Zazzle Media » Blogs http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk We are a content and data led Content marketing, SEO consulting and social media agency Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:28:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Brainstorming your way to Success http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/brainstorming-techniques/ http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/brainstorming-techniques/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:28:52 +0000 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/?post_type=blog&p=6285 Yesterday afternoon in a sun-lit, graffiti adorned meeting room known as Tracey Island (yes, we know, we spelled it wrong) a disparate band of Zazzlers gathered around a pile of brightly coloured Post-It Notes, magazines, laptops and a whiteboard…just thinking. Some lounged on beanbags, some bounced on gym balls, all of us had a look […]

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Yesterday afternoon in a sun-lit, graffiti adorned meeting room known as Tracey Island (yes, we know, we spelled it wrong) a disparate band of Zazzlers gathered around a pile of brightly coloured Post-It Notes, magazines, laptops and a whiteboard…just thinking. Some lounged on beanbags, some bounced on gym balls, all of us had a look of deep concentration. We were having the first of three brainstorm meetings scheduled for the day, and the air was thick with creativity.

Brainstorm. Thought shower. Groupthink. Meeting of minds…

Whatever your organisation calls these gatherings; you’ll undoubtedly have been involved in one or two at some point during your professional career.

Brainstorming is defined as: A group problem-solving technique that involves the spontaneous contribution of ideas from an individual or all members of the group. It helps you develop creative solutions to a problem and is particularly useful when you need divergent thinking to break out of stale thinking patterns.

When done well, the collective power of the group’s creativity could be the conduit to something wonderful. Done badly, the brainstorm meeting will quickly descend into chaos, with attendees feeling under pressure to conform and original ideas being crushed by lengthy discussions about whether they’re viable or not.

Good brainstorming takes practice and skill in order to avoid them becoming meaningless time-traps that add little value.

As the saying goes: one person does not make a team, and in order to give our clients the best and most successful strategies possible we need to harness the collective brainpower of the wider Zazzle team; ideally from a number of different departments with a different set of interests, priorities and passions. This ensures our strategies have depth, colour and a range of contrasting angles and avenues to explore.

Therefore, we hold lots and lots (and lots) of brainstorm meetings, and have learned some valuable lessons about the right and wrong way to do it.

The right people for the job

The first and most important consideration for any brainstorm organiser is to decide who is going to attend. Whilst you might be tempted to invite your entire organisation (safety in numbers, right?) I have found that any more than between 6-7 participants becomes difficult to manage and you’ll find yourself in one of two situations; neither of them desirable:

1) He who shouts loudest – One or two people take over the meeting and put forward a couple of perfectly good, but obvious suggestions. The rest of the group (feeling under pressure to perform and conform) spend their time brainstorming around these first couple of ideas, not wanting to be the one to think outside the box and say something ‘crazy’.
2) No one shouts at all – The sheer volume of the group scares everyone into complete silence; no-one wants to be the first to speak so, as meeting organiser, you throw a few ideas into the arena to get things moving. Everyone nods and smiles at you, relieved they no longer have to speak out. The meeting ends.

Think carefully about the topic you’ll be brainstorming and think about the skills and interests of the people you have at your ‘disposal’. However, don’t be tempted to only invite people who have expressed a deep and vested expertise in the subject up for discussion – some of the best ideas come from people with no prior experience in resolving the problem at hand. I would suggest a good mix of knowledgeable and novice is ideal.

Make sure they’re prepared – allow time for the ‘solo-brainstorm’

Research suggests that often the most creative people are introverts, and introverts are often much more creative when they’re allowed to ponder a problem in privacy, free from interruption.

In fact, even extroverts would find it difficult to be summoned into a meeting room with no prior warning, given a problem and have someone demand that they solve it there and then. It’s little wonder that this method usually fails to uncover any new or original ideas as, when put under pressure, our creative brains switch off and we go into auto-pilot – searching for the first and most obvious solution without having the time and thinking space to do anything else.

I always supply brainstorm attendees with a bullet point list of short, succinct information prior to any meeting: At the very least outline the problem, the goal and let people know what will be expected of them. If you want everyone to come armed with at least one great idea ready to share, then tell them this in advance. You’ll usually find that given this opportunity they’ll have loads of good ideas they’ll happily share with the group.

Lay down the ground rules – no fear

The most obvious, but most commonly overlooked rule of any brainstorm is that there is no such thing as a bad idea. If you find yourself chairing a brainstorm meeting then you must live and die by this rule – whatever weird and wonderful, mumbo jumbo ideas spill from your attendees’ mouths you must take note of them, smile encouragingly and wait for someone else to take that image and build on it. Trust me, it will happen.

Everybody has an in-built fear of being ‘wrong’ and this fear is one of the primary hurdles to us consistently performing at our creative best. But here’s a fact: There is no wrong and right when it comes to creativity.

At the start of each and every brainstorm, remind people that the meeting room you have gathered in is a ‘safe’ zone. Free from ridicule, mistakes and errors. What happens in Tracey Island stays in Tracey Island. Each and every idea provided is a valuable one – and the more ideas the better. This is a numbers game.

It’s also important to remember that absolutely no one will be allowed to discuss the viability of any ideas put forward during the session – this isn’t the forum for this. At the time of the brainstorm, every idea is completely possible at this stage.

Filter your ideas – Utilise data

As a creative ‘luvvy’ type, you might think that data is not for you. Too complicated, too organised and very likely to stifle your demiurgic mo-jo. I certainly did once upon a time.

However, you must learn to love data and make it your friend as without it you run the risk of completely going off on a tangent, mistakenly believing that an article about rainbows and butterflies is completely suitable for a client selling security alarms (I exaggerate of course!)

Some data should be shared with your meeting delegates prior to the brainstorm (see section: make sure they’re prepared) – but avoid overloading them with ‘facts’ that could cloud and stifle their innovation. Using these ‘facts’ to filter through the ideas post-meeting is your job.

Data lies at the heart of everything we do at Zazzle Media, but there is a fine balance to be had. I’m a firm believer that creativity must be nurtured and cultivated away from the constraints of spreadsheets and algorithms, but how do you know whether the suggestions you’re putting forward will work? What’s the goal? Will they solve the problem? Will anyone else like them? What’s the measure of success?

Creativity won’t give you these answers; data will.

Don’t be afraid of silences

Silences in a group setting can be incredibly uncomfortable, but are an essential part of the creative process.

A moment or two of quiet gives people valuable thinking time; for example, how many times has a great idea come to you while you’re in the shower, driving, or lying quietly in bed? Allowing yourself a moment or two of unspeaking calm, away from distraction, seems to unlock an artistic part of your brain that would be unobtainable otherwise.

You’ll find that periods of silence are usually followed by great eruptions of conversation. Don’t fear them.

Have a deadline & wrap up on a positive

Every brainstorm should have a time limit and you must be mindful of sticking to it as much as possible. I would suggest half an hour is an ideal time limit – unless by this time the team are still quick-firing suggestions, in which case extend the meeting by 5-10 minutes.

If there is still more to say, you need more ideas, or feel there are still unexplored avenues, then hold a second (more focussed) meeting at a later date.

Learn for next time

Every day is a school day, and brainstorm meetings offer the ideal learning ground. Who performed well and who seemed intimidated? What brainstorm method worked best? Did people appear more energised when they were standing or sitting? Do afternoons work better than mornings?

Don’t be afraid to test different methods and groups of people to establish what works best for you and your organisation.

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Paid Social Audience Targeting: The Revolution Continues http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/social-targeting-revolution/ http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/social-targeting-revolution/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 11:10:27 +0000 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/?post_type=blog&p=6261 The ability to specifically target a brand’s ‘perfect customer’ at the precise point a purchasing decision is about to be made is marketing Nirvana. That dream moved a step closer to being reality this month as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all unveiled exciting new ad products that promise to take targeting to whole new levels […]

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The ability to specifically target a brand’s ‘perfect customer’ at the precise point a purchasing decision is about to be made is marketing Nirvana.

That dream moved a step closer to being reality this month as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all unveiled exciting new ad products that promise to take targeting to whole new levels of precision.

In true Zazzle style we’ve spent hours looking at how this triage of new opportunities can feed into the wider content marketing and social mix and below we run through our initial findings. 

Twitter Partner Audiences

First up is Twitter’s exciting new Partner Audiences product.

This feature will enable advertisers to target Promoted Tweets to users who have shown purchase intent away from Twitter. Marketers will be able to select from over 1000 audiences, so they can target audiences like “coffee buyers” or luxury items at audiences earning a specific income.

Twitter have teamed with data giants Acxiom and Datalogix to create over 1,000 partner audiences that marketers can target, matching its users to people in the partner databases by using hashed email addresses associated with Twitter accounts.

In a blog post announcing the feature, Kyle Boston, a Product Manager for Revenue at Twitter writes:

“For example, by using a partner to provide the desired audience, an auto brand can connect with audiences that are in-market for a new car. A CPG company can reach customers that have previously purchased products in their category. And luxury brands can limit campaigns to shoppers who earn a household income above a certain threshold.”

Twitter have been testing this feature with a few major brands recently, including Nestle, who, according the Twitter blog are happy with the results. Using the data through partner audiences, Nestle targeted buyers of peanut butter related products with their new Butterfinger Cup Minis.

There are huge opportunities to use this kind of data. Partner Audiences help to narrow down the target audience when promoting tweets, based on purchase behaviour as opposed to solely making assumptions based on interests. Targeting people who have actually purchased something will lead to much more effective advertising through the social network.

An health food brand, for instance, could use Partner Audiences to target people who actually purchase ‘Dairy-Free’ to promote a new product, with the knowledge that they are more likely to engage with it.

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This latest addition to Twitter’s advertising products Twitter’s is comparable to Facebook, who launched a similar feature 2 years ago, with the same data partners Acxiom and Datalogix as well as Epsilon.

While privacy will always remain a hot topic, Twitter users can opt out by going to privacy settings and unticking the box “Tailor ads based on information shared by ad partners.”

The new feature is available now to marketers in the US and can be accessed through the behaviours section of the Twitter Ads Dashboard.

These features are currently only available to those advertising in the United States, and can be accessed by all those using Twitter advertising through the behaviours section of the Twitter Ads Dashboard. It will be interesting to see if similar functionality is made available in the UK in the future.

Facebook Topic Data

The big announcement from Facebook is the introduction of Topic Data. Partnering with leading social data platform, DataSift, Facebook will allow privacy safe access to its goldmine of status updates through its new insights product “Topic Data”.

In an announcement on the Facebook business blog the social network explains that

“Topic data shows marketers what audiences are saying on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities, all in a way that keeps personal information private. Marketers use the information from topic data to make better decisions about how they market on Facebook and other channels, and build product roadmaps.”

Facebook advertising has always led the way in terms of targeting options and audience insights, using the wealth of information that its users openly add to their personal profiles and pages that they like. Until now though, there has been no access to status updates, as much of Facebook’s data is private.

The topic data will be completely anonymized and aggregated in the same way that all other insights data is, so as not to disclose any information that could personally identify someone. Alongside this, topic data will not provide a result unless at least 100 different users match to protect privacy. Marketers won’t have access to specific users, or be able to target those based on mentions of certain terms, but they will be able to set ads to appear to people in similar demographics.

Examples given by Facebook for how marketers can use this new data include:

  • A fashion retailer can see the clothing items its target audience is talking about to decide which products to stock.
  • A brand can see how people are talking about their brand or industry to measure brand sentiment.

