7 elements of a great content marketing agency

7 Elements Of Choosing A Content Marketing Agency

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

When you’re looking for an agency to create content that will represent you and your brand, there’s no question that you want it done right. It should be your top priority to ensure you choose the right agency with the right writers, and that they understand you and your company’s needs.

All the self-proclaimed content marketing agencies out there can make it hard to narrow down your search. Do your research and look for these seven things, though, and you’ll have great content in your hands and a new business relationship in no time.

  1. Overall business strategy and content thought leadership

The agency you choose needs, above all, to understand your business goals and cater to your company. Content marketing can have many objectives, but the strategy should be altered depending on what your goals are and how best to reach them, whether it’s through lead generation, link building, or any number of other services.

  1. Quality content on their site

Click over to the agency-in-question’s blog and ask yourself if you like what you see. As their target market, do their posts strike a chord with you and make you want to buy? Check out their ranking, their fans and followers, and their consistency. If all of these pieces appear and work well together, it shows that they walk the walk. If not, it might not be the right choice.

  1. Social media promotion strategy

Along the same lines, take a look at how the agency promotes themselves and their clients on social media. Having a social media marketing plan is a vital piece of content strategy, and while it is only one piece, it’s an important one. Are their followers growing, and are their posts getting interaction and traffic? You can expect the same results for your business, should you decide to hire this agency.

  1. Past and current client success

If the agency has some case studies available for you to see, make sure you take them up on that. One of the best ways to decide whether they will be a good fit is to look at the work they’ve done for other clients that are similar to your business. Specifically, you should watch for subject matter expertise, quality of content, and voice.

  1. Their offers will work for your company

The agency might offer plenty of services, but if they don’t have the one you’re looking for, none of those other ones matter. You know what your company needs and the last thing you want to do is go with an agency that can’t provide it. However, if they don’t offer the exact service you want, don’t be immediately dissuaded. Try reaching out to them and asking if they could provide something additional.

  1. Deliverables and results

While it will be nice to pass off some or all of the content creation to a marketing agency, therefore freeing up your time, what you really want is results. Have they proven that their efforts have increased traffic and conversions, driven brand awareness, or improved search engine rankings? How soon will you see results for your company if you decide to hire them? Consider these questions and ask for examples from the agency.

  1. You get along with the agency

Perhaps the most important piece of hiring an agency is that you enjoy working with them. If you’re not seeing eye-to-eye or understanding each other on basic issues even before you hire them, chances are, things aren’t going to change. You want someone that will be a valued and trusted business partner now and in the future.

A content marketing agency can be a huge plus for your business. They can provide an outside perspective, bring a new piece to your company that you didn’t know you were missing, and take on some of your unending workload. That’s why it’s so important to find a compatible agency that can help you meet your goals. If you’re in the market for a great agency, make sure you check us out at Stryde.com.

back to school social media ideas

Planning Your Back to School Social Push

By | Social Media | No Comments

It’s the end of the summer and parents are counting down the days until their kids are back in school. College students are packing bags and checking off their lists of items to get things done. Even if there aren’t any students in the house, people will take advantage of the lower prices of household items and still go out to shop the sales.

The back-to-school shopping season is the second-largest seasonal shopping period of the year, following winter holidays. With “back to school,” “school supplies,” and “back to school sales” being top search terms from 2013, this is not the time of year to overlook and skip out on the potential opportunities. If you haven’t even considered using social media to promote your back-to-school products, here are a few reasons why you might want to reconsider before you’re sent to detention.

Social media has changed back to school shopping.

Peer reviews are more likely to resonate with users than expert reviews. When was the last time your friend used a social media post to ask for advice of what dentist to go to or what product to use? The networks make it easy to quickly poll and get the best information from a group of peers that you trust.

According to one survey, 64.1% of shoppers report that social media will influence their choices. Whether it’s the recognition of something they saw on a brand’s page or a post from their friend that highlighted an item, people trust their network to tell them about the best deals and the newest products.

With all of the competition, your store and brand should be leveraging your social channels to share information. Whether you give away coupons or share exclusive sales and content, you can get the word out quickly and directly to your followers.

Buy button adds a new dimension.

With the addition of the buy buttons on posts on social platforms, social networks are allowing users to bypass the regular routine of heading to a website to buy directly from the merchant on the social platform. Showcasing your products on social media can get you a sale with the user not ever leaving the platform. Use the best pictures you have of the product.

Some stores recognize that the styling of their Instagram accounts were getting people excited to make purchases, but without the buy button, they found that they couldn’t convert the sale. These stores created a microsite that shows the post and links users directly to the products. It’s a new way to shop!

Influencers can drive new leads.

The power of influencers is apparent. In a recent study, YouTube stars are up to five times more influential than other celebrities. If you want to influence buying choices of teens, look to the video social platform for you new partnerships.

Target is the latest store to use social media stars to promote their back-to-school fashions. Beginning in July 2015, six ads are being released that feature some well known “kid influencers.” Each ad will focus on a different trend and a specific promotion. The stars of these ads will use their own social accounts to promote the campaign as well.

It’s not just about using these online celebrities to sell a product, you’re also able to cast a wider net and find new customers through their followers. The goal when you partner should be that you both promote the content being created and tag each other.

Keep customer service in mind.

With the beginning of school, many people can get stressed out easily. Many are overwhelmed by the long list of items that are needed. With different requirements for different ages, parents may need help keeping everything straight.

Parents aren’t the only ones to be overwhelmed! For a new college student, it can be intimidating hearing the list of items they may need. From toasters to bedding, shopping for home is an entirely different experience.

