Is it Time to take Content Marketing off its Pedestal?

Posted by frank harris on 28/02/19 15:50

b2b content marketing 0618The idea that content marketing is some sort of messianic marketing device has stuck so well that, regardless of business, product or market, there has been a compulsion to simply ‘do content’. With securing and retaining permissions, building relationships and earning trust more important than ever, is it time for content to integrate more with the rest of the marketing mix?

 

Never mind about the consumer’s experience – what about the content? Never mind about how, when or even whether you should engage – what about the content?

 

Too often, content marketing has not had the data, insight and creativity to support it. We have got personal without building the foundations. We have kept content and data strategy apart.

 

Now, GDPR puts the way we engage under greater scrutiny than ever before. If consumers want to hear what brands have to say, and share information with them, then content is going to have to climb down off its pedestal and integrate.

Permission to Speak?

GDPR doesn’t mean the end of email marketing. But it gives permissions the sort of currency usually only associated with US dollars in Cuba.

 

GDPR means content has to work harder to earn and protect those permissions. It should cultivate the journey from the initial privilege to communicate, to securing the long-term relationships that make people want to share their data.

 

Amaze One commissioned research to understand how UK consumers feel about the information they currently share. 70% of consumers said they were concerned about the way their personal information is collected and used. Only 18% feel they have some degree of control over their data. 80% have concerns about the way their data was sourced and sold.

 

The research revealed a feeling of imbalance in the ‘value exchange’, the quid pro quo of reward in return for personal information. Consumers feel they’re giving a lot of quid for very little quo. That would be worrying even without GDPR. But with the marketing landscape having changed, now is hardly the best time to be alienating customers who just want a fairer deal.

 

The right to share your content starts with clear permission. That is what gives you the privilege to engage. So, be transparent about the ask. Make requests big and bold, front and centre: permission that says, ‘here are some of the great things we are going to be sharing with you – and here is how you get to see them’.

This transparency is appealing, but there is pragmatism too.

 

GDPR does not have to be scary or difficult. If we embrace it, we share the benefit with consumers. If we don’t, we get to spend the next few years testing the boundaries of GDPR compliance to no real purpose.

Collaborative Content Marketing

Crucially, this model ensures content marketing is not the headline act. It forces it to work with data, strategy and consumer experience, and that forces us to ask questions about the nature for content before we create it:

  • Is content desirable and appropriate? How does your brand sit in your customers’ lives? How does that inform the content you create?
  • What is the role of the content marketing? How does it fit your communications strategy? If it doesn’t fit the strategy, why do it?
  • How does the content fit the customer experience of your brand?
  • What is the publishing model? Let the data, strategy and customer journey guide you to a production, publishing or newsroom model that is a natural fit.

How Personal is Personal?

Amaze One’s research showed that even a simple breakdown by age reveals major differences in the way we want to consume content.

  • Preference for visual (including video) content is strongest in younger groups (18 to 44) and falls away with age.
  • Entertainment is a key determiner of channel appeal among younger groups (18 to 44).
  • Being informative is a universal preference, but peaks in the 25 to 34 age group.
  • Trust in the originating brand/sender is a key factor in brand interaction. The older the target group, the greater the trust required.

So be personal. Tailor your voice to your customer. Mass marketing is fine when you are issuing a change of terms and conditions to every account holder, but it is personal content that generates interest and inspires a response.

New Time and Place for Content

Traditionally, content has been created parallel, but often not quite connected to other marketing activities, CRM-driven communications and distribution strategies.

 

But if content is to help drive sharing in this post-GDPR world, it needs to be constantly in the mix, a part of – but not superior to – the data and insight that informs the initial brainstorms and briefings.

 

It is time to take content marketing off its pedestal? Next time someone suggests you should just ‘do content’, pull back and ask what you are doing it for. When you do, you will find it’s a far more effective tool at generating the trust, permissions and sharing we are all going to need.

 

For your content marketing toolkit click the link below:

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, interactive content marketing, content marketing strategy

8 Ways to Create Small Business Content

Posted by frank harris on 06/12/18 15:10

content marketing 0119While small business content created for your personas helps persuade and engage customers, it also has the added benefit of letting search engines know what your business is about.

 

Although the days of writing and producing content for the likes of Google has long gone, if you focus purely on keywords and forget about your personas it’s just not going to work today.

 

It’s all about quality content that your visitors and customers will want to read and is of value to them, here’s a few ideas on how to create engaging user friendly content

  1. Use Variations of your Keywords

Forget keyword stuffing and using the exact same words 10 times, but you do need to keep in mind relevant words that will make the content relevant to the users search and SEO friendly. Search engines now have the ability to understand variations of words which benefits you and users, for example – ‘social media course’, ‘social media training course’ and ‘training course for social media’.

