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The Cost Savings of Working With A Content Marketing Agency vs In-House [Infographic]

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

in-house vs agency costs infographicThe Rise of Content

Content marketing is on the rise for Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business to Customer (B2C) companies. As both a cost effective and prosperous strategy, content marketing engages and retains customers while constantly building your brand.

  • 70% of B2B are creating more content than they were this time last year.
  • Companies with blogs generate 67% more leads than those who don’t.
  • Only 38% of companies who internally produce content report that their content is effective.

Agency vs. In-House Costs

Company leaders are having a difficult time hiring employees who have all the necessary skills for good In-house marketing. A fully loaded content team isn’t cheap and neither are their tools.

  • 96% of marketing leadership say that the skills needed to drive online results have changed.
  • 44% can’t find singular employees who have all the skills necessary to in-house market.
  • A fully loaded marketing team can cost upwards of $330k a year without benefits or insurance, sick days etc.

Keep in mind that these numbers are averages from across the US. Real amounts will depend on geographical location and current demand of marketing talent.

It’s also important to note that the only way to increase output in-house is to hire more people, it is not scalable like agency options!!!

Big Brands Trust Agencies

Agility, quick results, and innovative thinking are just a handful of the reasons the biggest brands in the world choose to partner with marketing agencies, in fact, 62% of companies now outsource some or all of their content marketing.

Content Resources for Universities

Digital Marketing for Universities: Tapping Your Content Sources

By | Digital Marketing for Universities | No Comments

In previous posts in this digital marketing series, we’ve discussed SEO basics, goal setting and social platforms to help you reach some of your goals. In this final post, we’re going over all the content sources available to higher education institutions and how to use them.

Importance of Content Marketing

In the U.S., there are nearly 5,000 institutions of higher learning—that’s a lot of competition your school is up against. And you each have three common overall goals:

  1. Attract and retain quality students and staff
  2. Maintain good relationships with alumni and receive donations from them to support school programs
  3. Build brand recognition.

To stand out from the enormous crowd of colleges, you need to put content marketing at the center of your digital marketing efforts. Businesses aren’t the only organizations that need and benefit from innovative content marketing strategies.

You need to educate as well as entertain people with your unique content. You need to use content marketing to share your story as a university. With good storytelling, you form an emotional connection with your audience through compelling stories, helping you attract and retain students and staff.

And there are several forms of digital content you can create. The following are possible content types universities should embrace:

  • Website
  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Videos or mini documentaries
  • Podcasts
  • Mobile apps.

Taking Advantage of Content Sources

So now you know the digital content you need to be creating—but where do you start? What sources are out there to help point you in the right direction?

Answer: The people at your university.

Nobody knows your university, its students and prospective students and what students want from your university better than those who work directly with students, who attended your university and who are currently attending.

Admissions Officers and Counselors

The number of enrolled students is extremely important to every higher education institution. It dictates, well, everything. In order to effectively market your school to potential students, you need to understand the buyer’s journey, which in this case is your potential students’ journey to your school.

The students and their families are going to spend endless hours researching various schools—the good, the bad and the ugly—so the right schools to apply to are selected. Part of their research is talking with the school’s admissions office. Potential students talk to admissions officers before applying, asking questions about the school and/or finding out about the admissions process. They then talk to an admission counselor for needed nurturing, like guiding them through the application steps and making their application process as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Those in the admissions office talk to potential students via phone calls and emails. They hear their wants and concerns as they’re researching schools and applying, so they’re a go-to source of knowledge to help you create the content that answers their questions during this part of the journey to your school.

Tour Guides

Campus tours are an effective recruitment tool. Tour guides have face-to-face experience and conversations with potential students, as well as their parents. They spend hours upon hours each day walking and talking with those interested in your school. They share their knowledge about the wonderful scenery, classes and social life your university does, but they also spend a good chunk of each tour listening to and answering questions.

Your campus tour guides have a wealth of knowledge about everything prospects want to know about your university, whether it’s buildings, programs, events, what the best foods in the cafeteria are, etc. They spend time with a handful of new prospects each day, so it’s in your best interest to use their knowledge as you create a content marketing strategy.

Alumni and Current Students

Alumni and current students are two other content sources you can’t pass up talking to.

Alumni did their time attending your school. They’ve taken classes, attended games and events, eaten on the quad and lived the complete college experience. No matter how long ago they attended, they remember what they wanted to know about your school before they applied and what they liked receiving from your school while attending. Alumni are also one of your target audiences, so you can also email them a survey or call them to find out what types of alumni content and topics they’d like to see.

Likewise, current students are there right now. They’re easy access because they walk your sidewalks and hallways every day. Their admission process wasn’t long ago, so they can provide helpful tips in that area, as well as giving feedback as to what content types, channels and topics are important to them now as current students.

To rise above the competition, you need a solid content marketing strategy and need to create unique, helpful content for all your audiences. Tapping into the content sources—the people at your university—readily available to you is how you’re going to know where to start with your content marketing efforts.

