Two Mistakes that Will Derail Content Marketing

Don't derail content marketing“Having good content on your website is an important factor in gaining credibility, trust and ultimately sales from the people who visit your site.” This statement provides the lead for a story on The Guardian’s Small Business Network and sums up what every business should be looking to achieve with their content marketing strategy. The problem is, too many small businesses get all jazzed up over content marketing without really knowing what it is or what it can accomplish for them. They read about it on the Internet, there is no lack of “content” that covers content marketing; they see the statistics and they see the potential it has but then they go ahead and take a wrong turn somewhere and their strategy falls apart. So let’s take a look at some of the most common ways small-medium sized businesses sabotage their own content marketing efforts.

The wrong people creating content for marketing

There was a time when content creation followed the “more is better” mantra. If you could crank out blog posts and guest posts everyday you were doing a good job. This provided a steady stream of income for content mills to crank out 300 word posts provided by writers who were making as little as 5 to 15 dollars per piece of content. These writers might know next to nothing about your business or products but they were providing your business with content that was supposed to strengthen your brand and educate your customers.

Instead of looking to create content on the cheap, businesses need to look to create content that works. Some businesses find themselves dedicating people who are current employees towards content creation. They are familiar with the products and they know the business. This works rather well in many cases, but not everyone who knows your business can write well. To avoid poorly written content businesses can work with a reputable service to have content written and created. They will charge a great deal more than five dollars for a blog post, but they will get it right. Make sure that they either have an expert in your field writing for them or they are willing to spend time with someone on your staff to learn what they need to know about your brand and products.

No call to action

The other reason the wheels often fall off a content marketing campaign is that when the visitor is done consuming content they aren’t directed anywhere. In one study it was found that 72 percent of small business websites don’t have any calls to action on their interior pages. That is unacceptable but it is understandable.

Businesses are often warned that content used in content marketing should not be advertorial in nature. It should inform the reader, thus building the reader’s confidence in the brand so that they will become a customer.

A call to action doesn’t have to be an advertisement, it can be a subtle nudge to register for additional information or connect with a business through a social network. Calls to action can even point to products in the catalog without lessening the quality of the content like Water Damage Defense does. They simply mention some of their products that contain the feature their content is talking about providing the reader with an easy way to make a purchase without losing trust.

Content marketing works because it helps decision makers and customers make better decisions about what they are buying, but it only works for your business if you take the time and dedicate the resources necessary to be successful.

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Two Mistakes that Will Derail Content Marketing

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Don’t Overlook Images in Content Marketing

eyes-overlookMention content marketing nowadays and you can safely assume that people are thinking of articles and blog posts. That is because these are the tactics most often used by businesses as a part of their content marketing strategy.

According to The Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 B2C Content Marketing Benchmarks report these are the five most commonly used tactics:

  • Social media, other than blogs – used by 87 percent of all respondents
  • Articles on the company website – used by 81 percent of all respondents
  • eNewsletters – used by 80 percent of all respondents
  • Blogs – used by 76 percent of all respondents
  • In-person events – used by 76 percent of all respondents

Unfortunately, with the exception of infographics, images and pictures did not make the list. Could it be that most people don’t think images work as content marketing? It’s quite possible, but when you consider the fact that videos, infographics and games all made the list it is hard to make a case for images to be left out in the cold. It’s easier to assume that people just forget about images because they are just a part of written content.

The worth of a picture

We all know that a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, but let’s take a look at some more quantifiable statistics to prove the point.

In a blog post on his site Jeff Bullas provides six reasons why images should be incorporated as part of the marketing strategy:

  • Articles with images get 94 percent more total views
  • Including a Photo and a video in a press release increases views by over 45 percent
  • 60 percent of consumers are more likely to consider or contact a business when an image shows up in local search results
  • On an ecommerce site, 67 percent of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing a product
  • Customers shopping in an online store think that the quality of a products image is more important than product-specific information (63 percent), a long description (54 percent) and ratings and reviews (53 percent)
  • The engagement rate on Facebook for photos averages 0.37 percent where text only is 0.27 percent (this translates to a 37 percent higher level of engagement for photos over text)

So if you are still not using images as part of your content marketing strategy, then quite frankly you’re doing it wrong.

Doin’ it well

It’s relatively easy to slap a picture into the middle of a blog post’s text, but is that really more effective?

Images should be used to compliment, and break up, long form content. If the piece of written content exceeds 700 words two or more images can really help keep the reader engaged; if the images are relevant that is. Longer content would obviously benefit from more images; and if a chart or graph can be used to represent the data mentioned in the content all the better.

