Six Ingredients for a Content Marketing Death Potion

 

deathwish

The majority of marketers, 71 percent, are increasing their investment in content marketing. Even with this increased investment, however, few will find success in their content marketing endeavors as a result of this investment. Unfortunately, the root causes for this lack of success vary significantly based on your content strategy, staff talent, organizational structure, content marketing processes and technology infrastructure.

Below I’ve included some of the top ingredients to this content marketing death wish, as well as some ideas on what you can do to avoid creating a potion for disaster.

#1: Publishing Boring Content Simply to Meet a Deadline

make_the_donuts

It may have worked for the Dunkin Donuts “time to make the donuts” guy to simply bake the same donuts day after day, but when it comes to your blog, this mentality just won’t do. You’ll never rise above the cacophony of online content noise by consistently publishing the same form and type of content day after day – your content must inspire your audience into action. This doesn’t mean that all of your content should be complex and for the most advanced of your readers; but content you publish must be entertaining, digestible, high quality and relevant for your audience.

How to Avoid this Trap

  • Tap into the voice of the customer: Stay connected to your audience and the market by reading up on industry blogs & trends and staying tuned in to your audiences’ comments and questions. Are you going on to an industry conference?. . . Find out if any of your customers will be there and grab a coffee with them or have lunch. Don’t forget about your sales team! No doubt they will have some insight into your customers’ pain points and challenges. The best content will answer your buyers’ top questions and help them with their everyday activities. (If you sell to marketers, here’s an Ultimate List of Marketing Events to consider)
  • Do not publish content unless it’s great! Gotta meet a deadline and you’re not happy with the blog post or infographic that you’ve created?(e.g., not enough visuals, subject line needs work, content is uninspiring) Then don’t publish it yet. Have you ever watched Chef Gordon Ramsey of Kitchen Nightmares in action? If a $50 lobster is overcooked and the meal is long overdue to the customer, he’ll throw it right into the trash and recook the meal rather then risk delivering a poor product. You have a reputation to uphold, and your audience has the advantage of being picky in our world of online content today.
  • Entertain your readers. Add humor to humanize content and make it more personal. No one is going to take the time to read through a lifeless post they can’t relate to. Use images to help get your point across and make content more digestible. Offer your content in unique formats like infographics, quizzes, video or SlideShare. (e.g., Content Marketing History infographic; Quiz – What’s your Content Marketing Animal Spirit; SlideShare – Why Content Marketing Fails by Rand Fishkin)
  • Inject new perspective into your content through content curation. To publish high quality, relevant content on a consistent basis, especially if you don’t have a large staff or time to write, liven it up with curated content. Curation gives your readers unique insights from diverse sources and on various topics. (5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Content Curation Rockstar)

#2: Publishing Product-Focused Content

WhitePaperMan

Ok, 20+ years ago it was “OK” to have a plethora of 40-page white papers about how great your products are and how your customers use them; and the picture above of a person getting excited about reading a whitepaper has always been a product marketer’s dream. However, the most that may get you today is a fine by the EPA for wasting paper. Today’s buyer 2.0 does not get ecstatic about such a piece of content, especially when they’re not even ready to consider buying your product. Not that your product marketing and product management teams don’t have a lot of expertise and great insight to offer, but the best marketers are creating content that engage buyers long before they’ve even begun to think about product purchases. (Buyer’s Journey Demystified by Forrester) And the worst tactic you can use is to condense your traditional product management driven white papers or related content into a blog post. Bottom line?. . . STOP egocentric content marketing and climb the 4 steps to marketing enlightenment.

How to Avoid this Trap

  • Get your company to admit that it has a content problem. Much like an addiction, the first step is admitting that you have a problem before you’ll be able to develop a solution and a plan of action to resolve it.
  • Realize that your buyers’ interest needs to be earned. Ok, so most people reading this post already get this. The action item is to get the rest of your organization on-board with the new content marketing mentality.
    • Let your audience do the heavy lifting. For example, solicit feedback from your audience on your current content offerings.
    • Share with your executive team what your competition is doing from a content marketing perspective.
    • Bring in a content marketing consultant to build the credibility of your new strategy.
  • Keep your customers in mind when writing content. . yup, that means using personas, identifying key segments, etc. Product-centric content isn’t always going to answer their questions – plus it’s best practice to avoid being egocentric. Seek to provide value for readers by writing content that addresses their needs and interests. Start by creating an informative piece of content, such as an eBook, with actionable information, best practices and examples that they can start using to improve their business. Then, use the content marketing pyramid method to break down this eBook into more digestible pieces – providing value for your readers, enabling you to consistently publish quality created content, and getting the most mileage out of your information packed eBook.

pyramid clear

#3: Not Curating Content

earth-me-square

Ok, let’s say that you do have the most amazing content in the entire world: Do you really think that people will want to give up reading everyone else’s content to spend all of their time on your site? Even if you do create amazing, unique, high quality content, people are still going to seek various opinions.

Almost 1/3rd of marketers today are creating 90% or more of their own content, while hardly curating or syndicating external content. The good news is that this number will drop to about 10% of marketers in the next 6 to 18 months as more companies increase their use of curated content to complement their created content. This will enable them to better engage with their audience in a less egocentric manner, not to mention getting more return from their content marketing investment. Best-in-class content marketers will strive for a mix of 65% created content, 25% curated content and less than 10% syndicated content, as prescribed in Curata’s Content Marketing Tactics Planner.

