Zazzle Media » Blogs We are a content and data led Content marketing, SEO consulting and social media agency Thu, 23 Jul 2015 13:59:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 8 Things you Must Include in your Content Strategy Thu, 23 Jul 2015 13:59:06 +0000 If like us, the casual use of the clichéd phrase ‘content is king’ brings you out in a cold sweat and makes you want to punch yourself full on in your face, then chances are that other over-used ‘fashionable’ marketing buzz-words will have a similar effect. Big Data. Brand journalists. Storyscaping. Content Strategy. They’re all […]

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If like us, the casual use of the clichéd phrase ‘content is king’ brings you out in a cold sweat and makes you want to punch yourself full on in your face, then chances are that other over-used ‘fashionable’ marketing buzz-words will have a similar effect.

Big Data. Brand journalists. Storyscaping. Content Strategy. They’re all just words made-up by someone working in a graffitied office in Brick Lane, wearing oversized spectacles and slip-on shoes with no socks, aren’t they? They have no place in a real, proper place of work, do they?

Well actually yes, they do. Or at least content strategy does (storyscaping is definitely a made up one) because for any company having, or planning to have any type of content that will be consumed by customers (or potential customers) you absolutely, definitely, unquestionably MUST have a strategy for this.

Creating and distributing brand content without a strategy is like driving at car at night, with no lights on, blindfolded, with your hands tied behind you, and your kids in the back asking repeatedly whether you’re nearly there yet. You get the picture. It’s a scary and confusing place to be.

And yet, in spite of the many thousands of talks, books, articles and videos produced warning brands of the danger of failing to arm themselves with a robust content strategy, we are still amazed by the number of blindfolded drivers there are out there in our digital highways – clogging up our fast lanes with meaningless, directionless content produced for the sake of it.

Content strategies don’t need to be complicated or arduous. In fact, they’re infinitely better if they’re not. However, they do need to cover the basics.

So without further ado, here are 8 things your content strategy absolutely must include:

  1. Mission Statement/Goals

What do you want to achieve with the content you produce, and how will you know whether the content you’ve produced has been successful in achieving your goals?

If you want to create kick-ass content that will help convert causal site visitors into repeat customers that spend lots of money with you, then say that. If you want to create content that will make people laugh their socks off and therefore come back again and again, then say that too.

Knowing this stuff in advance helps you quickly dismiss the production of anything that won’t help you achieve these goals. What’s the point in producing a 20-page eBook to sit within your site that you’ll do nothing else with, when you’ve identified that brand awareness is a major goal for your business? Why throw all your efforts into building a huge social media presence when search visibility and increased organic traffic is your goal?

Set yourself two or three overarching goals and then stick to them!

  1. Audience insight – micro-moments

Did you know that 91% of smartphone users turn to their smartphone for ideas when doing a given task? Google refers to these moments as ‘I-Want-To’ moments and informs us that all the best and most successful brands are building strategies around these mini windows of opportunity. Most of us encounter these moments several times throughout the day, and rather than ask friends or read a book to find the answer (like we did in the olden’ days) we turn to our digital devices to provide the info.

These moments include:

  • I-want-to-go
  • I-want-to-know
  • I-want-to-do
  • I-want-to-buy

But how do you even begin to identify what ‘I-want-to’ questions your customers are asking? Well, to start with you need to know who your customers are (fast forward to point 3 – personas) but you then need to add an extra layer of detail to these. What are their pain-points? What are they currently struggling to do or find?

The answer to these questions will get you well on your way to figuring out the content they need.

Keyword research will help you out a lot, and my esteemed colleague explains how to do this in much more detail than I ever could here

You’ll also find lots of really useful by having a general search around the data in SEM Rush – look at the organic search terms for you and your top 2/3 competitors. Don’t focus on those big traffic terms here, this about getting a general feel for the questions people are asking – and here’s a heads-up, they’ll ask the same question in a variety of different ways.

Google are also awfully decent people, and regularly release new and useful information via their ‘Think With Google’ pages. If you haven’t already signed up for their newsletter then I urge you to do so immediately.

  1. Personas

Developing a deep and intimate knowledge of the customers who will be buying your products or services is an absolute must.

It’s easy for brands to say: “We don’t want to pigeon-hole our customers” for fear of alienating an important purchaser. But by avoiding this important task and trying to target everyone you’ll quickly find yourself in a content black hole.

Knowing your buyers inside out allows you to create the content they want and need (remember those micro-moments?)

Social data, namely the wealth of information available through Facebook audience insights, can provide you with enough information to pull together two or three data driven personas.

You can add to this a raft of information freely available through YouGov Profiles – a tool that allows you to search for any brand, person or thing, and providing they have enough data, you’ll be able to see what is particularly true of people who like XXX compared to the general population.

  1. Competitor analysis

It’s a well-known fact that everything’s a remix, and there is no shame whatsoever in taking a sneaky peak at what your key competitors are doing. Evaluate what’s working well for them, and what should be avoided. Look at their blogs, on page content and product descriptions, email newsletters and social pages. Ask yourself how their tone of voice and approach differs to yours – are they targeting a different audience, or are you missing a trick?

Enter their URL into Buzzsumo or ahrefs to analyse what content is performing best for them in terms of social shares and links.

SEM Rush is another valuable tool for analysing competitor content. It allows you to establish the organic keywords they’re currently ranking for, and establish the volume of traffic asking that particular question – you also have a snapshot into the landing pages for the content.

Cross reference this information against your own site and make an informed decision about how you can start to properly compete with them using content as your weapon of choice!

  1. Honest review of all current content

If you wrote every word on your site, you are probably not the right person to do this step!

Ask someone who’s not emotionally connected to your content to perform an honest review of your on site content. Check for the following:

  • Usability – easy to read and digest? Typos? Subheads? Text links – too many/few?
  • Knowledge level – is it written in a way your personas will understand?
  • Findability – Is the content easy to navigate to?
  • Actionability – What does the reader do next? Is there a clear call to action?
  • Accuracy – Is it all accurate and have you used the most up to date data?

The book ‘Content Strategy for the web’ by Kristina Halvorsen and Melissa Rach contains an amazingly comprehensive chapter on carrying out a web content audit. If you’re serious about content strategies then I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

  1. A large sprinkling of creativity (n.b – you can’t teach this stuff)

Here’s one of those woolly points, but it’s vitally important nonetheless.

Creativity has been described as the art of breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way, and this is never truer than when creating a comprehensive strategy that will allow you to compete with the 1 billion+ other websites currently in existence.

Whilst the core of what you create should answer those ‘long tail’ questions and help people during their micro-moments of need, your content strategy should intrinsically link with your marketing plans; and good marketing needs creativity.

Turning the simplest of ideas into something people talk about and remember is the advertising professionals bread and butter, and you need to recreate this in a digital space.

Here at Zazzle Media we call this ‘big bang content’ and realise that all good content strategies and plans need a flow of content that includes at least one ‘big bang’ to get people sitting up and taking notice.

For Dove it was their ‘Choose Beautiful’ campaign, and for The Food People it was this ‘Food Trends’ Infographic.

You see, that’s the beauty of digital; it allows big and small brands to compete on the same stage – it’s all about the idea. Make sure your content strategy includes a couple of ‘big bangers’ that will set the web on fire.

  1. Road map for how and when you are going to achieve number 1

You’ve done most of the hard work; you now know what you need to do, who you’re doing it for, and what you need to do to get there. But, do you know how long it’s going to take to achieve your ambition?

Creating a road map will allow you to set realistic goals for your strategy and ensure you’re spending time evaluating whether what you’re doing is working (or not!) It’s not a detailed editorial calendar – this comes later. This is an easy-to-use reference that should be shared across your business to ensure you’re all on the same page.

Your strategic roadmap should include the following:

  • Budget/hours allocated to content creation & distribution
  • Content goals
  • Overall timeline
  • Internal stakeholders
  • Content types
  • Content review & audit time
  • Individual content creation and distribution timelines
  1. Governance/Editorial calendar

The final part of your content strategy is the implantation of a content governance framework and detailed editorial calendar.

Content governance is described as: The day-to-day detailed management of content delivery and style.

Whilst it’s important you encourage as many people as possible from within your business to contribute to the content you produce, this doesn’t mean accepting and publishing absolutely everything.

Before publishing anything, ask yourself the very same questions you asked during the content audit phase. If it doesn’t tick every one of these boxes, then it doesn’t get published.

The final part of the strategy process is the creation of a detailed editorial calendar. This should spell out the content you plan to create and execute for the next few months – titles, topics and content type. It should detail who will be creating it, how long it will take, in addition to seasonal or marketing events you will (or should be) talking about.

Key Takeaways

  • Put someone in charge of web content NOW
  • Set 2-3 content goals
  • Use data to create at least 3 personas
  • Consider what ‘I-want-to’ moments your personas encounter daily
  • Carry out a thorough audit of your existing content – be ruthless
  • Check out your competitor’s content
  • Be creative
  • Create a roadmap and editorial calendar and stick to them

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Linkedin > The 15 Mistakes You’re Making Right Now Thu, 16 Jul 2015 15:50:19 +0000 With over 350 million users, it’s no wonder businesses across the globe are noticing the effect LinkedIn can have, and jumping in head first. It’s fast becoming one of the biggest professional social networks around, but why are so many businesses doing it all wrong? LinkedIn can be a great tool within your wider marketing […]

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With over 350 million users, it’s no wonder businesses across the globe are noticing the effect LinkedIn can have, and jumping in head first. It’s fast becoming one of the biggest professional social networks around, but why are so many businesses doing it all wrong?

LinkedIn can be a great tool within your wider marketing strategy, if done correctly! There are so many ways to advertise, and get noticed, but there are also a lot of stumbling blocks along the way, and mistakes that can easily be made.

In this post we’ll be talking about the top 15 mistakes businesses make, and a solution to each.

A successful campaign is broken down into three main sections:

  • Establishing Your Brand Presence
  • Connecting With Your Audience
  • Creating Engaging Content


Being one of the largest professional social networks, not having a brand presence on Linkedin can be very damaging to your business, and brand. You could also be missing out on potential opportunities as no one knows that you’re there.

1.  Not Having A Complete Company Page

Incomplete company profiles have on average around 40% less interaction. It doesn’t take long to get your profile up to date, so make sure you do it. Not having a complete profile shows you to be unprofessional and more importantly not a leader within your field. Why should someone trust to work with you if you can’t take the time to complete your basic information?

Solution: Ensure that your profile is as up to date as it can be. Take inspiration for your competitors and see how they market themselves. If you’re not sure on what you need to include, there’s a checklist here, for you to use.

2. Not Knowing Your Target Audience

Targeting the wrong audience can often be worse than having no presence at all, as if you’re not targeting the right audience, you won’t be seeing the results! As a business you should know exactly who is buying your product. Not only to help market yourself in the correct way, but by seeing what other opportunities are out there for you by what your audience are doing and buying.

