Introducing Semantic Web Analytics

Introducing Semantic Web Analytics

We constantly work for content-rich websites where sometimes hundreds of new articles are published on a daily basis. Analyzing traffic trends on these large properties and creating actionable reports is still time-consuming and inefficient. This is also very true for businesses investing in content marketing that need to dissect their traffic and evaluate their marketing efforts against concrete business goals (i.e. increasing subscriptions, improving e-commerce sales and so on).

As result of this experience, I am happy to share with you a Google Data Studio report that you can copy and personalize for your own needs.

google-data-studioJump directly to the dashboard for Google Data Studio: Semantic Analytics by WordLift 

Data is meant to help transform organizations by providing them with answers to pressing business questions and uncovering previously unseen trends. This is particularly true when your biggest asset is the content that you produce.

With the ongoing growth of digitized data and the explosion of web metrics, organizations usually face two challenges:

  1. Finding what is truly relevant to untap a new business opportunity.
  2. Make it simpler for the business user to prepare and share the data, without being a data scientist.

Semantic Web Analytics is about delivering on these promises; empowering business users and let them uncover new insights – from the analysis of the traffic of their website.

We are super lucky to have a community of fantastic clients that help us shape our product and keep pushing us ahead of the curve.

Before enabling this feature, both the team at Salzburgerland Tourismus and the team at TheNextWeb had already improved their Google Analytics tracking code to store entity data as events. This allowed us to experiment, ahead of time, with this functionality before making it available to all other subscribers.

What is Semantic Web Analytics?

Semantic Web Analytics is the use of named entities and linked vocabularies such as schema.org to analyze the traffic of a website.

The natural language processing that WordLift uses to markup the content with linked entities enables us to classify articles and pages in Google Analytics with – real-world objects, events, situations or even abstract concepts.

How to activate Semantic Web Analytics?

Starting with WordLift 3.20, entities annotated in webpages can also be sent to Google Analytics by enabling the feature in the WordLift’s Settings panel.

WordLift Settings

Here is how this feature can be enabled.

You can also define the dimensions in Google Analytics to store entity data, this is particularly useful if you are already using custom dimensions.

As soon as the data starts flowing you will see a new category under Behaviour > Events in your Google Analytics.

Events in Google Analytics

Events in Google Analytics about named entities.

WordLift will trigger an event labeled with the title of the entity, every time a page containing an annotation with that entity is open.

Using these new events we can look at how content is consumed not only in terms of URLs and site categories but also in terms of entities. Moreover, we can investigate how articles are connected with entities and how entities are connected with articles.

Show me how this can impact my business

Making sense of data for a business user is about unlocking its power with interactive dashboards and beautiful reports. To inspire our clients, and once again with the help of online marketing ninjas like Martin Reichhart and Rainer Edlinger from Salzburgerland, we have built a dashboard using Google Data Studio – a free tool that helps you create comprehensive reports using data from different sources.

Using this dashboard we can immediately see, for each section of the website, what are the concepts driving the traffic, what articles are associated with these concepts and where the traffic is coming from.

An overview of the entities that drive the traffic on our website

An overview of the entities that drive the traffic on our website.

We can also see, what are the entities associated with a given article. Here below you can see the entities mentioned in the article: Implementing Structured Data for SEO with Bill Slawski.

Entities associated with an article

Entities associated with an article about structured data.

This helps publishers and business owners analyze the value behind a given topic. It can be precious to analyze the behaviors and interests of a specific user group. For example, on travel websites, we can immediately see what are the most relevant topics for let’s say Italian speaking and German speaking travelers.

WordLift’s clients in the news and media sector are also using this data to build new relationships with advertisers and affiliated businesses. They can finally bring in meetings the exact volumes they have for – let’s say – content that mentions a specific product or a category of products. This helps them calculate in advance how this traffic can be monetized.

Are you ready to make sense of your Google Analytics data? Contact us and let’s get started!

Here is the recipe for a Semantic Web Analytics dashboard in Google Data Studio 

With unlimited, free reports, it’s time to start playing immediately with Data Studio and entity data and see if and how it meets your organization’s needs.

To help with that, you can use as a starting point the report I have just created. Create your own interactive report and share with colleagues and partners (even if they don’t have direct access to your Google Analytics).

