Category: Content Marketing

7 Steps to deal with business uncertainty in this coronavirus crisis

business uncertainty

Uncertainty can be terrifying. And chronic business uncertainty like we’re experiencing now could have toxic implications for your health, mental well-being, and the ability to make the critical decisions you need to make for your career and your family.

As I compose this post in March of 2020, we are in an unknowable, unprecedented situation. The world that we love will come back from the coronavirus crisis — But when? When do we go back to our lives, our jobs, our friends, our schools? And what about the economy?

I’ve been doing Facebook Live sessions with lessons on “Embracing the Chaos” and have also been posting the videos on my YouTube channel. In my last episode, I covered seven practical ideas to deal with uncertainty and put you in the best possible mental state for your life and your business.

1. Be aware of the panic and respond

When we feel anxiety and even panic, your limbic system responds with a knee-jerk fear reaction. This is the same response we have when we jump because we thought a tree root on a forest path was a snake. It’s useful protection for short decisions but toxic if we have to rely on this for days at a time.

People who are good at dealing with uncertainty are wary of the irrational fear that triggers a limbic system response and quell it as it begins to surface. They realize there is no snake in the path.

In this way, they contain a panic response before it spirals out of control.

One of the things that I saw repeatedly in the research about this topic is the therapeutic impact of positive thoughts.

Finding some small thing to stay positive about turns on a different part of your brain. If you stop your brain from being reactive and afraid, you’ll make better decisions.

Positive thoughts quiet fear and irrational thinking.

There is also a lot of research that shows that positivity spreads to other people. So creating positive thoughts in others can suspend that limbic response on a work team.

2. Identify the facts at hand

When uncertainty makes a decision difficult, it’s easy to feel as if everything is uncertain, but that’s hardly ever the case.

People who excel at managing business uncertainty start by taking stock of what they know and what they don’t know and assigning a factor of importance to each.

Dwelling on something impossible — like trying to figure out how long a recession might last — takes away your power to make good decisions.

What are the factors that are unknowable and out of your control? Let them go. Focus on what is certain.

3. Acknowledge that business uncertainty is not a personal failure.

This is a big one for me.

I come from a proud Germanic stock of people who provide and protect.

I realize that could be seen as an old-fashioned notion but hey, centuries of conditioning are hard to un-do. I’d guess that for you, there is probably some little voice inside of you saying “How did I let this happen? Why wasn’t I more prepared?”

Look, I have virtually no business right now and I WAS prepared for something like a recession.

But this level of uncertainty and loss? This is not on me. This is not my fault. And just saying that out loud is empowering … and true.

I have to live in the real world, not be wedded to some historic sense of responsibility right now.

Don’t be afraid to exert self-compassion and say, “Here’s what we don’t know, but we’re going forward based on what we do know. We may make mistakes, but that’s a lot better than standing still.”

The only thing we control in an uncertain world is our response and the decisions we make.

4. Focus on three known priorities 

When I worked in the corporate world, I used to collaborate with a quality control executive. And he was obsessive about getting people to focus on “The Big Three.” Over and over, he would challenge his colleagues to see if they were focused on the three most important things to their role in the business.

Not four. Not 25. Three.

One of my customers sent me a message last week. He said, “Right now in this crisis, I am focusing on conserving cash, responding to customer’s immediate needs, and taking care of my people.”

Those certainly are three critical goals, and the right ones, no matter what uncertainty there is in the world.

How about you? What are your Big Three?

Is it keeping your children comforted and sane in a lock-down? Exploring new business strategies? Committing to a period of wellness and new habits?

Pick three. Focus like a laser. The uncertainty will fade away.

This is liberating because if you try to respond to every distraction you’ll be completely sapped of energy.

By the way, I’m convinced this is a solid business practice at any time. Every decision contains at least a small factor of uncertainty. So focus on the three priorities you can control.

6. Focus on positive actions – even if they are imperfect

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinders performance.

When you focus on actions, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves mental performance.

In the early days of this crisis, I wrote about how I felt disoriented.

Whether I’m writing a blog post, giving a speech, developing a strategy, or writing a book, I’m a teacher. That’s my purpose. And then BOOM! The teaching stopped. All of it.

I spent a few days in a funk trying to determine a new normal. What is my place in this crisis? What is my purpose?

And then it dawned on me that I’m still a teacher. I just need to teach something new.

I can take action to deeply connect to people where they are right now. I can’t be on a stage talking about the Marketing Rebellion, but I can teach through a blog post. I can teach through live streaming and videos. I can help people through personal phone calls.

I didn’t follow a plan, because there is no plan for this. I trusted my gut.

By immediately focusing on positive action — even if it was imperfect — I felt like I had some structure in a universe of uncertainty.

I have not even tried to be perfect. My videos are so plain, and I even had a minor audio problem with a live-stream. But, I showed up. I applied my skills to the situation at hand.

A friend sent me this message after my last video session:

“My personal life has crashed. My business has crashed. My investments have crashed. And I’m in isolation and running out of bourbon. But your words of encouragement on your video saved my day. Never underestimate your impact, sir.”

Yeah. I’m still a teacher dammit.

Taking positive action, even when you’re winging it — and we’re all winging it — provides footing in an uncertain time.

7. Stop asking “What if?”

“What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry, and there’s no place for them in your thinking once you’re focused on the Big Three and your plan.

The what ifs will answer themselves. You can’t change that. You can’t dwell on the unknown and business uncertainty or you’ll go nuts.

Every now and then my mind wanders back to “what if” because I’m a planner.  But every time my mind goes there I feel stressed, so it has to stop!

The virus is not in your control. Unemployment is not in your control. The economy is not in your control.

What’s in your control are the decisions you make and taking positive actions on those decisions.

Does this help?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

The post 7 Steps to deal with business uncertainty in this coronavirus crisis appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

12 Video Marketing Statistics You Need to Know in 2020

12 Video Marketing Statistics You Need to Know in 2020

2020 is just getting started, and now is an ideal time to look at some video marketing statistics to shape your marketing plans.

In this post, we’ll dive into Vidyard’s Video in Business Benchmark Report and explore 12 key video marketing statistics from the research.

1. The Platform of Choice for Business Video Viewing Is Desktop 87% of the Time

If you’re creating videos primarily for a business-to-business (B2B) audience, keep in mind that 87% of the views for such content still happen on desktop devices. Mobile views for B2B content are rising, but desktop views reign supreme. This statistic makes sense since most B2B audiences watch such videos at work.


The platform of choice for business video viewing is desktop 87% of the time. #B2B #videomarketing @vidyard
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Desktop vs. Mobile Views for Business Video

Desktop vs. Mobile Views for Business Video Viewing

Why It Matters: The Vidyard report points out that designing videos for a desktop platform gives companies access to more features that make for a compelling viewing experience. You should not overlook responsive design, however, because keeping multiple screen sizes in mind ensures the content looks fantastic no matter how a person views it.

2. 22% of Business Video Views Happen on Thursdays 

People have fierce debates about what day to publish their content, videos or otherwise. Vidyard’s data shows that most business video views — 22% — occur on Thursdays. The next most popular day was Wednesday at 18%.


22% of business video views happen on Thursdays #videmarketing
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Business Video Views by Day of the Week

Business Video Views by Day of the Week

Why It Matters: Businesspeople likely feel the middle-to-end of their workweek provides the best opportunity to get engrossed in video content. They’ve probably already dealt with all the urgent issues that arrived over the weekend, for example. Some may also want to look at content late in the workweek so that they can casually ponder the issues raised during their more-relaxed weekends.

