Monday, December 15, 2014

4 Biggest Brand Train Wrecks

There’s something to be said for reinvention. For keeping it fresh. The challenge, at the same time, is keeping it real – and relevant. Therein lies the rub. And there, it’s easy to lay a big fat egg. To avoid it? Hear your market, listen to your customers and live your values. Major brands, sadly, tend to be some of the best examples of the worst.

Take JC Penney, who in a moment of infinite wisdom decided… no more sales. That’s right, no sales, just Fair and Square Pricing. Each month they would put out a thick, glossy mini catalog of “month long values” showcasing their best deals. Except that’s not what people want from them. As my cousin said, “They’re totally missing it with customers like me – stop with the fancy schmancy catalogs; no wonder they can’t have sales anymore.” Ultimately JC Penney went back to having sales. Or as Kellogg School of Management summarized: They realized the word “sales” drives customers to stores. Listen to your customers.

Even the simplest seeming changes to your look can have huge impacts on customers, as brands like Tropicana found out the hard way. Undoubtedly a marketing guru somewhere decided it was time for a refresh, and out came new orange juice packaging, designed to look like you, only better. Unfortunately, much like celebs who change their look find out, consumer backlash to visual changes can be swift and brutal. Tropicana’s packaging, well, didn’t look like Tropicana, and naysayers pounded away until the classic design came back. Know your customers.
Who wants to Shack up? Radio Shack apparently thought you did, when they attempted to give themselves a forcedly cool nickname: The Shack. Aside from the many social connotations, who ever heard of anything good happening in a shack? And why throw away years of hard earned brand value just to be hip? Risky, especially when even hipsters ridicule you. Understand the value – both real and intangible – of your brand.

And finally, it’s a classic for a reason. Classic Coke. Who remembers that debacle? Coke devotees, that’s who. They’re still bitter over the (hushed whisper) New Coke introduction. Sagging brand value (execs thought) prompted a formula change designed to regain market share. Reaction was so strong (reportedly 1,500 calls a day) that Coke brought the old formula back just 79 days later. Consumers rejoiced – Peter Jennings even interrupted General Hospital to bring them the news. Don’t underestimate your brand.

Pondering a rebrand or refresh? We’ve got the tools to (re)build your brand – just like you, only better. Contact Randy McDaniels at [email protected] or 309-346-2512.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rx for Growth: Healthcare + Social Media

Fact: Looking for health information is the third most popular online activity.

Fact: Two-thirds of internet users look for information on a specific disease or medical condition.

Fact: The day that Facebook altered profile pages to allow members to specify their organ donor-status, 13,054 people registered to be organ donors online in the United States, a 21-fold increase over the daily average of 616 registrations.

Social media and healthcare go along together like peanut butter & jelly. People want to find healthcare information easily. They want to connect with others who share their situation. Before the doctor visit, people want to be aware of their combined symptoms and the conditions possibly connected to them. And while self-diagnosing has never been a reliable method, internet users continue to browse the web for answers.

As a healthcare provider, relaying information and being easily accessible to your patients besides a scheduled appointment is vitally important. It’s something Mayo Clinic has known for years – and why they’ve led the healthcare revolution on social media… to the tune of 772,000 Twitter followers, 498,252 likes on Facebook, with regular YouTube content publishing and additional podcasts and blog posts.

What does it all mean to you?

It’s time to dip a toe into social media. While this doesn’t mean you have to start out huge – Mayo Clinic-style – the benefits associated with an online presence are too valuable not to connect and engage with your patients and community. There is a vast selection of trending social media tools for you to choose from. Besides the classic methods like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, opportunities abound. Instagram, Snapchat, StumbleUpon, Pinterest and Reddit are just five of the creative platforms that businesses and healthcare facilities are beginning to use to connect with their community.

