Tag Archives: content marketing

Remember To Write Like A Human

26 Jun

I am a big fan of the HBO show, “Silicon Valley.” I love how the show pokes fun at all the annoying tech tropes, including startups and their buzzword-laden elevator pitches. Today I was cruising articles on LinkedIn, and I stumbled upon a company in my news feed. I started to read the company description to find out what it was, when a wall of buzzwords hit me in the face.

The company description was so buzzwordy that it almost felt fake, as if someone had strung together a few sentences from one of those hilarious online business-speak generators. Below is the description with all the words blacked out except for the buzzwords.(Apologies if this is your company).

write like a humanI still don’t really know what this business does and this experience reminded me of how important it is to write simply and clearly. Here’s a blog post on convinceandconvert.com that I really enjoyed. This post gives a few great before and after examples of how to write like a human and achieve greater success with your copywriting, marketing, and even interpersonal communication.

4 Content Marketing Tools to Enhance Your Strategy

10 Mar

content marketing toolsWhether you are just getting started with content marketing, or you are a content guru, the never-ending process of generating and sharing online can be quite overwhelming.

First you have to create high quality blog posts and articles, then you have to find amazing third party content to curate across several social media networks. The entire strategy won’t work unless you get your content in front of the right audience at the right time and find influential social media users to share it. Oh and don’t forget to test, measure and tweak as you go!

To help you save time and streamline your strategy, I’ve rounded up four helpful content marketing tools and applications. Use the recommendations below to enhance your content discovery, promotion, and engagement.

1. Topsy

Topsy can help you conduct competitor research to inform your strategy. Get started by searching for keywords in your industry. Then analyze trends across the most shared content around these keywords. Look at blog topics, headline structure, blog length, blog layout, tone, and more. If there’s a buzz-worthy blog circulating in your industry, you may even want to compose a timely response post and link back to the original. Topsy can help you to identify what’s being talked about and best practices for content marketing success in your niche.

2. Triberr

Triberr links to a Twitter account and helps you build connections with influencers. The platform is made up of groups or “Tribes” who blog about a certain topic. You can start by following a tribe and engaging with that tribe’s content. If you are an active participant in a Tribe, then the chief may choose to promote you to a full member. Full members can submit their own content to be shared by the group. Becoming a full member on Triberr grants you access to a valuable network of influencers who will promote your future content. If you don’t see a tribe that fits your needs, try starting your own.

3. Buffer

If you are logging into each of your social media accounts separately, or jotting down links for content you want to share, then you are wasting valuable time and energy. Streamline your content marketing efforts by scheduling updates across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus with Buffer. Buffer browser plugins allow you to schedule updates on the fly as you discover new content online.  The platform also features robust analytics so you can test different headlines and the best time of day or day of week for sharing on each network. You can measure engagement through clicks, retweets, favorites, mentions and total reach. Buffer also has a slick mobile app and integrates with popular tools such as Followerwonk, Feedly, and WordPress.

4. Outbrain

Outbrain offers two ways for marketers to enhance their content strategies. The first is an “engagement” feature, which recommends personalized links for your website visitors based on their interests and behavior. By showing visitors relevant links to your other content, you can increase time on site and push visitors to higher converting pages. Outbrain also offers an amplification service, which allows marketers to submit original articles and blogs and set a CPC budget (the minimum daily spend is $10). Outbrain then uses the budget to place your posts on high quality news sites like the Wall Street Journal or People.com. Outbrain-sponsored content appears as recommended reading links and the site offers full tracking and reporting.

What are some of your favorite content marketing tools? Please leave your suggestions and tips in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Pete O’Shea

35 Top Tools for SEO, Social Media & Content Marketing

3 Feb

moz robotHave you seen the Moz 2014 Industry Survey yet? The survey polls 3,700 SEO and marketing professionals about their behavior and outlook for the year.

Content Marketing Will Be Big in 2014

One takeaway from the survey is that content marketing will be a big initiative in 2014. Content creation was named as a top five priority across the in-house, agency, and independent marketers surveyed. Moz also reveals that the demand for content marketing has increased 71% year-over-year.

In addition to industry insights, the Moz survey shares the top tools used for SEO, social media marketing, and content creation. Below are the results for each category (plus five picks of my own) with links to the tools for  you to explore!