3. The Preferred Video Content Type for Businesses Is a Webinar in 56% of Cases

It’s understandably challenging for companies to decide which videos to create for business audiences. However, 56% of the time, they choose to make webinars. Demos and social media videos follow webinars, accounting for 52% and 51% of the videos that received company investment.


The preferred video content type for businesses is a webinar in 56% of cases #videomarketing
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Types of Video for Businesses

Types of Video for Businesses

Why It Matters: The Vidyard report also cites a statistic from InsideSales, whereby 73% of marketing and sales leaders mentioned webinars as one of the best ways to achieve quality lead generation.

Another high point that makes webinars especially attractive is there are several types used to drive profits. One is a webinar series, and it could attract more people to a business over time. Opportunities also exist for participants to weigh in about future topics. Nanomechanics, Inc. took that approach with a webinar series about nanoindentation, which is a technique for measuring the mechanical properties of thin films.

4. Companies Distribute Videos Through Their Websites 85% of the Time

Companies distribute videos through a wide range of channels, including YouTube, social media and email. However, the method they choose 85% of the time is through their website, according to Vidyard.


Companies distribute video content through their websites 85% of the time #videomarketing
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Popular distribution channels for business video

Popular distribution channels for business video

 

Why It Matters: Vidyard’s finding is not surprising. If brands host videos on their website, the likelihood goes up that a viewer could come across other online content.

KPMG, the multinational auditing, tax and advisory company, even uses video to directly speak to business people who might be looking for a change in career or work environment. The company’s website features several videos profiling what it’s like to work at the business. High-quality corporate videos work well for showcasing achievements that make somewhere an appealing place to work. They also convey things that words can’t.

5. 73% of Videos Are Two Minutes or Less in Length

Evidence suggests that video marketing in 2020 will be all about keeping the content short and sweet. The Vidyard report confirms that 73% of videos clock in at two minutes or less. Only 2% are 10 to 20 minutes long.


73% of business videos are two minutes or less in length #videomarketing
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Average Video Length

Average Video Length

Why It Matters: We all tend to have perpetually busy schedules. This Vidyard statistic seems to indicate that the goal is to get viewers to stay engaged until the content’s end. The authors of the research suggest that businesses may have data showing that retention rates are highest with short videos compared to longer ones.

Vidyard mentions that the trend toward shorter videos did not start recently — it cited video statistics going back to 2016. In some cases, this characteristic of videos geared toward business people began earlier.

Take the example of the now-defunct service called BriefMe. It offered a news-ranking service that helped people with packed schedules figure out which news articles to read first. The company had a 2015 YouTube video that was one minute and 39 seconds long. They had an early understanding that time-strapped people want information but don’t necessarily have lots of time to digest it.

6. Only 15% of Businesses Do Not Use Metrics to Measure Video Effectiveness

Vidyard’s study indicated that an increased dependence on ultra-detailed metrics might be in the cards for video marketing in 2020. Only 15% of respondents said they did not use any data to gauge the success of a video marketing campaign. Even so, only 11% depend on advanced metrics, such as heat maps and viewer drop-off rates.


Only 15% of businesses do not use metrics to measure video effectiveness #video
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Video Content Measurement

Video Content Effectiveness Measures in Use

Why It Matters: Although more companies are warming up to the idea of video marketing, some still show reluctance. The ability to access metrics at any point in a campaign can teach businesses what’s working and what may require tweaking. As marketers get more comfortable with using basic metrics, such as consumption measures, they should gradually feel more comfortable about deploying in-depth insights with more value.

7. 68% of People Will Watch a Full Video if It’s a Minute Long or Less

Another statistic in the Vidyard report relates that 68% of people would watch a video in full as long as they don’t need to take more than a minute to do so. However, the figure drops by 18% if a video is 61 to 120 seconds in length.


68% of people will watch a full #video if it's a minute long or less
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Engagement by Video Length

Engagement by Video Length

Why It Matters: Viewers may not feel compelled to sit through content in its entirety if it requires too much time. As a video marketer, you must take care to get your points across early and in a straightforward manner. That’s especially crucial to do if you have not yet established a trustworthy relationship with viewers.

8. 52% of Small and Medium Businesses Use Both Internal and External Resources to Create Videos

As you can see from Vidyard’s graph below, small and medium companies collectively use external and internal resources to meet their video production goals, with medium-sized businesses doing so slightly more often. Together, these businesses use a combination of resources 52% of the time.


52% of small and medium businesses use both internal and external resources to create videos
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Resources Used for Business Video Production

Resources Used for Business Video Production

Why It Matters: Companies increasingly realize it’s smart to see what they can accomplish in-house, then select outside assistance to fill in gaps. However, companies of all sizes frequently depend solely on internal teams. Vidyard’s report suggests that companies are upping their investments in video production by either upskilling current employees or hiring video experts.

9. 13% of the Business Videos Published for the Year Appeared in October

You may expect to see a surge in videos at the start of the year and total percentages per month gradually decreasing. However, in 2018, the rates for videos published per month went up throughout the year, peaking in October at 13%.


13% of the business videos published for the year appeared in October #videomarketing
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Business Videos Published by Month

Business Videos Published by Month

Why It Matters: Vidyard noted that several of the highest-volume months for video publication corresponded with the biggest seasons for conferences. Companies must unveil a carefully coordinated marketing effort associated with such events, whether they are organizing them, serving as sponsors or appearing within the event’s lineup as vendors or speakers. Videos can easily become a part of such campaigns, mainly to entice first-time attendees and create buzz.

10. Companies With 31-200 Employees Create Nearly As Many Videos As Those With More Than 5,000 Workers

You may think that a company’s size determines its video production capabilities, but that’s not necessarily true. As you can see from the bar chart below, companies with at least 5,000 employees created only 28 videos more than those with a team member count in the 31-200 range.


Companies with 31-200 employees create nearly as many videos as those with more than 5,000 workers
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Why It Matters: Vidyard believes that the impressive number of videos created by smaller organizations reflects that companies believe increased production helps them compete with bigger businesses. Also, Vidyard clarified that many firms in the 31-200 group are likely startups or companies in a hyper-growth phase. Videos could help them capitalize on existing momentum.

11. High-Tech Companies Produce an Average of 425 Videos Annually

Vidyard calculated the average number of videos created each year for companies in particular industries. The high-tech sector came out on top with 425 videos created on average.


High-tech companies produce an average of 425 videos annually
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Average Number of Videos Created by Industry

Average Number of Videos Created Per Company by Industry

Why It Matters: As mentioned earlier, videos can show things that are hard to describe in videos alone. Also, if a technical process is complex, people may prefer seeing a video to solidify their understanding. As such, it’s not difficult to understand why high-tech companies see videos as a must-have resource for reaching business customers.

12. People Watch the Most Videos in the Mornings if It’s a Weekday

Despite some fluctuations, people are most likely to watch business videos in the mornings if consuming the content during a weekday.


People watch the most videos in the AM if it's a weekday #videomarketing
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Video Viewing Patterns Throughout the Day

Video Viewing Patterns Throughout the Day

Why It Matters: You don’t want your videos to get lost in a crowded marketplace filled with fellow content producers. Therefore, timing is everything, and will likely remain crucial for video marketing in 2020 and beyond. Perhaps people are most eager to take in business videos in the mornings because doing so does not interfere with afternoon meetings. They could also decide that the morning works better because they can enjoy the content before getting deep into projects.