Simply take this report, make a copy, and replace with your own data!

Instructions

1. Make a Copy of this file

Go to the File menu and click to make a copy of the report. If you have never used Data Studio before, click to accept the terms and conditions, and then redo this step.

2. Do Not Request Access

Click “Maybe Later” when Data Studio warns you that data sources are not attached. If you click “Resolve” by mistake, do not click to request access – instead, click “Done”.

3. Switch Edit Toggle On

Make sure the “Edit” toggle is switched on. Click the text link to view the current page settings. The GA Demo Account data will appear as an “Unknown” data source there.

4. Create A New Data Source

If you have not created any data sources yet, you’ll see only sample data under “Available Data Sources” – in that case, scroll down and click “Create New Data Source” to add your own GA data to the available list.

5. Select Your Google Analytics View

Choose the Google Analytics connector, and authorize access if you aren’t signed in to GA already. Then select your desired GA account, property, and the view from each column.

6. Connect to Your GA Data

Name your data source (at the top left), or let it default to the name of the GA view. Click the blue “Connect” button at the top right.

Are you ready to build you first Semantic Dashboard? Add me on LinkedIn and let’s get started!

Read more about WordLift’s new Content Dashboard that combines entities with search rankings.

We take on a small handful of clients projects each year to help them boost their qualified traffic via our SEO Management Service

Do you want to be part of it?

Yes, send me a quote!

How to build authority and use visual content to power up your SEO

How to build authority and use visual content to power up your SEO

There’s so much content being created on the Internet every day that people’s attention is more fractured than it has ever been. People are bombarded with marketing messages from all sides – and that’s before you even get into the content that people actually want to experience, like their favorite films and television shows.

Gone are the days where a sleek-looking website is enough to get people to believe in you, your vision and the business you built around it. If you really want to create a competitive advantage for yourself, you need people to start to see you for what you actually are – an authority in your industry and in your marketplace.

You need to position yourself as a leader – someone to be trusted, respected and followed. Your content – not only the type but how you choose to create that content – are two of the most powerful weapons you have available to you to that end. Make no mistake: the right type of marketing at precisely the right time can turn your customers into an army of loyal followers before you know it. Of course, you just have to keep a few key things in mind to make sure you’re headed in the right directions.

Always Be Willing to Explore Your Options

Far too often, online marketers tend to fall into the pattern of creating the same types of content over and over again. They’re under the mistaken impression that people will only ever take them seriously if they crank out countless 1,000+ word blog posts. While this format certainly does give you the breathing room you need to slowly establish your credibility, it’s hardly the only option out there – or the best.

Technically, you can publish anything you want on your website. Some types of content, however, stand a better chance of getting noticed and ranked by search engines. Let’s have a look at some content examples that are best for SEO.

Authoritative Blog Posts

In a world where content is a top ranking factor, having a blog would be a fundamental rule to follow. You can it to publish authoritative posts which can help you build a reputation as an industry leader. Apart from focusing on news, case studies, guides and everything’s related to your industry, it would also be great to engage your readers with other topics that your audience would find interesting to analyze.

Videos and visual content

Videos make up most of media consumption and web traffic today: in 2018, we’ve witnessed the value of visual content being emphasized by the changes that occurred across almost every major social network. Videos and visual content have grown into powerful tools for brands looking to communicate more easily with their target audience, and also virtual reality (VR) is finding its place as a marketing tool in various businesses. Visual content marketing strategies can easily show their impact on reach, engagement, and sales.

Infographics

Many people love to read a well-written article, but there’s who would prefer receiving information that can be processed more easily. Infographics could provide that opportunity to readers and they are also more shareable, giving your content the chance to become popular and be a good source of backlinks.

So you really should think about the different content formats that your audience might like. Instead of writing that 1,000-word blog post, consider cutting the length in half and expressing the other half by way of a visual survey results report instead. Likewise, instead of sending out a plain email to announce the next big event you’re participating in, consider using a flyer maker to really spruce things up in a visual, interesting way that people might not expect from you.

Infographic

None of this is to say that you should suddenly stop writing blog posts and other types of long-form content like white papers. Far from it. The point is that you should be willing to show the many different sides of yourself, showing people exactly what you can do in ways that make people really sit up and start to pay attention to.

