I’m tired of people saying online marketing is “all about great content.” Those people have a Kevin Costner mentality.
Don’t get me wrong–I have nothing against great content. For all intents and purposes, I hope this blog post falls under that category. But let’s not be naïve either; great content isn’t always the most popular, and it doesn’t always drive the most sales.
And if that’s the case, can you really consider it all that great? I can tell you one thing. The person who decides on your marketing budget probably won’t.
Great content, in order to be successful, requires great marketing and great strategy behind it.
So, really, people should be saying online marketing is “all about great strategic content” not just “great content.”
Know Your Buyer
In order to sell something, you should probably know who you’re selling to. It makes it so much easier.
When you know your target audience, you can address topics that resonate with them. More importantly, you know what will drive them to convert. For example, if you sell motorcycle equipment, your audience would probably be people who ride motorcycles. And it would be in your best interest to create content that appeals to that audience. If you decide to produce content that talks about tricycles you probably won’t sell too many Harleys.
When determining your audience and what they want to know, start with these questions:
- Who uses your products/services?
- What do they ask about your products/services?
- How can you answer those questions better than your competitors?
Creating Content with a Goal
Every piece of content you produce should have a goal. Whether it’s to educate, entertain, or entice, you should establish a goal before you create.
These questions will help you determine a goal:
- Where will this content appear?
- Who will read it?
- How will people share it?
- What kind of ROI would I like to see?
Essentially, you should decide whether you’re trying to boost awareness, sales, or both. Then, once you’ve determined what your goal is, it’s time to measure it.
Measuring that Goal
The reason you set goals is to see if you can meet them. That said, your content should be held accountable to the goals you establish.
For example, if you build a landing page pushing your most popular product and create subsequent content to market that page, try monitoring the conversions on that page. Compare your return to how much time you spent creating that content. Was it worth it
In the end, it all boils down to a few simple questions:
- Does your content get people to buy?
- Can you produce content in a cost-effective way?
- Are users engaged with your content?
And just about all of these can be measured through Google Analytics.
Stop Burning Your Budget
When it’s all said and done, we do online marketing so that businesses can make money. The reason SEOs try to obtain a number one ranking in the SERPs is to drive more targeted traffic and more conversions to a website.
If the website isn’t showing conversions, who cares if you have a number one ranking? In the same vein, if a website is showing conversions but doesn’t rank all that highly, who cares about a number ranking?
In the end, make sure your online marketer(s) shares the same goals as your business. The two should be seamless. If not you’ll watch your budget blow up in smoke.
If you want to start cashing in on your content (or just want to talk about my apparent love of movie references), you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
People say you should learn from your mistakes. Not me. I prefer to learn from other people’s mistakes. It can save you a lot of headaches and sometimes a little embarrassment.
As Content Development Manager, I oversee a team of (awesome) SEO copywriters who help build and optimize content marketing strategies for our clients. But rather than tell you how incredible we are (seriously, we’re great), I’d like to use this Manager Monday to take a look at a few #epicfails by some of the biggest brands in the world–it’s much funnier and, honestly, more interesting.
Without further ado, here’s my big brand blooper reel for content marketing fails.
New York Times
Most of us have done it before. We’ve sent an email or maybe a text message that we probably shouldn’t have sent. However, it’s usually not to the New York Times’ 8 million current subscribers.
In December 2011, a simple email campaign turned into a marketing nightmare for one of the nation’s most popular newspapers. The paper meant to send an email to people who recently cancelled their subscription asking them if they’d be interested in signing back up at a discount. When the current subscribers received the email instead of the intended 300 ex-subscribers, most responded with concern that this was spam and some with anger that they didn’t get the discount.
Advice: Always make sure you check your recipients before clicking “Send” on any message.
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins’s final installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, I sincerely hope you avoided downtown D.C. last spring.
Amazon came under fire last April when a Kindle billboard in Washington displayed the first page of the final book which revealed key plot points of the previous two books.
Advice: Don’t be a blabber mouth!
I’m a big fan of user-generated content. It makes my life as a writer so much easier. I mean people are literally doing the work for me and it’s good for SEO–#winning (is that still going on?).
