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aligning channels for success from stryde

Traditional, Meet Digital: Aligning Your Channels For Success

By | Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Traditional Marketing | No Comments

Let’s say someone gave you the choice to have a piece of cake or a piece of cake with a scoop of ice cream. Cake is good by itself, and so is ice cream, but when you pair the two together, it’s the best combination there is (at least in my opinion).

Traditional marketing and digital marketing are like cake and ice cream.

Each is good by itself, but when integrated together, they’re a lethal combination.

The most effective marketing strategy your business can have isn’t choosing between traditional or digital only tactics; it’s finding the right balance between the two, crafting the perfect integrated brand message for your target audience and giving each customer exactly what they want.

Alignment in the Wild

shoe-pinterest

Image courtesy of Nordstrom via Business Insider

Nordstrom is a textbook example of a brand that does just that. Whether in store or online, Nordstrom focuses on the

customer, giving them what they want, when they want it, and making everything visible to the consumer. Nordstrom shoppers receive above-and-beyond customer service in store and online, free shipping and returns all the time and you can buy something online and have it shipped to your home or to the nearest store to pick up. The user experience is seamless across Nordstrom’s digital and physical channels.

It even encourages social interaction while customers shop in-store. Take for example the 2013 ‘Popular on Pinterest’ badges that Nordstrom locations across the country affixed to real user-favorites on the widely-used app.

If you want to be like retail giant Nordstrom and correctly craft an integrated strategy of traditional and digital, then you need to consider three important factors:

What’s the customer journey?

What is the customer experience like for your customers, from that initial contact to a long-term, loyal relationship? What steps do your customers take to engage with your company?

What are the appropriate and available channels?

Print, radio, TV, website, social networking platforms, email, etc.

What’s going to move the needle?

Brainstorm and find the right process involving digital and traditional marketing to help achieve your overall marketing goals.

Know the Customer Journey

The customer journey isn’t what it used to be. There’s no longer just one path a consumer follows to make a purchase.

But no matter what path they take or what questions they ask, they want to feel as if the path they take and the content they receive on their chosen path were custom-made for them. You have to use the proper targeting and messaging tactics to personalize your marketing messages. And 52 percent of marketers agree, saying that being able to personalize web content is fundamental to a good online strategy.

mckinsey-consumer-decision-journey-1

Image courtesy of McKinsey & Company via Forbes

With the myriad of platforms and technology available at your fingertips, you also have a long list of targeting tactics available. The two that will give you the conversion numbers you seek are behavioral targeting and content personalization.

Consumers visit websites and social platforms with different things on their minds, like doing research or wanting to purchase. Target these different types of consumers with personalized content using behavioral data, i.e. keywords they search for, whether or not they’ve visited your website before and their buying history. Besides interest-based behavioral data, use geographical and demographical data (location, gender, age, etc.) to create different types of personalized content for your different customers.

As for messaging, knowing your target audience’s online habits helps you determine what voice and tone to use with your messaging in your personalized content for them.

Marketing has always been about the customer, and you can ensure the customer stays at the center of what you’re doing by applying the three types of data you’ve gathered online — interest-based, geographical and demographical — and using it to help you better reach consumers at offline touch points. Integrating your online and offline touch points allows you to deliver personalized content to more consumers on more channels, giving consumers the answers they seek and helping move them along the customer journey.

Use the Appropriate Channels

Customers ask different questions because they’re looking for different information, and they use different channels to find those answers — channels and answers that hopefully lead them to your brand. The three types of channels you should focus on are social platforms, paid promotions and earned media.

Types Benefits
Social Platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ Increase brand recognition, develop and maintain loyal brand-customer relationships, more opportunities to convert
Paid Promotions Promoted tweets, PPC and SEO campaigns, content discovery platforms like StumbleUpon and Outbrain Guaranteed audience, highly-targeted campaign
Earned Media Media publications, industry influencer blogs and websites Free, improves brand credibility, helps you become an industry thought leader 

Knowing which channels to use means knowing your audience and understanding the different consumer engagement patterns. The two engagement patterns are passive and active. Traditional methods are more passive, while digital is more of active engagement.

Think of looking at a print ad in a magazine. You may take the 15 seconds to read it, but that’s usually where it ends. It’s a one-sided conversion that usually ends right there, even if there’s a CTA to visit a website or call the company’s number. That doesn’t mean a traditional print or radio ad isn’t valuable. It reaches a widespread audience and is easily digested by your audience since it doesn’t take long to absorb the message.

But when consumers need more, they need online interaction. When traditional leaves holes, digital marketing fills them in. It provides immediate answers to consumer questions and allows you to maintain an active presence online with your customers.

Integrating offline with online channels maximizes your audience reach and provides both types of engagement so your active and passive customers are completely satisfied. Just be sure that as you marry the offline with the online, you make it easy and meaningful for everyone involved.

Move the Needle

Move the needle is a common phrase in marketing, but for any of you who’ve never heard of it, it simply means to take action that generates a positive reaction. That positive reaction you want from your marketing methods is achieving your marketing goals.

Just like how each brand has different goals it wants to reach with each marketing campaign, i.e. gain more website visits, double eBook downloads, increase revenue, etc., there are different approaches you can take to achieve — and maybe even exceed — your goals. The following are three different approaches you can choose to take. Knowing which one you should take depends on your goals and which one you believe will create the most positive impact for your brand.

Aspirational

aspirational consumer

If you don’t know who the Aspirational consumers are, you need to. According to BBMG and GlobeScan research, Aspirationals make up 36.4 percent of our population. They love shopping, wish for responsible consumption and trust that brands will act in society’s best interests. You want them on your brand’s side because they’re one of the world’s biggest consumer groups, guide companies to take a more integrated marketing approach and want to share their ideas and experiences with brands to help them create a better product or service.

