Tag Archive | "enough"

Why Great Content Alone Isn’t Enough to Build an Audience

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about creating content that earns your audience’s attention. Mark Schaefer swung by and left a comment — and he made a point that is dear to our hearts at Copyblogger. “Outstanding content is not the finish line, it’s the starting line.”– Mark Schaefer I told
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The post Why Great Content Alone Isn’t Enough to Build an Audience appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Are You Fascinating Enough to Be a Content Marketer?

fascinating-brand

If you work closely with someone with bright pink hair, you might begin to question whether you are interesting enough to contribute your thoughts to the topic at hand.

Followings on the internet are built on memorability, right?

I mean, if you don’t give high-energy talks like Gary Vaynerchuk, dress on-brand like Mari Smith, or sport a high-voltage cranium like Michael Port, how will people know you exist?

Not that I’ve ever had any of those thoughts. ”</p

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Why Content Strategy Isn’t Enough

Posted by MackenzieFogelson

In 1989, I was conquering the eighth grade with a pair of Hammer pants, big bangs, and a stockpile of Aqua Net hairspray. During class, notes would be passed so friends could arrange to drink Dr. Pepper, eat Skor Bars, and play Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth album on a ghetto blaster after school. On a real good day, there’d be a message from the guy I was “going with” on the answering machine when I got home.

Source: Antique and Retro Shoppers Map

Luckily for us, since the late 80s, the pace at which technology has evolved is astounding. If I want, I can get fashion advice from people all over the world who share my size and style. If I need to get in touch with a friend, all I need to do is send a quick text. And, if I actually needed it, I could, in fact, order a can of Aqua Net Super-Hold from my mobile phone, sitting on the couch, streaming a Jack Johnson concert, while reading a post on Pocket from Vogue about other uses for Aqua Net when it’s not serving as “an invisible cantilever for implausibly huge heads of hair.”

There’s no doubt that these technological advances have made our world faster, smaller, and more connected. How is it even possible that it took phone companies 89 years to connect 150 million people, where it took Facebook only 8 years to connect 1 billion?

What’s interesting, and actually quite ironic, is that even though the world is more connected than ever, when it comes to companies and their customers, many of the relationships couldn’t be further apart.

Source: Christoph Becker

It’s no wonder there is a ginormous distance wedged between companies and their customers. Many companies — especially in the tech industry — are not being built for the long-haul and they have their priorities in all the wrong places.

For many of today’s companies, growth is emphasized at all costs. Overvalued tech companies are painting an unrealistic illusion of what to strive for as a business.

Source: Nathalie Nahai

In the good old days when I was using Aqua Net, the average time for a Fortune 500 company to reach $ 1billion in market value was 20 years.

Google did it in 8.
Facebook in 5.
Uber and Whatsapp in 2.
Snapchat: just 22 months.

To expect growth at this speed is unrealistic for most companies, yet that’s the new role model. Working to become the next unicorn pushes companies to value the wrong metrics and lose sight of what’s really important: putting in the time to earn the trust of their customers and building a business that’s worth being connected to.

As marketers, we’re forgetting that it’s not just about the content we produce, it’s about the experience people have with the brand and the company we’re working so hard to build.

As we walk into yet another year, we need to be intentional about building purposeful brands. Without fail, we need to deliver a seamless, authentic experience. And whatever we do, we need to ensure people, not technology, are driving marketing efforts.

*****

Build purposeful brands

Source: Mark Boncheck

All too often, the content that companies are generating is entirely disconnected not only from the needs and desires of their audience, but from the brand and company they aspire to be.

Over the years, content marketing has fallen prey to the “more is better” mentality. Rather than intentionally developing content as an extension of a company’s purpose and promise, content has become a quest for volume.

As more research has been advocating that high volume isn’t necessarily the best strategy, and that there actually is safety in quality over quantity, companies are starting to be more intentional about what they’re producing and why.

Unfortunately, the way many companies still view content strategy is generating a bunch of stuff that’s going to help them rank rather than as an altruistic gesture that builds credibility and serves a true need for their customers and community.

Source: Velocity Partners

There’s no doubt that content strategy is still important and that your content must be the best search result anyone can find, but just because you have great content doesn’t guarantee you anything.

As we continue to lose the ability to organically reach an audience on search and social, as technology increases the opportunity for people to block advertisements, and as avenues for connecting with customers increasingly become more digital, we must build brands so compelling and human that they transcend technology. We must become so real and relatable and true and trustworthy that customers don’t wait for you to come to them, they go looking for you.

Your content — whether that’s the words on your website, the listings on your product pages, the posts on your blog, the promotions in your emails, the exchanges on social media, the conversations with your customers, the design of your packaging, the presence of your team at an offline event, or your actions to remedy conflict — has to be part of a seamless experience across channels and mediums. This should all be part of a marketing strategy that’s working toward building an experience with a purposeful brand.

At the heart of every powerful brand and an effective marketing strategy is a company’s meaning beyond money. Many companies, not just startups, struggle with first identifying this meaning and then understanding how it integrates into their positioning. They’re not quite so sure what sets them apart from their competitors or who the right audience is for their product. When you don’t have clarity on these things, no matter how big your budget is, it’s going to make it really difficult to connect with your customers.

Arielle Jackson offers some questions and a simple framework to make sure your positioning is solid by using the prompts: For, Who, That, and Unlike:

Source: Arielle Jackson via First Round

With this formula you can quickly, clearly — and most importantly, in a very human way — communicate your positioning and your purpose. This is Harley Davidson’s:

Source: Arielle Jackson via First Round

To start, and in order to populate the prompts in the framework, Arielle recommends answering these questions:

Source: Arielle Jackson via First Round

She also recommends that when developing or evolving more meaningful positioning, it needs to come from the mark your company wants to make on the world.

Source: Arielle Jackson via First Round

In your positioning, you must identify where you fit in this world and also answer the question:

Source: Arielle Jackson via First Round

Knowing why your company exists and what it’s here to do will not only help you build a purposeful brand, but also make a remarkable difference in your marketing strategy and the connection with your customers and community.

Several years ago, Dove redefined their purpose and discovered a more significant meaning around which to build their brand.

Source: Arielle Jackson via First Round

Since 2004, the driving force behind Dove’s brand, their meaning beyond money, has been expressed through many mediums inside the Campaign for Real Beauty movement. From ads with real customers:

Source: Dove.us

…to billboards around the world that ignite engagement and thought:

Source: Dove.us

Since starting a conversation around what beauty really looks like more than 11 years ago, the way they’ve been communicating the message has continued to evolve so that it remains relevant. With this approach, Dove has earned brand advocacy, loyalty, many awards, and a hefty climb in profit from $ 2.5 to $ 4 billion.

