Why High Quality Content Matters More than Keywords for SEO

Why High Quality Content Matters More than Keywords for SEO

[lbmn_commentscount]

Attention content creators: Google reads everything you write! Well, not “reads” in the literal sense, but its algorithms are now sophisticated enough to pick up on unnatural language and poor formatting—both of which send strong negative signals that hurt your ability to rank.

In fact, Google’s approach to ranking has gotten so sophisticated that they’ve learned that content quality matters more to search users than the presence of any particular keyword phrase. As a result, you may find a No. 1 search result that doesn’t contain an exact match keyword anywhere in the body.

We’re serious! In an exhaustive study of 600,000 keyword phrases, 18 percent of the domains that ranked position 20 or higher didn’t have the keyword in the text at all. Instead, these sites had a few things in common: website visits, user behavior signals and the number of links to the content all influenced Google to rank them near the top. All of these signals tell Google one thing: people seem to like this content.

In addition to these behavior-based markers of content quality, Google and other search engines actively sift through content to see signals of quality within the text itself.

After all, Google’s main objective isn’t getting your website traffic; it’s giving people good search results.

Thankfully, the company’s own guidelines are fairly specific and helpful. We’ll point you towards the exact markers of “high quality” Google is looking for.

What Are the Red Flags for Poor Content Quality?

Google’s guidelines for content quality are pretty thorough. This is likely because it’s hard to put into words exactly what makes something “good” or “high quality.” It takes a lot of nuance!

On the other hand, you can fairly quickly point out factors that immediately signal poor quality.

It’s like baking cake. There are a million different types of cakes out there and as many ways to prepare them. Flour, sugar, eggs and milk may be your raw ingredients, but you can make thousands of different types of delicious cakes. Also, “the right cake to bake” differs according to the context and circumstances. You can have a moist cake that’s yummy, or you could have a more solid cake that still does the trick.

But you can’t put sand in your cake. That’s a no-no. And it’s an automatic recipe for an inedible cake.

Similarly, Google highlights some markers of poor quality that instantly flag a page as having content not worth ranking:

  • Spamming keywords, especially if they’re irrelevant
  • Creating content that’s mostly copies of existing content
  • Typos, bad spelling, grammar errors
  • Sentences or paragraphs that never seem to end
  • Content that has little to no formatting, leaving just a dense chunk of text
  • Going crazy with links that aren’t relevant to the content at hand
  • Dropping lists of keywords somewhere in your page, especially if you’re hiding them with text color choices
  • Content that is excessively thin, especially for pages like blogs that promise substance

There are also a number of ways to get instantly deindexed by Google that go beyond content quality. Since that’s something you likely want to avoid, they’re well worth reviewing!

Google’s SEO Guide Considers Content Quality, Navigation Ease More Important Than Keyword Use

If you go and take a look at Google’s SEO starter guide, you’ll find that suggestions for how to use keywords properly don’t come up until around halfway through. Before that point, they take a moment to repeat four times that you shouldn’t overuse keywords or stuff them into your technical SEO elements.

Once they do mention keywords, they simply advise that you tailor your keyword strategy to your audience. For instance, people who watch soccer regularly might expect “FIFA” or “football” to be in the content they read, while casual users may expect more generic terms like “soccer playoffs.”

Immediately after that, they go back into quality. “Avoid writing sloppy text with many spelling and grammatical mistakes,” they suggest, as well as “awkward or poorly written content.”

To truly hammer the point home, Google spends far more time writing about ease of navigation and quality of life improvements for website visitors. Based on how the information is organized, Google cares more about your site map than your keyword usage when deciding rank.

“The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want,” explains the search giant. “It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important.”

All of this information can be summed up thusly: search engines aren’t dumb. They know the things that make life easier for their users and content better to read in general. They pay far more attention to these elements than how you use keywords.

In fact, with voice search on the rise, search engines have had to get smarter than ever about interpreting keyword intent and finding semantically related terms. That way, someone searching for “best places to eat near me” can pull up a list of “top-rated restaurants” without having to first sift through unhelpful results that contain exact keyword matches.

5 Tips for Writing Higher Quality Content

So now you’ve heard what definitely not to do when creating content, with only a hint of what so-called “high quality content” looks like.

To steer you in the right direction, here are a few general tips that can boost the quality of all content.

1.“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”

This rule comes directly from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It’s actually the very first thing they say under “Basic Principles.”

The search giant even suggests you ask yourself “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” when making a decision on how your website operates. Those questions definitely apply when writing new content.

So foremost, determine an audience need based on a keyword search, and write to answer that need. The better able you are to satisfy someone’s search intent, the better behaviour signals your site receives, and the more likely you are to rank.

