Archive for February, 2017

SEO & Web Design Trends: An Interview with Martin Woods of Indigoextra

by Chris Martin on 02/28/2017

Martin Woods, the SEO Director of Indigoextra Ltd, explores the current SEO and web design trends and discusses what the future holds for them. Indigoextra.com is a marketing company who specializes in multilingual search engine optimization, inspirational graphic design, and Drupal website design. We recently spoke with Martin about the challenges of multilingual SEO, the implications of Google’s algorithm changes, and the keys to producing excellent web content.

Tell us a little about your background. Why did you decide to co-found a digital marketing company?

I’ve always loved words and puzzles; I wrote a cryptic crossword for The Big Issue for 10 years. SEO is like a constantly evolving puzzle, and I think that’s what first attracted me to it.

My wife, Allison Carmichael, is the other co-founder of Indigoextra and a talented fine artist. In 1999, we started creating and marketing websites, and in 2006 we took the plunge by founding Indigoextra Ltd and going full-time.

Using the incredible tools of the computer and the internet, Allison and I combined our vision of digital marketing to provide a service creating beautiful websites and content marketing with high-quality, editorial backlinks that are useful to everyone concerned.

What are some of the most recent and/or important changes that Google has made to its search algorithms that can really have an impact on the content marketing campaigns of your clients?

RankBrain Google artificial intelligence

I’d say that the single most important recent change to content marketing is Google’s RankBrain algorithm. It’s an artificial intelligence algorithm that constantly refines how different websites rank for different search terms based on user feedback, and it’s their third-most important ranking factor after content and links. RankBrain attempts to mimic a human being and does a remarkably good job. This allows Google to transcend beyond simpler SEO factors like “Does the keyword appear in the Metatag?” or “How many words are there on a page?” and to explore a range of complex interacting factors that basically measure the quality of a website, its content, and the incoming links.

This has revolutionized the content marketing world, and it means that many old SEO tactics no longer work. Instead, those companies that really focus on creating in-depth, well-researched and engaging content (including images, infographics, videos, and interactive content) are the ones who excel. This is equally true for both on-page content and content in backlinks.

Could you tell us why you are such a big proponent of Drupal’s content management system? What advantages does it have over other similar software or CMSs?

When we first discovered CMSs, Drupal seemed to stand out as a clear winner for what we needed. It let us create a whole range of websites – e-commerce sites, forums, news portals, multilingual websites with a shared database, etc. At the time WordPress was really just a blogging tool. However, we do now work with WordPress, Magento, and PrestaShop, which are all strong CMSs; but Drupal is always our tool of choice. One thing I love about Drupal is its easy admin interface, where you can navigate to a page as a client would, press edit, and modify that page (or a section of it) without having to use a completely separate admin interface.

What are some of the trends that you’re seeing in web design right now?

Some positive new developments in web design are:

    • Responsive design – Creating a site that looks good on mobile phones, tablets, and monitors.
    • Minimalist design – The current trend is for plenty of white space and simpler designs.
    • Illustrations – An increase in original illustrations over the use of stock photos.
    • Long scrolling – Pages that continue to provide new information as you scroll down, rather than lots of short pages you navigate to via a menu.
    • International expansion – Many website owners who create a site to target one country realize that half or more of their visitors come from other countries – and this includes e-commerce sites. It’s therefore more and more common to see websites doing international marketing and targeting a global audience.

Are there any trends or tactics that are starting to vanish or be de-emphasized?

Tactics that are being de-emphasized include:

    • Annoying pop-ups – Google started penalizing sites with annoying pop-ups on mobile phones (e.g. newsletter subscription requests) in January of 2017.
    • Bad design – Any decent CMS offers ready-made, well-designed templates, and web designers have learned how to customize these to each company. Since user experience is more important even to appear on Google, let alone convert visitors, we’re seeing less and less poorly-designed websites.
    • Excessive advertisements – Google now penalizes sites with excessive advertisements, even if they’re using AdWords.
    • Spam – Google has gotten better at removing this from its results, so there’s either a lot less of it or you simply don’t see it anymore.

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Since Indigoextra provides SEO services in multiple languages, could you tell us whether the SEO practices you employ differ at all depending on the language? How do you take into account web content that may be translated into other languages by end users?

The core principles of SEO are the same regardless of the language, and when doing guest posting we always ensure that articles are placed on sites in the same language (e.g. French articles on French websites). However, each language poses its own challenge. The German language, for example, is full of ridiculously long words that are hard to fit into menus or Metatags like “Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften” (which means “insurance companies providing legal protection” and is the longest German word in everyday use according to the Guinness Book of Records).

When we translate content between languages, we always do new keyword research because sometimes the English version will use a term that no one searches for in the other language (for example, with many technical translations, people speaking the foreign language will often simply use the English term rather than the actual translation). This ensures that each translation targets keywords that people actually search for and is part of our multilingual SEO service, along with SEO consultancy and multilingual link building.

One thing that is different between doing SEO in a single language and multilingual SEO is that we use more images as part of the content marketing for multilingual SEO. Visual indicators are often universal and help with comprehension. People read images comfortably and illustrations, icons, and symbols really help with marketing to people of different nationalities. It also doesn’t take that much longer to create an infographic in English, French, and German than it does to just create the same infographic in French; therefore, when doing multilingual SEO, using more images just makes sense.

If we’re creating a multilingual website where end users contribute, the main priority is to ensure that each version of the language is distinct and can be accessed by a different URL. I see a surprising number of sites that use cookies alone to control the language but have the same URL for every language. This is a disaster for SEO, as it literally means that Google can only index a single language version of your website. The hashtag symbol (#) doesn’t count as a separate URL in this context, as Google treats URLs with characters that are identical before the hashtag as one and the same, regardless of what’s after the hashtag.

Other than being SEO-friendly, what are some of the important traits of good web content?

Some ways to create good web content are:

    • Write for your audience - know who your target audience is and write with them in mind, while keeping content relevant to your own company’s objectives.
    • Be engaging - Your visitors have a short attention span, so it’s important to grab their attention and hold it.
    • Include visuals - Illustrations, photos, and infographics all help get your point across more clearly and with more impact.
    • Break up the layout - Use varied paragraph sizes, subheadings, and bullet points to break up the layout and encourage visitors to read on.

Do you have any “tricks” for bloggers or website owners who want to better optimize their content for searchability?

    • Use your blog to educate or entertain, not sell - It’s fine if your blog includes the occasional product link, but its primary purpose is to educate visitors before they’re at the decision-making stage of buying a product. Think about what questions they’ll have and provide honest, detailed answers. If you’re already a major brand, intersperse educational blogs with news items or product releases.
    • Write fewer, longer blogs - Studies have shown that blog posts with over 1,500 words appear far higher in the search results. It’s fine to write some short blogs as add-on items or mentions of upcoming events, etc. But for your core blog posts, make them a minimum of 1,500 words. You’ll get more traffic doing this than writing three 500-word posts.
    • Edit and expand old material - Rather than having an archive that goes back a decade, revisit your old blogs from time to time, bring them up to date, and republish them with today’s date (either at the same URL or by 301 redirecting the old URL to the new one). This way, you reuse content and keep it relevant.
    • 301 redirect old blogs to new ones - If you can’t bring old blog posts up to date and no-one’s visiting them anyway, 301 redirect them to a new one. This way, the new one gets the benefits of any links that previously went to the old one. I’ve seen websites gain a 40% increase in traffic just by using this method.
    • Blog on other people’s sites - With SEO, half the picture is gaining quality links to your site; and one way to do this is by writing guest posts for other blogs. I recommend that new companies or bloggers publish two guest posts on other people’s websites for every one blog post they do on their own. This involves networking and finding relevant, high-authority sites to guest post on. Yes, it takes time, but it’s definitely worth it.

What do you foresee for the future of SEO? What types of web content will be the most effective for websites or blogs?

If the past of SEO was quantity and the present is quality, I see the future of SEO being about forming symbiotic relationships and about innovation. I’d summarize it like this:

SEO Past: Quantity

    • Thousands of links
    • Keyword stuffing
    • Pages just for SEO

SEO Present: Quality

    • High authority links
    • Engaging content
    • Every page has a purpose

SEO Future: Symbiosis

    • Symbiotic relationships
    • Innovative content
    • In-depth insights

As more and more websites compete for the top spot in Google (or whatever new search engine dominates in the future) and artificial intelligence continues to improve, the blogs and websites that rank best will be those that:

    • Provide something truly valuable to the reader, share resources, and offer in-depth insights for free. Extra services may be paid, but the quality of free resources and services online will continue to develop.
    • Have innovative content, whether it be interactive infographics, dynamic questionnaires that guide you to the information you need, or simply outstandingly well-written content and beautiful images.
    • Focus content on topics, rather than keywords. As voice search gains in popularity and voice recognition software improves, fewer people will search for “hotel” and more people will search for long phrases like “3- or 4-star hotel within 10 minutes’ drive of here.”
    • Embrace modern technology, whether it’s designing websites for e-glasses or creating content with electronic virtual assistants in mind that decide which hotel to take you to in your self-driving car.

