When you work on CRO — Conversion Rate Optimization — at your website there are a number of steps in the process where you can impact how many site visitors will convert to a lead for you. Developing and testing your forms is one tactic marketers often overlook. One approach is to create a ”smart form” for your business that delivers specific information tailored to the individual that is completing the form. Forms that automatically show or hide fields based on the user’s response are known as ”smart forms” and FormStack refers to this capability as “conditional logic.”
Using this feature offers many advantages, including the following:
Enables the form to look less intimidating than it really is
Creates the unique, individualized experience all internet users are looking for
Hides information that you don’t want all users to see
FormStack released an extensive report that evaluated trends, conversions and analytics of more than 40,000 forms for 2014 – it may come as no surprise that smart forms ranked supreme with the most engagement and conversions. This only makes sense when you consider the content is tailored to the individual and relevant. (more…)
“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.” – David Ogilvy
A/B testing often results in better CRO.
If increasing sales is the holy grail for marketers, why don’t more pay attention to CRO — Conversion Rate Optimization? Let’s say your typical B2B sales campaign looks something like this when it comes to Online Marketing: Set up a landing page; run a PPC campaign; send out a promotional email to your list, drive warm prospects back to your landing page; look for visitors to convert via a form on the page which puts them into your CRM? Done? Not by a long shot. You need to find ways to improve results.
There’s a chain of “C” focus points on the way to a sale which all may be optimized: Content; Conversion; Connection; Close. You need to test each step of that process for better performance. That’s when you start CROing. Only then can you maximize ROI — Return on Investment. Only then will your boss understand how valuable you are to the organization.
Learn more in BLIP Magazine — this week’s edition is dedicated to CRO
If you are not writing at least three versions of ads at the beginning of each PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign to find the best converting ad, then you’re leaving money at the table. And if you fail to test your landing pages, pop-up CTAs (Calls To Action), sign-up forms, e-mail subject lines, and sales follow-up letters — who can say just how much you are losing? It’s not uncommon for any one of those tests to yield a 30% – 40% conversion gain. CRO is a cycle involving testing at every point in the marketing process.
This week, Thursday, April 9th is “International CRO Day” (#CROday). A number of companies are hosting webinars that day to celebrate and study “data informed marketing”. I prefer to think of CRO as mining for measurable results to meet or beat desired business outcome goals. That’s the science part involving testing and review for actionable analytics. But let’s not forget the art part of the formula — smart, pithy writing; compelling images that create an emotional handshake; graphic design that explodes into your attention with intention; and the high advertising concepts that drive all of these.
How can you improve results in your conversion funnel, unless you test?
None of this is new. Over fifty years ago, legendary ad-man (think Mad Men) David Oglivy who gave us the refined and definitive formula for print advertisements still prevailing today (Headline, Graphic, Body Copy, Logo), drew upon his years of experience in consumer research at the George Gallop Audience Research Institute to create one of the most successful advertising agencies of all time — Ogilvy and Mather. Wrote Ogilvy:
“The most important word in the vocabulary of advertising is TEST. Test your promise. Test your media. Test your headlines and your illustrations. Test the size of your advertisements. Test your frequency. Test your level of expenditure.”
Most would agree that the bottom line for all testing is an increase in sales. Two questions: why then, do so many marketing communications professionals blow past testing; and why is there a disconnect with testing at the sales end of the cycle? I think one reason is because too many of today’s marketers are in love with content. Content is not king. For the online marketer, Connection is King, because connecting with your prospects in meaningful ways is the only thing that wins a sale. People buy on emotion, and they buy from those they feel they know. Content supports selling. Connection wins the sale, via an emotional handshake. But sadly, most marketers are failing to test for ways to improve these efforts.
