Author Archives: Digital Marketing Waffle
WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING?
(author: Frank Loopmans)
Content marketing “is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc”.
Content marketing is focused not on selling, but on simply communicating with customers and prospects. Successful content marketing relies on providing “consistent, high-quality content that solves people’s problems” thereby adhering to SEO’s guidelines, boosting SEM and building a community of loyal followers.
Part of almost all content marketing is copy or writing. Even videos, audio, text or banner ads need a script. Google’s latest update made it clear that relevancy of content has to match the user’s search query. While keywords are still important, they have been downgraded. Quality writing is writing for your audience, offering them information that is well-researched, engaging, educative, factual, shows good grammar use, and most of all is relevant.
- Write the copy first, pick out one or two keywords and use those to filename, in your H1 and H2, domain name and URL.
- However, most importantly: create a content marketing strategy. Each single piece of content, if one is after effectiveness and efficiency, should have the SOSTAC paradigm in mind. A good concise guide is available for free at: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/DocumentedStrategy_Final1.pdf
- Simply put, content marketing is everything one sees, hears, or reads and engages with in some form. Its purpose is to target a well-defined audience who will like one’s brand. It is telling a story people like. It is also known as inbound marketing. Its focus is on creating brand awareness, fostering communities, retaining existing and acquiring new customers.
The Basics of Quality Content Marketing
- If good content is published your target audience will appreciate it thereby increasing your brand awareness and trust. The added benefit that tags along is that you will be seen as an authoritative voice.
- In turn this will also lead to better customer retention as your customers remain connected with your brand.
- Good content is also the most important strategy to adhere to if you are trying to gain great social media presence.
- Great content does not equate with expensiveness. It can be cheaper to produce engaging content than actually endorsing paid search marketing.
- Engaging content will boost leads and generate more ROI.
- Google awards great relevant content with a higher ranking on the SERP
- Hummingbird was keen to match relevant content with the customer’s search query.
- Fantastic content entertains, helps, engages, inspires, educates, pleases and informs. It builds a relationship and a community of followers.
Creative Content Marketing Tips
Applying creativity to produce brilliant engaging content is a must but is also just one step in the process. One has to be creative too in its use of strategy and tactics. Great content with a poor or worse no strategy and inadequate tactics lead to nowhere. And vice versa.
The strategic and tactical issues related to (content) marketing differ for every industry, indeed differ for every business. (I advise to have a look at Dave Chaffey’s site ‘smartinsights.com’ to get a quick overview and understanding of its implementation.)
- Be artistic and creative when using visuals like video, pictures, animation, design, etc
- Use a copy writer who has an excellent command of grammar
- Use slogan writers if needed or do a team brainstorming session using mindmaps, fishbone diagrams, etc
- Use smaller infographics and use those to post on the social media
- Adhere to the SEO guidelines (for visuals: URL, filename, linkname, alt description tag)
- Ensure quality and relevant content
- Use the proper social media channels (if target is a male audience of 45 -60, would you use Pinterest? Their main audience are women aged 18 -34)
- Picture sharing sites like Flickr or Instagram could be used as a platform to drive traffic to your website or blog. This call to action (CTA) is only effective if the pics are of high quality. Note that the media world is becoming an ever more visual experience.
- Always produce content for your audience. Don’t do it for pure SEO purposes.
- The information below, facts that are true, looks boring as it is. One could unleash one’s creative devil and neatly ‘wrap it’ using infographics, motiongraphics, piecharts, etc
80% of B2B use Facebook, 90% of B2C use Facebook
80% of B2B use Twitter, 69% of B2C use Twitter
61% of B2B use YouTube (Vimeo 12%), 65% of B2C use YouTube (Vimeo 12%)
83% of B2B use LinkedIn, 51% of B2C use LinkedIn
39% of B2B use Google+, 41% of B2C use Google+
- StumbleUpon is another good social channel, especially if you are after organic traffic. However, to get that link authority one will have to invest time and stay active.
Liquid marketing as a term is essentially content with such a high ‘wow’ factor that the target audience feel compelled to share this with their friends or followers. Good creative content marketing automatically becomes liquid marketing.
Don’t hesitate to comment or add suggestions. How important is a content calendar in your opinion? Let me know!