Mitch Baranowski and Raphael Bemporad, cofounders of BBMG, gave five ways to reach and engage Aspirational consumers:

  1. Give them something to believe in.
  2. Give them something to belong to.
  3. Amplify their voices.
  4. Give them social status.
  5. Give them a platform for action.

Your aspirational marketing strategy needs to be all about emotion. Appeal to their emotions and their aspirations, rather than their realities, and give them a purpose for their purchase.

Community

community

Most consumers are very tight-knit with their community, be it their city, state, sports team, political party, etc. If you’ve ever taken a dig at someone’s sports team or where they’re from, then you know just how passionate (and defensive) they can be.

With a community approach, you have to really understand your customers’ affections to their city, state or whatever community you choose to target and use that to your advantage. Are there common passions or loyalties your local audience shares that you can supplement or attach to your content? Not only will doing so personalize content for your local audiences, it will get those very passionate and loyal consumers on your side — and since you probably know how passionate and loyal they are with their community, then you also know how good it is to have them be that way about your brand.

Solidarity

solidarity across traditional and digital channels

A solidarity marketing approach means having a united front no matter what channel is being used. Everything you say and do with your traditional marketing methods needs to complement your digital methods.

If you put an ad in the local newspaper, be sure to include your website address and let readers know where they can find you on social platforms. Add your social URLs and website address to your business cards. Share your press releases you create and send out in print easily online. If you release a new product, be sure your website and social profiles are updated with the latest information regarding said product so any consumer who sees it in print and wants to know more can find what they’re looking for during their online research.

In order for your brand to be successful, and for you to reach your overall marketing goals, you need to utilize all that traditional and digital marketing methods offer. Properly aligning the two will drive the results you desire and take your campaign to the next level — just like how combining cake and ice cream takes the dessert game to the next level.

STRYDE | Why Your Content Marketing Isn't Working & How to Fix It 3

Why Your Content Marketing Isn’t Working & How to Fix It

By | Content Marketing, IMSLC | No Comments

The following is information we gleaned from Dan Bischoff’s presentation, 10 Roles Needed for Content Marketing Domination, during January 2015’s IMSLC event.

If you’ve fallen bait to the content marketing cycle-of-no-return, you’re not alone.

Thousands of marketers like you have tried the good ol’ “launch a company blog and start getting tons of traffic” tactic and been disappointed in the results.

To illustrate – the year of 2013 showed a hefty 93% of businesses were using content marketing as a way to expand their audience. This percentage shrunk to 86% in 2014, and is continuing to shrink.

Content marketing, as trendy as blogging and clever infographics have been, is losing steam.

So why the decline?

“It didn’t work. It wasn’t working for people…” is the simple answer provided by Dan Bischoff, founder of Content Hook, during his presentation at last month’s IMSLC. That’s right, Dan founded a company based around content marketing. So if you’re thinking there’s probably more behind the story of content marketing’s failure other than “it doesn’t work”, you’re right.

Let’s start by touching on the main reason people attempt content marketing in the first place…

How It Used to be

Just ten years ago, salespeople held you by the strings. If you wanted to buy a product, you typically had to go through someone to get all the information needed: a sales rep, a travel agent, a receptionist – you name it.

Today we hold personal salesmen in our own pockets. Most of us use online reviews, search engines, social media, and friends’ reviews to make purchasing decisions.

“Before a customer talks to a salesperson, the sales process is already done,” Dan pointed out. According to the Harvard Business Review, at least 57% of the buying process has already occurred before customers pick up the phone.

Content marketing is used for a variety of reasons, the main one being that businesses want to play a role in the 60% of the sales process that occurs before customers contact the company itself.

So Why Are Marketers Failing at Content Marketing?

Dan gave us three reasons:

1

2

fbpost1

Need we say more?

You simply can’t compete against the elderly, soldier dads, or (especially) mourning dogs. Human stories will always win over advertised content.

On top of that, there are companies like Buzzfeed and Upworthy who do nothing but create content. Most of it is junk, but clickable junk.

And let’s not forget that Facebook likes are becoming less and less meaningful – the total number of pages ‘liked’ by the typical user grew more than 50% last year.

Dipping Your Toes vs. Diving In

This is the key.

The difference between those who find success using content marketing and those who don’t is the difference between simply dipping your toes in the water and diving in full force. You need a plan, a strategy, and a process.

A large part of that plan includes a robust, focused team made up of roles that are designed to drive content marketing from being so-so… to shareable.

Content Marketing

STRYDE | Nurturing the Sales Funnel Using Social Media (Infographic) 2

Nurturing the Sales Funnel Using Social Media (Infographic)

By | Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Social Media, Strategy | No Comments

Social media is taking the marketing world by storm. It’s crowded, competitive, but if you do it right, it’s golden.

Haven’t formulated a strategy for your businesses’ social media accounts yet? To successfully capture leads you need a fully developed plan, not a half-hearted attempt to be semi-visible.

To nurture your company’s sales funnel using social media, consider the following:

Awareness through repeat visibility.

Interest through engagement.

Conversion achieved through landing pages.

Sales through targeting new leads.

Loyalty through repeat visibility and engagement.

Easier said than done. So what’s the next step for you and your company? Put your strategy into action by following the funnel recommended in this insightful infographic.

SocialSalesFunnelIG

 

5 Twitter Tips for Boosting Ecommerce Sales

By | Content Marketing, Conversion, eCommerce, Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

Think about a sales pipeline. At the top of the pipeline you have prospects, somewhere in the middle you have a sales pitch, and at the end of the pipeline you have actual sales.

Where does Twitter fall in the pipeline?