Valuable Video Marketing Statistics to Apply This Year

Hopefully, these statistics and takeaways have ignited your desire to maximize your video marketing potential this year. Regardless of your company size or industry, meeting milestones with videos is an outcome within your reach. And make sure to download the full Video in Business Benchmark Report from Vidyard.

The post 12 Video Marketing Statistics You Need to Know in 2020 appeared first on Content Marketing Consulting and Social Media Strategy.

How to Create a Successful Virtual Event for Your Company

How to Create a Virtual Event for Your Company

With more and more companies shifting resources to virtual events, we compiled this quick and handy guide on how to create a successful virtual event for your company.

Not only have I presented at more than 100 virtual events in the past twelve years, my team and I at Convince & Convert organize and produce more than a 30 online events and webinars every year. We know what works, what doesn’t, and we’re here to share that advice with you.

For tips on how to select a webinar/virtual event management solution, check out our recent post, How to Create a Webinar from Scratch.

Let’s dive in now:

1. Keep Session Lengths Short

A 60-minute keynote or breakout session at a face-to-face event is pretty standard and doesn’t usually feel like a slog.

But that’s partially because attendees have other stimuli and the ability to experience presentations in a three-dimensional environment.

It is FAR more difficult to hold audience attention in a virtual event, compared to an in-person conference.

In fact, we pioneered the concept of a “webinine” – a webinar that lasts just nine minutes. Audience show up rate is much higher for sessions of that length (versus 60 minutes), as is replay rate.

Example of a short webinar

Here’s an example of a webinine I presented with my friends at ZoomInfo. A webinine is short webinar that has a higher attendance rate than a full-length, 60-minute webinar.

We’re not suggesting that every session in your virtual event be just nine minutes long, but do consider shortening the time slots you would use for a physical event by 15 or 30 minutes.

For example, a 60-minute breakout face-to-face should be 45 or 30 minutes when delivered online.

2. Sharpen Your Titles and Descriptions

When presented with multiple, simultaneous options for sessions to choose from in a physical event setting, attendees will often rely on word-of-mouth, asking other participants which breakout they are attending, and why.

Most virtual conferences lack this dynamic.

Further, many online events rely on emails, social media posts, and other tactics to inform attendees of what information will be presented (there is no written conference guide, or dedicated mobile app in most cases).

Thus, participants in your virtual event have less information when deciding what sessions to tune in for, and which to skip.

Consequently, it is even more important that the session titles and descriptions for your virtual conference programming are descriptive and compelling.

3. Use a Moderator or Emcee

In a face-to-face event, the moderator or emcee helps contextualize the information presented throughout the conference, while also helping to keep energy up and deliver important housekeeping notes.

Many organizations moving to virtual events believe that since the programming is now delivered over the Internet, that this emcee role is no longer necessary.

The opposite is true.

Having a consistent face and voice that “stitches together” the virtual sessions for participants adds much-needed familiarity and helps alleviate the isolated feeling that online events can sometimes produce for attendees.

The best way to implement is to have the event moderator open up the conference online – just like a regular event – and then moderate questions for speakers and pop back online between sessions to chat with attendees (I have played this role many, many times for major online events).

4. Use Attendee Chat Early and Often

The networking component of face-to-face events are almost always cited as the best part of the conference.

While it is of course more difficult to deliver rich networking online, you can assist attendees in interacting amongst themselves and with presenters by making liberal use of the chat/Q&A function in your chosen virtual events platform.

The emcee/moderator should ask attendees questions at the beginning of the day to get participants used to the functionality, and also between sessions to facilitate networking.

Every presenter at your virtual event should be taking questions from the audience using the Chat/Q&A tool.

Further, one of the built-in advantages of online conferences is the ability to use the polling function of the software to ask questions of the audience and get instant, mathematical results.

You should train your presenters how to use this polling feature to make sessions more interesting and interactive.

5. Require Presenter Run-Throughs

Speaking of training presenters, you really should make it mandatory that each of them participate in a run-through of their material a week or so before your virtual event.

Of course, it is likely that your presenters have attended some sort of online event, and may have even delivered a program at some point.

But, EVERY online event software platform is different, and presenters need to understand those nuances.

For example, some online conference software packages “hide” presenter notes when in presentation mode. A speaker accustomed to using presenter notes will be mightily surprised when they all of a sudden disappear once the session begins. (TIP: for online events, have all presenters print out their slides and notes)

Further, once presenters are clear on the different interactive elements of the software, and the inherently altered “feel” of a virtual presentation from the audience perspective, they should make changes to their content accordingly.

Let’s put this plainly: for maximum success you cannot just take your offline presentation slides and deliver them online. 

6. Use Cameras

To make the virtual conference feel more similar to the face-to-face experience, you should require presenters to use their Web cam while presenting.

This allows audience to see the speaker during the presentation, which adds another layer of information such as non-verbal cues, etc.

However, this requires each presenter to not only have a decent camera (ideally, better than their on-board laptop cam) as well as suitable lighting.

This isn’t necessarily a huge challenge, but is another wrinkle that presenters don’t have to contend with in a face-to-face event (and is another reason you need run-throughs).

webinar example with video

Our very own Anna Hrach presents a webinar for higher ed marketers with video of her speaking.

7. Ensure Quality Sound

Alex Shockey, the Global Social Media Manager at FedEx, wears a headset on a recent episode of Social Pros.

If the speakers at your online conference don’t have fantastic lighting or great cameras, the event can still work if the content is outstanding.

But if the presenter audio isn’t solid, your audience will log off IMMEDIATELY.

Just like with podcasts, sound quality for a virtual event is non-negotiable.

It is shocking how often presenters at online events just figure they can talk into their laptop, with no regard for room acoustics, background noise, dogs barking, people walking by, the neighbor’s cockatoo, and more.

When you do presenter run-throughs make certain they are conducted in the same room and with the same setup as will occur during the actual broadcast.

Yeti speakerAlso, consider purchasing USB headset microphones for all presenters and sending them out two weeks before the event, with a link to a video illustrating how to use them. We are also fans of the Yeti speaker too.

Lastly, if the speaker cannot be in a circumstance that is acceptable for audio when their live presentation is scheduled, pre-record that session and then have the speaker log-in at the end of the recorded portion to answer questions. This robs the speaker of the opportunity to use audience polls or take questions via chat during the session, but is better than bad audio.

Summary

In some ways virtual events are easier than in-person events because you don’t have to worry about massive audio-visual infrastructure, meals, hotel rooms, food allergies and other obstacles.

But in other ways online conferences are more difficult because there isn’t one “set up” for the room with speakers just getting a microphone and delivering their info, back-to-back.

The time needed to work with each speaker in a virtual event to ensure excellence and consistency is significant.

But, that time will pay off, and a good emcee/moderator will help you turn your event into a huge success.

The post How to Create a Successful Virtual Event for Your Company appeared first on Content Marketing Consulting and Social Media Strategy.

How to Create an Effective Press Page to Attract Coverage and Links

How to Create an Effective Press Page to Attract Coverage and Links

Would you like to receive more story requests from bloggers and journalists? Don’t you want to see more and more news stories mentioning your brand? Your first step to building more online coverage is to create an effective press page.

Why Create a Press Page?

I lost count of how many times I wanted to reach out to a brand (usually that’s a marketing tool I was curious to explore further) and struggled to find any clear instructions on how. I’ve also lost track of how many times I gave up when trying to mention a brand on Twitter and couldn’t find their Twitter handle anywhere.

Those brands missed a nice opportunity of being mentioned (which could even be a missed opportunity of onboarding a new brand advocate).

A well-built press page would have made that opportunity a reality.

