Posts Tagged ‘Content Marketing’

How to Use Reddit to Boost Your Marketing through the Roof

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Guest post by Scott Masson.

Reddit is the 30th busiest website in the world, attracting  a whopping 56 billion pageviews and helping to popularise millions of pieces of content each year. Although Reddit is dwarfed by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, its influence on the internet is huge, and its potential for marketers as a way to reach customers is incredible.

Tips for marketing on RedditDespite all of this, Reddit has been almost completely abandoned by marketers, largely due to its reputation of apathy and even hostility towards marketing efforts in the past. However, when used correctly and with the interests of the Reddit community in mind, it can be used to drive highly specific traffic to your website, build a fan base around your brand, and reach internet “influencers” who can help spread and promote your best content.

What is Reddit and How Does it Work?

Reddit is a content curation and sharing site. Users share links to interesting articles and funny pictures, or create discussion posts on almost every topic imaginable. Every piece of content on Reddit is voted upon by millions of active users, and the content with the most “upvotes” grows and gets more exposure, whereas bad content gets downvoted into obscurity.

Reddit users can also build up karma by getting involved with the community through sharing and commenting on content. A good karma score shows other users that you are a legitimate part of the community and are well versed in Reddiquette.

The real value for marketers comes from the way Reddit is segmented into hundreds of thousands of subreddits – communities dedicated to one specific niche or interest. Subreddits exist for everything from the absurd and ridiculous, to the insanely specific, to the universal and generic. Thanks to this huge range of subreddits, users can find a community discussing anything they’re interested in, and marketers can directly reach their specific target audiences with ease.

Reaching Your Potential Customers

If your content gets upvoted enough, it’ll land on Reddit’s front page. Thanks to the popularity of the site, having your content on the front page can drive a website-crashing numbers of visitors. However, huge amounts of traffic shouldn’t be your ultimate goal; sure, you may be able to drive a million visitors to your site, but if most of these visitors won’t actually engage with your brand, what have you really achieved except for an overwhelmed server?

Instead, you need to concentrate on driving people who actually care about what you do to your page. The more targeted the people you can drive to your website, the higher the conversion rate will be. You need to ask yourself: “what’s more valuable, 1,000 visitors who don’t care about my business, or 10 who really do?”

This is why finding highly relevant subreddits is so important, as it allows you to find and interact with potential customers who are already interested in you (or your client’s) industry or niche, and are therefore that much more likely to be interested in what you’re doing.

For example, let’s say that your business sells collectible music memorabilia. By posting your most interesting blog articles and pieces of memorabilia to subreddits like /r/music, /r/vinyl and /r/musiccollecting, you can reach the section of Reddit that is already interested in your content and products. Sure, the number of visitors you’ll drive may not be as large, but the people you do reach will be much more likely to share your content with other enthusiasts, interact with you and perhaps even buy something!

This is why identifying your key subreddits and becoming a part of those communities is crucial if you want to make the most out of Reddit.

Honest Marketing

According to this infographic, 90% of Reddit users are college-educated, with an average income of $37,500—which most of them earn from working in web-related industries! For marketers, this tells us that the Reddit community is intelligent, educated and very web savvy; in other words, the kind of people who are familiar with marketing tactics, and tend to be suspicious of them. In fact, Reddit has very popular subreddits dedicated solely to shooting down and mocking unwary marketers, which goes some way toward explaining the hostility many marketers complain of when trying to use the platform.

However, when used transparently and earnestly, Reddit is a great place for marketers to get involved. The bottom line is this: success on Reddit comes down to quality and value added to the community, regardless of intention. If you’re trying to hard sell and spam Reddit, your content will get downvoted into oblivion. But if you submit truly interesting and useful content, which is relevant to the subreddit you’re targeting, Redditors will embrace and promote your efforts.

Reddit shouldn’t be seen as a blind traffic driver, or a place to sell or promote products, but rather as a place where you can make the most out of your content marketing efforts and build relationships with your target audience.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any room for brand promotion, however. Stories of brands doing something interesting, newsworthy or worthwhile tend to perform very well on Reddit, which makes it a great place to promote PR messages. Similarly, some brands have had massive wins with specific Reddit marketing plays, such as the notable Amazon/Nissan campaign, which succeeded not because Redditors didn’t realize it was marketing, but because Redditors liked it anyway.

It just goes to show that Reddit doesn’t hate marketing—it just hates boring marketing!

Timing is Everything

Hundreds of thousands of pieces of content get shared on Reddit every day, and this sheer volume of stuff being pushed out means that, on popular subreddits, it is very easy for your content to get buried before Redditors even have a chance to read it and upvote it.

To help tip the scales in your favour, you can strategically time your posts to go out at times when lots of people are online. According to the aforementioned statistics, almost half of Reddit’s user base is on the U.S. East Coast. Therefore, it follows that the best time to post would be at times when lots of people on the East Coast are online, such as lunchtimes and evenings in EST.

That said, you shouldn’t allow your posting schedule to be decided by that statistic alone, instead, you must keep track of when users tend to use specific subreddits and make your own posting schedules based on your community’s behavior.

Timing your posts well can make a huge difference in how they will perform. Thanks to the way the Reddit voting system works, pieces which get lots of exposure get more upvotes, and the more upvotes something gets, the more exposure it is given. Therefore, popular items can quickly snowball and grow exponentially.

Learn from Reddit

You don’t have to be a prolific poster to benefit from using Reddit. In fact, just reading without contributing (or “lurking”, as it is known) can give marketers a great insight into emerging trends and how content performs online.

