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Content

Discovering your brands voice

brand voice

This weeks post will examine the concept of voice in branding, the article I am examining is ‘Finding your brands voice’ by Liz Evangelatos

Liz defines voice as ‘the feeling a brand gives a person because of its marketing’

I’m more familiar with the concept of voice from copywriting and content development but I’m assuming the two are closely related; my definition of voice is slightly different ‘Voice is the style of writing employed and the impression you wish to convey of your organisation to your intended audience’. I ditched the idea of comparing voice(branding) with voice(copywriting) as I felt it would be rather a dull read only of interest to marketing/branding professors

Defining your voice

My voice has rather uncharitably been described as ‘old man formal’, its a label I’m more than happy to wear as its actually what I’m like up to a degree, and I’m comfortable with so my communication reflects who I am and is authentic. I do have a sense of humour please don’t tell anyone ;).

Role of Voice in Marketing Plan

Liz asserts that ‘This is a subject you should devote a considerable amount of time to in your marketing plan before you ever write your first message’ and I completely agree, as I tend to travel light and prefer to keep things simple, I am after all only a SME/Microbusiness my voice is ‘friendly – personable, authentic and knowledgeable’ so there no 40 page documents precisely defining it, a larger organisation could afford to do this. I try to discuss technical subjects in a way readily understood by my target audience, so there is a degree of soul searching every time I use an acronym, and I generally avoid jargon. Voice generally informs everything I do, i.e. I’m informal on Facebook and talk about topics Id never consider on Twitter, this is as various social networks have different characteristics and I try to tailor my voice according to social network, its only an online way of minding your Ps & Qs.

Parting thoughts

I agree Completely with Liz’s conclusion that ‘Your brand’s voice is a difficult thing to articulate well. You’ll know you’re on the right track when you feel the voice you’re using is true and authentic to yourself, your product or service and people seek you out because they’re comfortable with you. And at that point, you have built a relationship. ‘(source: askforliz.wordpress.com)Liz uses examples from her personal life in her article which is something I very rarely do, being quite a private person (it took me a month or open up on twitter ), voice is strictly a personal choice , details like Liz imparts in her article highlight how genuine the authenticity of her writing, this is in my opinion a good thing, elevating it above a lot of bland corporate guff, Carl Potts Designs offer content development packages designed to interest your potential customers, in addition I offer social media management services tailor made for Small Businesses to discover how I can boost your online marketing, contact me today!

I know its important, but what exactly is website content?

(Original Image Flickr:Mauro Toselli)

(Original Image Flickr:Mauro Toselli)

This weeks blog post I’ll return to a topic previously, that of website content, as its such an important topic I’ve no major issue with revisiting this territory, hopefully you’ll find it interesting as well, I’ll be looking at content from a small business perspective such as a tradesman’s website.

Why is content important?

Content is important for a number of reasons including the following

• A website which answers all of a potential customers questions is going to create trust in your company or service, it makes me think this is a person who I can do business with
• It will immediately set you apart from your competitors, Small Business websites often feature little or no real content (a few stock images doesn’t really count for much in my opinion), I’ve got nowhere near the amount of content I’d like to get on my website yet! (It’s a work in progress)
• It will attract visitors (and backlinks) to your website leading to better search Engine Rankings
• It’s the modern way to promote your business, rather than hard sell tactics which serve to irritate people why not provide them with the information they are looking for already?

What exactly is Website Content?

This is the $64,000 question; Text, images, video and audio are all forms of content as are documents such as eBooks & Whitepapers; Blog posts are also a form of Content, really this is only the tip of the content iceberg, depending on your industry things such as apps, slideshows and infographics are an easily shared and popular form for content to take, it all depends on the business you are in, for a clothes shop photographs of the latest ranges of clothing and analysis of fashion trends would be great content, for a tradesman good quality photographs of your latest projects would be perfect as would case studies of projects. Good Quality Content puts your business forward in the best possible light, it is questions of content quality we’ll look at next.

What is great quality quality content?

