How We Raised $65,000 For 2 Overlapping Crowdfunding Campaigns
By Jaclyn Sorese
At Vab Media Web Design & SEO Marketing Firm, we love to share our insights / knowledge with others. With that said, we are happy to offer our readers and clients 10 key takeaways and actionable lessons we discovered, which should be used for your next crowdfunding campaign and general marketing efforts online.
Whether or not you ever run a crowdfunding campaign, there are lessons to be learned that can be valuable to any marketer, business owner or entrepreneur. When it comes to raising awareness or promoting a brand, product, service or cause, the usual marketing channels of content marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media strategy and public relations journalist blogger outreach are what is necessary to find and connect with people and customers. The main difference with crowdfunding campaigns compared to marketing a business or start-up online is the time frame discrepancy, normally marketing or SEO takes 12 to 24 months to see awesome results but with crowdfunding, you usually only have 30 to 60 days; so it’s marketing on hyper speed.
The Background & Catamaran Literary Reader
In 2012, local Santa Cruz startup, Catamaran Literary Reader, contacted us for help with their crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. However, we were hired at the end of the campaign, so we didn’t get to see the entire thing through from start to finish. The Catamaran Literary Reader is a visual and literary magazine released on a quarterly basis. Catamaran Literary Reader organization is “Based in the new Tannery Arts and Digital Media Center Studios, in Santa Cruz, CA., our mission is to capture the vibrant creative spirit of The West Coast in writing and art from around the world.”
In 2013, however, Vab Media was hired again by Catamaran Literary Reader to run the whole campaign from start to finish. We thought we could just use social networks and emails to get crowdfunds…well…we were wrong. We began with trying to target advertisements to a landing page that would give people an e-magazine trial of the art and literature found in the magazine before the beginning of the campaign in order to acquire more interest in the magazine, along with emails so that we could let them know when the campaign would begin. We also focused on developing a new wave of followers on @CatamaranLit on Twitter, by following authors and artists, and engaging with them and their content. We also started posting more on Google Plus, focusing mostly on literature and arts communities. Since they had a few videos, we dressed up Catamaran’s YouTube channel and moved their videos from Vimeo to YouTube. We attempted to reach out to a few CEOs and influential backers to pledge higher amounts. In the end, Catherine Segurson, Founder, Editor-In-Chief, Catamaran Literary Reader, ended up reaching a backer who pledged an amount that would let us hit the mark. Both online and offline marketing were essential in both campaigns.
The Background & Trek Medics International
At around the time that the Catamaran Kickstarter campaign was underway, Jason Friesen of Trek Medics International contacted Vab Media to assist his crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. “Trek Medics International is dedicated to reducing the global burden of premature death and disability in vulnerable communities through the development of prehospital and emergency care services.” But why would Vab Media chose to take on two crowdfunding campaigns back-to-back? Such a task could be insurmountable and it’s certainly a good question to ask…we have no great answer, except for the fact that we wanted to help our clients and are always ready for a challenge. Crowdfunding is a full time gig, and you definitely need all the resources you can get.
Vab Media’s Top 10 Lessons Learned From Crowdfunding
Based on our two parallel crowdfunding campaigns, we must say that we learned a lot of information. Our crowdfunding campaigns taught us 10 very important lessons:
#1-Contact your marketing team a few months prior to the campaign launch- set clear goals with your marketing team before hand. Begin by explaining and detailing action items to your team members as to what you’re actually trying to fund, whether it’s a tangible program, like training ordinary people into real life first responders in Haiti (like we saw with Trek Medics), or a more varied use of proceeds, such as support for your overhead costs. Also, make sure you define your goals with each team member and how you will measure their performances. Examples of tracking performance would be url shorteners like bitly, analytics tools and recording work in Google Documents. Indiegogo added a new dashboard as of Oct. 2013 that is really kick-ass and shows a ton of helpful analytics. Some other items you will want to focus on include your expense base. This will include all expenses and proceeds that contribute to your base of support- core supporters, active fundraisers, active donors and social followers, including email lists. Studies have shown that practically 3-5% of your email list will transition into fundraisers.
- Kickstarter gives you referral data from websites and social networks.
- Indiegogo does it a little differently by giving you data from referrals–the number of people who found your campaign page through a shared link which you or one of your fans shared online.
#2-If you are a 501(c)(3) non profit- apply via Google Applications for non-profits 2-3 months before the launch of your campaign- Google for Nonprofits offers non profit organizations access to free ad products. Google’s non profit initiative can help your campaign find donors you never would have reached through mainstream venues; your supporters and volunteers will be more active and motivated and word of mouth is invaluable. Strategy, strategy, strategy- what is your strategy? Your strategy needs be one that undeniably drives more traffic to your website. Such a strategy can be greatly assisted by the use of Google AdWords whereby you can vastly improve the chances that a web user discovers your website online because your business’ ads are visible in Google search results. The problem, or caveat, is that in order take advantage of using ads to help drive more engagement and people to your cause, you need apply for Google’s non profit program at least 60 days prior to launching your campaign, or you will not be able to use them. And just to let you know some non profits receive up to $329 dollars daily of free AD SPEND from Google each month. There are some restrictions on what the maximum keyword bidding prices you can go after, but all in all if you are a registered non profit it is a valuable marketing tool to use.
#3-Having a good press list is key- It is never easy to get famous journalists that work for major news organizations to respond or pay attention to your cause, or even write about or run your story. We have two tips for this section. Sometimes smaller and more niche news sites can be very effective in getting your message out and even better at reaching people who are relevant (i.e. people who actually care about your cause and donate.) As an example for Trek Medics International, who is a sustainable business, Triple Pundit was a perfect place to publish. Triple Pundit also tweeted Trek Medic’s cause out to their 21,000 plus followers. Vab Media’s second idea of creative ways to contact journalists comes from Jason Friesen, Trek Medics International’s Founder. You never know how many alumni from your college you attended who now work for major news outlets. Jason’s post graduate degree from Columbia University helped him promote Trek Medics’ campaign. An alumn from Jason’s school happened to be a blogger who now writes for the prestigious Time Magazine’s Business Section. He wrote a great story on Trek Medics’ cause which gave the cause more legitimacy towards the end of the campaign.
#4-Constantly posting updates from your campaign- this is a great way to keep people updated about what has been going on since you started the campaign, and the more it progresses, the more people are willing to believe in your cause because they see you are active in the cause.
#5-Large Prizes - unless you have a large company or large backer in line before the campaign begins, large prizes may not be the best thing to add on the crowdfunding prize list. For example, in the middle of the catamaran Kickstarter campaign is when we decided to go after large supporters but, unfortunately, some of them couldn’t meet our deadline. Some of them came through at the end when they saw we may not be able to make the goal…so…we didn’t get any takers on the larger prizes…but you really need to know ahead of time what will be offered and have some contacts in mind that will be available to donate. Medium size prizes seem to be the most effective. If you look below at the number #9 section, there is a great example of a medium size prize that worked very effectively for Trek Medics International.
