Content Marketing Tactics as an Influence Building Tool

Building influence in your industry can greatly emphasize and amplify your marketing efforts. Becoming a trusted, credible and meaningful source of information and knowledge is crucial for establishing your business influence, impacting the attitude of people about your brand, and has the potential to change people’s minds and their purchasing behavior. One of the most effective ways of building influence and differentiating your brand from the pack is through the use of content marketing. We believe it actually is one of the most powerful tools that every business should include in their marketing arsenal.

Content marketing can be the means for achieving many end. It can help you position your brand as an industry leader and provide sales leads, but it can also build trust and influence among your audience.

In order to do so, you need to follow a few essential steps that we consider vital in generating content that’s valuable enough to turn you into “the best answer” out there.

Recognize your audience’s needs

In order to be able to recognize your audience’s needs, first you need to take a step back and ask yourself whether you know who your target audience is. It can be one group, or several different customer segments, and that is fine as long as you identify key traits for the people in each group.

Next, you need to learn what they care about. You can simply go and ask them directly through surveys or polls, reviews your analytics data or do a keyword research. Then, you should find out who influences them, and try to include some of the influencers or their work in your content in order to maximize exposure and build credibility.

Now that you have a clearer picture of who you are addressing, and are ready to move on to the next step: content creating, you need to keep in mind that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Preferences vary, from content types to topics and goals.

Create content that answers your audience’s needs

If your audience research is complete and you have a full customer profile, you can begin planning content creation. You can lay down a content plan, including content topics and types. This is step where must be careful and make sure you are answering key customer’s concerns, and that the content meets the needs of every step in the buying cycle. The basic model includes content which addresses three key stages: attract, engage and convert.

In this step of the process it is important to identify few content specs:

–       the channel where you’ll publish the content

–       keywords and phrases you intend to use

–       which devices the content should be optimized for

–       content topics for each stage

As we noted before, different people have different content preferences. This means you need to test different content types and find out which ones appeal most to your audience.  There are numerous content marketing tactics you can try and use in order to engage your audience and build influence.

Make an impact

To make your efforts count, and get you the desired results, you need to create content that leaves a strong impression and has maximum impact on your audience, and your marketing goals too. The main difference between content and great content most often lies in storytelling.

When you incorporate storytelling in your content you deepen the connection between your brand and the reader/viewer. Don’t look at story telling as an extra effort, look at is a source of multiple benefits including:

–    Sharing a mutual experience with your audience

–    Developing an emotional reaction and connection

–    Differentiating yourself from the competition

–    Giving meaning to the content and message

Additionally, great stories are sharable and very often accompanied with compelling visuals. Simply adding creative images, gifs or short videos alongside your written content can make it stand out, and more desirable (clickable). If you are sharing on different platforms, adapt your visuals and message accordingly. And lastly, make sure you add social sharing buttons to help increase exposure.

We believe more and more businesses choose to utilize content marketing as an influence building tool because it creates a connection and strengthens relations. And building influence with your audience is about providing as much value as possible. If you can offer content that provides value and benefits, you will grow your audience.

Even though building influence takes time, when done right, content marketing can generate results sooner than expected. If you find putting together a content marketing plan to be the hardest part of the process, you don’t have to struggle with all the work on your own. Let us help you build your content marketing strategy. Share with us your knowledge about your audience and your main marketing goals, and we can help you plan and execute the best and most effective content marketing strategy for your brand.

No One Clicks Your Banner Ads? Let’s Change That.

Banner Ads Image - Get More Clicks

While banner ads may seem like a great opportunity for you, you’ve probably noticed that it’s rare to get click throughs. And, trust us when we say this, you’re not alone! Internet users have become increasingly weary of banner ads over the years and learned to simply block them out when visiting sites. So, it’s no wonder click through rates from banner advertising has diminished.

We’ve set out on a mission to figure out exactly why people are ignoring them and how to fix that.

Just Another Distraction

This day and age we have enough distractions of our own and are naturally averted to external distractions. If you obnoxiously interrupt what a reader is doing, you will get no clicks. People don’t want to be sold to. So, leave room for native ads that will be less in-your-face to users!