How-To Guides

People always search for instructions on how to do stuff, and that’s why guides and how-to content will always be a good choice to invest your time on. You can offer your audience insights and tips with either an article, a video or an infographic. One of the best topics to start writing a guide is your industry, of course, and everything related to your area of expertise.

How to Create Interactive Content

Interactive content helps create a dialogue with your audience which means it can help you trigger a direct action from the user. Creating interactive content could be easy if you know where to start. Here’s how to get started:

  • Identify Your Audience

The most important thing to do will be identifying your target audience. Create well-defined user personas in order to identify your best chances. A persona is basically a lookalike of your ideal customer, so you need to collect information about the demographics, intentions, habits, what he/she likes or dislike to complete the profile.

  • Create Specific Content For Every Stage of The Funnel

Customers usually take their time to buy anything, so it’s important to create different types of content for every stage of the buyer journey. Remember that having a precise schedule is crucial while preparing your own editorial plan.

Marketing Strategy

The image shows the buyer journey and how to use interactive content at every stage of it to achieve the best possible outcome.

Create Content For Other People, Too

Another one of the best ways to get your prospects to finally see you as an authority in your industry involves creating content not just for your own website, but for others as well. Remember that the Internet is a big place – your customers care about more than just your brand. There are a lot of other people and voices operating within your industry right now who also have their attention. Therefore, one of the keys to establishing yourself as someone who knows what they’re talking about involves teaming up with these people as much as you can.

You might consider creating video content with other industry leaders or thought influencers on topics that are both relevant and important to your mutual target audiences. Not only will you likely get a bit of attention from their audience, but the reverse is also true – creating a mutually beneficial situation for all parties. You could even then upload that content to a service like Uscreen and create new revenue streams for both of you, thus killing two proverbial birds with one stone.

But maybe the most important thing for you to understand is that Rome wasn’t built in a day – and your authority won’t be, either. People aren’t going to start to trust you or your brand out of the kindness of their hearts. They need to want to. They need to be convinced. Content is how you do it and how you express your thoughts and values through that content is how you get people to believe in what you have to say and, slowly but surely, how you get them to actively want more.

Payman is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.

Payman Taei

Founder, Visme

Why Affiliate Marketing Needs Content More Than Ever

Why Affiliate Marketing Needs Content More Than Ever

Affiliate marketing continues to boom as an industry. Made possible by the rapid advance of digital technology, the simple practice of distributing customized links has become a reliable source of income for those capable of reaching relevant audiences — people deemed ‘influencers’ with opinions on products and services likely to be mirrored by their followers.

But ever since Twitter first got mainstream attention, we’ve seen a move away from in-depth reviews and roundups and towards brief and formulaic social media posts. Aspiring celebrities litter their accounts with #ad posts offering nothing more than generic endorsements with mandated hold-the-product-and-smile photos.

With all the clutter, an impartial observer might well conclude that there’s way too much affiliate marketing ‘content’ already. They’d be wrong, though. In fact, the affiliate marketing industry needs content more than ever. Why? Let’s get into it.

The demand for content isn’t going down

The digital content landscape is much like an insatiable deep-sea behemoth — no matter how much it consumes on any given day, it’s always in need of fresh, varied material shortly after. And though bland influencer posts get a lot of attention (and presumably do get results), they’re like bite-sized snacks, light and inconsequential. No one browses the glossy photos of a celebrity Instagram account and burns out on high-quality content.

discerning buyer

Indeed, the average internet user is going to consume a broad range of content types. They might browse social media channels on their phone while commuting, read long-form articles throughout their working days, then watch YouTube videos after getting home (with newer generations favoring video). Each type of content they consume provides a fresh affiliate marketing opportunity, and consuming too much of one type isn’t going to sour them on others.

And new technology is going to keep bringing new content types. We’ve already seen the world of podcasting become absolutely enormous (largely supported by affiliate marketing, notably), and it’s possible that VR content will be next. Since any kind of content can be supported through affiliate links, there’s a lot of space waiting to be filled.

 

People respect transparent sponsorships

Consider the ongoing struggles of digital advertising models. Tired of ads that affect their online experience and emboldened by access to ad-blocking tools, internet users have quickly lost their willingness to put up with invasive advertising methods. Even as programmatic technology squeezes ever-higher levels of efficiency from PPC, the industry suffers at the hands of user reluctance and marketing saturation.