  • Instagram: Share photos and short videos online with applied digital filters. Hashtags are used to sort postings.
  • Snapchat: Similar to Instagram, this platform is used to share pictures and short videos. Media is not posted publicly, instead it is shared with contacts for a set time limit.
  • StumbleUpon: Classified as a discovery engine (a type of search engine). Users select interests and rate the websites, photos and videos that appear each time the user "stumbles." Pages with high ratings are shared with like-minded individuals.
  • Pinterest: Users create and share boards with various pinned items such as websites, pages, etc. Boards can be used to develop projects or store pictures.
  • Reddit: Community member-driven news website. Members can submit content, and member votes determine the ranking and position of content within the site.

At the minimum, it is vital for healthcare providers to have an active Twitter account and/or a Facebook page for their patients to connect with.

Stories of Facebook engagement and intervention are everywhere. From the nurse who found out about a patient’s struggle with the anniversary of the day his friend died in his arms, to the trauma teams who were better prepared after learning of the Boston bombings on Facebook.

In fact, Facebook itself is exploring the possibilities of leading online support communities, where Facebook users suffering from the same condition could share stories, commiserate and in theory, improve their quality of life. Whether you choose to go that far – or simply share your thoughts and expertise or provide an avenue for conversation – your patients will find a comfort level when they find you on social media (36% of internet users look online for information about hospitals or other medical facilities).

Social media is not going away. Younger generations who grew up with the internet and social media platforms are now reaching the age of decision about their own healthcare providers. 89% of 18-29 year olds use social media. Being easily accessible to those potential patients on the platforms they use can take you the distance.

However it may develop, the social media-healthcare relationship is just beginning. The Healthcare Hashtag Project tracks where healthcare conversations take place, and when we last checked, healthcare social media buzzed to the tune of 629 million tweets and 11 million topics.

Diseases trending as of presstime:


Your mission is clear: Talk the talk. Let your voice be heard and provide your community with the answers they are searching. Be active and reachable on the accounts you have.

Wondering how to be part of the conversation? We’re fluent in tweets, posts, pins, messaging, tagging, hashtags and simple text – time to find out where you fit in. Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309-346-2512.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Don’t Call It an Event – Give Them an Experience

Finding creative ways to reward loyalty – customer or employee – brings on a certain paralyzing, “don’t call on me” first-day-of-school fear of not living up to the hype for many managers and owners. Perhaps rightfully so, because let’s face it, in today’s insta-social media-driven world of posting, tweeting and pinning, winning favor takes some chops. But no worries, a look at some of the hottest trends in event planning can spark something great – here are five of our faves trending now:

Give local some love

There's a huge movement toward local sourcing; that’s undeniable. Now how do you weave that into an event? How about a Friday Food Truck Smorgasbord? Looking to step it up a notch? Hit up your favorite local gourmet eatery for a farm-to-table culinary event to knock their taste buds off.

Hit holograms (no, not Jem & The…)

Holograms are hot right now, and with them, the possibilities for entertainment expand infinitely. No worries about booking a no-show band. Book a hologram band that records video ahead of time, and a crack lighting and A/V team brings it to your event. Bam. Side note: Great for karaoke too.

Get out of your box (no really)

Hotels and banquet halls are great – and let’s face it, easy – options for events, but… yawn. You want to get people excited about what you do, and make an impression. Take them for a ride – motor speedways, stadiums, retired military bases, warehouses, even streets for mini block parties. Take a blank canvas, then make something memorable out of it.

Spark something social 

Put some pop into your events by incorporating social media – pop culture at its finest. At its most basic, that could mean getting your own hashtag trending or having a selfie contest before, during and after the event. But why not take it to the next level with an Instagram photo booth, a flash mob to start the party or iPads as table d├ęcor that lets you post messages?

Give a different kind of social back

Giving a little back can have big impacts, as companies large and small are finding out when they expand their social responsibility platform. Weaving some good into an event can engage and energize, both individuals and relationships. Could be a Habitat for Humanity workday and lunch, could be a carnival for at-risk kids, could be throwing a build-your-own banana split party that benefits your favorite charity.

Not sure whether to pin the banana split or take the food truck to the raceway? McDaniels Marketing offers event planning and management. Our ideas are endless – let us give you a taste (for real, not in hologram). Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309-346-2512.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Marketing for the Multi-Screen Revolution

The argument for multi-channel marketing is as old as time… the argument for multi-screen marketing, not so much. It’s gaining ground and effectiveness as consumers’ time between screens becomes more and more fragmented. But what does that mean?

