Traditionally, the point of a press release was to inform the media about something, get their attention and hopefully provide a basis for journalists to write an article. While they still serve that purpose in a limited way, press releases now do much more than that. Harnessing the mighty power of the Web, the humble press release can now not only announce and inform--it can expand one's marketing reach exponentially.
To get the most out of a press release, your clients should be prepared to spend a bit of money on distributing it through sites such as MarketWatch or PRWeb. It’s some of the best exposure they’ll ever get for a couple of hundred dollars.
Here’s what it can do for your client's content marketing campaign:
Boost Your SEO
Because press releases are now published online far more than in print, this offers you the ideal chance to increase your search engine optimization by publishing it on your own site and including your primary keywords in the text. By publishing your press release through a PR service, it fulfills an off-site SEO function by adding your keywords on a highly reputable news site. If the copy contains links back to your site, you’re effectively building quality backlinks.
Provide Content Variety
We keep hearing about how having a wider range of content types raises your site’s credibility in search and generates an improved user experiences. Well, press releases are yet another format to beef up your content arsenal alongside videos, podcasts, white papers, blogs, infographics and social media. Create a section on your site for “News” or “Press Releases” so users can find them easily and they don’t get lost among the other types of content.
Educate Your Readers
Statistics show that readers trust news more than advertising, and as much as you may try to make your content authoritative, the perception is that it’s part of marketing. A press release, however, is considered to be reliable simply because making claims that aren’t true in such a public format is a recipe for business disaster. So when you want to educate your readers using a medium they are likely to believe, a press release is a great way to do it.
Drive Website Traffic
Wherever your press release appears – and it will certainly appear in more places than any of your other types of content – if it carries links to your website it’s going to drive traffic. By using links that lead to the option to download additional content, you encourage visitors to sign up for your offering and gain access to their contact information. A PR Newswire study showed website views increased by up to 77% when supplemental materials were added to press releases.
Create a Public Record
If you use a news service to distribute your press release, you’re creating a public record of the information contained in it. For one thing, it remains published on the news service’s site for a few years, and these sites get high SEO rankings. So, long after it’s buried under newer content on your own site it could still generate page views on the news service site. Whenever anyone searches on your primary keywords, chances are very good that the version posted on the news site will be on the first page of results.
The press releases original purpose of generating interest among news reporters still works. It’s one tried and tested method of telling them about your company, product or service. There’s no guarantee that they will take it up, but it’s usually the only way to bring your business to their attention. If a reporter likes the sound of your release, he or she may well contact you to do an article about the topic. In addition, a well-written press release is often picked up by media outlets and published in its original form as an article for the public to read, especially on a slow news day. This gives you great publicity which is completely free of charge – except, of course, for the cost of the news service’s distribution.
Build Thought Leadership
By sending out press releases in which you’re quoted (and every press release should contain a comment) you build up your reputation as an expert in your field. This helps you to develop your thought leadership potential, to the point that prospective customers will seek you out to purchase your products or services. Once you share it on your social media profiles, you’re increasing brand awareness at the same time.
Overall, the press release has clearly not yet reached the end of its usefulness. It just depends on how you use it.
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Running a successful business blog can be a tricky endeavor. On the one hand, you want to promote your business but don't want to be seen as overtly sales-driven and self-absorbed; on the other, you don't want to be a shrinking violet who never issues a call to action.
Your clients' chances of developing a loyal social media and business following are much better when they develop an approachable rapport with the audience. They want to be that wise mentor who always has time to ask about his little brother's friend's university classes. Such a person is looked up to as a kindly authority, and that's the kind of reputation that will earn business for your clients year in and year out.
How can your clients make sure that their blogs strike this finely tuned balance between empathy and ego? Give their blogs a check-up, and see how they're doing with the following goals:
Provide Helpful Content
Whether or not you're trying to sell something, people will return to your blog again and again if you provide something useful they can't find anywhere else. To figure out what that special something is, put yourself in the shoes of your readers. What do they need? What will send them to Google asking questions you can answer?