#6-Indiegogo vs. Kickstarter- what is better for your campaign? Both Indiegogo and Kickstarter have their pros and cons and they are also both very popular. One of the distinguishing factors of Kickstarter is that your campaign must completely hit your campaign goal(“all or nothing” model.) If your campaign does not reach its goal, you don’t get to keep any of the money earned. Alternatively, with Indiegogo, this is not the case. If you have a goal that may have been set a bit too lofty, and you only earn ½ or ¾ of that total, the great news is that you still keep everything you raised. When Vab Media looked to compare fees, we found the following. If your project is successfully funded, Kickstarter will apply a 5% fee to the funds raised, and Amazon will apply credit card processing fees (between 3-5%.) If funding isn’t successful, there are no fees. With Indiegogo, If you make your goal you will only pay 5% compared to 9% if you don’t. if you are a verified non profit then they will take 25% off of their fees in the the end.
Hit your BenchMarks, another thing to ensure success meet the benchmarks that IndieGoGo spells out – i.e., getting 30% of your total in first quarter of campaign, Either way, if you want their juice behind you, you need to do it, so be very honest about how much you can raise yourself. They don’t care if you’re raising $1,500 or $150,000, you gotta hit your benchmarks. IndieGoGo is listed as an Investment Bank on LinkedIn, and it’s true. But instead of saying, “We’ll pick the investments with the most promise based on our judgments,” they say, “We’ll take everybody and put our money on the winning horses.” You get to be a winning horse by hitting their metrics – the “GoGo Factor”. We got the single-most new funders when Trek Medic’s was featured on IndieGoGo”s Campaign of the Day. Here is great video Interview on TechCrunch with Indiegogo CEO, Slava Rubin Gives 6 Tips For A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign.
#7-Use video and images to tell your story- both Kickstarter and Indiegogo let you embed videos within the body of your campaign. Remember that the more people use visuals, the more dimension you create for your cause. Examples of videos and images we used in both our clients’ campaigns were things like updates from the field, interviews with the founder and real life examples of how the product or service makes a difference in peoples’ lives.
#8-Social Media Strategy and Recruitment- crowdfunding platforms and their subsequent successes are largely connected to social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+. Let’s briefly review the phases that a typical crowdfunding launch follows. First, we witness the soft launch, which lends itself very much to social media outlets. This phase is where you use your social connections on the Internet during a (generally) one week period and contact the people who you deem to be your strongest campaign advocates. Who were your past most promising fundraisers? Where are your passionate volunteers? Who are your core supporters? How do you get them to come back and join your campaign? Along with social networking, keep your phone handy and your email lists even handier. You will want to contact these close friendly connections personally so they feel like members of your inner circle…trusted confidants that you chose to contact first…some of which will be high powered influencers.
When it came to Twitter and Google+, we used some of the same strategies we apply when attempting to gain followers for ongoing campaigns. We performed excellent themed keyword research, created search hashtags for competition analysis, used what is hot and trending in Google +and followed followers of similar organizations, since those followers are more likely to support similar causes. We have learned a lot from networking with semantic search and Google+ experts David Amerland and Ronnie Bincer; both of these two marketers are incredibly gifted and go out of their way to write intelligent content and engage with their followers. Additionally, they generally go out of their way to help other people and make the web better. If you follow these individuals on social networks, you will see what we are talking about.
#9-Communication & Transparency- One of the most important keys to having a successful campaign is to have a clear goal in mind that you can communicate to readers. You need to have a crystal clear message that your customers can understand and, certainly, how your customers can identify you. With regards to transparency, make sure to let people know exactly how their money will be used. As an example , if you view the image below from Trek Medics International’s campaign, it shows a person who is donating money, what prize they will get for this donation and, more importantly, how the donation is going to help.
#10- A professional website matters and helps convert donations- You cannot escape this lesson and that lesson is to have an attractive, professional website. On the Internet, you are not interacting face-to-face with people, you are interacting with them in a virtual space so your website is your first, and sometimes last, impression. Vab Media’s web designer, Broadbenterprise, built a modern and easy to navigate WordPress website for Trek Medics. This WordPress site allowed Trek Medics’ website to represent and speak for them. The site was, and continues to be, a big help in clarifying the tremendous life saving work that Trek Medics did before, during and after their crowdfunding campaign for impoverished countries. Our web designer and Jason also added clear calls to action buttons and banners to help followers and website visitors get involved directly by donating and volunteering through the website.
Building any company or brand’s name out on the Internet will leave you with the same principles:
- Content marketing is key
- Utilize helpful images, video, blogs and whitepapers
- Use and hire professional writers that will tell a story and convey a message and build credibility.and solidify expertize with people.
Think about the tremendous benefits that you can gain from peer-to-peer fundraising! Remember to put in all the hard work and effort that is necessary which includes persistence and diligent planning. Whether you run a business or are part of an organization looking for new customers or supporters, it’s important to have a strategy that will define the type of content you will deliver, be it awareness, education or mere promotion. Content is delivered via various channels and you must direct your efforts to where supporters are (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+) and engage with them, since they are likely to be your biggest evangelists.
Thanks to Jason Friesen, of TrekMedics for his input on this article.
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Increase Conversions with Better Landing Page Design & Optimization Tips
By Andrew Broadbent
A landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result. The purpose of a landing page is to try and convert readers or visitors coming from your online marketing efforts such as an organic SEO blog post, pay per click ad, mobile ad, display ad, or email marketing campaign. Now it does not matter if the landing page is being sent from a from ppc ad or is in a call to action link, button or image widget on regular blog post, the end goal is the same. It is meant to collect basic information from the person which usually includes a name, phone number and email address to get the user to move a little farther along the sales funnel. Although the traditional sales funnel has evolved. Buyers behavior are now more than ever being influenced with social proof, unlimited research at the tip of their fingers and point of decision content consumption that can make or break a sale. This means we need to understand and study the unstructured data like context, search history, site visits, recency, and geo location to make our landing pages more useful for both parties.
Some of the most used conversion goals for landing pages by businesses are:
Request for a quote or consultation
Service or product trial/demo
Download an ebook or white paper to increase email subscription list
Registering for an event.
Here are some tips to increase the effectiveness of your landing pages and this infographic below by Formstack covers 10 key factors to pay attention too.
The Landing Page Headline Needs to Match the Offering
The headline must line up and match what ever was promised on the previous offer or ad copy, That could be download this free guide for restaurants, free seo audit, get a quote now, etc. This is important keep your visitors attention and oriented into whatever it is you are offering.
Provide Clear Calls to Action
Keep it the call to action button above the fold of the visitors scrolling. On longer landing pages you try using more than one call to action button or image widget. Try using colors that are either bright or contrasting to the background of your website. Use actionable, persuasive words like try it now, download your free guide, or get a quote now to show value and urgency.