Overall, the future of SEO will require a very different mindset – a much more people-friendly, honest, loving, and abundant mindset than in the past.

Need some help coming up with content that will help get your website or blog noticed? Get three free content ideas today!

The Ultimate List of Content Marketing Analytics Tools

by Jenna Scaglione on 02/24/2017

If content is “king” then content analytics must be the “all-knowing ruler of the universe.”

Without analytics, you cannot effectively scale your content marketing efforts nor increase your ROI. You are shooting at a target without a bullseye. According to an econsultancy report, 60% of companies say they “change and adapt marketing strategy based on customer insight.” And 55% “use data effectively to build their understanding of customers.”

Unfortunately, keeping solid analytics is time-consuming, confusing and laborious. Did I say confusing? So to help smart marketers, software creators have introduced content marketing analytics solutions designed to monitor, measure and calculate the effectiveness of web content. And to help you make your selection, we listed 50 of these solutions below.

Note: We categorized the solutions for easier scanning; however, some may fall into more than one category. Also, some solutions are not primarily analytics platforms, yet they offer analytics capabilities.

Social Media Tools and Analytics

1. Followerwonk

One of the Moz suite of tools, Followerwonk helps you explore your Twitter influence and dig deep into Twitter analytics. Find people and influencers to connect with, analyze and categorize your followers, and optimize your profiles to work smarter.

Pricing: Free for 1 profile. 3+ profiles starts at $29 / month

2. Curalate

Curalate is a visually-driven platform that helps commerce brands find, publish, measure and monetize their own content as well as user-generated content. The platform also promotes easy micro-influencer search and management.

Pricing: Available upon request

3. Quintly

Quintly is an online social media analytics tool for brands, agencies or media publishers. Analyze, track and benchmark your data while also bringing together all of your profiles under one platform (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube).

Pricing: Starts at $129 / month

4. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management platform that makes publishing and tracking easier. It offers real-time analytics on your social performance as well as trend spotting.

Pricing: Free plan available; premium plans start at $9.99 / month

We’re just getting started! Ready to see more terrific tools?

5. SproutSocial

Sproutsocial is a social media management tool that allows marketers to find opportunities to join social conversations, publish social content, and measure performance.

Pricing: Starts at $59 / month and includes a free 30-day trial.

6. RivalIQ

Rival_IQ_FB_Insight

RivalIQ is a competitive analysis tool that provides social media analytics, top social content and search engine rankings for competing, partner, or influencer social profiles. Profile monitoring includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+.

Pricing: Individual plans start at $79 / month. Business plans start at $299 / month.

7. Twitter Counter

With Twitter Counter, track your tweet engagement, uncover trends in your follower growth, and monitor competitors. Brand-focused packages are also available.

Pricing: Plans start at $8 / month

8. Viralwoot

Viralwoot is a Pinterest-specific platform that provides publishing, ad creation, competition analysis and influencer reach and engagement. It also offers analytics, revealing virality and reach metrics.

Pricing: Starts at $10 / month

9. SumAll

Perfect for agencies, SumAll tracks the activity of clients’ social channels in one interface. It also provides features such as performance graphs, goal tracking and white labeling and reporting.

Pricing: Starts at $99 / month with free trial

10. Socialbakers

Socialbakers is a social media management and analytics tool that measures and monitors keywords, hashtags and more, across multiple social channels and locations. Additional features include reporting and competitive analysis.

Pricing: Starts at $120 / month for its analytics package with a 14-day free trial. Advanced package pricing is available upon request.

11. ViralTag

ViralTag is an all-in-one interface that allows social content marketers to manage multiple social networks, publish and interact with content, collaborate with team members and measure content performance.

Pricing: Starts at $24 / month with a 14-day free trial

12. Minter.io

Minter.io is a streamlined Instagram analytics tool. It provides Instagram traffic tracking, brand hashtag monitoring, audience growth and demographics, sentiment measurement, data exports and content effectiveness.

Pricing: Starts at $20 / month with a 14-day free trial.

13. Tailwind

Created for Instagram and Pinterest tracking, Tailwind is an all-in-one tool that offers content publishing, scheduling, and deep analytics. Tailwind also provides agency and enterprise solutions which include more robust features and reporting.

Pricing: Starts at $9.99 / month for bloggers and small businesses. Business packages start at $799.99 / month.

14. Brand24

Brand24 is a social media monitoring tool that measures social mentions and discussion volume which helps brands identify problematic and/or positive buzz quickly. Dive deeper into the data with sentiment analysis, discussion volume and authority influence scores.

Pricing: Starts at $49 / month with a free 14-day trial.

15. Iconosquare

A more specialized platform dedicated to only Instagram, Iconosquare helps Instagram markets post content, analyze and measure their followers’ growth, optimize audience engagement, find influencers and more.

Pricing: Starts at $9 / month ($54 / year) per IG account.

16. Oktopost

A B2B social media platform that allows you to schedule and post content, Oktopost also offers social conversion tracking, data segmenting and audience and content analytics.

Pricing: Custom solutions; pricing available upon request

17. Cyfe

Cyfe is an all-in-one business dashboard app that helps you monitor and track business data. We listed it in the social media category here, but Cyfe’s reach extends beyond social media measuring. Create dashboards for social media, web analytics, project management, sales, finance, IT and marketing, and monitor website rankings directly in the dashboard.

Pricing: Free account available. Premium accounts start at $19 / month or $14 / month, paid annually.

18. Google Alerts

Google alerts is a valuable tool for monitoring brand mentions. The tool will send email alerts whenever your brand or keyword is mentioned on the web.

Pricing: Free

19. Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo filters content according to social analytics (individual social platform shares, links and total shares). Brands use this tool to find the most popular content, dig deeper into the curated data and discover key industry influencers. Set up alerts for your searches as well.

Pricing: Free account available with limited data. Premium accounts start at $99 / month with a 14-day free trial. Save 20% with yearly plans.

20. Keyhole

Keyhole is a social media tool that tracks and monitors hashtags, keywords, retweets likes and impressions. Brands can also discover potential influencers and receive detailed analytics for their campaigns. Advanced features include demographic and sentiment analysis.

Pricing: Starts at $165 / month with a 3-day free trial. Yearly packages discounted at 20% off.

21. Narrow.io

Narrow.io is a Twitter-based tool that allows you to research, identify and understand your target audience using keywords, location and hashtags. Its analytics provides keyword performance tracking.

Pricing: Starts at $19 / month.

22. Agorapulse

Agorapulse is an all-in-one social media management tool that also provides detailed monitoring and analytics. Additional features include “inbox zero,” PowerPoint reporting and automatic audience categorization.

Pricing: Starts at $49 / month; Yearly subscriptions discounted up to 35%.

Link Management and Tracking

23. Bitly

One of the most popular link management platforms, Bitly, allows users to create shortened custom links and track clicks. Enterprise customers can create branded shortened domains and tap into deeper link analytics such as link click time, day, social channel, device and operating system. Enterprise customers can also direct users to optimized content depending on the device used.

Pricing: Free account available; Enterprise pricing available upon request.

Also See: The Ultimate List of B2B Content Marketing Ideas

24. Budurl

Budurl is a link shortening tool that also provides advanced real-time analytics allowing you to display top-performing links by user, channel and location. Budurl also offers landing page templates and unique QR codes for each link.

Pricing: Starts at $99 / month.

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Marketing Automation and Analytics

25. Hubspot

Hubspot’s automated marketing platform allows marketers to build content and drive traffic, while converting and tracking leads. Track how each marketing campaign directly affects your bottom line and contributes to sales.

Pricing: Starts at $200 / month.

26. Real Magnet

Real Magnet offers marketing automation software that allows you to track customers throughout their lifecycle. From generating content to managing and measuring its impact, Real Magnet focuses on ease and automation of complex tasks.

Pricing: Starts at $200 / month.

