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Archive for the ‘Marketing strategy’ Category


How to Go Big with a Small Digital Marketing Budget [Repurposing FAQ Too]


Your digital marketing budget isn’t big, but your aspirations are.

I hear you. As a content marketing strategist, writer and creative director, I get this question all the time…

“How can we create great content on a small digital marketing budget?”

Along a similar line, I know every time industry research is published I’ll see “lack of budget” ranking among the top challenges.

Top content challenges

Okay, so your budget’s an issue. I’m obliged to address it. I do so in conversation nearly every time I discuss content planning with a new client. I’m about to share with you a version of my answer. It could surprise you.

Care to guess what I say? Might it be…

Go to a writer brokerage or freelance finder website and find a low-cost writer? Task internal employees (non-writers) with the writing? Forgo strategy. Forgo design. Forgo promotion?

No. No. No. No. And no. (more…)


32 Ways a Digital Marketing Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business

A lot of clients—marketing professionals and business owners—get in touch and ask me to help plan, write, and create websites, eBooks, and blog posts. That’s far from a complete list, but three common requests.

On the other hand, a lot of clients reach out to me without a specific task list in mind. They know they want to grow their business. They know they want to produce traffic, leads and sales. And they think they need the help of digital marketing consultant.

They’re right, but their question is often oh-so-broad: “How can you help me?”

Shwew. My answer could be any number of things and at that point, not having the benefit of knowing where their digital marketing currently stands, I’m seldom able to quickly deliver a perfect answer.

I certainly don’t want to blurt out a specific digital marketing tactic… “YouTube is the answer” or “An email campaign will make rain for you.” That’d be reckless.

A digital marketing consultant should recommend tactics based on needs identified from a carefully considered audit. I’m a strategist. I’m a copywriter. But I’ve been doing digital marketing since it existed, so there are a substantial number of ways I can help you grow your business through digital marketing.

Here they are.

The list won’t magically nail an effective strategy, but my hope is it’ll provide some answers to the “How can you help me?” question and give us lots to talk about.




Digital Marketing Failure: Why the Glass is Half Empty

digital marketing failure

Creating content is a huge part of your digital marketing, yet most of it’s a waste of time.

Ouch. Why?

Did you catch the “Content, Shares and Links” study from Buzzsumo and Moz? It examined 1-million blog posts. Two alarming findings include:

  • Over 50% of posts earned 2 or less Facebook interactions
  • Over 75% achieved zero external links

The report’s author, Steve Rayson, writes, “The majority of content published on the Internet is simply ignored when it comes to shares and links. The data suggests most content is simply not worthy of sharing or linking, and also that people are very poor at amplifying content. It may sound harsh but it seems most people are wasting their time either producing poor content or failing to amplify it.”

Once more for emphasis: most people are wasting their time.

That is harsh—and definitely worth trouble-shooting. It seems safe to say the factors behind unsuccessful digital marketing campaigns can be vast. In this post, I’m going to explore the reasons that stand out to me, especially on the content marketing frontier where so much time is invested. (more…)


What is a Lead Magnet? (And 10 Ways to Quickly Magnify the Size of Your Email List)


What is a lead magnet


A lead magnet is a free offer you make in exchange for an email address (and possibly additional information).

Lead magnets are also called:

  • Signup incentives
  • Signup offers
  • Freemiums
  • Content upgrades
  • And many other terms

One well-respected digital marketer calls them “an irresistible bribe.” Sounds seedy to me. Lead magnets are above-board and have always been a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal. They’re especially golden in digital age because we can satisfy the reader’s request in an instant.

What’s the purpose of a lead magnet?

The purpose of a lead magnet is to inspire the people who are consuming your content to get on your email list. You’ll aim to convert them to customers in the future with lead nurturing tactics, most notably, email.

Offering lead magnets is a vital part of the content marketing formula that builds a more loyal audience, and in turn, effectively builds your business.

Why ask for an email instead of credit card?

“Hello. Can I have some money? God bless you.”

Sounds more like panhandling than an effective approach to digital marketing, doesn’t it?

See, only 2% of first-time website visitors make purchases—and that applies to carefully crafted websites optimized for conversion.

What do the rest do? They leave. They were just browsing. Maybe, just maybe, they’re researching and considering your solution, or something similar.

So if the overwhelming majority of visitors to your website aren’t yet in buy mode, you’re likely to chase them away by pushing your product or service on them.

What do you do instead? You ask for an email address.

In doing so, you’re asking for permission to stay in touch. Your challenge, of course, is to build a relationship, to earn their trust. This takes time. And usually, repeated touches.


