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Basics of Inbound Marketing

Basics of Inbound Marketing

Posted on Jul 25, 2017 by Emily Ballard

Optimizing your website’s keywords, call-to-actions, and landing pages are fundamental in search engine optimization and getting started with inbound marketing. It takes time to rank higher through organic SEO methods, but inbound marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of capturing the attention of high-quality prospects. The second most important contributor to organic search engine optimization is producing blog content that is knowledgeable on topics within your industry and valuable to your ideal customer. Optimizing your website for conversion and creating content that that resonates with your readers will set you up for continuously bringing in high-quality leads.

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On the Fifth Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Five Golden Rules

Posted on Dec 17, 2012 by Stacey Donelan

Ah, the infamous Fifth Day of Christmas. I don’t know about you, but this might be the only part of the (original) song that I can actually remember every time.  But in the case of these Five Content Creation Rules, not rings, I encourage you to commit these to memory as well!

I’m sure you’ve already heard the saying, “Content is King,” but what does that really mean?  It all began with content as the key for search engine optimization and the huge role it played in positioning your company as an industry resource. Then came the rise of social and the need to push consistent communication. Creative tactics emerged through micro-sites and with social media popularity exploding, brands had to compete with the thought-leaders or become obsolete in the marketplace.

1.  Know Your Audience
Let’s be real.  If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach there’s no use in creating content at all.  Know who you’re writing for. Is it women ages 24-40 or men ages 60 and older? Decide who your audience is and then learn everything you can about them.  Find what questions they have, what motivates them and what they like. THEN, create your content.

2.  Tell a Story
Tell a story that is personable, approachable, tangible and memorable.  For example: Every year, The Hartford sponsors the Paralympics, and just last year the company decided to tell this story. They launched a media and video campaign through the medium of Facebook highlighting the athletes themselves. The result was a very successful and emotional story connecting with people on an individual and very personal level.

3.  Limit the Fluff
The average attention span is very, very short. You need to get right to the point or you run the risk of losing the audience. Eliminate any unnecessary points to keep content concise and hyper-focused. If you’d like some additional examples on the process of un-fluffing, check out one of our previous blog posts on a similar topic!

4. Make it Shareable
The best way to get your content out there is to spread it across all appropriate mediums.  So making it easy for others to share your content should be a BIG priority. Try to think of a blog that doesn’t prominently display social sharing buttons. It’s tough, right? That’s because most people won’t go out of their way to share your content so just make it simple!

5.  Say What You Know…
…and not what you sell. Customers are not looking to read your blog or micro-site to see what you sell, they can view that in a catalog or on the products and services tab on your site. They are interested in what you know and what you stand for. It’s time to start communicating as a trusted and relevant source and not as a sales script. Storytelling is the new content marketing.

See where your expertise and your customer’s interests overlap to tap into your niche. Tell a unique story and communicate in a way that no other competition can touch.

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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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The Guide to Take Big Brand Ideas by Rediscovering Your Own- Part Two: Fresh Content

Posted on Dec 05, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

There is a reason that there are thousands of articles online that address ways to improve your company’s social media presence — Social media is fun to talk about, tough to implement and an even bigger challenge for companies to be creative and stay consistent.

The truth is there is no cut and dry answer to social media. It’s subjective, ever-changing and ideas must be adapted to fit your business and brand. Wait, what was that? Yes, adapted means you have to do some work. Perhaps this is why so many struggle with social media. We hear words like “strategy” and “content creation” and we automatically cringe at the thought of where we should start climbing this beast of a social media mountain.  It’s simply too much work. Your company is not that complex, Right? (These are probably some of the same people who said four years ago, “I don’t have time for social media” or “My customers don’t use Facebook.”) Think again.

“Shop the World, Steal from the Best.”

You do learn some things in school. An advertising professor at The University of Texas said the above quote and it holds true for many aspects of marketing in any industry. (Don’t take the word “steal” literally, please.) Shop around for strategy and tactic ideas like Instant Profits with Instagram . Check out all kinds of brands and companies across the board, on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Note what you love and what you don’t. Take a look at regional competitors in your space and similar companies in your industry across the country. See how they engage fans from contests, images, blogs and other creative ways like highlighting clients or staff. Save pages that impress you and that you would one day like to achieve. Even if you aren’t sure how to implement something immediately, put it on a wish list so it can be top-of-mind when planning.  Social media is an a la carte approach, shop away.

Think Big, Be Simple, Stay Fresh.

This section is key to implementation. (Where most of us drop off, me included.) Don’t be overwhelmed or discouraged after looking at brands like Coke or Chobani; adapt (ahem, work) their tactics into your own social strategy. Note: Be sure to share unique content on each social media platform, not everything on Twitter needs to be on Facebook and vice versa.  Remember no company is too small to utilize these ideas; you just have to make them your own and don’t over complicate the concepts. Below are some items to think about and examples on what to adopt and why.