Content mix

How to Avoid this Trap

Content curation offers you an opportunity to not only better use your resources, but also to rise above the content noise. In fact, 48% of companies intend to increase the use of content curation in their content marketing mix in the coming year. Here are some places to start:


#4: Tailgating Too Closely to Other Content Marketers

funny tailgating wide

Yes, identify trending topics and keywords and learn from the success of other content marketers to build your content creation strategy; but be careful not to tailgate too much. That is, abide by fair use and ethics standards when creating your own content or even using others’ content marketing tactics. Not only may it be perceived as bad taste to blatantly copy another person’s content or specific strategy, but you also risk too much similarity with your competitors and the rest of the market. Don’t forget, we’re trying to rise above the content noise, not add to it.

How to Avoid this Trap

Here’s an example of the right way to do it.

  • Rand Fishkin’s recent SlideShare, Why Content Marketing Fails, is an excellent piece of informative content. Sure, his title may have been inspired by other folks that used similar wording (such as Joe Pulizzi’s Why Content Marketing Fails Without Strategy), but that’s where the similarity stops. Rand created a unique piece of content based on his own insights and opinions.

Here’s an example of tailgating just a bit too close to another content marketer:

  • HubSpot is, no doubt, one of the industry’s best-in-class content marketers, however, I’m going to use one of their recent posts as an example of tailgating too close: Why Content Marketing Fails[SlideShare]. This post is essentially a curated piece of Rand Fishkin’s Why Content Marketing Fails SlideShare. I’m ok with the fact that they curated Rand’s presentation. It’s an excellent way to bring value to Hubspot’s audience in a nonegocentric manner and to give Rand’s great work increased recognition through proper attribution; however, HubSpot has broken our #5 Content Marketing Done Right rule: Retitle Any and All Content that you Curate. There are three main benefits of retitling any content you curate that are beneficial to both you and the original publisher:
    1. You are no longer competing for the same title on search results.
    2. You can add your own value. (e.g., context, insight and guidance for your audience) Not to mention that it can be fun to retitle.
    3. You can incorporate your own keywords.

#5: Not Marketing Your Marketing

Empty Baseball Field

Creating content without promoting is like building a baseball stadium without telling anyone about upcoming games. Our most recent survey asked content marketers to rank their greatest content marketing challenges. It came as a big shock to us that promotion and measurement of content were cited as the lowest ranked challenge for participants.


highest challenges rank

 

How to Avoid this Trap

Promotion is instrumental to the success of content marketing efforts. Unfortunately for Kevin Costner’s character in “Field of Dreams,” the old adage “if you build it, they will come” does not apply to the increasingly crowded landscape of content. Here are some ways to ensure your stadium is sold out and your content is promoted:

  • Make content a priority within your company.
    • Without proper promotion content fails to reach it’s full potential. This is especially true in larger companies where social media teams are siloed and distant from their content marketing counterparts. They don’t hear about new pieces of content and lack encouragement to promote them across their own social networks.
    • Make your content strategy known company wide – employ effective shared information tactics so that your next blog post reaches the social network of not only your content team, but also your product marketing and sales teams.
  • Promote content across multiple channels. Be sure to utilize all channels – email, newsletters, various social platforms, blogs, microsites, third party blogs, paid channels, etc. in order to reach the widest audience. Readers consume content in different ways and from varying sources.
  • Don’t forget about the masterpieces you have already created.painting
    • Remember the content marketing pyramid method here as well. That next shiny object we create looks so good that we forget to squeeze that last bit of value out of our existing “works of art.” Repurpose and reuse that great piece of content you spent a lot of time on. Turn eBooks into webinars, webinars into blogs, etc.
  • Measure the impact of your content to plan promotional efforts for future campaigns. If you don’t know the success of a certain piece how can you be sure if you readers love it or hate it? Take into account pageviews, shares, comments and overall feedback before creating and promoting content with similar topics or format.

#6: Not Innovating

same shirt

What worked yesterday may not work today, and you’ll risk quickly sliding into the abyss of monotony if you’re not publishing innovative content in an inspiring manner. For example, publishing a blog post about how “Content is King” is less than noble these days, if you catch my drift.

How to Avoid this Trap:

  • Embrace Google and its keyword and search tools such as the Google Adword Keywords Planner.
  • Spend a considerable amount of time, or use a powerful discovery software, to find the highest quality, most relevant content to inspire your team and your audience.(i.e., through content curation)
  • Identify innovative ways to communicate content to your audience.
  • Identify and follow your industry’s influencers to help stay sharp on what’s hot and what’s not on the content front for your audience.
  • Do the opposite of what everyone says you should be doing. We’re trying to differentiate here – following the herd like a wildebeest will not help your organization stand out.
  • Start a multi-author blogging strategy
    • Guest blogging is an excellent way to expand your horizons – new topics, new insights, new readers!
    • Use tough editorial standards – just because you want outside insights doesn’t mean they don’t need to appeal to your quality standards.
    • Editorial calendars will be your best friend when it comes to managing multiple authors, topics, editors, publish dates, etc.

 

Nobody said it was going to be easy being a content marketer; just ask any “old school” newspaper veteran. And I can guarantee you that rising above the noise of digital content will only get more difficult. That said, maintain a laser focus on your audience’s pains and needs, bring great content to your audience in a fun and easy to consume manner, and continue to experiment and take chances to avoid the Content Marketing Death Wish.