 McCoy, J., (20140 ‘The Tale of Too Many Keywords:Optimization in Content Marketing’. Available at: http://socialmediatoday.com/expresswriters/2197966/tale-too-many-keywords-optimization-content-marketing [Accessed 5 March 2014].
Defining how to use SEO with reference to the procedure regarding a company called Mainston House.
Mainston House is a company offering Bed and Breakfast facilities in Northern Northumberland which is situated on the coast of North East England. The contact website used by the company is a five page mostly static presentation; the remaining four pages apart from the home page are dead links. The initial front page comprises a set piece of three photographs in an angular arrangement depicting the main building, one of scenery and the other of wildlife. Above this is the contact telephone number and below this is a textual presentation describing the location, amenities and sundry sightseeing opportunities. The contact number is again repeated immediately below together with an email address and a link to the Seafield Ocean Club. When this link is followed it continues to a parent company that collects emails for the purpose of sending a prospective subscriber a newsletter regarding holiday and booking opportunities in various other Bed and Breakfasts under its auspices.
As it stands, the website achieves its basic operational requirement. It gives a depiction of what it has to offer, a means of contact and its location. Our objective is to give the website and therefore the company greater visibility online. This greater visibility will increase yearly revenue due to increased visitor traffic to the website resulting in more bookings. After the achievement of greater site visibility the other objective would be to create a site that is also more user-friendly where customers can choose room sizes and facilities with comparisons in pricing and room aspect. An easily accessible booking form should be provided with the option to pay online 24 hours per day, or by supplying their credit card details by phone.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) will be initially utilised by changing the wording in the website’s URL address. URL means ‘uniform resource locator’ and is important for search engine location by prospective customers as this will direct customers to the keyword that they type into a search engine and it is more effective when the customer is searching for a specific topic. ‘Mainston House’ alone is too vague a keyword in a website address unless the customer has used this Bed and Breakfast before. Therefore we suggest the new website address be changed to ‘www.bedandbreakfast-mainstonhouse.com’ because the customer will likely type in the term ‘bed and breakfast’ when searching for this service and if they search for this term wishing to book it in Northumberland then Mainston House will appear in the organic results. The home page of the website will contain a new textual description of the services offered, descriptions of the facilities, local attractions and road and rail directions to the establishment itself. The new text would be optimised for higher search engine visibility by including the words ‘bed’ and ‘breakfast’ in the text not occurring more than 7% within the entire text. To increase this value the use of LSI keywords, meaning ‘latent semantic indexing’, will be employed. This is when the percentage of keywords used have reached their maximum therefore to increase them then words like sleep, meals, stay, small hotel etc. are used to suggest similar terms when customers are searching for keywords similar to bed and breakfast on a search engine.
Within the creation of the website all photographs will be given titles known as ‘meta tags’ and these titles will include the relevant keywords such as bed and breakfast, room, 1-2 bed etc.. This is another method to increase the keyword ratio of a site without it occurring in only the textual description section of the website. The number of pages on the website should ideally not be over five pages as all relevant information should be accessible to the customer above the fold. The first page should be the home page, secondly a room search page, a booking page and then a comments and feedback page, within this page could be included the company’s terms and conditions and also a disclaimer. Page quantity is useful for a website’s content ratio. Search engines penalise websites that contain relatively small ratios of content and also their keyword relevancy. Each page would also be keyword optimised using the methods described above. Above the page titles and below the title of the website would be situated the contact telephone number and email address. Toward the bottom of the page should be visible logos depicting various social media access buttons such as Facebook, Twitter and a blogging platform of choice. The creation of a company Facebook page will be used to increase awareness of the company and will invite customers to view previous customers’ reviews together with regularly updated posts on Twitter and the new Blog page which will all gain valuable backlinks to the company website further increasing search engine ranking and visibility. The contact number of the company should also be repeated below the fold when scrolling to the bottom of the website though this is merely pertinent for informational accessibility and not directly linked to SEO.