 Top 10 SEO Tools

  1. Google Webmaster Tools
  2. Moz
  3. Open Site Explorer
  4. Majestic SEO
  5. Screaming Frog
  6. Bing Webmaster
  7. Yoast
  8. SEMrush
  9. ahrefs
  10. Firebug

Top 10 Social Media Tools

  1. Facebook Insights
  2. HootSuite
  3. Moz
  4. Bitly
  5. Followerwonk
  6. TweetDeck
  7. Klout
  8. Buffer
  9. Twitter
  10. Topsy

Top 10 Content Marketing Tools

  1. Google Trends
  2. Google Alerts
  3. Google Insights for Search  (now merged with Google Trends)
  4. G+ Trending
  5. Reddit
  6. Haro
  7. Moz Fresh Web Explorer
  8. DISQUS
  9. MyBlogGuest
  10. Topsy

Britt’s Additional Picks for Content Marketing Tools

  1. Hubspot
  2. Curata
  3. Outbrain
  4. Feedly
  5. Raventools

Cloudy With A Chance of White Papers

30 Sep

cloud softwareI remember when Salesforce launched at the turn of the century. Okay, it was the early 2000s, but saying “turn of the century” makes it sound a lot cooler.

A publishing business I was working for at the time adopted Salesforce as its new CRM. We had a really young MBA for a CEO and he was always willing to try new things.

Salesforce was one of the earliest SaaS success stories. I recall that switching to Salesforce from our old, custom-built database required a steep learning curve for many of the sales personnel. This was back in the day before clean, user-friendly, WYSIWYG-packed applications were the norm. Workers were not yet hard-wired to navigate a cloud interface.

Switching to a new CRM also likely involved a lengthy contract obligation and manually migrating information from our outdated system. At the time, I’ll bet our CEO read quite a few Salesforce white papers and technical backgrounders to determine if the CRM would be a good fit.

Now My Head Is In the Clouds

Fast forward to 2013.  How many new cloud-based services do you sign up for each month? How many free SaaS demos do you try? As an online marketer involved in SEO, paid advertising, and social media, I’d estimate that I create about five new accounts monthly. Last week alone, I signed up for Trello, Triberr, and a silly wedding planning app that shall remain nameless (I am getting hitched in a few months!)

The SaaS model is now ubiquitous. Anyone can demo a complex software solution in minutes for free and with very little risk.  User-friendly dashboards and universal design best practices make it quick and easy to learn how to use new software. In addition, many APIs play nicely with one another. This makes it easy for a Salesforce user to integrate other favorite tools like MailChimp or Google Apps.

So, let me get to the point and ask a few marketing questions:

Are traditional white papers still relevant marketing tools for selling SaaS products? Have free trials and monthly plans significantly lowered the risk of trying new cloud applications?  How have these changes impacted the B2B sales cycle?

White Papers vs. Ebooks and Numbered Lists

Gordon Graham, a.k.a. “That White Paper Guy,” recently authored “White Papers for Dummies,” a thorough guide to writing long form B2B content. In this book, Graham describes traditional white papers, such as technical backgrounders for CTOs or CIOs and Problem/Solution papers for executives. Along with these two white paper styles, Graham also recommends an ebook, or numbered list paper. This is a more informal document that reads like a magazine article or an extended blog post.

There are still many B2B situations where a white paper makes sense. However, I think that many SaaS providers today, especially smaller startups, may benefit from a numbered list or ebook more than a more traditional white paper.

Today you can demo a SaaS product, try it out for a month, and then cancel or sign up. In the digital marketing space, I see a ton of software startups with small teams and budgets selling services to other small and medium-sized organizations. In this space, the numbered list has several benefits:

      • User Friendly. Numbered lists are scannable and easy to read and contain actionable advice that will make the reader’s life easier. This will appeal to small business owners, who are pressed for time and always looking for ways to streamline and improve operations.
      • Engaging and Highly Sharable. The soft-sell approach of an ebook or numbered list advances the customers who are already in your sales pipeline. An ebook also works to attract new leads by addressing important industry questions or universal concerns. This is a big plus for startups who are trying to get their name out there and spread brand awareness.
      • A Softer Sell.  Unlike a white paper, an ebook is not an obvious sales tool.  This makes ebooks and numbered lists sharable and easy to promote on social media.  When you download a white paper, you know you’ll be getting a call from a sales person. A numbered list or ebook does not have that same “salesy” reputation (yet . . .).