Of all the definitions of good quality content I’ve seen the best is that from Content expert Kristina Halvorson

‘Great Content meets users needs and supports key business objectives it engages and informs. It’s well written and intuitively organised. It keeps people coming back for more. ‘(Halvorson & Rach 2012)

In a nutshell great content is

a. Interesting
b. Useful
c. Answers Customer questions
d. Supports business goals (such as attracting new customers)

Returning to the tradesperson’s website example the questions (as a potential Customer) Id want answering are

• How good is this person’s work?
• How professional are they?
• Is the customer service of good quality?
• How happy are previous customers with the work they received.

The content I’d be looking for would be good quality photographs, testimonials, case studies and reviews, if all of those questions were answered to my satisfaction and the price was reasonable then the chances are good that I’d attempt to become a future client of that person.

Creating “Mobile Friendly” Content

mobile-content

Original Image (Flickr:mobilyazilar)

This week’s blog post develops the theme introduced last weeks, that of mobile computing, this week will specifically address content tailored for a mobile audience. Given the increasing use of mobile devices, (smartphones and tablets) it makes sense to ensure that your website content is readily consumable by mobile device users, this week blog post will examine how can website content be tailored for a mobile audience.

Research has shown that mobile users value convenience highly as Jessica Davis infers:

‘Mobile users are known to abandon their attempts to visit any website if it takes more than a few seconds to load’ Jessica Davis (zemanta.com)

Key point

Mobile Users expect websites to load quickly & to be convenient for them to use on a mobile device, if your website fails to meet their requirements they are quite likely to leave it and go elsewhere for the information they need

Mobile Content guidelines

Snappy Headlines

Copywriters need to use smaller headlines to grab the attention of mobile users; this coincides with the shorter tail of search for mobile users (in short mobile users tend to use smaller search queries)

Images

Images also need to be smaller download sizes to be suitable for mobile phone users; there are two main technologies for adjusting the size of images adaptive & responsive. Additionally there is a need for caution to be exercised when selecting website images, detailed high-resolution graphics which may look perfect for desktop users maybe unreadable for mobile audiences.

Forms

Forms are another design consideration that requires careful attention to detail; otherwise what is a perfectly good form for desktop users could be a usability nightmare for mobile users. Given the low tolerance of mobile users for slow awkward interfaces failing to design with them in mind and accounting for the characteristics of mobile browsers (such as field zoom on forms) could be a costly mistake.

Key point

Mobile devices display things differently to desktop equivalents, your usability testing needs to take this into account otherwise you may fail your mobile audience

eBooks

In addition to these website usability considerations, content such as eBooks should not neglect mobile audiences, with care it is possible to ensure that mobile users can enjoy eBook content.

Parting thoughts

Given the impressive growth of mobile computing it would be ill advised to neglect mobile users when developing a company website. Having a responsive website is an excellent starting point but mobile considerations need to influence every aspect of the website including the content it contains. Bloggers such as Susan Waldes (searchengineland.com) have bemoaned the lack of consistent quality control on the mobile web, Waldes suggests that ‘the mobile web of today reminds me of the regular web of 1999’(searchengineland.com) even larger companies such as Marin & LinkedIn are guilty of these inconsistencies when providing content which fails to meet the expectations of mobile users. Given the rapid growth of mobile computing with it predicted to account for a greater share of UK search traffic than desktop by 2014.Surely it makes sense to differentiate your brand by developing a website & content which comfortably exceeds the expectations of mobile users?

Why should I blog?

bloggingOriginal Photo (Flickr:Jacob Bøtter)

• Businesses that blog have 55% more web visitors.
• B2C businesses that blog generate 88% more leads per month.
• B2B businesses that blog generate 67% more leads per month.(j6design.com.au)

Most people are familiar with term blogging these days, even if they don’t know exactly what it means, it’s simply a combination of the terms web and log, log here meaning ‘to record incidents or facts’ like the Captains Log which Star Trek fans are familiar with, an online notebook or journal is a good way to picture it. This two part post will examine both the benefits of business blogging and look at what sort of topics should your business blog be examining, I’m aware both these topics have been covered to death elsewhere but I really want to go beyond the typical 5 benefits of blogging post and cover everything the blogging neophyte needs to know, I often encounter misconceptions as to what blogging is about , Some people think that blogging is basically an online place where people rant to rail against the rest of the world, some personal blogs are like this, however I’d advise not adopting this approach for a business blog where your company is represented.

