As hundreds of marketing agencies and their clients already know, the Zerys Content Marketplace is a powerful tool for managing content projects. What many agencies may not know is that the writers in the Zerys network are some of its biggest supporters.
Without the tens of thousands of professional freelance writers in the Zerys network, we would be nothing. And we like to think that agencies who use our platform share our appreciation. Recently, a member of our writer network took the time to write a review of Zerys. We would like to share it with you.
David Shrauger is a freelance writer from Seattle who also happens to be a Zerys writer. In his article “Interact Media’s Zerys platform a good option for freelance writers”, he offers some insights into the platform. It’s information that could come in handy for any agency who wants to know more about how Zerys works from the writer end.
We are proud to receive this review, and we are proud of our accomplishments. This year we went live with an upgraded writer platform in an effort to streamline the process of managing content projects. And, we are excited to be able to soon offer Zerys agencies their own new and improved platform in order to provide them with the best possible user experience.
It means a lot to us that we’ve created a platform where writers from the U.S. and around the world can work from home in an environment that offers not only convenience, but a commitment to the best support for both themselves and their clients. Check out David’s review, and see why we have so much to be excited about!
Zerys is a powerful content project management tool and writer marketplace that makes it simple to manage any content project from start (strategy planning) to finish (auto-publishing). Zerys for Agencies is a custom, private-labeled solution that allows agencies to manage all their clients’ content projects from one, simple dashboard. Zerys was founded in 2008, and is now used by thousands of businesses and hundreds of marketing agencies.
It was once said that on the Internet, nobody knows if you are a dog. At the same time, it used to be that the Internet was a placeless space where geography had little to do with a user's experience. Today, location-sensitive content is the norm on the Internet and, used properly, it can be a major driver of opportunity for your client's small business.
While the Internet might seem to be a great leveler, letting local businesses compete for customers on a global scale, you've probably found that local search and other tools that drive nearby customers to your client's door are becoming more and more important as a source of both leads and sales.
If you aren't fully leveraging this marketing opportunity, here are some ways that you can localize your clients' content and grow their business:
- Localize Your Site. Search engines have changed the way that they report results to realize that many users are searching for nearby content. They know that there's a good chance that when someone searches "roses," they're looking for nearby florist. While at one point, local businesses had to optimize for location based keyword strings, they are now getting a short at ranking for non-specific searches, just based on their location relative to the user. For this to work, though, your site must be written to attract local searchers.
- Localize Your SEO. One of the ways that search engines identify your local bona fides is to look to see how often your business's name comes up along with basic address and location information. The more that you can generate links from other nearby sites, the more likely you are to get the search engine results that can drive local traffic.
- Embrace your locations. More than ever, having a separate page for each of your locations -- or for each community that you serve from your single location -- is key to getting search engine results. If you serve San Francisco, Oakland and San Rafael but only have Oakland on your website, there's no way for local search algorithms to connect the dots to the other communities.
- Make time for NAPping. One of the keys to successful SEO is to distribute your NAP -- name, address and phone -- to the right places. The more that is is linked to your business' name in prominent databases, the more likely it is that you will come up in local search results.
Local Content for Local Search
Generating local search traffic isn't just about optimizing your site, though. It's also about providing content that is helpful to the local area that you search. If you sell the best cheese in Des Moines, you probably also know the top 7 places for a wine and cheese picnic in and around central Iowa. that kind of local content doesn't only drive eyeballs to your site. It also helps to establish a brand that engages local visitors.
Mobile Content for Local Search
Part of succeeding in local search is also to embrace mobile devices. Creating a responsive site is an important first step to ensure that your content works as well on the small screen as on a big screen. Since mobile users are social media users, putting time into building a social media presence to drive users back to your blog posts, videos and other content can help grow your presence. If you can tie your interactions to when a user is within walking or driving distance of your business, you can potentially even gain more business.
While Internet content marketing has been revolutionized by local search, in a way it also represents a gigantic step backward. The key to success today is to find a local niche, provide what it needs, and connect to it. It's both a cutting-edge marketing strategy and one that has worked for hundreds of years.