  1. Create Evergreen Content

When producing content, it’s good to keep in mind how Google works, which is to return relevant results. When they deliver the right answer to a query they are doing their job right, that’s where evergreen content comes in.

 

Evergreen content focuses on longevity, so will be just as relevant in two or more years as it is now. Google will continue to deliver evergreen content and it can rank well if users are finding it useful by clicking and engaging on that page.

  1. User Experience

Creating content for ‘search results’ is usually based on what content is on the page. When you create content for a great user experience you need to focus on the impact the page has on a reader too.

 

Google’s web crawler measures how quickly a person clicks to your website page, how many people click on a page, how long they spend on that page, how far they scroll on that page, and where they go after viewing that page. All of this information available through Google Analytics, lets you see your website through your visitors’ eyes and whether your content is compelling them to click on more and stay on your site.

  1. Use a Readable Style

User friendly content must be easy to digest and in a style that is suitable for your target audience. Make sure you write short paragraphs so not to intimidate readers with long sections of text. Within your paragraphs, keep sentences short and don’t try to impress by using big words.

 

Breaking content up also helps, use headings (H1 and H2 tags), along with bullet points if you have a lot to get across. Don’t forget to include images, we process an image faster than text but it also breaks up the page.

  1. Create Shareable & Link Worthy Content

User experience and SEO should work together, and if you can let your visitors have a positive experience using your website or reading your content they are much more likely to:-

  • Visit more pages
  • Interact on your social media
  • Share your products/service
  • Link to your website
  1. Video Marketing

Video captures viewers faster than written content but you still need to keep it user friendly. Ensure that as well as grabbing attention, it also educates and entertains at the same time. The growth of video within social and mobile content marketing makes video a great option. Even the smallest of budgets and an inexpensive video camera or smartphone can go a long way.

  1. Share, Share, Share

Once you have carefully crafted your content, it's time to get marketing through your website, email marketing, blog and social media networks. Whatever form your content is; a blog post, infographic or a video, content marketing is all about getting your message out there to attract and retain customers.

  1. Create a Content Marketing Strategy

Organising your content marketing is not only helpful in order to provide focus but lets you see what works well and what you can do better. A simple spreadsheet is often enough and you can link this to events, offers and instore promotions you have and create a coordinated marketing plan.

 

Have you created user friendly content that made you stand out from the crowd? If not why not look at our Content Toolkit, an eBook that can help you further>>>

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: small business content marketing, content strategy, content writing, interactive content marketing, small business content, content marketing strategy

How Small Business Content on its own brings Traffic, Links, and Leads

Posted by frank harris on 14/09/18 11:23

content-marketing-question-ss-1920Web marketers tell you that just publishing small business content does not achieve anything. I know they have never done it.

 

I’d like to say it’s easy to publish content that fails to attract traffic but when even spam blogs can bring in traffic, links, and leads you have to ask what these marketers are doing that they cannot even match the performance of spam blogs.

 

The “quality” of your small business marketing content has nothing to do with whether someone else links to it. People will link to anything that they believe is useful. In fact, many bad SEO articles earn links just because they were written by someone whom the linkers know, follow, or trust. That’s terrible, but the majority of link-earning SEO articles earn links for this reason more than any others.

 

There is no such thing as an objective standard of quality. Google certainly doesn’t apply standards of quality consistently. They admit they ensure consumers can find well-known brands in their search results even if the brands are caught violating search engine guidelines.

 

You’re not going to win any argument based on the assumption that merely publishing content cannot accomplish anything on the Web. The data and search results are against you. The mantra of you MUST promote your web content represents a distorted version of a truth: active promotion speeds up the acquisition of traffic, links, and leads.

Why Merely Publishing Content Is Enough

It’s a rare Website that fails to get indexed within a few weeks, unless the publisher takes steps to prevent indexing.

 

If you publish a blog you don’t have to do anything other than publish posts. Let a WordPress blog’s default behaviour of sending out PING notifications work for you. Your content will be indexed, sometimes within a matter of days, in the worst cases within a few weeks.

 

That is passive promotion. You do nothing but publish the content.

 

Of course, you post links to blogs on social media. I consider this to be active promotion.

  • Hyperactive crawlers look for RSS feeds and new content. Google runs hyperactive crawlers along with many RSS directories. Those crawlers index your content so that it can start earning traffic from search sites.
  • DNS-aware Websites are often disavowed by Web marketers who don’t understand that these sites are not only harmless, they actually help you. A DNS-aware Website monitors the activation of domain names. It may send out a crawler to scan the site or it may just publish “who is” information about the site.

These Websites exist for a few reasons. Most of them carry advertising. Some are tied to Web marketing competitive intelligence tools.

 

There is nothing wrong with these links, many of which drive traffic to your Website. Web marketers have a tendency to assume the search engines will punish them for having these kinds of links but the search engines know you did not create the links. They either ignore these links or give them very little weight. But they do drive crawl.

