Posts Tagged ‘J-P De Clerck’
Though the use of social media and social networks for marketing is now nearly ubiquitous, and 78% of companies have dedicated social media teams, many marketers sill struggle with certain aspects of social marketing, such as formalizing strategies and measuring results.
Yet as buyers make increasing use of social media to evaluate the offerings of and engage with vendors, expectations will inevitably increase. Basic presence and listening tactics will no longer suffice, and certainly won’t differentiate brands.
What trends and changes in social media do marketers need to stay on top of? How are social media marketing best practices evolving? How can marketers make the best use of visual content? Which metrics are most valuable in evaluating tactical success?
Find the answers to these questions and more here in some of the best guides to social media marketing and measurement of the past year.
Social Media Marketing Guides
5 Social Media Trends for 2014: New Research by Social Media Examiner
Though published last February, this post from Patricia Redsicker remains timely. Key trends she identifies for 2014 (which will remain important in 2015) include the importance of social listening (though “only 31% of marketers think their social listening is fully effective”) and increasing use of social advertising (57% of marketers used social ads in 2013 and another 23% are [were] expected to start using ads in 2014″).
6 social media network updates that you missed by iMedia Connection
Hopefully you’ve caught up to these by now, but just in case, this post from Trevor LaTorre-Couch details (fairly) recent design and functionality changes from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and explaining for each change the benefit(s) of each change for marketers.
10 Steps Using Social Media For Business Development by Soulati-TUDE
Jayme Soulati walks readers through 10 steps for “good old-fashioned networking” on social media to fuel business development, starting with setting goals (e.g., elevating your personal brand or asking for a meeting) and proceeding through characterizing your buyers, social sharing, engaging, and showing personality.
Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism Catalogs The Best Social Platforms by Search Engine Journal
***** 5 STARS
Kelsey Jones shares a fantastic “a visual map of the social media landscape” created by Brian Solis and JESS3 (see image at top of this post). The image calls out many of the top tools and platforms across the realms of social listening, learning, and adapting, further broken out into more specific groupings like video, social curation, and service networking.
10 Reasons Why Small Business Can’t Ignore Social Media by Marketing Technology Blog
The benefits of social media marketing are no longer questioned much, but for those still dealing with skeptics and doubters, Jason Squires has put together this excellent infographic showcasing its utility, supported with statistics, facts, and mini case studies.
52 Unique Ways to Create Social Media Magic by Rebekah Radice
Frequent best-of honorees Rebekah Radice and Peg Fitzpatrick team up to offer more than four dozen tips to optimize business results from social media, from joining Google+ communities and using a social media management tool to telling “your brand story with Pinterest boards” and using third-party apps to grow your Twitter following.
Jake Parent shares a dozen useful tips for being more engaging (and not a jerk) on social media, among them asking questions, complimenting people, and always giving more than you take: “always offer more value to people than you ask of them. In other words (be) on the lookout for problems to solve for people.”
24 Social Media Tips For The DIY Social Media Marketer In 2014 by Idea Girl Marketing
Keri Jaehnig details two dozen tips and tools for planning, productivity, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, image editing (e.g., PicMonkey – an “easy online image editing tool”) and more. The self-promotion is a tad thick in spots but the tips and links are helpful.
Frequest best-of honoree Belle Beth Cooper reports on research showing the best times of the day and week to post updates on Facebook and Twitter; to send marketing emails; and to publish blog posts. She notes however that results vary between men and women, B2C vs. B2B audiences, and sometimes even significantly between different studies.
12 Ways Social Media Could Leave You Needing A Lawyer by Louder Online
Aaron Agius details a dozen social blunders to avoid, at risks ranging from embarrassment to winding up in court, such as using vulgar language, getting political, using auto-responses, or “insensitivity to personal struggles” (a particularly relevant but wince-inducing example).
Carrie Keenan has brilliantly compiled 10 of the dumbest (but sadly, far from most uncommon) questions asked of social media managers, among them “Hey, I use Facebook. I would be so good at your job!,” “What do you do all day?,” and the gawdawful “Can’t I have an intern/my son/my granddaughter, etc. do that for me?”
B2B Social Media Marketing Guides
A Key Secret to Jazzing UpYour B2B Content’s Visual Appeal by B2B PR Sense Blog
Writing that “Today B2B marketing departments are developing more visual content such as images, web video, infographics and Slideshare presentations,” Jonathan Pavoni demonstrates how to use Slideshare to “repurpose content, capture prospects’ attention, and drive additional leads into the sales funnel.”
Frameworks for smart content marketing programs by i-SCOOP
***** 5 STARS
While more than 90% of companies have adopted content marketing practices, many still struggle with effectiveness. To help, J-P De Clerck looks at several strategic content marketing frameworks, including the seven “building blocks” framework from Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose and the 4-step content marketing framework for startups from Lee Odden.
11 secrets of good B2B social media by Potion
Though primarily aimed at beginners / entry level social media marketers, this post is worth at least a quick scan by more experienced social pros as well. It helpfully lays out the key components of the social marketing process, from developing and sharing content through tagging, measuring, and showing personality: “people like interacting with people. What’s your brand personality going to be?”
Five Fantastic Examples of B2B Social Media Marketing by j+ Media Solutions
While B2B marketers often focus on being professional in communications and not overly personal, this post from Jennifer G. Hanford reminds readers that whether B2B or B2C, all marketing is ultimately P2P (person to person). It presents snapshots of a handful of successful B2B social media efforts, including use of YouTube, Facebook, and even Pinterest (who knew Constant Contact maintains 100+ Pinterest boards?).
Guides to Social Media Metrics and Measures
Metrics to Measure YouTube Marketing by distilled
Phil Nottingham contends that most marketers don’t understand how to quantify social media marketing success on YouTube, and aims to fix that with this post. “‘Going viral’ isn’t a business goal, neither is having a million video views…With YouTube, your goal should always be some form of increased brand awareness.”
What to measure: ROI or KPIs? by iMedia Connection
The brilliant Rebecca Lieb makes the case for defining and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) for social media marketing efforts rather than trying to force measures of return on investment (ROI), noting that “Measuring message amplification (or brand metrics such as purchase intent, favorability, or consideration) isn’t unrelated to ROI. All are steps along the journey — critical steps.”
what’s the right metric? by bowden2bowden blog
Randy Bowden shares his thoughts on the ROI-vs-KPIs debate introduced above. He explains how each metric works and suggests that both are important, though conceding that “you can’t measure your ROI with social media totally…(and, ultimately) ROI is not black and white.”
7 Multi-Platform Social Media Analytics Tools by RazorSocial
***** 5 STARS
Ian Cleary reviews seven “very useful social media analytics tools.” He provides a brief description of each tool as well as explaining how much it costs, the main features, how it works, and an “overll opinion” of the tool’s strengths, limitations, and ideal application.
Guides to Marketing with Tumblr and Triberr
Is Tumblr Right for My Business? by QuickBooks
While noting that not every business can make use of Tumblr, Brenda Barron outlines three questions for marketers to ask to determine if the platform may be helpful to their brand, starting with how visual your business is: “Tumblr is intrinsically image-based, much like Pinterest. This makes it the perfect avenue for…businesses in industries with a visual focus.”
