The Point

Archive for the ‘Search/SEO’ Category

Jun

33 Dependable Sources to Get Content Marketing Ideas

Content marketing ideas

You’ll find a ton of blog posts and resources intended to help give you content marketing ideas. Most of them present various angles marketers are using now. You know… how-to’s, lists, comparisons, newsjackers, customer stories, etc.

I’ve written plenty of content in this vein, including posts (and infographics) to help you generate video marketing ideas, infographics, and lead magnets, such as eBooks.

In this post, rather than GIVE you content marketing ideas, I’m going to tell you how (or where) to GET them.

Mostly, you “steal” them. But as I hope you know, I don’t mean you plagiarize the content other brands publish. That’ll get you nowhere. What I mean is marketing ideas are inspired by a myriad of resources—online and off.

The long list that follows explains exactly what I mean. I rely on these resources and you should too.

1. Search

Begin a search in Google or Bing. You’re not only going to find a quick little surplus of ideas, but ideas people actually search for. Because…

Google Auto Complete

The search engine will attempt to guess what you’re searching for. As it detects your intention, it will suggest ideas. This is called Google Autocomplete.

People also ask

Somewhere on the page, often at the top, you may see common questions (“People also ask”) and answers, a feature that appears as an increasingly common response when searches are phrased as questions.

Of course, the search results themselves may give you ideas.

Searches related to

And for most searches, at the bottom of the page, you’ll see “Searches related to….” More ideas.

2. Competitors’ blogs and FAQs

If you’re not eyeing the content your competitors create, you should. You might even want to setup Google Alerts or any media monitoring tool to keep tabs on your competitors and your industry at large.

 

Google Alerts

Check out their blogs and content hubs. You’re likely to find topics you can cover better, or differently. The same goes for the FAQ. Perhaps your answer to what a competitor claims is a frequently asked question merits developing an article or some form of content. Perhaps your big muscular answer makes theirs look weak.

3. Books

Say hello to Amazon, a haven of content ideas. What do people write books about in your industry?

Look inside book

“Look inside” a relevant book (a feature most Amazon books offer). Whoa… the preview feature shows you the book’s table of contents, which may contain all kinds of content marketing ideas.

4. eBooks

Ebooks, of the freebie variety, are offered on Amazon, Scribd, SlideShare, and well, everywhere. The companies you compete with certainly market them. Searching for eBooks on a specific topic will present them to you.

Mine them for ideas. Or take one you like and do something different with it.

I’ve written numerous successful blog posts based on an eBook, or a collection of them. They often contain quotes, statistics, research, examples, and other components that make it easier to include highly credible citations and links.

5. Magazines

Remember magazines? I don’t buy as many as I once did, but I haven’t forgotten them. I subscribe to several in the digital marketing realm. Most of them are free.

I don’t read them cover-to-cover. In fact, sometimes I don’t get to them at all. But often, they become my reading material at the gym or for late night reading (is that sad?). In any case, they give me ideas.

I don’t mean to rail on any publisher in particular, but I’ll tell you most of the magazines I get about my field—digital marketing—feature fairly lightweight articles. Magazines do that.

However, the topics often have potential, so they inspire ideas for me to create posts, eBooks, infographics, slide decks, videos, etc.

6. Research

Research rocks content marketing, that is, published research reports. Join the mailing list of leaders in your industry and pay special attention when they publish research. It’s gold.

Next, use parts of it in your content. Or mine it for ideas.

Social media tactics

One of my most popular posts, What Social Media Tactics Are Most Effective?, literally plucks the idea from Social Media Examiner’s annual industry research report. They listed the most common questions their readers ask. I decided to answer the top one. I did so simply by researching and rounding up the best content on the topic based on reading the posts that came up on the first page of search.

7. Courses

Udemy curriculum
Online courses are everywhere and aggregated, for your convenience, on services such as Udemy, Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda). Much like books, they are chapterized, so a quick review of the course outline (a table of contents) is bound to be full of ideas.

8. Conferences

Here’s one of those online and off resources. Offline, or in the real world, you can attend conferences (and probably should for networking purposes). When you do, you’ll have the chance to experience several helpful keynotes, sessions and workshops.

You’ll also be given a program. Keep that thing and refer to it when seeking a content marketing idea.

Even if you can’t make it to a conference, the agendas of conferences past and future are published online.

Conference organizers will carefully vet ideas for sessions submitted by potential speakers. They tend to select the ones they believe will draw the most interest. Now there’s a cool shortcut. Someone else—probably a committee of experts—did the research for you.

Virtual summits have all kinds of models, but are essentially conferences as well, so if your industry offers them, the same strategy can be applied.