Make sure that you look to provide support both in and outside the store and use social media to watch the conversation and recognized the pain points. Many places offer pre-populated shopping lists that customers can pick up in store to personalized lists that they can create and print from home, look for ways to help your customers get through this season with little pain.

Back-to-school shopping season is that rare time before the winter holidays when you can test out some new marketing plans and gauge interest from your community. To be successful, you need to come up with your content strategy so that you can maximize the shopping season.

What you need to know before your business' first video

8 Things You Need Before Your Business’ First Video

By | Video | No Comments

We’ve all witnessed what can be so enticing about video for those in the marketing sphere; and that is the magic act of video campaigns “going viral”. Brand’s like Poupouri have seen millions of Youtube hits in a number of days, or even hours and with that kind of brand awareness, it’s easy to imagine the amazing things happening from the sales side.

The reality of reaching virality, however, is that it’s an ambitious endeavor for most business, and if you’re just getting started in creating a video for yours, there are more important goals to first examine.

In this ever visual, ever more digital space, creating videos that represent your brand can do much more than generate instant sales and leads. Videos can provide a way to explain a product or service. They can also be used to problem-solve customer concerns.

Most importantly, videos have the power to showcase your company culture in a very inclusive way so that your audience can see, firsthand, what your brand is all about.

If your brand is part of the 76% not using online video, here are some steps to getting started:

1) Define your purpose.

Ask yourself the question, “what is the need for your video?” Are you looking to create a lead-gen machine? Are you wanting to showcase your company culture? Are you needing to establish a virtual form of customer service to provide instant, visual instruction and, as a side perk, cut back on labor costs? The answers to these questions will form a foundation for your first video and future videos to come.

2) Define your audience.

Who is it, exactly, are you trying to reach? If you’ve been in business for a while, you may have already developed buyer personas, or have a clear idea of the characteristics of your typical, ideal customer. identify your customers’ needs, goals, and any pain points they might have. Consider how you could be of value to them by creating a video that addresses some of these areas.

3) Determine your goal.

Now enters the part about “what’s in it for you?” Video creation can take an ample amount of time and energy and you want to make sure that your efforts are measurable and worthwhile. Pinpoint what you are looking to achieve long-term. Are you wanting to gain referral traffic? Leads? Direct Sales? Make sure you are taking the proper marketing approaches to amplify your video efforts.

4) Establish a platform.

While it’s been know that Youtube reigns supreme as a video platform, Facebook is now giving its contender a run for its money. The number of video posts per year has increased 94% in the U.S., according to Facebook, but Youtube is still strides ahead. Every social media platform has a culture, with a different audience. You will have to decide which platform is best suited for your brand.

5) Consider distribution channels.

After you’ve planned on where to publish your video, you’ll need to decide where and how it will be distributed. Are you planning to flesh out your Youtube channel and send all traffic that way? Are you wanting to embed videos into a “How-To” section of your blog, or will your video be going on your company’s front page as a high-quality display of your brand? Note that it might be best to save the latter option for a future, fine-tuned video.

6) Determine your style.

Consider the feel of your video. Would you rather have it action or candid-oriented, showing your employees at work or engaging in a group activity? Perhaps you’d like to use improv to give it a more natural feel. If you’re wanting to create an instructional video, a more formal, scripted approach might fit bet.

7) Use what you have have.

Whether you’re team iPhone or android, smartphones have the sophistication now to capture a quality brand video. The film, Tangerine, from this year’s Sundance Film Festival was shot entirely using an iPhone 5S. When it comes to the editing part of the project, there are some free tools to be used at your convenience. Youtube Editor  allows you to makes edits to your video and also optimize it for search. This can be most helpful when you’re using the Youtube platform already to publish videos.

8) Have fun with it.

You first video will not be perfect, and that’s ok! Be yourself, allow yourself to get creative, be mindful of your target customers, and they will appreciate you for doing so.

Creating your first video can prove to be a gateway to new leads, sales and traffic, and can also be key to accessing and engaging with an audience from an entirely new perspective!

How do you incorporate video into your marketing strategy and what steps do you take to prepare for video creation?

Share and comment below!

Outsourcing Content

Can You Trust An Agency With Your Brand’s Content?

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

As an experienced business leader, you know your brand backwards and forwards. You’ve built this brand from the ground up, cultivating its every characteristic with devoted attention to detail. No one knows this brand better than you.

The responsibilities that come with building this brand are vast, and implementing content marketing is just the beginning.

But then you have to answer the age-old question: Do you manage your brand’s content strategy on your own or do you contract this process to an agency?

Content in-house

At first, you may feel it’s best to manage the content on your own. After all, no one knows better than you, the brand’s creator and developer. You’ve been this brand’s caretaker from step one; ensuring the brand experiences nothing but success. How could anyone else possibly deliver content that would come close to what you envision for your brand?

On the other hand, your time is valuable. You’ve spent hours, days, weeks, months and maybe even years developing the brand and everything it stands for. It’s time you let someone else take the reigns, at least in one area of responsibility.

Contracting out your brand’s content means more time in your schedule for other aspects of the brand’s presence. Using an agency to curate brand content is a solid investment in your brand’s future. Customers want good content. In fact, a recent study found that customers were more likely to commit to a brand or business that provided targeted, insightful content.

Outsourcing content and focusing on what you know

Contracting an agency is a great option for your brand. But a main concern you’re probably having is wondering how you’ll know if the agency you choose can be trusted to curate content that truly reflects your brand’s mission, goals and endeavors.

In order to decipher whether an agency can be trusted to deliver quality content for your brand, it needs to be evident from the start. Below are a few ways to sift through the weeds and find an agency you can trust.

What To Look For In A Content Marketing Agency

Client Focused

A trustworthy agency is client focused. They’re more concerned with how your business experiences their services, rather than what goes into their bank accounts. A client-focused content agency works with you to create a bundle of services that fits your brand’s needs.