Although their approach has received a great deal of press questioning its authenticity, Dove has made sure they aren’t just spreading awareness but putting action toward the meaning behind their message. Partnering with Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, and Girls, Inc, Dove has funded and supported activities that bring awareness to bullying as well as discussions about what it means to be beautiful.

Ultimately, far beyond profit, the greatest result Dove has experienced is actually working toward achieving their purpose: helping more women love and feel good about their bodies.

What you stand for as a company and a brand drives your products, your actions as a company, and also your marketing. More importantly, it will be the spark that ignites a connection with the people in your community.

When it comes down to it, people will continue to have access to more: more content, more products, and more choice. The need to build meaningful relationships with your customers is not an optional approach, but a requirement. Identifying and communicating your purpose as a brand is just one part of making this happen. The rest is delivering a seamless, authentic experience.

*****

Deliver a seamless, authentic experience

Source: Mark Boncheck

In Joseph Pine’s TED talk on What Consumers Want, he discusses how we’ve hit a new level of value in our economy. In this “experience economy,” we must go beyond goods and services to a create a memorable event. An experience. This isn’t a new concept and many companies have used experiential marketing very successfully.

But the most important piece of Pine’s talk explains how the experience needs to come from an authentic company. That authenticity has become the new consumer buying criteria. In other words, who you’re going to buy from and what you’re going to buy has everything to do with how authentic the company is. This authenticity can’t be faked through your advertising or any components of your brand’s identity. 63% of consumers would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic over the competition. Bottom line: If you say you’re authentic, you’d better be authentic.

Authenticity means that the things we say, and especially our actions, communicate the things that we actually believe. So instead of companies saying what the demographics data tells them consumers want to hear, authentic companies — their employees and all — actually live and breathe, with conviction, their meaning beyond money, across all channels and mediums.

Take Wear Your Label for example. A fairly young brand, Wear Your Label is striking up conversations about mental health with clothing. Their mission as a company is to remove the stigma of mental illness one piece of clothing at a time.

Source: Maya Sherwood Photography – MTV News

Wear Your Label lives and breathes their meaning and authenticity, which is apparent in everything they do — on- and offline. They create an inclusive, welcoming, empowering experience. Even the labels on their clothes exude their purpose. Instead of washing instructions, all clothing has a self-care reminder:

On the Wear Your Label website, instead of hiring models to showcase their clothing, they use role models who are brave enough to share their own stories of mental illness and how it’s affected their lives. There are no height or weight requirements, they simply ask people to share their experiences.

Source: Wear Your Label

On their blog, Wear Your Label is transparent about how they make their clothes and have a community of advocates who write their content.

Offline, Wear Your Label sticks with being real. When they were asked to put together a show for New York Fashion Week, instead of solely pulling from a supermodel cast, they featured an open call to pull three customer role models onto the runway. When they spoke at Youth Day 2015 in Toronto, they went experiential by setting up a pop-up shop, having 15 volunteers hand out conversation cards to the crowd, and giving a dollar of every purchase to a partnering mental health organization.

On social, their feed is refreshingly human. On Twitter there’s a balance between self-promotion and igniting a connection. It’s real people wearing their clothes, providing daily self-care reminders, and everything is a reflection of their purpose. Wear Your Label is off to a great start as a brand and is doing a ton of good stuff to earn credibility and build relationships that will, over time, result in a strong community and a profitable customer base.

But here’s the thing. Creating this presence is fairly simple from a marketing standpoint. Any brand can do this. Any brand can ask people to tell their stories and put emotional videos up on their website. Any brand can post some helpful, heart-filled tweets on social media. But an online presence is only a fraction of the authenticity equation.

The most telling pieces will come from the quality of their product: how it wears and washes. How easy it is to order online across devices. What it’s like to deal with a return if something wasn’t a great fit. Whether they respect email preferences. When they say that order volume is high and delaying shipping, do they honor the window of 5-10 additional days as published on the site, or do they fail to communicate when they need to break this commitment?

Source: Wear Your Label

When a brand follows through, this is the stuff that builds a seamless experience, proves that they are authentic, and fosters trust and connection. In order to earn the loyalty and advocacy of their customers, like every brand, Wear Your Label has got to deliver. No matter where. No matter what. And at every touchpoint they have the opportunity to win over their customers and community. I have confidence that Wear Your Label will continue to be successful in their growth and be one of the good ones.

Source: Ekaterina Walter

Many marketers and CMOs are wondering where to put more marketing dollars. Put those dollars where your experience falters. You may not control “the funnel,” but you do control how you behave every time a customer or community member interacts with your brand throughout the lifecycle.

You can control how authentic you are, the quality of your customer service, how much time you spend improving your product, and the value the customer gets from your product once they’ve taken it home. If you’re blowing it at any stop along the way, invest your money there. By ensuring your customers have a seamless experience with your brand, the closer you’ll get to achieving your brand and revenue goals.

Source: Help Scout

The fact of the matter is that your actions as a company are what afford you a runway with your customers. If there is a disconnect in the experience you’re providing at any point, you’ve either lost a customer entirely, or you’ve just dissolved trust that has previously been built and will negatively affect your customer’s purchasing decisions and advocacy behaviors.

Source: Mathew Sweezey

The pressure is on for brands. Not that companies have to be perfect. We’re all human and we make mistakes. But in order to build deeper relationships with customers, we have to do what we say and genuinely show that we care. Companies who are willing to invest in building this level of trust will not only profit from it, but outlast their competition.

*****

Let people, not technology, drive marketing efforts

Source: Robert Safian

These same authentic companies who are out making their mark on our world operate entirely differently from the companies my parents worked for when I was using Aqua Net and wearing Hammer pants. Companies who have had success building relationships, connecting, and earning trust from their customers in our extremely digital world know that it hasn’t come solely from their marketing strategy.

They’ve successfully presented a very human experience for their customers because it’s a passion and a mindset that’s breathing life from inside their very core. And their entire company, not just their marketing department, is feeding it. Internally they know how to break down silos, communicate, and effectively align their organization to their goals so they can deliver what their customers and community really need. They may use technology like HipChat or Slack to be more efficient internally, but they don’t allow it to take the place of face-to-face when it’s needed most.

Source: Mathew Sweezey

As companies get their bearings in our rapidly changing world and make the necessary adjustments to stay alive, marketing can no longer operate separately from other teams.

Doesn’t the shipping or product team need to work closely with the website and social teams to communicate real-time delays or bugs to customers? Wouldn’t the marketing and engineering team benefit from the feedback customer support is receiving? Shouldn’t the social and community teams work alongside sales to nurture relationships on- and offline? In order for companies to be fully authentic, they cannot mislead by presenting a unified presence on the outside that is completely disconnected from what it’s really like on the inside.

