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What Is Content Curation? A Dummies’ Guide to the Hows, Whats, and Whys

If you’re like most overstretched and under-resourced marketers, you’re too busy to churn out original content that engages prospects, builds relationships, and supports your branding strategy. Fortunately, content curation is a pretty simple solution that can help you deliver meaningful and relevant content to your audience consistently.

What is content curation, though? Why should you consider adding it to your brand’s content marketing strategy? How do you even curate content? You’re about to find out the answers to these pressing questions and so much more.

What is content curationWhat Is Content Curation?

It’s easier to find and comment on relevant pieces of content than it is to create your own masterpiece from scratch. That’s precisely what content curation is.

It’s the process of aggregating data about a specific topic, distilling that information to identify the most important ideas, organizing those ideas into a logical order, adding your unique spin to them, and then presenting the content to your adoring audience.

You’re not regurgitating what you’ve read. You’re simply repurposing, repackaging, and contributing your own insight to third-party content.

Why Your Business Should Consider This Tactic

Believe it or not, curation offers your brand a number of powerful benefits.

Content curation gives brands an advantage

Content curation gives brands an advantage.

  • Improve efficiency – Most businesses find it impossible to satisfy the ravenous appetites of their online community members. Curation allows you to feed your audience with quality information on a frequent basis without sacrificing time and resources designated to other areas of your business.
  • Establish thought leadership – Adding your own perspective and unique voice not only allows you to add your brand’s stamp to the article, but it also positions you as the go-to authority on a particular subject.
  • Increase brand visibility – Curated content can boost your SEO efforts and improve your rankings. There’s also the viral aspect to consider since people are likely to share cream-of-the-crop information that’s presented to them in a neat little package.
  • Educate your market – Essentially, you’re connecting your brand’s voice with the voices of industry experts. You’re participating in a bigger conversation and helping your prospects and customers gain an in-depth understanding of the topic at hand.
  • Enhance the level of brand trust – When you can show the audience through your commentary that you’ve read the article and raised its value, they’re more likely to trust the content you deliver.
  • Create networking opportunities – Drive traffic to a quality article and you might find the author thanking you with an invitation to connect. They may even share a little link love.

Is curation for everyone? Unfortunately, it’s not.

You’ll need to determine whether there’s dominant competition in your area of focus already, as well as the scope of opportunity to source and organize disparate pieces of information. You may find your focus is too narrow to offer added value on a consistent basis.

The Process

5 Steps for Content Curation

The Dos and Don’ts of Curation

Although content curation is fairly simple, there are a few guidelines every marketer needs to follow.

#1 – Do stay within the allocated time limit.

If you had a penny for every piece of content published each minute, the chances are you wouldn’t be reading this article. The reality is you are, so apart from warning you about the risk of information overload, it’s a good time to remind you that your research time, as well as the paid resources you intend to use, must form part of your content marketing budget. While it’s easy to get lost in a virtual maze of fresh articles, it’s crucial to remain focused. Limit distractions to ensure you digest content in a meaningful way and put your research time to good use.

#2 – Don’t rely on curation alone.

Content creation can be resource- and time-intensive, which is why a good content marketing strategy should incorporate both created and curated pieces. However, a brand that places it’s future solely on the works of others doesn’t have much of a future at all. Curated content is designed to complement your content creation plan—not replace it.

#3 – Do select content that provides value to your audience.

The most important part of curating content is handpicking pieces that are most relevant to the needs of your audience. That requires in-depth knowledge of your readership, as well as the ability to mine, organize, and present a customized collection of content based on a specific issue or theme.

#4 – Don’t forget to add your brand’s flavor.

Content curation isn’t a simple cut and paste job. If you want people to read your content and come back for more, you need to inject your brand’s personality into your curated blog posts, newsletters, and social media snippets. Provide summaries of key points, add your own opinion or perspective, or offer insightful information that will further help readers make sense of the article you’re sharing.

#5 – Do honor authorship of the originals by citing the writers and your sources.

Common sense should tell you that plagiarism is unethical, so make certain you give credit where it’s due.

#6 – Do use multiple sources.

You need to give your readers a diverse mix of engaging and relevant content, which is why selecting a variety of pieces from different sources is essential. Put on your proverbial editor’s hat and search for informative and intellectually challenging material, as well as light-hearted tidbits of interesting insight that are sure to entertain while educating. Whatever you do, avoid unnecessary confusion by sticking to your theme or topic.

Resources and Tools to Make Content Curation Easy

Google Alert for content curationWhether you’re sourcing, organizing, or preparing third-party content for distribution, the following tools and resources can make the process a little less time-consuming.

Google Alerts: Set up search queries that relate to your audience’s needs and then let Google do part of the research work for you. In addition to monitoring the web for interesting new content based on your keyword terms, the search giant will deliver results to your inbox so you can easily sort through the content links in one place.

HootSuite: Recently, HootSuite integrated ContentGems’ content curation app into their already robust service offering. This collaboration means you can now find meaningful content based on your keywords and social signals, and then push those links, along with your own customized snippets, to the social media channels you prefer.

Google News: Source the latest stories from thousands of popular news outlets.

Curata: This smart tool rummages through the Internet to identify relevant content, lets you catalog its findings in a way that makes sense, and then publishes content to the channels of your choice. As a bonus, it’ll measure your results so you can maximize your reach.

Social Media Sites: Most social platforms have their own search functionality, allowing you to dig for relevant posts. Beware though; social media sites are noisy so you’ll need to stay focused.

Alltop: This feed aggregator allows you to gain quick access to the hottest topics and stories from the best sites and blogs on the web. Create customized collections of curated feeds and then use them as your go-to source when you need something new and profound to share with your online communities.

