Content Cacophony and How to Filter the Noise

There’s a lot of great content being produced in the world right now to help us move forward with our online businesses. For many of us, it’s actually too much.

Unless you have a filter in place you’ll be stuck reading, listening and watching more than you’re actually doing.

One method I learned a few years back that has helped me tremendously is something called just-in-time learning, which I first heard about from my good friend Jeremy over at Internet Business Mastery.

JITL is not about completely avoiding everything that is out there – because there is a lot of great content being produced that we don’t want to miss – and you shouldn’t. Rather, it’s about taking that post, podcast or video and storing it away in an organized place so that when it’s time to actually take action on things related to that content, you’ll have it ready for consumption and implementation, and you can easily find it.

Until that content can help you complete the next task or project you’re focusing on, don’t consume it.

This might sound funny coming from a person who produces a blog post every Monday, a podcast episode every Wednesday, and a video each Friday, along side a 5-day per week Q&A podcast at AskPat, but I also know that each one of those pieces of content isn’t for everyone at the same time.

Personally, I read one or two blog posts a week (again, related to the task(s) I want to complete), and one or two podcast episodes – and that’s it.

You may have your own preferred tools for implementing the JITL strategy. Bookmarking into different categories is the minimum. Maybe you begin a spreadsheet with all of the links and topics. For me, it’s a combination of Evernote, and Evernote Web Clipper (a browser extension), and sometimes SoundGecko if it’s written content with not a ton of images that I can listen to on the go.

I schedule certain times during my work hours specifically for being on social media and looking for content around the web that’s useful, and if I come across anything that seems like it may help me in the future, I clip it into Evernote and categorize it for later.

Hopefully this helps some of you as much as it has helped me with filtering all of the noise out there.

To finish off, I’d like to re-post one of my most popular and most commented posts here on SPI. It’s only 100 words long, and goes perfectly with this quick-hit post. It’s already March, and many of you (and I) need to read this because we’re busy, but we may not be busy doing the right things:

Finding success is all about taking action.

You can read all you want, but nothing will happen until you execute.

That is why today, I’m cutting this post short. Instead of reading my content, I want you to do something instead – right now. Do something for your blog, business or life that will get you moving forward and help you reach your goals.

All I ask is that you leave a comment of what you’re about to do (sort of like a pledge), and let’s see how much we can all get done today.

Sound good? Okay, let’s hear it…

The 9 Best Podcasts for A Complete Modern Marketing Media Diet

It’s time to join the podcast party. Thanks in part to Serial, the digital audio format is rapidly going mainstream. The runaway true crime hit boasted an audience for its final episode that rivals some network TV. More high-quality shows are being produced, and audiences once dominated by fans of the obscure and techy now include many of your customers—and maybe even your boss.

Basically the digital audio equivalent of a blog with an RSS feed, podcasts have been around for more than a decade. While great content has helped, the biggest change that explains the format’s recent explosive popularity may be the mass adoption of the smartphone. We can now discover and consume content while working out, commuting, grocery shopping, or walking the dog. These are hours of boredom every day that can now be filled with smart, interesting, well-produced content.

As modern digital marketers, we’re constantly struggling to keep pace with our rapidly evolving industry. If my daily content routine consisted entirely of blogs and news sites, I’d never get anything done. But thanks to all the great audio content out there in 2015, I can consume a complete media diet through my headphones, and save my screen time for the rest of my job.

Here are the 9 podcasts marketers should be listening to:

Reply All by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman

Reply All is “a show about the internet.” That’s their tagline, actually, and a pretty good description. If you look at your feeds every day and you’re concerned that you don’t know what half the trending topics are about (“why is everyone talking about that blue and black dress?”), then you need more Reply All in your life.

In the show’s short run, there have already been a few must-listen episodes for social pros. In #3, We Know What You Did, we learned why people don’t like digital marketers, thanks to an interview with the guy who invented the pop-up ad. More recently, #14 offers an in-depth investigation of the circumstances behind a certain Tweet by a certain airline featuring a certain picture of a certain lady and a certain toy plane. (Another benefit of audio content: you don’t need to open an incognito tab.)