Writing that “Tumblr is one of those social networks which is often overlooked, but which has tremendous potential for SEO and social media marketing,” Takeshi Young explains how Tumblr works, its benefits compared to other social networks, and how to use Tumblr for online marketing (including four types of content that “perform extremely well” there).
Tumblr Tips To Help Grow Your Blog and Social Mentions by Inspire To Thrive
Lisa Buben offers more tips for content distribution success on Tumblr, such as loving content (“The little heart ? can go a long way on Tumblr. Spread the love around”), reblogging, commenting, using hashtags (yes, “Hashtags are big on Tumblr!”), and how to gain followers.
This Triberr strategy can increase your distribution now by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal
For those unfamiliar with Triberr, Jim Dougherty explains its a platform that “allows bloggers to increase their distribution by creating tribes that can (potentially) pool their collective social audiences.” For those interesting in trying it out–or already using it but perhaps not getting the results hoped for–he prescribes a three-strep strategy for increasing the reach of your blog content.
Despite the occasional “death of blogging” pronouncements (often made, ironically, in blog posts), blogs remain the core of a robust social media strategy. The proliferation of themes, tools and plugins have transformed blogs from mere online text collections to powerful interactive, rich-media sites that can attract, engage and educate your potential buyers.
Particularly with Google’s emphasis in its recent Panda and Penguin algorithm updates on content that is fresh, compelling, unique, social, and naturally linked to, blogs have become even more essential to SEO strategies.
For those who still aren’t convinced of the value of business blogging (as well as those who need to convince others), the “why blog” posts below provide compelling evidence. Those getting started or already active in blogging will discover how to:
- • grow blog traffic,
- • make content more valuable to readers,
- • increase blogging productivity,
- • generate more comments and social shares,
- • find royalty-free images,
- • promote your blog, and
more here in 30 of the best business blogging guides and resources of the past year.
Why You Want To Be the Last Blog Standing by Outspoken Media
Reporting that “the number of Inc. 500 companies maintaining corporate blogs has dropped for the first time since 2007. Did you hear that? IT DROPPED! According to Dartmouth’s research, just 37 percent of companies interviewed said they had a corporate blog, down from 50 percent in 2010,” frequent best-of honoree Lisa Barone advises readers to “let your blog be the last blog standing because while sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may be effective and sexy all in their own right, they don’t hold a candle to the sexiness and superpowers possessed by your blog,” and backs it up with 10 reasons and tactics to beat your competition through blogging.
Kristina Weis provides a baker’s dozen reasons for creating a corporate blog, from demonstrating your expertise (“If [prospective customers] can easily find some articles written by you and/or your staff that show your company’s expertise, they’re going to feel a lot more confident about spending their time or money [or both] with you”) and increasing website traffic to helping with customer support and generating new product ideas.
Past, Present and Future of Blogging: 3 Infographics by jeffbullas.com
Jeff Bullas shares a wealth of fascinating blogging facts and stats here, such as that 27 of the top 100 blogs are built on WordPress, with 16 on TypePad. 43% of U.S. companies now maintain blogs. And more than half of all social media-driven blog traffic comes from Facebook (28%) and Twitter (26%) combined.
7 Tips for Blogging – Maybe Your Most Important Social Media Activity for Business by SocialSteve’s Blog
Contending that “Everyone always jumps onto Facebook and Twitter as one of their first social media activities. I recommend you think about blogging first. No other endeavor can be better to promote you or your brand as a subject matter expert,” Steve Goldner offers seven tips for blogging success, such as utilizing your passion, speaking (writing) naturally, and posting on a consistent basis.
Dozens of reasons why corporate blogs still matter in B2B marketing by Content Marketing Experience
J-P De Clerck makes a comprehensive case for corporate blogging—as long as it isn’t done the “wrong” way: “It’s traditional PR in a new package: corporate blogs as a way to shout how great they are.” Done right, blogs serve as the hub of a company’s social media strategy, a magnet for search traffic, and an opportunity to speak to prospective customers on a more informal, human level. He points out that 57% of companies with blogs have acquired at least one customer through blogging; that blogs make it easy to share multiple types of information; and that they make it easy (and even inviting) for customers and prospects to provide feedback.
Blogging Tips and Guides
Frequent best-of author Heidi Cohen offers nearly three dozen ideas “to help you efficiently leverage resources in seven of the areas where many bloggers typically need support,” such as content block (one idea: “Answer customer questions…Collect the questions prospects and customers ask from sales and customer service; then answer them”), lack of creative resources, and disappointing blog traffic.
20 Ways to Improve Your Blog by TribalCafe
Reporting that “28% of brands that (didn’t previously) publish a blog (planned) to do so in 2012—bringing the percentage of brands that publish a blog to 85%,” Gary Fox lists 20 ways to attract more readers and generate better business results from blogging, among them using strong visuals, varying blog topics, and making your content SEO-friendly (“focus on a keyword [phrase] for each blog post and try to not venture too far” from it).
5 Tips to Becoming a Top Blog in Your Industry by Social Media Examiner
Michael Stelzner shares a handful of techniques he used to make Social Media Examiner a big success, such as surveying the interests of your audience (“When you know precisely what content your readers crave, it’s much easier to create posts that are widely read and shared on social channels”) and spinning a single hot topic into multiple posts from different perspectives (e.g., a beginner’s guide, biggest myths or misconceptions, case studies, etc.).
Five Tips to Make Company Blogs Worth Reading by Marketing Profs
Muhammad Yasin offers a handful of helpful recommendations for making your company blog a success, including focusing on expert tips: “If you are not an expert yourself in a particular field, find experts and learn from them. See what they are writing about, absorb their knowledge, and share their tips. Better yet, invite those experts to share their knowledge on your blog as guest bloggers. Allowing independent experts to write for your blog can provide a much needed fresh perspective and may result in their recommending your products or services.”
Fixing The Social Media Plateau by Soulati Media
The delightful Jayme Soulati identifies 10 signs that “may be an indication it’s time to step up your game, take it to the next level, and grow or remain complacent” in terms of your social media practices, such as “Learning new things becomes more rare; another 20 ways to use Pinterest blog post isn’t providing new insight over what you know now,” and tips to get un-stuck (e.g., “Reduce the time spent on the channels that don’t return much to you. That way, you’re not spread as thin”).
10 Valuable Ideas to Help You Find Time to Blog by MyBeak Social Media
Writing that “Creating content and finding the time to do it are the biggest obstacles entrepreneurs and small business owners face when marketing their business,” Laura-Lee Walker presents helpful ideas for generating more content in less time, among them inviting guest bloggers, repurposing existing material, and using mobile phone apps like Dragon Dictator: “You don’t have time to write down all your ideas or blog posts…simply use an application…that will translate your voice to text. (They are) not perfect but will give you a head start and reduce the time you spend on typing your blog articles.”
21 Business Blogging Tips From the Pros by Social Media Examiner
The impeccably discerning Cindy King curates an outstanding collection of blogging tips from pros like Leo Widrich (“A product is only useful if you know others want it. Validate an idea for a blog post in the same way”), Heidi Cohen (“Understand prospects, customers and the public are on your blog to get answers to their questions and accomplish their goals, not yours”), and Stephanie Sammons (“Work to develop a blogging style that is unique to you. What’s your angle? What’s your view? How can you differentiate yourself from others who are blogging in your niche?”).