It’s also impossible for companies to deliver a seamless experience if the people — on both internal and external teams — cannot collaborate, align with co-workers, or focus together on achieving the overarching vision of the company. Just as you must build trust with your customers, the people on your teams need opportunities to do the same.

Teams need to be given the tools to self-manage, empower each other to be leaders on many levels, and have the courage to more effectively communicate with their peers. Changing the way your organization operates internally certainly gives your employees the opportunity to figure out how to work better together, but on a much grander scale, it affects the trajectory of the company.

Your entire organization is responsible for the customer experience at every touchpoint, which means giving your employees the power to take initiative and collaborate across teams allows more people in the company to focus on the customer. Similarly they can recognize the challenges you’re facing as a company and take the initiative to collaboratively find solutions to fix them. All of these actions affect your bottom line.

Source: Gary Vaynerchuk

It’s also up to every person in your entire company to find ways to relate to your customers. In Max Lenderman’s book Experience the Message, he tells the story of the Ritz Carlton approach not just to customer service, but customer data. Each day the doormen and concierges are given a check-in manifest that they memorize. Guests are personally greeted — by name — by the staff.

As the hotel staff learns the likes, dislikes, and habits of their guests, they make note of these characteristics in a customer relationship management (CRM) database. The more often someone stays at the hotel, the more personal their experience becomes. Their guests return. A lot. The average Ritz Carlton guest spends $ 100,000 over a lifetime.

But having this data is not what builds the trust and relationship with their customers. It’s how the Ritz Carlton staff apply it in their very caring and personal interactions one-on-one with their guests. It’s in the values that serve as their staff training tool. It’s in the way they use the data not to exploit their guests but to make their experience better.

Source: Rita J. King

Technology is unfortunately a double-edged sword. It certainly benefits us tremendously, but it’s also what’s causing the insatiable desire for companies to be more real and human. We think a CRM system or marketing automation platform is going to help us talk to someone at the right time and the right place and make the sale for us. That’s not for a machine to do. That’s where we — as people — win. Those systems are only tools and a tool is not a solution. They are to be leveraged to create better experiences and ultimately help brands become more human.

*****

Let’s build better companies

The way our world is evolving heavily affects how companies should shape and market. Content strategy isn’t enough because with the quick-wins marketing approach we have now, we’re losing our connection to people. We’re trying to force control over a journey with our customers in which we have very little influence. We’re thinking technology is going to build our relationships for us and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

But although these are huge challenges, they’re also huge opportunities. They give us the chance to stand above the level of mediocrity that consumers — and even other brands — contend with every day.

Content will always be extremely important. And when building your content strategy, you must have the entire cross-channel experience in mind, and that should guide the tools you use to effectively and authentically engage with your audience. But just producing great content won’t work unless you also prove yourself to be the worthwhile company your customers desire.

The characteristics of an authentic company are harder to prove results from. And building a purposeful brand takes a great deal more work and time to earn a customer base. But it’s also what will keep your customers around longer. It’s what will motivate them to tell their friends about you. And it’s what your competition can’t build overnight. The companies who are willing to do this work are going to be the ones who win over the next many years.

And these are the companies we need to build. The ones who will stand out from the rest. If you invest the time to build a genuine brand, people will hear about you. And they will come find you. Hammer pants and all.

***

A special thanks to Olivia Roat, Mike Soderholm, Beth Etter, Rebecca Gilmore, and Courtney Brown for their support in writing this post.

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When Data Just Isn’t Enough: The Hidden Context that’s Key to Content Loyalty

Posted by ronell-smith

(Image source)

When the client asked to “go mute” during our monthly client call, there was no reason to sound the alarm. After all, being able to talk through what they’ve heard as a team, in private, was normal. But when the always-skeptical global marketing director said the COO (who has been in the room for the 10 minutes of analytics discussion) wants to take the discussion offline for a bit, but wants you to hold on, I knew things had likely gone off the rails.

“Thanks for holding, you guys,” says the head of marketing upon taking the phone off mute after what seemed like an eternity. “Tim was just in here, and he had some questions about the data. He expressed concern that it appears [the team] is simply regurgitating a bunch of numbers.”

After it was explained that the numbers actually exceeded everyone’s expectations for how the site would perform after the redesign, the link detox and having new content in place, she made things crystal clear.

“Let me cut to the chase,” she said. “The numbers are great. We’re happy with the numbers. But this the same thing our last agency provided us: great data. What we’re looking for is someone to share what the data is telling us about what to do in the future, so we can focus only on those areas that are likely to benefit the brand. We’d like to know what will help us attain success in the future, not what [your team] thinks will lead to success in the future.”

What this client needed was the Oracle of Delphi, not someone to analyze their data.

But she was right. They were looking for all-important insight, insight that could not be gleaned from data alone. However, this agency and all the others she’d worked with had led her to believe the data is gospel. Follow it to the Promised Land.

She knew better.

Data alone is never enough.

Though many in online marketing prefer to see data as the be-all and end-all, at best data alone tells us what’s likely to be effective in the future. It does not provide the “if this, then that” clarity we crave.

The more we share “according-to-the-data” insight, the more we walk a tightrope that never ends. Data tells us what happened, can yield great insight into what’s likely to happen, and is at its best when used to discern what is happening.

However, in the real world, things change constantly and often without warning, a fact that cannot be accounted for via data alone.

“[Data] is an abstract description of reality,” writes Jim Harris on his blog, Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality. ”…The inconvenient truth is that the real world is not the same thing as these abstract descriptions of it—not even when we believe that data perfection is possible (or have managed to convince ourselves that our data is perfect).”

To be sure, data is integral to attaining success in the information-rich online marketing arena. Everything from our websites to our campaigns to conversions depends on it. In fact, data is a large part of what sets online marketing apart from traditional marketing, which can, at times, feel like so much guesswork.

But over the course of the last two years, through interviews with more than 300 folks in the content marketing/inbound marketing space, I’ve come to realize that many wonder if data (insofar as how it’s used to make decisions) isn’t as much a curse as it is a blessing.

(Image source)

In conversation after conversation, I’ve heard CEOs, SEOs, CMOs, PPC nerds, and content folks say the same things, which is summed up nicely by these comments from a director-level SEO at one of the most successful agencies in the US: “Even in those cases where we deliver to clients data that far exceeds their expectations, they often fire us. Heck, especially when we deliver those amazing results, they fire us.”

I think this occurs for one of two reasons:

  1. They realize data doesn’t yield the solution they’d hoped for, or
  2. They falsely believe data highlights the end-game, meaning they can now thrive on autopilot.

As any of us working in online marketing can attest, nothing could be further from the truth.

Data is an important part of a large picture, one that is as nuanced and as varied as it is ever-changing.

Because of that, we need context.