If you’re at a loss for how to connect a keyword to user needs, do a little research. Plug in the keyword yourself, and try to find questions related to it.

Or, if the keyword is directly related to an “I want to purchase something or research a purchase” intent, take notes on the content that ranks highest. Chances are good that the page offers excellent examples of site organization, layout clarity and overall usability in addition to some solid text content.

2. Edit Your Writing, and Push Yourself to Improve

Like good cake, good writing is definitely in the eye of the beholder. But at the same time, you wouldn’t bank on your cake getting top votes if all you did was use a box mix.

In other words, if you want to write better, you’re going to have to learn from others. We suggest reading publisher sites related to your industry that get high traffic, and cover topics similar to what you want on your blog.

Some general guidelines for improving your writing include:

  • Use less “being” and “linking” verbs in favor of strong action verbs. If you find yourself writing words like “is, was, are and be,” go back and see if you can identify the true subject of the sentence and what it’s doing.
  • Structure your writing like you would an outline. Tell people what they’re going to learn from your post as soon as possible, and then delve into each smaller point one at a time until you’re finished.
  • Write casually but not unprofessionally. Aim for a “friendly, conversational tone with a clear purpose—somewhere between the voice you use when talking to your buds and that you’d use if you were a robot,” suggests Search Engine Land’s paraphrasing of Google’s own Developer Documentation Style Guide.
  • Edit your writing! Far too many people don’t go back and reread. Watch out for sentence and paragraph transitions that could make people have trouble following your logic. Ask people for their opinion on how readable everything is. If they have a complaint, see if you can break the excerpt down into its most simple parts and reconstruct it.

3. Read, Read, Read and Read Some More

Reading teaches you how words and sentences form ideas. We take a lot of this stuff for granted, but it’s quite complex. Fortunately, others have mastered it and can teach you techniques to add to your repertoire.

4. Pay Attention to Your Audience’s Behavior Signals

What content pages get the most views? Which ones get the best responses or the most engagement in comments or on social media? Where do people tend to spend the most time?

Look to your own Google Analytics data, and try to identify patterns. People tell you what they like without ever having to say a word.

5. If You’re Struggling to Write Good Content, Go Back to the Basics

You may feel hesitant about writing on simple topics, such as “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO” or something like “Why People Buy Things,” but these are actually great topics. Yes, they’ve been done to death, but they help people learn.

Also, you might put things in a certain way that makes an extremely deep or complex subject click for your audience.

Above all else, articles like these teach you the fundamentals of writing for your audience. You learn how to break big concepts down to their bare components and communicate complex ideas with clarity.

Next to reading, writing down the basics is the best way to teach yourself how to craft better content.

Stop Obsessing Over Keywords and Start Writing Better

The writing’s on the wall: Google and online audiences are sick of bad content, keyword stuffing and deceptive practices aimed to help websites rank but that make readers miserable.

Put content quality factors like readability, grammar and topic organization as a higher priority than keyword use. People will know what you’re talking about, even if you don’t use an exact keyword match—and now search engines will too.

[lbmn_postpagination]

[lbmn_authorbio]

About us and this blog

We are a digital marketing company with a focus on helping our customers achieve great results across several key areas.

Request a free quote

We offer professional SEO services that help websites increase their organic search score drastically in order to compete for the highest rankings even when it comes to highly competitive keywords.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More from our blog

See all posts
[lbmn_commentscount]
    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

      • admin
      • January 1, 2014
      Reply

      Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Leave a Comment

How Often Should I Be Posting to My Blog?

How Often Should I Be Posting to My Blog?

[lbmn_commentscount]

Blogging frequency is somewhat of a sticky topic in the digital marketing world. Some people have hard and fast beliefs about how “you have to post seven blogs per week or EVERYTHING WILL EXPLODE!” Others only post whenever they feel like it, which can be as unpredictable as it sounds.

In truth, both camps are wrong. Posting on a regular schedule is absolutely essential. It helps you build audiences, stay organized and discipline yourself to continually push out worthwhile content.

On the other hand, posting too frequently leads to diminishing returns. Posting every day, for example, can mean that a fair chunk of your blogs never get read. When promoting your blogs on social media, the algorithms may also be much more likely to pass over your umpteenth blog promotion for the week.

So what is the happy medium? How often is the right blogging frequency for you?

The answer is a resounding: “It depends.” The circumstances surrounding your business and the unique qualities of your audience both dictate the right number of times to publish a blog post each month. Your marketing goals also come into play, especially if you intend to use your blog to increase your search engine rank or support lead generation.

On average, posting once or twice a week should hit the “just fine” mark. But if you want to know how to calculate exactly how often you need to publish in order to benefit your objectives and audience needs, keep reading.

