Category Archives: Content Marketing

Want Great Content? Do What You’re Already Doing

One of the biggest concerns I hear when it comes to content is “But we don’t know what to put out there.”

I get it. When you’re involved in the day to day tasks of running your business, it’s tough to think of creating content.

Fortunately, it’s likely you already have good things going on that you can re-purpose, re-use or recycle to make great content. OR, alternatively, you can add something simple to your daily routine that turns into regular content.

But first, allow me to give you a little inspiration.

You might have heard of a little TV hit called Glee, a weekly show about misfit high school students finding their place in the world through music. Maybe you’re a “Gleek” or maybe you think the show is the silliest thing this side of Fonzie jumping the shark, but there’s no denying that this show set a new precedent in cross-channel content marketing.

glee

In fact, ratings aside (which were great the first few seasons), this show set records with singles, albums and even live tours. For instance:

  • The first ever single released by the cast, “Don’t Stop Believin’” received platinum status with over one million sold
  • The cast overtook Elvis Presley as the fastest act ever to have 20 top 40 hits in just 57 weeks (Elvis was 88)
  • By 2011, just two years after the show aired, they had over 36 million digital single sales worldwide
  • By 2011, they had 11 million album sales worldwide
  • The show has several reality spinoffs, DVD and Blu-Ray releases, an iPad app and karaoke games for Wii
  • In 2011, a live tour kicked off…and of course, it wasn’t just a live tour. A concert film based on the tour was released shortly after the tour ended
  • The show has hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide who now create content about the show, often uploading tributes, songs and other manifestations of their fandom to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • And how’s this for power? The casts’ cover of Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” actually increased sales of Rihanna’s original single by 189%

Glee also inspired the mega-hits of Nashville and Empire, country and hip-hop nighttime soap operas, respectively. These shows also release albums and merchandise based on the music written and performed for the show. Nashville, now in its third season, has released TEN albums, the first of which reached number one on US charts.

Now, I’m not saying you need to release an album for your business (though that could be fun!).

What I am saying is that it’s likely that you’re already doing things for your business that could easily translate to content you can use to market yourself (and maybe even generate more revenue). Glee didn’t create “extra” music to give to the masses…they already had it within the premise of the show; they just figured out new ways to distribute it.

Here are a few ideas to create content from the regular things you do for your business:

  1. Do you release a newsletter? Each news item could be re-used as a mini blog post, told as a quick 60 second update to an iPhone video recorder, or recorded as part of a podcast series.
  2. Do you often answer the same questions for customers over and over? Create an infographic with great visual answers, start a helpful podcast that discusses and educates people on your industry, or start a “Pro Tips” section on your website.
  3. Do you have a dynamic and engaging individual in your company who loves working for you? Give this individual freedom and creative space to create short videos, take photos and post to your Social channels for you, about you!
  4. Does your company have a rich history, complete with old photos or videos left sitting in a box or lonely hard drive? Scan photos and release them regularly to your Facebook page or Instagram account with the hashtag #tbt to give customers a glimpse of all the great things that make you, YOU. It’s especially fun if you work in a technical field and you can show how far you’ve come!
  5. Does your company have a process you do every day? Document this process every day or week with a photo, then show the collage one month, six months or a year later!
  6. Do you have a customer or two that just LOVES what you do? Invite this individual to create content for you, either by showing off how your product or service works, or giving a testimonial.
  7. Do you have a series of pdfs or articles about a certain subject in your industry? Combine and edit this information as a free digital whitepaper that prospects can download in exchange for an email address.
  8. Do you have a core group of very loyal customers who buy your product regularly? Consider creating a membership club where these customers get “insider access” to special prices, exclusive products, and of course, short videos, articles or podcast episodes that talk about how you created something special for them.
  9. Do you have a salesperson or leader within your company who is especially knowledgeable about your products, trends in the industry, or common problems? Record a weekly podcast where this individual discusses a topic for 15-20 minutes. Upload to Soundcloud, Stitcher or iTunes at the same time every week and invite customers and prospects to listen and share.
  10. Does your company work with the same vendors time and time again? Profile your vendors on video or on your blog, ask them to explain why they love your working relationship, and post to your respective Social channels.

I’m sure there are many more regular things that you’re already doing in your business that can be converted to content. Don’t overthink! When it comes to content, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Nashville has now released two albums of songs by a particular cast member…after those songs already appeared on another album.