Think about the questions you get most often from customers, friends, and acquaintances. If your business remodels basements, perhaps people want to know about costs, building codes, current remodeling trends, and home maintenance. Think less about how your blog can be useful to you and more about how it can be useful to others.
Business tends to bring out the competitive side in people, and this is only natural in a market economy, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the Internet, and specifically social media, rewards generosity. This is not so different from real life.
I recently moved to a new state, and about a week after I moved in, a neighbor showed up on my front porch with a vase of flowers. She invited my family to a cookout and asked if I'd like to join her for coffee with a couple of other women she'd met who had recently moved to the neighborhood. In my time of need, this woman's generosity made me feel welcome in my new home, and I will forever feel indebted to her. Thus, when I bake cookies, I send her a few. When I have extra produce, I send it to her. What comes around goes around, and it's as true on blogs as it is with neighbors.
Say something nice about your competitors, share links and social media information of others in your industry. You'll be surprised at how fast your network grows and at how comfortable your readers suddenly seem. They'll begin sharing, and they'll trust you.
Talk About Them
You know people who can't stop talking about themselves. You can be trapped in a no-end conversation for far too long, realizing that they've been talking about themselves the whole time and haven't paused long enough to ask you how you're doing. Don't be that blog. To make sure you're not that blog, count up the number of times you use the words "I," "us," "we," and "our," in a typical blog post. Then count up the times you use the words "you" and "your." If your first-person pronouns far outweigh your second-person pronouns, you've got an ego problem on your blog.
Make Appropriate Calls to Action
Most blog readers are looking for information. They're not ready to contact you or get a free estimate for replacement windows. They just want to know the best time of year for cleaning their window screens. If you consistently post inappropriate (overly aggressive) calls to action, readers will find blogs to read that seem more friendly to them. Instead of pushing readers to contact you or to buy, ask them to share your blog with friends, sign up for an email newsletter, or "Pay With a Tweet." These less-threatening calls to action are just aggressive enough to hold your readers' attention but not so aggressive that they find someone else's blog to read.
By infusing a blog with a healthy balance of empathy and ego, your clients can attract loyal readers without turning them off. Faithful readers eventually turn into customers, so help cultivate their loyalty carefully. If your clients are their customers' best friends, they will enjoy the harvest by reaping what they have sown.
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Your clients need content. You know that. But have you given thought to what you want that content to do for them? Obviously you want it to bring in traffic, but did you know that the right kind of content will do some pretty heavy lifting for them? This is what we call shareable content.
Shareable content is content that just begs to be not just liked, but passed around to the reader’s friends or audience. You want your content read, watched, and/or experienced by as many people as possible. What better way to get it in front of the most interested (and qualified) prospects than by developing content that, with the enthusiastic help of a few, will reach many more?
What promotes content sharing? Go back and think about what gives you the impetus to share something with your online friends or audience. What type of content do you see and immediately think, “This would be very interesting to so many people.”? What makes you want to go through even the minimal trouble of clicking a social media share button?
As it happens, quite a few social media, content marketing, and search engine marketing experts have determined at least 6 types of content that seem to get shared most readily.
Each of these types of content benefit from all the same content qualities that have been called out for years. Shareable content draws people in with a great headline and packaging. It keeps them reading when it is original and skimmable. Exclusive content is very compelling because of its scarcity. And it inspires action.
The type of arousal is also important. Sadness isn’t shared as much. Let’s face it, who wants to share a downer? But not all arousal to action need be positive. Some of the most shared content arouses anger and anxiety. This content is shared just as readily as content arousing interest or surprise.
Timing of content release and promotion also plays a role in content sharing behavior. There are a variety of online tools that measure statistics about Twitter, for instance, letting you know when the most tweets are made, which are re-tweets, and more. Analytical tools that let you know when the action occurs online helps you know when to release content for best effect or when a promotional social hook will garner the most notice, increasing the chance of content sharing.