One of the most enduring methods utilised in digital marketing today is email marketing. It is one of the most cost effective and valuable with regards to return on investment. The method can be used to promote or sell products over a period of time that can be fine-tuned according to the needs of the product or promotion. The most important aspect of email marketing is closely aligned with content marketing. Engaging a potential customer with the aim of making a conversion or sale is created by preselling a product with valuable information to create a relationship that will hopefully persuade a customer to buy.
To illustrate the procedure utilised within content marketing through emails there are a number of steps that can be taken. A product can be either created by a seller or can be a product that is sold by a person or an agency on behalf of the original creator, referred to as an affiliate. The simplest method is to create an opt-in website or squeeze page which consists of only one page. This website contains information regarding the product with a space for a potential customer to fill in their name and email address. An email address is commonly the only piece of information required whereby the customer receives a free gift such as an ebook or other useful content in exchange for their email address. The customer is given the ebook and their address is sent to an email client such as MailChimp or aWeber and will save this data with other email addresses that have been collected over time. The email client can then be instructed to send follow up emails over a predetermined time span to all the collected email addresses using a process known as an autoresponder to automatically send emails. These emails to the prospective customers will contain links to a product or products prompting the customer to follow the link and hopefully convert into a sale. The emails will also contain valuable and useful information that the customer can use even if they don’t convert. This information that is sent to the customer is designed to build up a relationship of trust over time as the customer may not actually convert into a sale until several weeks of receiving the valuable content has passed.
A website can also be used to collect emails by creating a blog site to promote a product. A blog can describe the product and invite visitors to give opinions positive or negative about the product. On the front page above the fold of the website an opt-in form can be placed inviting visitors to type in their email address in return for valuable content such as newsletters or useful information regarding the product’s niche that can be sent to them daily or weekly. When this information is received by the visitor they are prompted to visit a product page where they will possibly convert into a sale. The one page opt-in website or the multi-page blog website both need to be optimised for search engine visibility. Good keyword research is essential for on-page optimisation together with a well-crafted URL address that matches the keyword in its chosen product niche. Search engine visibility is also enhanced by promoting the website using content marketing methods. Writing informative and useful articles and then submitting them to article marketing sites such as ezinearticles.com as an example which will then disseminate the articles to various publications through the internet. The articles will have a link back to the product website and will raise the search engine ranking for the site. Visitors created by this method of back linking can be converted into new subscribers and will be added to a growing email list of prospective buyers.
Forums are another valuable method for gathering subscribers. Forums contain visitors who will discuss the properties of a chosen niche with other interested parties. Answering the questions of forum visitors while leaving a link to a product’s website can grow an email list as the links redirect them back to the product where once more they can be invited to leave their email address. The most important facet of email marketing is that it is considered to be a permission-based digital marketing system. This means that for a healthy relationship to be built between buyer and seller all email addresses collected must be obtained with the express permission of the prospective customer. The opt-in box merely invites a customer to give their email address in exchange for something of value. A customer’s email address must never be obtained except through this method and not through buying email lists and sending emails to customers who had never previously asked to be sent product information. This method is known universally as ‘spam’ and when received into a customer’s email inbox it will usually be ignored and/or deleted. The ‘click through’ rate for these emails is very low and will only serve to create a bad reputation for the seller.
Infographics and SEO
(author: Frank Loopmans, 2014)
Good Infographics: still stand the test of time
Bad Infographics: Not Welcome Any Longer
Infographics: conveying a data or fact laden narrative using static visual cues. These cues are often but not limited to: graphics, charts, bar lines, diagrams, illustrations, timelines, comic-like figures and even display banners can be an infographic etc. They are great for communicating ‘facts in a nutshell’ that otherwise would take up 15 minutes of reading.
When infographics became the ‘hot thing’ in the digital landscape soon quality was traded in for quantity. Everyone was creating infographics, including a lot of ‘would-be designers’ who did not have the faintest understanding of design and thought of it as a viable strategy to generate traffic. First of all, it is not a strategy but a tactic, a tool to use. Secondly, it is a craft. Just like marketing managers went to university to learn about business, so did graphic designers (or visual communicators as they are named today) to learn about colour, tone, contours or typography. Content farms mushroomed and were churning them out ignorant of real and crucial information like goals and objectives. TIP: quality infographics can create loyal communities.