Social Pros Podcast by Jay Baer, Jeff Rohrs, and Nick Cicero

Social Pros is essential for well-informed digital marketing practitioners. The roundtable format ensures there’s always a diverse range of opinions from some of the best in the business, including Jay Baer, whose Convince & Convert blog was named #4 social media blog by Social Media Examiner.

HBR IdeaCast by Harvard Business Review

HBR’s audience is more management than marketing, but the interview-based IdeaCast podcast belongs on this list because of the quality of the guests. One recent episode (February 5), for example, featured GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving on the brand’s strategy transition from early broad awareness approach (sexy Super Bowl ads) to more audience-focused marketing. It’s a great general resource on the current state of leadership thinking.

Social Media Happy Hour by Traci Reuter and Dawn Marrs Ortiz

Billed as the podcast “for the network marketer, small business owner, entrepreneur, mlm professional, mompreneur, wahm, wahd, who is tired of the grind and ready to learn to leverage social media marketing sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more,” this show is all (small-and-medium-sized) business. Don’t expect any $3 highballs at the Social Media Happy Hour—each episode is 15 minutes of tactical advice for marketers.

The McMethod Email Marketing Podcast by The Autoresponder Guy

This podcast makes the list partially thanks to the recent episode (#96) featuring Quick Sprout’s Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics. If email is an important channel for your business, McMethod is required listening. If not, consider it optional and cherry-pick the best interviews.

ConversionCast by Tim Paige

Another interview-based show, ConversionCast is all about closing the deal. Content marketing is all about informing, entertaining, and engaging your audience, but at some point your boss is going to ask you about clickthrough rates, increasing the lifetime value of your customer or converting leads. Listen to this podcast faithfully, and you’ll have a good answer when that time comes.

#AskGaryVee Show by Gary Vaynerchuk

True to form, Gary Vee’s show isn’t really like anything else out there. Driven by sheer force of personality, it’s fast-paced and a little in-your-face. The famed author/shouter delivers his wisdom on the state of social media marketing in the form of answers to audience questions. If you catch yourself starting to talk a bit too fast, maybe take a break for  an episode or two.

TWiT by Leo LaPorte

This Week in Tech is arguably the godfather of modern podcasting. Laporte, an experienced old-media pro, was among the first to bring great production values to an unscripted roundtable show format. His rotating cast of guests includes a who’s who of technology media, from Stratechery’s Ben Thompson (who Skypes in from Taipei) to Mashable’s Christina Warren. Be warned, though, the group regularly dives into some true geekery and episodes run long.

SEO 101 by Webmaster Radio

Admit it: the essential modern marketing field you find most intimidating is SEO. For a long time, you’ve had good reason to stay ignorant of the techy tactics and black magic that determine search rank—the field can seem impenetrable to many of us. SEO 101 is a great resource for cutting through the jargon and getting your search skills up to snuff.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Search Marketers

In his 1989 best-selling business and self-help book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey outlines a series of “true north” principles that help individuals attain their goals and adapt to change. More than 25 years later, do these tenets still ring true? And, what if we applied them to today’s search marketer?

1. Be Proactive

From a marketing perspective, proactivity has become a central characteristic required for organizations to thrive in the evolving digital landscape. Marketers who are able to look ahead and make informed predictions about the future of the market and their investments will be best poised to stay ahead.

But it’s not just about future-proofing. Given the state of constant flux of the search space – algorithms updating, policies changing, and technology sharpening – marketers need to be able to adapt to the dynamics from an executional standpoint in order to achieve desired outcomes. This means becoming more agile to course-correct when needed, optimize on-the-fly, and keep budgets and strategies a bit more fluid.

2. Begin With the End in Mind

Start by establishing your goal and aligning it to your organization’s overarching business objectives. Goals provide a framework to align your campaigns and measure performance so you can adjust overtime.

Take a cue from your HR department and make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

Not sure where to start? Consult historical data and use industry benchmarks as a guidepost. And don’t think that just because you set the goal, there’s no adjusting it. Maintain that agility even still by creating short-term targets, such as budget pacing goals, in additional to longer-term milestones, such as overall business objectives.

