Content marketing is in essence, the creation of content to promote your brand. Content marketing can come in many forms including video, social media, written page copy, infographics, and blog content.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
Content marketing works differently than traditional link building methods because you are trading on value, not simply looking for a link exchange. With new Google updates such as Panda and Penguin, the linkbuilding process has had to evolve to avoid penalties. Creating links in content marketing is driven by creating content that is timely and useful. Links, simply put, equal lead generation by bringing more visitors to your site. Some specific examples of these items might include:
- Rate Calculators
- Product Comparisons
- Both high and low level FAQ’s
- Product reviews
- Data summaries, including infographics or executive recaps
By creating content like these items, you are basically offering a service to others, and a reason to visit your site. Content marketing is at the forefront of SEO, because it using value links like these, not simply links in a popularity contest style aggregation. Consumers are also more likely to click through on links if given a reason like “find out how much a roof replacement will cost” or “learn five simple ways to self tune-up your car”.
Internal Use Marketing
By internal content, think of content that is created for on-website promotion, not as internal company memos and policies. Content created for in house placement can include any of the above examples. Additional ideas could be blog content or white papers. Make sure to include onsite SEO work like web pages, page titles, and meta descriptions as part of your overall marketing and SEO plan, and integrate this material with your page copy. Native content is a concept that describes content so well integrated into a page, that is doesn’t stand out as specific sales copy and fits into the entire scheme.
To gain leads from your external content, you will need to create natural seeming content that is creative, humorous, or informative to give outside groups a reason to link to you. An example would be the difference between posting a “FAQ on the most common construction slab concerns” as opposed to “Why slabmasters offers the cheapest prices on construction”. While both pieces of content have value, only the first one is likely to be appealing for an outside source to link to – the explanation on prices is too much of an advertisement to appeal to outside sources, yet it still has it’s value in the overall funnel.
Guest Posting and External Placement
Any content you create can be placed externally with the right outreach. Externally placement generates leads by putting your brand into another sphere of consumers. Some of the placement will require payment while others are based on building relationships and offering value. The most common form of off site placement is the guest post or guest blog. Guest posting on other sites is a great way to get search engine recognition. An extra bonus occurs if you can have these posts liked to your Google authorship, allowing for a profile boost and brand recognition in your field. Unfortunately, guest posting often gets a bad name due to poor and spammy content. Make sure the content you prepare for offsite placement is topical, quality writing. Don’t fall victim to the automation process that is common when creating large amounts of content.
Social media is a great way to reach external channels, and can also boost your internally marketed content. While each different social media channel requires a slightly different format, you can easily automate your posting process with programs such as Hootsuite to streamline the content process. Getting “Likes” and “Retweets” is a great way to get recognition. By teasing larger content items on these channels you can help generate leads that will follow the link back to your website. In addition to custom content and teasers naturally placed on these channels, you can also capitalize on paid advertisements and boosted posts, like these examples on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Whether your content placement is intended for internal or external placement, content marketing is a great way to generate leads by creating interest based and useful backlinks to your website. Creative content will increase your brand awareness beyond old fashioned SEO, providing subtle answers to consumer questions about your B2B opportunities.
Here’s a question to ponder: Why did you build a website for your business?
Perhaps you didn’t really think about it and thought it was something that was expected in order to stay relevant. But, most likely than not, you built it with the hope that it would serve as a silent sales person that would help generate leads and grow your business.
Building a website is a great first step for an inbound marketing strategy, but you can not build it, launch it, then let it be and hope that it will generate the leads you want and expect. You must implement, and consistently test and readjust, conversion optimization strategies on your website.
What is Conversion Optimization?
Conversion optimization focuses on increasing website conversions. A conversion can be many different things, depending on what actions you wish for the website visitors to take on your site. Some examples are:
- Contact form filled out
- Phone call completed
- Request a demo or a free trial
- Ebook or Whitepaper downloaded
- Sign-up for an email list
- Follow, Like, +1 your company on social media
Conversions Are Initiated with an Eye-Catching CTA
A conversion is usually initiated with a Call to Action (CTA). A CTA can also be many different things, but in short it is the actionable language that is used to tell the website user what you need/want them to do to take the next step.