Access to this new data is available through undisclosed limited 3rd party analytics providers, working with DataSift to turn the data queries into meaningful insights for marketers.

We are looking to forward to testing out this new data to better understand audiences, both from an advertising perspective and to fuel our content strategy.

Instagram Clickable Carousel Ads

Instagram have never had clickable URLS, whether ads or not. Even when they introduced ads in October 2013, these have always been for branding and influence purposes.

The new update will, for the first time, allow clickable links when scrolling through your Instagram feed. Only available through their new product, multi-photo Carousel Ads, the ‘Learn More’ button will open up the URL in an internal browser, allowing users to easily get back to their photo feed.

This is a completely new advertising product from Instagram, which will allow marketers to add up to 4 branded images, which users can scroll through, alongside the ‘Learn More’ button. Clickable URLs will not be added to existing ad products, or organic Instagram posts.

In an announcement on the Instagram business blog: 

“One way to look at it is carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones – with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more. For instance, a fashion company could use the carousel to deconstruct the individual products in a ‘look.’ A car company might share an array of different features of a vehicle and provide a link to learn more about the new model. Or, an advertiser could showcase how multiple ingredients come together to make a delicious meal.”

This balancing of user experience with demands of advertisers, who want to see more meaningful business results, is the latest update to advertising on Instagram, and may now make it more of a viable option to marketers looking to spend on the platform.

Social advertising is advancing as advertisers are looking for alternative options to reach their audience. The wealth of information that people share on social networks means the options for targeting the most relevant ads to the right people are huge. These recent updates from Facebook and Twitter provide marketers and strategists with new ways to capture data and insight, to not only advertise, but also to understand the audience and inform social and content strategies. The update from Instagram to include clickable URLs in some of its advertising products makes the photo-sharing platform an option for many more businesses.

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Technology is only as good as the story > Ann Handley Interview http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/ann-handley-interview/ http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/ann-handley-interview/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 13:38:35 +0000 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/?post_type=blog&p=6251 For all the different methods of marketing, blogging, videos, podcasts and other modes of transmission, Ann Handley is certain of one thing; they won’t work if the content itself doesn’t stand up. It’s the theme of her Wall Street Journal Bestseller ‘Everybody writes: Your Go-to-Guide to creating Ridiculously Good Content’, based on years of authoring […]

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For all the different methods of marketing, blogging, videos, podcasts and other modes of transmission, Ann Handley is certain of one thing; they won’t work if the content itself doesn’t stand up. It’s the theme of her Wall Street Journal Bestseller ‘Everybody writes: Your Go-to-Guide to creating Ridiculously Good Content’, based on years of authoring and managing digital content to build relationships for organisations and individuals. It’s the latest book in a career that has seen her assume the roles of chief content officer of MarketingProfs; a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine; a LinkedIn influencer; a keynote speaker, mum, and writer.

Describe your role in one sentence

I am waging a war on content marketing mediocrity.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on answering this question. :)

Also: I’m working with MarketingProf’s own Kerry Gorgone on developing a MarketingProfs marketing writing workshop, based on the best-selling Everybody Writes.

What’s the best thing about your job, and what are the most frustrating things?

Best part: There’s a lot to love… but fundamentally I love the autonomy of working from home, especially because I work with a team I love.

Worst part: Working from home in Boston today, where it’s 1 degree outside (wind chill -24) and there is a 7-foot snow bank outside my door. I’m not built for this much snow and cold – physically or emotionally.

If you had three short pieces of advice for a young content creator, what would they be?

  • Learn to write ridiculously well.
  • Create content because you love it, not because you get paid for it.
  • Focus on your audience. Remember the sage advice of longtime writing teacher Donald Murray: “The reader doesn’t turn the page because of a hunger to applaud.”

What’s the best piece of work you’ve done and why?

My latest book, Everybody Writes. My heart and soul is in that book – I’ve never worked harder on anything else.

If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be and why?

David Sedaris: Because he’s one of my all-time favourite authors. He’s known for being a hilarious writer, but his work is also soulful and surprisingly sad. I’d be happy with just sitting down for a coffee. Dinner might be weird.

EB White, because he had one foot in narrative nonfiction, one foot in fiction, and one foot in Maine, my second favourite state after Massachusetts. That makes him sound weirdly three-footed. But you catch my drift.

My mom and dad, because they died before I became a grown-up. Obviously I long for more than a dinner with them both. Technically that makes it four people to have dinner with, not three. But if cost is an issue I’m happy to go half.

You have a journalistic background – how has that helped in the world of marketing?

Journalists are the only people, in my mind, who put the needs of the audience first. Marketing needs more customer-centric content, not corporate-centric content.

What key skills does an entrepreneur need?

How did it feel to be named as the most influential woman in social media by Forbes? Who were/are your main influences in life?

I’m grateful for every list I’m on and for every recognition I receive – who doesn’t like to be recognised for their work?

But at the same time, it’s a kind of trap that can lull you into an exaggerated sense of your own value. I know in my heart when I’ve done well and when I haven’t – when I got lazy or didn’t push as hard as I should have to produce my best work. Ultimately, that’s all that really matters. That might sound simulated – like a feigned modesty – but it’s not.

My influencers:

  • My dad, for his work ethic.
  • My Uncle Frank, an old-time newsroom guy who first put the idea in my six-year-old head that I could be a writer.
  • Sean Gresh, a professor in my college communications class, who reinforced in me the truth that those who learn to write well will be successful at whatever they choose to do.
  • Nena Groskind, my first boss at Warren Publishing, for believing in me when I was kind of a young idiot!

You’re a busy person – how do you find the time to juggle your work, websites, business engagements and family life?

It’s a holiday Monday here, and I am typing this as quietly as I can in the early-morning hours, so as not to wake up anyone still sleeping. And so there’s your answer, I suppose.

I also don’t compartmentalise things quite as neatly into boxes – my family will sometimes accompany me on work trips. I collaborate often with my longtime partner. My speaking benefits MarketingProfs. So there’s a lot of crossover.

What’s your proudest achievement to date?

Professional: I’m very proud of the work the team here at MarketingProfs has done. We’ve been a leader in the digital marketing space longer than most, and our content, training and education programmes continue to evolve in a way that makes me want to daily group hug our entire staff.

Personal: My kids, who are growing into exactly the kind of people I could ever want them to be.

Give us one prediction for marketing for 2015/16

The frenzy over marketing technologies recedes as we realise that any technology is only as good as the story it helps us tell.

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How to QC Written Content http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/how-to-qc-written-content/ http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/how-to-qc-written-content/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 09:38:47 +0000 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/?post_type=blog&p=6248 Anyone who has kept a close eye on the challenges experienced by local and regional newspapers over the last five years or so will have little hesitation in nominating the specific job role which appears to have been more vulnerable than all others. The sub-editor. Once the guardians of the English language, or the ‘grammar […]

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Anyone who has kept a close eye on the challenges experienced by local and regional newspapers over the last five years or so will have little hesitation in nominating the specific job role which appears to have been more vulnerable than all others. The sub-editor.

Once the guardians of the English language, or the ‘grammar police’, the sub-editors were that layer of protection between journalist and editor. Doing the dirty work, as it were. Identifying errors, spelling mistakes, literals; checking facts and references; reducing or increasing word count; re-writing passages of text. The sub-editor was the safety net for the more creative, and sometimes less attentive, colleague.

Increasingly, as staffing models have developed, the sub editor has come under threat. Not entirely extinct, of course: there will always be newspapers, and magazines which have designated sub editors, tasked not with creating copy but ensuring the accuracy and relevance of what is in it. But increasingly, the responsibility is being passed to those who create the material in the first place.

It’s down to the writer, the journalist, the content editor, to stand by the copy they produce.

In the digital world, this close eye for detail is critical. Very often, text – whether that be a guest post, blog, feature or online category content – is created and published almost immediately. Writing a 500-word article for a website, ready and waiting to publish it, can be a one-take deal. It needs to be correct, first time.

At Zazzle Media, what might be called ‘subbing’ or ‘proofing’ is referred to as our QC process. I can’t think of anything more apt than that, for what we do, essentially, it is assess all work and make sure it passes quality control.

The knowledge that yours will be the last pair of eyes to view the content before it’s published should guarantee close attention to detail and a meticulous approach. What follows are a few useful suggestions and guidelines you may find helpful when you’re next in the QC hot seat.

Disclaimer: if you spot any errors in this content, they’ve been inserted deliberately as a test, of course.

It’s v Its

The recurring error I read more than anything else, closely followed by ‘you’re v your’ and ‘they’re v there’. It’s maddening because once you understand the distinction, you’ve got it for life – but so many writers are repeat offenders. The official rule is that it’s is a contraction – short for it is – and its is a possessive pronoun. But it’s sometimes simpler to read these out in full as you QC – as in ‘it is obvious’ – which should help to establish which version to use. Eg: ‘please put that book back in it is place’. Clearly its needs to be used in this case. Or ‘get you are coat’ – get your coat is the correct version, not get you’re coat.

Don’t rely on spell check…

Yes, the Spelling and Grammar function available on Word is a neat little tool and, by all means, run it through every piece of copy – but don’t rely on it. It will pick (though I typed pic first as a test and it completely ignored the mistake) up on some errors, but it’s not conclusive. Typically, the tool is set for US English too, so be careful here. It won’t recognise the proper spelling of many place names. And it won’t assist in the quest to distinguish ‘you’re and your’. For example, when I typed in ‘get you are coat’ in the paragraph above and ran the spell checker, Word totally missed it. The tool also won’t notice missing words, either. Use it as a quick initial skim before knuckling down to the hard yards yourself.

… or other technological ‘cheats’

A pet hate of mine is the ‘Justify Text’ layout option found on Word. Select it, and your text will spread evenly across the page and remove any dreaded ‘widows’ – the term for lonely letters sitting at the very end of a line, such as ‘A’ at the start of a new sentence. However, it’s the choice of the lazy proofer, in my opinion. Justifying text creates an unnatural range of spacing, and if you add one or two new words into a line it can cause a stretching effect which looks awful on paper and not much better on a website. Don’t select this option, please.

Read headers and sub-headers out loud

The human eye can’t always pick up on mistakes at a glance and it can be tricked. This is why, despite being the most prominent text in any article, you’ll sometimes see glaring errors in a headline – exposed, to a greater extent, by a larger and bolder font. If needs be, read a header or sub header out in a staccato style, pronouncing each word clearly.

Be consistent

In a 1,500 word article you might have referred to the same place, brand or title several times. Make sure there is consistency in how this is written, so it’s Twitter in the opening paragraph, Twitter midway through the piece and Twitter in the conclusion. Not Twitter, twitter and Twitter.

Don’t proofread your own writing

If you’re working independently as a blogger or freelance writer, there is little option but to read over your own work. But ideally – when part of a wider content team – a fresh pair of eyes will proof an article. When the writer has been so close to a piece of content, he or she might be unable to identify areas of improvement, may have read it once or twice over already and needs to take a step back.

Check spellings of names

Simple stuff, but never take names at face value. If there’s a guaranteed way of causing offence and upset, it’s to spell someone’s name incorrectly. Always check.
Is it Neil or Neal? Karl or Carl? John or Jon? Matt or Mat? Sarah or Sara? Nikki or Nicky – or Nicki?