Reddit is the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet”, and based on the amount of viral content and internet memes which have originated or been popularized on the site, this motto is well-earned. Redditors often joke that what is popular on Reddit today will be trending on Facebook and Twitter tomorrow!

As internet marketers, we need to keep ahead of the latest internet trends, and thanks to the huge number of internet tastemakers on Reddit, it pays to pay attention to what is performing well, as it might well be the next big meme.

Reddit’s voting system lets marketers see exactly what kind of content will become popular, which can inspire your own pieces of content, or give you a sneak peek into how something is likely to perform on bigger platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Can Reddit Help SEO?

Gaming Reddit for backlinks is a bad idea. Yes, when links get a couple of upvotes, they do become “do-follow”, but the actual impact these sorts of links will make to your SEO is negligible. After all, if link building was as easy as simply submitting a link to Reddit, ranking websites would be the easiest job in the world.

However, what Reddit can do is help marketers build the kind of links which really matter: contextual, organic links from trusted websites. Reddit is full of writers, bloggers, webmasters and other internet influencers who are instrumental in sharing good content and building links, and the sheer amount of viral content spun out of the site every month is a testament to the influence Reddit users have.

In addition, countless websites ranging from Buzzfeed to international media like the BBC have writers and web journalists scouring Reddit for newsworthy content, which makes it one of the best places to promote your content and get it in front of journalists and web writers who are covering your niche.

Diving In

While this article has hopefully given you a strategic overview of the way Reddit can help with your internet marketing, actually using Reddit successfully is a different story. The only way you can really start to use Reddit effectively is through diving in and getting involved!

I suggest you start off slowly—sign up for a free account and use it recreationally for a few days while getting a feeling for the website and the communities you will be involved with.

If you already use Reddit to market your company or your clients, please get involved in the comment section and let us know what tips and tricks you use!

About the author: Scott Masson is hopelessly addicted to Reddit, although he can stop any time… You can reach him on Reddit here. When he isn’t plugged into Reddit, Scott writes about marketing and fitness for a range of publications.

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104 Fascinating Social Media and Marketing Statistics for 2014 (and 2015)

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Looking at marketing surveys and studies from the past year, a few trends are clear, among them that buyers are firmly (and increasingly) in control of the purchase cycle. They prefer searching to being found, and will often be close to their final decision point before talking to a salesperson.

Marketing Trends 2014 - 2015In response, marketers are producing an increasing amount and variety of content to support all stages of the decision process. They’re distributing and promoting this content through all channels in the web presence optimization (WPO) model, to maximize their opportunities to be “found” online when buyers are looking.

And although digital is taking an increasing share of marketing budgets, the move to online is paradoxically making some old-school tactics even more valuable.

What do buyers say is the most important signal of vendor credibility? What type of content is most effective? What do marketers rate as the single most valuable SEO tactic? What are the top barriers to adopting social business practices?

Find the answers to these questions and many others in more than 100 social and online marketing stats from 20+ different sources.

9 General Marketing Stats

1. People want to be in control of the content they receive:

  • • 86% of people skip TV commercials.
  • • 44% of direct mail is never opened.
  • • 91% of people have unsubscribed from company emails they previously opted into.

(NewsCred)

2. 72% of marketers think branded content is more effective than advertising in a magazine; 69% say it is superior to direct mail and PR. (NewsCred)

3. Nearly half (46%) of people say a website’s design is their number one criterion for determining the credibility of a company. (NewsCred)

4. 71% of companies planned to increase their digital marketing budgets this year, by an average of 27%. (Econsultancy)

5. 67 percent of marketers say increasing sales directly attributable to digital marketing campaigns is a top priority this year. (Forbes)

6. Internet advertising will make up 25% of the entire ad market in 2015. (Social Fresh)

7. Despite all the hype about online, 67% of B2B content marketers consider event marketing to be their most effective strategy. (Social Fresh)

8. Videos on landing pages increase conversions by 86%. (Social Fresh)

9. As one would suspect, Facebook is the most popular method for sharing interesting content. Surprisingly though, the fifth-most popular sharing method is offline (print) shares. (Heidi Cohen)

5 Online Demographics Stats

10. The Google+ platform has 67 percent male users. (Rocket Post)

11. There are 76 million millennials (born between 1981 and 2000) in the U.S. — 27% of the total population. (leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal)

12. 63% of millennials have at least a bachelors degree. (leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal)

13. 63% of millennials say they stay updated on brands through social networks; 51% say social opinions influence their purchase decisions; and 46% “count on social media” when buying online.  (leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal)

14. 89% of 18-29 year-olds are active on social media, as are 43% of adults 65 and older. (Jeff Bullas)

13 Content Marketing Stats

15. B2B content matters. 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier. (Corporate Executive Board)

16. By 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. (Target Marketing)

17. Not all content has to be original. 48% of marketers curate noteworthy content from third-party sources weekly (this post is an example). (Design & Promote)

18. 62% of companies outsource their content marketing. (Iconsive)

19. $118 billion was spend on content marketing last year. (NewsCred)

20. 70% of consumers say they prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads. (NewsCred)

21. 90% of organizations market with content. 86% of B2C marketers and 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing. (NewsCred)

22. Or maybe 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing. (Iconsive)

23. And yet…54% of brands don’t have an onsite, dedicated content director. (NewsCred)

24. There are 27 million pieces of content shared each day. (NewsCred)

25. Companies will spend $135 billion on digital marketing collateral this year. (Social Fresh)

26. Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. (Social Fresh)

27. 17% of marketers plan to increase efforts on SlideShare this year. (Forbes)