“Companies typically spend $92 to bring customers to their site, But only $1 to convert them.” (Source: Eisenberg Holdings)
Weird, right? Testing is the holy grail for marketers, and a boon for the sales person… but too many professionals can’t be bothered. Years ago, I held a sales position at a large business and computer retailer and one of our priorities was selling special order office chairs. The chairs were available in over 60 different colorful fabrics and leathers — via special order from the factory. My initial pitch was to stress colors as a feature and matching corporate color schemes as a benefit. “Choose from 60 different colors to match your corporate interior designs,” I would say. Results? Nada. Later, I called around the country to stores that led in sales for these chairs — my consumer research — and learned that one thing prevailed in their pitch. Durability. I changed my pitch to, “for $20 additional per chair, you can order from 60 different fabrics which will last up to 20 times longer.” This is a longer form of an A/B test used frequently in CRO work — you test one pitch against another. My results? I became top salesman in special order chairs in my district.
Today, we marketers can choose from a variety of instantaneous tools for A/B pitches and other forms of testing. In our experience at Webdirexion, these almost always lead to a significant “lift” in results. More clicks. More email opens. More lead forms. And, in the end — more sales. Here’s to CRO. When will you start CROing?
Are you closing your social media connection loops?
How can you engage strong Klout leaders in social media, then close the engagement loop? Let’s take a look. This post begins with a focus on a great engagement tip using HootSuite — the pro social media dashboard, scheduling and swiss knife tool. Then we’ll look at a SlideShare presentation (still another content engagement tactic you should explore) and with a takeaway on content strategy. The beauty of the sequence is that using social media, one connection led to another and this post closes that loop.
Let’s start with a Hootsuite tip (disclosure, Webdirexion is a pro solution partner with Hootsuite and both Julie Hume and myself are certified in Social Media Marketing by Hootsuite University). In a nutshell, this tip focuses on finding and engaging Klout leaders. You read it right — “Klout” is the name of a ratings service that looks a key performance indicators in social media and assigns you a score. The higher the score, the more Klout you have… see Webdirexion’s Klout score here.
The Klout Technique in Hootsuite
In the screenshot below, using Hootsuite, you can see that I have first filtered in the “stream” of twitter users that have mentioned our company (@Webdirexion) using the Klout filter set for at least 40-45 strength. This reveals at least one possible Klout leader for engagement:
3-steps for engaging with Klout leaders as a social media marketing tactic.
My reply, which links back to this post, shows in the Hootsuite stream with the original message.
After I review a Klout leaders profile, I check number of followers (Vinay has 4400+ followers that may see my reply to him) and further qualify the the contact. Then I actually read the post and follow the link in it. I need to do each of these things to qualify the contact (ie. a possible client or a colleague?) and make an intelligent reply. No robo-replies here — being “social” means you actually talk to one another with authentic dialog.
Following the link in Mr. Koshy’s original post led me to the slideshare presentation included below — and gave me the right inspiration for a reply. Note that in the reply, I did three key things:
I linked back to this article which mentions the dialog
I put some text before @vpkoshy because if I did not, only vpkoshy would see the reply (credit to our Julie Hume for the tip on that tactic)
I used a hashtag to extend visibility for the reply
The Content Strategy Concept (from a Slideshare presentation)
Note how the Content Pillars support each of the objectives above.
On slide 28 shown at right, in a presentation recommended by our Klout Leader friend from Australia, the author (Christel Quek) gives a diagram of three “content pillars” supporting the audience, brand objective and user motivations. What a concise way to picture your “content marketing” work to be done.
There are also a number of great tips for social media marketing in that presentation, including:
Using hashtags as a call to action
Let your brand personality shine in social media
Remember to use social media to “listen to understand”
Focus on how your products or services touch people’s lives
Make your user the hero
Recognize your champions — influencers
I then left a comment at the slideshare. Thousands of people will see the tweet. Mr. Koshy will see that Webdirexion replied directly and followed up and respected his tweet. Ms. Quek will find out that a Koshy tweet led to a blog post with her slideshare embedded (below). Who knows, maybe Vinay Koshy and Christel Quek will learn about and help be influencers for Webdirexion. It’s a social circle — see how that works?
Here’s the slideshare on winning at content strategy:
Hootsuite: Social Insights with Adam Pisoni Co-founder – Yammer
At the center of this post’s tactical tools is Hootsuite, so we’ll end with a short video of thoughts related to using the platform.