9. Podcasts

You may be producing podcasts, listening to them, or ignoring the podcasting revolution. But understand: podcasting also presents a place and resource for mining content marketing ideas.

podcast episodes

Can’t find the time? You need not listen. I must admit, though I have a podcast, I seldom listen to them. What I’m suggesting is that you simply peruse the titles of the podcasts for ideas.

10. TV

Are there television stations and networks broadcasting programs related to your industry? You can use your remote control to peruse the programs by doing a search. Or you can use the web.

There’s no doubt in my mind television programming pros are not producing shows on topics no one cares about. For me, talk shows and demonstration shows come to mind. For instance, folks like Dr. Oz and Rachel Ray are creating shows, or program segments, about topics the viewers appreciate. Thanks to the proliferation of stations, examples of highly specific programs about highly specific topics are nearly endless.

11. YouTube

Internet TV applies here too. What’s Maria Forleo up to? What are vloggers like Jenna Marbles doing? Which shows are killing it for views in your field?

YouTube

Do a search on YouTube and gather all kinds of ideas.

12. Buzzsumo

You may serve a highly specific niche and benefit from content whether or not it reached a lot of eyeballs and earned a lot of mentions.

However, learning what has indeed earned substantial social media shares and links will be helpful in your quest to discover effective content marketing ideas.

Use Buzzsumo to search by topic, URL or author. You’ll get an instant report on posts and pages that performed best.

buzzsumo

I often search Buzzsumo to see the results leaders in my field get from their content. The big winners often spark ideas worthy of content development.

13. Quora

The popular Q&A website Quora is a forum for just about everything. The questions there, and answers, will give you ideas.

Quora related questions

Be sure to check out the related questions.

14. Wikipedia

Wikipedia is like the world’s HQ for finding tables of contents or related ideas. Seriously, search anything. Bam! You could find:

  • Detailed posts
  • Links galore
  • A table of contents to inspire a crazy number of ideas
  • A “See also” section with even more ideas
  • Notes (footnotes), references, further reading, external links
  • And more

Wikipedia

For most inquiries or topics, Wikipedia is so rich with content marketing ideas, you may not even need another source.

15. News aggregators

I got this idea (and hundreds more) from Andy Crestodina on his blog at Orbit Media. (I’m a contributor there.) Andy explains news aggregators pull blog feeds and newsletters together and can therefore be a rich source of ideas.

AllTop

Andy recommends Feedly and Alltop and writes they are “…great for both research and organization.” He says, “Search for your topic and scan through the headlines with your next post in mind. Within minutes, you should spot a few themes and memes that you can repurpose on your blog.”

16. Blog comments

You have a blog, right? It’s the main reason you’re reading this long list post about where to get content ideas.

Does your blog welcome comments and questions from readers? The truth is bloggers feature comment sections less than they used to, which is probably because readers chime in less than they used to.

Still, whether it be on your blog or elsewhere, blog comments are easy to find and capture cool things such as:

  • Questions and challenges readers have
  • Objections readers have
  • Links to related resources
  • And potentially, ideas for expanding your content regarding topics readers have shown interest in

17. Email

For better or worse, I subscribe to a ton of email newsletters and updates from marketers, influencers, and relevant industry publishers. I suspect you do too.

I must admit, my morning routine generally consists of zapping 95% of them—and from time to time I go on an opt-out rampage—however, I read the subject and from lines and click-through at least a few times everyday. And that inspires ideas.

You absolutely must monitor what’s being published in your niche and, when you’re shopping for ideas, email will help feed them to you.

18. Phone calls and conversations

This may be the most under-appreciated or least mined source on the list I’m presenting. However, you’re having conversations with prospects, customers, and various types of associates daily, right?

These conversations inevitably invoke questions. Your challenge is to pay close enough attention to record them for posterity. The questions people ask you and the issues they face—especially when they care enough to take the time to ask you in conversation—are likely the most important topics you need to tackle with your content.

19. Idea generators

If you’re main game is marketing, you’re probably aware other marketers (with the required resources) create free idea generation tools. If you moonlight as a marketer, now you know.

There are quite a few worth trying…

Answer the Public

  • Answer the Public is quite handy for generating a mindmap of related ideas and questions.

Portent's Idea Generator

20. Keyword tools

Keyword tools are everywhere, free and paid. Of course, if you’re a serious SEO researcher, you’ll want to consider the paid tools and identify the feature sets and fees that work best for you. Here, for the simple purpose of hunting for content marketing ideas, I’ll present three you’re likely to find helpful and easy to use.