7 Blogging Stats

28. 34% of Fortune 500 companies now maintain active blogs – the largest share since 2008. (Forbes)

29. Each month, 329 million people read blogs. (NewsCred)

30. 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing. (NewsCred)

31. Companies that publish new blog posts 15+ times per month (3-4 posts per week) generate five times more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all. (NewsCred)

32. 17% of marketers plan to increase blogging efforts this year. (Forbes)

33. Blogging increases web traffic by 55% for brands. (Rocket Post)

34. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those without blogs. (Social Fresh)

7 Visual and Video Marketing Stats

35. Pinterest grabs 41% of the ecommerce traffic compared to Facebook’s 37%. Food is the top category of content on Pinterest with 57% of its user base sharing food-related content. (Rocket Post)

36. 16% of marketers plan to increase efforts on Pinterest this year. (Forbes)

37. The use of video content for marketing increased 73% this year; use of infographics grew 51%. (Digital Marketing Philippines)

38. Articles with images get 94% more views than those without. (NewsCred)

39. Posts with videos attract three times as many inbound links as plain text posts. (NewsCred)

40. 62% of marketers use video in their content marketing. (NewsCred)

41. Two-thirds of firms plan to increase spending on video marketing in the coming year. (Heidi Cohen)

5 SEO Stats

42. 81% of B2B purchase cycles start with web search, and 90% of buyers say when they are ready to buy, “they’ll find you.” (Earnest Agency)

43. More than half (53%) of marketers rank content creation as the single most effective SEO tactic. (NewsCred)

44. 57% of B2B marketers say SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation. (NewsCred)

45. Organic search leads have a 14.6% close rate, compared to 1.7% for outbound marketing leads. (NewsCred)

46. 33% of clicks from organic search results go to the top listing on Google. (Social Fresh)

15 Social Media Marketing Stats

47. 85% of B2B buyers believe companies should present information via social networks. (Iconsive)

48. And yet – only 20% of CMOs leverage social networks to engage with customers. (Marketing Land)

49. Marketers will spend $8.3 billion on social media advertising in 2015. (NewsCred)

50. “Interesting content” is one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media. (NewsCred)

51. 87% of B2B marketers use social media to distribute content. (NewsCred)

52. 17% of marketers plan to increase podcasting efforts this year. (Forbes)

53. As consumer use of social media for brand comments and complaints continues to increase, brands are having a hard time keeping up. Only about 20% of consumer comments generate brand responses, and the average response time is over 11 hours. (eMarketer)

54. Nearly three-quarters of US marketers believe customer response management on digital channels is important (so…25% think it’s okay to ignore consumers?); however, just one-third say their company does a good job at this. (eMarketer)

55. Social media marketing budgets are projected to double over the next five years (Social Fresh)

56. 66% of marketers claim that social indirectly impacts their business performance but only 9%t claim that it can be directly linked to revenue. (Forbes)

57. Over 70% of US online adults use some form of social media networking. (Heidi Cohen)

58. 72% of all internet users are now active on social media. (Jeff Bullas)

59. The top two barriers impeding adoption of social business within organizations are lack of overall strategy and competing priorities. Just 11% of marketers cite legal or regulatory concerns. (i-SCOOP)

60. 78% of companies now say they have dedicated social media teams, up from 67% in 2012. (i-SCOOP)

61. By department, companies most often have dedicated social media staff (not surprisingly) in marketing (73%), communications/PR (66%) and customer support (40%). At the other end of the scale are legal (9%) and market research (8%). (i-SCOOP)

7 Facebook Marketing stats

62. Facebook accounts for 15.8% of total time spent on the Internet. (Rocket Post)

63. 71% of online adults use Facebook. 63% of Facebook users visit daily and 40% visit multiple times per day. (Heidi Cohen)

64. More than a third (36%) of online adults use only one social networking site. Of these, 83% use Facebook. 8% use LinkedIn. (Heidi Cohen)

65. One million web pages are accessed using the “Login with Facebook” feature. (Jeff Bullas)

66. Nearly a quarter (232%) of Facebook users login at least five times per day. (Jeff Bullas)

67. 47% of Americans say Facebook is their #1 influencer of purchases. (Jeff Bullas)

68. 70% of marketers used Facebook to gain new customers. (Jeff Bullas)

3 LinkedIn Marketing Stats

69. LinkedIn is the top social network for B2B marketing (not a shock). 83% of marketers say they prefer to use LinkedIn for distributing B2B content, and more than half of vendors say they have generated sales through LinkedIn. (Real Business Rescue)

70. The average time spent on LinkedIn per month is 17 minutes. (Rocket Post)

71. 91 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn for candidate searches. (Rocket Post)

7 Twitter Marketing Stats

72. The average time per month spent by users on Twitter is 170 minutes. (Rocket Post)

73. Only about half of the people who log in to Twitter once a month are actually taking the time to tweet. The rest are lurkers. (Rocket Post)

74. Ironically, the most-followed brand on Twitter is…Facebook, with more than 13 million followers. Google is #3. (AllTwitter)

75. eBay is the most engaging brand on Twitter. Starbucks is the fourth-most-engaging, and also has the fourth highest number of followers of any major brand. (AllTwitter)

76. Not a shock: retailers and restaurants are the most engaging industries on Twtitter. Surprising: apparel brands are the least engaging. (AllTwitter)

77. Twitter now has over 550 million registered users, and 215 million active monthly users. (Jeff Bullas)

78. 34% of marketers use Twitter to successfully generate leads. (Jeff Bullas)