How to Pass the Google Analytics IQ Exam in 2016

By | Digital Marketing, How-To, Strategy, Tools | 8 Comments

Predicting trends for 2016 have been the focal point of feeds for weeks and there isn’t a better time than now to focus on attainable goals for the present. Here’s one you can begin to check off today:

Take the next two weeks to study for the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) Exam and get certified!

Whether you’re new to digital marketing, or a seasoned guru needing to brush up your credentials to impress clients or C-suites, passing the GAIQ exam is a great demonstration of proficiency and will allow you to better leverage Analytics within your business or agency.

You might have already come across some resourceful guides that demonstrate how to prepare for the exam in a matter of days. Success in such a short time will depend greatly on your previous knowledge and experience using Analytics.

As a GA novice, I found two weeks to provide just the right amount of study-time to get a comprehensive grasp on the content, without leaving a large enough time gap for having to relearn previous material.

Here’s the breakdown of how I studied for the GAIQ exam, while keeping my eyes dry the entire time, and passed!

The Logistics

  • 70 Questions
  • 90 Minutes
  • 80% in order to pass. You must answer 56 questions correctly.
  • Valid for 18 months.
  • Questions will come in forms of Multiple Choice and True/False.

** You will find that in Google’s provided course material below, some Multiple Choice questions will come in the form; Check all that apply, meaning that if 3 answers for a single question apply, and you select 2 only, then your answer for the entire question is incorrect. The actual GAIQ exam is much more straightforward than this, providing 1 correct answer only for each question. Whew!

G exam

 

What’s Changed?

  • No Charge. The GAIQ exam is completely free
  • No Badge. Instead of a completion badge, you may print your personalized certificate or promote it on your Google Partners profile page.
  • No Revisiting. Questions appear in sequential order and once you have selected an answer, you will not be able to return to the question.
  • No Discouragement. You may retake the exam 7 days after the initial attempt if need be.

The Essentials

While Google Partners offers four courses of actionable material pertaining to Analytics, the bread and butter of the exam are within the first two courses. Be sure to know these well: Digital Analytics Fundamentals and Google Analytics Platform Principles.

Each course consists of a series of Units, with corresponding Activities and a Final Assessment. The units are somewhat lengthy and full of video content (you can opt for the text transcript version if you’d like).

Do take the time to absorb the content of each course in its entirety and take notes; you will be thanking yourself later. Here is an sample 2 week study calendar that helped me to stay on track:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 D.A.Fund

Units 1&2

D.A.Fund

Units 3&4

D.A.Fund

Unit 5

D.A.Fund

Unit 6

Final Assessment
Week 2 Platform Principles

Units 1&2

Platform Principles Unit 3 Platform Principles Unit 4 Final Assessment Take GAIQ Exam

What You’ll See: 

You can almost guarantee to see these topics, covered in the Digital Analytics Fundamentals and Platform Principles courses, on the exam:

 Attribution Models: 

Understand the overviewLast Interaction. Last Non-Direct Click. Last AdWords Click. First Interaction. Linear. Time Decay. Position Based.

Analytics Tracking: 

Know how Google tracks via mobile, desktop, or other digitally connected device. Where do you place the GA tracking code on a site?

Types of Goals:

Goal types are Destination. Duration. Pages/Screens per session. Event. Why define a Goal Value for non-ecomm websites?

Campaign Tracking:  

Practice using the URL BuilderDestination URL. Source. Medium. Campaign Name. Campaign Content. Know the mediums auto-tracked by Analytics vs. mediums needing manual tagging.

Analytics Process & Structure:

The process flows in this order: Collection. Configuration & Processing. Reporting. Understand how configuration and processing coincide. Structure from top to bottom looks like this: Account- Properties- Views

Activity4.2

Image Source: Analytics Academy 

Importing Data to GA:

Brush up on these concepts: Account Linking. Data Import.Dimension widening. Cost data import.

Dimensions and Metrics:

Know the difference between dimensions and metrics and understand scope.

Reporting Tools:

Be sure to get these common reporting tasks down: Date comparison. Table filter. Table sort. Plot rows. Primary dimension. Secondary dimension. Pie chart. Pivot table.

Behavior Reports:

Dig into the Behavior Flow of your Analytics for this one and explore Site Content: All Pages. Content Drilldown. Landing Pages. Exit Pages. Site Speed. Site Search. Events.

 

What Threw Me:

These few topics didn’t stand out as much to me throughout the course material. Be sure to brush up on the following:

Measurement Protocol:

Developers can measure how users interact with their business from almost any environment.

Intelligence:

Know these two types of alerts: Auto Alerts vs. Customer Alerts.

Real Time:

Understand the capabilities and limitations to monitoring instant web activity.

Site Speed:

Know the Site Speed reports metrics measured.

Had Enough?