Why Posting Every Day Isn’t Smart or Necessary

First, let’s get some reasons out of the way for why it’s pure overkill to post a new blog every single day.

For starters, you’re going to wear out your audiences. If they happen to follow you on social media or subscribe to your email list, a daily promotion talking about your latest in a slew of new posts is going to get under their skin really quickly.

Forty-six percent of people say they have unfollowed a brand because it promoted too often, and 35 percent say that they’ve unfollowed someone because they post too much in general. Constant nagging in their inbox or begging on social media ran its course, and they jumped ship.

Even among audience members who absolutely love to read your content, posting every day is too much for them to keep up with. They’ll inevitably fall behind, meaning not every blog gets the attention it deserves. This may be less of a problem if, say, you’re an outlet with millions of readers, but the average website only gets so much attention for its blog per week.

Similarly, social media algorithms may begin to think that people don’t like engaging with your content. The more of your posts that end up with an extremely low engagement rate, the more likely the algorithm is to decide that you aren’t worth showing up on someone’s newsfeed.

Plus, having hundreds of posts without a single like or comment can start to look downright sad. Someone might even write an article about the embarrassment if you’re a big enough brand.

Earning comments and engagement serves as “social proof” that looking at your content is worthwhile. It’s the same thing as seeing a line outside a bar; people think “that’s gotta be the place to be!” Popularity brings more people.

But when you have no engagement, it kinda makes people steer clear. You start to look like the one kid sitting by himself at lunch. Someone might feel bad for you, but engaging at that point could be social suicide.

So don’t overdo it! Any way you slice it, it’s going to make your brand feel like a social outcast. It will also mean that you’re wasting resources in the process on superfluous blogs that hurt, rather than help, your marketing goals.

The Importance of Consistency

In addition to realizing that there’s a blogging frequency line you shouldn’t cross, recognize that consistent publishing benefits your blog performance for several reasons.

One of the biggest reasons consistency helps your readership is that it means you’re predictable. People know that if they visit your blog or check out your social feeds, they’ll see something new every so often. Even if you prefer to only publish blogs once or twice a month, people can anticipate when the next post will drop as long as you release them on a consistent calendar.

Realize that 18 percent of people will unfollow a brand because it’s page is “too quiet.” Someone may just end up checking out because they decide you’ve run out of things to say.

Consistency also forces you to be disciplined about blogging. Search engine optimization (SEO) takes several months to begin working. Search engines need to be able to index a consistent volume of content regularly over weeks and weeks before they begin to consider linking to your domain. They also seek out fresh content, meaning that what helped you rank last year could quickly get stale and overtaken this year.

Publishing on a regular schedule therefore ensures that you are constantly planting seeds for a sizeable readership and SEO. Each new blog helps your previous efforts take root, and just as a piece of content begins to become less effective, a whole new crop is ready to take its place.

One last benefit of consistent blogging frequency worth mentioning is that it forces you to plan. If you have a set number of blogs to publish each week or each month, you’re strongly incentivized to create a content calendar.

You may also be more inclined to plan out your topics. Preferably, you are bookmarking interesting things you’ve seen throughout the week to develop a content idea queue. As you place these ideas on your calendar, you can determine how to have a variety of topics that keep your blog interesting while covering your desired keywords.

Determining Your Ideal Blogging Frequency

Now that you know why blogging on a consistent basis—but not every day—are the golden rules, here is how you can figure out the best blogging frequency to meet your needs.

  1. Define your goals and key metrics to measure
  2. Form a hypothesis for how often you think you should post to meet these goals
  3. Post at your hypothesized frequency for at least two to three months to establish benchmark data
  4. Hypothesize how you might improve your key metrics by adjusting your posting frequency
  5. Measure the difference averaged over a few weeks
  6. Go back to step four and continue experimenting to optimize

Notice that step six implies that this is a never-ending process. The perfect posting frequency for you now may change in a few months.

As for how to make an educated guess for how often you should post, you can use some of the following decision-making criteria.

Current volume of content

Blogs with little to no existing content should push themselves until they have at least a few dozen articles under their belt. Don’t publish every day, but don’t be afraid to publish far more often than you intend to, just so you can build out your content with a healthy backlog.

Current readership volume

If you have thousands of readers for every blog post, you should always see what happens when you post slightly more often. Chances are great that your priority metrics and views will only go up.

If you don’t have very many readers yet, posting more often could risk dividing their attention. Experiment with shifting days around and adding slightly more posts per month rather than assuming more is always going to be better.

Best traffic sources

Your main source of traffic—or the channel you intend to use as your main source—matters a great deal for how often you post.