Solution: Get to know your audience. It’s as simple as that. Carry out some research into who is buying from you. You can start by getting to know your current customers; you can also look at who are working with your competitors. This will help you begin to build up your personas.

What do they like, dislike, what other products and services to they use? Who do they follow? What are they really interested in? Try and build up in depth personas. In the long run, this will help you in many other ways than just marketing. It’ll enable you to define the way you sell and approach people; it’ll show you where your customers actually are and the different ways to cater your business to them.

3. Hiding Your Page

When a page isn’t optimized correctly it can be seen as ‘hidden’. This means that your audience can’t find you. If your page isn’t optimised for the correct audience, links on your page aren’t working, or there’s no detail on your page, this can result is people loosing trust within your business.

Solution: Ensure that you’re linking to all relevant pages, i.e. social platforms and company website(s). Add company specialities and values to give your page a bit of personality and let your audience get to know your brand. Adding detail will give your page more credibility, and build trust within your brand. Your company page will rank high in Google so it will be seen, so make sure it’s good!


Connecting with your customers is a great way to build your brand. It helps spread awareness for your business, and shows thought leadership in your field. Existing and potential customers are more likely to take notice of you, and trust in your brand once you have our own community.

4. Not Using Groups Or Not Using The Right Ones

Groups are a great way to connect with your customers, potential leads, and begin to influence. Not being a part of this means you cannot further your business through making new connections and more importantly, network with others interested in what you do.

Solution: Make sure you join groups with other professionals within your industry to share ideas, and build relationships. Groups also enable you to look at where you customers are, and join groups that they are part of. Here, you can share your thoughts as ‘the expert’ or ‘professional’ and help build up your personal and business brand. It allows you to connect with individuals you may never have come across, on a common ground. You can also create your own groups, and filter within them. This will allow you to better target your potential customers with ease.

5. Not Making Use Of Sponsored Updates

Not using sponsored updates means that you’re not reaching out to as many people as you could be, and missing out on potential leads. Sponsored updates are only available to company pages, and they allow you to reach out to more people. They appear on the newsfeed of the targeted audience, and enable you to share your content directly with them, by using a mix of precise targeting, and native advertising.

Solution: In simple terms – use them! They help your content get in front of the right, and different people that aren’t in your ‘usual circle’. It allows you to share your content with people other than just your following as it looks at who you want to see your content, and targets them. They’re easy to use, and the ad looks natural on the newsfeed as its content they will be interested in, and will expect to see anyway. You can learn more about how sponsored updates work, and how to use them here.

6. Or Ads!

Arguably ads aren’t as successful or eye catching as sponsored updates can be, but are defiantly worth looking into, and using within your wider marketing plan. Ads are displayed at the right hand side of the page, and similar to sponsored updates will be targeted to the niche you want. Ads are a small but can be successful way of marketing your brand. Not making use of them means you’re not making potential connections aware that you exist!

Solution: When creating the ad, make sure it’s clear, simple and shows what it is that you’re offering. Make sure that it links to the right place, and does what it says. LinkedIn ads are great for a wide spread campaign, but not recommended for a small campaign with a limited budget.

7. Not Making Use Of Showcase Page

Showcase pages are great for highlighting your content to the right people. They’re an extension of your company page, and are there to ‘show’ or spotlight your brand, business, etc. You can create multiple pages for the different areas within your business. By not using these you’re not allowing yourself to build up your brand, and network in a different, more specialised way.

Solution: Try to make use of showcase pages. They allow you to target users of Creative Cloud & Marketing Cloud, and let you target different audiences within the different areas of your business. Allowing you to interact with potential customers based on their different product interest, which will ultimately open you up to new opportunities, and expand your network. You can share company updates and sponsored updates just as you can with your company page, however these are aimed at building relationships and are more social. To find out more about how to get started, there’s a great beginner’s guide here.

8. Not Making Use Of Your Own ‘Brand Army’

Your employees represent your brand and are ultimately what make up your business. Not having them on LinkedIn can be detrimental for themselves and your brand as they could be writing, sharing, and networking. It can lower the visibility of your brand, as if your own employees don’t like and share your updates, then how will other see them?

Solution: Studies show that 9 out of the top 10 brands with the most LinkedIn followers have at least 60% of their employees online, so try to encourage your employees to create a profile, grow their networks, share the businesses content, and interact with people as much as possible. LinkedIn allows any one individual to share their knowledge and innovation to the wider industry through the content they, and your business produce, to people they network with. Your employees are your businesses own brand ambassadors, who should be celebrated and praised for the work they do, so make sure they share it!

9. Not Adding ‘Easy Links’

Not adding all the relevant links is such a simple yet easy thing to forget. When someone lands on your page and they cannot access the thing that they want, for example your website, some people will try and search to find you, however others will loose interest very quickly as it seems as though you have been ‘slack’ and not interested in properly completing your profile.

Solution: Ensure you add all external links to your business/brand on your company page. This includes:

  • All marketing channels, ie. – email, newsletter, blog, etc
  • Follow buttons to your site
  • All relevant social channels

Try and make it as easy and simple to find you. Research indicates that 50% of people are more likely to buy and work with you if they can interact with you on LinkedIn, so don’t stand in their way.


Now that you’ve mastered establishing your brand, and making sure the right people are seeing it, you need to make sure that your content is as high-quality and engaging as possible. Creating engaging content is a problem faced by so many businesses. The world of content is forever changing, and what worked a year or even 6 months ago might not be so successful now. Ideally you want to make your content go viral, Adam covered this a few months ago in his post here.

10. Not Sharing Your Content Correctly

A lot of businesses will write an article, share it once, and then never share it again. By sharing the content once, only a limited number of people will be able to see it. By not sharing your content on a more regular basis you’re missing out as you’re not spreading awareness of you as a brand as much as you could be, and ultimately engaging with that potential customer.

Solution: Create a plan for sharing your content. Try to work out which posts are time sensitive, and which ones will be relevant for a few weeks or even months. This will help you determine what content to share and when. With LinkedIn, content really is key, it’s not just enough to create the amazing content, you need to make sure people will see it, too.

11. Not Using The Right Media

Many businesses can be ‘stuck in their ways’ when it comes to content, and only use one specific type of media. Times have changed, and content is king! Ensuring that your content is right for your audience is now more important then ever.

Solution: You first need to try and establish the right media platform(s) for your content. See what your competitors are doing, and check out your customer personas to try and discover what media they’re interested in already. Researching into your audience will give you the best chance of finding the right media for you.

The below chart shows you what different types of media can achieve; once you know what you’re trying to achieve with your content, it can be a lot simpler to try and implement it using different types of media.

(What you want to do > the right media to do it)

12. Not Making Diverse Content

Often businesses will stick with one method that worked for them at one time, and not try any others, which can loose you potential leads, and not show you as a thought leader. Sticking to one kind of content can be seen as a little dull, and uninteresting. Why would someone want to work with you if you’re not creative and imaginative with your own content, let alone to help them as a client?

Solution: Try and look at what others are doing, and what is working for them. Take another look at your customer personas and see what kind of content each of them like to read, and try to ensure that you are covering a little something for everyone in each area of your business. The ultimate aim with creating amazing diverse content is to be creative, and always remember that content is not ‘one size fits all’ and it must be diverse to engage with your whole audience.

13. Making Your Statuses Too Long

The rule ‘quality over quantity’ really fits in well with this common problem. Sometimes it’s not about the amount of detail you write, but the context that you say it in. A lot of businesses have written detailed lengthy statuses which on average do not work. People want information fast, and in the age where we can find out anything that we ever wanted to know in a matter of seconds, long and detailed information that could be broken down a lot smaller parts is not the way to go.

Solution: Ensure that your status is short, sweet and to the point. 60% of users have said that they are interested in industry insights – there are people out there who want to read your status, so make sure it appeals to them! Studies show that when you share a status you are 10 times more likely to get noticed, so make sure you’re getting noticed for the right reasons.

14. Not Asking Questions

Asking questions is one of the biggest ways to directly interact with your network. It shows that you’re interested in what your followers think, and are interested to learn about them. By not doing this you’re creating a barrier, which people can view you to be uninterested, and inactive on LinkedIn.

Solution: It’s as simple as you think – Ask questions, and make sure you reply to the answers! Asking and responding to your followers is great interaction for your brand. By doing this you are directly engaging with your network and potential customers. It will show you as a thought leader, can boost your brand, and help build trust within your business. Never forget that LinkedIn is a social network – interaction is crucial to success.

15. Not Making Use Of Analytics

This is where you can monitor and track engagement, which is potentially one of the best tools that you should be using. By not making use of this tool you won’t be able to see what has worked, and what hasn’t. It’s true that there are other ways to do this yourself and many other tools you can try, but this will analyse a whole range of data as well as data specific to LinkedIn, and show you what has worked well, and what hasn’t.

Solution: Ensure you are making the most out of analytics. It allows you to see:

  • What posts are driving engagement
  • Your demographic
  • Key influencers
  • What social channels work for your content

As well as much more..

This is the final result from all the hard work you have put in to try and increase engagement. From here, you’ll be able to find out exactly what has worked and why, which you can then implement to create your new marketing plan.

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What’s the Search Value of Video Fri, 10 Jul 2015 09:01:27 +0000 At the beginning of 2014 Google began to show video (also known as rich snippets) to answer specific search terms. The idea was that any domain could host their own video content and see it rank in Google. However, later in the year Google scrapped this, so now, the bulk of these rich snippets is […]

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At the beginning of 2014 Google began to show video (also known as rich snippets) to answer specific search terms. The idea was that any domain could host their own video content and see it rank in Google. However, later in the year Google scrapped this, so now, the bulk of these rich snippets is from YouTube (which Google owns). This is a similar approach to how they removed Authorship from search results.

Why and what does this mean?

  • One theory is that making YouTube the source of almost every video search result would boost YouTube traffic. The more traffic YouTube gets the more adverts it sells, and therefore the more money Google gets. You’d like to think this wasn’t Google’s prime motivator, but I would put good money on the fact it came into the conversation when they were thinking about doing this.
  • Google is trying to get people to use the ‘tabbed search’ features and by removing a lot of videos from universal search forces users to go onto the tab more often. On the tab feature any domain can still rank for video snippets.
  • The main reason for rich snippets being implemented was to enhance the user experience in helping to bring search queries to life, but it was easy to exploit to manipulate search rankings – something Google polices heavily. They were easy to spam and this meant people were making poor quality video just for SEO purposes.
  • Censoring videos is a difficult task and one that cannot be handled with an algorithm. This meant people were exploiting the system again – you could even get a rich snippet without even having a video on your webpage.
  • With the recent mobile update, video results render awkwardly on some domains and in some cases don’t work at all. With YouTube being so efficient and having a great app, it made sense to strip back the results so Google knew exactly what it was dealing with.

