Archive for April, 2017

How to Work with a Content Marketing Agency

by Jenna Scaglione on 04/28/2017

Content marketing has become a popular strategy for today’s growing brands as 88% of B2B marketers currently use it in their marketing strategies. And to execute their campaigns effectively, they also partner with agencies who are experts in the craft and can assist with strategy, expertise, and implementation.

Simply finding a great agency, however, is not enough to create successful, ROI-driven content marketing campaigns. The client-agency relationship must also remain strong throughout the engagement to ensure success. And aside from smart content and account managers with great personalities, it takes much more to make a client-agency relationship successful.

If you found a good content marketing agency, congratulations, but that is only step one.


        Don’t get all “superhero” about your decision just yet.

To execute a successful campaign, it’s imperative that your client-agency relationship work. And to make this happen, you must avoid relying on the agency to do all of the heavy lifting. These relationships go south when both parties are not producing what’s expected.

Here are some insider tips on what you can do, on your end, to foster a productive, results-driven relationship with your content marketing agency.

Goal-Setting Knowledge and Candor

This is a two-step process:

  1. Know your goals – What are your expectations? Where do you want to be in 6 months, 12 months, and using what specific content marketing strategies?
  2. Communicate your goals to your agency upfront

Throughout your relationship, you will face changing priorities, challenges and the birth of new ideas, creatively and logistically. If you do not have clarity on your goals and you have not communicated them upfront to your agency, you may not know if you are “getting your money’s worth” and this could lead to goal misalignment and a sour relationship.

Here are some things you can do about it so you are prepared:

  • Ask yourself throughout the campaign, even in the midst of opposing views, “Is what we are working on now in alignment with our brand’s goals?” If not, disregard it, even if it seems like a good idea.
  • Communicate your company content goals upfront and get them on paper. A good content marketing agency will re-visit your goals periodically but do your due diligence and keep them top of mind as well. This will ensure alignment.
  • Be open to feedback and slight alterations in your goals if the agency believes you will reach your expectations faster via different channels.

Do Your Part

You pay your content marketing agency to work for you, but that doesn’t mean you should sit back and avoid involvement. Agencies gather insight from you and this information is essential to drive their campaigns and foster complete brand/content alignment for all content they create.

Agencies are not in your internal meetings, collaborating on new directions and messaging so it’s easy to forget that they need to be aware of any new and updated ideas. Your brand will evolve and your strategies will change over time as you grow. So it’s vital that you communicate these changes or nuances to your agency so they stay aligned with your brand messaging, objectives and focus.

Keep Commitments

If an agency isn’t performing, I don’t need to tell you that it’s time to fire them.


        Not the kind of sticky note you’re looking for.

But, what if your agency is working hard but you are the bottleneck? It’s not uncommon for busy clients like yourself to experience periods of slow momentum.

Here are some client issues that can cause bottlenecks:

  • Content approval– Your content marketing agency may be churning out content as per your agreement but you aren’t getting those pieces published because you cannot approve them fast enough.Solution: In the agreement phase of your relationship, outline the approval process and also devise a plan B the agency can implement if you cannot fulfill your approval obligations. This way, you will never lose momentum.
  • Content promotion– You agreed that your company will promote the content, but you do not have enough bandwidth to get the job done. It’s not your agency’s fault if momentum is slowed as a result.Solution: If your content marketing agency offers content promotion services, sign on to allow them to take over. Otherwise, hire someone in-house to take the load off. It doesn’t make sense to waste money on content if you can’t get it published and promoted.

If you are partnered with a subpar content marketing agency, it’s best to cut ties. But, if you work with a reputable firm, and you want to pursue an ongoing relationship, success will depend on continued attention, where both parties are working in tandem on agreed-upon goals and expectations, and keeping forward momentum strong.

If you are in the process of looking for a content marketing company you can partner with and forge strong relationships, we can help.  Get a free trial

 

 

Burger King’s Google Home Hijacking: Clever or Clumsy?

by Susan Payton on 04/26/2017

Burger King likes to serve burgers and fries, sure. But when it comes to advertising, BK has developed a reputation as one of the more daring US corporations. The latest example: an off-the-wall attempt to use Google Home as a platform for a viral campaign.

The Ploy

Burger King devised an add that triggered Google’s voice-activated Home smart speaker when the actor says, “Okay, Google: What is the Whopper burger?”

The hack was designed to spur Google Home devices to then read the Wikipedia listing for Burger King. Which they did. Until Wikipedia users caught on and started editing Burger King’s entry to include less-than-positive statements about its famous burger, including that it was “cancer-causing” and that its ingredients included “rat and toenail clippings.

Just three hours after this campaign launched, Google shut down the functionality on the Home device, and Wikipedia blocked further entries of the Burger King page. Still, Burger King found workarounds to continue the fun.

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

Is Burger King clowning around with this campaign?