Michael is the CMO of Curata. He is responsible for Curata’s marketing strategy and all related activities. Michael has over 25 years of marketing and sales experience, having successfully launched and sustained three start-up ventures as well as having driven innovative customer creation strategies for large technology organizations. (e.g., IDC, Kenan Systems, Prospero (mZinga) and Millipore). Michael received his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as a BS in Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MS in Engineering from Northeastern University. You can reach him on Twitter at @michaelgerard.

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Hashtag MistakesHashtags have become synonymous with social media marketing and it’s no wonder why. A totally unique component of social media, hashtags have the ability to grow your following, expand the reach of your content and highlight important words within your status updates.

One less obvious thing that your hashtags tell your audience is whether you actually know what you are doing or not. If you are making novice mistakes while hashtagging your social media posts, it tells your readers a lot about you. If your target audience are newbie social networking users, this is less of a factor, however if the audience you are trying to reach have been on social for a while, you’re going to need to be sure you know what you’re doing.

Here are the Top Five Most Common Hashtag Mistakes:

1) Not Hashtagging – When you do not hashtag the words and phrases your target audience is…

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How to Make Money Writing for Social Media

How to Make Money with Social Media

How to Make Money with Social Media:

A complete Guide on Using New and Emerging Media to Grow Your Business.
Becoming aware of the emerging writing niche while getting paid by companies to write on social-media platforms is just one of the benefits you’ll gain from this article.
As a writer, you are probably already using social media to promote your published work or you should be!
Lots of writers use social media; There are hundreds of social media platforms, which means there are many options beyond Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube just to name a few.
This astute merchandising guide brings together both practical strategies and proven execution techniques for driving maximum value from social media marketing.
I thought I would address a mistake that I see SO many companies making with their social media strategies: ONLY selling their products and achievements on social media. The 80/20 Rule: Sell your product/services/achievements 20% of the time, but the other 80% should be free original, valuable or entertaining content. Companies that are not creating original, fun and entertaining content are really missing the mark on social media.

Effective social-media marketing helps build successful businesses.

If you’re in charge of social media management for your company, it’s time to up your game in 2016. It requires more than the random postings about your great sale, latest product or a shameless plug in the local paper.
Social media marketing is easily a full-time job, and for good reason. You already know about our main mission to provide our readers with advice on social media.
We’ve written how-to guides, shared different templates, and have created many lists to cover important topics in social media marketing. However, we know that for people in charge of social media management, especially in small businesses, don’t always have much time to browse through an extensive blog archive. To give you a hand, we’ve compiled this guide of social media marketing tips that will help you to optimize your social media strategy in 2016 and beyond.
These social media tricks are not complicated and can help you enhance your business’s social media presence, improve your engagement rate, and help you reach new customers.
These social media tips are not complicated and can help you enhance your business’s social media presence, improve your engagement rate, and help you reach new customers.
hashtags

    How can this list help your business:

  • By looking at the popular topics of conversation, you can create content and start conversations based on the information people currently desire.
  • Twitter searches are a great way to find information that may be difficult to come across using a search engine. After all, crowdsourcing information can often provide more authentic answers than sponsored or SEO-laden content. So if you’re looking for some competitive insight, campaign ideas, holiday deals or just some inspiration, look at the conversation around these hashtags.

What does social media success look like?

It’s not about quantity of fans, followers or likes. It’s about making a measurable impact on your business’ bottom line, and you can’t do that through social media without first creating a connection with your audience.
To help guide you on the quest to social media marketing victory, we rounded up the advice of some experts on how businesses can spark and grow relationships with the people in their social sphere.
1. Choose the right platform Take some time to see which platforms are best for your business and limit them to five max. No full-time employee has time to manage anything more, and you may find you’re a better fit for an underdog platform than Google.
2. Use analytics There are also hundreds of tools to analyze your social media campaign success and failures. Use them. Many are free and part of the site itself, while others provide a third-party analysis. Don’t just collect reports; read them, translate them and turn them into action.
3. Post timely Know the best days and times to post for your industry and demographics. For many businesses, this is Monday through Friday at around 10am and 4pm. However, this will vary depending on who you’re targeting. Do your research.
4. Build a relationship Don’t just preach at your audience, but engage them, get them involved and always promptly reply to outreach. Social media isn’t a soapbox, but a tool for engagement. It’s a two-way street.
5. Use images People are becoming more attracted to images such as infographics or easily digestible videos like those on Vine. Make use of color, but don’t overdo it. If you make a video, make sure it’s professional and high quality.
6. Make social media special Offer truly desirable things like discounts and giveaways solely to people who follow you on social media. They should be getting something out of being your fan or liking your page.
7. Only bite off as much as you can chew It’s all about quality, not quantity, and there’s no point joining every site that pops up just to spread yourself too thin. Choose your best social media matches and give them the attention they deserve.
8. Don’t treat it like a personal site Just because you have 1,000 Facebook friends on your personal site and they always like your inspirational posts doesn’t mean you’ll succeed as a business poster. These are two entirely different arenas, so respect the difference.
9. Hire a social media manager In an ideal world, you’ll make room in the budget to hire an experienced social media manager full-time. They can work magic and in a fraction of the time anyone else can. It’s a real job (and deserves a real salary).
10. Know when to call it quits If you’re just not performing well on a particular site no matter who’s to blame, know when to end it. Just like any other bad relationship, nobody is benefiting from dragging it out. Fix it or quit it, but make a choice.
11. Build business alliances Figure out other businesses that complement yours but aren’t direct competitors and show them some love on social media. You’re all in this together, and you never know when you could use an ally.
12. Don’t entertain the trolls
Once your social media following gets big enough, you’ll have a few trolls and baiters. Handle them professionally, and know when to publicly respond, when to let it go, and when to delete their comments. Each action has a time and place.
13. Don’t sync your phone If you’re still the one overseeing social media for the business, it can easily turn into a 24/7 project. Don’t let it. Don’t sync your business social media sites to your phone, unless it’s a business-only phone that’s turned off at a certain hour. Taking work home with you is never healthy.
14. Don’t use it as a sales platform It’s pretty obvious why a business is on social media: To improve sales, whether directly or through building customer relationships (which will hopefully lead to more sales). However, this isn’t a direct sales platform so don’t treat it that way. Instead, foster relationships and provide information or entertainment for free.
15. Flesh out your profile Fill out every possible corner of your profile, whether it’s the brief requirements of Google+ or the massive ones of MySpace. This is where your business’ personality is developed and it’s important for brand reputation and management.
16. Build social media into your business plan Whether you’re a startup or a solid corporation, you should still have a business plan in place for growth. Implement social media into it and set goals for different time periods. This is how you’ll see if social media is worth it for you.
17. Make fans want to see your posts
This seemingly simple advice is the toughest. What would you want to see as a fan or friend? Find “sticky” posts that have viral potential and people want to share.
18. Make it easy to share Along with number 17, make it as easy to share your posts as possible. Link them to a landing page on your website, another social media site (Facebook and YouTube play together nicely) or your blog. If it’s easy for someone to just click and share, they’re more likely to do so.
19. Strike a personal/professional balance You don’t want to get too personal, but you don’t want to seem stiffly professional either. This is a precarious balance to strike, but when done well, makes fans think they “know you” in the right way. Don’t let emotions get the best of you and save that for your personal site. Remember The 80/20 Rule
20. Grammar matters Check, double check, and have someone else check each and every things you put on social media. An embarrassing typo can cause a world of hurt and is easily avoidable. Have you ever left the “L” out of “public service?” Some guffaws are just too easy.

