Tag Archives: content marketing

Digital Trends to Watch Out for in 2016

Digital Marketing WordsOnline marketing is a constantly changing industry, and with each new evolution comes a host of new challenges and opportunities. That’s why, at the end of each year, we take time to reflect on the year behind us, and think about where our industry is heading.

So as 2015 comes to a close, we’re putting together our list of digital trends that we predict will have the biggest impact in the upcoming year. Read on for an exclusive look into the digital trends projected to shake up 2016:

1. Increasing Need for Marketing Automation

Let’s be honest, most visitors won’t make a purchase the first time they visit your site. That’s because it takes time and repeat exposure to form the kinds of relationships that lead to conversions.

In order to facilitate meaningful relationships in 2016, it will become essential to filter content and tailor your messaging to meet your audience’s needs. Personalized follow-up content goes a long way in establishing relevant touchpoints with your audience, and could make a serious impact on your conversion rates.

2. Immersive, Interactive Content will be King

In 2016, interactive content will become necessary for a successful digital presence. No longer is text-based content enough to tell your story. Without immersive, visual storytelling, your content will simply not be as effective in 2016.

Here’s a particularly compelling example from BuzzStream: In 2013, the most popular pieces of content from both BuzzFeed and the New York Times had something in common. And it was not that they were well-researched, journalistic pieces. They were quizzes. And this trend is not going away. As we move into the New Year, effective content will need to actively engage your audience. Passive content simply won’t cut it.

3. Data Will Help Guide Digital Efforts

Consumer behavior has become increasingly complex in recent history, a trend that we expect to continue into 2016. More sophisticated data analysis will be necessary in the New Year in order to understand this complex consumer behavior and guide digital marketing efforts going forward.

If you’re not thinking about customer relationship management, usability or cross-channel marketing, you’re likely doing your audience and your business a disservice. By understanding the ways in which your users interact with your brand in the digital space, you are much more likely to be successful in your digital marketing efforts.

4. Mobile Marketing is No Longer Optional

The use of mobile marketing will continue to be one of key digital trends in 2016. In order for your website and supporting marketing materials to be effective, they must lend themselves to an easy, streamlined mobile experience.

Trust us; geo-targeting, social advertising and responsive design are not just passing fads. As marketers learn more about the ways users interact with their mobile devices, they will continue to push the envelope of mobile marketing – and it’s important that your business doesn’t fall behind.

From responsive design to social and content marketing, TKG has the skills and resources to help you prepare your online presence for the New Year. Contact a member of our team to discuss your digital needs for the upcoming year.

Have other predictions for 2016’s biggest digital trends? Share them in the comments!

How Can a Small Company Compete with the Giants in the World of SEO?

Search marketing has grown in popularity as online search continues to evolve from a novelty to a standard feature in our everyday lives. Almost every business, big or small and regardless of industry, has a web presence, and everybody is competing for a handful of positions at the top of search-engine results pages.competing with giants

Since larger companies already have millions of inbound links, a lengthy history of content, and a recurring base of online visitors, is it any wonder they generally appear in the top ranking positions when people search for commercial products? Regardless of what industry you’re in, you’ll always have at least one competitor who has been around longer and has allocated more budget and resources to building their visibility in the search engines.

So, how can a small company with limited experience and resources compete with that level of online domination?

Thankfully, SEO is no longer about sheer volume. It’s more about which page or website is the most relevant for the searcher.  Thus, there are several strategies that can give a small company the edge over the giant competitor.

  • Specialize in a niche – One of the best things you can do as a small company is give yourself a niche focus. If you pour all your effort into one or a handful of keywords, you’ll be able to achieve a much higher visibility than if you have a wide range of keywords and your relevance for each of them is somewhat low.
  • Leverage locality for optimization – Another way to beat the competition is by targeting a much more local audience. Local search is becoming more relevant and more important, so in today’s context, being the best widget maker in Cleveland is far better than being a so-so widget maker on a national scale. Even if your company does operate on a national, or even international level, you can still capture a niche market share and edge out your competitors in at least one key area by optimizing for a specific local area.
  • Personalize your social engagement – Aside from local search optimization, you can also increase your chances of overcoming larger competitors by stepping up the ‘personal’ factor in your brand strategy. Large companies can lose a portion of their personality once they hit a certain point in their growth, but being small and nimble can be an advantage in giving each follower a more personal experience.
  • Become a recognized content publisher – Building brand awareness, loyalty, trust and credibility requires frequent and quality content publication. Maximize the reach of the content you publish to maximize your return on investment, and be consistent with your publication schedule so you become recognized as a dependable authority.

