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The Science of Online B2B Marketing

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(Posted on Aug 14, 2014 at 03:10AM by William Cosgrove)
Circle S studio designed this infographic, “The Science of B2B Online Marketing”  to help you visualize the components and the overall process.

The Science of B2B Online Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]



Reposted from CoxBlue.com

How Images Can Affect Your SEO and Engagement

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(Posted on Aug 11, 2014 at 03:59AM by William Cosgrove)
 

There was a time when the primary concern of bloggers was search engine optimization (SEO). Since then times have changed to an extent.  SEO is still a vital consideration, but it now shares the platform with another, equally important element: user engagement.

Most SEO’s will tell you that a page with a bounce rate of 90% and up probably won’t rank high on any search engines. It won’t matter how much you try to optimize the page off-site, there is only so much you can do with horrible bounce rate figures. This complicates things for online publishers, but it’s actually a positive development.  User engagement focuses on human interaction, not search algorithms, which is good for publishers with quality content because they can compete based on the merits of their content and the experience they offer users — not just how well they play the search game.

To win the race to draw more clicks, views and more interaction you need a simple, yet important element on each and every page: images.  Images highly support SEO and user engagement, so by using quality images in a productive manner, bloggers, online publishers, and marketers can boost their search engine rankings and their engagement with readers.

This Post Discusses:

  • The connection between Images and SEO
  • How images lead to engagement
  • In-image adverting and it’s connection to monetizing engagement

Images and SEO

SEO has become synonymous with keywords, due in large part to the ubiquity of keyword stuffed online.  Today’s search engines are, of course, far more sophisticated, but that doesn’t stop keywords (when handled with finesse) from having an effect.  Nonetheless, quality and relevant content usually trump any black hat technique in the long term.  Yet, quality and relevant content can still be lost in the shuffle when it comes to SEO thanks to how steep the competition is.  One way to boost search engine rankings — when there’s already quality textual content — is the inclusion of high quality content related images for SEO. A good image is always related to the text.

SEO Content

This is an example of a content-related image

Part of the reason for this is the growing popularity of image searching via search engines: i.e. Google Image Search and similar services.  These searches have reached a level of sophistication that allows them to serve content users what they want, when they want it — and users frequently want images — so their popularity has exploded.  Which means what?

Two things:

  1. Companies with search engines (such as Google and Facebook) are putting more time, effort and expertise into indexing and rating images for SEO on websites to serve users content. If you need proof that this has been happening for a while, you can just check out the wiki page of Face.com, it will give you an idea how much money these companies are willing to invest into understanding images.
  2. The relevancy and quality of those images is being used to affect your site’s search engine rankings.

Even if you’re not serving images, which users are explicitly searching, the images for SEO on your site matter.  Indexing is taking into account alt text, file size, and file name, in addition of course to bounce rate.

Bounce rate is the time the user spends on the site they’ve chosen before heading back to the search engine.  It’s important to both the SEO and user engagement aspects of image inclusion, because it affects one and is an indicator of the other.  A bounce rate that is too high (that is, users are clicking through to your site and quickly abandoning it) will negatively affect rankings; it is also a good indicator that your levels of engagement aren’t optimal.

Bounce Rate

This is NOT an example of a content-related image, even though we are talking about bounce rate

Too few images, and images for SEO that are low quality or irrelevant, can lead to high bounce rate.  Images are good for view rates. In fact, articles featuring images get 94% more total views, which is quite significant, but if your view rates are increasing along with your bounce rate, you may find that the benefit cancels itself out.

So, images have become vitally important to SEO but those images must be worth viewing, and must be a catalyst for engagement.

Images and User Engagement

As mentioned above, studies show that images result in 94% more views, which shows a clear user bias toward articles with images.  So how important are images to engagement, really? Very important.

Photos and videos in press releases increase views by 45%, which is significant because users view press releases for very specific purposes. Usually a user reading a press release is considering increasing their engagement with the company mentioned in the future. Over half of consumers are more inclined to contact businesses which include an image in their search results locally. Over half of consumers are more inclined to contact businesses which include an image in their search results locally.

When purchasing a product online, a staggering 67% of consumers note that the quality of the image depicting the product is of great importance in following through with a purchase.  In fact, most users feel that the quality of the image outranks its description, its specifications, and even ratings or reviews.

And when it comes to Facebook, engagement with photos is 37% higher than engagement with text.

In short, the importance of images to user engagement simply cannot be overstated.  Again, however, with a caveat: users have high standards for images, as they do for all content now.  Images should decidedly add to the overall user experience to increase interactivity and SEO.

Leveraging Images to their Best Advantage

There are two main things for marketers, publishers, bloggers, and social media experts to keep in mind in regards to images for SEO and engagement:

  • Inclusion of images: Images, generally speaking, increase views
  • Images included must be both high quality and relevant to increase engagement in a meaningful way and to reduce bounce back, which would negatively affect SEO

Images also provide something else: the opportunity for quality, engaging monetization.  Their appeal to users and their potential to improve the user experience make them ripe for monetization, if it’s done in a tasteful, engaging, experience optimizing manner.

