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By Josh Barney

Yesterday, I witnessed one of the finest pieces of digital marketing that I’ve seen for some time.

For 24 hours my social feeds on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook were clogged with branded content that’d been shared by my friends, connections and followers.

spotify wrapped shareable content

It was an onslaught of user shared content and a tour de force of brand dominance. The campaign in question was called ‘Your 2020 Wrapped’ by Spotify.

The music app’s campaign was simple – show their users what they’d been listening to – and offer them the chance to share this information on social media. Their user’s accepted.

On the same day that Spotify launched this campaign, MyWallSt reported that their share price had risen by 13%.

spotify share price shared content
This graph (from Google) highlights a marked spike on 2nd December, the day Spotify launched ‘Your 2020 Wrapped’.

Contents

Are Social Shares Worth Anything?

I’m faced with a lot of emails – a large percentage of them are about one thing – ‘links’.

I receive requests about guest blogging, updating old content, link exchange proposals, monetary offers – you name it, these people are willing to give it in exchange for a simple URL inserted on our website.

This is an example of a very, very bad outreach email. 

Why is it then, in an age when every other marketer and website owner is tilting towards a link-building, Google optimised strategy, that an established brand can increase their share price by 13% in one day with shareable content? 

In the remainder of this article, I’ll investigate the value of the social media share, whilst uncovering the 5 steps to the most shareable content on the internet.

And as usual, we’ll have take-aways, videos, supporting images, examples, explainers and tons of shareable content…

Shares and Long Term Results, Is There a Correlation?

The main objective of this article is to provide you with something that you can take-away and action (if you’re mildly entertained – that’s a bonus) because I know social shares can have a big impact on your long-term success.

It might not say it in the textbooks, or the guides, or even list it in the depths of the marketing annuls, but social shares have a noticeable effect on long-term results. Many of the best performing content on Einstein Marketer (in terms of evergreen content scores) are located on pages that boast the highest social share counts.

For example, this is one of our most shared blogs and coincidently, one of our most visited too…

social shares and traffic

I’m not suggesting that social shares have a direct impact on search ranking, but the evidence shows that more shares = more results.

A study by CognitiveSEO discovered that the top 4 results on search engines have significantly more Facebook activity (with shares being a key part of that).

Shares aren’t just valuable in the short-term. These social signals have an impactful knock-on effect.

Social Shares As Social Proof 

Regular readers will understand the delicate balance required to succeed with social proof, and this knowledge is pretty handy when it comes to understanding the importance of social shares (and how to get more of them).

If you weren’t there, here’s what you need to know:

  • Social proof is the theory that we are impacted by the decisions of the people in front of us
  • 72% of people copied the action of the person in front of them (in our real-world marketing test)
  • Our Facebook ads performed better when social proof was inserted into the advertising copy (watch the videos if you don’t believe me!)
  • Social proof doesn’t work well when used in the incorrect places (i.e. in promotions for luxury brands)
  • Showing your target market that you’re popular by using social proof signals, can help your marketing performance

If you missed it, here’s a video of me handing out leaflets on the streets, to prove the theory of social proof:

Social media shares act as digital recommendations.

Yes, they look amazing on the page and that definitely has an impact on the psychology of your target audience, but more importantly, they allow us to see what the people we trust most recommend.

Who would you trust more:

  1. Your mother
  2. A stranger

This kind of social proof is invaluable for digital businesses – and reveal one reason why it’s so important for content creators and marketers to aim for ‘shareable content’.

 

The 5 Steps to The Most Shareable Content on the Internet

Before we dive into our 5 steps to the most shareable content on the internet (a grand claim, I know), I need to draw your attention to an article I published a little while ago called, The Psychology of Sharing.

In this article, I analysed a three-part research program conducted by The New York Times known as ‘The Psychology of Sharing’.

new york times

The study revealed that the most likely reason people share content is to:

  1. Bring Valuable or Entertaining Content to Others
  2. Define Themselves to Others
  3. Grow and Nurture Relationships
  4. Enjoy Having Others Engage
  5. Spread/Share Good Causes

With that knowledge in the bag, and these 5 points acting as a useful reference point for the rest of this article, it’s time to get into the content marketing tactics that will create irresistibly shareable content.

1. Personalisation 

Let’s go back to the very start of this article when I praised Spotify for their excellent ‘Your 2020 Wrapped’ feature.

The one word in this campaign that made all the difference was ‘Your’ – this possessive pronoun (thank me later for the English language lesson) is the reason that they received so many social shares.

spotify wrapped shares opinion

If Spotify had created a feature called ‘2020 Wrapped’, and sent their users the best performing artists, songs and genres of the year in total, their results would’ve been very different.

As revealed in The New York Times study, a top reason why people share content is ‘to define themselves to others’ – and let’s face it, there are few better ways to define yourself than by sharing the music you listen to.

nirvana t-shirt
Ever seen a t-shirt like this? This is a real-world equivalent of Spotify’s Wrapped campaign. 

Personalisation is a key stepping stone towards the holy grail of virally shared content and Spotify hasn’t been the only ones to notice.

A bigger brand has made a bigger splash, with a bigger marketing campaign based on the shareability of their personalised content.

Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign is one of the most famous marketing campaigns in recent memory – and I couldn’t write an article about creating shareable content without mentioning its name.

The campaign involved Coca-Cola removing their brand name from labels and replacing them with the 250 most popular names of each country they were released in.

A bit too sugary for my taste, but a purchase is tempting when the product has my name on it.

In the first year of the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, photos were tagged with the hashtag ‘#shareacoke’ more than 500,000 times, and Coca-Cola gained more than 25 million Facebook followers (Source: Investopedia).

The personalisation of their products gave them the leverage to increase product sales AND the platform to build on their growth – thanks to the shareability of their personalised bottles.

Before 2011, Coca-Cola had seen ups and downs but never surpassed its peak share price in 1998. After their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, their share price did nothing but rise until 2020.

How to Personalise Your Content For Shares

Creating shareable content via personalisation requires one very important thing: data.

Without information, you simply can’t personalise anything.

For instance, regular readers will know that my name is Josh, and therefore have enough data to personalise a message to me. A message or comment like this will capture more of my attention than one addressed as ‘Dear Sir’.

Data is a touchy subject – but nobody seems to care when it’s used to let us show off, as Spotify’s campaign proved. 

Spotify succeeded because they had collected tons of data from their customers. Coca-Cola succeeded because they had enough resources to create a blanket personalisation campaign.

How Can You Use Personalisation? 

We don’t all have the budgets or data holding of companies like Spotify and Coca-Cola, so here are a few ways that anybody can use personalisation in their marketing campaigns and content to increase shareability:

  • Know your audience: Start with a customer avatar, create stuff that will help your ideal customer.
  • CRM Tags: Tag actions and behaviours in your customer relationship management software, and use this to inform future promotions, e.g. tag everyone who buys specific products and tailor their future communications around it.
  • Pixel/Cookies: Track behaviours and actions on your website and create custom audiences based on this behaviour, e.g. clicks, scrolls, URL visits, conversions. Retarget each segment with personalised content.
  • Collect More Data: Use sign-up forms to collect as much information as possible – first names, last names, company names, location etc. Use this information in communications.
  • Analytics: Use Google Tag Manager and Analytics to track what content your audience is most in tune with, and create more of it!
  • Implement a Live Chat: Create a live chat/messenger option for website visitors and personalise their conversation and future interactions with your website.

2. Let Them Share!

I see too many talented creators and marketers fail to offer their audience the chance to share their work.

It’s as easy as this:

Click on the share buttons below to spread the word:

135 Shares

Or this…

BTW: The social share buttons (above) are provided by a company called Social Warfare. They act as a WordPress plugin. Install these (or a similar plugin), activate them and add them to your website – it’s not rocket science.

Calling your audience to share shouldn’t be restricted to written content, it should be done in videos and podcasts. too The best times to do this are at the start and end of your content.

These sharing recommendations are known as a ‘call-to-action’.

We can explain why calls-to-action work, thanks to a 1966 book by James J Gibson, called The Senses Considered as Perpetual Systems.

affordances in marketing james gibson
Good luck to anybody who tries to read this – it’s not for the faint-hearted. 

Gibson coined a term known as ‘affordances’. This explains why certain objects have properties that direct us to take action.

For example, when we see a button, we instinctively know (and want) to press it, when we see a doorknob, we know to twist it, when we’re faced with a switch, we want to flip it.

Thanks to digital, affordances have stretched much further than simply flicking and turning switches. We know to pinch our fingers to zoom in, double-tap to like (on Instagram) and drag down to reload pages.

It’s up to you to provide your audience with the correct sharing ‘affordances’, so they’ll instinctively want to share your content.

Give them buttons to press!