There’s no shortcut to rise to the top of the search engine rankings, especially when there’s a giant competitor on the scene. But, with a strategy that leverages your geographic location and your agility, you can selectively overcome that giant in specific key areas. Give yourself the best odds by narrowing your topic and keyword focus and increasing your location-specific relevance.

Own the Space You’re In

When it comes to effective content marketing, it’s important to establish your brand as a trusted resource for content that is relevant to your industry. Instead of creating content that is just trying to make a sale, try creating relevant content your audience actually wants to seek out. Whether your content is educational, helpful, entertaining or persuasive, you need to make sure it resonates with your audience and stands out from the competition.

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Ways to own the space you’re in:

Brand Journalism
By writing your own authoritative content or curating articles from reputable third party sources, you are able to establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry. If there are no editorial authorities in your area of expertise, start your own conversation – possibly through a blog, podcast or video series.

Social Media
Consistent and compelling social media is one of the best ways to gain exposure to your editorial brand content. Effective social media is visual, interactive and draws users in with headlines that make them curious to learn more. Don’t expect these messages to lead directly to sales; this content adds value in a different way. It helps tell your brand’s story and explains how that story fits into your audience’s interests and lifestyle.

Audience Focus
When you set your content strategy, don’t just think about ways your content will help you sell products or generate leads. Think about the types of information your customers will actually find useful. If you are a razor company, try creating content about men’s heath and grooming (Dollar Shave Club does this really well). If you are a clothing retailer, try creating fashion and lifestyle content (Modcloth is a leader in this space). By creating content that your audience actually wants to interact with, you will make huge strides in establishing brand recognition and customer loyalty.

To sum it up, we recommend content that meets your audience where they are. Your audience wants you to speak to them in a way that is informative, engaging and not overtly promotional. Trust us, when you give them the content they want, your audience will return the favor with likes, comments, shares and repeat purchases.

Want to own the space you’re in? Contact TKG and discover new ways to elevate your digital presence.

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“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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Creating an Effective Lead Generation Website

Lead GenerationWhile creating a lead generation website may seem like a relatively easy endeavor in today’s ever-changing world of digital mobility, creating a truly effective lead generator requires a collaborative, strategic approach on the part of both the client and development resource.

The client has a great deal to do with the success of any web project.  The first sign of success is for the client’s entire team to embrace the belief that a great website is of strategic importance to the future growth and prosperity of the business. Client commitment to the project leads to a collaborative effort that realizes greater impact in user experience and effective messaging.

Purpose

Lead generation has become a soft, generic term, but in a real lead generation website, every page has a distinct purpose. When considering your site’s information architecture, you need to ask the question, “What do I want people to do on this page? What is the end result I’m trying to achieve with this content?’ In doing so, you define a collection of ‘related links’ which may change on each page, relative to that page’s content.

Calls-to-Action

The first key to creating an effective lead generation site is leading the user to the desired category or page on your site. Once there, the second key is directing the user to a call-to-action (CTA) while on the page. CTAs can appear in a variety of trackable formats such as content links (white papers, video links), form submissions, email contacts and designated phone numbers. All of the above CTAs are implemented with a common objective—to obtain desired lead contact information for the purpose of ultimately converting an interested lead into a customer.

Mobility

The world of mobile devices continues to grow in popularity and usefulness. Implementing effective lead generation practices into mobile devices does not happen automatically. Responsive design, the facility for a website to reconfigure itself depending on the viewing device, requires careful design consideration in crafting a user experience that works well on all mediums.

Content Structure

Successful content marketing begins with an effective content structure for each section of the website. This structure is designed through a series of unique ‘page templates’ representing different types of content. For each page template, it is important to carefully consider the audience and the path on which you’d like to guide them. Each content structure, and the content it houses, is designed to optimize search results.

Video and Imagery

It is well documented that people read less and respond more to image-based content. In fact, statistics support the position that video attracts as much as 300% more traffic and has a greater impact in nurturing leads. As such, incorporating video and related imagery leads to an improved user experience, thus enhancing the potential for lead generation.

Brand Image

Last but not least is the significance of brand image. The challenge that most companies face is that they try to say too much, particularly on the home page. If you approach the navigation process in a purposeful way on every page, the home page does not have to bear all the weight of the site. Think in terms of having every page on your site designed to engage the user.

Take a look at your website. Are you implementing these lead generation principles to effectively engage your audience?

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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!

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?

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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.

Building a B2B Online Marketing Strategy that Generates Leads

Lead GenerationIt has been challenging for many B2B companies to make the transition to online marketing. Many B2B businesses still rely on old school methods to generate leads, including cold calls, trade shows and direct mail. While there is still a place for these efforts, it is proven that over 85% of B2B customers search the web before making a purchase.