Begin with the end in mind

21. “I don’t care if you’re big or small. B2B or B2C. New or old. Enthusiastic or suspicious. You need to know how and why you’re getting involved with social media so that you can rightsize your resources, relationships, and expectations. A social media strategy allows your company to focus on being social, without worrying as much about doing social media and the tactic du jour. It provides guidance (and math) that help you make better and more effective decisions in the social universe.”
22. “How do you want to use social media to help your business? What goals do you want to achieve?Make your goals as concrete, measurable and achievable as possible. For example, if you currently get five new leads a month, setting a goal to get 100 new leads in the next 12 months is more realistic than setting a goal to get 5,000 new leads.”
23. “Before you hop on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or Instagram – get hyper-focused on your audience. Who is your target market? Understand their area of expertise, what they’re talking about online and how you’ll use content to make a connection. You’ll also want to do an online audit of your competition to see how (or if) they’ve reached your target audience and where opportunities still lie. The key here is to cater your content to the specific needs of your audience. Stop trying to be everything to everyone.”

Tell an interesting story

24. “Don’t be a brand that only talks about itself. You know the ones. They spend far too much time being promotional as opposed to social. No one is saying you can’t toot your own horn on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. I am saying, though, that one of the best ways to attract new fans, followers, and business in general is to be known for helping others in as many ways as possible. Your turn will come.”
25. “People want to engage with interesting stories and brands, and they want to find topics and companies that they can relate or aspire to. It’s important that your social media content and conversations are true to your personality, your brand, your customers and your business.”
26. “Instead of blending in with your competitors by slightly repurposing the same old topics that you all have written about recently, come up with your own topics that offer your unique take on situations. Show your audience that you’ve got something valuable to offer and you’ll see your audience come back again and again.”
27. “Your prospective clients know where to go to find your product catalogs and deals. They often look to social media to provide them with very different types of material. Rather than rehashing the same exact information from your website or store, why not take the opportunity to have conversations instead? Look for users who are a part of your target demographics and connect with them. For example, a home automation company might seek out users hoping to find ways to control their appliances from their smartphones. Use short interest keywords to discover these prospective contacts and post information that can enrich their lives.”
28. “Be transparent. You don’t have to give away all of your business secrets. Take customers on a behind-the-scenes tour, actively solicit feedback, and introduce employees.”
29. “Social media shouldn’t be used as a stopgap; it’s an opportunity to engage with your customer right then and there. Equip your social media person with the tools and knowledge to respond directly, or let them find out the answer if they don’t know and communicate it with confidence.”
30. “Engagement goes beyond addressing customer concerns. The real power is in building relationships with both customers and advocates. By monitoring topics relevant to your business, you’ll discover opportunities to engage with potential clients and advocates.You can start by simply complimenting someone for an article they published, or sharing some of their content with your audience. Sometimes just offering to help with a challenge someone is having can be the start of a great relationship.”