135 Shares

How To Use Share Buttons

Unfortunately, there isn’t an option to add 3D knobs and switches to your content, but, as you’ve already noticed, there are some powerful ways to use share buttons in your content:

  • Make it visible: Use floating bars at the side or bottom of your content to keep your share buttons in-view at all times. When the ‘I want to share’ moment hits, the option needs to be there.
  • Embed share buttons: Don’t ram sharing buttons down your audience’s throat, embed them where appropriate
  • Ask, be polite: Don’t tell your audience to do stuff, ask them politely. Many of them will understand the importance and impact of a social share and will do so if you ask.
  • Use incentives: A click-to-tweet is effectively a free piece of content for your audience, offer them the incentive. Alternatively, offer them offers/deals etc within your email content in exchange for shares.
  • Colours: Green’s and oranges are the most commonly used CTA colours, why not try using them in your social share buttons. It might be worth testing.
  • Show share numbers: If your content regularly receives high levels of shares, put a share counter beside your share buttons. This technique uses social proof to encourage more shares – just don’t overdo it!
  • 3D Buttons: Design your share buttons so they look like they’ll depress when they’re clicked on. Alternatively, change their design when a mouse hovers over them.

3. Stand Out!

Doing the same thing as everyone else achieves below-average results – especially when you’re relatively new in content.

It pays to stand out – and the currency for your achievements are social shares.

The number one reason that people share content in The New York Times study was ‘to bring valuable or entertaining content to others’. People are inherently social creatures, and they are always looking at ways of helping their social circles (and raising their standing within it).

Standing out requires creativity, skill, ingenuity and having the bravery to go against the grain, or in the words of a Nobel prize winner:

‘The opposite of a great idea is another great idea.’

Niels Bohr

A sports brand like Nike would be well advised to use athletes in their ads as aspirational figures that are aligned with their products. However, one of their most virally shared campaigns was their ‘Find Your Greatness’ ad, where they did the exact opposite:

Or a drink brand like Guinness should – to any rational thinker – hide that their product is slow to pour, but instead they advertise it like a badge of honour.

guinness bar mat marketing

And it’s one of the foremost reasons that at a time when everyone is publishing as much content as possible, I’ve decided to reduce the number of blogs being published on Einstein Marketer, in order to raise the level of quality that’s associated with our brand.

Great ideas come at both ends of the spectrum. Find which end suits you and create content that warrants the ‘stand out’ motivated share.

And if you need further inspiration, here’s an apology from KFC that received tons of shares for ‘stand out’ reasons:

kfc fck campaign

How to Make Your Content ‘Stand Out’

The Austrian psychologist, Ernest Dichter, released a study in 1966 about word-of-mouth marketing.

He discovered that the most common reason for somebody to recommend a product to a friend was ‘product involvement’. This occurred when an experience with a product was so novel and pleasurable that it simply had to be shared.

ernest dichter word of mouth study

You must aim to elicit that same feeling with your content.

A brand that have achieved this with their content is Blendtec, with their infamous YouTube videos, ‘Will it Blend?’:

But, how can you use content to stand out and gain those all-important social shares? Here are a few ways that we’ve used them in the past:

  • Think of a good idea and do the opposite: Let’s face it, you aren’t the only person online creating content – your good idea has probably been executed before. Why not flip it on its head and try the opposite?
  • Do something immeasurable: Almost everything online can be tracked, but why not try something that can’t be tracked – have longer conversations with prospects, post less, post more, publish elsewhere, go offline, create branded merchandise.
  • Create nonsense: I only know one brand of blender, because Blendtec is the only one who created nonsense content with their product. If you have a product, try some nonsense for yourself.
  • Be honest: Trust is one of the hardest commodities to find online – being honest about yourself, your brand and your journey will stand out from the crowd.

4. Positivity

I’m smiling already.

‘Positivity’ is an especially relevant point for me because I regularly share it. My most recent retweet (at the time of writing) was about the world’s first Covid-19 vaccination:

 

And I’m not the only one, in Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger and his colleague analysed seven thousand articles to discover what elements contributed to their most emailed articles.

contagious jonah berger social sharing
Add this book to your reading list

They discovered that there were two primary factors that led to the sharing of articles:

  1. How positive the article was
  2. How excited it made the reader

Joy is a feeling that we instinctively want to share it with others. Spreading happiness builds and nurtures relationships and gives us enjoyment (both of these are top 5 psychological share factors according to The New York Times study).

positive news and shareable content
News sites like Good News Network are often seen shared on social media.

The message itself doesn’t have to be positive to incite positive sharing feelings. As brands and marketers, it can be difficult to find feel-good topics when we’re creating content about our products or problem-fixes.

Instead, we can use easter eggs (hidden gems in our content) or our medium delivery to spark joy in our audience. Check out this promotional video about train safety:

This video for Dumb Ways to Die has been viewed more than 200 million times on YouTube and even has a mobile app. 

Try watching that video and telling me that you don’t want to hit these share buttons…

135 Shares

How to Make Your Content More Positive

If your singing voice isn’t quite up to a catchy new jingle, and you’re fresh out of inspirational stories, there are other ways to generate positivity.

Excitement and positivity are similar emotions, you can use either to create the shareable content you’re seeking.

Here are a few ways to make your content more positive and your shares more frequent:

  • Release dates: If you have a product, content or changes to your business that will impact your customer positively – create content about them and build excitement. Computer game companies earn $$$ in pre-orders from shares of their release date promos.
  • Product teasers: If you have something that’s in development, a completed prototype or potential change to your services – create a content teaser and post it on social media. Think positively!
  • Staff stories: We’re social creatures, and people love people. Try using your own funny industry-related stories, or those of your staff.
  • Video: It’s much easier to share positive emotions about a mundane topic when you’re on video on doing it.
  • Curate: Use your social channels to curate positive news from other sources. You won’t own the content, but you’ll be the messenger.
  • Think positively: Don’t force the feeling. Positive vibes radiate off you when you’re in the zone and will flow into your content too. Enjoy the process!

5. Stories

In 1996, a few weeks before the Olympic Games, a young athlete was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer. A year later, after undertaking chemotherapy and having the cancer removed, he was declared cancer-free and started his own foundation.

The man was Lance Armstrong, his foundation, Livestrong. Fast forward 7 years and Armstrong had just picked up a record-breaking 6th consecutive Tour de France.

This seemingly impossible story led to Nike selling more than 80 million yellow wristbands with his foundation’s ‘Livestrong’ branding:

livestrong fad virality
It’s probably best not to mention what happened to Armstrong a few years later.

This yellow bracelet went ‘purchase viral’, and the same thing happens to content and marketing campaigns when they’re attached to the correct story.

In the UK, many people eagerly await John Lewis’s Christmas advert (if you’re not a Brit, John Lewis is a large department store) because they’re always built around touching stories.

When these ads drop, you cannot move on social for shares of their video.

My favourite John Lewis ad wasn’t even created by them. In this ad, Twitter teamed up with a man named John Lewis, who lives in Virginia, US and owns the Twitter handle @JohnLewis. Because of his username, he is regularly inundated with tags, mentions and requests from UK twitter users:

Since @johnlewis tweeted this ad, it has been shared more than 25k times from his account alone.

BTW: If you haven’t seen a John Lewis Christmas advert, check them out on YouTube.

Stories are an amazing way to elicit emotion. They give us the opportunity to share good causes (like the Livestrong band), build relationships and entertain others – 3 big psychological reasons why we share content.

I opened this blog with a story about Spotify to capture your attention, and I’ve weaved in several more to keep you engaged. As a creator, marketer and entrepreneur, you must understand the value of attention.

A great story can pull new audiences from their ferociously busy newsfeeds – giving you the chance to convert that into a share.

Watch me briefly explain the value of attention on stage at EMC 2020. 

How to Use Stories In Your Content

Stories are everywhere, it’s just a matter of knowing how to find them. Here are a few ways that anybody can use stories to create irresistibly shareable content:

  • Brand stories: Your business must’ve started for a reason, and there has to be some background to this. This is your brand story – you simply have to use it. Think of the emotional steps that took you from where you were, to where you are today.
  • Customer stories: This type of story are great on landing and sales pages because they increase conversion rates. Ask your existing customers to talk about their life (in relation to your product’s problem-solving ability) before and after they found you. Use quotes and videos to build trust in your brand.
  • Progress updates: Nobody ever started at the top of the tree. If you’re on your way up, show your audience every step along the way. We are all living, breathing stories. Use updates to build a community who are invested in yours.
  • Vlogs/blogs: Vlogs and blogs are a great way to go into more detail about your journey. You can reveal problems you’ve faced, shortcuts and advice.

The 5 Steps to the Most Shareable Content On the Internet

There we have it – the 5 steps to the most shareable content on the internet.

We’ve been through highs and lows, witnessed some great modern marketing campaigns, and put the theory of shareable content to the test with examples and explanations.

As a quick recap, here are our 5 ways to create shareable content:

  1. Personalisation
  2. Let them share!
  3. Stand out!
  4. Positivity
  5. Stories

If you can tie two or three of these elements together, you’ll create something that is irresistible on social media.