In-image advertising is one way to take advantage of the value of images while improving user experience, views, and engagement.  In-image advertising also has multiple advantages over traditional advertising; it isn’t subject to “banner blindess” (the phenomenon of users ignoring content-extraneous advertising), and it can be fully integrated into content in an engaging manner.

In-Image Advertising and Images for SEO and Engagement

Of course, all of the advantages and benefits that images can bring to your blog, publication, or social media interactions depend upon the ability to source quality, relevant images.  This can be simple for certain marketing goals, because the content lends itself to image collection. For other goals, and for independent bloggers and publishers, it can be a more complex procedure.  There’s a way to streamline the process for those who wish to monetize their sites with in-image advertising.

In-image advertising platforms like imonomy (full disclosure: I work here) can actually provide content in-image ads packaged with high-quality, content-relevant images.  For example, if the content is a recipe, the image might be a photo of relevant ingredients being mixed with a commercial mixer; should the user mouse over it, they could be presented with links to ads for kitchen appliances.

Ask Yourself

The recent success of sites like PlayBuzz, BuzzFeed, Viral Nova and Bored Panda is mostly attributed to their emphasis on putting images in the spotlight. Most viral content websites today know that an interesting thumbnail is sometimes all you need to create a viral news post. Ask yourself this, would these images be even remotely successful without their heavy systematic use of engaging images?

Conclusion

Users want images and they are far more willing to view a site which hosts images, and far more willing to engage with a site that hosts high quality images.  Images are key to increasing SEO and user engagement.  Ambitious marketers and publishers should take advantage of this, not only by serving their users the image-based content they want, but by marrying those images to non-intrusive, exceptionally relevant, interactive in-image advertising.  Banners and textual ads have become easy for users to ignore. However, users can’t ignore the very quality content they’re clamoring for, so long as the ads are delivered in a positive, experience enhancing way.

The Future

The way I see things might astonish some of you, but I think the next trend is going to be sites with much less text. Today people are talking how words equal better SEO and I don’t necessarily agree. I personally like to think that content will be reviewed by search algorithms in a much more advanced way. In the next couple of years, text won’t be the main things algorithms try to understand, the reason? A picture is worth more than a thousand words.

Reposted from SteamFeed

Most B2B Marketers Struggle To Create Engaging Content

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(Posted on Jul 21, 2014 at 07:17AM by William Cosgrove)
By Laura Ramos

When it comes to content marketing, the majority of business-to-business (B2B) marketers we surveyed last month are not as mature as they think.

Roughly half of respondents (52%) are in the early stages of assembling a content strategy and executing against it. We call this early majority "aspiring editors," and while their practices are often inconsistent or not fully embraced across the organization, these marketers are busy laying the foundation upon which to build an editorial point of view that gives their buyers something useful and valuable to read, watch, or interact with. 

In a new report, published today (subscription required), we took a closer look at the maturity of content marketing practices among 113 B2B marketing professionals. Half of our respondents hail from companies with 1,000 employees or more, and 41% occupy senior marketing positions including the title of CMO or senior vice president. When compared to peers, most (51%) believe their practices are very mature.  

But that bar is not very high when an overwhelming 85% can't connect content activity to business value and, as a result, fail to create those intimate long-term relationships that will form the primary source of competitive advantage in business from now on.

Our content marketing benchmark shows that B2B marketers have more work to do when it comes to consistently delivering a valuable exchange of information with prospects and customers. Key findings include:

  • Content is not marketing's job No. 1. A startling 72% of surveyed marketers say less than half of their marketing staff plays a primary role in content marketing today — leaving content to quickly devolve to talk of products and features, rather than interesting insights buyers crave. It's not a surprise, then, that 87% say they struggle to produce content that truly engages their buyers.
  • Marketers produce content simply to fill the channel. Sixty-two percent admit to producing content on a campaign-by-campaign basis, while 47% said that they focus primarily on creating content for distribution channels like their company website, online advertising, email, and social media. Another 16% said they mainly develop sales collateral. Altogether, this data shows an acute focus on acquisition that practically ignores the remainder of the customer life cycle. 
  • They fail to highlight how they help customers become successful. While 71% of surveyed marketers say their content features case studies or customer stories, only 3% admit this is a primary focus of their efforts. 
  • Content lacks insight that buyers can turn into action. Only 12% of respondents make publishing research and perspectives the main focus of their content marketing, and no one said they engage external experts to validate those ideas.
  • Marketers focus on creating deals, not on building relationships. While more than three-quarters of respondents say they frequently communicate to their customer base, only 5% make this a priority, proving that marketers are too focused on acquisition rather than creating long-term loyalty. 