Social networks, like Twitter, are at the top of the pipeline. They are used to generate awareness about your product with the end goal of sending a potential client to your website where the actual sales pitch takes place. The sales pitch doesn’t take place on Twitter.

I’ve included 5 Twitter tricks for increasing ecommerce sales below. These tricks are focused on getting people to leave Twitter, and land on your website where the actual sale can take place.

Optimize Your Twitter Header for Sales

Twitter implemented a design overhaul on April 22, 2014. One key change in its new design is the addition of a Twitter header photo that spans the entire length of the screen at 1500×500 pixels.

Located at the top of every Twitter profile, the new Twitter header serves as a digital billboard allowing ecommerce companies to highlight products or services.

As an ecommerce site, use your Twitter header to drive sales by creating awareness about new products or deals you’re currently offering.

At RedbirdMetrics, we found that using a Twitter header as an advertisement resulted in a ~.07 increase in website traffic.

Here’s an example of how we use our Twitter header as an advertisement:

redbirdtwitterheader

Here’s a couple of tips for crafting your Twitter header:

  • Don’t forget to check out what your Twitter header looks like on a mobile device. When your Twitter header is condensed for a mobile device some of your images or text may not appear to users.
  • The link placed in your Twitter bio should take users to a landing page your Twitter header is promoting. Be sure to include a strong call to action in your Twitter header that encourages visitors to click on the link in your Twitter bio.

Use Twitter to Test Ads

One of the challenges of crafting digital advertisements is figuring out the perfect choice of words that will increase click-through-rate.

Sadly, many companies burn through mountains of cash trying to figure this out before they start to see an ROI.

Here’s a not so well known secret: you can use Twitter to test your ads before you make a significant investment.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Use bit.ly to create a custom link for the ad you’d like to test. Let’s say your landing page is www.landingpage.com. To make this link into a custom link simply add “?src=sometext” to the end of the link. I use the “sometext” portion to describe where the link is coming from. For example, www.landingpage.com?src=advertisementone could be used for the first ad and www.landingpage.com?src=advertisementtwo could be used for the second ad. Both of these links take you to the same page, but by making them customized you are able to track how much traffic is coming from each link. Shorten your customized link, and paste it in your Twitter bio.
  • Change your Twitter header into an advertisement. Focus on one value proposition for the product or service you’re trying to increase sales for.
  • Type a keyword or phrase you’re planning on targeting for ads into Twitter’s search bar in quotes. This will pull up tweets that contain that keyword or phrase specifically. Follow 50 people per day using that keyword or phrase for one week.
  • At the end of the week, check to see how many clicks your custom link received by looking up that link on your Bit.ly account. Record this number in an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Change your Twitter header to focus on an alternative value proposition for the same product or service, and repeat the above steps.
  • Compare the clicks you receive for each custom link to determine which advertisement gets more clicks.

Create an Online Catalog with Hashtags

Trendy restaurants, like Comodo, will crowdsource pictures of their food on Instagram around a specific hashtag. Comodo does this by including the hashtag #ComodoMenu at the bottom of their real-life menu. This helps their customers make decisions when ordering food. It also helps bring in additional clients because each picture shared serves as a word of mouth endorsement for the restaurant.

comodoinstagram

Ecommerce companies can adopt a similar strategy on Twitter. Create a hashtag for your company that helps customers see your products in action. For example, if you sell clothing you could encourage your buyers to post a picture of themselves wearing your clothes on Twitter.

Add your company hashtag at the end of each product description on your website. Enjoy the increase in visibility and sales.

Do a Giveaway

Giveaways are a powerful tool for increasing brand awareness. iFit, a fitness tracker, often utilizes giveaways on Twitter. Check out this recent giveaway they did:

ifitgiveaway

A couple tips for launching a giveaway:

  • Include at least one hashtag to increase the visibility of your giveaway. iFit used the #Giveaway hashtag.
  • Ask your followers to retweet, favorite, and follow to qualify for your giveaway. iFit did a great job of this by giving additional entries for a retweet, and a follow.
  • Use a picture in your giveaway tweet. Tweets using pictures are 94% more likely to be retweeted.

Follow Intelligently

Following people on Twitter is one of the best ways to increase brand awareness. Here are a few tactics that you should look into implementing:

  • Follow your competitor’s Twitter followers. Many of your competitors have likely spent years building a Twitter following. Harvest this low hanging fruit by following their followers. Tweepi, a free social media management tool, is perfect for doing this.
  • Follow people based on what they tweet. You can type anything into Twitter’s search bar in quotes. This will pull up people using that exact phrase or keyword. For example, if you type “I need new shoes” it will pull up people who need new shoes. Consider following people based on what they tweet.
  • Follow influencers. Every niche has it’s influencers. Identify the influencers in your industry and follow them on Twitter.

Do not aggressively follow people on Twitter. If you follow too many people per day then Twitter may suspend your account. Here’s some advice on following:

  • If you have less than 100 followers then you should only follow 10 people per day.
  • If you have more than 100 followers then you can follow up to 100 people per day.
  • When you have less than 1,800 followers you can only follow 2,000 people total. Once you get over 1,800 followers you can follow 110% of your following.

These are just a few tips and tricks for using Twitter to increase ecommerce sales. Remember, Twitter is for the top of your sales pipeline. The goal of Twitter is to drive people to your website where they can make a purchase. Don’t try to close on Twitter.

Can you think of any additional Twitter tips or tricks? Comment below.


joshlight

Josh Light is the co-founder and CEO of RedbirdQ, the most intelligent way to share to Twitter and Facebook. Josh writes about social media tips and tricks on the Redbird blog. Contact Josh on Twitter @JoshuaJLight; he loves people.