27. Kapost

Kapost covers all facets of funnel content from analysis, alignment and distribution to execution and analytics. With its content insights, rank and score your content and calculate external and internal reach to discover what is most valuable to your buyers and prevent content waste.

Pricing: Starts at $3,500 / month.

28. Marketo

Another all-in-one marketing automation platform, Marketo allows marketers to create, build, scale and measure full-scale marketing campaigns all from one platform. Its analytics provides insights into your customer’s journey and the sales impact at each stage.

Pricing: Custom solutions; Pricing available upon request.

Behavioral Analytics Tools

29. Clicky

Clicky provides real-time data and a high-level of detail on website visitor segments. Clicky tracks every visitor’s action and reviews their full history. Heatmaps and on-site analytics are also included.

Pricing: Free version available. Premium plans start at $9.99 / month for 1,000,000 monthly page views.

30. Trendemon

Trendemon offers insights into visitors’ behavior as they proceed through a conversion journey. The tool provides a measure of the content’s ability to lead a visitor towards a custom defined goal. Features also include real-time content recommendations, calls to action and A/B testing.

Pricing: Starts at $600 / month.

31. Woopra

A real-time analytics solution, Woopra is customizable, allowing users to leverage the data to fit your organization. Create customer profiles, build customer segments, measure user retention while integrating with your 3rd-party marketing industry tools.

Pricing: Free up to 30,000 actions / month. Premium pricing starts at $79.95 / month for 30,000+ actions / month.

32. Docalytics

Docalytics provides analytics around how website visitors interact with downloadable content. From heat maps to document engagement, Docalytics allows marketers to gauge, at a granular level, a prospect’s interest in all forms of downloadable content.

Pricing: Available upon request.

33. Gosquared

Gosquared monitors real-time activity on your website and how they got there. Measure time on site, session length, and bounce rates based on a visitor’s engaged time and receive instant notifications on important metrics. Live chat is also available.

Pricing: Free package available for 100 live chat profiles and 1,000 monthly datapoints. Premium packages for 1,000 live chat profiles start at $49 / month + 100,000 monthly datapoints starting at $29 / month. Live chat premium is free while it is in beta testing.

34. Chartbeat

Chartbeat offers a real-time analytics and video dashboard so you can review your visitors’ actions instantly, filter the data and track engagement. Chartbeat also provides a historical dashboard and a Heads Up display that provides performance metrics directly on your website in real time.

Pricing: Available upon request; Trial accounts permitted.

35. Webtrends

Webtrends provides real-time, multi-channel analytics across web, social and mobile and offers ad hoc data exploration, segmentation, and sophisticated reporting.

Pricing: Available upon request.

36. Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides audience demographic data, referring websites and comprehensive website performance data, including demographics. It also allows you to create conversion goals to track sales and leads and perform split tests for your landing pages. Enterprise solutions provide advanced reporting, unlimited data, access to raw data and more.

Pricing: Free. Enterprise pricing available upon request.

37. TrialFire

Trialfire tracks website visitor behavior without the need to add custom tracking code or tags. Features include the ability to create segments and detailed customer profiles and track customers’ behavior throughout their lifecycle.

Pricing: Starts at $299 / month.

38. Hotjar

Hotjar provides user behavior analysis including heatmaps, funnel dropoff and form abandonment. It also provides real-time website visitor recordings, feedback polls, and surveys.

Pricing: Personal plans are free up to 2,000 pageviews per day and premium plans start at $29 / month. Business plans start at $89 / month for 20,000 pageviews / day.

39. Clicktale

Clicktale captures visitor behavior by offering heatmaps, session replays (watch your visitors actions on your site), form analytics and funnel drop-offs. Advanced features also include site health, Javascript errors and bounce ratios.

Pricing: Available upon request.

40. Parse.ly

Parse.ly provides analytics to empower publishers to optimize their customer’s experience on their site. It tracks the success of your content (referrals, time on page, social reactions) and over time, gathers comparative data.

Pricing: 14-day free trial; Pricing available upon request.

Event-based Analytics

41. Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics is a user-focused platform that tracks individual and group visit behavior from first visit all the way to conversion, measuring churn, customer lifetime value and more. It provides a 360 view of your visitor’s activity and creates multiple reports including revenue calculations so you can measure ROI.

Pricing: Starts at $220 / month.

42. Content Analytics by Branch

Content Analytics measures engagement with specific content and allows brands to identify the content that drives the most downloads/app installs. The tool works for mobile web to app, email and ad campaigns and content sharing.

Pricing: Dependent on the solution. Free options available. See pricing page for more information.

43. Mixpanel

Mixpanel is an advanced mobile & web platform that provides visitor behavior and actions, funnel dropoff data, retention, and more. Mixpanel also provides A/B testing and customer notifications.

Pricing: Free packages available. Premium package starting at $99 / month. Pricing is also available per profiles. 1,000 profiles = free; 50,000+ profiles starts at $150 / month.

44. Indicative

Indicative provides detailed behavioral analysis of how customers engage with sales funnels including engagement and conversion analysis. It also integrates with multiple 3rd party tools allowing for a more comprehensive picture of consumer behavior across all touchpoints.

Pricing: Available upon request.

45. Heap

Heap, via web or iOS, captures user actions such as clicks, taps, gestures, form submissions and page views. It also allows marketers to chart user changes, review funnel dropoff, calculate retention and define analytics events by performing them directly on your site.

Pricing: Free plan available for up to 5,000 sessions per month. Premium plan includes 14-day free trial; contact for custom quote

46. Amplitude

Amplitude captures users’ behavior across multiple platforms to examine how they flow through them. Track multiple complex events at the same time without sacrificing performance.

Pricing: Starter package is free; $2,000 / month and up for elite and enterprise packages.

47. Piwik

Piwik is an open-sourced analytics platform that provides performance metrics such as visits, goal conversion rates, downloads, keywords and more. Piwik integrates with eCommerce software so websites can track conversion rates, average order values and more. Enterprise features also include A/B testing, media analytics, white labeling, and funnel dropoff.

Pricing: Free; Enterprise premium features are ala carte and start at $49 / year.

Advertising Analytics

48. Simplereach

Simplereach provides real-time performance of content and native ads on your website as well as third-party publishers. Amplify your content and optimize your ad campaigns by understanding what content performs the best on which platform.

Pricing: Available upon request.

49. Cake

Cake tracks ad performance allowing brands to optimize ROI on ad spend in real-time. Cake offers solutions for brands, networks or for lead distribution.

Pricing: Available upon request.

Analytics Reporting

50. Megalytic

Megalytic is a tool that offers customizable reports for agencies, marketers, and business owners. It integrates with Google Analytics, Adwords, Search Console and Facebook Insights and Ads.

Pricing: 14-day free trial; price not listed.

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How to Create Great Content Tailored to 2017′s Marketing Trends

by Laura College on 02/23/2017

In high school, you followed the trends because it became a matter of social survival. As an adult in the content marketing industry, you follow the trends because it’s the best way to keep your brand alive.

We’ve already discussed the top content marketing trends of 2017, but that’s only half the battle. Now it’s time to apply those trends to your own content marketing campaign.

No mom jeans or parachute pants here, we promise — just good old-fashioned marketing advice.

Get Ready For Your Close-Up


Video claims the content crown in 2017. Use it to your advantage.

While we’d never suggest giving up text entirely, video has presented itself as the number-one way to meaningfully connect with consumers. You can pre-record video content for your audience or live-stream it via your favorite service.

Either way, you’re humanizing your brand in front of your audience. Instead of delivering a few paragraphs of marketing speak, you’re communicating with the people who matter most. Best of all, you’re putting a face in front of your brand.

Pre-Recorded Video

Whether you shoot in your office or in a public green space with a backdrop of the city skyline, use pre-recorded video to control your message and accomplish a specific goal.

You can use video to record a product overview or demonstration, interview satisfied clients, take customers on a guided tour of your office, or film an employee’s latest presentation. Think creatively so you capture your audience’s attention from the moment they push “play.”

Keep videos short and sweet, but don’t forget value. When your potential customer reaches the end of the video, you don’t want him or her to ask, “Why did I just watch that?” Design a clear takeaway from the video and make sure the content delivers.

Live Video


Turn on the cameras for candid clips.

When your customers live all across the country — or even the world — you can’t invite them all to every live event your company throws or attends. To make your customers feel like part of the team, live-record your events and stream them online.

From trade shows and conferences to marketing expos and corporate retreats, live events bring people together. When you record them for a broader audience, the circle of inclusion grows even bigger.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for a major event to take advantage of live streaming. For instance, you could walk around your office and interview employees about what they love about their jobs. Just make sure people know the time and date of the live stream before you set it up.

