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People are talking about Content Marketing.

What is it? Well, it’s nothing new.

Skip the definition and go straight to the examples.

‘Good content’ can differentiate one website from another, build recognition for an author, organisation, product or brand, establish trust, increase enquiries and sales – put simply, it can help fulfil many of the goals a website might have.

Content Marketing involves producing content that reaches a target audience and appeals to them in a number of ways. As a practice Content Marketing can include the placement of content outside of a brand’s website – although not necessarily by the brand itself. A message shared by its own audience is a real win in Content Marketing. Sharing isn’t limited to social media – blogs, forums and communities, email and actual word-of-mouth can all play a part.

Whilst this is similar in some ways to traditional link acquisition, or link building, it doesn’t have exactly the same purpose, or effect.

Link acquisition has a correlation with good rankings and is part of a well-planned SEO campaign. Content Marketing’s goals can include link acquisition, but aren’t focused so specifically on that.

Placement of a piece of content on a website can help raise awareness or spread knowledge of an event, brand/company, message or product – people who see the content might not necessarily have a link to click through to the website, but can share what they enjoy with others and return to search for the brand or engage with the brand on other channels at another time.

Choosing where content should be placed is a vital part of Content Marketing planning. Building up an audience with an appetite for certain types of content can depend on where said content is published – (to some extent the medium is the message). Below I’ve picked three websites whose approach to content I admire. I’ve picked these examples because they all do something different with their content, but all have the same business goals of selling products.

Some use separate blogs and domains to their ecommerce website URL, which allows them to be free of the smell of sales language and able to focus on the content itself.

Has Bean Coffee

Stephen Leighton’s Has Bean is a popular online coffee company with a loyal following whose passion for coffee matches Stephen’s. Has Bean have built up a lot of content across a number of websites, social profiles and apps. They cater for content consumption in both frequent and infrequent bursts, with In My Mug offering a weekly Video Podcast focusing on featured a coffee, and Has Blog delivering broader content including News, content announcements, Coffee producer spotlights and more.

The Has Bean website, which uses Shopify, features further “evergreen” coffee resources including detailed Brewing and Roasting Guides and articles.

content-driven-business-has

via Has Bean Coffee

What Does Their Content Do For Their Business?

As a Has Bean customer, I find their content exciting. To some extent they’ve followed the Gary Vaynerchuk way of creating a mass of content backed by a strong personality. This gives them a public face that has become an an “authority” in online coffee circles.

Their content plays a part in both sales and customer service. Being able to promote the benefits of a product with descriptive video and personal comment helps sell it. Giving away guides on different ways to use a product helps customers to continue to use the product, increases trust between the brand and the consumer and allows Has Bean to answer customer service-type questions only using content.

The Edge Cycle Works

This is a really simple example of good content from a local bike shop (or “bicycle boutique”, The Edge Cycle Works. They have a clear mission statement on their About Us page – “we care”.

content-driven-business-edge

 

via The Edge Cycleworks

What Does Their Content Do For Their Business?

The content that I find most interesting on this website is the Mountain Bike Routes they’ve published. This is just a perfect resource for local MTB-ers who want somewhere to ride, and it’s all free.

This type of content can build trust with an audience – it’s not such a leap from going into the shop and asking the staff if they know of good places to ride. However by publishing these Routes, they’re broadening their audience.

Mamnick

If you like storytelling, you’ll love Mamnick. They make clothing and accessories, “one thing at a time, as beautiful as possible”. With their roots firmly planted in the local countryside (the brand name comes from a road in the Peak District – they’re keen cyclists) and local community (there’s a strong personal association with Sheffield steel production).

Their use of content is subtle and sincere. There’s an emphasis on craft and purpose, with products designed for everyday use. There’s a real sense of heritage that Mamnick gives off, which comes across in their written content, which encompasses a Blog (or Journal, as they call it) containing cycling posts related to The Mamnick Challenge, local history and announcements of collaborations with retailers who stock their products. It’s great to see someone creating products that promote the retailers that sell their wares.

content-driven-business-mam

via Mamnick

What Does Their Content Do For Their Business?

As with Has Bean, there’s a clear passion behind Mamnick, which is easy to empathise with. Looking back through their Journal you can see images of products being created in the workshop. Coupling this with the ideal of creating “one thing at a time, as beautifully as possible” and the heritage story, a customer is taken from product conception through to completion. The brand is the story, and so are the products. When you buy a Mamnick item, you’re not just buying a purposeful or attractive piece of clothing, you’re buying the whole story behind it, which is a compelling thing.

Great Experiences

These three small examples show just how much scope there is for creating great experiences for customers. You don’t have to be a strong personality to use content in the way that Gary Vaynerchuk does (although it helps). With consistency and some creativity there are opportunities for all kinds of business to attract, sell to and really connect with their customers.

