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Has SEO Been Substituted by Content Marketing?

seo-vs-content-marketing

The biggest puzzle among marketers around the world is whether content marketing was taking over search engine marketing.

This is an intereting notion since content marketing is a relatively new area in the Australian context. However, it doesn’t mean  that content marketing is replacing anything, because the two disciplines are subtly, but importantly, different. The role of SEO or content optimisation is critical in the content marketing segment. Are we seeing budgets roll over to us? Yes. Why? It probably goes back to Google and its algorithm updates. Google makes these changes a regular occurrence to ensure quality sites are at the top of their index. This creates a superior user experience, rather than a site that is rammed full of optimised terms but has little or no relevance to what the user searched for.

Furthermore, Google also wanted to take away the role on backlinks, and move it to social recommendations – shares, retweets and +1s, which also means that people – not bots – are now engaging with the content. All this contributes to the purpose of the search engine now linking users who are after quality content with those who produce it. These changes mean that a combination of great quality content as well as having it optimised for search ensures your page is high in Google rankings. The content must be high quality, and that’s why SEO budgets move to content marketing agencies. We craft great, engaging, interesting, exiting, enjoyable content that drives people to action. It should be seen on multiple search engines, but more importantly, we ensure that it is suitable with the users. That’s the measure of great content.

Is this a problem for search agencies? Probably. Do they need to look at their business model? Certainly. However, SEO agencies will continue to breathe, but the business will need to change. They will need editors, content strategists and sub-editors. They will need to develop these content strategies to build engagement. They’ll need to incorporate visual content as well – video, infographics, images, and many more.

Put simply, content marketing and SEO are two separate beasts trying to deliver one outcome, yet only one will win. Your task now is choosing which side you are betting on.

Expert Content Has a Bigger Impact on Product Purchase Considerations Than User Reviews or Branded Content

Today’s consumers are not supposed to believe in branded content or user reviews when making buying decisions. Instead, they are likely to be influenced by third-party expert content providers.

According to latest research, expert content providers, like product reviews or articles from third-party websites and blogs, was 83% more effective at lifting product purchase considerations than user reviews. They are also 38% more effective than branded content.

The research surveyed 900 consumers, measuring their responses to different forms of content marketing for nine separate product types, ranging from smartphones and video games to car seats, new automobiles and auto insurance. The study analyzed how the different types of content marketing (especially expert content, branded content and user reviews) impacted product affinity and familiarity, as well as purchase considerations. The result is quite surprising: not only were consumers more likely to be influenced by expert content when making purchases, the study also found that expert content from third-party sources also had a greater impact on product affinity and familiarity. Here is an excerpt from the result:

On average, expert content lifted familiarity 88 percent more than branded content and 50 percent more than user reviews; they lifted affinity 50 percent more than branded content and 20 percent more than user reviews.

expert-content-effectiveness

While expert content had a greater influence overall, the study revealed that branded content had the most impact in categories where product specifications were a critical component of the evaluation process, such as smartphones or TVs.

On the other hand, user reviews were most valuable for products where users were considered to have a “higher degree” of product expertise. For instance, although expert content was most effective at increasing familiarity and affinity, user content provided the strongest lift to purchase intent in car seats.

Here is the detail of how expert content, user reviews and branded content impacted the different stages of the buying process for all nine product categories:

positive-lift-by-content-and-product-type

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25 Marvelous Content Marketing Tools in 2014

Are you looking for the best content marketing tools in 2014? We have got you covered. Here is a marvelous infographic for you to find the best tools that suit you and your brand. This infographic shows all the tools completed with a concise overview for each of them. Enjoy.

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Five Simple Steps on Video Content Optimisation

Despite the popularity of video among marketers, there’s still a common misconception that you can create tons of video content, throw it up on YouTube, and hope that it will attract people’s attention. It is not. Video marketing involves more work. It has to be timely, relevant, memorable, and most importantly, well-optimised if you’re going to see any return on investment. Just as you optimise landing pages and build full campaigns around a piece of written content to ensure it performs, you have to do the same with videos. Try to add some leading-edge customization to your video content to make sure it drives business.