Storify: Bring a narrative element to your curated content by collecting, publishing, and sharing content through this information network.

Addict-o-matic: Create a customized page of the latest headlines from top sources. Move or delete sites, and then bookmark your custom view for future reference.

Other great sources include RSS feeds and newsletters you subscribe to, social bookmarking sites, Google Blog Search, industry-related forums, and archived databases. There are thousands of content aggregators and curators to choose from, so you’ll never be hard-pressed to find juicy morsels you can share with your fans.

Are you curating content to spice up your content marketing strategy? If you’re holding back, tell us why in the comment section below. If you have additional tips, share them!

Google Penguin Update 2.0

The next generation of the Google Penguin Update (2.0) was rolled out on May 22, 2013. As was the case for many other algorithm updates, some people were rejoicing, others were holding their breath and everyone who had a stake in what happened was watching closely. As a side note, it is amazing to see how far Google has come as a company and to realize how many professionals whose livelihoods are attached to what this business does and the decisions that it makes. It’s hard to imagine that a little over a decade ago, this company didn’t exist, and today it has become a leader in online advertising. But I digress. The update, yes, the update. Google Penguin 2.0 is the next iteration that goes deeper into fighting black-hat web spam, and it offers a more comprehensive approach to that end goal.

What Does the Google Penguin Update 2.0 do?

This update is not a data refresh, and it is expected to go a little deeper than the original Penguin update. So, what does that mean, exactly? To understand what Google is going after, you have to understand where they come from as a company. Google’s original and unofficial mantra has always been to not be evil. While their views on corporate culture may have been augmented following their rapid rise to success, users remain a core focus for the company. That being true, they listen to when people are having problems or when things are happening that are negative (as it relates to Google’s search engine or other products).

The first Penguin update focused on the home pages of websites, and when Matt Cutts officially announced the launch of Penguin 2.0 on This Week in Google, he claimed that the algorithm would go deeper into websites to fight spam. While much of the detail remains elusive, Cutts explains that this is the next generation of algorithm updates, and it is designed to have a large impact on black-hat web spam.

Other Things to Expect for SEO

Google also released a video with their head of web spam explaining other changes besides the Google Penguin update 2.0.

Here, Cutts explains that Google is working harder to go after web spammers in niches that have traditionally been wrought with abuse like payday loans, for example. A notable change is that the company is working harder to communicate with web masters. I’m not sure if you have ever tried to get in contact with Google about a hacked site or malware or for any other reason not associated with spending money, but it can be a tedious process.

Google is also trying to become better at recognizing when someone is an authority in a particular area. Maybe someone publishes a lot of content on SEO that people interact with heavily. Maybe it’s something to do with cooking. Whatever the case may be, search results may be affected if someone is an authority in that niche. Cutts does not allude to what criteria might be used to determine those facts. One of the most powerful things he says in the video is that by the end of the summer, black-hat spammers are less likely to show up in results.

Why should you care?

In my view, there are basically two camps. Those who care about the algorithm update and what it means for their businesses or activities in general, and those who don’t care because they weren’t doing anything that would cause them to lose rankings. That is the one key takeaway from any press release, video or public comments from Google pertaining to algorithm updates. If you were making a great website, making great content, writing for users and, in general, focusing on building your business and not your rankings, then you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If, on the other hand, you were cutting corners, gaming the system, taking the easy way out and putting low quality content out there, you will be very busy this summer reorganizing your strategy.

Have you been affected by the new Penguin update? Were you doing anything that could have caused you to lose rankings? Join in the conversation by commenting below.

10 SEO Keyword Research Best Practices

Despite the algorithmic genius of Google’s search engine and all the sophisticated SEO tactics available to speak with it, keywords remain a fundamental element of ranking a web page. Although there are hundreds of factors that contribute to where a site falls in SERPs, without keywords (or should I say without the right keywords), your site may not show up at all. The following 10 SEO keyword research best practices should help you make proper decisions regarding key terms for your website.

Avoid Broad Terms in SEO Keyword Research

Depending on your brand, industry, goals or your own personal beliefs, there will be broad words that you have to target no matter how competitive they are. In general, though, you should try and avoid broad terms for your targeting. For one thing, broad terms don’t work well in terms of searcher intent (more on that in number 4), but no one uses them. Search engines have been around for a while now, and they have gotten very good at delivering results for people. As such, we know that we can type in a 5- to 10-word query and probably find what we are looking for. If you are looking for a bed for your specific breed of dog, why on earth would you search for “dog bed” when you could search for “cotton dog bed for schnauzer.”

Use More Than One Resource for Traffic Data

There is no shortage of SEO keyword research tools to help you in your efforts to rank your web page. It doesn’t really matter which of the popular ones you use, but what does matter is getting a second opinion. If you are advertising your business, you don’t just go to one ad firm and take what they say as the end-all-be-all of what you should do. No! You talk to a few of them, you feel out the landscape, you ask your friends and then you make a decision. Choosing keywords is not that involved, but you should still collect data from more than one resource before settling on a set of phrases.

Pay Attention to Competitiveness

If you are using a tool like Google’s Keyword Tool, or Traffic Travis or whatever else you are fond of, don’t ignore the competitiveness of a keyword phrase. It is tempting to go with a phrase because you think it is crucial to your brand or your business. If you want to, that’s fine, but don’t break your back trying to rank an important page for a super-competitive term. Choose terms that are mildly competitive. Not only will you not have to work as hard, but you will get more targeted traffic because less competitive terms tend to be those that are more specific.