This meant a big shift in the way businesses used video marketing. Although search value for video is, unfortunately, almost non-existent, it doesn’t mean that video marketing is a wasted resource. Video content still brings lots of opportunities that definitely should not be missed. It hasn’t become redundant, it’s just your job to change the way you utilise its power.


Although this graph is from 2009-2010, it shows just how much video is being consumed across the world, especially from YouTube. Almost half of all video consumed, is hosted by YouTube, reaching almost 35billion by May 2010.

But this still doesn’t tell us about the value of advertorial YouTube videos.

So if it really is true that there is no SEO value in having them on your site, why do businesses still use, and pay for, video content and how do they measure it success?

It’s all about the consumer. People like videos. This means that if you’ve got video content on your website, people are more likely to stay on your page for longer. Some recent research Zazzle Media did with our proprietary tool ‘ROADMAP’ (which monitors Google’s algorithm signals) has heavily suggested that user engagement metrics result in better organic rankings.

On average, people stay on a website two minutes longer if it includes videos. So, if you’ve got good video content on your site then you’re likely to keep people interested for longer and in turn rank higher in Google. Even though Google cannot crawl videos, the fact that it gives a website extra usability and decreases bounce rates will see your site being rewarded.

Brand awareness is now a huge part of video too. Although the video will go straight on YouTube, good video content can get people to engage with your brand. Once people are on your business’s YouTube page, if they like the content, the chances are, they will check out your website. The ‘extra added value’ part here is that once a person ‘likes’ a business’s YouTube channel, their videos will start to appear on the user’s default homepage due to the customisation of YouTube.

Businesses should set up video content as they would any written or visual piece. It needs to be engaging, the title should be interesting and the description should include all the keywords you’d like it to rank for. If a video ranks highly on YouTube, it is far more likely to be included as a rich snippet in Google’s universal rankings.

Something that I think will start becoming more prevalent, is videos ability to convert a user into a customer. Now, this is mainly for retail outlets but it’s something that is growing. Sites such as ASOS and TheWatchShop are spearheading the trend with 360° catwalk displays and video being used to unveil products, so you can really see sizes and what they look like on a person. Although again these videos have no search value, they provide a lot of new opportunities in aiding the selling of goods. People like videos, they like real life and that’s exactly what this is. Seeing what a product looks like in real life.

There are so many different types of video content out there now. Whether it’s a walk through guide, product endorsement, review or a viral video, there will be something out there for your business to use.

Here is a list of 10 types of online video that you should be looking at.

This actually related directly to search value, but it’s not specifically the video. Posts that include video footage attract 3x more inbound links than text content alone. That is a huge increase and something that will undoubtedly affect your universal rankings.

Basically, if you have a strategy that doesn’t include video footage then you’re missing out on a massive opportunity.

So, what does all this information tell us? Well, video content certainly isn’t dead. It’s just in the middle of a very drastic change. No, it doesn’t have any direct SEO value. But yes, it does still bring in links. Yes, it does still affect your rankings. Yes, it does keep people on your page for longer and even make people buy your products.

Who knows, maybe in the next couple of years Google will bring back rich snippets for more and more domains and make it more difficult to spam? For now though, people have to completely switch up their video strategy and think of more innovative, interesting and creative video in order to compete.

Gone are the days where people could post uninteresting, badly filmed videos and still pull in links. In order to get your video noticed you need to put something new and interesting out there. Something that will grab the viewers’ attention and make them want to either stay on your site, or click through to your site from your YouTube channel.

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The Power Of The Human Interest Story Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:24:15 +0000 The way in which we consume ‘content’ has undoubtedly changed. From newspapers to magazines, radio, television and the many platforms offered up by the internet, there’s an ever-evolving process through which people can find out about the world around them. But, while the method of delivery may have changed one thing has remained constant – […]

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The way in which we consume ‘content’ has undoubtedly changed. From newspapers to magazines, radio, television and the many platforms offered up by the internet, there’s an ever-evolving process through which people can find out about the world around them.

But, while the method of delivery may have changed one thing has remained constant – and even pre-dates all of the media above. Quite simply it’s in our nature as human beings to be interested in the things that happen to fellow human beings.

No matter how it is delivered, a good human interest story has always had power. The best journalists and writers are able to recognise how stories impact on people and bring this power out to great effect.

It’s important to understand what a human interest story is, how it’s delivered, what the impact is and what lessons can be learned when it comes to almost any piece of content.

The story

A human interest story puts people at the heart of the events. Doing this brings a two-fold benefit. It gives the reader someone to relate to and taps into our natural curiosity in the lives of others.

The emotion of others can raise awareness of worthy causes and help people to realise the real human impact of a whole host of issues, ranging right up from local politics to war and everything in between. These stories also, at a simple level, can give readers something fun, amusing, emotional or thought-provoking to engage with.

John Dilley, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Leicester Centre for Journalism, is undertaking research into how local and national newspapers covered the First World War.

His blog offers a real-time week-by-week account of how the conflict was reported 100 years ago in the Market Harborough Advertiser. He told me how one thing in particular shines out from the pages of 1914 and 1915 that he’s looked at so far:

“When you look at those papers from 100 years ago, of course they’re different – the size of the newspaper, the page layout, the language used in the headlines – but you know what the core of those stories is all about? It’s human interest.”

In a series of moving letters from the front in particular, the human impact of the horrors of war hit home much harder than the ‘party line’ dispatches printed by the nationals and, for John, show how the desire to relate stories to real people has always been important and continues to have resonance in today’s world.

He said: “It crosses over the decades and generations. It has always been like that.

We’ve always wanted to read human interest stories – it’s just about getting people – whether that be newspapers, social media followers or clients – to realise that that’s what readers want.

“I think it’s the single most important thing for the reader and I think it is for the journalist as well.”


John tells would-be students that there are three reasons why people train to be journalists. The first two are the chance to write and also to be creative but: “The most important part is because we’ve got an interest in people and if you’ve got an interest in people then you can find stories about people that other people will want to read about.”

Everyone has a story to tell, however big or small. Writers and journalists need to develop an instinct for finding the issues that are relevant to their readership.

A good writer doesn’t just commit pen to paper – or indeed pound away at the keyboard – they should also be a good listener and be naturally curious about the world around them.

You’ll have nothing to write without good, powerful material. Interview technique is probably a separate piece entirely, but suffice to say you need to ask plenty of questions, be inquisitive without being intrusive and don’t be too rigid. The worst interviewers simply ask a list of questions, robot fashion, without reacting to what is said and exploring the answers further. Often comments that could be ‘throwaway’ actually form the heart of a powerful human interest piece. The same logic applies to research for an article, as interesting facts or information can take you off into a different – sometimes more interesting – direction than you originally considered.


The power of any story or piece of content can easily be lost if the writing does not do it justice. When it comes to human interest stories it is not the job of the writer to take centre stage. Powerful, purposeful prose should underpin any good story – but you must let the emotion of the piece come through from the subject. It’s not a task in proving how clever you are.

Strong, emotive quotes should be at the heart of the text, featuring as quickly and prominently as possible – and those words should be backed up by heartfelt photos and videos. Don’t simply tell the reader what you’ve seen, heard or felt – let them find that emotion for themselves.


The strength of Facebook and Twitter merely opens up new avenues for human interest stories. Stories can emerge on social media and be spread quickly and effectively this way. A powerful piece will be something that is worth sharing, posting and re-tweeting. If the reader is sufficiently moved by a story they will pass that on to their followers.

If anything, regional news reporters have been liberated by this – their work can go beyond their traditional geographical boundaries to a potentially global audience.

The recent example of Winnie Blagden from Sheffield shows this. BBC Radio Sheffield made an appeal for cards on behalf of Winnie, who has no surviving family and not much contact with the outside world beyond her carers, ahead of her 100th birthday.

The appeal went viral – reaching an audience far beyond the station’s 240,000 listeners and 10,200 Facebook followers – and saw presents and cards pledged from far and wide – including the US. Good human interest content is universal.

People who write content do need to think about different platforms. The heart of the story is the same but, for example, the picture is crucial to help catch the eye on Facebook while strong headlines or stand-out quotes work well to jump out of a busy Twitter timeline. Again, these platforms don’t change the heart of the story – it’s just that different parts of the presentation of the story matter more depending on where they are shared.
Consider, too, the rise of the Vlogger. The YouTube shows produced by these people invite us into their lives and homes. We invest in them and their lives and they are able to deliver matter on what feels like a one-to-one individual level. Our human connection with the subject makes the content more enjoyable and powerful.


Human Interest Story

Strong human interest stories can tug at the heart strings like no other – and the most high profile examples can set the news agenda.

Consider the case of Stephen Sutton. The 19-year-old cancer patient caught the public imagination with his story and online ‘bucket list’ of ambitions to achieve before he died. His emotional case inspired donations and support totalling £4.5million – money that, one year on, has been donated to helping others in his heartbreaking situation. Perhaps just as significantly, his case also inspired other cancer sufferers, who took heart from his brave battle.

Each of us knows the devastating impact of cancer – but this human interest story had the power to move many of us into actually acting and making a difference.

Human Interest 2

The case of Alan Barnes had a similarly powerful impact on the public psyche.

The vulnerable 4ft 6in pensioner was attacked by a mugger but, thanks to the kind fundraising of a stranger, was able to benefit from the generous help from people in his community and beyond. He was also able to see his attacker brought to justice.

The heartwarming moment when he met the woman behind the campaign that helped him was a feelgood resolution to a sad story, which had also raised a debate on our unhealthy attitude to image and disability and the sort of legal highs used by his attacker.

Human Interest Story

When it comes to powerful stories, there can be few as emotional as that of baby Teddy, who was just minutes old when he became the world’s youngest organ donor. His parents had signed him up when it became apparent that their child would only live for a day or two.

His story was so moving that it encouraged 15,000 people to sign up to the NHS donors register.

These are three recent high profile examples of the power that strong human interest stories possess. But, of course, these are rare or extreme examples and we shouldn’t think just of these cases when we consider the impact of the human touch in content.

Consider a ‘bread and butter’ newspaper issue such as hospital parking charges, for example. This story from the Halifax Courier is a perfectly acceptable account of a change of policy from the local hospital to introduce charges for disabled people.
It would clearly be a strong page lead in a print paper and is a good web story that has attracted 20 comments from readers. But consider how much more powerful this, slightly older, story from the Gloucester Citizen is. The strong quotes from the subject and the picture (which isn’t done justice on this link) of a person rather than a ‘scene setter’ of a hospital would make this a more prominent story. It’s the same subject matter as the first link but it’s more emotive and engaging for having a person at its heart.

John Dilley used to teach the vagaries of local government to students and preached the mantra ‘council is people’ to hammer home that, at their heart, all stories come down to how they impact on people.


John’s local government mantra could easily apply in a wider sense. Put simply, ‘content is people’ in that the best writing makes matters relevant and interesting to people.