But what happens when your users don’t have anything engaging to say? Well, you’d be in a situation similar to Pepsi whose home page consists of nearly all tweets that get little social engagement. They have nearly 9.5 million “likes” on Facebook yet the posts on their home page typically garner less than 10 (a lot of them have none).
Advice: If you don’t have anything interesting to say, don’t say anything…no, no wait–say something, but you might have to rely on more than your users to do so. Produce some of your own content and be more selective with the user-generated content you publish on your site.
I’ve seen this done on a few fashion websites before and really liked the idea. They use “in-image advertising” to market multiple products. So if you don’t like the jeans you see on the model in the picture but you absolutely love the necklace they’re wearing, there will be a link that directs you to that product’s page.
Unfortunately, this backfired big time for Express. They decided to help users find products on their site that were similar to clothing items in photos pulled from Yahoo News. This resulted in Express unintentionally offering users the chance to buy a scarf resembling one worn by an Afghan militant (the picture was taken from a story discussing a bloody attack in Afghanistan).
Advice: Stick to celebrity news, and just filter out stories that involve Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Chris Brown… okay, maybe just stick to your own photos.
GE recently launched a site called ecomagination. In theory, it’s awesome. It aims to be a thought-leadership blog for green technology and green living. They currently have almost 96,000 likes on Facebook, but the majority of their content struggles to get more than handful of likes. Why you ask?
Well, that’s because the majority of their content is self-promotional. It looks more like a news section of a site than a thought-leadership blog. This distances them from their audience and hurts their brand. People want to hear about the issues, not that your company is greener than an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s Day.
Advice: Be confident about your brand, not cocky. Either that or re-name your site egomagination.
Social media is a powerful device. In fact, it’s so powerful that users can take the reins on your social media marketing campaign and turn it into a (in my opinion rather hilarious) prank.
Back in July of 2012, a group of pranksters hijacked a Facebook promotion designed to send Pitbull to the most-liked Walmart. They used the hashtag #ExilePitbull for a campaign that eventually sent the Miami-based rapper to Kodiak, Alaska. At least he was a good sport about it saying, “What you gotta understand is that I will go anywhere in the world for my fans.”
Advice: I’m sorry, but this is just funny.
We all make mistakes, even some of the biggest, most well-liked brands out there. Sure most are unintentional, but in a world where your mistakes can be scrutinized under the microscope of the Internet (kind of what I’m doing for example), it’s important, now more than ever, to know your audience and think each strategy through to the end.
Oh, and by the way, as much as I talked up my team earlier in the post, we’ve learned from our mistakes as well. In fact, if you see any in the post, give me a shout. Happy marketing!
My parents always told me not to care about what other people think of me. But, let’s be honest–we all care a little bit.
Of course, we care what certain people think more than others. The high school quarterback’s opinion means a little more than the captain of the chess club. Your CEO’s opinion of you matters a little more than your average co-worker. From the lunch table to the conference room, let’s face it–we care.
As far as the Internet is concerned, Google is the high school quarterback; they’re the CEO. Their opinion means something. So if you’re on the Internet–personally and/or professionally–you should, to some degree, care what Google thinks of you.
How Does Google Perceive You?
Google runs on relevance. You type in a term and it spits back information it believes to be relevant to that term.
Google also uses relevancy for its own gains. They display ads in your browser based on your search activity (if you’re curious, be sure check out just how much Google knows about you–they’re either shockingly dead-on or shockingly off).
Take a second to Google yourself and see what comes back. Google your company and see what comes back. Google words that you think are relevant to your company. This is what Google currently thinks of you–where they rank you and the sites they associate you with. Do you like what you see?
If not, don’t worry just yet. There’s probably a lot you can do to get the search results you’re looking for and, essentially, get Google to change its perception of you.
Making Friends through SEO
If you own a website, whether it’s a personal blog or your company’s e-commerce site, you can improve the way Google perceives you through ethical optimization. They like that stuff.
To start, though, you need to know what Google looks for and see how well your site is currently optimized. This will provide you with baseline data for the elements Google looks at when crawling your site.