I’ll be back soon with more super-valuable content like this – as always, scroll down to the bottom of this page to subscribe for updates…

…and please share this article to spread the knowledge (and love).

By Josh Barney

Josh is an award winning content marketer and the Director of Content at Einstein Marketer, previously working as a content manager, freelance copywriter and marketer. He writes, edits, proofs and strategises content for Einstein Marketer’s agency and their clients, sharing the most successful tactics and strategies with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links (above) so he can get back to writing as himself.

Sourced from Einstein Marketer

By Michelle Garrett

How will you grab an online audience this year? Here’s how industry insiders see the game.

As we prepare to enter a new year, we all wonder what lies ahead.

2020 was anything but predictable. But what can we learn and apply to our digital marketing and communications strategies in 2021?

Here’s how 21 influencers answer this question: What one piece of marketing advice would you offer to brands as we head into the new year?

1. 2021 will almost certainly be a big reset for human behavior across advanced economies. If the news is right, distribution of vaccines will start early in the year, and begin returning economic and interpersonal activity to 2019-like levels. Major elections and political cycles in the West are at a low point as well, and political/news media consumption will decline while other sources take their place. As such, the best advice I can give for marketers is to reinvest in getting to know your audiences. Their habits are going to change in 2021, probably substantially. The same messaging, content, and distribution channels you’re using now won’t work the same—so it’s time to re-learn who your audiences are, what they care about, and where/how they can be reached. Now.

– Rand Fishkin, SparkToro

2. If you’re in B2B like me, you’re probably putting a lot of energy into your demand gen stack these days. That’s great—but here’s my plea for 2021: Don’t forget the importance of a clear, strong, smart brand! Too many B2B companies have let their brands atrophy as they ramp up the money machine. I get why, but it’s not either/or—you need both. It’s no accident that the best brands tend to have the most effective money machines too. Branding works in B2B just as much as in B2C.

– Doug Kessler, co-founder, Velocity Partners

3. My advice would be to start off the year with an independent audit of all your digital channels and make your plan for the year around this.  Did you ever hear the expression you can’t see the wood for the trees? Our head is buried so deep into our own business it’s very hard for us to see even the obvious issues.  Our temptation is to try something new, but we may be better investing our time in making the things we have already in place better! An independent audit will uncover many great opportunities and give you the impetus you need to create a plan for 2021.

– Ian Cleary, founder, RazorAudit  

4. People should be especially sensitive to racial and other bias in their marketing and PR introduced by AI algorithms. Frequently, bias comes from social networking companies without marketers’ knowledge as the networks use AI to slice people into groups. I foresee a coming backlash to these programs that marketers need to be aware of now.

– David Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “Fanocracy” 

5. Remember to align your values with your value, and use that as the guiding force for how you relate to consumers. If you’re here to make people smile, have fun and be funny. If you’re a helper brand, show empathy. With any luck, 2021 will be a rebound from what a mess of a year 2020 was for so many people and businesses; the best way to earn loyalty, acceptance, and forgiveness from your customers is to stay true to what your brand is all about.

– David Berkowitz, founder, Serial Marketers

6. Get your analytics infrastructure in order. So many companies are in terrible condition, analytics-wise, and if you’re a mess, then you can’t make data-driven decisions. You want to be data-driven. You want to make decisions rapidly under changing circumstances, which defined 2020 and will continue to define 2021.

The toughest part of any disaster is surviving it long-term. When that initial wave comes through, be it hurricane or pandemic, a lot of damage is done, and that damage takes much longer to clean up. The effects of this pandemic will probably last at least half a decade, longer in some parts of the world. You’ve got to have a finger on the pulse of your business and your industry—and that requires good data.

– Christopher Penn, co-founder and chief data scientist, Trust Insights

7. If you’re a company that’s been hit hard by COVID-19, you should be spending your time filling in any marketing gaps that you’ve been neglecting. For some people, that’s building stronger bottom-of-the-funnel content. For others it’s improving their backlink portfolios, or maybe getting a technical SEO audit. Whatever it is, strengthen your site’s foundation, so when people are spending money again, they’ll find your brand and trust what you have to say. In the short-term, to keep business rolling in, double down on what’s working, but then spend at least 10% of your effort experimenting to uncover new opportunities!

– Amanda Milligan, marketing director at Fractl 

8. Write an article that helps you sell, something you can send to prospects after a sales call, something you can send to cold leads and stalled opportunities, something your contact can share with other decision makers.

Too many content marketers focus on the top of the marketing funnel. But your most important audience left the sales funnel long ago. […] it’s not too late to use content to help close some business.

  • It explains your approach in more detail than anything they expected.
  • It answers an important question they didn’t ask.
  • It includes examples.

Yes, it could be a case study, but that’s a bit obvious, isn’t it? They’re expecting that kind of story in that format. Try something more educational, more memorable.

We do web design and we have strong feelings about how that work should be done. We put a lot of our best advice into an article about B2B service pages. I couldn’t care less if it ranks or gets shared. Pageviews are irrelevant to me in this case.

Why? Because for bottom-of-funnel content, it’s about who, not how many. When the right person reads this article, they toss all of the other proposals and get out their signing pen.

– Andy Crestodina, co-founder and CMO, Orbit Media

9. My advice for 2021 is to shift your thinking from publish and promote to conversations and collaboration. Move past your direct teammates and schedule one-on-one conversations with new-to-you people in your industry to share ideas. Aerate ideas on LinkedIn by sharing your opinion and asking for feedback. Work on projects with other companies to bring in new ideas and help you extend the reach once something is published.  I think this is needed now more than ever as so many of us are working independently from home—and your marketing will be stronger as a result.

– Michele Linn, head of strategy, Mantis Research 

10. Heading into 2021, all brands must begin to invest in their purpose to move the communities where they operate forward. The time has passed for brands to release statements that yield no follow up and produce no measurable impact. We saw several brands participate in racial and social justice movements this year, and consumers will continue to hold them accountable in 2021. Beyond posting a black square on Instagram to show solidarity, brands should be investing in minority talent, establishing scalable partnerships, and diversifying their stakeholder ecosystem. 2020 was the year many brands joined the conversation and investing in purpose will be required for them to survive in today’s landscape.

– Sabrina Browne, account director, corporate, BCW Global

11. “Show, don’t tell.” I know, I know, our high school English teachers uttered these words years ago. Still, I think the counsel will be particularly relevant in 2021 when the world once again relegates hyperbole and who shouts the loudest to the back of the room. If there were ever an environment that would reward storytelling—as opposed to adjectives and adverbs—in communications, we’re going to see it this coming year.

– Lou Hoffman, president and CEO, The Hoffman Agency

12. 2020 threw us lots of curveballs, so the key to content marketing success in 2021 will be flexibility. As you think about the content you want to create and the stories you want to tell, keep in mind that you may need to change the format based on how our current reality evolves—or doesn’t. What you thought would be a great e-book may wind up needing to be a live video. What you thought would be a great live video may end up needing to be an infographic. If you start your contact brainstorms by getting clarity on the focus and purpose of your story, it will be much easier to adapt the format in which you deliver it, if you need to.

– Melanie Deziel, author of “The Content Fuel Framework: How to Generate Unlimited Story Ideas,” Contentfuelframework.com

13. Reinvent—don’t replicate.

We saw a tremendous number of marketers “adapt” their in-person events to a virtual format (myself included.) The results were not great. Not only did they make us miss in-person events more, they were frequently more costly, or lost more money than the tactics we used in pre-COVID times.

The key to 2021 will be to completely rethink your tactics—wahtever you’re doing—be it events, emails, Tweets, press releases, digital content or influencer marketing.  Go back to the business purpose and figure out how you can contribute to the business more effectively. The problem with replicating traditional tactics is that they can require new skills, new technology and new types of talent, so they may also need a bigger budget, in a time when many budgets are being cut. Use this time to reimagine your communications and be more creative and innovative in your approach.

– Katie Paine, CEO, Paine Publishing

14. When the pandemic hit, many marketing organizations reallocated their live event budget to content marketing. If virus concerns ease in 2021, marketers may feel pressured to swing money back to live events. In the rush to transition to another new priority, it’ll be all too easy to let your content efforts slide. This risks missing the return on investment you’ve already made in content marketing. I recommend leaders identify how content marketing can support live events and start making the case for it now. You’ll get more value out of both your content and events by focusing on the many ways these two line items can complement each other.

– Frank Strong, founder & president, Sword and the Script Media, LLC

15. My marketing advice for brands heading into the new year would be to focus less on traditional sales tactics and to spend more time and energy demonstrating, through the creation and distribution of content, how the thing they make or the service they provide is relevant to their current and potential customers. That’s the whole game right now. The old hard sales tactics—cold calls, cold DMs, traditional ads—just don’t work anymore. Create and share content that solves your customers’ problems and the leads will materialize.

