking and able to be honest with each other. It’s essential that we have a ‘safe place’ to brainstorm and work through ideas. I believe this is the most overlooked element of any team, but we all know: if you love your job, you’ll work harder and longer at it. Loving your team is an essential part of that.

I couldn’t do this all myself. Having the vision is one thing, but executing on that vision means having partners who have bought into the same dream. I am blessed that both partners, Amy and Bob, have shared in that vision and have poured their hearts and souls into making this company great.

Many times, it’s these connections that solidify the team when the going gets tough. Today we are less fearful of what’s around the corner. Today, we are more confident about the value we bring to customers.

We look at new challenges and smile because doing something new and different is what drives us. I don’t fear the statement, “it’s never been done before” because, in reality, that should be a motivator not a stumbling block.

What I promise myself:
Perhaps this is an early New Years Resolution. In reality, these are promises I should make regardless of season.

First and foremost, family comes first. I do work hard but a wise man told me that if I can’t give my kids the same time I give my work, then I have to make sure every second I give to my family counts–quality over quantity.

I will be mindful. One day, Daniel Newman posted about the strength of mindfulness. He said it was something that he ascribed to each and every day. It reminded me of a time when I used to meditate: being present and being aware of everything. There are so many things racing through our minds simultaneously at any given moment. Unless I am truly present – that means not allowing myself to get distracted – I’m unable to neither focus, nor truly understand what the situation calls for. I recently took up this pursuit again to deal with stress, but to allow myself to really be in the moment and give the necessary attention to everything I needed to do. So far, so good.

I will be kind. I admit that my temper has a tendency to fall prey to teenage misdemeanors and I will react with occasional outbursts. This can crossover to my work. But I have to be relentless in nurturing an environment that allows everyone to thrive for the sake the company.

Last, but not least, I will sleep at least 8 hours a night. My friend Ryan Pannell, tells me this,

…it’s the difference between starting out every day with a sizeable lead over everyone else, and starting out jockeying for position with everyone else… Every massively successful person I know is an early riser. Biochemically your brain does not fire as well late at night (that’s a fact).

As I write this, I realize it’s 12:05 AM. Yes, I’m still awake. My mind is churning with a deluge of ideas and things to do this day. But this I know: tomorrow … er in 6 hours (sorry Ryan) I will awake with a view that this day will be better than the last.

Author information
Hessie Jones
Hessie Jones
CEO at ArCompany
CEO at ArCompany, and a seasoned digital strategist having held management positions for top Ad Agencies including Ogilvy, Rapp Collins, and Isobar Digital. She also has extensive start-up experience with launch successes like Yahoo! Answers. Hessie is also an active blogger/writer for ArCompany, Huffington Post, Digital Journal and WhatsYourTech.ca
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The post The Startup Journey: My Lessons appeared first on SteamFeed.

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The Startup Journey: My Lessons page was posted “By Mike Armstrong”

30 Quotes From Content Marketing Influencers in 2014

New post on Online Marketing Hub

30 Quotes From Content Marketing Influencers in 2014
by christopherjanb
shutterstock_22026175

As a newer member of the TopRank Agency blog team, I spent a good part of my first couple weeks here digging through the past year’s blog posts and getting up to speed with TopRank content and best practices. As I did, I found that I was jotting down quotes and notes that stood out to me — some from industry leaders, and others from up-and-comers I haven’t yet met. In sharing this list with you, I hope that you’ll find the same insight and utility that have discovered.

Here are a just a few (OK, 30) of my favorite quotes from some of the best brains in the business. You may have your own quotes that you remember well from conferences, books or blog posts in 2014. If so, feel free to share!

As you will see, I have categorized my favorite quotes into four topic areas: Strategy, Tactics, Predictions, and ROI. In doing so, I noticed that some people’s quotes fell into multiple categories, also that some individual quotes could have fit more than one category. (I don’t know that this changes the relevance of the quotes themselves, just an interesting side note.)