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Like any other endeavor, there is no "one size fits all" winning formula for agencies and their clients. But, you might make an argument that some principles and techniques seem to apply universally. There is also a lot of advice about the topic out there, lucky for you.
I came across an article by Jay Baer of Convince & Convert (you may have heard of him) that breaks it down nicely. It explores the new commitment to content that many agencies are making, and what it takes to be successful at it. Like all recipes, there are many variations and they all produce something good. But they all work off of the same core ingredients.
Whether you are an established marketing agency already producing content for thousands of clients, an existing traditional agency starting to branch out into content marketing, or just getting your brand new agency off the ground, you can take these principles and strategies and adapt them to your clients' content needs, as part of a comprehensive content marketing campaign.
Can my agency produce enough content so that clients can blog at least three times a week?
Do we have the human and monetary resources necessary to "decentralize the content" i.e. publish to many channels?
Can we establish and maintain clients' presences on social media and other Internet gathering places?
Is senior leadership willing to get involved in content creation, or are they going to sit on the sidelines?
Can we make a commitment to the ongoing production and distribution of powerful, problem-solving content? Are we going to make content marketing a priority?
Sound too expensive? Jay covers that as well.
Check out his tips for successful content marketing for agencies.
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Given that users are turning to smartphone, phablets and tablets more than ever before, mobile isn't something for your clients to add on to an existing marketing strategy. Today, marketing is mobile, and if their company isn't building a mobile plan, it's falling behind. Here are five tips that can help you successfully introduce mobile technology into your client's branding and marketing.
Change The Priorities
Traditionally, designers started from the assumption that their site would be viewed on a large computer. Then, they bolted on mobile functionality. The idea was to create a scaled down site that could simulate the desktop experience in a good-enough fashion on a mobile device.
To have a successful mobile marketing strategy in 2014 and beyond, you will need to change priorities. Now, sites should be designed from a mobile-first perspective. Adopting this approach means you ensure that a mobile user can get everything they need, and that their experience can then be scaled up to add additional features (or just to look better) on larger devices.
Just Be Responsive
Given the large number of mobile devices, it can be challenging to build a strategy that suits all of them. If you have a large and established mobile marketing strategy, you might choose at some point to create some unique and differentiated products.
Especially when you're getting started, though, setting up a single presence that uses responsive web design lets you reach every device from a single platform. Responsive designs are those that can automatically modify themselves to fit just about any screen or platform, letting your web presence work as well on a small smartphone screen as on a desktop computer with a large and high-resolution monitor. Setting up a responsive site saves you from the complexity of managing multiple systems.
Have Clear Hooks
A marketing strategy that leverages mobile technology accepts the reality of the mobile user's attention span. It's pretty short. This means that the best content is designed to grab attention quickly and retain it. Here are some of the ways that you can build effective content for the mobile setting:
- Write attention grabbing headlines that use evocative language, are relevant to what your audience cares about and clearly define the benefit the reader will get from spending time on the piece.
- Embrace multimedia. Many users might not read text on a small screen but will look at images or watch videos.
- Offer a mix of content, but make it all scannable. While short form content is generally better for mobile devices, a truly dedicated reader will go through a very long piece on a mobile phone. Breaking up long blocks of text with lists or headings can help, though.
One of the many features built into most mobile devices is location sensing capabilities. Not only do mobile devices know where they are, but they can also let you know where they're viewing you from. This gives you the opportunity to share information on your local offerings, direct them to your nearest location or give them content that is tied to the local area or to local events.
Check Your Metrics -- All Mobile Devices Aren't Equal
Once you have your client's mobile marketing strategy up and running, loop back and measure what is happening. Given the right data mining tools, you can identify patterns between users of similar devices. If mobile phone users are always looking for store locations, you can send them inducements like one day coupons to get them in the store. Tablet users might want to see your video content, while desktop users might need access to your support pages. Understanding this can help you expand your responsive design strategy by back filling it with more device-specific targeted content.
While the popularization of mobile computing is causing significant changes in marketing strategy, mobile devices also make some basic truths about marketing that much truer. Content is still king and users still like content that is applicable to them. With that in mind, a mobile marketing strategy might not be that different from the strategies that preceded it.