But you still have some selling to do

Though the people joining your list aren’t necessarily parting with their money, by merely handing over their email address they’re investing some level of trust in you. They expect you to reciprocate by delivering value.

First, you need to sell them an idea. (more…)


How to Make Your Analytics Matter [Content Matters Podcast 05]

Content Matters 5 - analytics

Reports don’t affect don’t affect your marketing. Actions do.

You can search far and wide, but you’re unlikely to find a marketer who’s more plugged into the power of web analytics than my podcasting partner, Andy Crestodina.

At marketing conferences across the country, Andy’s sessions on understanding and applying your web analytics to optimize the performance of your website and content are always packed. Everyone in the audience gains amazing clarity on this critical topic. They leave ready to turn the numbers into meaningful actions to increase conversion.

In the next 22 minutes you’ll gather many of Andy’s best tips and get schooled in web analytics. (more…)


The 4 Indispensable Pillars of Effective Digital Marketing [Free eBook Too]

Pillars of effective digital marketing

We’re going to talk about post website depression (PWD).

If you’re a sufferer, I urge you not to be embarrassed. You’re hardly alone.

Generally, PWD is preceded with wild mood swings. For months you’re knee-deep in the grind. Meetings and conference calls. Site maps and wireframes. Copy and code. Layouts and links. Flurries of emails. Portals. Staging sites. Browser testing. Blood, sweat and title tags.

Then finally…

After an exhausting Friday of tedious troubleshooting you’ve blasted past every last imperfection (you think). The flip gets switched over the weekend and you’re live. The new site looks tight. It loads in a flash. Isn’t the web wonderful?

High fives are flying all around the office Monday morning. The boss even sprung for donuts. But in the coming days, the buzz wanes. A week or two later, the source of your depression becomes clear: a million perfectly composed pixels can amount to zero effect on the business.

4 Pillars - eBook



This is a 4,000-word post. If you’d rather “Pocket” it or download it to read at another time, click here or the image on the left to get a free eBook version.


It’s time to call a content marketer

That’s me. And this is a call I’m a part of a lot.

I’m happy to have this call because I can answer most of the questions and steer the ship forward from here. But I must admit, this call tends to include two waffles I could live without.

Waffle 1: Uncertainty

I told you the impetus behind this consultation: PWD. The company’s learned a new website in and of itself is no rainmaker. Now, at least to some extent, the marketer/owner/person I’m talking to realizes her or his company needs more than a shinier home on the web; they need a more significant digital footprint.

They need to publish content—onsite and off (but first, on) so they get discovered more. Known more. Liked more. Trusted more. This is how digital marketing works.

But then, ugh, the question, the inevitable question, dare I say, the “you’ve got to be kidding me” question…

“Barry, in our business we’re not so sure potential new clients go online to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah (read, research, make decisions, buy, etc.).

Here’s what I think at that moment: Are you serious? Where do you think they go? Where do they get their books? Where do they do research for their personal needs? Where did you find me? And WHY are we talking?

Here’s what I say at that moment: Yes, they do. (And the client knows it.)

And one more thing: In digital marketing it’s dangerous to forge a strategy based on what you think or your opinion. You need to know how your prospects and customers behave.

Waffle 2: Commitment

Somehow we get past the ridiculousness. It’s understood: content must be produced. We proceed to the double-headed time and money monster. This part of the conversation could go a number of ways and at this point it’s a bit premature to do a content marketing plan, but to do my part I say what needs to be said:

Yes, it’s going to take time and money. And if you’re not committed to it long term, you’ll be wasting both.

So what’s it to take to make digital marketing work?

The most successful businesses are becoming customer-centric marketing machines. They’re able to:

Research indicates buyers are commonly two-thirds (or more) of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor. Marketing’s role has become enormously different.

  • Marketing is sales. Marketing—not sales—guides buyers through the early stages of the buying process.
  • Touch points multiply. Marketers need to engage customers across an expanding array of channels.
  • Timeliness is crucial. Relevant marketing messages and content must be delivered fast and at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

Good news: your company can shift into digital gear to become more in touch with your customers’ needs, more responsive in delivering the content they seek when it matters most, and more effective and efficient.

Though there are countless strategies that may come into play there are four pillars of effective digital marketing your company needs to master:

1. Content marketing
2. Search engine optimization
3. Social media marketing
4. Marketing analytics

None of the above is optional. Think of them as four legs of a stool or table that forms the foundation of your digital marketing. Try to get by without one and your foundation falls down.

