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On the Third Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Three Experts Blogging

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

At HMG Creative, we know that like most things in life, blogging is better when done with friends. So we searched from coast to coast to bring you some of the most-respected marketing experts in the business. We know it is important to not only share our thoughts and insights, but impart the expertise and perspective of others; and we think these 3 individuals got it going on. Enjoy opening these 3 gifts from industry experts and friends of HMG Creative.

6 Ways to Use Images to Improve Your Web Conversion Rate by Tim Ash
CEO SiteTuners, Author, Landing Page Optimization

5 Types of Blog Content That Drive Engagement by Shelly Kramer
Founder and CEO V3 Integrated Marketing, FORBES Top 50 Social Media Influencer

3 keys to Scaling Content Marketing Success by Lee Odden
CEO TopRank Marketing; Author, Optimize

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On the Third Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Shelly Kramer Blogging

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

Shelly Kramer is the Founder and CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing. A 20+ year marketing veteran, she’s a strategist, brand storyteller, digital marketing pro, content marketing expert, speaker and corporate trainer – basically, she’s awesome and I have been a long-time follow of her and her advice. Recently recognized by Forbes as one of the Top 50 Social Media Influencers, she’s half marketer, half geek, with a propensity for numbers, producing results and a dash of quick repartee. Find her on LinkedIn, Twitter or stalk her blog. You’ll be glad you did.

5 Types of Blog Content That Drive Engagement

5 types of blog content that drive engagementIf you write content—whether for yourself or for a client—then you’re well aware that writing can be tricky—heck, even downright challenging. But it’s what comes after you hit “publish” that can be even more daunting for marketers. If no one reads, shares or comments on your blog post, you’re not likely to get much leverage from your content—and that doesn’t bode well for your content marketing strategy.

In an ideal world, we’d all be able to crank out piles and piles of witty, informative and compelling content that’s so amazing it automatically makes readers want to share and distribute it far and wide. In reality? Even your best writing might not drive much engagement.

Before you swear off blogging forever, let me share a valuable tip with you. Just as certain types of Facebook posts spark a higher number of comments, likes and shares, certain types of blog content inherently drive more engagement. As you brainstorm and write blog posts, try incorporating a mix of the following content types into your editorial strategy. Then take note about what your audience responds to and tailor your posts accordingly.

5 Types of Blog Content That Drive Engagement

Trends. Regardless of what industry you’re in, there’s always something going on—and that means you have timely, relevant blog fodder ready and waiting. Writing a trends post isn’t only an effective way to showcase your area of expertise, but it’s also a chance for you to put your own distinctive spin on a topic, even if it’s something that’s been discussed ad nauseum.

Interviews. Readers respond well to conversational pieces, and nothing’s more conversational than an interview or Q&A. Plus, interviews lend themselves to different types of media, which means they’re an ideal way to include more video content on your blog.

Book reviews. Writing a book review is a great way to demonstrate your industry smarts and discuss information that’s particularly timely. Check out some of the newest releases in a category related to your industry and share your opinion with your readers. Another tip? Before you publish, reach out to the publisher and/or author and see if you can snag a review copy that you can offer as a giveaway on your blog. Contests are (almost) always a hit! After all, who doesn’t love #winning?

Lists. Talk about some Jedi mind tricks—you’re in the middle of reading a list right now! And you’re loving it, aren’t you? Readers respond well to lists because they’re concise and to-the-point. Plus, they deliver a, well, list of actionable tips that readers can immediately implement.

Rants. Peeved about something? Can’t imagine why—that never happens to me. Funnel your anger and irritation into a thoughtful blog post. Before you hit “publish,” however, be sure to take a step back and make sure your post isn’t riddled with nasty language or name-calling—those unsightly additions won’t do anything to strengthen your position. Be respectful toward the person or organization about which you’re ranting, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to share your true feelings—the ideal result is that your rant will spark some sort of change. And in the meantime, you’ll likely fuel a lively discussion in your blog’s comments section, so be prepared!

