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9 Google Analytics Tips to Improve Your Marketing

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social media toolsDo you use Google Analytics?

Are you leveraging the many apps that work with Google Analytics?

Integrating data from third-party tools, plugins and platforms with Google Analytics helps you gain insight about your online marketing efforts.

In this article I’ll share nine tips to help you get more out of Google Analytics.

google analytics tools and tips

Improve your marketing with these tools and tips for Google Analytics.

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#1: Add Google Analytics to WordPress

You can easily add Google Analytics to your self-hosted WordPress website using the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin.

The plugin lets you configure advanced features such as tracking outbound clicks, downloads and internal links that redirect to external websites; for example, affiliate links you create using your own domain (yourdomain.com/affiliate/product).

You can also use it to ignore traffic from admins and other users, track search results pages and 404 pages.

Yoast’s premium version offers more advanced features, such as tracking views per author, views per post type and other specific dimensions.

#2: Integrate All Analytics Platforms

If you want to combine Google Analytics data with additional analytics tools and platforms to gain insights about your traffic, try Segment. The platform allows you to manage data from over 100 different advertising, analytics, developer, marketing, sales, support and user testing platforms in one place.

segment integrations

Choose which platforms you’ll track analytics for.

Simply install one piece of tracking code on your website, and the rest of the tracking codes from any platforms you choose are managed by Segment.

Segment offers a free plan for using Google Analytics with 20 other specific platforms. Premium plans for more platform integrations start at $29 per month, based on the integrations you need.

#3: Visualize Google Analytics Data

It’s possible to view and compare data from multiple websites at the same time in Google Analytics with a tool like Cyfe.

Use Cyfe dashboards to show an overview of all of your websites’ pageviews, sessions and users, then analyze the data to identify bigger trends in:

  • Conversions, traffic sources, bounce rate and location of users
  • Traffic from search engines and social networks
  • Real-time traffic, including users, location of users, traffic sources and content they’re currently viewing
cyfe dashboard display

Display data from multiple websites.

You can even use it to create dashboards with a detailed view of your websites’ real-time traffic, including users, location of users, traffic sources and content they’re currently viewing.

cyfe real-time dashboard display

Display real-time data from multiple websites.

With a premium upgrade, you can create unlimited dashboards and widgets from over 50 advertising, analytics, blogging, email, sales, SEO, social media and support platforms for only $19 per month.

#4: Learn About Email Marketing Traffic

Want to link your email marketing efforts to the traffic in Google Analytics? Email marketing platforms such as MailChimp, GetResponse, Constant Contact and Vertical Response allow you to track traffic from links in your emails to your email campaigns.

For example, MailChimp lets you check one box to add UTM parameters to links when you create an email campaign so you can view traffic from those links inside Google Analytics. You can also set up Google Analytics tracking for your automation emails and campaign archive pages.

add utm parameter tracking in mailchimp

Automatically add UTM parameters to your email campaign links.

#5: Link Social and Website Engagement

If you use social media management tools like Buffer, Hootsuite and Oktopost to publish and schedule updates to your top social media networks, you’ll benefit from linking them to Google Analytics.

Link Hootsuite and you get an overview report with your Google Analytics data along with the social updates you published through Hootsuite. One custom report is included with the $9.99 per month pro plan.

integrate hootsuite and google analytics

Track the social engagement from Hootsuite updates.

With Buffer, you can customize the UTM parameters you use to track custom campaigns within Google Analytics so they match the updates you publish through Buffer. This option is included in the Buffer for business plans starting at $50 per month.

integrating buffer with google analytics

Track Buffer campaigns with Google Analytics.

In Oktopost, you can enable Google Analytics to automatically add UTM parameters to any link you publish as a part of an Oktopost campaign. This option is included in the Oktopost premium plans starting at $49 per month.

integrating oktopost campaigns with google analytics

Get insights from Oktopost campaigns with Google Analytics.

#6: Find Out if Google Updates Affect Your Website

Add the Fruition Google Penalty Checker to analyze data from your Google Analytics account and determine if your website has been affected positively or negatively by Google updates.

fruition data report

Easily find out how the latest Google updates affect your website.

You can sign up for a free account to see how past Google algorithm changes (Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, etc.) and updates such as the removal of authorship pictures from search results or knowledge box appearance have affected your website.

If you want to see information about updates from the last three months, upgrade to a premium plan starting at $75 per month for an analysis of up to five websites.

#7: Discover Your (Not Provided) Keywords

For search engine marketers, the loss of keyword data in Google Analytics was a tragedy. Various tools like AuthorityLabs are trying to recapture that data again.

AuthorityLabs not only monitors your search engine rankings, it now integrates with Google Analytics and other data points to determine what keywords are driving visitors to your website.

keyword not provided report

Now you can get insights on keywords no longer provided in Google Analytics.

You can use this data to create or optimize landing pages and website content to better target for new keywords.

Premium plans including Google Analytics integration and the not provided keywords report start at $49 per month for up to 50 domains.

#8: Get Insights From Split Testing

You can integrate split testing tools like Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely with Google Analytics to track the traffic you receive to your campaigns. For example, Visual Website Optimizer shows reports like this for your split testing campaigns.

split testing report

Check your split testing insights in Google Analytics.

Need a custom split testing report? Optimizely lets you create reports like this for your campaigns.

landing page experiment report

Find landing page experiment data.

#9: Link Ecommerce Sales Data

Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento and Bigcommerce offer detailed instructions on how to integrate with Google Analytics to get insights from ecommerce tracking reports.

shopify ecommerce traffic report

Track your ecommerce data.

These reports can help you learn a lot about your ecommerce revenue, from which products generate the most revenue to the top traffic sources that send visitors who ultimately purchase your products.

Conclusion

Google Analytics integration isn’t limited to ecommerce, search, social media and testing tools. To find an integration not listed in this article, do a Google search for the tool or platform you use, plus “Google Analytics.” You can also find integrations for Google Analytics from Tapstream, Freshdesk, Zendesk and Formstack.

What do you think? Are you interested in getting additional insights into your website traffic? What are your favorite Google Analytics tips? What have you learned from them? Please share in the comments!

Related Posts

Get Your Seattle Exploration on at MozCon 2016!

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MozCon is fast approaching us! On September 12-14—just two weeks away—1,400 online marketers will descend on Seattle, ready to learn about SEO, content, Google Tag Manager, conversion rate optimization, and so much more. We’ve got fewer than 60 tickets left, so grab yours now.

Buy your MozCon 2016 ticket!

If you haven’t done so, check out all the learning! This post is geared toward the things you can do when MozCon sessions aren’t happening.

Cindy Krum on the MozCon 2015 stage


Places you’ll want to go as recommended by Mozzers

While you’re in Seattle, we want to make sure you have a fabulous time. Seattle in September is beautiful. It’s still sunny outside, and it’s the time of year people come to Seattle and then want to move here. So we’ve complied a list of great activities and restaurants:

Sights


Brian Childs

Gasworks Park

“Incredible views of the city, float planes landing overhead, Space Needle in the background, Ivar’s Clam Chowder down the street, bikes all over the place.”

Brian Childs


Megan SingleyVolunteer Park

“This is my favorite place in all of Seattle! Stroll around the park and stop in the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the conservatory, then climb to the top of the water tower for an incredible view. You can also walk through the graveyard and see Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee’s grave. After all that walking, hop over to the adorable and delicious Volunteer Park Cafe.”

Megan Singley


James DaughertyElliott Bay Trail

“Amazing views, has a mini gravel beach, and lots of park space. Great for running and cycling. I ride my bike along EBT nearly everyday to Moz, and I fall in love with city over and over again.”

James Daugherty


Maura HubbellAlki Beach

“Alki is a beautiful walk with a spectacular view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. It’s got some good restaurants, and even a little history as the site of the original settlement.”

Maura Hubbell


Rachel MooreDiscovery Park

“If you’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest (or even if you have!), Discovery Park on a clear day is a great place to see the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier, and to get some quality forest walking done all in one fell swoop. Plus, it’s 20 minutes from downtown! (Pro tip: For the easiest view access, park in the lot on W Emerson just before 43rd Ave W.)”

Rachel Moore


Felicia CrawfordGreen Lake

“People of every ilk converge to exercise, feed ducks, play with dogs, and covet the dogs of others.”

Felicia Crawford


Activities, tours, and museums


Emily Smollen

The Underground Tour

“What a great way to hear about and experience early-Seattle’s history!”

Emily Smollen


Alyson MurphyFerry to Bainbridge Island

“Seattle is surrounded by water and mountains. The ferry is the easiest way to experience that scenery. The view of the city is amazing too!”

Alyson Murphy


Jo CameronThe Pinball Museum

“It is special to me because I’ve only been to Seattle once, as I work remotely in the UK. It was a joy the see how strong the love for pinball is in Seattle. The Pinball Museum houses the world’s biggest pinball machine, and it is really something to behold; it’s like hugging a dining room table.”

Jo Cameron


Restaurants and bars


Nicelle Herron

Linda’s

“Laid back, good music, cheap food, and nice people.”

Nicelle Herron


Chiaryn MirandaCyclops

“If you are a vegetarian (or love vegetarian food), the Happy Hippy Burger is a must. It is not only the best veggie burger in Seattle, but it’s the best I have ever had. Cyclops also has great drinks and food for the omnivores, too.”

Chiaryn Miranda


Jess StipePie Bar

“This hole in the wall has it all! Pie Bar serves up warm, freshly baked slices of heaven with a pint of bliss. Savory pies, sweet pies, pietinis, craft spirits, and beer…all nestled in an elegant, cozy venue where you won’t have to shout over a crowd 3-hipsters-deep to order. And if you’re done with your pie and ready for some pinball and arcade games, John John’s Game Room is directly next door!”

Jess Stipe


Tawny CaseOddfellows Cafe

“This hip little eatery has some awesomely tasty foods, a sweet little private back patio, a laidback atmosphere, and awesome drinks. Plus, it’s right in the heart of Capitol Hill, one of my favorite ‘hoods in the city.”

Tawny Case


Bonus! Lightning suggestions:


Brian Childs’ recommendation corner

“I put this Google map together for friends visiting the city. Includes lots of breweries, bars, restaurants, and things to do: Get the info!


Official MozCon evening events

For all our evening events, make sure to bring your conference badge AND your US ID or your passport.


Monday Night MozCrawl

From 7:00pm – 10:00pm, you can head to all the stops at your own pace and in any order. Visit all the stops, fill out your punch card, and return it to the swag store on Tuesday morning to enter to win a golden Roger!

Making new friends at MozCon 2015


Tuesday MozCon Ignite

If you’re looking for networking, this is event for you! Join us at from 7:00-10:00pm at McCaw Hall for a night of networking and five-minute, Ignite-style passion talks from your fellow attendees. This year, our talks will range from information and unique to heartwarming and life changing. You don’t want to miss this MozCon night.

