During a recent conference, I spent seven hours with local entrepreneurs, marketers, and PR professionals sharing first-hand experiences around marketing challenges and how they solved them. One of the main topics was digital trends and what we, as content producers, should know.
One speaker who really stood out for me was the charismatic Wil Reynolds, Founder and Director of Strategy at SEER Interactive, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC, and Analytics.
Wil challenged the group to to ask themselves if they were working on marketing “outputs” or “outcomes.”
What did he mean?
We all get so caught up on making sure we are meeting certain bars or KPIs in terms of numbers and metrics – how many articles did we get mentioned in? How many media impressions did we secure? Did we get more clicks than last month? How many page views did we get? How many more followers?
These are all metrics that PR and digital marketing professionals are expected to report against, on a daily, weekly or monthly basis; and when our numbers are where they are supposed to be, it’s easy to think “hey, we are doing what we are supposed to do, and all is good.”
But at the end of the day, how do all of these metrics translate to customers and sales?
What so many of us forget to do is close the loop on our PR and marketing efforts. Did those extra followers lead to a new prospect? Did the articles you secured get placed in the publications that your customers read? Has our new messaging come across in our media placements? In other words, did all of our efforts result in actually “moving the needle” against our goals?
Wil continued, “In our business, we need to think like a child and ask “why” at least five times to everything we do, to get to the root of the problem. If we don’t know WHY we are doing something, or have any way to measure its effectiveness, then we are just going through the motions and wasting precious time, money and resources.”
So, as you look at your marketing mix, be critical. Don’t just “do”. Ask yourself why are we doing this and how is it going to translate into meeting our business objectives? That’s how you deliver more strategic outcomes, not simply outputs.
By Colleen Martin, Director
A review of social media-pro Guy Kawasaki’s book, “The Art of Social Media”
Sure, you’re engaging in social media efforts for your clients, but are they reaching the right people? Did they make any impact?
If you are already implementing, or are planning to implement, a social media campaign, Guy Kawasaki is a name you need to know. Formerly an advisor at Google and Chief Evangelist at Apple, Guy is an authority on all things social media.
In his book, “The Art of Social Media”, Guy outlines best practices and tips that all circle back to the main focus: Are you earning the right to promote?
What does that mean? It’s easy to share your latest news article or link to your event, but what does that offer your audience? That’s right: little or nothing. It’s too promotional.
Guy uses the example of NPR. Every day of the year, NPR offers commercial-free, quality news, which provides a true value to its listeners. It’s for that reason, a few days per year, they are able to run a pledge drive. NPR has earned the right to promote the drive with 363 days of uninterrupted, respected content.
“The Art of Social Media” uncovers various ways to make sure that you are continuing to provide new, and useful content.
One example is using curation and aggregation services – many of them are free and can provide a wealth of articles and the latest studies to share. Examples that Guy provided include: Alltop, Buffer, Feedly, Google Scholar, LinkedIn, NPR, and Reddit.In addition to these tools, it can be helpful to set up Google alerts on key terms: competitors, industry hot topics, etc. This way, you receive up-to-the-minute information that is worth sharing.
Once you have the content, the next step is to share. There are best practices in how to craft posts for the various channels.
- Be brief: Posts on Google+ and Facebook should be 2-3 sentences and Twitter has a limit of 140 characters, but 100 characters is really the best practice.
- Be visual: Every post, no matter where it is, should contain “eye candy” in the form of a picture, graphic, or video. According to a Skyword study, views of a client’s content increased by 94% if a published article contained a relevant photograph or infographic.
- Be sly: Use key phrases that let readers know they are about to get useful and practical information (i.e. “How to rock___, Quick guide to ___, Essential steps to___)
- Be active: While this seems obvious, it’s one of the most important tools. Don’t be afraid to repost the same exact post a few times per day. According to Moz, the prime lifetime of an average Tweet is only 18 minutes! It’s much more likely that you’ll gain new followers, retweets, likes, etc. by posting the same content multiple times than it is you’ll lose any due to annoyance.
By Alyson Kurtiz, Strategist
As content marketing continues to drive many of today’s integrated marketing programs, perfecting writing skills for the various marketing channels has never been more critical. Copy for a brochure is not the same as copy for a press release, white paper or social media.
