Category: Content

Your content is outdated – here’s why you should fix it

When something is published on the internet, the author is arguably responsible for those words. Ranging from social media to articles on news publications and even including the emails we send, we’re responsible for everything we write.

However, it’s debatable as to how long that responsibility should last. After all, if you post something on social media, are you still responsible for it 24 hours later? A week? Month? Years later?

Considering that many business leaders and politicians have had their career affected by an ill-advised social media comment years ago, it’s reasonable to assume we’re always responsible for everything we create.

Although this sounds terrifying, and might dissuade you from writing ever again, this shouldn’t be viewed as a burden. Instead, amending old content is not only your responsibility but also an opportunity. Here’s how updating it can benefit you:

Why you have a responsibility to update content

The internet is full of content but, unfortunately, not all of it is accurate. In some situations, this is because the information is now out-of-date or recent changes have come along which render the advice obsolete.

This can have negative repercussions when someone inexperienced stumbles across the now outdated article and takes it as fact. For example, despite GDPR law having huge implications for PR professionals and businesses, there are still numerous articles out there advocating purchasing mailing lists and contact details of journalists – or recommending such measures as automatically signing up customers to email newsletters.

While this was common practice years ago, the implication of GDPR legislation means anyone caught participating in those activities may be liable for an extremely large fine.

As a result, if it is practical to do so, those articles should be amended to limit the spread of misinformation. Yet, the logic behind updating these is not completely altruistic, there are a range of associated benefits as well.

Does my content need updating?

Old content should never be updated just for the sake of it. Instead, articles should be evaluated to determine which ones are still successful and relevant. If you can answer ‘yes’ to the majority of these questions, for each piece, then updating might be unnecessary:

  1. Does the article demonstrate I’m an expert?
  2. Is the article authoritative?
  3. Is the article trustworthy?
  4. Are individuals still reading the article?
  5. Is anyone linking to, or sharing, the article?

Once it becomes apparent that an article needs updating, you can do this through the following methods:

Modernising the content

Years ago, online content publishers only had one medium available to them – the written word. Times change and now these individuals can use formats such as video, audio, and social media to enhance the content they produce. Furthermore, if a webpage is not necessarily right for the material, creators can choose to present it in an interactive format or maybe even as a presentation.

The point is, if an article is no longer performing as well as it should be, modernising it could yield better results.

For example, written DIY guides are often extremely useful but can be difficult to follow when trying to accomplish a task. Instead, these might perform better in a video format.

After all, when trying to create something, nothing is more useful than a teacher showing you how to do it – even one who lives on YouTube.

Increasing the article’s value

Where content is no longer accurate, perhaps following new legislation or industry developments, it should be revised with updated information. However, it can also be expanded with new details which the reader could find useful.

For example, returning to our DIY theme, readers might appreciate an amendment detailing the best places to get the required tools. Alternatively, if an app can now complete a related task for the reader, the content creator may wish to make reference to this.

Therefore, if additional details can make an old article valuable again, these should be considered.

Linking to related reading

If the piece is still relevant, then perhaps it would benefit from improving internal linking. By providing these links to related content, readers are given the opportunity to expand their knowledge and view other articles which could be useful to them.

If you want to find out more about this, we’ve written about the importance of internal linking from an SEO point of view in our article: ‘9 common SEO mistakes to avoid’.

See what we did there?

You have a responsibility – to provide the best content possible

Your readers deserve the best content possible and you have a responsibility to provide it to them. If something you’ve created is no longer valuable, this should be amended.

A word of warning on this though, if you decide the vast majority of your content isn’t serviceable – and if you choose to dispose of it – you could adversely affect your SEO efforts.

SEO analysis from Josh Boot, CandidSky SEO specialist

Fundamentally, SEO consists of three main pillars for success:

  1. Technical excellence which allows search engines to effectively crawl and index your website.
  2. Authority, namely backlinks and who is talking about you
  3. Content. Without content you have no opportunity to target keywords, to target the terms which matter most to your business.

By removing content, you’re effectively stripping away the opportunity to target keywords, and not providing search engines with any additional context to the purpose or value of the page.

Good content gets your site ranking while excellent content drives commercial conversions.

When content fails, it is often because the creator hasn’t identified its purpose, inserted an engaging hook, or effectively produced it. By being creative and creating materials for a purpose, you can make your content great again.

 

 

Therefore, if you want an expert opinion, get in touch with our content specialists today. They’ll help make sure your website is relevant again.

Related reading

How to stop fake news from ruining your business

Woman looking at a phone with ‘fake news’ on it.

‘Fake news’ is not just something the president of the United States exclaims on a regular basis, it’s a huge societal issue and something which has the potential to ruin real lives.

According to Wikipedia, fake news is “a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.

However, we would argue this definition is out-of-date. Instead, the definition of fake news should be similar to: “deliberate lies or misinformation primarily spread over social media networks with the intention of causing harm or damage to organisations.”

Despite containing false information, fake news causes very real problems. For example, in 2013, the Associated Press’ (AP) Twitter account was hacked – publishing a tweet confirming two explosions in the White House which injured then President Obama. In a matter of minutes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by more than 143 points while in excess of $130billion of stock value was wiped out.

Fortunately, the stock market recovered quickly but using fake news to influence stock prices is just one way your business can be damaged. For example, in 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission froze profits from a fake news scam with the intention of positively manipulating Avon stock.

While a boost in stock value may sound positive, the long-term implications, public trust, and often resulting share dips, are not. Sadly, this is not the only way fake news can impact your business:

How fake news affects businesses

Fake reviews

When shopping online, customer reviews influence just about every aspect of the buying decision. Unfortunately, unethical companies will sometimes buy fake reviews in order to tilt the odds in their favour or smear the competition. In one such example, a family-owned jeweller in Boston claimed a rival company had purchased 100 one-star reviews to topple their positive Facebook review score. In minutes, their 4.8 rating dropped to 2.3.

Far from being a figure without consequence, the Competition and Markets Authority estimates that, in the UK, online reviews have the potential to influence around £23billion worth of customer spending every year. As a result, negatively influencing the ratings of a company can almost certainty affect the minds of consumers.

Although loyal customers stayed with the Boston jewellery brand, we can only speculate as to how much damage multiple low-scoring reviews caused the organisation.

 

Negative rumours

Although we have seen how fake news can be used to boost stock prices, malicious individuals use rumours to achieve the opposite. For example, in 2017, a post claimed the CEO of cryptocurrency company Ethereum had died in a car accident. As a result, this wiped about $4 billion off the organisation’s stock value while some analysts began speculating over the future of the now leaderless company.

The CEO himself had to confirm that he was still alive.

Similarly, a post on Reddit this year reported the death of a McDonald’s executive in compromising circumstances. Although the company was quick to act – and confirmed the executive didn’t actually exist – it still impacted the company’s stock value by around $2billion.

Although both organisations recovered from these attacks, it still demonstrates just how quickly a lie can cause real damage.

 

Fake offers

Internet trolls created a fake promotion for coffee giant Starbucks in 2017. Claiming that undocumented immigrants in the United States could receive a 40% discount code, the perpetrators seemed to be targeting the company for it’s views on Donald Trump’s travel ban. Although the organisation stepped in, and confirmed the deal did not exist, the consequences could have severely disrupted branches at a local level.

For example, staff could have been overwhelmed by the number of individuals seeking to claim discounted drinks while law enforcement might have used the opportunity to shut down locations to detain illegal immigrants.

From the customer point of view, the additional demand could have caused excessive queuing times and infuriated those seeking their usual orders. In turn, this would have likely resulted in customer complaints – further delaying individuals from completing their purchases.

Therefore, it is fortunate that Starbucks had the wisdom to monitor this potential threat and quickly resolve it.

Magnifying glass showing fake in news

Fake job adverts

Fake job adverts are unfortunately something which has plagued the recruitment industry for years. Although arguably unethical, these are used by some employers as a means to collect CVs, assess the job market, or collect email addresses.

While this is very disappointing for the candidate, a new version of the scam appeared in Shoreham which adversely affected firms in the region.

Career portal Indeed uses an app called ‘Job Spotter‘. This allows individuals to take photos of vacancies and send them to the company in exchange for gift cards. Attempting to game the system, malicious individuals were using fake job vacancy signs to claim rewards. However, this left business owners with the fallout of having to deal with phone calls from those seeking work. As well as having to deal with disgruntled job seekers, this consumed valuable time which business owners could have used elsewhere.

Can you spot fake news?

One of the examples detailed here is actually fake news but it can be easily disproved with a quick investigation. If you want to make a guess as to which one it could be, stop reading now and review the information above before continuing.

The fake news example was actually the McDonald’s case which never happened – although it is very similar to a false claim in 2009 that the CEO of AT&T died in his mansion following a cocaine overdose.

Sadly, we are living in the ‘post-truth’ era and now information we receive must be carefully self-vetted before taken as fact. Knee-jerk reactions, such as selling stock, should also be discouraged until more information is available. To spot fake news, you may wish to:

  • Consider where you get your news from. Focus on trustworthy mainstream websites such as the BBC
  • Search for sources and double check. Websites which link to original sources are generally more trustworthy than those which don’t. Furthermore, when it’s been covered once, search for the same story on another trustworthy website.
  • Investigate if the news has a purpose. For example, if a right-wing blog writes a news story about a left-leaning politician, it’s often in that organisation’s agenda to smear that individual.
  • Never just read the headline. Instead, read the whole article to understand what is happening.
  • Double check data sources. For example, if the survey or research being quoted is from a questionable company with an agenda, it probably can’t be trusted.

 

How to protect your business from fake news

If your business is targeted by fake news, regardless of what strategies you implement, you might still permanently lose some customers. If an individual adamantly believes something, little can dislodge that opinion. For example, we need only look at the anti-vaccination movement or climate change deniers to recognise just how fruitless it is trying to change their beliefs. Despite multiple studies to the contrary, their views stay the same.

Potentially, if targeted by fake news, your customer base might also struggle to regain trust in your brand. Fortunately, there are several ways you can combat false information:

  • Plan for every conceivable situation. Planning for a fake news attack is similar to preparing for a media disaster. Prepare for every conceivable situation, draft responses, and appoint someone media-trained as a spokesperson. Furthermore, it can’t hurt to run occasional ‘fake news drills’. If resources don’t permit this, just thinking about what to do in the event of a fake news attack and creating a basic plan is better than doing nothing.
  • Ensure your security is up-to-scratch. Fake news can be easily spread through official channels if these become compromised – similar to how AP’s Twitter account was used to spread false news of a White House explosion. Therefore, ensure your official channels and websites are as secure as possible.
  • Foster a culture of trust. Tackling fake news is easier if you remember the story of ‘the boy who cried wolf’. If you foster a culture of honesty and readability, you’ll be a better position to convince others that the fake news is false. In contrast, if you routinely engage in fake news yourself – such as embellishing offers – it will be much harder to convince customers you’re telling the truth.
  • Monitor mentions of your company. When tackling fake news, every minute counts. Therefore, it’s wise to monitor mentions of your company to determine who is talking about your firm. We would recommend Talkwalker for this.
  • Carefully deconstruct the lies. Instead of denying the allegations, explain why the information is false in a calm authoritative manner. This approach, instead of angrily crying ‘fake news’ is a far better way to resolve the situation.
  • Monitor for additional mentions of the fake news. It often takes far more than 24 hours to combat fake news. It’s a long battle and the rumours may still circulate months after the event. Therefore, identify organisations which have published the lie and request they publish a retraction.
  • Seek legal advice. In the event the fake news causes deliberate or negligent damage, you might be within your rights to take legal action. Consequently, legal advice should be sought as soon as possible.

 

Fake news can be damaging to a business but it doesn’t have to be. To speak to our specialist team regarding recovering from a fake news attack, or to discuss protecting your company against malicious interference, get in touch through the contact form or call 0161 956 8963.

Why is nobody interested in your company news?

Man wearing tie confused at his computer

If you’re wondering why no-one wants to read your company news, it’s probably down to at least one of the eight reasons below: 

You think you’ve got an absolutely brilliant story but barely anyone wants to cover it. It’s frustrating to say the least…

Part of my job is to convince journalists to cover a particular story. As a former journalist myself, and drawing on my marketing experiences, I can usually identify how likely a particular topic is to succeed.

If you’re wondering why your news just isn’t getting the attention you think it deserves, take a look at the reasons below and see how many you’ve fallen foul of.

Your news isn’t actually newsworthy

There is a world of difference between internal and external company news. While the appointment of a new director or opening of a new office is definitely interesting internally, it’s generally a hard sell outside of your corporation.

It’s always worth examining your news and asking the question ‘will anyone genuinely care about this?’ If the answer is no, then it’s not the end of the world. Most stories can be turned into something interesting with a few tweaks.

For example, while local news publications probably won’t care about the appointment of a new company director, they might if that person has pledged to bring multiple jobs to the region.