The question for marketers here is: did Burger King succeed in its effort to push the envelope? Yes, its Twitter account saw a 3x boost in activity following the stunt, but much of it was negative. But that brings up the old PR adage: there’s no such thing as bad press.

So will this joke serve Burger King in the long run? Will it be known as a company not afraid to take risks, and will it see an ROI as a result? Or will people roll their eyes at the brand and dismiss it?

Time will tell. Certainly, Burger King opened up new territory by hacking into the AI of Google Home. The smart speaker doesn’t technically offer advertising (though there’s been a recent backlash about what seemed to be an ad for Beauty and the Beast on devices), so it’s anyone’s guess whether other brands will similarly try to hack this next-gen technology tool to their benefit.

Burger King seems to adhere to the policy of begging for forgiveness rather than asking for permission in this case.

And Is It Content Marketing?

Is this really content marketing?

The lines between content marketing and advertising are blurring in new and interesting ways right now. Consumers often don’t know they’re being marketed to if they are immersed in an experience they enjoy, and brands are striving to create those positive experiences so consumers will dissociate them from typical advertising and marketing.

So what about Burger King’s campaign? Can it be considered content marketing?

If we consider that the aim of content marketing to build awareness of a brand through engaging content, then yes, I think we can consider it content marketing. It’s foreign to us because of the format, but just think: thousands of people likely told their friends about the hack, who then tried it themselves. Regardless of what the Wikipedia entry said about Burger King, the result was that people were thinking about the brand, and perhaps then going out to buy a Whopper.

Whether or not you’re ready to experience a backlash like Burger King has, take note of its efforts: you win nothing by being cautious, and if you are willing to take risks in your marketing, at the very least, you get people talking about your brand.

Want a whopper of a good deal? Get a free trial of MediaShower’s content marketing platform.

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Expert Interview: Radu Vrabie of Omniconvert.com on Boosting Conversion Rate Optimization

by Chris Martin on 04/25/2017

Radu Vrabie

Radu Vrabie is a full-stack online marketer that’s currently in charge of delivering the message of Omniconvert.com, the all-in-one CRO tool, to a global audience. We had a chance to sit down with Radu to hear some examples of real-world advice about A/B testing, analytics usage, behavioral targeting, and many other online marketing topics.

Tell us a little about your background. Why are you so passionate about conversion rate optimization?

I started the marketing journey back in 2009 when I discovered my passion for this field by doing search engine optimization. What first began as a hobby quickly turned into a profession when I got my first job in the industry as an SEO consultant for an online insurance company.  But SEO was just my springboard. As my interest in online marketing, in general, grew ever stronger, I started getting into PPC with AdWords and Facebook campaign management while studying copywriting techniques; and in the end, I discovered conversion rate optimization.

What I like most about conversion rate optimization is the fact that it sits at the intersection of the most important skills of online marketing. This trait provides a huge amount of diversity, which is a big motivating factor for a curiosity-driven marketer such as myself.

For people who aren’t very familiar with A/B testing, could you explain how long a typical “test” needs to run before it can deliver actionable data or results?

First and foremost, before running any A/B test you should start with a situation assessment – or a conversion audit, to be more precise. During this phase of the project, the main aim is to discover bottlenecks in the conversion funnel through various means: quantitative & qualitative data analysis, heuristic interpretation, etc.

Based on the findings of this process, you create one or more hypotheses that should be clearly formulated. One example of such a hypothesis could be “by eliminating the navigation menu from the checkout page, fewer people would navigate away from their carts, thus driving down the cart abandonment rate and increasing the conversion rate.”

Once armed with such clear hypotheses, you can go ahead and implement A/B tests in order to see if your suppositions will be validated or not. An A/B test is ready when it gets enough visits for drawing a solid conclusion. This can happen within a day of launching the test or after several months, depending on how much traffic the website has. Ideally, any A/B tests would get at least 2,000 views before being stopped; but the more views it gets, the better.

Give us one example of a minor change or tweak that a small business owner can make to his or her website that can potentially have a substantial impact on the site’s conversion rates.

There’s no good-for-all formula in conversion rate optimization that can work for all websites. Each site has its particularities, so applying templates is not the best idea.

But to offer at least a hint, I’d say to focus on removing clutter elements from the website that don’t help the user go further down the sales funnel. You can easily discover those by running some heat map experiments or some user recording sessions. Pay attention to what the users are doing and see which elements get completely ignored, or which ones confuse users and deter them from their path.

What are some analytics that small business owners should be measuring on their websites but aren’t doing so?

In terms of data, what I see very often is that the Google Analytics accounts are not properly set up. GA is an extremely helpful tool if used correctly; but unfortunately, the vast majority of business owners don’t give it the attention it deserves.