Guest Blogging: Seven Tips for Success by Spin Sucks
PR expert and author Gini Dietrich offers several excellent tips for expanding your reach by publishing guest posts on other influential blogs. My favorite tip is her first, on how to gauge authority (and corresponding effort) of a blog: “Go to Open Site Explorer and type in the URL for the blog for which you’d like to submit content. I’ll do it for Wood Street…You’ll see the site authority is 48/100. If the authority is 40-70, it’s worth pursuing. If it’s higher than 70, you’ll have a tougher time getting your content on the site, so you’ll need to be extremely patient, but persistent. If it’s between 90 and 100, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get something placed there without the help of a communications professional.”
Noting that “the majority of blogs starting every year end up failing,” Wendy Marx offers 16 tips in this infographic to beating the odds, such as “Be consistent: Whether you keep an editorial calendar or not, it’s important to continue to publish content on your blog because that consistency brings in more traffic” (amen!) and (perhaps most importantly), “Have fun with it: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with the process and enjoy every minute as your grow your audience and build your business.”
Guest post: 7 powerful headline techniques to skyrocket your blog traffic by Creative Ramblings
Reminding us all that “in the online world, your headline is the single most important part of your content…instead of reading every blog post, people scan for information. They look for headlines that capture their interest, and only click on the ones they feel are worthy of their time,” Lillian Leon details seven techniques for crafting headlines that grab attention, including “Fear: Identify the one thing your readers fear the most, and you’ll have yourself a headline that’s pretty much impossible to ignore.”
10 Additional Ideas to Generate Comments and Shares by Spin Sucks
Following up on an earlier post on the same topic, Gini Dietrich (again) offers 10 more ideas to increase engagement on your blog, from writing book reviews and rants to covering the latest trends and answering questions commonly heard by your sales force or customer service reps.
Content Development and Writing Tips
26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts by Social Media Examiner
In her own unique and highly creative style, Debbie Hemley presents “26 tips, from A-Z, to help you create optimal blog posts every time you sit down to write,” beginning with A for Anatomically Correct: every blog post should contain the “six parts of the anatomy of a lead-generating blog post” such as an eye-catching title, calls to action, and social sharing buttons.
Peg Fitzpatrick passes along content curation tips from Guy Kawasaki in this post showcasing the top dozen places to find shareworthy content, starting with your own network and including both popular sharing sites (like StumbleUpon and AllTop) and less obvious choices (e.g., Futurity, TED and NPR).
How to find photos you can legally use anywhere by CBS MoneyWatch
Observing that “No matter what you publish — a blog, updates to the company website, project reports, or even the venerable tri-fold — you no doubt need artwork to complement it,” but just haphazardly reusing artwork found online can lead to legal troubles, Dave Johnson recommends two easy methods for finding photos that are usable under the Creative Commons license.
29 Free Blog Images Sources: Where to Get Royalty Free Photos by Directory Journal
***** 5 STARS
In case Dave’s recommendations above don’t quite meet your needs, Gail Gardner provides a massive list of sites where you can find free or reasonably priced images, as well as resources for comparing prices across different image sites, selling your photos, identifying trademarked images, adding images to blog posts, and more.
5 of the Most Important Content & Social Media Tips For A Successful Business Blog by TopRank Online Marketing Blog
Lee Odden writes that “If I were only to give 5 content marketing tips to a company that wanted to get the most for and from its customers through blogging, here are the tips I’d give.” Among his top five tips? Focus on the problems your audience faces—but don’t forget to tell them how you can solve those problems. Create an editorial plan. And measure results to support continual improvement.
How to Differentiate Your Content by Geoff Livingston’s Blog
Geoff Livingston lays out four steps to becoming an “A-list” blogger in your niche subject area. Given Geoff’s success, I won’t argue with his methodology—though it’s not for everyone. But if you’ve got the time, intestinal fortitude and financial backing or wherewithal to pursue his program, go for it.
The Nine Ingredients That Make Great Content by KISSmetrics
Contending that “In order to boost SEO rankings, gain traffic and/or leads, you need to have great content on your blog or website,” Zach Bulygo shares nine tips for producing stand-out content (such as making your content actionable: “The best content gives the user a sense of how to apply the information…Many times, just writing well about a topic will spark some ideas for readers,”) then follows up with half a dozen examples of sites that consistently provide remarkable content.
Blog Promotion Tips and Tactics
6 Tips For Building a High Quality Blog Following by Fearless Competitor
Shane Snow channels Jeff Ogden and Brian Clark in this post, providing “six tips to attracting readers who stick around longer than the click of a StumbleUpon button,” such as speaking to a specific audience, guest blogging and publishing guest bloggers, and encouraging loyalty through consistency: “taking an editorial stand for what you believe in, rather than watering things down to avoid offending anyone. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to try to be controversial. In this day and age, simply taking a position and standing behind it will bring people who agree, and people who don’t.”
Want Your Blog Noticed? (Hint: It’s Not Just Content!) by Heidi Cohen
Heidi Cohen (again) supplies 23 tips for growing awareness of your blog, such as integrating your blog’s brand into related content and activities (“As a media entity, your blog deserves its own brand. If it’s a corporate brand, it should be adapted for the blog”), referencing and linking to sources, and guest blogging.
Want to Increase Blog Traffic? Some Fab Tips for Success by Positively Peggy
The ebullient Peg Fitzpatrick (again) serves up five tips for growing blog traffic, such as sharing your content at optimal times: “Buffer App helps you not only share at the optimal times based on your followers being online but also evenly distributes your amazing content throughout the day so you don’t annoy your followers with a huge spurt of brilliance and then lose them with silence later.”
How Bloggers Can Grow Each Others Readership by The @Steveology Blog
Steve Farnsworth recommends Triberr as a tool for increasing the reach of your blog posts, and explains in detail how Triberr works and how to get the most out of it (e.g., by starting your own tribe, joining other tribes, and “dating around”). While the tool is a great concept and has potential, its ongoing technical issues are frustrating.
How to Effectively Promote Your Blog Posts by MyBeak Social Media
***** 5 STARS
Beyond the big social networks and Triberr, Laura-Lee Walker (again) presents an infographic illustrating 30 ways to promote your blog content using social media, social bookmarking sites (does anyone still use Digg?), your contacts, other blogs, and 10 top syndication sites.
5 ways to promote your blog by commenting on others by Creative Ramblings
Cendrine Marrouat explains why commenting on blogs is beneficial (chief among the rewards: “You get to connect and build relationships with other bloggers”) and how to do it well (e.g., add value to the conversation, share relevant links, and comment regularly on the same blogs).
30 Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts by Listly
***** 5 STARS
Ted Rubin shares a bookmark-worthy list of tactics for sharing and promoting blog posts, including Facebook (“Add it on your personal & business pages, groups and through ads”), Pinterest (“Create a board specifically for all your blog posts and pin each post to it”) and through AllTop.com (“syndicates content in every category, from autos and food to business and sports”).