The Characteristics of Good Writing

So, what constitutes good writing? Opinions on the matter vary widely. There will be different traits that make good fiction versus good poetry or good nonfiction. However, we can cull together a general list of the characteristics of good writing (in no particular order):

Clarity and focus: In good writing, everything makes sense and readers don’t get lost or have to reread passages to figure out what’s going on. Focused writing sticks with the plot or core idea without running off on too many tangents.
Organization: A well organized piece of writing is not only clear, it’s presented in a way that is logical and aesthetically pleasing. You can tell non-linear stories or place your thesis at the end of an essay and get away with it as long as your scenes or ideas are well ordered.
Ideas and themes: Is the topic of your paper relevant? Does your story come complete with themes? Can the reader visualize your poem? For a piece of writing to be considered well crafted, it has to contain clearly identifiable ideas and themes.
Voice: This is what sets you apart from all other writers. It’s your unique way of stringing words together, formulating ideas, and relating scenes or images to the reader. In any piece of writing, the voice should be consistent and identifiable.
Language (word choice): We writers can never underestimate or fail to appreciate our most valuable tools: words. Good writing includes precise and accurate word choices and well crafted sentences.
Grammar and style: Many writers would wish this one away, but for a piece of writing to be considered good (let alone great), it has to follow the rules of grammar (and break those rules only when there’s a good reason). Style is also important in ensuring that a piece of writing is clear and consistent. Make sure you keep a grammar book and style guide handy.
Credibility or believability: Nothing says bad writing like getting the facts wrong or misrepresenting oneself. In fiction, the story must be believable (even if it’s impossible), and in nonfiction, accurate research can make or break a writer.
Thought-provoking or emotionally inspiring: Perhaps the most important quality of good writing is how the reader responds to it. Does she come away with a fresh perspective and new ideas? Does he close the cover with tears in his eyes or a sense of victory? How readers react to your work will fully determine your success as a writer.

How To Make Your Content Valuable Enough To Be Unique

How To Make Your Content Valuable Enough To Be Unique

Writers Daily Tips

Why unique content gets you found.

It’s never too late to start worrying about creating unique content. It places your brand at the top of the social media market as a thought leader – someone people trust and admire. Unique content helps you push the boundaries. It challenges the status quo and inspires your team to become better at creating your own unique content.

Unique, unique, unique; can’t be said enough.

To help you get started we take you through each step required to build a meaningful audience that adds value to your business.

For those of us who are content creators, nothing swallows valuable time as achieving the main goal of grabbing attention long enough to make them interested. If your content kicks off with something that has color, drama, and a unique content approach, then they are more likely to stick around. Also, more appealing images are likely…

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How To Make Your Content Valuable Enough To Be Unique

Why unique content gets you found.

It’s never too late to start worrying about creating unique content. It places your brand at the top of the social media market as a thought leader – someone people trust and admire. Unique content helps you push the boundaries. It challenges the status quo and inspires your team to become better at creating your own unique content.

Unique, unique, unique; can’t be said enough.

To help you get started we take you through each step required to build a meaningful audience that adds value to your business.

For those of us who are content creators, nothing swallows valuable time as achieving the main goal of grabbing attention long enough to make them interested. If your content kicks off with something that has color, drama, and a unique content approach, then they are more likely to stick around. Also, more appealing images are likely to make your content more sharable. The trick is how to accomplish this with consistent results.

How Unique Does Content Need to Be to Perform Well?

Consistent, unique content such as articles, blog posts and infographics drives traffic and increases customer conversions, but without an integrated content management system (CMS) in which to easily post unique content causes many businesses to struggle to stay up-to-date. A CMS streamlines the process of publishing and updating content because it doesn’t require any knowledge of programming to operate.

What’s the meaning of unique content?

Writering bloggers know images can have a huge impact on how readers perceive their posts and sometimes, it helps to start with the image, and build the rest of the content around that.

What do you mean by saying “unique Content”?

People always say that you have to write unique content if you want to have chances for SEO or generally speaking chances to succceed in internet marketing. But when you say “unique” content do you mean to write something with your own words that already exist or to write something that nobody has ever written for? If the answer is the second one then an average person will miserably fail to make money online because there are a ton of information in every field. It’s practically impossible to write something that no-one has written before. Even if you write content off-the-wall you’ll almost certainly have been influenced by what you’ve read and therefore will repeat phrases and so on. However, when marketers talk about ‘unique content’ they normally mean content that isn’t curated from somewhere else, even if it’s spun. For SEO you could broaden that further and say that anything that passes the Copyscape test is ‘unique content’ in that it isn’t identifiable as a copy elsewhere on the ‘net. But that is stretching the definition somewhat!

unique content

Unique Written Content + Relevant Image = Good

You’ve perhaps heard of visual content? The term seems to be everywhere these days. We come across it all the time as we’re curating content, and it seems that social media strategies now consider visuals as required elements. Sixty-three percent of social media is made up of images. That means nearly two-thirds of the updates you see on social media are visual content.Content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without.This oft-cited visual content stat is evidence that visuals have been vital to online success for some time. Ninety-four percent equates to almost double the views, and the boost is noticed across all topics and categories. Find out why you need unique images for your content, and how to create them. You might be wondering, since I mentioned that there are many sources of ready to use images already available, why you would want to spend the time creating your own. Here are just a few good reasons.

  • Stock photos are generic and widely used. Anyone can buy and use a stock photo for less than a dollar, which means many images appear on the Internet hundreds, or even thousands of times. If you’re goal is to create unique content, why top it off with a generic image?
  • Creative Commons image use can backfire. Many Creative Commons images are licensed specifically for non-commercial use. Non-commercial is open to interpretation by the owner of the image, therefore, if you use their image on a blog owned by a business or a blog that generates revenue, it may be considered commercial usage.
  • People are more like to share images they’ve never seen. People who love sharing images on sites like Pinterest are more likely to share yours if it’s something they’ve never seen before that is either useful or simply visually appealing.

Here are just a few good reasons.

  • Images for your blog posts are important for many reasons.
  • They illustrate important points to your readers, make social shares of your posts stand out in the newsfeed, break up text to make the content easier to read, and encourage people to share your post for no other reason than they like the main image.