That’s the clear lesson that all writers can take from the power of the human interest story. Clearly not everything we write will have the power of Stephen Sutton or Teddy – but these and other cases show how it’s easier to engage with even the most complex or challenging subject matter when people are at its heart. Keeping this in mind as writers encourages us to deliver the most engaging content possible for a host of different brands or issues.

For businesses, the challenge is to realise that their customers appreciate seeing their ‘human side’. There’s also a need not to be inward-looking – if your company and the individuals within it do great things then share them.

Every company has a story to tell and they shouldn’t be afraid to tell it, offering a personal account of how and why they were formed and developed.

Staff bios shouldn’t be stuffy or factual either. A business that prides itself on the talents and individual qualities of its staff should let their stories shine and put them across properly. Google, after all, values authentic content and this can help you to deliver that.

Personal and individual touches to on page content make a matter interesting and tap into some of the power of the human interest story. The exciting thing for journalists and writers is that the ability to convey this is important – it’s now up to us to show how we can use this power in a multitude of ways to help businesses stand out from the crowd and succeed.

The post The Power Of The Human Interest Story appeared first on Zazzle Media.

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Amsterdam Affiliate Conference > Hunting the Long Tail Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:42:03 +0000 Our Head of Strategy James Perrott took to the stage at the Amsterdam Affiliate Conference to talk about how Google is changing search forever thanks to Hummingbird. The session covered how we are seeing a shift from head terms, to the rewards that long tail searches and search personalisation now offer. Below you can find […]

The post Amsterdam Affiliate Conference > Hunting the Long Tail appeared first on Zazzle Media.

Our Head of Strategy James Perrott took to the stage at the Amsterdam Affiliate Conference to talk about how Google is changing search forever thanks to Hummingbird. The session covered how we are seeing a shift from head terms, to the rewards that long tail searches and search personalisation now offer.

Below you can find the slides and full transcript from James’ presentation at the event:

The Presentation Slides

The Transcript

Historically, all you’d need to do is create a piece of content or even point links at a commercial page for it to rank. This meant it was a case of who could build the most links, not who provided the best user experience and content.

Vanity keywords was the sole focus of a lot of online businesses due to the instant search volume they are associated with. Also from a vanity perspective, brands wanted, and still want, to rank for the most competitive terms in their niche. Long tail wasn’t a ‘thing’ until recently.

Create a page that targeted a vanity keyword and use old unethical and unnatural link building methods and you would see your page rank well for highly competitive keywords. There was no reward for simply having great content.

But, Google got better. Websites that had used these unethical methods got caught out and businesses/websites suffered massively as a result. A large scale clean up operation would be required.

How did Google get better at catching these methods? Google Penguin. Penguin looks at the legitimacy of a link and deems it to be either natural or unnatural. If you’re entire link profile is based on unnatural links, you’ll be impacted. Penguin does not refresh regularly, which makes recovery hard.

But… this is a whole different topic. We’re specifically looking at content and the algorithms important for this is Panda, including their manual actions.

Example 1: Interflora

A manual Panda action from Google impacted them for the use of advertorials on mass scale. Incentivising newspapers and bloggers to take part in a review prior to Mother’s Day was deemed unnatural by Google and impacted them significantly. They overcame this quickly due to it being a manual action and removing the content.

Example 2: eBay

eBay mass launched a significant number of /bhp/ pages that were created to drive a better user experience for popular products. The problem; no content was on the page and the structure was identical but on the scale of hundreds of thousands. Due to the exact same structure and no copy, a manual action was applied and the impact was said to be around $200 million. Our job? To identify those pages penalised and help create content to aid their recovery and drive that better user experience they were seeking.

Hummingbird has completely changed how content is measured and rewarded by Google due to the shift in how users search. Conversational search has significantly increased due to mobile usage and in turn user metrics such as bounce rate, time on site, pages per visit etc are suddenly all crucial metrics.

So how is it now?

Google has changed how it sees queries, they’re broken into two elements; the implicit search and explicit search. Explicit search is the actual search query and implicit is the data Google has collated about you – you’re on your iPhone, in London and are 32 for example.

Because of this mass shift in the algorithm, long tail keyword opportunity holds MASSIVE potential.

This graph shows how search queries are shifting away from just vanity terms into long tail and the importance of creating a content strategy to capture this.

The initial reaction was for people to mass create ‘how-to’ content due to the long tail search opportunity. Google has quickly quashed this with a specific update to cull the amount of thin how-to content on the web. Only good content is rewarded.

Everyone has micromoments. A micromoment is a moment of need when a search is required to answer your problem, and quickly.

A few examples:

– I-want-to-know
– I-want-to-go
– I-want-to-do
– I-want-to-buy

Micromoments have surged in the last year especially due to the usage of smartphones increasing exponentially.

This increase has seen Google react with releasing a mobile specific algorithm and penalising websites who deliver a poor user experience. Having small font, links too close together etc are a few of the performance indicators it uses to determine whether or not a website is mobile-friendly. There is talk of a entirely separate mobile index being created, but the resource investment to see this through is massive and will take time, and may not happen at all.

Due to the increase in smartphone usage and the average Joe becoming much more tech savvy, the demand for relevance is high. If a user does not find what they’re after instantly, they will look elsewhere. We are that impatient now due to the access we have.

If you capture this traffic when demand for relevance is high and patience is low, you will attract the right type of audience/customers. A study by Microsoft has shown that the average attention span has gone down from 12 to 8 seconds since 2000, this is how demanding we have now become.

Another micromoment is in-the-moment, we use our phones for purchase decisions, unexpected problems, the pursuit of big goals in small moments (such as saving, using a mortgage calculator etc) and in routine moments (such as for seeking different hairstyles whilst doing your hair each morning etc).

This information discovery largely sits between the ages of 18-34.

There are even more micromoments to consider for your users:

– is-it-worth-it
– show-me-how
– time-for-a-new-one

So, how do we ensure we capture these micromoments for your users/audience?

We have a tool called SCOT which measures functional content (on-page) to ensure it’s delivering what Google wants in order to perform well. Here are a few examples of how it measures’s funciontal content. This looks at vanity and long tail and shows us how well and how bad a piece of content is optimised for a particular keyword.

SCOT shows us that the better optimised a page is between 80-100, the better the average ranking. This is not a coincidence and it allows us to instantly identify good and poor performing pages to focus our attention.

Roadmap is another tool we use to continually check on ranking signals across 100,000 keywords in fiercely competitive niches.

The creation of personas through data insight is one of the first stages to identify who you’re actually creating content for.

Social data is awesome for this. I’m going to run through an example that we’ve done recently on GoDaddy’s social audience.

After looking at the audience’s gender, age, bio, work, hobbies, relationship status and other likes, we’re able to create four personas which accurately represent the GoDaddy audience.

From this, we create a moments map for each individual. This includes all of the micromoments I mentioned previously. What moments are your users going to go through and what will they be searching for, map this out and you will be there for your existing and new customers.

Mapping the moments and personas is one piece, then follow this up with manual and keyword research. Look for existing search queries that are popular and a Google Answerbox returns for – more on this later.

Let’s run through how a typical user journey looks today. For example, recently I wanted a new TV.

The first moment I go to is the is-it-worth-it and i-want-to-know moment when searching for the latest technology – 4K.

We can see that for the search ‘what is 4K TV?’ a Google Answerbox returns. This takes click throughs away from the first search result and it’s not the first article to organically rank for this keyword… odd?

You’re probably thinking – how do I do this?

Google uses human manual reviewers to ensure the best content returns in these answer boxes, otherwise it wouldn’t be informative, which is Google’s thought process behind the introduction of these.

What does it look at? Does the title of the content correlate with the user’s search? Is the content structured well with heading tags that answer more questions on the same topic?

We can see that Which have done that perfectly. The h1 tag matches the question and the first paragraph answers the question succinctly. This is what’s included in the answer box.

I then decide that 4K technology is worth it and search for “4K TVs”.

This Curry’s result returns and does not try to instantly sell me a 4K television, it educates me even more with the option to see their products as a small call to action at the bottom. Brilliant.

I’m convinced, I-want-to-buy a 4K television.

I search for “Samsung 4K TV” as I’m a bit of a Samsung fan in regards to electrical equipment. I found this brilliant article on tech radar and more importantly, a TV within budget and it’s Samsung!

I then specifically search for this model and Richer Sounds returns with an insane amount of offers. All are great offers and the price matches competitors.

Purchase made.

You’d think that as a brand, the journey ends. It doesn’t.

There are plenty of i-want-to-do moments with my new TV. I want to connect my Macbook to the TV and again, an answer box returns.

If you identify these moments at the beginning of your content strategy and follow the right content structure, you have a great chance of a) being included in the Google Answer Box, b) ranking well for this keyword and c) delivering a great user experience.

In conclusion, the Google search journey I performed has completely changed and you have to change with it in order to capture the opportunity.

  1. Have a mobile-friendly and technically healthy website
  2. Create personas
  3. Map their moments
  4. Create relevant, informative content that is mobile-friendly and structured correctly


The post Amsterdam Affiliate Conference > Hunting the Long Tail appeared first on Zazzle Media.

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10 Mistakes Your Traditional PR Company Is Making When It Comes To Digital Thu, 18 Jun 2015 07:34:30 +0000 Like most professions these days, the rise of digital is having an enormous effect on the world of PR. With swathes of data insight available to webmasters and marketers, gone are the days of counting column inches. These days clients who fork out for public relations are after metrics slightly more hi-tech…or at least they […]

The post 10 Mistakes Your Traditional PR Company Is Making When It Comes To Digital appeared first on Zazzle Media.

Like most professions these days, the rise of digital is having an enormous effect on the world of PR. With swathes of data insight available to webmasters and marketers, gone are the days of counting column inches. These days clients who fork out for public relations are after metrics slightly more hi-tech…or at least they should be.

Not only has the criteria changed, but the methodology has too. CRM tools, email tracking software and the chance of almost instant publication means that modern PR is a very different beast to the one operating not even a decade ago.

Practices that were commonplace then, are outdated now and whilst there is a lot to learn from PR’s past, there is also a lot to avoid, especially in their approach to digital.

With that in mind, let’s delve into some of the mistakes traditional PR companies are often making…

Lack of SEO knowledge

Most modern PR professionals will have a rudimentary understanding of SEO, but in the era of Google, rudimentary isn’t going to cut it.

Optimising press releases to boost rankings for specific keywords is commonplace nowadays, and if you’re not doing it, you should be.

Links are another point of contention. If you’re reading this, you know they’re important, but guess what, those PR agencies without that SEO knowledge do not.

Do you really want a campaign launched in 2015 without an emphasis on gaining at least a few quality links?

Over use of newswires

Upload your press release, click send and job done…right? Not quite. As the old saying goes, nothing worth doing is ever easy. Unfortunately, newswires facilitate content, which is the polar opposite of what Google is looking for.