The Best WordPress Flat Design Themes in 2014

Undoubtedly due to iOS7, Flat Design appears to be taking off. There are a good number of Creative, Portfolio and ‘Agency’-style WordPress Themes featuring ‘Flat Design’.

Here’s a closer look…

Multi-purpose Flat Design Themes

The beauty of WordPress is its versatility – it can do SO MUCH – which is why a ‘Multi-purpose’ theme exists. These Flat-design (and responsive) WordPress templates will change shape and bend to your every need, whilst looking great and offering all of the functionality that WordPress provides – which is a LOT.

Flatter

Flatter (theme-preview)

The7

the7 (promo-image-version-3)

Satellite7

Satellite7 (preview)

X

x theme (preview)

Karma

Karma WordPress Theme (preview)

Ecommerce Flat Design WordPress Themes

Flat Design has arrived for ecommerce – and here, Woocommerce specifically. If you’re looking for a cutting-edge design trend to follow with your new ecommerce website, then this flat responsive woocommerce template will do everything you’ll need it to:

Flat Responsive WooCommerce Theme

Flat responsive woocommerce theme (preview)

Flat Portfolio WP Themes

One of the great things about Flat Design is its simplicity – it puts focus where it should be, and with these themes, the focus is on YOUR portfolio. These flat wordpress portofolio themes are simple, but incredible:

Showy

showy-preview.__large_preview.__large_preview

Cluster

Cluster_preview

Flat

Flat preview

Hypertext

Hypertext (preview)

“One-Page” Flat Design WordPress Themes

Never has simple design been more apparent than in the ‘One-Page’ WordPress Theme – these flat designs are great for fast-loading, responsive sites that feature all of your information and conversion activities on a single landing page – they are perfect!

Proxy

Proxy_preview

Flatco

flatco large preview

 

google it!

Search isn’t limited to Google web search, oh no.

YouTube is the second largest search engine, and obviously focuses on video.

If you want to look for GIFs on Google, you need to add the keyword ‘GIF’ to your search, or use the ‘Animated’ option under Images > Search Tools > Type.

cap-18

Finding Images For Content Creation

There are many ways to find images to use in content you publish. It’s important to be aware of copyright issues that may arise from using images you’re not allowed to. Searching for images with a Creative Commons license will unearth resources you can freely use, depending on the license.

Good places to find images you can use include:

search.creativecommons.org searches other websites for assets that match the creative commons license of your choice.

Compfight does something very similar, but has an interface that keeps you on compfight.com, which in my opinion gives you a better user experience.

Which Animated GIF Search Engine Is The Best?

The answer depends on the results you get.

Here are some GIF Search Engines and good places to find GIFs:

Giphy – the first “GIF Search Engine”.

Gifly – is a nice and clean site that features GIFs that are searchable by tag, but you have to skip through images one-by-one.

GIFBin has GIFs with popularity scores, so you can find animations that are likely to perform well alongside your other content.

GIFSoup allows you to not only search for GIFs, but also to create them from YouTube videos. This is a good way of porting video content to a slightly different medium.

Tumblr sites – If you want to go viral on Tumblr, using GIFs could help – it’s also a great place to find GIFs.

Reddit r/gifs is another place full of user-submitted content. Good GIFs can often be found in comments on conversation threads.

Enjoy having fun with GIFs!

Computer GIF

Search Engines see links from other websites to your own similar to “votes for” your website. If your website pages have more links, or higher quality links, than other websites then it will out-rank them in search results.

Building the “authority” of a domain by acquiring links is a key aspect of search engine optimisation.

By acquiring links from “high quality” websites, your site can also receive an increased amount of traffic from those other websites.

Links, “backlinks”, “in-links”, “followed links”, “acquired links” are all terms used frequently within search marketing circles.

Link Acquisition is the practice of gaining a link from another website to your own. There are a number of ways to achieve this, including:

  • Creating a linkable asset on a website that’s compelling enough to attract links from other sites
  • Hosting any kind of linkable asset on a website and promoting it so others are likely to link to it
  • Developing relationships with others who may offer you a link for free
  • Developing relationships with others who will offer you a link or in exchange for goods, services or assistance
  • Manually creating links from a website under your control
  • Submitting your site to other sites which will link to you for free or in exchange for a fee or a reciprocal link
There are a number of Link Acquisition tactics that are against Google’s guidelines.
The value of links acquired in ways that violate those guidelines can be devalued and the websites involved in the scheme penalised, or “de-indexed” (removed) from search engine results.

Link Acquisition as a general term is often and perhaps more commonly referred to as ‘Link Building’.

