" />

Tag Archives: Math

Social Media Marketing for Businesses

Social Media Marketing for Businesses

social media and marketingUsing social media for marketing can enable small business looking to further their reach to more customers. Your customers are interacting with brands through social media, therefore, having a strong social media marketing plan and presence on the web is the key to their interest. If implemented correctly, marketing with social media can bring remarkable success to your business.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing, or SMM, is a form of internet marketing that implements various social media networks in order to achieve marketing communication and branding goals. Social media marketing primarily covers activities involving social sharing of content, videos, and images for marketing purposes, as well as paid social media advertising.

We’ve created this guide to provide you with the social media marketing tips and training you need to better your business. We want to give small businesses on short budgets an alternative to hiring a social media marketing agency or paying for social media marketing services.

With our Social Media Marketing 101 Guide below, you can begin developing your own social media marketing expert plan.

Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses:

Learn Social Media Marketing 101

This guide gives a basic overview on how to use social media for marketing, serving as a social media marketing for dummies manual.

Start With a Plan

Before you begin creating social media marketing campaigns, consider your business’ goals. Starting a social media marketing campaign without a social strategy in mind is like wandering through a forest without a map—you’ll only end up lost.

Create a social media marketing plan and brainstorm about your goals: what are you hoping to achieve through social media marketing? Who is your target audience? Where would your target audience hang out and how would they use social media? What message do you want to send to your audience with social media marketing?

Developing Your Goals

Social media marketing can help with a number of goals, such as:

  • Increasing website traffic
  • Building conversions
  • Raising brand awareness
  • Creating a brand identity and positive brand association
  • Improving communication and interaction with key audiences

Only by establishing your goals can you measure your social media ROI.

Learn Marketing with Social Media

Here are some social media marketing tips to keep you on the right track across all your social media campaigns.

  • Planning – As discussed previously, building a social media marketing plan is essential. Consider keyword research and brainstorm content ideas that will interest your target audience.
  • Content is King — Consistent with other areas of online marketing, content reigns king when it comes to social media marketing. Make sure you are offering valuable information that your ideal customers will find interesting. Create a variety of content by implementing social media images, videos, and infographics in addition to classic text-based content.
  • Consistent Brand Image — Using social media for marketing enables your business to project your brand image across a variety of different social media platforms. While each platform has its own unique environment and voice, your business’ core identity should stay consistent.
  • Blog — Blogging is a great social media marketing tool that lets you share a wide array of information and content with readers. Your company blog can also serve as your social media marketing blog, in which you blog about your recent social media efforts, contests, and events.    
  • Links — While using social media for marketing relies primarily on your business sharing its own unique, original content to gain followers, fans, and devotees, it’s also great to link to outside articles as well. If other sources provide great, valuable information you think your target audience will enjoy, don’t be shy about linking to them. Linking to outside sources improves trust and reliability, and you may even get some links in return.
  • Track Competitors — It’s always important to keep an eye on competitors—they can provide valuable data for keyword research, where to get industry-related links, and other social media marketing insight. If your competitors are using a certain social media marketing technique that seems to be working for them, do the same thing, but do it better!
  • Measure Success with Analytics —You can’t determine the success of your social media marketing strategies without tracking data. Google Analytics can be used as a great social media marketing tool that will help you measure your triumphant social media marketing techniques, as well as determine which strategies are better off abandoned.  Attach tracking tags to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can properly monitor them.

Know Your Platform

We’ve put together a brief overview on how to use social media for marketing according to each platform’s unique environment. Various social media marketing sites will require different techniques, so develop a unique strategy tailored for each platform.

Facebook

Facebook’s casual, friendly environment requires an active social media marketing strategy that begins with creating a Facebook Business Fan Page.  You will want to pay careful attention to layout, as the visual component is a key aspect of the Facebook experience. Social media marketing for business pages revolves around furthering your conversation with audiences by posting industry-related articles, images, videos, etc.

Facebook is a place people go to relax and chat with friends, so keep your tone light and friendly.

 

Google+ for marketingGoogle+

Google+ is the new Facebook competitor, and it promotes the same fun, casual atmosphere. On Google+, you can upload and share photos, videos, links, and view all your +1s. Also take advantage of Google+ circles, which allow you to segment your followers into smaller groups, enabling you to share information with some followers while barring others. For example, you might try creating a “super-fan” circle, and share special discounts and exclusive offers only with that group.

You can also try hosting video conferences with Hangouts and experiment using the Hangout feature in some fun, creative ways. Some social media marketing ideas: if you're a salon, host a how-to session on how to braid your hair. If you own a local bookstore, try offering author video chats. If you're feeling adventurous, invite your +1s to your Google+ Community. Google+ Communities will allow you to listen to your fan's feedback and input, truly putting the social back into social media.

Pinterest

Pinterest is the latest in social media marketing trends. Pinterest’s image-centered platform is ideal for retail, but anyone can benefit from using Pinterest for social media purposes.

Pinterest allows small businesses to showcase their own product offerings while also developing their own brand’s personality with some unique pinboards.

Twitter

Twitter is the social media marketing tool that lets you broadcast your updates across the web. Follow tweeters in your industry or related fields, and you should gain a steady stream of followers in return.

Mix up your official-related tweets about specials, discounts, and news updates with some fun and quirky tweets interspersed. Be sure to retweet when a customer has something nice to say about you, and don’t forget answer people’s questions when possible.  Using Twitter as a social media marketing tool revolves around dialog and communication, so be sure to interact as much as possible

 

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the more professional social media marketing sites. LinkedIn Groups is a great venue for entering into a professional dialog with people in similar industries and provides a place to share content with like-minded individuals. 

Encourage customers or clients to give your business a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations make your business appear more credible and reliable for new customers. Also, browse the Questions section of LinkedIn; providing answers helps you get established and earns trust.

YouTube

YouTube is the number one place for creating video content, with can be an incredibly powerful social media marketing tool. Many businesses try to create video content with the aim of having their video “go viral,” but in reality, those chances are pretty slim. Instead, focus on creating useful, instructive “how-to” videos. These how-to videos also have the added benefit of ranking  the video search results of Google, so don't under-estimate the power of video content!

Location-Based Social Media Tools

Social media platforms like Yelp, FourSquare, and Level Up are great for brick and mortar businesses looking to implement marketing social media. Register on these sites to claim your location spot, and then consider extra incentives such as check-in rewards or special discounts. Remember, these visitors will have their phones in hand so they will have access to providing reviews which could hurt or significantly aid your users.

Reddit

Reddit, or similar social media platforms such as Stumble Upon or Digg, are ideal for sharing compelling content. With over 2 billion page views a month, Reddit has incredible social media marketing potential, but marketers should be warned that only truly unique, interesting content will be welcomed. Posting on Reddit is playing with fire—submit spammy or sales-focused content and your business could get berated by this extremely tech-savvy community.

If you have content you believe the Reddit community (majority is young, geeky, liberal, and internet-obsessed) would enjoy, you could reap tremendous benefits and earn valuable traffic.

Using social media in marketing does more than improve site traffic and help businesses reach more customers; it provides a valuable venue for better understanding and learning from your target audiences. Hopefully, this guide has helped you better understand how using social media for marketing  can improve your business.

Looking for better results? Pay-per-click marketing is a growing form of online advertising that continues to be very successfully for small and medium sized businesses. Learn about PPC and try WordStream's PPC Optimization software for free today!

Paid Social Media Marketing Tips

We love paid social advertising because it's a highly cost-effective way to expand your reach. If you play your cards right, you can get your content and offers in front of a huge audience at a very low cost. Most social media platforms offer incredibly granular targeting capabilities, allowing you to focus your budget on exactly the types of people that are most likely to be interested in your business. Below are some tips and resources for getting started with paid social media marketing:

Social Media Advertising for Small Businesses

social media advertising tipsLearn the ins and outs of social media advertising on four major networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Creating Effective Facebook Ads

If you know how to use it properly, Facebook can be one of the most powerful advertising platforms for driving your business forward. And it's not just for raising brand awareness. In this guide, you'll learn how to create effective Facebook ads that generate real leads.

If you're already advertising on Facebook and are looking to save time AND money, check out WordStream Social Ads, our new offering that makes Facebook advertising easier and more effective.

How to Create Twitter Ads

Many businesses aren’t quite sure how to tackle marketing on Twitter from a paid perspective. It’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and if you don’t quite know what you’re doing, you could wind up wasting a ton of money. Learn how to master Twitter advertising in this guide.