Get Back in Touch With Email


People love receiving emails as long as they get something of value from them.

Experts have long declared email’s demise, but consumer behavior doesn’t support that theory. Permission marketing — which means a marketing strategy that requires consumers to opt in to receive communications from brands — has become the new gold standard.

As long as you’re not blasting your emails to people who never signed up for them, you’re in the clear. Consumers look for coupons, sales, clearances, special events, tips, advice, and other content in email newsletters.

As with all content marketing in 2017, though, don’t wear out your welcome. Keep your emails relatively brief, and make sure you present the takeaway or benefit as early as possible.

Keep Typing


Want more customers? Deliver value at every opportunity.

At one time, marketers recommended keeping blog posts, articles, and other content to 500 words or less. Many successful marketers, including Seth Godin, made themselves famous with 300-word blog posts.

While short blog posts can still work, they’re not as favorable as long-form content. Why? Because Google prefers articles with more words.

Think about the last time you searched a particular qurey, such as “how to lose weight.” Were you looking for a few lines of text with a suggestion or two, or did you want a comprehensive guide that would give you multiple options and detailed instructions?

You probably wanted the latter.

Today’s consumers have become spoiled with knowledge. When they search about a topic or question, they want the answer with the first search listing that appears.

You can deliver what your audience wants by writing longer, more comprehensive blog posts. Create as much value as possible in a single piece of content, exploring the topic more thoroughly than anyone else has done. You’ll rank higher on the SERPs, and your audience will appreciate your thoroughness.

Get Into Google’s Head


No, you can’t predict Google’s next move. Yes, you can prepare based on previous algorithm updates.

Google casts a dense web of secrecy around its algorithms, which means that even the savviest marketer can’t penetrate them. However, if you study Google’s history of algorithm changes, you can capitalize on them in 2017.

Above all, Google has made every change to better suit the user. In other words, it doesn’t care if your site ranks first or 50th in the SERPs. It cares whether its users find the content they want.

Even though you don’t know what might come next in an algorithm update, you can keep that same goal in mind. Serve up content that proves useful, entertaining, and compelling if you want to attract people as well as search engines.

We all want to nail content marketing in 2017. Using the above tips, you’ll stay on-trend and capitalize on the hottest marketing trends to surface over the last few months. If you need an even bigger boost in the content marketing department, contact us. We’re experts at creating content that meets the above guidelines and helps your brand rise to the top of the pile.

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SEO Best Practices: What’s Changing? An Expert Explains

by Chris Martin on 02/21/2017

SEO consultant Al Gomez is the man behind Dlinkers, SEOExpertPage.com, and UnliDeals.com. We recently spoke with Al to learn more about search engine optimization best practices, common website problems, and the benefits of link building and content marketing.

Tell us a bit about your background. Why did you decide to start an SEO company?

Providing valuable service was truly my forte, even before discovering SEO. I have past experience working in one of the biggest fast food chains here in the Philippines and also as a computer instructor. I was first introduced to SEO when I worked as a webmaster in one of the established software corporation in the Philippines, and I discovered its challenging yet exciting world.

When I decided to start my own SEO company in 2008, I began working with a client from the U.K. It started with just link building, and when I was joined by my first two link builders, I registered this company as Dlinkers, was named after the first router that we used. Dlinkers is simply a “linker,” “connector,” or a “helper.” We wanted to help business owners achieve their online goals through search engine optimization, while providing high-quality and outstanding service.

Today, Dlinkers continues to evolve by offering digital marketing solutions including SEO, social media marketing, web development, graphics, and AdWords to all types of companies worldwide.

When you do your SEO best practices site audits for your clients, what are some of the common issues or problems that you tend to see?

Mostly, I see that their sites are lacking in onsite optimization, which is one of what I consider to be one of the fundamentals of SEO. After a thorough site audit, I often discover many of the following issues:

• No focus keywords, meta titles, or descriptions

• No headings

• No internal links

• Unfriendly URLs

• Mobile-unfriendly web design

• Slower site speed

• No target or LSI keywords in content

• Images not optimized

• Sparse content or empty pages

• No social sharing buttons

• Structure data errors

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What are some of the recent changes that you’ve seen in SEO best practices?

The areas where improvement is needed immediately are in site speed, structured data, accelerated mobile pages (AMP), content, and responsive web design. Since a website is always a place for humans, it needs to be user-friendly and give them what they are asking for.

My experience in fast food chains has taught me that slower service is always bad service. It’s the same with a website, and that’s why in my recommendations I frequently emphasize boosting site speed. Also, the site content should not be taken for granted, but instead should further the company’s purpose (e.g. if it’s promoting the best burger in town, it should contain vital information why it’s the best). With the increasing use of mobile devices, we also emphasize responsive web design and AMP. Also, one of the important aspects that must be considered is adding structure data, since it helps Google become more familiar with the site.

How can good (or poor) blog design impact the visibility and SEO ranking of a website?

For me, having a good blog design is not just about aesthetics (e.g., the images and fonts used), but also combines site elements and compelling content with optimized loading speed. With this type of blog design, it truly can rank highly and help with site visibility – and users will end up reading each post, which can lead to more conversions.

What exactly is local SEO?

If you are targeting the local online market, this is an important added service. It allows websites to promote their products or services locally. For example, if a website is selling pizza in New York and uses local SEO, then when a native or local customer searches for pizza in New York, the website is more likely to appear in local search engine results like Google or business directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and more.

If someone were to say to you, “I don’t need a content distribution strategy. If I simply create great content, it will speak for itself and accomplish my goals,” how would you respond?

Since I like sharing and distributing my ideas, a content distribution strategy is a must for me. You might think that you have produced evergreen content, but you may discover that your traffic and conversion numbers are low. This is when you should start putting together the right content distribution strategy which entails engaging with other communities, tapping influencers, or republishing content.

If a company is getting more (or less) sales or conversions, how can you tell which aspects of an SEO campaign are the cause?

SEO’s main focus is to get the most traffic; but because we align it with the online marketing goals of a company, we need to look at sales. If there is subpar revenue, I first look at website rankings. If keywords are not ranking, the site hasn’t gained any traffic, which decreases the chances of conversion. Then, if the site is ranking but sales numbers are still low, I look at two factors: the user experience (UX), and site conversion. Sometimes I do experiments like A/B testing, where I may find out that the Calls to Action or site content needs to be revamped.

Is link building still important for SEO, and will it remain important in the future?

Link building will still be an important part of this industry in the future. It started with links and it will continue with links, but the big difference now is that we are considering link relevancy and quality. I truly believe that links will still be useful, especially in content marketing.

Is your content not leading to sales or conversions? Request a free content marketing assessment today!

4 Content Marketing Strategies Straight from the Experts

by Susan Payton on 02/17/2017

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing the same boring tips about content marketing. I’m always looking for strategies that will actually make my brand (and my clients’) stand out, but if we’re all reading the same recycled tips, that gets hard to do.


Ready to map out your strategy?

I happen to know a lot of content marketing experts in my line of work (I run a content marketing agency). These are the Jedi masters of their field, so I asked them for their best tips.

1. Use Livestreaming to Draw People to Your Blog

Kimberly Crossland, Owner/Operator, The Savvy Copywriter, LLC, encourages you to think outside of the “blog box” to get your content in front of more people:

“Facebook Live, Periscope, and any opportunity where you can ‘go live’ is a big deal for content marketing now. There’s tremendous opportunity to get people engaged and onto your website absorbing your content (and ultimately buying). For example, you can offer a teaser about something in your blog post or free giveaway. Or, you can hold a contest and drive viewers to your website to enter. Mixing these two mediums makes your message stand out from the noise online today.”

Put It Into Action: The next time you want to promote a blog post, hop on Facebook Live (if you have a business following there) and give away tidbits from the post. Make sure to promote the Live event ahead of time, and include a link to the blog post in the comments field.

2. Get Influencers to Guest Blog for You

One smart way to spread the reach of your content is to let others – those influential in your field – do the heavy lifting for you. Ivana S. Taylor, Publisher of DIYMarketers, has successfully garnered more visibility for her brand by inviting her audience and influencers to guest post on her site.

“This will not only take the pressure off of you to generate content, but it will also build awareness and goodwill toward your brand from credible experts and customers. In a very subtle way, these customer and expert contributors to your content are building credibility and awareness while also driving traffic to your site as they promote their content.”