Copy development for a website has its own voice or tone. The great part about web copy is that it can be changed and adjusted on the fly and new messages and call to actions can be tested dynamically for each campaign or target audience. The hard part about web copy is that you need to think about the SEO implications of the text and how what is put on each page affects the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s “organic” (un-paid) search results.
SEO is an animal. It is dynamic, always evolving, and quite frankly one of the most technical and, as a result, more difficult aspects of digital marketing. SEO can also often be overlooked. This is often because the role of keeping up with the SEO best practices resides with many people from both technical teams and content developers. There are standard best practices today that, no matter who your audience is or the purpose of your site, should be applied if you are looking to attract visitors.
Off-page SEO: Linking & Content Marketing
Websites can be optimized through activity that does not even occur on your site. For example, links from third parties in media placements or links from partners can drive additional, credible traffic.
Additionally, third party content that results from a contributed article, a blog post on another site, a video or social media, could also drive traffic.
Research: Targets & Keywords
Compiling web copy can be a daunting task. However, what you say is just as important as how you say it.
As with every marketing channel, copy that is optimized for SEO takes into account the target audience or audiences. Identify the audience the pain point they are looking to solve and what unique benefits will drive interest in your product or service. These benefits and differentiators will inform calls to action that are effective and create engagement.
Traditional SEO copy writing focused on keywords. However, these are usually way too broad and have too much competition – the result: you’re lost.
Today, it is best to optimize keyphrases for long tail search queries in order to attract highly targeted traffic. This takes time and research to identify the most popular and common phrases.
In addition to keyword and keyphrase research, Google Adwords provides valuable ranking and insight into the popularity of terms, helping to formulate intelligent decisions on what phrases and words to incorporate on the web page copy.
Technical Aspects of SEO Copy
While dated, the Google SEO Starter guide is a great source of information for the development of optimized content.
This guide breaks down important best practices on how to:
• Create unique, accurate page titles
• Make use of the “description” meta tag
• Structure your URLs logically
• Write better anchor text
• Make use of image alts
Metadata still plays an indirect role in optimizing SEO copy. Metadata is the information within thetag code that doesn’t get displayed on a webpage, but is used by search engines. Metadata influences Google’s and Bing’s algorithms directly. However, user behavior such as click-through rate and dwell time does. Meta descriptions factor into which results a user clicks.
Additionally, as the copy of the webpage comes together, keep in mind that the main body of the text is the most important – not the sidebars, headers or call outs.
Composing Optimized Copy
With the keywords identified and the plan of attack outlined, it is time to start composing the text for the webpages.
For each page, target 2-3 keyphrases, include headers (with keyphrases incorporated), and give headers hierarchical structure. In the body of the copy, weave in keyphrases, synonyms and natural variants.
Check your work. There are plug-ins available to verify and confirm that best practices are intact, such as Yoast for WordPress. Yoast is installed during development, manages on-page SEO and publishes XML sitemaps for search engines to crawl.
Once your site is developed and ready to launch, run a pre-launch check to make sure everything is ready to launch.
Now you’re ready to be found!
Launching a new website? What is your copy saying? Print this out and make sure you are following these simple rules. Best practices go a long way and can dramatically impact your site’s visibility.
- Vary sentence structure to have a combination of longer and shorter sentences for rhythm. Keep sentences under 30 words.
- Keep paragraphs short and break them into logical sections with headers. Readers need the white space for legibility. Headers also help a page look more visually interesting and are easier to scan. This goes double for mobile view!
- Use bullets to break up paragraphs and help readers scan list info quickly.
- Maintain the right tone for target readers.
- Don’t copy sections of other websites in order to appear more content rich. You may be penalized.
- Be boring
- Attention spans are super short. The more readers you lose early, the more your SEO takes a hit. Be dynamic. Web copy isn’t a white paper. It has a mission—give readers what they need quickly and drive them to action.
- Forget to answer questions
- Visitors are coming to your site to answer a question, make sure you are answering it so they come back or engage more.
- Create dead-end pages
- There must be clear, focused calls to action on every page.
- Primary CTA—get potential clients and partners to contact
- Secondary CTAs—newsletter sign up, link to related content
You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” If that’s true, then one minute of video could easily be worth 1+ million words.