That said, here are five simple steps for video content optimisation:

1. Design your content with the goal in mind

Before the concept of a video marketing platform existed, everyone seemed to think a video could only be used for brand awareness. However, a strategic and purposeful video can actually guide leads through the sales funnel and enhance conversion. All you have to do is align your video’s concept to specific goals right from the start.

To plan a purposeful video, first determine:

  • The emotions you want to evoke and why (fear, excitement, and greed are a few that work especially well)
  • The target buyer personas to which the video will appeal
  • The actions you want your leads to take based on the content they consume

These considerations lead to a more focused, actionable video. For example, if you evoke an emotion such as fear or anxiety, you can appeal to the pain points of your audience and get your prospects to take the actions you want.

There are many companies that are doing an especially good job evoking emotion through storytelling for exactly this purpose. Adobe’s Click Baby Click video ad is one of the best example. This video shows an overzealous CEO of an encyclopedia company getting excited about a massive spike in web traffic and online orders for his product:

As you can see, the end of the narrative cuts to a baby tapping furiously on an iPad, and Adobe cleverly asks, “Do you know what your marketing is doing?” It successfully uses a funny story about misinterpreting data to evoke a fear and imply we’re all missing something if we don’t use the advertised product. This is the kind of emotion you need to drive with purposeful video content.

2. Call to Action

How many times have you reached the end of a product video only to find it fades to black? Although marketers know the importance of a call to action, they seem to be missing from a lot of today’s video content. Before you release your next video, make sure you have included specific calls to action.

Such specific call to actions could include:

  • A series of YouTube annotations pointing to different resources
  • A direct prompt from the video’s host
  • A short link at the end of the video directing viewers to a landing page

3. Set up a lead-capture method

Another feature that’s moved directly from the written content world into the video content world is the email gate and lead-capture form. Once you have your video ready to go, it’s important to consider including an email gate because these will go wherever your content is shared on social networks, providing a simple way to find out which leads are interested enough to willingly give you their personal information. Some video marketing platforms let you build contact forms to include at the end of your videos. Basically, you can collect multiple fields of information in addition to the viewer’s email address.

Here’s an example of what an email gate might look like:

Best practices for video lead capture:

  • Use email gates on content that targets users who are lower in the funnel (like highly detailed or lengthy product demos). Because an email gate requires some buy-in from viewers, you’ll want to make sure you’ve warmed leads up with quality un-gated content before asking for their info.
  • Don’t use too many fields when setting up an end-of-video contact form — you don’t want to fatigue your potential prospects before they complete your form.

4. Add key information for SEO

SEO can be a tricky beast, in part due to the frequent algorithm updates from Google; but making your videos more search-friendly is easy if you focus on these three things:

  1. Keywords and descriptions. Using Google’s AdWords Planner, do some initial research on the words you’d like to rank for within your industry and use those words in a clear phrase format for your video’s title and in your meta descriptions. Choose something people are likely to search for instead of something you think sounds clever or catchy.
  2. Transcripts. YouTube and Google don’t extract all of the words from your videos, search engines can’t be 100 percent sure of the subject matter in your videos. To help with video SEO, try transcribing your video (or use a service) and turn the video’s accompanying text into a blog post. This way the blog post featuring your video will alert search engines about the context, and Google will qualify your relevant content.
  3. Multi-platform promotion. After you have embedded your video on your site, put it up on YouTube and other distribution outlets with a different title. Because YouTube and Google are the two top search engines, you don’t want to cannibalize your SEO efforts, so tweak your content just slightly to take advantage of both.

5. Evaluate Your Campaign and Plan for Future Contest

The final step to getting the most out of your video content marketing is to take a look at some analytics. If you’re creating lots of videos, you’ll want to consider investing in a video marketing platform that provides access to this detailed data. Interpreting your prospects’ digital behavior is the key to making informed decisions about future content. It’s only by analyzing who is watching specific videos, and for how long, that you’ll see which topics are resonating, and you’ll start to understand ways to modify your content strategy based on how your content typically performs.