Put It Into Action: Taylor admits that it can be challenging to manage all of these guest contributions. She uses Submittable, a tool that connects you to potential guest bloggers and lets you choose the best fit for your site.

3. Tailor Your Content to Audience Segments

If you’re like most companies, you have more than one audience. You might have different shoppers who buy different products, or simply people who are at various stages in the buyer’s journey. Chris Hardee, ResoundingWords.com, says by segmenting your audience and fitting the content to the needs of each group, your content will soar.

“Segment your audience using tags within your email marketing / CRM tool. Tailor your content (emails, blog posts, landing pages, etc.) so that you have targeted content for each segment. For example, if you have identified CEOs in your CRM with tags, you can create an email series that responds to their particular needs. Each email could lead to a blog post that is written for that audience.”

Put It Into Action: The next time you write a piece of content, don’t try to make it apply to a wide audience. Instead, zero in on one very small segment, and then measure results.

                                                              See the 7 Hottest Content Marketing Trends for 2017 

4. Put More Attention on Distribution

The biggest and most important part of content marketing, according to Brenda S. Stoltz, President of Ariad Partners, isn’t the creation of it; it’s the distribution.

“Everyone has heard ‘content is king.’ Companies know they need to create valuable content but, many aren’t getting the results from their content marketing efforts that they expected. I find the most difficult concept for companies around content marketing is how to actually get the content in front of their audience. The best content marketing tip I can give isn’t around the creation, but the distribution. Spend 30% of your time writing your content, but 70% distributing it.”

Put It Into Action: Stoltz has several tips for maximizing the reach of your content:

  •  Check out Buzzsumo.com to find influencers in your industry
  •  Leverage Milkshake.com for outreach
  •  Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook to grow your reach, but focus on cultivating your own community
  •  Promote via web, email, social, PPC, etc.

How Small Businesses Can Have a Corporate-Sized Content Strategy


The mom & pop companies can succeed with content too.

For small businesses, it can be frustrating to see how giant corporations with equally large marketing budgets can do so much with their content, while they’re left scraping their pennies together. Still, there are certain large-scale strategies that small businesses can adopt with great success.

Crossland says that because small businesses are strapped for time, it can feel impossible to achieve anything close to what corporations do…without help.

“In today’s world, there are many contractors who are eager to take items off lengthy to-do lists, enabling small businesses to get their message out to the people who need to hear it without making teams burn out by burning the candle at both ends. To put the larger strategies in motion, contract help.”

Stoltz says that the best way to grow your business is by building repeatable, scalable processes and automating as many of those processes as possible.

“Start with automating your marketing and sales processes to drive leads and close more business, move to automate your quote and billing processes and eventually as you grow your support, HR and other business processes. Large companies have been doing this for decades and in the last few years, the technology and pricing has moved to meet the needs of small businesses.”

And Hardee stresses the importance of having the right tool (that fits a small business budget):

“Find a marketing automation tool whose pricing scales for small businesses that includes email marketing and CRM (i.e. Agile CRM). Once you have a tool, it’s critical that you set up your tags and then use automation within your email campaigns to add tags for segmentation.”

As you can see, there are ways to beef up your content marketing strategy without following the crowd! Download our ebook: 10 Content Marketing Companies Compared 2016

10 Content Marketing Companies Compared

Top 7 Content Marketing Automation Platforms, Rated for 2017

by Laura College on 02/15/2017

# Company Rating At a Glance
1. HubSpot The inbound experts; all-in-one simplicity; 18K customers in 90 countries
2. Oracle Eloqua Pioneers of the marketing automation industry; ideal for large businesses; pricey
3. Hatchbuck Harness data for lead generation; high customer satisfaction ratings
4. Marketo Reach more visitors with predictive content; costs can get high
5. Infusionsoft Solely focused on small businesses; excellent lead capture potential
6. Pardot B2B marketing automation solution for Salesforce users; good bang-for-buck ratio
7. Aprimo Strong emphasis on customer support; some concerns about difficulty and user interface

 

Do you get tired of repeating the same marketing tasks over and over again? If so, you’re not alone. Like most marketers and business owners, you want to devote your time to activities that improve outcomes.

That’s why content marketing automation platforms have become so popular. Simply program the software to carry out a specific task when certain conditions arise. Simple and easy.

However, you might not know which content marketing platform to choose. Several high-end options exist, each of which brings a different value package to the table. We’ve analyzed the field and determined these are the top seven content marketing automation platforms available right now. If you’re ready to automate repetitive tasks, you’ll find sweet relief with one of these choices.

1. HubSpot

Known for its emphasis on inbound marketing, HubSpot has become an industry leader in lead generation and lead nurturing. This is due in no small part to its content marketing automation platform, which allows marketers to eliminate some manual drudgery in favor of more productive tasks.

Key Features

  • Drag-and-drop website editing
  • Professional-quality landing page builder
  • Automatic integration with Salesforce or HubSpot’s CRM

What You’ll Get

We love HubSpot because of its simplicity. You can view all of your data points on one convenient screen, and you can seamlessly share data between the marketing and sales departments, effectively creating one unified team.

It’s an all-in-one solution that you can integrate with your blog, social media accounts, email lists, and other digital assets.

What You’ll Pay

HubSpot charges between $200 to $2,400 per month, depending on the number of contacts you want to add. Additionally, the company charges onboarding fees of between $600 and $5,000.

Because of its price point, HubSpot’s upper packages will appeal primarily to larger businesses. However, the basic plan is within reach of most SMEs, and although it lacks the features of the more comprehensive packages, it’s a good place to get your feet wet. HubSpot’s diverse options is one reason that it lands in the number-one position.
 

2. Oracle Eloqua

Eloqua was one of the first companies to offer marketing automation, and even after their acquisition by Oracle, this is still one of the most powerful marketing automation tools available.

Key Features

  • Robust marketing calendar that seamlessly integrates with automation
  • Built-in SEO tools
  • Personality profiles for better segregation between consumer groups

What You’ll Get

Oracle Eloqua focuses primarily on paid search and email marketing campaigns. You have to manually integrate other lead-generation tools, such as blogging, but it boasts an impressive asset database that you can customize for your specific needs.

What You’ll Pay

This software costs $2,000 per month or more depending on the number of users and the features you want. This software is heavily geared toward the B2B space, so it’s not as useful for B2C companies.

Users report difficult reporting setup and an outdated user interface, which keeps Oracle Eloqua out of the top spot. However, it’s an ideal choice for B2B companies with extensive marketing budgets.

3. Hatchbuck

Hatchbuck, a data-fueled content marketing platform, gives you all the tools you need to create a marketing campaign from whole cloth — or to tweak the one you’re already using.

Key Features

  • Categories for different types of contacts
  • Full-scale CRM functionality
  • Email and e-commerce integration

What You’ll Get

Simple lead generation forms can segment website visitors into different categories. For instance, you might want to send a different series of emails depending on where each prospect falls in the sales funnel.

What You’ll Pay

We love that Hatchbuck offers a solution for everyone. Freelancers, for instance, can use the Solo plan, which costs just $59 per month (or $53 per month when paid on a semi-annual basis). Other plans range from two to unlimited users, so you can select the one that meets your specific needs.

Hatchbuck deserves its spot in the top three. Some users complain about the inbound-only API, but most have found easy workarounds. Users have also asked for small improvements, such as tag cheat sheets and more custom reporting, but this company remains largely well reviewed. It’s perfect for small businesses and startups in particular.

4. Marketo

Although it’s not as well-known as HubSpot, Marketo offers a well-rounded content marketing automation platform that centers around its unique approach to predictive content.

Key Features

  • Robust lead management tools
  • Detailed analytics
  • Large CRM infrastructure

What You’ll Get

Marketo focuses on several aspects of content marketing automation. You’ll gain access to lead generation and nurturing tools that help you usher prospects through the sales funnel. The predictive content component allows you to serve up content based on user behavior, which essentially turns your website or blog into a lead-generation machine.

You also get powerful analytics software, support for email and mobile, and a robust accounts-based marketing, or ABM, component, which enables cross-channel marketing and promotions.

What You’ll Pay

You can choose from several pre-built bundles at Marketo, or you can design your own bundle based on the features you want. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t publish its pricing scale online. It does state, however, that pricing is based on the number of contacts rather than the volume of communications you send.

The majority of Marketo customers fall into the mid-market category, though the software also attracts a few small business and enterprise clients. The software has received a few complaints about its landing page and form builders as well as infrequent slow-downs. However, users praise its ease of use, urging new clients to learn one part of the system at a time to master each one.