The reason is very simple. Your buyers are changing their purchasing methods. They no longer want or need to meet with sales teams prior to making a purchase. Rather, they conduct their own buying research online – and it’s faster and more efficient! In fact, 77% of B2B buyers indicate they don’t talk to a salesperson until after they have performed their own independent research – online.

When developing a foundation for your B2B online marketing strategy, consider the following tactics to build and expand your internet marketing efforts:

  • Have a well-designed, well-written website – Your website should make a positive first impression of your company and offerings. And, it should have content that engages and educates your prospects.
  • Know your target audience – Develop a clear vision of who your content is intended to motivate. Don’t try to be all things to all people – be an expert for your niche.
  • Nurture and grow your list – Develop a strategy to capture your website visitors. If a prospect lands on your website, but isn’t ready to buy, it’s important to stay in touch with them. A simple sign-up form on your website can produce great results. Consider giving people an incentive to sign-up so they are willing to give you their contact information. Once they’ve signed up, use an email newsletter to consistently send meaningful content to them.
  • Build new highways to your site – There are many ways for you to drive traffic to your site. First and foremost, make sure your website URL is incorporated in your communications materials, including your email signature, printed and digital marketing materials, company signage, packaging and published articles. An ever-growing highway for driving people to your site is via social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
  • Keep creating content for your site – Most consumers find custom content useful and many believe that companies that create custom content are interested in building a relationship with them. Creating custom content can differentiate your company from competitors, nurture leads, and help prospects make buying decisions.

The above tactics are the foundational pieces for a robust online B2B presence. By implementing these tactics, you can expect to see an increase in the number of qualified leads to your website. And, it should make conversion a lot easier for your sales team. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

5 Un-Tapped Content Resources in Your Own Business

We get it. Sometimes content creators are departments of one. Even if you have a few more on your team, constantly creating new content can be a challenge for small marketing and content departments.

Fortunately for smaller departments, it’s likely that you have untapped content resources right in your own business. Here are five you can seek out today:

  1. Your Boss

    What vision does your CEO, boss or founder have for your company this year? In five years? In ten? What did he or she dream about before taking this role or position? What does he or she believe will never change about the core values of your company?It might be difficult to get a fresh blog post from a busy supervisor or leader each week, but think of creative ways you can use your boss’ voice in your communication with your customers. Key leaders within your company likely have a bigger picture of your products or services. How can you use this picture to supplement your content?

  1. Your Co-Workers

    Whether you simply highlight your co-workers in an employee spotlight feature, or whether you identify natural content creators in other departments, your fellow employees can be a great help in your content efforts.We often conduct content ideation sessions with a cross-section of employees from the entire company. We’ve found that while marketers have their finger on the pulse of company messaging, other employees bring a unique perspective of the company based on their day to day dealings with customers, other employees or your product and service. How does your administrative assistant view the company? How about one of your repairmen who takes customer calls?

    These individuals are key components to how your company runs, and can bring ideas you may not have thought of to your content offerings.

  1. Your Customers

    We often advocate on TKGenius that you poll your customers to get content ideas, or even ask your customers to supply you with content themselves. So, how are they using your product? Are they taking photos of themselves getting a haircut in your salon? Did they recently enjoy one of your events and tell their friends about it on Social Media?Not only will your customers give you great ideas for content, they are often great content creators without even knowing it. One of our clients asks customers to submit photos of themselves or their children enjoying the brand’s snack foods, then features these customers on their Facebook page. These posts are always fun, and are often the most liked and shared on the page. All the administrator needs to do is post the photo and write a quick caption.

    Bottom line: your customers can save you time and give you the inside scoop on which content best suits them.

  1. Your History

    #tbt! Does your company keep copies of old newsletters? What about old photos, past versions of your products or old videos? All of this content can be resurrected to serve your current content efforts.For example, one of our clients has been in business for over 100 years. We regularly help them publish their vintage advertising campaigns, past photos and previous product iterations on both Social Media and their website. Customers appreciate these glimpses into the past, because they know they’re getting a quality product with a long history of success.

  1. Your Processes Your Processes

    How are your products made? Are there aspects of your production you could show customers? What about how you take calls? What part of “behind the scenes” might your customers like to know and understand? Do you have an interesting inter-office culture you could showcase? What about a specific event or charity your employees like to support?Transparency, when possible, is a powerful way to build trust with your customers. While you may not be able to show exactly how a product makes it from point A to point B, you might be able to show what it looks like when you pack a box to ship, or how a salesperson greets a customer.

    One of our clients will sometimes show through photos what a window installation looks like on a home. Customers appreciate this insight of the service because it both shows how knowledgeable our client is, and takes some of the mystery out of the service itself.

    Want more ideas on how to generate content for your business? Sign-up for our next Breakfast Bootcamp on Content Ideation!

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