  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner—The free tool from Google was created to help marketers plan pay-per-click ad campaigns. However, whether you buy ads or not, the tool will generate lists of related keywords based on the terms you enter and broadly estimate search volume, making it a good starting point for content marketing ideas.
  • Ubersuggest
  • Keyword Tool.io

Ubersuggest and KeywordTool are similar and focus on generating a long list of related search terms, largely of the long tail variety, in an alphabetical format. Search volume is not indicated with the free versions. There is, to a limited degree, a variety of ways to stratify searches (by search engines and search types). Ubersuggest includes a word cloud display option, but it’s probably more of a toy than a tool.

21. SlideShare

SlideShare, a LinkedIn company, is a massive content hub, where presentations, documents, and infographics are uploaded. The service doesn’t appear to thrive to the degree it once did, however, LinkedIn claims to have 18 million uploads in 40 content categories.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 9.47.25 AMChances are, a little searching and clicking around on SlideShare will help stir up some ideas. I’ve used it as a research tool for years and occasionally base content on what I find there, cite it as a source, or even embed the content when it’s helpful.

22. Pinterest

Today, Pinterest is one of the top 60-70ish websites in the world (Alexa rank of 63). Though it’s known to skew toward a female audience, believe me, there is no subject you can search for on Pinterest that won’t return an amazing amount of content.

Pinterest also sends you amazing emails based on your interests.

Pinterest personal branding

Warning: Pinterest is highly addictive.

23. Google Alerts

Google Alerts basically brings search results to you. Free. At whatever interval you choose. A free service, Google Alerts sends you emails when it finds web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or research that match the search terms you sign up for.

Google Alerts personal branding

I love it. I use it to monitor my name, website, books, the areas of interest I write about in digital marketing, and the categories/topics my clients do business in. If you’re monitoring (and swiping ideas) for something specific, you definitely want Google Alerts in your arsenal.

24. Social media channels

I’ll say it again: social media is the greatest market research tool ever. The almighty hashtag… lists… groups… communities… lists… chats… discussions… analytics…

Slice it how you will, but understand the conversation about whatever it is you’re looking to have a conversation about is taking place on the popular social media channels.

And, in my mind, what makes it so great as a research tool for finding content marketing ideas, is it’s “au naturel.” What I mean by that is it’s not masked by editors. Consumers create the content. How can social media not provide important clues about what people care about?

25. Forums

I have to admit, I’m not much of a forums guy. But I’m not trying to market to me. And though it may be “old school” Internet, there are forums about everything. And you know what takes place there? People search for the answers and advice they seek.

forums for dog obedience

Find a forum in your niche simply by including the word “forum” in a search and you’ll see what I mean. When you find the right one (or more), you may never need another source of content marketing ideas.

26. Groups

I believe LinkedIn was the trailblazer of social media groups, but Facebook appears to the reigning king. Your call as to which groups sound more appealing or deliver more insights for your niche.

The point is, like forums, there are groups about everything. Unlike forums, on social channels, they are often moderated by an organizer who decides how “open” the group is or isn’t.

In any case, by becoming a member in a LinkedIn or Facebook group, you’ll be in the company of like-minded people who ask smart questions, deliver personal insights regarding them, and offer valuable resources. You’ll gather ideas, I promise.

Of course, you can also start your own group, as I have done (with my co-author) to support my new book, The Road to Recognition. Conversations there are often about book promotion.

27. Sales people

Perhaps it should be more obvious: the people who field questions from prospects are the most likely to know what questions need to be answered. Treat them as a resource.

  • Ask your sales people to record and share the questions prospects ask.
  • Ask them to mine their email and presentations to determine worthwhile topics.
  • Ask them if they run into dead-ends when trying to source content for specific customer challenges.

28. Customer service people

Here again, we’re looking at the people in your company with customer-facing roles. Those manning the chats, taking support calls, conducting training, solving technical problems, or providing any type of post-sale service should be intimately familiar with topics that need tending to.

29. Staff

Sure, the sales and support people should be your first couple of stops, but if everyone in the company is pulling their weight, everyone in the company could contribute to the content ideation party.

Hit up your people for ideas. What are they seeing streaming across social media? What do they hear? A content ideation pizza party or happy hour might be fruitful and fun.

30. Help section

If your company’s site has a help or support section on its site, dig into it. Wander your way into your competitor’s help sections too. What topics could use more informed answers? What ideas could be expanded?

Help section

You might find help requests where the only response was a written answer or customer comments. Would a video, diagram, screenshot or downloadable asset make for a better response? Maybe the reverse is the case: a video provides help, but a blog post or guide does not.