Affiliate marketing, though, can be done seamlessly without detracting from the content or engaging in any rhetorical shenanigans. And it doesn’t even require any pretense. It’s entirely possible to have a strong and productive seller/marketer arrangement without hiding anything from the prospective buyers — in fact, being entirely brazen can be very effective because people like being approached with honesty.

seller/marketer arrangement

When an influencer produces a high-quality video series openly sponsored by a particular brand, it makes both parties look good. The brand earns plaudits for financing good content and the influencer gets to show off improved production values. Provided the content is good enough, followers won’t care about the promotional nature — and they’ll be more likely to want to pointedly click on an affiliate link to support the brand (as opposed to doing so unknowingly).

Social proof is enormously powerful

With every day that passes, the internet gives us more e-commerce opportunities and more product information. No matter what you’re looking to buy, you’ll be able to find countless models, versions, configurations, and prices, with every business you encounter eager to claim that only their product is worth your time — ignore all other contenders.

Since we can’t reach out to touch items through the digital realm, we are required to judge for ourselves whether any given proposition is really worth our time, and it’s hard to do that when we face so many similar options. That’s why we rely so heavily on social proof. We need people whose opinions we trust to give us some guidance and help us figure out which products are worth our money and which brands are worth our time.

While social proof has always been important (we are social animals, of course), it was less so when the internet was newer and people were inclined to give sites the benefit of the doubt.

Following numerous high-profile cases of user data being leaked, and a general push towards higher security standards through things like HTTPS, users are on high alert, and not inclined to take unnecessary chances. If you can establish yourself as an expert in your field, people will absolutely listen to what you have to say.

Discerning buyers are increasingly thorough

We’ve established that internet users are a lot more cautious than ever before when it comes to the companies they trust with their data or their money, but this isn’t purely a result of the aforementioned data leaks — it’s also a generational thing. Younger generations have reached maturity with the internet available to them, and feel perfectly comfortable engaging in large amounts of online research before making big decisions.

affiliate marketing

Someone from an older generation might go into a large store, ask the assistant which camera they should buy, and then go with that option — someone younger would be far more likely to take an in-depth look at the features and search for a comprehensive breakdown to read. And since tastes vary, they might look at various different pieces of content before finding one coming from their kind of perspective.

Combine the average buyer’s desire for thorough analysis with their eagerness to find an influencer operating on their wavelength and you get an affiliate marketing world that always has room for good content from fresh faces.

The viable marketing pool keeps growing

Affiliate programs are far more common and well-rounded than ever before. The cost-effective nature of the model has been consistently demonstrated, and since detailed analytics make it easy to tell where a page visitor came from, the range of companies supporting affiliate marketing out of the gate continues to expand.

Note that the end result of an affiliate marketing arrangement needn’t be someone buying a product — it could be someone using a service, or downloading a file, or visiting a page. Through call-tracking software and the establishment of sophisticated analytics goals, you can place a monetary value on almost any action, online or offline. And where there’s value, there’s an opportunity for affiliate marketing.

To get the ball rolling, try throwing together some niches on a whim. Here are some quick tips:

  • Start with terms like “best”, “top” and “roundup” — they’re clear markers for affiliate reviews because they immediately get to the point.
  • Think of a subject that you can usefully comment on and add a product or service associated with it (e.g. “Best motorbikes” or “Top cycling gloves”).
  • To find a query with less competition, add on some additional terms that you can optimize for. Try terms related to purpose (“Best scarves for jogging”), location (“Top headphones in Chicago, Illinois”) or pricing (“Budget tax software roundup”).
  • Once you find something without too much competition for rankings, start looking into affiliate schemes for those products — if you can’t find anything, contact the seller directly to see if you can arrange something manually.

(Note: Be careful that you choose something with a fairly static range. For instance, “Bluetooth speakers in New York” should return a product set that will change infrequently, while “Houston businesses for sale” won’t be so useful because they’re one-time deals and could sell while you’re writing the content (content is great for real estate if you’re close to the deals, but not if you’re just doing affiliate work). If you’re going to create high-quality affiliate content, make sure it can continue to deliver value on an ongoing basis.)