Most websites don’t put a lot of creativity into a CTA. To see what I mean, go onto ten different websites and most likely than not they’ll all use similar ones, such as:
- Call Today
- Contact Us
- Join Our Email List
I guarantee you that your website visitors have been on your competitor sites, and they’ve seen hundreds of websites. They’ve taught themselves to tune out CTAs, so you need to really catch their attention. Here are some ideas for CTA’s to help you stand out from the crowd.
Best Practices for CTAs
First, here are some best practices to follow with CTAs:
- Add calls-to-action on each page – make it relevant to the purpose of the page.
- Create contrast to draw the eye – think buttons, bright colors, and images.
- Don’t ask for too many things – keep it simple. Just 1-2 CTAs per page.
- Place critical information high on the page – don’t hide it at the bottom.
- Give detail – ‘Buy Now’, ‘Submit’, and ‘Click Here’ are the worst. Tell users what you want them to do, and what’s going to happen once they do.
- Give options – visitors are in different stages of the buying cycle. Convert them where they are and then focus on building a relationship
Alternatives to Over-Used CTAs
Instead of Contact Us
- Contact us today for a ________ (ex: free report on 2014 commercial real estate)
- Learn how ______________ (ex: VoIP can save you time and money)
- Get a _____________ (ex: free market analysis for your home)
- Request a Custom Quote in 24 hours
- Try Us Out! Sign Up for a Free 30 Day Trial
- Download our Ebook: Top 10 Questions to ask your Widget Provider
Instead of Call Us
- Call Us to Get Started
- Call now for a free 30-minute consultation
- Call today and find out ____ ( ex: what the I.R.S doesn’t want you to know)
Instead of Join Our Email List
- Subscribe now for _______________ (ex: free monthly tips on organizing your home).
- Join 5,000 other Professionals for Monthly Industry Emails
- Join to get access to weekly exclusive member deals and discounts
Now, go to your website and see where you can use these tips to increase your website conversions!
If your business depends on your online presence – to generate leads, sales or signups, then you’re probably already investing a significant amount to market and improve it. Traffic acquisition is obviously important, but finding scalable acquisition channels is becoming increasingly difficult. To achieve the same ROI marketers who only focus on acquisition have to work harder as digital advertising, search and social channels quickly become saturated. In a world where Traffic Acquisition Cost (TAC) is increasing, many online businesses are asking an important question – can we improve the rate at which our traffic converts into customers?
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) can be one of the most effective and cheapest ways to increase your online sales. For a company that currently converts traffic into leads or sales at 1% (which is quite common), doubling that rate to 2% is both achievable within a relatively short timeframe and would have the obvious effect of doubling sales.
Studies have shown that companies that take a structured approach to CRO are twice as likely to see an increase in conversions. We believe the best approach focuses on three key elements:
●Relevance – In an econsultancy survey 94% of businesses stated that delivering a personalized experience was critical to their success. To be able to deliver that personalized experience you have to segment your audience and tailor the User Experience accordingly.
●Measurement – It’s the era of Big Data. Spend on Marketing Analytics is expected to increase 40% over the next 3 years. Robust, actionable analytics allow you to develop hypotheses for improving conversion rates, and measure performance over time.
●Experimentation – Using A/B, split or multi-variate testing, the high value hypotheses are tested against the existing traffic and customer base to identify higher converting variations. This allows you to measure the effects of changes before you implement them – a strategy that the Obama campaign used effectively to raise an additional $60 Million – http://blog.optimizely.com/2010/11/29/how-obama-raised-60-million-by-running-a-simple-experiment/ in donations.
You’ve probably seen some of the eye popping case studies from the CRO vendors. Almost all of the time these are not one time chance improvements, but require a disciplined, iterative process that incorporates the three elements above.
Contributed by Arun Sivashankaran of Funnel Envy and a member of the NuSpark Marketing partnership team.
Search engine optimization (SEO) can be addictive—watching as your website climbs steadily in the search engine rankings and attracts more and more visitors.