Before we begin, we need to/must understand the method and madness of multi-screen sequences. 71% of Americans use two or more screens daily to view content. Most start with TV, then continue on a smartphone. (But any order is possible, building in tablets, laptops and any digital device.)

Your average multi-screen user racks up at least 5 hours of screen time a day – but consumes 7 hours of screen media during that block. Daytime is dominated by smartphones and laptops; nighttime by TV, and tablet usage also bumps up. Smartphones alone account for 2.5 hours of time every day; mobile and tablets together take up 47% of screen time. In fact:
  • 1 in 5 U.S. consumers use a mobile device to watch TV 
  • Over 50% of American adults own a tablet or e-reader 
  • Device of choice for ages 18-34? Smartphones. 
  • Screen of choice for adults 35-44? Tablets. 
And yet, only 4% of the global media spend is on smartphones and tablets – can you say opportunity? How to capitalize…

Consistency – Make sure customers see your brand and message the same way, no matter which channel they’re in. (Note: That doesn’t mean redundancy to the point of boredom, but rather the same positioning, colors, fonts, etc. Think Coke.)

Connections – How can you engage your customers no matter how they’re connecting with you? Above all be relevant. If you aren’t talking their language, they’ll tune you out no matter where you are.

Cognizance – Know and understand the limitations of the particular screen your customer is using, and how your brand will show on it. Balance entertainment with advertising – and know your audience’s tolerance. Our under-30 friends who grew up digital switch between devices upwards of 27 times an hour. AN HOUR. (Even the 35-55 set clocks in at 17 times an hour.)

Conciseness – We can’t say it enough; content is king, and customers expect content to entertain, quickly. If informs them too, that's even better.

Content – Map out a content strategy – what you’ll be saying and when, then stick to it and execute it faithfully.

Beyond considering new prongs for your marketing program (mobile marketing, smartphone and tablet ads, etc.), tweaking your current marketing for this new user habit profile also bears consideration. You’ll want to optimize your website across the different screen types. A great user experience, no matter the screen or device, is the key. If you build it, they will come – and stay a while.

Not sure how to start the multi-screen revolution at your business? We can help you find the keys, with multi-screen marketing analysis and strategy customized to your goals and content. Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309-346-2512.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Meeting the Challenges of the One-Man Band… er, Marketing Department

No man is an island, but never does it feel more like it than when you’re THE marketing department. As a one-person department, you’ve got it all… all the decision making, glory, strategy, pressure, responsibility, planning. To say it’s a lot would be stating the obvious, but the sheer workload seems to justify it. While you may not have the luxury of building a fully staffed multi-person department, that doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish just as much. It starts with a few productive habits:

5 habits of highly effective solo marketers

  1. Get organized. Start with a marketing strategy, and aim for a one-year plan. Determine goals and tactics according to time of year, sales peaks and valleys, industry events and emphasize your own company’s products and services. Consider a project management system to help keep it straight and facilitate the approval process. Involve other people in your organization to ensure maximum buy-in. And with this, you’ll define expectations up front to ensure everyone’s on the same page.
  2. Know when to say when (and no). As a party of one, there will be times you simply can’t be everything to everybody. With print, PPC, web, blog, e-news, tradeshows, e-blasts, internal communications, PR, social media, collateral, media relations and an endless list of possibilities for marketing tactics, you’ll need to prioritize—and learn to say no. So when the sales department has to have that flyer by end of the business day, know how to answer.
  3. Streamline and automate. Create templates for the internal team to use when possible, such as developing sales slicks. Ask other departments to contribute to newsletters and e-blasts—their knowledge is invaluable, and they’re more likely to support and engage when they’re involved. Plus it takes some of the load off of you! Leverage tools like social media and crowdsourcing to help get the word out quickly and easily. Match the best tactics to your top goals.
  4. Track failures—and successes. Analytics and metrics feed the digital world, and they should feed a marketer flying solo too. Keep a file of successes and failures. No one else is going to do it, and you’ll want to know what’s working and what’s not. Whether that means tracking your time so you know what you’re spending too much on and where the most value lies or setting up Google Analytics to track your key digital elements, understand where you’ve been and where you’re at so you always know where you’re going.
  5. Partner with a full-service marketing agency. They’ll take the load off of you in many ways. They have expertise in multiple tactical areas, so you can tap into creative skills, marketing consultation, strategy, organizational development, production, media and more. You’ll have all these skill sets with just one phone number, utilized whenever you need them. Set up a monthly management fee, and you have an extraordinarily deep yet cost-effective tool – with the ability to call your marketing firm for advice or help without worrying about additional fees. It’s peace of mind at a much lower cost than adding additional employees.