Highly shareable content gives your clients the most bang for their marketing buck. While there is no guarantee that any one piece of content will go viral, you can tip the odds in your favor. Build in components of sharability and time the release of the content. This create a higher chance of being noticed by the right people and making them want to share. This can and will make your clients' content work smarter and harder for them.
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Storytelling for the sake of brand marketing isn’t a new concept. Your grandparents and their parents were exposed to it in newspapers, radio commercials, other forms of media and in-brand experiences.
What is new is using storytelling as part of online content to market a brand, which has become a strategic priority for many companies. The problem is that not many people who specialize in online brand marketing have a grasp on the art of writing stories effectively for the Web. A lot of marketers try and fail because they neglect the basics of storytelling.
The best brand storytellers use the following elements of fiction and creative writing to help a brand build an online identity, engage consumers and make an emotional connection:
When a writer crafts a story, she doesn’t tell you in the passages about how great her tale is and the reasons why. She convinces you that the story is great by making it interesting. When you’re storytelling with the aim to market a brand, you don’t make the tale interesting by writing ads, pitches or marketing materials.
Successful brand-marketing stories that are interesting express the personality of a target persona (the brand’s ideal consumer) or someone the target persona cares about. This personality is what makes a connection with the readers and captures interest, not the greatness of a company, product or service.
Every good story has a hero that readers want to see succeed. In a list of story-writing tips by author Kurt Vonnegut on the BrainPickings.org website, Vonnegut says, “Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.” In brand marketing, this character isn’t a company, product or service. Instead, it’s a fictional character or third person that connects on an emotional level with the readers in a way that makes them want to follow the adventure, ideas and lessons that you share in the story.
In brand marketing, you can’t just tell a reader that the main character had a problem that was promptly solved with the help of the brand. Like a regular story, a brand’s story must have a strong opening setup (beginning), climax (middle) and a resolution (end). Make every sentence, as Vonnegut puts it, “reveal character or advance the action.” A story that’s unified and has a forward sense of motion is one that engages the readers. If the consumer enjoys reading about the character’s journey, she’ll naturally talk about it with others (hopefully with coveted social media shares) and become more invested in the brand.
Today’s consumers aren’t very trusting. They’ve learned that people will say anything to say a buck and that not everything on the Internet is true. In the same way, when a good writer creates a novel or short story, he uses his own natural writing style. He doesn’t pretend that he’s Shakespeare or use a particular writing style for the sake of making his own work stand out.
In the article “Novel Writing: “7 Simple Ways to Make a Good Story Great” on the Writer’s Digest website, Elizabeth Sims points out that a good storyteller knows that the readers who appreciates his writing style is his target demographic. When it comes to writing a story for brand marketing, the tale has to be honest and founded on the reality of brand. When brand stories are honest and transparent, they’re consistent and creative without being confusing or seeming farfetched.
Leave Them Wanting More
Your favorite restaurant makes you feel satisfied and complete. It leaves you wanting more because you can’t get enough of the great service or the mouth-watering food. The restaurant didn’t become your favorite eatery because it promised a three-course meal, but in the end, made you wait until “next time” for dessert.
Similarly, when you leave a reader wanting more in a story, you don’t necessarily leave them in suspense. In brand marketing, suspense is a consumer’s waste of time because in today’s fast-paced world, instant gratification is king. When you write a story, leave the reader with a complete sense of understanding, but use perpetual marketing to make readers come back for more because they look forward to the brand’s next installment.
Creative storytelling in brand marketing helps fill the emotional wells within consumers. When you do it right, it energizes new consumers, delivers a sought-after solution and converts leads. At the same time, a great brand story continues to satisfy and engage active customers, thus keeping them loyal.
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With a 90% usage rate by B2B marketers alone, content marketing has become the biggest tool in the marketer’s box. Certainly content retains its kingship but the crown will slip if it isn’t used appropriately. If your clients are planning to increase spending in this area, they should follow these 7 best practices for lead generation to get the most out of the content marketing budget.