And, if we’re talking highly effective search marketers, success will be measured beyond proxy campaign metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversion rates, with KPIs focused around revenue, profit, or customer lifetime value growth.

3. Put First Things First

While flexibility is needed in PPC management, there must also be a semblance of orderliness and structure. This is why campaign setup is key.

Whether you’re building an account from scratch or simply restructuring, be sure you are asking the right questions. Each element – from tracking to targeting to ad rotation and landing pages – factors into performance and spontaneous modifications could help or hinder you.

4. Think Win-Win

When developing your ads, always look to achieve a win-win situation: positive outcomes for both you and your audience. This means: meet the expectations of your audience by being visible when they search near a store location, by including sitelinks to assist navigation, by optimizing your inventory feed for accuracy, or by serving a responsive experience on a mobile device.

Small steps such as these will pay off big time by creating a more relevant experience that consumers are more likely to engage in.

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Now it’s time to get philosophical. Believe it or not, search marketing isn’t all about you, the advertiser; it’s actually mostly about the consumer. So, understanding your key audiences, how they search, their challenges, and desires, is an essential state of mind to consider.

Beyond understanding the consumer, also tune into industry trends and competitors. Don’t manage your search program in a vacuum – understand the implications of the greater market.

6. Synergize

Is it possible to do the impossible math of 1+1=3 with your search marketing? If you begin to remove the walls around your search program to no longer view the activity in isolation, you can begin to see and derive cross-channel synergies to improve your marketing and garner more value.

Leverage CRM and first-party data to execute more sophisticated and specific targeting and remarketing. Search performance can inform social optimization tactics so pay attention to the signals. Running concurrent and complementary campaigns across channels can not only help bolster your message, but also help create momentum and improve performance.

7. Sharpen the Saw

Hone your practice and do not let your programs become stagnant. Test and learn and apply changes to improve your campaigns and program. As Covey described, it’s an “upward spiral” – you learn, commit, do. If you don’t commit to regularly monitoring and auditing your programs, you run the risk of not being able to scale and take advantage of your next big opportunity. You should be thinking: where would my next dollar be best spent? If more budget were available, could we quickly capitalize across our search program?

While some of the skills needed to succeed as a modern marketer are evolving, keeping in mind these tried-and true habits will make you a highly effective search marketer.

Social Update: Facebook Ads Manager, Medium vs. Tumblr, Michael Kors on Snapchat

By Hootsuite Video Team | 30 mins ago | No Comments

While Google is still the number one choice when it comes to display advertising, Facebook is rapidly gaining ground among small businesses. Last week, the network has announced that it now hosts ads for 2 million active advertisers. And now, creating ads on the network is getting easier with Facebook Ads Manager. Catch the latest Social Update to learn all about the new app.

If you’re shopping around for a blogging platform, check out the social blogging tug-of-war between Tumblr and Medium. These two platforms have been adjusting their formats to suit both long-form and stream-of-consciousness writing to appeal to wider audiences. Which one is a better choice for your brand? Or maybe you should follow Michael Kors’ lead, and devise a Snapchat strategy? Find out all about this and more, in this week’s Social Update with Sunny Lenarduzzi.

Catch up on past episodes of Social Update on Hootsuite’s official YouTube channel.

6 Useful Steps to Prep and Execute a Successful Marketing Event Using Social Media

South by Southwest (SXSW) is one of the most popular events in the world and offers a world stage for companies to gain visibility and win new business.

As the leading customer intelligence software platform, Vision Critical wanted to ensure that their sessions at SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) made a huge impact. But the pressure was on—and as the event attracts huge talent and brands, it’s often hard to stand out.

This is the story of how Vision Critical used Hootsuite to ensure that their thought leadership shined and reached a global audience at SXSW.

To prepare for three highly successful, engaging events, Vision Critical’s social media team did 6 things:

1. Gauge conversations taking place leading up the event

In preparation for the event, Vision Critical’s social media team monitored conversations, industry keywords, hashtags, and key influencers through Hootsuite by setting up relevant search streams and lists.