Clear some time in your schedule

Create some proper, clear, time in your working schedule to QC content. It’s not a task to be done while you juggle something else, such as taking a phone call or sitting in a meeting. It needs complete attention and a quiet environment; if you’re in a busy office, plug earphones in and use classical music to block out surrounding sounds.

Importantly, if you do get interrupted midway through proofing an article – if a colleague has an urgent question, for example – don’t pick up where you left off. Start again from the top.

It’s not just about mistakes

QCing content is not exclusively about spotting errors and mistakes. You should be assessing the quality of the work on the screen in front of you, ensuring the content flows logically with a suitable introduction and concluding paragraph, and that it’s punctuated properly.

Check the pace of every paragraph. Read it out loud. How does it sound? If it’s too long and rambling, and you’re almost in need of pausing for breath partway through, it’s going to be too much for a reader to digest. Break it up with a full stop or a semi-colon to separate the major elements of the sentence.

On the other hand, avoid sentences which are too short and mechanical. Again, use punctuation to extend them and make them flow. The key is not to show off an extensive knowledge of the English language but to make the copy reader-friendly.

Practise – and read

Finally, as with most other things in life, practice makes – if not perfect – then something close to it. The more time spent honing your QC skills, the more confident and competent you’ll become. And just as all writers are advised to read widely, do the same. Read extensively, learn from the best – see how the Guardian, for example, presents its content – and build your own understanding and education.

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The Actionable Guide to Data-Driven Content Auditing http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/content-auditing/ http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/content-auditing/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 10:02:40 +0000 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/?post_type=blog&p=6223 Digital marketers are constantly seeking new ways to increase their website traffic, often looking to third party platforms, new emerging software and other off-site tactics, when the solution is within their existing online assets. In particular, the ability to evaluate and leverage onsite assets such as conversion rate optimisation and website content. I know this […]

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Digital marketers are constantly seeking new ways to increase their website traffic, often looking to third party platforms, new emerging software and other off-site tactics, when the solution is within their existing online assets. In particular, the ability to evaluate and leverage onsite assets such as conversion rate optimisation and website content.

I know this may seem a bit basic for most marketers out there, but you would be surprised how many times I’ve come across businesses that rely heavily on their organic traffic to generate the majority of their sales, yet have never done a content audit.

It’s easily done. I’ve previously worked in an in-house environment, where it’s easy to get bogged down in the usual routine projects and acquisition opportunities. Consequently, some of the more simple tasks are overlooked and not fully leveraged.

Enter the content audit.

“The content audit of a website is the evaluation of all or part of your website content.”

The content audit is one of the best levers a content marketer can pull, without having to send a huge costing proposal past the board.

Quick Content Audit Overview

Here is a bird’s eye view of the whole process:

Step 1 - Crawl site

  • Crawl the site using your favourite crawler. We use/choose Screaming Frog.

Step 2 - Export data

  • Export all URL data from Screaming Frog, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools.
  • Don’t forget to run the URLs through URL Profiler to get all the additional metrics for the master Excel doc.

Step 3Analyse data

  • Format the Excel spread sheet to include all important tabs
    • List meta tags on the spreadsheet
    • Links pointing to it (from Majestic, Ahrefs or Web Master Tools)
    • Word count per page
    • Use URL profiler if available
  • Consider focus of the content audit, as this will set out the rest of the audit intensity

Step 4Identify pages and areas of opportunity

  • Use Google Analytics’ data and analyse to identify important pages that need attention (high volume low conversion etc)
  • Complement with WMT data from queries and CTRs to look for opportunities (high impressions and low CTR)

Step 4.1 - Look at your competitors

  • Use SEMrush to look at your competitors’ keywords and pages
  • Run a crawl through URL Profiler or look at Search Metrics data for their ranking pages and compare to your list of content

Step 4.2 – Identify gaps and start content ideation

  • Use SEMrush to look at your competitor keywords and pages
  • Run a crawl through URL Profiler on your competitors and compare the list of content
  • Check keyword research and keyword mapping against your pages
  • Record all new opportunities from the content gap research and the keyword research and list new topics to cover and keywords to reach
  • Start the ideation process
  • Use Buzzsumo to get winning formulas

Step 5 – Set out action list for all pages

  • Work methodically and prioritise work based on the focus of the content audit

How does the content audit help?

We conduct a content audit for many reasons, however some of the main purposes are to:

  • Collate and analyse all existing content of a website onto a central database.

This in turn facilitates more efficient future content audits

  • Identify overlapping and similar pages and set out a strategy to consolidate or rewrite them
  • Identify which pages need re-editing
  • Prioritise content pages
    1. Grouping and identifying pages by search and user intent
    2. Highlighting them by current volume of traffic
  • Highlighting the best performing pages by all metrics (visits, page views, bounce rates, conversions …)
  • Aid the keyword mapping process

Which pages need optimising for which keywords

  • Identify content gap opportunities

What pages are getting a lot of impression but not many clicks, or having many visits but a high bounce rate …

  • Improve the URL structure

Helps to form a good view of the current URL structure of any website and fuels its improvement. In turn this provides a better experience for the user, which feeds back into the content KPIs such as improved page bounce rate, higher engagement rates and so on.

  • Help with setting out your link building strategy

Listing the links pointing to each page forms a good picture of the link building strategy and helps to set out the future strategy.

  • Better audience engagement

As mentioned above by providing better, more up-to-date and relevant content, you will engage with your online audience and improve conversion rates.

  • Identify your most socially shared content

You may be surprised to find out which pages or posts have been shared and at what rate. This will enable you redevelop these pages or use the formula to create more shareable content.

  • Improve meta tags

You’ll get a chance to evaluate your title tags with a glance, especially those of your key pages. Let’s not forget they’re still one of the most important and powerful on-page SEO elements.

And the list goes on…

When is a good time to do a content audit?

There are many instances when you may consider doing a content audit.

Here, at Zazzle Media, it is embedded into our daily processes. I strongly recommend the content audit central database is created as soon as you build a website. Then, all you have to do is keep working from the same template, updating it regularly.

Some other distinct symptoms that one can use to diagnose when a content audit is well and truly overdue, are listed below:

  1. Bounce rate is up
  2. Conversions from important pages are not happening as before or not as expected
  3. Page views per session are going down
  4. Time spent on page is going down
  5. CTR on SERPs is going down despite being on the same ranking position (data via Webmaster Tools)
  6. Your competition is getting far more visitors from organic
  7. Your organic visibility or keyword reach is much lower than your competitors
  8. You’re not showing for important or long tail keywords but your competitors are

And, again, the list goes on and on . . .

The content audit process and how to conduct an agile (achievable) content audit

Many industry specialists have written about the best ways to conduct a content audit. But, as someone who has worked in-house and now for an agency, I would like to share with you an agile approach that works, whatever environment you are in.

Tools Required

Tools needed are:

  1. A crawler such as Screaming Frog or Xenu’s Link Sleuth
  2. Access to your Google Webmaster Tools
  3. Access to your Google Analytics account
  4. Access to URL Profiler
  5. Microsoft Excel / G Docs Spreadsheets
  6. SEMrush – The keyword & competitor research tool

Content Audit Phase 1 – The Crawl

First of all I use my favourite frog. Screaming Frog of course J

NOTE: If you have the free version of Screaming Frog it has a limit of 500 URLs per crawl and you will have to upgrade to crawl more. A tip to help you work around this limitation is to enter just subfolders of the site, such as http://www.mydomain.com/subfolder/, which means you will still be able crawl the site, but only in smaller portions.

Simply enter your full domain into the address bar in the crawler as shown below and hit ‘Start’.

Start Screaming Frog

Depending on how big your website is, this may be time to enjoy a cup of coffee while the frog does its magic.

If you have the full licence and your site is very large you can simply choose the areas you want to crawl.

 

Configure Screaming Frog

Spider_Configuration

For a full guide and tips on Screaming Frog check out its page here

http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/user-guide/

Content Audit Phase 2 – Export from all sources

Export all the URLs from Screaming Frog.

Filter by HTML only and export into Excel.

HTML

This export will give you most of the data you need for the audit spreadsheet:

  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • H1s
  • H2s
  • Page size
  • Word count
  • Meta robots
  • Canonical elements
  • Page level and more

Export URL data from Google Analytics.

Under the tab ‘Behaviour’, on the sidebar hit ‘All Pages’ as shown here.

Pages_-_Google_Analytics

Export these into Excel.

NOTE: Currently, only up to 500 rows of Analytics table data can be exported at a time into CSV format. If you need to export larger data sets you can use the workaround below.

  1. In the report you want to export, set the ‘Show Rows’ selector to 500. The report URL will update with this information at the end: explorer-table.rowCount%3D500, (500 at the end of the string indicates the number of rows displayed in the report).
  1. Change the value of the explorer-table.rowCount parameter to the number of rows you want to export.

Example: explorer-table.rowCount%3D1000

  1. Press the ‘Enter’ key to load that URL into the browser.
  2. Visually confirm that the report now has the new parameter appended to it. While there won’t be any visible difference in user interface, exporting will now yield more rows.
  3. Select the ‘Export’ tab and click ‘CSV option’ (this is the only format option that works).

The exported data should contain all the rows you indicated in the URL.

Once you have the entire URL list in Excel, place these into the URL Profiler and get all the data that is important to evaluate your content for you.

screaming-URL-profiler

Image credit: URL profiler guys

We usually stick with these metrics:

  1. Majestic’s Trust Flow and Citation Flow(You can have Ahrefs or Moz if you like)
  2. External backlinks
  3. Referring domains
  4. Social shares
  5. Page speed (you will need a free Google API code)
  6. Robots access
  7. Moz data
  8. Analytics data (you can connect to your analytics account through API)

URL Profiler

Export from Google Webmaster Tools

Once logged into GWT, head to ‘Search Queries’ and export both tabs – Search Queries report and the Pages report.

Webmaster_Tools_-_Search_Queries

These will help you identify areas of opportunity for certain queries and the pages that are receiving most of the clicks/generating most of the traffic to your website.

 Webmaster_Tools_download

Content Audit Phase 3 – Data Ordering and Analysis

Always consider the focus of the content audit, as this will determine the rest of the audit intensity.

I’m all for going after the lower hanging fruit first and then adding as you go along or, if you have time, you can add as much data as you like, but be careful you do not become distracted and side-tracked by the volume.

Now you have all the URLs and all the data from the URL Profiler you can then collate all of these on the one master Excel spreadsheet.

Start ordering the data and include some of these tabs:

  • URL (Screaming Frog)
  • Page title (Screaming Frog)
  • Meta descriptions (Screaming Frog)
  • H1 (Screaming Frog)
  • External backlinks (URL Profiler)
  • Trust & Citation Flow (URL Profiler)
  • Visits (Analytics)
  • Bounce rate (Analytics)
  • Time on page (Analytics)
  • Conversions from page (Analytics)
  • Page entry and exit rate (Analytics)
  • Page type (page, blog, landing page, press release, etc)
  • Social shares (URL Profiler)

You may also want to include some extra tabs including:

  • Action

This is the tab where you will decide the action to be taken for the page. Usually there are few choices here.

You can either:

  • Improve page content
  • Remove it (301, canonicalise, no index, merge it with another page etc)
  • Take no action and leave the page as it is
  • Comments

Expand on the details in action including the removal strategy (301, canonical etc).