A client-focused agency is also able to anticipate what your brand may need in the future. Maybe at this point in time you’re only looking to contract with the agency for your brand’s blog content. In the future, the agency will be able to demonstrate how they can be effective through other avenues of digital media, i.e. social media, lead referrals, email copy, etc. The right agency is prepared to discuss viable options that fit your budget and improve your brand’s exposure.

Selective Approval

Agencies who select their clients carefully are more likely to be trustworthy content curators. Their goal isn’t to gain as many clients as possible; it’s to truly focus on clients whose goals and strategies align. An agency that’s selective is an agency that can be trusted to produce carefully curated content for your brand’s marketing strategy.

Case Studies and Content Samples

Look into what companies the agency has previously worked with. Are there content samples available that would demonstrate the agency’s ability to produce cohesive and impactful content? Have they worked with companies who have faced marketing hurdles similar to what your brand is experiencing? Can they show quantitative proof that their services have benefited these companies?

Ask the agency to provide content samples for other brands they have previously or are currently engaged with. Also, discuss the possibility of receiving a case study or two that demonstrates the measurable proof behind their methods of achieving success through content marketing. Gain cold, hard facts, not just verbal confirmation of success with other organizations.

Expertise

A content marketing agency can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but if it doesn’t have the expertise, it’s a no-go. A reliable agency employs content curators who are as diverse as the day is long. Diversity allows for a greater range of knowledge within the agency’s content curation services and provides your brand with rich and consistent content.

Quality content agencies are fluent in multiple areas of expertise, and they continue to expand their knowledge base by keeping up with current marketing trends. Agencies worth working with aren’t static, but fluid with regards to knowledge base and industry expertise.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to source your brand’s content to an agency. Just remember as you’re deciding that reputable agencies will possess the following:

  • A broad knowledge base about a variety of subjects and industries
  • Content samples and case studies readily available upon request
  • A client-focused mission dedicated to provide excellent customer service
  • Selective approval based upon compatibility with potential clients and partners.

Be sure to keep these qualities in mind when choosing a content marketing agency to trust with your brand’s content.

#smm (1)

Adaptive Content- The Latest Adaptation of Content Marketing?

By | Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Food for thought, Our Process, Strategy, Uncategorized | No Comments

While the technology support can be a little slow to evolve, content marketing strategies and techniques are taking new shapes to reach the ideal target market and to guide customers through the sales funnel and shorten the continual cycle that we marketers are all a part of.

Adaptive content offers an edge to the creation and distribution parts of content marketing. This content strategy is designed to support meaningful, personalized interactions across all channels. Moreover, it’s not a strategy that is built only around the characteristics, goals, and challenges of buyer personas, but also around the mood of the buyer – Noz Urbina.

We know that personalization is key to reaching the ideal buyer. In fact, 94% of businesses say that it’s critical to their success. Here, we begin to merge a closer union between the buyer persona and sales cycle, in an attempt to reach a target so narrow, that we can understand how it feels.

The Matrix

If you already have a few content marketing campaigns under your belt, you’re probably all too familiar with creating and marketing to buyer personas. With adaptive content, there are a few more variables to consider in the Content Mix Matrix:

Content Mix Matrix
Personas Buying Stage Format Channel
Billy Awareness Text Social
Willey Attraction Video Mobile
Nilly Close Podcast Websites
Tilly Retain Infographic Email
Advocate Images Print
Presentation In-person
Kiosk

In this model, the content catered to the buyer persona is strategically created in the most sensible format, at the most relevant stage of the buying cycle, and distributed through the most appropriate channel.

In the content creation process, you might consider:

  • Is it better to start with a general piece of content and to later personalize it to each persona at every stage?
  • Should I start with a fleshed out piece of content and then notate which segments will be adapted to fit the next format?

This is the manual part of the equation that requires more in-depth research into, not only the buyer personas’ characteristics, but also, their personal journey and it’s up for you, the marketer, to decide what works best for your audience.

Going Green

Putting an adaptive content process into place can take a substantial amount of time but the beauty of it is that, when planned properly, adaptive content has the means to be evergreen. We have to remember to apply the R’s and when it comes to content, we do it in a most creative and practical way.

Reduce

The amount of time spent on content creation can be greatly reduced when you already have a hearty piece to edit and adjust. Slim down the content that you have and focus it on just one phase of the buying cycle. The load will feel a lot lighter.

Reuse

The content topics you already have are completely reusable when you promote them through a variety of channels. Social media, for instance, can serve as a great outlet for reshares; especially Twitter, where posts tend to be pushed out more regularly.

Repurpose

You can further stretch the reach of your content by repurposing it in various forms. Try going for something more visual by converting a whitepaper into an eye-catching infographic.

Recycle

Once you have a good grasp on where your buyer personas are in the buying stage and the best channels by which to to reach them, be sure to record and recycle the process. It will always be in motion, so be flexible and make the necessary adjustments as you go along.

Adaptive Content implicates techniques that are too smart and too personalized for any tool to master alone. It is a practice that will take time to put into place, but with a clearly defined strategy and a good grasp of its fundamentals, it has the potential to be one of the most personal and powerful marketing practices yet.

Online marketing practices are always evolving. What are you seeing for the future of content marketing and how will you adapt for what’s to come?
We’d love to hear your thoughts!

stop referrer spam

Stop, Block, & Ban Referrer Spam

By | SEO | 2 Comments

Over the last few months, we’ve noticed referral traffic spike to many of our sites hosted on WordPress. Awesome right?

Well, not after looking at good old Google Analytics:

referrer spam view in google analytics

What is Referrer Spam?