As you can see, there’s a remarkable amount of uncovered ground in the affiliate marketing world. In fact, there are so many different searches carried out every day that the idea of the affiliate marketing world being totally saturated is ludicrous. You may not be able to grab the low-hanging fruit at this point, but if you diversify your affiliate work, you’ll still reap the benefits.

Conclusion

Wrapping up, the affiliate marketing world needs content more than ever before for the following reasons (and possibly more):

  • No matter how much content is created, people always want more.
  • Sponsorships are readily accepted today.
  • Social proof is only getting more powerful. In-depth research needs new perspectives.
  • More things can be marketed than ever before.

 

If you’re just getting started in the affiliate marketing world, or you’ll be trying it for a while, don’t get discouraged by the apparent saturation of basic Instagram influencer posts. That isn’t the only kind of viable content — you can reach your audience elsewhere, and if you make your content good enough, the results will amaze you.

 

Patrick Foster contributes to Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog dedicated to sharing business and entrepreneurial insights from the sector. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.

Patrick Foster

Ecommerce Consultant, EcommerceTips.org

What is Link Prospecting and how can it help your SEO efforts?

What is Link Prospecting and how can it help your SEO efforts?

                                  [Guest post by Emma Miller]

 

Did you know that over 3.5 billion searches take place on Google every day? This simply means that to get a piece of traffic and boost conversions, you need to appear on the first page of Google. And, to do so, you need to have an SEO strategy. Well, link prospecting certainly can help identify relevant opportunities for your website.

When implemented properly, SEO can double your site’s visibility in the SERPs, drive more traffic to it, help you address the right customers, boost their conversions and, above all, give you a chance to build a solid brand name.

After all, it’s 2018, and no one trusts businesses that are not online. In other words, SEO has become an obligatory investment for any business that wants to stay relevant.

Now, you don’t have to be a seasoned marketer to know that guest blogging is one of the most significant SEO practices. It’s a powerful way to build links and is basically synonymous with doing off-site SEO.

However, many digital marketing experts claim that this technique is dead. Just remember Google’s Matt Cutts, who claimed that “guest blogging has gotten too spammy” in 2014.

However, his judgment could have been wrong. Maybe guest blogging is still alive and kicking. You just need to know how to implement it properly.

So, what is the idea behind Link Prospecting?

Finding quality guest blogging opportunities may seem simple at the beginning. You run a couple of Google searches and make a list of content-rich sites in your niche, where you can publish your guest articles.

But, this sounds too good to be true. Namely, when you take a closer look at your list, you will understand the challenge you’re facing. Not all the sites on your list are worth connecting with, for instance. No matter if it’s a bad content strategy or low PA or DA, once you spot a poor-quality blog, you should run away screaming.

So, you need to do a more complex, advanced analysis and separate the wheat from the chaff. This is what link prospecting is about – finding quality and relevant sites in your niche that will give your SEO efforts an actual boost.

Why is Finding Quality Link Building Opportunities Important?

The idea behind writing awesome content and publishing it on quality sites is earning quality backlinks. Your backlink portfolio is the decisive factor for Google when assessing your site’s value. If it notices that there are numerous highly authoritative and quality links pointing back to your domain, it will consider it relevant and boost its rankings in the SERPs.

Generating exceptional backlinks can also boost your overall domain authority, expand your target audience, prove your expertise, and help you establish a recognizable brand. This is also an opportunity to build relationships with the influencers in your niche and boost your exposure. Namely, once they see that the top players in your industry share or link to your posts organically, your target audience will trust you more.

How to Know which Sites are Valuable Enough?

To make sure you find the right prospects, you first need to set your objectives clearly. For instance, if you want to boost your authority in your niche via guest posting, you need to become a regular contributor on all major sites in that industry – so, just make an actionable list and go!

On the other hand, if you just want to earn some organic and high-quality links, guest posting will be much simpler for you. Of course, you will have a much longer list of prospects to connect with and publish your work. All you have to do is check the site’s DA, see if they published guest posts before, and reach out to them.

Once you select the right targets, you need to see who their target audience is and what their niche is. You should also check traffic and see if people visit their site, as well as pay attention to their backlink portfolio, the quality of their articles, and engagement metrics like the number of shares, likes, comments. These are all some key performance indicators that tell you whether the site is worth your attention.