  • Priority

Depending on the current amount of clicks, impressions and overall importance and growth opportunity the page represents, score this from 1-5 to help you prioritise these changes in batches depending on their respective priorities.

Analyse this data by all the metrics now on the spreadsheet and if you were able to append the query data from Webmaster Tools also try to identify the lower hanging fruit and deal with these first.

Look out for things like:

  • High amount of impression and low CTR
  • High amount of visits and low conversion rates
  • High amount of visits and short time on page
  • High bounce rates (if it’s not a one page landing page J)
  • High exit rate
  • High amount of inbound links but not many visits

Hopefully by now you will have made some decisions and your action points tab is filled along with the comments.

Content Audit Phase 4 – The Content Gap Analysis

To get a decent and quick overview on the content gap analysis, do the following:

  1. Use SEMrush to check your top three competitors.

searchenginewatch_com_-_Organic_Competitors_and_Tani_Jogs_Version_2_docx

  1. Look at their keywords (sort by common keywords)

searchenginewatch_com_-_Organic_Competitors

  1. Compare them and make a list of the ones you don’t currently have pages matching with or that can do with optimisation

searchengineland_com__by_organic____searchenginewatch_com__by_organic_

  1. Also take a peak at their top ranking pages through Search Metrics and then run some of these through the URL Profiler

Organic___Rankings___searchengineland_com__Weekly____Searchmetrics

  1. Things to look out here are:
    1. Word count
    2. Inbound links to the page
    3. Majestic metrics etc

Use these exports to further expand your keyword research and help with your keyword mapping.

For a full and granular guide to the Competitor Audit please check out this article which includes many tips and tricks in finding keywords and pages that your competitors are ranking for.

After you have identified the gaps, start filling the content strategy sheet by using the new keywords the site is currently not ranking for next to the new page ideas.

Look at this content ideation to create awesome shareable content.

Also, once you have the topics, use Buzzsumo to get winning formulas.

Simply head to Buzzsumo and enter the topic and hit search.

BuzzSumo

Look at the pages that have the most social shares and try to pick out the framework that has contributed to the share success of these pages.

Buzzsumo

Another alternative to Buzzsumo is the newly released feature form Ahrefs here https://ahrefs.com/content-explorer/

Check out the most shared content on the web for your targeted topics, and start building something around the formula you have identified to start generating some serious traffic.

Conclusion

Right, if you’ve made it this far well done. You’re seriously committed and this is a testimony of your perseverance.

(Perseverance + Commitment) *Passion = Explosive Success

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the content audit and how leveraging on-site content can impact/increase organic traffic and ultimately conversion rates by attracting and engaging more users to your website.

Can content audits be overwhelming? Yes, some can, but the rewards far outweigh the negatives.

Let me know your experience of content audits and any useful tips you may like to share.

The post The Actionable Guide to Data-Driven Content Auditing appeared first on Zazzle Media.

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Expert Opinion on the Webmaster Tools Data Mystery http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/webmaster-tools-lost-data/ http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/webmaster-tools-lost-data/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:04:42 +0000 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/?post_type=blog&p=6206 It’s not news that Google has been clamping down on keyword data, but this was only present in Analytics due to the introduction of keyword “not provided”. To get around this, many of us, including ourselves, were using Webmaster Tools (WMT) search queries (alongside PPC data) to see what people were searching Google for to […]

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It’s not news that Google has been clamping down on keyword data, but this was only present in Analytics due to the introduction of keyword “not provided”.

To get around this, many of us, including ourselves, were using Webmaster Tools (WMT) search queries (alongside PPC data) to see what people were searching Google for to return particular pages. This helps us with a number of different aspects of our jobs and monitoring organic website activity.

However, in the midst of our weekly reporting, all Webmaster Tools search query data had disappeared! Many of us believed that this was an error with our Webmaster Tools accounts, but it soon became apparent that it wasn’t – it was an error at Google’s end.

This was widely reported by many of the industry news outlets, such as here:

Search Marketing news publications then chased Google for answers on this, and it does turn out to be an error. Google have reportedly fixed this issue, but we’re seeing data being withheld for the latest week, which in essence keeps us a week behind. Is this the beginning of Google syphoning out keyword data entirely?

This is already apparent with other Webmaster Tools features, such as the International Targeting reports. These reports are being held back by almost 30 days. This isn’t useful to webmasters as fixes or new methods may be applied to their website and they won’t be able to see how Google digests this information until 30 days later.

There are some serious questions being asked in regards to the future of how Google reports keyword data and when it may disappear entirely:

  • Are Google removing all keyword data?
  • How else are we going to get this data?
  • Why are Google keeping us a week behind?
  • Shouldn’t we be able to have this data?
  • Does it move more people into Google Adwords?

To gain better insight into future proofing ourselves from the removal of this data, I asked a few members of the Search & Data team at Zazzle to give me their opinions on this very topic. You can see these below:

Richard Petersen, Deputy Search & Data Manager

I believe it’s Google’s long term goal to remove all keyword data from its free tools in order to obtain greater revenues. This will be a gradual process bit by bit so websites don’t notice it so much. This was confirmed with the introduction of them not being provided in Google Analytics and I can see these kind of changes happening to WMT.

If you still want to see the keyword data then I would recommend using competitor webmaster tools platforms like Bing or Yandex. They still provide some level of data. If you take, for example, the knowledge that 15% of your traffic comes from the keyword blue widgets in Bing then try to apply that to a percentage of the entire amount of organic traffic.

You can then use the same method with Yandex and see if you are coming back with the same figures.

If you want to still see the keyword data I would recommend using Bing Webmaster Tools and Yandex Webmaster Tools. There is still information in there and using analytics work out what percentage of traffic comes from Bing and then multiply the numbers by the entire visit amount and it will give you a better indication.

Google have always followed a plan: market domination, then they work out how they are going to make it profitable. They are currently focused on pulling in as much capital to allow them to diversify their business portfolio.

They also need to maintain sales figures to meet market expectations so it doesn’t have an effect on their share price.

Tani Kopliku, Senior Search & Data Consultant

I think Google is definitely moving towards no keywords being provided in analytics. What keyword data we get through analytics these days is not worth looking at. It’s not solid enough to make any decisions unless combined with landing pages and making some assumptions based on the keyword history to a page – then appending these keywords in Excel and trying to track rankings that way.

However, Search Metrics is a good substitute for me. I think Analytics will soon be its main competitor by making keyword data available for a monthly subscription. These are just my thoughts, I must admit: I don’t have the inside track into Google (yet!)

The move with the week’s delay in WMT is yet another blow in a series of data limitations introduced from Google in the last few years. There has yet to be an official statement by Google. Nothing has been reported as yet and in addition we can’t see the reason why they would choose to limit the data refresh.

I don’t think that this move on its own will move people to AdWords but there have been several other changes introduced. A combination of all these might have an effect:

  • No provision of organic keywords
  • Recent push of non-commercial website at the first page of results in competitive financial sectors (my observation)
  • Delay of WMT data
  • Google Local update (pushing non-local competitors out of page 1)
  • Numerous algorithmic and penalty updates (Now waiting a rumoured over-optimisation update with more negative results – soon to come)

If you look at all the above together than you can say, yes of course, Google’s objective is to ultimately personalise and completely fragment search results so that bigger AdWords spenders spend even more and they can push more businesses down the AdWords route.

Rhys Davies, Search & Data Executive

It’s all part of Google’s plan, slowly removing exact keyword data to encourage users to use services like AdWords to see if they are really worth competing for within organic search. They claim it is protect their signed in users’ privacy, but why would they give you a snippet, not the full picture? It’s surprising they don’t offer full keyword data in the paid version of Analytics.

The way most people are working around this is by using Webmaster Tools, but from my experience this still doesn’t account for every organic click. The best you can do at the moment is sorting the keyword by destination page in Analytics. Then you can see where the not provided keywords are going to and you can put two and two together by using the page’s title tag to see what keywords it is targeting. However this is a very long winded method.

I guess it takes a while for them to process the secured data and if you need this data urgently you will turn to other methods such as AdWords.

We should be able to have total control to see how users are visiting our websites, but Google are really clamping down on this and it’s beginning to hinder our ability to produce detailed strategies.

It is definitely about moving people towards Google AdWords; you have to pay to play to get all the data you need. I suspect in the future Google Analytics Premium will come out with a feature to see the not provided keywords. I guess this is Google’s way of getting back at SEOs as we are trying to manipulate rankings in our favour – this makes it a lot harder.

Gareth Torrance, Search & Data Consultant

Personally I think it is unlikely that Google will be removing all keyword data. Whilst the growth of Term Not Provided has made life difficult for many, it is unlikely that the recent hiccup with Webmaster Tools is something to be overly concerned with.

Whilst the data did stall on the 7th February, causing a great deal of worry, it has started to return. Currently it is still a few days behind, but gradually the data should catch up and return to the normal two day delay.

As with Analytics, many are already reporting that their data has returned, although some are still having issues with the real time view. Again, this does not impact the keyword data, so there is nothing that suggests Google will remove all the keyword data in the foreseeable future.

After Term Not Provided first came around there was a great deal of panic. Everyone was wondering where they could get their keyword data from going forward. Search Metrics is useful and gives a reasonable example of the keywords, but is there anything else that can be done?

One of the methods I have employed, whilst simplistic, did help ease the situation. By looking at past data and cross referencing it with Search Metrics to find where certain pages of a website rank, and for what terms, I then created a report based entirely on the performance of those pages. This allowed me to see trend in the performance of the page. If it changed, then I could cross reference again, manually checking the keywords it ranked for from my list to see whether it had moved.

I, like a number of others in the industry, believe that the data will slowly catch up and return to the two day behind period it usually has run at. At the moment, it is likely that Webmaster Tools is trying to recollect the data that was not given, and due to the sheer volume of sites that have to be looked at, it may take a little while.

We should absolutely be able to have this data. Not just for SEO, but for e-commerce as well. Many e-commerce sites use keyword data to determine which products are desired the most. This allows them to give the user, in this case the consumer, the products they want. Therefore, letting us have the keyword data actually allows us to give the users what they want, which is precisely what Google wants us to do.

I suspect more people will move into AdWords after this. Whether this is because of the keyword data or simply a sense of security is debatable, but in the end it will push people in that direction.

From my experience it is usually for a sense of security. Whilst AdWords is great in its own right, a lot of people move from being heavily focused on SEO to having some of that focus pointed to AdWords as a sort of safety net. They want to know they can still get the data they need, the traffic they want or just general visibility in one shape or form.

Conclusion

After listening to the opinions of several people in the industry, it’s apparent that there are mixed feelings on this latest move by Google. Ultimately it holds more data back from us and continues to move towards their end goal of not allowing webmasters to tailor their websites for ‘SEO’, but for the user instead. Create a customer focused brand with great content and a great user journey and the organic rewards will follow.

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The difference between a digital PR agency and a traditional PR agency http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/difference-between-digital-pr-traditional-pr/ http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/difference-between-digital-pr-traditional-pr/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 12:24:48 +0000 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/?post_type=blog&p=6177 Fifteen years ago, there were no digital or traditional PR agencies, just… PR agencies. The digital world was just around the corner. As time went on, some agencies embraced the opportunities digital offered and evolved into fully fledged digital agencies, leaving the others to acquire the title of ‘traditional’. Many more digital agencies sprung up […]

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Fifteen years ago, there were no digital or traditional PR agencies, just… PR agencies. The digital world was just around the corner. As time went on, some agencies embraced the opportunities digital offered and evolved into fully fledged digital agencies, leaving the others to acquire the title of ‘traditional’. Many more digital agencies sprung up from scratch as well to meet the demands of an increasingly digital market.