Who are you designing for and what is its purpose? Who is the target audience? What is your company culture? The effectiveness of infographics in digital marketing demands that these important questions are answered as they ultimately decide your infographic design and message. Would you create a cartoon-like infographic for financial institutions? Would you provide a hip audience with dull looking pie charts? Casting a wide net and hoping to catch a shoal of customers is plain bad tactics. Content and visuals should relate to the brand, foster its equity and add value. Infographics are brilliant widgets of info to have in the digital toolbox. When executed to the highest standard they lend themselves to be marketed with success especially if one knows how to play the social media tools.
Conception, planning and research are still founding blocks of every successful project.
A couple of years ago digital marketers started to question infographics’ usability to reach set targets. The main reason put forth boiled down to the fact that they were not adequate to increase quality link building. Others maintained just the opposite. The truth? Well, for starters, search engines cannot read ‘infographics’ because they are basically a JPEG and every information written on them cannot be indexed as they form part of the graphic. Secondly, poor quality backlinks hampered ranking especially since Hummingbird chirped about it from every tree around. Some even maintain that today SEO punishes sites with infographics.
Matt Cutts affirmed that good infographics with relevant content and accurate facts still rank positively as long as its aim is not fishing for links.
Even though webgraphics (sort of interactive infographics) are a new modus operandi of presenting facts, I would not go as far as Rishon Roberts who argues favourably to thread that way. ‘Her’ webgraphics are clever authoring tricks still laden with text.
No, then I think that video or motion infographics are something else altogether. But, to create those effectively and then present them efficiently requires an energetic team and money. In essence these little films, packed with graphics and data, are creative visuals that hammer the message home. And isn’t that what it is all about? Selling your brand, making the people want to consume your product. Coca Cola did a great one even though it is aimed at business leaders and the media. That’s why it is quite long, but if you dissect the video then one cannot but be ‘enlightened’ by the crucial information Jonathan Mildenhall, Vice-President, Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence at The Coca-Cola Company disperses for free. It is all about content marketing nowadays. Telling stories, creating compelling narratives, entertaining visuals, facts. These constituents are the makeup of a good infographic. Widgets of information, that in the very near future, will be increasingly told through short snappy videos and motion infographics.
Good and Bad Infographics Examples
Good example of a bad infographic can be seen in its compressed format below.
Good video infographic made by Coca Cola for its Liquid Content campaign.
EOY produced an infographic that is factual and concise. The essence of its message is instantaneously grasped. However, scrolling down to take in all the information is frowned upon. Carve it up or be more creative in designing the visual.
Tips on Infographics: Key Points To Take Home
- Provide facts that are true
- Make your infographic stand out, design well, use experts
- Scrolling down infographics are a NO NO
- Use little ‘chunks’ and post frequently (social media, multi-channel marketing)
- Forget about creating links. If this is your purpose than you’re using the wrong tactic
- If using legends ensure they correspond to all factual data. Too many omit explaining certain data (what are the numbers in grey conveying? Ie. Dublin 122, Cork 23?)
Do you think that visual info will boom? Any suggestions or comments are welcomed.
 For lots of infographics and talk about it check out the two links below. See how some are packed with text and miss its punch while others are badly designed. Short, relevant to the brand or topic, factual and engaging makes for good ones. Park, L., (2011) ‘ Infographics: The Good, The Bad, and The Fluffy’. Available at: http://scattergather.razorfish.com/1013/2011/09/14/infographics-the-good-the-bad-and-the-fluffy/ [Accessed 20 March 2014]. Available at: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/39758409180406090/
(Cutts, M., (2012) ‘Google’s Matt Cutts Talks Infographics, Differentiation & More SEO Topics.’ Available at:http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2190942/Googles-Matt-Cutts-Talks-Infographics-Differentiation-More-SEO-Topics [Accessed 5 february 2014].
 Briggs, J., (2013) ‘Minimize The Impact of Infographic Devaluation.’ Available at: http://justinbriggs.org/minimize-the-impact-of-infographic-devaluation [Accessed 5 Febraury 2014].
 Roberts, R., (20130 ‘Infographics Are Dead: Why Your Content Team Should Stop Producing Them’. Available at: http://spinnakr.com/blog/ideas/2013/10/infographics-are-dea-why-your-content-team-should-stop-producing-them/ [Accessed 5 february 2014].