Fundamentally, the major goals behind building a press page are:

  • Attracting “linking leads” (i.e. bloggers and journalists) by making your brand look interesting to them.
  • Delivering clear instructions on how they can get in touch (without leaving them wondering).
  • Providing you with a little bit more control over the online sentiment surrounding your brand (by surfacing favorable mentions).

Should You Create a Press Page or a Press Site?

There are certain pros and cons to setting up a dedicated site to curate news and encourage press contacts.

The biggest benefit of having a separate site is an ability to take more than one position in Google for your branded queries. Google is trying to show diverse results per SERPs, aiming to show no more than two results from the same domain for a particular query in the top results. So having additional sites will help you control more of your branded search SERPs.

Bigger companies usually have several domains building additional online context around the brand (and controlling more branded SERPs):

Amazon Press Site Example

Amazon hosts all brand-specific information on a separate domain aboutamazon.com

Radix offers a perfect domain name for your brand’s press room: .press:

Radix press domain ideas

Radix press domain ideas

On the other hand, building a separate site comes at a price: You need additional resources to build, design and maintain a separate entity.

I leave it up to you to decide, but I am personally leaning towards a separate entity option.

1. Past Mentions

There are a few important reasons why you want to curate your current press coverage:

  • Linking to pages that mention you will boost rankings of those pages. This helps you surface your positive mentions and, hence, better control your company’s online sentiment.
  • Featuring various stories around your brand gives journalists more ideas of possible angles for their own articles.
  • Publicizing your mentions encourages more bloggers to feature you (in hopes you will link to them from that section as well).
  • “As featured in” section offers you the power of social proof. Both your customers and journalists will trust your brand more once they see you are being covered in the news.

This section may contain all kinds of links that mention your brand in one way or another, including:

  • Your mentions in the news outlets.
  • Your management’s interviews.
  • Articles quoting you or your management.
  • Your CEO’s keynote coverage, etc.

It is also a good idea to curate your own press releases in this section.

Nextiva does a great job curating news coverage of their brand:

Press Page Example

Great press page example from Nextiva. You can sort the list by year to find older / newer stories featuring the brand.

You can sort the list by year to find older / newer stories featuring the brand.

2. Contact Information

The best idea is to put a real person here, instead of a generic contact form. EPAM is a great example of doing that well:

Press page example with press contact

Great example of highlighting your press contact on your press page.

Knowing who to contact and being able to choose from a variety of options is likely to encourage many of your company’s linking leads to start the conversation.

3. “Behind-the-Scenes” Company Information

Again, one of the major goals behind a good press page is to make your company more interesting to bloggers and journalists, encouraging them to think of it as part of a story.

What’s a better way to make your company more interesting to people than by humanizing it. Show your team, your pictures, your conference trips, your charity events. You have a lot of uniqueness in your brand. Just show it.

4. Style Guide/Assets

Offering bloggers and journalists additional assets to include in their articles may incentivize them to create a more eye-catching context.

Instagram is a good example of providing exhaustive instructions as to how bloggers may be using their logos and where to download a high-resolution file. They also offer high-resolution screenshots for download and use within articles:

Style Guide/Assets example for a press page from instagram

Instagram’s asset collection is a great example of a style guide and assets for press to use

5. Your Social Media Channels

Finally, offering additional ways to get in touch is always a good idea. Plus, linking to your social media channels will allow bloggers and journalists to tag you in social media updates when your feature goes live.

Besides, encouraging your linking leads to follow you around would tie them closer to your brand and potentially keep them engaged.

Optimize Your Page for Organic Visibility

Finally, getting your press page (or site) rank for a variety of branded (and possibly even generic / non-branded) queries is key to generating more press coverage.

Text Optimizer will help you create an effective copy for your Press Coverage, which will help it rank higher in Google. Text Optimizer will check your current brand-name ranking and use semantic analysis to extract related concepts for you to include them in your copy:

It is also a good idea to come up with a user-engaging strategy making sure people who have found themselves on our press page will continue browsing the site.

Alter offers a few great user engaging options, including exit-intent popup that shows up exactly when your site users are ready to leave. You can control the pages that will show up and the content they will include:

Conclusion

So many companies are getting proactive with link acquisition and press coverage tactics, yet they forget the inbound aspect of them. Before investing in your journalistic email outreach, make sure you have a convincing landing page set up. That way, linking leads will know why and how to mention you when providing the coverage.

Setting up a press page (or a press site) is a one-time task, but it must be done in order to see your brand generating more and more organic mentions around the web.

The post How to Create an Effective Press Page to Attract Coverage and Links appeared first on Content Marketing Consulting and Social Media Strategy.

How to Make Content SEO Friendly

How to Make Content SEO Friendly

Building consistent organic search traffic is every digital publisher’s dream. But what does it really take to make your content SEO friendly?

The good news is it is not a rocket science.

On top of that, despite what many people think, it has nothing to do with “tricking” Google into thinking your content is high-quality or SEO friendly.

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”, which basically means making sure a search algorithm can easily access and understand your content. There’s no dark art involved.

Here are the steps you should take to make your content SEO friendly:

1. Match Your Content Idea to a Searchable Phrase (Search Query)

So you have an idea in mind which you feel like writing about. This is where any content creation starts: “I have something to say on this topic, and I feel like it will be interesting and/or useful”.

Is anyone searching for this topic?

Chances are, if you have come up with the topic, there should be other people who may feel intrigued enough to research it in Google.

But how exactly are people searching for it?

This is the key question you should ask if you want to generate organic search engine traffic to your future content.

You need to know what people type in a search box when trying to find answers to questions you are covering in your content.

So your first step is to find those actual search queries.

This exercise is also useful because it helps research. Knowing what people are typing in Google’s search box will likely help you discover interesting angles, narrow your initial idea down to make it more specific and even structure your future article to make it more useful.

So even if you don’t really care about organic search positions, keyword research is useful to do.

But how?

The keyword research process — at its core — hasn’t changed much over the years. We do have much more data to work with, but the actual process is the same.

These days, we have a variety of tools that help you identify a keyword to focus on. Here are a few tools and approaches you can try:

1.1. Type Your Terms into Ahrefs

Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer is a great tool for that because it offers “All keyword ideas” tab that broadens your initial idea to related and synonymous terms.

So if you were to type [grow tomatoes] and click through to that section, you’d find both phrases containing the term (e.g. “how to grow tomatoes”) and related concepts (e.g. “when to plant tomatoes“):

Ahrefs

This broadens your outlook and helps you come up with more words to include in your copy.

1.2. Discover What Your Future Competitor is Ranking For

If you’ve done at least some research on your content idea, you may have found some resources that are on the same or similar topic. So use those URLs to discover what they are ranking for.

Serpstats’ URL Analysis section is great for that:

SERPstat

Notice that Serpstat is also showing all “extra” search elements that show up for each query in Google, so you get a good idea of what your future target SERPs (search engine result pages) may look like.

Note that both of these platforms offer “keyword difficulty” metric signaling of the level of your future organic competition. Obviously, the lower the keyword difficulty is, the better.

On the other hand, the higher the search volume, the more clicks each SERP may drive. So you want to try and pick a keyword that has high search volume and low keyword difficulty.

Here’s a more detailed guide on keyword research for you to become better at it. And here are even more keyword research questions answered.

2. Put Those Keywords in Prominent Places

While the process of researching keywords hasn’t changed much, the way we use keywords within content has.

These days, we don’t sacrifice the quality or flow of our copy for the sake of keyword density. In fact, we don’t pay attention to how many times we have used those keywords on-page.