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Your client may have the best looking website on the Internet. Their blog and other content on the site may be top-notch. They are showing themselves to be an expert in their field. Your client's entire online presence has been molded and sculpted to be the best it can be.
But does this translate into visits that convert into sales? If your client isn't happy with the results they're getting from their website, they might want to take a look at their SEO content marketing campaign.
SEO Content Marketing - Your Key To Online Success
SEO is the tools and methodology used to increase traffic to a website. The goal is to rank high in the search engines so your business can be easily found. Content is all of the information on your client's website. This includes landing pages, product and service descriptions, photos, videos and perhaps most importantly, the blog.
It all has to work hand in hand. The keys to online success are having people find the site, interact with the site and then, at some point, decide to do business with the company. How do you ensure that this process happens?
Strategies for SEO Content Marketing
Let's look at a few of the things you can do with your content to help the search engines find you and your business:
- Keywords - The blog and the rest of the content on your client's site has to contain relevant keywords. In a nutshell, this is the name of the game. Keywords, and phrases, are what search engines "see" when they look at a site. These have to pertain to the industry. There are many applications, such as Keyword Planner, that can help you to decide which keywords and phrases to use. Research and choose your keywords wisely.
- Blog - If your client's website is too static or does not change often enough people will not engage. You may ask, "But how often am I am doing to change the description of a product or service?". The answer to that is not often. Your blog will be the most dynamic part of your website. Don't let it sit idle. Get on a regular schedule and update it regularly. Give followers and potential customers a reason to visit the website again and again.
- Don't be vanilla - This means don't just put mainly words on your website with some pictures. Be dynamic. Use as many means of presenting information to people as you possible can. Some of the possibilities are: videos, webinars, eBooks, podcasts and whatever else you can think of. Some people may be content with reading information but others may need to see and hear it. Still others might need different forms of graphics to engage with you. Give people many ways to digest information on the website.
- Get help - Blogging and keeping up with the content on the website can be a daunting task. You don't have to do it all by yourself though. Invite others in the industry to guest post a blog for you. You can offer to do the same on their sites. Always link back to your site when you do this. Use experts in the company to share information and expertise they may have on the blog. Don't go it alone. Get help.
- Not just content, good content - You've probably seen the statement "Content is king". Many people mistakenly believe that this equates to more content. Not necessarily. The goal is not to produce more content but quality content. The information has to be timely, relevant and useful. Strive to give website visitors great content. "Wow" them if you can. Don't just give them a lot of words to read.
SEO Content Marketing - Do It Well
Content marketing is nothing new. John Deere published a magazine in 1895. Jell-O had a cookbook in 1904. Sears produced a radio program in 1922. Those companies and many more, including yours, know that getting information about your company out is vital to your business's success.
What has changed is the method of delivering that content. The tips listed above should help your clients with their online marketing. When search engines can find them, customers can engage.
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Have your clients ever asked you, what is content curation? Maybe they've seen it or heard of it, but just didn't know what it was called. Content curation is sorting through the incredible amount of content on the Internet and presenting it in a new way, usually around a specific theme. Just as a museum curator cherry-picks the very best artwork and brings it together in one place, a content curator gathers information useful to his niche audience and presents it in a way that makes it easy to find and digest.
Content curation is different from collecting links. It's not about hoarding vast amounts of information or becoming a theme-specific search engine. It's about vetting, organizing, annotating, and presenting select information in a thoughtful way.
The following are 7 tips to help your clients create effective content curation:
1. Identify Your Audience. Who will be looking at your content? Again, think about museums. Curators of children's museums organize their information very differently than curators of natural history museums. Once you have identified your audience, you can significantly narrow your field of vision.
2. Choose a Theme. With the incredible amount of information always at our fingertips, it's best to be as specific as possible with your theme. Instead of curating material around the theme, "marketing," narrow your focus to "infographics" or "Twitter." It's easier to reach niche audiences than general audiences, so think about your audience and their specific interests.