But you’re not trying to win a popularity contest. Alone, SEO can’t grow your business because visitors do nothing for you unless they turn into customers. And if you’re selling a complex, business-to-business product, you need leads that you can nurture until they transform into customers.
So once you have the web visitors, it’s all about capturing leads with gated content. “Gated” means web visitors who want to read your e-books, white papers, and more fill in a form with their contact information as payment for downloading it.
Not so fast.
You want to build awareness, so you want web visitors to read your content. But you’ve locked it away. And guess what? According to David Meerman Scott, author of “Real Time Marketing and PR,” un-gated content is downloaded 20-50 times more often than gated content. So you’ve set up a barrier to increasing awareness.
What to do? Create a mix of gated and un-gated content. Perhaps if you have content designed to build initial awareness, break down the gate. And if it’s a webinar for prospects deeper into the buying cycle, ask for some contact information.
The answer to this problem, however, isn’t etched in stone. So test, test, test, and do whatever works best.
When you check your email account, your inbox will be full of emails with distinct subject lines. Creating a subject line that stands out is an effective measure to ensure that your email will be opened and read. Email marketing campaigns only go as far as open rates, so follow these tips for developing strong subject lines.
1. Precision is Crucial. With the advent of mobile phones, many people immediately delete emails they perceive as spam without even looking at it. The subject must be clear-cut or the email will be a waste.
2. Be Succinct. The general rule is to limit your subject line to less than 40 characters, that way the subject line is not cut-off on mobile devices. Once again, clarity is key.
3. Avoid CAPS and Other Symbols. Capitalizing buzzwords and adding symbols like dollar signs ($$$) portrays your emails as spam rather than legitimate offerings.
4. Constantly Test Subject Lines. This cannot be stressed enough, you must constantly test your results. This is the only way you can learn what worked, what didn’t work, and what you would have done differently with your subject lines. This a trial and error procedure that takes patience and the willingness to learn and adapt.
5. Utilize Personalization When Necessary. If you are sending an email geared towards a specific location or demographic, include that in the subject line. This adds a sense of community and pertinence to the party involved.
6. Stress Relevancy. If the byline is not relevant, people will quickly delete the message. The subject line needs to sell something people generally care about.
7. Outline the Benefits. Stating immediate benefits like “Learn How…” or “Teach yourself…” outwardly suggests there are perks to opening and reading the email.
8. Don’t Get Muddled in Words. Your subject line should contain one offer and one call to action. This goes back to precision; you want people to know exactly what they are in for when they open the email. Stating the topic followed by the action is more than enough in subject lines.
9. Follow Competitors. Just like any other business, you should always keep tabs on your competitors. Analyzing their work firsthand is a great way of testing, as you learn what does and doesn’t work. Remember, your competitors are following you as well.
10. Be Exciting. Subject lines are simply a means to get people to open the email, that is you are not making sales off the subject line. If the subject is enticing, more people will open it and read about your product.
With these tips, you are ready to create effective and concise subject lines. Remember, your emails are useless without a high open rate. Make the subject, informative, exciting, descriptive, and concise and your open rate will vastly improve.
Latest Developments in SEO: Uproar over Guest Blogging
Over the last week, with Matt Cutt’s public announcement about guest blogging, what became apparent is that many people in the blogging community have let their desire to get backlinks to their website skew their view of what quality, white hat SEO can actually do for their site. When one concentrates on one particular aspect of SEO, such as link building or back linking, there’s always the risk that you lose sight of the bigger picture.
There are more than several factors that contribute to the success of your website in search engine results pages (SERPs). Being focused on one single aspect of optimizing your website can become detrimental to your website’s performance in SERPs, if you begin attempting to take short cuts. Because of this, Google has taken action against scaled guest blogging.
Guest Posting Phenomenon Gone Wrong
When done properly guest posting is a great idea. You create a high-quality, highly valuable article that is hosted on someone else’s website, which allows you to backlink to your site. Normally this is a part of a very sound white hat SEO strategy. This still seems to be okay with Google.