Content marketing represents the most fundamental and widespread rethinking of marketing practices in decades. Unlike other modifiers attached to the discipline (consumer marketing, b2b marketing, trade show marketing, digital marketing), the term “content marketing” doesn’t describe an audience, tactic, or channel, but rather a completely different approach to marketing.
Content marketing turns the dominant paradigm of the last half-century—interruption-based mass marketing—on its head. Rather than interrupting prospective customers with content they generally didn’t want (product pitches) while they were consuming content they did (entertainment or news), content marketing entices targeted buyers with entertaining (consumer) or informative (b2b) content that also happens to reflect the company’s brand messages or product/service strengths.
Disruptive as it is, this philosophical shift has spread widely and quickly: according to recent research, “86 percent of companies serving consumers and 92 percent of ‘business to business’ companies now use content marketing.”
Since content marketing itself is no longer a differentiator, practitioners are asking questions like: how can I efficiently create a steady stream of fresh, relevant content? What types of content are most valuable to my sales prospects? How can content be optimized to support search engine optimization (SEO) efforts? What metrics are most helpful in measuring success and support continual improvement?
Discover the answers to these questions and many more here in more than 30 of the best content marketing articles and blog posts of the past year.
Content Marketing Guides, Tips and Tactics
5 Ways to Clone Great Social Media Content by SteamFeed
Helpfully pointing out that “You likely already have strong content on hand (either on-line somewhere or even stuck in a file cabinet in your office.) Instead of developing new stuff from scratch, riff on/reuse this stockpile of awesomesauce and use it more strategically,” Jennifer Kane proposes a handful of techniques to get more mileage out of existing content, such as “Drill down or spiral off on your content themes…if a piece of your preexisting content has resonated with your audience, consider using it as source material for a more in-depth examination of the topic or to jump off on a sub-topic tangent that will enable you to expand the perception your audience has of your brand.”
Digital Natives: How They Are Changing the Content Marketing Game by Content Marketing Institute
Patricia Redsicker presents six strategies content marketers need to embrace in order to address the information needs and wants of digital natives–those born “between the mid-1970s and the late 1990s, (who) have grown up during our current golden age of digital technology. Now in their mid-teens to mid-thirties, people in this generation came of age knowing how to interact with technology and are comfortable using it to their advantage.” Among her recommendations are focusing on content that builds trust, that efficiently answers simple questions quickly, and that makes content consumers feel valued.
Corporate Content Marketing for Best in Class Results by Creative Marketing Channel
Noting that “Best in class companies utilize content marketing for brand awareness, customer acquisition, lead generation, and customer retention” and that most companies plan to increase budgets in this area, Catherine Lockey answers six key questions about content marketing, such as “How do best in class companies create all of their great content?” The answer to that one is outsourcing; roughly half of all small companies and three-quarters of large firms outsource at least a portion of their content creation efforts.
Seeking Marketing Alpha by Propel Growth Blog
Though the panel discussion this post was written to promote is long past, the thoughts about content marketing shared here by Candyce Edelen are still well worth a read. “The Internet and email make it easier and cheaper to make noise, resulting in a virtual cacophony of marketing claims barraging customers every day – with everyone claiming to be ‘the leading, number-one, unique, value-added, trusted provider’ of ‘robust, innovative, cutting-edge, high-performance, ultra low-latency technology….’ Yawn. How can every vendor be the ‘leading provider’ anyway?”
Content Marketing in 6 Steps by Social Media Today
Steven Van Belleghem lays out “the 6 crucial steps to take in order to end up with a good content strategy,” starting with topic selection (determining what’s at the intersection of your company’s unique internal expertise and the information needs/wants of your market) and proceeding through measuring marketing performance (based on the content marketing objectives you’ve established).
Long Live Content Marketing by Rebelations
Rebel Brown offers practical guidance on how to avoid self-promotion and salesy content that “will send your audiences running” and instead focus on providing value: “For example, let’s say your audience is challenged by performance problems with their applications. Don’t send them a piece of content all about your faster processor, database, system or whatever. That’s obnoxious and pretty blatant self-promotion! Instead, share a piece of content about the key aspects of their infrastructure that they might want to check for problems. Share your expertise to guide them through the process to better understand their issues.”
5 CEO-Worthy Metrics for Demonstrating Inbound Marketing Success by Marketo B2B Marketing Blog
Jon Miller outlines five key inbound marketing metrics to measure and continually improve content marketing success, such as lead generation by content and channel: “Beyond core organic traffic and leads, track lead generation by content asset and source. What sources are driving the most traffic? What kinds of content drive the most leads? The most revenue? It can also be insightful to track how these vary by product line or business unit.”
Noting that two of the biggest challenges content marketers face are “producing sufficient content” and “having enough budget to cover the cost of content,” Heidi Cohen has compiled almost two dozen recommendations for developing content cost-effectively, from repurposing speeches delivered by company executives and soliciting employee contributions to reworking content from your distributors and suppliers.
What Tech Buyers Want From Content by Marketing Interactions
Ardath Albee reveals three key attributes that technology buyers value in marketing content, including freshness: “58% (of technology buyers in a UBM TechWeb survey) said they wanted content that was timely and current (while) only 11% said they’d consider content more than 18 moths old.” If you’ve got older content that is still relevant to buyers, refresh it to keep it current with the state of your industry.
Don’t Forget the ‘Marketing’ in Content Marketing by The Content Cocktail
Christina Pappas shares a seven-step checklist for making sure that your content contributes to company goals, without being too pushy or salesy, among them “Make sure there is an offer or connection to your product in every piece of content…every piece of content you publish should have some tie-back to your company and the solutions you provide to the market. This doesn’t have to be obvious and it doesn’t have to be smothered all over the thing, but it should be there somewhere,” such as links to white papers or other related assets at the end of a blog post or report.
Exploring the Five Cs of Content Marketing at Cisco by IT Services Marketing Association
Sherri Liebo identifies the “5 Cs” that Cisco Services looks at to better listen to customers when creating and sharing marketing content, including Customers (“What are customers looking for?”), Competition (“What is the competition doing? How does Cisco Services compare?”) and Collaborators (“What is happening with our channel and strategic partners?”).
Research: B2B Buyers Want Content by Social Marketing Forum
J-P De Clerck summarizes findings from Base One’s Buyersphere Survey regarding the content needs of business buyers. While the study focused on Europe, its findings are more broadly applicable, such as that “87% of…buyers look for advice before buying…The first source when doing so: Web searches. With 71% of respondents who look for information, searches are by far the main source of information.” Among other findings:
- • Business buyers are most active in sharing content on forums, LinkedIn and blogs;
- • Younger members of the buying team are most likely to read white papers and blogs, and attend webinars; and
- • Buyers “who are working in IT were more likely to have downloaded whitepapers (36%) or read blogs (28%)” than those in other industries.
J-P has also launched a blog, Content Marketing Experience, focused exclusively on content marketing issues and guidance. His post Five Reasons No One Shares Your Content is spot on and well worth a read.
Content Marketing: 3 tips for how to get started by MarketingSherpa
Daniel Burstein dispels three myths than hold content marketers back or prevent them from getting the support they need within the organization, such as “‘We don’t want to give away our secrets.’