I’d say the priority for any online business is setting up the Google Analytics account by:

  • Implementing different views & filters
  • Linking Adwords & Google Search Console accounts
  • Implementing site search
  • Filtering out spam and self-referral traffic
  • Implementing and setting up enhanced e-commerce
  • Adding and tracking goals
  • Creating custom reports
  • Setting up alerts

Do all of these correctly, and you’re light years ahead of most of the competition in terms of analytics.

If a site’s analytics indicate that users are reading the site’s content or blog and spending lots of time on the site BUT conversion rates are still low, what are some possible explanations for this phenomenon?

Well, if they are reading the company blog which is a separate entity from the company presentation website, then the readers might not be aware that the presentation even exists, or know what the company actually does. Unfortunately, I see this quite often,
where companies invest a lot in their blogs and manage to bring in organic traffic, but they don’t do a good job in turning those visitors into leads or clients.

Some techniques aimed at transforming readers into clients include:

  • Focusing on micro-conversions such as newsletter signups
  • Adding a company description with a call-to-action link at the end of each article
  • Creating website overlayers that are triggered in various moments of the visit (on-load, on-scroll, or on-exit)
  • Designing well-implemented AdWords and Facebook remarketing campaigns

How much of a problem is shopping cart abandonment, and what are some of the common reasons why this happens?

Shopping cart abandonment is a huge problem for e-commerce websites. In fact, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is close to 70%. That’s a lot of potentially lost business!

There are a lot of reasons why users abandon their carts, some of which are on the user-side and some of which are on the company-side. Some user-side reasons might be that they don’t currently have the money for completing the order or they might have gotten interrupted by an event while in the process of ordering. Some company-side reasons might be conveying a low sense of trust, having few or no social signals, increasing the price unexpectedly on the checkout page by added previously unannounced taxes, etc.

Could you provide an example of behavioral targeting and explain how it can improve the chances of conversion?

As the name suggests, behavioral targeting aims to personalize the users’ experience according to their behavior on the website. For example, let’s take a segment of users that visit at least 3 blog pages and scroll more than 80% of the last visited page.  It’s safe to say that they are engaged users and they are actively consuming the content – much more so than visitors who see only one page and leave after a few seconds. So for these engaged users, we might want to display a website overlayer asking them to download a content upgrade of the article they’re just reading in exchange for their email address. This way, you’ll end up with a highly targeted and responsive email list that you can nurture and eventually turn into enthusiastic clients.

Given the ongoing advances in technology, how will websites be better equipped to analyze and improve conversion rate optimization in the future?

Like so many other industries, conversion rate optimization is very likely to be influenced by the dawn of artificial intelligence. Some CRO companies have already started to implement machine learning in their software. In fact, one of our roadmap priorities is developing our own AI-based engine.

It’s difficult to predict just how the AI wave will influence how conversion rate is done, but it’s clear that it will be able to do automated user profiling, apply dynamic content without any human intervention, and deliver the best possible messages and products for each and every user. Basically, websites will be able to just plug in the software and have instant access to the equivalent of a conversion rate optimization team and more. This will be a whole new era of optimization where machines do all the hard work and the role of human input is uncertain.

How can better content marketing improve your conversion optimization? Contact us today and find out.

ICON17: What to Expect from Infusionsoft’s Big Conference

by Laura College on 04/23/2017

A conference dedicated solely to business growth, marketing, and networking? Count us in!

From April 25 to April 27, 2017, thousands of entrepreneurs and marketers will descend upon Phoenix, Arizona, for ICON17. More than 50 sessions spread across these three days are designed to help growth-oriented people make an impact.

If you’re on the fence about Infusionsoft’s annual conference, or if you’re curious about what to expect, let’s give you a quick rundown.

What Happens at ICON17?

There’s still time to secure your space at ICON17. It’s a huge conference that attracts more than 4,000 attendees: business owners, serial entrepreneurs, first-time entrepreneurs, content marketers (like us!), and other people who want to grow their businesses.

The conference focuses on problem solving and developing new ideas. You’ll get plenty of inspiration — not just from the speakers, but also from your fellow attendees. Plus, there are three conference hotels from which to choose, so you can always go back to your room and relax if you get overwhelmed.

There are several categories of events and sessions that take place at ICON17, including:

  • Product training: Get hands-on product training experience with some of the top experts in the nation.
  • Networking events: Meet new people, hand out your business card, and forge friendships with like-minded people.
  • Opportunities to create connections and even partnerships: ICON17 encourages attendees to talk about their needs, hopes, desires, and goals, and you might find someone with whom you’d like to work someday.
  • Access to trend spotters: It’s always helpful to hear from people who know what will be hot or influential tomorrow.
  • Awards and prizes: Who doesn’t like winning awards?

If you’ve never been to one of Infusionsoft’s events, now is a great time to take the plunge.

Who’s Speaking?

From fitness expert Jillian Michaels to Infusionsoft’s Chief Product Officer Terry Hicks, ICON17 has booked an incredible stable of keynote speakers. If you want to feel inspired and informed, you won’t want to miss this year’s conference.