Think About Your Customers

Ah, now for searcher intent. This is one of my favorite things to talk about because it puts the human element back into the equation. When you are doing SEO on a site or having someone else do it, forgetting that it’s people looking for your site USING a search engine is easy to do. People have a goal in mind when they enter a query into a search engine, and that is to make this tool find content that they are looking for using words. For the most part, we can determine their intent based on the words that they are using. When you do your keyword research, don’t forget about what people might mean when typing in certain phrases. Also remember that it is very difficult to uncover what someone means when they use a one- or two-word phrase. For instance, a person that types in “dog bed” could be looking for images of dog beds, a company called dog bed, doing SEO keyword research on the phrase “dog bed” or even trying to find out if dog bed is one word or not. The truth is, general keyword phrases are not good to try and rank for because even if you show up number one for a one-word phrase, who is to say that your page will be all that relevant to the query? After all, the end goal is to get a visitor to do something on your site, not to show up number one in search.

Think About Your Business

What I mean by this is think about your target market and where it is that you do business. Is it in your local town? Your whole state? Maybe it’s the whole country? Whatever it is, you can target specific terms based on your location because searchers are using specific terms based on where and how you operate. For instance, most pizza places operate within a town or small city. Most consumers know this so, logically, they are going to type in pizza + city name when searching for a local pizza place. If your company is local or does business locally, don’t forget to target local keyword phrases. Typically, keyword + city name is a good one to go after, but also keyword + state (or province or region).

Be Mindful of Legal Issues

This one isn’t as important for SEO as it is for PPC, but you could still find yourself in hot water. If you are a reseller of well-known brands, it’s important to know you are using them correctly. If you start ranking well for a trademarked phrase, it’s likely that whoever owns the trademark will catch on soon. Make sure you have the proper rights if you are using trademarked terms on your website.

Long Tails Catch More Fish

Long tail (or less competitive and generally more specific) keyword phrases are better in terms of converting traffic. This is because they are less competitive and tend to be more specific than more competitive keyword phrases. As such, if you show up in search for a phrase that is very specific and you have optimized your page well, a visitor is much more likely to find your page relevant over others and convert faster.

Don’t Forget Your Variants

Variants are keywords that closely resemble your main target keyword, but aren’t exactly the same. For instance it might be the plural form of the phrase or the terms in a phrase might be rearranged slightly. You should include these variants on the same pages as your target key terms. Also, don’t forget to group them together when doing research. The Google Keyword Tool has a great feature where it groups related terms together for you called ad groups. This tool allows you to configure a search advertising campaign better; however, it also works well for SEO.

Use unconventional methods

As mentioned before, there are a lot of tools out there that give you raw data on how many times a query was used in search or how many websites are using it. Remember that the end goal is to use terms that your buyers/prospects are using in order to be exposed to them in search. There are other ways to get that information than third party SEO tools. For instance, you can check to see what’s trending on Twitter for your niche, you could use Google trends or maybe even research you’ve done offline. For example, you may have done online or offline surveys that uncover what buyers or prospects are thinking.

Don’t Go Crazy

This last one may seem silly, but it’s actually one of the most important SEO keyword research best practices. If you have been doing SEO or online marketing of any kind for a while now, you have probably noticed that there is no shortage of third party tools, software programs, strategies and magic elixers to tell you all about the keyword phrases you have selected for your site. There are measurements and numerical weights and indexes galore. In fact, there is so much information that it is often contradictory. After you’re done Googling “how to do keyword research” you are probably regretting ever having asked a computer the question.

My advice is to not obsess over it too much. Knowing how competitive a keyword phrase is, how tough it will be to rank a page for, whether or not you should use it and/or if it will bring you conversions and profits is more of an art than a science. Sometimes you will have to use words that are impossible to rank for and other times you will be able to rank a page with barely any effort. The important part is that you take as much reasonable data into account as is available and make an educated guess as to what terms you should be using.

Do you follow any best practices of your own for doing SEO keyword research? Have you found any unconventional methods that work well? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Broad Match Keywords and Other Match Types

Keywords are an important aspect in Google’s search advertising platform, but the way you use them is equally as important. The system is programmed to trigger ads when keywords are used by searchers; however, you can configure your campaigns to only have ads triggered when keywords are used in certain ways. This helps get more targeted traffic for your ads, and it also helps to only show your ads at the right times to the right people.

What are match types?

In general there are:

Broad Match Keywords

Phrase Match Keywords

Exact Match Keywords

The term “match type” refers to operators that can be included with your keywords to control what ads are triggered when a searcher enters a relevant query. By default, all keywords entered into an account are a broad match keyword. This means that Google will match a broad variety of phrases related to that term or phrase. This can be effective when your product/service or use of your product/service has broad appeal and applications. Much of the time, however, using a broad match keyword is not the way to go.

Match Types

The chart below shows all the different match types that are available in your Adwords account. The chart also shows how to configure the keywords in your account so that Google will recognize them by their different match types.

Chart including Broad match keyword example

Broad Match Keyword

The broad match keyword configuration is the default option in Adwords for all keywords. If you just type in your keywords or add them using Google’s keyword tool, they will be broad match. When these match types are used, Google will trigger your ads whenever there are relevant variations like misspellings, related searches or synonyms.

If you want to capture the highest volume of search traffic, having your terms be broad match is the way to go. Most of the time, however, you should be looking for more targeted traffic. By using a more specific match type, you can get users who are typing in exactly the phrases or terms that are in your ads. Users who see an exact configuration of terms that they were using in their query are much more likely to click on the ad. The drawbacks to using broad match keywords are that you will get a lot of traffic that may not see your ad as relevant. As a result, you get tons of impressions and no-clicks, which will drive down your click-through rate. Once that happens, your quality score begins to suffer.

Broad Match Keyword Modifier

This match type is very similar to phrase match; however, Google will trigger ads no matter what order the searcher’s terms are in. Google will not show your ads for related searches or synonyms if your keywords are configured in this way. The modifier is good if you want a little bit, but not laser-beam focus in terms of targeting.