Who’s the Target?
Content must reach the “person to whom you are speaking.” Identify your perfect customers and determine what they need to know. The most compelling content in the world won’t generate any leads if it doesn’t attract the audience most likely to buy. Lead generation is about conversions, not likes or shares.
Do It Right
The old adage that you only get one chance to make a first impression still holds true. Poorly written or produced content reflects poorly on your company. Prospective buyers want to know you are an expert. Look and sound like one.
- Use appropriate language.
- Show (don’t just tell) your expertise.
- Invest in good production.
Write for Relevancy
Those perfect customers will only stick with you long enough to convert if the content you provide is relevant to their situation. Their biggest concern is how you can solve their problem. Show them you not only feel their pain, you know how to relieve it. The content that generates leads will speak directly to the benefits of your product or service. Don’t list features; illustrate exactly how your company can help with specific issues.
How do you know your product will work for their problem? Show them the proof. Find industry reports, articles by experts, or testimonials that it has worked for others.
Tell Them the Next Step
Your content needs an effective call to action that guides your prospects to the next step: trusting you enough to share some information, try your product, or simply learn more. Calls to action are excellent tools for segmenting your audience and starting each one down the path most appropriate to their needs.
Remember, you need content for folks in all stages of the funnel. Content that brings them into the top of the funnel is just the first step. A qualified lead ready to pass to sales has different information needs than someone who is just realizing there is a problem to solve.
Write for Multiple Formats
People consume content in a dazzling array of formats. Content has never been limited to the written word. It has always included images, video, and other methods of conveying information. Make your content accessible not just for the desk top but for mobile and other digital tools.
This doesn’t mean print is dead. If your targets respond to magazine ads, direct mail, or newspaper articles, make sure your content comes across just as powerfully there as online. Mix digital with traditional print by offering content in printable yet interactive formats such as PDF.
Promote, Promote, Promote
You have the content but how will everyone know? Find ways to let the world, or at least your corner of it, know that you have something to say. While good content will be optimized for search, you also want to reach those who may not be actively researching but whose attention may be caught by information that helps them identify a problem to solve.
Use every outlet to promote your content to those who need to know. Sure, you can use Twitter but don’t neglect other methods of getting the word out.
- Industry specific forums.
- Your blog.
- Someone else’s blog; preferably an influencer with followers matching your buyer persona.
- Newsletters, both electronic and print.
- Social networks: the usual (Linked In, Facebook) and more specialized (trade group forums)
- Press Releases
There are many reasons to use content marketing from brand awareness to building loyalty. But without generating leads that become customers, your business will not grow. The best content has a specific job to do. Lead generating content must do its job as well.
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Have you ever stopped to think who influences your clients' decisions? You should, because you’ll gain valuable insight into the types of people who are probably influencing their marketing targets, too. In other words, you’ll uncover some practical content marketing tips.
Influencers can come from any number of external sources, but let’s look at internal influencers – those who work with the primary marketing audience. These people hold a golden key to marketing success, because even if primary target holds final purchasing authority, they aren’t deciding in a vacuum.
But how on earth are you going to reach these elusive influencers, to enlist their overt and/or subconscious support? Here are four content marketing tips that should help:
1. Understand how influence works.
A person can wield influence because of their knowledge and experience, position of authority, a personal relationship or simply their ability to communicate well. So some internal influencers are rather obvious, whereas others can be far more subtle. They could be anyone from the receptionist to the CEO.
You have to analyze your audience’s working environment. What is your target’s formal decision-making process? Do they have to get formal approval from upper managers or the C-suite? If your target is a C-level executive, which managers or line staff have their ear when it comes to your products or services?
Thankfully, if you’re selling to a niche market, it should be easier to detect patterns among your audience that will, in turn, reveal effective content marketing tips to reach them. If you’re visually inclined, you can even create a map or chart that shows internal patterns of influence that affect your target audience.