Just remember to be selective with your company news. If you repeatedly send stories which are worthless, you’ll find it harder to get a journalist’s attention when you have something good to report later.

Who is interested in your message?

When notifying publications about company news, it’s important to determine if their readership would be interested in the message. Too many companies gauge success on whether or not  they can appear on national press, such as the Guardian or Daily Mail. Although this is an achievement in itself, it might be more beneficial to target readers in relevant trade publications.

If they focus on very particular forms of media, it’s worth concentrating your efforts around these instead of adopting a blanket coverage approach.

Man in suit giving speech to people with microphones

You haven’t selected a spokesperson

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an effective quote is worth double that. Quotes are the lifeblood of stories. So much so, you will struggle to find a single item of news which doesn’t have at least some interview aspect.

Consequently, when promoting company news, you will need a spokesperson – ideally media trained – to add weight to the article. They should be knowledgeable about the topic and their quotes should add significant value to whatever you’re trying to accomplish.

You’re not treating journalists like people

It’s easy, when pitching stories, to view journalists as something similar to a gatekeeper. Instead, it’s important to remember that these professionals are people too. Try doing an 8 – 5 office job and receiving about 300 to 400 messages a day from people trying to get your attention.

Given how stressful that is, it’s perhaps no surprise that you don’t get a response straight away – or even at all. Consequently, even if your pitch gets noticed, you probably have about five seconds to get that person’s attention.

Therefore, a carefully-constructed press release is absolutely essential.

Your press release isn’t effective at all

Presenting a journalist with reams of poorly-digestible information is a recipe for disaster and will ensure your press release gets sent straight to the bin. Instead, make sure your first sentence is concise and provides that journalist with enough information as to why your story is newsworthy.

If you need more than one sentence to make your point, consider using bullet points before going into more detail later. If your ‘hook’ can be explained in a matter of seconds, your press release stands a much higher chance of being published.

Red clock on a bench with leaves fluttering around it

Your timing is dreadful

At the time of writing this blog post, it’s Mental Illness Awareness Week. Although an excellent cause, the start of the event is a terrible time to pitch mental health-related stories. This is for a few reasons:

  • You will be competing with multiple PR agencies and companies to get their news about mental health published.
  • If journalists choose to cover the event, they’ll have decided what stories they are publishing prior to this.
  • The inboxes of journalists are full to the brim with press releases discussing mental health. There are only so many column inches a publication can devote to the subject.

As a result, if you’ve missed the deadline for an awareness week, consider waiting a couple of weeks. You’ll probably have a higher chance of success.

While this applies to occasions, it is also affected by the news cycle. There is a reason why some politicians choose to bury bad news when news outlets are focused on a larger scandal…

The news doesn’t do anything for that publication

Much like yourself, journalists care about results. When publishing news, they are often thinking about such metrics as social shares and click-through rates. Consequently, if they can’t see how your company news helps them achieve this, it’s unlikely to get featured.

Consider providing additional resources as well as your news. For example, stats which are easily tweetable, an accompanying video, or interactive infographic breaking down data into  easily digestible chunks.

Although we want journalists to help us, it’s important to think about what we can do to help them as well.

You’re relying on the content for news purposes

When company news doesn’t get published, many organisations will just abandon their efforts and put the experience down to bad luck. However, it’s important to have a backup plan should this occur…and probably another backup plan after that.

For example, any stats you’ve used can be referenced in guest posts, your spokesperson can provide insight on related topics in the future, and the news can be converted into a different format and used elsewhere.

Even if your news doesn’t get picked up, there are always interesting opportunities for additional coverage.

When was the last time you were honest with your customers?

Years ago, while I was working for a different company, my boss burst into the office. He’s delighted, he’s secured a lucrative contract and it’s going to be very good for the firm. “There’s just one problem”, he states, “I told them you all speak fluent Spanish, so you all have two weeks to learn the lingo”.

It was this moment which made me realise I needed a new employer.

A heated conversation followed where I informed my boss I would not be learning an entirely new language in that time frame. I was subsequently taken off the project and got to watch from the sidelines when the client realised they had been lied to.

This is an extreme example but one which is unfortunately common throughout many marketing firms. Whether maliciously or not, lying is used by some organisations to stretch results or influence customers. Although you might not have claimed your team speaks Spanish, chances are,  you’re probably guilty of stretching the truth.

Let’s talk about honesty

Public trust in advertising and media is extremely low. One poll, published by Ipsos MORI in 2017, demonstrated that more than 40% of Britons didn’t trust brands while almost 60% didn’t trust the word of a company until they had seen ‘real world proof’ of the firm keeping their promises.

Although it’s easy to blame the rise of Donald Trump and ‘fake news’ for this, traditional marketing has always had a complicated relationship with the truth. Whether a company promising free delivery – and then adding ‘on your first order’ in small letters – or using questionable research, lies have been part of the industry for decades.

This is at odds with what customers want, – they actually prefer transparency. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) even went so far as to claim that “authenticity” was important to more than 85% of customers when deciding which brands to support.

“Honesty is the best policy” – Benjamin Franklin

Being honest with customers is the best way to win them over. This sounds obvious but it’s a lesson which seasoned professionals still have trouble learning. This could be because the way advertisers communicated with consumers was previously through a one-way conversation – with the customer passively absorbing the information being disseminated to them.

However, with social media now fully established in our day-to-day lives – and an essential communication channel for thousands of people – this message is frequently questioned and critiqued. Individuals can also interact with other customers to gauge the company’s reputation and look up reviews.

As a result, consumers have more power than ever – and misleading them can have dire consequences.  Sincerity must now be at the heart of everything you do. From putting forward realistic messages to the hardest thing many organisations will have to do – taking responsibility for mistakes.

Instead of the ‘death sentence’ many PR professionals believe it to be, owning up to an error can be a great thing. Just ask Domino’s.

Almost a decade ago, the organisation was in trouble. Sales were plummeting and customers described the organisation’s products as tasting similar to cardboard. Executives did the unexpected and agreed. They then launched a huge advertising campaign to give customers a say on what the company should do – from the organisation’s deals to their recipes.

Putting the consumer at the heart of the company paid off and, since then, Domino’s has enjoyed impressive growth while their stock price has increased from $2.61 in 2008 to $172.62 in 2016.

Watch out for dishonest marketers

At CandidSky, we pride ourselves on being honest with our customers. In fact, we’ve had to help clients who’ve suffered after being promised unrealistic results by other agencies. If you want to see how we can help you, get in touch with us today. Our teams will be more than happy to help.

Just please don’t ask me to learn Spanish in two weeks, I don’t think it can be done…

What Darth Vader can teach us about gated content

Want to increase sign ups? See an increase in your subscriptions? Generate extra income? You should consider implementing a content gate.

Gated content is probably most recognisable in the media. For example, if an online newspaper grants only a certain number of free articles or gives a partial read before requiring a subscription, they are employing a content gate.

Broadly speaking, however, anything which restricts access to content in some way can be classified as a gate. Get this tactic right, and these can be an effective way to gather additional income, subscriptions, or contact details.

Get it wrong and your customers will feel alienated and be put-off by the restricted access.

If you’re thinking about enhancing your content efforts with a gate, then there are a variety of considerations to bear in mind. Yet, the most important one is the following:

Understand your audience

Now, let’s discuss this in practice using one of the most recognisable fictional characters in history – Darth Vader.

The dark side of content gates

Full disclosure – I’m a huge science fiction geek and one of my favourite franchises is Star Wars. Although I never got to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an X-Wing pilot, video games offered me – and the legions of fans – an opportunity to take down the Empire.

When EA (Electronic Arts) announced the video game Star Wars Battlefront 2, fans were delighted. Especially because the gameplay looked incredible. However, it soon emerged that all was not what it seemed. In the words of a popular character turned internet meme:

The game was launching with a controversial gate system where, to unlock Darth Vader as a playable character, a purchaser would need to play the game for around 40 hours. Alternatively, they could pay real money to speed up the process. Then, repeat for more ‘hero characters’ such as Luke Skywalker.

To many of the game’s customers, this was a mistake as it failed to fulfil their expectations of what the product should represent. When implementing a content gate, the restriction must be fair. Putting arguably one of the most iconic parts of Star Wars behind a gate was not something the customers expected and, consequently, they reacted angrily to the news.

The news created so much controversy that an EA representative took to Reddit to explain the company’s motivations stating the long unlock times were to provide ‘a sense of accomplishment’.

The fans did not accept this reasoning, generally feeling the ‘sense of accomplishment’ was rendered void by being able to speed up the process with real money. As a result, that comment is the most downvoted in Reddit history.

You don’t know the power…of your customer base

Usually, outrage has limited consequences – especially online. However, this then started to translate into the real world when thousands of fans started cancelling their pre-orders for the game. In response, EA attempted to soften the blow by cutting the cost of hero characters by 75%.

Once the game launched, it was not nearly as successful as it could have been. Almost two weeks after the game’s release, EA’s stock value had decreased by around $3billion. Walt Disney, which owns the Star Wars brand, even weighed in on the disaster with executives concerned how this “reflected on their marquee property”.

 

Star Wars symbol of the Rebel Alliance

Rebellions are built on hope

Nearly four months after the game was released, EA relented. The payment system for Darth Vader and the other hero characters was scrapped and customers would now only be able to pay real money for cosmetic items.

What can we learn from this?

Regardless of how big your company is, you can never afford to alienate your customer base. EA implemented a content gate so unpopular that it adversely affected their stock and arguably almost cost them a corporate partnership. It didn’t even make sense as executives didn’t consider the game’s primary audience:

  • Star Wars fans are not a group of kids or teenagers. In fact, the average fan is actually a 34-year-old male. An adult in his thirties likely has commitments, kids, a job, family. Regardless, they probably don’t have 40 hours to spend on a video game.
  • Although the stereotype of a gamer is a teenager sitting in a basement, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The average age is actually 35 and they can be either male or female. Consequently, they also have commitments and dont have the time to spend unlocking characters.  

Therefore, understanding your audience is vitally important to determining if a content gate is going to work. As well as this, you should adhere to the following:

Is the content available elsewhere?

In media, content gates work effectively  when dealing with niche industries. For example, due to its reliable business-focused coverage, the Financial Times exceeded 900,000 paying subscribers in 2017. Yet, this system collapses if big news occurs because the information is available from a variety of free competitors.

While EA implemented their content gate probably feeling only they have access to the Star Wars brand, there are a variety of competitor video games which offered similar experiences – just in a different setting.

If an alternative is available, either or free or for a fairer price, your customer base will likely go elsewhere instead of subscribing to the content gate. Therefore, when implementing this strategy, ensure your gate is offering something exclusive.

Would I be tempted by this?

When deciding whether to implement a content gate, decisions must be made as to its fairness. I advise putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience (again, this requires a good understanding of your customer base) and determining if you would be convinced.

EA’s example is a relatable one because our time is precious. 40 hours is an entire working week. Would you be willing to spend that amount of time unlocking something and then repeating it? Chances are, EA’s executives wouldn’t. Alternatively, would you pay money to get something you were probably expecting for free?

Simply put, if your gate doesn’t even tempt you to convert, chances are it won’t be successful.

Is my content worthy of a gate?

Content gates only work if what you’re producing is the best. It’s time to be honest with yourself and decide if what you’ve put together is worthy of exclusivity. For example, arguably due to their excellent Donald Trump-related coverage, gated publication The New York Times saw their number of digital-only subscribers increase by 25% YoY (Year-on-Year) during the first quarter of 2018.

If you’re regularly producing the best, a content gate is easier to swallow. Otherwise, your consumers will go somewhere else – probably a competitor which offers it for free.

What value is my gate providing?

A content gate must always provide an incentive. EA failed because they were restricting access to something which customers thought they would get for free. Therefore, it is  generally advisable to use a partially gated system so subscribers can have the first part of the piece. A content gate provides extra, surplus value.

What am I using my content gate for?

In EA’s case, the organisation used a content gate to generate income. Although this backfired, content gates can be used for a variety of different purposes. For example, they can be used to generate subscriptions, capture an email address, or notify users about similar content.

Not all content gates have to be financial. For more information on this, I’d recommend reading Scott’s blog post regarding giving content away for nothing.

Come to the light side

You might be interested to know I was planning on purchasing Star Wars Battlefront 2 on release until the content gate was announced. I believed the restriction was unfair and spent my money somewhere else.

Instead, I recently purchased it in a sale for £15. This is much cheaper than the £50 I would have happily paid for it months ago. Therefore, this should bring hope if your content gate has the opposite effect and drives readers away. Listen to your customers, repair the damage, perhaps offer an enticement to come back (such as the cheaper price) and your audience might return.

A content gate, if implemented well, can be an effective tool to boost a variety of different metrics. If you’re interested in learning more about these, get in touch with with the content team at CandidSky today. We have experience in implementing these and we’d be happy to help.

