Banner ads are one of the most common forms of advertising used in the online world.
As an affordable, effective and measurable medium they enable companies to draw attention to their brand and attract traffic back to a web page.
However, much like any other form of advertising, the success of a banner ad often depends on its design. The reasoning is simple – better design will make you stand out from the crowd, improve your click-through rate and ultimately get you ahead of the game.
Even if you have no design experience there are some cool and free design applications such as Content Creator that have beautiful typography templates that you can pair with photos and create banner ads on your iPhone or iPad in just few minutes.
But you need to know that creating an ad is not just about putting some photos and text together and hoping for the best. As we have examined best practices in banner advertising we are here to share with you what a creative and effective online ad is really all about:
Of course there is no one-size-fits-all type of banner ad as the size needs to be adjusted to the requirements of a particular site. But Google AdSense is stating that: “wider ad sizes tend to outperform their taller counterparts”. It is presumed that the position of such ads and the fact that it’s more comfortable to read from left to right are among reasons why these sizes are so popular. For more information about top performing sizes check out the Google Ad guide.
Make it simple
Easier said than done, I agree. Many companies are trying to put too much information into one ad and in the end everything looks busy, confusing and even suspicious.
As a general rule-of-thumb your ad should stand up to the 2 second glance rule, during which it should be clear to the audience who you are and what you are saying. So keep it minimal and clean with no more than 10 words per ad.
Take a look at the example below where powerful background and product color are contrasted with minimal text and a visible call-to-action button. It is simple, functional and to the point.
Create an order
If there is no order in the way you arrange your text, viewers will not know where to look first and where to start reading.
Greater size indicates greater importance, so use that logic when arranging your visual elements. Use one size (bigger or bolder) for the main text and another for additional text and the call to action (button).
Keep in mind that the font style, size and the total amount of text should be adapted for smaller mobile screens so do NOT use embellished, shadowed or extremely thin fonts nor the ones that are smaller than 10 pt.
Stick to simple sans serif fonts that are direct, trustworthy and easy to read. When in doubt about font color remember that black or white work best in most ads.
Choose relevant images
Complex or abstract images take longer to scan and understand so it’s important to make banner ad images obvious and relevant to the ad.
If you choose to go with high quality product images surround them with a lot of empty space so that the product and the message can come to focus.
In case you decide on using photos of people you can try looking for some free people photos at Pexels or Picjumbo, as they have a separate “people category”. But for more close-up photos of human faces you will have to go to budget photo stocks such as Istock or Shutterstock.
Always make sure that a person in the ad matches the persona of your buyer or rely on the power of brand ambassadors and celebrities that embody and promote brand values.
Build trust with a logo
If your banner ad doesn’t have a logo viewers will not know who is behind the ad so they will probably never click on it. That is why it’s important to use Content Creator app and place your logo on the top or bottom of the ad, depending on the placement of the copy.
Keep it visually dominant but not as much as the main call to action. If you don’t want to put your logo at least write your brand name or website as a signal to viewers that there is a real landing page behind the ad.
In that case, even if viewers fail to click-through, you will still generate brand awareness with impressions.
Rely on your colors
Branding of your ad should be consistent with branding of other marketing materials, not only in terms of images and fonts but also in terms of color. It will significantly improve brand recall and leverage brand identity.
You can choose to have your signature color dominantly present on the image or you can choose to use your color for the call-to-action button only. In the latter case you can make the button stand out even more by adding a (transparent) background or filter to your ad image.
Call them to action
Once viewers notice your image and read the message what do you want them to do? Go to your website or e-shop, right?
For that to happen your ad must inform the viewer on what they need to do and what in return they can expect to receive once they click through.
The best place to give such instruction (aka. the call to action or CTA) are buttons, positioned at the end of your message or at the bottom of the ad. When possible use bright colors or prominent sizes for the button so that it can become a focal point of the ad.
The most frequent CTA’s are “click here”, “buy now” or “sign up” but you can expand on that to give more information about the choice that is ahead of them. For example you can write: “Click here to save 25%”, “Watch now for free”, “Redeem now”.