Phrase Match

This match type will tell Google to only trigger ads when the exact word or phrase is matched in a string. Synonyms, related searches or a keyword phrase that is in a different order will not trigger the ad. If a phrase is found in the form you have specified, even if there are words before or after the phrase, ads will be triggered. In contrast to broad match keywords, exact match will deliver you far less traffic, but it will be highly targeted.

If your target audience is using very specific queries to find products or services that you offer, phrase match is a good way to draw them in. For example, searches with product names, model numbers, and/or specific locations are good scenarios in which to use phrase match. In general, people use longer queries to find what they are looking for online. Assuming the rest of your conversion funnel is optimized well, using phrase match can help you convert traffic at a much higher rate.

Exact Match

Like phrase match, exact match keywords will also trigger ads when the exact term you have associated with your ads is used. The difference is that when someone puts a word before or after your exact match term, your ad won’t show. Exact match pretty much tells Google, “match this word or phrase and only this word or phrase and nothing else.” This also works well for converting small amounts of traffic. The end goal here is to sell some kind of product or service. It is far better to get 10 people coming to your site who buy something than 100 who buy nothing.

Negative Match

This match type causes ads not to be shown when certain keywords are present. For example, there may be words commonly found with other words, but that you don’t want traffic for. You may want traffic for the term “women’s hats” but not “baseball hats.” You could enter “baseball” as the negative match type.

Search advertising is very cool because we can use the exact terms that our customers use to show them relevant ads. The trick is getting Google to show our ads based on searcher intent. The way we do that is by using match types. Broad match keywords aren’t that effective at bringing in traffic that will convert. They are more of a shotgun approach, which is seldom useful. Instead, by using the other operators, we can send highly targeted traffic to a website and those visitors will find the content relevant.

How do you use keyword match types in AdWords? Have you been able to increase campaign performance using them? Let us know by leaving a comment!




8 eBook Marketing Mistakes That Kill Potential Sales

Write it and they will come, right? There probably isn’t an author on this planet who doesn’t wish that was true. Thankfully, the digital age does offer one reprieve from the grueling trade of bookselling: bookshelves won’t groan under the weight of stock you can’t sell.

I could paint a picture in which you waste weeks creating a book only your mother will buy, but I really want to cut to the chase and help you avoid that all-too-common scenario. Without further delay, let’s dive into the ebook marketing mistakes that will crush your dreams of endless lead generation and steady sales.

Mistake 1: You Create an Offering for a Market That Doesn’t Exist

Are you writing a book no one will purchase? It’s great that you’re uber-excited about your book idea, but are people eager to buy content based on your chosen topic? Make certain there’s enough interest and potential to earn before you invest time and financial resources in the creation and publication of something that is unlikely to sell.

Mistake 2: You Create an Undesirable Offering

Have you used a boring title?

Is your book’s cover design dull?

Are you using the wrong distribution channels?

Is your price point too high?

Are your payment methods limited?

Is your landing page uninspired?

Have you failed to optimize your book and sales copy for search engines?

Is your book a part of a package with unappealing bonuses?

Is your content the best it can be?

These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself before launch day. If you think you have your marketing mix right and things still flop, assess your offering again. You may need to test the market several times before you get the combination just right.

Mistake 3: You Don’t Develop a Solid eBook Marketing Strategy

As much as you’d like it to be the case, your ebook isn’t going to sell itself. You also need to keep in mind that your book will contribute to your brand, credibility, and reputation as an authority in your industry. As a result, you need a strategy to manage every aspect of your marketing campaign so that it is rewarding both financially and professionally.

Mistake 4: You Fail to Define or Understand the Book’s Unique Selling Point (USP)

What distinguishes your ebook from the rest in its category? If “nothing” is your answer, then you should ask yourself why you even bothered. It may sound harsh, but in today’s competitive environment, you have to make a unique proposition to consumers if you want your literary offering to grace their virtual bookshelves. You need to be able to identify the specific benefit a buyer will receive that none of your competitors can offer.

With indie publishers flooding the ebook market in every niche imaginable, many authors find it difficult to pinpoint the single thing that will convince and convert. Many times, it’s because we’re trapped in a mindset that says, “I’ve produced great content too,” rather than a mindset that says, “This is what I’ve done differently.” Once you can make that crucial switch, you should have no problem identifying your USP whether it’s a different perspective on the topic at hand, research results from your own experiments, or new information and advice no one else can offer.

Mistake 5: You Believe You Don’t Need a Pre-Launch Campaign

Believe it or not, eBook marketing starts long before you’ve inserted your final piece of punctuation into your masterpiece. As with any product launch, you should spend time generating publicity and lots of curiosity before your book’s release. Let people know you’ll be publishing a book soon and start to build anticipation for its launch date. Spread the word early and you’ll reap the benefits.

Mistake 6: You Don’t Understand Your Target Audience

If you haven’t thoroughly researched your target readers and written your book with them in mind, there’s no way you’ll get your marketing message right. Understanding what people want and why they’d search for a book like yours is crucial for developing an ebook that’s not only marketable, but that people will actually buy. Make certain you clearly define your typical customer when developing your ebook marketing strategy and then use the knowledge you have to refine your sales copy.

Mistake 7: You Reach Out Through the Wrong Marketing Channels

If you’re a novice marketer feeling your way around the plethora of online marketing channels, don’t kick yourself if you’ve been making this mistake on your journey to greater sales. Even seasoned pros, who know that part of understanding your target audience includes identifying where they interact online, get this one wrong sometimes.