Content Marketing Strategy
30Content_Michael_Brenner

Michael Brenner
@BrennerMichael

“Content is the atomic particle of all marketing across paid, owned, and earned channels. A Culture of Content starts with an obsession of customer.”
Content Marketing Best Practices Report: Creating a Culture of Content

30Content_Brian_Clark

Brian Clark
@brianclark

“The best “native” advertising helps build an audience into a a long-term business asset, and that’s a goal worth spending on in conjunction with owned content creation.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2015

30Content_Andrew_Davis

Andrew Davis
@TPLDrew

“Some of the best content has no CTA. There’s an implied action that sparks a new journey!”
A Writer’s Guide: Calls to Action – Tips Inspired by Tweets from Content Marketing World

30Content_Gurdeep_Dhillon

Gurdeep Dhillon
@gurdeepd

“Modern marketing is about taking risks and not being afraid to fail. No matter how much we research and study our audience, we’re not always going to hit the mark when we create content. The key is to recognize the failures, learn from them, and move on. And the way to do this is simple … measure everything!”
How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy eBook

30Content_Kevin_Green

Kevin Green – Dell (client)
@KevinMGreen

“Many people forget how new search and SEO really is to the average user. Most digital marketers are still thinking in terms of keywords, but consumers are getting more conversational. Search is getting smarter and more effective at understanding the nuances of a user’s requests and serving them not only the results they are looking for, but in an experience that helps them better discover and learn.

Digital is now the first touch point for the consumer and a channel where the consumer has greater control over what they see and when they see it. In a world where the intended target has limitless choices, it’s up to Digital Marketers to understand the customer journey, customer expectations and desired outcomes from a myriad of scenarios.”
Digital Marketing – What Does It Really Mean? Insights from 9 Brand Digital Marketers

30Content_Ann_Handley

Ann Handley
@annhandley

“Does your content lead readers on a journey, or does it merely stuff them as leads into a pipeline?”
Infographic: How to Grow Your Audience – 10 Tips from Facebook, MarketingProfs, ExactTarget, Copyblogger

30Content_John_Jantsch

John Jantsch
@ducttape

“I believe organizations will go deeper into overall strategy with digital marketing – Chief Digital Officers will help organizations lessen their focus on demand creation and heighten it on organizing an end to end customer journey through digital storytelling tactics.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

30Content_Deanna_Lazzaroni

Deanna Lazzaroni (client)
@DigitalDL

“Social has a powerful way of connecting great minds. Don’t be afraid to tell the world why you’re one of them. Build your brand.”
15 Women Who Rock Social Media at Top Tech Companies – Career Advice & Insights

30Content_Rebecca_Lieb

Rebecca Lieb
@lieblink

“Content strategy is the infrastructure of content marketing. Without answers to ‘why’ & ‘how’ the result is chaos.”
Content Marketing Strategy Infographic – 12 Tips from SAP, Boeing, CAT, Progressive, John Deere, charity: water

30Content_Jason_Miller

Jason Miller (client)
@JasonMillerCA

“Standing out is overrated. As a content marketer you really need to ask yourself: “Do you want to stand out or do you want to truly connect with your customers and prospects?” The answer is a balance of the two.”
Rock & Roll Social Media & Content Marketing Interview with Jason Miller of LinkedIn

“We don’t need more content — we need more relevant content,”
Welcome to the Funnel, We Have Leads & Names – Jason Miller of LinkedIn at MnSummit

30Content_Joe_Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi
@JoePulizzi

“If we only talk about ourselves, we’ll never reach customers”
5 Content Marketing Best Practices Most Businesses Aren’t Doing, but Should! #SMMW14

30Content_Mark_Schaefer

Mark Schaefer

“Are you human? Isn’t that the essence of how this online world started, why we love social media, and what people expect if you are going to build trust and loyalty? And yet, this is getting increasingly lost in a world preoccupied with traffic, search rankings and automated marketing software.”
5 Must Read Perspectives on Social Media Marketing Strategy

30Content_Scott_Stratten

Scott Stratten
@unmarketing

“I’m the first person to preach about customer experience, but if your product is terrible, I don’t care if you’re the greatest customer/community believer in the world, it won’t help. We always talk about the importance of social media, of being where the customer conversation is, but we need to tend to our own home first.”