In addition to some big names, ICON17 also invites “Breakout Speakers” to deliver talks on a variety of topics. These speakers might have never spoken to a large crowd before, but they’re willing to impart their extensive experience and knowledge for ICON17′s attendees’ benefit.

Why Should You Attend?

Some people build successful businesses from their home offices and never connect with anyone except via email or text. Those people aren’t very common, though.

Conferences like Infusionsoft’s ICON17 allow entrepreneurs to gather in the same space and to share ideas. You’ll learn things you can’t find by Googling until two in the morning, and you’ll gain insight into your marketing plan, business opportunities, growth potential, and more.

We’re attending ICON17, and we hope you’ll stop by and say hello. Until then, why not take the first step toward upping your content marketing game? Get a free trial here at Media Shower and watch the magic we work on your content strategy.

How a Pregnant Giraffe Started a Content Marketing Stampede

by Jenna Scaglione on 04/19/2017

There’s a new celebrity in town. She is giraffe-like tall, commanding an audience of millions and she just gave birth. No, it’s not Nicole Kidman or Taylor Swift; it’s April the giraffe. And she has become the hit of the year. With a live paparazzi-ish web cam, pregnant April attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers daily who watched her mull around in her stall, walk back and forth aimlessly, and for occasional excitement, eat large wads of specially-prepared hay.

I don’t think anyone could have imagined how much exposure this now-celebrity giraffe received. April, the giraffe, went viral.

April gave birth on April 15, but her televised pregnancy was the hit of the town. During her pregnancy, every time I viewed her live feed, there were at least 150,000 people watching at any given time and the viewership reached 250,000 even in the middle of the night. The feed is no longer active since April gave birth but this is what people were watching day in and day out:

The Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY, is the facility raising and caring for April. The park is raising awareness for its giraffe sponsoring program to help care for April and grow the giraffe exhibit. It is also generating buzz around its grand opening in May of this year.

If you visit the park’s Facebook page you will find avid fans who wrote original poems about April and cast the live feed to their televisions so they never missed a second. April-themed T-shirt? They had those too.

Animal Adventure Park masterfully created this viral giraffe pre-launch campaign for its park opening and it succeeded in giraffe-like proportions (*snark*). The park hasn’t even opened to the public yet and it has already created serious promotion and buzz.

Animal Adventure has also exceeded its own marketing expectations. Toys R Us sponsored its live feed, and its GoFundMe campaign has nearly tripled its goal.

It is also engaging with followers aggressively. The park is holding a contest to choose the best name for the baby calf. Followers were also alerted by text if they wanted information about April’s status so they wouldn’t miss out on any of the baby-delivering action.

What did Animal Adventure Park do right with its product pre-launch content marketing campaign? What did a park with two giraffes that hasn’t even opened yet, do to generate buzz from millions of people?

Behind the Scenes

I have to be honest. I started watching April’s feed and I couldn’t look away. I thought it was boring but I didn’t hate it. I felt like I was getting a “backstage” view of the action. It’s like those home shows where you get to be a “peeping Tom” and look behind the closed doors of people’s homes…and you like it oh so much.


Oh so curious…

The park played on our emotions and let us feel as if we were getting an “inside” look into the life of this animal. It capitalized on our curiosity and it worked.

It’s not routine to everyone 

Animal Adventure Park turned a routine event into a must-see extravaganza. Giraffes are born every day around the world, even rare ones, yet they do not receive the global acclaim April has.

Your product or launch may seem like just another day at the office, but what is routine to one person may not be to another.

How can you create the type of viral content marketing launch campaign Animal Adventure Park has?

  • Create suspense and build momentum. If you are launching a product, set up a 1-3 month pre-launch campaign that includes a behind-the-scenes look at what your product includes. Collect email addresses so people can be notified when it launches and email these subscribers throughout pre-launch period to keep them engaged.
  • Run contests to generate awareness of your brand and upcoming launch.
  • Connect with influencers who will share your pre-launch content.
  • Create a timeline of events culminating with the launch to generate suspense. Give away something super valuable for free during each step of the pre-launch timeline and build the value as you go forward.

Take a note from our beloved April and use your content to increase brand awareness and build forward momentum. To start, why don’t you take our content platform for a free test drive? We give you free content ideas and one piece of content to use forever that you own the rights to. You will also receive a content analysis and a promotion plan that will help your brand get to April-like stardom.

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How to Choose a Content Marketing Agency

by Jenna Scaglione on 04/17/2017

Have you Googled the term “content marketing agency?” If so, this is what you will see:

That’s 16.9 million results and this is a local search. Overwhelmed much?

If you are at the stage of selecting a content marketing agency, you may be just getting started and you don’t know where to begin. Or you are likely underwhelmed with your content marketing results and you need expertise on how to ramp it up and increase ROI. This is understandable though as only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing and only 25% of B2C organizations cite their content marketing program is very or extremely successful.