 

 

 

 

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

The Many Mistakes Content Marketers Make

The Many Mistakes Content Marketers Make

 

Content marketing is big business these days. It’s a huge element of online marketing and has become a favored lead generation tactic for many businesses, with good reason.

 

And, it’s not an easy task. There’s more to it than just posting content. The marketer must come up with a suitable, time appropriate topic, draft up the initial content, proofread and edit and then finally publish the piece. Content marketing experts know from experience just how tough it is to create outstanding content consistently, let alone content that shoots the lights out. This is why leading content marketers are highly sought after by big business, as they have honed their skills, understanding what makes great content and how to avoid fatal mistakes that can destroy the quality of their content, or even worse their brand.

In this post, I’m going to share 10 simple avoidable mistakes, to boost the quality of your content, and give it a stronger chance of being successful.

Quality is king.

A crucial mistake made by so many content marketers is the creation and pumping out of truckloads of content for the sake of content. When it comes to content, quality is king and to add to that — consistent, predictable quality is the sweet spot. A haphazard, rushed, or under-whelming content marketing strategy guarantees you or the company you are representing poor lead generation results, and an utter waste of marketing budgets.

Don’t ever feel compelled to throw words in for the sake of making the piece bigger. If you can say it succinctly and convincingly in fewer words, do exactly that.

Proofread, edit, proofread, edit, repeat.

Marketers and business owners new to content marketing often fall into the trap of thinking it's easy. How hard can  it be putting a few words down on paper be hey? Here's the reality check — being a quality content marketer is much harder than it seems. Creating engaging, quality content on a consistent basis is difficult and the fact is most of the population won’t be good at it for a variety of reasons. Those that are new to it, will almost always make this mistake. The mistake of failing to thoroughly proofread and edit their content, more than once.

Don't put in all the effort in the lead-up, to fall at the final hurdle, thus destroying everything before, by failing to proofread, and edit to ensure nothing less than an excellent end product.

Topic selection.

Topic selection is crucial and often underestimated in terms of it's impact on the outcomes of your content marketing efforts. Most people write about what they like or base the decision on a guess. Avoid these mistakes, and research your potential topics. Get insight into what topics are trending and delivering great engagement. These are your hotspots. Target them, and offer something unique, and engaging.

The drive by.

Content marketing is an opportunity to inform. To become a trusted advisor. Treating this with disrespect by being too brief and avoiding showing competence and appropriate levels of detail will put you on a fast track to being discarded as a content marketer, for those that are more comprehensive in their approach.

Content Marketing is an opportunity to gloat. It's a chance to show off a little and put your subject matter expertise on display, and by doing so encourage people to pick up and phone and buy from you. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect and ultimately sell.

The spray approach.

Once you've completed all of the tasks associated with creating great content, don’t forget you're only 50 percent of the way through the process. Once that first stage is complete, you must embark on the second phase — being the promotion of the content and ultimately building a following.

This isn’t achieved overnight. Building and maintaining a following is a slow process, one that takes time and above all, consistency. This is the difference between simply producing content and understanding why promotion is critical to the success of that content being created.

Hot and cold.

You come out of the blocks guns blazing. You produce 10 pieces in the first week, and another eight in the following three weeks. In the second month, you produce four pieces and one in the third month. However, in month four you have your mojo back and you produce 12 pieces.

This inconsistency isn’t liked by search engines or readers. Consistency and predictability were important. Create and communicate a planned schedule, and stick to it. Don’t overcook it, keep it manageable and achievable.    

Analytics and knowledge.

You’re actively creating content on a weekly basis for your clients. But, have you taken the time to understand which pieces work, and importantly which ones don’t? This is a huge mistake made by content marketing experts. It’s a simple strategy. By understanding what does work, you can create more content along those lines, and avoid producing more content where data tells you it hasn’t been successful. Always test and understand the outcomes of your content. Being informed is what will enhance and maintain your success.

Look and feel appeal.

Most content these days in consumed online. Keep in mind that the look and feel of the website and blog where the content is being read will have a major impact on readership numbers. An appealing design and layout will enhance readership numbers significantly.

Another crucial element in building credibility and your readership is optimizing your content through on-page and off page SEO tactics, ensuring search engine friendly and keywords have been optimized to ensure indexing by Google and other search engines.

Be brave.

Boring content is everywhere. Literally everywhere. And with the rise of content marketing, it's becoming more and more common. Stand out from the crowd with bold, brave content that takes a different angle, offers something unique, quirky or simply very very engaging. Don't be afraid to take a few risks or even ruffle a few feathers. 

Video.

Include video as part of your content marketing strategy. Figures from Facebook prove the rapid rise of video consumption and its importance in content marketing. Don't miss that train by ignoring video as a crucial element in your approach.

Content marketing, when done correctly, can be one of the most successful customer acquisition channels for a business. However it must be done correctly, and with focus, avoiding common mistakes that will lead to poor outcomes. Avoid these  mistakes to boost your chances of success.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Which Is More Effective?

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Which Is More Effective?

 

If you’re running a business or a marketer, you’ve probably heard of the terms “inbound marketing” and “outbound marketing”. You might think that these are just another categorization of marketing or just some buzzwords that marketers made up to sound cool.

While I won’t deny that having “Inbound Marketer” on my name card looks cooler than having “Normal Marketer” on it, we should really understand the distinction between these two marketing approaches and how they work in today’s digital age.

I know it’s still not as cool as this. Maybe someday, I’ll be as cool as Mark.

If you’re trying to expand the audience for your website, find new customers and grow your business, it’s likely that you’re going to have to invest in some sort of marketing campaigns in order to promote your brand or product or services.

Today, technology has changed how people obtain information and consequently, marketing has undergone a massive transformation. Outbound marketing tactics, like television and radio advertising, are not as effective as they once were. Now comes the age of inbound marketing, driven by the Internet and social media.

Think about it: today’s customers are really savvy. No one wants to sit through a sales pitch, and people today have become really good at avoiding them.

  • People can skip TV ads by recording their favorite shows and fast-forwarding through the commercials and with so many online streaming services, TVs don’t even get that many viewers anymore.
  • Digital music and satellite radio makes it easy for people to avoid radio advertising.
  • People get their news from the Internet, so no one sees the print advertising in the newspapers any more.
  • Online banner ads are blocked by ad blockers. Even if they don’t get blocked, they have very low visibility due to a symptom called banner blindness.
  • Email salesletters mostly wind up in the spam folder or doesn’t even get opened.
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened. So don’t bother wasting those paper and postage fees.
  • And do young people even know what the yellow pages are any more? Nobody is going to flip through hundreds of pages when they can simply Google what they are looking for.
  • With do-not-call lists, telemarketing is a thing of the past or just plain annoying.
  • Outdoor billboards are even less effective. Pay a huge sum of money to display your message to people who are moving at 60 mph and has primary focus on the road. Worst still, there are other brands fighting for their limited attention at the same time.

The bottom line is: Traditional advertising channels are just not getting the job done anymore. Technology has advanced and marketing strategies and tactics have also evolved to keep up with it.

What is Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is just another name for “traditional advertising methods”, it is devised to contrast with the newer “inbound marketing”. It includes television and radio advertising, print advertising, telemarketing, direct mail, and outdoor advertising.

If Facebook used outbound marketing tactics

The basic idea is that advertisers use mass media tools to push their message and products out to the public. The hope is that if enough people who are in your target audience hear the message, they will respond.

These marketing tactics used to be effective, but nowadays these ads are so saturated and so similar that people no longer pay attention to them.

Another problem with outbound marketing is that many people who are not in your target audience are also exposed to your message, which makes the cost of advertising on these mediums less effective.

Traditional marketing is interruptive. Commercials interrupt television shows. Door to door salesman and cold calls interrupt what people are doing to present a sales pitch. This push advertising worked in the mass media age, but modern communications technology has allowed people to escape and avoid these annoying interruptions.

What is Inbound Marketing

Definition of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing refers to marketing strategies that focus on pulling audiences in instead of going out to get prospects’ attention. Inbound marketing pulls visitors in, increase brand exposure, and creates brand authority through the creation of valuable content.

Question: If people are not responding to traditional marketing channels, then how are they getting information about the products and services that they need?