Before I go on to answer this question further, it is important to understand that both types of PR agency ultimately share the same objective – to enhance a client’s reputation and increase awareness/visibility among target audiences, often to generate sales.

But, with online information consumption at an all time high, can a traditional agency still compete with a digital agency in achieving this goal?

I hope to demonstrate in this blog post that there is a clear difference between the two types of agency. By personally experiencing both sides of the PR agency debate, (I worked within a traditional agency environment for several years and recently moved to digital agency, Zazzle Media), I have experienced this difference first hand.

Let’s start by looking closely at the two types of agency and how they use content in an attempt to enhance a client’s reputation and increase awareness/visibility among target audiences.

Traditional PR

A traditional PR agency’s focus is offline visibility, involving the production of press releases (usually for print media). The organisation of press conferences and events usually plays a part too. Traditional PR agencies convey information to a wide audience, without much feedback and the communication is very one-way.

Let’s look at the press release – a staple of the traditional PR agency – and how this tool is used to try and increase brand awareness and visibility of a brand.

In formulating a press release, a traditional agency will interview key stakeholders and/or gather as much information about the chosen topic as possible. It’s then a case of writing up this information within 4-5 paragraphs in a way that would appeal to print journalists. The client’s key messages will have to be covered in the release, as well as any promotional information.

In terms of background information or data – there is usually little to none. Key publications may have been identified which have readerships that contain a client’s target audience and traditional PR execs may have an idea of readership figures. But there is little to work with. Traditional PR execs are limited to a particular format and style of content and cast a wide net with distribution.

A traditional PR agency pitch would involve selling in the press release over the phone, lunch, or in an email.
A press release needs to be well written of course, in order to stand out from the hundreds of other releases journalists get each day, but there is not much manoeuvre for creativity or opportunity for engagement with the intended audience with this type of content.

It’s also hard to know who the press release is actually reaching, and of course, whether the press release has made a difference to the client’s bottom line – has it had an impact on sales? It is hard to measure. A press release may have appeared in a desired publication -but how many people have actually read it, never mind acted upon it?

Digital PR

A digital PR agency’s focus is online visibility. This means working with Google and other search engines to ensure that a client’s website ranks highly in online searches. This involves generating high quality links back to a client’s website from each piece of digital content,as well as optimising the website itself. Done in tandem, this activity will increase a brand’s visibility online.

To do this well, solid understanding and capability of technical SEO are essential and are skills that only digital agencies can offer. Using this data expertise to aid the content creation process, identify influencers within the marketplace, secure high traffic metric placements and ensure a citation, not only helps raise the awareness of the brand but also really helps increase the client’s visibility online – exactly where people are consuming information.

Let’s look at a piece of digital content – an infographic – and examine how this piece of content can be effective in raising a brand’s visibility to key audiences.

When planning the creation of an infographic, Digital PR agencies are able to harness search and social data which informs what information an infographic should contain and in which format this information should be presented. Keyword Panner for example is a tool which shows keywords and phrases in a niche have the biggest search volumes. Bottlenose is another tool you can use to find what topics and trends are being talked about.

Social media also plays an important role in creating digital content. Social data allows digital marketers to understand the demographics and interests of target audiences, again informing the content that is produced. For example, the graph below shows the different interests of Zazzle’s Facebook audience (light blue) and how they compare to the Facebook average (dark blue).

Social Data

All of these elements allow digital agencies to almost custom produce content such as an infographic so that it is relevant and importantly, ‘shareable’ online amongst their target audience.

One thing that sets digital agencies apart from traditional agencies is the opportunity for creativity. A digital piece of content does not have to be limited to 4-5 paragraphs of text, like a traditional press release. Digital content can be in the form of an infographic, quiz, feature or interactive piece – the opportunities are endless.

For the basis of this example, securing high traffic metric placements for an infographic is the aim of the game whilst ensuring that there is a citation or links within the content. Link building is a key facet of digital PR which all contributes to organic visibility of a client’s website on Google and other search engines.

In order to secure high traffic placements, there needs to be a similar pitch process as traditional PR agencies use – selling in the content to site owners via email or phone. But as I have already discussed, digital PR execs have the upper hand here. The y have a variety of content types to work with and most importantly – informed content. They are not limited to a press release, they are pitching engaging content that is trending at a particular time and this is all thanks to a data-led approach.

Digital data can also help identify the influencers within a particular marketplace. Topsy is a tool that shows which influencers are talking about topics a piece of content focuses on – ideal for digital PR execs who are aiming to get an infographic placed on high quality sites. By finding out who is currently interested in and talking about the topic, digital PR execs will stand a much better chance of getting the content placed.

Influencers

Let’s not forget the power of social in outreach activity too. Digital agencies can build audiences around a brand or product (increasing overall online visibility) and gain fantastic engagement with key audiences. This is something that one-way traditional PR activity cannot achieve. The Facebook post below is an excellent example of this.

Tweet

Understanding link profiles, anchor text distribution and link monitoring are also key to increasing online visibility and to further aid this, web mention monitoring allows digital agencies to follow up on any additional opportunities off the back of a particular campaign.

The measurement of digital PR activity is also a lot more precise. We can know exactly how many people viewed a piece of content, or clicked on a link and which website pages are performing the best. ROI analysis of digital PR is a lot more detailed – another bonus for the client.

Overview

Let’s go back to the beginning of this blog post where I stated that the aim of both traditional and digital agencies is to enhance a client’s reputation and increase awareness/visibility among target audiences, often to generate sales. If target audiences are now operating online, digital agencies who operate within this space have the upper hand right away and it is difficult to argue the effectiveness of a traditional agency approach anymore.

It’s not just a case of operating online though. Digital PR agencies understand that the way people consume information online provides crucial data to successfully inform content creation and placement, providing targeted campaigns that consistently deliver increased visibility among target audiences.

You could, I suppose, argue that no agency is completely traditional any more – they can’t afford to be – and most ‘traditional’ PR agencies now dabble in digital and offer the service as an add-on to their traditional methods.

What sets a truly digital PR agency apart from a traditional PR agency however is their treatment of the digital sphere as not just an add-on, but an in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of online – something that is now fundamental to the success of any PR campaign.

Our Five Takeaways

  • PR agencies have adapted to meet the needs of clients whose target audiences now consume their information online.
  • It is much harder to measure traditional PR activity than digital PR activity.
  • Digital agencies operate in the space where people consume information, and therefore almost by default are running away with the prize. Importantly, they understand this online space, and its ever changing rules too.
  • Digital PR is data-led, which means it is informed and targeted and ultimately more effective in reaching key audiences and raising an brand’s visibility.
  • Digital PR is not something you can simply add on to a traditional PR strategy, it is now fundamental to the success of any PR campaign.

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101 Different Types of Digital Content http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/digital-content-types/ http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/digital-content-types/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 09:39:02 +0000 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/?post_type=blog&p=6164 When you delve into the internet properly, it’s insane to think just how much content, and more importantly, how many different content ‘types’ are out there. With the new ideas we come up with, it’s so easy to miss what could be a viral opportunity for your content and it’s often hard not to turn […]

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When you delve into the internet properly, it’s insane to think just how much content, and more importantly, how many different content ‘types’ are out there. With the new ideas we come up with, it’s so easy to miss what could be a viral opportunity for your content and it’s often hard not to turn full circle with them to start all over again! It’s worth trying to utilise – or attempt to at least – every type of piece of content to see what works for your campaign.

A great place to start would be to confirm the outcome you’re looking to reach with your content, a direct goal that you want to achieve. There are four outcomes to strongly consider:

To entertain – this will have a strong emotional appeal to an audience, making it very shareable.

To educate – this will allow for a wide reach especially for those who might not be in the know about products or services just yet. Again, this is often very shareable.

To persuade – This is slightly more emotionally charged; content that gradually changes the mind of the consumer (I say consumer as persuasive content will often be used in a product sense).

To convert – Content that is more often than not rational rather than emotional as you will need a decision-making brain when considering what a conversion piece has to offer you.

Content is entirely dependant on the individual. Not everyone will be receptive to emotionally charged content but others might be more susceptible to the hard-hitting stuff.

So here are 101 types of content you could try!