There is on-going discussion within the Digital Marketing industry as to the merits of ‘Link Building’ as a term. Some feel it has connotations of “spammy” practices. Link Acquisition encompasses every way that links are obtained – whether they are earned or built – and there are very legitimate, non-spammy ways of building links.

Link Acquisition can be a by-product of Content Marketing, a practice that isn’t specifically focused on acquiring links, but marketing a business, website or entity through content tailored for particular audiences.

If you’re looking to acquire some links to your website feel free to get in touch for a conversation about your business goals.

Pieter Bruegel The Elder The Tower Of Babel (Vienna) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The experience people have when using your website is important. Crucial, really, to its success.

There are many reasons that a visitor might not enjoy using your website – from something simple such as not being able to find what they were looking for, to becoming frustrated with an overly-complex checkout process.

Language is (obviously) very important. You know this. I know this. Google knows this. Do Google know this? Well, kind of.

An ecommerce website recently had an issue with visitors using Google Chrome being asked “This page is in Italian. Would you like to translate it?”

They were given the three choices of “Nope”, “Translate” or “Never translate Italian”.

The thing is, the page wasn’t written in Italian, it was in English.

Would You Like To Translate It?

The page happened to include a single Italian word, “espresso”, a number of times, which made Google think that the whole page was in Italian, which was:

Potentially confusing for visitors
like many words and phrases in regular English usage, “espresso” has merely been adopted by English speakers.

Potentially annoying for visitors
pop-up bars, including “official” browser pop-ups might be annoying.

Potentially a barrier for conversion
Pop-up bars remove focus from the products and are a distraction from purchasing. “Official” browser pop-ups might be enough to send a visitor running a mile – most of the time in-browser bars appear is with technology warnings, malware, broken SSL certificates and other errors of a more serious nature.

There’s A Quick Fix, But Not An Ideal Solution

Ideally, Google would offer to translate a foreign language into your native language, excluding any foreign words that are in everyday use in your native language (which includes a lot of names of food and recipe ingredients).

Google Translate is not there yet, so there are two paths you can go down:

  1. Don’t change anything (and live with the consequences)
  2. Stop Google from showing the “Would You Like To Translate It?” message completely

It’s a simple thing to implement – you only need to add a Meta Tag to the page of the website that’s experiencing the problem.

If there is an issue with every page of a website, add the tag to each page – obviously if you’re using a CMS such as WordPress, Drupal or other then you can add the tag to your template.

Here’s the Meta Tag:

<meta name=”google” value=”notranslate”>

No Translate Meta Tag

I hope that solves your problem, and leads to better experiences for visitors to your website!

Going Viral On Tumblr

Tumblr is my favourite social network. I joined it fairly early on (mid-2008) because I wanted a blog, but didn’t have much to say. I’ve been having fun there ever since.

I now run a few Tumblrs, for various personal and client projects. Last year, for the first time, I managed to make it onto the Tumblr Radar, which for a keen user/Tumblr fanboy was a special day.

The Tumblr Radar is Tumblr’s internal way of showcasing Trending posts – usually images, and showing them in every logged-in user’s Dashboard. If you want to reach a portion of the owners of the 105,000,000 blogs using the site, the Radar is the place to be.

Tumblr Radar

Tumblog owners publish 900 posts per second, collectively. That’s 77,760,000 new posts every day. The marketer in me reacts to that statistic with “woah that’s a lot of noise”.

How is it possible to stand out amongst such a huge amount of content? What’s the formula for going viral on Tumblr?

The answer is good advice for Social Media Marketing: there is no clear answer. You have to test.

You can wait for serendipity, but you can’t guarantee it. The best thing I could have done was maximise my chances of success, and leverage the audience I already had.

So I followed something of a “best practice” plan, which worked. This is what I did…

Tumblr Dominate Your Niche Space

Focus On A Niche

I had a few things going for me here. My niche was:

Visual

- Images, not video or animate GIFs, were the media of choice. This is fortunate, because image posts do well – on Tumblr, “doing well” means gaining traction through sharing and engagement.

Seasonal

- The Tumblr focused on the key aspect of a seasonal event, which means it only has one chance to be successful each year, and that it won’t be successful for very long during that period. It has to be as successful as it can, during the time it can be successful. Tricky, isn’t it?

Basket Cat Tumblr

Be Consistent

I’ll break it down. Consistency here means:

Publishing Regularly

I was trying to grow a following whilst also getting return visits. The lack of Tumblr Analytics wasn’t a problem, because you don’t miss what you never had, so I used Google Analytics to find traffic sources. I wasn’t getting much referral traffic from anywhere outsite of the Tumblr network, where reblogs from others led to a steady stream of traffic. I was ranking well in Google for head terms along the lines of “niche keyword tumblr”. There was a low chance of ranking for phrases without the keyword Tumblr in without adding pages of text content and some serious link building – but that wasn’t an objective, I had something of an audience and wanted to increase it.