Why you should be using video to attract and retain customers

Video views have surged in the past few years, which is largely due to the advances of smartphones, social media and improved connectivity speeds. However, it is only recently that businesses have capitalised on the emerging opportunity, with 65% of businesses who aren’t currently using video planning to do so in 2018.

But why should businesses invest in video production?

Despite what you may think, it’s not just cat videos that gain high engagement on the internet.

Ask yourself, would you be more likely to buy a product if you are delivered a long blurb about how great a product is or if you had watched an informative video? If you would rather watch a video, you are probably in the 74% of people who have bought a product after watching a high-quality explainer video. In addition, if you are able to create a video which is engaging, informative and relevant to your audience, you are placing yourself as a thought-leader which increases trust and the likelihood of a user converting on your website.

On the other hand, if you are not currently seen as a thought leader in your industry, a great way of gaining exposure is to collaborate with publications and influencers in the industry. Doing this will help increase the audience reach, add unique insights and improve the perceived quality of your video content.

23andMe partnered with Buzzfeed to showcase their product through video

Another benefit of creating videos for your business is the ability to use them across your marketing. For example, you could place an explainer video on your product page, while also using it to attract engagements on social media and improve click-throughs for your email campaigns. A recent study from Hubspot found emails that include videos experience 200-300% increases in click-through rate compared with those that don’t. So by ignoring video, you’re potentially losing a considerable number of customers.

If you want to successfully deliver your message and ensure it sticks in the memory of your audience, you may need to incorporate video in your content strategy. As our brains evolve in this ever changing digital landscape, only 10% of information is retained from text, whereas studies have found that 95% of a message is retained through video. Therefore if you want to improve your awareness, there is probably no better way than creating branded videos.

“I have created a promotional video but it isn’t receiving any views”

Many businesses create outstanding videos but fail to get them viewed by their target audience. This is why it is imperative to have a clear purpose for the video prior to creating it, with measurable goals and a strategy in place to achieve them.

If you are creating a video for promotional purposes, we would recommend hosting it on YouTube, which is the site with the second highest traffic in the world after Google. Not only does this provide an opportunity to reach your audience through the platform, it also provides an opportunity to gain visibility through Google in a video carousel, which has started to appear more since an update in June.

Google SEO video carousel

Improving your search visibility through video will result in a higher possibility of reaching people who are researching for products or services, and allow you to educate a user on why they require your product or service. Plus, once your video is live on YouTube, it is easy to use the video as part of your overall marketing strategy, reaching as relevant a target audience as possible.

In addition, high-quality videos are a great way to engage your existing customers and we would highly recommend publishing videos across your social channels multiple times to reach and engage with as many existing customers as possible. This may result in increased repeat purchase and increased confidence in your brand.

What does the future look like for video?

There are huge opportunities for businesses to capitalise on in an ever-changing digital landscape, not least with Facebook launching 360 degree video functionalities last year, and the growth of Instagram stories and IGTV.

A 360 degree test video in the CandidSky offices

We are also able to create videos which are more creative than ever with tech such as drones and easy to use video editing software. As a result, there is no longer space in the market for poor qulality videos and consumers demands are expected to increase further in the next few years. A recent study showed that 61% of users were put off buying a product due to a poor quality explainer video, which shows the power that video has on a users journey in 2018.    

In addition, there are huge opportunities emerging from advances in AR (augmented reality) technologies, which we expect to have an impact on how we interact with customers in the future, and will undoubtedly have an impact on what customers expect from your business.

Finally, we have witnessed the attention span of users decrease in recent years and millenials are demanding video content that grabs their attention in the first 5 second of a video. As such, when creating a video, we need to ensure it has a powerful message which is delivered in an engaging manner – quickly. This is why we recommend concentrating on quality over quantity when it comes to all content created for business purposes, otherwise, you could be setting yourself up to fail.

How to get started

Video should be a small piece of your overall marketing strategy and should align with your business’ goals and objectives. If you are new to video production, we strongly recommend speaking to an expert, such as CandidSky, to ensure you deliver your message effectively, make sure it aligns with your wider marketing strategy and reflects your brand voice.

Example of some short animations CandidSky created as part of a content marketing strategy for Peninsula.

 

The “Brand purpose” bandwagon – what is it, and should your business jump on it?


As businesses strive to engage with customers in more meaningful and impactful ways, the past few years have seen an increase in brands focusing on “brand purpose.” As an area of marketing strategy designed to grow a brand, its aim is usually to appeal to an audience who believe a company should stand for more than just its products or services.

What is brand purpose?

In simple terms, brand purpose, or “purpose-driven marketing”, is a way for a business to form a relationship with a target audience based on their shared needs and interests – including supporting a worthy cause.

This is not as simple as brands getting behind a cause they think their audience are interested in, but demonstrating how the company’s values and beliefs are also aligned with those causes.

Successful examples of this could be anything from flat-pack giant IKEA’s commitment to more sustainable product packaging by 2020, to outdoor clothing brand Patagonia donating 1% of sales revenue to the preservation and restoration of natural environments.

Why would a brand adopt a purpose?

So why would brands go down this route? Is the the pool of passive consumers dwindling? Can greater brand loyalty be achieved through aligning marketing messages with a particular set of values? What are the benefits for brands focusing on promoting brand purpose as part of their marketing strategy, you might ask?

One key benefit is to grow the brand’s reach to a new audience who may not have heard of, or wanted to buy from, that particular brand previously. If a brand is strongly supporting a cause the consumer also feels passionately about, there is potential to build a strong relationship with that audience.

When is adopting a brand purpose the right strategy?

Brand purpose initiatives have the potential to tap into new audiences, increase brand loyalty and increase customer retention amongst existing audiences.

So how can you tell if launching a brand purpose initiative is the right way for your business to go – and if the timing is right?

Here is what you need to ask yourself:

  1. What objectives does this marketing strategy need to achieve based on your market offering and target audience?
  2. How does the strategy coherently direct your resource in order to achieve these objectives?
  3. What are the tactics needed to successfully execute this?

Many businesses have successfully identified and implemented the above three steps. For example, The Body Shop’s brand purpose was to commit to ‘enriching its people, products and the planet’.

They did so by setting clear, measurable objectives:

  1. Help 40,000 economically vulnerable people access work around the world.
  2. Ensure 100 percent of their natural ingredients are traceable and sustainably sourced, protecting 10,000 hectares of forest and other habitat.
  3. Build bio-bridges, protecting and regenerating 75 million square meters of habitat helping communities to live more sustainably.

What success looks like

In the case of The Body Shop, they don’t commit to achieving too many objectives, but the ones they have are clearly aligned to their customers’ perception of the company and products.

The Body Shop communicates this to its supporters on a daily basis, pushing messages out via mobile and updating till points with the latest fundraising targets. As head of global campaigns at The Body Shop, Jessie Macneil-Brown, says, their brand purpose efforts make it “clear and quantifiable to consumers how each campaign is driving social change.”

However, as with most marketing strategy, the end goal is typically focused on growing revenue -it’s why more and more brands are exploring this avenue of marketing strategy. For The Body Shop, the return to the company’s activist roots was (at least partially) commercially motivated, coming off the back of a slump in sales. And the key to brand purpose success is to ensure the alignment with a cause doesn’t come off as a blatant money-grabbing exercise.

Unfortunately, for every brand purpose marketing campaign that gets this part right, there have been many that don’t hit the mark…

When brand purpose goes bad

Many recent brand purpose initiatives to make the news have proven that even the biggest companies can get it wrong when the tactics aren’t aligned to a strategy, and the strategy isn’t aligned to relevant business objectives. In fact, many failed brand purpose strategies have opened businesses up to harassment, ridicule, and negative publicity.

Notable recent failures include Pepsi trying to solve global disharmony, Starbucks aiming to remove racial tension, Heineken hoping to break down the barriers between transgender people and their critics, or most recently, cosmetic brand Lush targeting the police and shaming them for their infiltration of activists between 1968 and 2008.

As prominent marketer Mark Ritson suggests “Consumers do not want brands to be evil, but they also do not want them to posture about purpose. People are not morons, they can smell the hypocrisy of taking up a purpose while ultimately pushing it for commercial benefit”.

And as European marketing director at Patagonia Alex Weller recently said:

You can’t reverse into a mission and values through marketing. The organisations that are struggling with this are probably the ones that are thinking about marketing first. The role of marketing is to authentically elevate that mission and purpose and engage people in it, but the purpose needs to be the business.

Therefore if customer retention, audience growth, brand loyalty, and revenue growth are your business objectives, there are many other strategies to achieve this, in the event brand purpose isn’t a clear avenue to pursue at this stage.

Tapping into new audiences via an improved keyword strategy, building customer retention through engaging content or growing revenue from your existing audience through conversion rate optimisation are all areas the team at CandidSky excel in, so why not get in touch today and see how we can help you maximise your marketing strategy.

When should you give away content for nothing – explained with lobster

content marketing bitesize
Let’s say you’ve invested a tonne of time and money into creating a piece of content – a white paper, interactive video, or detailed market research, for example. And it’s something really special. It’s taken months of blood, sweat, and tears. But it was all worth it, because it’s turned out even better than you thought.

There’s just one problem. It’s a little too good. In fact, it’s the lobster thermidor aux crevettes of content. And despite the significant time investment that’s gone into cooking it up, half of your team wants to give it away for nothing – something about using it to help build your audience. The other half want to recoup some of the cost and are arguing that it’s too valuable to give away.

Who is right? Should you ever give away great content – or lobster – for nothing?

If content is lobster, you are the restaurant

Ok, we’ve established that – for the purposes of this exercise – your content is delicious lobster. That means your business is the restaurant that serves it.

Now, imagine your restaurant is on a busy street full of other restaurants. Most of them are fairly new, but a handful are well established. They’re all serving lobster. Some of it is better than yours, some of it is worse.

A couple passes by looking for somewhere to eat. They must now decide whether to:

  • Go to a well-known restaurant they’ve eaten at before
  • Try a place they’ve heard is good but haven’t eaten at
  • Try somewhere new

The brand new restaurants on the street are offering free bitesize samples of their lobster. The slightly more established ones are offering dinner specials on their lobster tacos. The well-established places are charging top dollar for their renowned lobster thermidor aux crevettes with Mornay sauce.

What can you do to compete?

Put simply, you can’t afford to be that brand new restaurant trying to charge a fortune for lobster thermidor. And you can’t afford to be that new publisher on the block trying to charge for content.

It may have taken you months to perfect the recipe for your content. You may have the freshest-caught content. It may have been cooked up by the most talented writer.
But the passing couple (your potential web audience) don’t know that. So none of it matters.

From their perspective, you’re just one of many voices vying for their attention. They’ve probably never heard of you before. You haven’t given them chance to taste what you’re offering. You haven’t built a relationship of trust by providing consistently exquisite content.

In short, they’re not going pay for content when they have no idea what it tastes like – regardless of how good you think it is. And if the analogy isn’t clear, that crowded street full of restaurants is the internet. Or Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google – whichever you prefer. There is a lot of content already on offer from established publishers, and new ones are popping up all the time.

So what’s the best course of action? Should you join the others on the street and give away free morsels of content?

content marketing bitesize

Be original. Innovate. And give people a taste of what they really want.

If your plan is to stand out on the street giving away bitesize content, you’re already late to the banquet; you’re going to struggle for attention if you copy what everyone else is doing with their content.

And here’s the secret – those samples the other places are giving away are mostly garbage. They’re the recycled blog posts nobody ever reads – like “How to fix a bicycle” or “7 diets that really work.” It’s been done to death. It’s nothing exciting or tasty. And it smells like ten day-old-fish.

The content you’ve produced – the lobster thermidor aux crevette of content – is so much better than that. But you can’t afford to give it away for nothing. What you need is a way to ensure people taste just how delicious your content is compared to the competition’s – without them devouring the whole dish.

So you take your mouth-watering lobster, chop off the claws, deep fry them, and serve them in mini bitesize tacos. Yep, deep-fried lobster claw aux crevette on mini tacos. People have never seen anything so deliciously inventive. And they go for it straight away.

In this case, let’s say that content (or lobster) is an interactive 360 video. Your bitesize tasters are short one-minute long video snippets that you’ve posted to LinkedIn. It tastes just as good as the original long-form thermidor aux crevette video, but it’s just the claw – enough for people to get a taste for how good your content is, without you having to give the whole dish away. It tastes far better than the fishy old content the competition is flogging on the street – because you got the recipe right at the start. And in this analogy, that amazing recipe is your content strategy.

“For free” and “for nothing” are not the same thing

Spending time getting your strategy right meant your bitesize version was always going to taste good. It meant adding a dash of a well-known tactics (giving away bitesize content) was all it took to beat the new restaurants on the block. That’s because the garbage your competitors were pedalling didn’t have the robust flavour your content had. They jumped straight to the tactic – standing on the street yelling about their free content tasters – and never bothered to wonder whether anyone would like what they were serving.