If you can’t give potential customers enough information about how you do what you do (whether that is fixing plumbing leaks or improving marketing performance), then why should they trust you with their business?” And McDonald’s “secret sauce” is (shhhh)…Thousand Island dressing.
4 secrets to successful content marketing by iMedia Connection
Writing that “the digital world allows us to measure just about anything, including three factors that help marketers gauge the success of their content: click-through rates, time spent on content, and shares via social media,” Jacqueline McDermott Lisk outlines strategies for producing high-quality content that will both improve these statistics and drive business results.
Because not all “leads” are ready to turn immediately into buyers, Shelley Pringle outlines a four-step process for converting those leads into customers over time. The process starts with understanding your prospects’ buying cycle and creating content for the top, middle and bottom of the sales funnel.
Marty Weintraub presents “11 timeless content creation examples that have always worked,” among them demystifying myths (“Nearly every sales process is up against some level of customers’ misconceptions and other informational obstacles. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and address these sales impediments head on”), covering industry events in real time, excerpting white papers (a great content idea), and interviewing industry experts.
Content Marketing and SEO
10 Reasons Why You Need an Optimized Content Strategy Now by iMedia Connection
Krista LaRiviere, CEO of web presence optimization software vendor gShift Labs, explains how recent Google algorithm changes (including more emphasis on social signals, the clampdown on low-value backlinks, the Google +1 button, and freshness updates) now make optimized, user-focused content more important than ever for search rankings.
How to create search friendly content by Bing Blogs
This post explains how to create optimized content more efficiently by creating a template or repeatable process for content development, and presents seven tips for discovering tinely topics to write about, incorporating keywords, using hooks to capture readers’ attention, and more.
Noting that “From an SEO viewpoint, the interest in great content is to attract links, where as a lot of what Google is looking to eliminate are examples of where content is used to build links”—particularly in the wake of its Panda and Penguin updates—Kieran Flanagan steps through an approach that puts business objectives first, with links and shares tracked but not viewed as the primary goal.
Infographics, Images and Video
5 Content Marketing Ideas Worth Stealing by jeffbullas.com
Jeff Bullas recommends five content marketing techniques for obtaining and retaining the attention of your prospective buyers by going beyond text: “Sometimes you need some inspiration and you need to try some new ideas and different media that may provide a nudge to try something different and creative outside your comfort zone…Images and photos are much more likely to be shared than an article or a white paper. Videos or infographics will be shared at high velocity compared the the humble ‘written word’ that have been with us for millenia.”
Infographics can be great for generating re-posts and inbound linke—if done properly. Slavik Volinsky explains what works (e.g., start with a great idea and great distribution plan: “To create a great distribution plan, approach your industry’s ‘big minds’ and ask for their feedback with full intention of listening & improving the infographic”) and what doesn’t.
The History of Content Marketing [Infographic] – Corporate Storytelling is Not New by Content Marketing Institute
Content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi presents a fascinating history of content marketing, from cave paintings and 19th-century “customer magazines” through the emergence of corporate blogs, business video, microsites, and the proliferation of content marketing sites, books and resources.
Content Marketing and SEO: The world doesn’t need another blog post by MarketingSherpa
Advising marketers to “focus on the message, not the medium” Daniel Burstein (again) offers half a dozen suggestions for taking content beyond blog posts and white papers, like creating a mobile app or a useful online tool “Like the ESPinator from ClickMail Marketing, which helps email marketers choose an ESP that helps them best fit their needs.”
The future of content marketing by iMedia Connection
Rebecca Lieb reports on research showing that larger, more sophisticated content marketers are gradually “lessening their dependence on text-based channels” and focusing more on video and images. Interestingly, she also notes that “Search, email, blogging, digital PR, and even (brace yourself) advertising have, and will continue to have a place at the table as content marketing grows in importance,” or in other words, that web presence optimization will get more attention.
7 Rules For Writing Awesome Content by Small Business Trends
Lisa Barone presents seven writing rules to help in crafting content that will inspire customers to act, including telling stories (“If you want to improve your writing, stop lecturing to people and to start telling them stories”); experimenting (“Improve your writing by experimenting with new mediums [videos, infographics, contests, polls, Twitter chats] instead of getting caught in the same pattern of content”); and to avoid generic messages, “write as if you’re writing to one reader.”
Is Content Marketing The New Advertising? by Forbes
***** 5 STARS
Michael Brenner shares a highly bookmark-worthy infographic that positions 16 different content formats along the dimensions of attention required from the audience and ease of implementation. For example, social media generally requires little attention from the audience (being very short form), and also little effort, while something like an app, telecast or interactive game is at the other end of the spectrum on both dimensions.
How You Can Use Infographics to Tell a Story by Social Media Club
Mireille Massue offers six steps for creating a compelling infographic (such as making it sharable by submitting it to Infographic Directories); nine resources to learn more about infographics; and (of course), an infographic outlining eight steps to create an infographic.
The 6 Best Slideshare Decks on Content Marketing by B2B Marketing Insider
Michel Brenner (again) passes along half a dozen noteworthy slide decks about content marketing, from experts like Rand Fishkin, Joe Pulizzi, and Rebecca Lieb and Charlene Li, whose Winning Content Strategies presentation notes that “77% of Internet users do not engage with online advertising. A shift from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ marketing is imperative to brand survival.”
Expert Copywriting Tips
Harvard Lesson: Verbs Beat Adjectives by Neuromarketing
Roger Dooley, commenting on one of the toughest sales jobs of all—”selling” yourself to Harvard Business School, where nine out of 10 applicants are rejected—concludes that verbs sell more powerfully than adjectives. Verbs persuade more effectively because they “require actual examples of the behaviors or characteristics in question…These specifics will increase the credibility of the copy, in addition to providing more information than when the adjective-driven shortcut is taken.”
Using Great Storytelling To Grow Your Business by Fast Company
Former McKinsey consultant Kaihan Krippendorff outlines two approaches for producing more compelling content (or presentations): using LOTS (“language of the senses…When telling a story, share with us what you see, smell, feel, taste, and hear. When you trigger a sense in someone, you bring them into the story with you”) and building on your story spine–a structured approach to use in opening a presentation or throughout a longer document.
25-point Web copy checklist: How to write for Google by Success Works
***** 5 STARS
Heather Lloyd-Martin provides a remarkable checklist for creating content that will appeal to human readers and search engines alike, from starting with a customer persona and keyword/topic research to crafting a compelling title and meta description to effectively “sell the click” to searchers.
Copywriting: How to improve headlines on landing pages and blog posts by MarketingSherpa
Adam T. Sutton, noting that “people are busy. You need to write a headline that convinces them to ignore distractions and pay attention,” outlines four attributes of value to consider when crafting headlines along with five tips for writing attention-grabbing headlines, such as front-loading (start with the most valuable phrase, e.g. “Get Paid to Take Online Surveys” is a much better headline than “We Can Help You Get Paid to Take Online Surveys”).
Write the Best Titles for Content Marketing: A 10-Point Checklist by Content Marketing Institute
Roger C. Parker recommends 10 questions to ask when writing headlines, such as “Does your title clearly promise a desired benefit?,” “Did you emphasize your intended readers in your title?” (for example, “C. J. Hayden’s ‘Get Clients Now: A 28-day Marketing Program for Professionals, Coaches, & Consultants’ targets readers by occupation”), and “Does your title include the keywords readers use searching for information online?.”