  • 7:00-8:00pm Networking
  • 8:00-8:05pm Introduction with Geraldine DeRuiter
  • 8:05-8:10pm Help! I Can’t Stop Sweating – Hyperhidrosis with Adam Melson at Seer Interactive
  • 8:10-8:15pm A Plane Hacker’s Guide to Cheap *Luxury* Travel with Ed Fry at Hull.io
  • 8:15-8:20pm Life Lessons Learned as a Special Needs Parent with Adrian Vender at Internet Marketing Inc
  • 8:20-8:25pm How to Start an Underground Restaurant in Your Home with Nadya Khoja at Venngage Inc.
  • 8:25-8:30pm Embracing Fear, Potential Failure, and Plain Ol’ Discomfort with Daisy Quaker at AMSOIL INC.
  • 8:30-8:35pm How Pieces of Paper Can Change Lives with Anneke Kurt Godlewski at Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC
  • 8:35-8:40pm Is Your Family Time for Sale? with Michael Cottam at Visual Itineraries
  • 8:40-9:20pm Networking with desserts and refreshments
  • 9:20-9:25pm Prison and a Girl that Loves Puppies with Caitlin Boroden at DragonSearch
  • 9:25-9:30pm Embracing Awkward: The Tale of a 5′ 10″ 6th Grader with Hannah Cooley at Seer Interactive
  • 9:35-9:40pm Finding Myself in Fiction: LGBTQUIA Stories with Lisa Hunt at Moz
  • 9:40-9:45pm Wooly Bits: Exploring the Binary of Yarn with Lindsay Dayton LaShell at Diamond + Branch Marketing Group
  • 9:45-9:50pm How a Cartoon Saved My Life with Steve Hammer at RankHammer
  • 9:50-9:55pm Flood Survival: Lessons from the Streets of ATL with Sarah Lively at Nebo Agency
  • 9:55-10:00pm Hornets, Soba, & Friends: A Race in Japan with Kevin Smythe at Moz

MozCon Ignite


Wednesday Night Bash!

From 7:00-12:00 midnight: Bowling, pool, Jenga, a slow-motion booth, a photo booth, karaoke, cupcakes, food, drinks, and more! You don’t want to miss our annual bash.

Rent some bowling shoes and go for a turkey. Sing your heart out just like you recently joined Journey. Snap photos with your friends while wearing silly hats. Show off how much of a ringer you are at pool. Get into a chicken strip-eating contest. Hang out with your new MozCon friends one last time, and celebrate all the learning!

Ryan and Char at MozCon Bash 2015


Birds of a Feather lunch tables

If you want to spend your lunchtime getting great advice from your fellow attendees about online marketing or meet people in your specialty, check out our birds of a feather lunch tables:

Monday, September 12

Tuesday, September 13

  • Local Search hosted by George Freitag at Moz
  • Growth Hacking hosted by Brittanie MacLean at Realty Austin
  • Continuing Marketing Education hosted by Rachel Goodman Moore at Moz
  • Marketing Automation hosted by Ed Fry at Hull.io
  • How to Smartly Mix Search and Content to Aid Overall Business Strategy by Ronell Smith at Ronell Smith Consulting
  • E-Commerce SEO hosted by Everett Sizemore at Inflow
  • SERP Features hosted by Jon White at Moz
  • Technical SEO hosted by Bill Sebald at Greenlane Search Marketing

Wednesday, September 14

  • Google Penalties hosted by Michael Cottam at Visual Itineraries
  • Advanced SEO hosted by Britney Muller at Moz
  • Marketing for USA Manufacturing Companies hosted by Crystal Hunt at Grassroots Fabric Pots
  • Work-Life Balance hosted by Keri Morgret at Inbound.org
  • Local Search hosted by George Freitag at Moz
  • Marketing Automation hosted by Ed Fry at Hull.io
  • Content Marketing hosted by Trevor Klein at Moz

Birds of a feather MozCon table from 2015


Track your steps while networking and cheer on your fellow attendees!


Play Roger Patrol!

Ready for some friendly competition between your fellow attendees? We’ve built a special MozCon game just for you. You’ll play as starship, part of Roger Patrol! Try and beat the top score on Roger Patrol video game by zapping asteroids, destroying evil spaceships, and protecting Roger Mozbot’s universe. We’ll provide a download link for attendees, and you’ll also find three arcade-style boxes of the game throughout the MozCon venue.


Visit our Partner Hub, get your photo taken with Roger, and more arcade-style fun

As you head up to registration, entering MozCon, you won’t want to miss all the activities around you and happening when the conference isn’t in active session.


Say hello to our Partners

Every sulk through an exhibitor hall with your head down like you’re in middle school again? Us too. Which is why at MozCon, we wanted to do something different. Our invite-only partners are not only respectful, but we’ve vetted their activities and their products to make sure they are useful to you. So say hello, and we promise you might instead get a postcard to send home, a t-shirt, or a special MozCon coin.

STAT's partner hub from MozCon 2015

Our great partners:


Stop each day at the Swag Store!

After the first day, Registration will be transformed into a swag store. You don’t want to miss out on these goodies. On Tuesday, you’ll be able to pick up your official MozCon 2016 t-shirt. On Wednesday, you’ll get your own Lego Roger.

Lego Roger Mozbot


Meet Mozzers to give feedback or Ask an SEO

Make sure to stop by the Moz Hub. We’ll be there to answer your questions about Moz Pro and Moz Local. Learn about our latest offerings and updates. Get insights into how best to use the tools.

And by popular demand, we’ve added Ask an SEO. Mozzers and Associates with expertise in SEO will be there to answer your burning search questions and kickstart you with new ideas for your search campaigns.


Play the Roger claw machine

We’re bringing back the plushie claw machine! If you missed out getting one of our plushie Roger Mozbots, or you just need another as a small child or pet decided Roger was their best friend, now’s your chance. In order to play, you must visit one of our Partners or the Moz Hub for a special shiny coin. Then take that coin to the claw machine!

Don’t worry, we’ve put a TAGFEE spell on this machine, so you may find it a little easier than the ones in the malls of your childhood. 😉


Take a photo with Roger Mozbot

A MozCon tradition you won’t want to miss. Get your annual photo (or maybe it’s your first!) taken with the cuddliest robot in the galaxy, Roger Mozbot.

Erica and Jacob over the years with Roger Mozbot


Donate to charity, on us!

Open up your Monday swag kit and inside you’ll find $5 Roger bucks. You get to donate this to one of three charities (charities selected by Mozzers):

Roger Mozbot will then count the bucks and write a check to each charity.


Push pin world map

Ever play pin the tail on the donkey? Well, this is like that, but pin the spot where you are from, minus the blindfold.


In Seattle on Thursday post-MozCon? We have MozPlex tours.

Every wonder where Roger Mozbot lives? Or heard of the stories of cereal bars and rooms named after starships and robots? Is is true that Mozzers have sit/stand desks? Don’t miss out on our Office Tours on Thursday 9/15. Sign up for your time slot.

Glenn at the MozPlex


Even more fun in Seattle

Don’t miss our posts from years past, which are full of restaurant, activity, and more recommendations: 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.


Activities happening around Seattle from Saturday, September 10 – Sunday, September 18


If you’re looking to connect with fellow attendees, please join our MozCon Facebook Group.

Buy your MozCon 2016 ticket!

11 Common (and Avoidable!) Content Marketing Mistakes, As Explained by Memes

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Content-marketing-mistakes

Question: How do you get better at content marketing?

Answer: You learn from your mistakes.

Follow-up Question: What’s even better than learning from your mistakes?

Answer: Learning from other people’s mistakes.

If you’re looking for bad content marketing, it’s a buyer’s market. Every brand is a publishing company now. Some are doing amazing work. Most are…not so much.

While bad content may not be of value to its target audience, it definitely is useful for content marketers looking to improve.

I know it’s no fun thinking about the (sometimes costly) mistakes content marketers make. And I definitely don’t want anyone to feel bad who has made these mistakes in the past. We’re not here to shame anyone; we’re here to do better.

So to lessen the negative emotional impact of these harsh lessons, I’m enlisting some of my favorite memes to help teach them.

11 Common Content Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them:

#1: The Random Act of Content

Dog Wearing Glasses at Computer Confused by Lack of Content Marketing Strategy

The Mistake: Content without strategy is like a baby deer on a frozen lake: lots of motion, but no progress. Yet many marketers are still slip-sliding around.

Don’t make me quote the B2B Benchmarks stats again, people. You know it’s true. A majority of marketers are creating and releasing content that serves no immediate purpose, has no measurable goal, and is not part of a larger whole.

How to Avoid It: First, it’s important to recognize that it is possible to directly measure the effectiveness of content marketing. Then, before you create a single new piece of content, create a content strategy that features concrete goals and the metrics you will measure to evaluate progress.

 

#2: The Lightweight

Milton from Office Space Lamenting Low Value Content Marketing

The Mistake: The old-school content strategy was to go broad and shallow. Copywriters would churn out 250-500 words on any topic their audience conceivably could be searching for. It didn’t matter if the content delivered on the headline’s promise—what mattered was driving traffic.

That’s a tactic that won’t fly anymore. Search engines are evaluating the quality of the copy, and the way readers react to it, to determine rankings.

How to Avoid It: Focus on the few topics that are of greatest interest to your highest-value reader. Don’t worry about attracting the attention of thousands of people who will hit your content and bounce—create something valuable for the dozens who will read it and buy.

 

#3: The Island

Austin Powers Lives Dangerously with Poor Content Marketing Strategy

The Mistake: Even the most in-depth piece of content is unlikely to address every aspect of a topic. Yet marketers still publish content without a single link to a related post, or suggestions for further reading. The more time customers spend on site, the more likely they are to take a next step with your company. So it’s worth giving them a reason to stay.

How to Avoid It: As you write, look for opportunities to crosslink the reader to other valuable content. For example, that content strategy link up in the first entry leads to another blog post. It’s relevant, it’s useful, and it entices the reader to stick around.

 

#4: The Enstuffening
A Squirrel Stuffs a Nut into Its Cheek to Symbolize Keyword Stuffing in Content Marketing

The Mistake: Until recently, SEO was built around keywords. You find the word or phrase your audience might use, then stuff it in as many times as you can make it fit. As with lightweight content, it worked for a while—but no one was really happy with the arrangement. 

How to Avoid It: Search engines are now far more concerned with user behavior than keywords. Bake in your SEO by writing informative content that answers the reader’s question. You can start with a keyword, but use it as a jumping-off point to create content that resonates.

 

#5: The Sloppy Joe
Boromir from Lord of the Rings Encourages Content Marketing Proofreading

The Mistake: As publishing content gets more and more simple, it’s easy to sidestep the gatekeepers of language, spelling and grammar.

That’s a good thing overall, but can lead to beautifully-designed assets marred by typos, or blog posts with phrases so convoluted they’re impossible to parse. Sloppy copy can damage your brand’s credibility and cause readers to bounce.

How to Avoid It: Treat every bit of content you create, regardless of the channel or format, as though it were a multinational ad with millions of dollars behind it. Even if it’s a post for your personal blog or your LinkedIn Profile. If you don’t have the patience (or a patient friend) to edit, these tools can help.

 

#6: The Great Wall of Text

A Skeleton Reading Bad Content Marketing Waits for a Paragraph Break

The Mistake: We were trained early on to write in big blocks of text. The problem is, big blocks of text are torturous to read on a screen—especially on a small mobile device.