If your content tacos are good enough, you don’t have to give them away for nothing. You can ask for something in return – like customers’ email addresses. And that’s the critical point to understand – when you get something in return from your audience, you haven’t given away your content for nothing. Admittedly, you can’t bank an email address. But you can use it to build a relationship. And that relationship could well turn into something you can bank.

As it turns out, that mini taco video tasted so good, people can’t get the taste out of their minds. Perhaps your mini taco video was a cut-down 360 feature video, like this example from the New York Times:

A handful of the New York Times’ 360 teaser videos are free on Youtube, but to enjoy the full immersive VR news experience, you need to download the app – and that requires an email address.

Now, people are hooked. They want the real thing – they want the lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and a fried egg on top. That’s the perfect time to email your audience about the main course.

In the case of the New York Times, that means encouraging app users to upgrade to a paid subscription.

We’re not the New York Times. When should we charge for content?

The point at which content becomes worth an email address, or money, differs wildly between industries. However, the one key question that never changes is – “Is this particular content actually worth money, or at least an email address?” And that’s what the New York Times has asked in this case. They brought people in off the street with high quality samples. They then provided content that’s worth supplying contact details for. And only when the appetite was ravenous did they serve up their thermidor aux crevettes – premium content that’s only accessible to paid subscribers.

It may be that your content itself is never worth actual currency. If you’re a plumber, you’ll probably never be able to charge for DIY plumbing videos. But if your audience finds them valuable enough, you could easily supply them in exchange for contact details. And you can use those contact details to push your paid services. The model is exactly the same, all that has changed is the point at which your content becomes valuable enough to get something in exchange.

So ask yourself this question whenever you create content: “Is this particular content actually worth money, or at least an email address?” It’s the secret to running the lobster restaurant everyone wants to eat at.

For all other questions about content, call 0161 826 5835. We’d love to help!

How you can gain coverage on the BBC

Gaining television coverage can be an excellent opportunity for your business. As well as the prestige associated with some channels, you’re almost guaranteed to reach large numbers of people. Together with the ever-increasing popularity of catch-up services, you’re no longer limited to just reaching a select group of individuals at a certain time.

Of all the channels out there, one of the most well known and prestigious is the BBC. A staple part of British culture, endorsements from the firm carry significant weight. Getting featured is certainly very challenging but is possible – and shouldn’t cost you a penny.

Help a reporter out

To say journalism is a difficult profession is a bit of an understatement. Although reporters do an important job, it’s common for these experts to work long hours in stressful situations to acquire that all-important story.

Therefore, whatever support you can lend to journalists is always appreciated.

Whenever reporters request help, they typically use a variety of tools. One of these is HARO (Help a reporter out). A subscription service, this sends regular email updates from journalists looking for sources. If you fulfil their requirements, this can be a good way to gain coverage.

However, you can also use the #journorequest hashtag on Twitter. A similar service, reporters will use the social network to ask sources for assistance.

Whichever service you choose – or both – we recommend checking them every day as journalists typically have extremely tight deadlines. If a reporter’s request is more than a day old, the opportunity will have likely passed.

How we got featured on the BBC

We’ve used the journorequest method to gain some great publicity in the past. Recently though, we noticed a reporter from the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC 2 enquiring about Eurovision parties:

At the time, CandidSky was preparing a Eurovision-related food party in the office. Employees who opted-in were allocated a random country taking part in the contest and had to bring a dish associated with that location.

As this ticked the requirements, we contacted Anna. Following several chats with BBC researchers, we were booked on the programme.

The next day, the interview took place. Our employees, as well as our creations, were included on the BBC.

Gaining coverage through groups such as the BBC is not a question of what your organisation does but is more related to how you can help out journalists. In this particular situation, we happened to demonstrate our collective enjoyment of Eurovision and highlighted how good a workplace CandidSky is.

What are the benefits?

Appearing on television – and on such a respected programme – translated to an increase in brand awareness and traffic spikes on the website. Our Google Trends data showed a clear hike in search interest around the time of broadcast with a 733% increase.

Although PR agencies will often charge significant prices for getting their clients featured on television, the journorequest method is usually free – and will achieve largely the same results.

Next Steps:

If you’d like to discuss how you can increase your brand awareness, give us a call.

And don’t forget to check out our other blog posts to grow your digital marketing knowledge.

 

What you should know about SEO content

Screenshot of a Wordpress page

Screenshot of a WordPress page

Content creation has been an important part of many businesses ever since Bill Gates uttered his famous quote, “Content is king” back in 1996. Regardless of how you feel about this statement, articles and blogs soon became common features in a variety of industries. It also gave birth to the term ‘SEO content’.

These days, SEO content frequently carries an unfair reputation because of the way it was employed by unscrupulous agencies. These articles were often stuffed full of keywords, written very poorly, and provided little customer value. Fortunately, times have changed.

SEO content is still vitally important for search engines but must be of an extremely high quality to succeed. Consequently, before you get started on optimising your website through content, there are several points to bear in mind.  

Let’s talk about keywords

In 2018 – there are still organisations which believe SEO content must contain numerous keywords to rank in search engines. Whether making the text the same colour as the background or merely writing phrases such as ‘cheap used cars’ 500 times, this strategy can actually damage your website.

How many SEO keywords should I use?

Unfortunately, there is no correct answer to this question. Instead, focus on using keywords naturally and – where appropriate – in important areas, such as headings. As for the text body, refrain from any keyword usage which would be considered spammy or detrimental to overall quality.   

Keywords should be related

Years ago, it was believed you could rank highly by writing your chosen keyword repeatedly. Search engines have become much smarter and will now also focus on topics related to the phrase. For example, if a business was selling used cars, but didn’t mention any vehicle brands, that would be unusual.

When creating SEO content, structure pieces around what the audience could be searching for. Making a domain relevant for a topic is far more beneficial than creating a series of articles targeting the same keyword.

Are you doing your keyword research?

Merely guessing what your audience searches for will only get you so far when it comes to SEO content. Therefore, keyword research should be conducted to gain a proper understanding of what your customers are interested in.

There are several ways to do this. However, a couple of free options which might be useful are Ubersuggest and Answer the Public. Even the slightest bit of keyword research will dramatically help your SEO content.

Have you implemented a strategy?

Once keyword research is complete, you might be tempted to jump into producing content straight away. However, this must always have a purpose. As well as improving visibility, you might want to increase brand awareness or drive conversions. Once decided, this should be clearly communicated to everyone involved in the content creation process.

Despite this, a survey published in 2016 by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that just 40% of B2C marketers had a documented content marketing plan. This figure was even lower at 37% for B2B marketers. Consequently, this suggests around 60% of these businesses are creating content with no clear strategy in mind.

If you don’t have a content strategy in mind, SEO content is just being created with no purpose. This makes measurement extremely difficult.

How do I evaluate success?

Relevant measurements should be implemented in line with a content strategy. For example, if the aim of SEO content is to improve visibility for a specific set of terms, then evaluating this using Google Search Console could help evaluate success.  

Once determined, other elements could be implemented to further gauge success. For example, this could include optimising meta data or improving site speed. For more information on these, consult our blog on the matter.  

How much content should I produce?

This goes back to the common adage ‘quality not quantity’. The general consensus is that quality is best due to the vast amounts of content added to the internet every day. After all, there are 656 million tweets posted daily. Yours must be truly special to stand out from the crowd.

However, instead of creating outstanding pieces which take hours to produce, we’d recommend looking at your target audience and determining how much content they need. In some cases, they might be interested in shorter pieces with digestible information.

To create truly effective SEO content, it must resonate with your audience. Understanding them, and their needs, will tell you how much to produce.

Is your team able to produce SEO content?

In 2016, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a study which ranked England lowest in the developed world for literacy levels. Furthermore, it has been estimated that around 5.1 million adults in the country would not pass an English GCSE exam.

Although everyone makes spelling and grammar mistakes, if your content team routinely makes these errors, it might be worth outsourcing content to a professional. Alternatively, extra funds should be allocated to train these individuals up to a good standard.

SEO content must be of a high quality to resonate with your audience and be successful. Otherwise, this can directly impact the bottom line. One entrepreneur even claimed that a single spelling mistake can halve a website’s online revenue.

This is almost certainly an extreme case. However, it demonstrates just how important grammar and spelling is when creating SEO content.

If in doubt, talk to a professional

Venturing into the world of SEO content can be overwhelming for the inexperienced. However, it doesn’t have to be. If you have any queries about creating content for SEO, speak to us today about our content marketing services.

How to take content inspiration from your competitors

wordpress

Whatever you do, whatever industry you’re in, whatever product you’re trying to push, you will always have a competitor. Either affecting your target market indirectly or on purpose, these organisations can seem like a thorn in your side – especially if their results are better than yours.

Instead of letting their presence hang over you, there is a wealth of information to be learned from competitors. In this guide, we will demonstrate just what can be gained from analysing their content and stealing their ideas.

First, how do I identify my competitors?

If your industry is particularly niche or the company is just getting started, your competitors might be a bit of a mystery. Fortunately, here are two tactics you can use to uncover them:

A simple search in Google

Search engines such as Google can give you a general idea of the organisations you’re competing against. Just use a search term you might use to identify yourself and see what appears. These results can be narrowed down using location-specific elements or – if nothing appears – broadened out with more industry-specific terms.  For example, a car dealer based locally could identify competitors by searching for ‘used cars Manchester’. Just bear in mind that this general search is an inferior method compared to a data-led approach.

Using data

As marketing professionals, data should be at the forefront of everything we do. Gut feelings can only get you so far and must be eventually replaced with statistics. There are a range of tools out there which can be used to identify competitors – such as Semrush or Stat – and these can provide valuable insights. As well as identifying your competitors, the data these tools could help provide the backbone of your marketing strategy and be a good starting point for your content research project.

What can I learn from competitor content?

Now that your competitors have been identified, there are a range of strategies and approaches we can identify. Just looking at their content, we can determine the following:

Who is my target audience?

Social media provides us with a good understanding of what resonates with your audience. Although glancing at competitor accounts can be useful, using the ‘top content’ section of ahrefs can streamline the process. This platform shows how content performs across a variety of networks. If the results of the competitor content audit demonstrates that a competitor gets most of their shares across LinkedIn, it is worth structuring content to appeal more to that target market. In a similar fashion, if a competitor gets most of its shares from Pinterest and Instagram, this suggests image-led content may the best option to connect with your audience.

How can I connect with my target audience?

Competitor social media profiles can be a great way to uncover your target audience but are also instrumental in showing how to connect with these individuals. By looking at what a company posts on Twitter, we can see the posts which gain the most attention and look to replicate them. This also presents an opportunity to review how a competitor handles customer service disputes. Time spent to acknowledge the customer, the tone of the response, the proposed resolution, all of these are useful elements to identify.

What content gets the most attention?

Shares on social media are certainly a valuable metric but backlinks are more important. A vital element of any SEO campaign, achieving these should be one of your key objectives. Using Ahrefs, you can see which of your competitors’ pages achieved the most backlinks. From there, you can determine how these were achieved. For example, if the competitor has created a resource which gathered multiple links, you can design something similar. Alternatively, create a better resource and notify those organisations about the new content. Whatever strategy a competitor has used in their content – from press mentions to sponsorship deals – this analysis will help you understand the sort of materials you should be producing.

 

What content can I repurpose?

Similar to the above, ahrefs can be used to identify broken backlinks pointing to a competitor site. By confirming these backlinks go to a 404 page, you might be able to identify the purpose behind the original piece.

In the case of informational content – such as guides or blogs – these can be recreated with the intention of redirecting some of these broken links. By repurposing a competitor’s broken content, you can focus on providing a resource to an already interested customer base.

Does the content have any gaps?

Taking a holistic view of the competitor’s site, you can determine if users are provided with a good experience. If you did not find the information you were looking for – such as facts relating to a product or good instructions – this provides inspiration about what to include on your own site. The opposite is also true. If a competitor provides great content about particular areas, this is something which is worth replicating.

Where can I be unique?

We have spoken a lot about replication and repurposing but analysing your competitors content also allows you to be unique. For example, if a group of competitors are thought leaders in one topic, adding your voice will not be as beneficial as identifying a unique gap which you can fill. Conveying this message to readers should help you build a following faster than if you were just another alternative.

When is the best time to publish content?

An organisation with a good content strategy will keep to a rigorous publishing schedule. Furthermore, this is usually not put together on a whim, research and time will have gone into deciding when is best to publish on what medium.

Investigate their routine and – if interaction rates are better at certain times of the day – replicate their publishing schedule. Eventually, your own content could eclipse your competitors’.

Competitor content analysis works both ways

There are a number of lessons which we can take from analysing competitor content. We have listed some here but there are more things you can discover given time and dedication. Just be aware that – once you become a major player in your industry – your competitors will start taking lessons from you.


Next steps
:

If you need some more advice on your content marketing strategy, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and develop your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

Add content to design or design to content

Over the years I’ve found that you can almost always guarantee that a client underestimates the work involved in writing and collating content, and then, if using a CMS, entering it all. It sounds easy – write something about a subject you know.