The past year has seen a steady flow of thoughtful articles and blog posts dealing with topics like the changing world of SEO, the convergence of search and social, the growing importance of PR in website rankings, the critical role content marketing plays in online visibility, the need to coordinate the efforts of various types on digital marketing experts…in short, about web presence optimization (WPO)–even if most of the authors don’t actually use that term.
WPO is the overarching term and concept that these writers are searching for to describe the significant and undeniable changes that have taken place in the search landscape over the past 12-18 months. Backlinks still matter—but the quality of those links matters more than the quantity (indeed, sites can even be penalized for having too many spammy, low-quality backlinks pointing to them). PR, social media, and the production of fresh, high-quality content are vital for maximizing search engine visibility. Online advertising doesn’t directly affect organic search, but it is a vital component of online visibility and can support social and content marketing efforts.
Whether they use the WPO term or not, the authors here deal with a range of compelling questions related to optimizing visibility on the web today, such as: what is “influencer marketing” and why does it matter? How is the role of social media evolving in online visibility? How are agencies and brands successfully integrating owned, earned and paid media efforts? How can you best manage a team of digital marketing professionals to coordinate and optimize overall efforts?
You’ll find the answers to those questions and many more here in more than two dozen of the best WPO guides, tips, tactics and strategies of the past year.
Influencer Marketing – What it is, and Why YOU Need to be Doing it by The Daily SEO Blog
Eric Enge notes that while quality content is a vital component to maximizing online visibility, “superior content is not enough. Unless the world gets to know about it your superior content will get you nowhere. You have to have a way to get the word out. This is where ‘Influencer Marketing’ comes into play. By definition, influencers reach a lot of people (often more than you do), and they have the ability to influence people’s opinions.” He then explains, in richly illustrated detail, how to identify the influencers in your market and persuade them to amplify your content.
The Real Relationship between Social Media and SEO by SocialMouths
Writing that “Everybody knows social media and SEO are connected, but how?…Unfortunately, it’s hard to sort things out because the social-SEO relationship is becoming more intertwined (some would say, muddled) all the time,” (well, that’s why a sound WPO strategy is required, but anyway…) Brad Shorr first distinguishes between rankings (which are what your website gets) and overall display visibility (which includes ads, third party content about you, news, etc. and is much more important) then lists 10 action steps to focus “on social media activities that have SEO impact.”
Why the future of marketing relies on social by iMedia Connection
Curtis Hougland reports that “The average shopper in 2011 used an incredible 10.4 sources of information to make a decision. Simply, there is no epicenter to your marketing any more — not the advertising, not the website, not the store, not the social channel.” He then explains how this insight requires a change in behavior in terms of how marketing teams approach brand, awareness, structure and channels. (It’s also a driving factor behind the WPO framework.)
Brand Choreography Through Integrated Marketing Communications by Blue Focus Marketing
Observing that “the subject of Integrated Marketing Communications is hotter than ever It’s a source of competitive advantage. However, both planning and executing remain a challenge,” Mark Burgess outlines a strategy for what he terms “brand choreography,” essentially communicating a consistent brand message across multiple media channels. He concludes that “Marketers must explore new methods to leverage all elements of the communication mix—advertising, sales promotion, PR, direct marketing, search, Web, and social media—into a single, cohesive, holistic approach.” Which is WPO.
Marketing Research Chart: Does your organization have an inbound strategy? by MarketingSherpa
Kaci Bower reports on MarketingSherpa research showing that “while three quarters of organizations think integration of SEO and social is essential,” less than half of marketers are integrating these tactics (much less content optimization, PR and SEM). But they should be: “the integration of these complementary tactics improves conversion rates. Our research showed a 59% improvement in conversion rates from organic search traffic for marketers who integrated social media and SEO, over those who did not.”
SEM + SEO [PRESENTATION] by e-Strategy Trends
David Erickson shares a presentation from Performics detailing “the cumulative and powerful effect of combining search engine advertising and search engine optimization.” Among the findings presented: “Paid search ads increase clicks to your site, even if you have the #1 organic listing on the search results page,” and a unified web presence strategy will ultimately drive more traffic to a web site than doing organic or paid search alone—or, for that matter, with PR, social or industry marketing.
How to integrate your paid, owned, and earned media by iMedia Connection
Noting that while “agencies recognize the importance of integrating these three media channels for marketing effectiveness…agency revenue models, particularly media agency models, are potentially threatened by integrating paid, owned, and earned media,” the awesome Rebecca Lieb explains how to get it done, including ensuring that the agency understands the importance of (WPO) metrics.
Search in A World Of Converged Media by MediaPost Search Insider
Expanding a bit on Rebecca’s post (above), the brilliant Ryan DeShazer recommends that digital marketers take on the role of “orchestrators” of “all facets of digital and traditional marketing” (or in other words, web presence optimization), and that they use thought leadership as a marketing communications hub.
Search Critical in Brand-Building Strategies by eMarketer
“Search is where the audience can be found,” according to research from eMarketer, noting that 85% of U.S. internet users used search engines either daily or fairly often. Furthermore, “Brands need search—and not just paid ads and higher organic rankings—to help them achieve their overall marketing goals…(but) since search does not stand on its own, all brands should continually develop a broad range of destinations and content that take advantage of the keywords, key phrases and language the target audience uses.” In other words, WPO.
Why social media agencies are a farce by iMedia Connection
***** 5 STARS
Writing that “When I first saw social media agencies starting to pop up all over the place, I started to wonder if there were ever fax marketing agencies. Was there a rush of ambitious entrepreneurs setting up shop to offer fax marketing services when fax machines were brand spankin’ new just because they knew how to use one?,” David Waterman brilliantly drives home the point that social media needs to be integrated into overall online marketing efforts.
Though he doesn’t use the term WPO specifically, he does offer this succinct analysis in support of the WPO model: “For example, you can take any part of his statement, swap the order, and still be left with a valid statement:
– SEO is part social media, audience development, part advertising, and part PR.
– PR is part SEO, part audience development, part advertising, and part social media.
– Audience development is part SEO, part social media, part advertising, and part PR.
– Advertising is part SEO, part audience development, part social media, and part PR.”
Top Inbound Marketing Activities For SEO [CHART] by e-Strategy Trends
David Erickson (again) presents some interesting data on how SEO pros handle inbound marketing. Of the top 10 activities, only a few are “traditional SEO” tasks; the others are focused on social media, analytics, competitive analysis, and content development. As the lines between different specialties continue to blur, silos will have to be eliminated in favor of coordinated efforts.
The Search Power of Brand by SEO Book
Contending that “Having a clear identity (brand) makes you memorable. People will remember your site name. People will search for your site name. And when enough people do that, then there is little chance Google can ever drop you below number #1 for brand searches. If you get it right, Google will even rank you against relevant related keywords you aren’t targeting,” Peter Da Vanzo argues that building a strong brand online is as important for SEO (and web presence more broadly) as traditional generic keyword optimization techniques. He concludes that “SEO, and wider marketing and brand strategy, will all meld together,” which is a pretty good description of WPO strategy.