“Data doesn’t come with context,” says Tim Gillman, an analytics nerd at Portent Interactive in Seattle. “For example: measuring content. If your data says people spend ~15 mins reading your post, there’s always the chance that they simply left their computer for awhile. You don’t know for certain they were loving your content.”

I struggled with this reality for months, wondering what, if anything, could be done to bridge this gap, which would allow us to (a) be given the time to do quality work for our clients and (b) have clients realize the efficacy of our efforts.

I read big data and data science books, started following the words and works of big data nerds active on social media, in addition to listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, and talking to as many people as I could to discern how we, as online marketers, can be successful.

Training ourselves to think about data differently

In the end, it was the sage words from Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen that helped me gain some clarity.

Data, at best, can only tell us about the past, he writes. It cannot help us see into the future.

For that, he adds, we need a theory for helping to explain what’s likely to happen. Taken together, both data and theory, serve to provide us with the building blocks of what can become the framework for success we crave.

To make this work, he says, we must go “dumpster diving” — hanging out in the real world, observing and noticing how things occur in real life — which will lead us to more effectively posit the hows (things really work) and whys (they work as they do).

Then, once we have the data, we use it to empirically assess the observed behavior, devoid of emotion.

The framework looks a lot like this:

  • Observe – Dumpster-diving in the real world
  • Theorize – Posit the how and the why
  • Test – Assess and compile data
  • Construct – Develop a framework for future efforts

With this model, we’re training ourselves to think about data in a different, but no less valuable, way. In the above scenario, data is an important part of the equation; it is not treated as the equation in its entirety.

This, to my mind, gets us closer to seeing data in the proper context. That is a part of the solution. But changing how we think about data won’t allow us to keep clients any better, won’t immediately make us better marketers and cannot, by itself, lead to better overall decisions being made.

For that to occur, we have to change two things: the data we act upon, and how we choose to act upon it.

A framework for finding your data goalposts

(Image source)

Without knowing it, Matthew Brown at MozCon 2015 provided us with the veritable playbook for how to use data to improve our content marketing efforts. During his talk, which was one of the best of the entire event, he highlighted the key to content marketing success: content loyalty.

The more loyal our audiences, the better able we are to sustain our content marketing efforts. (A loyal audience comprises the folks who most frequently visit your site.)

The key, Brown said during the talk, is to find the goalpost that helps you determine content loyalty for your brand, then optimize for that metric. So, instead of chasing Likes, shares, or links to your content, you’re focused on creating loyal visitors to your site.

This is important because one of the reasons content marketers end up getting lost down the data rabbit hole is we too often chase the wrong metrics (e.g., they highlight activity but don’t lead to conversions) or we attempt to track too many metrics, most of which don’t lead to the goal we, or our clients, are hoping for.

Here’s how such an effort could work for your brand, using the OTTC framework borrowed from Christensen’s work:

  • Observe
    Determine what comprises “loyal visitors” for your brand. It could be visits per day, per week, or per month. This is the crucial first step. Get this wrong and nothing else matters. What you’re looking for is the metric that correlates with visitors becoming loyal to your site. Put simply, you’re looking for the gotcha that says “These folks are now loyal visitors.”
  • Theorize
    Gather the team and spend some time thinking through what it is about your site and/or content that likely leads to these audience members becoming loyal fans and followers. Is it the length of the content? The number of images? The author? The amount of content above the fold? The number of ads?
  • Test
    Use the information gleaned from that meeting with the team to begin testing the various on-page elements until you have a good idea of what it is that leads folks to become loyal. This is the fun part. To make it even more rewarding, you can rest assured that many of your competitors won’t be following suit, as many of them are content to guess at what works, then throw more of the same at the wall.
  • Construct
    Develop a process by which you continue to optimize for content loyalty, in large part by creating the types and formats of content that you’ve uncovered as leading to content loyalty. Keep in mind, however, that this process is not static, as your audience’s needs are likely to change with time. But by analyzing the data, dumpster diving by interacting with the audience via emails, polls, Q&A, and sundry other methods of staying connected, your brand will be in great shape to continue putting the ball through the uprights.

Summation

This is a post I thought long and hard about writing. During this quest to better understand data and shine a light on how to make it work for us and not against us, I’ve developed a deep, sincere fascination for big data and the role it can play in answering some of our biggest questions.

I’m in no way anti-data. Hardly. What I’m against is the “data-tells-us-all-we-need-to-know” mindset I so often encounter.

I’m hopeful that, in the future, more and more of us are willing to be honest with ourselves and our clients, acknowledging what we know to be true: the data alone won’t save us.

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Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley

Ann Handley Authority Rainmaker 2015

“Do you have any mustard?”

“Give me the mustard.”

“Pardon me: Do you have any Grey Poupon?”

These three statements mean the same thing, but each is a unique way of asking for the desired item. Often, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

In her session at Authority Rainmaker 2015, Ann Handley shared the belief that brand voice is key to creating good content marketing that will set you apart.

There is this idea that as quantity of content increases, quality takes a nose dive. So how do you maintain or increase quality of content while increasing quantity?

It starts with being really good at the basics, like brand voice.

Not More Content…Ridiculously Better Content

  • 77% of B2C organizations are using content marketing. (Source: CMI)
  • 69% of B2C organizations are creating more content than they did 1 year ago. (Source CMI)

You aren’t just competing with your competitors anymore, but you’re competing with yourself and everyone else for mind share. Sometimes it may feel like you need more content in order to get attention.

The answer IS NOT more content…it’s ridiculously better content.

Good Writing is About Getting Inside the Heads of Other People

Producing engaging content is the biggest challenge for content marketers. Producing engaging content means becoming a better storytelling and a better writer.

According to Ann, writing is the guts of content marketing. And good writing isn’t just about grammar. It’s about knowing what your audience needs and wants and telling that story in a really interesting way.

This is where your brand voice comes into play. Ann gave us five steps to create and use a brand voice.

Step 1: You Do You (it’s not what you sell, it’s who you are).

AH 1

At a very basic level, branded web content should answer these three questions:

  • Who are you?
  • Why do you do what you do? This means what value do you offer that no one else does.
  • What are you like to deal with? This means what story are you telling more broadly when people come to your site.

Brand voice reflects your culture, amplifies your story and communicates empathy to people you want to reach.

Ann used the example of CrowdRise. The CrowdRise home page reads: “Raise money for a awesome causes and have the most fun while you do it”. The tagline says “if you don’t give back no one will like you”.

Definitely a distinctive voice: irreverent, fun and inspiring.  According to Gary Wohlfeill, Director of Marketing at CrowdRise, this is more than just copywriting. This is a calculated move to talk about who CrowdRise is and use it as a differentiator.  The copywriter isn’t just brought in at the end. They are there every step of the way.