3 Google+ Stats

79. 18% of marketers plan to increase efforts on Google+ this year. (Forbes)

80. There are now over 1 billion Google+ accounts, and that figure is growing 33% per year. (Jeff Bullas)

81. Google+ has 359 million monthly active users.  (Jeff Bullas)

13 Email Marketing Stats

82. There are nine times as many marketing emails sent each year as direct mail pieces delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. (Mark the Marketer)

83. Email marketing delivers the highest ROI (about $44 per dollar spent, on average) of any digital marketing tactic. SEO is #2. Banner ads have the lowest ROI. (Mark the Marketer)

84. 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an e-mail marketing message. (Mark the Marketer)

85. Email subject lines matter. Really. 64% of people say they open an e-mail because of the subject line. (Mark the Marketer)

86. Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened. For B2C emails, the words “Alert,” “New,” “News,” “Bulletin,” “Sale,” “Video,” “Daily,” or “Weekly” (though not “Monthly”) all increase open and click-through rates. (Mark the Marketer)

87. For B2B companies, subject lines that contained “money,” “revenue,” and “profit” performed the best. (Mark the Marketer)

88. Timing is important too. 76% of e-mail opens occur in the first two days after an e-mail is sent. E-mail open rates are noticeably lower on weekends than on weekdays. (Mark the Marketer)

89. Only 8% of companies and agencies have an e-mail marketing team.  E-mail marketing responsibilities usually fall on one person as a part of her wider range of marketing responsibilities. (Mark the Marketer)

90. 72% of B2B buyers are most likely to share useful content via e-mail. (Mark the Marketer)

91. Still, the average click-through rate for B2B marketing e-mails is just 1.7%. (Mark the Marketer)

92. Emails with social sharing buttons increase click-through rates by 158%. (Social Fresh)

93. 64 percent of marketers say increasing email click-throughs and open rates is among their top priorities this year. (Forbes)

94. 67 percent of marketers say that email is ke3y for attracting and engaging prospects, and the best path to increase marketing ROI. (Forbes)

10 Mobile Marketing Stats

95. 94% of CMOs plan to use mobile applications within the next 3-5 years. (Marketing Land)

96. 75% of smartphone owners watch videos on their phones; 26% at least once per day. (NewsCred)

97. Over half of all mobile searches lead to a purchase. (Rocket Post)

98. 78% of Facebook users are mobile-only. (Rocket Post)

99. E-mail is the most popular activity on smartphones among users ages 18-44. (Mark the Marketer)

100. 64% of decision-makers read their e-mail via mobile devices. (Mark the Marketer)

101. Almost half–48%–of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Yet 39% of marketers say they have no strategy for mobile email, and only 11% of e-mails are optimized for mobile.  (Mark the Marketer)

102. Mobile is the channel of choice for keep relationships with existing customers alive because it cuts through the clutter of email and social. (Forbes)

103. 71% of users access social media from a mobile device. (Jeff Bullas)

104. 50% of millennials use their smartphones to research products or services while shopping, and 41% have made purchases using their phones. (leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal)

 

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31 Expert Guides to Maximizing Online Brand Visibility – WPO

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Given all of the changes Google has made affecting organic ranking factors (asking webmasters to disavow low-quality links, reducing the value of guest blogging, ignoring links in press releases, etc.),  the practice of SEO—optimizing owned content for search—is no longer sufficient for maximizing a brand’s online visibility.

This is not to say “SEO is dead” or that it no longer has value, only that it can no longer stand on its own. It needs to be part of a larger, coordinated strategy encompassing owned, earned and paid media: web presence optimization (WPO).

The original WPO model focused on content-sharing to maximize organic brand visibility; as the WPO framework evolved, it incorporated paid and industry (e.g., event sponsorships, community outreach, analyst coverage, trade association membership) components.

Today’s WPO model emphasizes the importance of fusing a solid content strategy with a comprehensive online distribution strategy in order to maximize brand visibility and credibility.

The Web Presence Optimization Model - WPOYet despite the analytical and strategic power of the model, WPO still largely remains the concept that everyone talks about, but no one names. It’s as if sportswriters constantly wrote about “contests in which opposing teams of five players attempt to shoot a round orange ball through a hoop with a net attached” instead of simply saying “basketball.” As indicated by the posts from Search Engine Watch and All Twitter highlighted below, that is starting to change, but only just.

How can social, PR, SEO, and online advertising efforts be coordinated to maximize brand visibility? How can paid, owned, and earned media be harmonized to achieve business goals? How can paid and organic content promotion channels be used together most effectively? What role does email play in extending online visibility?

Find the answers to those questions and many more here in 31 of the best blog posts and articles about WPO (even if they don’t call it that) of the past year.

Beyond Search & Social: Online Marketing in 2014 by Search Engine Journal

Marcela De Vivo covers a great deal of ground in this thought-provoking and wide-ranging post, from the impact of social signals on organic ranking to earning (vs. building) links, measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) based on your goals (e.g., “If your goal is organic visibility, your KPI’s will be based on increasing your rankings and organic traffic”), and the debate around paid, earned and owned media: all critical consideraations in a WPO strategy.

Convergence: Merging Disciplines Between PR and Marketing by InNetwork

Hessie Jones contends that while marketing and PR have traditionally been separate disciplines, due to social media, “these roles are converging in a big way,” so today brands need “a combination of PR and Marketing to stay on top of the conversation, and be ready to develop compelling content to engage and build advocacy,” and furthermore to pair “mainstream and digital media experts with creative specialists like copywriters, digital designers and video producers to uncover storytelling opportunities in real time, deliver critical business insights, engage influencers and customers and create the content that shapes news and conversations.” Which is to day: they need to coordinate the efforts of everyone involved in maximizing a brand’s online visibility and relevance.