The Landing Page Design Layout Matters
This can be tested with different ideas and page layout styles to see what converts and works better. Landing pages can be a single step or a two step process. In the two step process it may usually include a call to action on the 1st page and a contact or sign up form on the 2nd page. Some studies have shown that the highest converting landing pages have the body content on the left and a sign-up form on the right.
Add Trust Elements or Persuasive Assets
Adding trust or persuasion elements is sometimes overlooked but it should not be. Using testimonials is great way to establish trust and increase conversions. It does not have to only include text, using visual elements can be very effective. Quoting and showcasing an authoritative or high profile client can be very eye catching. We borrowed a conversion idea from the marketing guru Neil Patel, who takes an image and quote from famous CEOs like Techcrunch and makes it into a clickable image widget which shows what he did for them like “increased traffic by 30% in 2 months“and says “click here to learn more.”
Use relevant Images and Bullet Lists to Engage Peoples Attention
Highlight the most important points on the page with bolding and put things into bullet point lists. This will help people as they are skimming and scanning the page quickly. Remember people have short attention spans–usually under 5 seconds. Using professional, high quality images or video can really help to keep someone interested when they first arrive on the landing page before they start reading. Some people prefer visuals, so show them what you are offering by including an actual picture of the service or product being offered. Showing something that is relevant and eye-catching can help to keep them on the page and convince them to move forward.
Here is the Anatomy of a perfect Landing Page Infographic
There are countless ways and resources out on the web to help with increasing conversions to your landing pages. We highlighted a few that we use for ourselves and our clients to get more subscriptions, leads and sales from their website. Contact us for a consultation on how you can start building highly converting landing pages into your website or as micro site.Contact Us To Start Converting More Read More
Why WordPress and Why It Is The Premier Content Management System For Websites
By Jaclyn Sorese
WordPress is well known for use in small to medium sized businesses. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about using WordPress Content Management Systems (CMS) for high traffic websites or large organizational enterprise companies.
In This Article We Will Cover:
- Examples of established and successful brands that use WordPress.
- Myths that WordPress is not safe or secure for major corporations websites.
- Myths that WordPress is slow or cannot handle too many database queries or high traffic.
- Myths that WordPress is not scalable for big user websites.
- Why building custom WordPress themes is a better option than, particularly in terms of functionality, if you are looking for a unique non-cookie cutter stock themed website.
- The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefits to using HTML5 responsive WordPress sites.
- Is the WordPress CMS Platform and right fit for your business or company?
1) Why Do Well Established Brands Choose Custom WordPress Websites?
Even Matt Cutts from Google, a guru in the web optimization industry, has a personal blog built in WordPress. Matt mentions that roughly only 4% of websites are mobile friendly. On the other hand though, Matt mentions that Google can now crawl mobile sites in addition to desktop or laptop sites. He talks about the famous search engine news website called Search Engine Land, which is also constructed via WordPress and created by Danny Sullivan. Here are just a few extremely reputable sites that use WordPress:
Search Engine Land has millions of visitors each month and currently over 20,000 pages indexed by Google. Search Engine Land has a completely custom built website in WordPress platform along with custom plugins and widgets made by their team of developers.
WordPress has allowed Google to crawl basically all responsive websites on nearly every device, be it laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile device. Search Engine Land’s services and website, with their optimized themes, can be viewed from anywhere. The below screenshot illustrates this concept very well:
Vab Media had the opportunity to speak with one of the developers from Third Door Media which is the organization that developed and maintains Search Engine Land. We had a lengthy discussion with an executive’s experience with WordPress for her company. This was really exciting and Michelle Robbins, Vice President of Technology, had many insights to share with us.
“I don’t believe in ‘one size fits all’ solutions.” Each business needs to consider its feature needs, overall site goals and ability to support a platform on an ongoing basis. For enterprise level sites and businesses, if considering an open source platform – especially one like WordPress that is known not only for it’s ease of use and large community of plugin developers but also for its ongoing security flaws – the factors that go into the decision will be different than for your average personal/mommy-blogger site.
First and foremost to consider are available resources – having access to internal resources to maintain the platform security, as well as having the resources available to immediately address any breaches/hacks. The open nature of WordPress – the ease of adding unvetted plugins by non-technical users, combined with the ease of exploiting plugin and platform weaknesses – make it a vector for attacks. And as with any platform, a site is only as secure as the weakest password of a given user. We’ve experienced this firsthand at our own sites, but we also have the resources in place to prevent, detect and immediately address any problems.”
TechCrunch has had a CMS WordPress based platform for several years and is extremely satisfied with its performance. TechCrunch has millions of visitors each month and is a trusted technology news website. What does TechCrunch have to say about WordPress? Let’s hear from Dave Feldman of TechCrunch:
”One of my favorite things about WordPress is its extensibility. We’re on the same platform today as yesterday, but have built new tools for writers and editors. Featured and pinned articles get expiration dates, so editors don’t have to go back and manually un-feature things. Selecting a post layout is as simple as clicking a button. Automated resizing of images means faster load times and fewer distorted photos. And choosing which articles go on the homepage is a single-click affair.”
General Electric (GE) is a dynamic established company so if they are using WordPress, you cannot go wrong. GE Reports is GE’s primary press and news release website and built on WordPress. The platforms used are the Google FeedProxy, jQuery, jQuery Validate, SWFObject, Typekit and Feedburner.
American Express is one of the most renowned financial companies in this world. They have also selected WordPress to run their Open Forum Community portal. American Express has an extremely reliable open forum website containing business information geared towards helping card members with business and marketing tips.
2) Myth – WordPress Is Not Secure Or Safe For Large Businesses
No one is ever going to be 100% safe on the Internet. All different types of websites can get attacked or hacked. Just take a look at the following companies that have been victims to these issues:
Google (2009, 2011, 2012)
Lockheed Martin (2011) (US’s largest weapons manufacturer)
Sony PlayStation (2011)
As a result of these of these Internet hacks and invasions, most of these huge companies have whole divisions and dedicated teams focusing exclusively on preventing information stored on the Internet from being stolen. Most of these sites were not WordPress-based when the attacks happened so myths that WordPress is not safe is an ambiguous statement and not true. The WordPress platform can be an easy target of attacks from hackers (to inject links, malware, etc) but this is only if you do not stay updated and take steps to prevent calamities from happening.
The biggest culprit of Internet hacking on WordPress is more than likely WordPress plugins. So, how does one navigate and avoid the plugin issue? It’s certainly not the easiest thing in the world but it can be done, especially if you call Vab Media to assist you in the debunking of the plugin process or to help you choose the safest and most trusted plugins. As Yoast SEO plugin creator, Joost de Valk, dictates: “The biggest hacking threat is not WordPress itself, it’s all the plugins. Plugins run with administrator rights on your site. Only use plugins by people that you trust.” If your developer is not looking out for this, don’t use the plugin. This mecca of knowledge also mentions three sources to look at, in the event a professional is unable to view your computer or mobile device:
- When was the plugin last updated? The later the better. Pay careful attention to WordPress users ratings
- What is the plugins average rating? A bad rating is not good.