The ideas are already flowing, aren’t they? Don’t be afraid to experiment with content formats that work best for your writing style, subject matter and voice. And be sure to keep a close eye on your analytics so that you can see which posts are driving the most traffic and distribution. That way, you can be sure to incorporate those types on a more regular basis and help fine-tune your larger content strategy.

What type of content have you found to be the most successful for your blog?

Image by Search Engine People Blog via Creative Commons

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On the Third Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Lee Odden Blogging

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

I had the pleasure of meeting Lee Odden and his awesome right-hand lady, Ashley Zeckman, at a marketing conference here in San Diego. Lee has a reputation that precedes him, and for good reason. From search, social to PR and optimization, Lee knows how to breakdown valuable and actionable information whether he is speaking to a crowd of hundreds or taking pen to paper in his book. Enjoy this post from Lee on content marketing, think: “sharable.” 

And for more insights be sure to follow him on Twitter @leeodden.

 

3 Keys to Scaling Content Marketing Success

 

Is Your Content Findable, Engaging & Shareable?

“KISS” is probably the best advice when it comes to giving advice (Keep It Simple Stupid) and for that reason this post is short and sweet on the topic of how to ensure your great content attracts, engages and converts.

Whether your goals are narrowly focused on revenue or more strategic involving branding and community as well as growing the business, the scalability of effective content is essential in today’s competitive marketplace.

No matter how much you invest in content marketing strategy, planning, production, amplification or analytics, there are three key requirements that each content object should satisfy. Great content isn’t great until it’s discovered, consumed and shared.

Findability – A lot of our work involves content development and the way many organizations are structured, content discovery isn’t a driver, but more of an afterthought.

Effective content marketing is about creating information that’s useful for specific audiences and with certain outcomes in mind.  While intent and context are often satisfied, the question of findability is usually underestimated. In particular, I’m talking about optimizing for search or social discovery. There are also promotion channels such as email, cross linking from existing content, 3rd party editorial links, news release distribution, social promotions, pay per click advertising and social media advertising.

What good is the great content you’re creating if no one can find it? By ensuring findability through optimization and promotion, the reach and amplification for content can be extended dramatically and for a very long period of time.   If you set goals for social and organic search traffic for the content being produced, those involved might become as thoughtful about content optimization as they are about content quality. This isn’t either or, expect both.

Engaging– Competition is tough and as more brands employ content publishing in their mix, it’s important that the content being produced considers engagement. How? Relevance, context and experience are good starters.

Is your content object relevant for the audience that will discover it? Is the information useful? Does it provide utility? Is it thought provoking? Does the information help satisfy the reader’s goals and at the same time, help bring them closer along in the buyer journey?

The notion of engagement can be very subjective so be sure to identify goals for engagement whether it’s a combination of page views, comments and social shares or traffic and conversions. Monitor interactions with content to discern trends so you can optimize future content object performance.

Sharability – A lot of optimization for search and social media performance is about making it easy for buyers to do what you want them to do. Adding social share widgets is part of that. Writing compelling titles that work for short character counts in social sharing situations like Twitter is also a best practice. Content quality and relevance come in to play for sharing as well.

Are you creating content that’s so good, people will want to share it with others? Have you made it easy for them to share?  Sharing for sharing’s sake isn’t going to solve any business problems, so make sure you know: Does the act of sharing help fulfill your objectives for the content?

There’s a lot of great brand content and story out there that isn’t getting the exposure that it could, simply because content producers are not tasked or accountable to one or more of these three simple requirements: Findability, Engagement and Shareability. Ensuring these characteristics are present for each content object through a process is a sure way to scale content marketing effectiveness whether your goals are social, PR, customer service or marketing focused.

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On the Third Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Tim Ash Blogging

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

This post comes from a new friend of HMG Creative in San Diego, the man who knows it all about landing page optimization – he wrote the book on it! Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners is an engaging speaker, author and truly understands how to convert clicks into customers. Enjoy another great one and be sure to follow him on Twitter @tim_ash.