How to build a robust content program by iMedia Connection

Writing that “Today, superb, consistent content best serves your customers and leads to increased loyalty and bottom-line results,” Deborah Hanamura explores a baker’s dozen considerations for content marketing strategy, including social, SEO, PPC (“Great Pay-Per-Click advertising requires great content. Create an impression versus multiple impressions”), and events—in other words, most of the key elements of WPO.

______________________________________________________

Download the WPO Framework White Paper

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Integrated Marketing: The Magic Formula for Success by Blue Kite Marketing

Laura Click (correctly) asserts there is no “one singular tactic that will help you achieve results” in digital marketing, but rather that achieving the objective of being everywhere your prospect look online requires an integrated marketing approach coordinating efforts across:

  • • content marketing;
  • • media relations;
  • • advertising;
  • • search engine marketing (actually, a form of online advertising);
  • • social media; and
  • • email marketing.

Add SEO to the list above and you’ve got WPO.

Integrating POEM: The Rhyme and Reason of Harmonizing the New Media Mix by iMedia Connection

Aaron Dubois explores the strengths and weaknesses of paid, owned and earned media (POEM), and advises marketers, “Throughout the planning process, take a step back and look at your brand’s overall marketing strategy. If the P, the O, and the E aren’t working in conjunction with each other – with a consistent brand voice across all communications – then it’s not likely you’re going to get as much out of your campaign as you hope to.” That’s another way of saying: adopt WPO, which coordinates efforts across these these three types of exposure.

Harmonizing owned, earned and paid mediaCreating a Multi-Channel Content Marketing Strategy by BlueGlass

Kevin Gibbons illustrates the POEM concept and recommends that marketers “have a fully integrated strategy, where everyone is involved towards having success across all of your owned, earned and paid media channels” in order to properly plan and execute to achieve online business goals (or in other words, adopt a WPO approach). He then provides further guidance regarding content creation, measurement, and audience targeting.

6 Reasons Social Media Is Critical To Your SEO by Convince with Convert

Jason Clegg offers “six reasons social media needs to be an important part of your website marketing and SEO strategy for years to come,” such as that social media enables you to “crowd source” your link building; social links actually drive traffic to your website; and “Google hates link building.” Though the post goes a bit over the top in spots (“link building as a direct SEO tactic is completely dead”—not quite true), Jason’s overall points regarding the SEO value of social media are spot on.

The PR Strategies SEOs Haven’t Learned by Siege Media

A helpful companion to the post above, Ross Hudgens here focuses on the value of PR for SEO: “Many PR companies still blast releases out to publishers that have no reason to receive them. Many SEO companies do the same with their outreach to bloggers. The best of both worlds will find the intersection, combine agility with empathy, and make for an extremely potent content marketing package.”

MarketingSherpa 2013 Marketing Benchmark Survey ResultsMarketing Research Chart: Integrating email and search marketing tactics by MarketingSherpa

Daniel Burstein notes that the chart at right “highlights one of marketers’ key challenges. They’re doing a lot. Even the least used tactic — digital asset optimization — is being conducted by 45% of marketers.” He then explains three ways that marketers can be more efficient by “SEO and email tasks to get more done in less time.” This type of coordination between different types of content promotion efforts is also at the heart of WPO.

The Evolution of Content In A Big-Content World by MediaPost

Writing that “‘big content’ is the definition of what content marketing has become: unruly, amorphous, exponential and everywhere,” Steve Kerho suggests that marketers should “think of big content as branded content that exists in multiple channels, across devices and…is no longer controlled solely by the brand.” Indeed they should, and efforts should be coordinated across these different channels to optimize visibility and engagement while maintaining consistent brand messaging.

SMO Guide for BusinessThe Complete SMO / SEO Guide for Business & Brands in Social Media by REALSMO
***** 5 STARS

Joshua Berg provides an indispensible and comprehensive guide to how social media and search work together; the principles of social media optimization, aka SMO (“Focus on the user and all elSEO will follow”–spot on); and the (possible) future of search.

The Aftermath Of SEO’s Death This Summer by Forbes

Writing that Google’s Penguin and Hummingbird algorithm updates “mean no more hat tricks, keyword stuffing, comment spamming, backlink image stuffing…Finally, Google uncovered the secret to blocking SEO tricks used to get customers on the infamous PAGE 1,” Eris Poringer provides excellent guidance on implementing a “comprehensive plan” for maximizing online brand visibility, incorporating social media, email, content marketing, native advertising, and other tactics. This approach isn’t SEM (paid search) though SEM is a key component of a wider WPO strategy.

Social Media Should Not Be A Stand Alone Brand Tactic by Brand Cottage

The smart and engaging Patricia Wilson lists seven reasons why social media should not be a stand-alone brand tactic (such as, “Social Media is very hard to scale on its own”) and suggests that “social strategy works best as part of a larger integrated marketing and business plan.” Couldn’t agree more; it’s a vital component of a WPO strategy.

The B2B Marketing Guide to Paid Content Distribution by B2B Digital Marketing
***** 5 STARS

In this highly bookmark-worthy post, Eric Wittlake details almost two dozen options for paid content distribution, from advertising on the large social networks to content distribution services like Outbrain and Taboola to native advertising and sponsored posts on B2B publication sites. As long as you stick with reputable sites that keep up with Google’s latest guidelines, these are great avenues for extending the reach of your content and increasing overall online brand visibility.