How does a company respond fast enough to their customers that are themselves, communicating, sharing and learning at faster and faster speeds due to technology? Adam Pisoni of Yammer has some thoughts in the following video. Yammer is a private social network that helps employees collaborate across departments, locations, and business apps. Note that you can add Yammer and dozens of other networks and apps into your convenient Hootsuite pro dashboard.
Our curated Online Marketing magazine, BLIP, includes articles from our favorite strategic thinkers and our experienced marketing team.
We’re pleased to announce the launch of BLIP Magazine (@ BLIPmagazine.com) — a curated publication featuring articles for marketing communications professionals on strategies and tactics for SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing, A/B Testing, Conversion Rate Optimization and more. Inspiration for the name BLIP came from how fast things move in this space — Blip… Google has changed its algorithm… Blip we’re mobile centric now… Blip… there’s a new social media marketing tool. You get it.
Earlier I wrote about four different content curation tools we use and one of them is FLIPboard, the technology behind BLIP. It’s hip (sorry, couldn’t resist that). But seriously, we like it as a collaborative tool for our SEO Editing and Marketing Consulting team to work together to find intermediate and advanced level articles on strategic marketing. The app versions are strongly implanted on the majors — iOS, Android, and Windows. We like how the app versions flip you from page to page with your index finger — recalling that “old technology” experience… reading a printed magazine.
BLIP: Great Analytics Tactic To Find Blog Post Ideas
So here’s a take-away from the latest BLIP issue — an Analytics tactic to uncover your popular content so you can write more articles on the same topics. The original article written by Andy Crestodina at Unbounce.com, talked about zeroing in on top posts by comparing time spent on them to site average time spent on content. This is great because it requires you to get out of the comfort zone of standard reports in Analytics and click to rejigger a view offering fresh insights.
We tried Crestodina’s recommendation at Webdirexion and found out that some posts we thought were high value to us were probably not the most engaging. Let’s compare what you’d see in a standard view to the “average time on page view”:
Standard view –Everyone likes to look at traffic to posts and content:
This standard view shows most popular articles in terms of page views, and goal $ values.
Above you can see the standard view (no rejiggering) in Analytics for top content suggests that our top two stories are:
One on Four Marketing Funnel Strategies, with 229 visitors, and a conversion goal page value of $7.61
A WordPress category for Healthcare Marketing articles with 94 visits and a conversion goal page value of $17.35 (we are happy about this one because we have five clients in healthcare)
I think that the second item — the category of articles — is perhaps showing some true value because of the high dollar goal values, where goals we set follow visitors through our site to desired outcomes like lead gathering, PDF downloads, etc. But what about that article on funnel strategies — is this analytics data view telling us we need to write more articles on this topic? Well, let’s apply our new technique to get to the answer…
Time Spent on Content View Tells a Different Story:
When we compare average time on page (engagement), a different set of article topics take the lead.
Above we can see that our top two topic candidates for new articles are:
Articles on curating publications — 633% time on article compared to average time on pages
Articles on WordPress site design — 263% time on article compared to average time on pages
A couple of trailing questions and some initial answers — but we’d love to hear from you too on analytics for blog topics, and what you’d like to see more of in BLIP Magazine…
Should we focus more on conversions, or engagement? Rand Fishkin (of MOZ) has an interesting insight on this question in a recent interview — he said SEO and Content Marketing are NOT in conflict with conversion rate optimization. Paraphrasing, he says let content be content for engaging visitors, and let landing pages focus on converting visitors to leads. Translation: it’s more important to engage visitors so they will come back than try to give a call to action for a conversion on the first visit. This means in the two views above, we should focus on the second one as the best indicator for desirable future content.
Is Analytics the best and final tool to gauge visitor behavior? No. Analytics only tells you what visitors do and what they do not do. It cannot tell you why. To learn why, you have to ask visitors. You can to that with comment interactions, polls, tests that ask for written feedback, and that good old technology of phones and email. Wait a minute… I don’t have a “phone” anymore other than a mini-computer I call a smart phone. Oh well… I can still talk to prospects and clients and find out what works and doesn’t work.
