Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Avoid Content Overload & Social Media Burnout

Content overload is real. Content's value is also real - and considerable, especially when it's used well to attract prospects and to turn them into customers.

            On the other hand, can content be counterproductive? On 4/8/19, cosmetic brand Lush announced that it's quitting social media. Time will tell how the company's experiment (or social media ploy) works out. My guess is, at the very least, the company is reevaluating its content management plans.

In the face of "more is better" content marketing strategies, I tell clients to consider their own sanity, budget, and what they know about their business before they commit to a blog or another social media channel. 

The Cold, Hard Truth About Business, Life & Content Marketing

Cold hard truth 1 - We all get the same 24 hours a day to work, shop, eat, sleep, play, and read scintillating blog posts. People who are not in the market for a kitchen sink will not spend a lot of time reading blogs or social media posts  - however witty - about kitchen sinks. 

Cold hard truth 2 - Content sells. It also takes time to deliver on its potential - which is huge, Forbes notes. So while witty writing about kitchen sinks can, in fact, sell kitchen sinks, without a good content marketing plan, those sinks are...sunk.

Content Marketing is important because, when done right, it will: 
  • Build relationships with existing and potential customers at every point in the sales cycle
  • Increase your sales 
  • Highlight new opportunities and 
  • Offer additional insight into your market
In other words, content IS marketing - when it's done well. 

To do it well, you must have a plan. 

As Alli Berry of The Motley Fool explains,  "every single piece of content you create needs to be mapped to a goal." 

I'm not a Lush cosmetics follower (apparently a lot of people can say that today!) but my best guess is Lush didn't follow a good content marketing plan. 

Balancing Your (Time and Money) Investment in Content and Social Media

I don't have any clients with unlimited budgets. (If you know any, please send them my way.) When making a marketing budget, I advise my clients that their content marketing plan needs to take care of three things:
  1. Determine what your prospects want and need to know.
  2. Know how to get that information to them (online and off).
  3. Create and deliver that content to them - and be ready to follow up. 
If you're wondering why I didn't mention keyword research, PPC advertising, or SEO, see step 1. And 2. And 3.

It's all related, folks. But without a good content marketing plan, trust me, you can waste a lot of money on advertising. And without a thorough understanding of your prospects and buying cycle, you can lose a lot of sales.

Content Marketing for Small Businesses: Play to Your Strengths

You need a website. Maybe you need a blog. And a Facebook Page. Or Instagram. Or Pinterest. Or YouTube. Or not. What about Twitter? Instagram? YouTube?

Don't go with a knee-jerk answer. Don't rely on the last study you read on internet shopping habits. Spend some time analyzing your market, your prospects, and your organization. That's how to plan a  marketing content program that will deliver your best results.

If you don't have a marketing/content plan that supports your business plan, or you need help executing and making adjustments, get in touch.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Keywords in Content, or SEO 2019 Style

As search evolves to favor natural language, is it worth your time to select and incorporate keywords in your web content? 

The question came up in a recent blogging presentation I was leading. My short answer ("yes") was met with some surprising resistance from other marketing folks. For small businesses, and particularly small local businesses with equally small marketing budgets, I understand a reluctance to spend a lot of money on keyword research. But spending more than a few minutes on it in the content development process is still important - even in 2019.

Rather than allowing the discussion to devolve into a disagreement, I moved the presentation along with a soothing (and accurate) "of course you should always write with your reader in mind."

But this is my blog so let me be clear: yes, keywords still matter in 2019.  Small businesses can and certainly should spend the time necessary to use keywords and phrases (naturally, and in helpful content) in their marketing content.

Good Business Copywriting Helps Prospects and Customers

Auto Parts Warehouse provides an excellent example of how keywords (in this case, longtail keywords) can be used in truly useful blog content. Headlines like "Where to Buy Wiper Blades" and "Grinding Noise When Braking" get the attention of humans and search engines alike.

I'm willing to bet Auto Parts Warehouse puts more than a little bit of loose change into advertising, link building and other SEO endeavors, too. But let's focus on the humble human with squeaky breaks.

"Grinding Noise When Braking" strikes the right note with said human. In fact, it's probably exactly what he typed in to search. (Hello, keywords.) And when the reader clicks on that search result, guess what happens? That human with squeaky brakes is rewarded with a legitimate article (not an ad or a screaming landing page) chock-full of helpful information. The format is important, too. The article is easy to read with very scannable subheads, sprinkled with keywords, like:

"Worn out wheel bearing"
"Faulty brake pads"
"Rusty Rotors"

See what Auto Parts Warehouse did there? It's the perfect trick - because it's not a trick. The human gets what the human wants: information on the web. The search engines reward Auto Parts Warehouse because the click delivers on those keyword promises. It meets the EAT guidelines in Google's 2018 Q3 update, providing Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. 

Creating good content that's useful and establishes your business as an authority (thereby making people want to do business with you, and refer other customers to you) isn't rocket science, but it takes a little time and planning.

If you know a blog could help grow your business, but don't have time to do it yourself, step on the brakes long enough to get in touch. I'd love to help drive your business forward.

Want to learn more about Semantic Search? Search Engine Journal's article is a good place to start. Really big on DIY projects? You can learn how to create a natural language search for arbitrary objects with deep learning (in 5 easy steps) on Towards Data Science. Just need a copywriter who can reach your customers? I'm right here.

Photo credit: Auto Parts Warehouse blog January 24, 2019