Finding Quality Link Prospects

Once you set your goals, understand the metric you need to track, and what sort of sites you should be looking for, you can start your search. Here are a few most effective link prospecting ideas you should keep in mind:

  • Start with basic Google search strings
  • To narrow down your searches, use advanced search operators, such as the intitle search, the inurl search, the exact match search, etc.
  • Automate your link prospecting efforts using link building tools. These tools will analyze and choose only quality link building opportunities for you, give you invaluable data about your prospects, show their contact emails, helping you find the right sites and connect with them much faster.
  • Conduct competitor analysis to monitor and replicate their most effective link building strategies.
  • Take the time to produce original images and include them in your piece – that can become an effective SEO strategy to bring traffic back to your site!
  • Search for broken links on a site you’re interested in, offering a link to your similar post as a replacement for a broken link.
  • Look for influencers to boost your authority. To do so effectively, you can use Twitter search or its advanced options or simply use a link prospecting tool.

 

Back to Us

Link prospecting is an immensely important part of building valuable backlinks. It helps you publish your content on quality sites that will really bring value to your SEO. Most importantly, it helps you improve your visibility, expand your target audience, and position yourself as authoritative. And, these are just some of a myriad of practices you may use to find relevant link building opportunities.

 

Emma Miller is a digital marketer and blogger from Sydney. After getting a marketing degree she started working with Australian startups on business and marketing development. Emma writes for many relevant, industry related online publications and does a job of an Executive Editor at Bizzmark blog and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University. Interested in marketing, startups and the latest business trends.

Emma Miller

Digital Marketer and Blogger , Bizzmark

What The Best Brand Publishers Are Doing Right Now

What The Best Brand Publishers Are Doing Right Now

Traditional publishers and print media companies have seen their profitability tumble as more and more of our daily media habits have moved online. This change gave rise to the seemingly-unstoppable growth of digital content marketing as a core promotional tool, which subsequently spawned the concept of a brand publisher.

Recognizing that they no longer needed to rely on conventional media platforms to reach people and get attention, businesses have begun to produce and distribute their own content. It allows them to lower their advertising costs and operate with much greater creative freedom.

But the model of a brand acting as a publisher isn’t a magic bullet. There are companies getting it horribly wrong, as well as companies executing it to perfection. In this piece, we’re going to look at the latter, seeing what the successful brand publishers are doing to make this relatively-fresh arrangement function optimally.

Carrying out regular content audits

A content audit is a comprehensive review of all of your live content, looking at numerous elements (such as page titles or subheadings) and collating the data into a single spreadsheet suitable for an overarching assessment — and the brands with the best content know how important it is to schedule a regular content audit.

Newspaper content goes out of date rapidly, and that’s fine given the disposable nature of the medium. You read one edition, discard it, and await the next. But old digital content isn’t worthless, particularly if written to touch upon universal themes, and savvy brands take every opportunity to spruce up their old content and bring it in line with today’s standards.

Following the advent of smarter content tagging and structuring suitable for search algorithms as well as humans, a lot of content (even from recent years) is lacking in some important areas. This is one reason why it’s important to have a solid structural framework in place (either systemwide or provided through an integrated tool) to make the updating process easier.

Investing in cornerstone work

There’s an absurd amount of content available for free through the internet. It barely even matters what the topic is, because even the most niche pursuit will have myriad dedicated blogs featuring similar articles. Brands that aspire to become respected ‘publishers’ but lack any sense often settle for the content barrage method — release as many articles as you can, on as many topics as you can cover, and as quickly as can be achieved.

But just as 100 multiplied by 0 is still just 0, no amount of low-quality content will accomplish anything of note. And when I say ‘low-quality’, I don’t simply mean simply technical quality. I mean general quality — how useful the points are, how good the writing is, etc.

Great brand publishing is about quality, not quantity. That means looking past the hammered-out posts about nothing and focussing on creating content so good that it will get the kind of attention you’re looking for. It doesn’t even have to be that long or complex — it just needs to resonate, like this sponsored Airbnb piece.