Referrer spam is a feebly devised tactic to increase traffic to a certain domain. The aim, according to Raven Tools, is to make that domain appear in your analytics (as shown above) so you’ll visit the site. In the screenshot above, you can see how an individual could easily click one of those sites.

Why is Referrer Spam a Problem?

First off, referrer spam creates a problem when it comes to validity of data. These ‘visitors’ alter key statistics you need to analyze to improve your site. The total volume of sessions and visitors is obviously misrepresented. But not only that, but demographic, geographic, and device data is impacted.

How Do I Block Referrer Spam?

There are a multitude of ways you can tackle the beast that is referrer spam. Let’s take a look from around the web at what experts have suggested:

Option 1: Google Analytics Filters

Tom Capper of Distilled outlines a great option that doesn’t involve access to the backend of the site, just access to the analytics. While it doesn’t stop the traffic that has already arrived, it does remove it from your view.

Georgi Georgiev of Analytics Toolkit also advocates for filters within analytics, and details a comprehensive approach to applying multiple retroactive filters.

Option 2: WordPress Plugins

In the WordPress Plugin Directory, there are a few options to aid in filtering incoming traffic. SpamReferrerBlock and the Semalt Referrer Blocker are two of the most prominent options.

Option 3: .htaccess File

Adding several lines of code to your .htaccess file will create a virtual barrier between your site and those spamsters. This option is typically regarded as the most invasive and it does require upkeep, but it’s the most effective option to eradicate referral spam.

We’ve provided a CSV below that includes the code we used to stop our referral spam across our sites. You can simply use the list or customize it to include only the referrer sites that are impacting your site:

Click the link to download the CSV: Referrer Spam Ban .htaccess file

You’ll also need to customize the line of code that precedes the list of spam sites:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !.*YOURSITEHERE\.com/.*$ [NC]

In terms of bringing out the “big guns,” adjusting your .htaccess file tops the list. But, that also means that it’s serious stuff for you site. Ensure that your file is immaculate! Even one character out of place could take down your whole site.

For example, omitting that line of code with your site name as detailed above, will cause sporadic 403 errors across all pages of your site. Bottom line, make sure you feel comfortable with code before implementing this option!

Option 4: Any Combination of the Above Methods

If you’re especially concerned about referrer spam, you can combine any or all of the methods above to create layers of protection.

Does a Long-Term Fix Exist?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. While Google is aware of the referrer spam problem, no long-term solution exists beyond an overhaul of how Google Analytics tracks visitors. So, we are left to work with what we have at our disposal.

Don’t let referrer spam make a mess of your analytics. Stop, block, and ban it before it even hits your site. What’s your favorite method to stop spam traffic? Share it with us in the comments!

Content Marketing Fuels Product Launches

5 Ways To Support Your Product Launch With Content Marketing

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

You’ve spent hours upon hours creating this new product and now it’s time to gear up for your product launch. Launching a new product is no easy task. Just like creating the product, it takes time to successfully launch your product.

But it’s not just time that you need — you also need a plan.

Ample preparation and a documented plan is what separates successful product launches from failed product launches that crash and burn into flames of wasted time and money. In fact, 71% of fast-growing businesses have plans and document their strategies, which helps them grow faster and be more prosperous.

So what does this ample preparation and a documented plan involve? For starters, it needs the full support of content marketing. But not just any content marketing strategy will do. Yours needs to be a buyer-focused content marketing strategy that will earn a buyer’s complete trust during your product launch.

A buyer-focused plan doesn’t mean you have a list of content types you have to check off; it’s a plan where your focus is providing useful content that answers your buyers’ questions during each stage of the sales cycle.

In a recent study, 86% of B2B marketers said they use content marketing. These marketers understand content marketing is an essential part of ensuring their company’s commercial success. It will also ensure your product launch is a success, and here are five ways content marketing can support your product launch.

  1. Gets buyers’ attention and keeps them engaged.

Before buying products, customers research online to help them make purchasing decisions. They look at keywords and themes, which you can provide to answer their questions and ease their pain points via online content. Use written content, like blog posts, and visual content, like infographics and videos; whichever ways are best to explain your product and are the content form your customers prefer.

Buyers want and need to learn about your product — what it is, what it does, how it works, why they need it, what benefits it provides them, etc. — before they’re ready to talk to your sales department. And the best way to capture a buyer’s attention is to be on the channels they’re on, where they’re searching for their information, and providing content in their preferred form. This helps you kick start a relationship with these customers, build rapport with them, inform them about your product and hopefully keep them engaged with your brand.

  1. Provides real-life examples buyers can relate to.

Don’t just tell your customers and potential customers how features of your new product are going to benefit them — show them! And show them with data-driven case studies of customers already using and benefiting from your product. Consumers relate better and are more trusting of their peers rather than a brand, so if you have customers saying how great your product is, it will encourage others to buy your product because they want those benefits as well. Case studies take some time, planning and trust on your part and the customers you use, but it’s worth it and will propel your launch to the next level.

  1. Keeps the discussion going after your launch.

After spending blood, sweat, tears and hours of your life getting ready for this product launch and seeing it through, you can’t just forget about it once the official launch is over. Use content marketing to the keep the hype up and keep the discussion about your product and brand going after the launch.

Think of your first round of content that captures buyers’ attention as your introduction with those buyers. Now that the introduction is over, it’s time to maintain and build good customer-brand relationships with more content, i.e. emails, monthly newsletters, online surveys, whitepapers, etc. This stage of your content marketing strategy is still focused on your customers, it’s just now solely focused on educating them. Instead of focusing on getting a sale, educating consumers helps your prospects learn at their own pace and establishes your company as the trusted resource in your industry.