4 Content Marketing Tools I Can’t Live Without

By | Content Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

According to a report from The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, companies are increasing their budgets and dedicating employee resources to managing the production of blogs, ebooks, and microsites. Not to mention, freelance bloggers in New York are earning well into the six figures.

Content is powerful for building customer relationships, generating leads, and re-engaging audiences. Blogs, videos, and microsites have made push marketing a thing of the past. Why? Because, as Dell’s Executive Director of Marketing points out, consumers are 60% through their buying journeys by the time that they reach out to your company for more information.

Your customers are smart, savvy, and information-hungry. They’re using social media to become experts in your business and industry. Most importantly, they are a simple Google search away from your competitors.

Your company needs to do more than produce quality content. You need to do it quickly, efficiently, and at scale. That’s why smart programmers have created tools. Here are some favorites that can help you amplify your content marketing goals.

I. Ideastorming: Quora

Let’s start with the basics. Where do you go when you are looking for new content ideas? One of the first places I go is to is Quora, a question and answer engine for information-hungry people. Marketers can use Quora to: (1) see what their target customers are talking about, (2) see what their target customers are asking, and (3) answer their own questions. Let’s say you’re looking for more information about SEO tools, for example. You can simply plug it into the search function, and all of the top discussions around SEO tools will appear.

Quora

The next step is taking top questions and converting it into useful information. You can even use open Quora questions as a built-in audience to your blog post. Include your blog post as an answer on Quora — readers can click through to your site and read more.

Quora is a great platform for positioning yourself, your content, and your company as leaders in the industry.

II. Marketing and Promoting Content: Paid Channel Ads

There are a number of different ways to promote content. Tools like Google ads and Facebook ads are incredibly useful if you need extra help spreading the word about the awesome things your company does. In my own experience, both Google ads and Facebook ads have significantly increased our user base, and for us, this has mean increased sales. And, who doesn’t love more money?

But let’s focus on Facebook for a minute. If you’re an avid user of Facebook, like myself, then you’re familiar with “sponsored stories” that appear in your timeline, and the ads that appear in the space on the right-hand side of the mini feed.

Facebook Ads

Facebook is one of the best options for targeted advertising. Because users provide so many details about themselves, for example, their age, gender, location and interests, Facebook has extremely unique details about users, which provides advertising an incredible opportunity to reach their exact target market.

Take a look below. Here is how you set up your target audience.

Target Audience

Once you’ve decided your location, age, gender, and interests, Facebook will give you the approximate target audience. Pretty cool, right?

You can also choose to promote specific posts, if one piece of news is perhaps more important than others. Take a look at the image below. All you need to do is select the budget that you want for the post, and Facebook will boost this one specific story. Facebook will also tell you the estimated reach, based on how much you spend.

Budget

The best thing about Facebook ads is that they make it really simple to set goals, and it’s very easy to make small adjustments to your ad even after it’s already gone live.

III. Automating Your Marketing: HubSpot

If you are new to the world of marketing, then you need to know about marketing automation because your life is about to get much easier. Marketing automation is just like it sounds – it’s the ability to send automated (and highly personalized) content at the date and time of your choice.

The beautiful thing about marketing automation is that you can schedule messages when you know your audience is likely to be reading content. So, let’s say that weekends, or after 6pm on weekdays are high times. You might not work these hours normally, but it doesn’t mean your content shouldn’t.

There are a number of great tools to use, but one of my favorite automation tools is HubSpot. One of the most beneficial features of HubSpot is their Content Optimisation System. It integrates with every marketing channel, and it will adapt to each viewer’s unique context.

HubSpot COS

HubSpot’s content home enables you to have complete control over all of your content including landing pages, blogs, email marketing, social media, and any call to actions you may have.

HubSpot essentially helps you optimize in four areas: search, mobile, social, and subscriber options. The built-in SEO tools help identify exactly how your posts will rank, which is extremely important as you build your audience. Each of HubSpot’s blog templates are responsive, and this is exactly what you should be concerned about if many of your users read your content on mobile devices or tablets.

HubSpot helps you automatically publish new posts to your favorite social networks. You can choose an image from your post to be featured. Once you’ve automated your messages, HubSpot helps you track how each post is performing.

HubSpot Performance

Basically, HubSpot helps you become a content marketing rockstar, without having to do too much work. Because the dashboard is extremely powerful, it will help you with all of your content needs. This is definitely a tool I can’t live without.

IV. Finding Influencers: Followerwonk

Content production is half the marketing equation. The other half? Distribution.

People are the heart of distribution. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing force that is amplified by industry influencers. Followerwonk  is a tool that makes finding influencers easier.

FollowerWonk

Followerwonk helps you explore and grow your social graph. If you want to know who your followers are, where they are located, and what they tweet about, then this is a great tool to use. Plus, you can find and connect with influencers in your niche.

It’s a tool that truly exemplifies why marketing is about people and can help your company build person-to-person relationships at scale.

Final Thoughts: Get Creative

When it comes to marketing, your tools are only as good as your strategy. Think through what you want to accomplish, and reverse engineer your marketing ‘system’ based on your goals. Always strive to make your operations as efficient as possible.

What solutions or tools have worked well for you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

How to Solve Marketer’s Lovability Problem (Cool Things We Learned at IMSLC)

By | Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Search Marketing, SEO, Uncategorized, Video | No Comments

Marketers have a lovability problem.

At least that’s what Nick Salvatoriello, an Inbound Marketing Professor for HubSpot, told the 250 people who attended Inbound Marketing SLC on Thursday. He cited a study that showed marketers to be behind lawyers and stockbrokers on the likability scale (although they were slightly ahead of car salespeople and lobbyists).

Nick, who flew in from HubSpot’s Boston headquarters for the event, suggested that marketers combat their image problem by providing marketing that customers love.  This is the driving force behind inbound marketing, he said, because inbound marketing aims to treat each precious contact as an actual human with needs that need to be addressed.