Businesses are turning to agencies to help them get results, but they are unsure of not only how to choose a high-performing one, but also how to choose one that will fit their goals and needs.

Here are some tips that will help you narrow down your choices and choose the best content marketing agency for your unique organization.

What are your goals?

Before you can select a content marketing agency, you need to understand your goals.

Do you want more traffic?

Brand awareness?

Leads?

Conversions?

SEO?

Social media?

Blogging?

Not every brand wants to attack all of these at once and not every agency offers all of these services. That’s why it’s important to get clear on what you are looking for.

I also recommend you choose an agency that offers a wide range of content marketing services, even if you are not interested in all of them. The best agencies realize that content marketing is not a one-size-fits-all strategy and they are experts in their field. There may be areas you are not aware of that need tweaking that only a full-scale agency can spot and fix. They can guide you on where your deficiencies lie and how you can amplify your efforts to achieve the success you are looking for.

Budget and Terms

Most content marketing agencies work within monthly retainers and these can range anywhere from $1,000 – $10,000+ depending on the level of services you require. Some may also have minimum contract agreements where you are locked into a minimum amount of content monthly.

The lower-priced agencies (around $1-2K / month) may seem like a bargain, but beware of agencies that advertise low rates. It costs money to create valuable content that engages, builds your brand, and grows your business. When it comes to content marketing agencies, you get what you pay for.

This is not the time to scope out bargain basement prices.

The minimum contract agreement is not uncommon with content marketing agencies. Most agencies realize that it can take at least six months to get any traction from your content so they suggest a minimum quantity and engagement to ensure your success. Typical agreements can range from 6-12 months.

If you are not interested in the minimum contract agreement, look for an agency that offers a-la-carte services. This type of strategy is ideal if you already have an in-house marketing team that is responsible for strategy and you simply need a few services such as blog posts, social media content or inbound links to fill in the missing pieces. But, if you do not have a solid content marketing strategy in place, I highly recommend you do not piecemeal your content marketing efforts as the comprehensive strategies that agencies provide can produce longer-term results.

It’s not just about content production

Some agencies focus on simply churning out enough content to make you happy, but the best agencies know that content is not a numbers game. Five pieces of epic, lead-generating, brand-specific content targeted correctly are more valuable than 100 ill-fitted, underwhelming content pieces.

Look for agencies that:

  • Understand the buyer’s journey and how to target your audience at each stage of the buying cycle. Ensure they understand how to map out content strategically.
  • Use customer personas or assist in creating them.
  • Have criteria for understanding your brand and speaking directly to your audience. Each brand’s style and language will be unique. Your content should embody your brand and a good agency knows how to execute brand-specific content successfully.
  • Focus on results. Good agencies will talk to you about tracking and analytics from day one. Their main goal is to get you results and they know exactly how to do it. They may also request to see some of your analytics and what you have in place to get an idea of what you are doing currently. This is a good sign.
  • Want to be your partner and work with you. The best and brightest agencies care about your success and become your partner, not simply a content-producing machine. They are interested in strategy more than churning out large quantities of content.

Transparency

The best content marketing agencies are transparent.

If you want to vet out an agency and see how transparent it is, ask the following questions:

  1. Do you have any testimonials or case studies? In-depth case studies will allow you to get an idea of the agency’s wins which can help you make a more educated decision.
  2. Who will be writing the content?Work with an agency that assigns dedicated writers to your content. This will allow the writer to grow with your brand and become its voice.
  3. How long do your clients stay with you? Brands that stay with agencies for more than 6-12 months are typically happy with their results.

If you want some more assistance with your selection, you can download our comprehensive Free guide, the 10 Content Marketing Companies Compared. In this eBook, we introduce 10 leading content marketing companies, their products and pricing and how to determine which company may or may not be a good fit for you. We also provide a helpful quick reference chart to make your selection process smooth and easy.

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Expert Interview: Mark Elliott of Sparks4Growth on Innovation in Digital Marketing

by Chris Martin on 04/14/2017

mark elliott

Mark Elliott is the Managing Director and Founder of Sparks4Growth Limited, where he is the main client consultant and project manages digital marketing solutions with his team. He’s also the author of the E-Course “How To Run An Email Marketing Course That Gets Results.”

We recently asked Mark how he approaches digital marketing and gets his advice for brands on building their own digital marketing strategy. Here’s what he shared:

 

What’s your approach to digital marketing? What sets you apart from your competitors?

Digital marketing is, in my view, an extension of traditional marketing, the principles remain the same i.e. customer orientation is the key to business success. When defining digital project solutions I keep wholly focused on matching the client’s business objectives with solutions that will connect them with more customers. There is no “one size fits all” just the appetite to help our clients Leap Grow and Thrive online.

My team and I don’t sell digital products, they are merely tools. We sell our time and expertise as an outsourced marketing team.