 

After 2 weeks of being anchored to the fundamentals and principles of Analytics, you are as prepared as you’ll ever be, so don’t stress! Open up Google Partners in Chrome. Sign up if you haven’t already.

In a separate browser, leave open your notes and an active Google Analytics account, if you have one, or use the one you set up as part of the practice courses. Take a deep breath, and begin!

To help set a mellow, relaxed mood, I went for the Study Time Starts Now playlist. 

Get in your zone and let Google track your time and progress in the bottom corners of the test screen.

 Best of luck to you!

As always, Stryde is here for any web traffic, content, or specific Analytics questions you may have regarding your ecommerce or lead generation site.

What are your study tactics for the GAIQ exam? Let us know in the comments below!

E-Commerce SEO Best Practices

By | eCommerce, SEO, SEOchat | No Comments

If most of your business’ revenue comes from online purchases, then you know well that ’tis the season for your best marketing performance of the year! While you may already have your promotions in place, and email and twitter blasts are well on their way, you’re not fully maximizing the return on your marketing efforts if SEO isn’t on your top priority list.

By tweaking your product pages and adding a few SEO-focused tactics into your online marketing strategy, you might surprise yourself with a jolt in holiday sales. Last week’s #SEOchat focused on the best practices to incorporate SEO into your e-commerce marketing strategy. Here are some of the highlights from what we covered:

Q1: When should a brand begin an SEO campaign for the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays?

Q2: What does your content strategy look like for the holidays?

Q3. Let’s pretend you’ve been hired as an SEO consultant for a website that sells cameras and camera accessories. How would you begin competitor research?

Q4: Which area of the customer buying cycle do you execute on? Do you outsource anything?

Q5: Walk us through your auditing process. Our camera site sells 26 brands. Would you optimize every product page? Why/why not?

 

Q6: What’s the right balance of transactional and informational keywords you should target?

 

Q7: How would you recommend organizing category pages in the navigation? By BRAND, by TYPE or other?

Q8: What linkable asset would you create for the camera site to drive traffic and social shares?

Q9: What’s your favorite site to shop from for the holidays?

Trends in SEO are constantly on the move. Let’s keep up on #SEOchat! Join in every Thursday at 1 pm ET.

How are you using SEO as part of your holiday marketing strategy? Share your thoughts below!

The Keyword Challenge on SEOchat | How to Compete for Your Site’s Searchability

By | How-To, SEO, SEOchat, Strategy, Tools | No Comments

Keyword research, grouping, implementation, tracking, and measurement can certainly sound like an uphill challenge, but its also the starting platform for any online marketing campaign. The competition for being found by your top keywords can be steep but getting a grasp on new tools and tactics from other professionals can make all the difference for a steady climb to greater organic search outcomes.

Stryde administers a weekly Twitter chat Thursday at 1 pm ET for marketing pros and padwans alike, to openly discuss their strategic approaches and tips to digital marketing success. In a friendly space, we share and learn from one another about the trends and updates in SEO and marketing.

Last week’s #SEOchat discussed how to use keywords to compete for your site’s searchability. Knowing the exact terms that your audience is searching for allows you to optimize your content for better search visibility across all channels. Keyword insights can also reveal where you rank next to your competitors. In case you missed out, or would like a recap, here are the highlights from what we covered on #SEOchat:

Question 1: When starting off on a brand new SEO campaign, at what point does keyword research come into play?

Question 2: What are your favorite tools for finding keywords and phrases that you are already ranking for?

Question 3: How do scale the competitiveness of keywords for which you would like your brand to be found?

Everyone shouting out to SEMrush>>

Question 4: What factors do you consider in determining whether SEO or PPC is best to put your brand/clients’ dollars toward?

PREACH!>>

We skipped right ahead to…

Backtrack to Q6, keeping everyone on their toes…

Question 6: What is the average life of your kw list used across content, social media, & link-building?

Flash forward to Q8… no whiplash intended

SEO is always changing. Let’s keep each other up to date through chat! Be a part of it every Thursday at 1 pm ET. Find us at #SEOchat!

 

What topic would like to see on #SEOchat? Comment below and we’ll chat soon!

How To Choose The Right Content Marketing Agency

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

Some of the more common questions we’re asked during the sales process are “how do I know that I’m choosing the right content marketing agency?” or “what makes a good content marketing agency?”. Because the idea of content marketing is so new to businesses large and small, I wanted to create a follow up post to one created by Shannon this summer called 7 Elements of Choosing a Content Marketing Agency.

This post should act as a guide and a resource to develop better questions to ask as you go through the discovery and consideration stages of the decision making process.

Subject Matter Expertise

When looking to engage with a content marketing agency, one thing you need to be sure of is that they can write for your industry. Creating good content is hard enough without adding in a technical element that might be foreign to general writers. Keep in mind that it’s okay if your agency outsources content to subject matter experts who know your vertical; you just need to make sure that someone who knows your industry is producing your content from the very beginning.