“What it comes down to is transparency in marketing, that’s where the consumer comes in. Marketing is no longer about what brand message the company wants to put out, it’s what the customer thinks. Good or bad. You don’t define your brand. If you want to know what your brand statement is, ask a customer.”
What’s Next in B2B Marketing? #MPB2B Interview with Scott Stratten @UnMarketing

30Content_Nazil_Yuzak

Nazli Yuzak – Dell (client)
@NazliYuzak

“Be prepared to fight the good fight! Social media is still about building human to human relationships. There may be a lot of content to share from your organization but you have to defend the customers’ perspective and make sure that they are being presented with the most relevant content to where they are in their journey.”
15 Women Who Rock Social Media at Top Tech Companies – Career Advice & Insights

Content Marketing Tactics
30Content_Ardath_Albee

Ardath Albee
@ardath421

“Let’s say you develop 5 resources to help prospects reach an objective. A prospect reads the 2 resources about and solving a specific problem and a case study about a company similar to theirs, but ignores the 3 that take a different perspective. Now you know exactly what type of information will be relevant to entering into a dialogue with the prospect.”
How to Show Real ROI For Your Content Marketing eBook

30Content_Brian_Clark

Brian Clark
@brianclark

“To please your audience, research their problems & desires, observe their content interactions & iterate.”
Infographic: How to Grow Your Audience – 10 Tips from Facebook, MarketingProfs, ExactTarget, Copyblogger

30Content_Jason_Miller

Jason Miller (client)
@JasonMillerCA

“Take your content and treat it like leftover turkey. Slice and dice it and use it in as many ways possible.”
18 More Amazing Search & Digital Marketing Takeaways from #MNSummit
30Content_Ann_Handley

Ann Handley
@annhandley

“Writing doesn’t have to be long to be meaningful. I’d argue that the words we use everywhere – on our websites, on our landing pages, on our LinkedIn profiles and so on – are just as important as the words we use in places we typically think of as ‘writing.’ ”
Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content – Interview with Ann Handley
30Content_Michael_Stelzner

Michael Stelzner
@Mike_Stelzner

“Those that pitch are becoming ignored. A little bit of selling here and there is great, but those marketers who do nothing but sell, sell, sell, are gonna get ignored, dismissed and overlooked by consumers and prospects. Get cracking folks, it’s time to actually care. That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track, like answering customer questions and providing more value online.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

30Content_Amy_Higgins

Amy Higgins – concur (client)
@amywhiggins

“When crafting a blog post, think about the title – if just the title is shared in a tweet, will someone what to read it?”
Content Plus Social is A Sweet Song to Sing – Interview with Amy Higgins of Concur

Content Marketing Predictions
30Content_Brian_Solis

Brian Solis
@briansolis

“I’d love to say that by 2015 we will truly see digital strategies that are integrated across social, mobile, advertising, marketing, comms, et al. But, we won’t. What we will see though is a more conscious effort to bring disparate groups to the table to learn how to collaborate across screens, channels, and moments of truth to deliver ONE experience to customers wherever they are in the lifecycle.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

30Content_Jay_Baer

Jay Baer
@jaybaer

“With content marketing reaching near-ubiquity, the success pendulum will swing toward boosting consumption of content. That will put a new focus on math, testing and optimization as content production and content distribution become equally important.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

30Content_Pam_Didner

Pam Didner
@PamDidner

“The major change for 2015 is NOT about digital marketing. The major change will come from Marketers by Going Back to Basics: reevaluate the target audience, determine what works and what doesn’t. Re-prioritize and be smart about resource allocation and investment.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

30Content_David_Meerman_Scott

David Meerman Scott
@dmscott

“Marketing (one to many) and sales (one to one) are beginning to use the same techniques of content creation and real-time engagement. The best organizations will not run marketing and sales as separate “departments” but will merge the two functions into one customer facing organization focused on revenue generation.”
21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

Content Marketing ROI
30Content_Joe_Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi
@JoePulizzi

“Skip analytics reports for your CMO. Instead, focus measurement reporting on performance: sales, cost savings, and customer retention.”
Infographic: Achieve Real Content Marketing ROI – 10 Tips from CMI, Dell, Kraft Foods, Curata, NewsCred

30Content_Michael_Brenner

Michael Brenner
@BrennerMichael

“Content Marketing ROI is no harder than ROI for the rest of marketing. But many folks ask the question more as a defense mechanism for change. You will hear marketers ask this question despite not knowing what the ROI is on the rest of their marketing spend. So start with that benchmark. What is the ROI of marketing? Content marketing ROI is easier because content marketing results are easier than something like advertising.”
Lessons on Marketing Strategy and Content Marketing ROI – Michael Brenner Interview

30Content_Mark_Schaefer

Mark Schaefer
@markwschaefer

“The way I measure content marketing success would vary by every customer. I would start with this question — ‘What is the behavior or attitude we are trying to change?’ Usually we can backward engineer from that response to find a set of measurements or leading indicators to determine our progress.”
A Practical Approach to Content Marketing Success – Interview with Mark Schaefer
As I mentioned, if you have any memorable quotes from 2014, feel free to share. There are surely more than 30 I could have pulled from the past year’s archives. I’m looking forward to 2015 at TopRank, where I’m sure I’ll fill a notebook or two with quotes from even more great minds we come across at TopRankBlog.