  1. Guarantees your sales team’s messaging to customers is correct.

Besides making your content accessible to your customers, make it easily accessible to your sales team. A great product launch amounts to nothing unless there’s selling. Your sales and marketing teams have to work together closely because while your marketing team develops the message and content marketing strategy for your product launch, your sales team is your key revenue driver for said product and oftentimes the top channel for marketing communications. So to ensure your sales team effectively discusses your new product with customers, provide them easy access to any new and updated content about your product. 

  1. Reassures your entire company is on the same page.

Content about your product should be shared with your customers and your sales team, but there’s one piece of content you need to create beforehand that’s exclusively for your employees — a way to get everyone on the same page. A fruitful product launch needs a clear message that’s agreed upon and consistently expressed across your company. You achieve that goal by producing a document outlining the message of your product launch within your company walls. Sixty percent of marketers who have a documented strategy rate themselves favorably with regard to effectiveness, while only 32% who have a verbal strategy do.

Have your marketing team create this document before your product launch, and be sure they include:

  • The product and its features
  • The buyer persona(s) you’re targeting
  • The benefits offered by the product and its features to your specific buyer persona(s)
  • How your product is different than others it’s similar to in the market.

When your entire company sees eye-to-eye on the messaging of your product launch, your message is sharply and clearly conveyed when it’s time to actually launch your product.

Product launches make or break a company. You want to be a commercial success, not a commercial failure, and content marketing supports making your company a commercial success story, boosting visibility of your new product and driving more sales.

May your product launch — with the support of content marketing — take your company to infinity and beyond.

25 Things

25 Things the “Digital” CMO Must Know

By | Digital Marketing | No Comments

Throughout the years, the role of Chief Marketing Officer has evolved tremendously. From concerns limited to traditional, one-way, broadcast media to new challenges involving entirely new, uncharted channels.

These uncharted channels require a new captain. Enter the “digital” CMO.

The “digital” CMO must not only be able to craft a compelling marketing message, but also spark and foster meaningful conversations. Don’t let the term “digital” fool you. This CMO has serious interpersonal chops that exist alongside a bevy of technical skills.

So, what makes the CMO “digital”? We’ve outlined 25 key terms and tactics that the “digital” CMO must know to be successful.

The “Digital” CMO’s Must-Knows

1. Social Media

We wanted to ease you into this list with an easy one: social media. By now, you should at least be waist-deep in the social media world, and if you aren’t, you’re behind. Even though as a CMO, you probably won’t be on the frontlines of the various social media platforms. However, you’ll need to keep up on the latest industry changes.

In addition, you should be participating on behalf of yourself! Your participation on Twitter and LinkedIn adds a valuable human element to your brand. In addition, building up your own profile will only bolster your corporation’s reputation.

2. Split Testing

Split testing (a.k.a. Bucket Testing or A/B Testing) is the marketer’s way to utilize statistics in proving efficacy of campaigns. It’s simple enough to understand and execute: two identical versions of a test subject are compared, except that one subject has a variation aimed to impact consumer behavior.

These tests are commonly used in email campaigns and social promotions; however, they are useful across the board. Split testing also becomes especially useful as concrete evidence in selecting one campaign over another. It removes the human judgment element and allows you, as a CMO, to make the best decision possible.

3. HTML

A knowledge of HTML is critical for CMOs. You most likely have a base understanding of HTML, but the more robust that understanding is the better. You need to understand how a website is created, and how much effort it takes to consistently maintain and protect it. Without firsthand knowledge of this, you’re doing yourself and your corporation a disservice.

4. PHP

While very simple, PHP has advanced nuances for the professional programmer. But, it’s overall ease of use makes it an essential tool in the “digital” CMOs repertoire. PHP has hundreds of functions and it even powers sites like Facebook. Learning PHP allows you to create dynamic websites and web applications. As a CMO, knowing the parameters of PHP helps you better understand the process, capabilities, and workflow of your team.

5. WordPress

As with others on this list, you’re probably familiar with WordPress. What began as an open source project in 2003 has grown into one of the largest content management systems (CMS) in the world. It’s based on PHP, and incredibly intuitive to use and navigate.

WordPress has evolved into a full blown CMS with thousands upon thousands of plugins, widgets, and themes to create a completely customized site. As with HTML and PHP, it’s critical for the “digital” CMO to understand the capabilities and limitations of WordPress.

6. Automation

Marketing Automation has become increasingly popular, with firms like Amazon executing it so perfectly that everyone seems to want to jump ship. What is it? Marketing Automation is similar to any other form of automation, in that it’s a collection of technologies designed to effectively market on multiple channels online and automate repetitive tasks.

While marketing automation can be wildly successful, it also is a cost-heavy investment. That being said, if you’re sure you can make the transition successfully, the ROI will be well worth the investment.

7. Video Advertisements

Advertising via video messages is not new, but it has been giving new life with the advent of pre-roll videos on websites and social media. The “digital” CMO must understand how to best leverage these and capture consumer’s attention.

Creating video advertisements may seem like an incredibly expensive undertaking. While it can be costly, there are other budget-friendly options as well. Utilizing technology like the GoPro and online editing software, a video can be created at a fraction of the cost you might expect.

8. SEO

As with others on this list, SEO is not a new concept that the “digital” CMO must know. However, with every quarter bringing declarations of the “death of SEO,” it’s worth mentioning here.

As long as consumers use search engines to find information, SEO will be very, very relevant. Therefore, it’s best for CMOs to acquire a basic understanding of SEO and the tactics used to increase visibility for their firm.

9. Content Marketing

Content marketing often holds hands with SEO, but is without a doubt worthy of its own spot on this list. For those unfamiliar, the Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as the “technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience.”