Answer: They are using the Internet. Let’s say a homeowner is interested in a lawn care service. How is he going to find such a service? In the past, he might have looked in the yellow pages, the newspaper or a direct mail piece. Today’s homeowner is going to get on his computer, go to his favorite search engine and type “lawn care near Chicago” and look for the best result.

This simple search will yield resources to begin vetting lawn care services. This search may lead him to some blog posts about lawn care in Chicago and he may even download a white paper for even more information.

If he needs further assistance, he may go to his Facebook or Twitter account and ask his connections for their recommendations. The lawn care service that can deploy online marketing assets that attract this homeowner will eventually win his business.

This new marketing strategy is called inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is slightly more complicated and indirect compared to outbound marketing, but it’s the more effective way of reaching your target audiences.

Below is an illustration of the process of an inbound marketing campaign:

Difference between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

In their most basic forms, outbound marketing uses push tactics while inbound marketing uses pull tactics.

A big part of inbound marketing relies on creating valuable content and attracting visitors with it. It relies on the development of modern communications technology like the Internet, mobile phones and social media to attract consumers. Instead of pushing a message out onto a large population, inbound marketing attracts specific audiences that are out there looking for information.

The goal is to pull interested people toward the marketing materials and attract them to the business with valuable information. This is done by setting up a wide variety of online marketing assets are ready and waiting for interested consumers to find.

These assets include blog posts, websites and paid advertising optimized for specific Internet searches, a dynamic social media presence, mobile apps and much more. When people are attracted to your marketing content, they readily give their permission to receive more information and promotional material from you.

Communication Is a Two-Way Street

The key difference between inbound and outbound marketing is communication. Outbound marketing relies on mass media where communication is only one-way. The business shouts out a message about its brand, and that’s it. People can’t interact with the message or the brand even if they want to. They might even find ways to avoid it.

With inbound marketing, people can talk back and engage with the brand. They can send an email, leave a comment on a blog, post on social media, leave a review on a third-party site and engage your business in many ways. The Internet has returned power to the consumer. If your business’ advertising does not square with the actual services that you provide, people are going to find out and post about it online. Your business cannot hide behind a mass media campaign. If you don’t deliver on your promises, people are going to know.

The key to success in inbound marketing is transparency, honesty and engagement. You must be transparent and honest about your products and services. And you have to engage with people who are talking about your brand even when the comments are negative.

This two-way communication might seem scary to businesses with heavy investments in traditional marketing, but it is really a boon. Direct connections with consumers not only create brand loyalty but they let you know what problems exists so you can solve them. In addition, your customers are empowered to become ambassadors for your business. They can write reviews, promote your content on social media and make referrals.

Inbound Marketing Activities

Online marketing revolves around a set of key activities. Here are a few elements that you will need to master if you are going to promote your business with inbound marketing.

Search engine optimization: We can’t stress enough how important SEO is to inbound marketing. SEO is a set of tactics that makes your website attractive to search engines. It takes advantage of what we know about how search engines rank sites to boost the chances that your content will rank for specific keyword searches.

Content creation: Content can come in many forms, but the basic forms are website pages and blog posts. Search engines like sites with a lot of current content. But the main target of content is human visitors who want valuable information about a problem they are experiencing. The key is to position your business as a trusted expert through this content. Content also includes images and videos. Ebooks, white paper, webinars and other similar content offer more extensive information that is used to collect contact information from visitors.

Calls-to-action: Content is not complete without inviting the reader to act in some way. The action could be downloading an ebook in exchange for an email address. But it could also be to make a purchase now based on a discount offer. A call-to-action requires a landing page to further entice visitors to respond to an offer.

Social media: These platforms are ways to promote content. They make it possible for your content to go viral and reach a lot of people.

Emails: Emails are still a very effective tool to nurture an ongoing relationship with people who have expressed an interest in your products and services. You can send out an email newsletter with industry tips and best practices as well as great offers on your products.

Benefits of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing works, here are some of the stats that demonstrate how well inbound marketing works.

According to Hubspot’s report in 2013:

  • 79% of companies that have a blog reported a positive ROI.
  • 57% of marketers who blog monthly acquired a customer directly from their blog.
  • 77% of businesses that market directly to consumers have acquired a customer with Facebook.

Inbound marketing is a proven way to generate leads, drive sales and grow your business.

The best news is that inbound marketing is less expensive than traditional marketing. Outbound marketing is expensive because they are usually broadcast to a mass audience even if they aren’t in your target demographics. You have to buy expensive media exposure and keep repeating your message for it to work.

The cost per lead drops significantly for inbound marketing because online resource are significantly less expensive than mass media. You focus on a target audience that is already interested in your products. Inbound marketing results in a significant decrease in cost associated with lead generation.

A marketing strategy that works and is less expensive than the alternative: it seems like a no-brainer. Just look at the numbers below, according to a survey, 41% expressed that inbound marketing demonstrated positive ROI for their company.

Developing a Marketing Strategy

If you are just getting started developing a marketing strategy for your business, then the path forward is clear. Inbound marketing is your best bet. It is more effective and will ultimately cost less. You might also invest in more targeted traditional marketing if there is real evidence that you can reach your audience, but there is no reason to invest in large mass media advertising campaigns. Any traditional marketing that you do should drive people to your online resources.

If you are heavily invested in traditional marketing, you are probably seeing a drop in the effectiveness of your efforts. It may be time to start investing some of your marketing budget into inbound marketing. You can then align your traditional marketing campaigns with your online resources over time. As you move forward, you can shift more and more of your budget to inbound marketing.

The way people communicate is changing rapidly. Inbound marketing leverages these changes to more effectively promote your business. If you want to expand your audience, find new customers and grow, inbound marketing strategies are the way to go.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Why is Inbound Marketing Hot Today?

What is Inbound Marketing?
Why is Inbound Marketing Hot Today?

Inbound marketing is a strategy that utilizes many forms of pull marketing – content marketing, blogs, events, SEO, social media and more – to create brand awareness and attract new business. In contrast to outbound marketing, where marketers attempt to find customers, inbound marketing earns the attention of customers and makes the company easy to be found.

We live in a word of information abundance and attention scarcity – and the pace of information creation is accelerating. According to IBM, we now create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.

Buyers today are more empowered. The web provides them with instant information gratification. They can access detailed specs, pricing, and reviews about goods and services 24/7 with a few flicks of their thumbs. Meanwhile, social media encourages them to share and compare, while mobile devices add a wherever/whenever dimension to every aspect of the experience.

"Inbound Marketing is so powerful because you have the power to give the searcher/consumer exactly what answers they are looking for at the precise point that they need it. That builds trust, reputation, and authority in whatever niche you are practicing this form of marketing in.” Because of this, traditional marketing tactics based on “renting” attention that others have built — and interrupting the buyer in the process — are becoming less and less effective.

 

“Although it varies greatly with product complexity and market maturity, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they will engage with a vendor’s sales rep.”

Time for Inbound Marketing!

To replace outdated “renting attention” marketing tactics, companies are deploying new methods geared at building awareness, developing relationships and generating leads. In short, inbound marketing attracts customers to you so you are not chasing them down. It helps prospects find your company in the early stages of their decision-making process, leading to a stronger influence on their future buying decisions.

                     Why You Need Inbound Marketing to Survive

Inbound marketing offers numerous benefits. When utilized effectively, it can:

  • Shape a brand preference and influence future purchases. 
  • Generate social media shares and inbound links.
  • Put customers in the driver’s seat.
  • Help fuel search engine optimization efforts.
  • Increase brand awareness.
  • Enable customers to engage with your brand at their point of need, 24/7.
  • Generate qualified leads for less money (when compared with traditional marketing).

Unlike traditional marketing initiatives, inbound efforts build upon themselves over time. For example, a strong piece of content offers many immediate and long-term benefits. It brings attention to your company when launched and will continue to resource your clients as long as it stays on your site. As the content gains more exposure, it can then become an ongoing source of inbound traffic via search engine optimization (SEO), social shares and word of mouth.

“The key is to create a strategic content strategy tailored around your personas and the stage of the buying cycle they are in. By doing this, you are providing valuable content geared directly towards that specific visitor. This helps move them down the buying cycle, answer their objections and build trust. All of these factors result in a shorts sales time, more qualified leads and an easier sale for your sales team.”