Running out of fuel flying solo? We can help, with a partnership customized to your goals and budget. Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309-346-2512.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ramping up Your Web Traffic – as Simple as the Right Content Management System

Ever been to a website and just been baffled because it’s obviously outdated? Then what’d you do? We’d bet dollars to donuts you went elsewhere for fresh (and likely competitive) content. People don’t come back to old content. And since return visitors are eight times more likely to make online purchases, the motivation is more than there. Whether old events listings, news or press releases updated years or months ago, or even content that’s clearly not relevant to current industry standards, stale content is no less off-putting than stale bread. And when it’s your own website you’re looking at, somehow it’s that much harder to swallow.

Why keep your content current?

  • Encourage customers to come back
  • Keep customers engaged and at your site longer
  • Drive higher search engine rankings
  • Positions you as relevant and industry leading
  • Reinforces and integrates with your marketing strategy
  • Creates positive perception of company’s progressiveness, credibility and strength

So what gives?

The excuses are many, the challenges even more numerous. Staff doesn’t have technical know-how to update. No one on the team has time. Per-update cost to the web provider is too high. Rarely is the issue truly having no content; more often the issue is truly having no resources.

And that’s sad, because the solution really is that simple. A simple, streamlined content management system makes it easy for anyone, technical know-how or no, to regularly update a website. And a qualified, experienced agency delivers the professional writing prowess to take the load off you and put the pressure behind your site.

You’re looking for a content management system that allows for real-time updates across the site, all template-driven and consistently designed. So you don’t have to think about how to code, how to format, how to program. You worry about putting current, relevant content out there to draw your audience back again and again.

What should you look for in a content management system?
Here are just a few to start with:

  • Easy-to-use toolbars similar to the standard formatting toolbars in Microsoft Word
  • Simple icons with descriptive mouseovers for easy navigation
  • Ability to turn on new content when ready – and have the system store data when turned off
  • Plug-and-play modules to customize the system with galleries, media, banner ads and more 

Then, approach content just like you would any product development or marketing effort: with a carefully strategized and planned calendar. Assign appropriate topics according to factors like time of year, industry fluctuations, audience demand and even any trends you’re predicting. And don’t forget the final (most important) plan: who’ll write what when. Working with that qualified agency makes slipping into the fast lane a breeze: They’ll do all of this, and you need only give the green light.

Where to get the content? 

Your existing materials can be a treasure trove of great info, ready to be slyly repackaged into web-friendly infographics, lists, charts and other visually leading elements. Your team can be a boundless resource, as they’re in touch with what your audience is asking, seeking and demanding. And you could incorporate any number of content tactics, such as blogs (HubSpot says companies who blog have 97% more inbound links), image or video galleries, RSS feeds, integrating with social media and the like.

As you’re gathering, building and expanding your content repository, content management systems offer the added benefit of making it easy to track. With everything centralized, the team can easily share and reference information. Content is secure, so you can determine who accesses what and at what level. And you have the control to make updates as you feel they’re appropriate.

Regular content updates became even more important with the advent of Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm, which searches based on content meaning and relevance rather than simple keywords and phrases. Informative content that answers the audience’s questions and speaks their language will get the highest rankings, and those rankings are also impacted by content frequency. So even your still-relevant content may bear a refresh. (Read more about Hummingbird in this previous blog post.)