We do use those keywords in prominent places on the page to make both Google and our human visitors more comfortable and confident there.

To put it simply, upon landing on your page, your users should clearly see terms they initially typed in the search box. That will put them more at ease and prompt them to linger a bit longer.

Keyword prominence means making your keywords visible on the page. It helps both search engine optimization and user-retention. Both of these help rankings.

Basically, you want those keywords to appear in:

  1. Page title
  2. Page URL slug (which in WordPress will be transferred from your title anyway)
  3. First paragraph
  4. Page subheading(s)
  5. Image alt text (Do make those alt text descriptive as it helps accessibility)

Keyword prominence

Many SEO plugins (like Yoast and SEO Editor) can handle a lot of these SEO elements, so it is a good idea to pick one.

3. Use Semantic Analysis to Match Google’s Expectations and Make Your Content More Indepth

As I have already stated before, Google has moved away from matching the exact query to the pages in its index. Ever since its Hummingbird update, Google has slowly but surely become better and better at understanding each query context and searcher’s intent behind it.

To match that context better and optimize for the intent, use semantic analysis, which is basically about clustering each query into underlying and related concepts and covering you in your content.

Text Optimizer is a tool that takes Google’s search snippets for any query and applies semantic analysis to identify areas of improvement. Text Optimizer can be used for writing new content from scratch:

Text Optimizer new content

You can also use the tool to analyze your existing content to identify areas of improvements:

Text Optimizer existing content

As you can see, Text Optimizer also helps analyze whether your content meets the query intent.

To increase your score at Text Optimizer:

  • Choose the most suitable words for your content and include them naturally into your article. Avoid keyword stuffing. Only choose terms that you find fitting your current context.
  • You may modify sentences or write new ones until you reach at least 80%

4. Diversify Your Content Formats

Google loves textual content, but the Internet in general and Google in particular has moved beyond text-only. Web users expect to see more formats, including videos and images. And Google recognizes that demand for content diversity, so it will feature all of those content formats.

In my previous article for Convince and Convert I described how videos improve SEO on many levels, including more exposure in search engine result pages and better on-page engagement.

With that in mind, any time you work on your article, think which other content assets can be created to enhance its value and improve SEO.

Luckily, creating videos doesn’t require any budget or skills. With tools like InVideo you can turn your articles into videos in a matter of seconds:

  • Select “I want to convert article into video” option
  • Paste in a maximum of 50 sentences (I usually use the tool to turn my article takeaways or subheadings into a video)
  • Pick the template and let the tool do the job
  • You can upload your own images (screenshots), tweak the subtitles and select the music

Invideo options

You are done! Now, upload the video to Youtube, add a keyword-rich title and description and embed it to your article.

For images, you can use Venngage or Visme to create nice visual takeaways or flowcharts (in case you have instructions to follow).

5. Set up an On-Page SEO Monitoring Routine

Finally, there’s always room for improvement, so monitoring your organic traffic is an important step here.

The must-have tool for that is Google’s own Search Console, which will show you which queries are sending you traffic. Just check your “Performance” tab regularly:

Google's own Search Console

Another useful tool to have is Finteza, which shows your organic traffic performance allowing you to dig deeper to see whether your organic traffic clicks engage with your ads.

Finteza

… or whether each search query sends traffic that brings conversions.

Finteza conversions

6. Don’t Forget External (Off-Site) Signals

Obviously, it is more to Google position than on-page optimization. You still need those backlinks that would help Google assign some authority to your content. But that’s a topic outside of the scope of this article. Besides, there’s a lot of content already written on that. And here’s another collection of tips on how to build links.

Finally, the above steps apply to any kind of optimization, whether it’s a blog, product pages or lead-generating landing pages.

I hope this guide will help you optimize your content to make it easier for Google to understand and hence help the search giant’s algorithm assign search positions it truly deserves.

The post How to Make Content SEO Friendly appeared first on Content Marketing Consulting and Social Media Strategy.

100 Best Marketing Blogs | Digital Marketing Blogs

These top 100 marketing blogs can provide you with inspiration. It can also give you the cutting edge thinking on marketing. Let’s dig it.

1. Seth’s Blog

2. Branding Strategy Insider

3. Duct Tape Marketing

4. Web Ink Now

5. Hubspot Inbound Internet Marketing Blog

6. A Clear Eye

7. Brand Autopsy

8. The Marketing Spot

9. Awaken Your Superhero

10. Red Slice

11. Marketing Technology Blog

12. Return Customer

13. Brand Builder

14. BrandGymBlog

15. Brand Curve

16. Marketing & Strategy Innovation Blog

17. Make the Logo Bigger

18. Stephen Denny

19. Responsible Marketing

20. Customers Rock

21. Marketing Tea Party

22. Vitamin IMC

23. Brand New

24. Brand Noise

25. Techno Marketer

26. Forrester Interactive Marketing Blog

27. Brand New Day

28. Ad Pulp

29. Church of the Customer

30. AdFreak

31. BrandFreak

32. Marketing Nirvana

33. Influential Marketing

34. MicroMarketing

35. Fresh Peel

36. Shotgun Marketing

37. Conversation Agent

38. Jaffe Juice

39. Marketing Interactions

40. The Viral Garden

41. Brand Story

42. Own Your Brand

43. Brandeo

44. AdRants

45. Brand Mix

46. Citizen Marketer 2.1

47. The Social Media Marketing Blog

48. Aaker on Brands

49. Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang

50. Flooring The Consumer

51. Modern Marketing

52. Diva Marketing Blog

53. Hee-Haw Marketing

54. Being Peter Kim

55. Logic + Emotion

56. Steve Rubel

57. Lonely Marketer

58. My 2 Cents

59. BrandingWire

60. Marketing.fm

61. Brand Corral

62. CK’s Blog

63. Marketing With Meaning

64. Inside the Marketers Studio

65. John Quelch’s Blog

66. Make Marketing History

67. Buzzmarketing Daily

68. Hard Knox Life

69. Brand Champions

70. Neuromarketing

71. BrandSimple

72. Marketallica

73. Right Brain/Left Brain Marketing

74. Brains on Fire

75. Mainwaring Blog

76. The Big Fat Marketing Blog

77. Conversation Marketing

78. Marketing Genius

79. Brand Rants

80. Marketing Shift

81. Altitude Branding

82. Marketing Productivity Blog

83. Marketing Geek

84. Adverblog

85. Advertising and Marketing Blog

86. The Marketing Blog

87. Dan Zarrella

88. Beyond Madison Avenue

89. Freaking Marketing

90. Social Media Explorer

91. 9 Inch Marketing

92. Where’s My Jetpack

93. Simon Mainwaring

95. The Harte of Marketing

94. Tagblog

96. Read This

97. The Engaged Consumer

98. Jonathan Salem Baskin’s Dim Bulb

99. Marketing Roadmaps

100. The Branding Blog

More Marketing Blogs:

101. The Toad Stool
102. A New Marketing
103. The Brand Bubble
104. Melodies in Marketing
105. Groundswell Blog
106. Customer U
107. Brand DNA

SEO Blogs:

1. SEOMoz Blog
2. State of Search
3. The Marketing Spark

The post 100 Best Marketing Blogs | Digital Marketing Blogs appeared first on Muntasir Mahdi.

How Does Video Help SEO?

How Does Video Help SEO?

Videos always have played an important role in organic visibility. Video-rich snippets were one of the first elements in Google search results pages.

For years, Google would show video thumbnails inside organic search results. Having your video thumbnail in Google search always meant higher brand visibility and more clicks.