Remember that curation is a content strategy, while tools are tactics in search of a strategy.
One of the tactics in the Content Marketer’s arsenal is called “curation”, where you find and republish quality content in a newly “packaged” way. The idea is that you add value at least three ways — you assemble a package that would be hard to find or gather elsewhere; you contribute some editing and related content yourself; and the UI of the “package” facilitates readership (on different devices and through smart layouts that leverage content in a streamlined fashion) and social sharing.
We’ve tried four of the major services for curation over the past 3-5 years, so I wanted to give you some take-aways about each — Flipboard, Paper.li, Rebel Mouse, and Scoop.it. I’ll give you a sample of what we have used them for and thoughts on results but first the most important thing I can tell you is that these tools are tactics… in search of a strategy. What do I mean by that? Well, too many content marketer’s seem to rush into the latest greatest tool and deploy it as a tactic with no clear publishing strategy (niche, readership, purpose of publication, editorial guidelines, etc.) in hand. Planning is in order. And, remember the old adage — if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Curating a good publication takes time and consistent effort, so you need to have a clear picture of the end goal and how it will pay off for you. Remember that curation is a content marketing tactic, not a publishing strategy.
Four Curation Tools for Content Marketers
Webdirexion uses Flipboard to publish the new BLIP Online Marketing Magazine
Introducing BLIP Magazine: Our newest endeavor is to curate, write for, and edit a new “magazine” with great articles for marketing communication professionals. BLIP… Google has updated its algorithm… BLIP… there’s another new marketing tool… BLIP… someone has figured out a new tactic for marketing automation. You get it.
Our magazine is curated with the FlipBoard tool, which allows you to flip pages — just like in old-school magazines. We like it because it fosters a team curation approach, it is mobile centric (you cannot even register except on a mobile device), and efficient to use.
It’s a relatively new platform, so this tactical tool from Flipboard is still evolving — right now, there are no embedding options available, for example. It’s easy to get started with your own magazine, but strategically you will need to define your audience, set a publishing focus, then bring your editing team. What about ROI for the effort? I recommend you study that with smart use of analytics (I will report on that in a forthcoming post). For this publication, I am taking the managing editor role with supporting editors and writers from our Webdirexion team — and of course authors with articles from MOZ, Content Marketing Institute, MarketingLand, Social Media Examiner, and several others. Our publishing goal is to bring you the most useful articles on tactics and strategies for online marketers.
Medical Healthcare Matters is Webdirexion’s Digest for Healthcare professionals, curated using Paper.li.
Medical HealthCare Matters focus on Healthcare: Since we have six clients in healthcare, we use a curation tool that has been around for a while — Paper.li — to publish our weekly “digest” for this industry focus. The digest format is different than a magazine — content may include shorter items, videos, discussions and tweets. Our Miranda Booher, a former traveling nurse (before she elected to do content triage at Webdirexion), serves as managing editor for this publication. Our publishing goal here is to serve up a frequently updated smorgasbord of news on medical devices & healthcare services that move health forward. This is a more mature publication for us and its current circulation reach, including its associate Twitter account (1400 followers), is approximately 4,400.
Page at this link shows embedded digest from Paper.li.
Our publishing strategy goals are threefold: reach and inform our prospective target group — healthcare clients; build circulation and readership; and offer exposure to client’s when appropriate.
This platform offers some advanced tactics including assigning a top level domain (we use MedicalHealthcareMatters.com) and embedding a digest in an actual website (click at left to see how we do that at our Coffee Nut Hut site). Cost for premium features is approx. $9 per month.
Samsung’s “Front Row” microsite is created on the Rebel Mouse platform.
This is a curation tool we tested and published to a subdomain on Webdirexion — then realized that we were guilty of excitedly using the tool as a tactic in search of a smart publishing strategy. We’ve since shut it down, but I would recommend the platform for its advanced feature set (create an entire mini-site with the tool, complete with “page” navigation), the ability to brand it and use a top-level domain name, with the added ability to embed it.