To overcome these deficiencies, and others we detail in the report, CMOs will need to take a hard look at skills, staff, and creative resources directed at content production — because it's clear that staying the current course will not be productive long-term. In the survey, we found just 4% of those we surveyed are true masters of content marketing. We were lucky enough to speak to a few at companies like Computer Sciences Corp, Deltek, Kapost, Sungard Availability Services, and Verizon — you can learn more about their practices and successes in the research. Survey participants who are members of the Business Marketing Association or Online Marketing Institute can apply for a copy of the report here. You can also read the Advertising Age coverage here to get an additional perspective.

Next up? A deeper look at why content marketing needs to look beyond the top of the funnel to deliver more impact to the business. And, in August, I'll bring this content marketing insight together during theForrester Webinar "Four Ways To Improve Your Content Marketing Maturity" on August 7th.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any interesting content marketing successes to share. Take the assessment yourself and let me know how you score. I look forward to meeting more content masters who deliver the information and insight that buyers value and share.

Originally Posted on Forrester


3 Myths About Duplicate Content

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(Posted on Jul 12, 2014 at 04:50AM by William Cosgrove)

3 Myths About Duplicate Content By Andy Crestodina

The words “duplicate content penalty” strike fear in the hearts of marketers. People with no SEO experience use this phrase all the time. Most have never read Google’s guidelines on duplicate content. They just somehow assume that if something appears twice online, asteroids and locusts must be close behind.

This article is long overdue. Let’s bust some duplicate content myths.

Note: This article is about content and publishing, not technical SEO issues such as URL structure.

Myth #1: Non-Original Content on Your Site Will Hurt Your Rankings across Your Domain

I have never seen any evidence that non-original content hurts a site’s ranking, except for one truly extreme case. Here’s what happened:

The day a new website went live, a very lazy PR firm copied the home page text and pasted it into a press release. They put it out on the wire services, immediately creating hundreds of versions of the home page content all over the web. Alarms went off at Google and the domain was manually blacklisted by a cranky Googler.

It was ugly. Since we were the web development company, we got blamed. We filed a reconsideration request and eventually the domain was re-indexed.

So what was the problem?

  • Volume: There were hundreds of instances of the same text
  • Timing: All the content appeared at the same time
  • Context: It was the homepage copy on a brand new domain

It’s easy to imagine how this got flagged as spam.

But this isn’t what people are talking about when they invoke the phrase “duplicate content.” They’re usually talking about 1,000 words on one page of a well-established site. It takes more than this to make red lights blink at Google.

Many sites, including some of the most popular blogs on the internet, frequently repost articles that first appeared somewhere else. They don’t expect this content to rank, but they also know it won’t hurt the credibility of their domain.

Myth #2: Scrapers Will Hurt Your Site

I know a blogger who carefully watches Google Webmaster Tools. When a scraper site copies one of his posts, he quickly disavows any links to his site. Clearly, he hasn’t read Google’s Duplicate Content Guidelines or the Guidelines for Disavows.

Ever seen the analytics for a big blog? Some sites get scraped ten times before breakfast. I’ve seen it in their trackback reports. Do you think they have a full-time team watching GWT and disavowing links all day? No. They don’t pay any attention to scrapers. They don’t fear duplicate content.

Scrapers don’t help or hurt you. Do you think that a little blog in Asia with no original writing and no visitors confuses Google? No. It just isn’t relevant.

Personally, I don’t mind scrapers one bit. They usually take the article verbatim, links and all. The fact that they take the links is a good reason to pay attention to internal linking. The links on the scraped version pass little or no authority, but you may get the occasional referral visit.

Tip: Report Scrapers that Outrank Your Site

On the (very) rare occasion that Google does get confused and the copied version of your content is outranking your original, Google wants to know about it. Here’s the fix. Tell them using the Scraper Report Tool.

google scraper report

Tip: Digitally Sign Your Content with Google Authorship

Getting your picture to appear in search results isn’t the only reason to use Google Authorship. It’s a way of signing your name to a piece of content, forever associating you as the author with the content.

With Authorship, each piece of content is connected to one and only one author and their corresponding “contributor to” blogs, no matter how many times it gets scraped.

Tip: Take Harsh Action against Actual Plagiarists

There is a big difference between scraped content and copyright infringement. Sometimes, a company will copy your content (or even your entire site) and claim the credit of creation.

Plagiarism is the practice of someone else taking your work and passing it off as their own. Scrapers aren’t doing this. But others will, signing their name to your work. It’s illegal, and it’s why you have a copyright symbol in your footer.

If it happens to you, you’ll be thinking about lawyers, not search engines.

There are several levels of appropriate response. Here’s a true story of a complete website ripoff and step-by-step instructions on what actions to take.

Myth #3: Republishing Your Guest Posts on Your Own Site Will Hurt Your Site

I do a lot of guest blogging. It’s unlikely that my usual audience sees all these guest posts, so it’s tempting to republish these guest posts on my own blog.