What’s in it for me? Why the benefits of business blogging

‘The benefits of a website (for business) are undeniable. As a platform for websites, blogs magnify those benefits tremendously, delivering on them better than a non-blog website can.’ (Michael Martine quoted in Wayne Liew)

Search Engine Optimisation

A blog is a great asset from a Search Engine Optimisation perspective, a well researched, informative, useful and interesting blog is a great way to demonstrate expertise in a niche (preferably one your clients are interested in), speaking personally it was a blog post about EU cookie law which generated the most links to my website(if not invites to parties), thus dramatically boosting my websites search engine performance, this neatly leads to the next benefit of business blogging

Authority

You may possibly have encountered the term ‘thought leader’ whilst exploring the web its merely a fancy way of saying ‘industry expert’, what better way to demonstrate your expertise in a subject than a regularly updated blog or column? Webreference argue that ‘The appearance of authority is also important to online businesses. Customers will be much more likely to use your service or purchase your goods if they see you as an authority on a particular subject.’(webreference.com), this is a point underlined by j6design
’If your company’s blog contains well-written, insightful content, internet users will be more likely to think highly of your company and consider your company a leader in its field.’ (j6design.com.au)
The Authority of websites is an important factor when ranking search engine results

In Conclusion

Blogs provide an inexpensive way to demonstrate knowledge and expertise. They offer an effective way to develop content, which can be shared easily on social media to publicise your company and to develop brand awareness, in addition it enables you to make your company appear more accessible (especially if your blog supports comments) This conversational aspect is important as it gives you a perfect opportunity to gauge what is important to your customers and to tailor your products and services accordingly. A business blog could be justified for these benefits alone (there are plenty more), to discover how Carl Potts Designs could help you with your company blog, contact me today.

Citations

1. 10 Benefits for Businesses to Start Blogging by Wayne Liew
(http://www.wayneliew.com)
2. 10 Big Benefits Of A Busy Business Blog: (And How To take Advantage) | Webreference.com
3. Why have a business blog? How can a blog help my business?
(http://www.j6design.com.au)

website Content Deficiencies? Achieve success with content audits

content audit

content audit


Introduction

A common problem organisations encounter is a lack of awareness as to what content is actually present on the company website, this poses a number of problems, no-one in the organisation knows if the website content is of sufficient quality or if the content meets the requirements of your customers, as Kristina Halvorson states:

Its good to know how much content you have,where it lives,what its about, and whether its any good'(Halvorson 2012)

Anne Rockley & Charles Cooper also note the importance of understanding the nature and effectiveness of your website content. The main tool for gaining this appreciation is the content audit, which is what we’ll examine this week.

Types of Content Audit

Halvorson goes on to suggest 3 types of audit, these we’ll examine shortly:

Quantitative Audit

The first type of audit Halvorson introduces is the quantitative audit. This provides a high level ‘snapshot’ of what content is present on the site, what format it is in and where it is stored, in order to gain a more detailed understanding of a websites content a qualitative audit is required which we’ll examine now.

Qualitative Audit

‘A qualitative audit analyses the quality & effectiveness of the projects content’ (Halvorson & Rach 2012)

Halvorson & Rach propose two variants of qualitative audit, both of which are appropriate at different stages of a content project:

Best Practises Qualitative Audit

This type of qualitative audit is usually undertaken at the beginning of a project, it grades content against established best practises and examines that it actually satisfies user requirements

Strategic Assessment Qualitative Audit

This is the most in-depth type of audits and is usually performed towards the end of a content project, giving an indication of how well your existing content aligns with content strategy, this will allow gaps and shortcomings to be identified and hopefully eliminated

A note on automation

Unlike quantitative audits automated audit software is not really appropriate for qualitative audits as some degree of human review and grading is essential

Conclusions

Most Content experts are keen to emphasise the importance of content audits for content marketing projects and content-rich websites, although auditing can be time consuming it has a number of important benefits:

Identify Content Shortcomings
it is better to do this in the early stages of a content project rather than close to launch, auditing can identify shortcomings early in the project and if necessary eliminate them

Audits allow substandard content to be identified and removed

when integrated with Analytics software it is possible to identify the content which really strikes a chord with visitors and act accordingly with this information, if necessary develop additional popular content and remove the content that has failed to make an impact

Identify content for reuse and cross referencing purposes
Rockley suggests that an audit allows organisations to identify existing content which may be re purposed or utilised elsewhere, given the costly nature of original content it makes sense to extract the maximum benefit from existing content.