For example, by monitoring #SXSWi or a Twitter List of other panelists participating in the event, they could get a better understanding of what the audience expected and what other influencers would be discussing. They also used these features to source great marketing content and new ideas, and to stay on top of industry trends to highlight leading up to and during the event.

Hootsuite features used: streams, keyword searches, and Twitter Lists

2. Schedule messages to coincide with panel discussions

Vision Critical hosted three separate panel discussions and played a major role as industry experts at SXSWi. Using the dashboard Scheduler allowed them to stay connected, but in an organized and strategic capacity.

For example, by collaborating with panel speakers and event organizers, Vision Critical’s social media team could schedule messages ahead of time right down to the minute for each speech. “I’ll schedule Tweets to sync with my presentation and project them in a live Hootfeed onstage,” says Alexandra Samuel, the VP of Social Media at Vision Critical. “It’s funny to see the audience’s reaction to my speaking and tweeting at the same time.”

As event schedules change, the previously scheduled content needed to be updated accordingly. Likewise, over the course of a panel, so many topics were discussed that if Vision Critical wanted to share ideas over social, scheduling them apart helped avoid bombarding followers online. The Hootsuite mobile app allowed them to alter timing and add any last minute changes, such as a new trending hashtag, while on the go.

Likewise, they used Hootfeed to live stream Twitter feeds on stage for a more interactive approach (which we’ll dive into further below).

Hootsuite features used: Scheduler, mobile, and Hootfeed

3. Build brand presence leading up to events

In order to build brand awareness, build momentum around the conference, and display their industry expertise, Vision Critical’s team had to build an engaging presence on social media. By setting up listening streams prior to the event, they gathered a wealth of shareable content to fill their social channels. As more engaging content attracted a greater following, the team used Hootsuite social media management and engagement features such as Assignments and Teams to ensure that conversations were kept alive.

Hootsuite features used: Social media management features such as Teams, assignments, and listening streams

4. Source and connect with influencers and over real time trends

Setting up Twitter lists and streams early on meant they could listen to and build relationships with influencers, including other panelists, thought leaders, and brands attending the event. This was important for not only building contacts and potential partners or leads at the event, but also for expanding influence and reach. Beyond that, Vision Critical could repurpose the thought leaders’ content to fill their own marketing channels.

“Using Hootsuite, we were able to monitor conversations about our panels at SXSW Interactive and engage influencers and attendees before, during and after the conference,” says Kelvin Claveria, the Social Media Marketing Assistant at Vision Critical.

Hootsuite features used: Twitter lists, Klout score, streams, publisher, and contacts

5. Collaborate to stay engaged and responsive during live events

With so many conversations taking place around the brand and event, having team members on the ground to assign messages helped them stay organized. Moving publishing, listening, and engagement efforts easily between the Hootsuite mobile app and dashboard also allowed them to be more responsive than ever, even during the busy event.

Because events like SXSWi move quickly, it can be hard to keep up with the constant flow of content. Push Notifications notified Vision Critical’s team of any new mentions, direct messages, new followers, RTs, or favorites. This helped them stay highly engaged online, without constantly checking their smartphones.

Hootsuite features used: Teams, assignments, publisher, permissions, push notifications, and mobile

6. Engage live audience with interactive, trending content

Over the course of the conference, the team became aware of new hashtags and trending thought leaders. They were able to keep up with the conversations by adding new keyword streams via mobile and then retweeting the best content.

As Samuel moderated one of Vision Critical’s SXSWi panels, she used a two-screen solution called Hootfeed to project a live stream of the audience’s tweets that mentioned @VisionCritical or the panel hashtag, #smdata. By scheduling her own tweets to coincide with the discussion, she used Hootfeed to engage her audience both on and offline. This also added an interactive element to the panel that helped keep her audience interested and engaged with the messaging.

Hootsuite features used: Hootfeed, mobile, and keyword streams

Final takeaways

Vision Critical successfully hosted three well-attended events at one of the most important conferences of the year. Having the foresight and tools to plan ahead and collaborate effectively on the ground were key to their success. For a conference that could significantly increase brand awareness, Vision Critical proved themselves as market leaders in the customer intelligence space.