So does video help SEO these days?

How Videos Help Organic Visibility

Now that we talk more about organic visibility than rankings, building a consistent video strategy has become even more important.

With on-the-go and video search on the rise, video content has become even more important, as consumers are able to watch videos without interrupting their current activity.

Videos Are All Over the Search Result Pages

Google has been adding interactive video-rich elements all over search engine results pages. As such, you can find video carousels for every other Google search these days.

Video Carousel Example

On a mobile device, video carousels look like this:

Video Carousel on Mobile Device

Apart from carousels, videos can enhance your organic snippets as Google will grab a video thumbnail to place it right inside your organic listing:
Video in Organic SERPs Example

Brand Familiarity Builds Clicks & Conversions Over Time

Furthermore, you can brand your video thumbnails to build brand recognizability. This may help your click-through and conversions in the long run because brand familiarity causes web users to feel more confident and to trust the website:

Google Loves Long-Form Content, for Videos Too

Google is known to love long-form content. It looks like Google loves long-form video content too, especially for certain queries.

Below is an example of a search engine results page allowing you to navigate a video right from organic SERPs: Clicking any title will take you deep into the video. These timestamps are added by the author in the video description, but it is nice to see that they also can make it right into organic SERPs:

Video Timestamp Example

Here’s a detailed guide on time-stamping your YouTube videos.

How Videos Help On-Page SEO

Apart from providing enhanced organic visibility, videos have been found to boost on-page engagement, which is a powerful rankings factor. Google wants its users to like each page that is returned in search results and to continue interacting with the site instead of leaving right away.

On-page engagement definitely sends good signals to Google.

That’s exactly how a well-placed useful video on your page can indirectly help your rankings and get Google to like and trust your site.

Over the years, videos have consistently been found to improve on-page engagement and conversions:

  • The majority of web users prefer watching a video to reading words (Source: Forbes Insights).
  • Using videos on a landing page can increase conversions by 86% (Source: Eye View Digital).
  • Finally, the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video (Source: Oberlo stats).

Video Engagement Statistics

With that in mind, do implement best SEO practices when it comes to embedding videos to your page:

  • Lazy-load videos to avoid any negative impact on your page load time. Page speed is a confirmed ranking factor, so make sure you are keeping an eye on that too. Here’s how to easily lazy-load videos in WordPress.
  • Use video schema to increase your chances to have a video thumbnail in organic search. Google offers a helpful tutorial here. There are even some enhancements available, including getting a LIVE badge added to your video and allowing users to navigate your video from SERPs.

Ideas for Video Content to Boost Your Organic SEO

Finally, to leave you with some truly actionable advice, here are a few ideas to create meaningful video content for your brand that would help with everything I mentioned above:

  • Organic visibility.
  • Organic click-through.
  • On-page engagement and conversions.

1. Re-Use Your Demos and Webinars

Every SaaS business out there actively use demos and webinars to build and convert leads. Only a few of them make the most of their efforts though.

Demos and webinars make great long-form video content that can boost your branded SERPs and engage your potential customers.

With tools like ClickMeeting, re-using your past webinars and demos is also incredibly easy. The on-demand feature allows you to record, organize, monetize and publicize your webinars.

Clickmeeting Example

Additionally, using ClickMeeting’s WordPress plugin, you can embed the entire on-demand video experience on your website, even gating it and integrating it into your lead capture and nurture funnel.

Alternatively, if gating your video content doesn’t make sense in your situation, then you can simply upload your videos straight from your ClickMeeting dashboard to your YouTube account and then embed them wherever you like.

2. Influencer-Driven Videos

These can be interviews, webinars, video q&a and even testimonials. Any time you feature a niche influencer in your video, you tap into its existing community and trust.

The beauty of collaborating with influencers for creating video content is that you can use their authority and existing community to generate views and conversions.

Use Buzzsumo to find influencers with which to work. You can limit Buzzsumo results to videos only to find those who don’t mind co-creating videos:

 Buzzsumo for Videos Example

3. Customer-Driven Videos

Your loyal existing customers may be the best video creators. Set up an easy contest encouraging your customers to submit their own unboxing videos or screencasts and reward best efforts.

Give your customers lots of spotlight and generously recognize their efforts. Campaigns like this also build loyalty and bring in more buyers.

Plus, it generates video content for your brand, which you can use to build organic visibility. Over at Viral Content Bee, we invited our current users to submit video tutorials of how they use the platform to include in our official Udemy course:

User Walkthrough Video Example

This way our official course includes all kinds of perspectives to which different types of users can better relate.

Takeaways

  • Videos enjoy a great deal of visibility in Google’s organic search results.
  • By creating well-branded and consistent video content, you can boost brand familiarity and click-through.
  • Videos also can improve your on-page engagement (and, hence, indirectly help with organic rankings).
  • A few examples of video content to add to your marketing strategies are webinars and customer- and influencer-driven videos.

Good luck!

The post How Does Video Help SEO? appeared first on Content Marketing Consulting and Social Media Strategy.

Why context marketing will rule the next decade

context marketing

By Mathew Sweezey, {grow} Community Member

Wearing a t-shirt, slub jeans, and a new pair of sneakers, he said it first: “If content is king, context is god.” While I’d love to have been the first to utter those words, Gary Vaynerchuck beat me to it. But what is “context?” And why will context marketing revolutionize business in the next decade?

Context is the reason why a person takes action.

Let’s be honest, no consumer ever said, “I want more branded content!”

No, people engage with our content because it helps them achieve a goal in a moment. The goal could have been to answer a question, escape reality, learn, laugh, etc. It is the context of the experience, not the content, that drove the engagement.

Context marketing is a new method of marketing where brands breakthrough by crafting experiences to meet a person in that specific moment of need, and help them accomplish the task at hand. The trust built from that interaction guides the individual to the next stop on their journey, creating motivation and driving demand.

Context and Lego Land

Lego knows that along their customer journey, many parents have a hard time determining which set of toys is the best fit for their child. This leads many parents to visit the online Lego store and leave without a purchase. In this specific moment of the journey, Lego needed to create a contextual experience to break through the parental confusion and motivate action.

Enter Ralph, Lego’s gift-buying bot.

context marketing lego

Ralph was deployed on Facebook to all Lego website visitors who had visited the site but had not bought anything in the past 14 days. The ad invited them to have a conversation with Ralph, who would help them pick the perfect gift.

The experience was a hit. The average conversation with the bot was three minutes, and the sales from the bot accounted for 25 percent of online holiday sales that year. They broke through by focusing in on a key moment of the customer journey, helping them accomplish the task at hand — finding the perfect gift — and guiding them to the next step, buying it.

It wasn’t the copy of the ad or the creative campaign surrounding it that drove the action. It was the brand’s ability to identify the goal of one consumer moment and craft a relevant and helpful experience in context.

Context Marketing — Why now?

Context marketing is happening now because of a seismic shift in the media environment.

Not long ago, content creation was limited to big publishing houses and television stations with broadcast licenses. This was the era of limited media.

But today, consumers and their devices are the largest creators of content noise on the planet, displacing the media monopoly. This is an infinite media landscape that follows a new set of rules.

The first new rule you must understand is that this new source of content isn’t just overwhelming, it’s radically different.

Noise created by brands is typically “messaging” and forced onto the market place. Just think of broadcast ads, unwanted emails, product packaging, etc.

Now think about the content created by consumers. It’s between friends in trusted networks, permissioned, highly authentic, and engaging.