Neil Patel points out how blogs like Moz that produce high quality content can depend on new backlinks and search engine referrals bringing people to their content for months, sometimes years.

On the other hand, blogs like Buzzfeed, that earn most of their traffic from social media, have to “feed the beast” with constant new articles and updates. For blogs that get lots of viral shares and engagement via social media, sometimes posting multiple times a day can actually be a strategy that works!

Your own capacity and resources to create blogs

This is an incredibly important point that can all but negate everything else we’ve already suggested. Specifically: only write as much as you can. Otherwise, you are going to get burnt out and start publishing sub-par work.

The best way to avoid burnout is to have enough polished content that you are at least a month ahead. That way, you can take a break if you aren’t feeling inspired or motivated. You may also need to find outside help from a content marketing agency or a freelance writer.

In the end, just listen to your brain when it comes to how positive you feel about blogging. Developing a schedule and a content calendar can make you more productive, but it can’t make you an amazing writer every time you sit down at the keyboard.

“If you post only once every two months, but the content is truly awesome, you will be much more successful than someone publishing crappy posts every day,” reflects SmartBlogger—and we couldn’t agree more!

[lbmn_postpagination]

[lbmn_authorbio]

About us and this blog

We are a digital marketing company with a focus on helping our customers achieve great results across several key areas.

Request a free quote

We offer professional SEO services that help websites increase their organic search score drastically in order to compete for the highest rankings even when it comes to highly competitive keywords.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More from our blog

See all posts
[lbmn_commentscount]
    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

      • admin
      • January 1, 2014
      Reply

      Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Leave a Comment

Why Your Online Marketing Budget May Soon Go Up

Why Your Online Marketing Budget May Soon Go Up

[lbmn_commentscount]

Recent surveys show that the majority of businesses plan to increase their digital marketing budgets over the next 12 months. These increases mean stiffer competition and growing rates to achieve the desired level of impressions and performance.

Today’s internet marketing practices have matured dramatically since the days of dial up. Channels like social media have likewise matured, changing the landscape from a “Wild West” feeling to a more familiar competitive market. As businesses spend more on aspects of marketing like paid ad inventory, prices go up. There is, after all, a finite number of eyeballs browsing the internet at any given time.

Businesses also find themselves competing more earnestly for organic traffic and impressions. While it used to be easy to rank high on search engines if you were the only business on the block doing SEO, now achieving results pits you against countless others.

With all this going on, business owners should expect to dig deeper into their pockets in the near future in order to achieve their goals for awareness, revenues, growth, and more. To help encourage you to keep pace, here are some observations we’ve made that reveal the current state of online marketing and indicate where it could be going soon.

Survey Says: Online Marketing Spending Growth Outpaces Traditional Ads

In a recent survey of CMOs, the respondents indicated that they intend to increase their digital marketing spending by 15.1% on average. By comparison, the average respondent said they plan to shrink their traditional advertising spending by 1.7%.

The decrease follows a distinct trend of budgets shrinking for traditional media, which includes ads on TV, radio, print, billboards, and other non-digital channels. The last time budgets increased by more than 1% was in 2011. Since that point, budgets were cut by an average of 1.6% every six months. That’s a total drop of 22% in traditional ad spending from 2011 to the present.

In the meantime, digital marketing budgets have increased by double digits every six months with only one exception. The changes equal a 167.5% increase, for an average of 12% every six months.

Spending on digital and traditional marketing techniques is diverging, and the effects are more noticeable in certain industries. Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies in particular say that they will have the biggest jumps. Product-focused B2C companies intend to increase digital marketing budgets by 17.9%, and service-based B2C companies say they will increase their budgets by 18.2%.

All of these data points indicate a steady stream of dollars flowing into digital channels. Companies in all sectors are investing more in online marketing campaigns, including content creation, strategy, management, promotion, and actions like performance measurement.

Budgets Stay Largely Flat as a Portion of Marketing Spending and Revenues

While budgets are increasing across the board for most companies, the ratio of that budget to other key metrics has remained stable for the most part.

The current industry average for marketing budgets as a portion of overall spending sits at 11.1%. This ratio is mostly unchanged since 2011. Similarly, marketing spending as a portion of company revenues is an average of 7.9% this year. That number has increased and decreased by small increments since 2012, barring a slight jump and then regression in Fall 2012.

So what does this mean in terms of trends? Well, if spending is increasing but budgets as a ratio are staying flat, that indicates that companies tie their spending growth to sales growth and budget growth. You could chalk these strong correlations to inflation or a general growth trend in both revenues and spending. You could also observe that, across all industries, spending strategies remain fairly conservative.

But a few key distinctions are to be made if you take the time to break down spending further. For instance, the ratio of money spent on content marketing compared to a business’s entire budget can dictate their ability to accomplish their content marketing goals.