The title of this article also makes the solution sound simple. Either you crack on with a design, and then fill in the holes, or you wait until finally all the content is in a signed off state. It would be easy to say stick to one or the other, but such an answer would simply be an oversimplification.

Content to design

The idea behind fitting content to a design is pretty straight forward. You create a pixel perfect design and then craft your content around it. Simple. Your design is visually perfect throughout. Everything is beautifully consistent. Everything lines up nicely and falls in the perfect place. Those 40-50 words the designer told you to use for each feature block will all look wonderfully balanced and very professional. Everyone is happy!

It can also give you a structure in which to craft your content. It makes life easier to have a starting point after all. Just fill in the holes and done.

It is also nice to get the design process cracking early on. We all like visuals. Seeing a design adds a tangible sense of progress, and can also help form opinions on how content can be approached by how it balances out images or illustrative elements. It provides nice and potentially productive early talking points

However….

Design to content

Mind you, fitting your content to a design covers over some cracks…

All this great design work, however much research has been undertaken to ensure every concept and assumption is rock solid, is still based on content that very possibly doesn’t exist – or even worse, is potentially misunderstood

At the end of the day you are the expert in your area. Great content takes time to craft. It is what people are ultimately coming to your website, brochure or video for, not the attractive imagery and great icons. Add in any copywriting or search engine optimisation services and it is a significant task that should be treated with care and respect.With this in mind, the design should be a tool for making your content sing, balance any SEO requirements and be visually appealing. Customers love content. Google loves content. Content is king! It goes without saying that this should be nailed down first.

Doesn’t it?

But…

There is always a but…

In the real world, there are immovable deadlines, there are changes to specifications, there are feature additions, stakeholder demands, illnesses, curveballs and unexpected twists. With the absolute best will in the world final content cannot always be waited upon.

First draft content can be used to form a solid base for a design if available but this can also change, necessitating design amends or even more time consuming development amends.

Working in this imperfect reality, my key belief is to maintain good levels of communication throughout. Aim for content before design but be realistic. By working together the choppy content waters can be navigated and you can get a great product at the end of it.

Next steps:

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

 

SEO myths – revealing the false claims

Over the years, it’s safe to say that we’ve heard and rebuffed hundreds of SEO myths. Often these come from new clients that have unfortunately been provided out-of-date, or plainly inaccurate information in the past. But why is there so much false information being shared?

The truth is that the digital landscape is constantly evolving, therefore something that worked in the past, may not work today. It’s essential to remain up-to-date, relevant and ahead of Google’s updates to truly succeed in SEO, but by listening to false SEO myths, you could be harming your organic performance.

Some of the common myths we’ve heard (in no particular order) are discussed below;

1) Create amazing content and outrank your competition

Since Panda was introduced in 2011, there has been a frenzy about creating high quality content. We’ve even heard people stating that your website will be penalised if your content is deemed low quality by Google. This is definitely FALSE.

Whilst creating high quality content is important, it isn’t enough by itself. A recent study from Brian Dean explains how creating amazing content is just the beginning of your journey.

Once you have created your content it is time to promote. Here are a few ideas:

  • Social media – whether you already have a loyal social following, or you promote your content through targeted ads, social media shouldn’t be overlooked. If you can get your content shared by influencers, you could earn valuable links.
  • Influencer marketing – the Kardashians are living proof that influencer marketing is a huge industry and one that shouldn’t be ignored. Whilst it’s unlikely that you’ll get somebody that big to engage with your content, there are influencers in every niche that you can get to promote your content. By interacting with influencers you are increasing your reach, gaining loyal customers and increasing the authority of your website.
  • Build backlinks – Google may advise against intentionally building backlinks, however, your content won’t reach its full potential if it can’t attract inbound links from authoritative and relevant sites. On the other hand, link building is a time-consuming and highly skilled task, therefore if you get it wrong you could be in trouble. For that reason, we recommend using a reputable SEO agency (such as ourselves) to build high quality links.

The final step is crucial…

Once you’ve created an amazing piece of content and increased the page’s authority, you will need to monitor progress through a rank tracker (our favourite is STAT), Analytics tool (Google Analytics) and backlink monitor (Ahrefs).

These tools will help you to improve your content and monitor the progress of all your hard work!

2) Meta tags aren’t important for SEO

Meta tags are snippets that appear in the <head> section of a page’s code and are generally used to communicate information about the topic of a page with the search engines.

The most common meta tags are:

  • Title tag – the title of your page; this appears at the top of your browser and in the SERPs.
  • Meta description – a brief description (up to 160 characters) that describes the page.
  • Meta keywords – a list of keywords that you deem relevant to the page.
  • Meta robots – a rule for the search engine crawlers of what to do when they land on your page.

When we hear this statement, we assume that individuals are referring to meta descriptions and meta keywords, as it is common knowledge that the title tag is one of the most important on-page elements, whilst meta robots are required on every page.

We will start with the meta description…

Whilst meta descriptions don’t directly contribute to your organic rankings, they are an essential element for driving click-throughs from the search engine results page (SERPs). Many recent studies also suggest that pages with a high click-through-rate (CTR) receive a ranking boost by Google, thus increasing your organic visibility over time.

Your meta descriptions should include a brief description of the page, USPs (unique selling points), CTAs (call to actions) and a semantically linked keyword (this will be emphasised in the SERPs).

Now onto meta keywords…

For SEO newbies, you won’t remember the days when Google used meta keywords in their core algorithm – this was eliminated as webmasters spammed the feature by inputting hundreds of variations of the same keyword!

In 2017, Google ignores meta keywords, but this doesn’t mean they’re dead. Other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo still use meta keywords in their algorithms, therefore by adding in a few relevant phrases on each page, you are increasing your organic footprint.

Third party directories can also use them to determine and categorise a page on your site.

3) The more pages on a site, the better your rankings will be

Quality over quantity is definitely true when it comes to the number of pages on your website. A common misconception is that you require hundreds, or even thousands of pages to be deemed a high quality site, however, this is just another common SEO myth!

Less is more 99% of the time.

We recently worked with a client on restructuring their informational content, which resulted in removing hundreds of pages! Although it wasn’t an idea that was initially welcomed, it has resulted in fewer, but higher quality pages, less cannibalisation (two pages competing against each other) and increased engagement.

The moral of the story; concentrate on generating high-quality pages that will deliver value to the user, rather than a number of low-quality pages for SEO purposes.

4) Your website will get penalised for duplicate content

Whilst duplicate content can hinder your organic performance, it certainly won’t result in a penalty from Google, despite what you may have been told. This was confirmed back in 2013 by Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, who announced that it’s nothing to stress about unless you have spammy duplicate content.

A much more likely outcome of having duplicate content on your website is cannibalising pages, which could result in high ranking fluctuations, or a page not ranking due to being deemed low quality.

If you’re facing a duplicate content issue, feel free to get in touch and speak to an expert!

5) Nofollow links have no value

Any digital marketer worth their salt would know that nofollow links are an essential component of an SEO campaign. Whilst they do not pass authority from one website to another, there are huge benefits of acquiring nofollow links including;

  • Having a healthy link profile: if you are building links, you need to have a healthy mixture of both follow and nofollow inbound links in order to avoid possible penalties from Google. If your link profile looks unnatural to an SEO, it is also going to appear unnatural to Google which could land you in serious trouble.
  • Referrals: many major publications only use nofollow links, however, these links are still likely to pass huge value to your website through referrals. As if an influx in referral traffic isn’t enough, by being featured on well-regarded websites you are further increasing your brand image.
  • Linkbait: you can use nofollow links as bait to attract dofollow links to your site, which will pass through that all-important link juice. This is a completely natural way to acquire links!

6) Running a PPC campaign will improve your organic results

It’s surprising how many times this has been discussed, despite nobody that is a reputable source implying that it’s true.

AdWords and organic are completely separate entities that don’t affect each other’s performance, and for most industries, we would recommend running an SEO and PPC campaign alongside one another for the best results.

So if you were thinking of spending thousands on AdWords in an attempt to increase your organic rankings, please resist and instead speak to an expert about the benefits of both mediums!

7) Your website platform makes a difference to your organic performance

As a digital agency, we have experience with a range of Content Management Systems (CMS), the most popular being WordPress and Magento. A common SEO myth is that you need to have a website built on a certain platform to ensure that you can perform well in the search engines, however, this is just another myth.

Providing that you have access to the code and a skilled web developer, you can ensure that your website is built for maximum organic performance. Our only advice would be to choose your developer wisely and avoid website builders such as Wix and Divi, as these will almost certainly hold back your SEO efforts regardless of budget.

8) You need X% keyword density to rank for a particular search term

This myth is a blast from the past, but fortunately, the times of aiming for 3-5% keyword density are long gone!

As Google’s algorithms have developed and become more sophisticated, they’re able to better understand natural language and deliver a better experience for the user. This has ultimately resulted in the death of keyword stuffing and if you or your SEO agency are still discussing this concept, it’s definitely time for a rethink!

Instead of aiming for a particular keyword density, you should instead be creating content that is relevant, high quality and uses semantic keyword targeting.

Wrapping things up…

These are just a selection of SEO myths that we’ve been questioned about recently, however, there are hundreds more we could’ve touched on.

If you want to discuss any information you’ve received, feel free to get in touch with our SEO team, join us for a coffee or have a chat with myself.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

6 ways squid are better at content marketing than you

The humble squid.

Some say cute; others say uglier than a Mick Hucknall lookalike competition (sorry, Mick). Either way, they’re interesting critters that we can learn a lot from – particularly from a content marketing slant.

So without further ado, behold this extended metaphor in all its glory. You’ll never look at a squid the same way again.
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They release their ink carefully.

With Google’s latest round of search algorithm updates (the delightfully named Penguin and Possum), the heyday of successful spammy content is thankfully getting further and further behind us. Businesses can no longer rely on quantity over quality content, or packing keywords into an article just for the sake of search visibility – it’s just so naughty.

Squid don’t spurt out ink at every available opportunity; they wait until the time is right to send out a message or wade into a situation. And when they do, there’s a good reason for it.

…they also release it quickly.

A squid’s ink sack is triggered rapidly when it feels the need to shoot out a jet of the black stuff. Often there’s no time to waste, particularly if it’s in response to something unexpected.

Equally, valuable content marketing is often about quick responses and getting a quality, on-brand message out into the public domain before even a smidgen of impact is lost.

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They have eyes the size of frisbees.

The giant squid does, at least.

Good content creators are also ravenous readers and draw inspiration from all possible sources. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, really. It’s exactly why your English teachers told you to read more in your shorter days.

The same goes for our approach to content marketing. Regularly casting a huge eye over your market is the only way to spot what’s being produced – and, more importantly, what’s not.

They rely on their heart(s).

It’s hard to talk about modern content marketing without the objective of tugging your audience’s heart strings. Now more than ever, content that produces an emotional response (whether that’s laughter or tears) is essential to keep your readers engaged. 

Well, squid actually have more heart strings than most – a whopping three hearts in total, two brachial and one systemic. The brachial hearts pump blood to the gills, allowing the squid to breathe underwater, while the systemic ticker simultaneously pumps blood to the rest of the body. Yes folks, science is crazy.
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squidd

They show the world what they’re made of.

Wonderful, original content is ultimately unique to each business.

This is because every business has a story to tell, and the components of that story are unique to the business itself. What are your USPs? What makes your culture different? Who are your clients? What work are you proud of? What events have you got planned?

Transparency is a must; there’s no point hiding the way you work away in the murky depths. The squid knows this better than most. Many species have evolved bioluminescent organs that allow their insides to glow in the dark. You think a squid is embarrassed to show off its internal workings? Don’t think so.

Their brains are doughnut-shaped.

Okay, other than my personal dietary requirements, it’s not really related to content marketing – but still undeniably awesome.

Rio 2016 – content marketing in the face of adversity

Doping scandals, economic protests, the Zika virus, failing infrastructure, water pollution…

All of these issues (and a green pool thrown in for good measure) combine to make Rio 2016 the most controversial Olympic Games in recent memory.

Of course, trouble at the Olympics is by no means a new thing but the host city this time around seems fraught with issues that have come under scrutiny from all angles, particularly from its own people. A great number of the population openly view the myriad problems in Rio as a microcosm for the nation as a whole – and they’re making their feelings known.

Legacy under pressure

While we are not here to pass any judgment on the organisation of the event, it’s clear that the Brazilian Olympic Committee is in an unenviable spot and has been for the past few years. For every problem that crops up in the press our ingrained perception of the Olympic brand takes another disreputable hit.

The ideals of undying commitment, sportsmanship and social unity could be said to be largely at odds with the way things have been going so far.

For both organisers and sponsors alike, getting the true voice of the Olympics to cut across the boos and whistles isn’t exactly a cakewalk. Nevermind turning the stadium music volume up; how can you possibly maintain, if not strengthen, the legacy of the Olympics in light of so much disruption?

This is what is really interesting from a content marketing perspective.

