Category Archives: Content Marketing

5 Times More Reasons To Use Video for Your Business

In case you missed it, the Super Bowl was, ahem, pretty big this year. Arguably bigger? The fbcommercials. Love or hate football, this prime-time TV real estate often boasts some of the best and funniest ads of the year.

And if you’d like, you can easily catch all the ads on YouTube, taking the time to re-watch your favorites, or see the ones you missed while grabbing extra chip dip in the kitchen.

But here’s the exciting part (and the part your business may want to pay attention to): while YouTube absolutely smashed Facebook on overall commercial views, Facebook cleaned YouTube’s clock on overall shares.

FIVE TIMES as many shares, in fact.

As of the Monday after the Super Bowl, YouTube amassed a total of 234 million views on Super Bowl ads. Facebook couldn’t keep up with that number, mostly because not all the videos were uploaded directly to Facebook, and also because Facebook’s search still isn’t nearly as robust as YouTube’s (and people rarely go to Facebook to specifically search for video…at least, not yet).

When it came to overall shares of videos, however, Facebook accounted for nearly 70% of all shares for Super Bowl ads this year, even without many of the commercials being “native” (or uploaded directly) to the platform.

So what does this mean for your business?

  1. Video content is still king, and we know from our own client analytics that video always performs well with audiences, usually far outpacing photos.
  2. Facebook is placing higher and higher importance on native video on the platform. It’s great to host a video on YouTube (and you should continue to do so, since this plays well with SEO), but we already know the Facebook algorithm doesn’t play as nicely with outside links as well as it does to content posted directly to the platform.
  3. Views are nice, shares are great, and the further your video content spreads, the better.
  4. Video doesn’t have to be crazy high production to resonate with your audience. Most newer cell phones have fantastic cameras, so if you have 90 seconds and an iPhone, you can start connecting with your audience regularly with video.

The biggest lesson? Having a diverse distribution plan for your content is key to taking full advantage to how your audience finds you and interacts with you. Facebook is great, but it’s not the sole answer to an overall content strategy. Having multiple channels, and knowing how to leverage each one will contribute to your brand message and business goals.

“Oh I Forgot I Had a Website”

Oh I Forgot I Had a Website ImageWhile it’s not likely that you actually would ever forget that your business has an online presence, but that might be what the content and look of your site tell your visitors.

We all get busy running our businesses and making sure we are selling products. Fortunately, we at TKG are thinking about your website and we care a lot!

We took a look and, trust us, we were equally excited about the big news you announced proudly on your homepage in 2009! Unfortunately, it’s now 2015 so it is not quite as exciting.

That brings us to the photos you have of your team proudly displayed in your About Us or Meet the Group section. Everyone looks great, but unfortunately half of them are now gone as that photo is circa 2005. Or even worse (better?), you now have 30 employees, rather than the 10 shown in the photo.

So all joking aside, what kind of message does this outdated kind of info and look convey to visitors?

  • Do these guys update anything?
  • Are they almost out of business?
  • Is this really a company I want to do business with?

Other recent TKGenius blog posts have talked about the importance of things such as technology, keeping up with browser compatibility and responsive design. What your site says (or doesn’t) can be as important as the technologies used. It’s why we don’t take a one size fits all approach with our clients at TKG. We evaluate what you have, take the time to understand your goals and strategize to make the right recommendations to move your business forward.

So remember that website you have? Go take a look. Are you proud of what it says about your company? Would you want to do business with your company? Is it time for a few updates, a facelift or maybe even a complete overhaul?

We’re here for you. Get connected!

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SEO Tips for PDFs

PDFs, just like HTML pages, can rank in search engines. Accordingly, it is important that PDF optimization is part of your comprehensive strategy for search engine performance. Here are some helpful SEO tips for PDFs:

Save the PDF as Text Based

When creating a new PDF, be sure to save the file as text based, rather than a flat image. Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign allow for this whereas scanning a hard copy of a document will not. From Google’s Webmaster Central blog: The general rule of the thumb is that if you can copy and paste the text from a PDF document into a standard text document, we should be able to index that text.