 Clifford, C., (2014) ‘Women Dominate Every Social Media Network – Except One (Infographic)’. Available at: http://www.entrepreneur.com/dbimages/article/1393972619-women-dominate-every-social-media-network-except-one-infographic.jpg [Accessed 5 February 2014].
 Available at: http://www.eoy.co.za/posts/the-state-of-entrepreneurship-in-south-africa-654/eoy-infographic/ [Accessed 10 February 2014].
The Importance and Impact of SEO
(author: Frank Loopmans, 2014)
IS SEO DEAD? WHY IS SEO IMPORTANT?
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is nothing but making your website look sexy to search engines so that your site ranks high on the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages).
Bots or crawlers index a site and store this info into a database. A search query – “where do I find handmade wooden toys in Dublin?” trawls through its stored info to provide the best answer. To serve the searcher with the best possible answer results are based on relevancy and importance. Relevancy is not just finding web pages, PDFs or pictures with the right words or description. It is a more complex enterprise than that. Importance is greatly equivalent with popularity. Recent updates – Hummingbird – mean that Google’s SEO ranking embraces a set number of factors that determine which site or page will appear on top. Their carefully crafted algorithms comprise hundreds of components (more than 200 as of today!) called ‘ranking factors’. How those ranking factors determine one’s website or landing page’s ranking on SERP (visibility) is what SEO is all about. A lot of SEO marketers, consultants or companies seemingly disagree about what SEO actually is.
My definition is simple. SEO is a strategy to enhance the distribution or selling of products or services on-line to a specific target audience, using an array of tactics such as: paid search, banner ads, quality content, engaging information, keyword usage and increasingly employing the tools of social media to create equity and community credo.
SEO: TO DO LIST
- Building brand awareness in ‘Search Engine Universe as of 2014’ is crucial. However, spending lavishly on well-crafted logos, graphics, keywords or linking structures alone is not enough. Brand awareness now is nothing but ‘creating a community of engagement with your customers’.
- Putting in place a strong social media strategy is highly beneficial to get engagement.
- Popularity and relevance are dependent on the search term/query a user puts in. Hence, keywords – especially the long tail keyword – is still determinant. Hummingbird’s update ensures that UX is primordial, thus relevancy of content and compatibility of keywords with a search term becomes even more important.
- Keywords remain high on the do-list except the focus is now on concepts or themes its purpose to augment the UX.
- Quality content, authority and trust are important. An expert in its field creates trust and becomes an authority. Authoritative quality publications benefit a company. Rather than encouraging your staff to post content, let one person become the authoritative voice or ‘influencer’ who will create a community of followers. Encourage loyalty. Don’t forget to use author tags.
- Educative, factual, and resourceful expert information is a proper and organic way of creating inbound links. This ranking factor still features highly on the SEO do-list. (see footnote).
- Well-written content (use of correct grammar and spelling) as well as articles that provide ‘deep content’ (not just fluffy little chunks of compressed verbiage). Deep content = 1200/1500 words.
- Visual information: video, graphics, animation, pictures or infographics are given a good ranking coefficient if proven to be relevant and factual.
WHY DO SOME DECLARE THAT SEO IS DEAD?
The simple answer is that no one really knows but those who declare this to be. With the past updates starting from Panda to Penguin and late last year Hummingbird, Google incrementally punished bad content, long infographics, poor internal structure and amongst others irrelevant links, including all the magic tricks SEO Black Hatters were performing.
It is perhaps a case that those guilty of Black Hat tricks are the ones who do the rooftop shouting. Perhaps Google wants ‘us’ to engage a bit more with some form of paid search.
They definitely want to increase the UX and this implicates a change of strategy and tactics for the SEO technicians. Finished are the days that a company merely won the keyword bidding war and rank high, even with poor irrelevant content!!! The various social media channels out there are not helping those poor site owners, on the contrary they will tell their friends to stay away from your site. In the future, we can be sure of this: links praising a site and coming from one of the social media channels will even become a more important ranking factor. The signs are there already. Google has given Google + more kudos, links to YouTube score well as FB or LinkedIn or Twitter does.