• Your link profile
• Site architecture
• Page Speed
When you address these issues and work to optimize your site, you’ll find that Google likes you a whole lot more. And when the most popular kid in school likes you, you can bet a lot of other people will like you too (i.e. sales).
Managing Your Reputation
People love to talk smack on the Internet. Whether they’re angrily writing a restaurant review or bad-mouthing a former employer, people love to vent in blogs and forums. Unfortunately, this form of therapy can negatively impact companies and individuals–usually for unjust reasons.
So, if you want Google to continue liking you, it’s important that you manage your reputation. This means keeping your site in shipshape as well as keeping an ear out for anyone talking behind your back.
Through active SEO and by keeping a watchful eye over your name and your brand, you can protect your reputation online and be sure that you’ll always be in Google’s good graces.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I can taste it already. Can you?
No, I’m not talking about the mounds of savory stuffing and tender turkey smothered in grandma’s gravy (how’s that for some Thanksgiving alliteration). I’m talking about the sweet taste of accomplishment after tracking down a coveted Black Friday deal.
But how exactly do you hunt down that perfect deal among the herds of bargain shoppers?
You can do things the old-fashioned way and start clipping coupons, or you can put that smartphone to good use. To be cliché for a second: Black Friday–there’s an app for that.
So, without further ado, here are the 5 must-have mobile apps for a successful Black Friday this year.
Note: In the spirit of Black Friday, all of these apps are free–it wouldn’t be right otherwise.
TGI Black Friday
The TGI Black Friday app serves as a hub for all Black Friday deals. Through this app, you can search thousands of up-to-date deals across different stores and categories. You can also compare prices to make sure you’re getting the absolute best Black Friday deal. Available for iPhone and Android.
Think you deserve a reward for diving into the trenches and conquering Black Friday? Well so does Shopkick. With this app, you can unlock deals and points (“kicks”) by opening the app in certain major retail stores–Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, etc. You can also receive “kicks” by scanning featured products on your phone. Rewards include gift cards, movie tickets, and more. Oh, and did I mention these points are nearly doubled on Black Friday? In other words, you’ll be saving while saving. Available for iPhone and Android.
Can’t remember which side of the mall Old Navy is on? Suffering from shopping fatigue and need to refuel at the food court? Need to locate the closest bathroom? FastMall has you covered. It serves as an interactive map of the mall on your phone, complete with turn-by-turn directions to stores and restaurants, as well as current store deals. Available for iPhone and Android.
Once you’re in the mall, it’s easy to start justifying your spending. That $75 pair of jeans suddenly sounds reasonable once you’re holding them in front of you. Let Mint keep you in check. This app allows you to set budgets and monitor your balances and transactions right from your phone. Available for iPhone and Android.
Black Friday Deals 2012
Like the TGI Black Friday app, the Black Friday Deals 2012 app supplies ads from all the major retail stores. However, it includes one additional feature that’s worth mentioning. You can access Twitter and Facebook directly from the app, allowing you to get up-to-the-second updates from stores and fellow shoppers. Currently only available on Android devices.
Now, as cool and helpful as these apps may be, they (unfortunately) won’t do the shopping for you. With that said, I wish you the best of luck, bargain shoppers.
Most marketers, I hope, are familiar with traditional push-pull strategies. But, me being me, I don’t like to assume things–we all know what happens when you do that.
If you’re unfamiliar with push and pull marketing, here’s the gist of it:
- Push marketing aggressively seeks out the consumer, often incentivizing them with discounts and special offerings. This strategy touts, or pushes, these deals to customers so they’ll buy.
- Pull marketing generates brand awareness, essentially pulling the customer in because they want to learn more.
Not clear enough? Let’s look at some examples.
Traditional Push Example
Anything that urges you to strike while the iron is hot or claims to offer an unbeatable deal is typically a push strategy. Think “limited time hotel deals” and the “McDonald’s Dollar Menu.”
Traditional Pull Example
Unlike push strategies which tend to be rather blunt, pull strategies are much more subtle. They don’t simply use low prices to market their product. They aim to build brand awareness. Think Apple and Red Bull.