Relevance

If you user is there for a specific intention, they won’t click on something that goes against their intended pathway. It will be helpful to place your ads where they have higher relevance and won’t be a complete change of pace for readers.

Retargeting is a great opportunity to stay relevant to your ad-viewers. If you haven’t heard of it, retargeting is a method used for people who have previously visited your site but never took action. So we’re talking people who abandoned their carts or researching insurance options. The idea behind this type of ad campaign is to stay at the top of your user’s mind.

Value Proposition

Give your viewer a reason to click your ad! If your ad is filled with frilly graphics, it will offer minimal value. Believe it or not, ads with lots of textual description can receive higher click throughs. This is because it can help give the viewer a clearer idea of what they will be looking at.

But don’t just stop at having a clear and attractive value proposition. Make sure your ad is well-designed and has consistency with the landing page it leads to, which will make the viewer have a better transition into the website.

As a general rule of thumb, offering something free is always attractive. Unfortunately, discounts don’t have the same success. But click-throughs on free offers typically show high rates.

Usability

Plenty of banner ads aren’t compatible with mobile browsers. If the ad totally goes against the design of the page and messes up the browser configuration, the user will probably leave the website completely. Make your ad mobile-friendly!

With these quick tips and fixes, you’re on your way to more clicks in no time. Redesign, reword, and retarget until you get the rate you want.

 

We would love to know if you have any tips or tricks about increasing banner ad click through rates, tell us in the comments. And, if you’re company needs help with optimizing online advertising efforts, we can help!

Using Storytelling in Content Marketing

Storytelling is an ancient form of art of telling stories as a way of social and cultural expression and activity, often accompanied with improvisation and/or theatrics. Stories have been shared for generations in every culture as a means of entertainment and education about cultural and moral beliefs and values.

Starting from Mahabharata, Odyssey by Homer, the 1001 Arabian nights tales, to the emotionally moving plays by Shakespeare, all of these masterpieces have something in common – they are timeless stories that stick with the readers long after they finish reading them.

Brands recognized the potential of storytelling – the lasting impression it makes, the benefits it brings them, and are now using it in many domains, such as movie making, book writing and as of late, branding. Slowly, it has become an essential marketing technique that has the central place in content marketing strategies. It has pushed the product in the back, making the story the main protagonist. But why do inspiring stories play such an important role? There are three main reasons for that:

  •         Our brains are programmed for stories. Dating back to caveman times, and evolving to today, it’s in our nature to positively react to stories. Research shows that different parts of the brain are connected and firing up when people are engaged in a story.
  •         Great stories can break down barriers. With the help of stories, we can understand each other more easily. They can help us connect better, have compassion, even change our opinions and attitudes.
  •         Stories build lasting relationships. Our tendency to embrace stories, along with the connection they help us feel, influences the relationships we build, making them strong and lasting.

First thing to remember is that stories can take many forms, from long episodic epics to ten-word sentences. Stories have a narrative structure which describes an event or sequence of events. They allow the viewers to participate, or passively absorb them, when read, seen or heard.

But how do you create stories that stick and engage the audience in a digital environment? How do you get your audiences’ brains to light up when they engage with your content?

The principles are closely related to word-of-mouth, social sharing and brand perception, and are important success factors of content marketing. This means that storytelling needs a strong focus on what people want to hear, read and share. Great campaign stories are not only well-crafted, but are based on four key elements:

#1 A beginning and an ending. Every writer can tell you that the key to hooking a reader is by getting her emotionally invested in the story as fast as possible. Very often, for marketers the proposed problem can be sold by the product you sell, so the beginning and ending can be placed in one element (one video), or stretched across a whole campaign.

#2 Emotional connections. A story that provokes emotional reaction, such as sympathy, empathy, envy or intrigue pulls the audience in, and creates emotional memories about the product. These connections, which are far more powerful than stating facts, are committed to memory. That way, as the narrative unfolds, it’s easier to move the audience from one emotion to the other, thus increase the connection.