Publishing at appropriate times

Most of my audience was US-based, so I found the times of day that the site had the most US visits in Google Analytics, and set up the Tumblr Schedule to automatically publish queued posts during that time.

Tumblr Schedule

Because of the seasonal aspect of the content, I planned to increase the number of posts leading up to the day of the event, which helped build momentum. The aim was that I’d be able to ride the wave of interest in the event itself with lots of incoming submissions for content that would be published in the days following the event.

Publishing similar content

I’ve tried to publish fewer than ten Text posts on the site, to minimal response. It seems that most of my audience only hammer the Like and Reblog buttons on image posts.

Engage With Your Audience

When Tumblr first appeared, one of the slogans they used was “the easiest way to blog”. It’s also one of the simplest places to engage with your followers.

Likes & Reblogs

Tumblr was built with mass-sharing in mind. A key feature of the Dashboard is the little heart button (for Likes), but perhaps more importantly, the Reblog button. Reblogs not only allow people to share your content on their own sites, but they also generate a dofollow link back to the source of the post.

Tumblr Ask

Ask Your Audience

As I mentioned above, people didn’t respond to Text posts, but the option is there – Simply add a question mark to any post you write and Tumblr inserts a little “Let people answer this” checkbox.

User-generated Content: Submissions

Tumblr gives you a built-in form to accept submissions, from which you can easily tag, edit and publish a post. I enabled this feature as a navigation button on my site, but also included a Call-to-action in text form to encourage submissions further.

I’d drip feed these posts to be pubished as per my scheduled times.

Tumblr Reblorg

User-generated Content: Reblogs

A simple way I tried to grow my following was to reblog them. My niche was full of user-generated content that people posted on their own sites, so a simple Saved Search for the appropriate keywords gave me access to quickly reblog others, which they were notified of. This is a great little way of ego-baiting people to check out your site, follow you, like or reblog your content and submit something else for you to feature.

The Tumblr Radar Effect & Traffic Sources

I knew there was a lot of traffic to the site, because I had Google Analytics Real-Time Report open. Unfortunately Tumblr still don’t offer any Analytics data for a site’s performance on the Dashboard, which is where a large amount of an audience will see a post.

Here’s the Google Analytics screenshot:
Tumblr Google Analytics

If you’ve had success with Social before you’ll be used to seeing this kind of spike in traffic. The site went from 1,000 visits per day to over 20,000 on the day of being on Tumblr Radar.

Obviously, Tumblr was the main source of traffic during that period.
Tumblr Google Analytics Traffic Sources

The post was featured on the Radar for around 12 hours.
Tumblr Google Analytics Time

These are the ‘Notes’ for the post that was featured on the Radar. A ‘note’ is either a Like or a Reblog:

Tumblr Notes

Before the post was featured on the Radar, the site had around 1,000 followers. It’s currently up to around 12,000.

Careful How You “Monetise”

I tested a few different ways to try and earn from the site. It’s a little tricky because there really isn’t much commercial intent in visits to the site. It’s a good place to find inspiration for the creatively-inclined to come up with their own ideas to create something that would otherwise be purchased, but few people came looking for a product.

I tried:

Affiliate links
I linked to search results pages on Amazon, but got very few clicks and no sales.

Ecommerce links
I have a friend with a related ecommerce website, so allowed him to put a banner ad near the top of each page. Whilst there was some traffic, it didn’t generate any direct sales.

Google Adsense did generate some earnings, which was nice, if a little surprising. I got a little cheque that paid for a couple of presents for people, so it was a nice bonus.

Importantly – none of my efforts to earn from the site seemed to hinder its performance. I didn’t annoy the audience with pop-up ads, and didn’t over-do Adsense placement. The affiliate links and banners didn’t get much click-through, but those things are easily ignored when there are nice images to reblog.

Lessons Learned: Further Thoughts & Business Cases For Tumblr

What else should I have done to increase the audience size of the blog?

Social Integration

I’m keen on integration, especially with content-based marketing. That said, I hadn’t setup a Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest page for this website.

Using the pinterest.com/source/yourdomain feature, there seems to be a lot of pins from images hosted on the site. The post that went viral has been pinned 984 times, which seems okay as the Pin button was only added to the site after the event.

I’ve started to cross-post content on other social networks, so hope to build on the following I have this year.

Paid Promotion & Outreach to related sites

Some coverage for on Buzzfeed would go down nicely this year, but paid promotion of a post would probably have resulted in increased exposure of the website. A few paid stumbles, for example, would probably have delivered a constant stream of organic traffic following the initial paid push.