Optimize PDF Properties

When creating a PDF, there are a number of text properties that should be defined prior to loading to a website. These include title, author, subject, and keywords. To access these, go to File > Properties. Here are some thoughts and recommendations for each of these fields:

  • Title
    • These are similar to the title tags on HTML pages and should follow similar best practices.
    • PDF titles can appear as part of search results
    • Answer this question: How would you name this content?
    • Include a relevant keyword that has search volume
  • Author
    • This field is designated for the creator of the article.
    • Use this space to reference the business, organization, or the individual who deserves credit for the work.
  • Subject
    • The subject field in a PDF is similar to the meta description on HTML pages.
    • Try to keep this field to 150 characters or less
    • Include a call to action
    • Include a relevant keyword that has search volume
  • Keywords
    • As we’ve mentioned on TKgenius, including meta keywords in HTML pages offers no SEO value. This is likely the case for the keyword properties in PDFs as well.
    • If you choose to fill in this field in the PDF properties, separate each keyword with commas and avoid stuffing with similar keywords.

PDF SEO

SEO-friendly File Name

Many content management systems generate the URL based on the file name.  Therefore, when saving the PDF, there are several guidelines to follow:

  • Save the file with a relevant file name (not draft17FINAL2015revisionB.pdf)
  • Separate words with dashes and use lowercase text
  • Avoid overly lengthy file names
  • Include a relevant keyword

Hyperlink Text in the PDF

Include hyperlinks in the PDF that link to relevant detail pages within your site that contain more info. For example, at the end of the PDF, include a call to action such as Request a quote that goes to your request a quote form on your website.

Include Keywords in the Content

Just like a traditional HTML page, include relevant keywords in the copy itself. In general, identify a few overall keywords that define the theme of the content (use the Google Keyword Planner tool to see if the phrases are popular), write the article in its entirely, then review what was written to find a few opportunities to tastefully include keywords where appropriate.

Optimize Anchor Text to the PDF

Once the PDF is loaded to the website, be sure to find appropriate locations across your site to link to the new PDF. When linking to the PDF, avoid linking text such as “Learn More” or “download this PDF” and instead hyperlink the actual words that discuss the content. For example: link the words “optimize PDFs for search engines” in the sentence: Learn how to optimize PDFs for search engines.

By following the guidelines above, you’ll ensure the PDFs on your website are SEO friendly.

Do What Works but Don’t Stop Wanting More

As an account manager of several web marketing clients, my goal is for them (and us) to be successful in growing their businesses. And we do that by aligning our strategy with their company goals, becoming partners who work together in this mutual aim.

Most of my customers want to sell more widgets or get more sales leads, and so we get them more website traffic so they can do just that. Who doesn’t like more customers, right?

If your company website leads or sales are growing, especially by having a content and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, then continue to work your plan. That’s good business sense.

But let’s not stop at just continuing to do what works. There’s always more. It’s time to try new things.

stock-footage-new-ideas-hand-drawn-lettering-with-a-simple-stylized-bulb-symbol-whiteboard-animation-on-whiteWhen it comes to making money, one of my favorite things to do is to try new ideas. It’s fun to test them out and see if you can get a return on investment. Online marketing is no different: Find something that works and expand it. Then, find something else that works and expand it, too. Repeat the process.

Let’s assume you have an SEO and content strategy working for your business. Have you tested some paid digital advertising, yet? What about social media marketing; is that right for your business? And by social media marketing, I mean true strategy that drives results – not just playing on Facebook. How about email marketing to current customers – might you get them to spend more with your company with repeat orders?

There are so many avenues to explore when it comes to growing your business. If you haven’t gone down very far down those roads, there are likely goldmines to uncover.

Above (and Below) the Fold

For years I would preach about keeping all relevant content “above the fold” on the home page. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, it simply refers to the area presented to visitors when a web page loads in the browser window. Wikipedia might explain it a little better. Anything included below the fold was most certainly lost forever. Never to be seen again. Yikes!

Why did I hammer this concept home for several years? Because it was truly believed that people didn’t like to scroll down a page to find what they were looking for. And maybe that was true way back when.

I think that concept is one dimensional and isn’t very true anymore.