Next on the mic was our very own Owen Fuller, president and founder of Fit Marketing. Owen explained how important it is for marketers to harness the power of good storytelling. Stories can produce visceral responses from your customers, and the experiences they have with you will be much more memorable.

To create stories, think of the problems that your customers are facing and identify the possible solutions. If you don’t know what their problems are, then you must not be listening.

We then got to hear from Abe Niederhauser, marketing manager at Orabrush. Abe explained how his company takes a data driven approach to its video marketing efforts. When they launched an oral care product for dogs, for example, they went through 55 variations of the conversion video, 245 variations of the landing page and 46 different price points.

Orabrush’s strategy has been highly effective. The company has over 42 million YouTube views, which Abe noted is roughly 1/5 of the views of giants like Old Spice and Pepsi but at 1/100 of the budget.

The last speaker at IMSLC was Dave Bascom, CEO of Fit Marketing. Although Dave is the founder and former CEO of SEO.com, his presentation was titled “Fire Your SEO Agency and Grow Your Search Traffic”.

Dave advised companies to think of SEO as a mindset, not a department. Three “non-SEO” tactics he suggested are 1) juicy content creation, 2) influencer outreach and 3) social media engagement. All of these tactics would be good ideas even if Google didn’t exist because they would increase direct traffic, exposure, leads and sales.

The event was sponsored by Utah Business Games and Signs.com. A big thanks goes out to them for helping to make IMSLC happen.

If you weren’t able to attend IMSLC, you’re in luck. We’re doing it again on May 22. We’ve already received a lot of great feedback from you and look forward to making the next one bigger and better.

5 Warning Signs Your Content Marketing Sucks

By | Content Marketing, How-To | No Comments

You’ve probably heard by now that content marketing can help you generate leads, lift sales and increase brand awareness.

Are you currently writing blog posts and creating eBooks for your business – but not seeing the immediate results those Internet marketing gurus said you would?

That’s because your content marketing strategy has a few holes in it.

No, not the good kind.

No, not the good kind.

Here at Stryde we often see five common content marketing mistakes, and today we’re going to share with you how to fix them.

1. You Aren’t Promoting Your Content

Really great content marketing involves two components: content and marketing of that content.

It’s not enough to write a piece of content and then wait for people to find it. There are more than 170 million blogs out there now; what are the odds that your ideal customer will just stumble upon it? Not likely.

Optimizing your content for search engines is important and a good tactic, but the surest way to get people to see your content is to promote it yourself. In fact, some marketing experts say you should spend at least twice as much time promoting your content as you spend creating it.

There are several simple ways you can drive traffic to your content:

  • Share links to your content on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks

  • Share links on directories and forums like inbound.org or reddit

  • Use Facebook ads, Twitter ads, Promoted Pins, and Instagram ads to promote your content

  • Purchase Google ads to drive traffic to your content

If your content is accessible by anyone at any time, such as with a blog post, you will probably just want to share the link via social networks, forums and directories since these are free ways to promote your content.

Here you can see the website Upworthy promoting links to their own posts on Twitter:

And here is an example of Upworthy sharing their posts on Facebook, where they are receiving thousands of shares and likes from readers.

Don’t be afraid to share links to your content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other networks. If it’s good content, you can feel confident others will enjoy it too.

If you are putting your content behind a lead generation form, then you will probably want to experiment with a mix of free and paid marketing channels. Just remember that your content needs to be extremely high quality and valuable if you decide to gate it.

Facebook and Google ads are low-cost paid marketing channels through which you can promote your content. With both advertising platforms you can set your own budget and not spend a cent more than you want to.

2. You Have Lots of Readers but Very Few Social Shares

One quick way to know your content marketing sucks is if you have a lot of readers but not a lot of social shares.

For example, if you have a particular blog post that has 1,000 unique views but only 3 social shares, you have a problem.

There are two causes of low social shares:

  • Your content is not high quality.

  • You don’t provide an easy way for people to share your content.

Of course, you could have both problems. Identifying what YOUR problem is should be your first step.

The way to know if your content is low quality is by looking through your analytics. If you have a lot of visitors but your Average Duration is low and/or your Bounce Rate is high, you probably have a content quality problem.

Yikes! This is not what any content marketer wants to see.

You can find out what your Bounce Rate and Average Duration is by logging into Google Analytics and going to the Acquisition section and then All Traffic.

Low Average Duration and a high Bounce Rate indicate that your visitors aren’t captured by your content and they are leaving your site quickly. To fix this you will need to spend more time on improving the quality of your content.

Some ways to increase the quality of your posts, ebooks and guides:

  • Research before you write and reference interesting facts in your content

  • Include high-quality images and screenshots throughout

  • Interview experts and include original quotes in your content

If visitors are sticking around on your site for a while and your bounce rate is low, then the quality of your content is not likely the problem. In this case you probably just haven’t made it easy for people to share your content.

An easy fix for this is to install social sharing buttons on your content.  You can grab code from Facebook and Twitter to add their buttons to each page where you have content.

If you use a content management system like WordPress, you can install a plugin like Digg Digg which automatically adds social sharing buttons to each of your posts and web pages.

We use Digg Digg here on the Fit Marketing blog and personally recommend it.

3. Your Content Isn’t Helping You Generate Leads or Sales

Your content, whether you put it behind a lead gen form or not, should help you generate leads and sales because it will drive new visitors to your site. Hopefully your site is optimized for conversions.

The secret to generating lots of leads and sales with content is three-fold:

1. You must always generate high-quality content

2. You must generate content consistently

3. You must ask for the conversion

We already talked in the section above about generating high-quality content, so let’s dive into the second point.