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30 Quotes From Content Marketing Influencers in 2014 page posted “By Mike Armstrong”

Content Flow: The “Melodic” Fix for Your “Broken” Content Marketing Strategy

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Content Flow: The “Melodic” Fix for Your “Broken” Content Marketing Strategy
by christopherjanb
Posted by SimonPenson

In a world now overflowing with ‘content,’ standing out is critical to breaking through.

And while almost all digital marketers are aware of the challenge that presents, the solution chosen simply extenuates the very issue it was designed to fix. Unfortunately,
too many people see the answer to standing out and achieving reach as becoming a ‘shout louder’. But that’s an approach that misses so many critical strategic objectives.

Maturing markets, as the ‘content market’ now is, require subtlety of approach and refinement. A campaign plan based on an unconnected series of ‘big bang’ content is unconnected from the very audience for which it was really designed to attract and retain.

The answer to this disconnect lies in something I call ‘content flow’, or ‘content dynamics’, and this post is designed to share the concept to allow you to give it a go.

What is content flow?
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle

This quote eloquently ‘sums’ up the true value of content strategy. Your content marketing strategy is not hundreds or thousands of connected stories. It’s one story with a lot of scenes.

The only way of creating any kind of long-term connection with your audience is to introduce variation into your content strategy and connect those important bigger campaigns, or pieces, together using smaller pieces. The best way of visualizing this is to imagine the smaller ‘everyday’ content pieces you produce as ‘whispers’ that keep the campaign alive in between the larger, campaign-led ‘shouts’.

The music of content flow
To understand how to create the variation any good content strategy needs to work, we should look for a moment to some of the greatest content creators to have lived: classical music composers—the masters of the concept of ‘whispering’ and ‘shouting’ to create impact.

Listen to any ‘great’ piece and you will immediately notice that it has quieter periods followed by great crescendos, utilizing something called dynamic note velocity to create an absorbing ‘journey’ through the composition.

We can clearly see this is we look at the sound wave profile of such a piece. Below is a Beethoven composition with clear
crescendos and diminuendos that make the piece so absorbing. This is why classical ‘songs’ can go on for so long without losing your interest.

If this were content strategy, or an editorial plan, the ‘peaks’ would be those ‘big bang’ campaign ideas, while the ‘troughs’ would be the ‘everyday content’ that glues your big ideas together in a seamless and absorbing way. The result is a coherent composition that allows the user to feel the full range of your content marketing strategy and still experience it as a whole.

Content dynamics in marketing
Given that we now understand how content flow works in a musical context, we must now look at how those key principles can be applied to content marketing. The first step in creating the right flow of content is in understanding its importance, but the second is in the planning and measurement of your own work.

To do this you should start at the beginning, with the ideation process. It’s critical here to have a sound process for coming up with ideas that produced, consistently, enough of the right ideas that can fit the ‘peak’ and ‘troughs’ concept.

This is something I have worked on for the past ten years and the resulting process is something I have shared
right here on Moz previously. Since that time, however, the process has been updated even further and you can find the latest version here.

This process is designed to ensure you have enough of each type of content to enable the second phase—editorial planning.

Building your editorial plan
Once you have enough content ideas from your brainstorm the next phase is to begin ‘grading’ them into either ‘small’, ‘medium’ or ‘large’ ideas. You can do this manually as I’m about to explain now, or make use of the free and brand-spanking-new
Zazzle Media Content Flow Generator tool, which is designed to do the hard work for you.

Manual testing
To test out your best laid content plan is a simple process and it begins at the initial ideation phase.

Once you have your initial list of ideas, you should note them down in a simple Excel column. I’ve created an example below with some ideas for a fictional finance brand.

In the right hand column you will see a number. There is no ‘science’ here, just a simple scoring system to highlight the ‘size’ or, more precisely, the amount of time and resource that will go into the creation of each piece.

The purpose of this is to enable the plotting of your content on a chart that will allow you to understand how it flows.