Practice What They Preach

One of the biggest signs that you’re engaging with a winning agency is that they practice what they preach! Take a look at their blog. Do they provide consistent resources that actually provide value to their readers? What do they offer their audience in terms of premium content like eBooks, guides, white papers, and videos?

Provide Thought Leadership

Any content marketing agency worth their weight provides thought leadership in several different areas. First, they seek opportunities to provide their expertise to industry publications. Second, they are invited to speak and participate at different events and conferences. You shouldn’t worry too much about agencies getting published in Forbes, Huffington Post, Inc.com or any other national publication. Truth be told, anyone can pay a writer can get their content onto those websites. That’s our one, dirty little secret to share with you in this guide. Welcome to the new age of online PR. 🙂 Instead, look for consistency in publishing content that speaks to their audience.

Provide Case Studies & Client References

Before deciding on an agency to go with, you need to make two specific requests. First, you need to request case studies. Some agencies don’t publish full case studies on their website (like us) due to agreements with current clients not to publicly share their data, but can share them privately.

Second, you need to request 2-3 introductions to clients who would be willing to talk with you on the phone to discuss their experience. It’s best if the clients are somewhat related to your vertical, but they don’t have to be.

Here are some questions you might consider asking:

  • Overall, how has your experience been?
  • Has the agency delivered on promises made during the sales process?
  • How is the quality of the content they are producing?
  • How is the quality of the customers they are generating?
  • How is their communication and reporting?
  • Do they treat you as a client or as a partner?
  • Do they work as though they are part of your internal team?
  • Do they think outside the box?
  • Do you believe they have your best interest in mind?
  • Would you recommend them to a friend, family member, or colleague?

Have Clearly Defined Roadmaps & Success Metrics

One area where agencies tend to really struggle is in identifying success metrics for your unique business needs and mapping a plan that will help you get from point A to point B. The content marketing agency you choose should have a very good idea, before you close the deal, of what your business does and how you generate revenue. They should be able to provide you with some KPIs that are unique to your business. You should also request some sample client roadmaps that they’ve created so you can see how they operate on a weekly and monthly basis.

Provide Thorough Reporting

Along the lines of roadmaps and success metrics, your agency should be providing thorough reporting to you on a regular basis. Reports should include what’s being worked on, what’s scheduled, and any road blocks that they need your help in overcoming. Reports should also include your unique success metrics and how far along they are to meeting/exceeding your goals. At minimum reports should be delivered once per month. A good agency will deliver twice per month and hold in-person meetings or calls on a regular basis.

Have A Strategy For Each Channel

A good content marketing agency knows that content should fuel all other channels and create demand for a product or service. When engaging in content marketing, your agency should know how to leverage their content to improve your SEO, create more effective PPC campaigns, and skyrocket your social media presence and engagement.

A good agency knows that different channels require a different approach; you cannot take the same content and submit it to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram and see success. Your audience is conditioned to use each channel differently and requires a unique strategy to reach and engage with them.

It’s also worthwhile to note that you don’t have to attack all channels at once. In fact, a good agency will pick a few channels and focus on getting them right before moving on to additional ones. 

Use Marketing Automation/Lead Nurturing To Convert More Prospects To Customers

Agencies that really understand content marketing know that not all leads coming through a website or any other channel, online or offline, are created equal. Every prospect is in a different part of the decision making process and require different touch points to move them through the funnel. When choosing a content marketing agency, make sure they understand and deploy a strategy for nurturing leads through a marketing automation platform. The platform used is irrelevant, but they should be able to make recommendations based on the stage your business is in.

 

Understand The Buyer Journey, The Sales Funnel, & How To Move Prospects Through It

If you can find an agency that understands how buyers make decisions, how they move through the sales funnel, and how to encourage prospects to take next steps, grab them and never let go. A lot of content marketing agencies just want to build and market content and don’t take the time to map the buyer journey and individual pieces of content to each step. Doing so will not only help you convert more prospects into customers, but also will help position you as an industry leader.

Build An Audience, Not Borrow One

Good content marketing agencies are interested in building you an audience, not borrowing one. If you think back to the days or MySpace, what happened when they shut down their services? Brands lost all that they invested in borrowing an audience on their platform. What happens if the four hundred thousand followers you have on Facebook disappear tomorrow? Smart marketers work to tap an audience, bring them to your “playground” and work to turn them into an owned audience that can be engaged with on your terms.

Sensitive To Your Brand

Every business is unique and every brand is unique as well. Agencies that understand this and know how to work with brand teams to make their lives easier is a huge win. You should look for an agency that has checklists and a process for creating content that’s in-line with your brand and can easily be reviewed by someone internally without sucking a lot of bandwidth.

Interested In Using/Repurposing Already Existing Content

Money is a sensitive topic, even in the business world. Many content marketing agencies want to get in and start producing content day one. Good agencies take a full inventory of all the content owned by a business and determine what can be reused/repurposed for other uses. This process can save businesses thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours that can be invested in other initiatives.