Digital marketing CTA banner

I’m now going to dive into each of the four to help you begin to get a basic understanding of the pillars of effective digital marketing. (more…)


How to Write Autoresponder Emails to Convert Leads

Autoresponder emails to convert leads

You work your tuchus off to get the email addresses of your website visitors. What do you do with them?

You should send them email. Thank you email? Maybe. Email newsletters? Probably. Special offers? Good idea. An autoresponder email series designed to convert?

You bet your ass (“tuchus” translated from Yiddish to modern English).

No one will disagree with this definition of conversion

You can define conversion how you like. A popular approach is the “winning” of a new email subscriber. Such a sequence often works like so:

> Get screen space
> Get attention
> Get a click
> Get time-on-site
> Get email opt-in

It looks like a whole lotta’ getting, but is the getting any good?

It might be good, but it’s not like you’re going to want to book a meeting with the CEO, unroll your holy scroll o’ addresses before her eager eyes, and demand a salary hike, stock options and early retirement.

But what if you could demonstrate your email marketing tactics converted WAY more prospects to paying customers? You’d probably feel quite alright presenting yourself as a customer acquisition rock star due for a healthy bump.

Define conversion as turning a prospect into a paying customer and no one’s going to disagree.

This post explores a vastly underused, but highly effective, tactic for winning sales: the email autoresponder series. (more…)


Digital Marketing Basics: Simplified and Comprehensive

Digital marketing basics

Marketing works differently now.

Push is out. Pull is in.

You have to think inbound.

Traditional “outbound” marketing tactics that dominated the pre-Google world are now alarmingly ineffective. We all have the power to filter out advertising and we’re not afraid to use it.

The customer is in control. The communications process begins if and when the customer wants. Without advertising. Without phone calls. Without you.

Instead of pushing out messages via paid media, to reach this customer, you must put the power of content marketing, search, and social media to work. The relationship with your brand begins there.

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads
(such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
~ Search Engine Journal

To be an effective marketer, you have to do a complete 180. The strategy is to pull people to your website with magnetic content.

Additional resource: introduction to inbound marketing.

Define objectives by beginning with the end in mind

“Our digital marketing isn’t working.” 

The great thing about digital marketing is how easy it is to measure results. So if you say the program isn’t working, it’s only a valid assessment if you’ve defined what “working” actually means.

Your sales and marketing team must agree on the program’s objective. Objectives differ from company to company, site to site, and program to program. Generally speaking, the mission is to generate traffic, leads and sales.

Are you aiming to expand an email database? Sell off the page? Foster word of mouth?

You’re going to experience failure and success. Digital marketing is forever experimental. You know what you need to conduct a meaningful experiment, right?

You need an outcome.

Additional resource: fast-track approach to setting objectives and planning.

Digital marketing CTA banner



Content Marketing Roles: A Guide to Building Your Team

Content Marketing rolesHelp wanted? Let me help you with that.

Sooooo… You know you need to keep nailing your content marketing to increase traffic, leads and sales. And (I hope) you also know success in content marketing is enjoyed only by companies committed to hiring the best talent.

Content development director Michele Linn of Content Marketing Institute recently wrote:

Each year we track the challenges marketers are having with content marketing in our research. This year, one challenge was far more pronounced than it has been: finding trained content marketing professionals. 

Unsurprisingly, I’ve found in addition to a huge demand for hiring talented content marketers, companies are craving advice for how to go about it. As a content marketer and writer (who’s often hired to help market various types of marketing solutions), I’ve also found myself tackling these “help wanted” challenges a lot lately.

I encourage you to gather and read these resources, however, I’m going to roll much of the material up and into this post to help accomplish this mission. (more…)


The Content Marketing Challenges Doing You In

Content Marketing Challenges
Failure is an option.
In content marketing, the fails outnumber the successes 2:1.

I’ll assume you want to be on the right side of this ratio. But recent history suggests it’s more likely you’ll go left and meet the fate of the majority.

There are a number of reasons content marketers fail. If you want to summarize them all in one swoop for the sake of simplicity, it’d go something like this:

Content marketers want shortcuts to success, but there are none.

Content marketing expert John Miller of ScribeWise broke the problem down into six content marketing challenges. I got excited when I read his post about how the majority of content marketers fail because I’ve offered extensive advice (which I’m going to share again) for addressing each of the problems, which are:

  • No content marketing plan
  • Ill-equipped team
  • Low priority
  • Lack of content ideas
  • Self-centered content
  • Poor reach

If you want shortcuts, I don’t recommend you spend another second with this article. If you want insights on how to become a successful content marketer for the long haul, read on. I’ll be showing you resources that detail the solutions for each problem, so your reading list will be substantial.