The Rebel folks have positioned their app as a tool offering “Turnkey Content Hubs and Mobile Apps”. According to their site, Rebel Mouse is “Wired for Distributed Reach and Engagement”, and one example is that the app will notify people via email or @reply when their content is featured on your site. This is the app we would probably look at first for clients seeking an efficient “micro site” solution.
Embedding as a tactic: We had begun to explore the embedding capacity with sections for healthcare and law firm marketing (another focus niche for us), and the embedding was being done on the same site, Webdirexion, as the main “publication” (on a subdomain of Webdirexion). In the end the maintaining of a larger effort proved to take too much resource time for us, but the point about embedding I want to make is that you can embed your publication on multiple sites and locations, so this could be a powerful tactic for people with a number of domains and a network of sites strategy. With Rebel Mouse, we could even embed different sections on different pages — healthcare curations on our healthcare page, law firm articles on our law firm page, etc. This is not necessarily a great SEO tactic, because you are duplicating content, but it can boost readership and also signal to Google the relevance of certain pages and sections on your site.
This Scoop.it site was one I curated for a couple of years.
This is another freemium (no top level domain name)/premium (unlock advanced features) curation platform we used for about 18 months. During that time, I curated and commented (a nice feature — your comments appear along with the items you curate) on B2B Content Marketing Tactics. I liked some of the aspects of it, but in the end moved on to other tools and tactics on which to focus in the limited time — you know how those hours swirl by in a sea of new and evolving marketing tools.
One unique aspect of this platform is that other publishers can “scoop” your articles into their own publications. It is possible to do something like this on the Flipboard platform as well.
Note that in this publication, I narrowed the publishing focus from Content Marketing in general, to a focus on tactics more for Business to Business marketers. This is another key consideration at the publishing/content strategy level — your niche. Good Content Marketers will always proceed with their “target personas” in mind, and publishers live and die on that concept. In fact, Content Marketing is really just another term for “publishing” rolled forward into today’s marketplace of evolving tools and tactics.
Proceed from the level of good content and publishing strategy. Focus clearly both on the goals for your readership and the ROI for your organization. Then, have some fun! Do contact us for any help you may require.
Avoid the backlink beartrap – clean up your link profile.
Way back in the mists of internet time, Google noticed that sites which performed a useful service tended to attract natural links. Web-owners chose to link out to sites which complemented their own or served their own web visitors in some way. For example, a site selling holiday accommodation might link out to local restaurants, tours or transport information.
This system worked well for both those searching for information and for the website owners themselves. By going to the effort of seeking out quality websites to link to, the website owners created a source of information to which visitors would return. The sites which made a point of providing quality information naturally attracted links from related sites.
Unfortunately, while this system worked well for all involved, once it came to Google’s attention they decided that organic links could be used as a method of judging a site’s quality. Although Google is notoriously close-mouthed when it comes to their ranking algorithm, it soon become clear that the number of links pointing to a site was significant. Cue linkbuilding frenzy.
Discredited Linkbuilding Tactics
Just say no.
Services sprang up right, left and center promising to drum up hundreds of links within days. Schemes and scams abounded. They still do. Look at the image to the left which was cut and pasted from a service in the wild. Wow. 56,999 backlinks for $5. It sounds too good to be true. Doh.
Article Directory Spam
Site wide Links
Poor Quality Directory Spam
The Intent Behind a Link
While some of the techniques used were spammy and intended to game Google from the outset (hello, Link Wheels!), others like blog commenting and guest blogging only become spammy when you consider the intent. It is fairly obvious that a comment on a mommy blogger site from a user calling himself – and linking to – Hot Asian Chicks is likely to be a spammer. However, a commenter on the same site giving tips on baking the perfect pie is likely to be the real deal. In the end, both Google (and smart, honest marketers) want to be about authentic links — you know, from people who really think your site content IS worth a link.