Make It Easy To Work With Them

Flexibility is huge when it comes to working with an agency. A good content marketing agency should be able to plug into your systems and processes without skipping a beat. Be wary of any agency forcing you to operate in a certain way in order to do business with them.

Ask For Data Up Front

You know the old adage — you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been? The same applies to any form of marketing. Unless your potential agency understands where you are currently at, they cannot effectively put together a plan of action, scope of work, or accurate pricing to deliver the results you are looking for. You should plan on providing access to, or at the least, providing PDF exports of your analytics data, webmaster tools data, and lead generation data. Be wary if your agency doesn’t ask for this fairly early in the process.

View You As A Partner, Not Just Another Client

Solid marketing agencies view and treat you like you’re a long-term partner, not just another client. Pay attention to the words they use in referring to your potential engagement. Do they refer to you as a client or a partner? Do they send contracts or agreements?

Integrate With In-House Teams

Along the same lines as above, you will want to find an agency that integrates with your in-house team. Some agencies want to come in and run the show. This usually ends poorly. Good agencies understand that there are always going to be strengths and weaknesses inside of organizations and if they can plug the holes and make weaknesses, strengths, they are likely a good agency to do business with.

They’re Not Cheap

Good marketing — online or offline — requires a significant investment. Creating valuable content that drives brand awareness and gets a prospect to take action is expensive. There’s no way around it. One of the first things you should ask agencies is what their minimum retainer is. If it’s under $3,000 – $4,000 per month for a minimum of 6-12 months, they are going to have a really hard time producing results for you.

If you have a smaller budget than that, ask the potential agency where they feel you would be best to invest it. Good agencies will provide answers like, “hire an intern to help with x, y, or z”, “invest in a redesign of the website”, invest in conversion optimization to turn more if your visitors into leads”, or “invest in a marketing automation solution to convert more of your leads into paying customers”. These are the agencies that really have your best interests in mind and don’t just want your money.

I hope this was helpful for you in your quest to find the perfect agency. In the next couple of weeks we will be turning this into a downloadable guide/worksheet, so make sure you check back. We will also send it out via email, so make sure you subscribe to our newsletter.

If you have any follow up questions please fill out the form on our contact us page and either I or a member of our team will be in touch.

 

20 of My Very Most Favorite Content Marketing Blog Posts of 2014

By | Content Marketing | One Comment

thumbs upI absolutely hate to read. All of my childhood friends knew me as the guy who never read a book for english class and somehow got amazing grades. I really don’t hate to read… I just hate to read books. I love to read web content. Ebooks, whitepapers, blog posts… you name it! You can ask any of our team members here at Stryde how many late night emails they get from me telling them they have to check out this post I just read or that post I’ve had open in my browser for weeks.

Because the web is littered with absolute garbage from companies who don’t quite get online marketing and awful SEO firms trying to manipulate search engine rankings, I’ve gone back through my 2014 team emails and tweets this last week and pulled a list of my favorite posts from 2014.

I hope you enjoy reading each of them as much as I have! Here’s to 2015, more companies adopting the content marketing mindset, and crazy awesome business growth!

How Content Strategy & Content Marketing Are Separate But Connected – Robert Rose @ CMI

This post reminds us (or maybe is telling you something you didn’t realize before) that content strategy and content marketing are related, but are two very different practices. We learn how they are different and that we need a solid content strategy within our company’s approach of content marketing.

Prove Your Commitment To Achieving Content Marketing ROI – Arnie Kuenn @ CMI

You know as a content marketer that content marketing is a valuable asset to your marketing plan, but your executives might not always feel the same. Tracking the right KPIs, like consumption metrics and lead-generation metrics, provide the evidence you need to prove the ROI from your content marketing efforts to your executives.

Make Your Demand Generation More Effective With These 3 Processes – Jay Hidalgo @ CMI

Most companies know they need to better focus on their buyers to achieve better results, but they don’t know how to do it. Jay tells us how to make our demand generation more effective through three specific sub-processes: develop a buyer persona, define the buying process, and develop a content framework.

SEO For Content Marketing: How Do Links Impact Google Website Rankings? – Andy Crestodina @ Curata

When you create a page on your site, you always have to think about search engine optimization because search is a great supplier of traffic for your site and its content. This article tells you how links impact Google’s search engine rankings, and offers four ways you can generate those links into your content marketing efforts.

Content Marketing Best Practices Report: Creating A Culture of Content – Lee Odden @ Top Rank

Lee gives his synopsis and opinion on the report, The Culture of Content. He says businesses need to create a culture of content, tells why it’s important and how to do so, and claims that taking your content beyond marketing is what’s going to drive success across all your business functions in the next year.

Content Marketing 101: A Huge Collection of Tips & Tricks – Nicole Miller @ Buffer

In this post, you’re given content marketing tips from a team at Atomic Reach, i.e. what content marketing is, how to write for your target audience, etc. They also provide a list of 34 must-read content marketing blogs that every content marketer or aspiring content marketer should follow.