On top of that, there is an entirely new source of content created for us by our devices. Think about the power of a Fitbit to alter the course of a person’s daily and life with a simple notification – “You need to take 500 more steps to reach your goal.” This device-driven content can have a profound effect on the consumer.

Context marketing and consumer behavior

The infinite media environment has changed consumer behavior.

In the limited media environment when access to information was relatively scarce, we relied on our memory to make decisions. Marketing designed to keep us “top of mind” is effective.

In the infinite environment, consumers offload memory to devices. When they need information they seek it out in the moment.

This has turned all decisions into considered purchases. Even the mundane search term “best toothbrush” is growing at a rate of 100 percent year over year. Why? Because consumers trust the information they find over the information we project.

Meeting consumers in those key moments along the journey, and helping them accomplish that task at hand, builds the trust we need to drive them forward.

AI enables the new era of context marketing

Context is now the marketing king because of artificial intelligence. The volume of noise is so high (Content Shock) that without AI, humans would simply be overwhelmed.

This is why every digital asset from Netflix to Facebook is managed by AI. The algorithms are only showing you the content that is contextual to you in the moment, the content that drives the highest engagement.

Context enabled by AI is now the crux of marketing, but how do you create it? That can be summed up in three words; with, not on.

Marketers need to shift how they think about creating content to creating context through co-created experiences. Context is a collaborative effort.

New cookies

context marketing oreoFor example, Oreo wanted to launch new flavors of their iconic cookie. Rather than spending months doing internal market research, product testing, and finally releasing a cookie to the world with a grand marketing campaign, they did the opposite. They asked their customers to come up with the flavors they wanted to see. They gamified it, and the #myoreocreation was born.

Hundreds of thousands of suggestions flooded social media. To keep the excitement going, Oreo engaged with a majority of those suggestions by responding to consumer posts, or in some cases actually creating a one-off cookie for the lucky fan. This created such a stir that when the new cookies were released they were an instant hit.

Context is part of the omnichannel

Working with content in your market is a broad stroke that can include influencer marketing, employee advocacy, and user-generated content. Each of these can be a collaboration between the brand and an individual but you can go further.

At Salesforce, we’ve found a powerful way to work with our market to create a highly contextual experience. We created the Trailblazer community, a place where anyone can upskill around our product, and other relevant soft-skills. We had an idea, then worked with our market to build the community. Now they keep it thriving.

The co-created community helps people continually improve their business, build a larger network, and improve their personal brand. Each day there are thousands of questions asked and answered by customers. More than 14 million badges (certificate of course completion) have been earned. People love Trailblazer so much many have changed their LinkedIn job title to reflect their status in the community.

The benefits we receive are so much greater than just social media exposure and goodwill. Customers who are Trailblazers spend twice as much, and remain a customer three times as long as those not engaged in the community.

The days of marketing being about pure creative genius are long gone. Now marketers must find ways to work with their audience in the context of the moment.

Mathew Sweezey is Principal of Marketing Insights for Salesforce.com,  podcast host, multiple award-winning marketers, pioneer of the marketing automation space, and author of The Context Marketing Revolution.

 

 

 

 

The post Why context marketing will rule the next decade appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Winning the War for Attention: My talk at #SMMW20

winning the war for attention

Winning the War for Attention

I’ve been a speaker at all eight Social Media Marketing World events and it is always an annual highlight for me. It’s like coming home to family — so many wonderful friends to see! If you’ve never attended, you should give it a try and discover the fun.

winning the war for attention andy crestodina, rich brooks, brooke sellas mark schaefer, jay baer, dana malstaff, ian cleary, mike alton, mike kim

In the early days of SMMW, I spoke on Twitter and blogging, then I evolved into content and strategy. In 2016 I was asked to be the closing keynote speaker and I did it again in 2019. What a thrill to speak in front of 5,000 frenzied social media friends!

I think a key to my success at this event is that I always push boundaries with fresh, exciting content. My philosophy is that a great speech delivers insights, not just information. Information … you can get that in a blog post. But you’ll have a unique experience coming to one of my talks!

I pushed the boundaries again this year by doing something different. I spoke from my heart about the biggest problem facing social media marketers today — winning the war for attention.

I see that social media marketers simply try to keep up by copying others or following directions from their favorite gurus. This simply cannot work. Winning a war for attention means we can’t be conformists.

So let’s dig into the heart of the speech …

Winning the War for Attention

I started my speech with a funny story from the early days of television to illustrate a pattern that happens in every content channel.

When TV started in the 1950s, the programs were filled with local talent — singers, cooks, and anybody who could fill some time on the air. Almost anybody could get on the air and almost any business could buy advertising time.

Over the years, the channel “filled up,” and the content became more expensive and sophisticated. Local advertisers dropped out and network (and then cable) TV took over.

Today, what does it take to get your attention on TV? Game of Thrones. At $10 million per episode for a show like that, the content has never been better but if you’re trying to compete on the basis of content, bring your checkbook!

As I told this story, I asked my audience to think of the similarity of what is happening in their own favorite social media space. The same pattern will happen over time. The space fills up with content and it becomes more expensive and difficult to compete, an idea I first introduced in 2014 with an idea called Content Shock.

Now, what do we do about it?

I proposed that answering five questions can lead you to a strategy that helps you win the war for attention. Here they are.

1. Only we …

I asked the audience a simple question. Can you finish this sentence: “Only we …”?

This is a very important question because if you can’t finish that sentence, you don’t have a marketing strategy and if you don’t have a marketing strategy, you can’t have a social media strategy. You’re being set up to fail.

It may take you weeks or even months to figure this out. But you simply must find these special points of differentiation. If you’re stuck, go out and ask your customers what they think. You’ll almost always find the answer there.

2. Company culture

In my Marketing Rebellion book, I go deep into this idea of how company culture really determines how successful you’ll be with your social media marketing.

The company culture both enables your narrative and constrains your ability to win the war for attention. If you have a culture that is open, nurturing and fun … that will be your social media presence. If you’re uptight and controlling, you probably won’t get very far in winning the war for attention.

This can be frustrating because no amount of energy and talent can overcome a dismal company culture. Sometimes, an effective social media strategy has to start with executive education.

I made the point that sometimes social media success must start with executive education.

3. Are you a conversational brand?

I said that the business case for all social media is this: “Come Waste Time With Me.”

Nobody has to be on social media. So to succeed, you have to earn a place that makes people want to waste time with you. Why would they want to do that?

Not all products and industries have an equal chance to win the war for attention.

If you work for a university, a sports team, a pop star, or a professional athlete, you will naturally have a high level of attention and organic reach.

If you work for a bank, the electric company, or a company that makes appliances … well, these just are not going to make it to dinnertime conversations. You’re not that conversational and it will be much, much harder for you to win the war for attention.

You have to make yourself conversational. This does not necessarily have to be difficult or expensive, but you do have to stand out in some unique way.

I provided an example of a hand tool company in Lithuania that went viral over its videos that explored how the tools were hand-crafted.

4. How can you maneuver?

I explained to the audience that this was the most important part of the talk. My concern is that everybody leaves a conference like Social Media Marketing World and follows whatever the gurus tell them to do. I see this year after year.

If it is the year of Snapchat, everybody piles on to Snapchat.

If it is the year of video on LinkedIn, then that is what everybody does.

Marketers flock to whatever is popular until they ruin it.

And that’s no strategy. Winning the war for attention depends on non-conformity, not conformity.

