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Savvy marketers no longer depend solely on traditional advertising in traditional media to reach their audience. Creating and managing their own branded media — from e-media to print magazines and from video to iPad apps –marketers now are learning that content is the glue holding their marketplaces together. Since our own Rex Hammock helped to create what is now the largest content marketing trade group in the United States, the Custom Content Council, we asked him to answer one simple question that we get asked a lot these days: “What exactly is content marketing?”
Your website’s analytics can provide you with a lot of helpful information: How long people stay on your site, how they get there, what keywords bring them in, etc. But if you don’t know how to drill down deeper and make sense of what your numbers are telling you, they’re not going to do you much good. If you are concerned your web analytics are failing you, TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog has a few suggestions as to why:
- The statistics are fuzzy: Be sure you’re breaking down the data and not relying on a top-level, summary look.
- The averages are flawed: Spikes or dips will throw off your averages, so be aware when making a decision based on them vs. looking at the whole picture.
- Incorrect implementation: If you’re getting no results at all, make sure your tracking code is placed on your site correctly.
The great thing about Twitter is there is no wrong way to use it. Sure, you’ll see missteps in etiquette and plenty of spammers, but for the most part it’s like Thunderdome: There are no rules.
There are guidelines, however, and Proactive Report offers a handy tip sheet from Ogilvy 360 for advice on various strategies—and suggestions on who to follow, what kind of content to create and how to engage for each situation.
If you’re a Twitter pro you will probably recognize the various suggestions, and perhaps have some of your own to add, but if you’re going to be covering an event or handling crisis management for the first time with Twitter this is a great starting point.
Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to step back and take a thorough look at how effective your blogging efforts are. Sociatic calls this auditing your blog, and breaks down the 20-question process into six areas to look at: Design, subscriptions, content, monetization, marketing and measurement. Some of the questions they suggest you ask yourself include:
- Do I have the essential pages set up? Make sure you have an About and Contact page, and consider other pages like Resources, Services and a custom error page.
- Is your RSS feed (or feeds) easily located?
- Is my content well-formatted (and formatted consistently)?
- Is my monetization method (i.e. ads) working?
- Is my blog showing up in all of the major search engines?
Lots of businesses are setting up accounts on various social media sites lately, but not all of them really “get it.” While there aren’t steadfast rules on how to use the sites, there are best practices and certain etiquette guidelines that most seasoned users try to follow. OnlineMarketingBlog hits many of them in this recent article, and while they specify the tips are for e-commerce sites, they really can apply to any business’ social media strategy. Tips include:
- Collect data: It’s important to understand where your customers are coming from and how they’re interacting with your website and its content. Utilizing services like AddToAny and Google Analytics can provide valuable information about the habits of your audience.
- Set up Twitter and Facebook profiles: This should be pretty obvious by now, but Twitter and Facebook are emerging as the top social media sites and can greatly enhance your digital presence beyond your website.
- Engage your audience: It’s not enough to just set up a website, Facebook page or Twitter account. You’ve got to have a back-and-forth with the people coming to those sites. Respond to comments on your website and follow, retweet and respond to others on Twitter. If all you do is sell, sell, sell on social media sites you’ll lose authenticity quick—as well as the patience of your followers.
For more tips on social media best practices, visit the social media section of hammock.com.
It’s been a little over a month since Apple’s iPad was released, and while the full effect of the device will not emerge for quite some time, a few content marketers have shared their first impressions of the device.
Rex recently outlined his thoughts about the iPad, touching on the debate among early adopters regarding whether or not the iPad is “good for creating content.” Google Docs are read-only on the device, but the Keynote app allows you to create an entire presentation.
And while he doesn’t view magazines as a medium that needs saving, he does believe that the iPad “provides lots of opportunities for magazine companies who do something other than replicate magazines on an app.”
Over at PM Digital, they asked their digital bloggers for first impressions of the iPad:
- Tim Kilroy: “It means your presentation layer just got cooler, and more transparent. The opportunity to create impact and engagement just increased.”
- Anthony Avolio: “Marketers must actively consider touch interfaces when planning their designs… While the iPad is just one device, it’s likely the start of a new mainstream push for touch interfaces.”
- Glenn Lalich: “The iPad just gave email creative a dazzling shot in the arm… And it didn’t cost marketers a cent.”
The first step in successful content marketing is to ensure your website is set up properly. Good Plum has a list of several common mistakes businesses make with their websites, including:
- A bad domain name: Will you choose one that incorporates important keywords? Or will you go with one that’s catchy? Or both? Spend time researching and testing your domain name, Good Plum says.
- Neglecting traffic generation strategies: Websites that ignore tie-ins to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, fail to research keywords and other Internet marketing tactics, and ignore their rank in organic and paid search will not be as easily discovered as those who utilize those services.
- An ugly website: It might sound harsh, but if your website is difficult to look at (blinking banner ads everywhere, 10 different fonts, 50 different colors, etc.), people won’t stay long. Be kind to your visitors’ eyes and invest time in developing a good design—both visual and navigational—for your website.
Facebook is emerging as a very effective part of businesses’ online marketing strategies, but take care not to neglect your own blog—or website—for your interaction on the social networking site.
On SmallBizTrends.com, Lisa Barone discusses the importance of continuing to focus on your own blog “to create your own authority and brand.” She offers 10 reasons, including:
- “Blogging builds your house, not theirs”: Focus on building your site and your authority by placing your original content on your site, not someone else’s. It’s one thing to syndicate content to Facebook—in fact, we encourage that here at Hammock. But don’t give away your content and your audience completely to Facebook.
- Search engine rankings: If you stop posting original, dynamic content to your own blog, it will start to slip in search engine rankings. This not only hurts your authority but can end up hurting your ability to bring in new business.
- “You don’t own Facebook”: Barone reminds us that social networks evolve, change, and can always fade away (remember MySpace and Friendster?). “While it’s never smart to put all your eggs in one basket, it’s especially unwise to do it when you don’t even own the basket,” says Barone.
I won’t lie: When the Associated Press announced they were changing the entry in their stylebook from “Web site” to “website,” several of us here in the office danced a little happydance. Despite being users (and lovers) of AP style, that was one word we did not agree with them on.
Robert Niles of The Online Journalism Review explains the importance of the AP’s change in this recent blog post, referencing a tweet he made regarding the change: “If you’re publishing online, Google style (i.e. SEO) always trumps AP style.”
I don’t completely agree with Niles; I think it’s still important for journalism students to learn AP style. But it’s also important that they learn to write for the web.
People are using Google to look for your content, and if you’re still writing like you’re publishing a magazine or newspaper, by default you’re making it more difficult for Google to find you and, therefore, connect a potential client, customer or reader with your content.
That’s not to say that all AP style is Google offensive, because it’s not. But if you’re writing a piece for your website or blog, you can’t ignore what search engines look for. SEO (or “Internet marketing,” for those who think SEO is a negative term) isn’t just making sure you have your title and alt tags in place. It also involves using words and phrases that accurately describe what your article or blog post is about in a web-friendly way to help Google connect the right searchers to you.
Read more from OJR: The Online Journalism Review.
Twitter is a great tool to expand the reach of your message beyond your website, enewsletter or blog. But you can’t measure your reach solely by the number of followers you have—you have to look beyond and consider the user who follows your followers.