31. Onsite search

onsite search

Does your website and/or blog have a search mechanism? The data it captures is bound to tell you exactly what people are looking for, which is exactly what you need to create content about.

32. Interviews

Interviews are everywhere in every media. And pertinent questions, insights, and ideas pour forth from the mouths of both the interviewers and interviewees. You can read interviews, watch and listen to them, or conduct them and you’re bound to discover content marketing ideas.

33. Your friends and family

It’s possible this final idea of mine has never occurred to you. Conduct conversations with your friends and family about what you do. They’re very likely to respond with questions you can use.

They may bring you that “outsider” perspective you never could have, but should have discovered, otherwise.

Sometimes it just makes for a great story. I remember once, I read something that expressed the idea that the best content marketers are the essentially great teachers. I decided to do a post about the qualities of a great teacher.

So I asked my kids over dinner: Who are your best teachers? Why do you like them best? Their answers were pure, unadulterated, gold. I began taking furious notes and created a wonderful post soon after.

Useful content marketing ideas are everywhere

Want to turn searchers into visitors? Visitors into leads? Leads into customers?

Tune into some new sources, heed what you hear, and turn out some inspired stuff that’ll be helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec

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.

 

(more…)

Dec

Do Backlinks Still Matter?

do-backlinks-still-matter

True or false? Backlinks are the holy grail of search results.

The confusion remains. The speculation continues. And the research keeps pouring forth. The more you read this stuff, the less clear you are on the answers.

See, anyone can publish their take on SEO ranking factors. The search results themselves may be our best measure of credibility, unfortunately. Search engines are pretty amazing, but they’re definitely not lie detectors.

Even so, I asked Google for the answer. Or I should say, I asked Google to show me the top ten results for my question. I’m going to show you what I found, reflect on how much of what I read matters, and close with my opinions.

FYI: the data I present in the “numbers” for each search result come from:

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-1-52-31-pm

  • MozBar—for links and domain authority (DA)
  • Buzzsumo—for social shares (which excludes Buffer and many popular networks and isn’t always up to date)

Here are the first five results on my SERP (search engine results page). (more…)

Sep

SEO 2017: User Experience Optimization is What Matters Most [The Poodle Update]

SEO 2017 - Poodle

I’m going to scope out my take on SEO 2017.

Take it for what it’s worth. See, I don’t know what most SEO experts know. I’m a different kind of search engine optimization expert.

I’m a reluctant SEO expert

I never used the term “SEO” to describe my services or myself. I never liked the term “search engine optimization.” I never liked studying it. And I certainly never considered myself an expert.

Until I became one.

I learned how to separate the wheat from the chaff (oy) and do the research and writing required to publish content that appears on the first page of search. A lot of my posts and pages appear there. A lot of them got there fast—with no link building, buying or bartering.

What can I say? I should write a book about SEO to help simplify it for you. Wait, I did that.

Learn the essentials of SEO in under an hour banner

So heed my disclaimer. Want scientifically extracted theories about causation and correlation? I’m going to let you down.

Want me to reveal, review or re-order the 200-plus search ranking factors you need to know to form more informed hypotheses about the world’s most mysterious algorithm? Goodbye and good luck.

You’ll have to settle for some simple speculation

The future of search is about the user experience. If it needs a name, we’ll call it user experience optimization. UXO? Why not?

The history of search was about relationships. Not human relationships, but relationships between websites, a.k.a., links. I’m not dissing links. They played an immense role. They still do.

Links fuel the machine. The Google database, enormous beyond comprehension, stores the locations of pages that are published, what’s on the pages, and which pages point to the pages. It wouldn’t work otherwise.

For better or for worse, links became the name of the game. The game became seedy. An endless appetite for backlinks gave birth to a business where ethics became optional.

I should know. Because of my achievements in guest blogging, and to a lesser degree, the momentum of my own blog, I’m often perceived to be (and pursued as) a link in the chain to bigger and better links. Translation: link seekers seek me. Everyday.

But there’s a problem with all this lust for links. People don’t care about links. Search engines do. People care about content.

We’re all outsiders trying to look into how Google does its thing. We know far less than we’d like, but we can agree on a few things:

  • Google sells ads and allocates its most valuable page real estate to those willing to pay for them.
  • Google’s less concerned about rewarding non-advertisers with clicks than it once was.
  • Still, Google aims to reveal pages containing the content its users want.
  • Google tracks and analyzes what happens after we click.

The point I’m making is based on that fourth bullet. What happens after we click, the user experience, is what will matter most going forward.