5. Infusionsoft

Although it doesn’t offer a dedicated blogging component, Infusionsoft is one of the premiere content marketing automation platforms available. It’s particularly useful for lead capture, especially for new and emerging businesses.

Key Features

  • Easy integration with many other marketing tools
  • Ability to create personalized communications for specific groups
  • Automated sales workflow

What You’ll Get

Infusion Soft earns its spot on this list by seamlessly incorporating marketing and sales follow-up. You can create personalized communications, such as emails, based on prospect activity.

For instance, when someone fills out your lead capture form on a blog post, you can immediately trigger a series of emails designed to usher the prospect toward a sale. Later on, appointments and other activities can trigger different email campaigns.

You can also add sales automation, CRM, and other platforms to your package if you want to use Infusion Soft for all of your marketing needs. Like HubSpot, this company offers several different services that incorporate seamlessly for your marketing team.

What You’ll Pay

Rates for Infusion Soft range from $199 to $599 per month on annual plans. You’ll also pay a “kickstart” fee of up to $2,999 to set up your account and get your business started with the software.

Most of InfusionSoft’s customers are small businesses and startups. We might have ranked this software higher if it offered more functionality for enterprise-level firms. Additionally, while the e-commerce integration offers a refreshing opportunity, users report that it’s sometimes difficult to use.

6. Pardot

If you’re looking for a content marketing automation platform that focuses specifically on maximizing ROI, you might want to consider Pardot. Using personalized prospect interactions, the software strives to serve up content that meets each prospect’s needs and generates more sales for every marketing dollar spent.

Key Features

  • Triggered emails that get released at pre-determined intervals
  • Scoring and grading functionality for leads
  • Detailed ROI reporting

What You’ll Get

The ROI reporting module offers significant value, especially for startups and other young businesses that haven’t established a proven marketing methodology yet. You’ll see statistics in real time to help you tweak your marketing campaigns for maximum ROI.

Depending on the package your select, this content marketing automation platform offers smart lead generation, customizable email campaigns, and effective built-in testing modules. It’s a great tool for both lead generation and lead management, and the lead qualification functionality will help your business avoid wasting time on unqualified or disinterested leads.

What You’ll Pay

If you have 10,000 or fewer contacts, you’ll pay between $1,000 and $3,000 per month. The company separates its packages into three tiers: Standard, Pro, and Ultimate. The most feature-rich package includes extras like phone support, API access, and custom user roles.

Although it lacks the range of functionality you’ll find with the programs on this list that ranked higher, Pardot has earned its reputation for easy-to-use modules and third-party integration. It’s best for mid-level businesses, primarily because the price point might drive away smaller firms.

7. Aprimo

If you’re looking for a more content-focused automation platform, Aprimo might suit your needs best. It focuses on automating and improving the marketing process from the moment you conceive of a content idea.

Key Features

  • Custom CRM integration options
  • Well-designed database management
  • Lead-capture forms that help predict and control outcomes

What You’ll Get

Aprimo allows you to create a marketing strategy, set realistic goals, track user data, work collaborative on content creation and approval, and create project plans. It also lets you establish customized protocols for delivering content to prospects, whether it’s a blog post or an email.

More specifically, Aprimo promises to “automat[e] the Five Marketing Essentials: plan, spend, create, distribute, and perform.” Each of these essential tasks improves your ROI and brings you closer to reaching your marketing goals.

What You’ll Pay

Aprimo doesn’t publish its pricing strategy online. However, you can request a free demo and quote from the website, so you can determine if this software is right for you without spending a dime.

Users report a time-consuming onboarding process and difficulty learning the software, which is why Aprimo falls at the bottom of the list. However, it gets positive feedback for its quick results once users learn how to use it properly. Companies with a dedicated IT manager or department might get the most use out of Aprimo.

Regardless of which content marketing automation platform you choose, automating marketing tasks can make your business run more smoothly and generate more leads. Of course, the entire process starts with quality content, and that’s where Media Shower shines. We help companies like yours start their marketing strategies with high-value content that your prospects will love. Click here to try us for free.

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In the Future, Everyone Will See You Naked

by John Hargrave on 02/14/2017

When actor Jennifer Lawrence received an email from Apple indicating that her account had been compromised, she did the sensible thing: she clicked the email link to change her password.

Unfortunately, the email itself was a scam to steal her password. It had been sent by a 36-year-old man in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, whose hobby was stealing celebrity passwords, then downloading the contents of their Apple iCloud accounts.

Once he had the password of The Hunger Games star, the hacker ran an automated program that downloaded her entire database of iPhone photos. Eventually these photos were leaked online, along with the personal photos of more than 100 celebrities who had fallen for similar scams.

Privacy is over.

When Your Email Goes Public

It is literally possible right now that every email you’ve ever sent will be shared with the world.

That’s a sobering thought.

If you’ve had a Yahoo email account, your emails are theoretically available for anyone in the world to read, thanks to the hackers that stole one billion accounts.

You’ve given your personal passwords to dozens of websites, which are accessible by thousands of internal employees. It only takes one of those employees to get upset and leak your passwords to the world.

Or, a group of rogue hackers can find a way into a poorly-secured password database, as in the hack of AshleyMadison.com, which ultimately allowed the world to search all 37 million people who were looking to have an extramarital affair.

Privacy is over.

When Your Photos Go Public

It is literally possible right now that every digital photo you’ve ever taken will be shared with the world.

All a hacker needs to do is trick you into giving away your password.

Or install spyware on your computer that captures everything you type.

Or guess your security questions.

Or find your password to one site, which is likely the same password you use for other sites.

Or park near your house and tunnel into your Wi-Fi network.

Or call you up, pretending to be from your bank’s technical support team.

Or hack into the servers of your cloud account.

Privacy is over.

When Your Life Goes Public

Given the possibility – no, the likelihood – that everything you write, film, and text will be shared with the world, there’s really only one solution: live a life that you’re not ashamed to share.

Just ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, whose leaked emails about Bernie Sanders cost her a job.

Or ask Sony film executive Amy Pascal, whose leaked emails about Barack Obama cost her a job (and a significant black mark on her Wikipedia page).

The best policy is to assume everything you email will be read by the entire world. If you’re going to email someone a private comment about a co-worker or a client, be prepared for that comment to be accidentally forwarded to the co-worker or client in the future.

Assume everything you photograph will be seen by the entire world. If you want to take pictures of your own body, terrific, just be sure you’re comfortable showing them to your neighbors, your rabbi, and your mail carrier.

Years ago, the novelist Richard Bach dispensed this piece of advice.

“Live never to be ashamed if anything you do or say is published around the world — even if what is published is not true.”

It’s incredibly challenging advice, but today it seems more relevant than ever. Live a life that you’re not ashamed to share.

Seeing Hillary Clinton Naked

Privacy is over, but we should do our part to respect it.

In July 2016, nearly 20,000 emails were leaked from the Democratic National Committee. Full of behind-the-scenes politics, the leaked emails undoubtedly contributed to Hillary Clinton losing the election.

The conclusion of the cybersecurity community, as well as the CIA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence, is that Russia was behind the email hacks.

The emails were published on WikiLeaks, whose founder Julian Assange had said he wanted to “harm Hillary Clinton’s chances to win the presidency.”

It worked. Wikileaks released the emails in batches throughout the 2016 campaign. It was a steady, relentless drip of bad news for the Clinton campaign, each load of dirty laundry eagerly reported by the press, and consumed by us.

I believe the media made a big mistake by reporting on the contents of the email. There was much hand-wringing about the ethics of reporting on stolen emails, but ultimately the reasoning went, “If enough news outlets report on it, it’s a story we have to cover.”

I reject this thinking. The media should not report on stories that violate the privacy of others even if it’s newsworthy, just like we don’t release details of minors involved with crimes.

The media should not report on personal details of celebrities or politicians, unless it materially affects the job they’re supposed to be doing. (We do have the right to know about Bill Clinton’s affair in the Oval Office.)

In our hyperconnected world, there is no such thing as privacy. When your nude photos get leaked, someone is going to publish them. (Perez Hilton, probably.) But the media should not.

And since we are all the media, we all have a responsibility to respect the privacy of others. The next time you see a leaked celebrity photograph or political email, look the other way. To do otherwise is to reward bad behavior with your attention, and with your pageviews.

Privacy is over. But let’s still respect it – and demand that the media do the same.

 

John Hargrave is CEO of Media Shower, the leading content marketing company.