While there are many sources of ready to use images available, you should consider creating unique images on your own. Captions can help you turn almost any image into one that is relevant to the piece of content you are writing.

Far too many companies are trying to produce content that would go viral, have a huge impact, will rank the website higher and will convince the target audience to buy a product or to sign up for a service. Accordingly, content writers are being bombarded with keywords and they are trying to accommodate those keywords adhering to a certain density, all the while trying to ensure that there is some helpful information and some literal sense in the piece.

It is time for companies to be pragmatic and they should understand what a piece of content is meant to achieve. One article is not going to change the fortune of a company. One article cannot impress the entire target audience. One article is not going to make your website rank first on search engine result pages. Content is supposed to connect and that is all a company and writers must focus on.

  • Have a Reason
    Let us not think of content marketing strategies for a moment. Let us focus on any one piece of content, say an article. The first question one should ask is: why is the article being penned? What is the primary purpose of the article? It cannot be just another droplet in the ocean. It cannot be clueless. It cannot be mundane or bland. The article needs to have a purpose. That purpose could be solving a problem, letting people know of a certain development, notifying readers of a certain accomplishment or just a factual guide. The purpose could be anything else, as long as it is relevant and helpful. The article must then be written with the aim of catering to that purpose. Having keywords and all the optimization requirements come later.
  • Connect With the Individual

    When a company publishes some content, it is not going to be read out loud at Times Square, it will not be read by a group of people at a social gathering and the article will certainly not find a place in academic or professional curriculum. The article will be read by one individual who would possibly be alone at the time. Connecting at an individual or personal level is the key to have an impact.

  • Captivate the Audience

    An article should have a captivating headline, the layout should be professional, the wording must be suitable for the target audience, it should be readable and interesting and there should be a relevant start, middle and end. Without these attributes, just having keywords would not guarantee anything.

3 Content Marketing Assets Every Salesperson Should Keep in Their Back Pocket for 2016

Technology research firm, Gartner, Inc. defines content marketing as the process and practice of creating, curating and cultivating text, video, images, graphics, e-books, white papers and other content assets that are distributed through content management systems, media platforms, and the social graph. The very definition proves there are a wide variety of content assets available for use today.

Given the change in the way today’s buyers research and purchase products and services, the content marketing methodology enables salespeople to leverage the power of content and further reduce the painful process of cold prospecting to generate new leads.

In fact, according to Hubspot, a marketing software platform, these methods generate 3 times as many leads vs traditional outbound marketing.

Depending on which stage of the buying cycle prospects are in, salespeople are wise to have three specific content assets readily available.1. Use blog content for information seekers.Buyers who are in the awareness stage of the buying cycle are looking for solutions to a problem they have or perhaps an opportunity exists of which they can take advantage. Blog content that is both relevant and delivered in the right context increases lead generation and conversion rates significantly.

unique content

Here are a few key stats:

  • Among business that blog only once a month, 57 percent acquired a customer as a result
  • Companies that increased blog frequency from 3-5 times per month to just 6-8 times per month nearly doubled their leads
    of businesses that blog daily, 82 percent reported gaining a customer through their blog

1. Blogging is a proven content asset that works 24/7 to pull in leads who are searching for specific answers to problems they’re experiencing. A recent Demand Gen report states that about two-thirds (67%) [of buyers] rely more on content to research and make purchasing decisions.

2. Salespeople that produce content or leverage existing content assets are better positioned to engage buyers earlier in the buying process. This early access will help you get a better understanding of their problems and offer specific solutions.

For those prospective buyers looking for answers, keep a few links to helpful blog content handy and available to share.

3. Keep an inventory of videos to educate and explain.Leveraging video assets can be a great way to provide educational information to buyers. While video can be useful at any stage of the buying cycle, it is extremely effective for buyers in the consideration stage of their purchase. These buyers have identified their problem and are researching methods to solve it.

Some interesting stats on video consumption provided by Forbes:

  • 78% of consumers watch online video every week
  • 75% of business executives watch work-related videos, at least weekly
  • 59% of senior executives agree that if both text and video are available on the same topic on the same page, they prefer to watch the video

There are a few types of video that work well for salespeople. These include explanatory videos, especially if your product requires educating the end-user. Q&A videos are useful to buyers who are considering your solution, yet have questions. Start with your most frequently asked questions first. Email videos are a great way to increase email open rates and also provide valuable content to prospects in a unique way.

The goal is to be prepared to offer up a video for prospects looking for a reason to choose you.

4. Offer case studies as endorsements.Buyers who are in the decision stage of their journey have usually narrowed down their options to a few key solution providers and are looking to make a final decision. There are several content types that salespeople could use at this stage, but case studies help influence buyers by showing how your product or service has previously solved a similar problem.

Done properly, case studies should identify customers who have successfully used your product or service. These are customers who have approved the use of their brand in your collateral; thereby providing an endorsement of your solution.

It’s a given that case studies should be made available through your website. In addition, case studies in .pdf format should be readily available for a salesperson to deliver to a potential buyer at a moments notice.

Content marketing enables salespeople to generate more leads, by meeting buyers at their immediate point of need. As a salesperson, if you haven’t adopted content marketing yet, there’s no better time than 2016.

Use these assets and abandon the frustrating, cold prospecting methods of years past. Keep a few blog posts, videos, and case studies in your back pocket and improve your sales for 2016. What content assets do you recommend for salespeople?