In the online space, brands have the capability of becoming their own publishers. Enter content marketing. Not only does this technique drive profitable customer action, but it also builds trust in your brand and portrays it as a knowledgeable and helpful source of information.

10. Mobile Optimization

The world is going mobile, my friends, and has been for some time. This means that every internet marketing tactic you’re carrying out must also be optimized for mobile. Every website, every social push, every blog post, and every email sent needs to be seamlessly viewed on mobile devices.

Ensuring that your website is optimized for mobile is paramount. Having an optimized website boosts engagement and sales, and ultimately, creates the best possible experience for the customer.

11. “Real-Time” Marketing

Oreo Cookie thrust real-time marketing into the spotlight with its now-famous Super Bowl Tweet. However, you don’t need to be a globally recognized brand to excel at real-time marketing. That’s the true beauty of this tactic — it just requires awareness and quick action.

It also requires common sense and tact. A poorly-timed tweet that could be construed as poor taste will do much more harm to your brand than good.

12. Wearable Tech

Somewhat a novelty now, wearable technology will soon be as commonplace as smartphones in our daily lives. Smartwatches are already gaining traction, and with Apple’s upcoming entrance to the space, it’s only a matter of time before it’s the new darling of the marketing world.

As with mobile, when wearable tech becomes more popular, having an optimized experience for each device will be necessary. Wearable tech also opens up a new playing field for medical and health corporations, as many of the devices are equipped with fitness tracking technology. The “digital” CMO will need to decide whether it’s worth being a first-mover in this space, or to tread lightly.

13. Crowdsourcing

Even though the term “crowdsourcing” was coined in 2005, 10 years later it’s still a vital concept for “digital” CMOs to know. The popularization of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter has only added fuel to the fire of crowdsourcing popularity.

Crowdsourcing has endless applications, to everything from funding a potato salad to searching for missing planes. Leveraging this tactic can be highly useful, even groundbreaking, for your firm.

14. Big Data

Big data is simply the term for sets of data that have become so large, they are difficult to process using typical processing techniques. In other words, data that causes “analysis paralysis.” The most common buzzwords you’ll hear in the same breath as “big data” are “velocity, variety, and volume.”

The “digital” CMO will understand the prevalence of big data, and the importance in analyzing the right data the right way. Easier said than done though.

15. Social CRM

Social CRM, also called Social Media Monitoring, is the term used to describe a brand’s engagement with their customers via social media platforms. Paul Greenberg sums it up quite eloquently in his definition: “It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

The value in Social CRM is derived from the trustworthiness and transparency your business displays when engaging. However, as with any activity on social media, it must be highly controlled and thoroughly thought-out before undertaking.

16. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Conversion Rate Optimization sounds a bit daunting, but the folks at Qualaroo did a fantastic job of breaking it down for us: “Conversion Rate Optimization is finding why visitors aren’t converting and fixing it.”

Any firm that has a website (so, ALL firms) should be concerned with CRO. The “digital” CMO must understand the importance of analytics, user feedback, and KPIs in the optimization process.

17. Mircotargeting

Microtargeting was originally reserved for political parties to track individual voters and identify supporters. But with social media, all marketers have the opportunity to participate in this wildly reliable tactic.

Microtargeting is the process of putting your content/firm in front of the right audience, albeit a smaller one. However, this tactic ensures that you’re going to get the highest engagement and click-through rates possible. Social media’s targeted ads facilitate this process wonderfully, and are worth a look if you’re still in the shotgun-style mentality.

18. “YouTility”

Jay Baer published “Youtility” in 2013, and it still serves as an amazing entrance into understanding the importance of helping, not selling, in the digital age. If you haven’t read the book yet, you need to put it on your to-read list. “Youtility” teaches a style of marketing that’s so useful, “people would pay for it.” In this information-overloaded society, it’s the route all brands should take going forward.

19. Influencer Outreach

Since social media continues to be a powerful channel, it comes as no surprise that influencer outreach made this list. Influencer outreach is the process of identifying existing users on various social media platforms that function as “influencers” in their space, and then building a relationship with these influencers in hopes that they will become evangelists for your brand.

As of now, influencer outreach is a very “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” process, which makes it alluring for those with small budgets. However, it’s really only a matter of time before these “influencers” start demanding a bit of monetary reimbursement.

20. Email Marketing

Some less-than-stellar marketers might have you thinking that email marketing is an antiquated technique. That school of thought couldn’t be further from the truth! Copyblogger provides an excellent viewpoint of email marketing: “It’s what you use when you want to move from ‘conversation to commerce.’”

The key difference between successful and futile email marketing campaigns comes down to the relationship with your audience. The “digital” CMO should understand and allow his team to understand the importance of crafting subject lines, brand voice, and quality content.

21. Paid Amplification

Paid amplification is simply the process of promoting your company’s content via Facebook promoted posts, LinkedIn sponsored updates, promoted Tweets, and YouTube’s Trueview ads. In the growing world of algorithm feed changes and dwindling organic reach, paying for expanded content distribution is nearly necessary.

Microtargeting, another member of this list, and paid amplification go hand-in-hand. It’s through paid amplification that you can microtarget, thereby building an engaged audience and passionate community of users that actually care.

22. Native Advertising

Native advertising is not a new marketing tactic, but its explosion in popularity in recent years merits its place on this list. As you know, native ads match the format and blend seamlessly into the existing user experience. However, this is the cause of native ad’s success AND its problems.

A portion of internet users feel as though native ads are misleading at best. So, when looking at this as a potential strategy, transparency is of utmost importance. Successful native ads have a thorough understanding of the target audience and what makes them tick, which mitigates any negative responses.