While you still want to keep your biggest message on top, you can include many details on a page and people WILL scroll if they are motivated to find out more. Another reason to disregard my old advice is because search engines look at the entire page and index content no matter where it’s at. If it’s relevant, then it deserves a place at the table.

I think a large player in this arena is the adoption of smart phones and the necessity to scroll on those devices. People have become accustomed to viewing websites on smaller screens with the need to scroll. Have you ever spent 5 (or 60) minutes scrolling through Facebook? Yep, you’ll just keep going without any worry.

Scroll On

If you’ve lived in fear of the fold maybe it’s time to reconsider things. You may be missing an opportunity to get great, relevant content on your home page that will ultimately help convert potential customers. Not sure where to start? Call us and we can look at your website together.

 

Getting More Leads and Sales from Your Company Website

As I have shared previously, having a business website that caters to desktop, tablet and smartphone users (responsive design) is crucial as Google is giving more weight to sites that offer a great experience to all of its visitors. So, let’s say you’ve invested in your company website to do just that – what’s the next step?

More Traffic

Obviously, you want people to find your website and pay it a visit. You do this by having a good SEO/content strategy in place; and you can also bring more traffic to the website through paid advertising, social media posting and email marketing.

So let’s say you have good traffic coming to your site. What are you doing with it? Is your website generating leads? Is it creating sales for your company? If not, then you need to look at what’s called “conversion optimization.” ‘Conversions,’ for the purpose of this article, is a fancy word meaning leads and sales – how someone makes contact with your business. If you have traffic, but you are not receiving leads or sales, then there is a disconnect somewhere – and you need to find it.

Leads and Sales

There are three primary ways to generate leads from your website: phone calls, form submissions, and live chat. Phone numbers should be prominently placed and easy to find by site visitors. Forms should be simple and quick to fill out so users can send you contact you. And chat is icing on the cake – a simple way to get instant gratification if you are a website visitor with questions. We have found that people like to reach out to our clients in different ways, meaning each person has their preference. Why not cater to all three?

Let’s say you have an e-commerce website; you don’t want leads, you want sales. Make the experience smart, easy and intuitive. Does your current e-commerce website offer features such as the ability to order from the product listing page? Can I set-up an account and save my past orders? Is the checkout process simple and painless? Can I get free shipping or a discount on larger orders? Are you offering as many products as possible to potentially expand order size? Does your e-commerce website convey the feeling of trust by offering a way to contact your company, a return policy, testimonials, product reviews, etc.? And do you offer live chat to help buyers overcome any ordering challenges or questions?

Conclusion

Challenge yourself to objectively review your website. Determine whether or not you need help with traffic or conversions; then, take the necessary steps to improve its performance. You may be able to make some changes on your own or you may need some help from a web development/web marketing company. Whatever the case, DO something. The internet is not going away, and I can almost guarantee your competitors will be looking at this, too. Why not beat them to the punch?

3 Ways to Tell a Marketing Company is Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke - Mirrors_700There are a lot of reasons for a business to outsource online marketing duties. Whether it is manpower, talent or the idea of the Google algorithm that makes your brain want to explode, we get it. But before you sign on the dotted line, do your homework.

There are some marketing companies out there who do a good job of using confusing jargon and the phrase “we’re working on behind the scenes stuff, you don’t need to worry about that” to glaze over a client’s eyes. When you hire a marketing firm, you should be hiring into a partnership. You should expect the same type of communication and back and forth that you would get from your employees. Here are three ways to tell that the marketing company you’re working with is all about the smoke and mirrors.

  1. They talk in code (sometimes literally). Reading a report from your marketing company shouldn’t require Rosetta Stone. Sure, there are some terms that marketers might need to throw out here and there, but they should also come with an explanation. If your reports appear to be written in Sanskrit with no translation, someone might be pulling the wool over your eyes.
  2. Everything is a secret. You hired the firm and you should expect transparency. These are your dollars being spent, so you should be privy to how many hours you are being billed for, how long certain projects take, and what end product you received. And speaking of projects, don’t be afraid to ask for a project timeline or how the company tracks and bills work hours.
  3. There are no numbers to back up the results. “The campaign is doing great! You should be seeing leads now. Your phone must be ringing off the hook!” Those things very may well be happening, but are they the result of the work of your marketing company? Your monthly reports should come with real numbers … numbers that you have access to view using a Google Analytics account. The great thing about web marketing is that just about any click on your site, email blast, or PPC ad can be tracked. Ask for numbers and educate yourself by taking a high level crash course on Google Analytics (shameless plug, something that TKG offers periodically).