Step 2: Write it Down

Once you know who you are broadly, then distill it down, so it’s easy to communicate and embody.

Complete this Marketing Madlib.

Our brand is (go ahead and fill out three adjectives):

1.

2.

3.

Ok – keep that handy.

Step 3: Re-frame

A Handley 3

Now that you know who you are, re-frame the three adjectives from your Madlib and put your customer into the story. Your website should be built around who you are and what that means to your customer.

Another example Ann provided was that of Tufts University. Their three adjectives are reassuring, helpful and humorous. So now let’s spin those adjectives to include their target audience, prospective parents and students applying for college.

  • Reassuring becomes relax
  • Helpful becomes no BS
  • Humorous becomes let’s not get too nutty about college

Re-framing the adjectives transforms content about “you” into content that offers a unique value for your audience.

Step 4: Do Not Dilute

AH 4

Writing in a distinctive brand voice is about taking some risks. Content marketing is a magnet that is meant to attract like minded people, and repel those who are not.

If you dilute your brand voice so you don’t offend anyone, it will be that much less powerful. Remember, this is about building an audience, not just getting eyeballs.

Step 5: Sweat the Small Stuff

An Handley 5

Brand voice touches beyond those things you typically think of as content, it’s everything you put out there. Find interesting ways to say boring stuff on your ‘about us’, landing pages, microcopy, and subscribe buttons.

Matching every word on your site to your brand voice (re-framed for your audience) shows empathy, a powerful motivator for consumers.

Quantity and quality don’t have to be enemies. By getting back to basics, who you are, your brand can create a strong voice which attracts the right audience with quantity and quality.


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Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley

Ann Handley Authority Rainmaker 2015

“Do you have any mustard?”

“Give me the mustard.”

“Pardon me: Do you have any Grey Poupon?”

These three statements mean the same thing, but each is a unique way of asking for the desired item. Often, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

In her session at Authority Rainmaker 2015, Ann Handley shared the belief that brand voice is key to creating good content marketing that will set you apart.

There is this idea that as quantity of content increases, quality takes a nose dive. So how do you maintain or increase quality of content while increasing quantity?

It starts with being really good at the basics, like brand voice.

Not More Content…Ridiculously Better Content

  • 77% of B2C organizations are using content marketing. (Source: CMI)
  • 69% of B2C organizations are creating more content than they did 1 year ago. (Source CMI)

You aren’t just competing with your competitors anymore, but you’re competing with yourself and everyone else for mind share. Sometimes it may feel like you need more content in order to get attention.

The answer IS NOT more content…it’s ridiculously better content.

Good Writing is About Getting Inside the Heads of Other People

Producing engaging content is the biggest challenge for content marketers. Producing engaging content means becoming a better storytelling and a better writer.

According to Ann, writing is the guts of content marketing. And good writing isn’t just about grammar. It’s about knowing what your audience needs and wants and telling that story in a really interesting way.

This is where your brand voice comes into play. Ann gave us five steps to create and use a brand voice.

Step 1: You Do You (it’s not what you sell, it’s who you are).

AH 1

At a very basic level, branded web content should answer these three questions:

  • Who are you?
  • Why do you do what you do? This means what value do you offer that no one else does.
  • What are you like to deal with? This means what story are you telling more broadly when people come to your site.

Brand voice reflects your culture, amplifies your story and communicates empathy to people you want to reach.

Ann used the example of CrowdRise. The CrowdRise home page reads: “Raise money for a awesome causes and have the most fun while you do it”. The tagline says “if you don’t give back no one will like you”.

Definitely a distinctive voice: irreverent, fun and inspiring.  According to Gary Wohlfeill, Director of Marketing at CrowdRise, this is more than just copywriting. This is a calculated move to talk about who CrowdRise is and use it as a differentiator.  The copywriter isn’t just brought in at the end. They are there every step of the way.

Step 2: Write it Down

Once you know who you are broadly, then distill it down, so it’s easy to communicate and embody.

Complete this Marketing Madlib.

Our brand is (go ahead and fill out three adjectives):

1.

2.

3.

Ok – keep that handy.

Step 3: Re-frame

A Handley 3

Now that you know who you are, re-frame the three adjectives from your Madlib and put your customer into the story. Your website should be built around who you are and what that means to your customer.

Another example Ann provided was that of Tufts University. Their three adjectives are reassuring, helpful and humorous. So now let’s spin those adjectives to include their target audience, prospective parents and students applying for college.

  • Reassuring becomes relax
  • Helpful becomes no BS
  • Humorous becomes let’s not get too nutty about college

Re-framing the adjectives transforms content about “you” into content that offers a unique value for your audience.

Step 4: Do Not Dilute

AH 4

Writing in a distinctive brand voice is about taking some risks. Content marketing is a magnet that is meant to attract like minded people, and repel those who are not.

If you dilute your brand voice so you don’t offend anyone, it will be that much less powerful. Remember, this is about building an audience, not just getting eyeballs.

Step 5: Sweat the Small Stuff

An Handley 5

Brand voice touches beyond those things you typically think of as content, it’s everything you put out there. Find interesting ways to say boring stuff on your ‘about us’, landing pages, microcopy, and subscribe buttons.

Matching every word on your site to your brand voice (re-framed for your audience) shows empathy, a powerful motivator for consumers.

Quantity and quality don’t have to be enemies. By getting back to basics, who you are, your brand can create a strong voice which attracts the right audience with quantity and quality.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley

Ann Handley Authority Rainmaker 2015

“Do you have any mustard?”

“Give me the mustard.”

“Pardon me: Do you have any Grey Poupon?”

These three statements mean the same thing, but each is a unique way of asking for the desired item. Often, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

In her session at Authority Rainmaker 2015, Ann Handley shared the belief that brand voice is key to creating good content marketing that will set you apart.

There is this idea that as quantity of content increases, quality takes a nose dive. So how do you maintain or increase quality of content while increasing quantity?

It starts with being really good at the basics, like brand voice.

Not More Content…Ridiculously Better Content

  • 77% of B2C organizations are using content marketing. (Source: CMI)
  • 69% of B2C organizations are creating more content than they did 1 year ago. (Source CMI)

You aren’t just competing with your competitors anymore, but you’re competing with yourself and everyone else for mind share. Sometimes it may feel like you need more content in order to get attention.

The answer IS NOT more content…it’s ridiculously better content.

Good Writing is About Getting Inside the Heads of Other People

Producing engaging content is the biggest challenge for content marketers. Producing engaging content means becoming a better storytelling and a better writer.

According to Ann, writing is the guts of content marketing. And good writing isn’t just about grammar. It’s about knowing what your audience needs and wants and telling that story in a really interesting way.

This is where your brand voice comes into play. Ann gave us five steps to create and use a brand voice.