Tumblr Business Cat

Business Partnerships

The best way to generate business from an existing Tumblr site, as far as I can see, is to partner with appropriate businesses. I’d welcome the chance to do that with this website, and the opportunity to run a Tumblr with a brand or business with solid content, community and revenue goals in mind.

Major brands have been using Tumblr for a couple of years now. Those that do it successfully create content for the Tumblr audience specifically. There are solid ‘branding’ reasons to engage with Tumblr communities, but also great opportunities for:

Content Marketing and Promotion – If your target audience is using Tumblr, then you should get involved with them. Your content could spread – not necessarily quickly and “virally”, but steadily over time.

Search Engine Optimisation – There are a number of SEO benefits for Tumblr (I’ll write another post on this), including Online Reputation Management and link acquisition.

Integration – One reason Tumblr is successful is because it bridges the gap between blogs (which usually feature longer, more permanent content) and more-instant social media (the lifespan of a Tweet can be very short). It’s a relatively simple effort to cross-post content on Tumblr and other media.

Best Practice is what helped my site get added to the Tumblr Radar. Bizarrely, I’ve come across a few abandoned/deleted Tumblrs from brands – one in particular is from a supposedly forward-thinking brand (think top five social media success stories for major brands of the past five years), which was very odd to see.

Am I planning to hit the Tumblr Radar again?
Tumblr We're Back

**** Yeah.

By Yale University Press (Yale University, from this website) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Local PPC is not easy, and it’s certainly not getting easier – especially if you’re paying the bills, with rising costs per-click (anecdotally) and increasingly competitive search results pages.

If it’s getting tougher then you need to do better in order to compete. If you can work more efficiently, adapt to change quickly and implement new techniques successfully then you’re going to out-perform your competitors.

I’ve been running Local PPC and AdWords campaigns for a number of years (as well as Local SEO, which happily goes hand-in-hand with paid search), and I’ve been using some of the same tools again and again. Why? Because they work – they’re reliable, they save me time and allow client campaigns to run quicker and smoother.

It’s a horrible thing when an AdWords campaign starts running and you find a few small errors – often it’s not a case of being able to apply a “quick fix”, so it’s vital that the fundamental parts of a campaign are setup correctly.

There are lots of bid-management tools out there that can take care of things for you, but if you’re a local business (or working with local businesses) and wish to do-it-yourself, then take a look in our Toolkit:

Campaign Setup & Management

AdWords Editor

If you’re a small business (and not a marketing agency), you’ll now be thinking “what’s AdWords Editor? Is that a Google Product?” – it is. AdWords Editor is a Desktop Application that allows you to work on AdWords campaigns “offline”, before uploading any changes or adjustments you’ve made. Being able to copy and paste hundreds (and thousands) of keywords, move ads, adjust bids by % or to “meet first page bid estimate” with a couple of clicks can result in a lot of saved time. It’s possible to download stats and give yourself a good strategic overview of performance within Editor.

AdWords Editor

Key Features for Local PPC:
Copy & Paste ads across hundreds of campaigns? Check. Adjust all bids to first page estimate or increase/decrease by X%? Check.

Google Maps

“Local” means location-specific. If you’re not opening a Maps website when setting up Local PPC, then you’re missing out.

Key Features for Local PPC:
Your own geographic knowledge might be good, but without a Map you can still get lost. Enter a county name into Google Maps and it will outline the boundary, leaving you to successfully find all of those places a client meant when they said “everywhere in County X”.

google-maps

Keyword Research Tools:

Everything starts with keywords. Picking the right keywords can get you off to the best possible start. You probably need a good blend of short, popular phrases and longer, less popular variations of keywords. The AdWords Keyword Planner, whilst giving you data on popularity, won’t reveal all of those, but using Google Suggest can help. Ubersuggest can take some of the manual work on for you, and give you a list of phrases suggested by Google following your keyword.

Look for patterns, such as:
“service + phone number”
“service + contact”
“service + near location”

google-suggest

MergeWords

If there’s one tool that saved me the most time over the last few years, apart from the last tool I mention in this post, it’s MergeWords. This is a simple web tool that can combine lists of words and create match modifiers such as exact or phrase to your list.

mergewords

Key Features for Local PPC:
Entering a list of keywords in one column, a list of locations in another column and clicking “Merge” will give you all combinations of your “keyword + location” phrases. What might have once taken hours will only take minutes using MergeWords.

Microsoft Excel (or Google Docs)

If you don’t use a tool for manipulating lots of data, or even small batches of data, and you’re doing PPC then please start to. Excel, and Google Drive Spreadsheets, can keep you organised and efficient. There’s quite a lot you can do with simple copy and paste, but with just a little more sophistication you can do much more.

excel

Excel Tips:
Use Tables
If you’re going to get into using Excel then start by putting things into Tables. It’s quick (CTRL+T) and can help you filter your keywords, ad groups or whatever other data you need to manipulate. It’s also super-fast when you come to use Lookups or combine data from multiple cells.