Airbnb - Brand Publishers and Influencers

Getting feedback from the people who matter

Let’s imagine for a second that I consider this piece the best thing I’ve ever written, viewing it as an informative masterpiece (untrue, but go with it). If you can barely tolerate my style and reach the conclusion feeling that you’ve entirely wasted your time, what difference does my opinion make? It may be notable, but it isn’t valuable. I’m not the target audience.

Since brand publishing is just another evolution of product or service marketing, its end goal is crystal-clear: make more money. How it gets there might vary, of course, but every path leads in the same direction: you promote a product so the reader might buy it, make your brand look good to make people want to buy from you, or provide a valuable resource to earn goodwill and (yes, you guessed it) make people want to buy from you.

The top brands in the world commit a lot of time and effort to acquiring, interpreting and learning from feedback. They know whose opinions ultimately lead to sales, and whose aren’t worth considering at all, and they use that information to make their published content more practical.

Effectively using user-generated content

As a brand publisher, you’re not simply a humble purveyor of in-house content — you’re in charge of your very own content ecosystem, and you can feature whatever you want. User-generated content (UGC) is perfect for this scenario, because it has so many benefits: it entertains your audience, brings in their feedback (important, as we’ve just seen), provides fresh perspectives, and takes some of the load off your content production team.

Coca Cola innovated with its ‘Share a Coke with’ campaign in a time (2011) when the concept of UGC was very fresh (and only fairly recently made possible through the mainstream acceptance of social media). People really wanted to be involved and produced a lot of visual content that made the Coca Cola brand look great.

Share a Coke - Brand publishers and UGC

Indeed, the practice of using UGC in the form of reviews and/or photos has been a cost-effective revelation, particularly for ecommerce where anyone with a basic webshop host system like Shopify can curate gallery feeds using add-ons like Covet.pics or TagTray. Dominant brands know how to balance content types, mixing expert in-house long-form content with lighter fare driven by user-created work.

Experimenting with different formats

This piece by Samuel Scott really tears into the notion of a brand publisher, describing it as contradictory, but it misses the mark in a lot of places. For example, Scott presumes that brand publishers must present themselves as journalists, when in reality that’s only something bad brands do. The good ones are quite nakedly promotional, and understand that people will accept promotional content if they’re sufficiently entertained.

But Scott’s general point about content feeling generic certainly hits home. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the “X Things You Need To Know About Y” format, but that kind of piece is only ever going to achieve a certain level of traffic. Any brand publishers that want to be exceptional need to try different things.

And while the title is definitely worth considering, the format is a far more interesting and valuable matter. Look at any roundup of hit branded content (such as this one from Forbes) and you’ll see a lot of content rich with imagery and narratives. And see how this Nest-sponsored piece from The Atlantic mixes media types to provide a more engaging experience than a standard article could ever achieve.

Key Take-Aways

Brand publishing isn’t about feigning neutrality and posting countless pieces concluding that your particular software, service or product is superior to any other. It’s about using your keen understanding of the people you’re trying to address to find new and creative ways to entertain, inform and delight them, establishing your personality in the process.

I can guarantee you that the top brand publishers are doing each and every one of these things right now, and that’s the dedication that’s needed to stand out. If you aspire to turn your brand into a respected content source, you know where you need to start!

 

Patrick Foster contributes to Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog dedicated to sharing business and entrepreneurial insights from the sector. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.

Patrick Foster

Ecommerce Consultant, EcommerceTips.org

How to build a successful marketing strategy with Influencers and great content

How to build a successful marketing strategy with Influencers and great content

Digital marketing is expanding in a world of almost infinite possibilities, where every bit of strategy matters: there’s always the alternative that the one you chose a might not perform well on its own. In that scenario, content marketing and influencer marketing are two sides of the same coin and they could and must work together to build a strong strategy.

Everyone involved in the business can use marketing tools to reach greater success and higher interaction with their brand. So the question becomes, what kind of initiatives should be used? In 2018 there are many different types of marketing strategies so it can be hard to keep up with them all, let alone know which one would be best for you or your company. According to HubSpot, 55% of brands know they need a content distribution strategy, but only 26% are willing to pay to do that. There’s two kinds of marketing strategies that are showing great success right now; influencer marketing and content marketing. Although they have some similarities, they are actually quite different.