– Warren Weeks, principal, Weeks Media

16. It seems to me that in 2020 marketers learned a lot (the hard way) about being fully digital, being agile, using data well, and about the importance of expressing brand values. Yet most campaigns were understandably reactive. The most important thing brands can do in 2021 is to take advantage of that digital transformation and use what they learned by investing in new ideas and initiatives. The brands who survived are stronger for it, and now is the time to double down by challenging their teams and agency partners to create innovative new campaigns with new ideas, to be bold and proactive and to take risks. For a while, marketers fell into a trap of prioritizing what is easy to measure (clicks, likes, follows, etc.) yet not always what is most valuable, which is the power of a differentiated idea that engages customers, employees, and partners. That will never go out of style.

– Dorothy Crenshaw, founder, Crenshaw Communications

17. Your marketing doesn’t exist for you, your team or your boss. It exists for your target audience. Why aren’t you spending more time with them? Double down on your audience in 2021. I can nearly guarantee that their challenges and their purchasing patterns shifted in 2020. Spend time with your audience to understand how those things shifted and adjust your marketing accordingly.

– Dennis Shiao, marketing consultant, Attention Retention LLC

18. My advice for 2021 would be to really make sure you throw your content a parade. Use it in as many channels that are relevant as possible and test new things. For example, if you decide to do a podcast, also use that podcast on a live stream and as the basis for an article. Maximize everything you do so you can increase your return on effort.

– Christoph Trappe, CCO, The Authentic Storytelling Project

19. Understanding your audience is a constant commitment. You can create personas and breakdown your target audience as much as you want, but you need to dive deeper and prepare for their behaviors to shift or change. We’ve seen many changes in 2020, and brands need to be prepared to watch, learn and adapt.

– Christina Garnett, senior insights strategist, VIZIT

20. I would say:

  • Use digital marketing but don’t be afraid to use print, or audio, or magazines, or flyers, or sidewalk chalk…we have five senses in our brain and we use all of them to form memory.
  • Be truly inclusive – this is way harder than it sounds.
  • Create a sense of community, whether that’s geographic, psychographic, or any graphic. People who feel they belong to a social identity are far more willing to remember and select you.

– Doug Downs, managing partner, jgrcommunications.com

21. The advice I offer brands in 2021 is to listen to your customers and what their needs are. There has been a shift in customer expectations and how they engage with brands with digital leading the way. New programs and solutions need to meet the new behaviors, audiences need to see the value and convenience proposition and the experiences need to look at short term needs while building toward long term solutions and brand loyalty. You either stand apart or you get left behind.

– Bernie Fussenegger, chief strategy & engagement, B2The7

By Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett is a PR consultant and writer at Garrett Public Relations. Follow her on Twitter @PRisUs or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Sourced from Ragan’s PR Daily

e all have those pieces of writing that strike a chord within us each time we read them. You know what I’m talking about — those works that hit you in the feels with their is-the-author-inside-my-brain sentences.

Think about why you love your favourite authors and writers. What do they offer that you can’t get enough of?

For me, that’s how I feel whenever I read something by Stephen King or Sloane Crosley. Those two know how to transport readers smack-dab in the middle of a story.

When King writes about doom and gloom and apocalyptic nightmares, you feel it to your core.

When Crosley describes her New York City apartment, you’re sitting right there with her on her couch.

It’s their ability to immerse readers into their plotlines with strategic language that makes them exceptional writers.

In fact, that’s what inspired my newsletter/side project, Kat Loves Copy.

But how do they do it?

I’m going to share three ways to swiftly win over new readers using tried-and-true writing methods.

I’ll also show you how to apply these techniques to content marketing, whether it’s for your clients or your own work.

1. Write like you speak

The quickest way to lose your audience’s attention is to write in a way that sounds like a lecture from the economics teacher, played by Ben Stein, in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

And what do we say to writing that’s boring? Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

The best kind of writing reads like a conversation between the author and the reader.

It’s engaging. It’s two-sided. Readers feel invested in what you have to say, just as they would if you were having the conversation in real life.

So, how do you achieve that to win new readers? Write as if you’re speaking with a friend or colleague. It may sound simple, and in many ways, it is, but it takes practice.

Let’s look at two different approaches to this writing technique:

First, think about how you might explain a topic to your friend:

  • What words and phrases would you use?
  • How would you position your opinion?
  • What titbits or examples would you lean on to get your point across?

It may be helpful to make a list of these answers as you think of them so you can refer back as you write.

Once you start writing, locate where you can inject a bit of your personality and unique conversational tone that’s appropriate for your audience.

For example, instead of writing, “Here are six homemade dog treat recipes,” you could say, “Let’s look at six different homemade dog treat recipes because, let’s be honest, our four-legged friends deserve a variety of treats.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. The first example is completely fine. But the second example has more personality to it, which will likely be more engaging.

The second approach is to record yourself having a conversation with a colleague (or solo) about your topic of choice.

Listening to how you discuss, analyze, and present different sides of your argument can drive clear, yet descriptive, writing. Just be sure to cut unnecessary filler words.

I recommend recording a video call, so you can pick up on things like your body language and visual queues, if you’re speaking to someone else.

2. Use figurative and descriptive language to paint a picture

Want to transport your readers into your narrative instantly?

Dust off your grade school English textbook and revisit the figurative language chapter.

Let’s review the most widely used figures of speech:

Simile

A simile is when you compare two, unlike things using “like” or “as.”

For example, that puppy is as cute as a button.

Or, reading that blog post was like watching paint dry.

Comparisons help clarify your message and explain the familiar yet undefined. They’re a type of metaphor and excellent writing tools for when describing something with one word doesn’t quite feel enough.

Metaphor

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a metaphor is “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.”

Metaphors are workhorses of description that intrigue your audience and help you win new readers. They allow you to paint a picture beyond corresponding adjectives and nouns.

“A freshly paved tar road enveloped the night sky” is far more vivid to read than “the night sky was dark,” right?

Hyperbole

With hyperbole, it seems as though the more exaggeration, the better. And hyperbole is just that — extreme exaggeration.

This figure of speech is for emphasis. However, it can provide added humor due to its over-the-top nature.

For example, “I have one million things on my to-do list” or “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” are common uses of hyperbole.

Another example comes from Dick Clark during his Daytime Emmy Award acceptance speech:

“Please sit down because having produced nine million award shows, I know the producer’s up there saying, ‘Hurry, say thanks fast.’”

These figures of speech help convey ideas, points of view, and details. Just make sure you’re using them in a way that adds value to your readers and doesn’t distract.

3. Use empathy wisely in your writing

In the wise words of Sonia Simone:

“When you write content and copy, your most important job is that of Chief Empathy Officer for your audience.”

Connection. It all boils down to connection. You could craft the most eloquent, well-written article, but it won’t mean a single thing unless it connects with your reader.

Empathy is a powerful tool that fosters a bond between you and your readers.

It helps you figuratively reach out from the page and say:

“I understand your problem or concern, dear reader, now, let me show you what to do about it.”

From a content marketing perspective, this is true whether you’re trying to sell a product or get readers to take any form of action.

But first, you have to understand your audience enough to write something that resonates with them. If you don’t know your audience, you won’t know how to connect with them and naturally win new readers.

Consider these questions when researching your audience:

  • What are their problems?
  • What makes them tick?
  • What’s the best way to communicate with them?
  • What kind of solution should you offer?

Knowing your audience means knowing how to serve them, and that’s the cornerstone of high-quality content. However, the buck doesn’t stop there.

Once you know your audience, you have to write in a tone that matches. In other words — and I say this lovingly — read the room.

If your tone doesn’t match the topic, it will be difficult (if not nearly impossible) to create a bond with your reader.

To do this, put your research cap back on. The same principles apply when figuring out how to write in your own voice. What language does your audience use? What phrases or words do they resonate with?

Get inside the mind of your audience, figure out what they need, and deliver.

Prioritize your audience

Most people are short on time and attention. That means you only get one chance to capture their hearts and win new readers.

By injecting details and your personality into your writing, you’re able to open the door to connect with your readers and encourage them to stick with you.

But while your writing voice is important, make sure your readers can still find themselves in your words.

After all, it’s not about you. It’s about them.

By Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose is a freelance writer for B2B SaaS and eCommerce platforms.

Sourced from  copyblogger

By

Content marketing is a contact sport. Just like any coach, you’re in charge of preparing for the game and carrying out those plans. Such is the life of a content marketer, where you must balance content marketing strategy vs. execution.

You can’t “win” at content marketing without a solid strategy. Nor can you do so without the ability to execute on it consistently. Let’s look at how both of these functions are critical to your game plan and how to find the right balance.

Quick Takeaways

  • A fruitful content marketing return for your organization requires both strategy and execution.
  • Different resources and tools are necessary to handle both sides.
  • Finding the right balance ensures that you can consistently publish content that’s relevant and engaging for your audience.

