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Content Marketing: Finding the Goldilocks zone in your blogging

December 17th, 2013 3 comments

One of the perks of growing up in Northeast Florida was being able to watch space shuttle launches from my backyard. I never became an astronaut, but having NASA as one of your neighbors has an impact on you.

For example, I still keep up with NASA’s continued efforts to explore space, which is currently centered on a strategy of looking to planets in the Goldilocks zone orbiting around stars as big as our sun.

As a writer and editor, I often think about where the Goldilocks zone exists on our blogs.

Sure, there are a lot of factors to consider, but what I’ve found is that discovering the ideal zone where the conditions of voice and benefit exist in just the right amounts so an audience can flourish is truly not easy to find.

But, there are a few elements to consider that can point you in the right direction.

 

Start with the bare bones of blogging

If you break a blog post down, you’ll usually find it consists of two basic elements:

  • Identity – The human element of your content’s voice
  • Benefit – What the audience gains out of your content

When writing blog posts, hopefully your goal is ideally to try and find the balance between those two elements while keeping the interests of your audience at the forefront. 

 

Here are a few Venn diagrams to help put this into perspective. Now, let’s take a look at some of the imbalances and why they matter.

 

The messenger in blogging is a part of the message

A blog that is light on identity lacks the humanistic touch that makes your voice unique.

I often see this as a common problem for newer blogs still developing their voice in the market, but it can quickly become a problem even for established blogs.

To put a little context around this, blogs traditionally started as a platform for democratic content. It was a way for thought leaders to bypass the gatekeeping of traditional media and cut through the noise by taking their message straight to the people.

This idea still holds true today to a large degree even as blogging continues to evolve, but the trick to remember is the messenger remains a vital part of the message.

Consequently, if your blog voice is an erratic messenger with no unique identity, even the most beneficial content on the planet will not save you from eventually being abandoned by an audience.

Before you publish another post, take some time with your team to review the basics around your brand’s persona and how that persona translates into delivering a consistent voice in your blog content.

 

Just make sure the messenger is not the entire message  

In the case of overdeveloped identity, the majority of attention is focused on the brand or the author and not on the audience or how they benefit from your content.

The upside of an overdeveloped identity is that it’s is easy to spot – I call it “look at me” blogging.

Now, don’t get me wrong; you want to include a certain amount of personable information in your content. After all, that human element of blogging is what made blogging so dynamic to begin with.

But, the challenge rests in knowing when to deliver enough voice identity in your blog posts to be personable and transition from that to delivering benefit to your audience.

“Look at me” blogging is seductive because it’s easier to do than producing value for an audience, but the consequences for your blog are toxic.

The best way to avoid this is by holding your blogging to an editorial standard where the promise of benefit to your audience is always the focus.

If your team develops the habit of fleshing out value first by asking, “What will the audience get out of this?” before a single word is put on paper, you’ll discover that easily understood value is also easily delivered value.

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Social Media Tips: 5 easy steps to set up a Facebook business account

November 1st, 2013 3 comments

I’ve decided to start a Facebook account. Now what?

To start, we need to determine if we are looking to do a business account or a personal account.

Which type of Facebook account is right for you? For the purpose of this blog post, let’s focus on a business account.

If you are going to have a business account, you must start with a personal account. Facebook business pages are similar to personal timelines. A big difference are the analysis tools Facebook includes for business pages that offer in-depth knowledge to help you see how well you are connecting with your community.

Let’s walk together through setting up a page for your business. Please note that the Facebook landscape changes on a regular basis, so remember you can always visit Facebook’s Help Center for updated instructions.

 

Step #1. Set up your personal Facebook account

First, you are going to need a personal Facebook account to set up a page for your business.

The reason for this is driven by Facebook limiting your availability to access its business account process without an initial personal account.

If there is a silver lining to this, the business page will not interact with your personal page and your personal information is not public on the business page.

Facebook will allow you to switch back and forth from your personal account to your business account so you can interact as the business on the business page and then simply switch back to your personal account.