The ‘Brand Content Olympics’

First bear in mind that, in addition to the main Olympic brand, there are literally hundreds of satellite sponsors who are looking to run content marketing campaigns to reinforce Olympic values alongside their product or service.

Piercing through the controversy with strong emotional messages is equally important for these businesses. The content landscape has become so competitive and diversified in recent years that we now have a greater focus on incredibly personal, heart-tugging brand content than ever before.

So here we are. The ‘Content Olympics’. There is no better tactic for businesses looking to advertise what they do at this year’s Olympics than emphasising the hard work, determination and, above all, the personal story of how world class athletes got to be where they are today.

The best* example of Olympic content marketing

*Probably.

It’s no surprise that companies like Procter & Gamble – one of the biggest spenders on advertising worldwide – do it better than anyone else. Their ‘Thank You, Mom’ campaign is incredibly clever because it switches the focus of a global audience away from all those organisational problems to the journey of athletes who have worked their entire life towards becoming the best in the world…

When you consider that many people on the planet either have a mother, are a mother, or both, what you get is a incredibly moving advert that goes a long way to justifying why we have an Olympic Games in the first place. Tissue, anyone?

Even smarter is the way they turn the very concept of adversity into a positive force, giving their audience a sense that any problem (organisational or otherwise) can be overcome with sheer will and determination. 

Final thought

You don’t have to be a business the size of P&G to start enjoying the benefits of emotional content marketing. It starts by thinking about every step of your service, plotting the journey of a product and recognising what the emotional ties are to your business, whether it’s laughter or tears.

As the Olympics shows us, brand content is vital for any business looking to reinforce their brand identity and get key messages across to a wide audience, especially in the face of enormous adversity. For this there is no better method than a powerful, carefully crafted content strategy that hits you right between the eyes.

Persuasive content – the secret of successful businesses

The study of persuasion has been going on for donkey’s years…

Since ancient Greece in fact when Plato and Aristotle were the two main faces in the rhetorical scene. These guys loved a good argument. More importantly, they knew how to structure informative content to win the hearts and minds of the masses.

Aristotle famously described rhetoric as “the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” He basically meant that the way in which we choose to communicate has a massive impact on the reception and power of our words.

Back then, oratory (or public speaking) was the principal means of persuasion; so how does persuasion play out for businesses in the digital age?  Its importance in the Internet world can’t be overestimated, see it for yourself at https://www.piciandpici.com/keynote-speaker/.

Digital persuasion – the modern art

In the world of modern business, persuasive content is the core tenet of all marketing strategies, big and small. And in terms of purpose there are very few differences between modern content marketing campaigns and the rhetorical appeals of old. Both approaches intend to inform, influence and grab your attention by the wrist.

But while the purpose of persuasion is constant, our means of communication certainly has changed from the days when Aristotle was knocking about. Marketeers continue to rely on stirring an emotional response among their target audience to build long-lasting relationships, but today we present ideas digitally, on websites, in blogs, using photos, webinars and videos. One can only imagine the persuasive power of a Greek philosopher granted access to Microsoft Office.

The point is that the art of rhetoric sits behind all persuasive web content and businesses now have more choice than ever when it comes to getting their message across.

Careful thought into how a chosen medium, level of expression or creativity can make their communications more or less persuasive has never been more essential to remain competitive within any industry, pretty much.

Digital persuasion – in action

So what are some good persuasive approaches to content and how do you begin to charge your messages with emotional energy?

Here are a couple of ideas to mull over…

Free value

This is incredibly important for businesses who are looking to establish a memorable brand presence. Start thinking about what valuable digital content, downloads or giveaways you can offer to your audience – for free.

To use the analogy of a restaurant, when a waiter brings over a free mint or warm towel at the end of a meal, what influence does this have? Is the customer more likely to leave a tip?

Almost definitely. More often than not, giving away something of value helps to build a relationship between a business and their audience. And unlike chocolates, digital content can be reused, reused and reused and it never depletes in quantity. It also doesn’t melt when you forget you’ve put it in your pocket.

The key thing to remember is that the gesture has to be personalised in some way, it has to be unexpected and it has to be relevant to the person receiving it. Only then is it valuable.

Getting personal

Take a minute to ponder the development of automated messages, email subject lines and homepage one-liners over the past five years and you’ll soon notice that sleek corporate jargon is out and the human touch is in.

What do we mean by that? Well, it seems businesses have cottoned on to the idea that humans like humans, and they also like the way humans choose to word things. Well-placed colloquialisms and cheeky topical references are absolute gold for marketing purposes.

How’s this for a wonderful example on the homepage of cosmetics brand Lush – known on the market for their stance against animal testing and wonderfully friendly customer service…

Lush

It’s easy to look past the full range of persuasive powers at work here.

First, Lush clearly understand that their target audience is predominantly working women between the ages of 18–45. Using this for context, they then combine a new product placement with a tagline that subtly references the lyrics of iconic pop group Destiny’s Child and their song ‘Bootylicious’. You know, the one that goes ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly…’

If the reference is lost on anybody (i.e. the few customers in their target range who have been living under a rock since the late 90s) then the message still hits home because of the near-rhyme and attractive electric blue colour of the image.

Pretty clever, huh?

And if that wasn’t enough then the phrasing of the message as a question adds extra rhetorical weight and steeps the message with anticipation by letting the audience know immediately that there is a new product they have likely never seen before. So if you’re already a fan of the brand, or a fan of Beyoncé, then it’s pretty difficult not to click through. Well played, Lush.

Final thought

If public speaking was the principal means of persuasive communication in ancient Greece, modern persuasive techniques are best placed on websites, social media and through all digital marketing channels that are deemed relevant to a business.

That’s why persuasive content and messaging is so important. Without it, modern businesses cannot inform the public of what they do. They cannot show off their brand identity or convert online visitors into customers. And above all, they cannot connect with the single biggest audience available to them – the internet.

You’ve written some content, now what?

Often people create great content but fail to maximise its impact. 

Your website is a living, breathing part of your digital brand. Every update you make plays its part in interacting with visitors, customers, and search engines. We all know it’s integral to add fresh pieces as regularly as possible. The benefits are very real – the more frequently you add articles, downloads, and web pages, the more regularly search engines visit your website. This gives your site an improved chance of ranking highly for target terms. But it’s not often people leverage their content to produce maximum gains from it.

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Increase your reach

You’re posting plenty of fresh, well-written content. Great. Now it’s time to get as many people reading and interacting with it as possible. Good quality, engaging content tends to generate links organically, but it never hurts to help it along its way. We find these tactics very beneficial for our clients:

1) Mention expert sources in your article… and link to them

Once your content is published, share it on social media and mention the people you’ve referenced. They will see it and often re-share it.

2) E-mail the sources you have referenced and ask them to share it or link to it from another source

Anytime you mention someone, email that person to let them know you’ve done so. If you ask them nicely enough they might just promote it for you.

3) Turn the content into a SlideShare, .pdf or even a video

On average, SlideShare receives millions of unique visitors every month. If you can tap into that audience your content will get a big boost. Video deserves a special mention here: when you produce and publish a video, you can isolate the audio to create a podcast and scribe a transcription to sculpt a blog post -3 bits of content in 1!

If you want to learn more about how to start up with your PDFs and get the best out of them, make sure to check this “How to edit a PDF” guide.

4) Submit your content to relevant communities

There are a number of sites that allow you to submit your content to an established audience. The competition is strong on these sites, but if your content is of a high quality, you’ll attract some attention and receive a good traffic boost.

5) Create snippets in your content so people can easily share key messages

Engaging snippets that people can share on social media can be a great way of catching people’s attention and stimulating interaction. Snippets might include:

  • Variations on the content title
  • Short key statements from within the content
  • Key statistics from the content

Final thought

Interacting within your industry and engaging with your peers is a great way to increase brand awareness and raise your website’s authority on search engines. Above all remember to keep your content fresh by planning and following a schedule, and ensure a high level of quality to prove the value of your content to as many people as possible.

Why a content audit can do wonders for SEO and website migration

Content auditing is our bread and butter.

We’ve been in the industry a long time now and conducted a content audit or two, so we know the usual business scenario well. Your website is in desperate need of a revamp, yet the path to get it there seems fraught with danger and complication.

First you need to minimise any risks faced throughout the design, construction and site migration stages to ensure a smooth transition. Content, and certainly a content audit, is often an afterthought.

content audit

Know your purpose

Fast forward and let’s say you’ve just landed yourself a sleek new site at the cutting edge of design and user experience – one that really makes your brand sing. But after all that hard work, nothing wrecks the performance of your new platform faster than populating it with the same dated, ungainly content from your previous site.

Remember that the real purpose for a new site isn’t just to look nice and pretty; this is your most important piece of marketing collateral when it comes to achieving higher levels of traffic, higher user engagement and higher conversions.

Markets, customer trends and company objectives are constantly changing, which is why top businesses conduct a comprehensive audit of their site every year or so to ensure their expert content, communications and brand messaging are up to date and firing on all cylinders.

The real business cost of poor content

Gripping visitors from the moment they land on the site is enough to affirm the need for a content audit, true. But what businesses don’t tend to consider is that poorly formed content is the equivalent of poison for search engine rankings.

What do we mean by poor content?

  • No clear purpose for web pages
  • Key messages worded and presented weakly
  • Brand USPs not reinforced
  • Inconsistent formatting
  • Frequent typos

All of this has a huge impact on a website’s visibility, search rankings and, of course, user experience. These faults don’t inspire trust, whether that’s from potential customers or search engines.

Strong content = strong website

Powerful, carefully crafted content that is search engine friendly has an unparalleled influence on website performance.

In the digital age, in-depth online market and keyword research is so important to lay the foundation for consistent messaging across all pages. After that it’s about fine-tuning tone of voice and presentation with a specific target audience in mind. You should be speaking to people’s hearts as well as their heads.

Your next content audit – time for a scale and polish?

Like your next dentist appointment, a full-scale audit probably isn’t the most alluring of duties but that doesn’t make it any less essential.

Not only does this approach cement brand vision and values on every page and grip visitors from the moment they land on the site, it ultimately forms a rich tapestry of archived content for Google and other search engines to trawl and validate. 

This is what makes a website stand out in the search results and opens the door to more and more potential customers. Make sure to greet them with killer content that’s always on-brand and puts your expertise firmly in the spotlight.

The power of storytelling for your brand

Stories are a massive part of what makes us human. We tell tales to teach, entertain, pass on knowledge, share ideas, express ourselves and build togetherness…

Don’t believe it? Cast your mind back to childhood days sitting expectantly on a primary school carpet.

It’s just after lunch. The smell of thirty lunchboxes, recently closed, lingers in the classroom. Chocolate bars and juice cartons are being slowly digested by the second – a recipe for unruly children.

The teacher begins to tell a story. One by one, restless kids slowly calm and zero in on the tale being told. It’s the one about the tortoise and the hare… more haste, less speed.

The kids cannot hide their dislike of the boastful hare as he ridicules the slow-moving tortoise for having such short legs. They laugh when the tortoise challenges the hare to a race. They sigh when the hare takes an early lead. They gasp when he chooses to take a nap halfway through. And, finally, they cheer when the tortoise wins the race.

You’d be surprised how little some things change.

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Storytelling in business

Every business – big or small, new or old – has a story to tell, and chances are their target audience is much larger than thirty schoolchildren sitting on a single carpet.

In the commercial world, there is no better core piece of marketing content for a business than their own authentic narrative. It educates the market on the product or service you are offering, and the moral thinking behind it. More than that, if you can capture public imagination with this story, their understanding and attachment to your brand becomes deep-rooted.

It begins by establishing why a business exists. Where do its roots lie? What makes its offering unique? What impact has it had on the market? What does it aim to achieve in future?

So often it’s about unearthing the right metaphors to express these key messages and create a memorable, entertaining experience for your audience – one that underlines brand vision and values in emotional felt-tip.

The story of the brand becomes a vital foundation on which to build a content strategy that’s carefully personalised with a specific target market in mind. It allows you to start creating and curating more content that appeals to people’s hearts, as well as their heads.

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Where we come in

At CandidSky, we know how to translate brand vision and values to any digital marketing channel or platform.

They say never judge a book by its cover; but that doesn’t mean dazzling covers and arresting blurbs don’t serve an important purpose, particularly in the digital arena where websites are every business’s new shop window. Our expertise in website design, development and content marketing can bring any brand story to life online.

Take our recent work with Drontal, a world-renowned worming medication for pets, for instance.

Drontal needed a new front cover for their product. We were tasked with building a website that cements their brand experience and engages pet owners from the moment they land on the site. This also meant devising plenty of interesting tidbits to keep visitors clicking and scrolling through key information on the site.

Don’t just take our word for it, have a look yourself.

Fancy a chat about content?

Feel free to drop us a line at info@candidsky.com or you can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

6 key components of a well-rounded content strategy

Content marketing touches on so many other areas of digital marketing, so there’s a lot to think about. These guidelines will help structure a well-rounded content strategy in 2016.