Start with a Strategy

Your first play should be a content marketing strategy. The good news is that most of you have one. According to a SEMRush survey, 77% of organizations have a content marketing strategy!

Image: SEMRush

For those with a well-documented content marketing strategy, you can expect to benefit greatly. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) reported that those that fit within this category are the most successful.

Image: CMI

Having a Strategy Doesn’t Always Mean Your Content Marketing Is Effective

Just because you have a strategy, it doesn’t mean it’s effective. This is something many organizations struggle with due to a variety of reasons. They don’t have leadership buy-in, resources are slim, it’s just words in a document, or it’s not really a cultural foundation.

It’s easy to get derailed with your strategy. It’s also something that’s living and breathing. It’s not static. Rather, so many things, internal and external, influence it. Just consider the pandemic impact. This global health crisis changed the message and strategy for basically every company.

However, you can’t dwell on your strategy and stop executing it because it’s not perfect. It never will be. You have to start somewhere with good enough and then look at your content performance analytics and data to determine if your strategy is on point or way off.

What Makes a Content Strategy Effective?

If you aren’t sure if your strategy is effective, then it’s time to find out. In general, the most successful ones have these attributes:

  • Specific definition of goals and the KPIs (key performance indicators) you’ll rely on to measure effectiveness.
  • Detailed and heavily researched buyer personas. You must really know your audience to develop content that will resonate with them.
  • Types of content (blogs, eBooks, webinars, video, etc.) you’ll use and how they align with your buyer persona preferences.
  • Channels you’ll use to disperse and distribute content (social, email, paid, etc.)
  • Tools you’ll need to develop content workflows, track audience behaviors, set up campaigns, aggregate analytics, and leverage automation.
  • Foundational language that should influence every piece of content you create (value prop, USP (unique selling proposition), elevator pitch, taglines, vision statement, and mission statement).
  • Content production goals (how much throughput do you commit to every month—check out these insights on blog frequency, for example).

If your strategy addresses all these points, you should feel pretty confident that it can be effective. The challenge for many is how to execute it.

Content Marketing Execution: Turning Strategy into Action

Coaches create game plans with precision, and then they attempt to execute it. They know they’ll have to course-correct along the way because the unexpected is inevitable. When you watch an NFL game, you know these guys are professional athletes, the best of the best, but you can also tell when they aren’t executing—dropped passes, sacked quarterbacks, and huge mental errors.

That can all happen in content execution as well. Strategists lay out the plans for a content team to be successful. Yet, the same challenges keep popping up. Some of the biggest around execution are consistency and content creation workflows.

Consistent Production and Content Workflows

According to the CMI, 32% of marketers said their content workflows were either fair or poor. Additionally, other research confirmed that 60% of marketers find producing content consistently as one of their biggest challenges.

Image: Zazzle

There is certainly reason for friction here. However, it’s not difficult to improve this part of execution. Technology is the answer. A content marketing platform can streamline workflows, provide you with dynamic content calendars, and help you identify where the impediments are.

For example, you might have a few design resources, yet they’re necessary for almost all types of content. If that’s what’s slowing your production, you can consider hiring more in-house talent or outsourcing.

You’ll likely never have “enough” resources. But redistributing them and augmenting your team with outsourced talent can help you reach your content production goals.

Data Should Influence Execution

Execution isn’t on autopilot. The content performance data you generate and analyze should inform it. It could change your strategy, as well. For example, you may learn that your audience has a high preference for visual content over written content. You’ll change your execution of tactics based on this to meet your audience’s expectations better.

Execution Requires All Hands in the Same Circle

Sports teams huddle and put their hands together to show they are one. Your content marketing team should do the same when it comes to execution. Much of this comes down to accountability and transparency. When you have a technology platform that tracks the status of every project, you’ll have a clear picture of who isn’t playing their role.

Then it’s time to investigate the issue and find out what’s actually happening. It may be a time to coach up, add resources, or make a cut.

Finding the Right Balance for Your Business

Content marketing strategy vs. execution is a core concern for any organization committed to content marketing. Having the right balance means your strategy has all the essentials, and you refresh it regularly but aren’t getting caught up in it being perfect. On the execution side, it means analyzing why you aren’t meeting production goals and how to fix your strategy so you hit your goals.

These two areas are necessary for achieving wins in content marketing—more traffic, leads, and sales. And we can help!

If you’re ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

By

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of “Mean People Suck” and “The Content Formula” and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

Sourced from Marketing Inside Group

By Lane Ellis

Both B2B Marketers and Buyers Increasingly Sold on Conversational Marketing
B2B marketing professionals have found email, online live chat, social media, and chatbots have all seen increased usage in 2020, while phone and video call use has fallen by more than 10 percent, according to recently-released B2B buyer communication survey data of interest to digital marketers. MarketingCharts

B2B Tech Firms Cut Marketing Budgets Due To Pandemic: Study
Despite an overall drop in marketing spending due to the global health crisis, budgeting for digital and content marketing are the most likely to see increased spending, while some 60 percent of B2B technology firm executives say that their key performance indicators (KPIs) haven’t undergone change. MediaPost

Subject Matter Expertise A Growing Factor for B2B Buyers When Evaluating Vendors
In 2020 over 32 percent of B2B and professional services buyers see subject matter expertise and industry knowledge as the top attribute when evaluating firms, a rate over 11 percent higher than 2018 figures, with client service flexibility the only other element that became more important during the past two years — two of several statistics of interest to online marketers in recently-released survey data. MarketingCharts

7 ways COVID-19 has changed B2B customer experience forever
The pandemic has blurred the lines between B2B and B2C marketing, brought more intelligent automation to customer experience (CX), and made trust a more important factor, and Adobe has taken a look at how these changes will play out in 2021 and beyond. Adobe (client)

Linked Rolls Out Company Engagement Report
LinkedIn (client) has launched a Company Engagement Report offering new insights for B2B marketers, especially those using account based marketing (ABM), featuring a variety of organic and ad engagement metrics, the Microsoft-owned professional social platform recently announced. Adweek

Facebook Once Again Experiments with Up and Down Votes for Comments to Optimize Engagement
Facebook has begun limited testing of Reddit-like upvoting and downvoting options among certain Facebook Groups, with an eye towards boosting relevant content and engagement levels, recent observations of the social media giant have shown. Social Media Today

2020 November 6 Statistics Image

Google’s Working on a New Process Which Would Convert Static Website Assets into Video Content
Google has launched URL2Video, a new prototype utility that incorporates some of Google’s AI systems to turn static website digital assets into video content, in a move that could lead to new digital marketing opportunities, the search giant recently announced. Social Media Today

Social Media Trends 2021 Global Report
Content remixing, memetic media, and nostalgia marketing are among the trends marketers are likely to see more of during 2021, according to recently-released global social media survey trend data from HubSpot and Talkwalker. Talkwalker

Microsoft Clarity, the company’s tool for visualizing user experience, is out of beta
Microsoft has widely released Clarity, a free service offering a variety of user engagement and other metrics using site JavaScript, previously available only in beta form, the firm recently announced. Marketing Land

B2B Content Marketers Getting More Successful in Building Credibility
B2B content marketers say they have found creating brand awareness, educating audiences, and building credibility and trust as the top three benefits of B2B content marketing over the past year, followed by lead generation and building loyalty with existing customers, according to recently-released survey data of interest to digital marketers. MarketingCharts

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 November 6 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at “CX is more than a department” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

New Photo Filter Shows What You Would Look Like in Facial-Recognition Database — The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — #TimTalk – The Business of B2B Influence with Lee Odden — Timothy Hughes
  • Lane R. Ellis — 10 Tips for Prioritizing Tasks to Make the Most of Limited Small Business Resources — Small Business Trends
  • Lee Odden — 40 Marketing Quotes to Provoke Thought and Inspire — Visitor Queue

Have you found your own top B2B marketing stories from the past week of industry news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for taking the time to join us for our weekly B2B marketing news, and we hope that you’ll return again next Friday for another examination of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news.

By Lane Ellis

Lane R. Ellis (@lanerellis), TopRank Marketing Social Media and Content Marketing Manager, has over 36 years’ experience working with and writing about the Internet. Lane spent more than a decade as Lead Editor for prestigious conference firm Pubcon. When he’s not writing, Lane enjoys distance running (11 marathons including two ultras so far), genealogical research, cross-country skate skiing, vegetarian cooking, and spending time with his wonderful wife Julie Ahasay and their three cats in beautiful Duluth, Minnesota.

Sourced from TopRank Marketing

By Darya Jandossova

Every day, billions of people use the internet and smartphones. Because of this, digital marketing has become one of the most important aspects of an organization’s overall marketing strategy.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing can mean slightly different things to different people. For example, the tactics used by an e-commerce platform will be different from bricks and mortar businesses.