According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Report, companies that blog very frequently see a direct impact on customer acquisition.

Companies that blog multiple times per day see the highest customer acquisition rate. That said, it’s equally important to be able to blog on a consistent basis.

If you are not able to consistently blog multiple times per day, it would be better for you to spread new posts out throughout the week. For instance, if you can only blog once per week, then you should try to blog on the same day each week to provide some consistency for your readers.

In addition to blogging consistently, you must also include a call to action with each piece of content you publish.

The easiest ways to generate leads from your content is by putting it behind a lead generation form. This works perfectly if you put together a piece of premium content such as an ebook or guide.

HubSpot is a great example of a company that publishes a lot of ebooks that help them generate leads.

Here’s an example of how they generate leads with eBooks:

If you don’t want to put your content behind a form – usually the case with blog posts – you can include a call to action at the end of the content.

Blogs like Nimble do this really well by including a small banner at the end of each blog post.

If you do not include a call to action with your content, then you will be losing out on leads and potential sales. If you truly drew in your reader, they will want to do something about your content.

Remember that content is marketing and thus should always include a call to action.

4. You Don’t Know if Your Content is Generating Leads or Sales

One gigantic warning sign that your content marketing sucks is if you don’t know if its generating leads or sales.

Having a “feeling” that it’s working is not the same thing as knowing.

You should have conversion goals set up in Google Analytics that will let you identify the sources of your leads and sales. You should check daily to see how many of your goal conversions have come from your content (such as your blog or landing pages).

Once you have your goals set up, you can then easily log into Google Analytics and see how many people have completed your goals from each of your traffic sources.

If your content is behind a lead generation form, then you probably know how many leads you’re generating – but do you know what your best source of traffic is?

Check your analytics to find out!

If Facebook is sending you a lot of traffic that is converting on your lead gen form, then you should put more time and effort into growing your Facebook channel so you can exponentially increase your leads.

5. You Can’t Tell Me What Your Strategy Is

What is your content marketing strategy?

This is not the content strategy you're looking for.

This is not the content strategy you’re looking for.

Sometimes when I ask this question the answer is a look of confusion, and the response, “Well, we blog three times a week and I’m writing an ebook.”

That’s really great, but that’s not a content marketing strategy, that’s just content.

If you have a content marketing strategy in place you should be able to easily answer the following questions:

  • What are your concrete, quantifiable, realistic goals for content? Brand awareness? Leads? Sales?

  • How will you measure your goals along the way?

  • Who is responsible for producing content?

  • How often will new content be published (including blog posts, ebooks, guides, infographics, guest posts, etc.)?

  • Who will create the landing pages for content that goes behind lead gen forms?

  • What happens once a new lead comes in? How will they be nurtured? How will they be converted into customers?

  • How much is a lead worth? What is an acceptable cost per lead?

  • How will your content be promoted?

  • What is your budget per month for paid traffic?

If you cannot answer ALL of these questions, then your content marketing is doomed to suck.

The good news is you can fix it!

Make time to sit down today and start figuring out the answers to these questions. This can feel like an overwhelming task, but it is a really important one. Without the answers to these questions, you’re wasting time and money.

Making Sure Your Content Marketing Doesn’t Suck

There is no doubt that content marketing can help you generate leads, lift sales and increase brand awareness. Following the tips in this post is a great way to get your content marketing strategy on the right track. So, let’s review:

  • Promote your free content through free channels, particularly your social media networks. Use free and paid promotion for premium content that generates leads.
  • Make it easy for readers to share your content, with social share buttons – it’s free promotion!
  • Check your analytics to make sure your content is high quality. If not, spend more time creating richer, more comprehensive content.
  • Create content consistently.
  • Include calls to action.
  • Set measurable goals, and follow up on them. Know who is responsible for what.

Got it? Good.

Did we miss anything? Leave a comment below if you have any other suggestions. Or for more inbound marketing tips, download our free ebook.

 

Image credits: blue.tofu

 

Inbound Marketing SLC Takes the City by Storm

By | Blog, Content Marketing, News | One Comment

Imagine that you find yourself in need of an emergency appendectomy. You can choose between a board-certified surgeon and a podiatrist.

Who would you choose to cut you open?

It makes sense to trust someone with real-world experience, whether you need emergency surgery or just want some help marketing your business. And that’s the approach Fit Marketing took in organizing yesterday’s free Inbound Marketing SLC event.

IMSLC logo

We found some of the best and brightest inbound marketing minds – people who have really made it work for them – and brought them together for a feast of knowledge.

We had a great turnout of about 200 people, from marketers to small business owners to people who just wanted some delicious free snacks.

Here are some of the highlights of the presentations.
Speaking to us first was Garrett Gee, one of the brightest young entrepreneurs around – receiving millions of dollars in investment capital and even appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank. Garrett talked about the process of taking an idea and making it so irresistible that it markets itself.

He mentioned the importance of building your brand to make sure you stand out in people’s minds, suggesting that we ask ourselves two questions in every marketing activity:

Does it create true value?
Is it newsworthy?

Garrett wanted to take something in the real world, like an item you see at the store, and easily turn it into something you can interact with in the digital world – like one-touch posting to Pinterest. His customer-centric approach has garnered more than 58 million downloads of their Scan app.

According to Garrett, if we focus on doing what will help people the most, and find creative ways to draw attention to our businesses, our marketing will be much more effective.

Ricky Ray Butler is one of the best in the world at making video pay off for companies. His unique approach of using YouTube celebrities has delivered millions of views – and visible sales boosts – for businesses ranging from local startups to gaming giants.

Ricky’s first piece of advice was this: Don’t set out to make a “viral” video (and he mentioned that the term “viral” is actually outdated). It’s much better to instead produce consistent, high-quality videos using channels that have a large audience.