23. Storytelling

Storytelling might be the oldest marketing skill in the book. But, technology and the new spotlight placed on content marketing re-emphasize the importance of perfecting this skill.

The “digital” CMO should take his or her dictionary, scribble out “selling,” and put “storytelling” in its place. When each company communication is rooted in a good story, it’s difficult for consumers not to be enthralled.

24. Employee Empowerment

As we round out the list, we wanted to end with “bigger picture” views on marketing that are critical to the “digital” CMO. The first of which is employee empowerment. Again, this is not a new concept but is worthy of revisiting in the digital age.

In the pre-internet era, employee empowerment was generally thought of as the company culture that allows employees to have input and control over their work. While it still stands for this, its definition has now broadened to include employee activities online. Companies have gone so far as to have employees sign “social media contracts” that dictate what they can and cannot do online. This may not prove to be the most beneficial route to travel, however.

Instead of restricting employee activities in the online world, turn each employee into a brand evangelist. When the “digital” CMO empowers employees to act proactively and in support of their brand, the brand’s online presence grows exponentially.

25. Customer Empowerment

The final element of this list, customer empowerment, is a true culmination of every aforementioned tactic. The digital landscape empowers customers in a way that could never be accomplished before. Consumers are no longer content with being herded through a traditional funnel, therefore empowerment becomes critical.

You must arm your potential and current customers with the knowledge and power necessary to make informed purchasing decisions. True customer empowerment requires an understanding of big data and social CRM, among other things. It also requires systems of automation, paid amplification, and the like to effectively empower customers.

Transforming into the “Digital” CMO

Unfortunately, we cannot wave a magic wand and instantly transform you into an all-knowing “digital” CMO. The rest is truly up to you. But the good news is that the digital world is full of helping hands and valuable insights from individuals that have been where you are now. All you need to do is look for them.

Now you know where to start. So, get out there and become a “digital” CMO!

Traditional Vs. Digital Marketing

Content, Digital, Traditional: What’s the Big Freakin’ Difference?

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Since the beginning, in order for businesses to succeed, it’s been vital to market yourself — your products and services — to consumers. Marketing gets your brand out there and helps you garner sales. In the past, the only usable method was traditional marketing, but today you have the option of using traditional or digital marketing tactics, options allowing you to choose the best way to interact with your target audience.

But which do you use?

How do you even begin to make that decision?

And where exactly does content marketing fall into the spectrum?

In order to decide, you need to be knowledgeable about both. So sit back, get comfy and rid yourself of any distractions. I’m about to drop some much-needed marketing knowledge, giving you the need-to-know details that differentiate traditional and digital marketing and showing you where content marketing fits into the mix.

Traditional’s Technicalities

Traditional marketing is the most known marketing method since it’s been around the longest. It encompasses the ads we see and hear daily. The most recognizable types are print ads, TV and radio commercials, billboards, brochures and posters.

While it’s the most known method, that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect method. There’s good and bad to using traditional marketing. Let’s delve in and find out if you think the good outweighs the bad.

Advantages

  • It’s the best way to reach those who don’t regularly go online or who are without Internet access, a shockingly estimated 4 billion people scattered worldwide.
  • People are accustomed to it. The traditional types are familiar activities that many people still do, i.e. watching TV and driving on highways lined with billboards.
  • It’s the ideal way to reach local audiences.

Disadvantages

  • Results aren’t easily measured or can’t be measured at all.
  • It’s typically more costly than digital marketing.
  • It’s a static form of marketing, a one-way communication if you will. You put information in front of people, and fingers crossed, hope they take the action you want because of it.
  • Your coverage is limited in terms of audience size and timeframe. If your customers aren’t local, they aren’t seeing your marketing initiatives, and that ad in the newspaper is getting thrown away the next day when tomorrow’s paper comes out.
  • It’s a fairly long process going from concept to end product, and your end product doesn’t get into your audience’s hands instantaneously.
  • Much of our world is dependent on technology. Most of the things we do every day we can and choose to do online, i.e. bank, shop and read. Even traditional methods, like magazines and newspapers, have digital formats or are completely switching over to digital formats.

Traditional marketing versus digital marketing

Digital’s Details

Traditional marketing may be the longest-running marketing method, but that doesn’t make it the most used or preferred method. In our technologically driven world, digital marketing is making headway in the marketing world, with marketers forecasted to spend 35% of their total budgets on digital marketing by 2016.

Just like its name says, digital marketing is marketing your products and services via digital technologies to reach consumers. This marketing method uses all the Internet-based channels it can, including social media, emails, websites, banner ads, podcasts and blogs to name a few. And utilizing Internet-based channels is smart considering the number of worldwide Internet users is approximately 3,079,339,857 and 310.3 million of those users reside in North America.

Like traditional marketing, digital marketing is made up of good and bad features, but you’ll quickly see the good completely overshadows the bad.

Advantages

  • Results are measurable and easier to measure.
  • You have the possibility to reach a limitless audience. You can tailor your message to target a specific audience or place it on the web for the entire world to find.
  • It’s an interactive, engaging and non-intrusive form of marketing. Companies and customers each have the chance to talk and listen because it’s a form of multi-directional communication.
  • Because this method relies on the Internet, the interactions are public so any other consumer who wants to join a conversation is able to, and can do so immediately.
  • Direct contact with consumers and businesses is provided, resulting in some valuable consumer feedback.
  • Campaigns are planned out but can be edited based on consumer feedback received along the way.
  • The information and coverage you put online is available to consumers 24/7 and forever remains online to find.
  • Gets into consumers’ hands instantaneously.
  • Digital marketing efforts have the chance to go viral.
  • Digital marketing scales, so you can do as little or as much as you want to do and stay within your budget.