The most common types of activity encompassed within digital marketing include:

Content marketing

The shift towards content marketing has been significant over the last decade. Creating and distributing valuable content to your target audience to build awareness, trust, and inbound leads.

Content marketing can take the form of blogs, whitepapers, video content, case studies, infographics, and podcasts.

Social media marketing

There are a number of social media platforms used by brands in order to drive traffic and engagement. While much of the activity on social media can be classed as content marketing, the chance to listen and engage with an audience makes it a viable marketing channel in its own rite.

Social media continues to evolve as new platforms emerge. The most popular being Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, WeBo, and TikTok.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Gaining quality organic traffic through major search engines such as Google and Bing. Strategies can include optimizing websites, building backlinks, and SEO friendly content.

Search engine marketing (SEM)

The other side of the search engine coin to SEO. Search engine marketing refers to the paid activities used to increase search engine visibility and drive traffic through Google Adwords or Bing Ads.

Affiliate marketing

This particular form of marketing is becoming extremely popular. Affiliate marketing is when a person or company is paid a set commission for every sale or traffic they generate for another company. This particular form of marketing is popular with bloggers and solopreneurs, who can pivot content quickly in order to showcase affiliate links.

Every year Amazon pays out hundreds of millions of dollars in affiliate fees and is one of the most popular programs of its kind in the world.

Pay per click (PPC)

Similar to paid search, you pay a pre-set amount whenever someone clicks on your ad.

Email marketing

The granddaddy of digital marketing. Every year we hear that email marketing is dead, but it is still a staple of a solid digital marketing strategy. When it’s done properly, regular or automated email marketing is still a powerful tool, especially combined with personalized marketing techniques.

Instant messaging and bots

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat have, between them, billions of users all around the world. That is an unmissable opportunity for brands looking to get their messages out there.

The use of bots, in particular on Facebook, is a great way of interacting with your audience in a scalable, on-brand way.

What does it mean to outsource digital marketing?

Outsourcing your digital marketing means that you are using a person, company, or companies to take care of those aspects of your overall marketing strategy. This could be for a number of reasons including a budget, lack of internal resources, or being too big or too small to be able to have the necessary resources in the house.

What does in-house digital marketing mean?

An in-house team will plan, execute, and report on all digital marketing activities using a team employed by the organization.

What are the benefits of outsourcing digital marketing

There are many reasons that you might want to outsource your digital marketing, including:

Budget  – smaller businesses know that they need to implement some form of digital marketing to grow, but cannot afford to hire a team full time to do this. Instead, they will use third-party/parties to plan and implement digital marketing on their behalf. Types of outsourcing could include web design, social media, SEO, and so on.

Knowledge – because digital marketing companies make their money from just that, they need to keep their knowledge, skills, and technologies on the leading edge at all times. You can benefit from this continuing development without having to put yourself off your team through the recommended training or costs.

What are the cons of outsourcing digital marketing?

There are some potential downsides to turning over your digital marketing to a third party.

Less personal – by handing over your marketing strategy to someone else, you might find that your brand begins to develop in different ways in order to attract new audiences and customers. If you’ve been responsible for your brand and marketing to date, it can be difficult to let go.

Finding the right team can be difficult – while working with the right team can fundamentally change your business success for the better, choosing the wrong team can be damaging.

It takes time to find the right people. You need to work with those that you connect with and work hard for you. There are plenty of horror stories out there that put people off hiring an outside agency.

You need to commit to a strategy – in order to create a comprehensive digital marketing campaign, you need to commit to a budget, and strategy at the outset, as well as have. It is unfair for you to move the goalposts frequently. You’ll also need to sign something along the lines of a digital marketing proposal and it’d make sense to get acquainted with one prior to signing it.

You are one of a number of clients – your business may not be as important to them as you’d like it to be. That’s not to say that you won’t be treated professionally, but you cannot always expect to be a top priority.

What are the benefits of in-house digital marketing?

Dedicated to one client, you – there are no other clients vying for your marketing team’s attention, so you know that your company always takes top priority.

Quicker response times – if your marketing team works with others within your organization on various tasks, having a team on-site, dedicated to you can cut out a lot of red tapes. For example, if a certain department has an idea for a campaign or would like something promoted at short notice, you don’t have to try and negotiate with an outsourced team to try and bump your request to the top of the list.

Better brand knowledge – because the team is part of your organization, they live and breath your brand every day. This can then be translated seamlessly into your campaigns.

What are the cons of in-house digital marketing?

Costs – as covered earlier in the article, digital marketing encompasses a lot of different specialisms. Recruiting and training people in all of these areas can be very expensive. In addition to salaries, you also have to consider recruitment costs, benefits and ongoing training needs.

Skill levels – each area of digital marketing could be done by one person full time. But it is usually down to a few people who are expected to do everything. They often end up gravitating towards the areas they prefer, or never developing in-depth knowledge in a number of areas.

Potential to be overworked – if you hire a single person to do all of your digital marketing, as well as your traditional marketing tasks, you run the real risk of burning them out quickly.

Fewer contacts and special deals – digital marketing agencies can often have great contacts and deals in place with other sites or providers. In house teams often don’t have the time of the financial clout to do this.

Less strength in depth – if you are using an agency and someone is out sick, then there are usually other people who can take over the project at short notice. This usually isn’t the case with small in house teams. If someone in your team leaves, you are without any skill in certain areas until they are replaced.

Does it make sense to combine the two?

Many businesses find a good balance between in-house teams and outsourcing. It usually works best when there is an experienced marketing point person who can lead on the strategy development and then recruit and oversee the people or companies who will then actually implement the digital marketing campaigns.

This works well for a number of reasons. Having a single point of contact who has overall responsibility for digital marketing helps to streamline planning and decisions. Small in-house teams can also take care of some of the days to day digital marketing tasks that need doing and respond to in house requests quickly.

From a digital marketing agency perspective, it is always easier to deal with someone who knows what they are doing when it comes to leading a marketing function within a company and has realistic expectations.

For those companies who are deciding whether or not to recruit an in-house team, or outsource, this article provides some of the pros and cons of each course of action. Remember, what works for one company will not always work for another. It might make sense to outsource your digital marketing requirements at the beginning, then move towards a blended team as you scale up. Alternatively, if you are large enough to recruit a full digital marketing team, then you will have an entire department dedicated only to your organization.

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

By Darya Jandossova

Darya Jandossova Troncoso is a photographer, artist and writer working on her first novel and managing a digital marketing blog – MarketSplash. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, creating art and learning everything there is to know about digital marketing.

Sourced from noupe

By Laura Borgstede

It all comes down to strategy, calls to action and an effective measurement program.

Content marketing has emerged as one of the most effective ways for organizations to communicate with their key audiences. Through content marketing programs, they can tell compelling stories, highlight their successes, and otherwise engage their current and future audiences.

It’s a marketer’s dream, right? Not always.

Many organizations, especially in B2B markets, struggle with getting content marketing to consistently deliver strong results. There’s something off with their approach—or the content itself—that’s not allowing them to connect with readers in the way they imagined.

With content marketing generating 126% more leads and 6x conversion rates than other marketing activities, it’s worth taking a deeper dive.

It all comes down to bad habits, and there are six common ones that marketers struggle with:

1. There’s no strategy. Most organizations have an annual marketing strategy, so why would content marketing be any different? Within this content marketing strategy, you need to:

  • Establish goals. How will your content marketing strategy help your company’s business goals? What is the intent with this piece of content you write?
  • Define your audience, including appropriate vertical markets, position in the funnel, etc.
  • Determine what kinds of (and how much) content is possible based on your resources and budget.
  • Define how you will measure success. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure frequently.
  • Determine who will write your content. Many companies think they must do it all themselves while working with a third-party firm might be more efficient.

2. Your content is not focused. Another big mistake organizations make with content is taking a one-size-fits-all approach, i.e., thinking that one piece of content is appropriate for all of your audiences. Instead, marketers need to take the time to define their content marketing strategy by including a content map.

A content map can help you plot out what content is for top of the funnel prospects (those who are just starting out and need more “awareness” content), which is appropriate for those who are in the consideration stages, and which is right for bottom of the funnel prospects (those close to making a decision/purchase). Without a map, even the most seasoned travelers can get off course, and the same is true with your content. Provide your audience with a clear path to follow, and they will follow it.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to create portfolios of content geared toward each of type of audience and continue to fill in those portfolios over time.

3. You’re not sharing your content broadly enough. If you’re just posting content on your website and hoping that search engines will pick it up, that’s the wrong way to look at content marketing. You need a distribution strategy, whether that be a social media effort, a company newsletter, or paid marketing opportunities. Creating content without a way to get it to your customers is rarely successful.

4. There’s no call to action (CTA). You can do everything right, but if your content does not end with a strong CTA, you’re missing opportunities to reinforce your expertise and connect with your customers. A CTA can be as simple as “Contact us”—or can link to an archived webinar, a recent white paper, or a case study in a particular industry. By leading your prospects down a path with consistently helpful content, you are drawing them closer to the bottom of the funnel.