In a survey of B2C companies using content marketing, the average respondent said they spent 22% of their marketing budget on content. The companies that rated themselves as “least successful” at accomplishing their goals spent an average of 18%, while the companies that said they were the “most successful” spent 26%.

These differences were even more pronounced among business-to-business (B2B) companies. The average B2B content marketing spend was 26% of their overall marketing budget. Yet, the least successful companies spent just 14%, while the most successful ones spent a whopping 40% on average.

So, while the aggregated data may hint that online marketing spending strategies are conservative, companies that lean into their digital marketing campaigns with a larger budget percentage tend to see better performance.

Costs of Online Advertising on the Rise

One of the biggest factors encouraging companies to increase their budgets is that costs have risen. According to a study by Adobe, the costs of digital advertising are rising five times faster than the current rate of inflation in the U.S.

Looking at data from 2014 to 2016, mobile display ad prices increased 12%, video ads increased 13%, and mobile paid search ads went up 11%.

Overall, companies spent 42% more on search advertising. At the same time, search engine traffic increased by just 11%. These two observations together mean that competition is getting more fierce for smaller slices of traffic.

Similar trends can be seen with social media advertising. Companies engaging in social media marketing are having a harder time earning impressions organically. To compensate, they are increasing their volume of paid social campaigns as well as their budgets. Bid prices for limited ad inventory go up.

In total, experts predict that ad prices for Facebook could rise anywhere between 25% and 79% in the coming year.

Few Companies Measuring Performance, Impact and ROI

As the costs of marketing rise, it’s more important than ever to measure impact and performance. Without this data, businesses could spend on campaigns and activities that don’t bring them measurable value.

Also, they lack the data to optimize their campaigns over time. Without knowing, for instance, that one social media campaign type brought better performance than another, the business will have fewer decision-making tools in hand to strategize for future campaigns.

Despite the risks described above, 58% percent of companies don’t use marketing analytics to measure performance and help them make decisions. For social media marketing, 34% of companies don’t measure the impact of their campaigns at all. 42% claim they have a good “qualitative sense” of how their campaigns are performing but don’t have the numbers to back up these observations.

The situation is even more dire with content marketing. 5% of companies don’t have any content marketing target metrics to speak of. 41% don’t measure content marketing ROI, and 21% say they are “unsure” as to whether they are accurately measuring ROI.

Every penny you spend on digital marketing counts, especially as costs rise. Make sure you have a strategy in place to maximize your returns, as well as tools you can use to measure those returns quantifiably.

If you need help getting to this point, we’re here for you. Contact us today for assistance with planning, executing, measuring, and optimizing your digital marketing strategies.

Get prepared for the future with the expertise you need to compete and stay ahead as the digital marketing realm becomes more expensive.

[lbmn_postpagination]

[lbmn_authorbio]

About us and this blog

We are a digital marketing company with a focus on helping our customers achieve great results across several key areas.

Request a free quote

We offer professional SEO services that help websites increase their organic search score drastically in order to compete for the highest rankings even when it comes to highly competitive keywords.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More from our blog

See all posts
[lbmn_commentscount]
    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

      • admin
      • January 1, 2014
      Reply

      Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Leave a Comment

11 Steps to a Successful Social Media Contest

11 Steps to a Successful Social Media Contest

[lbmn_commentscount]

Running contests on social media offers one of the best strategies for getting audiences engaged, earning shares, and generating impressions. Following a careful procedure can increase your contest’s chances of success.

On the other hand, not having a plan and a strategy can mean that even the most popular contests accomplish little in the way of marketing goals, while taking resources from other campaigns. Or, worse, the contest can turn into a giant mess that leaves a sore spot on your brand image.

So, to make sure your contest has the best odds of helping boost your social media marketing performance, use the following 11 steps below. They’ll help you strategize for your contest, plan it out, create a schedule, and follow through on everything in a way that leaves both your participants and your fellow co-workers satisfied with the results.

1. Decide on a Social Media Marketing Goal

Many contests start by thinking of a great promotion, prize or theme. The goals get defined later.

While this approach feels natural because thinking about prizes or contest themes is exciting, there’s danger in not having a focus from the beginning. Your goals can easily get diluted or intermingled in a way that makes them ineffective.

For instance, let’s say you are a scuba diving certification company. You want people to enter into a contest to win some free gear. If your ultimate goal is to get people to sign up for lessons, then the format of your contest needs to be positioned toward people who have never scuba dived before.