It’s natural to want to reach out through every avenue possible, but this can be an expensive exercise if you’re not careful. After all, you wouldn’t want to waste precious advertising dollars marketing your new “Delicious Meat Dishes” recipe book on community forums for vegetarians. Therefore, it’s essential to locate the right people online and start to build a fan base where they are. Find out their preferred way to interact with you and then leverage those communication channels efficiently.

Mistake 8: You Fail To Deliver What You Promise

All those lovely, persuading words have done it. They’ve convinced a potential reader and helped close the deal. The problem is your marketing message promises something your book doesn’t deliver. Perhaps your intentions were lost in translation, perhaps your sales copy was pure puffery. Either way, your customer isn’t satisfied and slaps a few cringe-worthy reviews online.

Does this make you a bad writer? It all depends on your ability to write, as well as the perspective of your reader. What it does make you, though, is a marketer who not only needs to do some damage control, but also needs to ensure your promotional materials don’t declare something that’s not contained in your ebook’s content.

Ultimately, you have to think about more than the planning and writing phase of creating your ebook. While your initial focus may be on getting it out there, the reality is that your marketing efforts need to be in effect long before you type your first word. The mistakes listed above are just the tip of the iceberg, but by ensuring you don’t fall into their traps, there’s no reason you can’t release and sell your book successfully.

Have you already made one of these common blunders? Did you make another ebook marketing mistake that has cost you dearly? Drop us a line and share your experience.  

3 Examples of Successful Marketing Campaigns on the Web

The road map to a successful web marketing campaign is often ambiguous and difficult to visualize. After all, marketing is more of an art than a science, and there are seldom pre defined steps that lead you to an end goal. As marketers, we have to be visionaries and do a lot of testing to come up with successful marketing campaigns. Thankfully, there are a lot of pros out there who have paved the way and offer their own stories of what building a brand online looks like.

Shinola

A Shinola Logo used in a successful web marketing campaignIf you are old enough to remember, Shinola was a manufacturer prominent in the middle of the 20th century. You might also be old enough to remember one of the contributors to the brand’s demise when it became fashionable to tell those not-so-bright that they, “didn’t know shit from Shinola,” which was a reference to the company’s flagship shoe polish product.

Today, the brand is owned by a different company, and has been completely reinvented. They have worked hard to build a new image for Shinola focusing on American manufacturing and the distribution of American products. They buy from American suppliers throughout the country and have set up a watch-manufacturing shop right in Detroit, MI, a town known for its manufacturing heritage.

Shinola’s web marketing approach has been phenomenal, and they have used a combination of social media, blogging and high quality video to tell the story of the American manufacturers that make their products. A notable feature of their campaign is that Shinola puts their suppliers out in front and shows their customers how quality products are hand-made by their neighbors, family and friends.

The company’s mission has an air of mystique about it. Today’s economic climate has a lot of businesses shipping jobs offshore, not choosing to manufacture goods here; especially products as complicated to make as watches. Even though many products are still made in the U.S. and many more once were, what Shinola is doing is still a little outside the box. When people arrive at Shinola’s home page, a popup encourages them to “join the movement” by entering an email address. Normally, I’m not a fan of popups. When overused or implemented in the wrong context, they are the most annoying things in the world. In Shinola’s case, though, I think the popup is a brilliant idea. It’s short (only requiring an email), and because the new brand is in its infancy, works well to get people involved early on. And it is one good way of building an email list.

Shinola’s videos are perhaps one of the most well-done parts of its campaign. Instead of placing their videos on YouTube, which is pretty much the norm these days, they opted for a Vimeo Pro account. There is one big advantage here: you get all the same features of a YouTube account like comments, the ability to write a description and embed your video (and have others embed it), but when someone is looking at your Vimeo Pro account, they aren’t lured away by other videos that were not made by you.

Old Spice

This one has been covered a lot and for good reason. The concept of this campaign (nonsensical while intelligent humor) was very smart on its own, but the company also utilized social media in a very good way. Old Spice also used online video to reach its target market, but the company also leveraged social media in a way that all businesses using it should follow. Old Spice used the campaign’s front man (the young man who was the star of the company’s commercials) to respond to questions on Twitter from real people.

The company has also done a great job of engaging consumers on its Facebook page. Old Spice provides a perfect example of how social media should be used in marketing. The whole reason it is so popular is that it gives businesses a channel to interact with their customers and prospects. It is another form of communication, and it is also a place where consumers are going to communicate with one another. Therefore, the goal should be to develop a conversation with consumers as the brand and be active in that conversation. Businesses that just open an account and post status updates without ever communicating with people are not leveraging Facebook (or other platforms that they use in the same way) to their maximum potential.

Old spice marketing campaign on Facebook

 

The Old Spice viral nature was helped in part by the target demographic of 18-25 year olds who are thought to be some of the most inclined to share content on the web.

Blendtec

Blendtec is a company that makes blenders and mixers. Normally not a very exciting company, right? Not until they came up with an innovative idea to entertain people while showcasing their products at the same time. People spend most of their time online watching video. When you think about the videos that go viral, it’s never a company’s video that they spend thousands of dollars making or some really well-done documentary. It’s always some 60-second clip of something funny, or riveting or, in other words, a complete waste of time to watch, but totally entertaining.

Blendtec takes complete advantage of this natural phenomenon. Like a bad car accident on the side of the freeway, we can’t help but watch. Their quirky videos have a 1970s game-show feel and a recurring host who always introduces the video with the phrase, “Will it blend? That is the question.” From pool cues to Xbox games and my personal favorite — a skeleton — the host safely jams foreign objects into Blendtec blenders while company branding is strategically placed everywhere in the frame. Millions of views and over half a million subscribers later, Blendtec has successfully achieved a high level of exposure for their online marketing efforts.