Types of Inbound Marketing:

What Makes For a Successful Campaign

There is no single inbound marketing tactic that works well on its own. Here’s what Bill Faeth shared with us about healthy inbound marketing ecosystems:

“Inbound marketing can’t be segmented into separate categories, with each section holding independent power. While we rely on SEO to draw in visitors from organic search, that SEO doesn’t work if there’s   a  content without social media, blogs don’t reach new, interested people. And SEO, content, and social media are all completely useless without a lead generation process in place.” Most successful inbound marketing campaigns incorporate all or parts of the following elements:  

SEO

Search engine optimization is an integral part of effective inbound marketing. Using effective keyword analysis, well-structured site design and other SEO “best practices” to launch your company to the top of search results will ensure that your content is being seen by the right audience and bring in the right leads.

Blogging

By far the most common form of inbound marketing, blogging can play a powerful role in driving traffic and nurturing leads.

Social Media

With 67% of online adults using social media to share information, you can’t afford to neglect widely popular online communities such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Live Events and Webinars

Take inbound marketing to the next level with online webinars and live events. And there’s much more: Videos, whitepapers, eBooks, e-newsletters, public speaking… Any opportunity to share valuable content is an opportunity to practice inbound marketing.

How to Initiate Your Inbound Marketing

When it comes to inbound marketing, the more you invest, the greater your return. Creating killer content is more about brains and commitment rather than budget. Don’t throw money at it – put your head and heart into it!

Here’s how to get started:

  • Identify your target audience and learn all you can about them. You can’t write content to inform your customers until you know what makes your audience tick.
  • Determine your unique, compelling story. Why should your audience listen to you?
  • Choose your delivery platforms. Will you blog? Tweet? Use Facebook? Pinterest?
  • Create and execute your content calendar.

It is important to create a schedule that will consistently turn out fresh and relevant content to continue to engage your audience. Keep in mind that your theme should be focused on customer issues, not on your business.

“Rather than focusing on ‘enough’ content, marketers should be focused on publishing quality content. Content that educates their audience and builds brands and authority.  The right content will be shared, increasing your reach, increasing awareness, increasing trust and increasing leads. The wrong content will lose followers and damage your reputation.”

And don’t forget to set aside time for analysis on a weekly basis. This step will aid you in understanding how effective your inbound marketing efforts have been and how they can be improved.

Put Marketing Automation to Work

Inbound marketing cannot be relied on as the sole means of generating business. To achieve a more balanced approach, combine inbound efforts with outbound activities such as lead nurturing, lead scoring and other components of marketing automation.

Marketing automation empowers inbound marketers with tools and strategies to convert fans and followers to leads and customers. Automation accomplishes this by cultivating relationships with leads which are not yet ready to buy (most often via targeted email campaigns). Automation also enhances your inbound efforts by helping you separate legitimate leads from the not-so-legitimate ones. Furthermore, connecting marketing automation to your customer relationship management (CRM) system makes certain none of your leads get lost in the shuffle. Leveraging marketing automation with your inbound marketing campaign is like throwing fuel on your marketing fire.

Learn to Quantify Your Success

When measuring the success of your inbound marketing efforts, there are a plethora of metrics to choose from. Whether you decide to look at SEO rankings, inbound links or number of articles published, you’re sure to derive some insight into how your campaigns are performing. 

However, don’t get caught up in basing your decisions on marketing activities alone. For instance, having 5,000 followers on Twitter might sound impressive, but this number doesn’t offer too much insight in terms of real business results. Instead, you should be looking to financial metrics that show how marketing helps your company generate more profits and faster growth when stacked against your competitors.

One of these valuable metrics is organic traffic, which involves people finding your website by means other than typing in your URL or searching for your brand name. So, say you are a staffing company and a prospect types “local staffing solutions” into a Google search. If your company name pops up high in the results, then you’ve benefited from a successful organic search. Tracking how much of this traffic converts into leads will give you an idea of how you might need to adjust your marketing strategies. Taking it a step further, you should be tracking the trends (not just the hard numbers) so you can see how quickly your online presence is improving. Some marketing automation solutions have this type of useful functionality built right in.

Make Inbound Marketing Work For You!

In our fast-paced society where the Internet and social networking shape our daily decisions, customers are exposed to more information than ever. This phenomenon is not only making them more educated but also is causing a change in buying behaviors. As a result, B2B and B2C marketing efforts must be adjusted to respond to this shift.

Today’s businesses are realizing that outbound efforts alone are not enough to produce profits. Instead, inbound marketing techniques need to be utilized in order to attract more leads and foster better brand preference. To be successful in inbound marketing, businesses need to introduce a disciplined approach to content creation, introduce marketing automation tools that can help them nurture and score leads, and optimize how these leads flow through the sales pipeline.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Effective Business Development Strategies

Effective Business Development Strategies to get started

Over the past few years, organizations worldwide are beginning to understand the importance of business developers and the value they bring to the organization, although not all companies quit understand what business development managers do exactly.

 

 If you are one of those people, please find the time to read this:

Let us say you have just moved into a business development position from a sales or a marketing background, normally, big enterprises provide their employees with training and orientation, small and medium size companies on the other hand usually lack such processes, if you find your self confused about what to do, then keep on reading

In this article we will discuss business development activities that successful business development managers adopt to ensure success in their work, these main strategies are divided to three main parts:

  1. Business Development Activities
  2. Enhancing Public image
  3. Increasing market exposure

In this article, we will attempt to provide a summarized review of what you as a business developer should do to add value to your company.

Business Development Activities

Market Research

Performing market research is highly important in order to understand your company current position and determine where it is headed, for that, you will need to do the following:

Perform research about the industry you are in, the geographical area you cover and the market segment you are targeting. There are many ready made reports about the industry, market, country over the Internet sphere that you can find useful, they inform you about market trends and value, you can then calculate your market share out of the total market value.
Research for contracts, bids and opportunities of cooperation with other companies that your company can take to increase its channels of revenues.
Subscribe to industry related databases, forums and blogs; these can be of great value to you, especially if you were in the construction or building industry as they provide detailed information regarding all projects within your area from concept to execution, this would save you plenty of time consumed normally in collecting information and vastly reduce your market intelligence efforts, use them wisely as leverage over your competition.

Competitive analysis

Once you learn everything you can about the products/ services your company offers, you have to learn about your competition in order to understand where you stand compared to others, it will also help you determine your desired market positioning, for that you will need to do the following:

  1. Determine your company top competitors (4-6 competitors)
  2. Set up a criteria or mechanism of comparison, choose different variables of which you will do the comparison with, this could be in the form of strengths/ weaknesses or in other form such as price, product quality, exposure, brand reputation, etc.
  3. Try to find out what are the projects your competitors are targeting within your market segment, assess if you can develop an offering that can win those business from them.
  4. Since you are a new employee, competitors do not know you yet, use that to visit your competitors showrooms (if they have any), therefore you can visit them anonymously like any regular customer and collect valuable input to use in your research.

Current Client Relations  

  1. Conduct warm calls to your existing clients, in order to assess the company current situation, what are you doing right/ wrong? In order to assess your strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats (SWOT Analysis) and ensure your clients are not being tempted by other competitors.
  2. Build close relationship with your clients, through the use of emails, phone calls, face to face meetings and product technical presentations in order to assess your client requirements and needs, do not forget to provide them with the latest copy of your marketing material.
  3. Follow up, Follow up, Follow up, do not push hard, but also do not give up easily, 80% of B2B sales are conducted after the 5th encounter.
  4. Identify your main target audience sectors, then categorize the main companies you want to approach within these sectors.
  5. Conduct cold calls with the desired company and arrange meetings in order to identify their current supplier or service provider, find out why they are currently working with that supplier/ service provider and if they were happy about their current provider, tailor your sales pitch based on the given feedback to win the business.
  6. Email your marketing materials to existing clients & potential clients within your target audience in order to raise awareness about the latest products you added or new services you provide.
  7. Follow up, Follow up, and Follow up! Don’t push too hard but also do not give up. There are several email tracking tools that you can use, these can be useful as you will find out when a certain person have checked your email recently therefore you know that something must have come up and perhaps you should give your client a call.