- What does the plugin’s changelog indicate? Are those new versions reliable?
Another security issue that is helpful is to regularly change your password to every administrator and content contributor every few weeks.
If you want to learn even more about all the possible WordPress security myths , we have included an informative article from Pro Blogger that covers a list of 10 security myths.
Again Vab Media would like to reiterate that there are many myths surrounding WordPress, but all of those myths are just myths. One of the major myths is that it is not secure, but there are many security measures that can be taken by developers and yourself, and even hosting companies, that will make it nearly impossible for your website to get hacked. At Vab Media, we take all these considerations into account when building a website for you. We love using WordPress because it allows us to add components that already exist and are highly rated to make your website as functional and as up to date as the hottest website around.
3) Myth- WordPress Can Be Slow If Too Many Users Visit The Site Or If There Is A Large Quantity Of Database Queries:
Hosting your site on private server can solve a lot of security and site speed issues. For bigger companies this is a must. Paying $8 per month on GoDaddy (or the similar) for your hosting service won’t work for Fortune 500 companies, or any company for that matter. If your website needs speed, unlimited bandwidth, storage and security so go with private hosting to eliminate these problems. Last December WordPress.com VIP, Automattic’s service (Techcrunch host’s their site with VIP) built for larger enterprise companies launched WordPress.com Enterprise which is a more affordable version of the VIP. So for huge companies that get tons of visits you don’t have to worry, you can scale your traffic on their cloud hosting, which delivers 100’s of millions of pageviews per day.
4) Myth- WordPress Is Not Scalable Enough For Large Organizations Or Big User Websites:
Google Trends is a free search resource tool you can use to check to see what is currently trending or getting a lot of searches. For a visual of the impact and increasing popularity and influence of WordPress, just reference the chart above to see this theory in action. Out of the three most popular CMS platforms, Drupal, Joomla, WordPress. Google trends shows that, globally, WordPress gets more searches than other CMS systems. As an open-source CMS, WordPress has impressive statistics:
- Over 371 million users
- Over 4.1 billion pages each month
WordPress is 100% scalable for a majority of businesses. WordPress caters to smaller business websites as well as larger or massive websites. As a business example, Vab Media likes to reference our own website. Take a look at the Vab Media website, our portfolio and the websites we service. Our clients, such as Van Heusen, are using WordPress to promote their products.
5) Why Building Custom WordPress Themes Is Better For Functionality And Making Your Site Unique to Avoid A Cookie Cutter Basic Theme:
An impressive website which will garner viewers cannot have a stock theme. Sometimes themes aren’t coded correctly with the best standards for WordPress and when WordPress comes out with an update, you may experience conflicts if the theme isn’t updated as well. This will also render aesthetic problems with your website.
A customized WordPress site allows Vab Media’s clients to get certain features. A basic theme in WordPress does not give you this luxury. As a business, your template frame is more desirable if there is custom coding. As a business, you also are looking for a personalized theme. Those exclusive personalized elements are only available with a customized WordPress theme. You are not limited. Vab Media can customize your website to perfection while keeping your business goals in mind. We also want your website to be customer friendly. A custom design will make it easy for your clients to ask questions and help them understand the benefits of your products.
6) SEO Benefits To Using HTML5 Responsive WordPress Sites
Vab Media has created a growing number of responsive design websites for our clients especially with the emergence of mobile and tablet devices. For example, as mobile integration has become crucial to many industries’ business goals and objectives, we have ensured that our clients have websites that provide this essential need. More and more people are using smartphones to search for things they want to buy. Whether people are using their phones for research, price checking, store or product review or actual purchases Vab Media has you covered. All of this research points to your website not being compliant with mobile guidelines. Therefore, you are hurting your business and possibly getting your search rankings downgraded from Google or Bing.
Is your website mobile optimized friendly? Recently responsive design has become the norm, and this is not limited to WordPress. Vab Media loves the way we can develop any website and have it be HTML5 and be responsive.
Recently, the 2012 theme built by WordPress is responsive, which means it resizes according to the browser, even the menu toggles to a smaller size. Responsive web design is the new trend in web design and the Internet, with more people using mobile devices to browse the web for services, restaurants or products on the web.
7) Is The WordPress CMS Platform The Right Fit For Business Or Personal Use?
No matter what CMS platform you choose to develop a website, the designer or developer cannot take shortcuts when it comes to front-end and back-end coding while setting up a solid information architecture and usability interface.
For most businesses WordPress can be a perfectly adequate platform to use, provided you have competent designers and administrators monitoring it on a monthly basis. Of course. there are many companies with goals that do not align with what WordPress can provide. If you are a major e-commerce company, like Ebay or Amazon, than using an e-commerce CMS like Magento or a custom platform might be much more suited. If you huge social media news site like Mashable with unlimited resources and staff than a more complex platform like Ruby on Rails might be a better fit to run on the back-end of your website. Ask yourself a few questions about your business:
- What do you want to achieve with your website?
- Are you planning on selling any products online?
- Do you want to showcase your services?
- What is your showcase and target market?
- How many users do you expect or want to visit to your site?
Our Development Capabilities
Vab Media can create and build custom websites for any type of industry or business. Vab Media’s “built from scratch” approach will be catered to what your company is looking to optimize. We can custom code your new and innovative website in a partial or completely HTML, PHP, HTML5 or CSS3 mode. We can also have your website built on a CMS, such as Drupal, Magento or WordPress, to arrange for easier management of content, leads and visitor engagement.Read More
11 Do’s & Don’ts to Improve Your SEO and Conversions
By Jaclyn Sorese
The topic of changes in SEO is quite a familiar one. To say that SEO has changed or evolved over the last few years is just short of being one of the biggest understatements Vab Media has ever heard. Even if you only look at the industry-shaking implications of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, it’s scary. Then, add a massive litany of other adjustments and transformations and SEO, web design and marketing professionals have some serious work to do. SEO is no longer just about link-building and overboard keyword stuffing because we have seen a shift in focus to actually having quality content that is helpful to the reader. But, it’s not that simple- SEO is not just about keywords or content or getting people to your site- it’s about keeping people engaged, letting them know you are the trusted expert in your industry and converting them into customers.
Google owns 67% of search market share, and it indexes and crawls over 30 trillion web pages, as seen in the graphic below. At Vab Media, we don’t look at SEO algorithm changes that have taken place over the last few years, the last year, the last month or even the last week. We diligently focus on what developments or advancements happen on a daily basis. We want our clients and readers to be able to sort through the tremendous amount of information and conflicting data available, so they can know what is outdated and what is current and state-of-the-art. In order to facilitate this seemingly daunting task, Vab Media has compiled a list of 11 important industry developments that we have learned and implemented into our practices to boost our clients’ sales and conversions and listed a few points that you should do and not do (tactics that don’t provide much value). In no particular order, here we go!