The problem is that only people with scuba experience may share your contest since they are the only people who know how valuable the gear you’re offering is. To fix the problem, the contest needs to highlight from the beginning how winning your gear set makes it easier than ever to start scuba diving. Without this perspective, you may instead end up pitching the value of a feature-packed diving watch, which will read as “all Greek” to people who aren’t familiar.

So, start from a defined goal and let the structure of the contest expand organically from there.

Common goals include:

  • Increasing overall purchases.
  • Increasing brand awareness.
  • Increasing conversion actions like demo signups/free lesson signups/webinar registrations/content downloads.
  • Capturing emails.
  • Increasing site traffic.
  • Earning more page likes/followers.

Make sure that no matter what, your contest reinforces your goals. If, for example, you want to earn more traffic, make visiting a landing page on your site mandatory for entry. The landing page should also have a call to action suggesting people browse your content or your products. Similarly, if your aim is to increase purchases, you can make a purchase a necessary part of entry.

2. Decide on Your Hosting and Promotional Venues

The venue you host your contest on can have huge consequences for how your contest is structured and how it will play out over time. Some platforms – i.e., Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – have strict rules regarding how contests are held and how they are conducted.

Eventually, you will need a legal team to review your contest plan before you put it into action. The venues you use to host and/or promote the campaign will affect their recommendations for what you can and cannot do.

Note that “hosting” a contest refers to all of the contest activities taking place on that platform. For instance, if you are going to make the entry requirement sharing a post and the prize drawing comes from those shares, the contest is occurring on that platform.

On the other hand, if you are going just to be promoting the contest on social media and the actual entry and other activities takes place on your own site, that creates a different set of conditions.

Realize that the more channels you have your contest hosted on, the more complex your campaign will become. You can reduce complexity by directing everyone to one point of entry, such as prompting “Enter on Facebook” or “Visit Our Website to Enter!” This strategy makes promoting your contest across multiple channels easier without having to add data-gathering and community management headaches.

3. Decide How People Will Enter Your Social Media Contest

A few entry requirement options you can consider are to:

 

  • Submit email and other contact information.
  • Require a connecting action, such as “liking” or “following” your page.
  • Require an engagement action, such as “liking,” commenting, or sharing a particular post.
  • Ask people to cast their vote using polling tools on Facebook or Twitter or on your own website.
  • Create and submit user generated content for judgement, meaning the selected best entry gets the prize.

 

Direct submissions of emails typically take the least amount of effort to track, especially if you use a custom form. Requiring people to comment, like or share a post can be similarly easy, although this engagement may not connect meaningfully with the desired goal or conversion action.

Voting can be another easy entry mechanism, but you may want to steer people to a custom form since many social platforms register votes anonymously.

Creating user-generated content is an awesome idea since it leads to the creation of marketing assets you can later use while bringing higher levels of engagement to your campaign. However, you will need to review the legal requirements of such a campaign and disclose details like ownership rights and liability to anyone who submits.

Software tools are available to help you track data such as new page “likes,” so you can differentiate new entrants from people who already like your page. These tools include Strutta, Shortstack, Wishpond, and Rafflecopter. Of these, Rafflecopter has the best pricing and is singularly dedicated to contests.

4. Create a Contest Theme and a Name

Your social media contest theme should have its own set of branding devices in play. The more vivid your branding, the more excited entrants will be. Well-branded and themed contests also have a way of attracting more attention.

Remember that the clarity of the theme and also the clarity of a contest title can make or break participation. Shorter names are usually better, especially since space is limited on social posts for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

5. Settle on a Contest Timeline

Decide on a date you will make the final prize announcement. Then, work backward from this date to plot out when drawing/judging will start and end. Going further, decide when entry is closed, when it is open, when promotion for the contest starts, and any other key dates involved.

Build in the needed time to handle everything, especially if snags or hurdles emerge. You need to give yourself time to plan and design creative elements, get approval from legal, and accomplish other milestones.

6. Decide on Prizes or Giveaways

You may have already had a prize or giveaway in mind, but you should wait to finalize this decision until you have all the other above elements in place. Holding off prevents you from getting locked into the prize aspect and losing focus on everything else. If you’ve seen the Office episode where Michael Scott auctions off non-existent Bruce Springsteen tickets, you know what we mean.

As we suggested above, ensure the prize directly ties into your goals, your desired customer path, and your business as a whole. Offering a generically appealing prize like a free iPhone can earn you thousands of entrants, but most of these entrants will not be viable customer leads.

Instead, think of prizes that connect to your business, your brand, and your most important values. Also, try to think of a storytelling angle so that your prize winner can become a testimonial of sorts, illustrating what makes your company great.

7. Draft an Editorial and Social Content Calendar

Using the timeline you created, plan out ahead of time exactly what types of social media posts and other promotional collateral will be needed and when it will be published. You can always use placeholder content or deviate from your calendar, but the last thing you want to do is promote your contest off-the-cuff with no real approval or planning.