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Top 10 Article Writing Services: Articlez Reviewed

by Laura College on 02/13/2017

Content marketing has become the single easiest way to generate brand awareness, improve website traffic, and boost sales. However, the process itself isn’t easy at all.

Millions of pieces of content exist on the web, which means you have stiff competition. If you want to enjoy the benefits described above, you need a top-notch article writing service to help you generate quality content.

We’ve ranked the top 10 article writing services available today. Now we’re putting each company under careful scrutiny so you better understand your options.

Today, let’s dig deep into our number-10 pick: Articlez.

Articlez Pros

 

articlez writing team

                                                                  Articlez emphasizes its use of U.S. writers.

For standard articles, Articlez offers some of the lowest rates around. The company charges minimum rates for articles of all lengths. A credit translates into $1, so you’ll spend $11 on a 350-word article.

Very few, if any, article writing services offer such low prices. If you’re looking for content on a budget, and you’re just dipping your toes into the content marketing pool, Articlez might be a good solution.

Articlez Cons

articlez pricing

                                                                             You’ll pay more for “elite content” — but what constitutes elite?

After you set up an account with Articlez, you’ll see a list of product offerings and their prices in credits instead of dollars. Elite content costs significantly more, but the company doesn’t reveal what metrics it uses to determine elite content.

For instance, does the company reserve its most talented writers for elite assignments? If so, you might get better quality work by taking this approach. However, poor reviews on article quality from around the internet suggest that you might find yourself disappointed no matter what you pay.

What Customers Say About Articlez

Very few coherent reviews exist on the internet about Articlez. On the Warrior Forum, user yuyuan says, “I have posted 5 jobs on Articlez ($6 an article) and I must say that their work rate is very fast. The quality of the articles is not bad, with proper sentences and grammar. Another good thing about it is that the articles are unique and submit them to article directories right away.” While it’s not a glowing review, it suggests that Articlez writers can at least write proper sentence structure.

Meanwhile, at FatStacksblog.com, contributor Jon writes that “It’s been a while since I used Articlez.com so I can’t comment much about the service. The content was decent and it was written by native English writers, but I don’t recall it being extraordinary. It was fairly formulaic, but it did the job.”

Another reviewer paints a slightly more dismal picture, saying, “Many customers turn to Articlez when they need extremely inexpensive copy for their blogs and other online properties. However, writer quality will vary significantly. This is the cheapest article option. I think it’s important to remember that content truly is king.”

If you’re looking for an article writing service and you don’t mind having to fix some errors, insert links, create your own ideas, and manage every other aspect of your content marketing strategy, Articlez might work for you. However, you’re better off with a full-scale article writing service like Media Shower. We carefully screen our writers and editors, and we help you develop a plan for your content. Request a free content marketing assessment to learn how we can turn your brand into a content marketing machine.

The 7 Hottest Content Marketing Trends for 2017

by Laura College on 02/09/2017

Armed with industry intellect and a dusty-yet-trusty crystal ball, it’s time to forecast the key content marketing trends for 2017.

Understanding them and seeing where the industry is headed can only help when it’s time to create your marketing strategies. Let’s dig in.

1. Bigger Budgets and Bigger Efforts


Grab those calculators — it’ll pay off.

Forbes contributor Brian Sutter revealed in 2016 that 62 percent of B2B companies and 63 percent of B2C businesses report that their content marketing efforts have improved over the previous 12 months. By contrast, only 30 percent could say the same thing in 2015.

That sounds great, right? It is, but it also means that competition continues to get stiffer. If you want to make your brand known in 2017, you might need to loosen the purse strings when it comes to your marketing budget.

Additionally, you might need to step up your game in terms of content quality, length, and value. But how do you make it happen?

Earmark Funds for Specific Marketing Campaigns

Instead of setting aside $X for your marketing department, break up your budget into smaller chunks. A certain percentage might go toward content creation, another for content promotion, a third for paid search.

Next, figure out your KPIs for 2017. Determine what you want to accomplish based on your successes and failures in 2016.

You might want to:

    • Increase customer engagement on social media
    • Boost sales
    • Work with higher profile clients
    • Improve email campaign open or click-through rates
    • Reduce bounce rates on your blog posts
    • Boost ROI
    • Improve customer retention

 

Remember, though, that these KPIs mean nothing until you attach them to a metric and a deadline. You don’t just want to boost sales, for instance — you want to boost sales by 15 percent by Q4 of 2017.

Review Historic Data


Your content marketing history can tell you more about what you should focus on in the future.

Big data has made it easier for brands to not only gather enormous amounts of data, but also to parse and understand it. Using historical data, you can figure out what your 2017 content marketing plan should look like.

For instance, if conversions have dropped, you might need to focus on creating better CTAs, enhancing your unique selling proposition, or even making changes to your product and marketing collateral.

This process will help you decide where to put your cash this year.

2. More Mobile, Less Fluff


Pick up that smartphone — your customers are.

Writing at the end of 2016 for Search Engine Land, Marcus Miller calls mobile optimization a strong “competitive advantage” for brands in terms of SEO.

You’ve heard about mobile optimization over the last few years, but now it’s time to step up your game. Miller recommends adopting a “mobile first” attitude toward your content marketing efforts in 2017.

It’s not just about responsive design, either. A fully responsive website can still introduce irritants to mobile users:

  • Slowly loading pages
  • Text rendered too small
  • Annoying full-page pop-ups
  • Inaccessible or non-intuitive navigation
  • Touch elements (such as links) that sit too closely together for mobile users to click accurately
  • Images that get cut off
  • Divs, padding, and margins that render improperly

While focusing on content marketing, don’t neglect website design. It’s an inherent part of your content strategy, and consumers will never get to the content if they can’t get past the design.

3. More Visuals, More Text


Text only doesn’t cut it anymore.

It might seem counterintuitive to add more text as well as more visual imagery, but stay with us.

More Visual Content

Human beings are visual animals. More importantly, content with images, video, and other graphic elements come with a few content marketing advantages:

  • When people hear words, they retain about 10 percent of what was said. When they see an image, they retain 65 percent.
  • People pay more attention to “information-carrying” images, such as infographics, than they do slabs of text.
  • Tweets that contain images have 150 percent better conversions than those with only text.

It’s also important to note that image and video consumption has risen tremendously on mobile platforms.

You don’t have to dedicate your professional life to graphic design, videography, or photography. Consider using stock assets to augment your content, for instance. You can also get great footage using only your smartphone.

More Text

Blog posts are great fodder for social networks, but long-form guides provide the opportunity to create campaigns and an excuse to experiment with ads. –Kissmetrics

Yes, visual imagery has become increasingly important, but don’t ditch text just yet. In fact, start adding more.

Kissmetrics tracked data for several pages on its website. It found that “People stayed on the page 40% longer than on the average page, and they looked at 25% more pages than the average visitor” with long-form content.

What’s long-form content? Definitions vary. However, the days of 300-word blog posts have likely sailed. While 500-word posts can help you gain traction, consider shooting for blog posts, articles, and other content that exceeds 1,000 words.

Why does it perform so much better?

  • Long-form content keeps people on the page longer, which means more brand exposure.
  • You can add more depth to a longer article, which makes it more valuable than a shorter, less meaty post.
  • Consumers don’t want to visit 10 different websites. They want to find one premium source for information. You can provide that with long-form content.
  • Long-form content tends to include more opportunities for authoritative links, images, infographis, videos, and other compelling content.

Use that incentive to invest in longer content that engages the user and keeps eyes on the page.

4. Fewer Trends, Greater Depth

Over the last few years, we’ve seen trends rise to prominence in the content marketing sphere, but it’s time to let them go.

For instance, you’ll find clickbait headlines all over the internet. As far back as 2014, Facebook took a stand against these headlines, but they still proliferate today.

Generally speaking, clickbait headlines prey on the reader’s desire to answer a burning question. The headline often proves misleading in terms of the content included in the actual article.

Examples of clickbait headlines could include:

  • These two people met on the internet. You’ll NEVER GUESS what happened on their first date.
  • You’ll never guess what this miracle drug can do for your skin.
  • This is the most loved man in the United States. Click to find out why.
  • We put two monkeys in a room together. What we found will shock you.

They might sound silly, but many content sites use them exclusively to drive traffic.

It’s true that they work. They get clicks and conversions, which reinforces content marketers’ desire to use them.

The problem, though, is that they often only work once. If a reader finds out you’re duping him or her with inflated headlines, you’ve just lost a reader.