Ready? Here are the problems—and the solutions.

You don’t have a content marketing plan

In recent years, Content Marketing Institute’s studies reveal approximately one-third of marketers have documented a content strategy.

They wing it.

No objectives. No mission statement. No personas. And it follows, they seldom have content mapped to the buyer’s journey—or an editorial calendar.

Marketers must think, “Who needs a strategy?” The answer is: effective content marketers. I realized marketers feel overwhelmed by the process, so I simplified content marketing planning to its most essential elements.

Here’s the article, The Content Marketing Plan that Quadruples Your Leads.

Here’s the bulk of the content in a slide deck, which provides you a template.

Fast Track Your Content Marketing Plan from Barry Feldman

Here’s me presenting this lesson in a webinar.

A party of one can seldom get it done. Achieving success in content marketing takes a strategist, managing editor, writers, and more. As you expand into media beyond written works, you need to hire or contract additional specialists.

The skills that are useful in a traditional marketing department don’t always translate perfectly to a content-oriented team.

I don’t want to say you need to field a large team or toss in the towel, but you do need to tool your team to align with your needs. You must understand where to begin and a employ a smart approach for onboarding more talent as you scale.

I’ve written the perfect thing and it was designed to address the needs of companies large or small.

Here’s the guide, Tool Your Marketing Team with the Right Talent, published by Demand Media.

Tool Your Content Marketing Team

Here’s advice for hiring freelance writers from a post I wrote for Content Marketing Institute, How to Hire Freelance Writers Who Make Your Content Better.

Hire freelancers

Content marketing isn’t a priority at your company

The best intentioned marketers often say they have people focused on content creation. But client work comes first and pre-empts production.

If content marketing isn’t a priority, it simply doesn’t get done. It’s not good enough to have the planners, people, and processes unless they’re focused on setting schedules and abiding by them. Not for a month. Or a quarter. Or a year.

You have to commit to devoting resources to executing content marketing forever more.

Here’s an article explaining the chasm between success and failure.

Here’s why content marketing isn’t for everybody.

And here’s Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, explaining how your content needs to come from people inside your company, but outside the marketing department.


You don’t know what to create content about

I feel this is only a short-term dilemma. You catch on after swimming in the content marketing waters for six to twelve months.

You get a feel for which topics resonate with your customers and create leads. You find sources of inspiration to draw from. You create conversations that inspire new ideas and marketing assets worthy of repurposing.

It’s coming out of the gate where you’re bound to struggle for subject matter and (with the help of Marcus) I can tell you exactly what to create content about: the questions prospects ask. It’s not the least bit complicated.

Read this, the most effective content marketing tip ever. You’ll be busy creating content for a good spell.

CM tip


Here’s Marcus once again, laying down the laws of content marketing success.

You think your content should be about your company

This problem is older than time. The self-centered marketer failed miserably in advertising dominated era and continues to chase away buyers today with online content.

Smart content strategy is not promotional. Get it? So many nod their heads and say they understand, but prove they do not by publishing the “we, we, we” and “me, me, me” garbage that bombs.

This article uncovers the hard truth, like it or not, The Most Effective Online Marketers Focus on One Thing.

Eye chart


Your killer content isn’t reaching an audience

People love blogs. And infographics. And YouTube videos. And so on.

Why don’t they love yours? Isn’t the key to content marketing creating great content? It’s not. It’s the table stakes, as they say.

I know you’ve read the frightening facts about the volume of content available in the information age. We’ve come a long way from the age of three TV networks. Or a leading source of news.

The “channels” are now as infinite as the creators. The webosphere can now be divided (though sometimes subtly) between owner, earned and paid media. And your content marketing success will depend on you making strides in all three.

I wrote an eBook on this subject—content distribution—in collaboration with my friends at CoSchedule.

I want you to read “Amplify Content, Turn Up Demand, which you can get here. It’s a deep and valuable study on content distribution, if I do say so myself.

Amplify content

Here’s me presenting much of the advice in a webinar.

Much of your reach with earned media is dependent on your social media chops, so if you need help getting started with social media, here’s a resource you’ll benefit from. It’s one of the most well-received pieces I’ve created, so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Want to be the first to know about EVERY online marketing lesson I create? Put your email in the field below.

Content marketing is challenging. I’m on a mission to help you nail it.