It just goes to show you, sometimes content is just about showcasing something you’ve already done in a new and interesting way. So what are YOU already doing?

How to Avoid Social Media Slip-ups

Okay, let’s talk about your social media plan.

If you have one in place, great. If you are still asking yourself what a social media plan is, that’s okay too. You’re in the right place.

Chances are, if your business has a social media presence, you’ve had to deal with some strange comments, unsatisfied customers or even downright nasty reviews. And the more successful your business is, the more likely you are to experience these encounters. Social media mistakes will inevitably happen, but you can avoid them harming your business by following the steps below:Social media symbols

PREVENTION

  • Have a Plan: Always have a plan that outlines what to do in the event of a crisis. Are you suddenly getting bad reviews because of a defective product? Has one of your employees delivered less-than-exceptional customer service? Make sure you have a plan on how to deal with comments, @ mentions, reviews or if your business page goes viral in a bad way.
  • Bring in the Experts: Do you have someone dedicated to watching your accounts? You should. Not only will you have an extra set of eyes monitoring your social media presence, but a trained PR person will be able to react to just about any situation that comes up. You should have someone dedicated to at least several hours a week — maybe more depending on the size of your business and the size of your social media following — to managing posts and interacting with the users on your pages.

WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS

  • Act Quickly: Do not let complaints or issues on social media sit without response. At a minimum, respond within 24 hours – but within a few hours is ideal. In today’s fast-paced world, the people reading your business page and watching your social media accounts are watching around the clock. They expect answers to questions as soon as they ask. Can you keep up? Because you’re expected to. If you let a negative comment or review sit for long enough, it will turn into an even bigger problem. Do what you can to nip it in the bud early and move the conversation offline.
  • Start a (Public) Conversation: Your customers and potential customers will be watching you to see how you react to the issue and they will judge your company’s morals and standards based on your reaction. The good thing about social media is that if you handle these types of issues promptly and professionally, lots of people will see it. The bad thing about social media is, well, if you handle it poorly, lots of people will see it.
  • Don’t Delete: Never delete comments, tweets or reviews. When you delete comments or try to “cover up” what your customers or potential customers are saying, you will start to lose your reputation and the trust that people have placed in you or your products. Instead, use the opportunity to be real with your audience while reacting and responding appropriately.
  • With that Being Said…There are some fires that you shouldn’t even bother putting out. Offensive language and all-out attacks must be handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are dealing with someone online who you just cannot get through to, ask them to contact your business or organization so that you can handle the matter privately. If someone is attacking others or using foul language or refusing to work with you towards a solution, it’s okay to pull the plug and walk away.

AFTER THE FACT

  • Apologize and Move On: If you truly made a mistake, own up to it. We are no longer dealing with the days of putting out a press release to cover up a mistake. Our social media world does not allow it. Admit you made a mistake, apologize for what you did, and tell your customers what you are doing to fix it and what you will do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Coming clean and moving on will make your brand stronger and your customers will trust you more in the long run.

At the end of the day, your business needs to understand the power of social media and how professionally-run social media pages can make a world of difference. If you have a solid plan on how to handle negative remarks, comments or reviews, your business will benefit greatly from it in case of an emergency.

Google Introduces Call-Only Ads

Google Adwords has always been a nice way to help grow leads and sales by directing customers to a website. But what happens when the majority of your business comes from the phone? In an effort to support companies who thrive on phone conversions, Google has introduced Call-Only ads.

Phone-based ads aren’t necessarily a novel approach for Google. Users have had the ability to add a phone extension to ads for quite some time, but with the new call-only ads, the main call to action is, well, to call.

Included is a helpful option to use Google-provided forwarding phone numbers in the ads. By using different numbers Google is able to report on which ads, keywords and campaigns are generating calls

call-only ads

Setting Up Call-Only Ads

Setting up call-only ads is as easy as setting up any Adwords campaign, only this time instead of choosing the standard ad type, you will select the call-only field.

call-only ads1

Ad creation continues through the standard set-up process as you determine the geographic reach of your ads, select keywords and your desired bid strategy.

As you begin to build your ad you will see the initial call to action on call-only ads is not to visit a website but to call. This feature will be especially useful for customers who are looking for immediate service like Heating & Cooling companies or Plumbers.

call-only ads2

Do you think call-only ads could benefit your business but aren’t sure how to get started? Let TKG do the work for you.

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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