To help you decide what kind of content will be needed when, think of your social media contest in six discrete phases:

  1. Pre-launch.
  2. Launch.
  3. Last chance for entries.
  4. Closed for entries.
  5. Winner announcements.
  6. Post-contest promotion and related campaigns.

8. Develop Your Promotional Strategy

You want to amplify visibility for your contest as much as possible, especially during the first few days of launch. Having a “slow burn” strategy actually hurts your chances for entrants since posts with little engagement tend to get buried. However, posts that get tons of engagement the moment they are created tend to be discovered more readily by late-comers.

Include paid ads, organic promotions, website content, and social media content within your promotional strategy. You don’t have to have a huge budget for any one particular thing, but generally the more you can invest, the better your results will be.

9. Have a Community Management and Crisis Plan in Place

Since it will be hosted online, your contest will essentially run 24/7. You therefore need a plan for someone to monitor activities during off-business hours.

Remember that contests tend to overwhelm unprepared social media marketing teams since they create a flood of engagement compared to the normal day-to-day. Be prepared for this in advance.

Also, have a backup plan in case things go wrong. Hopefully, you will never have to implement your crisis management plan, but having it prepared ensures you have a set damage containment strategy rather than responding on-the-fly. Sometimes when we improvise while handling stressful situations, we can make things worse, so have your backup plan written down.

10. Finalize Your Rules, and Have Legal Review Everything

The last thing you want is for your contest to result in a lawsuit or bad PR. You should therefore have experienced legal counsel verify that all your rules, prizes, and general procedures are appropriate and legal.

Consider that if you run your contest nationally or internationally, different states may have different rules regarding contests and prizes. You want to be in compliance everywhere possible, which may even mean restricting entry within certain geographical areas.

11. Document Everything So You Can Learn in the Future

As an extra step, make sure you take notes on as much of what you learn as you can. Also, gather data throughout the contest, so you can trace ROI and whether you’ve met your goals. This documentation may be extra work, but it will pay off by helping you learn lessons and improve over time.

If you need help with social media marketing or hosting a social media contest, you can always look to outside expertise. Contact us today if you need assistance planning your contest, tying it to your goals, or simply verifying that it has the best possible chance of bringing you success.

[lbmn_postpagination]

[lbmn_authorbio]

About us and this blog

We are a digital marketing company with a focus on helping our customers achieve great results across several key areas.

Request a free quote

We offer professional SEO services that help websites increase their organic search score drastically in order to compete for the highest rankings even when it comes to highly competitive keywords.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More from our blog

See all posts
[lbmn_commentscount]
    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

      • admin
      • January 1, 2014
      Reply

      Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Leave a Comment

Six Things Your B2B Content Marketing Needs to Be Doing

Six Things Your B2B Content Marketing Needs to Be Doing

[lbmn_commentscount]

Business-to-business (B2B) content marketing uses many of the same principles as business-to-consumer (B2C) strategies but with a few key differences. Honing in on these differences can ensure that your B2B marketing strategies remain relevant and effective in our ever-evolving business climate.

In fact, your B2B content marketing strategy will include several “must have” components. Without them, your ability to generate leads, convert those leads, and retain existing customers could suffer greatly. With these “must haves,” you can increase your chances of success and ensure that your content marketing campaigns follow all of the latest recommended best practices.

So, to help you improve your B2B content marketing strategy to be as effective as possible, here are the six “musts” you need in place.

Have a Documented Content Strategy

There’s power in the simple act of writing things down, yet so many B2B companies neglect to document their content marketing strategy! In fact, in a recent survey shows just 37% of all B2B companies said that they had a documented content marketing strategy at all.

Looking at just the B2B companies finding the most success with content marketing, only 62% said they had a documented content marketing strategy. This, despite the fact that they dedicated 40% of their total marketing budget to content marketing on average.

The danger in not having a documented strategy is that important details are left up in the air. You may not realize there is a gap in how your content strategy is able to nurture late stage buyers to an actual purchase. Or, you may fail to define your specific content marketing goals, leading to campaigns that are poorly optimized.

Most worrisome, not having documentation leaves critical parts of your content marketing campaigns open to interpretation. A writer may create content with a completely different audience in mind than your target personas, and without documentation there is no way for them to know otherwise.

Every person involved in creating content should have the same intent and abide by all of the necessary markers of quality, so the content you create is consistent and up to your expectations.

Define your content goals. Outline your expectations for each piece created. Ensure that your content marketing campaigns account for your buyer personas during key stages in their journey. Getting all of these things down in writing can help you have more precise control over your results, while achieving quality more in line with your expectations.