Like anything, there are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part the newswire is to be used with caution. Not only will the content fail to reach a significant number of eyeballs, but the distribution could very well end up gaining you links from poor quality crawler sites.

Reporting content on crawler sites

Speaking of crawler sites… any of your content picked up by these sites isn’t worth reporting. Pretty obvious, but I have seen PR agencies include these sites in their reports in an attempt to bulk up the coverage numbers.

Any content placed on a major news outlet will most likely be scraped and re-pasted on these ‘spam’ sites in an attempt to gain a few clicks from unsuspecting web users.

That is not legitimate coverage. It adds no value. None. Don’t report on it. Stop it.

Always sticking to the same publications/sites

Targeting the nationals is great; every business likes to hear you’re approaching the big guns with their content. Unfortunately, these publications are bombarded with emails from dawn to dusk, and no matter how hard you try, sometimes your luck’s out.

That’s where audience research is key. Often a client will tell you a few industry publications they’d like to target on top of the usual array, but PR is, in part, a numbers game and the more options available to you the better.

With CRM tools, content analysis tools such as Buzzsumo and ranking tools including Majestic and SEMrush, the digital PR can accurately target which websites are read by a client’s customers and whether any coverage obtained on it will be beneficial to the campaign.

Not understanding the power of social media

With the exception of perhaps a limited understanding of Facebook and Twitter, traditional PR agencies often miss the opportunity to amplify the impact of coverage using social media.

Paid search opportunities are becoming more and more important to the success of big campaigns.

With Facebook’s algorithm now making it essentially a paid platform for businesses, a post on your wall will reach a max 10% of your audience…not exactly getting the message out there.

It is important therefore to know how to boost posts through Facebook advertising or use content promotion platforms such as Taboola or Outbrain to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible in the hope of getting that content to go viral.

Over reliance on print

Print media still carries something of a wow factor when presented to clients, I mean who doesn’t like seeing their company featured in a newspaper or magazine?

Unfortunately, the limitations of the format are substantial, and with many traditional PR agencies still pushing a print-over-digital mentality, your business’s exposure may very well be short lived, except for the odd clipping to stick on the office wall. It is vital to get that article published on the media’s website too to ensure the content has a much longer shelf life.

Failing to track progress

Column inches, circulation data and coverage compared to the cost of an advert. These are all practices that are still alive and well in the world of traditional PR, in fact selling these methods to a client is an art form in itself!

They are a way of trying to measure the immeasurable, I mean no one knows if the people reading the magazine have even glanced at your content, let alone read it.

Needless to say, with social shares, page views and referrals, the success of a placement is so much easier to track. There’s no need for estimates, the data is available to you through Google Analytics.

Failing to pinpoint what made the campaign a success

There’s no better feeling than a campaign gaining traction. You’ve pitched in the release to the press, it’s appeared on a few big sites and now the organic shares and articles commenting on your content are rolling in.

So, what was it about the campaign that made it such a success? Was it the idea, the timing, the contacts or a bit of everything?

Traditional PR agencies can only guess what the catalyst was, and usually opt to never investigate further.

Digital PR agencies on the other hand, have access to data during every part of a campaign, from conception, audience insight, to the angles used to pitch into the media.

Take this last step for example; this is where email-tracking software comes into its own. Using an add on such as Hubspot’s Sidekick, digital PR agencies can accurately report if a contact opened their email, at what time and how many times.

Not only this, but by sending emails with alternative titles, we can create a graph showing the success rate of each pitch and determine which approach is more effective.

Failing to spot what went wrong/not learning from past mistakes

Just as important as picking out what went right, is determining what could be improved upon.

This is especially difficult for the traditional PR, with no data to go on; offering reasons why, can often feel like a stab in the dark. Unfortunately, most of the time this means the campaign is marked down as a failure and all the work attributed to it a waste of time, but this is hardly ever the case.

You’d be amazed what a little tweaking to a campaigns strategy can do. Perhaps the pitch wasn’t worded correctly, maybe the target audience was wrong or maybe you launched it a few months too late?

With digital PR and it’s plethora of tools and data, every campaign can be scrutinised and with that lessons learned and acted upon to further future efforts.

Not evolving past the press release

With traditional PR you have one outlet, the press release. The news you want to pitch in to the media is displayed in a couple of pages of text, perhaps a few images. Hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it right?

Embracing the world of content marketing is what digital PR is all about. Don’t get me wrong, the press release still has a role to play, but thanks to these content marketing techniques we now have alternatives such as infographics, guest articles and interactive content to pitch into the media as well.

Receiving a piece of all-singing and all-dancing content can be much more effective than a page of Times New Roman.


After it’s all said and done, there is only one thing that matters to a client. Has interest in their business increased, and has this interest converted into something tangible?

This presents both clients and traditional PR agencies with a dilemma. If there is an increase, is this just a coincidence? As a business they need to be sure that their investments are worthwhile, and that’s where the data-informed approach of digital PR once again wins out.

Using a plethora of ranking tools such as Searchmetrics, SERPS and AHrefs, the modern digital PR agency can pinpoint exactly where traffic increases came from, and how the work its done was beneficial to the cause.

Getting your name out there is vital. Rising above the noise and standing out from the crowd is what every PR agency, whether traditional or digital strives to do.

Traditional PR has done great things in the past, but the media landscape is changing dramatically, and failing to move with it is a dangerous game.

Forwards ever backwards never.

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Growth Hacking – Why It’s Just Well Executed Marketing Thu, 11 Jun 2015 11:11:34 +0000 You may have come across the term ‘growth hacking’ amidst lots of speculation by marketers about what it actually entails. Marketing author, Muhammad Saleem, for example thinks it’s a load of bull, so to avoid any fisticuffs at dawn let’s just leave that buzzword out of things. Brand growth hacking is one of those catchy […]

The post Growth Hacking – Why It’s Just Well Executed Marketing appeared first on Zazzle Media.

You may have come across the term ‘growth hacking’ amidst lots of speculation by marketers about what it actually entails. Marketing author, Muhammad Saleem, for example thinks it’s a load of bull, so to avoid any fisticuffs at dawn let’s just leave that buzzword out of things.

Brand growth hacking is one of those catchy phrases thrown around in the industry but what many marketers don’t realise is that most of the tactics that come under it are ones they already utilise. When hacking growth you basically use everything at your disposal to your advantage in order to improve your chances of bringing your brand to life. It’s marketing 101, right?

However, sometimes it’s hard to escape the concept of ‘hacking’. We all love finding easier ways to do things (such as the Babymop, which is obviously an ingenious idea) so we’ll indulge you with three great, actionable tips on how to hack your brand to get you going:

Focus on your audience

You’ve heard it all before; people want to be inspired, educated or are simply seeking answers when online – as well as watching compilation videos of cats falling off things and guilty looking dogs.

However, one of easiest hacks for growth is simply paying close to attention to what your audience wants from you. Happy followers encourage more people to join your fan base. But first, do you actually know who your audience is?

Silly question, of course you do, you’ve done your homework with your Facebook Graph Search research and you’ve come up with some fun personas – it’s almost like playing a game of Sims, but without the ability to build a house and ruin everyone’s lives at the end of the process.

Once you know your personas and what platforms they use it’s time to bring your brand to life. Let’s start with using one of the most commonly utilised social media sites for businesses, since the dawn of time (well, since 2006): the Twitter machine.

‘But the audience is so niche on there,’ you cry. ‘How can I find my followers and have my voice heard amongst the teenagers taking pictures of their breakfast and uploading their videos of failed Kylie Jenner lip challenges?’

Stop worrying – and do watch some of those lip challenge videos because they are hilarious – focusing on your audience will encourage engagement, retweets and hey, new followers. It’s like the circle of life and at the end of it all you’ll be left with a mystical baboon holding your brand’s profile in the air and naming you as the new ruler of your industry sector on Twitter.

You know that taking advantage of emerging and existing platforms is a sure fire way of bringing your brand to life and by making it all really personal on Twitter you will reap the rewards. ASOS is a good example of a brand that’s got the right idea on the site. Exchanges like this with potential customers help greatly when it comes to bringing a brand to life and leading to eventual growth:

Take some time to respond to customer enquiry tweets and show that you’re not a faceless entity with your hand out for your consumer’s money. The more you tweet and interact the bigger the potential growth. Don’t forget to sweeten the deal with competitions and giveaways (that people obviously have to retweet about to enter).

So, while that’s a good starting point, it could be something you’re doing already but not really investing in. Take some time to see what people are saying about you, what they want to talk to you about and what gets shared the most.

You also need to be continuously posting content your audience is going to actively engage with. BlackMilk is an excellent example of a brand that does just this and only really posts statuses on Facebook and Instagram because it knows that’s where its fan base usually hangs out.

The brand’s seemingly simple use of interesting captions on top of great imagery (usually sent in by customers) pulls in its audience. I like to imagine the owners simply sitting back after posting, wearing their (very comfortable) skin-tight leggings while the comment feed fills up with happy responses.

According to Facebook Graph Search, people who like BlackMilk also like Dr Martens, Drop Dead Clothing, DC Snowboarding and bands with names like Skinny Puppy, which tells you a lot about the type of person buying their products and gives them scope to create relevant content. growth hacking facebook The brand has got to know its audience over time and has built up almost a cult following of people, desperate to get their hands on some of its nylon goodies. It refers to its customers as Sharkies (because when a sale hits they’re on it like a shark who smells blood) and that you ‘nom’ their products instead of purchasing them. Hey, if it works it works, you just need to go and find your niche too. Do some snooping using the Facebook search bar, have a look at what successful competitors have been up to and discover what makes their followers engage.

So how do I ‘hack’ my audience?

You should be taking advantage of the latest platforms and even if you download them and have no idea to use them, don’t hastily delete them off your iPad. Take some time to learn and reap the rewards.

Instagram is quickly advancing on Twitter and Facebook when it comes to boosting a brand; the visual app allows brands to give their followers a ‘behind the scenes’ look into what they get up to – people just love to feel involved and see the ins and outs of things – and so the site is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with, in the world of social media.

Snapchat is another example that could help bring your brand to life visually, as it allows you to regularly send image updates to followers who are interested in what you get up to. Periscope is another rising star, purchased by Twitter, it works as a live stream video broadcast and is a great tool for those brands who hold events or are out and about a lot and want to share what they’re up to in that moment.

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We know what you’re thinking; email marketing is the root of all evil. It’s the PPI call of the marketing world, the guy who knocks on your door at eight in the morning on a Saturday to sell you double glazing, it’s the people in rain macs, who stand in the middle of the high street in your town centre and practically tackle you to discuss their latest offer.

But email marketing is a tradition passed down throughout the industry through the ages and one you shouldn’t be retiring yet – no matter what other people say. There are some simply things you should (and shouldn’t) be doing to ensure it works for you, because good businesses get into some bad routines when it comes to sending out emails.

So how do I ‘hack’ my email marketing?