Social Media AdvertisingHow to Amplify Your Content Strategy with Social Media Advertising by Content Marketing Institute

Observing that tweets have an average half-life of 18 minutes, Facebook posts have a half-life of 30 minutes, and keeping up with algorithmic changes in organic search is getting increasingly difficult, Dan Stasiewski recommends “creating an advertising flow to your content ecosystem.” Excellent advice, though not either/or; successful content promotion requires coordinating all of the elements of WPO.

SEO And Other Web Marketing Techniques: Tools Or Tricks? by Forbes

Roger Kay comes down rather hard on content marketing and SEO (“a rather polite term for another way to game the system”), but writes that he likes “the concept of inbound marketing because it relies on product quality…at bottom, inbound will only work if the product is good.  Effectively, the Internet is a fantastic channel to give an idea a chance to make it in the wild, but the virus only spreads if the content justifies the buzz.” True, which is why content strategy forms the base of WPO. But as noted here previously, even the “most epic content will FAIL without content distribution,” which is why coordinated sharing and promotion across channels is just as important as creating high-quality content to begin with.

When Keyword (not provided) is 100 Percent of Organic Referrals, What Should Marketers Do? – Whiteboard Tuesday by Moz

Rand Fishkin steps through a number of steps SEO practitioners can take to deal with the loss of organic keyword data from Google, such as using “keyword suggestion sources like Google Suggest, Ubersuggest, certainly AdWords’s own volume data, SEMRush, etc. to see the keyword expansions related to your brand or the content that’s very closely tied to your brand.” Running AdWords ads and examining keyword performance is another option.

Time for a New Definition of SEO by Search Engine Watch

Writing that “digital marketing tactics such as email marketing, paid search and search retargeting have very clear, undisputed definitions. The definition of SEO, on the other hand, seems to be just as unclear as the practice itself,” Krista LaRiviere suggests WPO (she actually uses the term) represents the evolution of SEO, and defines WPO as “an all-encompassing approach to optimizing an entire web presence for organic search including the website, social channels, blogs, articles and press releases.” Her ideas clearly resonated, as the post garnered 50 comments.

The Web Presence Optimization Cycle [INFOGRAPHIC] by All Twitter

Allison Stadd showcases a helpful infographic designed to help marketers visualize “the steps to web presence optimization with the goal of helping you reach organic search success.”

The Web Presence Optimization Cycle Infographic

Getting less traffic from Google? Here’s why it may not matter soon by Jim’s Marketing Blog

Jim Connolly details three reasons marketers should diversify their efforts beyond just organic SEO, most importantly because “Google sends less traffic to sites than before…between August 2012 and March 2013, search traffic from Google nosedived an incredible 30%” to a collection of large publisher sites including The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, Newsweek, Time, Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone. It’s not that search isn’t still an important tactic, but that it’s only one of several important elements in a brand’s total online visibility (the focus of WPO).

Relying on organic SEO? You’re losing customers! by Digital Growth

Building on the arguments in Jim Connolly’s post above, Luke Chapman illustrates how ads and universal search elements continue to push organic listings further down on the typical search results page, making even a #1 organic ranking less valuable than it used to be. To combat this, he recommends using social media, email, PR, blogging and blog commenting, and industry/community marketing—pretty much the range of WPO elements. And investing in SEM also helps maintain search visibility.

Google SERPs - More Ads, Less Organic

Is SEO Dead — Or Decentralized? by MediaPost

Musing about the decline of traditional SEO and the rise of social media optimization and paid search, Ryan DeShazer concludes that “In today’s marketing communications organization, everyone is an SEO…creative teams (now) include content discoverability and SEO into their work streams; technologists are building sites and apps compliant with known onsite SEO best practices; and UX specialists are including keyword research before developing user personas and journeys.” Hmm, coordinating the efforts of multiple disciplines in order to optimize web visibility…sounds familiar.

The 4 SEO Trends Every Marketer Needs to Know by iMedia Connection

Tony Quin reveals what he believes are four key trends in SEO that marketers need to understand, the most relevant of which for WPO is number four, “Traditional marketing tactics will boost digital marketing initiatives…Press releases, for example, provide branded mentions and links that will increase the authority of your website while also increasing exposure. Despite what some might say, email is still extremely effective in creating opportunities for awareness and sharing.” Creating compelling content is vital, but that content then needs to be shared using social media alongside “traditional marketing tactics.”

Inbound vs. Interruption MarketingInbound Marketing: 15 tactics to help you earn attention organically by MarketingSherpa

Daniel Burstein (again) serves up a list 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,” including SEO, PPC, email, events, PR, blogging, content marketing, and other aspects of WPO.

How to optimize your emails for search by iMedia Connection

Noting “It might sound like a strange idea to optimize your emails for search engines, but SEO is a skill that email marketers better start working on,” Michael Linthorst explores the ins and outs of Gmail Field Trial, an “experiment in which Google includes a user’s Gmail inbox in his or her search results.” Engagement, content, and relevancy are keys to “email SEO”—and a solid approach to email marketing regardless.

Social Search Engine Marketing Throws Search Experts A Lifeline by MediaPost

Laurie Sullivan reports on recent research showing that “Social signals continue to make their way into search results—making social search engine optimization the next major trend in organic listing. Enterprise SEO requires a search across traditional techniques and social media channels.” This integration is, of course, at the heart of WPO.