When it comes to something abstract like marketing, it helps to have leaders you can follow. The companies named in this post represent just a fraction of the kick-butt marketing campaigns you can find online. They show us that video, social media and web marketing, in general, is a powerful tool to reach a lot of people, but they also show us that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to be effective. Whether it’s a clever use of your supply chain combined with talented videographers, a shrewd campaign aimed at a demographic known for their web savvy or an innovative way to entertain people with your products, there is almost always a way to think outside the box.

What are some of your favorite marketing campaigns of recent years? Are there any in particular that made you want to go out and buy a product or sign up for a service? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Promoting your Website: An Introduction to Marketing

The amount of information online in terms of marketing and advertising is dizzying to say the least. Social media and SEO and PPC and all the different catchphrases and acronyms are enough to make any business owner throw up his or her hands and succumb to the sheer volume of information. While any given marketing campaign should be tailored to a specific niche and goals, there are still some fundamentals to developing an effective web marketing campaign that can be applied to almost any industry.

An Introduction to Marketing your Business Online

In order to develop a consistent and powerful online presence, a business owner needs to understand why people go to the Internet in the first place. While each person is different, in general, people are online looking for information. Not only are they looking for information, but they are looking for something helpful. At the core of any online marketing campaign should be useful content that will delight your niche market. This can be in the form of text, images, video or pretty much anything else as long as it benefits your prospects and customers. In essence, you must find a way to provide value to your customers without making them pay for it. The following are all components that, when used in combination, form a strong web marketing campaign.

Start a Blog:  If you don’t have one already, start a blog. Develop an editorial calendar that you can follow and post at least once per week, although more is better. Generate content that your target market will like or that they will find useful. The purpose of the blog is two-fold: First, you can drive more traffic to your site if you host a blog on your domain and provide engaging or otherwise useful content. Second, you can effectively target more keywords when you have a blog post because each post can serve as a new page were you can target a new keyword. You can also link text in your blog posts to inner pages of your website, which gets more traffic for parts of your site that may not be seen as much.

Social Media:  You knew I was going to say it, and these days, it’s pretty much a necessity to be on some sort of social network. I’m not saying that you should rush out and join every new or popular network. In fact, many businesses do themselves a disservice by rushing out and joining a social network before “listening” to see if their target market is even present on a platform. This is the worst thing you can do because if you are spending a lot of time on a network where your core market is not represented, you are wasting time and resources. Odds are, unless you are a defense contractor, your target market is probably active on some social network out there. Find out which one it is and create a profile there. Promote a link to that profile on any other property you can from your website to your Google Place page.

Its also not enough that you are just present on a network, you also have to interact with people there, or at least post on a regular basis. Businesses that are not engaged with people on a social network experience little or no benefit from having an account there. Post things that encourage a response from people. Respond to others posts, follow others and otherwise participate like you would if you were on the platform as an individual. Post content from your blog or links to your website pages on occasion. Use the platform to promote deals or special events. Encourage people to share your content.

SEO: Optimizing your site for search is a great way to market it online. If you do all the work yourself, it’s also a great free way to market your site online. There are tons of great resources out there to help you learn about SEO. Building up organic exposure for your website can be a great supplement to your other web marketing efforts. It is definitely not the fastest or most precise way to get more traffic to a website, but its effects can be long-lasting.

Video:  This is a good one and by far my most favorite tactic for marketing a business online. Aside from social media websites, people spend the most time watching video online. Coming up with a catchy, viral marketing video is a great way to get exposure for your website. There are also a lot of cool things going on with video like the ability to annotate and embed links. People love sharing short, punchy videos that tell a good story or are entertaining and informative.

Infographics:  These are a great way to spread awareness of a brand online and also to build backlinks. If you can create a quality infographic, people will share it and embed it on their own websites. That is very powerful for branding and if you have links in your infographic, it’s also very powerful for SEO. Infographics are also a very helpful form of content. People love seeing useful information displayed in an attractive way.

Email:  Email marketing is one of the older forms of online marketing, but it’s still effective. Email is great for supporting a content-based web marketing approach. For instance, you can set up RSS feeds for people to subscribe to a blog via email. You can create white papers or other content that people can exchange an email for in order to download. You can then reach out to those same people and let them know about more content that may be of interest to them. You can also use that relationship to promote special offers. There are lots of good strategies for leveraging email in your online marketing.

Any one of these tactics used on its own can be effective, but using them all together and to help support or complement each other will make your online marketing efforts that much more powerful. There are two main themes to being successful with an online marketing campaign. One of those is making quality content and the other is developing a consistent presence throughout the web. If someone is just typing in your brand name, you should be the only company that appears on the first page of Google. An effective campaign reaches out through many channels online to maximize the amount of exposure a brand can get.

What are your favorite methods for online marketing? Do you have any tips or tricks that you have found to boost traffic significantly? Drop us a line or let us know in the comments section below.

A Quick Guide for Creating Buyer Personas

Believe it or not, you have an expert in your midst whose perspective will transform your business. You’ve probably heard of him before—he’s called your “buyer.”

Hopefully, you haven’t forgotten him while you’ve been building your empire, but in case you have, we’d like to reintroduce you. If you’re meeting for the first time, then today’s your lucky day. Not only is he about to reveal what makes him tick, but he’s also going to give you insight into your products and services that you won’t necessarily find in pie charts and Excel spreadsheets. The only thing you have to do is map out his buyer persona.

What Is A Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona refers to an archetypal representation of a real individual who might purchase what you have to offer. This person has a specific set of attributes and follows a decision-making process that is influenced by several key factors. Observing the behavior of this buyer allows businesses to determine what those factors are and how they motivate the individual to choose one solution over another. The data gleaned can then be leveraged to drive product development and shape marketing strategies.