He also gave us three tips to follow when working with YouTube celebrities:

1. Give them simple, clear directions on what you want (most of them are not marketing or business professionals).
2. Allow them to have creative control (there’s a reason they have a million followers).
3. Have one purpose for the video (just send them to your website, for example, rather than giving them too many options).

We then heard from Fit’s own Brooks Forester. Brooks shared with us some marketing lessons that we learned from his appearance on ABC’s The Bachelorette.

When Brooks went on the show, it was a great laboratory for Fit to do some marketing experimentation. What we came up with was a 70/20/10 formula for success.

That means that we spent 70% of our efforts on standard, traditional marketing techniques. We did some interaction on Facebook and Twitter, and built fan pages for Brooks. And it paid off, starting to drive a lot more traffic to the website.

Next, we spent 20% of our efforts on bolder tactics. This is where Fit started to do some more creative social media interactions, tweeting out funny “facts” about Brooks. In this case, it continued to drive more traffic to our site, but we wanted higher quality leads and conversions.

That meant it was time to try something radical.

We came up with the Fit Copes videos, showing how deeply different members of the team felt Brooks’ absence from the office. These comic videos were posted every Tuesday, and that consistency generated a lot of engagement. People interacted with Fit, outside blogs picked up on these activities, and in the end the radical tactic got the most interest – not just from the public, but also from potential customers.


youtube views/analytics page

The takeaway from Brooks’ presentation was that you never know where your opportunities are coming from, but if you’re creative you can take advantage of almost any situation.

Rounding out our experts was Chris Kilbourn, VP of strategy for Fit. Chris gave us a great Back to the Future-style presentation on dominating Google in 2014, talking about how the days of shady SEO practices like manipulating links are over.

Instead of trying to game the system, Chris gave us four key areas to work on to make inbound marketing work.

The first step is to create world-class content. Answering your customers’ questions is at the core of effective marketing. If you help them, they will come. Sites like Quora and Reddit can help illuminate what people really need. By giving them in-depth, comprehensive articles with high-quality graphics and expert interviews, you’ll soon be seen as an expert.

Second, Chris told us to build relationships with the 800-lb. gorillas in the industry. There are a huge number of websites out there that need content. When you provide it to them, you’re building up your own reputation as a leader. Tools like Buzzstream can help you identify the best places to get yourself seen.

Third, it’s time to repair past mistakes. We should clean up bad links to our site that can harm our ranking. Google Webmaster Tools can let you know if you’ve been hit with any penalties, and Link Detox helps get rid of bad links haunting your site.

Finally, Chris addressed how to move forward with technology changes. He called out mobile optimization as especially important, with so many shoppers using their phones and wanting to be able to make instant purchases. Social signals also help improve Google’s perception of websites, so your shares and social media profiles also play an important part in dominating Google in 2014.

Dominate Google in 2014 and Beyond (Back to the Future Style) from FitMarketing

If you missed the event, don’t feel too bad. Inbound Marketing SLC was such a great success that we’re going to do it again! Our next event will be on February 27. Look for more details soon!

If you’d like more information on how to make inbound marketing work for you, feel free to give us a call.

What Dating Can Teach You About Writing Valuable Content

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

Now that I am a married man, I feel like I can look back on my dating life and give some advice.   I’m not a dating expert, nor was I ever a dating expert.  I made my share of mistakes and close calls, from hitting a fire hydrant with my car to having my dad follow my group on a prom date without me being aware of it.  I’ve learned from my successes and failures in dating.  These experiences have proven invaluable in writing useful content for blogs, press releases, and everything else under the sun.  Perhaps you can relate to some of these lessons:

Don’t talk about yourself too much

Have you ever been on a date with someone whose favorite topic of conversation is themselves?  I think most of us could admit to being guilty of doing that now and then.  When you have prospects navigating your website, they do want to know who you are, but even more they want to know how you can help them.  While it’s a good idea to have a page on your site telling the story of your company, you don’t want a reader to leave your site thinking, “Wow, they are very self-absorbed.  Did they forget I was even there?”

Don’t be worried about using third-party links to help your target persona (aka future customers) solve their problems.  In fact, it boosts your credibility if you can incorporate respected opinions outside of your organization to substantiate your own.  The source of your info isn’t as important as the fundamental issue: is your info helpful.

Embrace silence (empty space)

One of the best pieces of advice I received in choosing who to date was to find someone with whom I could be completely comfortable in silence.  Not only can talking about yourself too much be harmful, but talking too much in general.  Society values conciseness arguably more than ever.  As with a date, you want your content long enough to be worth the reader’s time, but not too long where they get bored or distracted.

When a reader sees a huge block of text, they often get intimidated, confused, or exhausted.  You want your reader to feel refreshed after reading your article.  Include only topically relevant information on your page and avoid useless repetition.  Also, leaving plenty of empty space can be one of the best ways to put your reader’s mind at ease.

Have a goal in mind

Your date wants to know that you are sincere in wanting the date to go somewhere.  Your goals should be clear before you even meet your date.   Perhaps you make a mental checklist of what you want to do and what you want to learn about your date.  In writing, checklists are terrific ways to keep direction in what you write and keep your reader focused (would you look at that?  This blog contains a checklist!).

Take into consideration where your prospect is in the buying process.  Did they click onto a landing page?  Did they provide an email address?  No matter what step they are in the process, make sure your content is geared to that step.

Be entertaining

As harsh as it sounds, people generally don’t enjoy spending time with people who only want to do and talk about boring things.  The first consideration when writing is to provide information that helps people solve immediate concerns, or bring awareness to a concern they didn’t know they had before.  Just because something is informative, however, doesn’t mean it has to be bland.  Use headlines that are unique and catch attention–the first impression is everything.