Why Your Online Marketing Department Is All Screwed Up by ClickZ

Andrew Delamarter describes how marketing departments can, and must, sop operating in “silos” and coordinate efforts across paid, earned, and owned media: “Now is the time to stop thinking SEO, media, content marketing, web analytics, and Facebook posts and start thinking holistically about inbound marketing that brings it all together.”

Marketing in Silos is Screwed Up

Must evolve to:

Integrating Owned, Earned and Paid Media Efforts

If you build it, they will come — maybe by iMedia Connection

The brilliant and prolific Rebecca Lieb believes “The winners in content marketing will create not just quality content, but distribution strategies that will get that content ‘out there'” (i.e., WPO). SEO, PR, advertising, and social all have their role to play, but so do media companies.

Six Ways Internet Marketing Meets PR Online by SteamFeed

Because “the online world of content marketing requires knowledge of Internet marketing which includes search marketing, key word designation, html coding, link building, and the other tools and tricks of the trade,” Jayme Soulati outlines half a dozen ways for PR professionals to work with their Internet marketing counterparts to maximize online brand visibility and impact.

Search Marketing Integration, a.k.a. WPOThe New SEO: Search Marketing Integration by Search Engine Watch

Brad Miller writes that while SEO isn’t dead, “the days of SEO as a distinct, independent discipline are certainly numbered. SEO is fast evolving into a more creative, diverse, and challenging profession.” He uses the term “search marketing integration” to describe the coordination of activities across social search, branding, PR, SEM, and others areas in order to integrate all your marketing efforts into “into one single, agile, engaging strategy.” That would be WPO.

2013 – Break the (Digital) Marketing Silos by The RKG Blog

As noted above in the introduction to this post, WPO is about coordinating the efforts of everyone on your team involved in content creation or digital marketing. As Todd McDonald writes here, “Imagine the insights available to those who successfully bring together PR, social, email, PPC, SEO, and other channels!  Each one can feed the next, providing ever-deepening levels of data and connections that will drive data-driven strategic marketing decisions.  SEO will be a cog in this machine and it will need the machine to work well in order to functional optimally.” He challenges marketers to smash their internal silos—a vital step (as noted above) in WPO, even if he doesn’t call it that.

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Book Review: Content Rules

Monday, June 24th, 2013

The phrase “content marketing” may well disappear at some point in the not-too-distant future. Not because the concept will fade away, but because it will be seen as redundant; there won’t be any marketing without content.

According to recent research, nearly 80% of CMOs see custom content as the future of marketing. And it’s not only marketing executives who are excited about content. The same study also showed that:

  • • 90% of companies are already doing some form of content marketing.
  • • 70% of customers said they “felt closer to a company as a result of content marketing.”
  • • 70% of buyers would rather learn about a company through articles than through an advertisement.
  • • 60% of people say they have been “inspired to seek out a product” after reading content about it.

Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. ChapmanAnd so it is that Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business has arrived at at opportune time. Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman have written the definitive guide to creating nearly any type of content, as well as adding life to traditional formats like customer case studies and FAQ pages. Content Rules is a must-read for anyone who wants to create compelling, useful information for their target audiences.

Creating relevant, quality, original content within a web presence optimization (WPO) strategy has become critical to marketing success because,  as the authors note, “overwhelmingly, consumers depend on search engines to help them shop online.” They cite research showing that “three out of five shoppers said they always or often use search engines when shopping online…more consumers use search engines than they do coupon sites, retailer emails, consumer reviews, or shopping comparison sites.” The figure is even higher for b2b and high-value, considered-purchase consumer goods.

The book works well on several levels, and though it’s most valuable to practitioners—those who actually envision, specify, create, repurpose, and promote business content— it’s also helpful for senior executives charged with developing content strategy and coordinating creative efforts.

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As the previous post here noted, Amazon.com has announced it will shut down its affiliate program in Minnesota at the end of this month. If this review, or any of the other book reviews here, inspire you to buy the book, please click on any of the book’s links within the post today to buy the book on Amazon. Thank you!

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Divided into four sections, the book opens with the case for content (though that’s increasingly superfluous), the basic “rules” of content creation, and wisdom such as the importance of giving content both “roots” (ground it “solidly in your unique perspective, voice, and point of view”) and “wings” (distributed, promoted and shared across the social web).

It proceeds through sections devoted to the “how to” of content creation, success stories (“with ideas you can steal”), and finally a brief closing section with next steps and a helpful checklist to help content creators follow the “rules.”

Among the authors’ insights:

  • • The benefits of content marketing compound over time. Jay Baer uses the phrase “information annuity” while Marcus Sheridan of River Pools calls content “the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.” This echoes the message that social media and content transform marketing from an expense to an investment.
  • • “The more valuable the information you can give to others, the more you will become viewed as an expert and therefore gain their trust…the person with the abundance mentality wins.”
  • • Stuck for a subject to write about? “Know your customers…and what keeps them up at night. What are their concerns and objectives? What do they care about? How will your brand help them in their daily lives?”
  • • Getting high-quality backlinks to your website is crucial to achieving high rankings in search. But traditional link building is all but dead; so how do you get those links? “By creating compelling content. Every time someone shares a link to your site in some fashion (by blogging about you or sharing a link on Twitter, for example), it boosts your search ranking. Make a video that everyone is raving about or write a blog post that people can’t stop talking about, and you’ll see your site start appearing much higher on the results page when search for…the things you sell.” Which is pretty much what WPO is.
  • • To differentiate their content, and companies, in a crowded market, content creators must “expand their traditional notions of corporate identity to include language, the words a company uses, and tone of voice. Branding, after all, is about differentiation. And describing a brand begins with words. Don’t rely on…worn-to-the-bone words and phrases and bland corporate tone.” Companies often struggle with this internally, particularly if the team has been in place for a while, but any decent consumer or b2b marketing agency should be able to assist in this effort.
  • • A bit more on tone (love this): “In business, it’s tempting (and easier) to use the same boring words everyone else uses. But you’ll be far more approachable (and a whole lot more engaging) if you lighten up a little. I’d worry less about shocking customers than I would about boring them.”
  • • “Literally speak the language of your customers. You want to appeal to them, certainly, but you also want your content to appear in search results when your would-be customers are looking for what you have to offer. How do your customers describe your product or service? What words do they use?” This is vital. Do keyword research, ask your sales force, and talk to your customers.