3. Know Where to Look. Where will you find all of this content to curate? Social media is very helpful for helping you to identify trends and see what people are talking about. News aggregates and blogs are also helpful. Personalize your news feeds for the topics you're currently curating to get the latest information each day.
4. Choose Only High Quality Content. Your reputation as a curator depends on your ability to choose impeccable content. You're the filter. Others depend on you to filter out the junk and promote the gems. This is what helps you to develop a reputation as a thought leader.
5. Be Consistent. If you curate only once in a while, you'll lose your audience. To be consistent, create a curating calendar with specific goals. Maybe you want to curate twice a month. Mark your dates on your calendar and stick to them.
6. Think Ahead. With your dates on your calendar, you have time to think ahead. Along with your dates, put your topics on your calendar. Those topics will percolate in your mind, and you'll be able to collect great content and images as you go along, knowing that "E-book Publishing" is your topic for late next month.
7. Use Social Media Wisely. As you gain success as a curator, you may be tempted to start widening your audience and maybe even your topics. But stay focused, especially with social media. Don't let your bigger audience go to your head and start tweeting about your dinner invitations or your frustrations with your neighbor. Keep your social media focused on your curating to keep your professional edge.
Content curation can be an effective means of marketing your client's brand, so give it a try. When done right, it's an effective way for them to become the go-to resource for their target markets.
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The research is completed and your marketing content is pulled together to create a captivating and engaging message for readers. When the right person reads your client's content at the right time – SUCCESS!
But how can you get to the right potential customer at just the right time? This is where targeted marketing can help.
A targeted marketing strategy will place your marketing content in front of the best decision makers and facilitate your client's specific business goals. Their business objectives may include building a brand, establishing credibility, educating the audience, or enticing that first step in the sales process.
Some of the key methods in a target marketing strategy include:
- Past customers – if you have had a purchase from a person or business previously, there is a good chance that they could be interested in more. Engage your past customers with content based around their prior purchases, or solicit feedback to find out if there are more opportunities.
- Industry forums and groups – become an active participant in forums and group web sites that discuss your products or services. Link your content on these sites, but be sure to keep content informative and provocative – avoid the sales pitch. Sites such as LinkedIn are a growing area to promote your business and engage potential customers.
- Social media – creating a space for your business in social media is a mandatory part of doing business today. Facebook in particular has become very friendly to businesses that wish to engage in targeted marketing content. Setting up targeted posts on Facebook takes only a few clicks and a few advertising dollars.
- Content – the top priority is to make sure your marketing content is enriched with the right keywords and phrases to get noticed by potential customers. This involves research on your target audience and what keywords they are most likely to use when searching for your products or services. Also tailor the tone and approach of the content to capture the attention of the reader and provoke action. If you are an event planning company, for example, you should tailor your content based around the type of clients you desire. Some event planners may want fun and frolic, while others may target elegance or professionalism.
- SEO – never forget the need for search engine optimization (SEO) in all of your online marketing initiatives. Coordinate content, including blog posts, emails, social media and other, so that there is a synchronized message with common SEO enhanced keywords and phrases.
With robust targeted marketing content, your client's business can expect to get to the right people at the right time – those who are searching for solutions that their company provides.
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Creating top-quality content is a lot of work. Perhaps it goes without saying that you want that content to bring your clients more traffic and more sales, but are you doing everything you can to make sure that happens?
If you don’t think and execute strategically, you’re probably wasting your time. And time is money, no matter what business you’re in. So: do you have a deliberate content strategy?
“Publish or perish” has taken on new meaning with the advent of digital marketing. But madly cranking out content and distributing it wherever you can doesn’t necessarily get to where you want to go. Publishing is a vehicle, not the destination.
On the other hand, strategy is what makes winners, whether you’re an Olympic racer or an entrepreneur. Content strategy focuses your clients' marketing efforts so theycan get the best return on their efforts.
They don’t leave the rest of their businesses to chance – churning out new products whether or not anyone wants to buy them. To grow and thrive, they have to create and sell what their customers want. It’s the same for content strategy. Strategy guides what content you create and how you share it with your various audiences.