Reach out to new clients

  1. Identify your main target audience sectors, then categorize the main companies you want to approach within these sectors.
  2. Conduct cold calls with the desired company and arrange meetings in order to identify their current supplier or service provider, find out why they are currently working with that supplier/ service provider and if they were happy about their current provider, tailor your sales pitch based on the given feedback to win the business.
  3. Email your marketing materials to existing clients & potential clients within your target audience in order to raise awareness about the latest products you added or new services you provide.
  4. Follow up, Follow up, and Follow up! Don’t push too hard but also do not give up. There are several email tracking tools that you can use, these can be useful as you will find out when a certain person have checked your email recently therefore you know that something must have come up and perhaps you should give your client a call.

Networking Events

As a BDM, spending your whole day inside the office will not be the best use of your time, you need to spend time out there, meeting people related to your market. Attending networking events can be of great value to you, you get to meet new people and learn new things about your market.

Attend industry related networking events, exhibitions, seminars, conferences and trade shows to be in contact with new; potential clients, having a booth in the exhibition is an advantage, however make sure it presents a good image and reflects the company brand identity, otherwise, you may be perceived to be unprofessional or cheap.

Attend as many industry related events as you can, make sure you follow up with a thank you email to everyone you meet the second day.

Enhancing the Public image

This strategy addresses the company’s image and how it is perceived by the different stakeholders, the company is a brand, and like any brand, you cannot control the way perceive it, however you can only try to influence your audience perception, this can be achieved through:

Website 

  1. You can work with the marketing division or marketing specialists on enhancing the company website, making it more user friendly, with a clear call for action message to converge views into actions, a poorly designed website can repulse people from your business and can cause you to lose customers before you even have them.
  2. Make sure your website is ‘responsive’, what responsive means is that your website should be able to adapt to whatever browser used for view and it should also be able to fit multiple screens sizes depending on the gadget used to view your website (PC, Tablet, Laptop, Mobile, etc.)
  3.  Proof read your website content and ensure there are no punctuation or grammatical mistakes within, your font must be clear enough to read without problems, these small mistakes can go unnoticeable most of the time, however for clients with an eye for details, your company will be perceived as unprofessional or of low quality.
  4. Use only high quality images on your website, low quality images may reflect bad image or poor quality, consider hiring a professional photographer to take some shots of staff in office or engineers working on site, these photos can be used on the website and for other marketing materials so don’t forget to archive these photos and label them for ease of use in future.
  5. Consider adding the organizational chart of your company to the website, at least for upper management, this could ease the life of the website viewers as it would be clear who does what inside the organization, and who they need to contact.

Branding 

There should be only one integrated communication theme that governs the all aspects of your brand, whether online or offline your brand must reflect consistency.

Creating and implementing the below in compliance with your brand guidelines will ensure your company is presented with one unified, cohesive and professional image, addressing your customers in English is important, you need to consider your target audience, therefore adding the native language of your target audience is as important, your marketing material should include:

  • Company Profile
  • Generic Company Brochure
  • Product Catalogs
  • Branded Folder
  • Branded CD’s
  • Customer testimonials
  • Press Releases
  • A unified presentation template, also make sure all employees use it.
  • Short 1-3 minutes promotional videos that promotes the company and its products to be used on multiple platforms (YouTube, Exhibitions, Reception area, etc.).
  • A unified company signature for emails and make sure all employees use it.

Office

Ensure your company offices reflect the company brand image, this includes:

  • Reception Area should be equipped with marketing materials and business cards displayed in an attractive manner, available as takeaways for visitors.
  • Company videos are displayed on loop in the waiting area, it gives your visitors an opportunity to know more about your business while waiting.
  • Proper Signage displayed in all the company common areas, clearly displaying the company name and logo.
  • Common areas and staff offices must be clean, tidy, uncluttered and inviting, bathrooms must remain clean at all times.
  • Make sure that snacks and hot beverages are available at all times for visitors, served in an attractive dish wear.
  • Your conference room should always be ready to accommodate guests, trainings, seminars and meetings, therefore it should be equipped with a screen or projector, a laser pointer, teleconferencing equipment and a white board.

Increasing market exposure

Optimize your online presence 

  1. Conduct and online reputation management research, this would ensure that all articles, posts, videos and comments out there present your brand in a positive manner.
  2. Develop your company presence over different social media platforms, ensure you choose your platforms according to your target audience (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  3. Develop content to post on your different social media platforms, such as (Press releases, Success stories, case studies, promotional videos, ongoing training activities, testimonials, etc.)
  4. Increase your online exposure by applying search engine optimization techniques to enhance your online visibility.

By applying the above strategies, you can get ahead of your colleagues and reflect a professional image in front of your superiors, make sure you get upper management support for your actions, present them with a plan of what you want to do, they need to believe that what you are doing is in the best interest of the company, you will find that without upper management support, accomplishing the above strategies will be difficult if not impossible.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Sponsorships that Used to Work

Sponsorships that Used to Work

In the era of Facebook and YouTube, brand building has become a vexing challenge. This is not how things were supposed to turn out. A decade ago most companies were heralding the arrival of a new golden age of branding. They hired creative agencies and armies of technologists to insert brands throughout the digital universe. Viral, buzz, memes, stickiness, and form factor became the lingua franca of branding. But despite all the hoopla, such efforts have had very little payoff.

As a central feature of their digital strategy, companies made huge bets on what is often called branded content. The thinking went like this: Social media would allow your company to leapfrog traditional media and forge relationships directly with customers. If you told them great stories and connected with them in real time, your brand would become a hub for a community of consumers. Businesses have invested billions pursuing this vision. Yet few brands have generated meaningful consumer interest online. In fact, social media seems to have made brands less significant. What has gone wrong?

To solve this puzzle, we need to remember that brands succeed when they break through in culture. And branding is a set of techniques designed to generate cultural relevance. Digital technologies have not only created potent new social networks but also dramatically altered how culture works. Digital crowds now serve as very effective and prolific innovators of culture—a phenomenon I call crowdculture. Crowdculture changes the rules of branding—which techniques work and which do not. If we understand crowdculture, then, we can figure out why branded-content strategies have fallen flat—and what alternative branding methods are empowered by social media.

Why Branded Content and Sponsorships Used to Work

While promoters insist that branded content is a hot new thing, it’s actually a relic of the mass media age that has been repackaged as a digital concept. In the early days of that era, companies borrowed approaches from popular entertainment to make their brands famous, using short-form storytelling, cinematic tricks, songs, and empathetic characters to win over audiences. Classic ads like Alka-Seltzer’s “I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing,” Frito-Lay’s “Frito Bandito,” and Farrah Fawcett “creaming” Joe Namath with Noxema all snuck into popular culture by amusing audiences.

This early form of branded content worked well because the entertainment media were oligopolies, so a cultural competition was limited. In the United States, three networks produced television programming for 30 weeks or so every year and then went into reruns. Films were distributed only through local movie theaters; similarly, magazine competition was restricted to what fit on the shelves at drugstores. Consumer marketing companies could buy their way to fame by paying to place their brands in this tightly controlled cultural arena.

Brands also infiltrated culture by sponsoring TV shows and events, attaching themselves to successful content. Since fans had limited access to their favorite entertainers, brands could act as intermediaries. For decades, we were accustomed to fast food chains’ sponsoring new blockbuster films, luxury autos’ bringing us golf and tennis competitions, and youth brands’ underwriting bands and festivals.

The rise of new technologies that allowed audiences to opt out of ads—from cable networks to DVRs and then the internet—made it much harder for brands to buy fame. Now they had to compete directly with real entertainment. So companies upped the ante. BMW pioneered the practice of creating short films for the internet. Soon corporations were hiring top film directors (Michael Bay, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Wes Anderson, David Lynch) and pushing for ever-more-spectacular special effects and production values.

These early (pre-social-media) digital efforts led companies to believe that if they delivered Hollywood-level creative at internet speed, they could gather huge engaged audiences around their brands. Thus was born the great push toward branded content. But its champions weren’t counting on new competition. And this time it came not from big media companies but from the crowd.

The Rise of Crowdculture

Historically, cultural innovation flowed from the margins of society—from fringe groups, social movements, and artistic circles that challenged mainstream norms and conventions. Companies and the mass media acted as intermediaries, diffusing these new ideas into the mass market. But social media has changed everything.

Social media binds together communities that once were geographically isolated, greatly increasing the pace and intensity of collaboration. Now that these once-remote communities are densely networked, their cultural influence has become direct and substantial. These new crowd culture come in two flavors: subcultures, which incubate new ideologies and practices, and art worlds, which break new ground in entertainment.

Amplified subcultures.