#1 – IMPROVE USER ENGAGEMENT & MAKE IT SIMPLE
The acronym SEO does stand for search engine optimization but this acronym, in itself, is a bit outdated. SEO is not just about search engines any longer. It’s about users and how they view and engage with your content. Of course, the original meaning of SEO – to optimize for search engines- still applies because this will direct users to your site but what are you going to do when users click on your site and begin to read? The idea is keep users on your website and interested in what your site has to offer. Make your site user-friendly and make sure it flows intuitively. No one has time to endlessly search your website for the information needed- convert your users with clear content and clear calls-to-action; then you will see a better conversion rate.
#2 – FIND BALANCE: KEYWORDS, LINK BUILDING & CONTENT GENERATION
Talk about conflicting opinions…half of the people you talk to are advocating quality and sensible content and the other half are telling you that you need more links. The truth is that both schools of thought are right. You need links and they are crucial to the success and authority of your business, but it is the quality and not the quantity of your links that is most important. At the same time, terrific content written with a purpose by even the best professional author makes for a valuable read, but the question remains as to who will actually be directed to and read your website page or blog. SEO involves determining your target audience, an in-depth analysis of your traffic sources and why your top posts are performing well. The trick is to add assorted yet relevant links from reliable and recognized sources to a blog or post with exceptional content. In time, this will garner more leads, trackbacks and guest posts and you can assure that you are providing useful content, while continuing to improve your website’s online presence.
#3 – UNDERSTAND KEYS TO KEYWORDS
There is certainly no lull in a conversation when keywords in content for pages, post or blogs comes up. Are putting lots of keywords on your page the answer? No. In order for your content to rank, you need to satisfy the thresholds for all inputs/details that go into generating the ideal SEO equation. That quality equation that contains on and off-page optimizations, stellar user experiences and rankings should:
- Include keywords that are most likely to show up in a user-generated search. This would include putting your keyword or keyword phrases in an intriguing page title and headline. Intermittently, strategically insert your keywords into the body of your content. Also, include your keyword in your url. These suggestions will remarkably improve your chances of coming up in search.
- Keep the keyword stuffing to a minimum and, when you do insert your keywords or keyword phrases, don’t make it obvious or forced where it looks like you just wanted your page to rank rather than offer some valuable advice.
- Include different keywords that keep your same ranking expectation in mind. Readers will catch on very quickly if the same word is repeated verbatim in all your content- url, title, headlines and content body.
- Use synonyms of keywords- this will be prove to be crucial to understanding the needs of your readers, clients and potential customers. Neil Patel, one of the most credited and verifiable internet entrepreneurs, recently wrote on Copyblogger, about the importance of using semantic keyword research. Neil’s insight clarifies how and where Google’s algorithms are evolving- which all seem to be in the direction of a search engine becoming more human and lending a human hand to search. Is it the interpretation basic (context search) or up for interpretation (semantic search)…the industry will continue to evolve.
Remember that whoever clicked on your post had some expectations of receiving valuable feedback so don’t ruin what should be a good experience.
#4- OPTIMIZE A WEBSITE FOR MOBILE SEARCH WITH RESPONSIVE DESIGN
With smartphones getting less expensive, more and more people are using them to search the web. Google’s latest mobile search study conducted in March 2013 identified a few key findings about the behavior of over half of all smartphone owners. The study noted that smartphone users are using their phones to make buying related searches- “55% of conversions (store visit, phone call, purchase) happen within the hour”. Optimizing for mobile is especially important in local search. In 2013, smartphone local searches are expected to bring in 46 million queries. Even though laptops and desktops still remain the most used devices for search, ignoring smartphones can end up hurting your website’s bounce rate and conversions because you will lose potential customers to your competitors that have invested in the appearance of their mobile sites. What does Google think about responsive web design? “Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device”.
What does a responsive design for your website mean?
Even big name sites like Mashable and Microsoft have started adopting responsive web designs. Until fairly recently, you needed to have separate laptop and desktop versions, a separate mobile version and a separate tablet version. Each type of layout needed to adapt to the format in which it is being viewed- meaning that you must take into consideration the size of a screen, the resolution on that screen as well as the very type of device itself. A user need to view a site that flows. Basically, to avoid having to create multiple versions of your website, responsive design allows you to build a design conducive to all viewing platform devices. Depending on if a visitor comes to your site on a desktop, iPad, iPhone or Android, your website will adapt. For example, on a laptop or desktop, the screen will adjust and expand wider, and elements can and will spread out. On a iPad or smartphone, where the screen is more narrow, elements will stack like your images, links and contact forms. Vab Media recently redesigned a New York CPA’s website into a responsive HTML5 website . Less than a week after launching the redesigned mobile friendly site, the CPA was excited to capture new customers and see a rise in visits as well as a rise in the number of contacts he was receiving because of the presentation of his mobile site and how it looked on a smartphone. As you can see from the screenshots of AberCPA, the layout adjusts itself:
Are there some cases where the business has too much information or traffic and investing in an expensive mobile application or site might make more sense? The answer is yes! That’s why large news sites like NYTimes.com and Online.WSJ.com have separate mobile versions that only display a small portion of all the articles and links that they have on their desktop versions. If your site falls into that category of viewer numbers and content, your business can afford a fancy and expensive mobile application or website.
#5 – AVOID REDIRECT LINKS FROM SITES YOU OWN & MICROSITES
These days, search engines are very savvy, smart and meticulous. Sure, there are still so many ways that they can be improved but search engines can very easily detect commonalities between registrants for domains. In the same way that you cannot expect to vote in an election 10,000 times and have that count as 10,000 votes for yourself, you cannot expect a search engine to actually think that those 50 links you have to yourself count for anything more than one link. It is not true that linking back to your own site or another site that you own will help your cause. So, just continue to add more content to your primary website and do your internal linking there, and you will be well on your way to increased traffic.
#6 – KNOW GOOGLE CAN RECOGNIZE A “BAD SITE” OR “SPAMMY LINKS”
Long gone are the days when Google was oblivious to the fact that you had links on your pages, posts or blogs to sites that were lacking substance, or were just plain illegitimate. Google is top-notch and nothing seems to slip by its search engine. Especially in the post-Penguin and post-Panda game, don’t mess with Google. Your rankings can drop drastically when Google discovers bad links and will arrange its search engine to seriously lower the rankings for almost all your website content.
#7 – DEFINE WHAT RANKING MEANS
High rankings have never really defined or promised success. Studies have indicated that ranking high (especially in the top 3) mean more traffic to your site and elevated clickthrough rates. However, the introduction and implementation of rich text/snippets and Google Authorship tags combined with a fresh bunch of users who are searching for distinguishably relevant information, have decreased the importance of a site’s pure placement ranking in a search engine. Click behavior has been revolutionized because of smarter search engines and users who know what they want. In sum, you no longer need to rank 1st position anymore to realize success.