Tips and Inspiration to Write

I hate to sound maudlin, but it’s a phenomenal feeling when you know you’ve built up a few karma points by helping someone learn something new.
In mentoring young or new writers, one of the reasons I started this blog was to put all of my ideas, favorite tools and resources in one place. What has emerged over the past year are a number of posts that offer the practical tools and resources I use.
I’ve also written a number of posts to ignite your creativity and inspire you to write.
Christmas is almost over. I’m not entirely sure how that is possible since it seems like we just finished wrapping all the Christmas presents. But, I look at my calendar and realize a little over a week we’ll be saying hello to January and a new year.
Maybe you have big plans for 2016. Perhaps you set a few goals and even determined this is the year you’ll write your book. And now, as January is rushing in, you are beginning to feel a little discouraged and maybe even uninspired. I admit the grayness of our weather these past few weeks leaves me yawning and wishing for a nap most days.
But here’s the deal: we all feel uninspired sometimes. And it’s not just writers … musicians, painters, home decorators all face the same struggle. Sometimes the creative juices don’t flow.
That’s when discipline kicks in. When we force ourselves to write some words today. When we outline a chapter or develop a plot line. We keep working because we realize that’s what creating is: WORK. Rewarding and beautiful, yes. But also just plain hard work sometimes.
Here are three simple ideas for finding writing inspiration when you’ve stared at the blank screen long enough!

1. Pay attention! This sage counsel from The Write Practice is great. {And by the way, if you are not subscribed to their blog, you should. Their writing exercises are wonderful.}

2. Look up quotes! One of my favorite ways to press forward is to do a quick search on Goodreads for quotes on a specific topic, like writing. Sandra Peoples of Next Step Editing also shares great quotes on her blog, Facebook page, and her writing Pinterest board.

3. More books, fewer blogs! When I’m struggling to write or just feel uninspired in any area, I have learned the best response is to unplug. Copyblogger offers that same counsel as his #1 suggestion in 10 Pathways to Inspired Writing.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

Sometimes you just have to get the words down.

Inspiration hits and your fingers can’t move fast enough. And, if you’re like me, you spend enough time not writing and looking for inspiration, when the words come freely you definitely want to take advantage of it. At this moment, I have over 25 posts in draft — most of them are a few sentences or a quote or even a bulleted list. When my muse shows up, I try to shower her with attention so she’ll give me as much as possible.
Over time, many of these drafts will be expanded and work their way into my editorial calendar. Some may turn into a post for another site or a column for the newspaper where I write. There might even be an idea scratched out that turns into a series.
There are other times when I have to get the words down. I read an article and feel compelled to write a response. A situation occurs in my life and I write to process. The words pour out and a whole post is written. And my instinct is to hit publish right then.

But I usually don’t.

Why? Because sometimes you {and I} need to wait before we hit publish. How do you know when you should wait? What posts need at least 24 hours to simmer and what posts can be served up immediately?

There are several reasons why publishing immediately may not be the best idea. But there are 2 reasons to wait 24 hours before hitting publish I think apply most often to bloggers.

Editing

When I speak of editing, I’m not only considering grammar but also factual editing. When I work on posts for Design by Insight, my goal is to offer you the very best information available. Doing so requires time for research and making sure I have a clear understanding of the factors relating to the topic I’m discussing. This isn’t to imply all our posts need to be perfect before posting; but, taking time to edit and rewrite for clarity — especially on complex or easily confusing topics — is a gift to your readers.

Emotions

It happens to all of us at least once, I think. You read an article or post and something ignites inside you. A compelling need to write your response, whether you agree or disagree, overwhelms you. Or maybe you are dealing with a trying person or situation personally. You simply must process your feelings or beliefs about the circumstances. So you write. Not a thing wrong with that. Go ahead and write. But, the wisest course of action is not to hit publish immediately. Instead, take a day to let your emotions settle and give yourself time to process the whole situation. Then reread your post, edit or rewrite as necessary to convey your message with dignity and wisdom. Or maybe, when you read over your words, you’ll decide not to publish at all. That’s fine too.

Words have power. We must be careful to wield them with restraint and honor. I often tell my daughter to remember what she posts on social media can be deleted from the screen but never from the minds of those who see it. We are wise to remember that same truth as bloggers also.
As bloggers, we want to be intentional about creating content that is valuable to our readers … which makes it more likely to be shared.

How do I increase my website traffic?

There are many ways you can increase traffic on your website, and in today’s post, we’re going to look at some of them. Effective guide on how to increase website traffic. Learn these proven internet marketing strategies you can use for acquiring and increasing website traffic fast.

  1. Advertise. …
  2. Get Social. …
  3. Mix It Up. …
  4. Write Irresistible Headlines. …
  5. Pay Attention to On-Page SEO. …
  6. Target Long-Tail Keywords. …
  7. Start Guest Blogging. …
  8. Invite Others to Guest Blog on Your Site.

You increase your website traffic through “traffic driving tactics.”

These tactics include:

  • Blogging — Writing blog posts (“blog articles”) that feature your target keywords is a great way to help your website rank in search engines for those keywords. These posts are also great for sharing on social media and sending out via email.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — Get the technical aspects of the way your website is built in order so it’s easy for search engines like Google to crawl. This includes technical, buzzword-y things like setting up 301 redirects, optimizing meta descriptions and page titles, and fixing canonicalization errors. This also includes improving the overall usability of the site for the user.
  • Social Media Marketing — This includes participating in conversations your customers are already having on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. By posting helpful content on social media, you can help drive those social media users back to your website.
  • Email Marketing — Sending helpful, informative emails to a qualified email list will drive those people to your website to learn more information. Sending your list a quick email telling them about a new blog post on your website will drive them to your website to read a blog post they may have never known about.
  • Referral Traffic — When you create helpful content (such as blog posts, webinars, or eBooks), and you tell the world about it (via social media and email) other websites may then link to it (as a reference). You will in turn receive traffic from their websites (and links!).