In addition, the business page is capable of being managed by multiple administrators if needed. Once additional administrators are set up for the page, each administrator can simply log in to their personal Facebook account to access the business page’s control panel.

 

Step#2. Select “Create a Page”

You can find this in the “More” section at the bottom of your personal account homepage.

 

Step #3. Select a page

Which page category should you select? 

 

Facebook classifies business pages into six major groups. Here’s a breakdown of each group to help you select the right one for your business.

 

Local Business or Place

  • If you have a brick-and-mortar store where customers physically visit, select the Local Business or Place page.

Company, Organization or Institution

  • If your business is mostly run online or has multiple locations, then you should select the Company, Organization or Institution page.

Brand or Product

  • If your business has products that are sold through multiple websites, resellers and/or retailers, then you will want to select the Brand or Product page.

Artist, Band or Public Figure

  • If you are in the public spotlight and your business is focused on promoting,  the Artist, Band or Public Figure page is the appropriate selection.

Entertainment

  • If you are looking to promote your television show, movie, book, radio station, magazine or other media, select the Entertainment page.

Cause or Community

  • If your organization is a community of action that supports specific issues, campaigns or nonprofit organizations, select the Cause or Community page.

 

If you feel like you made a mistake in your choice of page, you can always change your page type and category. You can do this after you’ve created the page through the admin control panel.

 

Step #4. Select your category and get started  

The category selection is just a simple category drop-down list.

After choosing a group that best fits your business, enter the required information for your page, read the terms, and if you agree, check the box and click “Get Started.”

Now that your business page is set up, the hard part is over!

 

Step #5. Create cover and profile photos  

Facebook allows for a standardized template design with two elements that can be changed on a regular basis.

These two components are:

  • Cover photo
  • Profile photo

These elements are essential to the look and feel of your page. They also serve as free advertising space for your business. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of them.

 

Cover photos

Cover photos are the large image at the top center of your page that can serve multiple functions.

The size dimensions for cover photos are 850 pixels by 315 pixels.

 

To give you an example, let’s take a look at Motorola’s Facebook page.

Motorola has blended images of its products and text to thank fans for their engagement, which leads me to another point.

Cover photos are versatile and only limited to your creativity. They can introduce visitors to your page, promote special offers, provide contact information, and most importantly, help you set the tone of your page.

Even if you are not a designer or have very limited resources, you can still create effective cover photos.

Freeware like GIMP or Paint.net will allow you to size, crop and save your images as needed.

Also, here’s a tip – try not cover more than 20% of the image with text. The reason is Facebook has been rather picky in the past about the amount of text you can use in images.

I also recommend creating multiple cover photos initially, and then upload and swap them out on a weekly basis.

Creating multiple images is hard enough without adding in the reminder to change the cover photo once per week. However, at the moment, when you change your cover photo, your audience will be able to see that photo in their timeline. Another recent MarketingSherpa blog post dives into the details on Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.

But for now, I suggest implementing this tactic as a best practice to keep your brand top-of-mind with your Facebook fans. Also, changing out the cover photo on a regular basis to keep your page looking fresh is a good idea.

 

Profile photos

The profile photo is the square box to the bottom left of the cover photo. The dimensions for profile photos are 180 pixels by 180 pixels.

 

Your profile photo serves one main purpose: every time your page posts an update, your profile photo will appear alongside the post on your fans’ timelines.

The profile photo is a small square, so you will want to minimize the amount of text used in this box to maximize the real estate.

A lot of brands safely use a logo in this space for identity, but there is no right or wrong choice here. As I mentioned earlier, your boundaries are the limits of your creativity.

I recommend taking some time to find the right profile image that captures the heart of your business.

 

Related Resources:

Social Media Marketing: A quick look at Facebook EdgeRank

Social Media: 4 simple steps to calculate social media ROI

Social Media Marketing: Why should I like or follow you?