But your audience’s buying stage matters, too. Some “influencer watchers” suggest that internal influence doesn’t kick in until the winnowing process begins in mid-funnel – narrowing product or vendor options to reach that final buying decision. I would suggest that it depends on what you’re selling, because internal influencers could easily identify a “new need” your target didn’t know existed, putting your target in an initial search position.
Some internal influencers aren’t co-workers, although they are colleagues. Think legal, accounting or other outsourced professionals. Or consultants, contracted to perform a specific project. These people can have enormous influence, because they’re expected to provide knowledgeable, authoritative advice. If you’re selling something they could be referring to their own clients -- your targets -- these folks are must-have advocates.
2. Create influencer personas.
Just as you do for primary targets, creating personas for key types of internal influencers forces you to think about who they are. What’s their role – financial, customer service, end-users? What motivates them? Who influences them?
Concentrate on the two or three most significant personas. What types of content – both topics and formats -- and which delivery platforms do they prefer? You can market directly to them, and you can ultimately turn them into staunch advocates for your company and products or services.
3. Create content directly aimed at key influencer types.
Content marketing tips to reach these folks come down to one thing: tailored targeting. You can use your online analytics to track topics and conversational patterns, to see which content and platforms are paying off in ways that match your strategic goals.
Identify your internal influencers’ social media groups and communities. Join and participate, to build awareness and trust. Engage them directly, to build personal relationships as you would with primary targets. Create a newsletter or blog articles specifically aimed at a group of influencers -- for instance, product users -- to provide ongoing tips that help them be more productive or make their work easier.
You’ll definitely make friends.
4. Try my favorite among content marketing tips: ASK them.
What better question to pose to your clients' target audience than “Who influences decisions in your company regarding (our product/service)?” Ask about the official decision-making chain but also about informal discussions around the water cooler, at lunch, etc.
Strategically speaking, this kind of conversation goes to the heart of engagement with the target audience. And we all know that one of the greatest benefits of social media can be the input you receive from prospects and customers that helps your clients refine their product line or create new offerings.
Why not let them provide content marketing tips to reach their influencers as well?
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More than half of Americans (56%) have a social media account, according to an Edison Research survey. And, if you think it's just the kids who are "liking" and tweeting and sharing, you're wrong. The same survey found that more than half of Americans aged 45 to 54 have a social media profile.
Faced with numbers like that, most companies small and large are boosting their marketing efforts to include social media marketing. After all, Facebook alone has more than a billion registered users and more than 750,000,000 monthly users, according to eBizMBA. Numbers like that are difficult to ignore. However, if your clients' social media content development efforts stop at Facebook and Twitter, they're missing some good marketing opportunities.
Social media extends far beyond those big two names. There are currently more than 400 social media sites and more are being added each week:
1. LinkedIn. LinkedIn was created in 2003 as a way for business professionals to network and for companies to find employees who had the job experience they were seeking. Over the past decade, this site with approximately 110 million monthly users has evolved into much more. If your product is aimed at professionals in a single industry (like catering managers) or a single job (like HR professionals), LinkedIn can help you target just those people who are likely to need your product or service.
2. Pinterest. This fast-growing social media newbie launched in 2010 and has since amassed more than 85 million monthly users, the majority (85%) of whom are women. Pinterest works like an online bulletin board where users create and share (pin) items with a common thread, like children's birthday cake ideas or great golf vacation destinations. However, you don't necessarily need a craft or food product to use Pinterest effectively. Content Marketing Institute offers several good ideas for marketing on Pinterest, including creating a board featuring your customer testimonials or highlighting boards that offer tips relating to your product or industry.
3. Good Reads. If you are an author, a book publisher or if you sell a book-related product, you need to include Good Reads in your content development plans. Good Reads allows authors and book people to interact directly with their readers via real time chats, online interviews and author blogs. You can also send marketing messages directly to people who have read your author's books or who have read and enjoyed similar authors.