The next stage is to then plot the suggested publication dates so you end up with something like this:

From here select the dates and scores and select the ‘Charts’ function from the menu bar of Excel (I’m using Mac in this example).

Select the ‘Line’ option and you should see the data in a chart that looks a little like this:

You can then use the various formatting options to make it more clear, or play with the numbers, more importantly, to get the ‘flow’ right.

The ‘right’ wave dynamic
Of course, you need to know what it is you are looking for to be able to decipher if your initial content plan is laid out correctly.

In simple terms there is no ‘perfect’ shape as every business has different objectives but whenever in doubt we should refer back to the initial learning from those classical pieces.

The strategy should be to create a handful of ‘big bang’ ideas per year surrounded by a cacophony of brilliant everyday content, which both entertains and informs and ties together your symphony.

The work above should then create something that looks like the chart below. The important part is in ensuring that the ‘big bang’ campaign ideas are evenly spaced and do not drown out the overall picture. There are few worse mistakes then simply creating a large number of ‘big’ ideas as we discussed earlier in the post.

The reason for that is simple and it comes back to the same rules as those that are applied to TV, radio and print when it comes to achieving perfect ‘content flow’.

Learning from print
We can reverse engineer this in practice by taking a look at how something like a magazine is put together. Having worked in the industry for many years I know first hand how content works over the long term, and it’s all about consistently delivering surprise and variation.

The best place to find this is on the cover. An example of this can be found below with this
Men’s Health cover:

You can clearly see how the cover lines correspond to the needs of the audience:

Those that want to improve their body
Those that want to improve their mind
Those that want to be better lovers
And you can clearly see that the editorial team understands its audience in great detail and knows precisely how to deliver content in a way that keeps all elements of its readership entertained and informed.

That doesn’t happen by accident. It starts with the
persona creation process to segment the key interest sets. These then manifest themselves as regular ‘cover sells’ or ‘content pillars’ as I like to call them.

These concepts are then covered monthly within the editorial plan and how each key subject is covered will vary each time it is covered. So, in month one the ‘improve your body’ concept will be covered in a long form feature, looking at something like ‘the science of muscle growth’, while the next month it may be a quick-fire, shorter piece forming a 20-minute circuit training session. It’s this variation that creates ‘content flow’.

If you want to learn the tricks yourself all you have to do is reverse engineer a couple of magazines. To do that all you need is a ‘flatplan’ template – or the document many editors use to plan out the ‘flow’ of their issue.

You can then take a copy of the magazine from your sector and mark off the general schematic make-up of the edition a little like the example below:

You can then simply test that ‘layout’ for your own digital strategy.

Mobile
The testing phase shouldn’t simply stop at your overall plan, however, as content consumption is quickly becoming a ‘mobile first’ game. That means that thinking about how you plan your strategy for the various devices is also critical to success to ensure that the way in which you cover your key ‘pillars’ creates a compelling mix of content types for ALL devices.

I wrote about this aspect of the content strategy in
this earlier Moz post if you want some more detail.

Final plan
Like anything in digital there is no ‘perfect’ template to use when it comes to planning the right delivery for your brand but by sticking to the principle of ‘ebb and flow’ in your content flow and working hard on ideas you will quickly see how easy it is to grow a truly valuable, and engaged audience, over time for your site.

Six steps to nail your content plan
For those that like steps to work to this is the general process I work to:

Start with a data dig to establish your key audience personas. Utilize a good persona template to record the key information.
Work through a
structured content ideation process to ensure you create ideas pinned to the key audience need.
Work this data into a content plan and record in a
calendar.
Test how that content ‘flows’ using the checker tool I mentioned earlier. You find help as to how to lay your content out from magazines.
Run the plan over a six-month period and then review based on the changes you have seen in key engagement metrics such as bounce rate, returning visitor numbers, time on site, etc.
Change and repeat, constantly looking for the right ebb and flow for your audience and commercial goals.
Having got this far, I genuinely hope you are now keen to integrate content flow checks into your overall content strategy and marketing process. With most content discussions surrounded by ‘data’ and ‘ideas’ it is useful sometime to step back and remember that it is, ultimately still an art form, and always will be. That means you must ensure that any strategy you create is focused in not just on the buzzwords but the foundation too. By doing this you’ll turn your content creation process from a gaggle of ideas into a true symphony for your audience to enjoy.