This is the problem that the following has been happening:
A website owner builds a website and generates quality content. They then begin implementing a normal SEO strategy of building backlinks by guest posting on other reputable, related websites. Creating quality content for other websites begins to become very exhausting and the owner gets carried away by the false notion that they can ‘automate’ the process to get more backlinks. The owner then thinks that the only thing that matters for website recognition in SERPs is the number of backlinks to his website.
Ultimately, they begin putting out low-quality content to scale. They post these articles on as many websites as possible to gain the most backlinks possible. This is when a quality, white hat SEO method has officially become completely black hat and, actually, harmful to the website.
Rand Fishkin over at Moz.com goes into more detail about why this back linking strategy goes awry and what Matt Cutts has to say about it. The gist of it is that sometimes people lose sight of all existing SEO rules and focus on just one rule and apply it, full speed ahead. This eventually causes that SEO strategy to become devalued and is now why guest blogging at scale is now a red flag for your website.
What You Should Do
Instead of fearing the guest blog post from now on, remember what it is that Google is always striving to achieve: a good user experience that makes quality content available to the user.
Clearly, a spammy strategy of creating as many backlinks as possible as quickly and easily as possible does not truly support a good internet user experience. All of that duplicated or less than valuable content on the internet retracts from the user’s experience.
So, focus on creating unique, quality content that provides value to your readers. The road always seems to end here with any new algorithm implementation made by Google. Guest post, if you like, but make sure it is because your information has a purpose.
Google is mainly focusing on guest blogging that is done at scale with poor quality content. If you avoid this at all costs and continue to strive to provide value, your site should be fine.
Have you clicked on a banner ad recently? Has the message engaged you? The online display industry has gone through significant changes over the years. Between DSPs (demand side platforms), ad networks, ad exchanges, video networks, mobile networks, and third party data firms, and Google, the billion dollar industry continues to evolve with the goal to increase your banner ad click through rate.
The mighty click through rate. That’s what these networks and platforms need to measure in order to optimize performance across their thousands of sites they represent for the advertiser. Unless you have a compelling offer that drives audiences to lead capture landing pages, the CTR is a misleading stat when it comes to measuring performance. If you are running display campaigns, and showing a typical 80-90% bounce rate, you have a reason to be concerned. Keep in mind these considerations:
- You’re really buying impressions with display. Since many display networks sell inventory on a CPM basis, you should be buying based on targeting and efficiency. Thus, display can be considered a branding medium. Assume clicks are a bonus. The contradiction then is between buying display to brand, and having networks optimize based on clicks. I may decide that a viewed impression on Forbes.com may be more powerful than a clicked impression on a less popular website, especially if clicks bounce and the time on site (Google analytics) is 5 seconds..
- The industry has taken notice that clicks and conversions from directly from display will never match search. It’s why Google introduced the following approaches when evaluating display within their ad network.
View Through Conversions. When users see your display ad, but convert via another channel (like search, social, or email) within 30 days of seeing your ad. I typically show this data to clients when evaluating display and retargeting campaigns. Many networks, like Google and AdRoll, show View-Through conversions in their reporting.
Multi-Channel Funnels. Because with display, you’re not marketing to warm prospects like you are with search, these Google Analytics reports show how display and other channels contribute to future conversions (again within 30 days). Retargeting comes a long way to reach site visitors who didn’t perform a conversion earlier on your site, with the goal to increase conversion rate. Sometimes you have to take this with a grain of salt as well, but it’s one of Google’s way of telling you there’s conversion value with display.
Attribution Modeling. To give display even more credit for conversions, Google analytics allows you decide what weight you want to give display when doing conversion analysis. For example, if you believe a view of an ad the first time is worth giving credit to an eventual conversion (a last-click conversion from another channel), you can make those adjustments with attribution modeling. Of course we assume that an ad served to you on a website (and thus you were cookie’d) you actually noticed.
Whether you believe online display works to build your brand and drive leads or not, the industry continues to grow. The report below from eConsultancy shows online display spending continues to grow.
A similar report from Forrester also shows how display spending continues to grow significantly. As more and more audiences rely on digital for news and information, and less on TV and print, the continued allocation to digital is not surprising. TV is a branding medium; and again, online display has to be considered that as well.