Vision Critical were successful in achieving the following:

  • 140% increase in website traffic from Twitter alone year over year
  • 118% in Twitter followers within one year
  • Hosting three successful SXSW Interactive sessions, including one that trended on Twitter in the US
  • Collaborating with industry thought leaders and solidified their competitive positioning in the space

Learn more about how to get connected at global conferences.

5 Ways to Impress Your New boss (and Eddie Van Halen)

This post originally appeared on Fortune.

Under normal circumstances, it’s probably not a good idea to take career advice from ‘70s hard rockers. In this case, however, it might be worth making an exception.

In their heyday, Van Halen was famous for an ingenious quality-control tactic. Buried deep within the group’s 53-page tour contract was a stipulation that their backstage green room be supplied with M&M’s – in all colors exceptbrown. If the band discovered a brown M&M, they’d reportedly go nuts and skip the gig entirely. Their logic: if their contractors didn’t read the fine print when it came to candy, how could they possibly be trusted to set up their elaborate, often dangerous, stage shows.

For employees looking to impress a new boss, there’s a not-so-subtle lesson here: sweat the small stuff. Little things can make a big difference when making a first impression. With that in mind, here are five slightly unconventional, sometimes overlooked, ways to make a splash with your new boss.

(Disclaimer: Just like lead singers – think Sammy Hagar vs. David Lee Roth – no two bosses are exactly alike. While following these suggestions might wow me, they should be applied judiciously.)

Keep emails short and sweet

Over the years, I’ve trained myself to write three-sentence emails (a concept expounded here), leaving out the fluff and keeping only the most essential points. It saves my time and it saves the reader’s time. Whenever I get a long email from a new employee, I ask myself if things could have been expressed more concisely. He or she has spent a lot of their own time composing it and now it’s consuming a lot of my time, as well, since I have to read it. And time is often a boss’s most valuable commodity. Rather than send long emails, save more substantial communication for a phone call or meeting.

Treat my assistant better than me

Recently, we had various people applying for a high-level sales role. After checking in with my executive assistant, I was surprised to find out that many candidates who had been personable and courteous to me were downright rude to her. The ability to work well with others is a skill that’s critical in any role. I’m constantly assessing how new hires treat co-workers, clients, even strangers. Civility, courtesy and genuine caring are traits bosses often value highly because they lead to a more harmonious and productive team.

Walk out of a meeting

I love it when employees walk out of a group meeting. Why? Meetings are, by nature, inefficient. Some agenda items are resolved in minutes while others run on forever. Topics that are critical for some group members might be completely irrelevant to others. The solution: stand up and excuse yourself when you’re no longer gaining value. I’d rather have my employees making good use of their time than sitting around politely listening to information they can’t use. Now, not all bosses are going to see things this way. But to the right boss – the productivity hacker who’s always looking for ways to boost efficiency – this tactic can speak volumes.

Use social media at work

According to a 2014 study, 36% of employers report that they block social media at work. Why they’d ever do a thing like that is beyond me. Social media is – at its heart – a communication and productivity tool that’s just as useful in the boardroom as it is in the dorm room. In the office, it can play a role not just in marketing and sales efforts, but in improving internal dialogue and keeping lines of communication open. When I see new employees making good use of platforms like Facebook and Twitter or business-minded social networks like Yammer or even new apps I’ve never heard of, I’m anything but disappointed. These employees are often pushing the company to communicate faster and more efficiently.

Fail at something

There are two types of failure – failure due to incompetence and failure due to ambition. A good boss recognizes the difference between the two and respects employees who fail for the latter reason. I have great admiration for people who bite off more than they can chew – who take on projects that may be too big or too ambitious. And I don’t hold it against them should things not turn out as planned. Without risk, after all, it’s hard for any company to move forward. Steve Jobs knew this well. While Apple is revered for the iPhone and MacBook, less remembered are the many products that fell totally flat, like the Apple Lisa, the Apple III and the Powermac g4 cube. A good boss knows that failure and innovation are two sides of the same coin.

Complementary Marketing: The Intersection of SEO and Content Marketing

The power of collaboration shouldn’t be underestimated within online marketing.