How to Avoid It: Optimize your text for digital consumption (which sounds like a disease, but means “reading stuff on a screen”). Use paragraph breaks every 2-3 sentences, wherever there would be a logical pause. Like here:

Include headers to provide a skimmable set of highlights for your piece as well. Readers will check out the headers before they decide to commit to reading the whole thing. If you don’t have these signposts, the reader will frequently opt out.

 

#7: The Eye Exam

Morpheus from the Matrix on Content Marketing Tactics

The Mistake: Repurposing content is a fantastic habit to get into (more on that later). But sometimes what works in one format doesn’t quite work in another.

The slides from your presentation looked great on a 10-foot screen, but on SlideShare they’re illegible. Or the infographic you made looks awesome—until it’s compressed into a tiny window on your blog.

How to Avoid It: Make sure to adapt content rather than just putting it in a new wrapper. You can use those presentation slides to inform a new SlideShare presentation, for example, with less text, more visual interest, and a firm CTA to your blog.

 

#8:The Post and Pray
Julie Andrews from Sound of Music Laments her Lack of Content Marketing Success

The Mistake: So you create an amazing content asset that speaks directly to your audience’s needs. You promote it on your social channels and optimize it for search. Then you wait for the likes and shares to come pouring in…and you wait. And wait.

How to Avoid It: It’s no secret that social platforms are increasingly pay-to-play. It’s simply not enough to rely on organic sharing and search—if you believe in the content, it’s worth putting a few dollars behind it. Start with the channel your audience uses the most, make a minimum investment, and optimize from there. 

 

#9: The Authority Gap
Sarcastic Bear Says Your Content Marketing Lacks Credibility

The Mistake: You know that you’re a reliable resource for your content. So you naturally expect your audience to find you credible, too. Unfortunately, your target audience may not yet know how trustworthy you are.

How to Avoid It: There are plenty of ways to add credibility to content. Cite statistics from a respected industry source. Curate quotes from trusted individuals in your field (and don’t forget to let them know you quoted them). Even better, reach out to influencers to co-create content.

 

#10: The One and Done
Xzibit Encourages Content Marketing Repurposing

The Mistake: After pouring blood, sweat, tears and coffee into a great piece of content, it’s easy to publish it, forget about it, and move on. You may check to see if it’s gaining traction, but in general, you’re so over it. It’s an understandable attitude that leads to a lot of wasted content potential.

How to Avoid It: Repurpose your content by personalizing it for a different audience, changing the format, refreshing the stats, and more. Roll several pieces into an eBook. Turn the eBook into a SlideShare presentation (with legible text). Your content can find a new audience with every iteration.

 

#11: The Maze of Gates
Buzz and Woody Lament Gated Content Marketing

The Mistake: A potential customer sees a promising headline for what looks like a fun, entertaining read. They click through—only to see a subscription pop-up before they can start reading. Or a contact form for a download. They’re not ready to make a commitment, so they bounce.

How to Avoid It: Many smart marketers are experimenting with 100% ungated content. Whether that strategy would work for you depends on your audience. Regardless, it’s important to have plenty of top-of-funnel ungated content to pull in casual readers. Entertain them, offer value, then ask for a next step.

Even the Greatest Make Mistakes

If you’re currently making any of these mistakes, good news! That means you have some untapped potential to unleash. Use these as a checklist for making your marketing more effective.

If you have successfully avoided all eleven of these, congratulations! Your next move is harder: You get to go out and make all new mistakes that we all can learn from. I’ll be failing and learning right along with you.

What was your most educational marketing mistake? Tell me your story in the comments.

5 Ways to Enhance YouTube Videos for Marketers

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social media how toDo you use YouTube for your business?

Looking for ways to create more visibility for your videos?

YouTube offers a number of helpful features to optimize your videos for more views, subscribers, or conversions.

In this article, you’ll discover five ways to improve the performance of your YouTube videos.

optimize youtube videos

Discover five ways for marketers to enhance YouTube video performance.

#1: Add a Watermark to Your Videos

Good branding can help you build trust with your YouTube audience and increase awareness for your business. You can convey your brand message with a single image or logo targeting your audience.

YouTube branding is done mainly through the watermark feature. The branding should represent the content on the channel. To add the branding watermark to your videos, go to My Channel and click on the gear icon next to the Subscribe button.

youtube add watermark

Click the gear icon to the left of the Subscribe button.

Click on Advanced Settings.

youtube add watermark

Click the Advanced Settings link.

On the left, click on Branding under the Channel section. Then click Add a Watermark on the right.

youtube add watermark

Click Add a Watermark.

Next, click the Choose File button and navigate to your watermark file. This watermark will appear on all of your uploaded videos across all of your devices.

youtube add watermark

Upload your watermark.

Now when viewers watch your video on a desktop, they can hover over the watermark and click to subscribe to your channel.

youtube watermark example

Viewers can hover over the watermark to subscribe to your channel.

To track the performance of your branding watermark, look at the Annotations report in your YouTube Analytics. You can view CTR, impressions, clickable impressions, closeable impressions, close rate, and clicks.

youtube annotations report

The Annotations report shows the CTR (blue line) and the close rate (orange line).

Here are some additional branding tactics that can help improve your CTR:

Upload a channel banner. The channel banner helps attract viewers to your video. The banner should be as relevant to the channel content as possible.

Add a channel icon. The channel icon must be a good size. Place it to the left of the channel banner.

Create custom thumbnails. The video thumbnail is typically the first impression of your video that users who arrive via search will get. It needs to be clear, attractive, and relevant to the content of the video. Consider making and uploading your own custom thumbnails, instead of using the default ones created by YouTube.

#2: Use Directional Cues to Draw Attention to Your Call to Action

From the time we’re born, we’re trained to follow cues/arrows directing us to what we should look at or move toward. This is why directional cues are so effective.

On YouTube, directional cues can include arrows, photos, or videos of people looking at or pointing to your call-to-action (CTA) buttons. These cues create an immediate and almost automatic interest in what viewers are being directed toward (your CTA).

youtube directional cue

This directional cue points viewers to the Subscribe button.

The Barnacules Nerdgasm channel effectively uses directional cues at the end of their YouTube videos. Pointing to the Subscribe button draws the viewer’s attention to it.

#3: Add Keywords to Titles, Tags, and Descriptions

To optimize your videos for search, you’ll need to research which keywords and phrases your audience is looking for. For individual videos, it’s a good idea to go for long-tail keywords that are more descriptive. Additionally, try to leverage current trends to direct interest to your videos.

The LinusTechTips YouTube channel includes videos with carefully crafted titles and descriptions.

youtube search results

Use relevant keywords in your video titles and descriptions.

Once you have some relevant keywords and keyword phrases, you need to incorporate them into your title and description.

In your title, use words that drive action and highlight the benefits of watching the video. For example, you can encourage clicks with phrases that suggest lists, like “7 ways to…” or “How to…” or “The best…” In the description, add links to your products or website. Be sure to include “http://” with your website links so that they’re clickable.

youtube video description

Make sure you include “http://” in your links so they’re clickable.

Also add tags and prioritize them according to their relevance or importance based on the keywords and keyword phrases.

#4: Add Annotations and CTA Overlays

Using attractive annotations can compel viewers to watch more of your videos and ultimately become subscribers.

Create an Annotation

Annotations are interactive pop-ups (not ads) that you can add to your videos. With annotations, you can layer links, text, and hotspots on your video. They enrich the video with engagement, interactivity, and information.

Deciding where to add your annotation is important. Most YouTube viewers have short attention spans, so if you place the annotation in the wrong spot, they could easily leave the video. Typically the best place to add an annotation is at the end of the video.

youtube video annotation example

Typically the end of your video is the best place to add an annotation.

Before you add an annotation, make sure that you have external linking turned on. To do this, check that your YouTube account is verified and your channel is in good standing with YouTube.

To add an annotation, go to the Video Manager, click the drop-down arrow next to Edit, and select Annotations from the menu.

youtube add annotation

Click the drop-down arrow next to Edit and select Annotations.

Click Add Annotation and select the annotation you want to add. After you fill in the details for your annotation, click Apply Changes.

youtube add annotation

Select the type of annotation you want to add.

Create a CTA Overlay

CTA overlays are ads that you place in your YouTube videos. You need to have a Google AdWords account to use them, and the overlays are subject to review by the Google AdWords program.

The CTA overlay appears at the bottom of the player when the video begins and remains visible until the viewer closes the overlay. When users click on a CTA overlay, they’re directed to a website or to another video or promotion. Note that you can have only one CTA overlay in a video.

To create a CTA overlay, log into your AdWords account or sign up if you haven’t done so already.

google adwords signup

Sign up for an AdWords account if you don’t already have one.

Ensure your YouTube account is linked to the AdWords account. If your account is not linked, click the gear icon next to your account name at the top right of the page and then click on Linked Accounts and choose YouTube.

To set up your first campaign, fill in the fields that are displayed. Select the Video Campaign option on the Campaigns tab and select the video to which you want to add a CTA overlay. On the Videos tab, select Edit Call to Action, enter the CTA information, and click Save.

#5: Add Subtitles and Closed Captions

Adding captions and subtitles to your YouTube videos can help you reach a wider audience, including the hearing-impaired and people who speak other languages.

There are several ways to do this. You can use YouTube’s automatic subtitles or closed captions (CC) feature, but it may not give you the best results. The other option is to create your own subtitles or closed captions from within YouTube or with a tool like Dotsub.

For whichever method you choose, go to the Video Manager, click on the drop-down arrow next to the Edit button, and select Subtitles & CC.

youtube captions and subtitles

In the Video Manager, click the drop-down arrow next to Edit and select Subtitles & CC.

Set the video language that is spoken most in the video.

youtube captions and subtitles

Select the language used in the original video.

Next, select how you want to add or edit subtitles or closed captions.

youtube captions and subtitles

Select the method you’ll use to add closed captions or subtitles.

Finally, follow the prompts to complete the setup process.

Conclusion

Each of the tips above can help you succeed in your YouTube marketing campaigns. Be sure to maintain good tracking and analytic reports so you’ll be able to make educated and data-driven decisions moving forward.

What do you think? Have you tried some of these techniques to improve your YouTube marketing campaigns? What tactics work for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Tips on five ways to enhance the performance of your YouTube videos.

Tips on five ways to enhance the performance of your YouTube videos.

Related Posts

Combining Email and Facebook for a Dynamite Ecommerce Marketing Campaign

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Most people view email marketing and social advertising as two separate entities, and I’ll be honest, I used to think that as well. However, I’ve discovered that combining multiple different avenues for a coherent marketing campaign yields some pretty impressive results.

We’ve tried this tactic before at Directive Consulting, combining SEO and PPC; but in this blog post, I’m going to break down a few ways to combine email and social advertising for multi-channel success.