Step 1: You Do You (it’s not what you sell, it’s who you are).

AH 1

At a very basic level, branded web content should answer these three questions:

  • Who are you?
  • Why do you do what you do? This means what value do you offer that no one else does.
  • What are you like to deal with? This means what story are you telling more broadly when people come to your site.

Brand voice reflects your culture, amplifies your story and communicates empathy to people you want to reach.

Ann used the example of CrowdRise. The CrowdRise home page reads: “Raise money for a awesome causes and have the most fun while you do it”. The tagline says “if you don’t give back no one will like you”.

Definitely a distinctive voice: irreverent, fun and inspiring.  According to Gary Wohlfeill, Director of Marketing at CrowdRise, this is more than just copywriting. This is a calculated move to talk about who CrowdRise is and use it as a differentiator.  The copywriter isn’t just brought in at the end. They are there every step of the way.

Step 2: Write it Down

Once you know who you are broadly, then distill it down, so it’s easy to communicate and embody.

Complete this Marketing Madlib.

Our brand is (go ahead and fill out three adjectives):

1.

2.

3.

Ok – keep that handy.

Step 3: Re-frame

A Handley 3

Now that you know who you are, re-frame the three adjectives from your Madlib and put your customer into the story. Your website should be built around who you are and what that means to your customer.

Another example Ann provided was that of Tufts University. Their three adjectives are reassuring, helpful and humorous. So now let’s spin those adjectives to include their target audience, prospective parents and students applying for college.

  • Reassuring becomes relax
  • Helpful becomes no BS
  • Humorous becomes let’s not get too nutty about college

Re-framing the adjectives transforms content about “you” into content that offers a unique value for your audience.

Step 4: Do Not Dilute

AH 4

Writing in a distinctive brand voice is about taking some risks. Content marketing is a magnet that is meant to attract like minded people, and repel those who are not.

If you dilute your brand voice so you don’t offend anyone, it will be that much less powerful. Remember, this is about building an audience, not just getting eyeballs.

Step 5: Sweat the Small Stuff

An Handley 5

Brand voice touches beyond those things you typically think of as content, it’s everything you put out there. Find interesting ways to say boring stuff on your ‘about us’, landing pages, microcopy, and subscribe buttons.

Matching every word on your site to your brand voice (re-framed for your audience) shows empathy, a powerful motivator for consumers.

Quantity and quality don’t have to be enemies. By getting back to basics, who you are, your brand can create a strong voice which attracts the right audience with quantity and quality.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

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This Area Would Be Enough to Power the Whole World with Solar Energy

Did you know the amount of electricity consumed in the world each year? According to statistics Site Index Mundi, the world’s electricity consumption reached 17,780 million kWh in 2011 and 19.090 million kWh in 2012. With a growing population and expansion of the technological infrastructure, the number increases every year, while the energy resources of our planet are limited and will be exhausted in the near future.

At the same time, the Earth receives an average of 164 watts of solar energy per square meter in a 24-hour day, which makes 84 terawatts of energy (or 84 billion kWh) per day worldwide. So the challenge is to gather the necessary amount of solar energy through solar panels. You may think it should be covered with solar panels to power the entire world with vast territories of electricity. However, incredible as it may seem, a small piece of land would be enough to meet global demand for electricity.

According to a diploma thesis of Nadine May the Technical University of Braunschweig entitled “Eco-balance of a solar electricity from North Africa to Europe Transmission,” the world could be powered exclusively by solar energy through solar panels placed in a small area in North Africa.

The three red boxes can be seen in the above picture shows the area that would be enough to meet the demand for solar electricity in Germany (D), Europe (EU-25) and worldwide (Welt).

Of course, this would require the installation of equipment and network cables needed and have ecological impacts on the ecosystem of the region, which, however, would be many times lower than those of a conventional power plant. In all cases, the benefits would far outweigh the possible environmental effects.

“The overall we can say that, from an ecological point of view, nothing prevents the expansion of solar thermal power in North Africa and the transmission of solar electricity produced in Europe,” concluded May

Interestingly, the document was published in 2005. Now, ten years later, most countries still depend on conventional sources of energy production and take little advantage of renewable energy. The problem is that much depends on governments, most of which seem to favor the development of green technology and renewable energy.

This, however, should not prevent us having our own “green revolution” – everyone can install solar panels on your roof instead of continuing the use of technologies based on conventional fuels. Remember that the future of our planet depends on our decisions and behaviors. This, however, should not prevent us having our own “green revolution” – if more and more people are choosing to install solar panels on your roof instead of continuing to use conventional fuel technologies based on the world situation will change. Remember that the future of our planet depends on our decisions and behaviors.


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Is Your Content Credible Enough to Share?

Posted by Carson-Ward

Insufficient credibility undermines digital marketing, particularly among SEOs who now produce or promote content as part of their job. People won’t share content that isn’t credible; they know the things they share reflect on them and impacts their own credibility. While the importance of credibility gets mentioned in passing, little has been said about
how to actually build it, until now.

Your Guide to Establishing Credibility

You build credibility by signaling to the reader that you can be trusted. The signals of trust can come from the author, the site, and from within the content itself. Each signal will appeal to different types of readers in different contexts, but they come together to make content that is credible enough to share.

Rand mentioned credibility in his
Content Marketing Manifesto as one of the things we need to build familiarity, linkability, and trust. Several studies have also shown credibility’s critical role in promoting and sharing. So, let’s build some credibility.

1. Establish expert credibility

Expert credibility comes from having knowledge others do not. People want experts they can understand and trust, especially when trying to understand complex or ambiguous topics like new technology, engineering, advanced science, or law.

Be an expert or hire an expert with insight

A Syracuse University
study found “insightful” content was most correlated with users’ estimation of a blog’s credibility. You can’t offer interesting insight on a subject you know very little about, so obviously you need to be an expert or hire one.

Unless your expert has breaking news, he or she needs to provide quality analysis and opinion to add any value. Most successful non-news content is opinion and/or analysis, whether verbal, graphical, or textual.

If you’re creating video or text content for your site, the expert should also be able to clearly express complex subjects in a way readers can understand and follow. If he can’t then get a content writer to interview the expert and relay the information.

Source experts

Do not try to give your opinion as an expert in a field where you’re not one. It won’t work.

We’ve all read non-expert content on subjects where we’re knowledgeable. We know what expertly-written content looks like and can easy detect pretenders. If you pretend to be an expert and get one little detail wrong, you’ll blow all your credibility with the people who actually understand and influence the discussion. They won’t link to or share that piece of content and they may never share any of your content again. Don’t take that risk.

Rather than trying to fake expertise, try finding experts and incorporating their expertise into your post. Journalists have long understood this tactic. Even journalists who
are experts use quotations from other experts in both news and analysis pieces. The front page of the Washington Post’s technology print section is usually littered with quotation marks and according-tos.