Creative marketers or the lack of it is perhaps another contributing factor to pertain that SEO is dead. In sum, the statement that SEO is part art part science is true. SEO is not dead it just has changed with a focus on satisfying its customers – the searcher for an answer. Be relevant, be informative, be creative, be resourceful, be engaging and you become popular on Google’s search engine. Creative people and good content writers are needed and if they have a good analytical understanding well…
 Ken Krogue, (2012) ‘My Final Comment on my “Death of SEO” comments on Forbes’. http://www.kenkrogue.com/seo/my-final-comment-on-my-death-of-seo-column-on-forbes/
 There are more tactics of course. Video, graphics, infographics, link building, affiliate partnering, etc.
 The mentioned list is by no means exhaustive and is just an indication of crucial updates to take into account.
 see blog on infographics
Since the dawn of recorded history notwithstanding human events beforehand, people have needed to exchange goods and services, thoughts and ideas relevant to their respective concepts in all stages of human history. As hunter gatherers we may have required the help of another member of our tribe who could carve a spearhead better than others and so increase our food supply. In return we would help that other person by sharing tasks and thereby giving that person extra available time to further improve their own skills. Collaborations like these would create intellectual interactivity due to the various problems and challenges that would result. Spearheads, hand axes and cutting tools were extremely valuable to early tool making hominids. The creation of a stone spearhead required a level of skill that took years to master. A tool needed to be chipped carefully to achieve a mathematical balance on all sides of the tool so that it could be used accurately without being unwieldy.
The early Clovis people are recognised for their advanced skills regarding stone tools and ensured their survival through this endeavour coupled with their sharing of techniques with other tribes that they encountered. Through human history the sharing of ideas and skills has resulted in the advanced technological society that we live in today. The unintentionally mathematically correct utilisation of a stone tool is mirrored in the modern use of numbers that govern every aspect of our daily lives. We strive for balance and the further acquisition of revenue that permeates the fabric of every society. In the digital age, local and international business is rarely carried out without even the basic usage of computers or some kind of electronic connection. It seems that similar to the Clovis people we are naturally inclined to strive for better and more efficient tools to achieve our goals. In recent years our habits for acquiring goods has changed dramatically. Within less than two decades, shopping for food and other items such as clothes and various hardware of all descriptions, which was previously achieved by entering a physical shop or store is now achievable by entering a virtual shop via the internet.
The internet which allows for transactions and communications to be carried out on an immediate and worldwide scale is said to be evolving at an unprecedented rate. Almost every day a method of communication on the internet is improved or updated to be more efficient. Advertisers and major online retailers together with social media sites are continually telling us that they have improved their mode of operation and that it is better than it ever was. This may be true, but many of the advances in digital communications have stayed static because a method had been discovered which works well and does not need to be improved. Online retailers will show a listing of their products and a customer will choose items and then buy them. This worked thousands of years ago too using the same basic model of choosing and buying (or bartering) and hasn’t changed. What has changed is the ease of acquisition of goods both in a retailer providing a better shopping experience both offline and online.
Marketing of products and services is continually changing as it tries to keep up with evolving buying habits. Digital marketing needs to do this also as technological advances change how customers acquire goods and services. Methods that have been relied upon this week can change the next week. Marketing practices have needed to include psychological methods to better entice customers such as the particular arrangement of products to the colours of the shelves in a shop or layout of an online retail website. We can now communicate with people from around the world instead of just our immediate neighbour about how we can acquire better goods or skills to make our lives easier. Digital marketing will always therefore be evolving at an exponential rate due to the addition of human needs in tandem with technological advances. The only aspect that will stay the same is the basic method of delivery which is presentation and choice. Similar to the Clovis people who are so named from the stone tools discovered in Clovis, New Mexico the tools being called ‘Clovis points’ they discovered a method that would bring them all the necessary goods for their continued existence and didn’t need to improve them until something completely different was discovered. Digital marketing has its own Clovis point, it is the internet, which at present is becoming our main method to satisfy most of our worldly needs. The internet may become carved in different ways to improve on a basic design as the years pass by, but when we discover a new and better method will we need to start again? The answer is that we surely will start again and chip away at our new discovery and likely we will all share the old but new lessons.