As a general rule, I prefer that the content on my own site be strictly original. But this comes from a desire to add value, not from the fear of a penalty.

Ever written for a big blog? I’ve guest posted on some big sites. Some actually encourage you to republish the post on your own site after a few weeks go by. They know that Google isn’t confused. In some cases, they may ask you to add a little HTML tag to the post…

Tip: Use rel=“canonical” Tag

Canonical is really just a fancy (almost biblical) word that means “official version.” If you ever republish an article that first appeared elsewhere, you can use the canonical tag to tell search engines where the original version appeared. It looks like this:

canonical anchor link reference example

That’s it! Just add the tag and republish fearlessly.

Tip: Write the “Evil Twin”

If the original was a “how to” post, hold it up to a mirror and write the “how not to” post. Base it on the same concept and research, but use different examples and add more value. This “evil twin” post will be similar, but still original.

Not only will you avoid a penalty, but you may get an SEO benefit. Both of these posts rank on page one for “website navigation.”

Calm down, People.

In my view, we’re living through a massive overreaction. For some, it’s a near panic. So, let’s take a deep breath and consider the following…

Googlebot visits most sites every day. If it finds a copied version of something a week later on another site, it knows where the original appeared. Googlebot doesn’t get angry and penalize. It moves on. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Remember, Google has 2,000 math PhDs on staff. They build self-driving cars and computerized glasses. They are really, really good. Do you think they’ll ding a domain because they found a page of unoriginal text?

A huge percentage of the internet is duplicate content. Google knows this. They’ve been separating originals from copies since 1997, long before the phrase “duplicate content” became a buzzword in 2005.

Disagree? Got Any Conflicting Evidence?

When I talk to SEOs about duplicate content, I often ask if they have first-hand experience. Eventually, I met someone who did. As an experiment, he built a site and republished posts from everywhere, verbatim, and gradually some of them began to rank. Then along came Panda and his rank dropped.

Was this a penalty? Or did the site just drop into oblivion where it belongs? There’s a difference between a penalty (like the blacklisting mentioned above) and a correction that restores the proper order of things.

If anyone out there has actual examples or real evidence of penalties related to duplicate content, I’d love to hear ‘em.

About the Author: Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. You can find Andy on Google+ and Twitter.

Photo Courtesy of Yehyon Chung, Poptip

Social Media and SEO Smackdown! [Infographic]

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(Posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 06:09AM by William Cosgrove)
Social Media and SEO aren’t just different, in many ways they’re opposites. Social appeals to people. Search engine optimization appeals to a robot. The speed, the reach, the measurement and the content that performs well are all very different.

Knowing the difference will help you decide what content to promote in which channel, how to spend your time, and where to set expectations.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences (and similarities) between social media and SEO.
Speed
  • Social: Although growing a following takes time, social media posts appear instantly and results can happen within minutes.
     
  • Search: SEO is typically slow and uncertain. Even highly relevant pages take days to get indexed and rank. It often takes years to build up enough credibility to compete for the most valuable phrases.
     
Upper Limits
  • Social: There is virtually no limit to the number of people who may share a piece of content. If you’ve ever been part of a mini viral event, you know just how far and how fast things can spread.
     
  • Search: The amount of traffic a page will get from a search engine will never exceed a certain number. That’s the number of people who search for that phrase each day. The search volume for the phrase is the maximum amount of traffic the page will get from search engines.
     
Topics
  • Social: Content that stirs an emotional response often does best, especially emotions such as anxiety, anger, and awe. See Brain Science and Web Design Tips for more information.
     
  • Search: Research-based content often performs best, such as detailed, how-to instructional posts, and articles that answer common questions.
     
Formats
  • Social: Visuals perform best in social media. Images and video are the most shared content on the web. Posts with images generate 53% more likes than average on Facebook.
     
  • Search: Long form text performs best. The average page that ranks high in Google has 1500+ words. See the Ideal Length Guidelines for more information.
     
Audience Intent
  • Social: Visitors from social media marketing are typically less likely to buy since they were likely browsing through a social network when they found you. But they are more likely to share and spread awareness. Social fans and followers often influence potential buyers.
     
  • Search: Visitors from search are more likely to be ready to buy, but less likely to share and interact. These visitors enter with a specific purpose, need, or question.
     
Effort
  • Social: Marketing with social media involves many short-lived actions. Most visibility and traffic happens within minutes. This is why social media requires a continuous, ongoing effort.
     
  • Search: Once it’s working, search traffic can lead to durable visibility, creating an ongoing, passive source of visitors. Depending on the phrase and the page, high rankings may endure for weeks or months.
     
Measurement
  • Social: It’s easy to measure social engagement. Shares, likes, and comments are all highly visible. But it’s hard to measure reach. The total visibility and traffic of all social activity is not easy to report on. There are many platforms and each has its own reports. Social traffic reports in Analytics are not very accurate.
     