#3 Authenticity. A great story is also authentic and speaks a truth, to the brand and its audience. It is very important to keep your authenticity throughout the whole campaign because people respect and trust honest brands. If you lose your authenticity, you might lose your audience, and customers.

#4 Relatability. The previous three elements lead to the last and most important one – relatability. If people can form an emotional connection with your brand, they will be more likely to buy your products. Make sure your story has a connection to the customers, and they can identify themselves with it. It can be the problem your product can solve, the characters that are featured, or the time period which is highlighted.

Storytelling is a powerful and significant tool, but is not a magic wand. It is crucial for businesses that want to make a difference, and stand out from the crowd in the digital age. But it has to be done right. Beside having a beginning and end, and creating emotional connections through authenticity and reliability, stories need to be nurtured, shared, and refined. The simplest three-step process of content marketing storytelling goes like this:  

Create content that tells compelling stories for each stage of the buyer’s journey. First, address shared interests and values. Then, talk about your company, product and customers, and lastly turn to stories about the product/service.

Connect with your audience via select channels – your web site, email lists, social media or webinars. Make a choice based on what you prefer to achieve – brand awareness or conversions.

Optimize the content you created based on its effectiveness metrics. Learn what engages your audience and refine content pieces according to the audience’s preference.

With good research of your product, your customers, your proposition to them and the media you intend to use, you can get the insight that will allow you to achieve the necessary breakthrough which will have a lasting impact on your audience. Use a great content marketing strategy and storytelling within it to create loyal long-term customers and brand advocates. Over time, that translates into increased sales and revenue for your business.   

SEO Made Simple

SEO Made Simple: 7 Tips for Small Businesses

Whether you’ve started a new website or have an existing business and are looking to get some eye balls to it, SEO can be a challenging task. And, couple that with the fact there are over a billion sites on the internet, we know it can seem overwhelming. The truth is though, optimizing your site for search engines is really simpler than it seems. We’ve put together a list of simple, helpful, and promising steps for your site to get the most traffic possible from search engines.

Target the RIGHT People

As you probably know by now, targeting the right audience (people) is a key part of this process. It may be easy to decide on a target audience, but make sure your website is tailored to target the right people too. This means including potential search keywords or phrases here and there and making it easy for people to find you. 

Take advantage of people who are actively searching for your topics. Make their job easy! If they’re searching for you, they probably won’t be using general keywords but rather they’ll be looking for you by using relatively unique keywords. For example, let’s say you’re a dentist in Scottsdale, Arizona. You may not be able to rank for “Scottsdale dentist” immediately, but you could rank for “Dr. Adam Smith, Scottsdale, AZ” or “Adam Smith Dentistry”. It’s always good to start with the basics. Just knowing people can find your business by your brand or company name is just as important. Over time, by continuing to add content to your site, and you become more of an “authority” in Google’s eyes, you’ll start to find you will be driving traffic for those keywords like “scottsdale denstist”. 

Know What Search Engines Like

Search Engines work to give users the most relevant results based on their search. So how do you make sure you’re relevant? There are some 4 factors that can influence how your site shows up in results. Content, Authority, User Experience, and Performance. Content: does the actual text, titles, and descriptions on the page match a searcher’s results? Authority: is your site good enough to be used as a reference by other sites? User Experience: Is your site easy to use and safe? Performance: Does your site have proper speed and functionality?

Make Your Site User-Friendly

Make pages designed for users, not search engines! This is called cloaking and will deceive your users. Although you want your site to appeal to search engines, users should of course be your primary concern. Don’t go making your pages so optimized that users will have a bad experience.

Do Your Keyword Research

Imagine you’re a potential consumer searching for a site like yours. What would they Google to find you? Test it out yourself! If there’s a term or phrase people may search to find you, Google it and see if your site comes up.

If you search something vague like “Scottsdale dentist” you may find sites with headlines using that specific phrase but bare in mind that it took them a while to get to that rank.

So choose a search that is easier to rank on. If you search “Adam Smith Dentistry,” chances are that there will be fewer results because no other listings use the same keywords. This means you have a great chance to rank for them by making just a couple simple changes to your website!