  1. Infographics – This does what it says on the tin; a visual representation of data or information. It allows the stats or material you are talking about to be a lot more appealing to the reader.
  2. Memes – They are hugely popular amongst younger internet users. They are often videos and images with humorous text that typically go viral. A simple Google search will show you hilarious memes such as doge or Overly Attached Girlfriend.
  3. Videos – Tend to be a couple of minutes long, allowing for a succinct explanation of whatever the videographer is trying to explain. This can be humour or learning based, and is great for everyone to enjoy.
  4. Own Product Reviews – Everyone loves a personal opinion and so expressing this on your own platform allows your readers to gain an insight into what you may personally think of a product. If you run a blog, opinion is highly rated and nowadays followers are more likely to take your review over one written in a magazine.
  5. External Product Reviews – This is similar, whether written on a particular product or company. Amazon and eBay are great examples of how your opinion on a product can change the minds of buyers.
  6. User Generated Content – Any form of content; written, videoed, blog posts or discussions created by you and all thoroughly available to you.
  7. How to Guides – These can range from topic to topic and can be simple or complicated. They enable a reader to completely understand how to use or build a product or system that they may not have recognised correctly to start with.
  8. Lists – Have been hugely popular this year, particularly in the form of Buzzfeed. This particular example has more often than not been used for comedy purposes but of course, a list is an impactful way of covering any subject.
  9. Live Video – This comes in the form of streaming live feeds of videos, particularly sporting events or interviews.
  10. Live Chats – MSN Messenger was a great example of how live chat took off in the early 2000s. Conversation was streamed freely and easily and has been developed for the ever popular Facebook, for example.
  11. Photo Galleries – They say a photo speaks a thousand words, and it can often be a lot easier to explain things using an image than a bulk of text.
  12. Link Pages – The accessible way for readers to reach other sites/blogs that you enjoy or recommend. If shared, they could return the favour.
  13. Case Studies – Particularly common within a business to illustrate the principle of their brand or service.
  14. Client Testimonials – This is also very common within a business. As with reviews, it’s important for customers or potential clients to know why they should work with a brand. Testimonials enable trust to be put in the company.
  15. Q&A – Question and answer sessions can be as formal and informal. Twitter is a great platform to open the floor up to users who may not ever get the chance to ask questions in a newspaper or magazine, for example.
  16. Follow up to Q&A – The written format to your question and answer session. This could be insightful to those who missed the live event or still want more detail.
  17. Guest posts – We are not unfamiliar with this form on content; allowing other bloggers to guest feature on your site.
  18. Newsletters – Typically issued to subscribers (or at least nowadays!), featuring news and updates to products and the business in general.
  19. ‘What to do’ and ‘what not to do’ posts – Putting yourself in a position of knowledge can be great for readers. They want advice on where to go next, particularly in their jobs, personal lives, dress sense. A great example of this is Mark’s post on planning ahead in 2015.
  20. Interviews – Similar to a Q&A session, however this is done one on one with the interviewee, asking a particular series of questions. This works particularly well for music and lifestyle blogs.
  21. Research & Data – Does what is says on the tin; a whole load of statistics that might aid your readers, or yourself for that matter, in the future.
  22. Results of research and data – Self-explanatory, summarising the information you have collated.
  23. Build An App – As a way of announcing new content on your site or a new blog post creation.
  24. Embedded Tweets – A snippet cut from Twitter that can be thought-provoking or funny, depending on the audience.
  25. GIFS – Clips cut from videos, television and movies which users often embed within text to illustrate a point.
  26. Ebooks – This can be a shortened version of a book, or used to simply explain. Of course it’s usable on an iPad or any handheld device as well as your computer.
  27. Comics/Cartoons – Are a fun and informal way to illustrate your point, even if it’s a serious topic!
  28. Content Visualisations – Not as full blown as infographics, but just as hard hitting with information – check some out here.
  29. Offline Events – Like Zazzle Live, events for brands can be used to help customers or educate those who would like to learn more. If it is offline, it enables businesses to connect with others on a more personal level, rather than through a screen.
  30. Online Events – For those who may not have attended your events, documenting it in some detail to give a good overview can be very useful.
  31. Give Kudos – Showing admiration for a brand or company can increase traffic to your blog/website, and could potentially allow for them to reciprocate the respect they might have for you.
  32. Create useful spreadsheets or docs – Let’s be honest, everyone loves a good spreadsheet, and that sort of organisation does not go unnoticed. Organisation can often make or break a relationship with a customer and it’s important for that neatness to resonate through your entire business.
  33. Images – A pretty obvious piece of content if ever there was one!
  34. Podcasts – Usually available in a series that you can subscribe to, they are audio files available to listen to.
  35. Create A Chrome Extension – Depending on your target audience, creating an extension for a particular niche might prove useful to your brand.
  36. Slideshares – Available online, here, you are able to upload slideshows and decks for yourself or to share amongst customers and clients.
  37. Online Games – Everyone has had the opportunity to experience this. Online games are available at a simple Google search and even on Facebook… Anyone for a game of Farmville?
  38. Competitions – Extremely popular amongst bloggers, many use Rafflecopter to ensure that picking a winner is fair. Using such a system can often mean shares, increasing the visibility of your site.
  39. Company News – Solely based around the goings on in a business/company, this can include company updates, and any topics that will affect customers of that business. This will usually be emailed automatically to those subscribed, much like a newsletter.
  40. Company Goals and targets – Depending on whether targets and goals change within a business, it is possible to set them out within their company news, or within a separate landing page on the company’s website. Having clear targets as a business ensures the customer that you have goals.
  41. Company Performance – Everyone enjoys seeing positivity, and stating this for all to see, be it the website or news, allows a company to show why it would be great for you to work with them.
  42. Timelines – Gather a large amount of information in a concise fashion. Dipity is a great source for creating this sort of content.
  43. Interactive Demos of own products – A quick demo featuring a product of yours can do the world of good for your site. Everyone wants to know exactly how something works, and if you’re able to offer them this service, you cut out the questions that a demo would solve instantly.
  44. Free tools – Offering simple but effective tools to readers, for free, means that you’re offering a service that is needed. MajesticSEO allows you to access the very basic details, but despite this, they are the details most look for. This means individuals return to the site over and over to make use of the tool.
  45. Paid Tools – Often, a site or company is in need a tool that may change the way they work completely. Tools such as SEMRush offer a free trial and then paid service that can be endlessly helpful.
  46. Webinars – Offering readers the chance to partake or watch a webinar of something useful that they may relate to means that depending on the niche, it will be seen by many. If you are skilled in your field, many will jump at the chance at taking part or being able to hear what you have to say.
  47. Blog Posts – Those entries to your blog, like a diary: if you weren’t entirely sure!
  48. Newsjacking – Using an event to attract positive exposure to your brand. Depending on what the event is, this could work great. For example, during Hurricane Sandy, Duracell was able to deploy charging stations to the affected areas. They released this video, showing just how amazing the brand was at pulling people together.
  49. Personal Opinions – When you’re used to writing extremely thought out content, a personal opinion post might allow your readers to see a different side of you, which is often very refreshing. Honesty is widely accepted within the blog community, which means shares, and exposure!
  50. Free resource – As I said before, everyone loves something for free, and if you’re able to offer information or templates that can get your readers from point A to B without hesitation, they will always return.
  51. Interactive Content – This is the future, in my opinion. We want content to grab our attention and what better way to this than to get your readers involved? As it’s a fairly new concept, the whole idea of interactive content is exciting, meaning everyone will jump at the chance to try it.
  52. Offline Magazines – The good old print publication. Unfortunately, digital has grown gargantuan over the last couple of years, meaning the magazine is slowly dying out.
  53. Online magazines – Again, the future. Digitally based magazines are now available on computers and even tablets, which means the interactive content shown within them is something much like a pop up book; very entertaining!
  54. Pinterest Posts – For more arts and crafts based users, you are able to pin inspirational images to boards that are completely related to you or events in your life.
  55. Instagram Posts – For the younger demographic, Instagram is totally image based alongside hashtags, meaning increased visibility to your page. If you are a 16-25 years based site, Instagram is a great way to reach your readers and can also be a feed to the site whenever you post, so readers won’t miss any new photos.
  56. Reddit User Creation – Depending on your niche and how well you are able to represent yourself, being a thought leader in your field may mean any content you share within your Reddit profile can potentially become holy grail, making you an authority in your niche.
  57. Maps – Documenting travel or research data that could be widespread.
  58. Stories – This could be personal experience or creative writing, and content that is developed into a story can work well. Storybird is a great example, whereby you’re able to create your very own virtual book.
  59. Points Proven Through Analogies – Extended metaphors or analogies are great to explain your point more thoroughly, or shed a different angle on something that might be difficult to explain straight on.
  60. Book Reviews – Great content as these allow you to give your personal take on whatever you’re reading. It positions yourself as a thought leader in your field; what you have to say may be of value. For this to work, focus on new releases/pre-releases/interviewing the author.
  61. Product Reviews – Similar to book reviews, you may need to establish the brand/business you’re giving recognition to as this could be picked up on and may work in your favour. Providing your recommendation may put you in a great position for the future.
  62. Micro Blog Posts – Brief or short ‘n’ snappy posts that enables the user to send quick updates. Twitter, for example, only allows you to use 140 characters.
  63. Quizzes – Are often fun, light-hearted questions that could possibly determine just how sassy you are or what character you are out of Breaking Bad. Buzzfeed is a mine for quizzes, which is just why they do so well.
  64. Vlogs – Vloggers have taken over the world recently, with the likes of Zoella making an appearance at every corner. Vlogs are video blogs, and can be filmed for any niche. Often, this may work better for you, depending on what you focus on.
  65. Screencasts – Often with customers, a run through is needed if they are unsure of how to use a tool, and when you’re not able to do it face to face, you can show them just what they need to do through a screencast.
  66. Screenshots – A quick and simple CMND SHIFT 3 (or the classic print screen button on Windows), means you’re able to grab your screen and turn it into an image.
  67. Music Videos – Many find songs a lot more memorable than spoken word or chunks of text. Depending on your niche, this could work great for your site.
  68. Mind Maps – Planning out or organising what you need to do for a project. Mind maps enable to you to get the most out of your ideas, and can only mean the best possible content ideas are used for your blog or website.
  69. Personal Bios – Allow for readers to get a real feeling for the person behind the blog/website. Generally, they are of an informal nature to get on a personal level with your readers.
  70. Aggregation of articles – Is a great way of keeping readers interested in your blog. Think of this as a strung together story; you need different aspects to be discussed within each article to come together in a final piece.
  71. Book Summaries – Extremely self explanatory; a break down of a book that you might like to discuss on your site.
  72. Giveaways – Everyone loves something for free. You can run a giveaway from a variety of different platforms such as social media. Promoting your giveaway on different social media platforms can build up a following and in turn increase your brand awareness.
  73. Illustrations – Illustrations are a great way of putting your opinion across, in a humorous or educational way. Often, illustrations are a lot more light-hearted than a big paragraph of words, as well as being a much more creative approach to discussing a point.
  74. News Releases – Directly targeted to those working within the news industry, a news release is sent across to inform them of updates surrounding a particular story that might be of interest to them. This PR approach to news can work amazingly well depending on your client, and more importantly, the niche that they are situated in.
  75. Public Service Announcements/Video Public Service Announcements – Typically targeted for educational purposes, PSA’s (and video PSA’s) are extremely impactful when it comes to highlighting issues and concerns amongst a large group of people.
  76. Quotes – Words spoken by another person, used often to make a point. Quotes are a great way of discussing things as they are relative to everyone. They are great as used on a personal level, particularly on a blog.
  77. Inspirational Messages – Are a great way of motivating and bring a positive attitude to your blog. People are often at a loss when it comes to their personal life, acting as a big brother or sister can make you be seen as an influential and thought driven character.
  78. Humorous and light-hearted images and captions – Again, very self explanatory. No one likes to be serious all the time. Bringing humour into a situation can bring the severity of a topic right down. For hard-hitting subject, this is great.
  79. Audio Recordings – Auditory works of yours that can be used to podcasts, for example. These recordings are often a compilation of audio content.
  80. Pdfs – Lots of PDFs take the form of an ebook but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Providing a PDF with information for everyday use can then be seen as the ‘go to’ resource for that information.
  81. Literary works – This can be defined as creative writing or general writing, personal to you and compiled. Your blog can be described as your literary works.
  82. Vines – Short seven second videos don’t give you much time to sell a product, but a number of seven second videos allows you to build up a brand, show off your products or just entertain.
  83. Cost Sheet – As a business that sells, your model may mean that you don’t have prices on your website and it’s important to have this. If you’re in the process of developing this, seeing what your competitors are doing is a great option.
  84. Promoted Post – Bloggers, in particular, are offered items or gifts from events that might be a way of payment, so to speak, for writing a post regarding the item or a post with the item incorporated. They are often discussed within a disclaimer page.
  85. Disclaimers – Generally a page placed on blogs (particularly fashion related blogs) to discuss the ads and gifted items that they may receive. This will also be where copyright topics will be spoken about.
  86. QR Code – Slightly out-dated now but still a way to bring offline, online. A QR code can be scanned on your phone to bring up offers or links to your product/website.
  87. Plug ins – Creating a plugin is not something that takes five minutes and is very dependant on your niche. Creating a useful plugin for your clients, customers and even people who aren’t is a great way to gain awareness.
  88. Associates (and partners) – This is similar to a resource page but linking to companies and other affiliates you have can mean they return the favour.
  89. Comments – A way of communicating with readers and those who wish to discuss topics relating to posts that you may have published. It’s a great way to express your opinion in a quick fire way, or to express your liking of the post. The more you read and comment on blogs, the more the blogger is more likely to notice you; creating that virtual relationship with them could always work in your favour in the future.
  90. Media Mentions – Showing screen grabs of media mentions is a great way to show off! There is also the option to embed tweets and Facebook posts from the media outlets.
  91. Personal Opinion Predictions – Giving your own opinion on a matter can sometimes be hard to do, especially if you are going against other people’s opinions. Doing this can sometimes cause a stir but in turn, raise awareness of you and your brand.
  92. Resource Page – These pages can have links to other websites, useful information and downloads.
  93. FAQS – Frequently asked questions are a great resource for any website. People will always have questions so providing them with answers is a brilliant resource.
  94. White papers – These are guides or often reports that allow potential clients or customers to make an informed decision before working with you or a particular product or service.
  95. Micro Videos – Broadcasted through not only Vine, but Instagram and Facebook. Depending on which platform you choose, clips can be cut and changed around for up to 15 seconds to create a small story. Often, the content finishes before a big finale; meaning readers/viewers are able to go a particular page to continue watching the content. Particularly for Facebook, this type of content is great for creating humour.
  96. Mobile Apps – Branching out to different platforms as a means of sharing your content is great way of amplifying yourself/your brand.
  97. Polls – Polls are great when you seek the view of other people, and what their preferences are, particularly when it comes to your site; the layout and more importantly, the content. Giving readers such free range of opinion lets them know you’re happy for their contribution, and of course, you want to create content that they are deeply interested in seeing.
  98. Background Information – A little bit of background on yourself can give a personal touch to your site that enables readers to see a different side to you. Anything that evokes an emotion with this works wonders.
  99. Sponsored – Advertisements, for example, are often seen around sites and blogs. Some may provide revenue to these sites, albeit pennies.
  100. Flyers – Are a great way of showcasing events, or even your design skills. Creativity through this method can often be seen by many depending on the niche.
  101. Wikis – Creating a Wikipedia on your site can be a great use of referral when a reader is looking for more information on a subject. This is particularly true for gaming niches, where they are able to access facts and tips that might prove useful to them.