  • Search: It’s easy to measure the reach in search engines. The total visibility and traffic from search is centralized in a just few reports, showing keyphrase, impressions, and clicks. But, it’s harder to measure engagement. Keyword data at the page level is no longer provided. It’s difficult to know which keyphrase led to which activity on the website.
     
Interdependence
  • Social: High ranking content brings search traffic that can drive follows, comments, and shares. Social media profiles often rank high. Google Authorship puts social right into search results.
     
  • Search: Smart SEOs know that ranking and links are the outcome of relationships. Blogger relations, PR, and many other search tactics are actually social activities. Skills such as list building, outreach, and pitching are critical to SEO.
     
Like Peanut Butter and Jelly…They’re both about connecting with people. They both benefit from research and data. Social media and SEO come from different directions but end up in the same place: a meaningful connection with an audience.

What’d we miss? Got something to add? Share your view with other readers or let us know if you agree…

Hat tip to our designer over at Visual.ly for the infographic!

By
Andy Crestodina Strategic Director at Orbit Media Studios

Paid search results don't stand out to one-third of Google users

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(Posted on May 13, 2014 at 04:38AM by William Cosgrove)
Picture Brands trying to split their time and resources between paid ads and organic content marketing should be aware that one may be more effective than the other. According to a survey by UX firm Bunnyfoot and Econsultancy, 36 percent of consumers didn’t realize the first few entries in Google SERPs were paid ads.

This is an improvement from the 41 percent of people who couldn’t make the distinction last year, and it may have something to do with Google’s updated UX. Instead of a lightly colored box indicating search results were paid for, the current design puts small yellow “Ad” markers before sponsored entries.

The study also found 27 percent of consumers weren’t aware Google even featured advertisements. So while about a third of all potential customers might be inclined to click on paid Google ads, it stands to reason marketers will get a much higher ROI from organic web marketing simply because they have a larger pool of people from which to draw

Consumers don’t like ads in sheeps’ clothingAs Brafton reported, web users are wary of native advertisements. People spend more than 15 seconds browsing web content 71 percent of the time, but that number falls to 24 percent when the reader gets the impression he or she is reading an advertisement. So marketers need to be careful not to come across as overly salesy. Instead, they need to provide actual value in the content they use to market their products and services.

That principle extends to video content as well. Unruly Media conducted a study of Super Bowl ads to determine what factors accounted for TV spots’ popularity. It turns out that of the 15 most popular advertisements, only three featured celebrities. And of the 100-most shared Super Bowl ads of all time, only 13 percent included prominent people.

Instead, the bulk of the beloved ads were “emotionally charged.” This is an important lesson for brand marketers to learn, as it indicates visibility, coverage and popularity are not equivalent to emotional resonance and interest. Rather than trying to purchase ads or create content that appeals to the largest group of people, content marketing should seek to resonate within a group of ideal and likely customers – whether through videos, social posts or organic content.

By Brafton Editorial

Why Most Social Media Strategies Fail

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(Posted on May 12, 2014 at 04:15AM by William Cosgrove)
You do know that social media is important for your success online, right? Of course you do. It’s the 21st Century and pretty much everyone has some sort of social media account. Well, at least 73% of adults do. But just because you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest doesn’t guarantee success. Even if you have a decent amount of fans, likes, or followers, it doesn’t mean that your social media strategy is working. If you’re not generating conversations or new subscribers, or making any money, then whatever you’re doing has failed.

Establishing a social media strategy is more than just posting an update informing people that a new product or service is on sale. It’s more than just sharing a piece of relevant information. A social media strategy is a success when you are able to engage and interact with your target audience.
Social Media & Small Business (Photo credit: deanmeyersnet)

If that’s simple, then why do so many social strategies fail? Chances are that they’ve committed one of the following mistakes. But, don’t worry. These are mistakes that should be easy to correct.

Values Don’t Match

You’ve obviously created a list of core values for your business. If not, how else can you explain to others the purpose of your business? Because you have already established a mission statement, goals, deadlines, and a brand image, setting up a social media strategy should fall into place. At least in this area.

Everything that you do, or want to accomplish, on social media should be based on the values of your business. This not only guides your content and business objectives on social media outlets, but it can also generate some buzz about your brand, since you’ve also already identified your target audience and are aware of their wants and needs.

So, if you open a restaurant that serves only organic items, explain your reasons for opening up that business to potential customers. You’re not doing this because it’s a trendy business right now. You’re doing this because people aren’t eating healthy and you want to change that, at least in your neck of the woods. Share content that explains why organic food is healthy for locals and what your menu has to offer your neighbors.

Not Consistent

What’s the point in creating something awesome if no one is going to check it out?

A social media campaign demands consistency. We’re not just talking about quality and useful information for your audience, either. We’re talking about frequently sharing that valuable content. But, how much and when do you update statuses?