For example, one of the best metrics to track is your average lead’s attention span. If you notice that prospects are dropping off 10 seconds into your videos, this could signify that that your intros may be too long, and so you might want to try trimming them down and getting to the main discussion more quickly.

Overall, valuable video marketing data is able to show you whether your leads are truly engaged, and which parts of your content strategy need work based on your audience’s digital behavior.

Conclusion

Next time you send your videos off to their various destinations, try implementing each of these five steps. By streamlining the process you use to make effective use of your content for lead capture, sales enablement, SEO, and measurement, you’ll notice a dramatic difference in how video performs throughout the buying cycle.

The Changing State of Content Marketing in 2014 (Infographic)

More than four-fifths companies already invest in content marketing, and this number looks likely to increase in 2014. We can see that 2013 has been a big year for implementing exciting and original strategies as well as building up a strong presence on social media, so what trends should brands and companies be expecting for 2014? Check out this infographic:

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Top Five Successful Businesses in Content Marketing

Content marketing is very important these days. The age of pop-up ads are over. Nowadays, responsive websites are taking over the Internet. Traditional, static forms of advertising are not enough anymore in today’s technology and social media-driven societies. So, businesses need to actively gain their audiences’ attention spans and engage with them. As many business owners will prove, this is easier said than done.

Are your businesses struggling for a better, successful content marketing strategy? Learn from these five brilliant businesses that have mastered content marketing in the hard way.

1. Zady

Zady

Zady is a new ecommerce enterprise that specializes in ethically made goods (apparel, accessories and home products) with transparent supply chains. Each product tells a story about the maker, often taking shoppers directly into a designer’s studio. Including these backstories adds a personal touch and allows customers to feel a sense of connection to the product or brand — factors that promote sales. Since Zady is targeting shoppers who care about where their goods come from, this type of editorial is an important key.

2. Sweetgreen

Sweet Green

Sweetgreen is a restaurant chain dedicated to organic cuisine and sustainability. With a strong impression on social media (19,000+ Facebook fans, 12,000+ Twitter followers, more than 11,000 Instagram followers and active Tumblr and YouTube accounts), a mobile app and an entire section of its website dedicated to community, Sweetgreen taps into its customers’ core beliefs and healthy lifestyle values — all while maintaining consistent brand identity.

The brand rallies its online community with hashtags like #behindthegreens, #sgimpact and #farmtotable. Sweetgreen has even ventured into local communities with campaigns such as Sweetgreen in schools and the annual Sweetlife Festival — initiatives that influence positive brand recognition and association.

3. Birchbox

Birchbox

Birchbox’s content marketing strategy targets the millennial generation’s Achilles’ heel: the fear of missing out. The “discovery commerce platform” runs customers $10 a month, for which customers receive a customized box of beauty samples. Even though the box usually contains more than a $10 return in beauty products or discounts, a monthly charge for an assortment of surprise goods is asking a lot from the generation that averages nearly $30K in student loan debt.

Then, why is the discovery commerce platform so surprisingly successful? It’s because Birchbox’s social media accounts consistently post photos, videos and articles chronicling happy customers, the contents of last month’s box, beauty how-tos and insider details about the “must-have” beauty products coming in the next package. All posts link back to the content hosted on the Birchbox site, with an easy, bright blue “subscribe” button in plain view. The message is simple: If you aren’t getting Birchbox, you are definitely missing out — the perfect push to drive customers to whip out credit cards and subscribe.

4. Of a Kind

Of A Kind

Of a Kind offers more than beautifully crafted clothing, jewelry and accessories. It also tells the stories about how those goods are made (and the people who make them) through one-on-one interviews and photos shot by Jamie Beck. Of a Kind takes advantage of sharing products on the social platforms that make the most sense marketing-wise, which is a perfect candidate for Pinterest. The company page itself has included more than 2,000 pins, as well as boards featuring bridesmaid looks, home and studio tours, designer stories and gift guides.