How has the world of digital marketing evolved since you started your career? What’s made the biggest impact?

It has leaped in gargantuan levels. My first interaction with digital marketing was back in 1995 when I worked at BT as a Corporate Account Manager – I was selling telecoms and some datacomms such as early iterations of broadband (ISDN2). Suddenly we were sending out disks to load these things called “web browsers” onto PCs. Then selling website services and it just exploded from there.

Now the digital panacea is even more exciting and fast-paced. It’s so invigorating to see constant innovations, solutions like Apps and an ever evolving web scene.

How should brands approach designing their digital marketing strategy today? What tools should they be using? What should they skip?

The danger for brands is to try and “do it all.” To see everything shiny and exciting then try and dive into that arena. In reality, each business has clients, their clients tend to “be” in certain places (both offline and online) so it is best to focus on digital marketing that engages them there, rather than trying to disrupt the clients or force them. So for example, Snapchat wouldn’t in my view be a good fit with certain business clients. But it’s perfect for Millenials.

So the right tools are the right tools for that specific business and their clients, be they business or consumers. Playing with every tool in the shed is what I would recommend avoiding!

How important is content marketing to a brand’s overall digital marketing strategy today?

Content remains to be critical to the overall digital marketing arena. It is, however, often misunderstood. Content for content’s sake is pointless, expensive and resource thirsty. Again, selecting the right content for the right objective is the key to success – be it written SEO Content (like blogs or web pages), Emails, Videos, Images … all need to be applied correctly and, importantly, coded correctly.

As voice search (like Siri) and image recognition search (being developed by Facebook, Bing, Google, and mobile hardware providers) expand the better that content is indexed the more success businesses will have online.

What should brands be focusing on with their content marketing? What can they do to ensure their content marketing efforts will pay off?

At the moment, I would say focus on high-quality, well researched written content that “gives answers to problems” it’s been that way for a while. This helps from a user engagement/user experience perspective and Google SEO organic results. Increasingly, though I would say video, particularly as the younger generations consume so much of it, is key for the brands engaging with that demographic.

To make the payoff, match the digital content marketing tools to the audience. It really is old school marketing but it’s proven to be effective still.

What are you biggest content marketing pet peeves? What do brands do that make you cringe?

Quite a few things make me cringe – firstly, using out-of-context marketing to “look cool” when it just doesn’t suit the brand. It’s as embarrassing as your dad coming clubbing with you (when you’re 18 and he’s 40).

Secondly, the sheer lack of listening, it sounds odd but I find it shocking how much some companies sell digital marketing services that are poor quality, overstated and that will never, ever give value to their customers. Their approach devalues the expertise of real digital marketing experts and leaves customers with big financial holes in their pockets “buy cheap, buy twice” is certainly a truism!

At the other end of the scale, watching large Businesses blow massive budgets on digital fads, without thinking them through. I tend to call these “vanity projects,” whereby the client’s team at the “coal face” will know what will work and what will not for their customers but the COO or CEO simply won’t listen as the approach looks flashy. The result is a marketing “fail” and confused customers!

What are trends are you observing in content marketing today? Why is it an exciting time for brands to invest in this strategy?

As mentioned, the overall panacea is still leaning towards SEO written content, video content, etc. But the level and quality of user generated content is astounding! I’ve seen some very small SMEs create the most amazing innovative content using just an iPhone and bundles of creative thinking.

What brands do you think are especially innovative with their content marketing? What can we learn from them?

Mainly FMCG Brands tend to hold the top spot for truly exciting content. They can simply afford to “test and burn” until they hit the right spot but also invest in integrated marketing so that there is a great join up across the board.

If I had to name one particular brand that excels like this, it is hard not to mention Virgin Travel (in-store digital and online integration) but I think the tie-ups with Nokia and Deadmau5 experiential digital marketing have really piqued my interest.

The thing I think I will continue to learn and others will too, is that innovation is key and that innovative thinking can come from your colleague’s daughter or son as easily as an expensive Agency. The honing and execution of these ideas still need a level of expertise and refining which is where I think my Agency fit in really well.

What digital marketing trends or innovations are you following today? Why do they interest you? Why should businesses pay attention to these trends?

Personally, I am really excited about visual image recognition content, voice search content and virtual reality. I think that blending of online and offline is just going to be amazing within five to 10 years. This is the future, so I would say start testing and investing now to be ahead of the pack.

Want help coming up with innovative digital marketing ideas? Get three free content ideas.

 

 

Insurance Company Tallies Up the Cost of All the ‘Fast & Furious’ Damage

by Laura College on 04/12/2017

Now that the Fast and Furious franchise is on its eighth installment, it’s generating plenty of buzz. UK company InsureTheGap capitalized on Dom and the rest of the crew by tallying up the amount of financial damage caused by the first seven films.

Hint: It’s a lot.