More specifically, you’ll learn:

  • How to create custom and lookalike audiences on Facebook from an email list
  • Best practices for launching email and social campaigns simultaneously
  • How we used this tactic to increase overall sessions and revenue
  • Some additional strategies to take your ecommerce campaigns to the next level

Using email lists to create Custom Audiences on Facebook

Most (if not all) ecommerce stores require an email address when completing a purchase, and many times you can see what item the person bought. Keeping an organized and segmented email list is the first step to social advertising success. If you’re an online clothing store that specializes in creative t-shirts for men and women, create individual lists segmenting categories (e.g., sports, funny, and cute) and gender. If you’re using a CRM such as Hubspot, Mailchimp, or Salesforce, you can export these contact lists as .CSV files and then upload those to Facebook under the “Audiences” section using Ads Manager.

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When logging onto your Ads Manager or Business Manager account, go to your ad account and select the drop-down hamburger menu in the top left-hand corner.

If “Audiences” doesn’t appear in the “Frequently Used” section, hit “All tools” and you’ll find it under the “Assets” section.

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After clicking on “create custom audience,” you’ll need to select the “customer file” section and then “choose a file or copy” and you’ll be prompted to upload your .CSV file into Facebook.

Facebook will then match up the emails with actual Facebook users (you can expect anywhere from a 20% – 70% match rate), but with ecommerce those numbers tend to be on the higher side.

Using email lists to create Facebook Audiences

Another great feature of Facebook ads is the ability to create lookalike audiences from previously uploaded email lists. Facebook will match up the corresponding profiles of your email lists with a broader group of people who have similar profiles based on interests, demographics, and behaviors. As long as your email list consists of more than 100 people, Facebook will be able to create a lookalike audience. Obviously, though, the more people you have in the original email list, the more similar the lookalike audience will be (because Facebook will have more data to pull from.)

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When you create your lookalike audience, you select a country and choose anywhere from 1% – 10% of a country’s population.

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But you don’t have to stop there. Once you have a lookalike audience (we usually use the 10% option so we capture the most people), you can layer additional targeting on top of the lookalike. For the clothing store example, you could take the audience of 20 million and add additional behavior targeting of men’s fashion buyers and online buyers. Now that’s a specific audience!

Launching simultaneous campaigns for maximum reach

Now how can you tie together email marketing and social advertising for optimal reach?

Anytime an ecommerce shop launches a promotion or sale, they send out an email blast.

I usually check my email in the morning, see the promotion, and then promptly forget about it five minutes later. It’s common knowledge that every opportunity needs multiple touches before they end up converting to a sale, but sending three emails a day promoting a sale is a good way to lose a lot of subscribers.

The solution? Launch a social promotion targeted at your specific email list. Then ramp up the budget to ensure that every person sees your ad at least once during the campaign. A good way to do this is by looking at the estimated reach when creating an ad campaign and making sure your budget is high enough that the estimated reach per day matches up with the amount of people on your email list.

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We used this tactic with a client of ours who sells collectable banknotes from countries all around the world.

Their most popular is the Zimbabwean $100 trillion dollar banknote, so they ran a promotion for 10% off. We didn’t segment the audiences like I mentioned earlier, because they were only promoting one country’s banknote, but we did create two different ad images as well as a carousel ad so we could target everyone in the list with multiple products for the same price.

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While you may think this is an obnoxious ad and the red circle and arrow is overkill, this ad actually performed the best out of all of them, generating over 180 clicks in three days with a CTR of 8.7%. Little touches like this really draw in your audience’s attention and can lead to much higher engagement.

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Carousel ads are great for ecommerce shops because they can show off multiple products without increasing the price of your campaigns. We recently switched over to carousel ads for a client of ours who builds custom fences and had 3,000% more sessions on the site from the carousel ads.

We launched these ads for a three-day period while the sale was running and combed it with an email blast that went out at the beginning of the sale. These are the results we saw when comparing the week of the promotion to the previous week:

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We saw our sessions go up, as well as the pages per session and average session duration. We didn’t have a single transaction from Facebook the previous week, but had four during the sale, generating enough revenue to easily cover the cost of that campaign.

Another interesting thing we saw was that the email didn’t directly lead to any sales. I’m not saying it had no effect on the sales that week, but only launching an email campaign wouldn’t have had the same impact as combining these two platforms and working together to create additional touches throughout the sale period.

Additional strategies

1. Use lookalike audiences

For the above example, we only targeted our custom audience of email subscribers (the sale was a special promo just for those customers). But taking it even further, creating a broader audience from the lookalike audience would have been a great audience to target, as well.

What better way to introduce your brand and product to a potential customer than immediately offering a sale? You can also further target these audiences to get extremely specific. For our banknote client, our targeted lookalike audience looks something like this:

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2. Create a new segmented list for sale buyers

If you’re launching a promotion for a sale using this tactic, segment each new email address you receive into its own list titled “sale buyers.” There’s a chance these people have been wanting to buy your product all along and finally waited until a sale came along to do it, but more likely, these people are impulse shoppers who made a purchase because of the exclusivity of the deal you’re promoting. This now gives you a list of customers that you know make purchases during sales, and you can test out other promotional deals later on. If you don’t offer free shipping regularly, have a two-day period when you do, and target these specific people.

3. Use Twitter as another platform to target your audience

Twitter is another social platform that gives you the ability to upload a .CSV of email addresses, and matches up twitter profiles with those corresponding emails.

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In the Twitter Ads platform, go to “Tools” and then “Audience manager.”

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Head over to “Create new audience” and upload your own .CSV, just like you did for Facebook. (A word of warning: You do need 500 or more matches for Twitter to allow you to use the audience for promotions.)

For ecommerce, most people will use their personal email for Twitter as well as buying a product, so this shouldn’t be an issue with a big enough email list.

Now it’s your turn

Now you’re prepared to launch a robust and successful email and social advertising campaign.

Remember, it’s important to ensure your budget aligns with the amount of people you’re trying to reach, and to use eye-popping images to catch your audience’s attention. Let me know in the comments if these tactics worked for you, or if you have any additional strategies for email and social success!

10 Free On-Demand Webinars Every Marketer Should Check Out

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On-Demand-webinars

Everything in the digital marketing world seems to move at light speed. And like most things in life, just when you think you have it all figured out, everything changes.

As a result, we marketers need to stay sharp, flexible and inspired. We need to make a concerted effort to stay on top of industry news and trends in order to grow our brands and keep pace with the competition. We need to be lifelong learnersand on-demand webinars can be incredible tools to help us do all this and more.

Not only do on-demand webinars help you learn new things and refine your skill set, but because they’re archived events you can listen and learn at your own pace and on your own schedule.

But with literally thousands of on-demand webinars out there, where do you start?

My best advice would be to target your most immediate learning needs and move on from there. From SEO and content to email and social media, below is a compilation of 10 free on-demand webinars that could be a great starting point.

Content Marketing

#1 – How to Be the Best Answer in Marketing: What We Learned from Analyzing 600K Posts

BuzzSumo

TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden joins BuzzSumo’s Steve Rayson for a webinar to discuss what it takes to be the best answer for your audience—whenever and wherever they’re searching.

You’ll learn:

  • The benefits of answer posts
  • How to identify customer questions
  • What it takes to be the best answer
  • The best answer formats
  • 10 elements of a good answer post

Watch the webinar on YouTube.

#2 – Republishing: How to Earn Greater Value from the Content You Create

Moz

You’re publishing great content. But are you getting all the value you can out of that content? In this hyper-tactical Mozinar, Moz founder Rand Fishkin “will show marketers which channels and processes may be useful depending on the types of content they create and are re-purposing.”

Get more details or register to watch.

Influencer Marketing

#3 – Secrets of B2B Content Marketing Success with Influencers

Uberflip and TopRank Marketing

Influencer marketing is a hot topic in the marketing world these days. TopRank Marketing’s Lee Odden joins Uberflip’s Hana Abaza for this webinar dedicated to helping B2B marketers create better better content that gets shared more often, reaches more prospects and grows their influencer network.

You’ll learn:

  • How to identify, qualify and recruit the right influencers
  • How to use the ‘Attract, Engage, Convert’ model for influencer and content performance optimization
  • Best and worst practices when working with influencers on an ongoing basis

Get more details or register to watch.

#4 – Team Up With Social Media Influencers

Cision

Social media and influencer marketing are two powerful digital marketing tactics. But what happens when they work together? Cision’s Natalia Dykyj and Stacey Miller walk you through how to use social media to build mutually-beneficial relationships with the influencers your audience trusts.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Grow closer to your audience by targeting key influencers
  • Identify relevant contacts using the right tools
  • Build rapport with social media best practices
  • Get on influencers’ radars by engaging across mediums

Get more details or watch.

Email Marketing

#5 – Email Marketing Tips, Tricks and Trends from Brands Winning The Inbox

Content Marketing Institute

While email marketing is one of the oldest digital marketing tactics, it’s still one of the most effective when it’s done right. Content Marketing Strategist Jamie Bradley, of email marketing software company Emma, and CMI’s Joe Pulizzi team up in this webinar to get your creative juices flowing.

You’ll learn:

  • How to craft signup forms, subject lines, and CTAs that actually convert
  • How to combine automation and dynamic content for a more personal content strategy
  • How top brands create a cohesive experience from their website to the inbox—and back again


Get more details or register to watch.

SEO

#6 – The Future of Search Engine Optimization: 5 Ways to Adapt Your Content for 2016

Content Marketing Institute

Evolution in search engines means an evolution in how marketers optimize their content for search. This webinar featuring CMI’s Joe Pulizzi and Co-founder & Strategic Director of Orbit Media Andy Crestodina, will walk you through the five most important actions for aligning your efforts with the future of SEO.

You’ll learn:

  • How to target topics, not just phrases (Semantic Search)
  • How to incorporate natural language into your content (Voice Search)
  • How to make visitors happy in ways that make Google happy (User Interaction Signals)
  • How to build a network that builds your links (Domain Authority)
  • How to adapt to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (Content and Design)

Get more details or register to watch.

Social Media Marketing

#7 – 10 Steps to Make Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Rock

Marketo

Two of Marketo’s Social Media rockstars, Lisa Marcyes and Scott Minor, lead learners through the latest advancements in social media and give tips for leveraging each platform in a way that hits the right notes with your audience. The hour-long webinar can be watched with commentary and also has a SlideShare version to make it easy to download and reference in the future.

You’ll get tips for:

  • Leveraging social media to drive engagement with your audience
  • Incorporating social media marketing into every stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Effectively measuring social media marketing to determine real business ROI

Get more details or watch.

#8 – Video Goes Social: Why Video Marketing Matters—and How to Do It Right

Hootsuite

The visual nature of the human species has never been more evident than it is right now. As a result, videos are booming on social media channels right now. This Hootsuite webinar features a great lineup of speakers including: Paul Gillooly, Monster’s Director of Digital Communication and Social Media, social media thought leader Mari Smith, and Hootsuite’s own Senior Director of Growth Marketing & Education Cameron Uganec.

You’ll learn:

  • Why you need to move to a video-centric mindset for your social strategy
  • Effective ways to create (and find) engaging video content to share
  • How other brands are using video successfully—and what you can learn from their results

Get more details or register to watch.

Analytics

#9 – The Future of Marketing ROI—30 Minutes to Understand the Future of Marketing Analytics

Nielsen

If you’re looking to discover the best way to measure the return on your marketing efforts, this webinar from Nielsen is for you. In this webinar, marketing analytics expert Josh Kowal shares findings from the Digital Media Consortium II and Nielsen’s perspective on the present and future of marketing ROI analytics.