People running blogs can easily get a quote from someone knowledgeable enough to have an opinion that matters. Experts with strong opinions usually want to share them.

Be passionate to build trust

The
Syracuse University study and this University of Pennsylvania study show that passion is key to judgments on credibility and sharing. Readers don’t just want an expert who can explain things; they want an expert who cares.

Experts who know what they’re talking about tend to have nuanced and sophisticated opinions about subjects they understand. Don’t undercut that understanding with a shallow piece of content. Expert pieces should be deep and thoughtful.

Legal experts who really care about
Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission simply wouldn’t take the time to write a bland essay on what the ruling said and how it might impact the future of politics. SEO experts don’t want to report on the fact that Google penalized guest post networks. They care, and want to explain why it’s good or bad.

Expert opinion shouldn’t be confused with argument, and it doesn’t require you to start a firefight with anyone who’s taken the other stance.

Cite sources

Cite the sources for all your expert insight. Citing expert sources is the most obvious way to back up your claims and gain trust. Often citing a source is as simple as linking to the webpage from which you got your information.

Don’t use
weasel words like, “it has been said,” or, “many people believe,” to skirt the citation responsibility. Experienced writers and editors instinctively close the tab on any content attempting to unnecessarily blur their sources.

Show data

Sometimes, instead of breaking news, you can add to it with data. Data lends credibility to your post in a unique way because with numbers, your sources and methodology are more important than the author’s history and popularity. The data, if it’s compiled and analyzed correctly, speaks for itself.

For example, when the CableTV team heard about the potential Comcast/Time Warner merger, we knew simply sharing the news would be a waste of time. Every major news outlet would easily drown out our site, and opinion pieces where popping up everywhere. Instead, we crunched some numbers, comparing U.S. Census data with coverage data, producing a
coverage and population analysis people could see and understand. A few large news organizations used the data in ongoing analysis, Reddit’s founder (Alexis Ohanian) shared the post, and roughly 60,000 people ended up seeing it.

JavaScript libraries and HTML 5 tools are springing up everywhere to help non-technical users visualize data in interesting ways. Mapping examples include
SimpleMaps (used in our post), MapBox, Google Fusion Tables, etc. Graphing and other data options are all over, but this site is a good place to start. Compile data in-between writing stories related to your niche with Census data or any of these data sources so you’re ready to go when news hits. For more tips, Kane Jamison always has tips on data-driven content marketing, including the presentation below:

2. Harness hierarchical credibility

Hierarchical or rank-based credibility comes from a person’s position or title. High-ranking members of an organization have a better chance of being taken seriously simply by nature of their perceived authority, especially when the organization is well-known.

Have important people write important things

People lend more credibility to an article written by an unknown CEO than a writer they don’t know—even if the writer knows more about the topic than the CEO. For better or worse, people are simply influenced by official job titles and standing within hierarchy.

Your definition of what’s important may vary. Almost everything on the popular
42floors blog is written by a founder, while CEOs of larger companies will probably have less time and less interest in regular blogging.

Use executives for guest posts

I know – I’m the guy who wrote
guest posting had gone too far. Google thought so too based on its latest round of penalties. I believe, however, the lack of credibility and expertise in many guest articles was a major cause for Google’s (perhaps disproportionate) response to guest blogging networks.

Don’t waste an executive’s time on small unknown sites no one would ever read. Instead, consider pitching an article written by an executive or other well-known figure to well-known sites. Trulia is a good example with high-ranking members adding guest posts for
Google, The Wall Street Journal, and interviewing with sites like Business Insider. Moz, of course, is another place to see founders adding posts and video frequently.

Better job titles

If you want your content to be shared, make your authors experts in both title and in truth. Changing titles for title’s sake may sound stupid, but titles like managing editor, [subject] correspondent, [subject expert], or even [subject] writer have more gravitas than a plain “author” or “contributor.” Think about what the title says to a person reading your content (or email). The flip side: writers should actually be subject-matter experts.

You should also re-think giving quirky titles to everyone, as they can hurt credibility. I can’t imagine the Wall Street Journal quoting a “digital ninja” or “marketing cowboy” in their story – unless that story is about job titles.

Leadership quotes

You can also make use of another person’s position to lend credibility to your content. This works especially well if you’re looking for insight into a recent news event. Quotes from company executives, government officials, and other high-title positions give you something unique and show you’re not just another blogger summarizing the news built on someone else’s journalism.

3. Seek referent credibility

When someone trustworthy shares something with positive sentiment, we immediately trust the shared item. The referrer lends his or her credibility to the referee. The Moz audience will have no problem understanding referent credibility, as it’s the primary method Google uses to prioritize content that seems equally relevant to a user query. People also rely on referent credibility to decide whether a post is worth sharing. Those referrals build more credibility, and viral content is born. How do you get some referent credibility to radiate onto your content?

Publish on credible sites

This post will receive some measure of credibility simply by being published on the main Moz blog. Anything on or linked to from well-known sites and authors receives referent credibility.

Share referrals and testimonials

You’ll commonly see “as featured on” lists or testimonials from recognizable personalities. Testimonials from anyone at Google or Microsoft with an impressive-sounding position could go a long way for a B2B product. Referent credibility is the reason celebrity endorsements work.

Leveraging referent credibility in a press push generally works well if your company is involved in something newsworthy. Consider requesting and using quotes from relevant and well-known people in press releases or even outreach emails if you’ve done something worth announcing.

Analysis pieces are a little trickier: pointing out past coverage can lend some credibility to a blog post or press release, but it can also look a little desperate if done incorrectly. High relevance and low frequency are key. A good offline analogy is that person who mentions that time they met a celebrity every chance they get, whether it’s relevant or not. Name-droppers are trying (too hard) to build credibility, but it’s actually just sad and annoying. The same celebrity encounter might actually generate interest and credibility if it’s relevant to the conversation and you haven’t told the story to death. Feel free to talk about times well-known people shared or endorsed you, but make sure it’s relevant and don’t overdo it.

Appeal to credible people

When a well-known person shares your content, more links and shares often follow. Find credible people, see what they talk about and share, and then try make something great that appeals to them. This idea has already been covered extensively
here on Moz.

4. Take advantage of associative credibility

People make associations between one trait and another, creating a
Halo effect. For example, several studies (1, 2, 3) have found that attractive people often receive higher pay and are seen as more intelligent, when in reality there is no correlation. Users do the same thing with websites, so making your website look and feel like other credible sites is important.