Today you’ll find a flourishing crowd culture around almost any topic: espresso, the demise of the American Dream, Victorian novels, arts-and-crafts furniture, libertarianism, new urbanism, 3-D printing, anime, bird-watching, homeschooling, barbecue. Back in the day, these subculturalists had to gather physically and had very limited ways to communicate collectively: magazines and, later, primitive Usenet groups and meet-ups.

Social media has expanded and democratized these subcultures. With a few clicks, you can jump into the center of any subculture, and participants’ intensive interactions move seamlessly among the web, physical spaces, and traditional media. Together members are pushing forward new ideas, products, practices, and aesthetics—bypassing mass-culture gatekeepers. With the rise of crowd culture, cultural innovators, and their early adopter markets have become one and the same.

Turbocharged art worlds.

Producing innovative popular entertainment requires a distinctive mode of organization—what sociologists call an art world. In art worlds, artists (musicians, filmmakers, writers, designers, cartoonists, and so on) gather in inspired collaborative competition: They work together, learn from one another, play off ideas, and push one another. The collective efforts of participants in these “scenes” often generate major creative breakthroughs. Before the rise of social media, the mass-culture industries (film, television, print media, fashion) thrived by pilfering and repurposing their innovations.

Crowdculture has turbocharged art worlds, vastly increasing the number of participants and the speed and quality of their interactions. No longer do you need to be part of a local scene; no longer do you need to work for a year to get funding and distribution for your short film. Now millions of nimble cultural entrepreneurs come together online to hone their craft, exchange ideas, fine-tune their content, and compete to produce hits. The net effect is a new mode of rapid cultural prototyping, in which you can get instant data on the market’s reception of ideas, have them critiqued, and then rework them so that the most resonant content quickly surfaces. In the process, new talent emerges and new genres form. Squeezing into every nook and cranny of pop culture, the new content is highly attuned to audiences and produced on the cheap. These art-world crowd culture are the main reason why branded content has failed.

Beyond Branded Content

While companies have put their faith in branded content for the past decade, much brute empirical evidence is now forcing them to reconsider. In YouTube or Instagram rankings of channels by the number of subscribers, corporate brands barely appear. Only three have cracked the YouTube Top 500. Instead, you’ll find entertainers you’ve never heard of, appearing as if from nowhere.

YouTube’s greatest success by far is PewDiePie, a Swede who posts barely edited films with snarky voice-over commentary on the video games he plays. By January 2016 he had racked up nearly 11 billion views, and his YouTube channel had more than 41 million subscribers.

How did this happen? The story begins with the youth subcultures that formed around video games. When they landed on social media, they became a force. The once-oddball video-gaming-as-entertainment subculture of South Korea went global, producing a massive spectator sport, now known as E-Sports, with a fan base approaching 100 million people. (Amazon recently bought the E-Sports network Twitch for $970 million.)

In E-Sports, broadcasters provide a play-by-play narration of video games. PewDiePie and his comrades riffed on this commentary, turning it into a potty-mouthed new form of sophomoric comedy. Other gamers who film themselves, such as VanossGaming (YouTube rank #19, 15.6 million subscribers), elrubiusOMG (#20, 15.6 million), CaptainSparklez (#60, 9 million), and Ali-A (#94, 7.4 million), are also influential members of this tribe. The crowd culture was initially organized by specialized media platforms that disseminated this content and by insider fans who gathered around and critiqued it, hyping some efforts and dissing others. PewDiePie became the star of this digital art world—just as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Patti Smith had done in urban art worlds back in the analog days. The main difference is that the power of crowd culture propelled him to global fame and influence in record time.

Gaming comedy is just one of hundreds of new genres that crowd culture has created. Those genres fill every imaginable entertainment gap in popular culture, from girls’ fashion advice to gross-out indulgent foods to fanboy sports criticism. Brands can’t compete, despite their investments. Compare PewDiePie, who cranks out inexpensive videos in his house, to McDonald’s, one of the world’s biggest spenders on social media. The McDonald’s channel (#9,414) has 204,000 YouTube subscribers. PewDiePie is 200 times as popular, for a minuscule fraction of the cost.

Or consider Red Bull, the most lauded branded-content success story. It has become a new-media hub producing extreme- and alternative-sports content. While Red Bull spends much of its $2 billion annual marketing budget on branded content, its YouTube channel (rank #184, 4.9 million subscribers) is lapped by dozens of crowd culture start-ups with production budgets under $100,000. Indeed, Dude Perfect (#81, 8 million subscribers), the brainchild of five college jocks from Texas who make videos of trick shots and goofy improvised athletic feats, does far better.

Coca-Cola offers another cautionary tale. In 2011 the company announced a new marketing strategy—called Liquid & Linked—with great fanfare. Going all in, it shifted its emphasis from “creative excellence” (the old mass-media approach) to “content excellence” (branded content in social media). Coke’s Jonathan Mildenhall claimed that Coke would continually produce “the world’s most compelling content,” which would capture “a disproportionate share of popular culture,” doubling sales by 2020.

The following year, Coca-Cola launched its first big bet, transforming the static corporate website into a digital magazine, Coca-Cola Journey. It runs stories on virtually every pop culture topic—from sports and food to sustainability and travel. It’s the epitome of a branded content strategy.

 Journey has now been live for over three years, and it barely registers views. It hasn’t cracked the top 10,000 sites in the United States or the top 20,000 worldwide. Likewise, the company’s YouTube channel (ranked #2,749) has only 676,000 subscribers.

It turns out that consumers have little interest in the content that brands churn out. Very few people want it in their feed. Most view it as clutter—as brand spam. When Facebook realized this, it began charging companies to get “sponsored” content into the feeds of people who were supposed to be their fans.

.The problem companies face is structural, not creative. Big companies organize their marketing efforts as the antithesis of art worlds, in what I have termed brand bureaucracies. They excel at coordinating and executing complex marketing programs across multiple markets around the world. But this organizational model leads to mediocrity when it comes to cultural innovation.

Brand Sponsors Are Disintermediated

Entertainment “properties”—performers, athletes, sports teams, films, television programs, and video games—are also hugely popular on social media. Across all the big platforms you’ll find the usual A-list of celebrities dominating. On YouTube musicians, Rihanna, One Direction, Katy Perry, Eminem, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift have built massive audiences. On Twitter, you’ll find a similar cast of singers, along with media stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Oprah, Bill Gates, and the pope. Fans gather around the tweets of sports stars Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Neymar, and Kaká, and teams such as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid (which are far more popular than the two dominant sports brands, Nike and Adidas). On Instagram, you’ll find more of the same.

These celebrities are all garnering the super engaged community that pundits have long promised social media would deliver. But it’s not available to companies and their branded goods and services. In retrospect, that shouldn’t be surprising: Interacting with a favored entertainer is different from interacting with a brand of rental car or orange juice. What works for Shakira backfires for Crest and Clorox. The idea that consumers could possibly want to talk about Corona or Coors in the same way that they debate the talents of Ronaldo and Messi is silly.

Nike’s approach, launched in the 1970s and perfected in the 1990s, was to tell stories of athletes who overcame societal barriers through sheer willpower. But a decade ago Nike abandoned its competitive-underdog ideology to go all in on branded content, using famous athletes to make entertaining sports films. Under Armour stepped into the void, producing arresting new ads, such as “Protect This House,” that championed the same ideology and took off on social media.

Under Armour also followed Nike in dramatizing how übercompetitiveness, traditionally associated with masculinity, applied equally to women, broadcasting spots that showcased female athletes. The latest effort, “I Will What I Want,” pushed gender boundaries even further, challenging conventions in areas where traditional ideals of femininity still reign.

Ballet star Misty Copeland—who grew up in poverty with a single parent—is an athletic, muscular dancer in a profession that celebrates waifish, reed-thin women. Under Armour made a video about how she rose above adversity (the voice-over is from a rejection letter saying that her body was completely wrong for ballet), showing her dancing in a form-fitting sports bra and pants that reveal her curvier physique.

A Gisele Bündchen film followed the same convention-breaking formula but mashed up incongruous ccrowd cultureto provoke a social media response. The former Victoria’s Secret star is usually portrayed within the glamorous world of runways and celebrity hobnobbing. Under Armour broke the frame by placing her in what was essentially an old Nike ad: a backstage video of Gisele in an intense kickboxing workout. The company announced the partnership ahead of filming. It immediately stirred up the ccrowd culture Sports fans were cynical, Gisele fans were curious, fashionistas were puzzled, and feminists simply loved it. Under Armour’s agency scraped all this commentary from the web and projected quotes from the digital discussion on the walls behind her.