But what about images as a stand-alone marketing tactic, can that work? Take a look at this page on the site and see how effective their collection of nighttime images is.

So the next time you are preparing a piece of content for publication, remember these simple words from Jeff Shjarback, an Internet Marketing Consultant/Manager, “By placing one well taken, well conceived, and well thought out picture, a piece of content marketing can draw in many more viewers and potential customers than a simple article or word laden ad may.”

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Don’t Overlook Images in Content Marketing

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A-B Email Testing Basics

Email TestingWith spam emails being such a problem you would think that email marketing should be dead by now. Not only are the nice shiny email appliances that IT departments install blocking out emails that look like they are advertisements, but the recipients themselves are becoming immune to the noise that an abundance of email email creates.

But consider these facts:

      • Email marketing spending grows 10% year over year.
      • For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment.
      • 82% of consumers open emails from companies.
      • 27% of consumers were more likely to say their favorite companies should invest in more email marketing

When you see statistics like this you might wonder why more businesses aren’t using email as a marketing strategy.

One thought is that small-medium sized businesses don’t quite know what works when it comes to building a list or sending out effective marketing emails. This can be addressed through some basic A/B testing. Not only will this exercise help a small business fine tune their basic email marketing strategy, but it will give them a foundation on which they can eventually build on.

To get started with A/B testing it is best to undergo an extremely simple test to get your feet wet. One way to do this is to test which type of call to action will work best for your email campaign.

The simple approach

Building a list can be as easy as including a call to action on the bottom of a piece of content on your website. Take Trophy Central as an example, a small graphic with a link to their sign up page is all they use to capture contact information. The reader knows exactly what they are signing up for so the lead is already going through a basic pre-qualification. There are no promises of free gifts, discounts or anything else that might convince someone who isn’t interested into signing up.

Dressing it up with incentives

Other companies opt for a more glamorous approach to their call to action. They offer incentives that are delivered immediately in return for the visitor’s email address. Maybe they enter the visitor into a raffle or they provide them with a report or white paper that can provide useful information. Others use coupons and savings as an incentive to sign up. The drawback to this you have to wonder how many people are signing up because they want to hear back from you in the future or if they simply want what you are offering as an incentive.

Email testing

The simplest way to find out which method works best for your business is to perform a basic A/B test. First, measure how many emails you are able to obtain with each method. To keep the results a pure as possible, find a tool that allows you to rotate the two different calls to action so that they are both displayed an equal number of times on the same content.

Once you have your two lists segmented, one captured from the basic call to action and the other that used incentives, begin pushing out your newsletter or other emails. Now start measuring the following from each list and compare:

      • Number, or percentage, or subscribers
      • Open rates
      • Unsubscribe rates
      • Conversions

Once you are comfortable with the method that works better for your business you can start thinking of ways to increase your sales using emails. Different A/B tests can be set up to track the performance of sales and incentives in the newsletter, different newsletter formats or even different types of content. The key is to get comfortable with a couple of easy tests before you move on to the more sophisticated ones.

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A-B Email Testing Basics

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Even though you may not realise it, Facebook’s organic reach has been constantly falling since the arrival of the site in 2007. However, in the last 12-18 months there has been a considerable fall in rank, far more aggressive than any period prior.

According to Valley Wag, Facebook is about to snip organic reach of posts to followers to 1-2%. To place this in context, Facebook Reach according to the company itself was around 16% in mid – 2012 and at the time that was considered astonishingly low. Since then reports have shown considerable falls, with reach at just over 6% in February 2014.

Facebook thumb

Declining Facebook Reach

Needless to say this is quite irksome for companies who have put a lot of effort into growing their Facebook fans in recent years. In essence, it means that unless you’re willing to spend money on promoting posts and advertising your posts will only reach around 10 people per 1,000 of those you have as fans.

All this is quite daunting – to be honest we’d imagine most people who have heard of this significant reduction in reach may ask the question, ‘what’s the point?’ Why spend a few hours a week pursuing followers when only a minimal percentage will actually see what your brand is up to?

Facebook’s Argument

Needless to say Facebook has come out all guns blazing. Zuckerberg and co have defended the drop in reach saying that although organic reach is lower, you can still reach plenty of people via the new model. Industry experts also justify it, arguing Facebook has to make money somehow.

The fact of the matter is that those who are willing to spend money promoting to their fans will reach them and those that won’t pay wont. There’s no doubt that initially at least a lot will go against the grain and refuse to advertise on Facebook – seeing it as the company taking advantage after people have spent so much time and effort growing their social media reach.