Gain a complete understanding of the content present on the website

Develop effective planning and content maintenance programs

Defining Excellent Content

This week I will be returning to the theme of good quality content, depending on the author you are reading this is known by a variety of names, McGovern refers to “killer content” where I prefer the Valuable Content” label used by Sonja Jefferson, same concept, different label. Both McGovern and Jefferson point to the decline in traditional broadcast marketing suggesting that the way business can successfully utilise the web is to produce good quality content which answers the questions of potential customers so building trust and rapport with these leads, basically what’s generally known as content marketing. Jefferson suggests that

‘Good marketing has always been valuable but the difference today is that buyers no longer tolerate or respond to marketing which is less than good (Jefferson 2012)

the perceived lack of quality of much online content is a concern many authors share, its a concern I certainly agree with a lot of online content is frequently rather poor in agree quality with there only being a few golden nuggets of content being available, McGovern complains about the prevalence of filler over killer content, I’ll be using the rest of this post to compare and contrast two definitions of ‘good quality’ content, I’ll then proceed to develop my own definition from this which will be used as the quality benchmark for the rest of the content added to this site

The importance of Useful Content

Redish (2012) highlights the usefulness of a websites content and its role in converting visitors into customers, she goes on to suggest that content needs to be
• easy to find
• easy to understand
• up to date
• credible (Redish 2012)

Redish places a lot of emphasis on the usefulness of content

‘People come for information that answers their question and helps them to complete their task’ (Redish 2012)

This tallies completely with Jay Baer’s Youtility concept and Jefferson’s recommendation that valuable content needs to be useful.

This week we’ve looked at a number of viewpoints on what constitutes good content, this is important because a number of prominent authors & thought leaders bemoan the variable quality of online content, its a concern I share, a lot of online content I encounter is rather mediocre, excellent content stands out and will differentiate you from the competition, now I’ll attempt to develop my own definition of excellent quality content which builds upon the previous definitions, In my opinion excellent quality content needs to tick all these boxes.

1. Succinct
2. Useful either Informative or entertaining
3. Relevant
4. Targeted
5. Clear
6. Easily Found
7. High quality
8. Correct
9. Mapped to sales funnel
10. Audited
11. Passionate

Parting thought

I personally find that most online content is beginner level only, there is a lot less intermediate and advanced level content available, this is a problem, which extends to printed books as well as online content; perhaps the beginner market is more lucrative? I personally find there is a real dearth of intermediate/advanced level content available freely online, perhaps I need to look harder but I don’t really feel its through lack of looking on my part, Carl Potts Designs offer Content Marketing services designed to

1. Boost Search Engine Performance
2. Improve Brand awareness and trust
3. Improve client retention/satisfaction
If this interests you contact me today either by phone or use the contact form.

Accompanying Slideshow

Measure the impact of your content marketing

measurement

Source: Flickr(William A Clark)

This weeks post concerns the monitoring and measurement of content marketing efforts, Both Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi recommend that Content Marketing campaigns should be continually monitored with some important caveats, Pulizzi cautions:

‘This is why I sometimes refer to analytics as WMD or Weapons of Mass Delusion, we can become so myopic about making sure the graph is always going up and to the right that we become fearful about doing anything new'(Pulizzi 2011)

These concerns are echoed by Robert Rose who suggests that focusing completely on ROI, does not help content marketing campaigns to flourish. On the contrary

‘Trying to pin ROI on content marketing is a bit like asking what’s the ROI of your telephone system ‘(Rose 2011)

Rose contends that ROI should be used as a goal or objective rather than a reason for “whether content marketing is worth doing”, Measurement is necessary in order to monitor the effectiveness of your campaign so that adjustments may be made as and when necessary, it is the Analytics Pyramids suggested by both authors that we shall examine next.