These tactics, implemented successfully, can increase the quality of traffic visiting your website. And the key here is quality traffic. Not all traffic is created equal. Therefore not all traffic is quality traffic. Inbound marketing focuses on driving quality traffic only. When you drive quality traffic, the statistics are hard to ignore:

  • Companies who blog as part of an inbound marketing strategy have 55% more website traffic than those who don’t.
  • B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not.

Implementing all these tactics together as a part of one comprehensive strategy is known as an inbound marketing strategy. Inbound marketing strategies are focused on generating quality content that will rank high up on search engine results pages, be shared on social media, and then emailed to a dedicated email list through a trusted email service provider (ESP).

How do I improve my website’s conversion rate?

Good question. Let’s say you’re driving more traffic into your website, nice job! And let’s say your website converts at a 2% conversion rate. To get more leads out of your traffic you need to improve your conversion rate.

There are many ways to improve the conversion rate on your website, here are three examples:

1. A/B Testing

Quick: are your website visitors more likely to click red buttons or green buttons?

I bet you don’t know.

How about this one: would more website visitors fill out your “Contact Us” form if you did not ask for their phone number on it?

I bet you don’t know.

Don’t feel bad. Most businesses don’t know these things. They have not paid attention to how visitors behave on their website. But they should. By testing two different versions of the same website pages, business can learn what elements of a website will drive more leads.

Do you have forms on your website with a button that says “Submit?”

According to online lead generation research, website forms using the button text “Submit” have lower conversion rates than those who used other wording like “Contact Us Today” or “Click Here.”

Website-Lead-Generation-Increase-Conversions-Occurance-by-Submit

Can you believe it? By simply changing the wording on your website’s buttons you can improve your conversion rate and thus the number of leads you generate.

Additionally, adjusting certain elements such as removing the navigation bar, writing better headline copy, and adding customer reviews, a website’s conversion rates can increase over 100%. Check out these 12 case studies: 12 Surprising A/B Test Results.

A/B testing certain elements on your site will allow you to convert more of the website traffic you already have. That’s the beauty of A/B testing. It seeks to convert more of your existing traffic, therefore getting you more conversions without needing to send more traffic. Most in the inbound marketing world refer to this as conversion rate optimization.

2. Add Testimonials and Case Studies (Social Proof) To Your Website

Your website visitors want to know that you’ve been successful with your current customers or clients before they buy your product or services. By adding testimonials and case studies to your website, you show your website visitors that others have come before them, are happy with you, and trust you. It adds validation to your business.

This type of validation is known as social proof. This is the concept that people will conform to the actions of others because they believe those actions represent successful behavior. Basically, if other people are doing it, and those other people are trustworthy, then they should be doing it.

For example, if your target buyer is an HR director, they will feel more comfortable with your business after viewing testimonials and case studies featuring other HR directors they can relate to. These testimonials and case studies essentially serve as references for your business.

Here’s a case study on how one business received 64.53% more downloads by using testimonials on a landing page.

3. Add Micro-Conversions

Most B2B websites offer their visitors one opportunity to convert and it’s usually via their main “Contact Us” form. That’s typically the only form on the website.

Let’s say out of 100 website visitors, 2% of them fill out that contact form, and because that one form is the only conversion opportunity on the website it sets the conversion rate for the entire website.

But what if you added another form on your website? Let’s say this new form allows your website visitors to download a recent whitepaper, eBook, or webinar you created. And in order for your website visitors to download and view any of these items, they must first fill out a form providing their name, email, job title, and company name. Bingo, you just created a brand new conversion opportunity. A brand spanking new way to generate lead information from your website, without requiring those visitors to fill out the “Contact Us” form.

We call these things (whitepapers, eBooks, webinars) “micro-conversions,” because while they may not have filled out the main “Contact Us” form, they did fill out a form that provided your sales team with enough lead information to follow up on.

Let’s bring it back to math, you have 100 website visitors:

  • 100 website visitors x 2% Contact Form Conversion Rate = 2 Leads
  • 100 website visitors x 2% Whitepaper Form Conversion Rate = 2 Leads
  • Total: 4 Leads

Now let’s say you added all three of the new micro-conversion strategies (whitepaper, eBook, and webinar):

  • 100 website visitors x 2% Contact Form Conversion Rate = 2 Leads
  • 100 website visitors x 2% Whitepaper Form Conversion Rate = 2 Leads
  • 100 website visitors x 2% eBook Form Conversion Rate = 2 Leads
  • 100 website visitors x 2% Webinar Form Conversion Rate = 2 Leads
  • Total: 8 Leads

There it is. By adding more opportunities on your website for visitors to convert, you generate more potential leads.

With that, here’s what your new website lead generation equation looks like:

Website-Lead-Generation-Increase-Conversions-Lead-Generation

Now that you understand the basics of how to get more online sales leads through your website, you’re ready to dive deeper into the world of inbound marketing.

And like all other companies, everyone depends on these leads to thrive and grow. We understand the importance of having an effective lead-generation strategy that leverages quality content and thought leadership. This is what makes us among the top inbound marketing agencies.

Contact us today to learn even more strategies on how to increase website traffic and improve conversion rate to create more leads.