Why You Need To Define Your Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are crucial for your business in that they enable you to:

  • Pitch to the right person in the corporate food chain. While you may believe you need to convince the executive at the top, the reality is you really need to convince the people with the problems on their desk.
  • Gather the type of insights that influence strategic business decisions.
  • Help members of your team understand each of your target groups in terms of their problems, desires, goals, beliefs, capabilities, and limitations. You can use buyer personas to collate pieces of data into something that provides proper context and tells a story about a specific type of individual.
  • Understand the topics, tone, and style that will motivate a response, and then create highly targeted content for each buyer persona. Besides content creation, the data will also guide your content delivery strategy.
  • Prevent common design and development pitfalls, such as making decisions based on assumptions or designing a product based on the mental model of someone who doesn’t fall into your target group. Buyer personas allow you to create solutions and prioritize product features according to the needs of each buyer.

How to Create a Buyer Persona

Step 1: Gather Key Insights

Persona development is most effective when businesses use both quantitative and qualitative research methods to gain a deeper understanding of each buyer. Methods can include interviewing sales personnel, interviewing customers and prospects, conducting keyword research, evaluating web analytics reports, conducting a survey of customers and prospects, interviewing personnel in customer service, monitoring social networks, and more. What’s important here is to surface the information your business will find most valuable moving forward.

Key insights include:

  • Demographic information – age, gender, marital status, household income, education, profession, level of seniority, etc
  • The personal and organizational goals of the buyer

  • Pain points – problems that are both real and perceived
  • Factors that motivate certain people to purchase your solutions – understand why they want to resolve a specific pain point
  • The benefits your buyer expects to receive – determine what success looks like to someone using your solution effectively
  • Steps in the buying process – factors that impact the buyer’s choice during the evaluation of available options

  • Criteria on which buyers base their decisions – determine which features of competing products people view as important
  • Perceived obstacles that lead your buyer to believe you don’t offer the best solution

Step 2: Create a Draft of Your Buyer Persona

Once you have your key insights, you need to break the information down into digestible bits of data that help employees understand the buyer’s identity. When creating your draft, consider adding an image that represents the persona, assigning a relevant name, and including helpful links and video footage. The story you create will ensure your team members remain focused and empathetic towards the buyer when developing solutions and constructing marketing messages.

Step 3: Develop Additional Buyer Personas (But Just Enough)

It’s easy to get carried away when mapping out your buyer personas, but the reality is your business is only capable of supporting your efforts to a point. Besides the expenses involved in research, you may not have the resources to create a wide variety of marketing messages. Therefore, you need to assess whether there’s a significant difference between one buyer and the next, as well as consider your ability to implement multiple strategies. Don’t get to the point where you can no longer justify your investment. When done correctly, buyer personas can have a major impact on your ROI.

Step 4: Integrate and Implement

Failing to integrate your buyer personas into the sales process and disseminate the information throughout your organization are the biggest mistakes you can make. Your buyer personas can help you differentiate yourself from the competition, and guide you in the creation of persuasive marketing content that helps your brand’s voice stand out in the ever-increasing noise. Make sure that you not only share your findings with your team, but that you also ensure they understand how it affects them and your business.

Additional Notes:

  1. Buyer personas evolve over time, which means you need to maintain them once you create them.

  2. Your business evolves too, which means you may need to develop additional personas as you add to your product or service offering.

  3. Effective marketing messages aren’t based on buyer personas alone. Make sure you have a clear idea of your brand’s story first, and then start mapping out the stories of your prospects.

Have you created buyer personas for your business yet? How have they helped you transform your content marketing strategy? Share with us in the comments section below. 

Get Clicks and Hits by Using Video for Marketing

There has never been a better time to start using video for marketing than right now. High-speed Internet access is available in more places than ever before, and more people are consuming content on the web now than at any point in time since the Internet started becoming wildly popular in the mid 1990s. Some people are even ditching their televisions completely and turning to tablets, mobile phones, laptops and other connected devices to view video content. Even though the web seems like it’s flooded with video, the public seems to only grow hungrier for more content.

 

Are you Ready to Start Using Video?

If you are ready to take advantage of the current landscape by engaging in video content marketing to help your website and your business grow, you might be tempted to simply use your computer’s web cam to create content that you hope will “go viral” and cause your site and your business to flourish. Although some people have been able to find success using this method, you should remember that even a broken clock is right twice a day. In other words, you might be able to create an effective video marketing strategy by taking a casual approach, but any success you generate will almost surely be by accident.

In order to experience the greatest return on your video investment, you need to set goals and develop comprehensive plans for marketing. Using video for marketing is a sure way to drive traffic to your site and grow your business, but there are some important principles that you should learn before you turn on your web cam to create the next YouTube sensation. These principles might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who fail to understand them.

 

Successful Video Content Should go Hand-in-Hand With Your Goals

The first, and perhaps most important principle to remember when you enter the world of web video marketing is that your video content should be driven by your goals. It can be fun to create videos, post them and hope for the best, but you shouldn’t expect this approach to generate a significant increase in hits, clicks and sales. Instead, you should outline your goals in as detailed a fashion as possible. Then, you can begin to craft your video content accordingly. When videos are aligned with your goals, you can assure yourself greater success, plus you can track the effectiveness of your content more efficiently through pre determined metrics.

 

Your Video Content Should be Consistent With Your Business and its Values

Have you ever become interested in a website or company after watching a video, only to find that the company’s values are completely mismatched with the video you just viewed? Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common on the Internet today. When a piece of video content fails to convey the spirit and values of a company or its web presence, the public paints a picture that is quite unflattering. The best video marketing video content fits seamlessly with a website’s existing marketing messages, and it should give viewers confidence that what they are watching is emblematic of what they can expect when they visit a site.