Google Slams the Brakes On
In April 2012, Google launched an update, initially known as the Webspam Algorithm but soon given the name Penguin. Like the Panda Update which came before, this newcomer had teeth. Here is how Penguin is described by Chris Meier in the excellent Positionly blog:
A little more than a year after first introducing the Panda update, Google introduced Penguin – a webspam algorithm update. Panda specifically targeted sites and pages with low quality content, while Penguin was designed to target pages that were boosting their rankings by spamming Google. Popular techniques included: Keyword stuffing, Link schemes, Cloaking, Sly redirects, Doorway pages, and Intentional duplicate content.”
Google is always on the lookout for ways that their search engine might be being gamed by those trying to get low quality, irrelevant sites to appear higher in the SERPS than they deserve. This constant tightening of loopholes means that what was a legitimate SEO tactic a couple of years ago is now verboten. It may be that the first the web owner knows about a poor quality link profile is when he receives the following scary email from Google:
Unnatural inbound links
Google has detected a pattern of artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank are violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to globaldatavault.com/. There may be other actions on your site or parts of your site.
Use the Links to Your Site feature in Webmaster Tools to download a list of links to your site.
Ensure that unnatural links pointing to your site are removed.
When these changes are made, and you are satisfied that links to your site follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, submit a reconsideration request. If you’re unable to remove links pointing to your site, please provide as much detail as possible in your reconsideration request.
For an updated list of manual actions currently applied to your site, visit the Manual Actions page. If no manual actions are listed, there is no longer a need to file a reconsideration request.
If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.
An Ounce of Prevention
There is no question that inbound links are still an important ranking factor. Here is what Searchmetrics say about them in the introduction to their excellent 2014 Ranking Factors Study:
Backlinks: The quantity and quality of backlinks remains crucial as there are many new features introduced this year that have been revised to improve the quality of the results.
What has changed is the very strong emphasis on the quality of the link. Is it coming from a reputable site? Is it coming from a relevant page? Is the site the link is coming from seasoned and cited often on the topic of the post it is linking to?
Going forward your link building energy will have be targeted on building high quality connections however before that perhaps you need to take a trip back in time and see what beartraps have been left in your path through outdated linking tactics or downright spammy techniques.
Stay tuned for the next post to find out how to take a long hard look at your current link profile and clean it up preparatory to embarking on a quality link building campaign.
Most law firms have caught onto SEO and other online marketing tactics, but do you sell the brand, the firm, or individual lawyers?
The Jan/Feb issue of Law Practice Magazine (published by the ABA — American Bar Association) is focusing on Marketing, so we thought it would be a good idea to review a few of the concepts in the issue and contrast with some things we’ve learned in our own focus on smart marketing for your law firm.
What we have found, generally, is that while top-level marketing solutions are the same for professional services firms — branding, positioning, differentiation — the nuts and bolts of tactics, marketing automation software, and even some strategies will differ between firms.
Analytics to learn what prospects do and do not do: In an article on Leveraging Analytics in Marketing, Adam Severson, CMO of Baker Donelson (ranked as the Country’s 68th largest law firm) recommends four components of marketing analytics which include “creating dashboards of activity,” and “tying activity to revenue”. Perfect. We like to use Google Analytics to look at site activity, and sometimes use 2-3 other dashboards including Hootsuite* for social media, SEO profiler and/or Bright Local for search results; and even Google Webmaster Tools for some insights you can’t get in Analytics.
Above is a quick look at page performance for a law firm client we have, where the key is what people do leading up to becoming clients. In the last column we measure “Engaged Visitors” — those who view 3 or more pages — because studies have shown visitors who engage with your site are more likely to do business with you. Note that “/” (the top line) is the firm’s homepage, and that it more highly engages visitors at 13.78% is a good sign it is performing well.
…part of “selling” each attorney means that they write blog articles, sometimes with personal anecdotes so prospects can get to know them. People buy from people they feel they know.”