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Inbound Marketing: 15 tactics to help you earn attention organically

June 28th, 2013 No comments

Often, the best ideas for our content come from the MarketingSherpa audience,  such as  this note I received from Steve, “There was a very good graphic in a recent post from Rand Fishkin. I think it would be interesting for you to add some ‘quantitative metrics’ to this.”

Let’s take a look at that graphic …

 

I reached out to Rand, who is the CEO of Moz, to get a little background on the chart, which looked almost like a yin and yang of modern marketing to me.

“The items in red aren’t necessarily all terrible things you shouldn’t do,” Rand said.

“Interruption marketing can be well done, but as the graphic notes, there’s no flywheel effect generating momentum, and these channels/tactics, on average, lead to higher costs of customer acquisition. In some markets and for some companies, that may be a fine tradeoff, but it should always be a conscious one,” he explained.

Today on the MarketingSherpa blog, we’re providing a mixture of quantitative metrics, case studies, how-to articles and other resources to help you improve your own inbound marketing efforts by learning more about how your peers are effectively using these tactics …

 

SEO & PPC

Local search has had the biggest positive impact on marketing objectives, with 54% of marketers indicating so, according to the MarketingSherpa SEO Marketing Benchmark Survey.

How to Switch to SEO, PPC Strategies to Increase Leads: 10 Steps to Triple-Digit Lifts

Local SEO: How geotargeting keywords brought 333% more revenue

PPC Marketing: Two accidents reduce cost-per-lead 20%

 

Opt-in Email Lists

Only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list.

Email Deliverability: How a marketing vendor with 99 percent delivery rates treats single opt-in lists vs. double opt-in lists

Read more…

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Content Marketing: A process for evaluating content channels

January 4th, 2013 1 comment

“Should we have a blog? What about YouTube videos? Pinterest? Instagram?”

When engaging in content marketing, the question of “where?” always comes up. If you’re just getting started, you want to know on which channels you should focus your content.

If you’re already deeply engaged in content marketing, you likely want to reevaluate the channels you’ve been using at regular intervals as shiny new channels emerge and old channels diminish. (Social networks, like old soldiers, never die; they just fade away.)

To that end, here is a process for evaluating content channels. I’d love to hear your input, as well.

  Read more…

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Content Marketing: 7 tips for content repurposing

December 11th, 2012 7 comments

“The Web expects you to generate a lot of content,” said Muhammad Yasin, Director of Marketing, HCC Medical Insurance Services.

“It expects you to generate regularly, with … quality content and to generate it prolifically while you are at it,” he concluded.

The demand is great, as Muhammad said. Sometimes, the Web can feel like a marketer’s very own Little Shop of Horrors, and content is the constantly hungry wail of “Feed me, Seymour!

Repurposing has been a useful solution to this constant demand for Muhammad, and many marketers are searching for a consistent plan for repurposing that will relieve both time and budget.

In fact, this post is a bit of repurposing magic – Muhammad and I spoke recently for the case study, “Content Marketing: Interactive infographic blog post generates 3.9 million views for small insurance company.”

I realized that he had a lot of knowledge to share about repurposing, but it wouldn’t fit into the case study. Ta-da – a new blog post is born, filled with seven tips to help you with your own content repurposing.

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Inbound Marketing: Content is everything in search and social

November 13th, 2012 4 comments

This week’s MarketingSherpa Book Giveaway features Search and Social: The Definitive Guide to Real-Time Content Marketing by Rob Garner, VP of Strategy, iCrossing (a Hearst company).

This book is based on six years of columns for MediaPost Search Insider and Social Insider, along with Rob’s speaking engagements, blog posts and experience as a marketing practitioner. The depth of this experience and knowledge really shows in the detailed, actionable information Rob provides readers.

I had the chance to hear Rob speak on this material at a recent Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association meeting, and later got the opportunity to pick his brain a little on search, social and content marketing.