You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find out what people are searching for and use that to your advantage when you start implementing these tips. And, you can take a look at how we do seo keyword research to help you come up with more keywords to show up for.

Optimize Title Tags

In case you aren’t familiar, Title Tags are the title of a page that show up in the blue at the top of a browser. They are often overlooked, but are really a critical part to SEO. We tend to think it’s the most important part of what is on the page, from an SEO perspective.

A good rule of thumb is to include one keyword and a couple descriptive phrases that explain the page. For example, a bio page on Adam Smith Dentistry could include a title tag like “Dr. Adam Smith: treating patients in Scottsdale, AZ since 1980.”

You may not be getting a ton of traffic from these words specifically but you’ll show up for people searching those terms.

Optimize File Names

Considering there are more than just one ranking factor, search engines don’t just look at title tags and rank your site. URLs and file names are another opportunity to create relevance on your website. 

All it takes is some identification of a theme or focus of a particular page. For instance, someone may be searching “patient testimonials” on your site. Name the page “yourwebsite.com/patient-testimonials/” and use a photo named “patient-testimonials.jpg.”

Be sure to keep it short and simple so it will be easy to remember for users and relevant for search engines. For more specific and long tail content, you might have a page about teeth cleaning and whitening. In that example you could use “yourwebsite.com/teeth-cleaning-whitening/” for the URL.

This should give you a good frame of reference for your pages going forward. 

Content Optimization and Keyword Targeting

After choosing your title tags and filenames, add those same keywords throughout the content of the pages on your site. The key is, you want it to be subtle. Use natural language and avoid awkward phrases or obvious SEO and keyword stuffing. At the end of the day, we want readers to maintain their interest rather than be annoyed with unnecessary repetition.

Take advantage of the headlines and subheaders to add in important references to keywords that important to that specific page. For example, above we talked about teeth cleaning for our URL example. On that page you could have headers that contain “Teeth Cleaning” and “Teeth Whitening” to target those keyphrases on the site. 

Then, you can start inserting those types of keywords throughout the copy of the page and the website as a whole. Remember though, the key is keeping the user interest as well.

Add Meta Tags

Meta Tags like the “meta description” are important as well. Sure, they no longer carry as much weight as they did in the past, but they still have some importance. They’re good to have and just a checkbox to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help your website get found.

The Meta Description typically won’t help with rankings, but they can affect your traffic. What we mean here is that this is the first thing people see (along with the title tag) in Google when they see your brand. The key is writing it to entice people to click on your website over the 10 other blue links in Google’s search results. Be unique, intriguing, and focus on the reader. Use benefit-rich texts that will trigger someone to say “Yes I found the perfect site!”

You’ll only have about 150 characters to use but there’s still a chance to make a big impact with small and simple words.

Now you may be thinking that there is so much more to SEO. And you’re right! But this is a great way to get started optimizing your site by only spending a little bit of time overall and about ten minutes per page. These small changes can get you in the right direction and help people find you. And, who knows, you might even be able to get a customer or two in the near term!

Top Ways to Write A Successful Welcome Email

So, you’ve got a new email subscriber! Whether it’s a product, service, or blog, the one thing you need to remember is that you’re now building a relationship. Think of it like a friendship. General rules of thumb for maintaining this friendship are regular communication, showing interest in their opinion, and making them feel important. The first email they get from your site will be the make-or-break of whether they want to stay your friend. To keep them interested, you’ll need to fulfill a need of theirs from the get-go reminding them that you are worth their time and space in their inbox. So now you’re probably thinking “how do I accomplish all this?!” It’s really much simpler than it sounds.

Testing, testing, 123

Before getting into the specifics, just remember that there is no set formula for having an effective welcome e-mail. Our best advice is to test all these methods, try different combinations, and see what works for your users! As you read this list, think about what will actually get your target to click through your emails and try them out. With some combination of these methods, you’ll be on your way to subscribers who get excited to see your name in their inbox.