Including these aspects within your content plan could do wonders for building a reputable online presence, as well as boosting traffic. Regardless of what your content may be, it will speak volumes to your audience; whether that’s to educate, entertain, persuade or convert, one or ten more of the above types will aid you in your journey to developing incredible pieces of content.

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5 Killer Tips for a Better Integrated Digital Strategy http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/integrated-digital-strategy-tips/ http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/integrated-digital-strategy-tips/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:40:23 +0000 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/?post_type=blog&p=6158 How many of you have stuck with your New Year’s resolutions? Statistically, it’s likely you’ve either failed completely or at least fallen off the wagon a few times but don’t feel bad, you’re certainly not alone! And anyway, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but the act of recognising that even […]

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How many of you have stuck with your New Year’s resolutions? Statistically, it’s likely you’ve either failed completely or at least fallen off the wagon a few times but don’t feel bad, you’re certainly not alone! And anyway, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but the act of recognising that even a small change is important. Rather than beat yourself up, work toward your goal, one step at a time.

Anyway, enough with the self help advice. What were your resolutions? The typical personal ambitions of getting fit and spending less, perhaps? Or maybe you opted to focus firmly on the professional side of your life and resolved to refresh your marketing campaigns? If so, that was a wise decision – there is no better time to take stock as a business, re-evaluate the year just past and look forward to the year ahead. How ‘successful’ was your 2014? And I’m not just talking revenues here: how happy were your customers, employees and share holders? More to the point, how happy were you with your marketing plan and the results it generated?

Being heard above the noise

As an agency, we know how hard it can be manage, measure and deliver on expectations. In today’s marketing environment, we’re constantly faced with more and more platform choices, from Apps to PR stunts and as a result, our audiences are so distracted by all the ‘noise’ that getting their attention can be nigh on impossible.

Even sales channels are moving faster than many companies can keep up with. We are now living a multi-screen world. With the web at our fingertips, shoppers from Southampton to South Africa are finding and purchasing products in completely new ways with a big proportion of those transactions now coming through mobile devices. Hands up if your site isn’t mobile friendly yet? Didn’t think so! And guess what, Google has already started to use this as a ranking factor so if your site is still not responsive, you’re already missing out. You’ve got some catching up to do, and fast.

So, how can we, as an agency, and you, internally, work together to stop this fragmentation from ruining our careful crafted marketing campaigns? In a word: integration. While there is no quick fix formula to creating a successful integrated marketing campaign, there are steps that businesses and marketers can take to maximise success.

Connecting brands with human emotion

Firstly, what do I mean by an integrated campaign? Integration equals campaigns which work equally well across online media, TV, print and outdoor. What it isn’t is a campaign that looks and feels exactly the same across all channels. A matching website, print ad and Facebook page simply won’t cut it. What is crucial is a strong audience insight with a creative big bang idea that you can express in different ways. It is about connecting a brand truth with a real human emotion.

Don’t think that you need to be in a creative industry for this to work. Take buying insurance, for example; now, you can’t get much more boring and everyday than that. However, MoneySuperMarket have just proved this isn’t the case with their hugely successful #EpicStrut campaign. Set to The Pussycat Dolls’ mid-2000s seminal hit ‘Don’t Cha’, the spot finds ‘Dave’ expressing his customer satisfaction in the sassiest way possible. Wearing a natty combo of suit, tie and shockingly tight denim hot pants, Dave’s strutting is so enthusiastic that it looks like he’s auditioning for the chorus line on the Beyoncé tour. See here for more details on this viral hit.

It’s a successful integrated campaign because while it’s a TV ad, it’s also a YouTube hit! They have created, too, a successful hashtag in #EpicStrut which is being used across Twitter and Facebook creating huge levels of brand engagement, increased reach and fan growth. It doesn’t get a mention on moneysupermarket.com so does that mean it’s not integrated? Of course not! And best of all it’s working wonders for the brand. Google trends shows interest has gone up from 39 in December to 64 in January and the amount of free PR both on and offline will have been immense – not to mention the natural, high quality links they will have acquired via an integrated content marketing campaign, as well as the huge spike in search visibility since launch. All in all, a massive win right at the start of the year.

Search Visibility

Social Mentions

Great ideas beat big budgets

You can work towards success on this level – and no, it’s not all about having a massive budget. It’s about great ideas, audience insight and perseverance over time. It’s not easy to integrate a brand message into a wide suite of processes, materials, and messages that have been created by different people, driven by different objectives, and brought to life in different places within the business. Many companies simply don’t have the time or patience to be a stickler for detail and oversee the bigger picture. Beyond that, integrated branding takes time to soak into the marketplace. Consumers just don’t pay attention as much or as quickly as they used to.

But as with New Year resolutions, small changes with a long-term goal in mind are often the way forward. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your business, so don’t expect to be able to overhaul everything in the space of one marketing meeting. That kind of misplaced expectation will only lead to frustration. Instead, take these five ideas on board and work on them one at a time until change happens – and it will happen.

1. Stop working in silos

If you have multiple brand managers and teams working on different projects within the same marketing campaign, arrange monthly team meetings to ensure all members are on the same page, that the message behind the campaign is consistent and the brand identity is present across the campaign. Also refer back to the aim of the campaign and audience you’re trying to create. Don’t be afraid to iterate as you go. It might be launch day but it’s never to late to make a change.

Similarly, if you are using different agencies to produce different aspects of your marketing campaign, make sure there is someone in-house to monitor and co-ordinate their efforts to ensure your branding has a consistent look and feel across channels. Here at Zazzle Media, we work VERY closely with our clients to understand their wider marketing plans. We may only be there to support with content and SEO, for example, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to understand your plans for TV and retail.

2. Understand your audience and their customer journey

As with all marketing campaigns, before you start anything, think about your audience and where they are both on and offline. Create personas using tools like YouGov Profiler , Facebook Audience Insights, Google Trends and our persona template to understand who you’re talking to. This will help you hone your messaging and ensure your big bang idea is not only of interest to you but the people you want to buy from you.

Today’s consumers thrive on Connection, CommunityCreation and Curation.
They are always on
. Just seeing an advert for a product does not necessarily result in an instant sale. They might see that advert, then research it, via your website, review sites, blogs and social media. They might then head in store to get a better understanding of the look and feel of your product.

Will they buy next? Probably not. They might go home, research again, seek out the best price and ask friends and family for feedback. Then, they might buy. But the journey doesn’t end there. Once they have the product, they are likely to give their thoughts on it (good and bad) via social media, blogs and good old fashioned word of mouth. It is a much, much longer purchase cycle than ever before and you need to be visible at every stage with a consistent but engaging message across all platforms from PPC, Display, Social Media and Content Creation.

3. Have a strong brand identity and be consistent with your look

As mentioned previously, this is not about making everything look the same although it is important to be consistent with your brand guidelines. Push the boundaries of your brand and voice but don’t confuse the consumer. Integration isn’t about saying the same thing in different channels. But it is about taking a unique aspect of the brand and tying it to a consumer insight that is powerful and engaging which comes to life whether through Twitter, a TV ad or a piece of great content.

4. Create quality, engaging content that can be repurposed across platforms

At Zazzle we create content and creative big bang campaigns everyday. As part of that, we aim to spread these ideas across platforms. If we create a really strong, long form piece of content, for example, we might repurpose it to appear as a blog post, eBook or even take a very brief snapshot and use it as a Facebook post. A tip for ensuring all these things are individual in their own right but also recognisable as part of a wider campaign is to follow the three Cs for marketing messages – Communication must be clear, compelling and consistent.

5. Measure!

Marketing without measurement is like flying a plane blindfolded. You know you’re doing it but are you going in the right direction? Before you start any campaign you should decide on the objections and metrics for measurement. What does success look like? How will you measure it? There are so many tools available to help you do this, many of which are free such as Google Analytics.

However, the important thing to remember is that measurement for success will be different depending on where you are in the customer journey. A sale may not be the success metric for stimulus advertising such as magazine adverts; instead you will be looking for these adverts to drive potential customers in store or online to find out more which will give you a second opportunity (FMOT) to target them again, perhaps with an in store demonstration, the successful outcome for which would be a sale.

Therefore, it is important to analyse the data to ensure you are consistently measuring success at every stage of the journey and not purely focusing on the end result. A customer at the research stage is just as valuable.

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10 Ways to Drive Revenue with Your Digital Strategy in 2015 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/drive-revenue-digital-strategy/ http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/drive-revenue-digital-strategy/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 09:04:40 +0000 http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/?post_type=blog&p=6139 These days everyone knows about digital, regardless of whether they work in the world of marketing. When I first started at Zazzle and people asked me what I did, I’d say: ‘I work in digital marketing’. Response: blank stare and confusion. I soon learnt the easiest way to answer this question was by saying, ‘we […]

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These days everyone knows about digital, regardless of whether they work in the world of marketing. When I first started at Zazzle and people asked me what I did, I’d say: ‘I work in digital marketing’. Response: blank stare and confusion. I soon learnt the easiest way to answer this question was by saying, ‘we try and get people to the top of Google’.

But while people had a level of understanding as soon as I mentioned ‘Google’, they still didn’t totally get it. Now, two years and four months on, my answer gets a completely different response. As well as people knowing ‘Google’, they now consciously throw the words ‘Twitter’, ‘Facebook’, ‘Blogs’ and ‘Content’ into our conversation mix.

Conclusion: the power, growth and influence of digital marketing is undeniable.

So it’s no surprise that businesses are trying to incorporate it into their marketing strategies in any way they can. It’s now become one of the most effective ways to not only make your business survive, but also to make it money – if properly executed.

Here are ten ways of using a digital strategy to drive revenue in 2015.

ON PAGE STRATEGY

Before diving into the world of off page, it’s critical that the home of your company is given enough love and attention; we’re talking, of course, about your website.