Get more details or register to watch.

Digital Advertising 

#10 – How To Qualify Your PPC Traffic & Increase Conversions

Unbounce

In this webinar from Unbounce, PPC leader Brad Geddes explains how to optimize your AdWords campaigns to drive the most qualified leads possible to your landing pages.

You’ll learn:

  • How to optimize your ads by device
  • What ad testing metrics you should use
  • How to test with very little data
  • How to test ads and landing pages at the same time

Get more details or register to watch.

The Takeaway: Choose to Learn

The major takeaway here is that in order to be a successful marketer, ongoing learning is key—and there are thousands of webinars out there that are ready and waiting to be watched. As New York Times best-selling author Brian Herbert wrote: “The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The willingness to learn is a choice.”

Choose to learn, marketers. You’ll feel energized, confident and inspired.

Is there an on-demand webinar that you would recommend to other marketers? Share your suggestions and thoughts in the comments section below.

25 Tools for Social Media Marketers

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social media toolsWant to simplify your daily social media marketing tasks?

Looking for a list of helpful apps and tools?

The right apps can make a world of difference in the life of a busy social media marketer.

In this article, you’ll discover 25 of the top tools and apps shared on the Social Media Marketing podcast.

top marketing tools and apps

Discover 25 top apps and tools for social media marketers.

#1: Smartmockups

Smartmockups is a site that lets designers and marketers present something they created in context on a device, such as a desktop, laptop, or smartphone. For example, if you want to illustrate to your readers how one of your digital products looks on a smartphone, take a screenshot from your phone and then insert it onto a stock image of a phone on Smartmockups.

smartmockups

Use Smartmockups to create professional graphics to display.

Scroll through the different options they have for their mockups. Then upload the image you want to work with. You may download the final mockup in small, medium, large, or original sizes.

All of the images on Smartmockups are royalty-free for use in personal and commercial projects. Bloggers and marketers can use Smartmockups to make their work look more professional.

#2: Zoom

Zoom is an easy-to-use tool that lets you host audio or video meetings and include screen sharing, even from your iPhone or iPad. The setup is quick and you can have up to 50 people in a meeting for up to 40 minutes on the free plan. Simply send people the link to your meeting room with the code to get in and you can be right there waiting for them.

zoom

Zoom is a wonderful tool for online meetings.

Zoom is accessible on desktop and mobile, and you get a bunch of the features for free right up front. There’s also a pro level plan that’s $14.99 per month, a business level for $19.99 per month, and an enterprise plan.

#3: Listomatic

Listomatic is a free iOS mobile app that helps you create and manage Twitter lists on the go.

Listomatic

Listomatic helps you create and manage Twitter lists from your iOS device.

The app uses a system of tags you define to suggest people for lists you already have and makes it very easy to access your lists. It’s quicker, easier, and much more organized than managing lists inside Twitter.

The best thing about Twitter lists is that you can use them to organize your Twitter feed into groups of accounts that have things in common. For example, if you follow a lot of people in technology or social media, put them all on one list. You can even create a private Twitter list of potential clients or competitors you want to track.

#4: TinyPNG.com

If you need a way to compress large image files for your website without reducing the visual quality of the image, check out TinyPNG.com. Drop your graphics into the header of this website and it will radically shrink the size of the images.

Go to TinyPNG.com, and you can drop in up to 20 JPEG or PNG images for processing at one time. I’ve found that I can save up to 60% to 70% of the file size when I use this tool to compress images.

TinyPNG

TinyPNG shrinks your image files without reducing the quality.

Use it to reduce the size of very large images that are optimized for Facebook Open Graph or Pinterest and you’ll speed up the load time of your site for mobile devices. It even works for transparent PNG files.

TinyPNG.com is free, but if you like it, they sell a WordPress plugin that will automatically process image files on your website when you upload them to the media library. You can compress a set number of images for free each month before they charge a small fee.

#5: MotionMail

Have you ever noticed the countdown timer in the promotional emails we occasionally send you? Ever wanted to use one yourself?

Michael Hyatt told me about MotionMail and it’s what we use to display that live countdown timer in our emails. It’s a great way to give a sense of urgency to messages about a sale or promotion that ends on a certain day.

motionmail app

Add a countdown time to emails with the MotionMail app.

Here’s how it works: You choose from a number of different looks for your countdown timer, put in the date and time of expiration, and a graphic is auto-generated for you. Simply paste the embed code into your email, and you’ll have an animated image showing the countdown.

MotionMail ranges from free for 20,000 email opens a month, $10 per month for 100,000 email opens, $60 per month for 700,000 email opens, to $200 per month for 2.8 million email opens.

#6: 30/30

Want an app to help you better manage and structure your time? Check out 30/30.

3030 app

The 30/30 app allows you to set tasks in intervals to better manage your time.

The app uses the philosophy behind the Pomodoro method: doing things in intervals, which helps you maintain focus on the task at hand. Essentially you do 30 minutes of work and then take a 30-minute break (or whatever time period is reasonable for you).

30/30 has icons for email, books, music, photos, social networks, checklists, etc., that you can use to line up in personalized workflows. For example, set up 25 minutes of email and then have the next interval be a five-minute break, then repeat that email segment or begin another task segment such as checking Facebook or Twitter.

Each time you’ve completed a segment, the app’s timer notifies you with an alarm. While you’re working, you can see how much time you have left in your current interval and which interval is next. You can even hit Pause if you have to take a phone call or attend to something urgent.

The app is for iOS devices and you can get it for free on 3030.binaryhammer.com or in the iOS app store.

#7: Gboard

Gboard is a digital keyboard from Google designed to improve your experience with surfing, chatting, texting, and more on your mobile device. Swap it for the keyboard currently on your mobile device for all sorts of functionality: search for GIFs or emojis, enable swiping, and more.

Other Gboard features will save you tons of time. For example, if you need to search for something while you’re texting with someone, you can click the “G” Google icon, and a search bar opens up in the keyboard. Do the search, find what you’re looking for, and then tap the result to put it into the message without ever exiting the texting app.

This works for any app, whether you’re typing an email, sending a text message, or composing a note. The idea being that you don’t have to flip back and forth between the apps; Google has essentially integrated a search function right into the keyboard.

Currently available for iOS (the Android version is in progress), Gboard is free in the app store.

#9: iOgrapher

Between Facebook Live, Periscope, and whatever’s next, we’re posting more video from smartphones, and the folks at iOgrapher recently sent me their equipment to try out.

The iOgrapher case lets you place your iPhone or iPad into a handheld rig that also has room for a telephoto or wide-angle lens, a light, and a microphone. You can then hook it up to a tripod or carry it in your hands.

iOgrapher

Turn your smartphone into a filmmaker’s dream setup with gear from iOgrapher.

I’ve done some Facebook Live video with it, and we’re using it during location shoots for Social Media Marketing World. It’s a dream for anyone doing a lot of video on the go.

You can check out cases and other accessories at iOgrapher.com.

#10: Little Voices

Little Voices is an iOS app for Twitter. Log in with your Twitter account and it removes from your Twitter stream all tweets that have images, links, or replies from other users. You only see what’s left, which are the tweets that contain only text.

little voices

Little Voices removes the clutter from tweets to better allow for conversations.

Little Voices is a great way to cut through the visual noise of Twitter and get right to who’s saying what in text so you can start a conversation.

When you go into the app, the little green typewriter shows up on the right, and there’s literally one stream that strips out anything that isn’t text. Click the typewriter to easily create a tweet, but only in text.

Check it out for free in the Apple App Store.

#11: Photo Gallery by Web-Dorado

Want a WordPress photo gallery plugin that’s responsive and looks great on desktop and mobile? I’ve finally found one called Photo Gallery by Web-Dorado.

photo gallery by web dorado

The Photo Gallery by Web-Dorado WordPress plugin is responsive and looks great.

After you install the plugin, you simply create a photo gallery and drag in as many pictures as you want. Then use a shortcode to embed the photo gallery in a page on your website.

From a user’s perspective, it’s easy to navigate. When the cursor hovers over an image, the image gets a smidge larger, so users know they can click on it. After they click on an image to open the gallery, they can click through the images one by one, move forward or backward in the gallery, hit the Play button to watch a slideshow version, or exit the gallery altogether.

It looks great on desktop and smartphone. If you want to see it in action, we’ve got a gallery over on the SMMW16.com Agenda page.

The WordPress Photo Gallery plugin by Web-Dorado offers a free basic version, with upgrades and add-on features starting at $30.

#12: Spark Post

Looking for a mobile graphics app that lets you go beyond basic square images and quote graphics? Spark Post is a free iOS app from the makers of Photoshop and Illustrator that lets you create quality graphics from your mobile device.

Spark Post lets you save your projects, which is not a typical function for a mobile graphics app, and also connects to any Adobe Creative Cloud storage you use.

adobe post app

Create awesome graphics with the Adobe Spark Post app.

Spark Post has free high-quality photos you can use in your images and uses magic text, which means you can change the size and layout of your text quickly and easily by putting your finger down and dragging it. There are even some professionally designed templates available.

Now you don’t have to be a professional designer to create quality graphics on the go.

#13: Younity

Younity, a free iOS and Android app, lets you access all of the files on your computer’s hard drive (music, video, photos, documents) from your mobile device without having to use a cloud service.

younity

Access all of the files on your computer from your smartphone with the Younity app.

Install Younity on your computer (desktop or laptop), and then install the app on your phone or tablet. Create an account, log in, and Younity scans your entire computer for files. When it’s done, the file structure from your computer shows up exactly the same way on your mobile app device.

#14: NewShareCounts.com

Want to make your Twitter shares visible again? Try NewShareCounts.com.

newsharecounts app

Use NewShareCounts.com to show Twitter share counts on your posts.

To use it, you simply add a piece of code to every page on your website. When someone visits your website, the Twitter share number displays a few seconds after a post loads.

The free tool interfaces with the official Twitter button, SumoMe, AddThis, Shareaholic, Social Warfare, Jetpack, and other plugins.

#15: Anchor

Anchor.fm lets you instantly broadcast bit-sized audio clips to the world, as well as react to them in the app.

Using your phone, you can record 2-minute audio clips and talk about anything: ask questions, make a statement, and so on. Then you can tag people in the post and/or write a description, and post it on Anchor. After that, you can tweet it, share to Facebook, or embed the audio files (called waves) into blog posts. And because Anchor is integrated with Twitter, it’s easy to find friends and search contacts on your phone.

anchor.fm

Anchor.fm is an audio social network.

You don’t need to be on the free app to listen to someone’s wave audio file, but it helps. After you listen to a wave on your phone, you can hit the Reply button and then you have a minute to respond to the original audio or to anyone who has replied in the thread. For example, Podcast Answer Man Cliff Ravenscraft did an “Ask Me Anything” using Anchor and had people send him one-minute questions.

#16: New OCR

New OCR (optical character recognition) is a free web tool that helps you take text from an image and paste it into a document, so you’re able to work with it.

new ocr

New OCR is a free online tool that converts image text.