Under Armour succeeded because it innovated with ideology—using female celebrities to provocatively push against gender norms. The company aimed its communiqués directly at the crowdcultures that held those norms, which set off a firestorm of debate.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Search Engine Success Factors

Content & Search Engine Success Factors

Content is king. You’ll hear that phrase over and over again when it comes SEO success. Indeed, that’s why the Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors begins with the content “elements,” with the very first element being about content quality.

Get your content right, and you’ve created a solid foundation to support all of your other SEO efforts.

Content Quality

More than anything else, are you producing quality content? If you’re selling something, do you go beyond being a simple brochure with the same information that can be found on hundreds of other sites?

Do you provide a reason for people to spend more than a few seconds reading your pages?

Do you offer real value, something of substance to visitors, that is unique, different, useful and that they won’t find elsewhere?

These are just some of the questions to ask yourself in assessing whether you’re providing quality content. This is not the place to skimp since it is the cornerstone upon which nearly all other factors depend on.

  • You can find more information in the Search Engine Land SEO: Content and Writing category.

Content Research / Keyword Research

Perhaps the most important SEO factor after creating good content is good keyword research. There are a variety of tools that allow you to discover the specific ways that people may be searching for your content. You want to create content using those keywords, the actual search terms people are using, so you can produce content that effectively “answers” that query.

For example, a page about “Avoiding Melanoma” might use technical jargon to describe ways to prevent skin cancer. But a search engine might skip or not rank that page highly if people are instead searching for “skin cancer prevention tips”. Your content needs to be written in the right ‘language’ – the language your customer or user is using when searching.

 Content Words / Use Of Keywords

Having done your keyword research (you did that, right?), have you actually used those words in your content? Or if you’ve already created some quality content before doing research, perhaps it’s time to revisit that material and do some editing. Bottom line, if you want your pages to be found for particular words, it’s a good idea to actually use those words in your copy. How often? Repeat each word you want to be found for at least five times or seek out a keyword density of 2.45%, for best results.

No no no, that was a joke! There’s no precise number of times. Even if “keyword density” sounds scientific, even if you hit some vaunted “ideal” percentage, that would guarantee absolutely nothing.

Just use common sense. Think about the words you want a page to be found for, the words you feel are relevant from your keyword research. Then use them naturally on the page. If you commonly shift to pronouns on second and further references, maybe use the actual noun again here and there, rather than a pronoun.

 Content Freshness

Search engines love new content. That’s usually what we mean when we say ‘fresh’. So you can’t update your pages (or the publish date) every day thinking that will make them ‘fresh’ and more likely to rank. Nor can you just add new pages constantly, just for the sake of having new pages, and think that gives you a freshness boost.

However, Google does have something it calls “Query Deserved Freshness (QDF)”. If there’s a search that is suddenly very popular versus its normal activity, Google will apply QDF to that term and look to see if there’s any fresh content on that topic. If there is, that new or fresh content is given a boost in search results.

The best way to think about this is a term like ‘hurricane’. If there’s no active hurricane, then the search results will likely contain listings to government and reference sites. But if there’s an active hurricane, results will change and may reflect stories, news, and information about the active hurricane.

If you’ve got the right content, on the right topic when QDF hits, you may enjoy being in the top results for days or weeks. Just be aware that after that, your page might be shuffled back in search results. It’s not that you’ve done anything wrong. It’s just that the freshness boost has worn off. Sites can take advantage of this freshness boost by producing relevant content that matches the real-time pulse of their industry.

Vertical Search

The other factors on this table cover success for web page content in search engines. But alongside these web page listings are also often “vertical” results. These come from “vertical” search engines devoted to things like images, news, local and video. If you have content in these areas, it might be more likely to show up in special sections of the search results page.

Not familiar with “vertical search” versus “horizontal search?” Let’s take Google as an example. Its regular search engine gathers content from across the web, in hopes of matching many general queries across a broad range of subjects. This is horizontal search because the focus is across a wide range of topics.

Google also runs specialized search engines that focus on images or news or local content. These are called vertical search engines because rather than covering a broad range of interests, they’re focused on one segment, a vertical slice of the overall interest spectrum. When you search on Google, you’ll get web listings. But you’ll also often get special sections in the results (which Google calls “OneBoxes”) that may show vertical results as deemed relevant.

Having content that performs well in vertical search can help you succeed when your web page content doesn’t. It can also help you succeed in addition to having a web page make the top results. So, make sure you’re producing content in key vertical areas relevant to you. For more information, see some of our related categories:

  • Google: Maps & Local
  • Google: Images
  • Google: News
  • Google: Shopping
  • Google: YouTube & Video
  • SEO: Image Search
  • SEO: Local
  • SEO: Video Search

Direct Answers

Search engines are increasing trying to show direct answers within their search results. Questions like “why is the sky blue” or “how old is Barack Obama” might give you the answer without needing to click to a webpage.

Where do search engines get these answers? Sometimes, they license them, such as with menus or music lyrics. Other times, they draw them directly off web pages, providing a link back in the form of a credit.

There’s some debate over whether having your content being used as a direct answer is a success or not. After all, if someone gets the answer they need, they might not click, and what’s the success in that?

We currently consider sites being used as direct answer sources to be a success for two main reasons. First, it’s a sign of trust, which can help a site for other types of queries. Second, while there’s concern, there’s also some evidence that being a direct answer can indeed send traffic.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

The New Math The New Science

The New Math
The New Science

On the first and third Thursdays of every month, science teachers from around the country gather for #NGSSchat, a Twitter conversation about how to implement the new science. Topics for discussion have included how to incorporate reading and writing into science instruction and how to use technological tools alongside the standards. The July chats focused on “storylining,” which is emerging as a popular technique for bringing the standards to life in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a storyline, a teacher begins by introducing students to a phenomenon that prompts questions that students will investigate over the course of about two months. The question needs to be related to science, but accessible enough to grab students right away, and broad enough that it can’t be answered by a Google search. One storyline asks students to explain the biology behind the death of the Georgia high school football player Zyrees Oliver in 2014 after he drank too much fluid during practice. Another storyline asks simply: How does a seed grow into a tree?

“The storyline needs to be complex enough that it’s not going to just be a one-day or several-day event,” said Tricia Shelton, a high school science teacher in Kentucky and co-organizer of the NGSS chats who has been active in the implementation of NGSS. “It’s a necessity that it forces students to make those connections between many pieces of science in a coherent way.”

With storyline science, there are correct explanations, but there’s no right answer. A teacher’s job becomes less about handing down facts and more about establishing a classroom environment in which students can gather evidence and formulate arguments, with nudges along the way. This is a significant change from the way teachers have traditionally understood their role in the classroom. During the July 7 chat, some participants doubted their ability to make the shift. “[Teachers] are woefully unprepared [for] engaging in an inquiry-driven lessons. Local [teachers’] collaboration essential,” one contributor tweeted.

“For some elementary teachers it will be like I’m doing science in a real way for the first time ever,” Schweingruber said. “For high school teachers, I think one of the biggest shifts will be the emphasis on kids carrying out investigations and making decisions. That’s a real shift in your role as a teacher.”Shelton thinks the instructional changes entailed by NGSS are too big to internalize in isolated chunks of professional development.

“Face-to-face learning is super essential, but you can’t get enough in one or two days,” she said. “You need some kind of sustained system to try things out in your own classroom and then a support network that you can go back to. Without that support I think it’s hard to make that big shift.”

Along with professional networks, teachers also need curricular materials that fit the NGSS approach — textbooks, assessments and lab equipment that are well-suited to the basic method of gathering evidence and building arguments. One classroom technique that has gained currency is the building and analysis of models — functions that tune an input with some number of parameters and produce an output that describes phenomena in the world. It’s sophisticated work more often performed by professional researchers than 10th-graders.

“The first time I constructed a model was in graduate school,” Krajcik said. “It’s very challenging to say to a kid: How would you explain how all the parts work together? That’s tough.”

Constructing models may be complicated, but it’s also a perfect way for students to learn how to bring together multiple forms of evidence in the service of a larger scientific argument. The Concord Consortium, an educational research organization based in Massachusetts, is currently working with Krajcik’s group at Michigan State to create a tool called SageModeler that, in its simplest form, lets students drag and drop icons to create conceptual models to explain real-world events.