Too often we get caught up in the vertical-versus-vertical battle, especially when it comes to promoting our own abilities, results, and services. The reality is the more we work together, the better we all do.

There is a natural symbiosis across all online marketing disciplines. The reason for this is simple: the basic goal of all online marketing is improved visibility and awareness. And the more you drive visibility and awareness to your marketing efforts, the better all other online marketing activities perform. Rand Fishkin calls this the marketing flywheel.

Let’s take a quick look at an example:

If your primary traffic source is from a well-established email list, there are other online marketing channels which will specifically complement and help grow your email marketing efforts.

  • Social Media: Social media marketing will allow you to tap a new audience, drive visibility, and increase your newsletter signups. You’ll be able to interface directly with your audience, track competitors, and build your presence on a new platform.
  • SEO: Higher search engine visibility and rankings will drive day-over-day, week-over-week traffic to bring new and interested eyeballs to your website continually, and thereby increase audience, awareness, and ultimately newsletter signups.
  • Content Marketing: Producing and marketing great content can help you build your online authority, create additional value in your emails, drive signups, and aid retention.

People often underappreciate the ability these verticals have to complement and feed one another. This leads to many wasted opportunities, when both channels are engaged but not fully collaborating.

Working in a tight-knit marketing department taught me the value of collaboration. I’ve time and again seen the complementary nature of different marketing activities. I personally use my SEO skills and background continually to improve my content marketing efforts.

Today I want to talk about two of my favorite online marketing disciplines: SEO and content marketing.

I’ve had a breadth of experience in both, as I spent years as an SEO before I transitioned into content marketing.

Let’s look at three specific examples of how SEO can improve content marketing, across all stages of a campaign.

3 Ways SEO Complements Content Marketing

SEOs have much to offer content marketers.

By very nature SEOs should be optimizers. If you’re creating content, you’ll want someone who has the heart of an optimizer on your team. These are people who will think strategically, analytically, and thoughtfully about how to make the most of your content — for search, but hopefully for people as well.

Let’s look at how an SEO can complement your content marketing initiatives, from start to finish.

Complement #1: Content Ideas, Strategic Planning

SEOs have a variety of skills that should be brought to bear before any content is created.

Specifically, there are two primary tasks SEOs are well-suited for which will aid the content idea generation and exploratory phase.

  1. Analyzing previous content performance, competitor content performance, and determining content gaps/opportunities.

It’s already within an SEO’s purview to know site performance. If an SEO is working on a website, they should be able to speak to well-performing content and pages. If they’re new to the site or project, an audit should be second nature to them.

Similarly, it’s an SEO’s responsibility to have a strong understanding of search competitors, which pages are ranking highly for relevant terms, and competitor content that has performed well (and poorly). If the SEO doesn’t know competitor performance? Again, that information is but an audit away.

One of the most important tasks I have as a content marketer is to determine high-potential opportunities. There is such an incredible amount of noise online that if I’m not strategically thinking before I start creating content, I’m wasting my time. Someone’s already been there, done that, and I’m left adding to the white noise, getting little or nothing in return for my time, energy, creativity, and resource expenditure.

  1. Identifying niche influencers, relevant websites, and promotional opportunities.

SEOs, particularly those with a link-building background, are great at industry/niche investigation.

It’ll be second nature for them to suss out influencers, authoritative and relevant websites, potential partnerships, and linking opportunities.

Having a list of influencers, websites, partnerships, and linking opportunities is fundamental to creating high-potential content. If you want people to engage, share, or promote your content, you need to be able to speak to why they’ll care about your content.To be able to make people care about your content, you need to understand them.

SEOs have both the skillset and experience to effectively and efficiently bring strategic information to the table. It’s absolutely vital to collaborate.

Complement #2: Content Creation, Opportunity

The internet evolves at a pretty fantastic pace. It’s 2015 and content no longer means words written on a page.

The “content” in “content marketing” can mean writing, but it can also mean images, videos, JavaScript, HTML5, flash, etc. etc. The limit is the imagination, budget, and technical support.

The more you invest into content marketing, the more you need to have an SEO involved in content creation.

If your content marketing is restrained to publishing blog posts and sharing through social media, then it’s probably fine to educate your content creator on SEO best practices and have minimal oversight.