This works with images (JPEG, PNG, GIF, bitmap, TIFF) and PDFs. Click to choose and upload the file to NewOCR.com, hit Preview, and then select the text you want work with. Once you do that, click to download it or edit online.

There are no fees for this service, just advertisements in the sidebar.

#17: Boomerang

Boomerang for Gmail is a browser plugin for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox that works with regular Gmail and Google apps. Boomerang works on the web and on your iOS mobile device, and the developers are working on an Android app version. You can watch the demo here.

Install Boomerang and you can write an email and schedule it to send later. You can also set Boomerang up to let you know if someone hasn’t responded to your email by a certain date, and then give you a reminder to send it again.

boomerang app

Boomerang for Gmail allows you to schedule emails. Plus, you can set reminders, snooze emails for later, and more.

Another helpful feature is the snooze functionality. If you know there’s a message you want to deal with later in the day, mark it and it will come back at the time you specify.

Boomerang offers a free basic version (10 messages per month), with upgrades and add-on features starting at $4.99 per month.

#18: Fluid Browser

Fluid Browser, which is currently available only for Mac desktops, is much more than a browser. When you use it to bring up a URL, set the size of the browser window to be full screen or smaller, and then make it transparent, so you can see through it. Use it to load PDFs, images, or movie files into your Fluid Browser.

fluid browser

Watch a video while you work with Fluid Browser.

For example, you can open up a tutorial video, and play it in the browser as you follow along and do the work on your desktop screen. This is especially helpful if you have a small computer screen since Fluid Browser gives you the ability to work underneath it.

You can find Fluid Browser in the Mac App Store for $2.99.

#19: Unsplash

Unsplash is a website where you can get free high-resolution photos to use in your social media marketing, blog posts, and social posts. All of the images are licensed under creative commons and there’s a very large selection.

Unsplash adds 10 new high-resolution photos to their collection every 10 days and each one is categorized and organized by collection. Collections include Food (also known as All You Can Eat), Work, Summer, Creatures, Adventure, and more.

unsplash

Unsplash has numerous collections of free high-resolution photos.

Social marketers can go in and search for appropriate visual imagery to go with their blog posts. Whether you’re looking for an outdoors image or office picture, Unsplash will have it, and all of the images are beautiful.

You can submit your own photos, too! Go to Unsplash.com for more information.

#20: Music for Makers

Podcasters, content creators, and video creators are always looking for really cool background music that’s royalty- and commercial-free to use. Music for Makers is a new resource. After you subscribe with your email address, they send you a free song once a week.

It’s original music that’s copyright- and royalty-free, so you can use it in personal and commercial projects.

music for makers

Subscribe to Music for Makers and get a free song every week.

MusicforMakers.com sends music from every different genre or mood, and you can search by different instruments. And it’s high quality. Music ranges from electronic to atmospheric. Plus there are different lengths of songs; for example, if a song is too long, there’s a shorter version available.

They have pro features, too. You get 50+ songs for just under $9 per month or an annual fee of $100.

#21: LibreStock

LibreStock searches 43 free stock photo websites at the same time.

Head over to LibreStock.com. Type in what you’re searching for and it collects everything in one place. Then just start scrolling through. Once you find an image you like, it says “Download at…”, and gives you the name of the site where that photo resides.

librestock

LibreStock allows you to search all free stock photo sites at once.

Rather than spend your time searching your two or three favorite libraries individually, type in the search once. LibreStock streamlines the process. It’s keyword-based, simple, and straightforward. Also, when you hover over the images in the search results, it gives you metadata in the form of hashtags. Search further by clicking on the hashtags.

#22: Copied

Copied is a full-featured clipboard manager that saves you a ton of time if you have content on your phone that you need to work with on your laptop (or vice versa).

Copied automatically captures and saves the things you copy, whether it’s a URL, an image, or a text paragraph, onto your clipboard and syncs them via iCloud. That way, you can use them on all devices.

copied app

The Copied app allows you see what you’ve copied on all Mac devices.

Most of the time if you have something on your computer that you want to put on your phone, you need to text it or email it to yourself. Plus, sometimes you want to copy a few different things and not go back and forth among different tabs. This keeps everything in one place.

You can create rules so only things copied from certain apps get saved. For instance, you can tell it not to save copied passwords from your password manager.

Copied is Mac- and iOS-based. The Mac app is $7.99 and the iOS app is free.

#23: Google Photos

Google Photos, which is an app that works on both iOS and Android, allows unlimited uploads of your photos into the Cloud.

If you have a Google account, you can upload full-resolution photos from your phone and it takes up space on your Google account. However, if you upload your pics as high-resolution images, it’s unlimited and it’s free.

google photos

Upload, organize, and search your images with Google Photos.

Not only does uploading your images to Google Photos free up space on your mobile device, the search is amazing. It allows you to easily locate exactly whatever you want.

Google’s smart algorithm looks at your pictures and labels them. For example, I can look at the cities Google thinks are in my library and zoom in on them. I can type in and search for mountain shots, screenshots, or selfies; look for things like food, sky, and long hair; and search for activities like concerts, stadiums, backpacking, birthdays, Christmas, and Halloween.

When you do a search for someone and then click on a face, all of the pictures you’ve ever taken of that person are shown.

Google Photos allows you to rapidly locate things you’re interested in. If you’re looking for something in the past and don’t remember when it happened, previously you needed to scroll through thousands of pictures to figure it out. Now, all you need to do is search inside the Google Photos app.

#24: Quitter for Mac

Quitter for Mac saves time and resources by shutting down inactive programs on your computer.

Marketers tend to open a lot of applications and keep them running, which slows down the computer. With Quitter for Mac, you can set certain apps to quit or hide after a certain amount of inactivity. For example, if you have Slack open all day and are about to go to lunch, you can set it to go off after 10 or 15 minutes.

quitter for mac

Set Quitter for Mac to shut down programs after a certain amount of inactive time.

Quitter for Mac, a free app, runs in the menu bar after you download and install it. To create rules, hit the plus sign, select an app that you run all of the time, and determine whether you want to quit it or hide it. Then type in a number for how many minutes you want it to wait before it shuts down.

#25: GhostCodes

GhostCodes is a discovery app for Snapchat. People sometimes feel that it’s hard to find friends and other interesting people to follow on Snapchat. GhostCodes solves that problem.

ghostcodes

Find people to follow on Snapchat through GhostCodes.

Download and then go into the app. Next, craft a Snapchat profile. Add your snapcode, a bio, and keywords for what you do or snap about. For instance, let others know if you’re an artist, musician, storyteller, podcaster, etc. From there, people can search for and find you, then download your snapcode and add you on Snapchat.

People can click and give you a heart, which ranks you in certain categories. The more rankings, clicks, downloads of your snapcode, likes, and hearts, the more likely you’ll be discovered.

Go to GhostCodes.com to get the links to the Apple App and Google Play stores so you can download the app. It’s completely free and very helpful.

Over to You

The tools social media marketers use are constantly evolving to help us do our jobs more effectively and efficiently. Each of the tools, tips, and apps above can help you save time and work smarter. Try a couple of them to see how they make a difference in your daily work.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these tools, apps, or tips? What social media tools and apps have you found useful? Please share them in the comments below.

Tips on 25 top tools and apps for busy social media marketers.

Tips on 25 top tools and apps for busy social media marketers.

Related Posts

9 Ways to Work Celebrations Into Your Social Media Marketing

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social media how toLooking for a new way to connect with your audience?

Wondering how to publish posts that generate strong engagement?

Most marketers plan to post on national holidays, but forget to include some unique and fun days that might appeal more directly to their followers.

In this article, you’ll discover nine holidays and observances to add to your social media marketing calendar.

celebrate holidays with social media

Discover nine ways to add celebrations into your social media marketing.

#1: National Smile Day

By celebrating National Smile Day on October 3, you can encourage people to post selfies of their smiles, to make a random person smile, or you can post jokes to engage your audience. If you happen to be running a dentist’s social accounts, this is the best promotion day ever.

national smile day social post example

Dentists love National Smile Day.

National Smile Day is a great opportunity for any business to spread goodwill and create a positive engagement experience for their fans and followers.

#2: Local Celebrations

If your business has a local presence, it’s smart to include local holidays and observances in your social media content plan. It’s called SoLoMo: social, local, mobile marketing.

The mobile part is important, because you want to grab people on the go to get them to act on a promotion or deal, or to be aware that they’re near a business that might interest them. So it’s important to have your social profile completely populated, have Google Maps activated, and post relevant and engaging content that appeals to local social media users.

Obviously, Facebook ads can help you out, but if you don’t want to spend the money but still want to attract locals, jump on an event in your area and make clever use of hashtags.

Mellow Mushroom, a pizza restaurant chain, doesn’t actually call itself a chain. It calls itself a “collection” of restaurants because each location is locally owned and operated. Owners are encouraged to make their restaurants totally original, so no two Mellow Mushroom restaurants look the same.

local celebration social post example

Mellow Mushroom in New Orleans appealed to #MardiGras celebrants with a King Cake pretzel post that was relevant, current, and associated with a local observation.

The corporate entity encourages its collection of restaurants to interact with the community, and that’s usually easy, since local people are the owners. SoLoMo is crucial for franchises, but it’s also pretty important for any business that wants local foot traffic.

#3: President’s Day

It’s amazing that anyone could forget President’s Day, since practically every car dealership has a sale that day. However, you’d be surprised at how many other types of businesses forget about it. Retailers rely on President’s Day because the holiday season has passed, and goodness knows people need a reason to shop.

Since brick-and-mortar retailers tend to have sales on President’s Day, it may not be a bad idea to run an online ad campaign that day. You can do it to promote an in-person deal or an online deal. Get patriotic with your images and reach out to your audience with a great sale or promotion.

presidents day social post example

Insert your logo here! President’s Day sales can work for almost any brand or service.

#4: Celebrity Birthdays and Milestone Events

Celebrity and notable birthdays and anniversaries are useful materials for social posts, especially if you have a day that you’re light on content. Depending on the celebrity or notable event you choose, you could spark a lot of user engagement on a seemingly random day for social media.

Think about celebrities or events that relate to your business. Or if your business has a long history, publish a #TBT or #FBF post related to a notable event in your business’s story. This is a great way to appeal to your fans’ sense of nostalgia, and it will speak to your longevity and legacy.

Volkswagen did a clever social media campaign across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They posted the photo below with the caption that they found the first selfie in history, and that Volkswagen was there. Is it true? Who cares? The image is great, the brand features prominently, and it’s a tongue-in-cheek play on brand legacy.

milestone event social post example

#TBT can be a powerful hashtag, especially when you get creative.

Volkswagen has the long history to pull that off, but not all businesses can. If this type of tactic doesn’t work for your brand, try a famous person’s birthday to touch your audience.

#5: National Compliment Day

This made-up holiday observed on January 24 is a great opportunity to reach out to individual followers. You can post a simple prompt encouraging people to compliment each other or to tag each other with a compliment.

Alternatively, you can start a hashtag campaign, like Honest Tea did in 2014. They also released this nifty infographic at the time.

national compliment day

What better way to amp up National Compliment Day than to tell people all about compliments?