25 Ways To Create Shareable Content – Gini Dietrich @ Convince & Convert

You need a sturdy content development process in place to create fresh, useful, and interesting content your audience wants to read and share. This post provides a list of 25 things that will help you better create more shareable content.

The Paid Social Distribution Playbook – Amanda Walgrove @ Contently

Paid content distribution gets your content in front of more eyes and the right eyes. Inside this blog post are four social platforms your company should test to discover which one or ones work best with increasing your distribution and growing your audience.

Should You Repost Your Blog Content On Other Websites? A Data-Driven Answer – Neil Patel @ QuickSprout

Neil from KISSmetrics learned from experience the dangers of wrongly reposting content on other sites. He says reposting your content to more authoritative sites isn’t going to create more traffic for you site, but he does offer tips on how to correctly repost and not get penalized for doing so.

Everything You Need To Know About Middle-of-Funnel Content In Under 500 Words – Anne Murphy @ Kapost

Reading this blog post doesn’t just define middle-of-funnel content for you. It also gives you marketers’ goals and objectives with this type of content, the key elements of this content, and four examples of companies that create great middle-of-funnel content.

How Can The Value of Top-of-Funnel Channels Be Measured – Rand Fishkin @ Moz

In this Whiteboard Friday post, Rand discusses the value of top-of-funnel demand creation, and how you can measure and prove the value behind top-of-funnel channels and tactics used.

10 Content Marketing Trends Every Leader Need To Know For 2015 – John Hall @ Inc

After talking with experts about what they think the content marketing landscape is going to be like for the upcoming year, John compiled a list of the top 10 content marketing trends those experts expect to see in 2015. Knowing these will help you gear up for this next year in the content marketing world.

3 Key Components To Building Social Media Campaigns That Drive Results – Greg Shuey @ Social Media Today

If you want to be able to handle the teenager that social media now is and achieve your desired social media campaign results, you must follow the three necessary components provided in this guide. It’s also pointed out that unless you continually create great content, you can’t have a successful social media campaign.

The 6 Steps To Perfectly Optimizing Any Content – Neil Patel @ Marketing Land

When you’re optimizing content, don’t think of it as a technical task that necessitates a certain number of keywords or other SEO practices. Instead, Neil states that other factors, like building trust and creating quality, are more important and influential when optimizing your content. He lists the six steps you need to achieve the optimized content you want in this post.

How To Promote Your Blog Without Letting The Rest of Your Blogging Slide – Darren Rowse @ ProBlogger

Growing traffic to your blog isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes time and effort on your part trying to grow your site’s traffic, and that time and effort, according to Darren, involves networking, guest posting, and crafting high-quality content for your blog. It’s going to take some patience and juggling, but it can be done.

Five Ways SEO Still Dictates Content Marketing Success – Christine Warner @ Relevance

This author nailed it on the head when she said, “Quality and SEO should be equal players in developing content strategy.” She provides 5 SEO tactics that will ensure you create content that resounds with your audience and with the search engines.

You’ve Heard of Big Data But What Is Big Content? – Michael Brenner @ Relevance

Ever heard of Big Content? If you haven’t, this is a great read for you. You learn what Big Content is, and are given the author’s thoughts and opinions on the subject.

Establishing Your Blog As A Learning Center For Content Marketing Success – Arnie Kuenn @ Relevance

In this blog post, you’re reminded that your company’s blog isn’t a place to self-promote and sell your products or services. Your blog should help your audience find the answers to their questions; it should be a learning center they want to visit often.

The Step-by-Step Guide To Facebook Content Promotion – Zach Etten @ Vertical Measures

Facebook is a valuable marketing channel your business should be using if you don’t already. This article provides the required steps to help you get started using Facebook to better promote your content.

The Difference Between Curation & Simply Collecting – Bryant Wood @ Right Intel

Several of today’s brands believe they’re curating content when actually they’re just collecting content. Read this insightful article to find out the difference between the two, and to learn how you can start creating content and why it’s what you should be doing.

STRYDE | Stryde's Top 15 Blog Posts of 2014

Stryde’s Top 15 Blog Posts of 2014

By | Digital Marketing | No Comments

These last 12 months have proven to be a successful and productive year for Stryde. We’ve taken our knowledge and meshed it together with other industry experts, information and resources to create several useful and insightful marketing posts throughout this past year. Just in case you missed one, below is a list of Stryde’s top performing posts of 2014.

  1. Top 50 Social Media Experts

In this post we provide you with 50 digital marketing leaders we think have earned the status of social media expert. Learn who they are, what they do and why they’re considered experts.

  1. Top 50 SEO Experts

This top 50 list is like the abovementioned post, except we highlight who we think are the industry’s top SEO experts. We even listed these experts in alphabetical order for your convenience.

  1. Top 50 Content Marketing Experts

This was the first blog post of our top 50 posts for this year. It’s loaded with big names and really smart content marketers you’ll want to learn about and follow on Twitter.