Content is king, and its reign looks to extend indefinitely. So get aggressive and get in front of it, before your relevancy and your reason for return visitors are left in the dust! Not sure where to start? We can start with an assessment to determine the right content management system and content strategy approach for you.

Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309-346-2512.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Make the Most of Mobile: There’s an App for That

Want to find a date? Rank a restaurant? Know the daily US consumption of Nutella? (Hey it’s awesome.) Odds are there’s an app for that. And odds are you’re using them at some level in your personal life, but are you leveraging them for business? Do you have a custom app that keeps bringing customers back? Never thought of that? It’s time to start.

Mobile apps are on a continuously upward trajectory for popularity, and their potential closely parallels it. Users of all ages are growing increasingly social in their app selection, but a quick look at some of the most coveted demographic groups gives us an interesting window into where mobile is going.

For example, did you know Facebook use is dropping off among trendsetters (age 14-34)? That’s right, adoption of the global uber-social app is growing fastest among (gasp!) the over-50 crowd. Yet interestingly, Facebook is still the platform mainstream users prefer for hearing from their brands.

That’s not to say you should make Facebook the be-all end-all of your mobile marketing segment. Quite the contrary. Rather, keep a finger (or maybe two) on the pulse of the app world, and watch what’s got users’ heart rates up. As apps get savvier in growing their user bases, they’re honing in on leveraging their audiences for advertising impact. And smart brands are, in turn, counter-leveraging the crowds, whether the apps offer formal advertising or not. The apps and their numbers are worth considering as a smart marketing plant component.

What are some of the hottest apps?

Tinder, a dating and messenger app now up to 6.5 million users. The feed shows you potential singles (including TV show The Mindy Project at one time); you swipe left or right to like or dislike. When two people like each other, they have the option to text each other.

Messaging apps like WhatsApp (400 million users) and Kik (100 million users). Essentially this is texting without SMS (which is automatically installed on most smartphones). But it’s free and offers more features, like the ability to block someone, plus extended cross-functional capability like chat+music+gaming on Kik in some cases. So far, WhatsApp remains stubbornly advertising free, but Sony and teen music sensation One Direction have effectively leveraged Kik for mobile web.

Social sharing apps continue to pop up, and a few have burst onto the scene with surprising growth. Snapchat boasts 50 million users just since 2012, sharing a reported 400 million photos a day to rival Facebook totals. The appeal? Photos appear and disappear in seconds, a “snap” of interest. Similarly, Whisper, which lets users combine image and text to anonymously share secrets with strangers, reportedly built an audience of over 2 million in its first six months. (Since its user numbers are closely guarded, we don’t know their current totals.) And look for Jelly to get some attention. Launched just this year by Twitter’s founder, Jelly features a quirky premise of posting pictures to query the crowd for opinions. Travelocity and General Electric are already experimenting with its promotional potential.

What’s the app for YOU?

It’s true there’s an app for virtually anything, but what about for your business? Leveraging critical thinking relative to your industry and its needs can drive business and dollars. Consider your audience, then consider what they need and what to design for them. How about an app that helps people know what type of health screenings they need and classes to take compared to their health risk data? Or maybe an app that helps customers find product dealers, service centers and solutions faster and easier? Or your best bet may be a rewards or club accrual-type app that helps customers connect and remain loyal.

Bottom line: The key is to develop an app that people find so useful they can’t help but use it again and again. If you want to make it in the mobile world (and you should), you’d better be always thinking… of the next big thing, that is. Because you can bet that, for converting clicks to business, there’s an app for that.

Not sure where to point your mouse first? We can help create an app for that, from conception to development and launch. Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or
(309) 346-2512.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Are You Feeding the Hummingbird?

Leverage the search giant’s new “semantic search” algorithm for better SEO

There’s a new bird in town, and it’s bringing new meaning to Mighty Mouse. No really. Some estimates say it affects 90% of worldwide Google searches. Touted as a small but powerful change, Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm actually interprets the underlying meaning of our searches, rather than focusing only on the keywords.

So in other words, this is a search engine that will understand the intention behind a search phrase, not just the most important words in it. It will take the entire string of words typed into Google and surmise the actual context of the question.