The campaign was a hit and the tradition continues today.

national compliment day social post example

The campaign is going strong and more people know about National Compliment Day thanks to Honest Tea.

This campaign is a great example of a brand embracing a holiday and making it their own. Your business can find one too, or you can always encourage your fans and followers to be nicer to each other via compliments. Kindness never falls out of fashion.

#6: Make Up Your Own Holiday Day

Can you say “perfect opportunity”? Each year on March 26, Make Up Your Own Holiday Day brings the end-all, be-all opportunity for a campaign that can help you establish, grow, or further define your business’s identity. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for engagement, as you can encourage your followers to make up their very own holidays.

Some days go with brands, regardless of whether the brand makes them up. For example, Netflix has Netflix and Chill Day. They got the idea from dating apps, which is proof that you can find good marketing ideas almost anywhere. And Chipotle came up with National Avocado Emoji Appreciation Day.

And the list goes on. To get a jump on the “create your own holiday” vibe, use March 26 to encourage fans and followers to make up their own holidays and post to your page about it, or go ahead and make up your own brand holiday.

made-up holiday social post example

Your only limit is your imagination.

There are of course lots of actual and made-up holidays out there. You can check out holiday websites or some social media tools’ holiday templates for ideas.

#7: April Fools’ Day

Many marketers skip April Fools’ Day because they’re afraid it will drive business away. That’s not true if you do it right. Mainly, you need to be careful and you really need to know your audience.

April Fools’ Day is very much a “don’t trust anyone” sort of day, and it’s important that you have fun without betraying your fans’ trust.

Amazon did it right when they rolled out an April Fools’ prank the day after they announced their new Dash button. When users logged into Amazon.com on April 1, 2015, they saw this:

amazon april fools day prank

Amazon redesigned the homepage to look like it did the day Amazon launched in 1999.

In addition to the retro look, all of the recommendations were April Fools’ Day pranks too. Amazon only carried it so far, though; clicking any link would take people to the real site. Notice how they included the “circa 1999” badge, and they have a clear headline that says “Hello, Amazon.com has gone retro – April Fools?” This told users that they were looking at an April Fools’ prank, and nobody got mad at Amazon.

#8: Halloween

Some brands simply refuse to post on Halloween, and that’s a shame. Most social media users get into Halloween, and it’s a great time to run a cutest costume contest, encourage people to share images, and more.

Big businesses get into Halloween, too. In 2013, on the heels of the Carrie reboot, Tide created a Halloween vine that was both funny and relevant to the season and the movie.

ask a stupid question day social post example

Tide got it right for Halloween.

Whether you decide to spoof a holiday trope or go with a costume contest or other fan engagement tool, don’t leave Halloween off of your social media calendar.

#9: Ask a Stupid Question Day

Ask a Stupid Question Day on September 28 provides a great engagement post opportunity for educational institutions, specialized niches, and more. Ask a question relevant to your industry, gamifying your social page for a day. Or ask a simple question that entices people to your brand, like Edy’s did.

ask a stupid question day social post example

A great visual image with the hashtag #askastupidquestionday made an effective Facebook post for Edy’s Ice Cream.

Or take this opportunity to open up a dialogue about your brand, like Sheetz did.

ask a stupid question day social post example

This simple question prompted lots of user engagement.

If you expand the comments on this post, you see that a lot of users extolled the virtues of Sheetz. One fan even said that if you went to heaven there was a Sheetz, but in the other place there’s a competitor.

The post also got some complaints, to which a Sheetz social media manager responded immediately with help. If you’re going to put your brand out there, be ready to provide customer service to any naysayers or people with complaints.

Final Thoughts

Keeping an eye on opportunities in the holiday and trend space for social content can only mean good things for your engagement and good responses from your users. These opportunities offer easy solutions to engaging with large audiences.

What do you think? Can you use these ideas to amp up your social media content? Do you have other holiday ideas to share? Please let us know in the comments below!

Tips on nine ways to include celebrations in your social media marketing calendar.

Tips on nine ways to include celebrations in your social media marketing calendar.

Related Posts

The Two-Part SEO Ranking Model: Let’s Make SEO Simple

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There sure is a lot of interest in SEO ranking factors:

There have been major studies done on this, notably by both Moz and Searchmetrics. These are groundbreaking pieces of research, and if you’re serious about SEO, you need to understand what these studies say.

That said, these are too complex for most organizations to deal with. They need a simpler way of looking at things. At Stone Temple Consulting (STC) we deal with many different types of organizations, including some of the world’s largest companies, and some of the highest-traffic websites in the world. For most of these companies, understanding that there are 200+ ranking factors does more harm than good.

Why, you ask? So many people I talk to are looking for a silver bullet. They want to hear that they should only change their heading tags on the second Tuesday of every month, except during leap years, when they should do it on the first Tuesday, except in February when they should change it on the third Monday. These distractions end up taking away from the focus on the two things that matter most: building great content (and a great content experience) and promoting it well.

Today’s post is going to lay out a basic approach that most companies can use to simplify their thinking about SEO, and keep their focus on the highest priorities.

What Google recently said

Here’s what Google Dublin’s Andrey Lippatsev said in a Hangout that I participated in on March 23, 2016. Also participating in the Hangout was Ammon Johns, who asked Andrey what the two most important ranking factors are:

Andrey Lippatsev: Yes. Absolutely. I can tell you what they are. It is content and links going into your site.

There we go, that’s a start. According to Google, it’s links and content that are the two biggest. Hopefully, the idea that content is a big factor is obvious, but below I’ll break out more what great content really entails. In addition, you can see some backup for the power of links in the study I recently published on links as a ranking factor.

Should we think of the world as consisting only of these two factors? It’s quite simplistic, and possibly too much so, but let’s try to simplify this even more. How many organizations would dramatically improve their SEO if they focused on creating great content and promoting it effectively? I can tell you that from my experience these are two things that many organizations simply don’t do.

Does that mean that we can take our two factors and put them into a (purely) hypothetical ranking score equation that looks like this?

I actually think that this equation is pretty effective, though it has some limitations and omissions that I’ll describe in more detail below. You also need to think about the concept of “great content,” that will get a high Content Score, in the correct manner.

What is “great content?”

If we step back and think about what makes up great content, it seems to me that there are three major components that matter:

  1. Relevancy
  2. Quality
  3. The overall content experience

The first part of this is simple. If the content is not relevant to a query, it shouldn’t rank for that query, ever. That makes sense, right?

The second part is also pretty simple, and that’s the notion of quality. Does it provide information that people are looking for? Is that information relatively unique to your site? Clearly, it makes sense for the quality of the content to matter a lot.

We can combine the notions of quality and relative uniqueness into the notion of material differentiation. Rand covers this brilliantly in his Whiteboard Friday about creating 10X content.

Creating the 220,001st article on how to make French toast is just not going to cut it:

You need to create something new and compelling that also offers a lot of value. That may not be easy, but being the best at something never is.

If you’re in a competitive market, it’s reasonable to guess that your top competitors are making great, relevant content on topics that matter to their target audience. For the most important queries, it’s probable that the top 5 (and maybe more) pieces of content in that space are really, really good (i.e. more comprehensive than other articles on the topic, or brings in new information that others don’t have).

The third part encompasses many pieces.

  • Is your content well-organized and easy to read?
  • Does it effectively communicate its key points? How do people engage with it? If they land on a page on your site that has the answer to their question, can they quickly and easily find that information?

Once again, you’ll find that the major competitors that rank in the top of the SERPs all handle this pretty well too.

Let’s now take a look at what the role of the content score in ranking might look like:

Note that the Y-axis is “Chances of Ranking,” as opposed to “Ranking.” Nonetheless, this curve suggests that the Content Score is a big one, and that makes sense. Only the best of the best stuff should rank. It’s simple.

Digging a bit deeper on what goes into content quality

But what about title tags? Heading tags, use of synonyms? Page layout and design? Stop and think about it for a moment. Aren’t those all either part of creating higher-quality content, or making that content easier to consume?

You bet.

For example, imagine that I wrote this piece of content:

It could be the greatest information in the world, but it’s going to be really hard for users to read, and it will probably have terrible user engagement signals. On the other hand, imagine that my content looks like this:

Would you say the quality of one of these pieces of content is higher? I would. The second one is much easier to read, and therefore will deliver more value to users. It will get better engagement, and yes, it will probably get linked to more often.

Why do links get separate treatment?

You could argue that links are just another measurement of content quality, and there is some truth to that, but we give them separate treatment in this discussion for two reasons:

1. They’re still the best measurement of authority.

Yes, I know I’m ruffling some feathers now, but this is what my experience after more than 15 years in SEO (and seeing hundreds of SEO campaigns) has taught me. To get and sustain a link, someone has to have a website, has to be willing to modify that website, and they have to be willing to have their site’s visitors click on the link to leave their site and go to yours.

That’s a pretty material commitment on the linking site’s part, and the only incentive they have to do that is if they believe that your content is of value to their site’s visitors.

Why not social signals? While I’ve long argued that they have no impact except for aiding in content discovery, let’s for sake of argument say that I’m wrong, and there is some impact here, and explain why social signals can never be a critical part of the Google algo. It’s simple: social signals are under the control of third-party companies that can make them invisible to Google on a moment’s notice (and remember that Google and Facebook are NOT friends). Imagine Google giving Facebook (or any other 3rd party) the power to break their algorithm whenever they want. Not happening!

2. The power of links should cause different actions on your part.

What is that action? It’s called marketing, and within that discipline is the concept of content marketing. Done the right way, these are things you should do to raise the reputation and visibility of your brand.

In fact, this may consume a material amount of your entire company budget. With or without search engines in the world, you’ve always wanted to do two things:

(1) Make really good stuff, and

(2) market it effectively.

In 2016, and beyond, this will not change.

No doubt, part of attracting great links is to produce great content, but there are other overt actions involved to tell the world about that great content, such as active outreach programs.

Expanding on user engagement

Many have speculated that Google is using user engagement signals as a ranking factor, and that it will increase its investment in these areas over time. For example, what about click-through rate (CTR)? I discuss CTR as a ranking factor here, but to net it out simply, it’s just too easy a signal to game, and Google tells us that it uses CTR measurements as a quality control check on other ranking signals, rather than as a direct signal.

You can doubt Google’s statements about this, but if you own or publish a website, you probably get many emails a week offering to sell you links via one scheme or another. However, you never get emails offering you CTR ranking schemes. Why is that, you think? It’s because even the scammers and spammers don’t think it works.

Important note: Rand has done many live CTR tests and a number of these have shown some short-term rankings movement, so CTR could be used in some manner to discover hot trends/news, but still not be a core ranking factor.

What about other user engagement signals? I’d bet that Google is, in fact, doing some things with user engagement signals, though it’s hard to be sure what they are. It’s not likely to be as simple as bounce rate, or its cousin, pogosticking.

Pogosticking sure seems like a good signal until you realize there are many scenarios where they don’t work at all. For example, when users are comparison shopping, they’ll naturally hop from site to site.