Make a Real Connection

Like we mentioned before, you want this subscriber to be your friend. For some companies, this can get literal. If possible, make a human connection with your new subscriber. Have a real-life employee(yes, a human!) contact them after subscribing, welcoming them to the community or even asking for feedback. The new subscriber will feel important and refreshed to see something other than an automated email. Now we know this isn’t possible for every website (too big, not enough time, etc), but it’s worth a shot for smaller companies looking to establish themselves and their relationships with subscribers. And don’t try to go fooling your user with an automated email pretending to be human! They will know and will get a bad impression right off the bat.

Tell Them What to Expect

Let the new user know how often and what kind of content you will be emailing them. This will differentiate you from other campaigns and keep you out of their spam folder .

Minimize Amount of Text

Trust us on this one: most copy in subscription emails goes unread. No one wants to spend their free time reading through long blocks of text. Even if you’re a news site, email success will come from keeping it short, simple, but effective. In the welcome email, give them a simple call to action. The most common form of this is a button. Invite them to visit your site, redeem a code, or continue shopping. If the reader sees a button, they will probably go straight to clicking it before even reading the copy, so make sure you use this method with that in mind.

Get Personal

Get personal with your new subscriber, but don’t creep them out. Use their name in the email and personalize it based on how you got their email. For example, if you got it at an event, make mention of the event and meeting them. Tell them facts about their account type or how to use your site from the platform they signed up on. But don’t show them that you know information that will sound invasive like their location. You wouldn’t tell a new friend that you’ve already fully Facebook-stalked them and know their entire life, would you? (No!)

Be Polite

Say thank you and let the subscriber know that you appreciate their engagement. They have plenty of emails in their inbox and have opted in for adding more with your emails. Show them that you appreciate them and will make it worth their while!

Use an Intriguing Subject Line

Most sites stick to a simple “Welcome to ___” and tend not to branch far off from this. But make it interesting! Be consistent with your branding and make the new subscriber excited to open the email. Compel them to find out more and continue engaging with your emails.

Be Compatible with Mobile Setting

41% of emails are opened on the mobile device now, so if your email isn’t mobile-friendly too, you could be using a large base. Make an effort for those mobile users so they don’t begin to automatically delete your emails in the future.

Promote Your Site

Because this will be the first email they receive from your site, the subscriber is more likely to actually open it. This makes it a perfect time to promote your goods or services. But make sure this isn’t done in an in-your-face way. Show them that you’re worth their time by giving a discount code or free shipping just for them. They will want to stay your friend!

Remind Them Why You’re Friends

Show the subscriber that you’re not like the rest! They subscribed to you for a reason and this needs to be maintained so that their interest is kept. Remind the user why you became friends in the first place by showing them what your site can do for them (products, posts, opportunities, etc).

And Tell Them To Whitelist Your Address

You don’t want to end up in their junk folder, so make sure you have them add your address to their contacts. Another way to avoid the junk and spam folder is by making sure your email passes fraud tests. Make it easy for the reader by telling them exactly how to whitelist you and they may actually listen!

Keep It Simple

Keep it simple! Nobody wants an overwhelming, text-heavy, extremely long welcome email. Short text, a couple pictures and promotions, and perhaps a call to action. Simplicity is key! If you do have a call to action, make sure it’s logical and parallel with other calls to action and account confirmations.

Give a Gift

Everybody loves a gift! Make an offer that will motivate them to use your service or site. 10% off, free shipping, buy one get one free, free first time, refer a friend special, anything! They will feel obligated to use it so that it’s not wasted.

 

Last, But Not Least!

Yes, we’re repeating it again now that you’ve now read through everything. Test, test, test! Combine different techniques until you find the best method for your site. Give each method  enough time to get accurate results but don’t be afraid to keep changing it until it’s right for your site. After all, everyone only receives one welcome email!

Here are some good welcome emails from other companies:images-1

Gap does a great job of offering and highlighting their 25% discount offer, thanks the customer, and doesn’t overwhelm in CTAs.

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Evernote uses the personalization of the subscriber by addressing their name and shows them how to use their account, but still keeps things short and simple.

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Dorothy Perkins’ welcome email has two CTAs but also keeps it short and simple for the reader. This is a great example of reminding the user to add your email to their contacts and informing them what will be in their inbox from you.