Use Conditional Formatting
Here’s a quick tip for sorting by cells that contain a certain keyword – use Conditional Formatting. It’s a simple way to highlight “any cell that contains X”. It has many other uses, but this is a good place to start.

Learn Simple Formulas:
CONCATENATE will allow you to combine data in two or more cells, or data in one cell with any text you wish to add.
MID enables you to cut certain information from another cell and use just that data somewhere else.
If you want to do super-clever things like find information in one column and match it to other data in a table, spend some time learning VLOOKUP.

A Decent Text Editor

This happens to be the most often-used tool outside of Pay per-Click work too – there are so many formatting issues when copying & pasting from various places on the web that I tend to have a text editor open as a go-between. There are text editors with a lot of features, and whilst some of the more advanced features might be incredibly useful at certain times, the single most-used feature, for me, is Find & Replace. There’s nothing groundbreaking about that – but can you imagine working without it? I can’t.

Notepad++

Key Features for Local PPC:
The Macros feature is very valuable.

notepad-plus-plus

TextWrangler/Coda

Key Features for Local PPC:
Simple Find & Replace is very helpful – and “power users” can use Regular Expressions for even more awesome.

coda-2-giant-leaf

text-wrangler

(Lots of) Coffee

This is perhaps the most important tool in the box. It stimulates the brain and allows me to focus on the task. I can’t put a figure on how much time Coffee has saved me over the years, but it’s probably quite a lot :)

Albert Anker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“You Snooze, You Lose.”

In a previous post I referred to an Infographic I’d created that had not delivered the intended results.

The “intended results” were something I had quantified and set an objective for when the infographic was being produced:

Create an Infographic about Tax on Wine to acquire coverage on 39 Root Domains within two months.

This was a modest objective.

(Here’s the infographic, by the way.)

The 39 Root Domains was made up of 20% of the “UK Wine Blogs” and 70% of the Infographic galleries I had tagged and ready in Buzzstream before I’d conceived the content idea.

It’s fairly easy to be featured on Infographic galleries with some creativity in writing descriptions, a little bit of patience, some perseverance and perhaps some ready-made alternative offers to “please pay a submission fee”. I’d been in contact with a number of Wine Blogs previously – some were aware of the brand, and almost all were aware of the subject of the Infographic.

I thought it would be easy – and it probably would have been, if the timing had been better.

“Newsjacking”, Where Timing Is Everything

The idea behind “Newsjacking” is that you create content around a current news story or event designed to attract coverage and awareness for your brand or products by piggybacking onto the story. When done correctly, a piece of content can go enjoy the benefits of “going viral”. Simple ideas can do well from this – Newsjacking doesn’t have to be controversial (occasionally its the news itself that is controversial).

By riding the momentum of a news story, content can travel far and wide and even eclipse the event itself. Timing can be crucial in this (although there are other factors involved in successful Newsjacking). Release the content too soon and you might be drowned-out by the noise of the story that already exists. Publish too late, and…read on.

Initial Concept Stage

The concept for the content was inspired by the UK Budget. Unfortunately the inspiration came on the evening of the Budget itself, rather than a few weeks before. I was new to the industry and though I’d been doing some research (and trying to “go native”) I wasn’t acutely aware of the topic I would cover.

Watching Newsnight at 11pm is an okay time to come up with ideas, but not the best time to open up Photoshop, so I emailed myself a quick note, knowing it’d be the first thing I saw the following morning.

Content Production

I did my research and wrote the content in under an hour, produced a basic sketch and wrote a brief.

Aside from being a little behind with timing, I’d not made any mistakes.

Then I passsed the Infographic idea to a designer who had a thousand other things to do. I thought I’d given enough detail in my brief that he’d nail it first time. That didn’t happen, which was my fault, so we lost a few days to other work and still only had the bare bones of the piece.

I was increasingly aware of the ticking clock so completed the work myself.

This could all have been created very simply using something like infogr.am, but with the brand aesthetic being quite distinctive it was better to make use of that to make it more compelling.

Fortunately the artist we were using for the brand had produced a number of drawings that would easily fit into the theme of the graphic. I was able to use the main character to introduce the data and tell the story.

Actually putting the thing together was easy – because I knew what I wanted and had most of the materials ready.

Publishing & Outreach

I started my outreach as soon as the page was published. I already had a good list of contacts teed-up in Buzzstream. Some were sites I’d already gained coverage on, others had shared the brand on Twitter, and some had replied to previous contact but not been receptive to our ideas – so a mix of hot, warm and a few cooler leads.

I started with outreach to some of the bigger sites, hoping for a few wins with influencers that would lead to sharing in more volume. Then I moved on to smaller sites. Most of those I contacted in my initial run were Wine Bloggers, or “Foodies”.