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1. Plan ahead with a content calendar

Planning ahead with content allows you to make sure each individual piece fits into a larger puzzle.

A content calendar is the best way to structure this. Plotting out key dates over the next year lets you work backwards strategically. This way you’ll know when to start drip-feeding articles about your next new product to your visitors — so they’re already warm when you launch four months later.

Tip: Include important dates for your company, like product launches and industry events, slot in important dates like Christmas and Mother’s Day, and you’ll have a complete picture of your year.

2. Use a style guide to promote consistency

It’s unlikely your company’s content will be written by a single person. Having a single style guide, or “company voice” will keep everyone on-message.

Start your guide with an introduction to your company culture, describing the impression you want to leave in your customers’ minds. This will help your key messages flow through everything you do.

This reusable document can be easily passed to any external agencies or freelancers you bring in to create content for you.

Tip: Include the official way to spell your company’s name, e.g. CandidSky not Candidsky or Candid Sky — seems obvious, but it took us a long time to drill this into people!

3. Addict readers to your email newsletter

A monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly email newsletter lets you shape the ongoing narrative of your business and industry.

Expect your email newsletter to be your readers’ main source of updates about your industry. Try to make it count!

Tip: Giving your newsletter its own brand and telling people when to expect it, e.g. “The Super Blast: Fresh news in your inbox every Friday morning”, will help people remember your newsletter and look forward to it being delivered.

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4. Organise your expertise in a knowledge base

Knowledge bases are a way to organise and present factual information and guides for key topics in your industry. With any knowledge base, your intention should be to become the go to source of information for your sector.

Think of how many times Wikipedia articles appear at the top of Google results? Do a quick Google for a key topic in your industry. If no Wikipedia-style articles come up, there’s a strong opportunity for you to take over that top spot.

Tip: Categorisation is vital. Having a well-organised hierarchy for your knowledge base will help users and Google find their way around around — but more importantly, this is how visitors will store information about your industry in their heads!

5. Inject personality with a blog

Your company’s blog is an opportunity to express a personality that may not be possible on the more corporate pages of your website.

It’s important to balance ‘stodgy’ articles about new products and staff hires with more fun articles about what’s going on in your expert areas, and more informative articles sharing tips about your services.

Tip: It’s vital for SEO visibility to cross-link blog articles to other pages of your site (service landing pages, product pages, category pages and knowledge base articles), as that will help pass the value of that article to the pages you want to rank well in Google. 2-3 contextual in-line links in the body copy of any blog is a good benchmark.

6. Write for social readers

Not technically a ‘content’ responsibility, but making shareable, digestible content that will land well on social networks has never been more important.

Knowing the make-up of your social audience well will help you tailor a content strategy specifically for them. Using questions you’ve been asked on social media to feed new articles is a great way to know you’re really helping their direct needs. Making space for articles that address this, e.g. “Top five reader questions answered” in your content calendar ensures you don’t forget.

It’s likely people who follow you are regarded as ‘experts’ in your industry by their contacts, friends and family. Writing content for them to share will help your visitors maintain their image.

Tip: Being aware of how social media readers scan-read content. If people don’t have much time, they may just scan the key headlines and bullet points. Give your article a structure that provides value — even if people don’t read the actual copy!

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SEO and Content Marketing: Similar but different

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Since the growth of content marketing, there’s been plenty of talk about SEO and how it’s been “replaced”. But has it?

It is true that having some strong expertise when it comes to content marketing is proving to be invaluable, but that doesn’t mean that it has rendered SEO obsolete. On the contrary – both disciplines should work together and only when they are in harmony can they be truly effective together.

Key Differences Between Content Marketing and SEO

SEO and content marketing overlap constantly, yet there are some differences:

  • Aspects of SEO are more technical. This includes basic elements such as correct URLs, title and ALT tags, sitemaps etc; right through to architecture and internal link structure: the stuff that underpins your content marketing strategy.
  • Content marketing is broader and isn’t necessarily confined to SEO goals. For example, a publisher should produce excellent content first and foremost as a way of attracting and retaining an audience.   

How Content and SEO Can Work Together

There is a common misconception that the main purpose of SEO is to create good content for search engines to crawl and index.

Even though there are countless articles online that go on about how “content is king”, there is definitely more to it than that. If the more technical on-site SEO groundwork isn’t laid out properly, your content efforts will be wasted.

For example, if your site has a penalty, or Google isn’t indexing pages properly, then you’re going to need some search engine optimization expertise, great content or not. This is why the SEO experts and content teams need to work together.

SEO strategies change very often, partly because Google changes all the time, what worked a few years ago is now irrelevant. In the past it was all about keywords and where they were placed on and off your page. Of course, the technicalities of SEO such as keyword research, Alt tags, URL structure, meta description, link building, and header tags still matter. But, now it’s all about how much value your content is providing people. Google has made changes to make sure that the content ranking on its first page is more valuable and relevant to their users’ search intent.

Creating Original, Quality Content  

While creating a constant flow of thin content for Google’s crawlers to index may have worked a few years ago, it isn’t nearly as effective nowadays. Furthermore, weak content created simply for the purpose of making up the numbers will not work form a content marketing perspective, since it will become harder to engage with and retain your readers.

On the other hand, from an SEO perspective, creating original and engaging content will set you apart from your competitors, as well as give search engines some fresh content to index that can’t be found elsewhere. This also helps with achieving content marketing goals, since you are more likely to attract a higher caliber of visitor with well-written and targeted content.

A good way of making sure that what you’re writing is suitable is putting yourself in the place of your target audience, and whether you think they will genuinely find what they are reading useful. Does it provide good value and useful advice?

Evergreen Content and SEO

Evergreen content is SEO content that remains relevant and would constantly be of value to readers.

Creating evergreen content is considered a great strategy for a number of SEO performance benchmarks such as improved search exposure, increased keyword quantity and quality. Having that caliber of useful content would also increase the value of your website.

A fresh piece of news or a new article would often rank quite well within Google SERP’s while it’s fresh, but will then quickly fade away once there is more pertinent news to take it’s place.

On the other hand, a more useful and engaging article that contains valuable reader advice as well as a level of insight would attract a higher level of traffic and user engagement. Those are the standards to which Google assesses how relevant a piece of content is, and is thus more likely to do better over long periods of time.

Content Marketing Tips

Tip #1: Know Your Audience

Whenever you are creating content, you need to be thinking about who your potential audience is.

  • Who do you want to be reading your content?
  • Who would find it useful?
  • Who is it meant for?

By asking yourself those relevant questions it suddenly becomes clearer the approach you have to take. You would then be able to truly understand who your audience is, and be sure that the kind of content you are creating is suitable and effective.

Tip #2: Brainstorm Your Ideas

When it comes to content creation, it tends to have a different approach to an entirely SEO focused way of doing things. Starting with an obvious thing like keyword research when it comes to SEO projects comes second to knowing what the content is actually about. The type of content being produced and the kind of ideas that the pages need to focus on will guide the keyword research process, so that they work hand in hand.

Tip #3: Making Content Digestible

When looking at how search engines view content, think of them as a child learning how to read for the first time. When writing content that is search engine optimised, the content itself is important, but just as important is the layout.

Just like a child’s attention would be grabbed by imagery, so would a search engine’s attention. Adding images to your content will help it become easier to digest, as well as making sure to include descriptive alternate tags to help search engines understand them.

Breaking up your content into chunkier bullet points and lists will also make it easier to read and digest. Creating content that is easier to skim through makes it easier to share and promote, which in turn has a positive effect on SEO.

Top Tip – Make sure your keywords are present in your headers, and try to use various synonyms to help with increased exposure throughout your content.

Tip #4: Update and Re-promote Older Content

Sometimes fresh new ideas and concepts for content can be slim, so look at older content that performed really well when it was first published for some inspiration.

More often that none, older pieces of content just need a refresh in the form of a new headline, image or a layout restructure. Using older pieces of content to link back to newer, fresher pieces and vice versa can have a positive effect. Internal linking will help to disperse the flow of link juice.

Example of Content Marketing

A recent and quite a good example of how great content at the right time can achieve amazing results. For instance, take the recent Favrify infographic which looks at the effects of the Scottish drink Irn Bru on an Englishman. This idea was taken from a similar infographic to the effects of drinking Coke.

By utilising this idea and putting a different twist on it, this particular piece of content brought in over 100,000 visits to their website, as well as having the content shared over 7000 times on Facebook.

Favrify Irn Bru Infographic

Ahrefs links

Links and social shares generated through the infographic

Conclusion

When researched and done correctly, content marketing is an excellent way to build relationships with customers, as well as setting yourself apart from your competitors.

A well implemented content marketing strategy evokes trust and authority in your relevant market or sector, and positions your brand to be the go to resource for your specialty.

The crucial concept behind an effective content marketing plan is to tell stories that people find and will continue to find both useful and relevant.

Keep in mind though, SEO and content marketing are not the same, nor are they mutually exclusive – you need to combine both for the best looking results.

Colouring books and Augmented Reality

It’s probably a good idea to point out that this post won’t be too relevant to your business -but if you have kids or enjoy colouring in then this is awesome!

colAR have produced the colouring book of the future, where colouring pages actually come to life. Watch the video below and you’ll see this amazing technology in action.

It’s great that we get to work and write about technology on a daily basis because we love it, but this video got me super excited on two levels.

One – I wrote about augmented reality back in July 2010 and I’ve not really seen it in action to a point where I was that impressed … until today! This video signifies how quickly technology advances and shows one application of the modern world impacting such a simple thing as colouring in.

Two – I’m a Dad. My 3 year old son Dylan will absolutely love this because he can already work my iPad and he’s pretty talented a colouring in (just like his Mum). Though when I show him this in action I might as well say goodbye to my iPad.

I could write an extremely long post about the impact of this kind of technology on our kids and the possibilities of other uses of augmented reality but I’d rather you just watched the video – yes it is that awesome! Now, where are my crayons?

The app is free on both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store.

An Introduction to Video Marketing

The marketing world is witnessing a video marketing frenzy, particularly with the advent of Vine and, of course, Instagram’s development into the video sphere. It seems as though the whole world has gone video crazy! From businesses to consumers, it is important to understand the relevance of video as a marketing tool and here’s why.

Let’s begin by comparing video utilisation against standard text. Recent research has shown that video content is at least 1.5 times more engaging than text alone. It’s obvious when you think of it, people are more willing to watch a video on their chosen topic, rather than read a lengthy article on the same issue. In fact,  people are willing to spend an extra two seconds on a page that has video when compared to a plain text article. That means an extra two seconds of their attention to promote your product or business, ultimatelty an extra two seconds of engagement with your potential customer.

Let’s now have a look at how video can help improve your SEO. Since Google bought YouTube in 2006, video marketing entered a whole new arena as videos became a tool for SEO. Thus, one of video’s greatest assets is that they are part of the webs second biggest search engine – YouTube. This is great because it means you have another way to optimise your videos, through the captions that you add to describe your video. Google has also recently altered it’s searches to include videos, (think Googling ‘fix my TV’ and a video of how to fix your TV pops up), which means there’s an even bigger opportunity to improve your search engine visibility. It’s important to realise that improving your video’s SEO can also be done by adding a written transcript to your video, like subtitles, that Google is then able to read and quantify. Double points!

 

Not only this, but videos are easily shared and are extremely mobile. As social media has made the transition from our laptop screens onto our phones and tablets, so has video. Facebook and Twitter engage with a huge amount of video data being shared, tweeted and retweeted by people at any given moment throughout their day. This completely opens up your audience, as you have cross channel utilisation, which reaches a wider spectrum of people. It is therefore easy to use video marketing as part of an ongoing media strategy, where engagement is crucial.

Speaking of engagement, videos are a great tool to hone in on your customer base and their needs. For example, if your company produces a’ Frequently Asked Questions’ video, customers can have their problems answered in a clear and concise manner in an innovativ and engaging way. It’s true, people prefer being shown how to overcome their problems and seeing someone deal with their questions, rather than having to read about them. This works especially well for drawn out processes. For example, cooking videos are some of the most viewed videos on YouTube, as people want a step by step guide on how to do things. This is essentially educating your consumer  in a way that will entice them to buy your product or use your company in a much softer, human approach. It’s a great way to communicate with your target audience.

Cake videos

Videos are also a long term investment, particularly if you use them well. Very rarely will a video go ‘out of date’ and you could therefore have a potentially limitless audience outreach. This works well for educational videos, the types of videos that people will continually search for. This means that your video will have a longer shelf life if it’s helping people. There’s ultimately a growing audience out there just waiting to watch your video.

So is video the future of marketing? Not completely on it’s own, no, but it looks like it has a place to stay in a world that we’d rather watch spin, than read about spinning.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at how you can use video to promote your business.

 

Marketing Analytics: How to measure your blogging

Online marketing should start and end with analytics. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, every visitor, every action, and every penny spent can be accounted for and analysed. 