The first step is to stop sending out promotions every single minute of the day. The more emails you send the more likely it is that people will swiftly hit the unfollow button (unless you now have a daily routine of simply deleting the 50 emails that enter your inbox like some of us.)

If you know your audience on social media you will also know when they are most active, and while it might be tempting to send your emails out for when they first check their phone in the morning remember everyone else is doing the same, so perhaps wait until lunchtime when they ignore their colleagues and sit looking at their smartphone, while picking at a sad tuna salad.

For your email marketing to work you also need good content and no one will ever read it if you don’t get your subject line right – strangely, as soon as most people read the word discount in the title they’ll delete it because they instantly know you’re selling something. Here are some quick examples of the type of email many of us regularly discover in our inbox:

Inbox promotional emails 1

Sure, we can see what some of these companies are trying to do; Grazia are weighing in with the classic temptation tactic, Twinings are offering something special for a limited time and Depop are being cryptic. But do we actually want to read any of these? Nope.

For all we know, these emails might have great content but their subject line lets them down. Here’s an example of a great email from a company called Firebox, sent when a purchase has been made:


Firebox email

Now that’s how you do a transaction email.

However, once you subscribe to the company’s marketing you might receive promotional emails, with subject lines like this:

That subject line probably means absolutely nothing to you and because you don’t care about it, into the bin it will go with the rest of them. The trick to hacking your email marketing is to focus on what people see first, then make the content inside informative, interesting and even personal.

Avoid discount promotions in the subject line, limited time only offers and bank holiday promos, send out emails with content your audience wants to receive and then slip your promotions in there. Once the receiver enjoys receiving your content and continues to open your emails, your brand will grow as a result from all those click throughs to your site.

Go viral

Okay, this ‘hack’ is a little harder but Luke Lewis, Editor of Buzzfeed UK, has some sound tips on how to take advantage of anything going viral out there (you can also check out our very own Adam Brown’s post on the subject).

Luke spoke earlier this year, at a Guardian Masterclass event, and as the Editor of Buzzfeed he knows all about making content work for you and while the Buzzfeed brand works simply as a platform for news stories (and those funny lists that help with procrastination) it is now synonymous with entertainment.

First things first though, Lewis recommends that you ensure your digital presence can be easily viewed both on desktop and mobile. “There is a shift in viewing posts from web traffic to mobile apps – it is quickly becoming the new way of consuming content,” he said. “People will read a lengthy article on their smartphone if it’s good enough.”

You also need to be in the loop constantly and looking for news or a post that’s making the rounds that you can jump onto and take advantage of. A good example of this is that frustrating black and blue (white and gold) dress that got everyone talking, back in February.

Overnight the Internet exploded in debate – more so than when we witnessed Kim Kardashian naked and covered in baby oil, balancing a champagne glass on her rear – over the colour of a dress. The media took to the street asking bemused random passers by, people lost friends on Facebook because they disagreed and your eyes eventually deceived you when you discovered you could actually see it in both colour variations.

Buzzfeed hopped on the dress bandwagon but they did a little more with it, than just share the image and ask the question. They brought in experts, an associate professor of psychology and a cognitive neuroscientist, to explain to people why they might be seeing the dress in different colours. As a result that post has been viewed nearly three million times – and we just gave them a few more hits with that link above.

“We had to keep a close eye on the site to stop it crashing,” Luke told the masterclass attendees. “That black and blue dress is one of our most popular posts ever.”

However, Buzzfeed doesn’t feature advertising on its site (only sponsored posts) and so those millions of hits didn’t actually result in any money for the brand. One masterclass attendee – presumably with pound signs for pupils, we didn’t get that close – asked why the site bothers if they aren’t going to see any revenue from their post.

“It’s simply about exploiting live events as they happen,” Luke responded. So, when people read that post they might have also shared it, before noticing another one they fancy looking at on the top bar. This might then send them to an article that does bring in money, boosting the brand’s follower growth and creating a nice trail of click throughs.

So how should I ‘hack’ into viral content?

First, take a look at your site for your on page content. Is it easily viewable on a mobile platform? If not, work on that. Luke also noted that a lot of the site’s posts are now being shared via Whatsapp and so they have incorporated a share button for the app, confirming that utilising mobile devices is the way forward when it comes to content. Ensuring your site is responsive could mean a complete website rebuild or incorporating an alternative mobile view into an existing site. Just ensure the transition of your website from desktop to smartphone is smooth and easy.

Then you can take advantage by creating blogposts, sending out tweets and doing live commentary or promotions based on events that are dominating your industry or the wider Internet. These are some great sites to keep an eye on:

Imgur – this is the place where viral images are born.

Vine – and this is the place where viral 7-second videos are born.

Buzzsumo – this site is great when you’re looking for content that’s shareable in your industry.

Tumblr – this is where the blue and black dress originated, so it must be good for sourcing viral content to piggyback on.

Buzzfeed – it might be a day or so old but it will have gained real momentum once reaching Buzzfeed.

Twitter – for real time potential viral content keep an eye on what’s being said on trending hashtags.

Reddit – this is the birthplace for all viral content and threads, up voting pushes up the popular content and Internet memes for you to enjoy and use in your marketing.

What’s Trending – this is a site that gathers all the media that’s currently trending and serves it up in a nice neat blog format.

To conclude, what you need to do to hack your growth and boost your brand isn’t breaking news. We’ve been doing these things for a while. We all know we need Twitter accounts for business but do we really think about what we are going to post on them? We all use email marketing but do we think creatively about the subject line? We all know that we need to take advantage of events going on in our industry but do we plan ahead and actually utilise them? Focus on these things and you’ll see real growth in the future.

The post Growth Hacking – Why It’s Just Well Executed Marketing appeared first on Zazzle Media.

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8 Tips for Optimising Your Website for Mobile Fri, 05 Jun 2015 11:09:10 +0000 Google’s Mobile Friendly Update hasn’t changed search engine results dramatically. That’s a fact, and even Search Engine Land agreed. In reality, we didn’t see a huge difference before and after the mobile update like we observed with the Panda and Penguin ranking algorithms. Possibly, Google wants to give us some extra time to make our […]

The post 8 Tips for Optimising Your Website for Mobile appeared first on Zazzle Media.

Google’s Mobile Friendly Update hasn’t changed search engine results dramatically. That’s a fact, and even Search Engine Land agreed.

In reality, we didn’t see a huge difference before and after the mobile update like we observed with the Panda and Penguin ranking algorithms.

Possibly, Google wants to give us some extra time to make our website mobile-friendly, or perhaps its developers just weren’t ready to roll out a full update and are still tweaking their code!  Whatever the case may be, we have extra time to optimise our websites for mobile properly.

1. Check your website’s appearance on different mobile devices

The simplest way to check how your website will appear on mobile devices is to open it on your smartphone. But this quick test won’t tell you whether or not it will perform the same on other smartphones.

The Cybercrab tool doesn’t provide a huge variety of mobile devices for testing, but it is free.


Mobiletest works the same as Cybercrab and operates on a range of mobile devices, such as iPhone5, Nokia Lumia, Samsung Galaxy and a few others.

Resizer is another free solution. Compared to Cybercrab and Mobiletest, it gives you a few more options to play with your website’s appearance to see how it looks on different devices.

2. Successfully pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool

Using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool is the easiest way to calculate your webpage’s mobile optimisation score on the fly. Unfortunately this Google tool doesn’t provide a lot of details concerning why your page is performing poorly on mobile devices. However, it does show, in less than one minute, if your website requires changes right away or if you can wait.

Google Mobile Friendly Test

3. Figure out whether your website’s pages have a properly developed code

There are a plenty of technical issues that can negatively impact your webpage’s mobile-friendliness. Among those that should definitely be listed are the following errors:

  • Using inappropriate cashing controls for dynamic and static page components
  • Putting absolute dimensions and positions in CSS directives
  • Not including JavaScript code in the <head> tag
  • Skipping appropriate Etag headers
  • Using Inline JavaScript instead of collecting JavaScript into a single minified file
  • Implementing pop-ups, frames, framesets or iFrames
  • Not minimising the number of DOM elements
  • Not removing page redirects

To view a full list of issues, I highly recommend using this lovely tool.

Mobi Ready

4. Be careful with setting up separate URL’s for a website’s mobile version

If you chose a separate URL to serve your mobile-optimised content, then you must be sure you implemented everything properly.

In the separated URL scheme, the main pitfall appears when you don’t signal the relationship between mobile and desktop URLs by using tag rel=”canonical” and rel=”alternate” elements.

If you’d love to learn more please, take a look at this Google Guide.

5. Say no to plugins

Desktop websites sometimes use plugins including Flash, Silverlight and Java.

However, it’s absolutely unacceptable to use such plugins for mobile websites, because mobile devices don’t support them.

6. Server response time is reduced to under 200ms

If your website needs more than 200ms to load its HTML for any page, then it’s time to solve the problem. If your website has thousands or even millions of pages, then you should definitely use special tools to monitor it and alert you about any issues related to slow website performance.

To measure your website’s performance speed at-a-glance, I highly using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

Speed Insights

7. Focus on user-experience problems

Google heavily influences our websites’ performance. That’s why we spend most of our time tweaking our websites according to Google guides. But do you spend the same amount of time improving your website’s users experience?

If the answer is no, then it’s the right time to reconsider your strategy. You can’t make your mobile users happy without spending enough time on delivering a user-friendly mobile interface. On your site’s mobile version, you need to be sure that all buttons are the right size, as well as other taping targets. The same rules apply to your text, which must be easily readable (legible) even on the smallest screens.

You can check your homepage or any other page for user experience issues with the help of Feedthebot tool.

8. Track your mobile and desktop rankings separately

If you still don’t track your mobile rankings, then there’s no way to understand whether your website was hit by the Google Mobile Update or not. You can find a couple of tools on the market that will allow you to set up a tracking campaign for mobile devices.

Among those tools that should be named are SEMrush’s Position Tracking Tool, Advanced Web Ranking,, and

The post 8 Tips for Optimising Your Website for Mobile appeared first on Zazzle Media.

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10 Simple Social Tools you may not have heard of Mon, 01 Jun 2015 10:31:55 +0000 Every digital marketer knows the potential social media holds for content promotion. What isn’t talked about, as much, is the fierce competition for the rewards a successful social media promotion can bring. It’s Commodus level gladiator stuff. To get the best results you need to be the best. But even the best need a little […]

The post 10 Simple Social Tools you may not have heard of appeared first on Zazzle Media.

Every digital marketer knows the potential social media holds for content promotion. What isn’t talked about, as much, is the fierce competition for the rewards a successful social media promotion can bring. It’s Commodus level gladiator stuff.

To get the best results you need to be the best. But even the best need a little help. So we’ve highlighted these ten essential tools to help you make the most of your social campaigns.