I used an example of TikTok, which was a big piece of the conversation at SMMW20. There seems to be a frenzy to get every business on to TikTok. Research shows that indeed, there is a growing older audience there. But let’s take a closer look:

winning the war for attention tiktok

Did you know that about 94 percent of the content created on TikTok is by teenagers? This implies we have a lot of older people stalking TikTok (as they first did with Snapchat before dropping out). So do you really need to be building an audience of 12-year-olds for your business? Maybe.

I’m not against TikTok, I’m just saying, “THINK” and don’t spend budget on activities because some guru told you to do it (This part of my talk received applause!)

To be effective today, you cannot be guru-led and fall in line with a crowd. You have to zig when everybody else is zagging.

To illustrate this, I provided examples from three very saturated industries — real estate, food, and entrepreneurial content — and showed that a little simple creativity helped businesses stand out and create great success.

5. Human-centered content

In this part of my speech, I noted that every great social media success story has a human anchor providing some unique value. (I cover this in detail here: A simple theory of social media success).

I showed how many companies are missing out on opportunities to show real human smiles, personalities, and passion because they act like grape lollipops, which say they are grape but are not really grape at all!

This was the funniest part of my speech and I got the biggest laugh I think I have ever received as I covered a few big social media fails!

winning the war for attention

The point is, the most human company wins — it just does. I believe that with every fiber in my body. And you won’t be winning the war for attention with some fake and inauthentic presence.

Putting it into action

These are the types of guidelines I use with my clients, and they work. They’re not that hard. But they do take a bold willingness to not follow the crowd.

I ended my talk encouraging the crowd to:

  • Be a non-conformist.
  • Maneuver.
  • Be more human.

It seems simple, doesn’t it? How are you being a non-conformist in your industry?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

The post Winning the War for Attention: My talk at #SMMW20 appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Why “resonance” is the future of SEO

future of seo

One of the problems in the digital marketing world today is that leaders are using an outdated playbook — especially when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. I think the future of SEO is taking some pretty wild and unexpected turns right now so let’s explore that today.

Content as SEO fuel

The major innovation with SEO over the past few years is that it has largely become a content strategy. Beginning with the “inbound marketing” concept introduced by Hubspot in 2005 and growing into very sophisticated AI-driven techniques today, creating content that can auto-magically bring qualified leads to your site has been a reliable strategy.

But there are a few trends that are changing that and content certainly does not work for SEO like it used to. The future of SEO is moving in a dramatic new direction.

The changing search landscape

Let’s look at the future of SEO and content as it is unveiling itself through three significant trends.

First — voice search. When you search Alexa or Google home by verbalizing a question, you don’t get a list of content sugestions like blog posts or videos. You get an answer. So content has a much-diminished impact in the world of voice search.

It’s impossible to tell exactly how much of the total search pie is going to voice queries, but let’s be ultra-conservative and say 20 percent.

future of seo

When you ask Alexa or Siri to do something for you, you normally don’t get a list of blog posts or podcast episodes in the results. So the implication is that your content is potentially impacting much less of the search market than it did in the pre-voice days five years ago. But wait, it gets worse.

Trend number two — Last month, something very significant happened in the search world. For the first time, more than half (51 percent) of the search inquiries on Google were kept by Google. This means, Google kept the SEO “answers” away from businesses and content creators and directed them to their own knowledge panels, internal properties, and paid partnerships.

Will this continue to grow in the Google direction? The government will have some say over this. Google’s increasing dominance in this space is a subject of a Department of Justice probe. The company owns the dominant tool at every link in the complex chain between online publishers and advertisers, giving it unique power over the monetization of digital content.

So now we have a truer picture of the emerging search world. In the past five years, the majority of organic search traffic that was available to be attracted by your content has been in steady decline.

future of seo content in decline

The main idea here is, the available search inquiries that can be served by your SEO-oriented content has been evaporating over the past five years.

And when we look at the future of SEO … it gets even worse.

Trend three — While the piece of the pie available to organic search inquiries has been in rapid decline, the amount of content competing for that shrinking pie has literally exploded.

When you have more and more content competing for the same search traffic, eventually content marketing is not a sustainable strategy for some businesses. This is an idea I proposed some years ago called Content Shock.

future of seo content shock

This graph from WordPress shows the number of blog posts published each month since the beginning of the content marketing era. You don’t have to be a statistician to realize it’s harder to compete for attention in a world of 80 million blog posts every month compared to one million a month 10 years ago. In fact, your competition has increased by 8,000 percent in a few years. A tough world for an inbound marketer!

Of course, the same thing is happening on podcasts, visual content, and video (there are 300 hours of new video uploaded to YouTube every minute of the day!).

To break through in this environment, you need to either spend more money on quality to win the content arms race or spend more to promote your content. Either way, traditional content marketing becomes more expensive and less accessible for many businesses in this environment.

So is this the end of content marketing?

No.

We just need to think about content and its benefits in an entirely different way.

SEO and the junkyard dogs

I was recently hired by a company in Seattle to conduct a personal branding workshop based on my book KNOWN.

When you think about it, this was an extremely unlikely pairing. If you search for “personal branding consultant,” there are 40 million results. Even if you search for “personal branding consultant Seattle” there are 2.1 million results.

I am not in those top search results. Not even close.

This is not an unusual situation for a small business. I am NEVER going to be in the top search results. Really, the only thing that matters is the top three slots. The top three slots will be won by the biggest, meanest, richest SEO junkyard dogs.

It’s an expensive and never-ending battle that I will never win for terms like “digital marketing consultant,” “marketing strategy, “keynote speaker,” or any of the other jobs that I do.

Chances are, unless you’re the junkyard dog in your industry, you won’t win your SEO battle either. And yet, every company I know is pouring money into content trying to win the SEO battle!

This just makes no sense.

But here I was in Seattle, conducting an awesome workshop. How did my client find me in all this hopeless SEO mess? Through my content. But not through search.

The business case for resonance

The night before my workshop, I had a wonderful seafood dinner with my client. I asked my friend … “Why did you hire me?”

“Your content resonates with me,” he said without hesitation.

Isn’t that an interesting word … resonates.

My content was not at the top of an SEO stack for personal branding. I’m certainly not going to make the Alexa hit parade.

But a person who hired me for this important work chose me because there was an emotional connection that resonated with him on a personal and professional level.

This reveals a more practical and realistic value of content in this competitive environment, and a value that is almost entirely overlooked by marketers today.

At this point, I would like to interrupt myself. Whenever I write a mega-trend blog post like this, I am pointing out an idea that is very broad … and it may not apply to everybody. There certainly is still room today for SEO-driven content, and there always will be as far out into the future as I can see. The numbers I’ve presented here are high level. The true search volume for your industry could result in mostly organic results, especially in smaller niche markets.

The answer to every marketing question is, “it depends,” and that is certainly true here.

But overall, SEO-driven content is probably working less well for most businesses and content that attracts customers due to its authority is becoming more important.

Content and authority

So there are really two basic content strategies you can use to win new business: Content meant to win SEO and content meant to earn authority (content that resonates with readers). And of course, you can have overlap between these strategies:

future of seo

I won the business in Seattle — against all SEO odds — because I ignored SEO. I write for my readers. If I do that well and consistently, I’ll earn subscribers. Eventually, these subscribers will grow to know me, trust me and hire me. I think that is the future of SEO, which is really not SEO at all!

It’s a different way to look at content strategy but for 90 percent of the businesses out there who will never win the SEO battle, content built on authority might be the best and only strategic option.

I’m not creating content to trick you into clicking a link. I am creating content that consistently connects with your hopes and dreams and business needs. I’m building a long-term connection that resonates.

Make sense?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com. 

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