The Early Adopters Benefit

However, because it’s inevitable that the majority will pay for posts eventually, those that adopt early will be the ones that will benefit when there’s less competition for ads. In turn, these companies will be the ones that will benefit from reach, social signals and see their posts come up in even more newsfeeds.

In fact, according to Moz’s blog a company that spends around $1 a day on advertisements will be positioned in front of 4,000 people that otherwise wouldn’t even know you existed. Now, if you’re willing to spend a little and your competitors aren’t, then you’re at a significant advantage.

In addition, Facebook adverts are by far the cheapest way to reach people – especially where newspapers and other traditional forms of media are concerned. The same Moz blog shows that while it costs $32 to get in front of 1,000 people via newspaper and $7 on a cable TV channel; Facebook costs a mere $0.25c for the same exposure. The figures speak for themselves to be honest.

Pay to Play

So, the answer to the question is becoming clearer. The situation at the moment is, Facebook organic reach is soon almost negligible and soon it’s going to be a pay to play option for business. And though that might seem unfair, that’s the way it’s going to be. However, the saving grace is that if you’re willing to pay a little it can work to a positive degree.

Targeted advert campaigns from Facebook’s increasingly advanced system can really work well if done even reasonably correctly. And though Facebook adverts seem like an extra cost, they’re an investment in the vast majority of cases and result in you making money overall. In short, those that don’t spend are going to miss out and those that are willing to pay even a little are going to win.

Needless to say the traditional advice that goes with organic posts applies for paid options too. There does tend to often be a habit of people believing that just because an option is paid for success is inevitable. However, this is not the case.

The Same Rules Apply

In recent times we’ve seen a number of Facebook mishaps hit the stage on a very public level – some were organic, some were promoted. In addition, there tend to be a number of mistakes that companies and people make time and time again – also to be noted and avoided.

Of course, this sort of reach can also be of great benefit as it allows you a large audience to get creative on and make more of Facebook with. However, beware the caveats of taking too many risks too.

Facebook’s reining in of organic reach was inevitable, however with a little social media savvy and a plan of action you can make more of it.

So, grasp the opportunity.

See more here:
Declining Facebook Reach and What it Means for your Business

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Using Data to Create Content

Content is kingFor years the mantra, “Content is king,” has resounded in the ears of every online marketer. Content attracts traffic and customers, it drives social sharing and it builds/strengthens a company’s brand. It is what makes online marketing move.

Every great leader has someone working behind the scenes that takes the leaders ideas, strengths and charisma and molds it into the public face. For King Content that person behind the scenes is data. How so? Let’s take a peek at how data can impact this reign.


Building a better blog post

In post from SingleGrain Digital Marketing titled “5 Simple Techniques to Improve Lead Generation” shows how a simple and free tool for measuring data can be used to improve the foundation of content marketing, the blog post.

Using the metrics provided by Google Analytics businesses can find:

  • Which blog posts are capturing more views
  • Which posts are converting visitors
  • Which posts are engaging visitors, and for how long
  • Where the visitors are coming from, and which ones are converting at higher rates

With this information at hand, marketing can easily craft future posts to meet specific goals. If social shares are the goal and posts with embedded video have the highest metrics in that category, then they know what type of content is needed. If an educational post converts at a higher rate than a list, then more in depth content might be called for.


Trends vary from platform to platform. What catches traction on Twitter might not be as appealing on Facebook or Google +.  So if traffic from Google + converts at a higher rate than the other social media sites the type of content created should match these trends, if conversions are the end goal.

Steve Rayson from Social Media Today showed how this type of data can be captured, and analyzed using BuzzSumo. This research tool allows marketing professionals to not only see what the hot topics are across the different platforms, but also information that can help them:

  • Create and curate content
  • Research articles and content
  • Develop headlines
  • Analyze the competition

Marketers often find themselves asking what type of content is the most effective and which kind doesn’t work?

The reason data is so important, and effective, at giving businesses the edge in content marketing is because there is no clear-cut answer to that question. Every business, brand and product is different. What if effective for company A selling widgets might turn off customers that buy gadgets from company B.

Rusty Frioux, managing principal of DataClear explained how to best use data analytics to drive the right type of content, “Look at your content publishing as a way to test ideas. Use analytics to understand which content has the greatest readership and why. Then let that insight guide your strategy.”

Marketers should view every piece of content as a test. If the content fails to achieve the desired goal, let it guide future content development as a non-example. If it knocks it out of the park, use that information to help mold content in that vein. Once it is no longer effective, the data will let you know and by then you should already have metrics on the type of content that will take its place.


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Using Data to Create Content

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