Conduct Original Research and Publish It

Your B2B company can survive by simply regurgitating and repackaging information obtained by others, but it will face stiff competition from those that publish their own research.

According to one survey, half of B2B companies say that their original research reports generate leads that have the highest conversion rates. This makes them the most effective form of content, beating out video, webinars, case studies, white papers, and social media content.

Conducting your own research can be tough, but the efforts pay off. People will share and cite your information readily, as long as it provides current information that answers an important business question. Your research can also earn you a top spot on search engine results if it covers an important topic, follows SEO guidelines, and earns shares from websites with high domain authority.

Aim for Content Downloads, Which Correlate to the Highest Customer Conversion Rates

B2B companies don’t just want engagement or occasional readers. They want paying customers. Therefore, they should seek out the content marketing methods most likely to earn them a customer conversion out of their sales leads.

Surprisingly, content downloads had the highest conversion rate according to the same survey cited above. 66% of companies listed them as the asset with the best conversion rate. Webinars came in second, which seems counterintuitive given how much of a time investment registering and attending one can be. Equally surprising – demo requests came in third.

Nevertheless, creating premium content and requiring a download seems to be the most effective content marketing tactic for generating qualified leads and converting them to completed sales. Consider this as you determine which types of content are priorities and most deserving of your time, money and effort.

Tap Subject Matter Experts and Industry Influencers to Gain More Traction

The right input from the right source can make a huge difference in the perceived value B2B marketing content offers. By crowdsourcing information, ideas, and quotable phrases from recognizable names in your industry, you can amplify the authority your content projects while making it more appealing.

One company revealed to Forbes that onboarding influencers was a game changer for their content marketing effectiveness. They switched from a focus of educating target audiences to engaging them in discussions. The topics they covered had no right answers, making them more interesting to explore and contribute to. Having influencers submit their own input completed the package and helped the content have broader appeal.

Using this strategy, the company was able to earn seven times the amount of impressions and 160% more engagement compared to their average post before the switch.

When seeking out influencers to contribute, make the process of responding as simple as possible. Ask one direct, easy-to-grasp question, and let them know exactly what the intended guidelines are. If you can reduce the effort required to contribute to the project, you can improve your response rate and get more people to contribute their valuable input.

Don’t Neglect Video and Visuals

Visuals help “sell” content and make it into a much more appealing package. When you have the resources, make sure to pull important quotes and statistics from your content and repurpose them into easy-to-read graphics.

These graphics will undoubtedly get more visual attention and shares compared to text-only options. They also make for impactful assets any time you want to promote your content on social media. Don’t be surprised if many people seem to just read the photos and not really dig into the article itself!

If you want even better engagement, video content is where the industry is headed these days. Four times as many people say they would prefer to watch a video about a product or service compared to reading about it.

Key decision makers in particular are busy and enjoy having information compacted into a format that combines audio and visual information. 75% of executives claim that they watch branded video content related to their industry at least weekly, and 65% say that they later visit the website of the brand that created the video.

Like graphics, video combines well with other content and can also be a great way to repurpose it. Creating an executive summary of a research report can encourage downloads, for instance, while providing a more appealing and easily shareable format to earn more impressions.

Remember B2B Content Marketing Is for Retention and Not Just New Leads

B2B content marketing is one of the most effective methods at getting past customers to return to the buying cycle. Unfortunately, many B2B companies neglect this fact and only create content with new leads in mind. Remember that it costs a fifth as much on average to convert past customers into repeat buyers compared to converting new sales leads.

Offering content for those in the post-purchase phase can enhance their buyer satisfaction while keeping your business top-of-mind. Your content can also help turn them into brand evangelists by giving them information they’d be excitedly willing to share with their friends, colleagues, and social media followers.

Because of these benefits, make sure to account for repeat buyers’ needs within your persona and your B2B content strategy in general.

Ready to Start Selling More? Get Help Creating and Optimizing Your B2B Content Strategy

The path to success for B2B content marketing is never easy nor obvious, and it must be customized to fit the unique needs of your particular company and your target personas.

Get help forming a strategy that accounts for all of the above “must haves,” while increasing your chances of meeting or even exceeding your marketing goals. Contact us today to find out how!

[lbmn_postpagination]

[lbmn_authorbio]

About us and this blog

We are a digital marketing company with a focus on helping our customers achieve great results across several key areas.

Request a free quote

We offer professional SEO services that help websites increase their organic search score drastically in order to compete for the highest rankings even when it comes to highly competitive keywords.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More from our blog

See all posts
[lbmn_commentscount]
    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

      • admin
      • January 1, 2014
      Reply

      Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Leave a Comment