This is the third of a 4-part series on how to measure your online marketing efforts. We’ll post up links to the latest articles as we release them.

  1.  How to measure your SEO
  2.  How to measure your PPC
  3.  How to measure your blogging
  4.  How to measure your social media marketing

 

How to measure your blogging

Measuring your business blog is the best possible way to assess and improve its performance. Its worth noting at this point that what you call your  blog may vary depending on your vertical and target audience, so just to be clear, we’re referring to any area of your site where you are regularly publishing content for your audience. This might be in the form of a ‘Press’ or ‘News’ section, or a more informal ‘Blog’.

What you measure should be decided by what it is your blog is trying to achieve. There are an awful lot of people (and businesses) who blog ‘for the sake of it’ or because they have been told they should to improve their online exposure, but if it’s something you’re investing time (or money) in, you need to know what it’s doing for you and how well it’s doing it.

If the main goal of your blog is to generate leads, you need to understand how many leads it’s generating at the moment and which articles or tactics are working best to achieve this goal. Your aim is to identify the key factors which make (or could make) your blog successful, so that you can incorporate them in to your upcoming posts and improve your blogs performance.

We’re going to be looking at

  • Blog traffic & referral sources
  • Individual post views
  • Visitor-to-lead conversion rate
  • Call-to-action (CTA) performance
  • Blog generated leads

 

Blog traffic & referral sources

“How many visitors your blog is receiving, and where that traffic comes from (organic search, referrals, direct traffic, social media etc.)”

Being able to identify where your traffic comes from and in what volume will reveal valuable information as to how effective you are at promoting your blog content in certain channels. If 80% of your traffic is coming from social media and only 5% is coming from search engines, it would suggest that you’re doing a great job of writing and sharing your content on social platforms, but a poor job of optimising it for search engines. If a large chunk of your traffic is coming direct to your website it would suggest that you’ve got some dedicated followers coming back for more.

You can draw actionable conclusions by studying your traffic sources carefully, telling you what you’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement.

 

Individual post views/shares/likes

“How many views each individual blog post receives”

You can use this data to identify trends in articles which are more popular with your audience. Over a period of time you can identify patterns in the data and tailor your content to fit the themes that your audience are already engaging with. This isn’t limited to the actual body of the post; it may be that articles with actionable page titles are getting more clicks, or that ones with certain types of featured images are enticing more people. We recommend that you analyze each article that works well and make a list of the lessons you’ve learned from it. Over time you can incorporate the successful tags in to  you approach to blogging.

 

Visitor-to-lead conversion rate

“The rate at which your blog converts visitors in to leads”

If you’re blogging as a business and you aim for your content to help generate leads for you to action, you need to know how many leads you’re generating and how effective you are at converting visits to leads. You should aim to maintain the highest conversion rate possible, so that as you gain new traffic you receive a proportional increase in leads being generated.

If you see your conversion rates increasing it means you’re doing a good job of converting  people.

 

Call-to-action performance

“How well your individual calls-to-action convert blog visitors in to leads.”

When your aim is to generate leads, each and every one of your blog posts should contain a call-to-action which leads to a contact form (or product page). This is the main way a blog can generate leads for your business. You should try using different calls-to-action to find out which work best for your industry and audience.

 

Blog generated leads

“Leads generated which can be attributed to your blog”

After all, this is your goal. Whilst conversion rates are a decent indicator of leads, the actual number of leads being generated scales with the traffic you’re receiving. If you’re serious about generating leads on your blog, you should set yourself a monthly goal and commit to it. If you don’t hit your goals you can dig in to analytics and find out what needs to be improved for better performance; perhaps you need to increase search traffic, promote your content more on social media, or tweak your content strategy.

 

Any questions?

All of the above metrics can be taken using Google Analytics. If you have any questions on how to use Analytics to measure and improve your blogging, ask them in the comments here…

The CandidSky Guide to Content

In the first of our content marketing series, we outlined exactly how your business can benefit from a great content marketing strategy. Now, we’re moving on to the different types of content. Although this list is in no way exhaustive (we didn’t think you’d want to be here all day!) we’ve put together a few of the most common and successful types of content and given you some examples in the world of business and retail of companies who have really made great content work for them.

Blog content

What it is: Blogs are the most common, and easy to produce, type of content. The main benefit of blogging is that it allows you to be really creative; you can write about anything and everything, as long as it’s engaging and in some way related to your business.

Blogging also allows you to incorporate different types of media into your work. This could be a video of your CEO being interviewed, an infographic outlining your range of products or an interactive timeline detailing the history of your business. If you can think of it, you can blog about it!

One problem many people have with blogging is that it doesn’t seem to “do” anything obvious. However, as we outlined last week, blogging has been found to increase lead generation and sales. It really does yield tangible results, and has the added benefit of engaging your customers in an intellectual sense too.

Who does it well: Patagonia

Patagonia sell high-end adventure gear, and their regularly updated blog, The Cleanest Line, totally reflects this. Rather than just using it as a selling tool, Patagonia’s bloggers write a great mixture of news articles, responses to global issues and personal stories. This blend makes The Cleanest Line a really engaging read.

This serves to strengthen Patagonia as a brand; as a consumer, we’re clear of their principles, their ideals and their views. It’s interesting, engaging, and it really works.

“Evergreen” content

What it is: “Evergreen” content is so called because the effect it has is far more long term than normal blog content. It does often come from blog posts, but differs in that it has a longer-lasting effect. As it includes “how to” guides, tips and advice, evergreen content encourages visitors in a long-term sense. Content in this category is usually in-depth, totally unique, and useful to the target audience. Evergreen content has the added benefit of not relying on social media trends.

Another benefit of evergreen content is that it doesn’t have to rely on social media trends – this makes it far more reliable. We’ve all seen brands try to tap into the fleeting online zeitgeist – even if it isn’t ignored (which is likely to happen), it’s not likely to encourage long-term growth. The Internet is fickle, and most attempts to “go viral”, no matter how creative, are doomed at birth. Generating in-depth evergreen content is far more worthwhile.

Who does it well: Men’s Fitness

The Men’s Fitness website is constantly being updated with a huge range of interesting content, mainly involving training exercises and nutrition advice – a perfect example of evergreen content. These articles will turn up time and time again in relevant Google searches, making them a real asset to Men’s Fitness’ lead generation.

It also marks the magazine out as being a leader in their field; this content makes them seem knowledgeable and authoritative, which makes all the difference when they’re placed alongside a less savvy competitor.

Social media content

What it is: Social media content is any content posted on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or any other social media platform. Even less formal than a blog, social media is a chance to really develop a “voice”.

There are two main benefits to social media: increased reach and increased engagement. Page likes and retweets will show up on the social feeds of your customers’ friends, and interesting photos and links are often shared on these sites. This introduces you to a huge market of prospective customers – and you don’t even have to do the work to reach them!

Social media also allows you to connect more deeply with your customers. Your customers are given a direct channel through which they can talk to you, get to know you, and understand your brand. This is a hugely important factor.

Who does it well: ASOS

ASOS are kings of social media; they have accounts on pretty much every platform. All of these accounts are hugely popular; their Facebook page has 2 million likes, their Twitter nearly 500,000 followers and their Pinterest over 28,000.

ASOS have a dedicated Twitter account for dealing with customer queries and complaints – and if the happy responses they regularly retweet are anything to go by, they deal with them extremely effectively.

They speak in such a conversational tone that, when engaging with their brand on social media, you feel you’re talking to a friend, not a business.

News content

What it is: News content usually takes one of two forms: a news piece about any company developments, investments or events, or an item related to local or national news. The important thing here is that the content doesn’t just entertain – it educates too.

As news content is often industry specific, it can establish a business as being authoritative on a particular topic. This authority can lead to more opportunities in the business world, as well as increased trust and respect from customers.

Who does it well: BBC

The BBC’s “The Editors” blog is a mixture of content from editors, reporters and journalists working at the corporation, many of whom are experts in specific areas. This allows an amazing amount of detail, and offers great insights into areas of the news that may be ignored.

This is a huge asset for the BBC’s site – as their output is neutral, a personal aspect on world politics allows a deeper insight into the news in a way that would not otherwise be possible.

 

The best thing about each of these categories is that they’re fully customisable; a good content strategy takes into consideration all of the needs a business has and translates it into something engaging, interesting and memorable.

Why do I need content marketing?

Content is often an afterthought – after investing in development, design and SEO, it may seem like your business’ online needs are already met. However, content marketing has become more and more prominent over the past few years, and many businesses are starting to realise it’s an essential part of the modern marketing landscape.

So, what actually is content? The Content Marketing Institute define it as “the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling…you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent”. This can come in the form of blogs, articles, videos, newsletters, social media…the list is endless.

If you’re not convinced, we’ve put together a quick guide to explain just why your business needs a good content strategy.

1. You’ll expand your customer base

Google favours sites that are regularly updated with relevant content; research has shown that companies with blogs get 55% more visitors and 434% more indexed pages than those who don’t, and those who increase their monthly blog post count from 5 to 8+ double their lead generation. Sites with fresh, rather than static, content are given much higher priority in Google rankings, so consistently producing interesting content is likely to give you brand new customers.

Great, frequently updated content is likely to attract repeat visits, too – so your current customers will be encouraged to spend more money.

2. You can connect with your customers

Business is about more than just providing people with a product; it’s about connecting to your customers and providing them with a great service. This is even more true in the current climate – customers are looking for more than just someone to sell them something. People are now interested in having a relationship with the businesses they use – and content is a great way to develop this relationship.

Good content is so much more than just a way to promote your product; it creates a two-way dialogue between you and the users of your site. Engaging, interesting content provokes conversation, so people won’t just visit your site when they have to, they’ll actively seek it out.

3. You can examine and develop your brand’s personality

Whether it be through regular blogging or by refreshing your website’s copy, content allows you to precisely tailor a voice for your brand. Whatever you want to convey, a fitting style can be developed to communicate it to your customers. This personality is what your customers will come to recognise and trust, and from this you can develop a loyal customer base.

Deciding on what this personality should be may be of personal benefit, too; thinking in these terms may actually give you a clearer insight into the aims and goals you have for your business.

4. You can boost your reputation

By regularly writing about industry development and news that affects your business, you can establish yourself as an authoritative and knowledgeable leader in your field. You can write responses to articles in local, trade or national press, or opinion posts on industry developments – there’s huge potential here.

Again, this type of content will garner respect and trust from your customers, and you can effectively deliver your brand’s message.

5. It’s linked to search and social 

Content is closely linked to both SEO and social media – optimised copy is hugely beneficial, and social media is a great platform to share and discuss content. This means that, even if you already have ongoing SEO and social campaigns, content can be added to them really easily.

 

Next week we’ll be looking at the different types of content and how they fit into your business model, so if you have any questions you want addressing before then, just tweet us, message us on Facebook or leave a comment.

Blogging for business, can it really help? – YES!

Today I’ll be covering questions that we get asked often, should I have a blog? Your comments and questions are welcome – please comment below.

Read time: 5 minutes.

  • What is a blog?
  • How does it benefit my company?
  • Should I have one?

What is a blog?

A blog can be what you want it to be, a news feed, a list of articles, as set guides, a handbook, a diary, etc. Put simply it is a list of items that can be read by your public. They are usually ordered by date – with the most recent at the top, and sometimes can be sorted by categories. Need a further explanation? – contact me by commenting below or email via the contact page.

How can it benefit my company?

Blogs can benefit a company in so many ways.

Interesting Content for Visitors – Visitors to your website can probably find out about all your company and its services from your pages. But a blog can help you communicate your brand values via a less formal environment. This could be the sticking point that makes users return to your site more often to catch up on what’s new, or somewhere for them to comment, and get involved in your brand.

Search Engine Rankings – Not only do your customers like to see something new when they visit your site, but search engines do too. Search engines rank websites higher when they have fresh content published to them regularly. Also by writing articles centred around a particular topic you can aim to appear higher for specific key search phrases on search engines.

You may think that by having a single page where customers can find out about what’s happening right now is the same as having a blog, but it’s very different. Each blog, (or news story, article, guide, etc) can each sit on its own page, with its own keywords and own specific url. This all contributes towards a very search engine friendly page.

Going Viral – Blogs are perfect for linking into social sites such as facebook and twitter as they can invite customers to like, comment and share blog articles with ease. The more times a blog article is passed around, the higher the potential for a viral effect.

Should I have one?

YES! – In the current climate I would say that a blog is absolutely essential for every website. Even though the focus might be slightly different – ie some companies use blogs to update customers on a news feed, others use them to provide real value through articles and guide.

The way that this content is arranged in a blog format makes it perfect for the web.

  • It can be ordered in a list with an icon and a summary for each article
  • It can be date ordered with new content at the top
  • It can be fed into numerous places using RSS feeds
  • It can be categorised and tagged for easy organisation

If you’d like to find out about how to get a blog installed on your website, please contact us