Focus on what you have to offer

At the end of the day, we all have different strengths and weaknesses.  Unless you are able to separate yourself from the competition, it is unlikely your prospect will pursue the relationship much further. Focus on your strengths, whether it’s your sense of humor, your easygoing personality, your reliability, or your brains.  As you direct your content toward your target personas, you will begin developing long-term relationships with your customers.

4 (Head Slapping) Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

A month of blog posts could be written about the spamming and dishonest approaches many use to try to gain clicks online.

spammer skunk

In blogging, these tactics are pointless and detrimental to a blogger’s reputation.

But, there ARE steps that you can take to maximize the technical mechanics of your blog.

Whether commercially-oriented or lifestyle-focused, your blog will be more successful if you understand the drivers of blog discovery and traffic.  This information will improve your blog, and you’ll see many more visitors and blog followers.

1. Know Your Audience

Many bloggers decide they have something to share and dive into blogging.

The problem with this approach is that these bloggers may not fully understand the larger blog environment.

As a dedicated blogger, you should understand the potential audience(s) for your blog very early in the process to make it easier for them to find you quickly.

Let’s say that your blog focus is the unique appeal and advantages of custom wood furniture.

You should:

  • Research other bloggers on the subject
  • Identify complimentary websites and online discussion groups
  • Find social media sites that offer related content or content sharing.

This is valuable research because other bloggers that post about complimentary topics are likely to be interested in reading and sharing your content with their audience.

This provides exponential opportunities to expand your audience and build a following.

The same goes for social media sites.

Identify the complementary vendors, trade professionals, artists, or interested hobbyists on social media, and you’ll likely find people who will want to follow your blog.

2. Know the Players

As in most every scenario, there will be bloggers who have established a large and loyal audience – these people have influence.

People read their posts daily, follow them and even want to be like them.

Whether these bloggers have influence because they have been blogging longer or because they have a unique point of view, you should dedicate time and effort to attempt to understand why they are successful.

Also, pay attention to discussion group and social media influencers, whether they blog or not.  You will want to study their actions in order to improve your own.

Besides using successful online influencers as role models, you should participate in online discussions and interactions in the same venues, sites and groups where these influencers hang out online so that your opinions and blog to align yourself with them.

3. Know the Magic Words

Additionally, study in the area of search engine keywords will also speed your blog to recognition.

Through search engine optimization (SEO), bloggers like you can use high traffic keywords associated with your blog topic to appear more frequently in search results.

For example, in our case of the custom furniture blog, the primary search words according to Google’s Keyword Tool are “custom furniture,” as these words get about 79,000 global monthly searches.

The second and third place got to “custom made furniture” and “custom built furniture,” with about 15,000 global monthly searches and 12,000 global monthly searches respectively.

Note that these are global search results, but Google Adwords can also provide local search data, if your primary goal is to reach regional audiences.

Once you know the top three keywords that drive the most searches related to your topic, you can use this information to improve your blog visibility.

Does this mean you should insert often-used keywords to fool people into visiting your blog?  No way.

Should you write a blog that is focused on keywords, rather than your passion: custom furniture building?  Again, the answer is no.

Follow a few basic rules:

1. Once you identify the major traffic keywords, try to reflect those in your blog’s URL.  You might name your blog:  www.customfurnitureperspectives.com (if you purchase a website domain) or www.customfurniture.blogspot.com (if you use a blog-hosting site like Blogspot).

Note: You should only do this if the keywords will authentically represent your blog content.

2. Don’t use a spammy approach like calling your site www.makemoneynow.com and then present your visitors with custom furniture content.  You might get many visitors initially, but you’ll get no followers because searchers will leave quickly after having been misled.

Be sure that important keywords are near the top or title of the page.  Follow the same rules as above.  No faking the relevance of the words, but if it makes sense, you could build the title on the page to read something like: “Custom Furniture Perspectives – One Hobbyist’s View of the Forest.”

3. Include the keywords that most relate to your subject matter throughout your page and blog content.

As we saw from Google Adwords, the keywords “custom furniture,” “custom made furniture,” and custom built furniture” are searched more frequently than many others relating to the subject.

So, using these keywords appropriately in your content will increase your likelihood of appearing in searches.

Don’t force it, and don’t try to fool anyone by hiding an array of keywords invisibly within the body or in tiny type somewhere.  It’s easily spotted, everybody hates that tactic, and it won’t win you any long-term traffic or followers.

Remember, the goal here is not that a keyword agenda should drive your blogging.  SEO should never interfere with quality writing.

4. Actually Use Social Media

As a blogger, should you even pursue social media?

I’m not talking about creating a profile and leave it. You actually have to stay engaged and put effort into it!

If your blog is mentioned on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+, your search rankings will improve due to search engine algorithms that capture and assign positive value to mentions and shares by others.

But, more importantly, social media interactions and content sharing will result in direct traffic to your blog and direct opportunities to grow your base of followers.

Since many online users have specific preferences for media consumption and interaction, you may find that there is little overlap across several social media sites.

For example, you may find that there is a high concentration of custom furniture aficionados on Pinterest, but very few on Google+.

You won’t know for sure until you explore participation in each of the major social media sites to identify which of them appeal most to those who are interested in your content and likely to follow your blog.

Social media will help to increase your blog’s visibility and traffic, but increasing blog followers/subscribers is also dependent on the ongoing value of your content.

For the reader, a blog represents discovering and aligning with a unique and engaging perspective or outlook.

Develop your own engaging point of view, make sure your blog can be found by an interested audience and readers will follow.

Getting Started

Are you ready to get started blogging?
Do you have any questions?
Leave a comment below and we’ll answer them for you!