Friday, March 16, 2018

Clutter-Busting – Making Your Messages Matter

You’ve likely experienced information fatigue yourself – so imagine how your customers feel, being pushed and pulled and inundated with sales and product pushes from every side, more than ever before. From search engines and native placements to social media and apps, it takes more effort and creativity to connect with customers. So how do you make your message the one that cuts through the clutter?

There’s little doubt this mass media montage has contributed to the shrinking effect of traditional media. Research shows that in the last 10 years, 78% of newsrooms have cut print space for journalism, and 83% percent have cut back on journalists.

Even TV has been affected – a recent survey showed the narrowing gap between news sources, with 43% of Americans getting their news from digital sources, and 50% relying on TV (down from 57% a year before).

Another great statement on the increasing presence of digital: Newspaper posts on social media increased by 6% in just three years. Traditional media too, recognize the importance of integrating tactics.

Lest we think youth is driving these trends, the drop in television news reliance appears in both 50 to 64 year olds and 30 to 49 year olds.

As this gap narrows and media channels proliferate, integration becomes more complicated than ever before. Ninety-three percent of adults get their news online, but that could be from legacy print outlets or new digital-only producers. As of 2017, 61% of those digital-native outlets had a companion app too, and 75% produce podcasts. All use Facebook and Twitter, and most leverage YouTube and Instagram as well.

So what does it all mean? And how do you know where to put your message? To start, think in terms of helping customers understand rather than simply executing push strategies. This drives so much of what we do in communication today, with developing new and unique content and curating engagement rather than simply pushing information toward potential customers.

Then, begin with the simplest of goals: Identifying target audience, setting objectives and determining time and budget allocations. Once you have that, you can look at how particular media can be integrated. For example, social media works great for an immediate connection and is a great way to tell the audience what you can do for them. It’s good for targeting specific segments and creating interactions and engagement. Think of e-news in contrast, as a rifle – directly reaching your carefully curated and built customer list. These are your most motivated customers or prospects. Consider websites as the cornerstone – drive traffic to it as your main message and core communications tool. From there, you can spin off other content creations such as blogs, podcasts and other content marketing efforts that position you as an expert, establishing credibility, building relationships and enhancing your brand. Traditional media still plays a role but you need to challenge yourself to make sure you can measure its effectiveness. It all depends on how complex the purchase decision is. Craft your media and messaging strategy around brand belief you are trying to build and the reaction you are trying to create.

Which of these tools is right for you and your business or organization? The answer lies in your message. Let’s make your message matter – contact us to cut through the clutter: [email protected] or 309-346-6974.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Your Digital Sawdust Is Far From Useless

Think all those words and pictures and stories and relics and redos and revisions you undertook while developing your website are just that - rubbish? Nay, your digital sawdust is far from useless. We can use it to build more content, and then still more content, to expand your audience, increase your page views and build your brand. After all, you can have the greatest content in the world, but if no one sees it, it doesn't matter.

Essentially what we're doing is layering content on content on content. Gary Vaynerchuk, who coined the term "digital sawdust," has said, "The article you're about to read was made from a video, that was made from the making of an article, that was originally based off a video." Follow that?

This is content marketing on steroids - it's challenging, intensive and incredibly rewarding on so many levels. It sounds deceptively simple: Create content from content. But where to begin?

We start by creating three to four content pillars: a 3 to 5 minute video, a web article, a microsite and photography, for example. Then we build your strategy from there, using sawdust from each of these to build out.

Think of it this way: You choose a really choice block of wood (your brand). You carefully carve it into the perfect creation, a masterful representation of who you are. As you're doing this, sawdust cascades around you. While not attached to your piece at the moment, it's no less a part of your process - and no less valuable. Use that sawdust to build your brand. Here's what we mean: "

  • From the 3 to 5 minute video, create 15 second microvideos, and then animated GIFs, to use on Facebook and Twitter. "
  • From the web article and photography, build quote cards, short animations or 10 second stories for Instagram - the aspirational tone and vertical format of Instagram stories lends itself perfectly to it. 

It's not the first time we've seen such a transition from medium to medium - even back when strategists were switching from radio to TV, they began by first trying to simply run radio ads on television. Not too successful - and the same thing happened in the evolution from print to digital; running print ads on the web lacks impact. This strategy is all about understanding the psychology of the user - respecting it and then creating content for that. It's especially effective for reaching the younger generations, with a more in-depth approach that speaks to them differently wherever they are. In other words, the same message won't appear on both Twitter and Facebook - you run the risk your audience will see it both places and tune you out or turn you off.

Leveraging your sawdust means understanding your core pillars above all else. And the proof is in what you build - practitioners of this theory have built $100 million companies, racked up 3 million followers.

What do you see in your sawdust? Let's go build a brand – Tony Oedewaldt at [email protected] or 309-346-6974.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

S-E-Uh Oh – Why Ongoing SEO Matters

Set it and forget it may be a life hack for a lot of things but – SEO isn’t one of them. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a must-have when you launch a website, but what you may not know is that the best SEO takes some care and maintenance to keep it robust. Did you know the top spot in Google results gets over 36% of all clicks, but number 2 only gets 12.5%? SEO matters, and you can’t stay at the top without it. SEO is your site’s 24-7 sales rep!

When you start your website, hopefully you optimized your SEO with items like keywords, meta tags, meta descriptions, search engine submission, directory submission. But don’t stop there. You want to monitor and nurture your SEO on an ongoing basis to see how it’s performing. Look at search results to see where your site is standing, and tweak from there. Bing, Yahoo and the big daddy, Google, are constantly changing their algorithms and web ranking strategies, so it follows that to be successful, your SEO must evolve too. Studies show that companies who didn’t continue SEO saw their page rankings decrease by as much as 30% - and those who invest in ongoing SEO activities increase theirs by 18%.

The fact is, SEO drives 75% of web traffic – and impacts both online and brick-and-mortar purchases. Yep, you read that right: More than three-quarters of us hit the web to find a physical place to make a purchase or fulfill a need. You wouldn’t let the grass grow over your front door, so why would you let your SEO go unattended?

We know it can be intimidating to jump into the sea of SEO without a net, so we suggest taking a few smaller steps to start. Here are four of our favorites:

Google Analytics is a great place to start for ongoing SEO. With it you can see where traffic comes from, who your visitors are, where they go first, which pages they spend the most time on – and focus your efforts there.

Reassess your keywords. Those keywords were great when your site launched, but a year later how people search may be different. Take a hard look at the words and phrases you’re focusing in on, especially when you run campaigns.

Optimize your content. What does that mean? Write for the algorithms. That means including target keywords, adopting a conversational style and asking (and answering) lots of questions by anticipating your visitors’ needs. In addition, add new content regularly – that shows search engines that your site isn’t stagnant, which also contributes to higher page rankings.

Build your links. Incorporating a number of external links also contributes to your page ranking. Choose carefully, and select sites that are rich in valuable, well-trafficked content. You’ll also want to review and update these links regularly because penalties for broken links are severe. And don’t forget cross-linking within pages on your own website!

We could talk SEO all day, and by the time we finish a sentence, it all could be different. It’s a mad, mad worldwide web out there – and one that’s always changing. We use the word “dynamic” to describe tech for a reason. Content, language, algorithms – they all play into how your SEO pings. Luckily we speak the language – and we’re ready to translate for you. Reach out to Tony Oedewaldt at [email protected] or 309-346-6974.