The information InsureTheGap presented was interesting and fun, but it’s also a fantastic example of content marketing. Let’s look at what the company did right. Then we’ll explore ways in which you can apply these strategies to your own content marketing campaign.

Answer Real Questions

If you’ve ever seen a Fast and Furious movie, you likely spent at least a few minutes in awe of the damage wrought on regular cars, “specialty cars,” and other personal property. We’re hard-wired to think in terms of loss and damage.

InsureTheGap recognized this trend and answered the question that thousands have asked: How much damage was caused?

Content marketing only works when you can attract an audience. That means answering a question that people are already asking.

If you can weave that question and answer into a topic that people are already talking about, you get extra points. People can find the InsureTheGap article if they’re searching for keywords related to car damage, car accidents, property damage, and more.

However, they’ll also find it when searching for keywords related to the Fast and Furious franchise. Kind of like double-dipping.

How to Apply the Strategy

  • Think about the questions your clients or customers ask most often.
  • Conduct market research using Google, Quora, Yahoo! Answers, and other resources.
  • Tie those questions to keywords and phrases or news events that have engaged the public’s curiosity.

Embrace Shock Value


All the pretty cars…most not long for this world.

InsureTheGap doesn’t waste its readers’ precious time. The author of the piece gets right to the point: The first seven Fast and Furious films caused £419,446,914 (or $523,859,834.30 in U.S. currency).

That’s a huge number. It makes an impression and urges the viewer to continue reading.

While you don’t want to go off-brand and post an article that flies in the face of your values, beliefs, or culture, you likewise don’t want to miss an opportunity to give your audience a little jolt.

In the apparel industry, for instance, you could use a similar strategy to calculate the cost of the cast members’ wardrobes in a beloved television show. In real estate, you could list the most expensive celebrity houses and their values.

Get creative. Most importantly, don’t be boring.

How to Apply This Strategy

  • Lead with your most compelling piece of information.
  • Use a headline that makes readers want to know the answers you’re promising.
  • Keep readers interested by dribbling in other tasty tidbits of data.

Don’t Stray Off Topic

The InsureTheGap piece on Fast and Furious never deviates from the title’s promise. It’s a compelling piece of content marketing because it shows that you don’t have to go off on wild tangents to keep readers’ eyes on the screen.

More importantly, it reflects the fact that consumers’ attention spans have waned. If you go off-topic, expect your readers to go off-page.

This is especially important when it comes to plugging your company. Don’t drop hints throughout the article about your latest and greatest products or your super-fast service.

Including a brief, enticing call-to-action at the end of your piece is an excellent move. But wait until the right time to include promotion.

How to Apply This Strategy

  • Reread each paragraph of your text. Does anything not belong?
  • Use only as many words as necessary to deliver the information you want your readers to get.
  • Make sure each sentence is responsive to the title.

Use Visual Aids

People love imagery. It’s enticing, evocative, and full of sensory input.

Do words still matter? Absolutely. However, great content marketing deserves images as well as text.

In InsureTheGap’s article, the author divided up short paragraphs with images, graphs, charts, and other images. This is especially effective in the Fast and Furious piece because the writer needs to convey lots of statistical data.

Would you rather look at a quick chart or read a list of numbers? That’s what we thought.

Research shows that people respond to images differently than they do to text. You also can’t deny that your eye is drawn to color and other visual elements when you’re perusing a web page. In fact, you might spend more time looking at the pictures than reading the copy.

You can try stock images, embedded videos, custom graphics, infographics, and even illustrations. Great images elevate content marketing to a new level.

How to Apply This Strategy

  • Choose relevant images for every piece of content you publish.
  • Use graphs and charts to convey data.
  • Mix up your media to find out what type works best for your audience.

The Fast and Furious franchise gave InsureTheGap an ideal springboard for a compelling piece of content. However, lightning can always strike twice.

Studying great examples of content marketing will help you up your own game and stretch your imagination. Don’t be afraid to think outside the copywriting box.

We love it when companies use content marketing in unique, innovative ways, and that’s how we help our customers at Media Shower. Not only do we produce compelling content, but we’re also fantastic ideators. Get three free content ideas to find out for yourself.

Jimmy Fallon and Comcast Create ‘Content Marketing: The Ride!’

by Jenna Scaglione on 04/10/2017

How would you like your brand to be showcased in a thrilling ride at Universal Studios to be enjoyed by millions of park-goers every year? Nothing says brand building like a 3D motion-activated, multi-sensory, high-speed movie ride in the popular Universal Studios Orlando theme park.

Universal Studios Orlando just launched its newest ride experience, ‘Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York.’ The ride is housed in an exact replica of the NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. Guests are taken through the black marble, gold stained halls and exposed to what thousands of celebrities and NBC employees experience on a daily basis.