If however you’re investing into large content, relying on content marketing to drive company messaging, branding, and top-of-the-funnel marketing, then you need to invest into SEO oversight.

Creating content using SEO best practices doesn’t mean sacrificing user experience. Using SEO best practices simply means not capping the performance of your content from the very beginning.

According to a studyfrom BrightEdge, which analyzed billions of pieces of content across the web, 51 percent of all visitors came from organic search.

You really don’t want to mess up SEO in your content marketing.

Complement #3: Content Promotion, Lifetime Value

Content marketing without marketing is just content.

It’s really that simple. If you’re creating content, but not promoting it properly, your content marketing is likely going to fail. There are exceptions to this rule, sure – but thinking you’re the exception is a terrible mindset in marketing.

Building promotional opportunities into content should be step one in a content marketer’s agenda. Having said that, my past in link-building has prepared me well for a career in content marketing.

Link-building is all about going out, finding where your target audience lives, and promoting your value intelligently with the primary goal of links.

Link-building is a fantastic avenue for promoting your content. Let me explain why.

If you’re successful in building links to your content, it’s a huge win in terms of lifetime visibility, and therefore the lifetime value of the content. Why?

  1. You’ve communicated with another website owner and they liked your content enough to share it with their audience.

    • That’s a potential relationship with a relevant, authoritative brand in your industry.
  2. Google sees that link as a signal of trust and authority, and subsequently rank your content higher in search for terms relevant to the content.

Not only are you driving an initial blast of visibility, recognition, and traffic through links after you initially publish, you’re ensuring the strongest source of lifetime traffic — organic search traffic — is possible for that content.

If you’re strategically creating content based around important industry terms, phrases, and keywords, every link you secure will increase the value of that content.

It’s a win-win-win. You’re creating great content – win. You’re promoting that content to people within your industry and having it shared (linked) – win. You’re ensuring that content will be visible in search – win.

I absolutely love utilizing link-building as a promotional strategy in my content marketing initiatives.

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Collaborative marketing is good marketing. You need to stop and consider your goals, opportunities, and overall budget to decide which marketing avenues will create the best results for your company.

Let’s quick throwing rocks at one another and do what we can to work together. The more we work to increase the value of one another, the more everyone wins.

It’s 2015, and no marketing discipline should be done in a bubble. Every online marketing activity should work as a piece of the whole.

Image via Shutterstock.

Dive Deeper: Questions You Need to Add to Your SEO Client Onboarding Process

Good news! You’ve secured a brand-new SEO client. They’re bursting with excitement and you’re raring to get started. As you work through your regular onboarding checklist, use this time to dig deeper with a few more probing questions to help you create a strategy that’s practically guaranteed to succeed.

Taking advantage of the excitement and positive outlook at the start of the project is the best time to get these details and will be critical to your success. Not only will the questions below help you more effectively ideate content and outreach tactics, they will also help ensure both you and the client are in perfect sync in terms of next steps and expectations.

Here’s a helpful list of ideas for in-depth questions to add to your existing onboarding questionnaire.

When asking about the company and products/services, also ask:

How has the company grown over the past three years? What helped and what fell short?

  • This will quickly reveal a good sample of things that have proven successful and also tell you where risks lie.

Can you set up a time to speak with the customer service team?

  • Talking to the people on the front line will help you understand what messaging resonates best with prospects and help you learn more about the target audience, including their common pain points.

What other key projects is the company focusing on in the next three to six months?

  • This will allow you to dig out opportunities to help make them more successful, or they could be good SEO tie-ins, allowing you to show more successes on projects you know are important to the C-suite.

What are your company’s values, mission statement, and long-term vision?

  • Getting a feel for the “personality” of the company and how they like to operate, as well as learning their ideas for where they want to go, will give you an understanding of what types of strategies will be met most favorably in future.

Do you have any brand guidelines and compliance guidelines that you can share?

  • Getting this information upfront – before you even start thinking of content marketing – is hugely helpful. Aligning yourself very closely with the brand while taking into account any compliance requirements will just speed up the creative approval cycle.