“The SageModeler tool allows [students] to construct a representation of some phenomenon and test it out,” said Dan Damelin, co-creator of SageModeler. “They can see what are the results of my setting up this model of how I think things work.” The first unit for the software, which will be pilot-tested in the spring, follows the storyline-style question: “Why Do Fishermen Need Forests?” It allows middle school students to investigate the causes and consequences of ocean acidification.

Prior to building an ocean acidification model, students will read about topics like deforestation, receive some direct instruction about the distinction between acids and bases, and carry out experiments that will give them a tangible sense of the factors involved. These could include exhaling into a jar of water containing a pH indicator (and observing that, as the water absorbs carbon dioxide, its pH declines) or conducting experiments to understand the role of photosynthesis in carbon sequestration.

Once the students have a feel for the factors contributing to ocean acidification, they’ll start to construct their models by pulling images from a clip art database to represent the variables they want to include: a car to represent carbon dioxide emissions, trees to represent carbon-dioxide-absorbing plants, shellfish to represent shellfish health, a fishing boat to represent the fishing economy. After students have defined relationships between the variables, they’ll run the model, graph the resulting data, and then refine their work to better approximate real-world data — in this case, data from the marine research center Station Aloha in Hawaii that can be dragged into SageModeler for a side-by-side comparison.

Teaching in this fashion can be exciting, but it will take sustained commitment for these techniques to ripple through the 100,000 or so public schools in the United States. In order for the new science and math standards to succeed, the entire education ecosystem will need to pull in that direction, from writers of standards to textbook publishers to professors in education schools to curriculum leaders running professional development sessions, to teachers swapping lesson ideas online. Just as the core concepts in math and science require repeated encounters over many years to be fully absorbed, a new practice of math and science teaching will need time to become established.

“I hope we give it the time,” Schweingruber said. “One problem in education reform is, people have unrealistic expectations about how quickly you change it. If you know it’s a huge ship, you have to give it some time before you decide it’s not working.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Markethive

The New Math Stumbling Blocks

The New Math

Stumbling Blocks

The change from solving equations to analyzing functions seems benign, but that has not stopped the Common Core from becoming a charged political issue. Currently 42 states plus the District of Columbia use the standards, with adoption motivated in part by financial incentives provided by the Obama administration’s Race to the Top initiative — a top-down tactic that has helped fuel blowback. There have been plenty of other complications, too, from parents complaining that they don’t know how to help their first-graders with their math homework, to concerns that the assessments that accompany the Common Core are too hard. As a result, even stalwart adopters are questioning whether the standards work. In December 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced that his state would undertake a “total reboot” of the Common Core math standards in the coming years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The designers of NGSS, which came out three years after the Common Core without any kind of federal mandate, say they learned from the contentious rollout of the earlier standards. So far, 17 states plus the District of Columbia have adopted NGSS and 11 more states have implemented standards that are similar to varying degrees.

“The Common Core got people to sign on and implement standards before the standards were there, and I think that backfired,” Schweingruber said. “I feel like the intent of the standards is to improve what happens to kids in classrooms, and if that happens even before a state formally adopts, that’s fine with me.”

Still, NGSS has had its controversies. The document includes standards related to climate change and evolution, which has motivated opposition in conservative states. And, politics aside, the standards necessitate sweeping changes to the way science is taught.

Like Common Core math with its long-running development of core concepts, NGSS reframes science in terms of a small number of basic ideas that inform the scientific perspective. These include “structure and function,” “patterns,” “cause and effect,” “stability and change,” and “systems and systems models.”

“Even at a young age you’re going to have a workable knowledge of energy so you can apply it,” said Joseph Krajcik, a professor of science education at Michigan State and the lead author of the NGSS physical science standards. “At a third-grade level you might know that as something is moving, it has energy, and the faster it’s moving, the more it can do something. It’s a nascent idea of what energy is, and it builds across time.”

This slow-building approach is at odds with some aspects of public education. It’s not uncommon for districts to require that each class period address a discrete objective, and teachers are expected to measure whether students learned it at the end of the period. The authors of Common Core math and NGSS don’t see their disciplines fitting into that structure.

“One insight we got is that there’s almost no mathematics worth learning that breaks into lesson-size pieces,” Daro said. “You have a three- or four-week sequence and treat it with coherence. It’s about systems and structures, not small facts and small methods. It’s about how it all works together.”

Schweingruber agrees. “Some of these ideas in science are hard to get quickly,” she said. “It took humans hundreds of years, so why would kids figure them out quickly?” The same mismatch between the standards and the way public education is set up occurs in another major area: assessments. Because standardized tests often drive instruction, it’s hard to expect teachers to teach differently unless students are tested differently.

“Teachers are starting to make changes in their classrooms,” Schweingruber said, “but if they’re still looking out for a large-scale test their kids will have to take that is completely contrary to what they’re doing in the classroom, that can be problematic.”

There is progress in that direction. Two recent initiatives, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, are developing standardized tests that incorporate a greater variety of question types, like constructed response questions in which students are asked to explain their reasoning, and technology-enhanced questions in which, for example, students manipulate a line on a graph to make it match a given algebraic function. “You’re seeing a deeper push for conceptual understanding and the ability to apply mathematics, and assessments are on their way to becoming equipped to actually assess that,” said Robert Kaplinsky, a math teaching specialist and consultant in Southern California.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

The New Math Less Is More

The New Math
Less Is More

How does one adjust the course of a curriculum that’s been gathering inertia for decades? The developers of NGSS and Common Core math started by reducing the mass of content that had accumulated over the years, often in haphazard fashion. “Mainly, the U.S. mathematics curriculum prior to the Common Core was a geological accretion of additions, mostly, and [some] compressions over 50 years,” Daro said. “There was a lot of mathematical junk food and traveling down rabbit holes and up cul-de-sacs.”

Schweingruber made a similar point. “The U.S. has a mile-wide, inch deep curriculum with tons and tons of things and ideas for kids to learn, but not an opportunity to go in depth,” she said. As the authors got down to work on Common Core in 2009 and on NGSS a year later, some of their first discussions were about what to leave in and what to take out. “It required some argument on the part of folks in the framework about what that baseline really would look like,” Schweingruber said.

The final documents omitted a number of familiar topics. The NGSS writers eliminated instruction in the rote formula for stoichiometry calculations (the process for quantifying elements at different stages of a chemical reaction) from the high school chemistry curriculum. Daro and his collaborators on Common Core math, William McCallum of the University of Arizona and Jason Zimba of Student Achievement Partners, decided the technique of “simplifying” answers didn’t add much to mathematical understanding, so they took it out.

By removing content, the creators of Common Core math and NGSS hoped to expose core disciplinary ideas. A good example of this is how the Common Core teaches proportionality. Before, proportionality occupied about 10 percent of math instruction in grades six and seven. The main outcome of all that instructional time was that given two equivalent fractions, students could cross-multiply in order to find a missing term.

“What they’re learning is: The way you find the fourth number is by setting up this gadget called a proportion,” Daro said. “That’s not really learning anything about proportionality, that’s learning how to get answers to problems in this chapter.”

Common Core math doesn’t mention cross-multiplying, and it cuts out the special case of finding a missing fourth term. Instead, it focuses on the idea of a ratio, which begins modestly in sixth grade and develops all the way through calculus. Students begin by looking at a table of equivalent ratios — also presented as a double number line — and progress to the understanding that the slope of a line is a ratio.

“[The Common Core writers] said, look, let’s figure out what’s important about fractions and choose a path through them, which leads to ratio and proportion, which leads to linear functions, which leads to aspects of algebra,” said Alan Schoenfeld, a professor of education and mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley.

The understanding of slope as a ratio feeds into an even more fundamental emphasis in Common Core math: the analysis of functions. By thinking about the slope of a line as a ratio, students get in the habit of analyzing the parts of a linear function so they can see how changes in elements of the function affect the relationship between inputs and outputs.

Daro sees this shift from solving equations to analyzing functions as one of the biggest conceptual changes in the Common Core.

“The important line of progress is the line that begins with the theory of equations, a 19th-century central focus, to calculus and analysis, which is 20th-century [mathematics],” he said. “It’s a move from spending almost all your time solving equations towards analyzing functions.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contrbutor

Markethive

Ecosystem for all Entrepreneurs