Random Queries Create Real Visibility for Your Content

Google sometimes defines a long-tail query as one that drives 10 or fewer visitors within a 28/30-day period.

There is no length requirement for a long-tail query. They can be 1-word queries or 20-word queries. The “long tail of search” consists of rarely used queries. There LOTs of these kinds of queries.

 

More importantly, these long-tail queries often reflect specific user needs. When your content is a clear match for a long-tail query you have a very good chance of making a conversion be they on high-traffic or low-traffic Websites.

 

Your conversion rate doesn’t depend on how popular the queries you rank for may be; conversions depend on how well you meet the visitor’s expectations and how well you earn their trust.

 

If you’re earning 1,000+ visitors per month through true long-tail query traffic, you’ll earn natural links and build brand recognition, meaning those people will remember and search for your site again.

 

All you must do is publish useful small business content.

Search Referral Optimisation Ignores Arbitrary Goals

An arbitrary goal is anything like “we need to rank for [2-word term]” or “we need 1,000 visitors per month”. You cannot optimise through arbitrary goals. In fact, they degrade optimisation.

 

You can build traffic outside the search optimisation channel. People do this all the time but they label it as “SEO” because they don’t know what else to call it.

 

Search referral optimisation creates the best possible relationship between a search engine and a website. A new Website does not earn traffic from high-volume queries unless its content goes viral.

 

Going viral is random, unpredictable, and genuine enough to occur on its own. If you are nudging your content into some sharing funnel it’s not true viral content even if you gather hundreds of thousands of shares or links.

 

Optimisation is all about improving how the system performs according to its maximum realistic potential. What you are doing isn’t SEO if you push your metrics beyond the limit of what natural search optimisation can produce.

The Length of your Content Doesn’t Matter

Long content has become the new Web spam.

 

On the Web it’s easy enough to identify small business content spam because:

  • It’s only there to provide context for advertising - OR
  • It’s only there to provide context for 1 or more promotional links - OR
  • It’s there to serve as a place holder and still tries to get some traffic

Long-form content spam adds to this list by pretending to be thorough, complete, and authoritative. A few examples of Long-form content spam include:

  • Articles consisting of many quotations with little or no transitional context
  • Articles that contain many images (especially screen captures)
  • Articles that contain many unrelated facts with little or no transitional context
  • Articles that are written to cover as many “long tail” queries as possible
  • Articles that are hard to read because of incessant popups and calls to action

Long-form spam sometimes earns lots of links and draws lots of commentary but tends to fall into content that is just there to get you to buy something, sign up for something, or register for a Webinar. The user experience is of no importance to this form of content.

 

If the content was important it wouldn’t be obscured by pop-up registration forms and calls to action or long sequences of page-wide images. These long articles just draw people in to pop-up forms and calls-to-action. They’re not trying to create a valuable, useful Website experience.

 

The fact the search engines reward Long-form Spam doesn’t mean it’s not spammy. It just means the search engines’ guidelines have not yet caught up to the latest spammy practice.

 

While it’s true that nagging your visitors gets them to sign up for whatever you are selling, aggressive nagging that obscures the user experience is a hallmark of Websites that search engines have long-since dumped as bad user experiences.

 

If you’re content to milk Long-form Spam for all it’s worth, don’t lie to yourself about what you are doing. It’s spam, plain and simple, and nothing more.

 

Short content articles are fine. What matters is whether they deliver the goods to the visitor. Artists, cartoonists, and even major news Websites still publish a lot of articles that run to fewer than 500 words and continue to top the search results for many high-volume queries.

 

If length really mattered my own 1,000+ word articles would have been buried by now. I never count the words and I stop when I can’t add anything of value. I expect people to read my articles. I’m a “content first” marketer. I’m not afraid to lose your attention because I know you’ll be back.

 

It never fails to work. Sometimes it takes a little longer than we want.

Search Engine Optimisation Includes Active Promotion

In case I leave you with the impression that I am saying you’re not optimising for search if you actively promote your content, that is not the point I want to make.

 

You can build links, target queries, and do all that SEO stuff and it can make a contribution toward optimising your site’s relationship with the search engines.

 

What is important to remember is that SEO must always support the business decision. If the business decision is to do absolutely no active promotion then the worst thing you can do is conclude that your hands are tied and the project is doomed to failure. Websites can succeed on content alone. Any social media sharing came later and remains secondary.

 

It’s the small business content that matters most, not how you promote it. Make content that you yourself will want to read and it WILL last (and it will do well). Just be consistent.