Whilst handling replies I started to consider other link opportunities – including the sources of the data. If you’re working in a vertical that hasn’t experienced interesting data visualisation, but has interesting statistics, why not include your data sources in your outreach? My pitch was along the lines of “There’s an opportunity on your website for an area to showcase interesting uses of the statistics you provide”.

Results…or lack of

What happened next? Time seemed to run out. The news event that led to the Infographic went off the front pages (offline) and off the minds of my outreach prospects.

I got a handful of links from my outreach and some easy links from infographic directories. Because I had promising feedback from influencers about using the infographic the “next time they write about the subject”, I thought it best to spend my time on other work.

The subject of the content was somewhat “evergreen”. There was no reason I couldn’t get a steady stream of coverage from sites who write about the subject during other times of the year – and if not, then there was always the next UK Budget. I was working on a whole load of other things with the client, and because this was quickly conceived and executed it wasn’t seen as being so necessary a use of time in meeting our longer-term goals.

Learning from Failed Content Marketing: What would I do differently next time?

There are three areas that I’ve identified as lacking.

Planning Content Ideas: This idea is something that should have been in my head from day one. Going through a calendar of events that affect the Wine industry, the Budget is clear to see. So this idea should have been part of the mix of other seasonal/event-based content ideas I had. Of course, I did come up with the idea, albeit too late – if you’re looking for a steady stream of ideas then take a look at Lyndon Antcliff’s Newsjacking Alerts

Production Ownership: This is a more contentious issue – whilst I wasn’t really “responsible” for graphic work, I usually hate to pass things to others if I know I can do as-good a job when its not necessary. It was necessary here – the designer was a resource I had to rely on, and if the piece had met our requirements at first draft then this wouldn’t be an issue – again, my fault for either not taking ownership or delivering a poor briefing.

Pre-launch Outreach: Whilst some of the prospective content partners could be considered “warm”, I didn’t pre-warn them about the Infographic. Because there was a few days difference between concept and publication, I wanted to maximise my chances of them publishing the work by waiting until it was published – in a kind of “wow, look at this ->” way. Good feedback wasn’t the goal, re-publishing was. Giving plenty of time and bringing content partners onboard before the content is ready would have helped massively.

“Evergreen Newsjacking”, or LinkBait You Can Re-use

The thing is, it’s extremely likely that the next UK Budget will result in the issue about tax and duty on wine remaining, even if there are slight changes to the percentage or amount. It’s not going to take much to change the infographic. With the contacts who said “if I write about tax again I’ll be sure to include your work” I know I have some warm leads to keep in touch with and send a new version of the content to. Now that the content exists, and published on a non-date stamped URL, I’m not only all-set, I can come up with ways to add more value to the concept.

A few quick ideas include:

  • A Calculator: People can enter the price of their wine and find out how much is tax/duty. This is a good feature to keep on the site to encourage traffic from linking sites who just post the infographic.
  • Calculator Widget: As above, but making the widget embeddable for others to post on their sites.
  • Linking to a Mobile Application: It’s a very simple calculation, so might make for a nice little Mobile App. This would be the page that promotes the app in the best way, hopefully gaining lots of coverage along the way.

There’s a lot of other content formats you can use to further the reach, or lifetime, of a concept, which may be especially useful if you have another opportunity to jack some news…

“Becoming A Persona” Through Client/Customer Research

Constantin Stanislavski

Some agencies and service providers like their consultants to work at clients’ premises.

This can be a great idea for both parties: the client gets to see first-hand the type of work the agency is providing and can appreciate the work ethic and output of the consultant, whilst the consultant can immerse themselves in the client’s business and get a real understanding of their products and services.

In some circumstances, this doesn’t always work out for practical reasons. Businesses are setup to run in a way that meets their own needs – working out of the vehicle of a mobile business or an office without technical difficulties (no Wi-Fi, incompatible networks) is obviously not practical.

Some client premises can be distracting for consultants – but this still should be considered, at least for a short amount of time.

If the consultant has the right mentality and aptitude for absorbing information, hanging around the customer services team of a company for a few hours can teach them more about a business than reading through all of the current content on the company’s website.

It is possible to get a little closer to your clients needs by doing some in-depth research into their business – whether you go “pseudo in-house” for a period of time or not.

Every time I get a new client, I go through a process I’ve started to refer to as “going native”.

Without taking myself too seriously here, this is somewhat reminiscent of the Method approach to acting. Sometimes you have to carry a fishbowl between your legs.

Sometimes you have to get in character.

This is a basic view of requirements and key performance indicators for a typical SEO campaign.