And if you want to have a go yourself, here’s a reminder of that free Content Flow Checker tool. Click below to try it out on your strategy and let me know how you get on.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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The Content Flow: The “Melodic” Fix for Your “Broken” Content Marketing Strategy page was posted “By Mike Armstrong”

Post about Shark Tank & Running a Business!

New post on Online Marketing Hub

Why Shark Tank is Terrible for Your Business
by christopherjanb

Maybe they’ll take away my Entrepreneur’s Secret Hat and Decoder Ring for saying this, but I hate Shark Tank.

My husband and son like it, and every time it comes on, my teeth start to grind and my eye does that little twitchy thing.

I’m not saying the investors don’t give some decent advice. They do. And most of the Sharks seem like reasonable people. (With Kevin O’Leary doing his duty as designated villain, obligatory on most reality shows.)

But the core premise of Shark Tank — I hate it. I think it’s wrong, and I think it’s dangerous, and I think it hurts business owners.

Here’s why.

The fundamental premise of Shark Tank is that people who have had big wins in business will automatically know more about your business than you do.

And underneath that is the part I really hate — the idea that some of us just have that “entrepreneurial gene,” and some don’t.

The Sharks have had some significant wins, so they’re “smart.” And as a small business owner? You’re just some fool who’s naive enough to think you can make a go of it on your own.

And so contestants audition for the right to go begging, hat in hand, to a handful of appointed gurus who might deign to take a large chunk of their business in exchange for a small amount of money. If they’re very very lucky.

Feh.

Owning a business is something normal people do
You don’t have to have some kind of special gene or supernatural ability to start and run a successful business.

You don’t need to be part of some anointed class. You don’t need rare connections or even some kind of super secret knowledge.

(And of course, those of us who do business online have some nice advantages in terms of costs, complexity, and scalability — which makes running a successful business even more doable.)

The traits you need to be a successful business owner aren’t the kind you read about in glossy business magazines, or their blogs.

The biggest trait you need is plenty of stubbornness, but that can be boosted with the right support and encouragement. And it’s best when it’s paired with a solid ability to look realistically at the situation in front of you, and figure out the wisest next steps. (The right support can be useful there as well.)

I have known incredibly successful entrepreneurs who can barely tie their shoes. (No, not the crew I work with now, this group are all pretty awesome.)

But they knew their business. And they knew what it took to be successful. On balance, moments of entrepreneurial delusion notwithstanding, they understood their audience of customers and what that audience needed.

Once you have that, everything else is just a matter of hanging in there and figuring stuff out.

The delusion filter
As always on “reality” television, a big part of the entertainment value comes from feeling superior to the deluded contestants.

Entrepreneurial is, after all, something of a synonym for “unemployable.”

But you don’t need a Shark Tank to find your blind spots.

The litmus test between delusion and confidence is your audience. If they’re following, sharing, and connecting with your content, you’re on to something. If they’re paying attention to you and they actually buy something, that’s your green light. Move forward with confidence.

For example, on the show Kevin rolled his eyes at brother and sister founders of Pipcorn for selling their specialty popcorn at $5 a bag, when regular old popcorn is maybe $1.50 a bag.

Apparently he’s never been inside a Whole Foods. Where Pipcorn was, in fact, already selling plenty of bags of their fancy popcorn. You know, on that aisle in Whole Foods where all the $5 popcorn is.

The most brilliant investor isn’t as smart as your audience about what’s going to make your business work.

Protect your confidence
I heard a piece of advice last year that blew me away. It comes from business coach Dan Sullivan, and it’s this: The first duty of every entrepreneur is to protect your confidence.

That, I believe, is where that “mindful stubbornness” comes from.

When you’re in negotiations with someone you shouldn’t be working with, that person may “neg” you — put you and your company down in order to make themselves seem like someone you need. It’s a technique used by the creepy “Pick Up Artist” community, and it’s also used by unethical marketers. (“Buy my product and maybe your friends won’t hate you so much!”)

Investors are not necessarily smarter than you are about your audience and customers. And thinking that they are can destroy a great little business. I’ve seen it happen first-hand more than once, and it makes me angry when it does.

Protect your confidence. And if a potential partner “negs” you, it’s an unmistakeable sign that you need to go the other direction. The negativity will corrode your business faster than any cash infusion can build it. Don’t look back.

Partners are amazing — when they’re really partners
Some of them want to use you.