5. Equinox

Equinox

The Equinox approach to content marketing can be summarised by its promotional material: “It’s not fitness, it’s life.”

The chain of upscale fitness clubs is active on social platforms and keeps a blog about healthy living. While much of the content on these platforms is branded with the company logo and jargons, it isn’t overly promotional. For example, the YouTube video on “How to Get a Surfer’s Body” features a pump-it-up beat in the background (no voiceover) and a chiseled surfer-stud working out on the beach. And the Contortionist video simply flaunts the beauty and elegance of the human body. The videos operate more as inspirational exercise guides than as promotions for classes or personal training sessions — in fact, neither even takes place in a gym. On Twitter, Equinox frequently retweets helpful articles, events and suggestions for working out or adhering to a healthy diet.

With these strategies, Equinox appeals not only to customers, but to anyone striving to live a healthy, fitness-oriented lifestyle, making it more likely that people will share the content (and potentially bring business in the door).

How To Create The Best “About Us” Page

Go ahead. Tell us the truth. How many “About Us” pages that actually got you impressed about a business or brand? Most common reactions to “About Us” pages are varied from “boredom”, “impatience”, to “almost completely ignored”. That is a big issue, since the “About Us” page is one of the most popular destinations on any website. People click over to it all the time.

We should not ignoring the quality of this valuable space. But why many of us failed to write a proper, if not good, “About Us” page? Maybe it’s because people feel uncomfortable writing about ourselves. Maybe people don’t know what to put on that page, so we, like most people do, copy the formula everyone else is using. Maybe it just doesn’t seem that urgent. However, abandoning your “About” page in poor condition is costing you more than you think. Hence, here are top five tips to improve your “About Us” page:

1. Your ‘About’ page is “not” always about you

Yes, you read it right. Your “About Us” page should not all about you. Contrarily, it’s about your readers. Obviously, you need to let them know in details about you and your business, but it’s all about how your present it. Most “About Us” pages are focused on the writer or company: their story, background, experience, and so on. More importantly, it really needs to be focused on the reader: their needs, problems, worries, and questions. Think about it. When you visit an “About” page for a company you’re thinking of buying from, what are you looking for? Are you really concerned about all their achievements, their dreams and goals, and every award they have ever won? Or are you looking for proof that they can help you solve your problems? If you aren’t providing those things for your website visitors on your “About Us” page, you’ll leave them feeling ignored.

2. Third person was never a good idea

It used to be standard practice using the third person when writing bios. Contrary to the popular belief, bios written in the third person are no longer a good idea. Your “About Us” page is supposed to help people connect with you. Your website isn’t nearly as personal as meeting someone face to face, but you want to replicate that one-on-one experience as much as possible. And that just isn’t going to happen if you keep referring to yourself by your first name.

3. Tell them a story

Most “About Us” pages are tedious, and this put a big disadvantage on the related company. One of the best ways to create an “About Us” page that engages your visitors and addresses their needs is by telling a story. A story that shows visitors how you can help them, instead of just telling them. Take your visitors on a journey. Start at their issues: what they need solved that your business can help them with. End at the solution: how your business, product, or service is going to make their lives better. Along the way, add details about who you are, what your business is all about, and how you’ve helped people. Stories are memorable. People can relate the to story a whole lot better than to a bunch of facts.

4. Make an appearance

Internet can be a very anonymous place, yet people want to do business with people, not with brands, companies or mysterious websites. Putting your picture on your “About” page is a smart thing to do. It makes you real to your visitors. They can picture your face and imagine having an actual conversation with you. The type of picture you use is important as well. Don’t crop your face out of any old group photo. Make it look professional and match your brand. It means that if you promote your business as conservative and reliable, then by all means wear a suit and pose for a traditional headshot. Otherwise, if your business is modern and edgy, show that in your photo. If you’re casual and friendly, dress down a bit. Your photo should reflect your personality. The point is to show people who you really are.