The Analytics pyramid

The analytics pyramid suggested by both Rose and Pulizzi is divided into 3 layers these being:

1. Primary Indicators (metrics of interest to executives)
2. Secondary Indicators (metrics of interest to Company Management)
3. User Indicators (for use by the Analytics team)

As can be seen each level of the pyramid is intended to provide the measurements required by different strata of the company from executive down to Analytics team, the successive layers increase the granularity and detail, with the Primary Indicators only providing the high level view of various metrics required for strategic decision making by the company executives such as lead generation rate and cost per lead generated.

At first glance a full analytics pyramid may seem somewhat excessive for smaller businesses to employ, especially in micro businesses where Management and executives are probably e content marketing campaign?one and the same. I don’t agree with this view, the detailed metrics and feedback offered by the User Indicator level allow the business to accurately gauge the effectiveness of their content marketing, this fine tuning is required if the content marketing is going to completely satisfy its objectives

In Conclusion

I hope this post has given you an insight into the role of metrics in a content marketing campaign, although initially confusing when stripped down to the basic underlying logic its reasonably straightforward

1. What are the objectives of the content marketing campaign?
2. Use metrics to gauge if the campaign is satisfying the objectives set in stage 1,
3. If it is not adjust accordingly, otherwise continue

both Pulizzi and Rose argue that measurement and analysis are necessary, if content publishing is truly to be regarded as content marketing, then continual feedback is required to fine tune your content program, however the satisfying of these metrics should not become the be all and end all of the content marketing program, that defeats the point. Carl Potts Designs offers content Marketing Solutions designed to enable your company to achieve its online goals, if this is of interest to you please contact me today for further information.

Understanding Website Authority the secret of better search rankings

seaauthorityThis week I’ll be examining Authority one of the two main criteria along with relevance which determine how a website performs on Search Engine Results pages, so if you wish to be at the top of Google its well worth taking the time to understand this concept.

The components of Website authority

Copyblogger identify 4 core components which determine the authority of a website, these are:

1. Sites which solve the problems or questions of potential leads, this is the Youtility which Jay Baer refers to in his book of the same name
2. Sites which attract links from other authoritative publishers
3. Sites which attract a lot of attention where the audience helps to share your content
4. And it’s the site with a confident, ethical sales process that converts attention into business.(Source: Copyblogger )

Hopefully this list makes it pretty obvious why SEOs constantly harp on about content (I know I do!), but this post is focused more on search authority as opposed to content, although the two factors are definitely interrelated. A site with little or no content will fail on nearly all of the 4 points; a site needs good quality content in order to satisfy the points above.

Link Building

Note that I highlighted the words authoritative publishers in point 2, this means that links from dubious sites carry little weight when Google determines SERP rankings, Google does not approve of the purchasing of links and will penalise sites it suspects of engaging in the practise, reciprocal linking (if you link to my site I’ll link to yours) schemes carry a lot less weight these days the best way to generate quality backlinks is to develop good quality website content which is worth linking to, this is a point argued by Link building expert Eric Ward (aka Link Moses) who argues that

‘The less useful your content, the less likely you are to ever receive a link to it “(Ward 2013)

this accentuates the link (no pun intended) between website content and good search engine performance.

The role of Social Media in building authority

Point 3 highlights the link between content and social media. Google and the other Search Engines take account of how much attention sites get on the social networks, a Site with 1000s of links from Social Media is perceived as having more authority by the search engines and will perform well on the SERPs

‘The larger your social footprint, the more impact social media will have on your SEO efforts. (Search Engine Land 2011)

Experience suggests that its relatively easy to publicise a site full of interesting, entertaining or informative content on social media (a fact the likes of buzzfeed.com & quickmeme.com utilise) conversely a site with little or no content will receive little or no attention on the various social networks.

The Connection between content and website authority

Although this article is ostensibly about Website authority, the concept is completely intertwined with website content and backlinks, in a nutshell the website with loads of good content will develop authority naturally leading to better SERP rankings & website traffic which is something most small business owners want. Carl Potts Designs offer Search Engine Optimisation services, Social Media support and content creation designed for specifically increasing your websites traffic.