Use trusted design as a guide

Don’t run in and steal the Times’ CSS file. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal. It’s also probably not going to work unless you’re running a national multi-channel newspaper. But you should be aware that people associate design elements on a site with the credibility of the site. You can help or hinder your credibility through web design in hundreds of ways. Start by looking at legitimate sites and incorporating some of their design elements into your own. Then check out some untrustworthy and unknown sites to see the difference and determine what to avoid.

Obviously you want your site to be unique, but be carefully unique. If you stray from trusted convention, know why you’re doing it. Maybe you want to
kill hamburger icons on mobile – just make sure you have a well-considered alternative.

When in doubt, test

Split tests tend to focus on conversion and sales, and too often the blog/news design gets dragged along for the ride. Given the importance of content and sharing on visibility, testing the impact of site elements on sharing should be as important as the tests we do on sales funnels.

You can test different design elements as they relate to sharing by creating posts and pages with a page-level variable and a canonical tag back to the original post. Always test URLs with variables against other URLs with variables to account for site owners manually removing them. This setup may also be useful for testing different content promotion channels and methods.

Tracking results externally requires a different URL. You may use a modified URL rather than a variable, but only for single-page tests. Note that results will be a little erratic with variables people might remove, but trends will still emerge.

Consider your domain name

You have probably read a news article and wanted to share it, but
then looked for a more reputable source to post to Reddit or Twitter.

Sometimes I’ll share content from a site I’ve never heard of, but usually I want the content I’m sharing to come from a site with a name that evokes trust. Everything in this article goes into a decision on whether to share, but domain name is a surprisingly large factor. When I post an article, I don’t want the first response or comment to be something snarky like, “Oh, according to goodbusinessnews4u.com – sounds legit.”

Domain will also impact click-through on social networks and social sharing sites. A couple years ago I wrote about
choosing the right domain for your branding strategy, and I think its message still holds true.

Domain name will also influence what content seems appropriate. You don’t want people asking, “Why is highspeedinternet.com writing about cooking recipes?” Make sure content strategy aligns with your domain and branding strategy.

Write like a writer; build profiles

You must have credibility in your writing if you want your content to be shared. Follow these simple tips:

  • Write clearly, hire writers, or don’t waste your time on text content. Even a credible expert will have a hard time being trusted enough to share unless they write clearly with native-level grammar.
  • Build author profiles, use full names, and use author images. Nothing says, “I’m not proud of this” like a partial name without an image.
  • Build a full section about your company. Be as specific as possible, and avoid vague statements on the value your site adds.
  • Craft headlines that are easy to follow, avoid trick/cute headlines unless you have a great reason for tricking or confusing users about what the content will deliver.
  • Be consistent with surrounding articles. Jumbled topics and unrelated surrounding articles make sites look inconsistent.

Avoid clip art and stock images

Just ask Ian Lurie
what he thinks about stock images. When I wrote “How Google’s Algorithm Silences Minority Opinions” I had the image in my head of Googlebot placing a gag on a user. Thankfully one of CLEARLINK‘s talented designers had a better (and less aggressive) idea:

A Google logo would have been easy, but boring. The custom image added a strong visual to the argument, emphasizing key points: a computer algorithm silencing a person, the person not caring too much. It also sent the associative message to users that the site is legitimate enough to use unique images.

Most of us can’t get custom illustrations or photographs for each post, but you should consider it for high-investment pieces or pieces you think have a good shot at success.

Final thoughts

Unless you have inside information on a rumor or are willing to burn your credibility going forward, your content must project credibility. Smaller sites and lesser-known brands have the most to gain by understanding how users and journalists make judgments on credibility and working to improve those factors. You don’t necessarily need to employ every strategy and tactic, but the best coverage and links will always require a high level of credibility. 

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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Why Visitor Analytics Aren’t Enough for Modern Marketers

Posted by randfish

For the first two decades of the web, the vast majority of those performing web marketing tasks used visitor analytics tools (from log files and hit counters all the way up to today’s full-featured visitor analytics tools) to do their jobs. We’d look at how many visits came in, where they were coming from, and what pages they saw, and that was enough.

But, web marketing has evolved. It’s become far more complex and competitive. And in 2013, visitor analytics alone doesn’t cut it.

The key challenges marketers face usually fall into one of three buckets:

  1. Measuring & reporting (and the analysis of those reports)
  2. Uncovering problem issues
  3. Identifying areas of opportunity

If we visualize these challenges, we can see the missing holes compared to the features of visitor analytics software:

(note: this graphic isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of metrics or of tools, and there’s plenty of overlap, e.g. Moz Analytics and Raven both track visit data, Mixpanel and Kiss Metrics both measure revenue and usage, etc)

It’s been my experience that most of the great web marketing teams have access to several tools that fill in the gaps on both sides of what visitor analytics provide. These marketers analyze how they’re doing in the leading indicator metrics against the competition, and follow that methodology (as far as possible) down to marketing KPIs, and finally business metrics.

Why does this matter so much?

Because a competitive web marketing world means we have less room for failure over a long period of time. If a tactic or channel isn’t succeeding, we have to know whether that’s because it’s a bad channel, or whether we’re just bad at it. Competitive comparisons are critical to getting that analysis right.

If your key competitors are kicking butt on Pinterest, but your CMO doesn’t “believe” in the channel, you need data to make the case. Likewise, if you’re attracting lots of converting visitors through Pinterest, but the lifetime value of those customers is 1/10th that of your email list based on your recitivism and amplification data, you need to know that, too. Google Analytics is great, but it can’t give you the answer to either of those questions, no matter how you customize it.

Obviously, I’m biased. Moz makes marketing software that’s focused on comparing your leading indicator metrics against your competition’s (go read Matt’s Field Guide to Moz Analytics if you’re curious about the details). We have a vested interest in marketers feeling the need for this type of data. But the truth is that we built software to help solve that problem because I/we believe it’s such an important part of the story.

We’re also not the only ones in the field.

Raven Tools provides a lot of this data, too, as do SearchMetrics, WooRank, and others. For individual pieces of this picture, tools like SEMRush, Majestic SEO, Sprout Social, and many more can help. Companies that make analytics software focused on those bottom-of-funnel, lead tracking, and lifetime value/retention-focused metrics are equally essential – KissMetrics, Mixpanel, Intercom.io, Hubspot, etc. There’s a reason so many players are in this field – marketers clearly need the data.

Visitor analytics like Google Analytics, Omniture, and Webtrends aren’t going anywhere. They’re still a huge part of what we need to do in our jobs. But alone, they’re not enough.

We need to see how the competitive landscape is trending, and how our efforts compare. We need to see how channels perform beyond simple conversion and sales tracking. There’s no single piece of software that does all of this in one place, and I strongly doubt there will be. Instead, I believe the future will have marketers on the organic side doing what our brethren in paid channels do – visiting several sources, aggregating information, and making smart decisions based on the nuance their collective brain power can help deduce.

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