Some of them want to be used by you.

Some of them want to abuse you.

Some of them want to be abused.

In the immortal words of Annie Lennox, everybody’s looking for something.

In the Shark Tank universe, the contestant “wins” if they get a deal, and “loses” if they don’t.

But “failed” contestant Julie Busha of Slawsa saw through this, and wrote about it on her blog:

They like to invest in businesses where they can give added value (Daymond wants to plug something into his overseas manufacturing pipeline, Lori wants to get an item on QVC, Mark & Robert want tech…and of course, Kevin wants a royalty). ~ Slawsa on Shark Tank

By Busha’s own analysis, if she’d made a deal, she would have “won” the game — but at a grave cost. She would have given away part of her business to a partner who didn’t really have anything to add.

(This is the part where I tip my hat to the integrity of the Sharks for not making a deal where they didn’t add value — even though they thought the product was excellent and were complimentary of Busha’s business skills.)

If you don’t have what your partner wants, there’s no deal to be made. Don’t obsess. Move on and find a better fit.

Try not to squander your energy or confidence thinking about a business partner, promotion partner, or customer who “just isn’t that into you.”

The way that Shark Tank is amazing for their contestants
I said above that Julie Busha didn’t “win” the show, but of course she did.

She was asking for $150,000, which she didn’t get. She did, however, get eight minutes on prime-time television on a popular show — and in the form of content, not advertising, so viewers were actually paying close attention.

She gave up no equity in her business, but received millions of dollars’ worth of advertising. Or more to the point, content, which, as we know, works a whole lot better than advertising.

So as an advertising and promotion vehicle for small business, I guess I don’t hate Shark Tank after all. In fact, I see an awful lot of the “failed” company products on the shelves of my local stores. And I notice them, because they had an eight-minute pitch to show me exactly why they were cool.

But I still don’t want you listening to anything Kevin O’Leary has to say. That guy doesn’t know beans about your business.

About the author
Sonia Simone
Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and Google+.

The post Why Shark Tank is Terrible for Your Business appeared first on Copyblogger.

For more see:
http://omhub.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/why-shark-tank-is-terrible-for-your-business/

The Post about Shark Tank & Running a Business was posted “By Mike Armstrong”

Social Listening Tools to Strengthen Your Content Marketing

New post on Online Marketing Hub

Social Listening Tools to Strengthen Your Content Marketing
by christopherjanb
Content today is most definitely not king. You’re shocked? I say this because there seems to be a skewed misconception of what the term “content” means. Too often marketers produce thin content as a way of generating quick web traffic and increasing conversion rates. This content can no longer be classified as royal.

In my eyes, effective content marketing should use tactics to provide information and entertainment to consumers that they feel is valuable, thus building relationships. Ann Handley rightly states “companies, organizations, and individuals place quality content over quantity.”

In her predictions of digital trends in 2015, Mari Smith says brands will gather and integrate data more deeply to truly personalize content. “This content will have a more light-hearted feel, including the use of selfies and micro-video clips shot on location with smartphones, giving the consumers the fly-on-the-wall impression.” This is the type of content that strikes me as being king.

Poor quality content campaigns often come down to a lack of knowledge about who is targeted and what they really want. Take J. C. Penney Company, for example. It was once a well-known brand offering discounted merchandise, but decided to rebrand around a strategy based on how the customer should be valued and not cheaply bought. The tone of voice took the premise of “enough is enough,” presuming that is how customers felt. Little did J. C. Penney know that its customers actually embraced the value of discounted merchandise. This epic fail led to a drop of 20% in sales and a gradual decline ever since.

What does this say to us as content marketers? Listen to your audience. As Smith and Handley suggest, personalization is key, but you can’t personalize without knowing your audience. By listening and monitoring, you will gain insights into your audience’s preferences and interests, as well as content it regularly shares.

Look back to think ahead
First things first, evaluate your existing strategy, including:

Content-engagement levels (user to content), using tracking tools such as Pulsar
Click-through rate by device, using universal analytics software
Content-specific bounces, using Google Analytics
Existing content visibility, etc., using tracking software such as Pulsar
Ben Harper provides more detail on what data to look out for when analyzing a content marketing strategy.

Take their pulse
Pulsar is a new social-intelligence platform that allows you to track, analyze, and engage with everything in the social stratosphere. You can monitor the engagement levels of a specific piece of content, as well as viewing its visibility.