5. You’re not measuring your successes (or failures). Your content marketing strategy included goals, but if you’re not measuring results, you’re wasting your time. Understand what you want to measure in terms of KPIs and track over time to see if your strategy is working and your goals are realistic.

6. You’re not repurposing your content. Once you’ve broken all of your bad content marketing habits, and developed a content library, it’s time to focus on repurposing that content over and over (and over) again.

Repurposing means exactly what it sounds like—taking one piece of content and using it in multiple forms and across multiple channels to increase return on investment. That means a white paper can be broken down to create blogs, contributed articles, social media posts, infographics, speaker’s abstracts, abstracts for news pitching to media and analysts, and more. For many of these, if you use a strong CTA, you’ll be able to link back to the original source for more detail.

For example, here’s how a white paper might be repurposed:

  • Reframe the white paper per market vertical, for example:
    • Healthcare
    • Manufacturing
    • Oil & Gas
    • Agriculture
  • Draft sales lead outreach emails to personas along the buyer’s journey—sent by salespeople with white paper attached for free.
  • Set up a lead generation site and include the link in press releases, blogs and other distributable content. Capture leads with an online form.
  • Develop 8-10 short pieces for the company blog or contributed blog to a third-party site.
  • Develop sales collateral from the white paper to be disseminated at a tradeshow or as a PDF online.
  • Draft pitches to capture the attention of media and analysts.
  • Draft speaker’s abstracts to capture the attention of event coordinators.
  • Create an infographic if there are important statistics within the white paper.
  • Create a short video series or podcast that pulls out the most important parts of the white paper.

Finding success

There are common mistakes organizations make when they are trying to create a content marketing program.

One is thinking they need to handle all their content marketing in house, while many companies find success outsourcing content to third-party firms. Another common error is not having a strategic plan in place. Developing that plan, taking the time to get to know your most important audiences, creating a content map and determining your distribution strategy will make your content marketing initiatives shine.

 

By Laura Borgstede

Laura Borgstede is the CEO of Calysto.

Sourced from Ragan’s PR Daily

By

There are so many directions in which you can take your marketing strategy these days, it can make you dizzy.

SEO, PPC, email, social… the list goes on! Of course, most brands will choose a combination of several of these methods.

But I’m going to explain exactly why I think content marketing is better than PPC and why you should focus the majority of your efforts on your content strategy.

Quick Takeaways

  • When implemented properly, content marketing offers a higher ROI than PPC in the long-term.
  • PPC might bring traffic to your site but it won’t make it convert. Only content can do that for you.
  • Paid search and other types of advertising have their place but it’s essential to have a solid content strategy to back them up.

What Is PPC Marketing?

But first, let’s recap what exactly I’m talking about when I say “PPC”. PPC stands for “pay per click,” is also known as “paid search” and is technically a form of advertising. PPC ads show up on top of “organic search” results on your search engine.

When you launch a PPC marketing campaign, you’ll place ads on a search platform like Google or Bing (this is also known as paid search marketing), on a social network such as Facebook or Twitter, or on other ad platforms.

Rather than paying upfront to place your ad for a set amount of time, you’ll pay the ad platform when your ad is clicked.

In most cases, there are many more advertisers than there are ad spots. The platform decides which ads to show by using a bidding procedure. The advertiser that has bid the highest amount for a particular search query or audience will get the best ad placement. However, they’ll also pay more when someone clicks through to their site.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a strategy that revolves around using content (blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.) to attract relevant visitors to your website, raise awareness of your brand, and boost sales and conversions.

Rather than being sales-focused like an ad, in most cases, this content doesn’t directly pitch your products and services. Instead, you provide useful, entertaining, or inspiring content that improves the lives of your audience in some way.

Publishing a blog is one of the most common types of content marketing and one that’s easy for anyone to start, whether they’re an individual on a shoestring budget or a large enterprise.

1. Content Marketing Is Significantly Cheaper in the Long Term

When comparing different digital marketing strategies, PPC is right up there with some of the most expensive.

PPC can get you to the top of Google if you’re willing to pay for it. But you’ll have to keep paying to stay there.

These costs can add up quickly, especially in competitive industries where keywords can go for several dollars a click.

Source: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/02/29/google-adwords-industry-benchmarks

On the other hand, content marketing needs only a modest initial investment to get you started. If you’re really running on a tight budget, you can create content yourself with the only cost being your time.

With time and effort, high-quality content can reach the top of search engine results naturally. This means you can be getting those clicks for free instead of paying for each one. And you won’t lose your rankings until someone creates better or more relevant content than you.

Research by Kapost found that content marketing gets three times the leads per dollar spent compared to paid search.

Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/5-content-marketing-trends-that-you-should-leverage-in-the-next-year/

The ROI of content marketing and PPC has too many variables to suggest an “average” for each method, even on a per industry basis. But whatever industry you’re in, while PPC may seem to offer a more attractive ROI initially, content marketing almost always offers a better ROI in the long-term.

Source: https://alecanmarketing.com/blog/content-marketing-crushes-ppc-over-time/

2. Content Marketing Attracts Better Quality Leads

Content marketing not only attracts more leads for your money, but it generates better quality leads too.

Lead quality is critical for optimizing ROI and increasing revenue. There’s no point in paying for leads (via any method) if they’re not converting.

One of the biggest complaints coming from sales teams is that the leads they get from marketing are low-quality ones. This situation can easily happen when sales and marketing aren’t in alignment and only care about their immediate targets. 55% of sales reps surveyed by Demand Gen said that what they want most from marketing is “better leads”.

Source: https://www.demandgenreport.com/features/industry-insights/study-communication-is-greatest-challenge-for-sales-and-marketing-alignment

Producing high-quality content is one of the most effective ways of attracting high-quality sales leads.

Just because you’re paying for leads, it doesn’t mean they’re great quality. A lot of the time leads from PPC are poor because they don’t know your brand or understand your product when they click your ad.

On the other hand, leads generated by content have already been introduced to your brand and educated on some level. And the longer they stick around and keep consuming your content, the better these leads become.

3. Content Marketing Generates Long-term Results

Content marketing campaigns must be planned on a much longer timescale than other marketing techniques. Some people consider this a negative, but being a slow burner offers huge benefits too.

Content marketing builds traffic and rankings that you own. This may happen very gradually, but once you start seeing the results you want, you’re not going to lose them overnight.

The time and money you invest in content marketing now will continue paying dividends well into the future. A single piece of content that might have cost you a couple of hundred dollars to produce could end up generating business and leads worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for years to come.

Source: https://www.growthramp.io/articles/content-marketing-roi

PPC, on the other hand, is most definitely a short-term strategy. You’ll see the results immediately but if you want to keep having success, you’ll need to keep going.

Anyone can buy clicks, but the value drops to zero once you stop.

4. Content Marketing Is a Simple Model That’s Hard to Mess Up

There’s a real art and science to successful PPC marketing. Not only do you have to know what keywords to bid on, but you also need to bid the right amount, optimize your ads for a high click-through rate, and craft your landing pages carefully to get the results you want.

PPC can be very effective when done well, but in most cases, you’ll have to invest a significant amount of cash before you can see results. If managed properly, PPC can be a good investment but you need a decent budget to get started.

For this reason, it’s sheer madness to attempt a PPC campaign unless you know what you’re doing. If you get lucky then you might see results, but more often than not, you’ll burn through a significant amount of money and have no results to show for it.

As PPC is so complicated, with many moving pieces, most brands using PPC marketing will either employ an in-house expert or outsource to a marketing agency specializing in PPC. Of course, this adds more expense to an already pricey marketing model.

Content marketing, on the other hand, is about as simple as you can get. While there’s certainly a lot to think about when you’re putting together a content marketing campaign, you can’t really get anything “wrong”.

In the worst-case scenario, you’ll publish some content that doesn’t really do anything for you. But all you’ll have lost is the time it took you to create that content or what you paid for it (and content marketing is very affordable compared to other types of marketing, remember).

I’ve seen organizations achieve impressive success with content marketing without following any real plan or tracking results, which just goes to show how simple it is. Those who regularly publish high-quality content and consistently deliver value will be rewarded for their efforts eventually, even if they don’t get all the fine details perfect.

5. People Trust Content More Than Ads

Google is constantly changing the way in which paid ads are displayed in the search results to try and make them blend in more seamlessly with the organic results. The reason for this is that most of the time, searchers don’t want to click on ads.

Most web users these days know that companies have paid to appear in the ads at the top of the search results, whereas web pages that are listed at the top of the organic results are there because they’ve earned it with a great reputation and high-quality information.

Research by Nielsen has found that 53% of consumers don’t trust ads listed in search engine results and 52% don’t trust ads on social media.