What’s different about this “semantic” (meaning-oriented) approach?

Previously Google chased keywords, without paying that much attention to the other words in a search phrase, so if it saw “red rover” in the phrase “how do I play red rover,” it might hone in on “rover” and thus spit out “Land Rover”.

Keywords still need to be used in a website—in fact they’re essential—but what’s just as important is to build content that answers customers questions about the topics of those keywords, and will thus match more perfectly the intent behind user searches. So, as an example, in the phrase “find polish to clean my silver necklace,” the previous search algorithm might provide you with links to where you can buy a silver necklace or a showcase of different styles of silver necklaces. Hummingbird, in contrast, understands that “clean” is the true focus of the search and returns results targeted with polishing and cleaning silver necklaces.

Yesterday’s Google Search vs. Today’s Hummingbird Results

It all boils down to customer search intent and thinking like your audience in their intent to search.

Beyond what keywords will they put in to search, try to imagine how customers will structure their search question (including how they might speak the question into voice search apps). We need to better understand customer needs and motivations, then build copy that provides answers and solutions.

Google Hummingbird semantic search is an algorithm that will provide results not necessarily based on which webpage has the largest number of relevant keywords, but on the web site with the best answers. Like the audience doing the search, Hummingbird wants to find the best web answer to the question. 

Where previously the highest rankings might focus on website longevity, prestige or content wording, now the best ranked web sites are those that answer questions like we might in conversation with a friend. And that’s the key: conversational, friendly, easily digestible bytes of content. None of the dry, stiff, overly technical, jargon-heavy, corporate-speak sites that have often dominated the digital world. 

On the surface, it might sound easy, but as you delve down, creating relevant content becomes more than just a buzzword. User friendly content is a challenge and exercise in getting inside the customer’s head, not only talking their talk, but creating a conversation as if they could pick up in the middle and naturally continue talking with you. Talk to them like a friend, and draw them into the conversation. Engage. Entertain. Inform. Those are the breadcrumbs Hummingbird follows.

Hummingbird Dos & Don’ts

  • Don’t panic – there is likely no need to throw out your existing content; rather, cleverly and judiciously enhance, add depth and adjust approach 
  • Do consider beefing up your content where appropriate with information-rich, easily digestible tidbits like FAQs and how-tos 
  • Don’t stop best practices like legitimate back links, original and engaging content and carefully placed keywords 
  • Do create content that most closely and specifically responds to the type of information your audience seeks 
  • Do join the conversation – and make sure your site’s content speaks your audience’s language 

Want to learn more about how to comply with Google Hummingbird requirements to take your site to new heights? Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or call her at 309.346.2512.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What happens when you cross online with print advertising?

Be the Dr. Seuss of advertising.

It’s a question Dr. Seuss just might have asked. After all, from his fertile mind came the Elephant-Bird, Fizza-ma-Wizza-ma-Dill and countless other creative creatures, all previously unheard of and wildly successful.

Thinking like Dr. Seuss pays off here, particularly for those bound to the strategy of yellow pages, print, billboards, repeat. Print pays off time and again, and yet the Internet continues to be the fastest-growing ad medium, projected to encompass nearly 25% of ad spending by next year. In fact, some researchers predict digital ad spending will be more than the combined total spent on magazines and newspapers by 2015.

All this to say, it’s worth incorporating digital into your schedule along with print. There is no easy formula to successful advertising, as we’ve said time and again. But combining print and digital to make your own unique strategy will pay off.

Drive your online and offline to each other. In other words, cross market, such as putting hashtags on your print and TV ads. And don’t forget mobile. Two-thirds of adults use their cell phones to go online—incredibly, that number has doubled just since 2009. And 34% of those mostly go online with their cell phone, not a laptop or desktop computer. Some of our clients are seeing 45% of their traffic coming from mobile devices!

But remember, even as its growth continues, some of the digital media’s pace is slowing—recent projections for online display advertising, for example, say overall growth will be slower than predicted. Meanwhile, despite the rise in tablet and e-reader use, print remains the way most Americans prefer to read. In fact, Pew Research Center calls print “the foundation of Americans’ reading habits.”