Then there are reports from Google Adwords and other pay per click advertising we manage for clients. Lots of places to look, so the question then becomes just what do you look at in these tools? That’s where you stats to desired business outcome goals — which goes to the revenue talked about in the article. We like to create quick top-level custom reports for clients, and then take deeper dives into data as required. Deeper dives for what? What indeed. It is “what prospects do” and don’t do that you can learn from analytics, but usually the “why” of their behavior. For that you need to actually ask them and there are some testing methods, social media tactics, and visitor polling that can help you with that.
Making your Practice Credible: In an article on Cultivating Credibility, author Brad Shepard offers up some real gems. First noting that two things prospects seek are, good experience with the specific legal issue they are facing, and recommendations from trusted sources, including other clients, Shepard goes on to give these take-away points:
“Firm credibility isn’t the same as brand awareness.”
“Research indicates that clients are buying attorneys, not firms.”
Presenting experience and recommendations goes to credibility — and that means a focus on both firm level credibility and that of each attorney. Then you add a brand awareness goal to the mix and you have your marching orders.
Above, we’ve identified a “Klout” influencer using Hootsuite dashboard — a possible “amplification” ally with 4,100 followers.
The fun part is choosing the tactics and tools to accomplish those goals. Here’s an outline of some methods we like:
For websites, we custom develop on the WordPress platform with an eye on hitting experience, and brand awareness on the home page with an introduction to the firm’s lawyers as well.
WordPress began as a blogging platform, so it then becomes easy to use a blog marketing strategy where part of “selling” each attorney means that they write blog articles, sometimes with personal anecdotes so prospects can get to know them. People buy from people they feel they know.
Next we make sure there’s a good presence in all “big four” social venues — G+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn — for brand awareness and some conversation. Sure, you want to post links there back to blog posts, but social means you actually talk to one another too. Hootsuite offers a time-saving, all-in-one dashboard for this.
For email newsletters (another great way to leverage the content you produce) and quick “postcard” announcements
We’ve already talked about Analytics reporting, and we also like A/B testing, smart PPC advertising, and sometimes even “old-school” tactics like direct post-card mailings. But these all have to prove out for ROI, and we believe one essential component of that to be studying phone calls direct from your online marketing effort — with a smart solution that provides ROI for call tracking, call routing and lead scoring. We’ll cover these items in some future posts.
Good writing becomes great content marketing content with the implementation of SEO best practices and tactics, which are changing all the time. See the excerpt from the infographic, 10 Tips for writing content that ranks in 2013.
Content is the buzzword.That’s all you hear about — engaging content; informative content; interesting, valuable content. Good content translates to good writing. It’s as simple as that. Because face it, if you are lacking the expertise of a skilled and talented writer – your content is going nowhere.
In fact, back in 2012, the Content Marketing Institute’s consultants were all asked, “What are the essential skills for content marketing teams?” Each commentator included writing skills as a top recommendation.
Nobody picks up a pen the first time and puts things down on paper and is instantly a good writer. Nobody. Writing is a skill that needs to be fine tuned, rehearsed and refined. There are, however, certain qualities that make for a good writer. You can learn them or hire out some experts when you’re busy wearing all the other hats in your company.
What’s a good blog/content marketing writer made of?
So what does it take to be a great blog/content marketing writer? Naturally, a good writer is:
Mindful of readers needs
Creative people often make good writers. You need to have the capability to look at stories from various viewpoints and create new and interesting brain food that will keep your audience engaged. Really engaged. Like enough to lower your bounce rate and create more conversions, engaged. Maybe you’re starting to see where hiring a good content writer pays off?
In order to become a successful content marketer, you need to become or hire a good writer.”
Take nothing at face value. A good writer will want to know the truth behind the scenes and understands that things aren’t always what they appear to be. In B2B writing, this means learning a company’s products and services, plus the pulse of the industry they’re in, plus exactly what readers need to know. Only then can you find the real “power of story”.
Being investigative means researching and discovering the truths, best practices and the stories behind the stories. Always publishing truth. Useful information that is proven accurate is a must for your online content in order to establish yourself as an expert in the field.