 

For a content toolkit that will help you produce your best content, follow this link>>>

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: get more traffic, get more leads, seo traffic, small business content marketing, interactive content marketing, b2b small business email marketing, small business content

A Content Marketing Toolkit for Small Businesses

Posted by frank harris on 03/09/18 15:57

toolkit  (1)New to the ‘interactive marketing content’ concept? In this article, I’m going to take a quick look at what interactive content is, the most common types, and why it’s so effective, i.e. an introduction into my latest eBook on the above topic.

What is Interactive Content?

In a nutshell: Browser-based digital content experiences that are designed for visitor participation.

Why Interactive Content?

What makes interactive content not simply a nice consideration, but a pressing marketing imperative? Far more certainty about every aspect of marketing content - from leads and sales, to measurement and insights.

Better engagement

Static content provides limited opportunity for audience engagement. Visitors can read, watch,

convert and share. But not much more.

 

An interactive experience is inherently participatory - solutions configured, calculations made, quizzes taken, chapters navigated. Visitors naturally interact with the content, becoming immersed in the experience instead of passively reading.

Higher conversion rates

An exceptional, relevant content experience drives more leads and sales than static content.

Real differentiation

Interactive content is a proven way to differentiate your brand and offer something more interesting and compelling to your audience. It’s a more conversational way of interacting as opposed to just pushing resources and hoping people respond.

Richer measurement

Virtually everything within an online content experience can be tracked, measured and reported on. Beyond page views, bounce rates and conversion, interactive content provides an opportunity to see the outcomes and patterns of content interactions.

Assessing Your Content Marketing Need

One of the best ways to understand this is to assess your content maturity level and get a sense of

where on the spectrum of interactive content your company is currently. Ask the following questions

about your existing content efforts:

How would you characterise the nature of your content?

If you’re only producing blog posts, whitepapers and static content, you’re missing out on the data-gleaning opportunities of interactive. And while not all of your content needs to be interactive, at least some interactivity deserves to be in the mix.

How effective is your content at educating your buyer?

Are your leads coming in as well-educated and ready to purchase - or are they loaded with questions that your content ought to be answering? If they’re not completing the buyer’s journey or asking questions they should have answers to, your content may not be engaging them on a deep enough level.

How effective is your content at differentiating your brand?

When you compare your content to that of your competitors, can you tell who created what? Does your content do a better job of engaging leads and answering questions? If not, you’re probably blending in a little too much.

How effective is your content at getting shared socially?

Are you seeing the kind of traction in social proportionate to your audience and promotional effort that you should be - or is your content falling flat? If nobody’s talking, interactivity is a good way to shake things up and start some conversations.

How effective is your content at converting your visitors?

How often does a visitor become a lead? How often does a lead become a qualified lead? Are your content pieces inspiring people to call, demo, or sign up? If conversion rates are low, interactive content can be an intelligent way to not only give more data to sales, but get your leads taking action on their own.

How effective is your content at generating organic traffic?

Are you seeing much traffic from search? Are you earning links naturally and organically? If not, your content is probably poorly optimised - or just unremarkable. Interactive content can change that.

How would you characterise your content measurement?

Measurement is a big challenge for marketers - we will dedicate a section to it later on, with some tools to assess how well you’re doing. If your content measurement is poor, interactive can help you tap into some really useful data.

 

The eBook goes on to go into more detail on Assessing your need before it covers>>>

  • Getting Started with Interactive Content
  • Evaluating Effort vs. Value
  • Defining Your Process
  • Your Small Business Team & Allocating the Work
  • Measuring Your Impact

Finally, let’s look at some Questions to Assess Your Content

Is it useful, educational or entertaining?

Are your customers benefiting from the content you create? Would they miss it if it wasn’t there?

Do you analyse results for insights and areas of opportunity/improvement?

Are you deliberate and rigorous about measuring the results of your content - and are you using those insights to make existing and future content efforts better?

Do you link visitor behaviours or outcomes to sales?

Have you been able to take the knowledge of your customers gained from interactive content and turn it into tools your sales team can use to close more deals?

Do you A/B test this interactive content?

Are you comparing and contrasting variants and content types to see which are working best for you in different contexts? Are you looking at your results on a campaign/traffic basis?

Is it a good user experience?

Based on both qualitative feedback from customers and your data (bounce rates, time on site, etc.), is the experience intuitive and easy?

Is there a clear call to action?

Have you added a “so what?” or a prompt that helps customers move into the next stage of their journey? Is it obvious how a visitor can take action?

Is the interactive experience responsive?

Is your content designed to be consumed on any and every device, or are you alienating an important part of your audience?

Take Action

If you can answer “Yes” to most of these questions, you’re doing great! If not, you’ve got some work to do to improve your content and measurement – but don’t be discouraged!

 

By now, you’ve seen how straightforward and methodical interactive content can be, so ally you have to do is arm yourself with the resources you need to make it work for your business. All that’s left to do is to take action by downloading the full eBook from the link below>>>

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, marketing content, interactive website content, interactive landing page content, interactive content marketing

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