The power of video in communication is more prevalent than ever, as we are constantly surrounded by it: television, YouTube, Vine, Instagram, etc. Yet, in a recent survey conducted by PR Newswire and PR News, 76 percent of respondents believe video is underutilized in messaging platforms and in PR content. More than half of respondents also stated less than 5 percent of their overall external communication is delivered in video format.
According to a recent PR Newswire webinar, video is shared 1,200 percent more than links and text combined, and photos are liked 200 percent more than text updates. So what is holding organizations back from using visual storytelling in their communication efforts?
The common reasons for not utilizing video are lack of time, budget, resources and expertise. Below are five ways you can adopt video and visual storytelling into your PR strategy:
1. Include video in your budget. 51 percent of respondents to the survey believe their video budget will increase this year. With the abundance of statistics showing the benefits of video in improving a campaign, it is important to try and set aside a budget in order to make incorporating visual elements possible.
2. Run a content audit. Take a look at what content your organization has to offer. Many organizations have content that can be repurposed into a video such as customer training tutorials, behind-the-scenes visuals, valuable data, or existing infographics. All of this content can be repurposed for video.
3. Get professional help. Whether you have the content or not, a great production company is necessary. It is important they have the creative ability to translate your specific story into compelling visuals.
4. Figure out what story you want to tell. We live in a world of instant gratification in which you only have a few seconds to catch a viewer’s attention. For this reason, one-minute videos will make the most impact. If you have a five-minute message to share, break that down into a series of shorter videos. Not only will this keep a viewer’s attention, but gives you even more content to share. If done efficiently, video has the ability to create brand loyalty by easily providing information a customer or client may be seeking. It also differentiates your company from the competition by helping to raise your brand to the top a search rank page.
5. Plan the downstream strategy. Market your marketing. If you have put in the time, effort and money into creating the perfect visual story, now what are you going to do with it? You cannot create a video and hope it magically goes viral. The distribution plan for video content is crucial. According to Unruly, 42 percent of video views occur within 72 hours of video publication. Proving, in order for your video to succeed, you must give it a push out the door to get it in front of the right audience, at the right time. By planning a comprehensive communication strategy, your video can become a shining star in your communications arsenal.
Visuals drive discovery. No matter how boring you may be on a piece of paper, there is always a story to tell. By figuring out a way to incorporate visual storytelling into your brand or PR campaign, the results will be significant – see for yourself!
Post by Emily Forgash, Strategist
In PR, it is always best to have the facts on your side. From pitching a new client to building a strategic communications plan to finding the right media pitch targets, research plays a critical supporting role in helping you to make smart, informed recommendations.
There are various types of research involved in PR: primary research, which can be focus groups, phone interviews, online surveys; and secondary research, which includes market and industry research, news tracking, competitive analysis, media and analyst audits, and media/social media analysis and more. Each of these tools can provide PR professionals with important information to inform your overall business and communications strategies.
At Zer0 to 5ive, we start every client engagement with research, because we believe that the best marketing and public relations programs are well informed.
Here are some of the ways that research can help improve your PR practice:
The New Client Pitch – Know your client, its competitors, its market, who covers them, and where they have been covered. All of this information and knowledge is based on research that should be conducted prior to any client pitch meeting. While secondary research is a must, primary research can also be very valuable. For example – when pitching a new client, conducting a consumer survey or interviewing target customers can add an additional level of insight and win points with a perspective client.
The PR Plan – When you are building the PR plan, research helps you strategize and set realistic goals, and will help ensure that your messaging is relevant and compelling. Making recommendations based on research – why you chose a specific target audience, how you came up with the tagline, why you are targeting a certain tradeshow for launch – will enable you to answer the client question: “Why are you recommending this strategy?” By conducting the appropriate amount of research, you will be able to support your recommendations with confidence.
The Media Pitch – Both the pitch and the media targets should be well researched. Who are you targeting? What type of stories do they write? How do they like to communicate? And when writing the pitch research can make it more compelling. What’s trending in the industry? Can you use metrics or statistics in your pitch to make it more relevant? Client-sponsored primary research, from online surveys or focus groups, for example, is also great fodder for media. You can package this research in an infographic or press release to help promote your client.
These are just some of the many ways that research helps to support the work we do here at Zer0 to 5ive. How do you use research in your PR program?
Post by Jennifer Moritz, Prinicpal