#8 – KEEP YOUR HOME OR LANDING PAGES SIMPLE
At Vab Media, we come across too many website home pages that are overloaded with content, on one side of the spectrum, or landing pages that lack content, on the opposite end of the spectrum. The best place to be is in the middle of the spectrum where users that come to your site are neither overwhelmed by a plethora or abundance of information nor are they disappointed with too little data and too much simplicity. Think about it, your homepage is usually the first visual that users get of your business. For example, just as your are reading this blog, you are being introduced to Vab Media’s website…so think of every single page as a mini-website. The content of your home page should:
- Clarify who you are and what you do
- Clearly state your location and the areas/industries you service
- Identify the value proposition of your offerings
Your home page and landing pages are not just about targeted keywords and sometimes useless on-page components- it’s about testing and figuring out what things will stand out the most to your potential customers and followers.
#9 – MAKE YOUR WEBSITE LOCAL
As straightforward as this proposition might seem, it takes considerable effort to make your website local. This is because you have to determine what your business wants to actually define as local. A few things to remember that, assuming your users are not searching in an incognito fashion, search engines can determine where they are located and normally provide search results that are specific or closer to a user’s physical or IP address location. If you are a geo-targeted company, definitely include your city, state and county or region. If your business only operates in the United States, you really do not need to include the fact that you are located in the USA. Any on-page references, reviews, title tags and social media outlets (especially Google+ Local) should also include all your location information.
#10 – CONNECT YOUR SEO AND SOCIAL MEDIA
What has come to be known as “social search” is the junction where your SEO and social media operations meet. SEO and social media are not separate entities or silos that can go about without each other- they work hand-in-hand in an increasingly formal manner. Search and social are connected in a countless number of ways now- something that we have anticipated for years. Look at Google+ and Google’s author rank profiles. They both represent the intersection of harmonious, authoritative and relevant content which will, together, determine the direction (hopefully, it’s a good direction) of your overall social search practices.
Your content has a connection to you and the extent of your social media efforts via venues like Facebook, Twitter or Google+ make your existence known and prominent to audiences around the world. If your social search campaign is conducted properly, strong social media influencers can even become your strongest advocates. Regardless, social search is the combination of your SEO and social media and the overall success of your business depends on an effective and bulletproof social search strategy.
#11 – INTERACT WITH IT BUT DON’T HAND THE PROJECT OVER
Like most projects, various teams with various levels and types of expertise are required for a venture to be successful. SEO is no different. It’s no secret that the technical aspects of SEO are of enormous portions- your IT department makes your website crawlable, which is paramount. Your IT team also includes web designers who code, create your XML sitemap files and enable robots. Every project requires joint efforts though so partner with your IT team, your content writers and your SEO specialists to get the best results possible.
The bottom line is that anyone can put a lot of wasted effort and time into SEO and marketing. SEO has to be done right though- but what is right? With so many assumptions, rumors and information sources, Vab Media wants to make sure you are headed in the right direction and successful in sorting through mountains of details, that may or may not be outdated. SEO is an investment and you need to make sure that investment generates profit and return.Contact Us to Start Converting More Read More
Business Owners: SEO is an Investment, Not a Cost
By Andrew Broadbent
Bottom line…if you want your business to rank for very competitive search phrases or “money terms”, expect your content marketing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaigns to take time. This means patience is key if you want rankings, leads and sales. Incredible search rankings can definitely be achieved but companies need to realize that, particularly for highly competitive industries and phrases, these high rankings may not appear in the first month.
Quality and profitable SEO campaigns can take anywhere from 6 to 9 months to realize the return on investment (ROI) you want. Some business niches are easier to rank for, but for highly competitive industries like insurance, diamonds, jewelry, travel, jet charter, you are looking at a longer timeframe. This is because competitive industries often witness competitors having higher budgets for advertising.
Being “Page 1 of Google” is usually what our customers want to see immediately for their services and products. Here at Vab Media, we have to explain that short-term SEO campaigns are not the best marketing mechanism because they generate short-term results- this is just an instant gratification that will not ultimately lead to a sustainable ROI. SEO is a craft, not a science- and every SEO venture is unique requiring time consuming, extensive and consistent research.
It would be interesting for us to see the long-term results of an SEO firm that promises immediate results. Usually, that means essential aspects of a company’s SEO campaign will probably be missing because this SEO firm is taking some major shortcuts. If you don’t go with the right firm, your site could be top ranked one day, and not ranked at all the next day. Just to use Google as an example, they operate a search engine that is relentlessly changing, adding and improving their algorithms in an effort to provide the most reliable results. On average, each member of the Vab Media team spends hours each week to keep up with Google’s never ending and evolving process changes, tactics and reasons for updates.
The only way a company can see these immediate results is with Pay Per Click (PPC), but even this is an extremely expensive, not to mention unreliable and risky, investment and venture. Keyword competition is paramount and competition research is just as difficult. The structure, quality score, look and feel of a PPC ad also is a huge priority.
Vab Media SEO Case Study as an Example
Our client, V1 Jets international, a private jet charter brokerage, came to us last year looking to increase their charter quotes and sales via an improved web presence and search rankings. Although V1’s Jetcharter.com website had significant brand recognition within its industry, and ranked number 1 for the search phrase “jet charter”, they were only on the 4th page for the more specific and competitive phrase “private jet charter”(see first image below). Fixing this problem was not simple considering some of their major competitors like Blue Star Jets have been investing thousands per month in SEO for the previous seven years. V1 hired our team to address weaknesses in both the site’s content and its overall architecture in order to drive additional traffic from both search engine results pages and popular social networking sites.
V1 Jets International now ranks number 2 on the first page for many important search phrases like “private jet charter” and “private jet charter quote”.
Our approach to increasing V1 Jets’ inbound traffic relied on the use of several different white-hat SEO best practices. Our Marketing efforts were focused on crawling / indexing issues, duplicate content concerns, on-page optimization improvements, increasing calls to actions, network leverage and social media marketing.
Don’t just take our word for it though- look at the praise we received from V1’s James Matta, V1 Jets owner and investor. “The SEO job you guys did, as you said took time but with tremendous success. Thanks for the great job and anytime you need to provide a recommendation to a new client it will be my pleasure to do so.”
Don’t give up hope if you don’t see the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) results you want right away. SEO is a long-term process and a balancing act with constantly changing methods for success- what was considered “good” SEO a few years ago, will not work for you now. SEO best practices are always changing, and so is general industry news. Though this might seem like a lot of time consuming effort, it will pay off in the end. It’s critical that you look for three things if you want your SEO endeavour to be successful: brand level, domain age and competitiveness.
Keep in mind that the goal of a good SEO and social media marketing campaign shouldn’t just be rankings and traffic- it should also be be new leads and sales closed! While high rankings and tons of visitors are great, you’ve wasted your time and energy if this traffic isn’t putting more money into your companies bottom line. Also keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing process if you want to maintain your desired results- and you need a reliable team for this to be achieved.
Contact Vab Media for a consultation and quote on your next inbound marketing SEO campaign. We can help you develop a plan that works and will continue to provide a good ROI for the long term.