 

 

6 Ways to Use Images to Improve Your Web Conversion Rate

Many people who have heard me speak know that I’m not a fan of using gratuitous images just to spice up your web design. By its very nature, the web is a visual medium, and the wrong image can create a visual distraction that pulls your visitor away from your key message points and/or call-to-action. Aside from causing a distraction, images can create confusion (if they aren’t aligned with visitor expectations) and even make a visitor feel insecure (if the quality is low or is commonly used as “stock” imagery.) Naturally, all of this leads to lower conversions.

But I do need to set the record straight: I’m not against images altogether. In fact, the right images, properly placed, are an important element of every website, especially if you’re marketing a product or service online. Images can help engage visitors and focus attention on your value proposition and/or call-to-action. Used correctly, the right graphics and images can help personalize your organization, especially if your customers’ first (or only) contact with you is online. Here are six ways you can use images to increase your web conversion rate:

1. Get emotional. Like it or not, decisions are made emotionally. Neuroscientists have shown that, of the three parts of the human brain, our choices are driven by the emotional “reptilian” brain. Many interesting books have been written on the subject, but if you remember just one thing about the reptilian brain, make it this: the reptilian brain is visually oriented and responds rapidly to images. Choose your images very carefully to be sure that they will evoke a specific emotion that will help push your visitor’s buy buttons. While this is more easily done for a lifestyle product or service (restaurants, travel, consumer products, etc.), creating emotions through photos and images should be done for all websites. Your job is to figure out what emotions will help drive the purchase of your product or service, and work to create those feelings through your pictures.

2. Be original. We have all seen them: the image of three professionals hovering around a conference table or the shot of the female phone operator smiling into her headset…stock photos that get overused so often they become laughable. Stock photos are a cost-effective way to include images in your marketing materials, but they can adversely impact your web conversion rate. Even if you have the most innovative products in your industry, you may lose a lot of customers if your cookie-cutter images make you seem like a cookie-cutter company.

3. Keep it real. If you use testimonials on your site (and I hope you do), you know that your customers can be your best salespeople. But have you considered using a photo alongside each letter of praise, or even shooting a video testimonial? Include photos and videos of your customers throughout your site, not just buried on a testimonials page, to help build trust and confidence in your organization. Showing real people who have benefitted from your products or services can make a huge impact on your conversion rate.

4. Be symbolic. Your company may not have immediate brand recognition, but you can still use high-value logos and recognizable symbols to inspire confidence and reduce any doubt that your company is worthy of your visitors’ business. If your company has been written about in the news, include the logo of the media outlet. If your clients represent well-known companies, display their logos to show who you’ve worked for. And if you allow transactions online, use symbols to assure the visitor that her information will be safe with you. Symbols and logos are key elements to building trust online. They can help validate you in ways that words simply can’t.

5. Be photogenic. One of the best ways to connect with your customers and improve your web conversion rate, especially if you have a local brick-and-mortar business, is to display candid photos showing visitors what it’s like to visit your establishment. For example, if you own a local restaurant, you probably want to show diners having a good time and enjoying your cuisine. Even if all of your company’s transactions happen online, showing photos of your staff and your environment can help assure potential new clients that you’re an established organization and not a fly-by-night company run out of someone’s garage. Let your website be a window into your organization, and invite your visitors to peer in.

6. Create a cheerleader. Want to get really creative? Think about inventing a mascot for your business. Studies show that consumers not only buy brands they recognize but, specifically, the face of those brands. Consider the Coca-Cola polar bears, the Geico gecko, and the E-Trade baby. You could create buzz, brand recognition, and instant credibility by being the only company in your industry to have a real character.

Implementing just one of these strategies can boost your web conversion rate and increase sales. You may not have the time, creativity, or internal support to create a mascot for your company, but can you switch out some of your stock photos with images that truly connect with your customers? Even this small change can deliver surprising results.