In order to that, here’s what you need to know to help:
- Your overall business goals, plus your marketing goals. Are you trying to achieve more or better leads? More sales? More social media conversation? Goals determine the tactics you’ll use.
- Your audience. Personas are your “litmus,” with a face and personality. Understanding what each of your key targets wants, how they search for it, where they are in the buying cycle, their potential objections or other barriers to buying from you helps you create meaningful, timely content. What questions do they ask? What’s in it for them if they do buy from you? Each of your personas requires a strategically different approach.
Who, what, when, where, how are all questions you need to answer for yourself as you develop your content strategy. Why is the question you need to answer for your audience. Strategy ties it all together. Chris Moritz suggests focusing on your prospects’ main pain points, using each them as a pillar to build your content strategy. How will you address each one?
Here’s what you need to do:
- Study your analytics. Include your staff in content strategy planning, too -- everyone that has public contact – to get their customer perspective. Make sure they understand the resulting strategy, too, because consistency is critical. You can’t have your sales or customer service people posting messages that don’t jibe with the overall plan.
- Create an editorial calendar – How will you promote your content? Consistency is vital, but so is variety. A calendar helps you prioritize your content, establish timing that makes sense and keep track of what you’re doing. It also ensures you’re using every appropriate format and channel to boost reach and encourage response. You can make the most of specific marketing campaigns as well as authority-building content.
- Create irresistible calls to action. This is the whole point. Disseminating interesting information is nice, but building credibility and authority aren’t enough. CTAs pull people farther into your sales funnel and help you stay engaged with them.
- Stay on top of your SEO. People have to find your content, quickly and easily.
- Consider your budget. Should your strategy include paid advertising?
If strategy development is new for you, Jason deMers has some excellent, detailed advice for you.
Perhaps you’ve deliberately avoided developing a content strategy because:
- It stifles creativity. While stream-of-consciousness content creation may give you a thrill, flying by the seat of your pants isn’t a particularly successful business plan long term. And, truth is, having a content strategy actually requires greater creativity because you’re working toward specific goals and talking to specific audiences
- It stifles spontaneity. That’s why you build flexibility into your editorial calendar. You can grab opportunity immediately when it shows itself, but you also don’t “spontaneously combust” by overlooking opportunities to repurpose and cross-promote your content.
Sure, planning can be tedious for your clients. But think of the rewards. It's all about more traffic, better engagement and more sales. And isn't that what they really want?
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Are your clients ready to take the next big step in marketing their companies? Does this seem like the time for them to commit more resources and effort to growth? Their marketing strategy makes all the difference in this effort. With some planning and foresight you can help them take it to the next level and enjoy greater success this year.
Marketing strategy - Tips for moving forward
With a surprisingly small budget, some time, effort and willingness to monitor and follow-through, your client's marketing campaign can take them where they want to go. Marketing a company well can be the difference between surviving and thriving.
All that goes into your client's marketing campaign can really be considered content. From the setting up of their marketing strategy, to the actual words and graphics that go on the website, make sure you pay close attention to the content.
Following are a few recommendations that may help you and your client's online marketing efforts:
- Commit to a (real) marketing budget - One-fourth of business owners don't spend any money on marketing. Half spend less than $500 a month. That means only about a quarter of business owners spend over $500 per month on a marketing budget. What category do your clients fit into? Maybe it's time to commit some "real" dollars to a marketing budget. This does not mean they need to break the bank. There is a strategy for any budget; the key is to set realistic goals and track the return on investment (ROI). To help them get there, consider employing the help of outside professionals as necessary.
- Referrals from other businesses - Do your clients partner with other businesses to get referrals? If not, they should. In most cases. you have to interact with other businesses (accountants, graphic designers, IT) to run your own. Why not use these relationships to refer clients to each other? This can be a very formal relationship where you agree to commissions or just a very informal deal where each of you agrees to "put in a good word" for each other. This can be a great source of new business for your clients.
- Review, or build, a great website - Take a good hard look at the website. If they don't have one, take steps to build one. You want a site that is simple but effective. Your client's website is how others see them, their company and brand. Make sure that the site is easy to use, updated regularly and optimized for search engine optimization (SEO). Put effort into the website--it's a critical component of success.