  • The Client wants conversions
  • I want traffic for keywords that convert
  • I need content including keywords that convert, links to that content and social engagement with that content
  • I need inspiration and knowledge to produce that content

Act Like A Stakeholder

What do I do? I go native – I find inspiration, I develop my knowledge and awareness of the subjects and content topics that surround a client’s services – I start to use a vocabulary of terms that I might not previously have used in order to become a stakeholder. I have to have an interest in the subject, in a similar way to how the client has an interest, and their prospective customers have an interest.
It’s all about asking and answering questions.

  • What? Prospective customers want to know about products and services
  • Why? Prospective customers want to read informed reviews from other customers
  • Who? All website content should be viable – believable, accurate, informative

Clients want me to “speak their language” so I can do a good job for them.

Here are a few places you can go to get started with researching topics:

Find Social Content Inspiration

  • I start a tumblr
  • I subscribe to a sub-reddit of the topic
  • I’ll setup a Pinterest board

Find A Community

  • I join forums and get involved in discussion
  • I read blogs and get a handle on trends (if there are any), writing styles and the kind of content being produced

News

  • I find the prevalent sources of news for that vertical
  • I find news about that vertical in mainstream media

Language
As well as reading news and community sites, I’ll try and find a “Glossary of terms”. Imitating the vernacular of the client/customer/target audience is the best way to research what they want and make it easier for me to help give it to them.

It’s this process of creating a drip-feed of information that allows me to act like someone who is in that industry. I can relate to clients, to their customers, prospective content/link partners and get a grasp on what everyone’s incentives are.

Here are three examples on how I “went native” in order to add value to client campaigns.

Health, Wellbeing & Beauty Products

Did I know anything about Hair Loss products? When I started with one client, I was only just starting to lose a tiny bit of hair, so it wasn’t really ‘my thing’. Going “pseudo in-house” and listening to customer service teams answering calls on these products, I learnt a lot (I’m still hoping not to use that knowledge on myself, physically).

This allowed me to easily come up with topics for a Guest Post campaign and look into long tail keyword patterns for Q&A content and new on-site articles.

Menswear & Fashion

Did I know anything about Men’s Fashion? That depends who you ask, of course. Fashion is subjective to taste, so I knew what I liked and didn’t like. I spent some time getting involved with forums, reading blogs, pouring through “lookbooks” and dissecting celebrity outfits. Only then could I advise clients on effective content creation and start outreach to content, link and affiliate prospects.

The knowledge I gained allowed me to come up with an honest approach to outreach (that “indie fashion” should nurture upcoming talent) and so I found some great sites to partner with for content-led link acquisition.

Wine

Did I know anything about Wine? I’m a price-driven wine drinker, and I quickly found out that other price-driven wine drinkers are target customers for this client. My actual wine knowledge was limited, and so anything I found “surprising” is likely to also be found surprising by some of the other prospective customers.

For example, I didn’t know that duty on wine is fixed, so that if you’re buying something you think is good value or cheap – £2.00 of the “wine” is a “duty” charge. As shocking as that was to me I knew it would be to others, so I made this infographic. You may notice that the infographic hasn’t got a lot of links – that’s another story I’d be happy to tell…

Image credit: Constantin Stanislavski via Wikimedia Commons

Google AdWords Grants for Registered UK Charities
Registered Charities in the UK are eligible for “Google Grants”, an initiative setup by Google AdWords to allow non-profit organisations access to promote their cause in prominent places in search results.
I’m a big fan of AdWords, because

  • It’s a quick way of increasing visitors to a website
  • By working on campaigns it’s possible to target “good value” visitors
  • Because everything is measurable, it’s simple to increase performance

Those are just a few of the reasons that AdWords offers a good promotional platform for any organisation. Now -AdWords isn’t always a great fit for some, it can depend on the type of organisation, but occassionaly AdWords doesn’t fit perfectly because of budgets.

Some organisations decide to use their budget for Search Engine Optimisation instead of Pay per-Click, because content-led SEO is seen as a more sustainable activity. This is true to an extent, and easy to empathise with.

Ideally there would be budget available for an integrated AdWords and SEO campaign, but perhaps ideally there also would be budget available for a TV or high-profile PR campaign.

Whatever budget is available should be put into the right place – the channel that will deliver the best return, and increase the performance of other channels in use in a larger marketing campaign.

AdWords can help with that. This is a really great opportunity for Charities to reach their target audience where they spend a lot of time – online – and increase engagement with their website.

For more information about Google Grants for AdWords, please see the website. It currently states that up to $10,000 of AdWords budget will be made available to qualifying organisations – don’t let that dollar symbol put you off, I’ve been assured by an AdWords representative that the scheme is available to UK organisations.

If you wish to find out more about AdWords or would like to discuss anything, please call 01244 676344 and speak with me (Robert) or email hello@bg-seo.com