So it’s no surprise that studies show that the most successful marketing strategies are those that include a calculated mix of both digital and print tactics. A recent study had respondents, both B2B and B2C marketers, rank the strategies most effective for their businesses. The results:

  • Email marketing – 83% 
  • Website (content and SEO) – 71% 
  • In-person interactions – 68% 
  • Social media – 49% 
  • Events – 41% 
  • Outbound calling – 33% 
  • PR – 22% 
  • Direct mail – 21% 
  • Traditional advertising (TV, radio, print, etc.) – 17% 
  • Pay-per-click – 17% 

In other words, integrate, integrate, integrate print and digital together. The take-home: There is no silver bullet, no magic pill to make your marketing successful. You need a mix to make a mark. So what’s a marketer to do? Make like Dr. Seuss, and make your own reality. Never stop reinventing and creating.

Want to find out which integrated marketing tactics are right for your business or organization? Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309-346-2512.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Content Drives Traffic

Pundits dubbed 2013 the year of content, but really, shouldn’t it be quality content? It’s not enough just to have something on your website, in your e-blasts, in your digital ads, or any of your marketing. What’s there needs to be quality, original content.

The duplicate content dilemma is one that has been floating around the web world nearly since inception, and it’s made only murkier by SEO and the frequent metric and algorithm changes by Google. Understanding it all takes time, patience and more than a little perseverance, so we’ll tackle some of the most common questions and let you reach out if you want more.

What exactly does duplicate vs original content mean?

First, effective content isn’t just cutting and pasting print copywriting to the web. As far back as 1996, Bill Gates recognized that in his now-famous “Content Is King” article, saying, “There isn’t enough depth or interactivity in print content to overcome the drawbacks of the online medium… [People] need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines.”

But doesn’t successful marketing involve consistent messaging?

Absolutely, but that doesn’t have to mean duplication. The message should be tailored to the medium. Print, for example, may have a simple “Call today” call to action, while digital (e-news, web, etc) can be much more forwardly engaging, involving clicking, surveying, video, audio and other techniques.

Take, for example, a marketing strategy incorporating a trifold brochure, a direct mailer, a web page and an e-blast. Should the content be similar? Yes, that goes toward consistent messaging. Should it be identical? No, that goes toward knowing your media. With direct mail you have a split second to engage and draw before it goes into the pile. Your point should be up front, in your face and easy to process. A brochure gives you more latitude for explanations and detail, with more information packed in with the assumption that the audience will spend more time with the piece. Think of an e-blast like a billboard, with a drive-by quality and seconds to engage via subject and graphics. A web page, while offering seemingly endless room for content, requires a different style of writing, with briefer sentences, more breaks and more opportunities to engage. Here you have the opportunity to incorporate links to other pages, video, article and other media, making it easier for the reader to expand beyond. And you need to incorporate important keywords so that search engines can index the page so more people can find and read your helpful content. Q&A format for the web is also king.

Increasing your ranking: Start with a cluster of solid keywords (the words or phrases your audience would most often enter into Google to find you and your product), and build your copy out from there.

So I can’t have anything duplicate on my site?

Today, duplicate content extends to literally having the same thing on your site more than once and how Google interprets that in its search rankings. Which then leads to the question of whether pages like terms and conditions and disclaimers negatively impact your rating? The short answer is no, it’s not going to be counted.

To rank high with Google, your site needs to add value. That means having information on your site that no one else has, and having more of it. “…25 or 30% of all the web’s content is duplicate content,” says Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam. Further, most of it isn’t spam, so rather than being eliminated, it’s grouped together.

It could be content within your own site, content cited by blogs or picked up by news outlets. Great original content takes time, ingenuity and creativity. Your content should be actionable. It should excite or pique interest. It provides answers or equips the audience to discern the answer. Whatever the source, the key is to make your content stand out and provide value beyond the rest of the clutter.

Keys to Great Original Content

  • Make it actionable
  • Get to the point
  • Provide answers
  • Start with strong headlines
  • Keep it fresh

How can we help? Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309.346.2512.