Here is the result of that conversation …

Read more…

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Inbound Marketing: 5 tips for cultivating user generated content

October 11th, 2012 1 comment

Despite the fact that we have never met them, and usually have no clue as to their qualifications, consumers put increasingly greater stock in the word of their fellow consumer.

“[User generated content] is just something that has evolved, but in many ways we have always had it,” said Kaci Bower, author of the MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing Handbook citing mass reviews and word of mouth.

“Now, with the advent of social media, it is just exploding. Now consumers and brands actually have a place to share their opinions, thoughts and ideas,” said Bower. “It actually provides a platform for user-generated content to not only be created, but also shared quite easily.”

The puzzle is in learning how to harness its power.

Social media provides a more intimate cyber setting than any other format, and because of that fosters feedback that is more conversational and for better or worse, people don’t hold back. It gives marketers insight into what their consumers are really concerned about, or happy with.

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Independently Owned and Operated

August 23rd, 2012 1 comment

One of the prizes of winning the MarketingSherpa Reader’s Choice Awards is the chance for a guest post here on the MarketingSherpa blog. Today’s post is from gnome Flash blogger Emily Taylor. Please note, at gnome Flash, they use toys to represent themselves instead of the traditional bio picture.

It is too easy for a brand to lose its artisanal flare as it grows into a larger organization or corporation. The American spirit purveyor, Jack Daniel’s, has made a commitment to taking an equally homegrown approach to their campaigns. They have a series of videos that document the making of promotional posters by local artists that harken the Americana of the brand.

 

   
Jack Daniel’s meets The Signpainter from Travis Robertson on Vimeo.
 

 

Jack Daniel’s meets Jon Contino from Travis Robertson on Vimeo.
 

 

Jack Daniel’s meets Helms Workshop from Travis Robertson on Vimeo.
 

Related Resources:

much ado (via gnome Flash)

brand recognition (via gnome Flash)

Kodak’s Award-winning Online Launch Campaign (Great Creative on a Tight Budget)

How Annies Homegrown Uses the Web to Generate Consumer Passion for Boxes of Macaroni

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Content Marketing: 3 tips for how to get started

August 17th, 2012 1 comment

At Optimization Summit 2012, Michael Lykke Aagaard, Online Copywriter / Landing Page Fanatic, Contentverve, pulled me aside for an interview about content marketing. Below is an excerpt where we discuss three tips for getting started …

 

 

Let me (I hope) exceed your expectations in this blog post by adding three more tips for how to get started, helping you, in this case, to overcome common objections you might receive in trying to launch or expand content marketing in your organization …

  Read more…

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Watching Concrete: YouTube channel saves time, drives revenue for Mid Atlantic Concrete Equipment

July 27th, 2012 No comments

If you attend an industry event with Owen Blevins, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Mid Atlantic Concrete Equipment, you better expect to hear the refrain, “Hey, Cretehead!”

It’s not an insult, just evidence that people are buying what Blevins is selling. As the founder and host of Concrete Answers, “the Internet’s most passionate show about concrete plants and equipment,” Blevins is becoming a concrete-industry celebrity, and, of course, he kicks off each episode with a resounding, “Heeey, Creteheads!”

Every other week, he introduces machinery and processes in direct response to the questions he receives from customers via his company’s website, events and sales meetings.

Even though the show is only about two years old, it has received more than 85,000 views.

“It’s not a bulldog on a skateboard, but we have a niche market. Our goal is to inform, educate and offer a little bit of entertainment. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, be sure to watch,” he laughs. “It’s highly technical.”

 

Hundreds of hours of work = Hundreds of thousands in sales

Every minute of the final product represents an hour of work – planning, shooting, editing and posting. However, Blevins says the hundreds of hours devoted to Concrete Answers are well worth the investment.

“We typically know exactly what brought our customers to us,” says Blevins. “This information allows us to justify expense, because there’s a lot of time, effort and energy that goes into the channel. It’s definitely been worth it; otherwise, we wouldn’t do it. I won’t reveal exact ROI, but I can tell you the show has ultimately resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment sales.”

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