Just remember, before you sign into a marketing contract, ask some questions. Learn up front what kind of reports you can anticipate seeing and don’t be afraid to ask them to cut the jargon!

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5 Content Calendar Tools

If you need me to explain why you need a well-organized content calendar, then you aren’t busy enough. There are countless advantages to using a unified, easy to use, easy to access calendar to organize your team (for instance, ours is making me painfully aware of just how late I am in getting this post written – thanks, calendar!). So let us assume that you know that, and move directly into helping you find one.

Whether you are starting from scratch, or looking to improve upon the mess you are currently working with (Post-It notes on a white board = mess), your options are practically limitless. So let us get you headed in the right direction by introducing you to some of the more popular tools currently available.

wordpress plugins - content calendar toolsWordPress Plugins: Are you using WordPress? Are you looking for an editorial calendar? Wouldn’t it then make sense to try the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin? If you are looking for more advanced features such as automatic postings to social media and advanced team coordination tools, CoSchedule is a much more flexible plugin, though it comes with a monthly fee.

Trello: Boring gridlines and calendar layouts not your thing? Trello gives you a whiteboard interface that is more project management in its approach than editorial calendar (though it offers a “Calendar” view). This can be a life saver if you are trying to coordinate a large team, and the ability to see the status of all pending assignments in one view is incredibly useful. The basic service is free, and a paid Business Class version is also available for those looking for beefier security and administrative tools.

Excel and Google Docs: Both are convenient and simple ways to set up your own content calendar. If you want some help getting started, the internet is riddled with templates for you to pick from. Literally riddled. You can’t swing a cat meme without hitting one. Just pick one that closely matches your workflow, make a few tweaks, and off you go.

Need more bells on your whistles? Fine, let’s wheel out the big guns.

ContentDJ: Part content calendar and part content curator, ContentDJ totes itself as “The only editorial calendar built for the social media age”. It has everything you need to find, assign, post and track content to your website and social media platforms. The depth of this tool, and the price tag that comes with it, will be overkill for many. But if finding share-worthy content and having extensive, detailed tracking of all social media engagement are critical pieces of your business, this will give you everything you need.

Kapost: If you want to completely tie your content in with the rest of your marketing efforts, you’ll want to give Kapost a try. It has everything you’d expect from a high-end content tool: automatic publishing, extensive project management, advanced tracking, etc. But it really shines in integrating your content into your overall marketing strategy. You can attach content pieces to specific campaigns or prospective clients for easy tracking. A searchable library of all content you publish anywhere is available to everyone in your organization. Leads generated from each piece of content are tracked, tying what you publish directly to your sales pipeline. It’s a bit much if you are just managing a website and a few blogs, but larger companies will really benefit from the powerful and diverse tools offered here.

Do you currently use one of these tools? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

5 Ways to Take Your Instagram Account to the Next Level

So you’re using Instagram for your business. Good idea! Instagram, like Pinterest, is doing wonderful things visually for businesses and brands.

But to really stand out from the crowd, it’s not enough to simply snap a photo, slap a filter on it and hope for the best. In fact, this approach has the potential to harm your brand more than help it. Remember, you’re competing for “double taps” (Likes) along with professional photographers, celebrities, and brands that aren’t afraid to go to extremes.

So here are 5 ways to take your Instagram account to the next level.

  1. Include your account in your content calendar

To make the biggest impact with Instagram, always incorporate your images as a part of your regular content calendar. While one-off, spontaneous photos are always an option with the platform, having at least a general idea of the kind of content you want to post will help direct and guide your photographers throughout a week or month.