5. Give your reader a proof

What’s way more effective than telling people you’re great than showing them an actual proof. Specifically, you should give your visitor social proof that you know your stuff and that people like doing business with you. Positive things that someone else said about you will be 100 times more compelling than all the positive things you could say about yourself. Social proof is powerful, and it’s also easy to implement. Here are a few of its common forms:

  1. Testimonials
  2. Endorsements from other industry or thought leaders
  3. Follower and community stats (number of fans on Facebook, number of people blog subscribers, etc.)

Gather such proof and put it right on your “About Us” page.

Final Touch

Now that you have an awesome “About Us” page, use the momentum you’ve built up with your captivating bio to get loads of subscribers. You’ve just given people some great reasons to absolutely love you and what you do. Now, it is the perfect time to suggest staying in touch. Put a sign-up or opt-in form right on your “About” page. You will be surprised how effectively doing so will grow your list.

The key to a great “About” page isn’t an elusive secret; it’s all about the approach. Remember that you’re creating this page as a way to connect with your visitors and address their curiosities and concerns.

Content Marketing in Australia: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends

Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and The Association for data-driven marketing & advertising (ADMA) has just released the results of their second annual study on content marketing practices in Australia. This report provides insight into how Australian online marketers — both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) — are using content marketing. It also includes comparisons of Australian marketers and their North American and UK peers, so marketers can see the similarities and differences between them.

Here are some main points:

  • Australian marketers (52%) are more likely than North American (43%) and UK (42%) marketers to have a documented content strategy
  • 69% are planning to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months, compared with 58% of their North American and 56% of their UK peers
  • 81% are producing more content than they did one year ago, compared with 72% of their North American and 76% of their UK peers

While Australian marketers are less challenged with certain areas (e.g., producing enough content and producing engaging content) than their North American and UK peers are, they rate themselves lower in terms of overall effectiveness (33%). With continued advances in the field, education, and experimentation, people hope to see that confidence rise over the coming year.

Here is the complete report:

 

20 Most Shared Video Ads in 2013

Unruly, a video marketing company, has released its list of top 20 most shared ads for 2013. Based on the number of multiple social media shares – like Facebook, Twitter, and Blog – Unruly states that the most viral ad this year was the Dove Beauty Sketches video ad with 4.24 million shares since its release in April 2013. According to Unruly, not only is the Dove Beauty Sketches ad the most shared ad for 2013, it is also the most viewed video ad of all time.

Following the Dove ad, Geico’s Hump Day ad took the second place with 4.03 million shares and Evian’s Baby & Me ad at the third position with 3.34 million shares. Geico’s ad has trended every Wednesday since its May release which is a departure from normal trending patterns where a quarter of total ad shares usually happen during the first three days following an ad’s release.

According to Unruly’s data, top ads in 2013 have earned 28.8 million total shares, representing a year-on-year increasing of 52.1 percent in shares since 2012. Not only are more video shares happening at a dramatic rate, but Unruly claims the “most significant trend” in video advertising is the adoption of short-form content players such as Vine and Instagram Video. Here is the complete list:

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Some media, such as tweets or photos, are naturally quicker to create than others. Video, on the other hand, has traditionally been a slower medium, with longer lead-in times. However, the arrival of short-form content platforms changed this in 2013 and presents brands with an excellent opportunity to create and distribute video in real-time, without the production lead-in times and expenses usually associated with longer form video content. The fact is 40 percent of the top 1,000 Instagram videos are created by brands. This upward trend in short-form video accompanies a significant drive in mobile video consumption, with smartphone and tablet campaign CTRs tripling over the past four quarters.

Content Marketing Stats on 2013 (Infographic)

Nowadays, content is becoming a common marketing device, as marketers spend 25% of their marketing budget on content marketing. Content marketing is having a big influence on how customers view and interact with companies, as 68% of customers spend time reading content from brands they are interested in.

Moreover, the following infographic shows you how companies are using content marketing to and how customers mingle with it.

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