What do you think about using ebooks and numbered list content in lieu of more formal white papers? Please share any thoughts or reactions in the comments below!

Photo credit: jojo nicdao

Where Did You Get That Stat? The Nebulous Vortex of Sourcing Online Statistics

30 Mar

online researchOne recent morning, a client contacted me and asked me to find a widely cited statistic that supported the use of behavioral job interview techniques.

The client needed to show that behavioral interviews resulted in lower overall hiring costs, lower turnover rates or increased productivity. They needed the statistic within two hours for use in an important piece of long form content.

I didn’t have access to any paid research resources like JSTOR or a real library. I just had the internet. Sounds easy right?

Wrong.

One hour later I had located about twenty different human resources and hiring blogs all citing the same figure. Yet not one of these blogs or websites provided the source for this statistic:

Behavioral interviewing is said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10 percent predictive.

This is exactly the kind of statistic that the client wanted. But without a citation, this information was completely unfounded and useless. The closest I eventually got to locating a source for this statistic was a citation I found buried in a document from Google Scholar search:

1997 by Salgado, J.F. in “Personnel Selection Methods” – in C.L. Cooper and I.T. Robinson, International Review of Industrial Organizational Psychology New York: Wiley – it was shown that behavioral interviewing can increase by nearly 50 percent your chances of hiring the right employee.

Even the above citation does not help to ground the initial statistic in reality, especially because the citation was related to a 50 percent improvement in hire quality, while the other widely used but un-cited statistic claimed a 55 percent increase in hire quality. I also could not find this exact publication anywhere online. Ultimately, I came up empty-handed and recommended the client include a generalized statement such as, “Leading human resource experts believe behavioral interviewing may increase hire quality by more than 50 percent,” or avoid using a statistic altogether.

As a content marketer, I am always backing up my white papers, ebooks and blogs with powerful statistics and research that tell a story.  I’ve spent many hours combing through a network of poorly cited website and blog statistics hunting for the original source. However, this was the first  time I was completely unable to find a well-cited data point.

The Marketing Takeaways

Even from this negative experience, where I was unable to find a statistic, I learned something new about content marketing: the value of well-cited data online. Below are some content marketing takeaways that explain more about how businesses can use statistics and the absence of online citation to improve SEO and increase sales:

1. Create an online landing page filled with properly cited statistics for your industry or area of expertise.

Here is an example of a software provider in the hiring and background check industry with a static page sharing facts and statistics. In conducting research for this industry, I’ve used this page to find original sources and have seen countless other human resources and hiring blogs cite, copy, link to and borrow stats from this page. Using SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer, you can see that this page has a total of 725 backlinks pointing to it, which is a huge SEO signal to Google that this page is authoritative and relevant for key hiring and human resources topics and keywords.

2. Better yet, make your list of facts tweetable or easy to share.

HubSpot frequently posts blogs like this one, “The Ultimate List of 2012 Email Marketing Stats.“  Not only does HubSpot share stats and cite the sources, it also provides “Tweet This Stat” links that allow readers to instantly share the stat with their followers. This sharing functionality provides amazing word-of-mouth for HubSpot and generates social signals like Tweets and Retweets pointing back to HubSpot. (SEOs believe that Google is now factoring social signals into search results). Below is a screenshot of the tweet generated when you click “Tweet This Stat” on HubSpot’s blog:

Screen shot 2013-03-30 at 12.56.16 PM

The Marketing Benefits of  A Citation Heavy, Fact-Filled Landing Page

1. More Backlinks for SEO

A landing page full of cited facts and statistics can  help your business to generate more inbound backlinks. Other bloggers and website owners will link back to your page as a resource or as a source for their own writing.

2. Increased Conversions

With the right statistics, you can even tell a story that helps to convert more website visitors into leads or customers. For example, a plumbing company website could post a page full of statistics showing how much a homeowner can save on utility bills with a tankless water heater or low-flow toilet. A list of persuasive statistics  may convince a greater number of website visitors to call the plumbing company and get those money-saving fixtures installed.

Even though I did not find the stat I was looking for, this experience helped to identify an easy-to-implement SEO and marketing tactic for businesses. Now I have to work on posting my own “fast facts” page about how blogging and content marketing can increase leads and revenue for businesses! Stay tuned!

Photo Credit: Horia Varlan

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