4. YouTube. YouTube isn't just for silly kitten videos and kids trying to show off to their friends. According to Pixability.com, branded videos are the most effective way to showcase your product or service. It only makes sense. Why just tell readers about your product, when you can show them? Videos work for a variety of products. For example,if you sell a food product, you can show how to use it in a recipe. If you sell HVAC services, you can produce a video about easy furnace maintenance tips. The possibilities are almost endless.
5. Cafe Mom. Cafe Mom is a virtual coffee hour for moms of all ages and sizes. Currently, the site has approximately 12.5 million monthly users. Though primarily a social site, like the early Facebook, you can market on the site as long as you follow the rules and trend lightly. You want to friend first, market second. However, the rewards can be worth the effort. For instance, you can just market to new mothers in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston or to pregnant military moms, whatever best suits your product.
6. Google+. Admittedly, Google's entry into social media is a little awkward and setting up your initial profile takes a little time. However, spending a minute of so to connect your content development efforts with the search engine giant could pay off in the long run. Although Google is somewhat secretive about Google+'s exact numbers, eBizMBA estimates the site's unique monthly users to be around 65 million. Not only does Google+ interface with other Google products, like YouTube, Gmail and Google Docs, but Copyblogger.com views Google+ as the all-in-one marketing site of the future. Even if it's not, a little Google love from using their social media site couldn't hurt.
What's the bottom line? Don't abandon Facebook and Twitter when planning your clients' content development. However, it makes sense to consider adding a few additional social media sites to the mix, sites that are aimed at an audience targeted to your product or service.
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With content now a cornerstone of inbound marketing, it’s vital that the material your clients post on their sites reaches the right people. It’s often said that the tighter your niche, the more successful your marketing will be – after all, you don’t need millions of customers, do you? You just need enough of the right ones!
So the smaller and more focused the group that you are speaking to, the more targeted your content is likely to be. That doesn’t happen by accident; it happens by developing a targeted content strategy aimed at reaching precisely the customers your clients want.
Tip #1: Identify Target Market Segments
First off, you need to know who your audience is. Not just the broad target market, but specifically who you want to reach. You do this by identifying your primary target group, then breaking it down into sub-groups based on common needs and wants. Let’s say you’re a remodeling contractor, for example. Sure, you can do everything from fixing a roof to remodeling a bathroom. That makes homeowners your general target market. But that’s really, really broad, so narrowing it down by location and project could give you a primary niche of, say, new homeowners in a specific geographical area who are looking to remodel their bathrooms.
Once you’ve done that, you can segment the market further. Possible segmentation could look like this:
Segment 1 – Young couples in their first home, who want a romantic master bathroom
Segment 2 – Families needing to remodel the second bathroom to accommodate young children
Segment 3 – Mature families wanting to remodel a bathroom for their senior years or their dependent parents
Each of these segments gives you the opportunity to target them specifically with your content, regardless of whether you choose one niche or more.
Tip #2: Develop Customer Personas
Even segmentation isn’t enough for a real, targeted content strategy. You also need to develop buyer personas. Compile detailed profiles for each segment based on real-life characters who fit into those groups. Here’s an example:
Joe Smith, 52, lives with his wife in Greenside, Ohio in a family home he’s owned for 25 years. Joe’s 78 year old mother Betty is coming to live with them in six months, probably for the rest of her life. Betty has severe arthritis, which means she has limited mobility and needs special aids and a walk-in bathtub.
If you’re targeting segment 3, won’t this give you better insight into how to target Joe Smith with your content strategy, as opposed to the strategy you would use to target buyers in segment 2?
Tip #3: Map Content to Stages in the Buying Cycle
Working backwards, start with a customer buying your remodeling services for his bathroom from you. The buyer moves through the cycle of Awareness, Evaluation and then Purchase, and at each stage you want to encourage him to move to the next. Ask the following questions:
What route would the buyer take to get from identifying his need (awareness) to making a purchase (in this case, contracting you to renovate his bathroom)?