Google has changed the game again: Active View
All these years of CPM impression buying has brought up new questions; most importantly, are your display ads being seen or viewed. ComScore research denotes that more than 30% of display ad impressions aren’t seen by audiences. If you’re an advertiser, that too is a concern. That’s why Google recently started offering a Viewable Impression CPM option when buying display on their network. Google calls a viewable impression an Active View, meaning that at least 50% of your ad was seen on screen for one second or more. Viewable CPM bidding allows advertisers to optimize bids so ads appear in more viewable ad positions on websites, and pay for clicks or impressions on ads that are “viewable” again for one second or more on their screens.
See I can now report on:
- Active View viewable impression: Shows the number of viewable impressions.
- Active View viewable CTR: Shows how often people clicked your ad after it became viewable.
- Active View avg. CPM: Shows the average amount that you’ve been charged for 1,000 viewable impressions.
Display Targeting with Google
I like Google’s method of choosing targeting strategies for display. Below is an over the top example of multiple targeting strategies intersecting together, with the goal to target audiences most interested in your product or service.
Here’s an example of the above, in theory. Make pretend I represent Toyota and am doing a display buy to target Toyota shoppers:
- Display keywords. Target websites that include the terms Toyota, New Car Shopping in its content
- Placements: Target specific car buying websites like Edmunds.com or Cars.com
- Topics: Target groups of websites that cover new car buying
- Interests: Using 3rd party data, target groups of websites whose visitors match profiles of audiences who may be in the market for a new car
- Age: Target age groups except 18-24 and 65+
All in the name of increasing display click through rates via better targeting of audiences most likely to pay attention. And, I can bid on the above strategy using viewable CPMs!
To display or not display; that is the question. Display of course does have a role; branding, creating interest, building recall, and if creative was right, can drive quality clicks and conversions. You have to have a plan with expectations first. Google and other networks are trying to give us tools and analytics to support the role of display. You never want to make rash decisions when analyzing performance. Understand how display works and its role within a multi-media digital mix. Of course, we haven’t discussed creative. Google recently introduced engagement ads for video messaging within the Google display network. That’s for a future post.
Well I hope this post “clicked” with you, and gave you some considerations when buying and analyzing display. How has display worked for you?
How to Plan and Buy B2B Email Lists
While email marketing may not have the current gravitas of social media marketing, it remains an important and underused tactic to reach potential customers for your business. When utilized correctly, email marketing is a powerful tool that can replenish and locate contacts for your company. These tips will ensure that you are efficiently marketing your emails to find fresh leads that will help your business grow.
Focus on Your Core Demographics
The first step in preparing an email list is honing in on your target audience so your emails find people who are actually interested in your product. A thought out and well planned marketing objective will ensure that the right, interested clients will read your email blasts and be intrigued. Figure out what your ideal customer likes, dislikes, and wants from your product, then hammer that home in your emails. The emails should make your customers either want to buy your product, or learn more about it.
Avoid Buying or Renting B2B Email Lists
Generally, buying email lists is a fruitless venture, as these lists mostly contain people who have no interest in your product. Purchased lists come with a damaged reputation, as it is considered an industry shortcut that does not pay off many dividends. Since you have no idea if the customers on your list would ever buy your product, it can be a waste of time and money. Remember, it is important to market these emails directly to your targets.
Renting B2B email lists from a third party has its own set of pros and cons. Although rented lists typically contain clients that may fit your target audience, continuously paying rental fees is an expensive endeavor. Rented lists should really only be considered if you are promoting a one-time event or only plan on sending a few emails per year.
Build Your Own B2B Email List
Although this can be time consuming and difficult, procuring your own email list is the most efficient and best tactic. Through data and research, you can handpick potential clients that will read the emails and want your product. List builds can be difficult, expensive,and methodically paced at the start, but the end game benefits far outweigh the other options. If you are serious about frequently using B2B email blasts, then we recommend building your own list.
Use Quality Content
Finally, and this may seem obvious, but your emails must be high quality. They should be informative, succinct, and well written. Since you will be spending money curating the email list, make your investment worthwhile. Finding the clients for the email list is the hard part, but now