Why PR Should Not Own SEO (Nor Social Media or Content Marketing) by Social Marketing Forum
Observing that “Since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, social interaction and relevant content have become more important for search engine optimization (SEO) than ever before. Social media, content marketing and search (SEO and SEA) must be integrated,” the insightful J-P De Clerck concludes that “No channel or tactic should be isolated and no department should own a tactic.” Indeed! The different disciplines need to be unified under a comprehensive approach to web presence.
Investing in SEO: Marketers Do More SEO than They Think by iMedia Connection
Krista LaRiviere, CEO of web presence optimization software vendor gShift Labs, offers some excellent guidance on creating a content marketing strategy that incorporates content development, SEO, social media, PR, video, email marketing and paid search in an integrated fashion. She also shares some slightly misleading numbers, claiming that “94% of searchers click through on organic search results, and that the top three positions in Google earn 61% of the clicks” while just 6% of clicks are on paid search results (ads). While this is true for the universe of all search results, for commercial searches (that is, those searches where a user is looking for information about a product or service in support of a buying decision), clicks on paid results are significantly higher.
Content Optimization Beyond Search [INFOGRAPHIC] by eStrategy Trends
David Erickson (yet again) presents a fascinating infographic on, as the title implies, the importance of optimizing content beyond search. While search is still vital, web users are increasing discovering content througn social networks and social sharing (and search engines are increasingly considering social signals in rankings), meaning that – content needs to be compelling and optimized (and promoted) in channels beyond search.
SEO, Social and Content Marketing in Top Demand by eMarketer
Research from eMarketer shows that nearly a quarter of marketers spend time on content marketing, social media and SEO on a daily basis, and that “over two-thirds of online marketers worldwide generated short-form content assets such as blog posts, social media updates, articles and guides—all of which are used in SEO, social media and content marketing.” We’d add that combining these tactics is even more effective when done by a team focusing on coordinated WPO objectives.
Five Ways to Maximize your Digital Marketing Team by Digital Marketing Suite
Jani Rayner offers tips to “get the best from digital teams,” such as encouraging “the Display, Social and Search teams to work closely together – you will be surprised (or perhaps not) how often this doesn’t happen,” and scheduling regular monthly report[http://wpoinc.com/wpo-metrics-dashboard/business-wpo-metrics-pricing/].
5 Killer SEO Insights from Analyzing a Billion Dollars in AdWords Spend by The Daily DEO Blog
***** 5 STARS
WordStream founder and CTO Larry Kim, slumming on an SEOmoz blog, presents five key insights gained from analyzing an enormous quantity of SEM data, including the average cost of keyword clicks by industry (in the b2b technology realm where we dwell, it ranges from $1.11 to $1.67), to the phenomenal growth in paid search clicks (driven by Google utilizing more screen real estate for these) to demonstrating how the Google display network is effective and complementary to organic SEO efforts. As with WPO, it all works together.
Go Alexa Pro and improve your SEO by WordPress Hosting SEO
Berrie Pelser showcases an infographic from Michelle Shaeffer detailing how she took her blog to a top 100K rank on Alexa using social media, guest blogging, article marketing, news releases…in other words (without quite using the words), through web presence optimization.
Search Marketing: Time To Re-engineer by MediaPost Marketing Daily
Contending that “Long the afterthought of the digital marketing tool kit, ‘search’ is emerging as a nexus between consumer behavior and real-time data. In fact…search must be viewed as a strategic imperative in today’s convergent marketplace…But in order for search to be truly effective, the way we approach it must evolve,” Sargi Mann outlines three key areas that must be addressed and warns against slipping into “turf wars” of disconnected areas of expertise.
6 Small Business Marketing Trends for 2013 by Masterful Marketing
The insightful Debra Murphy outlines six key trends that will affect small business online visibility in 2013, including content marketing, mobile support, and most importantly, “Web presence optimization is the future…(it) helps you consistently increase the digital footprint for your business. Expanding your presence onto the proper social media sites creates more visibility for your brand, enables you to network with people online in addition to offline, and attracts your ideal client through useful information and tools that help them solve a specific problem.”
SEO – Content | Confusion | Clarity by Search Engine Watch
Andy Betts writes that SEO professionals are no longer just tactical implementers, or strategic thinkers, or content marketers, but all of those plus being “holistic and integrated digital marketer(s).” He details the changes forced by Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, comments on the convergence of paid/earned/owned media, and muses about the importance of content production and distribution in this excellent post.
It’s Still the Wild West for Digital Marketers. Get Excited. by BuzzStream Blog
Dan Tynski discuss recent changes to the search markeing landscape and concludes that “If you consider yourself an just an SEO, it is probably time to shift your perspective. Ranking well in Google has become much much more than it was in years past where typical SEO tactics alone could lead you or your clients to success. This new era requires that you become a digital content and online PR expert.” Or perhaps a maestro of web presence optimization, coordinating the efforts of all of the different experts involved in online presence (PR, SEO, content development, social media, PPC) to maximize total online visibility for a company or brand.
Seven Principles to Building an Online Reputation by Spin Sucks
PR expert and author Gini Dietrich shares a presentation and guidance on building an online reputation. Among her key principles: create engaging and valuable content; build a community (“you don’t have a community until people begin talking to one another without the help of the blog’s author”); and comment on other content (her example proves that you never know where this may lead).
Breakdown Of A Person’s Google Results by The Backup List
Though WPO and online reputation management are commonly thought and written about in terms of companies and brands, the same principles apply to an individual’s online presence. Here, Mark Hayes shares an infographic detailing “how people look in Google,” from key points to know (such as that one billion individual names are searched on Google each day, but only half of people own the top result for their own name) to how to make your individual online presence more positive.
With more than 80% of b2b and high-value consumer purchasing decisions now starting with online research, content marketing is hot. Consider:
Buyers want content. According to J-P De Clerck, “87% of surveyed buyers look for advice before buying a product, service or solution. The first source when doing so: Web searches. With 71% of respondents who look for information, searches are by far the main source of information. Search and content are by definition very integrated.”
Marketers are producing more content. Recent research from MarketingProfs found:
- • On average, B2B content marketers are spending 33% of their marketing budgets on content marketing, up from 26% last year.
- • 54% plan to increase content marketing spending next year.
- • All content tactics are being used more frequently than they were last year, with the use of research reports, videos, and mobile content having increased the most.
Content is replacing advertising. Writing in Forbes, Michael Brenner explains how content (which buyers seek out) is more valuable than advertising (which many buyers ignore or even try to avoid): “Great content and engaging stories help your company’s content get found and get shared. When great content is shared, commented on or liked, it is no longer your content alone. It is their content. And user-generated content is trusted more than advertising or promotion.”
As content proliferates, standing out becomes more difficult. It requires originality, deep understanding of customer needs and motivations, and the cultivation of a network to share and amplify it. But most fundamentally, it has to flow well, to follow the basic rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Faced with an overwhelming array of choices, buyers first prune their lists of any obvious “no” options. Vendors can be excluded out of hand for many possible reasons: their prices are too high, they lack expertise in the buyer’s industry, their products are missing critical features, or…their content is sloppy. It’s similar to a human resources manager reviewing a hundred resumes for a single open position: those with spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors get tossed in the first review cycle.