HubSpot Inbound marketing graph

How great content can catch your targeted audience’s attention

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “the process of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage an audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” This kind of marketing is well known and well received. However, there are some limitations to what will work. The quality of your content plays a prominent role in the success – or the failure – of a marketing campaign. Customers want to experience informative content, rather than promotional. They don’t want to feel as though you are pushing a product on them. Besides, content must be authentic, engaging and, above all, useful. It is better to position your brand as a resource for your audience, in the fields that interest them.

Loyalty to your products will come once the initial relationship has been established.

To get a better understanding of what your audience wants to see, it’s always better to conduct some market research to determine what interests them. You can look at previously published content and compare what has been successful within your demographic. It’s important to know what your audience likes, dislikes, and responds to in general, not just about your company. Producing this kind of content will show that you care about the audience and understand what’s happening within your target community.

There are a number of different content marketing variations you can try. One of the simpler strategies is creating and maintaining a blog. With this platform, you allow yourself the opportunity to continuously post articles on subjects your community cares about. It’s a great place to position yourself as a resource or “go-to” spot for information on your industry. Other methods include different mediums of content such as video or podcasts. These forms of content are more popular than ever, and some consumers even prefer it to written content. According to Brightcove’s blog, “brands that use videos can expect to see an average increase of 157% in organic traffic from search engines.”

Video content

In addition to these content formats, the list goes on. There are more traditional forms such as infographics and interviews. You can also explore trendier types of content like GIFs, memes, and general social media.

Content marketing is beneficial for many reasons. It is relatively inexpensive, which means it can lead to a considerable ROI. This kind of marketing plan can also support other projects you’re working on. It proves to be efficient because it can blend into other strategies such as creating additional content for social media, and it may help to boost your SEO.

Influencer Marketing: find the right match for your brand

If you think you’ve never heard, witnessed, or been affected by influencer marketing, think again! This form of marketing is being used equally, if not more often than content marketing. First of all, to engage your audience with influencer marketing, you need to create an ideal influencer persona that fits your brand’s needs: once you find it/them, you can start working with your chosen personality and having them market your brand or product for you. Although many people assume this happens with big celebrities who have millions of followers, that’s not necessarily the most efficient or effective route. Depending on the influencer you want to work with, the price can vary. Thanks to micro-influencers, this might not be as expensive as you once thought.

The term micro-influencer has become a bigger topic within the past year, and for good reason. These are influencers with a smaller following of around 10,000 to 100,000 across social media. Because they aren’t as well known or a “big name” they often charge less, and might even accept some products or social shoutout in return for mentioning your brand.

Influencers with a smaller following tend to come across as more authentic than well-known celebrities, who clearly only talk about a product for the money. Most often micro-influencers share a product or brand because they truly like it, and want to share their honest thoughts and advice to followers. It’s an authentic way for influencers to connect with their followers and build trust in the long run.

These influencers share your product by creating video reviews, Instagram posts and stories, and tweets. With more than 700 million people using social media per month, these methods can be vital when trying to grow a business.

If you’re more concerned with getting your product or content to a larger number of people, influencer marketing is becoming the chosen strategy for this. It is almost guaranteed you will reach your intended target audience, as long as you choose the right influencer to work with. Choosing an influencer involves several steps: look at their social accounts, see if they’re interacting with followers and have a positive following. Be sure to check and see if their tone matches your brand and mission – it’s important to work with someone that seems like a natural fit.

Audiences can immediately tell if a product doesn’t match what other things the influencer is typically supporting. It’s imperative that the influencer’s message doesn’t seem forced and they’re genuinely happy to talk about your product.

Which kind of strategy should you use?

Both content and influencer marketing are successful strategies and have been proven to work. In the end, choosing one depends on what you are trying to promote.

For example, if you’re trying to spread the word about a new product launch, influencer marketing is a great way to go. If you’re just trying to promote your brand or message to a larger market, content marketing techniques such as blogging or interviews would be a good choice. If you can’t decide, try both! Marketing is an important tool for all companies, and it wouldn’t hurt to learn about all forms and incorporate each into your business plan.

 

Sara is an experienced tech expert who writes with her colleagues on Enlightened Digital, to share her passion with others around the web. After 15 years in the industry, her goal is to bring information on all technology to the masses. Her philosophy is to create each article so that anyone can understand the content, whether they are a consumer or a technology expert.

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