How You Can Add Trust and Credibility to your Google Search Results with Authorship Information to Boost your Companies Web Presence and Rankings
By Jaclyn Sorese
Attention business owners: ever been surfing Google’s search engine page results (SERP) and notice certain results accompanied with a thumbnail-sized profile picture of the content’s author? The profile picture lends instant credibility. Ever wonder how your picture could accompany results for the content you’ve authored? If so, then this post will certainly help you and your business! Google recently debuted it’s Authorship markup initiative, part of it’s “social search” signal efforts, with a mission to highlight great original content and rank the search results attributed to authors.
If you use Google Authorship, Google allows you to associate the content you’ve published with your Google+ profile. It then takes your Google+ profile image, along with other profile information, into search engine results for the content you author. The catch? While the application process is relatively simple, there appears to be no clear time frame or method as to which authorship requests Google chooses to approve. Without this minor glitch, the application process is fairly simple so it’s definitely worth applying. In this post, we’ll cover exactly why this new feature is beneficial to marketers. We will explain the simplest way to apply while covering some Google-related hints you should know before your application process begins.
Why Apply for Authorship?
Having Google Authorship benefits makes your search engine listings more inviting. This is in addition to giving your results heightened professional credibility and transparency factors. Let’s take a closer look at the screenshot below which depicts a search engine results page (SERP):
Ask yourself- which results stand out the most on the page? You are probably noticing the two results accompanied by their respective author images, right? Taking this into account, it’s pretty easy to understand the benefits of having Google Authorship privileges. Listings with author images and information attached will benefit from a perception of credibility and calm any spammy content concerns.
And, these two listings aren’t even at the top of this particular SERP, which means Google Authorship gave their content priority. These authors now have a significantly better chance when slated against other results that might organically rank higher. This is especially notable considering not many users have taken the opportunity to apply for Authorship. So, that is another reason to apply as soon as possible before everybody’s doing it.
Nevermind a certain lack of metrics or data-driven reports documenting the benefits of Authorship…yet. At Vab Media, we’ve experienced a marked and noticeable improvement in the ranking of our content associated with our various authors. In other words, it would appear Google rewards its Authorship users with improved search engine rankings. That’s not a bad perk if you’re a content creator!
Last but certainly not least, authorship status gives you access to even more data and statistics about the performance of individual author content in search results. For a more in depth overview about these improved Google metrics, read here.
How to Apply for Google Authorship
Hopefully, you are now convinced it’s worth taking those few minutes to apply for Google Authorship.
Here’s how to do it:
- Confirm your Google+ profile page has a profile photo that is a recognizable headshot.
- Make sure you have an email address (for example, email@example.com) on the same domain as your content (http://vabulous.com/). If you don’t have an email address on the same domain, Google has an alternative method for linking your content to your Google+ profile. Learn how here.
- This method is very helpful to authors on sites in which they can’t edit any anchor tag code, but its use is not limited to that scenario. If certain criteria are met, email verification can be the primary method used for establishing authorship verification. Your author byline can link to an email address using the same domain name as the content page, making that email address registered and verified in the author’s Google+ profile, as shown the image below:
- In the “About” section of your Google+ profile, add this email address so it’s easier for Google to associate your Google+ account with your domain.
- Make sure each article you publish on your domains has a clear byline identifying you as the author (for example, “By Andrew Broadbent” or “Author: Andrew Broadbent”).
- Important: Verify your bylines begin with the word ”By” followed by the name that matches the exact same spelling author name used on your Google+ profile.
- Visit Google’s Authorship page and submit your email address to Google there. Remember that, regardless of how many articles you publish on this domain, you’ll only need to go through this process once.
- In the “About” section of your Google+ profile, make sure the profile discovery box, “Help others discover my profile in search” is checked.
Once Google approves your Authorship request, your Google+ profile will be updated with the domain(s) on which you’re a content contributor. The screenshot below shows this in the “Contributor to” section of your Google+ profile. As a default setting, your email address is visible to the public. If you want to keep your email address private on your page or have certain visibility restrictions, you can alter them here.
Be on the lookout for a possible email confirmation from Google once your request for Authorship has been approved. As mentioned, Google has no clear timeframe for approval and, at Vab Media, It took about a week or two for Google to confirm some of our Authorship requests.
According to Google’s Authorship information page, “Google doesn’t guarantee to show author information in Google Web Search or Google News results.” This is most likely a Google-clause explaining different Authorship approval timelines along with other less common glitches, such as the appearance and subsequent disappearance of Authorship benefits. As far as we can tell, Google is addressing all these possible glitches and we are extremely happy with the benefits we have seen so far.
When Google grants your Authorship request, you’ll start noticing search engine listings for content you’ve authored are accompanied by your Google+ profile image:
Also, notice that the purple “by (author name)” link above directs people to your Google+ profile page. The “more by (author name)” link directs visitors to a more detailed page, shown in a screenshot below, which outlines indexed content authored by you:
Don’t forget- if your website/blog has multiple contributors, it would greatly benefit you to encourage your various authors to apply for Authorship. This way, even more of the search engine listings for your website’s content will be associated with its individual author.
Authorship Markup is Now a Key Ranking Strategy
Moving forward, Google really wants to recognize people who write web content by allowing them to use start Google Authorship and its markups. Google is now making use of a human involvement factor through social media platforms in ranking of its search results.
In sum, this product will provide all of the following- in one neat package:
- Google can identify content you write and associate it with you.
- Google search engine results will show a picture of you next to content you created.
- Google search engine results will link to your Google+ profile.
- connect with other reputed authors on Google+ is really very important.
- Google search results aren’t just prioritized organically- they can now take into account the reliability factor of content authors, particularly those authors who use this program.
- Google provides a quick and easy, hassle free enrollment process. The process and the benefits it garners are further outlined in a Google web master tool-produced video here.
By utilizing authorship markup in your website and content that you share, Google will give you credit as the author and, as a result, your website will rank more highly on Google search engine results.
Recent press releases from Google reveal the following, but perhaps the most important, singular attribute of the Google Authorship program. We would like to end this post on that note, which is that Google wants to add the human element to the internet. Google wants to give props to diligent and reliable content authors and provide search engine results which are credible and less anonymous. Google Authorship puts a face to a name and allows for trust. Activity on Google+ helps with search engine optimization.
Build Up Circles and Engagement on Google+
Its no secret that one of the reasons Google developed Google+ is that Google wants to take market share and compete with Twitter and Facebook in the social network sharing industry. And, since Facebook and Twitter are not sharing social sharing activity metric data with Google, the birth of Google+ solves that for Google. All of the content/activities/posts you author are being indexed by Google’s search engine. Connect with industry leaders and expert authors on Google+. Here are few tips to keep in mind and focus on with engagement on Google+:
- Famous authors are in thousands of circles. Connect with them and get them to add you back to their circles.
- When you share content, you are increasing the chances of your posts being shared more and considered more valuable.