What content can you provide to help buyers in the Awareness stage identify their needs?
How can you facilitate prospective buyers’ evaluation of the services available to remodel bathrooms for senior safety in a way that will ensure they choose your services?
What can you offer to persuade the buyer to close the deal (Purchase stage)?
Tip #4: Look for the Sweet Spots
While this is the ideal scenario, it may be impossible for a small business to create the amount of material needed for a targeted content strategy of this nature. That’s where intersections can help. Called “sweet spots” these intersections are opportunities where one buyer persona intersects with another, and you can target both with the same content. For example: combine the marketing a bathroom remodel for elderly parents with marketing of a remodel in preparation for the buyer’s own senior years. That gives you two market segments for the price of one. Double bang for your buck!
Tip #5: Make Price Irrelevant
If your car needs work, who would you rather take it to - the guy at the corner or the mechanic who specializes in the same make? The latter, I’m certain. Especially if it doesn’t depend on the cost. If your targeted content strategy is effective and you can establish your reputation as an expert in a very specific niche, you can make price almost irrelevant in the scheme of things.
Nobody believes in an “expert” who can do everything; but many, many people believe in an expert who remodels bathrooms for seniors. And when Joe Smith wants the very best for his mother – or himself – he’ll likely be prepared to spend a little more to make sure he gets it. The days are gone when you could advertise to everyone. They’re no longer listening and won’t respond, because they’re busy hearing the message from someone else that speaks to them directly.
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Everybody’s publishing marketing content these days - including your clients - and we’re all competing fiercely for the reader’s attention. It simply doesn’t pay to spend time and money producing content that your five loyal followers read; it isn’t economically viable. So how can you make sure your clients' content stands out from the rest, gets noticed and produces results? Here are 5 tips to help marketers to do that:
Review Your Intros
More than ever, readers are scanning marketing content to see if it holds anything of value for them. We all know about attention-grabbing headlines, but what’s the next thing a user reads after the headline? The introduction, or at least the first part of it. This needs to tell your reader clearly what you’re talking about in the post. Forget the background waffle leading into the topic, or put it somewhere else in the piece. Most people reading it already know something about your business, or they can do additional research to find out. Take this post for example – you know by the second sentence in the intro what we’re going to cover here, and we do.
Set up Google Authorship
With the oodles of marketing content available, we’re becoming particularly picky about what we take any notice of. Content written by recognized names fares better than that produced by unknown writers. By setting up Google authorship your avatar will appear alongside any search engine results that include your posts. It shows the number of circles you’re in and links to other information about you. This goes a long way towards helping to establish your online reputation, and the more readers you can attract the more credibility you will enjoy.
Focus Tightly on Your Niche
You’re almost never going to attract readers who aren’t already interested in your subject matter, so why do we all spend so much time trying? The more tightly you focus your marketing content on your niche, or even better, on a niche-within-a-niche, the more likely you are to appeal to people who are seriously interested. People who might actually buy!
Consider social media – every jack, john and harry these days is spouting about social media. Trouble is, I see so many “Social Media 101” -type articles that it’s rare to find something with in-depth information that speaks to those of us who already have a fair bit of knowledge. So when I find one of those gems, I read it, share it and save it. Which is pretty much what every writer of the 101 posts wants, but doesn’t get.
Forget generalism. Focus very specifically, and the people who want to read your stuff will do so. After all, those are the only people you really need to reach. Quality over quantity and all that.
Use a Variety of Media
Text is just soooo boring! And who has time to read extensively, anyway? Pepper your marketing content with images, video clips, podcasts, infographics, spreadsheets and checklists – anything and everything that can make the experience more interesting than facing a solid wall of text! And when you do publish text, break it up with new paragraphs, subheadings, bullet points and number lists so it’s easy for readers to skim to determine whether there’s value in the piece for them.