1. Ad Espresso

Facebook remains an incredible platform to promote your content. The best way to maximise the potential of your Facebook advertising efforts is to test a number of different visuals, ad sets and targeting.The problem with that is the set-up time. To keep creating what is essentially the same ad with a minutiae difference can be very laborious. Ad Espresso takes this side of social promotion out of the equation.

Its system allows you to create thousands of variants of your Facebook ads and easily test all the versions across your target audiences. It also saves your work and preferences so they can be reused for future campaigns.

All this coupled with its analytics hub and optimisation systems make this tool very powerful and very useful to any social promoter.

2. Topsy

No matter how good your content, if it’s not what people want to consume or talk about it’s going to tank. So how do you know what’s on everyone’s timelines? Well, Topsy is a social media tool that allows you to find out exactly that.You search by specific keywords and it generates trending and popular content from all over the web. This is incredibly useful in the initial stages of creating content that you intend to promote.

3. Photoshop

Obviously Photoshop is not a niche tool and we expect the majority of people reading this will not only have heard of it but also used it in some way or another. However, we can’t stress enough how important an image manipulation programme can be for your social promotion efforts.Not only because there are recommended image sizes for each social platform but for the actual editing of the visuals. Whether that be adding text to create mini infographic snippets or fully-fledged edited masterpieces.

Another benefit is that once you get your head around the system it is simple to use. So, if you’re constrained by time and want to get your content out ASAP, you don’t have to bother a designer and can get on with it yourself.

4. Pixabay

When social promoting, an often “own goal” is using images that you don’t own or have permission to use. Hence finding high quality free images is a difficult task. So we would recommend using a site such as Pixabay that has more than 380,000 free photos, vectors and art illustrations available to download and use.For a much wider and larger database of images to use we recommend Shutterstock, but you must be a paid member to download these images.

5. Canva

Sticking with the photo theme, Canva is an online design centre with templates and tools that will help create the perfect social-ready designs.Canva’s mission statement is to make design simple for everyone. It says it takes care of the boring bits so you can spend more time creating. This includes a huge database of different features you can add to your designs including more than 1,000,000 fonts.

If you’re not confident with Photoshop or want a cheaper alternative, this is the one for you.

6. Hootsuite

If you’re using multiple channels to distribute your content you’re going to need to manage them all effectively and efficiently. If you use each platform from its dedicated site it is easy to forget or overlook one especially if your promotion is heavily cross-platform.Now there are plenty of social media management tools out there but Hootsuite is one of the market leaders and allows you to focus your efforts when managing a project, working with clients or scaling your organisation.

Moreover, it also has an impressive analytics suite that allows you to see and consume your campaign’s data so you can create comprehensive reports to assist with future promotions.

7. PR Newswire

Social media promotions can often be taken to the next level with a successful PR campaign to support it. This means that people from different, and sometimes larger, communities can engage with your content by letting influencers give it coverage.PR Newswire is the largest and most detailed news and content distribution network in the world. It allows you to send press releases to its network of more than 200,000 media outlets and 8,000 websites.

This kind of coverage can be invaluable if you want a more rounded promotion effort. The downside is that this coverage comes at a price, as you will have to be a member to submit. However, if you are planning on multiple campaigns throughout the year, adding this into your budgeting could prove to be a shrewd decision.

8. GaggleAMP

GaggleAMP allows companies to widely distribute their content and messages by creating a network of people that share, tweet and post-company related messages and content.It is increasingly coming to organisations’ attention that their workforce is an untapped resource in terms of social promotion. More often than not, and especially in the digital marketing space, a company’s employees will be in a social community relating to the content that company is producing. So, by getting them to share can give it a real boost in the initial stages of promotion.

Here at Zazzle we have the “blog post” alert, which will have gone off approximately two minutes after this was uploaded, where we just let everyone know a new post has gone live. But if your company is more spread out or larger, then GaggleAMP is the solution.

9. PowToon

Thanks to the increasing popularity of Vine and YouTube, video content is as important as ever on social media. However, video production can be tricky and expensive to organise.PowToon offers a solution. It lets you create animated videos you can use on a wide range of platforms including social. You can sign up for free and it offers plenty of handy how-to tutorials to help you when creating your masterpiece. Good luck, Kubrick!

10. Taboola

Content distribution sites, such as Taboola, have become increasingly popular with people who have content to share and they can be brilliant in assisting social promotion campaigns.By spreading your content onto influencer pages you are increasing the numbers of people who will digest, connect with and potentially share it. The latter is where the value in including sites such as Taboola into your promotion strategy lies.

Achieving these social shares from people not necessarily in your community will create another separate social buzz independent from the one you have created from your channels.

There We Have It!

So there are our ten tools to help you get ahead in the competitive coliseum that is social media. What must be remembered is that different campaigns may require different tools. To know what to use for what campaign will take multiple testing efforts and trials. Good luck, gladiator.

The post 10 Simple Social Tools you may not have heard of appeared first on Zazzle Media.

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Content Marketing Masters Berlin 2015 > Using Data to Create Unbeatable Content Marketing Campaigns Thu, 28 May 2015 13:36:56 +0000 Our Head of Search & Data recently spoke at the Content Marketing Masters over in Berlin, Germany. We’ve compiled his presentation along with his transcript to help give you a better understanding of how to use data to create unbeatable content marketing campaigns. A must read if you’re trying to take your digital marketing to […]

The post Content Marketing Masters Berlin 2015 > Using Data to Create Unbeatable Content Marketing Campaigns appeared first on Zazzle Media.

Our Head of Search & Data recently spoke at the Content Marketing Masters over in Berlin, Germany. We’ve compiled his presentation along with his transcript to help give you a better understanding of how to use data to create unbeatable content marketing campaigns. A must read if you’re trying to take your digital marketing to the next level.

The Slides


The Transcript

Hey guys!

To give you a bit of background about myself; my name is James Perrott and I’m the Head of Strategy at Zazzle Media. This is a wide ranging role, but long story cut short, I use data to create informed strategies that get our clients to where they need to be – whether that is through social, content, SEO, digital PR or anything else!

Content marketing, that’s why we’re all here. Everyone is still doing content marketing, even though a lot of the traditional ways have been done to death.

So… why should you still do it?

The answer is simple, you need to be visible to your customers and potential customers when they need you most.

Everyone has those “I-WANT-TO-BUY or “I-WANT-TO-DO” moments when they jump on the Internet to find out more information about something they want to purchase, take part in or learn how to do about.

Both of those “I-WANT-TO” moments are ‘moments of need’ when a user, with no brand affinity, is looking for informative content to help them make a decision.

For example – here are some of the top home-related how-to searches:

‘How to unclog a toilet’.

We’ve all been there, when the toilet won’t flush and we’re need advice from someone else on the Internet who has been there. Be there for that person in this time of need and you are successfully nailing content marketing!

Here is what returns for that exact search now.

As you can see, Google answer box is returning for it, but the piece of content is not in the top 3 positions of Google. The way this is being done at present is through manual input. Quality reviewers at Google are manually reviewing the content on page one for the most informative content that follows a certain structure, and most importantly, answers the question.

As shown by Google consumer data, you can see that 91% of smartphone users (everyone) turn to their smartphone for ideas while doing a given task – be there when they’re doing this! These stats alone show you how important content marketing is; it does work.

The main difference between a good and bad campaign? A good campaign gains positive brand affinity, high number of social shares, and a high number of links and referring domains.

The problem facing us now is that because brands want all of those things at low cost and on an ever more occurring basis, blindly created content marketing campaigns without any data insight are spamming the web. This results in bad content marketing campaigns that don’t work, nor do they attract any of the positive outcomes that make a good campaign, good!

There are a few tough questions that you need to ask yourself, or the agency doing this on your behalf, before a campaign can be executed:

  • What is the content?
  • How is it helping your audience/potential new customers?
  • Be original, or make an already existing piece different or much better
  • Is it a good time to release? Seasonality, other priorities etc.
  • Ensure it’s aligned to brand guidelines; style/voice etc.
  • How good is it?
  • Are there any barriers? What are you trying to get your audience to do? Do you have anything preventing them from doing exactly that? Make it easy!

Another thing that is vital to define is what success looks like before measurement of a content marketing campaign. This has to be done at brief stage to ensure that the piece will deliver.

Good content marketing campaigns are fuelled by data and answering those difficult questions; there is no guesswork in good content marketing campaigns. You should not be entering the campaign blind.

To ensure this success, harness data! Doing this will unlock the potential of your campaign and allow it to succeed. The biggest fear is ‘big data’ and how scary that is… it’s not.

Data completely removes the guesswork and informs all of the stages within the process required to turn a good idea into reality. Those stages are:

  1. What platform are you creating content for? Mobile? Desktop? Wrong! It has to be responsive.
  2. Who are your audience? What platform are they using to digest content?
  3. The content creation phase
  4. The content distribution phase

Stage 1 – who are your audience and how are they consuming content?

To determine this, there’s an infinite amount of data on your doorstep. It’s about where to look, instead of trying to mine data, that isn’t there to be mined.

Google Analytics is your first stop. The quite new feature Affinity Categories is a great first resort, find this by going to Audience > Interests > Affinity Categories. This area shows how your audience breaks down into type – for example music lovers, TV lovers, Technophiles, News Junkies, and Gamers etc. This then allows you to drill down into the audience type and see which convert the most and who spends the most money with you – this is invaluable.

Understand the current device usage on your website by looking at the split between mobile and desktop in your audience. This will instantly resonate and highlight how your audience is viewing your website. To go even more granular, look at current content that your producing and do this split on that URL – this shows you how users are digesting specific content.

The way users are digesting information online is changing and, as a direct result, the power of mobile in content marketing has become huge. You need to create content in a mobile-friendly way to ensure all your audience are able to consume it.

Because mobile usage is massively up, this results in there being more mobile devices than humans on the planet. This is a powerful stat and the fact that on average, every human now possesses 3 devices means you have to consider an average of ~3 devices when creating content – not just desktop or one specific mobile.

To highlight the importance of mobile, Google has just recently released a mobile specific algorithm. I recently took part in a SEMrush webinar about the update dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by the general news. However, the clear outcome is that it didn’t impact too many websites due to Google’s prior announcement about the impending update.

We believe Google publically announced this because having a mobile friendly website is not a way of manipulating the search engine. A website does not gain much from having a mobile friendly site; it being a small ranking signal has minimal impact on rankings. However, Panda and Penguin is targeting specific websites that are trying to manipulate Google’s rankings and webmaster quality guidelines. Between the time of Google announcing the update and it actually releasing the update, a huge volume of websites became mobile-friendly. We had historic clients contacting us about the update, just due to the amount of publicity this particular received.

Mobile usage for content consumption is increasing. A lot of research is done via mobile, whilst on-the-go, but the conversion on a website is done in a calmer environment and more likely on a desktop device.

‘Think with Google’ allows you to see how important organic search is, as an influencer for people looking to buy a product. The further along the scale to the right, the closer to the ‘last interaction’ it is. With this tool, you’re able to put in a set of pre-selected industries, sizes and regions to see how important it is for your industry.