Let’s face it, while we can work on increasing the number of visitors to your site, it’s not going to be worthwhile if people come to it, can’t find what they’re looking for, completely lose interest and click off feeling frustrated. It’s an opportunity lost.

So, take a good look at your site as it currently stands and devote time to review whether these three points are covered off properly:

1. Make sure your on site content is optimised well

As well as it being vital for users to understand what your website is about, what you do and the services you provide – from the moment they land on the homepage – it’s even more important that search engines are able to understand all of these elements, too.
The content on your site provides search engines with essential data that they then use to position you accordingly in search results, should you display it correctly for relevant keyword terms or phrases.

Ultimately, if your site’s content is optimised down to a tee and Google is able to understand every single element and why it’s there, you’re more likely to appear higher up in the rankings than if you let it fall by the wayside.

Better keyword rankings equal higher search engine visibility, which equals more visits, resulting in a higher potential for leads, conversions and sales, which all-in-all, in case you hadn’t guessed by now, ultimately means more revenue.

Make sure your Meta is meticulous, tag your images with alt tags, move that all-important introductory text above the fold, and you’ll be on your way to being in Google’s good books to make sure you have a better chance of succeeding in all the above.

2. Blog, regularly

If you haven’t got a blog on your website yet, it’s time to get one. And if already do have one, it’s time to make the most of it.

At Zazzle, we’re big fans of blogs and always recommend them to our clients as must-have. They’re one of the most valuable ways to capitalise on long tail search opportunities to improve your ROI.

These days in SEO, it’s not just all about ranking well for those all-important trophy keywords. Yes, of course you still want to aim high with them, but as Google has evolved and become smarter over time, it’s now all about thinking outside the box.

Whenever you head to Google in search of something, there’s always an intention behind it – we turn to search engines to get answers, information, resources and reviews on the very thing we’re searching for. It’s these user intents that Google is working with to become much smarter at through their algorithm, Hummingbird.

As Search Engine Land summarises, Hummingbird is about paying, ‘more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence, conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages match the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.’

This is exactly where blogs come into play – they’re the perfect way to satisfy user intent.

Look at what long tail keywords and phrases people are searching for and work to create articles around these subject matters that will help to answer their queries accordingly.

In depth content crafted this way is more likely to connect with a user than content which only makes a passing reference to what they’re looking for. As your content will be of much more value to them, doing this will help to increase conversions and click-throughs further down the line. It will also help to establish your brand as a trustworthy and reliable source of content that your audience can rely on, particularly if you post regularly.

3. Invest in and improve your CRO

If you read a previous post The Psychology of Colour for Selling Online, then you may already be aware of this next tip. However, if you didn’t and you’re feeling a little lost with what I’m talking about, Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) was featured within this as the method of creating a better experience for a landing page visitor. The end goal is to increase the percentage of visitors who convert into customers.

Whilst the practice of CRO is extensive and there are lots of tips and tricks you can try, there are some very small changes you can make to your website that can make big changes to your conversions.

For example, look at using red shades on call-to-action buttons to make them stand out.
A CRO study carried out by dmix looked into making subtle changes to their call-to-action buttons to determine which colour, red or green, resulted in higher conversions to sign-ups. The result? Changing it from green to red increased conversation rate by 21%. It’s definitely worth a try. If you want to take your CRO to the next level and see what wonders it can do for you, check out Moz’s Definitive How-To Guide for Conversion Rate Optimisation, which you can find, here.

OFF PAGE STRATEGY

A big part of any digital marketing strategy lies with ensuring your brand’s off page capabilities are refined as well as they are on page – after all, whilst the first three points will help to improve your chances of conversion once people land on your site, you need to get these people to your website in the first place.

No people, no conversions, no revenue.

Here are five more tips that will certainly be able to help on that front:

4. Create a content strategy

This snippet from SAP really hit the nail on the head as to why a content strategy is a must-have for driving revenue:

“Because customers have a wealth of choices in an omnichannel digital world, you must cut through the noise by delivering the best customer-experience.”

You need to stand out from the crowd so that people choose to invest in and buy from you, rather than from your competitors. So prepare to become best friends with data, because it’s the only certified way to make sure the content you produce is exactly what people are looking for.

Dive into Keyword Planner and research which keywords and phrases in your niche have the biggest search volumes. Use tools such as Buzz Sumo to see what content has worked well and has been shared the most, and Bottlenose to see what topics and trends are most being talked about.

Marry these together and you’ll be on your way to coming up with content you know has the best chance of being successful. What’s more, covering these bases will once again help to make sure you’re fulfilling that all-important user intent.

Once you’ve got all the data to get your creative juices flowing, the next thing you must think about is who would be most be interested in the piece of content. This question is vital in delivering that personalised service. You can categorise your target audience into persona groups. Think carefully about the people you want to target; do this well, and you’ll see a greater ROI down the line.

As our Content Marketing Executive, Jade, touched upon in her blog post, you can often cover this off with three or four main personas.

As personas categorise typical web users, they allow us to think about how the individuals we are targeting would use our content and how they would benefit from it accordingly.

When creating a typical persona, you should consider the following:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Their appearance
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Where they live
  • Character
  • Site usage
  • Brands they identify with
  • What they like to do in their spare time
  • Hobbies

For example, if you were a bridal company looking to promote your services, you may consider reaching out to the following personas:

persona2

persona1

Nailing down a content strategy and the personas is the most successful way to ensure your content not only gets seen and read by the right people, but also that it has the most impact with them when they do – if they like it, they’re more likely to engage with it, and if they engage with it, they’re more likely to buy into it.

How to go about actually pulling a content strategy together? On to the next tip…

5. The Zazzle Ideation Process

Here you’ll find a few steps to work through to help ensure you’ve got everything covered – and as we use it here at Zazzle Media, it’s 100% tried and tested.

6. Plot a clear and concise content calendar

Once you’ve gathered all your content ideas together and got your personas finalised, you need to organise them. To increase conversion rates and revenue you need to target your content, at the right people, at the right time.

The best way to do this is through a content calendar; it will really help to plan the output of your content so you’re doing exactly that. As Zazzle MD Simon mentioned in his Moz post, The Ultimate Guide to Content Planning, the production of your content needs to move in ebbs and flows, with a mixture of ‘big bang’ pieces being created as well as smaller regular content ideas.

Here, we consider ‘big bang’ pieces as more interactive pieces which are generated to maximise the potential of getting shared not only socially, but also from a link perspective.
These ideas are created less frequently, with one or two pieces created and rolled out over the course of a year. The smaller content ideas tend to be your top 10 and how-to article-based pieces that are created for quick reading and placed on smaller blogs and websites.

Not only will planning these ideas into a calendar help to get you organised, it will also help to ensure you’re catering for all of your different personas by making sure you’ve got a mix of different types. As I touched upon in The Importance of Different Content Types in Content Strategy, they’re all going to have different ways of engaging with and taking your content in.

If you want your content to have the best possible chance of making a user convert to help increase your revenues, you have to think of every type of learning style:

Visual > Visual learners best absorb information in picture, image, map, colour and diagram format.

Aural > Aural learners prefer to work with sounds and rhythm to learn and understand.

Logical > Logical learners retain information by using logic and by applying patterns to organise data.

Social > Social learners learn better in groups, bouncing off others and sharing ideas within a team.

Solitary > Solitary learners like ‘alone time’ to think through new information and process in a deeper way.

Verbal > Verbal learners process information by verbalising data; for example, reading out notes to process and retain information.

Physical > Physical learners are very much hands-on people.

When you’re plotting your ideas into your content calendar, think about your personas, how you can accommodate their different learning styles and how you can use different content types to reach out to them more successfully.

To help you do this, I’ve summarised content types by different learning styles in the handy table below: 

learning

7. Find the perfect balance of placement sites

Once you’ve decided on the content you’re going to create, the next thing to decide is where it’s going to go; after all, as highlighted earlier, you need to get out there to get more people, and more money, coming in.
There are two types of placement sites you need to keep in mind.

The first of these are, big, well-known media sites. If you’re looking to drive more traffic to your website to increase those all-important conversions and revenues, then you need to get your content placed on a website that also has high volumes of traffic. The chances of your content being seen increases, which in turn increases the chances of them visiting your site and increases the potential for them to convert if they like what they see.

Without access to their Google Analytics data, how do you find out if a website has high traffic or not?

Well, there’s a ranking system set by Alexa.com that audits and makes public the frequency of visits on various websites. It then calculates a traffic ranking based on the amount of traffic recorded from users that have the Alexa toolbar installed over a period of three months. The lower the ranking a site has, the higher traffic it receives.

But while these are very important for pushing you out into the online world, the smaller mid-level blogs must not be ignored. Don’t discount a site if it doesn’t have an impressive Alexa ranking; check their PR, DA, CF and TF first before you write it off completely. Because if the blog is relevant to what you do and what your content piece is about and it has technically good metrics, it’s still a good host for your content – these blogs will still contribute to driving link equity into your domain to increase the power of it accordingly. Keep building this up and you’ll start to improve your online search visibility too.

The key to driving more revenue through the placements you source for your content lies with finding the right balance between those sites which drive traffic and brand awareness and those that also drive technical equity into your website’s domain; Google likes a natural balance of the two, and you’ll be rewarded for it accordingly.

SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

No digital marketing strategy is complete without a mention of social media; apart from being the handy tool that allows us to keep in touch with our friends and occasionally check what they’re up to, it’s also perfect for helping you drive revenue for your business. It fuels key areas of the purchase funnel, increases awareness, activates interest and desire, and most importantly, prompts action to purchase – if you implement practices properly.

8. Link your content strategy with your social strategy

After you’ve spent all that time creating a comprehensive content strategy, don’t just limit to using it on content-only work. All that data you collated, all the insight you put into your personas and all that understanding into their learning styles and the content types that resonate with them the most can all be transferred straight over to your social strategy too.

Test different post types and measure which ones result in more engagement. Use a content-style social calendar to plot how you’ll use these findings to make your pages even more successful.

9. Don’t be afraid of investing in advertising

It’s not uncommon for people, especially clients, to be unsure about incorporating social media advertising into their digital strategies. Quite often we hear, ‘but I want my competition, post or idea to do well organically before I invest in paid ads’.

Of course, while the best measure of success is something flying off its own back, there’s nothing wrong with giving it a little helping hand to get there. These days, social advertising is a great way to extend the reach of your page, platforms and posts, and by doing so, your brand and company – as covered off here.

10. Follow by example

There’s nothing wrong in following by example. There are a plethora of companies out there who have honed their social strategies to drive more revenue.

Think about your favourite brands and how they enticed you in, and take some time to research how they did it – a bit of competitor analysis never did anyone any harm, and it’s a great way to learn what’s worked in the past and maybe what didn’t.
If you’re into fashion, you might find this case study insightful – here, Media Measurement looks at five social strategies that drove revenue during London Fashion Week. Enjoy!

My 10 Takeaways

ON PAGE
1. Make sure your on site content is optimised well
2. Blog, regularly
3.Invest in and improve your CRO

OFF PAGE
4. Create a content strategy
5. The Zazzle Ideation Process can help
6. Plot your content strategy ideas into a concise content calendar
7. Find the perfect balance of placement sites

SOCIAL
8. Link up your content strategy with your social strategy
9. Don’t be afraid of investing in advertising
10. Follow by example

The post 10 Ways to Drive Revenue with Your Digital Strategy in 2015 appeared first on Zazzle Media.

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