Apple rarely pushes their products onto their customers via special offers. Innovative advertising and word-of-mouth pulls customers in. Red Bull, which also uses innovative advertising, uses sponsorships–X Games, Formula 1, etc.– as well to rope people in.
While some companies lean heavily on the push and some heavily on the pull, most companies try to strike a balance between the two. After all, it’s tough to generate awareness without putting your name out there.
Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about traditional marketing. How does this tie into what you’re really here to learn about, online marketing?
A New Push-Pull Strategy for Online Marketing
Make no mistake about it–online marketing is still marketing. All the general principles still apply. And with Panda, Penguin, and any future cuddly updates, online marketers are being forced to get back to basics.
That being said, the Internet is a relatively new medium for marketers. With social networks popping up left and right, the people, the customers, are out there. We’re no longer marketing to “Internet users.” We’re marketing to people with faces, with online profiles full of information.
With those customers at our finger tips, it puts marketers in a unique position. They have the ability to push products (*cough* spamming *cough*) but they also have the ability to study their customers and develop ways to pull them in.
Websites and blogs are pull strategies. By fine-tuning them with on-site search engine optimization tactics, we’re improving that pull strategy. Your website and your blog are your brand and you need to build that. Even your company’s social media profiles, which may seem like push strategies on the surface, can in fact be pull strategies. If used properly, they build brand awareness.
That brings me to content marketing, currently the industry’s biggest buzzword. Companies are now their own publishers. They create what they believe to be useful content for their customers and publish it on the web. However, with customers so close to us on social media networks, it’s easy to push when we mean to be pulling–just think of all those “social profiles” who simply pump out articles and blogs without any real commentary.
In the end, you’re likely to see more long-term success through pull marketing online. Of course, like I said before, though, some push is needed to help you get off the ground. For example, an e-mail campaign, which can be effective if done correctly and sparingly, is a push strategy that I encourage you to employ. You can also push certain offers through your social media profiles as long as that’s not all you’re using it for.
Marketing certainly isn’t anything new. The Internet and how it’s used today is though. That means we need to adapt our traditional strategies for the web while maintaining a healthy balance between pushing and pulling.
If you can make your product sexy, there’s a good chance sales will spike. In the online marketplace, one of the easiest ways to do that is through your content–appealing, engaging text and product images.
But what do I mean by “sexy” content? Well, sexy content attracts users through its looks–originally. Like a pretty girl or a handsome man, if your content is easy on the eyes, it’ll attract people. Then, like an intelligent woman or man, if you have something good to say, you’ll keep them there.
So how do we get our content sexy?
Trim the Fat
Like I said, your content should be easy on the eyes. That means you need to trim the fat. By eliminating long, drawn-out sentences and paragraphs, you’ll be able to whittle your content down to a concise message.
Big chunks of text, bogged down with unnecessary modifiers, scare readers off. By keeping things brief with one sentence logically flowing into the next, you’ll find that more visitors read your content from beginning to end.
Be Active and Build up the Muscle
What sounds better: The ball was hit by the golfer down the fairway or the golfer clobbered the ball, launching it down the middle of the fairway? Most people would say the latter. That’s because it’s in the active voice.
Good writing contains strong action verbs. Good writing packs a punch. It keeps your readers on their toes rather than lulling them to sleep. Don’t be afraid to flex those muscles and create strong content that keeps readers locked in.
Spice it Up
Predictability isn’t sexy. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of sexy. Content that’s formatted the same way on every page will turn people off.
Instead, spice things up with a picture. Break your content up with subheadings and bulleted lists–anything to provide a little variety, a little diversity. This will also make your content easier to scan which improves the user experience.
Well-Groomed and Articulate
Being sexy isn’t all about looks. If something is truly sexy, it’s both physically and intellectually attractive. This means your content needs to be error-free and it needs to bring something interesting to the conversation. No one wants to date a person with the intelligence of parking cone, regardless of how attractive they may be.
I know that if I start reading an article and find a grammatical error, I automatically like it less. Also, if I start to read something and feel like I’m not getting anything out of it, I’ll stop.
So, how sexy is your content? Leave a comment here on our blog or message me directly at dheinkel(at)webimax.com.