What can Content Marketing do for your company?

Content Marketing is possibly the most influential trend in online marketing today with 93% of B2B Marketers using content marketing (source:CMI)
I want to use this weeks post to explore the concept and clarify what successful content marketing requires then I’ll examine the benefits of content marketing, and how it fits into your overall marketing plan. We’ll then conclude with an overview of the takeaway points

What exactly is Content Marketing?

At first glance Content Marketing appears to be an easily understood model, a number of authors suggest that it’s nothing new only that delivery of engaging content via a website hub is a new variant of an old approach, examining the concept beyond the simplest level, Ann Handley suggests

‘Content is what sets your company apart – because it will define how you relate to your customers, and whether your customers choose you over anyone else’ (Curata 2013)

Joe Pulizzi argues that Content Marketing is far more than simply creating content which answers the questions of leads and potential customers, Content marketing sets out to complete business objectives which can include

• Increasing Website Traffic
• Brand Awareness and Visibility
• Asset Downloads
• Lead Generation
• Building trust
• Improving customer loyalty (Source: Curata 2013)

What are the benefits of Content Marketing?

Content marketing has a number of benefits, amongst these being
• Better Search Engine Rankings
• Developing customer trust
• Brand Recognition

It is a lot easier to publicise a website which is filled with great quality content which solves peoples problems as opposed to one with hardly any content. Search Engine Optimisation in 2014 is basically concerned with the development of good quality content, with recent Algorithm changes by Google such as Panda and Penguin have penalised sites with poor quality content, not so much ‘build it and they will come, rather answer their questions, entertain them and they might come’

Jay Baer suggests that top of mind awareness is a powerful sales tool i.e. when a customer thinks of a brand they think of your company, Content Marketing is a fantastic way for generating top of mind awareness especially when your content promoted via Social Media

Conclusions

We’ve seen that Content Marketing is not really a new approach to marketing it is however a new discipline (Pulizzi 2012) beyond the obvious creation of content there has to be underlying and measureable business objectives, it is not a case of simply ‘creating content for contents sake’, there is no need to go over the many benefits of content marketing again. The Consequences of having poor quality or little content are worth examining

• Lack of Customer engagement with high bounce rates
• Poor Search Engine rankings
Please note that the Carl Potts Designs Newsletter regularly covers topics such as ‘what is good quality content?’ and how can Website content be promoted effectively. Please signup today for the monthly newsletter if you would find further information on this subject and other online marketing topics interesting.

Turbocharge Content promotion

Web Content Promotion

Effective Promotion is a vital

This week’s post will examine one of the important components of the content marketing lifecycle I’ve not covered yet. Creating great content, which answers the needs of your customers is only part of the content marketing cycle. It needs to be promoted effectively, which is what I’ll examine this week, investigating both organic and paid promotion methods.

Jay Baer highlights the dangers of neglecting content promotion:

“The notion that you can simply create interesting content people
will magically find it is a lie. If you build it, they won’t necessarily
come. You have to treat your content executions like a product, and
launch them the same way you would launch a product.”( Baer in Buzzstream 2014)

Personally I’d have to agree with buzzstream’s somewhat gloomy appraisal of the current market (2014), the use of content Marketing alone will not differentiate you from your competition, its becoming an very common strategy especially in the United States

While content marketing was once something
new, clever, and practiced only by the people
that ‘got’ the internet, that time is now over.
Now 90% of B2C marketers and 93% of B2B
marketers are creating content for their prospects
and customers.

Organic
Social Book Marking sites
Wikipedia defines Social Book Marking thus:

Social Bookmarking websites allow Internet users to organize and store bookmarks to online resources.’

Popular Social Book Marking sites include (list from about.com):

1. Digg
2. Stumbleupon
3. Reddit
4. Pintrest
5. Slashdot
6. Newsvine
7. Fark
8. Technorati

This is slightly different to the social networks which your company should have been cultivating, in the United Kingdom the most popular networks are, Sharing links is perfectly acceptable on Social Bookmarking sites. Excessive self-promotion on social networks will alienate and irritate followers

1. Facebook
2. Twitter
3. Google plus
4. LinkedIn

Promoted