User experience optimization is based on three things

  1. Clicks
  2. Consumption
  3. Action

Got it? There might be better names for these things and I suspect us marketing folks will throw everything we’ve got at labeling them. Let’s settle for clicks, consumption and action for now. And let’s get into ‘em a bit. (more…)

Jul

Why Content Marketers Must Understand Domain Authority

Copy of Episode 13

The content marketing planets aligned when your hosts, Andy and Barry, selected theme music for our program written and recorded by our friend (and content astronaut) Robert Rose.

The groove of the tune was the reason it worked for us, but if you listen closely, you hear a vocal loop Robert uses with a female singing, “It’s gonna’ take a little time.”

She might have been rapping about content marketing. Or search. Or building “domain authority” (DA).

We’re riffing on these things in this episode with a focus on the increasingly important measure of domain authority. Andy’s published answers to common questions about DA on the Orbit Media blog and now his extensive knowledge on the topic is ready to be fed directly to your ear drums.


 

Tune in for 22 minutes to learn:

  • What is domain authority (DA)?
  • How’s it compare to Google’s PageRank metric?
  • What’s page authority (PA)?
  • Which one matters more for keyword research, DA or PA?
  • How measure the value of a link from another website to inform your planning process
  • Must-do techniques to increase your domain authority (and the magnetic power of your website)

(more…)

Jun

White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO: Are You Wearing the Right One?

 White and black hat SEO

 

State of SEO 2016: Is Black Hat SEO Really Dead?

The white hat vs. black hat SEO debate rages on. And many remain confused. Blogger Gareth Simpson, an SEO Consultant based in Bristol, UK, offered this post to help you get your head around the issue. 

The way that SEO marketing has been going over the last few years seems to proudly proclaim the death of all black hat methods, nailing the coffin lid shut unceremoniously in blog post after blog post.

White hat SEO and white hat link-building are now being touted as the only way to do SEO in 2016. But if search engines officially want completely unmanipulated search results, where do you draw the line with white hat link-building? Isn’t some white hat SEO really taking a leaf out of the black hat book? It’s time to cut through the hype and be honest about the state of SEO.

Origins of the white hat/black hat divide

During the history of trade & commerce, there’s always been people willing to take risks and use ‘creative’ tactics to sell products or services. In that way, black hat SEO is no different to many other forms of marketing and selling.

After Google had made backlinks a ranking factor, differentiating itself from all other search engines at the time, SEO really took off. Black hat tactics flooded the internet, from keyword stuffing to blog comment spam and content cloaking. For many years, these tactics were widely used across the entire SEO community. It wasn’t until a few years ago that Google made a lot of people in SEO clear up their act, after it had finally developed algorithms to sift through SERPS better.

Google hit out with its succession of updates targeting low quality SEO: Panda in 2011, Penguin in 2012 and Hummingbird in 2013. This post recaps some of the updates’ effects on SEO.

Many sites, link farms and blog networks were hit with massive penalties, some never recovering. This scared people into clearing up their SEO act; many SEOs renounced their black hat ways- saying goodbye to spam and tactics like hiding text from users ‘for good’. Many felt that black hat SEO would never recover.

But now, years later, black hat SEO seems to be still very much around, despite proclamations to the contrary. So if black hat SEO is not dead, what is happening to it instead? Where is SEO, both white hat and black hat, going in 2016? (more…)

May

The Way To Do SEO that Works [Content Matters Episode 11]

Episode 11 Content Matters

If you want to start cranking your ranking, you need to understand SEO that works. 

Just a few years back you might have achieved super SEO powers by droppging keyword bombs on your pages and “acquiring” links here, there and everywhere.

Welcome to 2016 where getting your pages and posts to top Google’s search pages calls for the right balance of basic on-page SEO tactics and a serious commitment to creating a stellar experience for your visitor.

(more…)

Feb

SEO Blog Post Checklist: 21 Ways to Crank How You Rank

21 Point Blog Post Checklist

 

This “SEO blog post checklist” gives you:

21 tips, organized in three lists, to cover:

  1. 5 ways to optimize a blog post for SEO
  2. 10 tactics to help engage readers and realize greater success with social media
  3. 6 elements that will embellish your blog posts and inspire readers to spend more time on your site

By applying these techniques, you’ll make serious progress toward getting your blog posts discovered via search and social media—and read and shared more.

5 steps to optimize your blog post for search

All credit to Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media, the author of the web content checklist, the source of these tips. Andy begins with five elements you need to optimize to indicate the relevance of your blog post to the search engines. These are the key places to use target phrases and increase the likelihood your blog post or page will rank. (more…)

Nov

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

 

HEADS UP…

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.

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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…)

Sep

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.

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