When asking about your points of contact and management involvement, also ask:

What other projects is your contact going to be involved in while also working with you on SEO?

  • This will give you an estimate on how much time they have on their hands to act on your recommendations.

What is the C-suite’s understanding of and sentiment toward SEO?

  • This is important to understand upfront – if top execs have a poor understanding of SEO or are suspicious of it (perhaps owing to a poor experience in the past), then there will be several obstacles raised in future. But finding this out early can help you approach things with a greater educational perspective and tailor your reports to help smooth things along.

What is the company expecting in terms of timeline and results?

  • Forewarned is forearmed. If there are any unrealistic expectations, you can share your thoughts on what to expect and why, so you don’t find yourself on the defensive a couple of months into the project.

How long is the approvals process for strategy and/or creative?

  • Knowing this will allow you to plan your monthly strategy with these timelines in mind.

How open would they be to collaborations with other channels such as PR or social?

  • There are a lot of synergies that can be found here by tying in these channels with SEO outreach and content efforts.

Are affiliates or anyone outside the company creating pages or advertising?

  • These could affect your efforts so knowing this upfront will help you mitigate any risks.

When asking about goals and KPIs, also ask:

What are the overall business goals as well as goals for different channels that are tangentially related to SEO, such as PPC, social media, and PR?

  • Use this information to find opportunities for synergies between the channels.

What is the most important success metric that will be used to gauge success?

  • You’ll want to know upfront if management is simply looking for daily ranking reports for a vanity keyword or is focused on metrics apart from revenue, so you can jointly agree upon the main metric to focus on.

Can we jointly agree on leading indicator metrics in addition to the main metric?

  • Again, this goes a long way toward aligning expectations and showing that things are moving in the right direction.

What does management consider to be past wins and failures in SEO, PR, and PPC?

  • This will tell you what has worked and also give you deeper insights into what they’re truly focusing on.

When asking about the audience and target customers, also ask:

Have they done any type of conversion rate optimization or multivariate testing? If so, can they share their hypotheses and testing reports?

What types of emails or PPC ads perform best?

  • These questions will help provide insights into their target audience so you can see what type of content is likely to earn high audience engagement.

Do they have personas identified or know their secondary target audiences? If so, can they rank audience segments in terms of most likely to buy vs. least likely?

  • Any understanding here will be vital to your content marketing and outreach efforts.

When talking about other marketing and content activities, also ask:

Does the company support any particular charities or are there any causes or charities supported by key executives?

  • You may find opportunities for creating content or outreach efforts that have an emotional connection with the audience and the management team.

What is the competition doing that they like or wish they had done? Who are indirect competitors or related industries that they pull inspiration from?

  • This will give you an idea about what they like and don’t like – information which will be invaluable when creating your strategy.

What business relationships do they have, whether biz dev partnerships, vendors, or related companies?

  • These could come in handy later when you’re planning your outreach efforts.

When asking about technology, also ask:

What’s their internal IT dev cycle? How does IT typically approach SEO-related projects and what’s their understanding of SEO?

  • This way, you’ll know what level of explanation to provide and understand the timeline for when your recommendations could be implemented.

What are marketing’s pain points regarding the website?

  • This will give you some glimpses into potential problems you could expect later in the project, such as hard-to-edit pages or CMS problems.

How often is the website updated and who else has a hand in editing the site apart from IT?

  • This information will reveal if other marketing teams could make recommendations that could override yours, or if there could be issues such as another department unknowingly duplicating content across pages.

Do you own any other websites?

  • This will likely already be on your list, but it is very important to ensure you get this list early on, to prevent any nasty surprises later.

Are there other questions you’ve found very helpful in asking during the onboarding process? Please do share in the comments below.

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27 Dress Tweets? The Best of #BlackandBlue vs #WhiteandGold

Image by Jordan Maron

By Hootsuite | 2 hours ago | News | No Comments

If you don’t know what the debate is over #thedress, your internet connection is down or you’re in a coma. Try to wake up!

As with any huge viral internet trend, the whole of Twitter wanted in on the great debate. Here are the best tweets about #thedress, including some impressive real-time marketing from major brands.

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