 

Creating the Perfect Video is One Thing – Distributing and Marketing it Is Another

It’s easy to create a video, post it to YouTube and call it a day. You might even generate some hits and website traction by doing so, but you need to think about distribution of your content if you want to train as many eyeballs as possible on your video. A video distribution service can help you spread your message to a number of different hosting services with the simplicity of a single click, but you should research the various services before you decide to sign up. Otherwise, you might be posting your content in places that are not appropriate for your message. You need to think about the best options for marketing your video, but this process is not easy unless you are a marketing and SEO expert. Therefore, you should consider using the services of a comprehensive marketing and SEO company.

By using the services of a professional SEO and marketing company, you can ensure that your video aligns with your company’s goals while remaining consistent with your existing content. You can also remove the stress you might be feeling when it comes to ensuring that your video is distributed effectively across the web. From creation to video content marketing, your partnership with a reputable SEO and marketing company can give you the edge you need to compete at a high level in our increasingly video-centric world.

These days, it seems like everyone has their eyes glued to some kind of screen, whether they are watching their favorite TV programs on their mobile phones or catching up with the latest funny cat videos on their tablets. There has never been a more potentially lucrative time to start using video to spread your message, but you need to move forward with a plan. Thankfully, help is available to assist you so that you can remain true to your principles as well as the principles that make using video for marketing such an effective tool.

What strategies have you found useful when it comes to using videos for marketing? Have you found any methods that seem to work better than others? Let us know in the comments section.




Start Putting Video Marketing Strategies to Work For You

If you are like most people who spend time online, you’ve probably viewed several pieces of video content within the last week, or even within the past 24 hours. Some people enjoy reading articles on the Internet, other individuals like to spend time looking at pictures, graphics and other images, and many people love the web for its endless gaming options. However, nearly everyone with an Internet connection enjoys watching video content, whether it’s for entertainment, education or even marketing. The medium of video has emerged as the leading form of communication on the web in recent years, and it has changed the digital landscape significantly. Through various video marketing strategies, companies and entrepreneurs have become wildly successful. An effective video marketing campaign is able to capture the attention of the public much more easily than any other type of strategy, and when it’s done properly, it can give any business the right amount of buzz to boost interest in its products and services.

Failing to Use Video has its Consequences

Unfortunately, some people have failed to make the connection between their personal enjoyment of video content and the medium’s ability to help their businesses succeed. They might enjoy watching videos, and they might even spend their money based on compelling video content. However, they fail to integrate the magic of video into their own marketing strategies. If you are afraid that you might be one of these people, it’s not too late to begin using a video marketing campaign to help you and your business take a major leap forward.

Some website owners are hesitant to integrate video content because they fear that it will create too much time-consuming work. We are all familiar with the fears that often accompany changes in routine, and it is sometimes easier to focus on the negative aspects of implementing new strategies, especially when the status quo is so comfortable. Certainly, adding video content to a site takes time and effort, but the process of creating a video marketing strategy is much simpler than you might think.

Creating Video Content is Easier and More Cost-Effective Than you Think

When you think about the most effective Internet videos in recent memory, very few of them were made with massive budgets and thousands of person-hours of work. In fact, some of the most successful video content has been created on a shoestring budget by just one or two people. What’s more, people have much different expectations when it comes to Internet video content versus visual content that is meant for the television or movie screen. In other words, you don’t have to have the budget, workforce and technology to produce a Michael Bay blockbuster to be successful with your Internet video content; you just need to have some basic equipment and a few good ideas.

If you have a digital video camera, a decent microphone and access to the Internet, you can make a compelling piece designed for effective video Internet marketing. One of the easiest ways to make this simple setup work for you is to study videos that you have found to be successful. Are there any videos that you have seen recently that have made you excited to spend time on a certain website or spend money on specific products or services? If so, you should watch those videos more closely to determine the aspects that you find so appealing. Then, you can implement those aspects into your own video. Obviously, you don’t want to plagiarize video content that has been effective for others – doing so is unethical and it is a major turn off for potential consumers and website visitors – but you can take good ideas and make them your own by injecting your personality, charisma and passion for your business into your messages.

Help is Available for Your Video Content Needs

Even though it doesn’t take a huge budget and professional skills to create video content, it’s possible that you simply lack the time and energy to devote to crafting effective video marketing strategies by yourself. If this is the case, you should consider enlisting the assistance of others to help you turn your vision into powerful video content that can help you reach your marketing goals. It’s been noted by many SEO experts that video content is most effective when it has been created with specific goals in mind. Some people create videos only to post them with unremarkable results. This is because they failed to take the marketing of their content into account.

By using a video marketing service, you can avoid this fate. The best services are able to help you craft effective videos based on your needs and marketing goals, plus they are able to help your video go to work for you once it’s been filmed, edited and posted. Video content has the potential for a remarkably high return on investment, or ROI, but only if it is marketed properly. Video content marketing services have the ability to work with you throughout each step of the process, from developing ideas to ensuring that as many eyeballs as possible have the opportunity to see your message.

It’s Not Too Late to Join the Video Content Revolution

Everyone uses the Internet to watch video content these days, and if you want to make sure that your message is reaching the masses, it’s important for you and your business to stay as close to the cutting edge as possible. The video medium represents the best way to communicate with the public in our hyper-connected world, and it is certainly the best way to increase the attention paid to your website and your business. If you aren’t using video already, you can bring yourself up to speed quickly by implementing some smart video marketing strategies. It takes very little time and effort, plus there is help available to assist in streamlining the process to ensure that your content is as powerful as it can be.

Are you ready for the success that an effective video marketing campaign can provide?