Unfortunately, there’s no correct answer here. It depends on your business and customers. This is where a little bit of research can come in handy, like searching for important people in a social network’s search tool. You could also use a tool like SocialBro or hashtags.org to find out some more information on your audience, like what topics are trending

You also want to know when do they go on social media outlets. For example, you could send out about 14 tweets per day, from midnight to 10pm. They just have to be spread out during the day so that your followers’ accounts aren’t flooded. The reason why you want to post throughout the day is in case if you have a global audience, which is why you could schedule posts at 2 a.m.

To make sure that you remain consistent, try using a tool that schedules and hosts all of your accounts in one place, like HootSuiteBuffer, or SproutSocial. I personally like Buffer.  And it wouldn’t hurt to create an editorial calendar, which you can do on a program like Excel. An editorial calendar keeps you organized and directed since it contains a deadline, target keywords, the format of the content, call to action, and status. And it has the ability to double your ROI.

Misunderstanding How Social Media Really Works

Here’s a common mistake: not understanding that all social media outlets are different. For example, Facebook is great because it’s the most frequently used social media service and it’s the most trustworthy. But, it may not fit your business.

Prominent social media strategist Bob Mangat says, “I think social media is an extremely effective tool, but a lot of people who say it doesn’t work, I think, are not using it right. People are not focused on where their market is. Before starting anything online, you need to have a strategy down pat to go after your target market. By spending time identifying target audience, crafting a message, and choosing the correct outlet, you can save a lot of time, energy, and frustration by doing it this way. A lot of people who fail using social media, I bet, are not spending enough time on strategy.”

Going back to the organic restaurant example, that business should focus on a more image-based platform like Instagram or Pinterest because that’s where foodies go to share and engage. But, a law firm wouldn’t really benefit from being on Pinterest. That audience isn’t there because they don’t want to look at images of a law office; they want information on how they can be helped. A final example would be not targeting baby boomers on social media, despite the fact that they’re the fastest growing group on social media.
Social Media apps (Photo credit: Jason A. Howie)


Again, it’s discovering who your audience is and where they spend most of their time. Doing this ahead of time will determine where you should focus your social media efforts. And it doesn’t take much time either. You could begin by checking out stats, like from Pew Research, that break down the demographics of each social network. Or, simply ask current customers. Just spend the extra time in understanding which network is most effective in reaching your audience.

Not Providing Anything Different

Content. Content. Content. That’s all you keep hearing about when it comes to a social media strategy. And that’s because it’s a major part of your campaign. But, if everyone else is creating and sharing content, why should people like, share, or comment on your content if it’s the same as everyone else’s?

When coming up with ideas, try and develop ones that are unique. At the very least, your ideas should be tailored to your audience. What we mean by that is putting a spin on your particular content. For example, that organic restaurant we’ve kept talking about wants to create an article like “The 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Eating Organic Food.” Sure, that gets to the point and works for that business, but it’s been done many times before. Instead, narrow that topic down to something like “The 10 Reasons New Yorkers Should Eat Organic Food”. It’s the same idea, but it now focuses on the people where the restaurant is actually located. This is more beneficial than paying someone to write or create content that has already been done hundreds, even thousands, of times before.

If you need some ideas, we suggest that you read this article from Search Engine Journal for blog ideas.

Shouting, Not Listening

While you’re on social media to push or promote a product or service, you can’t do that all of the time. People will tune you out if all you’re doing is throwing out sales pitches. Why? Because that’s not the point of social media. It’s about conversations and engagement.
Picture
Two people in a heated argument about religion when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. Click the audio button found above and to the left to listen to them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Instead of just shouting at your audience, take the time to actually listen to them. This could be as easy as asking for feedback or sharing their thoughts on a piece of content that you shared. When you actually listen to your audience on social media, you’ll get a better understanding of what they liked and disliked, as well as the information that they would like to see.

When you understand your audience, you can produce content that they would actually want to read and share. That’s a better option than wasting resources on content that your audience doesn’t respond to.

Lack of Monitoring and Measuring

What all of the previous example boil down to, however, is monitoring and measuring your social media outlets. Even if you have identified your audience and the right network to deliver your message, you still need to keep tabs on how effective your content has been.

For example, you realize that Facebook is the best network for your brand. But, how well is your Facebook campaign doing? How many likes or shares is your content receiving? Are people leaving comments? Are you making any money or new subscribers because of your awesome Facebook content? These are important questions that need to be answered. If not, you’re continuing to create and promote content that isn’t triggering a response from your audience. And that’s just a waste of time and money.

The best way to discover this information is through the use of tools like HootSuiteKloutSocial MentionTwitter AnalyticsFacebook Insights or Keyhole. Not only will these tools measure your social media success, but they will also increase your ROI. And did we mention that they are all free?