Other trends that you might not want to follow in 2017 include the following:

  • Autoplaying ads or videos
  • Dedicated mobile sites over responsive design
  • Misuse or overuse of parallax effects on images and graphics
  • Flash
  • Banner ads
  • Pop-up ads or other pop-up content
  • Using automation for all marketing analytics and tracking

If you steer clear of these fads, you’ll stand a better chance of hooking readers with your content in 2017.

5. More Social Communication


Snapchat, anyone?

You can’t deny that social media has taken over the internet. From broader platforms like Facebook and Twitter to more niche options like LinkedIn, you need a social media presence.

Businesses will get more involved with Snapchat in 2017. Like Facebook before it, Snapchat has transitioned from a tool aimed at angsty teens to a multi-functional platform that businesses can leverage for better engagement.

However, the social interactions don’t stop on social media. In 2017, we’re likely to see brands use live video to enhance transparency and to involve their customers in their day-to-day operations. Many brands have already begun broadcasting their events live for the entire world to watch.

Additionally, brands must learn to use their various online platforms to interact directly with their consumers. Chatbots, for instance, have grown in popularity. Additionally, many brands have gamified their content marketing strategies.

In other words, they’re introducing a sense of frivolity and competition to their interactions with consumers. Who doesn’t love a bit of competition, after all?

Also See: How to Create Great Content Tailored to 2017′s Marketing Trends

6. More Strategy, Less Serendipity

If you want your content marketing strategy to work in 2017, you actually need a strategy. This is a document that spells out exactly what you want to accomplish with your content as well as the steps you intend to get there.

Start an Editorial Calendar

Know what you’ll post on your blog and social media accounts weeks and months in advance. An editorial calendar lets you progressively move your content in a specific direction instead of “winging it.”

Create Takeaways

Before you publish a piece of content, ask what value readers will derive from it? Does it solve a problem? Provide insight? Offer some light entertainment? Don’t publish content that doesn’t include at least one valuable takeaway.

Post Less Often

When you confine yourself to an ambitious publishing schedule, you risk running out of ideas and slapping something together at the last minute. Slow down your publishing schedule instead so that each piece of content offers maximum value.

Help People Share

Social share buttons aren’t a luxury anymore. They’re essential if you want your content to spread. Use social share buttons on your blog as part of your content strategy. Specifically ask users to click on them and share.

7. Don’t Neglect Google

You didn’t think we’d finish this post without mentioning the internet giant, did you? Google drives many content marketing trends because of its algorithm updates and its emphasis on driving more traffic via its search engine.

In 2017, marketers need to pay more attention to scheme markup. You might want your content to appear as rich snippets, for example, so you get more prominence in the Google SERPs.

Additionally, Google fiddled with the SERPs in 2016, most notably removing the right-side ad spaces. Expect this to continue in 2017, so keep your eye on the SERPs so you know how to optimize your content.

This is a lot to digest, but if you’re current on content marketing trends for 2017, you stand to enjoy a more profitable year. Since long-form and value-rich content has become a key focus for brands, you might need a third party to help you design and implement a content strategy.

Want to learn more? Check out these 4 Content Marketing Strategies Straight from the Experts.

At Media Shower, we help companies get noticed on the web. Not only do we write and edit your content, but we also provide ideation and go through a detailed orientation process so we know exactly what you need. Ready to harness the power of Media Shower? Start your free trial today.

Start Your Free Trial with Media Shower

 

 

Super Bowl 2017: The Content Marketing Recap

by Jenna Scaglione on 02/07/2017

I have a confession to make …

I hate football (sorry, Tom Brady)… and I’m not a fan of hot wings (sorry Buffalo Wild Wings). But, as a content marketer and a creative professional, I love the Super Bowl.

I look forward to the creative campaigns advertisers strategically devise for the big game spots, and I also marvel at how some fail to take full advantage of their ad budgets.

This year, advertisers paid 5 million dollars for 30 seconds of airtime to capture attention and draw interest. And with hundreds of millions of viewers watching, advertisers needed to find a way to extend their reach beyond their 30-second ad spots and make every second count.

Super Bowl is the one time of year consumers don’t fire up the DVRs to avoid commercials. So it’s a prime opportunity for advertisers to give it everything they got so they can land proverbial touchdowns for their products.

The winners are the advertisers who reach beyond the ad and take a holistic perspective without neglecting the principles of good sound content marketing.

From a content marketer’s perspective, the winners are the ads that …

1. Connect with viewers
2. Prompt action
3. Continue the conversation

Let’s take a look at some of the advertisers that used content marketing to score big points with all three.

Know Your Audience – Make the Connection

This year, my living room was surprisingly quiet during the commercial spots instead of being full of the typical knee-slapping laughter I remember from past years.

Advertisers focused more on heartwarming ads and took a nod from the current political and emotional climate, focusing on pulling our heartstrings rather than our funnybones.

Here is the Budweiser ad spot. Budweiser is notorious for creating the funniest ads of the SuperBowl. But, this year, the popular Super Bowl sponsor replaced puppies and Clydesdales with societal relevance. Its ad spoke to the social and economic issues facing our nation today.

Content Marketing Takeaway

Advertisers were either outspoken in their political relevance or they played it safe, yet they still pulled on our heartstrings. They understood the current emotional climate and capitalized on its volatility.

As content marketers, we can take a nod from this strategy and pay close, detailed attention to our audience and the people we service. Our goal is to connect, and one way we can connect is by understanding the emotions our audience may be feeling and speaking directly to them in a language they can understand and relate to.

Death to the Call to Action (CTA)?

As I was watching the big game and scoping out the room, I noticed that half of the people were more attentive to their scrolling Facebook, Twitter and Instagram news feeds than watching the Patriots’ epic 4th quarter comeback.

According to a TechCrunch study, digital engagement around the Super Bowl has increased year over year. In 2015, football enthusiasts tweeted 28.4 million tweets and shared 265 million posts, comments and likes on Facebook.

In addition, people are watching more ads on YouTube than ever before. And, according to Ad Age, mobile devices account for 50% of advertiser website visits during the Super Bowl.

The phones are in our hands ready to post, click and share. We have full access to the ads, even days and months later on YouTube. Why aren’t advertisers taking advantage of CTAs?

Out of all of the advertising spots for the Super Bowl, I only noticed one that prompted a call to action for user-generated content. It was from T-Mobile.

The phone carrier’s commercial featured Justin Bieber and a history of Super Bowl dance moves.

Justin Bieber getting “jiggy with it.”

T-Mobile started a dance contest and at the end of the spot, it prompted viewers to post their dance moves using the hashtag #UnlimitedMoves.

Here is the commercial in its entirety:

Content Marketing Takeaway

Don’t neglect the CTA. While it may not be a strategy used by Super Bowl advertisers this year, it’s important for content marketers. If you have great content to share, don’t forget to ask your audience to take action. If they like it, they will do it.

Get Social and Continue the Conversation

Even though advertisers neglected to add CTAs to their commercials, a good number used unique hashtags to prompt further sharing and engagement.

The smarter companies took the ads beyond their expensive 30-second spots and continued the conversation off the TV and away from the ads. They also engaged with their fans, before, during and after the game.

T-Mobile came out on top again with its clever use of hashtags. Did you see this T-Mobile commercial? It poked fun at NSFW-type content. Once published, a flurry of related hashtag posts blanketed the internet, more so on Twitter. Take a look at this noteworthy ad and notice the hashtag at the end.

The antioxidant drink Bai also used hashtags to further engagement. The brand created a clever spin on Justin Timberlake’s old N’Sync song “Bye Bye Bye” and replaced it with their brand name “Bai,” hence the hashtag #BaiBaiBai. The spot features Justin Timberlake and Christopher Walken.

Avocados from Mexico was active on its social campaigns before, during and after the game. It launched this clever ad spot during the game:

Avocados from Mexico was promoting on Twitter during the game and shooting live videos to take fans on Facebook behind the scenes. Its hashtag #avosecrets spread quickly.

Content Marketing Takeaway

Continue the conversation with your content by encouraging sharing. If people love your content, they will want to share it with their friends and peers. Give them every opportunity to do so.

You may not have millions of dollars to spend on Super Bowl ads, but you do have the power to connect, engage and be a part of your audience’s conversation. If you need some assistance with this, Media Shower created this comprehensive guide to the 10 leading content marketing companies.

We compared 10 top companies and outlined what each offers and how they can help. We also provide you with 10 questions to ask a prospective content marketing company so you are prepared to make a wise and educated decision. Get instant access to this Free guide here. (Hint: That was a Call To Action. Just because the big brands forgot to use them doesn’t mean you should too!).