  1. Understanding The Different Types Of Anchor Text & How To Use Them

Readers loved this post so much it made last year’s list and this year’s list — and it’s from 2012! That must mean it’s a good one. This informative post tells you what anchor text is and how to use 4 types of anchor text.

  1. Dear Facebook, You’re Gross

In this post, one of our writers gives her take on Facebook’s mood manipulation study from 2012.

  1. The Ultimate List Of SEO Tools

This was another popular post of ours, appearing on this year’s list and last year’s list. Learn what SEO tools digital marketers should use in terms of keyword research, SEO analysis and link building.

  1. How To Use Google Keyword Tool & Google Trends For Keyword Research

Another reader favorite from 2013 and 2014, this blog post reviews 2 useful tools that help you find keyword opportunities and how you can use them for your business.

  1. Bullet Proof Link Building Strategies For 2013 — The Experts Weight In (Part 1) 

In this post, you hear what some of the digital marketing’s brightest marketers thought top link building strategies would be.

  1. Ten Books Every Digital Marketer MUST Read

This may have been written last year, but it was good then and is still good now — so good it climbed its way into last year’s and this year’s top Stryde posts. Discover what books you should read to help you become the best digital marketer and asset to your company.

  1. How To Structure Writing To Evoke Emotion

Besides showing 2 great GIFs, this post reminds writers that great stories make people feel something, and tells you how to evoke that kind of writing when constructing your blog posts.

  1. Five Things You MUST Do To Have A Successful, Thriving Online Business

Another 2013 and 2014 list topper, you learn what the 5 components are to run a successful, thriving online business from this post.

  1. How To Effectively Perform Link Prospecting & Outreach via Buzzstream

When you read this Stryde blog post, you find out resources that help you learn what BuzzStream is and how to correctly use this fantastic platform.

  1. Crucial Questions You Should Ask Your SEO Clients Before Doing Business With Them

This blog post was written 2 years ago, but it’s still very much relevant for you today. We provide you with 10 essential questions you must ask your SEO clients before committing to work with them.

  1. 15 Tips To Tweet: Insights From Digital Marketing Thought Leaders 

We reached out to some digital marketing experts and have provided you with their favorite industry advice inside this post.

  1. Top 10 Social Media Experts You Should Be Following On Twitter

In this post we tell you about 10 social media experts you should be following and engaging with on Twitter. Give them a follow and subscribe to each of their blogs — you can learn a lot from each of these thought leaders.

We had such a fun time — and learned a great deal ourselves — creating and providing these and many other online marketing posts for you this past year. Here’s to a bigger, and even better, 2015 filled with tons of valuable blog content!

What the 2014 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Report Tells Us

By | Business, Digital Marketing, Industry News | No Comments

Last year I wrote a post recapping the findings from Software Advice’s 2013 Online B2B Buyer Behavior Report. This year marketing technology advisor Software Advice is at it again, but this time around they put together a 2014 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Report.

Demand generation, which I’m sure most of you already know, is using targeted marketing programs to help drive more awareness of and interest in your company’s products or services. In this report, Software Advice surveyed 200 B2B marketing professionals, mostly senior-level marketers, and discovered what channels, offers, content types and technologies they used to power their demand gen programs, as well as which ones worked the most effectively for them. Three key takeaways stood out from this report:

  1. The best channels that brought in large numbers of high-quality leads were trade shows, referral marketing and in-house email marketing.
  2. Videos were the most used content type, used by 92% of those surveyed, and videos produced a large quantity of leads.
  3. 79% of the B2B marketers use at least 11 marketing software applications, and 97% use email marketing software.

Best Channels for Generating Leads

The B2B marketers surveyed were asked to rate channels based on the relative quantity and quality of leads generated by said channels. Trade shows and events were picked as generating the most leads and the best leads, which Michele Linn, content development director at CMI, credited to in-person events being meaningful and powerful today when basically everything we do is online.

SA graph

Other channels that did well were search engine advertising, in-house email marketing and TV, radio and print advertisements. If you want to run programs that focus on quantity, these are options you should look into if you aren’t already doing them. But steer clear of direct mail and display advertising, as these 2 finished last.

While trade shows and events brought in large amounts of promising leads, they were also picked as being the channels that had a high cost-per-lead. Low-cost channels included in-house email marketing, organic search and social media. Social media marketing, the campaigns and programs excluding ads, made the top of the list at being the lowest cost-per-lead.

Content Types and Number of Leads They Produce

Next, the marketers were asked to rank content types by their effectiveness with demand generation and lead generation. Of all surveyed, 92% said video was the most commonly used content type for demand gen programs. Videos ranked just ahead of surveys, white papers and case studies.

SA graph 2

Videos and surveys also ranked as the top-2 ways for generating the most quantity of leads. Videos have been most thought of as content that helps brands build trust with their consumers and is used to simply entertain them. But as this report shows, companies must be producing more actionable videos that are generating more and more quality leads.