By John Rampton

12 Reasons Why Digital Marketing Can Help You Grow Your Business [Infographic]

Tags:
(Posted on May 9, 2014 at 04:12AM by William Cosgrove)
With the change and evolution of modern technologies, small and medium businesses are doing everything they can to keep up, which can be said true for the rest of human society. Brick-and-mortar businesses are either changing their business models to an online one, or beefing up existing marketing efforts with digital marketing strategies – in an attempt to capture a growing and very lucrative online marketplace.

For it is the process of attracting targeted audiences online that will spell the difference between a successfully thriving business – and a failed one. Even if you receive tons of daily traffic to your website, they would not amount to anything unless they convert to leads or sales. In the digital arena where business and commerce are heading to, Digital Marketing tools and techniques provide business owners the best chances for competition, survival and even business growth.

The following 12 reasons will show you why the use of digital marketing is not only investment-wise decision but also an effective marketing channel that can help you grow your business.

The Infographic:



Embedded from Digital Marketing Philippines
Author
: Jomer Gregorio He is the founder of Digital Marketing Philippines.

User Generated Content Preferred Over TV By Millennials

Tags:
(Posted on Mar 17, 2014 at 08:50AM by William Cosgrove)

According to Crowdtap, partnered with Ipsos Media surveying 839 millennial men and women online, millennials reported spending roughly 18 hours of their day engaged with media, often viewing multiple devices simultaneously. Whether it’s called peer-created content, consumer content or user generated content (UGC), the research found that millennials spend 30% of their media consumption time with content that is created by their peers.

This exceeds television consumption and is rivaled only by the time spent with all traditional media types (TV, print, radio), a combined 33%. Millennials are also committed to engaging with social media on a daily basis above all other media types.

Millennials spend more time with User Generated Content than with TV

Share of Daily Media (All Media Types;17.8 hours)

% of Time Spent

Media

20%

Browse the internet / go online

13%

Watch TV (live)

10%

Watch TV (pre-recorded)

10%

Play computer or video games

7%

Go to the movies

7%

Listen to the radio

3%

Read print magazines / newspapers

 

Share of Daily Media Time (UGC; 5.4 hours)

% of Time Spent

Media  

18%

Social networking & content (FB, Instagram, LinkedIn)

6%

Use e-mail, text, chat, texting apps

6%

Talk with others about news / products /brands

Source: Ipsos MediaCT/Crowdtap Jan 2014


Millennials prioritize social networking above other media:

Daily Use of Media Types

Peer Generated

 

Format

Use Daily

Social Networking (eg. FB, LinkedIn, Inst...)

71%

E-mail, text, chat, texting apps

49%

Talk about products/brands

39%

Watch video clips (eg. YouTube)

35%

Read peer reviews (eg. epinions)

18%

Blog online, post to bulletin boards, etc.

15%

 

Other Media

 

Watch TV (live)

60%

Listen to Radio (broadcast/streaming)

53%

Retrieve news, weather, scores

47%

Watch TV (pre-recorded)

46%

Visit news media sites

37%

Read blogs, bulletin boards, etc.

29%

Read print magazines or newspapers

18%

Get product info/buy from a company

17%

Read professional reviews (CNET, etc.)

15%

Banner ad

12%

Source: Ipsos MediaCT/Crowdtap Jan 2014

Given millennials’ advertising savvy and skepticism around media, it is important to deliver a message through trusted sources, says the report. Millennials report that information they receive through UGC is highly trustworthy and trusted 40% more than information they get from traditional media sources (TV, print & radio), including newspapers and magazines.

Specifically, conversations with friends and family are the most trusted UGC format, followed by peer reviews. Conversations with friends and family are trusted 2:1 over TV and radio and almost 4:1 over banner ads. Brands looking for consumers to trust their marketing can no longer rely on tradi­tional media to communicate their messages to consumers. In today’s landscape, it’s peer-created content, or “consumer to consumer marketing,” that drives trust.

The correlation between trust and influence is revealed in the 2013 Annual Edelman Trust Barometer Study, says the report, which finds that trust leads to influence. The more trusted the source of a message, the more likely it will have a positive impact.

Media Trustworthiness (UGC 59%)

Format

% Most Trusted

Product/brand conversations with friends/family

74%

Peer reviews (e.g., epinions)

68%

E-mail, text, chat with friends/family

56%

Social networking & content (FB, Instagram, LinkedIn)

50%

Blogs, bulletin boards, forums, etc.

48%

 

Other media 39%

 

Professional/industry reviews (CNET, etc.)

64%

Product info/buy products from a co. website

49%

Print magazines or newspapers

44%

Online magazines or newspapers

40%

Radio

37%

On TV

34%

At the movies

28%

Banner ads

19%

Source: Ipsos MediaCT/Crowdtap Jan 2014

With 18 hours of media consumption a day, across multiple screens, with channel flipping, tabbing and page turning, it’s a wonder anything stands out and makes a lasting impression, notes the report. Marketers rely on creative to break through the clutter, but often it’s a combination of creative and the right delivery channel. For millennials, user generated content is more memorable than non-user gener­ated content, with peer-created content, including conversations with friends/family and peer reviews standing out the most.