The next set of free data to look into is Google Search Console (webmaster tools), recently renamed Google Search Console. Its search analytics report has been updated and it provides a great dataset to see queries, impressions, landing page metrics and data comparison. This is normally backdated 2-3 days and is only available up to 90 days, so it’s not 100% fresh, but it’s a gold mine of free data.

We have now determined how your audience consumes content, but we have to determine who your audience is also…

Facebook’s data is best and you’re able to use your own social dataset, if your audience is large enough. If not, you’re able to use a large competitor. To give you an example of what you’re able to pull from Facebook insights, we’re able to see how your social audience breaks down in regards to gender, age, interests, their relationship status, place of work, location, other pages they like and how active they are on Facebook and online in general by seeing how many pages they like a week. This data is invaluable in your content creation as it really breaks down your audience and allows you to create accurate personas for both creation and distribution.

The persona creation process is important to follow to ensure your content is always aligned to your audience.

This is Zazzle’s persona creation process and some example personas to show you the detail that you’re able to extract from these various sources. They have been so accurate before that clients have accused us of seeing their own personas. That’s just how good this data is!

For a more granular approach, or for clients that you aren’t able to collate data for, a UK website called YouGov has a persona creation tool that gives some broad information about customers of brands.

This persona creation then allows you to get an understanding of the audience that is currently on your website (by your own data) and who your potential audience is by looking at larger brands’ Facebook data. This then gives you the power to create human-interest angles for each of these personas.

By developing these human-interest angles for your identified personas, this means you shouldn’t be following the crowd by regurgitating already over used ideas.

Stage 2 – What is your content going to be?

It’s pivotal to choose the right type of content for your audience. If this piece of research isn’t done, the type of content you create could not be relevant to what your audience digests and means that your content marketing will fail. The idea becomes redundant at this stage.

There are a whole host of different content types for you to choose from. This graph shows the ‘Delaney quartz curve’, which suggests that successful content length ranges between 500 and 800 words. However in digital this is different, you need to ensure you create a mixture of content lengths to create ‘content flow’ and pace, therefore you should also include a variation of short form snappy content and longer form content too (1,000 words plus).

The first one we’re going to discuss is long form content, a content type that has risen from the depths of journalism coming over to digital…

Useful guides are always a strong content type and one that should be factored into any content marketing campaign and content strategy in general. This can be an evergreen campaign, one that you continually add too. These guides really help those users that are in that “I-WANT-TO-DO” or “I-WANT-TO-BUY” frame of mind.

How-to content has been done to death recently and this is very annoying as it is perfect in helping those people in need of information. The problem with the how-to search queries is the amount of people looking for it, it’s easy long tail traffic to pick up with the right piece of content. Because of this exploitation, Google has recently released an update, which targeted a lot of thin and not very useful how-to content. This has breathed some fresh air into this type of content as good how-to guides are now being rewarded.

Infographics…. I have read a few articles on why ‘infographics are dead’ and I completely disagree. If the topic is relevant and the data is interesting enough to capture the eyeballs of your potential audience, an infographic will still succeed. They used to be seen as an easy win for links, but this has changed and now they’re a form of useful content and one that will attract links if the distribution is done correctly. People will not embed your infographics, nor will they link to them if they’re in irrelevant places.

Interactive content is the type of content that has the most legs in regards to virality. There are a whole host of great examples online for this type of content and I highly recommend looking at the Trainline festival finder, the vinyl and ipod comparison and the history of music in relation to travel. They are all brilliant examples and executed in different ways, but all have a common theme – they’re interactive. However, this type of content requires a larger amount of investment and research – each stage of this process, which I’m running you through has to be absolutely nailed for it to succeed. But, if it does, the rewards are normally much larger.

Interacting with your audience directly through an innovative quiz or challenge is a way of gaining high numbers of instant responses and interactions, especially with a prize up for grabs. This also reduces the amount of man-hours you have to invest in the campaign, as the majority of content production is done by the people taking part. If you gather the right type of people, a challenge or quiz has the potential to reap high rewards for minimal investment and effort. With the explosion of vloggers and YouTube, it is definitely worth engaging with this audience with their large communities, as the opportunities are endless.

Functional content . . . .above the line topics and calculators form a large part of this. Topics such as ‘mortgage calculator’ are huge areas online that can be targeted through content marketing campaigns.

My personal favorite; leveraging your brand identity. The upcoming film, Entourage, is due to come out this summer and the renowned character from the film Ari Golf, played by Jeremy Piven, was used by the film production company to attend interviews – genius. Lots of noise was created around the film as a direct result because of Ari Gold’s very ‘honest’ character.

There are so many different content types now that choosing the right one is important for any campaign to succeed.

Choosing the right one is easy…

If you are already executing content marketing campaigns, measure the success and failure of current campaigns. This will give you an instant gauge of what does and what doesn’t work with your audience. This can be easily assessed via Google Analytics by looking at important user experience metrics such as; average time on page, bounce rates and if the users clicked through to other areas of the website after visiting your content.

We’ve all had that moment when we’ve seen a competitor’s piece of content go live and gone, “that’s brilliant”, or “I wish I had thought of that!” Don’t just develop a huge amount of jealousy, look at the different types of content that are perceived to have done well from both a brand affinity perspective and link/social metrics perspective.

Ahrefs is a brilliant tool and it has recently released a lot of updates specifically designed to look at content measurement. One new tool it released is called ‘content explorer’ and allows you to type in a keyword you’re trying to rank for through your content marketing and see what already exists; whether that be a functional bit of content on a static page, an infographic, a homepage, a piece of interactive content etc. It’s really useful to highlight what is already out there and what your competition looks like.

Ahref’s other tool allows us to look directly at a competitor’s website and pull their best pieces of content, or content marketing. It decides what the best piece of content is through looking at social sharing statistics and how many links that piece of content has acquired. This is VERY useful as it gives you a good foundation to measure their content.

SEMrush has so many great uses and one of its best, in regards to content measurement, is its organic rankings area. You are able to quickly see what keywords any website ranks in the top 20 positions in Google for. The tool pulls through search volume and the associated click-through rate percentage for the position it is in the SERPs. You are then presented with some statistics for a websites traffic % through specific keywords.

How we use this for content is to export the ranking data, or simply filter the results within SEMrush to only show rankings that reside within the content area of the website. These typical areas are /blog and /news for example. However, keep your eyes open for pieces of content that a website may have sat at the root domain to ensure the flow of link equity from both the domain to the content or vice versa is shared more easily.

Another great use of SEMrush is to enable the domain vs. domain tool and see how many keywords a website ranks for compared to another and how many are ‘in common’. What you are able to quickly do from this data is export the ones in common and apply a simple rule to highlight the domain that ranks best for each keyword. If you’re interested in what keywords a website ranks for, that another doesn’t, you can export that also.

URL Profiler has content readability metrics, which show you how legible, and readable a piece of content is according to certain metrics. Please run this on your own content to ensure it’s not too complex for the average user to understand.

So we’ve assessed the different content types and looked at other websites for inspiration; make sure you analyse this data to ensure your content marketing campaign has ‘legs’. For a lot of our clients, this is the full process, as we often springboard ideas of the back of other successful campaigns either ran by the client already, or from competitors.

An important aspect to look at, in order to analyse how a content marketing campaign has become successful, is the distribution techniques used by the website. Has it seeded the content via its social channels, posted guest posts on a variety of different blogs, posted advertorials on news outlets or used Digital PR to get the content in front of the media or on websites such as the Huffington Post for example. Analysing how they’ve done this is vital in assuring the same success from your piece of content.

You cannot simply stick the piece of content on your website and expect it to fly… that simply does not happen.

It’s important to be data lead in the piece of content you create; a piece of content marketing should not be seen as a quick win, if done correctly you can leverage it to rank for a competitive keyword for a very long time due to the high number of social shares and links acquired through the correct idea and distribution methods.

So, to understand the title of the content that you’re going to create, you’ll need to carry out keyword research through using a number of different tools:

  • Google Adwords Keyword Planner
  • io
  • Google autosuggest
  • SEMrush

These tools will allow you to initially create a set of vanity keywords (high volume) and another set of long tail keywords, which are becoming increasingly important as users search for those I-WANT-TO-BUY and I-WANT-TO-DO moments – they’re long tail searches and very targeted/specific.

Once the title has been decided, mapping the piece of content out from a creation and distribution perspective is important. Storyboard the creative and pull together a technical brief. This allows the right people to see the technicalities behind the content and give you the thumbs up or thumbs down as to whether or not it’s feasible. The other thing that this does is determine the time required to create it and budget.

STAGE 3 – Where are you going to distribute your content?

We have already lightly touched on distribution and identifying what methods were used for successful pieces. This is important as it allows you to see what seeding techniques work well with your potential audience.

The first thing to do is create distribution personas. These are formed from all of the previous research carried out. This is important as without it, you’ll have a great piece of content, but it won’t be distributed correctly. You need to approach the websites you want to host it in the right manner and ensure it’s actually what they’re after.

To identify those websites, we’ve got the research carried out from competitor pieces, but to really show you where to place this content, you need to identify where your audience hangs out. If you find that out, it’s a 99% guaranteed success. But how do you find out where your audience goes online?

Social insight! Through looking at other pages your audience likes, you are instantly given an idea of what other websites they use in their spare time. They don’t just visit your website 100% of the time; sad I know!

From this data, find relevant websites to those that they hang out on to broaden your reach. SEMrush is good for this; enter the website into the main tool and click on competitors, that gives you a large list of websites that rank for a lot of the same keywords. Create a huge list of these websites and use your distribution personas to talk to them.

Another great resource for sharing content is forums and blogs; websites such as Reddit and other popular forums including Mumsnet, Money Saving Expert etc. have a large relevant audience for a number of different verticals. Searching through their forums by using a Google search tool “content idea” – you’re given a list of highly relevant forums to your content. Place the content here or find the relevant sub-form/reddit and post there.

One of the last things to consider when distributing your content is: Is it relevant to the website and do they need it? You will already be liaising with a large number of these websites, I’m sure, but you need to find their content schedule and see where your content can fit in. If they’re posting something similar at the time you approach them, the likelihood of them posting your content is very slim.

Supporting paid services such as Outbrain and Taboola can drive instant eyeballs to your content, as well as targeted paid social ads – both of these can be massive traffic drivers to a brand new piece of content.

Ask: Are the websites identified through the distribution process in a different language? If so, does the content need translating? All of these things need considering as part of the content marketing campaign creation process. No stone can be left unturned.

If the stages are followed and all is done correctly, you’ll create brand champions/evangelists. It’s a win/win scenario as you gain quality customers.

It’s important that once you’ve done all of this research for a piece of content marketing, that it translates through to your website as well. You need to approach this holistically and one without the other will let the overall campaign down.

Thanks for listening and I hope this step-by-step guide helped!!

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