Though marketing content can come in a wide variety of forms—text, video, podcasts, infographics, animation—virtually all content starts with writing. Poor writing leads to ineffective content; content that doesn’t get shared, doesn’t get ranked, doesn’t get (widely) read, and doesn’t compel action.
So, the basis of producing interesting, shareable, actionable content is solid writing. To help make your content “must read” rather than “just toss,” avoid these xx unfortunate, grating and all-too-common writing mistakes.
1. “A lot of.” Granted, there are times when it’s okay to use this phrase (and a lot of people would agree with that), but in general, it’s abused. Avoid unless it’s really the best fit in context. It’s informal and imprecise, e.g., “a lot of marketers are embracing content marketing.” That’s true, but not helpful. Is 100 “a lot” of marketers? Is 72%? Or better yet, 72% of b2b marketers in small to midsized companies?
2. “Things.” Ugh. This is bad—rarely do we write about “things.” Features, attributes, concepts, attitudes, perspectives, capabilities, options, topics, specifications, qualities, and benefits yes, but “things” no. This is particularly awful when combined with #1 above. Which is better? “A lot of things make XYZ software stand out” or “Several unique features make XYZ software stand out.”
3. “Good.” Double ugh. This is one of the most overused words in the English language, despite a wealth of superior and more precise synonyms. A “good” meal may be delicious, tasty, scrumptious, satisfying, delightful, lip-smacking, or even extraordinary. A “good” writer may be brilliant, skilled, creative, original, capable, expert, talented, accomplished, prodigious, adroit, adept, widely published, often-quoted…you get the idea.
4. Misuse of “over” vs. “more than.” This one is somewhat subjective and tricky, but one general rule of thumb is to use “more than” before numbers and “over” before units, e.g., “We got more than 12 inches of snow” but “we got over a foot of snow.” Grammar Girl does an excellent job of describing the subtleties in this word choice:
“The AP Stylebook encourages you to look at your particular sentence and then pick whichever phrase sounds best…You always want to evaluate your phrasing for each specific sentence you’re writing…The AP guide suggests that ‘She is over 30′ sounds better than ‘She is more than 30.’ The AP’s second example is ‘Their salaries went up more than $20 a week.’ I do think it would sound odd to say ‘Their salaries went up over $20 a week.’ I would definitely pick ‘more than’ in that sentence. If you choose to agree with the majority of the style pros and use more than and over interchangeably, always read over your work and make sure the phrase you’ve chosen sounds right in your particular sentence…There’s ‘more than one opinion’ about this. I do think it would have sounded odd if I’d said, ‘There’s over one opinion.’ Don’t you agree?”
5. Misuse of hard / difficult / challenging. As the Oxford English Dictionary makes clear, as with “over” and “more than” above, the use of “hard,” “difficult” and “challenging” is subjective and depends to a degree upon author preference and which word sounds best in a given context. There are no hard and fast rules (though one would never speak of “difficult and fast” or “challenging and fast” rules).
Generally, “hard” is used with physical actions (e.g., “it’s hard to move a pile of rocks by hand”), “difficult” implies trickiness (“maneuvering a large boat through a narrow waterway is difficult”) and “challenging” is used in intellectual and sporting situations (“it’s challenging to out-coach Bill Belichick”). Ultimately though, this word choice requires judgment; it can be hard, difficult or challenging to select the right word at times.
6. Misuse or non-use of adjectives. Too often, writers skip needed adjectives or use fluffy, pointless descriptors in place of meaningful words. “XYZ provides the best service in the industry” is an example of both sins. First, “best” in this case is worthless puffery. Now, if XYZ won a Best Customer Service award from a recognized organization, then by all means, let people know! Otherwise, skip the self aggrandizement.
Second, the sentence above begs the question: the best what service? Dental service? Excavation service? Software implementation service? Prospective customers actually search for phrases like those, so including the most specific adjective is essential for search optimization. But no visitor worth attracting ever searches for “the best service.”
7. Incorrect subject/verb agreement. Skilled writers knows what this means. See the problem?
8. Improper use of single vs. double quotation marks. “Quotes are always set within double quotation marks.” Single quotation marks are used only for quotes within quotes, e.g., as Chris Smith wrote, “in my interview with Pat Jones, Pat insisted ‘Capable writers understand the proper use of quotation marks.’ I think that’s true.”
9. Mistaking your vs. you’re. This is elementary English, yet it’s disturbing how often the wrong term is used in place of the other. “Your” is possessive, “you’re” is a contraction for “you are.” You’re going to look like an idiot if your writing includes this mistake.
10. Improper hyphenation. Hyphenation is another practice that’s not that difficult but nevertheless often done wrong. Hyphenate terms when using them as adjectives (“she’s attending a high-level meeting”) but not when using them at nouns (“he is performing at a high level”).
11. Mixing first-, second-, and third-person voice. No writer should mix voices, writing from different perspectives within one piece. We don’t often use first-person voice on this blog. You should be consistent in your writing.
12. Using passive vs active voice. Is it improper for one to employ the passive voice, needlessly adding words to a sentence? Yes, so use the active voice.
13. Incorrectly spelling out (or not spelling out) numbers. Spell out numbers less than 10 (one, two, three) but use numerals for larger numbers (39, 139, 1,339, etc.).
14. Getting “you and me” vs. “you and I” wrong. This is another area of common confusion that should be easy. When in doubt, leave out the “you” and then see whether “I” or “me” fits the sentence. “You and I should go to the park” is correct because “I should go to the park” is correct. “She sent it to you and me” is right because otherwise she would have sent it to me, not sent it to I.
15. Improper use of “who” vs. “whom.” So many people find this situation so confusing that the use of “whom” is rapidly disappearing. Shame though, as it’s a perfectly fine word, and the rules for using “whom” vs. “who” are in general no more complex than those for the proper use of “you and me” versus “you and I” above.
In this case, determine whether the sentence in question would make more sense using he/she versus him/her. For example, “To whom should I mail this?” (I should mail it to him.) “Who will sign for the package?” (She will sign for it.)
16. The unnecessary use of “that.” Unnecessary “that”—let me assure you that we don’t make this mistake. Necessary “that”—we don’t use this word improperly because that would be annoying.
17. Repetitive word usage. Consider the following two examples:
Facebook is on a roll. Facebook now has more than one billion users. It’s hard to imagine any competitor overtaking Facebook.
Facebook is on a roll. The world’s largest social network now has more than one billion users. It’s hard to imagine any competitor overtaking Mark Zuckerberg’s creation.
Synonyms are a writer’s (and reader’s) friend. Use them. Sometimes it requires a bit of creativity, other times it’s as simple as checking thesaurus.com, which should be a prominent bookmark in every writer’s browser.
Proper writing alone won’t win every battle for business or search engine rank, but shoddy, sloppily produced clients will often guarantee a loss. Avoiding the sometimes simple but too-common mistakes above is a baseline for content marketing success.
For an expanded and far more amusing list of common writing mistakes to avoid, check out How to Write Good. Among their words of wisdom:
- • Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
- • If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
- • And always be sure to finish what