Finding good user engagement factors that make for really reliable signals is quite hard. Many have speculated that artificial intelligence/machine learning will be used to derive these types of factors. Here are three pieces of content that cover that topic in some detail:

  1. The Machine Learning Revolution: How it Works and its Impact on SEO, an article here on Moz by yours truly
  2. SEO in a Two-Algorithm World, a Powerpoint by Rand Fishkin
  3. The Past, Present, and Future of SEO, an article by Mike Grehan

Information architecture

Having a solid information architecture (IA) that Google can crawl and easily find your content is also a major requirement. In Andrey Lippatsev’s response, he undoubtedly presumed that this was in good shape, but it would be wrong to leave this out of this discussion.

At Stone Temple Consulting, we’ve helped tons of sites improve their organic traffic simply by working on their IA, eliminating excessive page counts, improving their use of SEO tags like rel=canonical, and things of this nature. This is clearly a big factor as well. Usability also feeds into IA, because people need to be able to find what they’re looking for on your site.

What I’ve left out with the two-factor model

First of all, there are other types of results, such as images, videos, and maps results, that are opportunities to get on the first page, but the above discussion is focused on how to rank in regular web search results.

To be fair, even in the regular web results, I’ve left some things out. Here are some examples of those:

  1. Local links. I’m not referring to “local pack” listings here. If I search on “digital cameras” right now, in the regular web search results, I’ll see some listings for stores near me. Clearly, proximity is a very large factor in ranking those pages.
  2. Query deserves diversity. An example of this is the query “Jaguar.” Chances are that my two-factor algorithm would rank only car sites in the top 10, but Google knows that many people that type that query want information on the animal. So even if the two-factor algo would slant things one way, you’ll see some animal-related sites in the top 10.
  3. In-depth articles. This is a feature that’s hard to spot in the search results, but sometimes Google includes in the bottom of the top 10 results some pieces of content that are particularly comprehensive. These are for queries where Google recognizes there’s a decent chance that the user is engaging in extensive research on a topic. Here’s an example for the query “constitution”:

We conducted a small sample review of 200 SERPs and found that about 6% of the results appeared to be from factors such as these. The two-factor model also doesn’t account for personalization, but this post is looking at ranking factors for regular search results other than personalization, which, of course, also has a large impact.

Looking for ranking hacks?

OK, I’m going to give you one. Make your content, and the experience of consuming that content, unbelievably good. That’s step one. Stick to your knitting, folks, and don’t cop out on the effort to make your content stand out. You have no choice if you want to get sustainably positive results from SEO.

Don’t forget the overall site and page usability, as that’s a big part of what makes your content consumable. This is a critical part of making great content. So is measuring user engagement. This provides a critical feedback loop into what you’re doing, and whether or not it’s working for your target audience.

Then, and only then, your focus should turn to marketing that will help drive your reputation and visibility, and help attract links to your content. Here it is in a nutshell:

If your content isn’t competitive in relevance and quality, links won’t help. If it is, links will make the difference.

Your content has to be elite to have a chance to score highly on any given competitive search result. After that, your superior marketing efforts will help you climb to the top of the heap.

10 Must-Read Content Marketing Interviews with Major Brands and Industry Experts

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Content Marketing Interviews

Content Marketing continues to drive marketing strategy for many companies and yet most companies doen’t document that strategy and continue to be challenged in created a variety of compelling content on a consistent basis.

Smart, creative and results-focused advice on content marketing that actually works is in high demand and I’m happy to say that over the past few years we’ve published just under 500 content marketing articles on topics ranging from strategy to measuring ROI. Some might say advice from an agency might be seasoned with self-interest and so we make sure to publish interviews with brand content marketing practitioners and executives.

There’s a lot of insight in those interviews and below is a list of the 10 of the most popular, featuring conversations with brands that include: MarketingProfs, Visa, Facebook, Content Marketing Institute, LinkedIn, 3M, Bank of America, Xerox, and Dun & Bradstreet. Enjoy!

Ann Handley
1. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs
Interview: “Writing is thinking. And for us as marketers, good writing is good marketing”

In business and in life, writing is an essential part of communications – no matter how digital, virtual and science fiction we get in our communications. That’s why Ann’s most recent book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, is so timely. From Twitter to White Papers to books in print, Ann has smart, actionable advice for us all.

Takeaway: “The best content marketing isn’t about what you do or what you sell – it’s about how what that thing does for others. That’s a subtle shift, but an important one, and a hard one for companies to truly embrace.”

You can find Ann on LinkedIn and on Twitter at: @marketingprofs

Stephanie Losee
2. Stephanie Losee, Head of Content at Visa
Interview: “Brands now have the freedom to speak to their audiences directly.”

In this interview Stephanie discusses the most important changes in content marketing, a content report card for brands, predictions, career advice, and insight into more cross-functional content marketing success. Oh, and she also has thoughts on what will be the ruin of Snapchat.

Takeaway: “Think about what kind of content are external audiences expecting when they visit your owned channels, both content and social? What would benefit them? Ask for data about visitors and use it to inform your first few moves. Use existing staffers and resources and get to an always-on strategy that puts customers’ needs first as fast as you can.”

You can find Stephanie on LinkedIn and on Twitter at: @slosee

Johnathon Colman
3. Jonathon Colman, Product UX + Content Strategy Lead at Facebook
Interview: “Quality isn’t a definition; it’s a conversation.”

An insatiable learner (Masters in Information Science), wicked smart, focused on results, kind and thoughtful, Jonathan is definitely someone you can learn a lot from. In this interview he shares his journey from REI SEO to Content Strategist at Facebook, offering really useful tips, tools and resources along the way.

Takeaway: “Content experiences aren’t a zero-sum game, they’re not binary, and they’re not a competition between silos within an organization. When you look at the organizations who are growing sustainably year after year, most of the time you’ll see quality content and content services are a strong part of their strategy.”

You can find Jonathon on LinkedIn and on Twitter at: @jcolman

Joe Pulizzi
4. Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute
Interview: “Build an audience first and define products and services second.”

In this interview, Joe talks about how he found his passion for content marketing, the value and impact of goal setting, and the 6 step Content Inc model.

Takeaway: “I love content marketing because you can increase the bottom line while, at the same time, help your customers live better lives or get better jobs.  Content marketing is the only kind of marketing that provides ongoing value, whether you purchase the product or not.  Isn’t that what all marketers want to do?”

You can find Joe on LinkedIn and on Twitter at: @joepulizzi

Jason Miller
5. Jason Miller, Group Manager, Global Content and Social Media Marketing at LinkedIn
Interview: “You need a plan, and you need to find what works, then scale.”

This interview focuses on Jason’s current work, about LinkedIn and his insights into making social media and content marketing hits. He also shares examples of great B2B social media and content marketing, tools, resources and even a few predictions.

Takeaway: “As a content marketer you really need to ask yourself: ‘Do you want to stand out or do you want to truly connect with your customers and prospects?’ The answer is a balance of the two.”

You can find Jason on LinkedIn and on Twitter at: @JasonMillerCA

Carlos Abler
6. Carlos Abler, Leader – Content Marketing and Strategy :: Global eTransformation at 3M
Interview: “Content culture transformation is an essential pillar of digital transformation.”

This in-depth interview with Carlos covers content marketing in general, content strategy, and how to develop a content marketing culture across a large enterprise.

Takeaway: “Content strategy is a broad concept of organizational practices for effectively managing content lifecycle; content marketing is a specific application of content to add value to an organization’s relationship with people. Content strategy enables content marketing and content marketing defines the requirements that content strategy must serve to enable it.”

You can find Carlos on LinkedIn and on Twitter at: @Carlos_Abler

John von Brachel
7. John von Brachel, SVP, Content Marketing Executive at Bank of America
Interview: “Good content marketers need to have both left-brain and right-brain skills.”

For this post, John talked about his editorial background, how he stays current, motivating executive participation with content and a preview of his keynote and breakout session presentations at Content Marketing World.

Takeaway: “Have a compelling and consistent story to tell, one that allows you to build better relationships with your audiences. Sequence these stories to your audiences in ways that keep them connected to you and your brand over longer periods of time.”

You can find John on LinkedIn and on Twitter at: @vonbrachel

Jeannine Rossignol
8. Jeannine Rossignol, Vice President, Marketing at Xerox
Interview: “Content is an integral component of every aspect of marketing.”

This conversation with Jeannine focused on  content marketing strategy, top challenges facing content marketers, and content marketing lessons to be learned from Charlotte’s Web.

Takeaway: “A clear strategy should include who you target, what their buyer’s journey looks like, and most importantly, what are the questions they need to answer to move from one stage in the journey to the next. Every piece of content should go back to that strategy.”

You can find Jeannine on LinkedIn and on Twitter at: @j9rossignol

Rishi Dave
9. Rishi Dave, CMO at Dun & Bradstreet
Interview: “There may not be a need for more content, but there is a need for higher quality content that delivers new insights.”

Here, Rishi talks about building an inbound approach to marketing with content and the role content plays in an overall demand generation strategy.

Takeaway: “Don’t simply jump into tactics around analytics, technology, and content operations. Make sure you have something unique to say and that the organization understands what that messaging is. Until you have that, and a culture that supports it, great execution of inbound will not break through the noise.”

You can find Rishi on LinkedIn and on Twitter at: @RishiPDave

Michael Brenner
10. Michael Brenner, CEO at Marketing Insider Group
Interview: “The real question behind content ROI is, ‘why should I change what I am doing today?‘”

A first class guy and a pleasure to work with as an influencer, our discussion with Michael touches on some of the key questions marketers are trying to tackle, from developing a strategy to growing an audience to the importance of measuring content marketing performance. Michael also shares a business lesson from one of his favorite childhood stories.

Takeaway: “Content Marketing ROI is no harder than ROI for the rest of marketing. Start with a benchmark, calculate the cost of your content, place a value on the results and from there, ROI is pretty easy.”

You can find Michael on LinkedIn and on Twitter at: @BrennerMichael

There’s a lot of smarts in these content marketing interviews and I hope they have inspired you in ways that will motivate content that is better for your customers and more effective for your marketing.

Content Marketing World
The Content Marketing World conference is coming up fast and on September 8th, I will be presenting solo and participating on a panel that you might be interested in. Here are the details:

Thursday, Sept. 8 – 12:05 – 12:50pm
Optimize the ROI of Your Content Agency Investment
Solo Lunch & Learn Session (Room 1)

Thursday, Sept. 8 – 2:50 – 3:35pm
How B2B Executives Need to Strategize in the World of Content
Panel with Jennifer Harmel, Michael Brenner, Carla Johnson and Kira Modrus (Room 3)

You will also be able to see most of the content marketing smarties interviewed above at Content Marketing World. Ann, Stephanie and John are all giving keynotes and of course, Joe Pulizzi is the man behind it all.

Susan Misukanis Ashley Zeckman
My business partner and our agency president, Susan Misukanis (L) and our agency director of marketing, Ashley Zeckman (R) will be attending Content Marketing World as well.  We hope to see you there!

If you can’t make the conference or even if you are, don’t miss a thing by watching @toprank, @smisukanis and @azeckman for tweets during the conference and Online Marketing Blog for daily liveblogging of presentations.

Disclosure: We are currently providing services to LinkedIn and MarketingProfs.