Take, for example, Saturday Night Live’s Instagram account. During the week, they take photos of the general arc of the show: first big pitch meetings, then writers working hard on sketches, then costumes and sets in progress, then celebrity rehearsal sightings. Come Saturday night, it’s all behind the scenes photos of performers running backstage, changing costumes, or joking around between sketches. All day Sunday they post follow up photos of big moments backstage, after party candids, or what performers do on their day off.

nbcsnl

Your business may not have a similar weekly arc, but you likely have certain sales cycles, big events or other promotional efforts that you can align content around.

  1. Use the advanced editing tools

Anyone can take any old photo and choose a filter, but to truly make photos outstanding, it behooves you to use the advanced editing tools first before using filters.

To use these tools, simply click the wrench after taking or choosing your photo from your library. Many of the adjustments available here can either fix minor flaws (low light), enhance detail, or make colors pop.

tools

 

  1. Use other apps to add a different dimension to your product or brand

If you want to add something outside the Instagram “norm” to your photos, you’ll need to edit or enhance through other apps. Aviary, Camera+, Afterlight and Snapseed bring even more advanced editing options to the table. PicStitch, WordSwag, FontCandy and Party! Party! are fun apps to bring photos together, add text or easily create .gifs. You’ll need to edit or deck out photos in these apps first, then send to Instagram.

youcan_run

  1. Use video to tease other content or showcase products or services beyond stills

Instagram offers the use of up to 15 seconds of video on the platform. Some of the best uses of video are often when teasing or promoting other content (giving a short clip of a story to promote an upcoming podcast) or showcasing something that just can’t be shown in a still photo (acro yoga or hand-balancing to promote an upcoming class). Video is a powerful tool on Instagram; think carefully through how you can use video to enhance what you’re already doing with photos.

beachyogagirl

  1. Monitor analytics

There’s no point in putting in all the work into any content without determining if it’s actually effective. While you could splurge on a robust tool like Simply Measured, some free tools can give great insights into how photos are performing on the platform. Iconosquare (formerly Statigram), is a free tool that gives insight into follower engagement, spread rate, filter and hashtag impact and account growth. You can use other tools like Klout to cross reference which content seems to be resonating best with your audience, as well.

filter_impact

Once you are monitoring your Instagram content regularly, adjust your tactical approach as necessary. If fans are responding well to certain filters or hashtags add more into the mix, while phasing out content that has lower likes or engagement.

And of course, never be afraid to try something new and creative by showcasing your brand, product or service from a unique angle. Instagram users are hungry for great content to consume and tell their friends about!

What Happened to the Art of Writing?

Sometimes I feel like it’s lost in all of the talk about content.

Wait, isn’t content supposed to be about writing?

Seems that content is often more about creating buzzwords and catchy titles over great messages and words. Anything to reel in a few good clicks, right?

Surely you know the catchy titles that over-promise while luring you to click and under-deliver once you get there: “10 mind-blowing tips” or “5 things you didn’t know that could hurt you – you’ll never believe #2!” Anything to get the reader to bite, right?

writers-block

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, talked about this phenomenon recently in a session at Content Marketing World.

“Tell true stories well,” she told the group of a few hundred in the audience. “Put the customer at the center.”

Seems simple enough. Why isn’t everyone doing that already? Why are we in a race to produce things that don’t have meaning?

Handley went on to give some tips on how to create content that follows those rules:

  1. Have a goal and follow a writing GPS.
  2. Write with a strong, unforgettable voice.
  3. Write to just ONE person.
  4. See content moments everywhere.
  5. Give customers gifts (who doesn’t love gifts?).

All great and valuable lessons in content creation, right? Certainly tips that anyone producing content should be following and living by in order to produce great content.

But what she said next made me sit up straight in my seat.

“Writing is not grammar; writing is thinking.”

YES! What a perfect way to frame the shift in thinking that needs to happen in content marketing. We need to think beyond just creating content and actually start writing.

Anyone can write words (ehhh, well, most people…). But it’s the thinking that goes behind the words that carry the most value.

Thinking is why we (should) have content departments. Content writers should be there to think through what needs to be written, considering subject, tone, voice and messaging. Secondary to that thinking is getting the perfect words on the page.

“Better writing means better marketing,” Handley said.

All brought together by better thinking.