To start your evaluation:

1. Give your tracking search a title and list the URL you want to track.

2. Exclude words. This step is more useful when tracking certain keywords, however you can block any shares of your content that involve certain words.

3. Enter specific information regarding your target market. You can choose the country and language, as well as filter the platforms and sources.

4. Select to track real-time or historic data, or both. Given the fact that we are monitoring our existing posts, the historic data option should be used. These searches bring back extensive data and present it in a number of formats. In the following screenshot, I share the most frequent elements I use to capture the overall activity and engagement levels of a piece of content.

The activity report shows the amount of shares, retweets, mentions, etc., of the selected URL. From here, you can click any point on the graph to show each mention and who made it.

The next set of data is a subset of the “influencers” data and represents the number of shares, as well as the linkages between them. As you can see, the bigger the circle, the more influence that particular share of your content had. Hover over the circle for more specific data or view the compiled list of users who shared your post. This is useful for identifying industry influencers and people to whom you should target your content.

The next report shows the overall visibility of each share. This chart evidences not only the amount of views for your content, but whether they were positive, negative, or neutral. This can be used to analyze whether the type of content you are creating is right for your audience.

Research interests
I am most familiar with Hootsuite as a tool for social listening. It allows users to monitor specific target audiences through the identification of relevant keywords related to the topic or industry. When you enter a search term into a new tab, Hootsuite collects and presents real-time data from your target audience from an abundance of social platforms and provides great insight into what members of your target audience are saying. From here, you can build a good understanding of their interests and build your brand persona and content strategy accordingly.

Know what your audience shares
Next up is identifying what type of content your audience regularly shares to understand what type of content you need to be sharing with it. The best way of tackling this topic may seem extremely simple, but Twitter lists are a great way of tracking popular content.

Using the Twitter platform to generate the list can be extremely time-consuming so I frequently use SocialBro. It allows you to create filtered searches for industry- or interest-specific users. Below is an example of search results for web developers in the London, United Kingdom, area:

This page allows you to quickly scan through thousands of users who met your search query. By selecting the bio choice (bottom left), you can quickly skim through bios, making it easy to decide whether the user is one you want to monitor. Once you select the users to monitor, simply click “selected,” “add to list,”and “create new list.” You now have a list of either influencers or consumers. You can access this list using Twitter or Hootsuite (I recommend the latter).

Track competitors and influencers
Twitonomy is an analytics tool for both you and your competitors’ accounts. By tracking and analyzing the accounts of major industry influencers and competitors, you can generate useful insights into what interests your target audience. With Twitonomy, you can see:

Overall stats on competitors and influencers, i.e., how many tweets sent, time of day, and how often content on the page is retweeted
A view of what content is most popular by observing most retweeted or most replied content
Most popular users on your page (In other words, users who most frequently reply or mention you or your competitor. This is a great way to see with whom your competitors are engaging.)
Most common hashtags
Devices from which most tweets came
Statistics on your followers in list format
Below is an example of Twitonomy used for our own site within the digital-marketing industry, detailing the overall statistics, users most retweeted, and followers:

Record your listening results
If you are not an avid user of Microsoft Excel, I would suggest you become one. I use it to create a content review template to document any analysis extracted from social networks.

Create organized tables with specific sections such as consumer interests, time of day tweeted, popular topics, format of content shared, etc. It may sound simple, but you will be surprised by how many marketers ignore documenting valuable information at every opportunity.

You can download an example of the content review template that I use below, which includes headers such as platforms, post title, time of day mentioned most, topic, word count, type of content, potential reach, amount of shares, and link to URL.

Click to enlarge.

Now is the time to plan
When you brainstorm your content for 2015, ask yourself: Is this the kind of content that would make my audience tick? Use the data from your social-listening tools. Instead of posting generic content, you can post content that your audience actually wants – and return your content to its rightful title – king.

Want to learn more about how to leverage analytics in your content creation? See and hear from the experts and speakers at Content Marketing World. Check out our Video on Demand portal.

Cover image by TheAngryTeddy via pixabay

The post Social Listening Tools to Strengthen Your Content Marketing appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

For more on Social Listening Tools to Strengthen Your Content Marketing see:

http://omhub.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/social-listening-tools-to-strengthen-your-content-marketing/

The Social Listening Tools to Strengthen Your Content Marketing page was posted “By Mike Armstrong”