Trust in advertising, in general, has been gradually declining in recent years, with customers preferring to do their own research and more likely to follow recommendations from their peers than brand ads.

 

Source: https://digitalwellbeing.org/word-of-mouth-still-most-trusted-resource-says-nielsen-implications-for-social-commerce/

Content marketing isn’t advertising. It’s a great way to build trust rather than erode it.

5. You Can’t Succeed in PPC Without Also Investing in Content Marketing

So let’s say you do have the budget to inject into running a PPC campaign and you’re working with an agency that really knows what they’re doing.

You still won’t get the best results unless you also concentrate on creating really great content.

Just think about it – even if you’ve got a really well-written ad and your targeting is spot on, you still have to win over the users that click on the ad.

So that comes down to sales copy, right? Well, yes and no. It’s certainly important to have really well-crafted and optimized landing pages. But your success will be limited unless you’ve also thought about your content marketing strategy.

You might get some sales from users who’ve never heard of your company before and end up on your landing page. But you can greatly increase your chances if you’ve got a library of great content to back you up.

Great content gets shared and comes up frequently in search results. So, if you’ve been doing your job with content marketing well, there’s a good chance that the user who sees your ad and clicks through to your landing page might have seen one of your articles or videos while researching or on their social feeds. When they keep seeing great content from your brand, they’ll remember it and you’ve got a much better chance of making that sale.

While PPC might be great for attracting people to your funnel, you still have to get them through the funnel. And websites that have adopted content marketing convert at a rate that’s six times higher than those that haven’t.

PPC ads can convert well for users who are ready to buy. But for the rest? A report by Gleanster Research revealed that only 25% of your leads are ready to buy at any given time. So what do the other 75% want?

They want to find out more about your company and products or services. They maybe don’t even know yet that they have a need for your products and services. By publishing high-value informational content that addresses their challenges, you can ensure that they stick around for longer. You have a much better chance of making that sale when they’re finally ready to buy.

 

Source: https://www.lyfemarketing.com/blog/why-is-content-marketing-important/

Ready to Start Focusing on Content Marketing?

PPC can still be an effective part of your overall marketing strategy when planned carefully. But it must be used in combination with content marketing if you want to achieve the best results.

Content marketing is a low-cost marketing technique that offers an impressive ROI if you’re willing to stick with it for the long-term.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

By

Sourced from Marketing Insider Group

By Pia Silva.

When you hear the term “content marketing,” it’s easy to think of big brands with six-figure advertising budgets and a team of bloggers and infographic designers on their sides. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how “big” your brand is. Even if you’re a freelancer or solopreneur, content marketing can make a significant difference for your ability to attract high-quality clients.

Yes, creating quality content marketing requires a fair amount of time — but what doesn’t? This is an important investment into your brand that will keep on giving.

It’s Essential For (Long-Term) Lead Generation

People no longer make a knee-jerk purchase because of an ad they happened to see on TV or online. Instead, they consider various options and do their research before making a decision.

When done right, your content will help you distance your brand from the competition. It will engage potential clients and provide the information they need to make their decision. It will present you in the best light possible.

Creating content is always worth it! The biggest reason? Because unlike ad campaigns, content is forever. It continues to exist on your website and other channels long after you publish it.

High-value content could eventually rank in Google search results itself, serving as a lasting form of lead generation. Valuable, insightful content has the potential to keep delivering value for your brand long after you’ve written it and forgotten about it.

If Google Cares About Content, You Should, Too

There’s no two ways around it: Google always attempts to put the best, most relevant content in front of people. These results are based on what they type into a Google search bar, as well as the quality of the content itself. The more “white hat” SEO-driven content you can produce, the easier it will be for potential clients to discover your brand.

Remember, there are no tricks or shortcuts anymore. Anyone trying to sell you the SEO equivalent of a “get rich quick” scheme shouldn’t be trusted. The way to get good SEO is by creating good content — not by tossing in a bazillion keywords or stuffing your content with backlinks.

This was especially clear during a recent email conversation with Maria Khramtsova, CEO of FortuneZ, a markets and iGaming media publication. She explained, “While keywords are important, your first priority should always be to provide real value to your target audience.”

Continued Khramtsova, “Always ask yourself if your content is truly informing them and helping them gain new insights about the topic. You can worry about working in keywords afterwards. When you write for the audience first, you’ll be able to work in keywords naturally, without detracting from the value of the content as a whole.”

Content Is Key For Better Understanding Your Customers

Wouldn’t it be nice to pry back the lid and get an inside look inside your prospects’ brains to know what they’re thinking — and what they want? Content marketing lets you do just that, through a trial-and-error approach — though one that doesn’t have the high costs of a traditional ad campaign attached.

Because they are housed on your website, the value of each content marketing piece can be easily quantified based on things like number of views, leads and so on.

With this in mind, you can then use your content to test audience-specific ideas like tone, target needs, branding messages and product or service ideas. The more content you create, the more you can learn about what your target audience likes or doesn’t like.

Over time, this allows you to fine-tune your voice and subject matter until you’ve got your content marketing running like a well-oiled machine. And with more quality, relevant content to help prospects discover you, it’ll be that much easier to connect.

Content Marketing Demonstrates Credibility (Instead Of Just Talking About It)

Far too many “experts” simply share a list of their services and an about page that acts like a virtual mini-resume. They assume that this is all they need to do to demonstrate their expertise and gain the trust of potential clients.

Yes, these website features can be helpful starting points, but your content marketing is how you can really prove your credibility — and not just say that you are.

Sure, you can talk about your industry experience and say that you did some big-time stuff at your old job before diving into your new career as a solopreneur, but the average prospect is going to need a lot more than that before they can trust you. Even testimonials from current and former clients can sometimes fall short, because a prospect may feel like they have different needs or concerns than your satisfied customers.

Your content marketing offers a chance for you to share your real opinions and insights about your industry. This isn’t where you have to try to be diplomatic. Strong opinions on relevant industry topics is how your potential clients can truly come to know you and your approach. Most importantly, it’s how they learn what makes you different or special.

Start Your Content Marketing Journey Now

Whether you’re planning to produce your own content or partner with a trusted freelancer, the most important thing is to start content marketing now. When you provide worthwhile, valuable content, you give potential clients a compelling reason to do business with you.

Feature Image Credit: STEVE WASTERVAL

By Pia Silva

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I am a partner and brand strategist at Worstofall Design where we build brands that turn expertise into profit. Unlike most branding firms, we build entire brands in days instead of months, and only work for 1-3 person service businesses. Our unique process and niche positioning has helped us to overcome the hurdles we struggled with when we were starting our business, reliably attracting a steady flow of high paying clients and allowing us to enjoy the freedom that inspired us to become entrepreneurs in the first place. At Forbes, my goal is to clarify and simplify the elusive idea of “branding,” and share practical tips and tangible steps to help businesses find their unique brand voice that leads to profit

Sourced from Forbes

We’re aware each element of copy is designed to get the first sentence read, and from there keep the reader engaged step by step to the conclusion.

We know to keep things clear, concise, and simple so that our writing communicates with ease.

And we definitely understand the make-or-break importance of an attention-grabbing headline.

So, how do we then structure our content to be persuasive?

Good content structure is never written in stone, but persuasive copy will do certain things and contain certain elements time and time again.

Whether you’re writing a sales page, blog post, or promotional ebook, the flow will determine effectiveness.

Here are some guidelines:

  • First of all, focus on the reader — make an important promise early on (with your headline and opening paragraphs) that tells the reader what’s in it for her. Never allow readers to question why they’re bothering to pay attention.
  • Each separate part of your narrative should have a main idea (something compelling) and a main purpose (to rile up the reader, to counter an opposing view, etc.) that supports your bigger point and promise. Don’t digress, and don’t ramble. Stay laser-focused.
  • Be ultra-specific in your assertions, and always give “reasons why.” General statements that are unsupported by specific facts cause a reader’s BS detector to go on high alert.
  • Demonstrate large amounts of credibility, using statistics, expert references, and testimonials as appropriate. You must be authoritative — if you’re not an existing expert on a subject, you had better have done your research.
  • After building your credibility and authority, get back to the most important person around — the reader. What’s still in it for him? Restate the hook and the promise that got readers engaged in the first place.
  • Make an offer. Whether you’re selling a product or selling an idea, you’ve got to explicitly present it for acceptance by the reader. Be bold and firm when you present your offer, and relieve the reader’s risk of acceptance by standing behind what you say.
  • Sum up everything, returning full circle to your original promise and demonstrate how you’ve fulfilled it.

These are some of the key elements of persuasive copy. Use them to provide a “roadmap” for your writing, and you’ll achieve better results.

Looking for more foundational copywriting tips?

Continue with our Copywriting 101 ebook.

By Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the founder of Copyblogger, host of 7-Figure Small, and curator of the Gen X lifestyle newsletter Further.

Sourced from Copyblogger