Give Readers a Reason to Share
Let’s revisit the whole quantity versus quality thing. To reach a tight niche or market segment, unless you’re sending them all an email the best way to distribute your marketing content is to get your readers to share it for you. But seriously, they aren’t going to share it because they like you – even if they do. Give them an incentive to do so, and you’ll realize quality shares that generate leads and conversions.
I remember attending a HubSpot webinar in 2012 with Dan Zarella, where the attendee who tweeted using the webinar hashtag the most times during the event won a free info session with him or a discounted course. Guess what? In an hour the hashtag reached 11,000 tweets! Motivation works wonders.
It’s challenging to find creative ways to present marketing content that reaches your clients' target audience, beats the competition and generates the sales leads you want. It’s not impossible, however, and given the level of competition for attention that all content marketers face, it’s absolutely vital that you do so if you want your efforts to succeed.
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In this quickly and continuously evolving marketing environment, it can be difficult to know which digital marketing and social media activities are most likely to provide results for a business. What might be effective for one industry or product may not work as well for others.
The only thing that is certain is today's competitive businesses are willing to invest significant time and resources to develop their content marketing and social media strategies.
As Linda Abraham, comScore's CMO and EVP of Global Product Development noted in their 2013 U.S. Digital Future in Focus Report, "Navigating this changing landscape requires a holistic understanding of the key trends, underlying drivers and new opportunities that the digital ecosystem will bring in the year ahead.”
Today's marketing and advertising executives need a solid understanding of how customers respond to content marketing such as blogs, websites, online videos, and social media posts. Recognizing the basic characteristics of great content and identifying trends in customers' online and offline reaction to it enables marketing departments to focus their strategies on the areas that will bring results in the form of increased sales and more customers.
The Intersection of Content Marketing and Social Media.
Content marketing refers to providing information in a variety of forms to market a business. Whether this information is a direct call to consumers to buy a product or service, or a more subtle presentation of useful or entertaining information to attract potential customers, businesses of all sizes are embracing content marketing as the future of advertising.
According to the study B2C Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America, completed by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 86 percent of business-to-customer organizations use content marketing to reach their customers. Of those, 84 percent use social media rather than blogs as part of their content strategy. Businesses see the potential of digital content and social media, but of the many ways to distribute content using these channels, which ones provide the best ROI? What type of content gets the best results in terms of customer engagement?
Storytelling is proving to be an effective method of grabbing and engaging the customer, and lends itself well to a variety of content marketing methods. While the traditional storytelling techniques of case studies and testimonial have a place on company websites or print marketing materials, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and even YouTube are exciting venues for visual or video storytelling.
Sharing information in the form of a story is a more personal approach to marketing. People like to hear how others solved a problem or achieved success, and are more likely to remember and share that content with others than if the same information is presented in the form of a dry product description or list of statistics.
Online users have short attention spans and may be viewing content on a tablet or smartphone while they perform other tasks, so grab their attention immediately with compelling images or messages. Businesses can invite user-generated stories from social media followers by asking them to post their favorite stories or images.
Influencers and Brand Fans in Social Media Communities
The power of social media as a form of content marketing lies in the ability to attract brand fans and influencers who will share the content with a wider range of consumers, increasing a business' digital reach. Brand fans are those individuals who love a brand so much they will retweet or share content with their own social media followers based simply on their loyalty and love for a brand.
Influencers are third parties who have large social media followings that include the same demographic a business targets. Their opinions matter, and people listen to their recommendations and reviews. Celebrities, academics, recognized subject matter experts, and even some bloggers can now be considered influencers.
Businesses can nurture relationships with brand fans and reach out to influencers through social media. Something as simple as acknowledging when content is shared, posting their user-generated content, or engaging in a public online conversation can help build these relationships and expand the social media reach of a business.
Making Your Social Media Content Search Friendly
The best content in the world is ineffective if no one reads it, and with the explosion of Facebook posts, tweets, pins and YouTube videos this is especially true of social media. Content must be easily found by both search engines and human users. Using hashtags, words or phrases preceded by the # sign categories social media posts and allows users to easily locate what they are looking for.
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