People want to hear ideas, opinions and points-of-view in personal blog posts. Ignite emotion. It takes a blog/content marketing writer that can can use your emotional intelligence to influence readers so that blog visitors will convert to customers. Staying current on events and news, a good writer will take the information and deliver it packed full of valuable insight and discussion point. Discuss ideas. Often.
At Webdirexion, we’ve noticed a tension between wanting to play things safe, and just parrot the company public relations jargon versus being yourself in a blog post. We handle this by staying with a factual reporting style when detailing company and industry news, while using a personal touch when individuals write a post.
“Of course, making an emotional connection is key to storytelling. Just watching the highly energetic keynote presentation delivered by Andrew Davis was a lesson, in and of itself, on how to tell a great story.
But Andrew also shared the four elements he feels are vital for brilliant storytelling:
The dynamic world of SEO and its constant updates and changes keeps content marketers on their toes. For good reason. Spamming is out and Google is all the way hip to each trick of the trades for spammy SEO. But, old school, natural optimization is alive and thriving. See our article, What is SEO and Why Isn’t It Dead Yet?
The infographic, chosen for this article (top right) gives a taste for some related and updated SEO writing skills:
Write for humans. Too many SEO practitioners forgot about that until Google gave them a collective wack on the head.
Forget about keyword density. Google knows if you are packing keywords, and this was never a good way to write for humans, was it?
Use synonyms. Google’s semantic understanding has increased to where writing in this natural way wins you SEO points.
Unfortunately, using the tilde key (~) before a search to find related keywords, is one of the changes Google keeps making — it is no longer available. We like Thesaurus.com, and also BigHugeLabs.com Thesaurus where we looked up Content and Marketing, and spun this semantic twist: Content Marketing = “Pleased Selling”. Not a bad, succinct mission statement.
Research best practices and implement. And repeat. Repeat again.
The Harmonious Balance for Blog Marketing
Take the personality profile of a good writer and equip them with the right SEO tactics and writing skills and you have an unstoppable blog/content marketing writer that can deliver that rich, engaging content you are looking for.
Content marketing — via blog marketing — and requires smart writing skills. If your company does not already have a good writer, you are likely suffering because of this and don’t even know it. Seriously. All the time websites will push big money campaigns, SEO optimization practices and other attempts to improve rankings, but with poorly written content. Seriously. That’s the problem. In order to become a successful content marketer, you need to become or hire a good writer.
The Webdirexion Sled Team, left to right: Scott (Chief Optimizer), Miranda (Content Wrestler), Serhii (Programming Ninja), Julie (SEO Maven), and Wendy (Project Chauffeur). Sherri is not in this race (only 5 allowed on the slopes), but will appear in a forthcoming video.
Quick… what would be a great way to unwind after all that online, digital, content, internet marketing work? A sled race, a la Jib Jab, of course.
We were inspired to create the following video for our Holiday Greetings in the spirit of fun and good humor when one on our team, Sherri Gutierrez (Marketing Consultant), did her own greeting using the same tool. We’re reproducing our sled race here, in case you missed it, and we do wish you a Happy New Year — watch it below.
But beyond the good fun, here are some technical social media marketing points for consideration: (more…)
Scott is Chief Optimizer for Webdirexion and includes Marketing, Content Strategy, WordPress, CSS, Photoshop, Tai Chi, and Coffee among his passions.
This month, my “TacTech Talk” Column (a fusion of Tactical and Technical tips for today’s marketers) discusses Responsive Design vs. Mobile App solutions; and I have an “authentic” Social Media Marketing tactic or two for you.
Responsive, Schmonszive… Responsive or Mobile App Solution?
There are a lot of gurus out there claiming that “responsive design” (your site shrinks according to the size of the mobile device screen) is the only way to go nowadays. Wrong. You have two choices — compromise your desktop view and go for a smartphone/tablet view that looks the same but smaller, or design for desktop, then optimize in an app-like interface for mobile devices. Is one “better” than the other? It’s debateable, and the answer depends on two things: your budget; and how best to serve your visitors. Let’s look at strengths and advantages to both: (more…)