Rounding out the list of content types given, e-books and case studies finished at the bottom.

Software Applications Used for Demand Generation Efforts

SA graph 3

Software Advice then provided 11 software systems and asked the marketers to select which ones they used to assist with their demand gen efforts. Almost all surveyed, 97%, use email marketing software. Following closing behind were CRM and marketing automation systems. But what should be noted is that 79% of those surveyed use all of the 11 software solutions they were shown, and more than 70% said all 11 were reasonably important with their demand gen efforts. This proves that B2B marketing departments rely heavily on information technology.

Demand Generation Expectations and Spending

The last two questions Software Advice asked were how the marketers’ demand gen programs were performing compared to their expectations and what their plans for demand gen spending were for 2015. Forty-four percent of small businesses, those with less than 100 employees, said their efforts performed below what they anticipated, while 27% of midsized companies and 29% of large companies said the same.

Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, believes these results are because many marketers set foolish expectations. Marketers want things right now, but they forget their prospects don’t function exactly how they want.

“Across the board, we too often expect marketing programs to work immediately,” he said. “We want qualified leads, now! But our prospects don’t work that way.”

As for spending with demand gen efforts, 41% of the marketers surveyed said they were going to increase their yearly spending, 43% said they were going to spend the same amount and 17% said they were going to decrease spending for the upcoming year.

SA graph 4

Linn said it’s no surprise at all that more marketers are planning to spend more for 2015.

“People realize now that having a demand generation strategy is so critical,” she said. “They need to plan content along the entire customer lifecycle. And it can be very time-intensive and resource-intensive. So, from that perspective, it’s not surprising that people are increasing spend at all. It’s an engine that constantly needs to be fed.”

15 Tips To Tweet: Insights From Digital Marketing Thought Leaders

By | Digital Marketing | One Comment

TIPS TOThe world of digital marketing is wonderfully diverse and ever-changing. Business leaders have three basic approaches to this varied industry. One is to research, learn, and stay current on changing landscapes. The second would be to dive into digital marketing with a rough plan, get frustrated after the first failure and call it quits. And the final approach isn’t really an approach at all. It’s just to ignore the industry hoping that it is just a passing fad.

Hopefully you do not subscribe to that last group, or we would have to burst your bubble! Digital marketing is not going anywhere, businesses must either adapt or be left behind. Now, that leaves the two other approaches. Clearly, the first option is the best. But, you may be thinking that it’s too much time, too many resources, and too complicated to undertake.

Not so fast! While the world of digital marketing is constantly evolving, many core tips apply regardless of the place in time. We reached out to some of the brightest minds in the digital marketing industry, covering everything from SEO to social media, with one simple question:

What is your favorite (less than 140 characters!) digital marketing advice?”

Not surprisingly, these industry thought leaders did not disappoint. You’ll find their favorite tips listed below. If any, or all, strike a chord with you, Tweet it and share the knowledge.

On Digital Marketing

@ChadPollitt “Consistency is the key to successful digital marketing. Otherwise, the audience you build will not have their expectations met.” Tweet Me!

@nelsonjames “Don’t look for shortcuts. Almost all shortcuts lead to poor marketing tactics that will hurt your brand in the end.” Tweet Me!

@dustinheap “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket regardless of what that basket might be.” Tweet Me!

@lyena “Sometimes very simple observations lead to meaningful insights.” Tweet Me!

On Content

@shuey03 “Before you begin any content initiative, you MUST know the needs and pain points of your target audience and be ready to address them.” Tweet Me!

@amabaie “Visuals are more effective than just text. But the most effective visuals include text.” Tweet Me!

@Casieg “Look at your data when creating content.” Tweet Me!

@lyena “Become obsessed with pictures this year. Snap shots of your business, of people working there.” Tweet Me!

On Social Media

@ChadPollitt “If content is king then distribution is queen and she wears the pants.” Tweet Me!

@Matt_Siltala “Instagram is hot right now, and one of the most powerful tools for bringing the online and offline marketing worlds together.” Tweet Me!

@PapaRelevance “Organic reach on major social platforms will be reduced to rubble. Tune in to the paid content promotion ecosystem.” Tweet Me!

@PapaRelevance “I believe Twitter, Pinterest and the like will follow Facebook. You’ll need to pay for substantial exposure to your own audience.” Tweet Me!

On SEO and Optimization

@RavenJon “UX is quickly becoming the next big thing in marketing. The tipping point for #SEO was when they realized UX creates signals.” Tweet Me!

@lyena “Know your audience and understand what they want to accomplish on your website. Give them what they are looking for.” Tweet Me!

@DavidWallace “Just because Google says it doesn’t make it gospel. Marketing is war & Google is not your friend. Take what they say with a grain of salt.” Tweet Me!

Never miss a beat by following these Tweeps on Twitter. That way, you’ll be one step closer to staying on top of all Digital Marketing news, trends, and insights.