Disadvantages

  • Takes time to realize and see the measurable success of your efforts.
  • Takes time to develop your concepts and overall strategy.
  • Information you put online can quickly become outdated. Time and manpower is needed to ensure your information is regularly monitored and updated when necessary.

Content’s Components

After seeing the clear differences between traditional and digital marketing, can you pinpoint where content marketing lands in the marketing mix?

When you really think about it, high-quality content plays a part in all marketing initiatives, but in my opinion, content marketing’s main role is being at the heart of your digital marketing efforts. And I’m not the only one thinking this way as 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing. Those numbers aren’t diminishing anytime soon as 86% of marketers plan to spend more on content and a Teradata survey shows that companies plan to spend 15% of their marketing budget on content creation in 2015.

The Content Marketing Institute’s definition of content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” The most commonly used types of content marketing include blog posts, articles, websites, eBooks, white papers, case studies, emails, videos and webinars. The purpose of content marketing isn’t to sell; it’s to communicate with your customers and potential customers by delivering informative and relevant content to educate them.

Traditional marketing had more disadvantages than advantages, while digital marketing was the opposite. With content marketing falling under digital marketing, it makes sense that its advantages also outnumber its disadvantages.

Advantages

  • Builds brand awareness.
  • Drives more inbound traffic to your website.
  • Boosts your natural link popularity.
  • Increases your leads. Content marketing generates roughly three times the leads traditional marketing does.
  • It’s the best way to nurture your leads.
  • Increases consumer engagement.
  • Cultivates trust between your brand and your audience.
  • Establishes your brand as a thought leader and voice of authority.
  • Creates brand advocates.
  • It’s cheaper to implement, costing 62% less than traditional marketing.

Disadvantages

  • It’s meant to provide long-term impact not short-term results.
  • It’s not designed to persuade consumers to take immediate action.

Conclusion

While traditional and digital marketing share the same goal — attracting qualified leads and building better brand awareness — it’s clear the two are very different marketing methods, and that content marketing plays a role in each marketing initiative, although mostly with digital marketing.

I know which method I’d choose, but have you determined which is best for your business?

When Content Marketing Fails

When You Should Absolutely NOT Use Content Marketing

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Content marketing is holding tight to the role of shining star in the digital landscape. And it’s no secret that here at Stryde, we believe traditional methods of sales and marketing are essentially dead.

However, that’s not to say that content marketing is the duct tape of the marketing landscape (i.e. it fixes everything). Your business goals, capacities, and capabilities will determine if content marketing is the right strategy to utilize. As with so many things in life, content marketing is not “one size fits all” nor is it the most advantageous strategy to employ in every single situation.

So, instead of our typical communications dripping with content marketing praise, today we’re going to explore instances when you should absolutely, positively NOT use content marketing.

Absolutely, Positively Do NOT Use Content Marketing When…

… Short-Term Impact Is Paramount

If your goal is to drive immediate sales, then content marketing is not for you. The overarching goal of all content marketing initiatives is to create brand advocates. Then, these advocates provide your brand with search, referral, social, and word of mouth traffic for years to come. Which then translates into long-term, sustainable profits.

In fact, we penned an entire post about how short-term content marketing campaigns are in actuality a paradox. It takes time to build loyal brand advocates. It does not take time to generate a brief jump in sales. There is a place for both content marketing and advertising within organizations, but you need to understand how the outcome of each differs and match that to your own goals.

What To Do Instead: Advertising campaign

Why? With an advertising campaign, the goal is to instantly impact sales and/or leads. Effectively executing this campaign should produce the short-term impact that is desired.

… Your Goal Is To Persuade Customers

When you want to persuade consumers to take action or to feel a desired opinion towards a product, don’t use content marketing. Persuasion is not included anywhere in the definition of content marketing. Instead, the definition includes only the term “valuable.” Instead of the purpose of persuasion, the focus is on holistic understanding and relevant information.

We encounter this problem in content marketing initiatives quite frequently, and understandably so. It’s difficult to break from the traditional marketing mindset of clear calls-to-action and promotional copy. But, if you want to succeed in content marketing, you MUST break those tendencies. Content performs best when it’s authentic, comprehensive, and helpful.

What To Do Instead: Advertising campaign

Why? Closely tied with the previous point on short-term impact, persuading consumers to take immediate action is a core purpose of advertising. Consumers know the difference between promotional and non-promotional copy, and they’ll show that knowledge through their buying habits.

… You’re Not Willing To Invest In Content Distribution And Amplification

Creating an amazing piece of content is only half the battle. In order to enjoy the successes of content marketing, you need to have a plan, the time, and the budget available to distribute and amplify the content you create. Whether it’s through your own social media profiles, email marketing, strategic outreach, or paid promotions, content marketing fails when it’s missing this part of the puzzle.

The time spent cultivating and nurturing relationships with industry influencers, high-profile bloggers, and journalist pays off in the visibility your content gains. Not only visibility, but in links to your content, too. When respected individuals or corporations reference your content, it sends you pre-qualified referral traffic while sending the search engines strong SEO signals.

What To Do Instead: Educate yourself!

Why? There really is no comparable alternative to a thoughtful distribution and amplification plan. Without it, content marketing does not exist and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a comparable alternative.

If you want to begin a content marketing initiative and you harbor any of the three elements detailed above, do yourself a favor and don’t even start. If you’ve already ventured into the land of content marketing while harboring any of the three inclinations, it’s safe to say you probably considered it a big stinking failure. Which is okay! Now you know when to NOT use content marketing and you’ll save yourself from further failed attempts.

Have you experienced any other instances where content marketing has been a gigantic dud? What would you adjust in your approach, or would you abandon it all together? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!