- It's not on autopilot - Don't think you can just come up with a marketing plan, put it into place and it's going to run automatically. You have to devote time and effort to the campaign and related marketing strategy. How much time? That will depend on your client's goals and resources.
- Mobile friendly! - More and more people are using smartphones and tablets today. Many only use these devices for online interaction. Make sure their website and online presence if optimized for mobile users. This will probably require you to get professional help. Do so. This is money well spent, as you will be missing out on a huge segment of your client's customers if their website is not optimized for mobile users.
- All sorts of content - Don't be content with the content! Many site owners use their blog, and content, to convey timely and pertinent information about their company. Make sure emphasis is put on fresh, updated content and graphical elements such as videos, images and inforgraphics. People see and learn by different methods. Give them many ways to digest your content.
Marketing strategy - Get ahead with great marketing
It's 2014, and it's time to move forward with your client's marketing strategy. Use these tips to improve their bottom line now, and set up long-term success in the future.
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Like anything fashionable, the one thing that can be said with certainty about web marketing in 2014 is that things will change. It's the only constant in this dynamic field. After all, just a few years ago, we were posting on My Space and RSS feeds were the latest thing. Now, both are all but extinct. However, there are a few web marketing trends to watch for the coming year that we feel can help your clients entice and retain customers. Below are the top five we think you should keep your (and their) eyes on:
1. Mobile marketing. According to a study by Pew American Internet and Life Project cited by CNN, more than two-thirds of Americans use their cell phones to access the Internet. That's nearly double the number of people who used their phones to surf the Web in 2009. In addition, the study found that more than 21 percent of consumers with a mobile device use that device in favor of their PC or laptop for Web browsing. That means that if your company hasn't taken steps to make its content friendly and easy-to-read by mobile device users, you're missing out on an increasingly large segment of the marketplace.
2. Geo-based marketing. As more and more people use mobile devices (armed with GPS tracking software), more and more tech-savvy marketers will be showing them ads based on their current location. For instance, if you're approaching a city by care, you'll see restaurant and store ads for that city. Some companies are even targeting consumers inside a competitor's store with price-busting offers. According to one study cited by econsultancy, 62 percent of mobile web users are open to the idea of location (or geo) target advertising.
3. Content marketing. Content is still king in 2014, even if businesses are using it somewhat differently. Rather than the keywork-heavy content strategy of the past, today's content marketing focuses on relationship building. Increasingly, consumers are looking to get to know a company or a professional before they make a buying decision. Content that answers their questions and presents your company as an expert in your field helps to build that consumer confidence.
4. Niche social media sites. Another of the web marketing trends to watch for in 2014 is smaller, niche social media sites. Instead of mass marketing on huge sites like Facebook, where only a fraction of the site's more than one billion users may be interested in a company's product, marketers are opting to be visible on smaller sites that mesh with their product. The phenomenal growth of Pinterest helps to proof the value of this marketing strategy. In addition, relatively tiny sites like Good Reads (for book lover, publishers, authors and bookstores) or Ravel (for sewing enthusiasts and companies that sell sewing related products) are seeing more companies enter their ranks and interact with the membership. Although being visible on such sites requires more work than buying a generic Facebook ad, you know that you'll be reaching consumers who have already expressed an interested in your market. This is one of the web marketing trends that's sure to continue as more and more niche social media sites are launched.
5. More visual marketing. According to one infographic by the Jenkins Group that's circulating around Facebook, only 30 percent of Americans have walked into a bookstore in the last year and 33 percent of high school graduates and 42 percent of college graduates never pick up a book after they graduate. Clearly, we are a visual, not a textual society. Marketers are finding increasing ways to entice buyers via videos and pictures. According to Jay Baer of "Convert and Convince.com," the use of images and videos has exploded over the past year." Look for that trend to continue in 2014.
Although there's sure to be one or two exciting and unexpected new web marketing products that emerge in 2014, watching and using the web marketing trends mentioned above for your clients' 2014 business plans can help them stay ahead of their competitors in the fiercely competitive Web marketplace.
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