- Share and mention reputable author content in posts. This can make some of them thankful and notice you.
- Add variety- share content outside of your particular industry.
- Quality of connections is just important as quantity. Getting more people to add you their circles can lead to higher search rankings.
If you want help using Google+ and search rankings to boost your business in search results, contact us for consultation.Read More
Creating Online Content For Lead Generation
by J. Henrickson for VabMedia.com
Inbound Marketing now dominates because it costs a lot less than traditional outbound marketing (i.e. billboards, television ads, direct mail).
Marketing Used to be a One-Way Street because the marketer published and the consumer consumed. Today though, it’s a twisty road. For one thing, consumers are publishers also. They’re publishing on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest, among other social media venues. What does this mean for your company, the overall marketing community and lead generation? In sum, it indicates that your brand’s popularity with these social media outlets matters for front-page search engine rankings. You need to create content that’s shareable. Effective marketing today isn’t limited to pure product promotion. Effective marketers provide online content that the consumer/creator will both engage in actively and ideally share on a regular basis-not just when either party have purchasing in mind. Providing consumers with a constant stream of entertaining or useful content helps build relationship networks and establish a brand in the markets subconscious.
First this article articulates types of content that your company can market. Next, it suggests ways to maintain a steady stream of inspiration for fresh search optimized content.
What Does Content Marketing Look Like?
Blogs are one of the best ways to provide content online. Online marketers advise blogging because of its three major benefits:
- Frequent updates help keep your brand fresh in the minds of current leads.
- Your leads might share a great blog with any leads’ social networks.
- The blog expands your website’s overall reservoir of keywords for the search engines and can attract new traffic.
An excerpt from a content marketing blog written for Honduran Joe, a coffee fundraising company, is a good example of these benefits. The blog isn’t about coffee fundraising at all; rather, it’s about the difference between two major types of coffee. Content marketing involves providing useful and/or entertaining content.
The above blog can also be used as a Facebook post on the company’s page:
In addition to blogs, content marketing exists in other forms:
- Facebook posts
- Google+ posts
- YouTube videos
- Press releases
- Pinterest boards/pins
How to Generate Content Ideas
Posting to blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other sources several times per week might sound overwhelming. How can you maintain a constant stream of ideas for content creation? Here we describe four strategies that foster inspiration:
- Study Your Audience.
- Create Customer Persona.
- Align Content to the Sales Cycle.
- Beg, Buy & Borrow
Study Your Audience
Imagine your standard customers. Develop several detailed customer profiles and use them to create niche campaigns of content marketing. The more targeted a campaign, the more effective it can be. Targeting is especially easy on Facebook. You can see the 3,000 most popular Facebook profile keywords at PurposeInc.com.
When creating a customer profile, ask yourself questions that identify needs and interests:
- What are the customer’s values?
- What motivates them?
- What are their daily and long term goals?
- What problems are they trying to solve?
- What industries do they work in?
- Where do they spend time online?
- What search terms would they use?
- What headlines would they respond to?
- Can you best reach them through blogs, videos, social media, free downloads or something else?
Want to learn more about your audience? You can always ask them directly. However, if you’d rather be quick and anonymous, reference the website www.socialbakers.com. It provides detailed statistics for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other forums. For example, selecting “Facebook” and “Hong Kong” reveals that about 52% of Facebook users in Hong Kong are female. As a group they seem to like “Groupon Hong Kong” and a shop called “BusyBee.” Google Insights might also be helpful. This website helps assists in comparison of keyword search volumes among geographic regions, time frames and other demographic statistics.
You Need to Start Creating your Customer Persona
The first step is to start developing a persona by researching your existing customer base to identify the most common buyers for your products and services. Customers may have several types of buyers. Creating a detailed description for every customer which encompasses a name, job title/role, industry and other relevant company information is essential. For example, a luxury market residential contractor’s biggest customers may include first time home buyers, people trading up and affluent luxury homeowners. In this case, the contractor’s marketers might name these profiles “Wall Street Trader Ernesto” and “Realtor Bruce” while extrapolating details about their responsibilities, ages, type of business, household income level, and geographic region- just to name a few. Based on the information gathered from such research, outlining the pains, needs, and challenges of each persona is simplified.
What are their Pain or Problem Points?
You’re in business because you’re solving a problem for your target audience. How does that problem affect their day to day life? Go into detail, and focus on the nuances that illustrate how that problem makes them feel. Using the example of “you’re a residential construction company ” is helpful in outlining this method. One of your personas may be a first time home buyer that just bought a home which requires some upgrades. What are the pain points of a first time home buyer? They could be intimidated by the prospect of pursuing home improvements on their own or feel overwhelmed on how they should choose the right contractor. Do they make a decision based on the lowest estimate, builders reviews or case studies? Considering all these factors, they may not be sure where to begin. In contrast, the pain points of a high end luxury client may not be reliant on price, but instead be focused on the quality of the work and whether or not the contractor will finish the renovation schedule on time. Understanding the difference in the motivation factors for each buyer more will assist in figuring out useful content to write such as “10 home renovation tips to consider before your renovation begins”
Align Content to the Sales Cycles
Different content is of different value depending on the stage of a sales cycle. Your content marketing efforts should:
1. Create awareness of your product or service
2. Educate people about your product being a solution
3. Provide comparisons with the competition
The above steps will lead into the fourth step of a sales cycle: making the purchase. Marketing data has shown that certain types of content work better at different stages of your customers buying process. For example, “awareness” pairs well with blog posts, and social sites like Facebook and Pinterest. Another example of content that fosters awareness comes from Home Depot. The construction supply company provides free do-it-yourself video guides for scores of home improvement projects:
If they are in the “research or education phase” a downloadable eBook may give them a more informed perspective. If they are now in the “comparison stage” considering case studies and customer testimonials may build trust and show real life examples of how your product or service helped or solved a problem. Whatever your product or service, ensure that you address each step of the sales cycle leading up to purchase. Considering the benefits that you will provide by addressing the questions your prospective client has at each step will inspire you to develop friendly, helpful and valuable content for your business.
Beg, Buy & Borrow
The task of creating new content isn’t entirely upon your shoulders. You can:
Beg. Ask another blogger in a related field to write a guest post on your website, reciprocate– ask bloggers to allow you to guest post on their blog. It’s a win-win situation if a lead arises.
Buy. Pay a professional to create Facebook ads or other content, such as custom video ads, Facebook posts, blogs and other forms of content marketing.
Borrow. Find a trending article. Then have a professional copywriter rewrite it for added value or simply repost it with proper attribution. One of our favorite sources for finding trending material is this free tool from SEO Gadget. It pulls stories from Google, Bing, Twitter and organizes them into one keyword spreadsheet.
Of course, content alone cannot generate inbound marketing success. Whatever you create needs to be nestled within a smart overall strategy of SEO, social media engagement, lead nurturing and conversion tracking. But with a stockpile of content and the means to make more, your company can significantly increase its return on marketing investment.