There’s much, much more on topics ranging from over-used buzzwords to avoid and methods for repurposing and re-using content to the six characteristics of great business storytelling and how to capitalize on events for content creation.

The authors provide such an effective and comprehensive overview of content development that it’s difficult to find fault with the book. A couple of minor quibbles regarding metrics though:

  • • In the section titled “Set Your Metrics: What Does Success Look Like?,” the authors mention number of subscribers, inbound links, comments and “social validation” as key metrics, but don’t mention two other key measures to track: number of blog visitors who then visit other key areas on your website (such as product pages) and the number who take some conversion action (e.g., registering for a webinar, downloading a white paper, or subscribing to your newsletter). (One of our clients was generating, on average, 10% of all leads via referral traffic from their blog within one year of launching it.)
  • • Similarly, on metrics for Ebooks and white papers, the authors cite number of downloads as a key metric—which it certainly is—but I’d add sources of traffic leading to these downloads as another vital piece of data to track.

All in all, this is an outstanding guide to creating, optimizing and sharing compelling, customer-focused information. Even if you’re an experienced content marketer, Content Rules will help you produce better content, produce content better, or both.

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Where Google Moved Your Digital Cheese

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Anyone who’s been in the corporate world within the past decade-and-a-half has likely been exposed at some point to Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, a slender allegory by Spencer Johnson about dealing with change, summarized by Wikipedia as a tale featuring:

Who-Moved-My-Cheese“Four characters: two mice, ‘Sniff’ and ‘Scurry,’ and two littlepeople, miniature humans in essence, ‘Hem’ and ‘Haw.’ They live in a maze, a representation of one’s environment, and look for cheese, representative of happiness and success. Initially without cheese, each group, the mice and humans, paired off and traveled the lengthy corridors searching for cheese. One day both groups happen upon a cheese-filled corridor at ‘Cheese Station C.’ Content with their find, the humans establish routines around their daily intake of cheese, slowly becoming arrogant in the process.”

When the cheese eventually runs out, the mice and the miniature human characters deal with their new cheese-less situation in different ways. The mice, “Noticing the cheese supply dwindling… have mentally prepared beforehand for the arduous but inevitable task of finding more cheese.” The humans struggle more with their reality: “Angered and annoyed, Hem demands, ‘Who moved my cheese?’…Starting to realize the situation at hand, Haw thinks of a search for new cheese. But Hem is dead set in his victimized mindset and dismisses the proposal.” The point of the tale is to promote productive approaches to dealing with change.

With its Panda and Penguin algorithm updates over the past couple of years, and most notably the recent Penguin 2.0 update, Google has been busy moving the cheese for many marketers, webmasters and SEO professionals.

SEO practitioners who cling to outmoded tactics like keyword stuffing and link buying are likely to react like Hem, feeling victimized by their loss of cheese. Same goes for those SEO software and service providers still tout their ability to help create thousands of links through link exchange partners.

On the other hand, SEO pros who’ve always practiced white hat tactics are like the mice in the story; though they may still have a lot of work to do, they are well prepared to find new cheese. For the many who have seen their rankings and traffic devoured by Penguin, here are three places to look for new cheese.

Content marketing. This is where Matt Cutts officially says you should look for new SEO cheese. Produce great content, it will attract “natural” links, and your site will end up on page one of Google. The problem, of course, is that in highly competitive search term markets—like marketing automation, real estate, auto repair, social media monitoring, or SEO services—no matter how compelling or unique your content is, it’s unlikely to be seen (and therefore to attract links) if it doesn’t rank on page one of Google, and it’s unlikely to rank highly if it doesn’t have a lot of relevant, high-quality inbound links. Call this Catch-22 cheese.

The point isn’t that producing helpful content isn’t a fantastic idea, only that content marketing is not enough. In this way, Penguin seems to favor the same publications, A-list blogs, and name-brand websites that already dominate most searches.

AdWords. This is where Google would really like you to go, because it’s how the company makes money. There’s no question AdWords can be an effective component of online strategy—it’s controllable, immediate and finely measurable. But it’s also expensive. Call this gourmet cheese.

Web presence optimization. A web presence optimization (WPO) approach may be the most effective way to tame Penguin and Panda. By incorporating owned, earned and paid media, WPO optimizes your overall web presence, not just your website (though that remains the ultimate target destination). Cross-channel marketing metrics in WPO help to optimally allocate marketing and PR resources.

This is akin to the way grocery stores usually sell cheese: standard cheese varieties in the dairy aisle, exotic cheeses in the deli, organic cheese in the all-natural foods section, etc. Call this a distributed cheese strategy. Grocers do it because they sell more cheese by offering different varieties in multiple locations throughout the store than they would by stacking all of it in one area. The same approach can be effective in optimizing your company’s overall web visibility, regardless of Google’s ongoing algorithmic attacks on traditional SEO.

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