As guests walk through the halls, they are shown a history of the Tonight Show behind glass encasements, met with the Ragtime Gals singing on an exact replica of Fallon’s NYC stage and then ushered into the main event, a 3D multi-sensory movie ride. The warp-speed movie race starts with Fallon in a go-kart in his studio and continues down Times Square in a tour of NYC, hitting the Statue of Liberty, pizzerias, road traffic, the East River, empty subway trains and a high-speed roller-coaster ride through space.

Watch Jimmy Fallon and Blake Shelton take a tour of the “Race Through New York”

High-Speed Ride or Low-Ball Advertising?

While hundreds of thousands of unassuming park-goers enjoy their 3D ride through the streets of New York City, NBC will be watching its exploding ratings and Comcast will be counting its profits. That’s because these corporations managed to package blatant in-your-face promotion in a high-speed thrill ride wrapped in fun and laughs for the whole family.

As ride-goers curiously walk through the hallways of the building replica, they are met with not only dozens of unavoidable cues to become avid Tonight Show watchers, but they are also shown billboards from some of the hottest current NBC shows on television.

Watch as the President of Universal Creative, Mark Woodbury, gives Jimmy a tour of the new ride for the first time. Notice the advertisements for NBC’s show lineup.

As guests peruse, they are likely thinking about the excitement of the ride in their not-so-distant future and unaware of the marketing ploys and advertising.

Is this sneaky? Not at all. It’s arguably some of the best content marketing I have seen. Besides all of the hoopla surrounding the event in the form of celebrity ride tours, news interviews and hashtag campaigns (#fallonride), Comcast got something else right.

This ride displays one of the most fundamental inbound and content marketing principles: Give away LOTS of value and don’t let your prospects know they are being sold to. 

While you can’t give your potential customers a high-speed 3D movie ride, you can give them something they will value and enjoy. A free report? An ebook? A free software demonstration? Give them something of high value. When you do, they will feel more connected to you and their defenses will come down. So when it comes time to sell, they will be more apt to buy because you have already established a relationship.

Never let them feel like you are promoting your products directly to them. Keep your focus on serving them and their needs and you will reap the rewards—not Universal-sized rewards—but profits that will sustain and grow your business for the long term.

Want to have some 3D-roller-coaster-sized fun with us? Now it’s our turn to give you something of value. If you want to knock your content marketing out of the park (no pun intended), let us give you three free content ideas here. They will be lead-generating and targeted to your brand, and will help you get real results. Let’s ride this one to success together (pun intended).

 

How Much Should Traffic Affect Your Content Marketing Strategy?

by Laura College on 04/07/2017

It’s all about traffic, right?

Well, maybe not.

Many of us focus on boosting traffic to our websites because, after all, more eyes mean more potential for sales and conversions.

However, traffic doesn’t tell the whole story. Worse, it can lull you into a false sense of marketing-related security.

Every Business Must Identify Appropriate KPIs

KPIs
Do you really understand your KPIs?

One company’s KPIs, or key performance indicators, might look radically different from those of another business. They’re at different stages of development, or they have conflicting goals.

Take a look at Intuit Quickbook’s list of the seven most important KPIs for small businesses to track. You’ll notice that website traffic doesn’t appear at all.

While Quickbook’s list doesn’t deal with marketing directly, it contains marketing-related KPIs, such as funnel drop-off rate.

Additionally, your KPIs change depending on what you want to accomplish. If you’re hoping to build more brand awareness, for instance, website traffic might serve as a worthy KPI.

But what if you want to increase conversion rates? Gaining more traffic might actually hurt your numbers.

You won’t know which KPIs to track unless you know what you want to achieve. Your business goals will change over time as your sales fluctuate and your brand evolves.

The important thing is to leave vanity at the door. Website traffic looks impressive when you hit big numbers, but it doesn’t make your business more successful — or profitable.

Visitors Don’t Equal Customers

sales leads
Leads and sales are more valuable than all the traffic in the world.

Writing for Forbes, marketing expert Jayson DeMers points out that businesses can’t put a value on website traffic. Instead, they have to put a value on individual visitors.

I can visit a website 20 times in one day just because I’m bored. I never buy anything, give away my email address, or share its content with my friends. I just visit.

My visitor value is 0.

Another person might visit that same website once, fall in love with a product advertised on the home page, and buy the product 20 seconds later. That visitor’s value skyrockets based on the price of the item and the potential for repeat purchases.

You Need to Dig Deeper

I’m not telling you to ignore website traffic. It’s a valuable metric to know.

However, digging into granular-level metrics will yield far more valuable information.

For instance, where do your visitors come from? How long do they stay on the page? Do they ever return? Do your visitors share your content on social media? How many pages does the average user visit?

These numbers will tell you what you need to know about your business’s marketing success or failure. Website traffic alone won’t.

We work with businesses that want to improve their website traffic and increase conversion rates every day. We’ve learned that website traffic alone isn’t enough to keep a business afloat, which is why we focus on creating content that converts. Get three free content ideas to take the next step toward business success.

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