Percent Finding Media Type Memorable

UCG  50%

 

Media Type

% Finding Memorable

Professional/industry reviews (CNET, etc.)

47%

On TV

47%

Product info/buy products from a co. website

42%

Print magazines or newspapers

38%

At the movies

37%

Radio

33%

Online magazines or newspapers

32%

Banner ads

26%

 

Other Media 37%

 

Product/brand conversations with friends/family

67%

Peer reviews (eg., epinions)

53%

Social networking & content (FB, Instagram, LinkedIn)

50%

E-mail, text, chat with friends/family

46%

Blogs, bulletin boards, forums, etc.

40%

Source: Ipsos MediaCT/Crowdtap Jan 2014

UGC uniquely provides marketers greater access to millennials’ time, a trusted channel to deliver brand messages and a memorable experience. The combination to deliver all three makes UGC more influential on millennials’ product choices and purchase decisions than traditional media.

Percent of millennials who say media type has influence on purchase decision:

  • User Generated Content   53%
  • Traditional Media   44%
  • Banner Ads   23%

Concluding, the report says that professional influencers have the reach and resources to create and share quality content. Consumer influencers have personal relationships that enable their recommendations to carry weight. Together, this combination can drive both reach and powerful influence. As brands continue to aggregate types of influencers and refine their strengths, these programs will likely become a fundamental component of most marketing strategies.

By Jack Loechner,
Center for media Research

Experimental Marketing; Creative Ideas from Vanity Fair and Frito Lay

Tags:
(Posted on Mar 5, 2014 at 04:55AM by William Cosgrove)
 Challenge: Customers want to be actively involved in their own brand experiences. To meet this demand companies are developing innovative experiential marketing campaigns utilizing the virtually limitless opportunities of multichannel engagement. These new strategies are giving both existing and new customers a reason to take action.

Though most viewers may have been focused on the dresses and the winners pulled from those closely guarded envelopes, Vanity Fair magazine saw the Oscar Awards as an opportunity to engage its readers through an experiential event known as “the Vanity Fair Social Club”. The virtual event was created to allow more than 120 bloggers and online reporters to connect with customers using the specific event hash tag. The magazine plans to use this type of experiential marketing strategy for other major events.

Vanity Fair is on the right track because today’s customers want more than traditional push marketing interactions, this according to a new report on Experiential Marketing from CrossMark and MarketingWerks.

• 88 percent of shoppers say that if they enjoy an experiential interaction with a product they’ll add it to their shopping list.

• Eighty percent said they prefer brands that “interact” with them over those that just “advertise” to them.

• Seven out of 10 shoppers say they’ll share a positive brand experience.

ERDM Voice of Customer (VoC) research has confirmed this finding. Across the last 12 months, there has been a consistent trend that has emerged from thousands of hours of research conducted for major Fortune brands;

• Today, the starting point for marketing campaigns should be to understand how your customers define high value Customer Experiences with your specific brand.

Last year when Frito Lays asked customers to “Do us a flavor” over 3.8 million people said yes in just 12 weeks with entry submissions. The goal of the campaign was to turn around a 6 year decline and connect with younger consumers. The campaign was based on insight that consumers wanted to create, share, and get recognized. So a contest was created to demonstrate to customers that their voice indeed mattered. An engagement tool from start to finish, the contest allowed customers to submit new flavors, share them on Facebook, vote on the finalists and then pick the ultimate winner by purchasing samples of the 3 finalist flavors in stores.

Through the Do Us a Flavor campaign the company achieved;

• A 1%+ increase in household penetration

• And, a 2%+ increase among millennials.

5 Takeaways:

Here are 5 strategies that Frito Lay used to keep customers engaged:

1. Understand how your customers want to structure their buying experience and the level of involvement they demand within that experience.

2. Be committed to doing the research necessary to identify engagement “unknowns” that may have been previously overlooked such as media avenues, social interaction, and in-store experiential marketing.

3. Realize that today’s multichannel consumer is in more places (often simultaneously) than ever before. Be accessible in cross media avenues.

4. Always look at what you are doing through the eyes of your customer. Let both existing customers and prospects identify with your brand. Make them feel understood.

5. Look at both your current and future audiences in order to connect with the audiences that will continue to support the brand down the road.

Author:Ernan Roman     Ernan Roman on the Web Ernan Roman RSS Feed

Ernan Roman is recognized as a Customer Experience innovator and was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame for creating three transformational methodologies: Voice of Customer Relationship Research, Integrated Direct Marketing, and Opt-in Marketing. He was also named by Crain’s B to B Magazine as one of the "100 most... View full profile

This article is an original contribution by Ernan Roman.

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