  • Relevancy:  This goes back to your audience. Take current industry news and re-write your own opinion in a short blog post or repost to your fans. You don’t always need to start from scratch or re-create the wheel.  If a story is timely, your followers will be more likely to engage.
  • Consistency:  This is about expectations. If you are consistent with posts, fans will know what to expect.  One good tactic is posting specific content each day of the week; you can try utilizing weekly hashtags the community will look forward to and share, posting tips or advice on certain days — make it fun, be creative, but be consistent.
  • Engagement: Remember, your job is to stimulate desire and action from your audience; how you do that is determined by your goals and creativity. Pictures and videos are one of the best ways to get instant engagement and can be an opportunity for fans to share among their friends.  Don’t constantly pitch your work , but this is a great way to do it, sparingly.  Offer a coupon, have a small contest or solicit feedback from your followers. Whatever combination you choose, offer value, be genuine and ask for engagement — your audience will respond.
  • Quality of Posts/Credibility: The more cohesive your approach is, the more credibility you will have. Want to become a credible resource? Provide advice related to your industry, share industry events, community happenings, quotes from experts and of course your own words as well.  Make sure you provide value to your fans and loyalty will follow.

Don’t be Afraid to Flop.

Social media is a living breathing strategy. You aren’t always going to score a home run but you have to start somewhere.   Now is the time when you can come up with actionable items. When you make your own rules, you are more likely to abide and succeed. The goal to creating fresh content and injecting big brand ideas starts by reevaluating yours.

Have some success stories of your own? More ideas to share?  Comment and help other professionals stay creative when delivering social media content.

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The Guide to Take Big Brand Ideas by Rediscovering Your Own- Part 1: Get to Know Your Brand

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

Many professionals get jazzed up after reading a social media article, but the excitement and strategy escapes as soon as the page is minimized in exchange for the next enticing link in their Twitter feed.  I see it all too often, a quick high followed by complete memory-loss on what they have just read.  It sounds good on screen, but do those tid-bits of advice make it past your monitor?

Yes, Your Brand is Interesting, Now Keep Them Interested

Content marketing isn’t just for the Fortune 500 and effective social media isn’t reserved for the companies packed 20+ deep in their communications department. But your social strategy isn’t going to be served to you on a silver platter, either.  If you don’t change your actions, you are destined to get the same results. And that shouldn’t be a surprise.  Social media is fun to talk about, tough to implement and an even bigger challenge for companies to be creative and stay consistent.

Getting started is often the hardest part of any task, and social media is no different.  But having a better understanding of your brand will help you navigate and create a social media presence that truly makes an impact.  Get in touch with your company and only then can you begin to create fresh content and a strategy that you can rely on.

Rethink Your Role.

First, we must look at ourselves. If you are a business owner or a professional eager to make big changes with your online strategy for your company, own it. You are now a social media ambassador. You don’t have to be a PR professional or in your 20s to understand the social media game.  Thinking different is almost always a catalyst to act different. Don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet and explore ways to discover and redefine your brand and communication. Mental blocks are your fabricated obstructions, drop them.

Rethink with Your Brand. (If you don’t think you have a “brand,” you do.)

  • Find Your Voice:

The kind of content you create centers around a common tone. For some it’s professional, casual, witty, conversational or sarcastic if that’s your shtick. You can be a few things, but not everything. Decide now.

  • Identify Goals:

Like a dear friend of mine says: You have to know what you want to get what you want. Increase exposure, gain fans/followers, increase engagement/comments, get more newsletter subscribers, get new leads, position your brand as a resource, educate on a certain topic, find partners, etc.  Decide what you want to gain out of social media and make sure that all content addresses one of these goals.

  • Choose Channels:

Not all channels are for every company. Not everyone needs every social outlet under the sun. But brainstorm how each platform could be leveraged and decide what makes sense for you. And you don’t have to launch all platforms at once. Set yourself up for success. Start with Facebook, Twitter and a blog. Then branch out when you have mastered those tools and see how to effectively integrate others.

  • Identify Fans/Followers:

Know your audience and always keep them in mind. Outline in brief, categories of your fans and then things that interest them.  Clients, partners, prospects, local businesses, etc.   Create content tailored to your audience and what is important to them. This will help keep you on track when deciding what to post or blog about.

  • Have a Baseline:

To know where you are going you have to know where you have been. Note your number of fans and followers so you can track your growth as you move forward. Also use tools on Facebook to see current demographics, which posts were seen by the most people and what was the most viral.