In the end don’t forget to follow through, as the ad is just a small part of a much bigger picture and it must be linked to a landing page that looks and feels like an ad. This means that if your ad promises a 50% mid-year sale your landing page has to deliver on that promise through the same offer, image style, font and color.
Where do you stand when it comes to banner ads? Do you use them or pay attention to their design? Are there some other design tips that have proven to be effective for you? Please share them in the comments section below!
Guest Author: Aida Gadzo is a Social Media Strategist at contentcreatorapp.com. She helps small and medium businesses master the “what”, “why” and “how” of producing and delivering engaging digital and social media content that will activate audiences and drive sales.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Content Creator.
I had just launched my blog.
The first post was published and it was there for all the world to see. But no one knew it existed. I had no budget for marketing, no traffic and to be honest I was struggling. Sort of like a tree in a Siberian forest. A bit green, very unknown and hidden.
It was 2009 and blogging and the social web were new and just emerging from the primordial swamp on the start of the journey of digital evolution. Tools were raw or non-existent and everyone was trying to work out how to get traffic without paying for it. SEO scammers were still plying their trade and Google AdWords was getting too expensive.
Social media was free back then.
You could get traffic easily from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks without paying for it. I started to work out that Twitter was very effective for getting traffic to my blog. My email list was so small it might as well been non-existent and my SEO traffic was feeble.
So how do you get free traffic?
If you’re expecting an easy answer you are in the wrong place. You are going to have to earn it!
…and that takes time and effort.
Here are the top 3 tactics to start and focus on.
1. Social media – This where I started. You need to start building a tribe on social networks (Twitter was the one that worked best for me)
2. Search engines – Earning authority with Google takes persistence but research shows that this will produce 300% more traffic than social over time.
3. Building an email list – This is vital. It means that you can let your audience know about your latest blog post or offer when you want to. Not at the whim of a Google or Facebook algorithm. Do this from day one.
Now for a lot of you this is not big news.
But it is still surprising how many people still don’t do the work to make these tactics work.
But there are some simple ways to get free traffic and here is a secret on how to double your traffic.
The real secret
The real secret is optimizing your blog and website with tools and technologies that make your site work harder. That means that your primary goal should be to take the traffic you already have and optimize it. That means two things.
- Making it easier to share
- Make it compelling to subscribe to your email list
How do you do that?
The simplest way to start is to use simple to use sharing buttons. When I did this for the first time the results were incredible. Just doing that one thing increased my traffic by 200%
But I am still surprised today how hard people make it to share their content. Often they are almost impossible to find, at the bottom of the post or not even setup.
An awesome app
Today we have so many tools and platforms to choose from that it is overwhelming. Late last year I decided to try out an app that I had heard about but hadn’t the time to implement or test.
What I love about the app is that it makes it easy to optimize and test. It also focuses on the two key things that you need to make your blog and website work harder.
Optimizing your content sharing and email subscribing.
Making your blog work harder and smarter is the best place to start rather than chasing shiny new toys that offer the world, add clutter and just plain waste your time.
SumoMe is the best tool I have discovered in a long time! Here are 7 ways to use it to start on the journey to doubling your traffic.
4 ways to optimize your email list building
The best place to start is with the tools that help you grow your email list. Here are 4 cool ways to make it easy and compelling for your site visitors to do that with Sumome.
The default designs are a great place to start. But you can create your own design by using their large range of templates. The stats show that the welcome mat is one of the highest converting list building tactics you can use.
Sumome data shows that it can triple your conversion rate with its full-screen call to action.
Welcome Mat displays a full-screen call to action that shows when visitors land on your site. It encourages your visitors to join your email list and check out your latest and popular blog post!
Popular features include:
- Ability to customize the background, add gifs, videos and completely change the colors
- Mobile and web optimized
- Automatically loads when visitors arrive on your site
- Ability to use display rules to control where your popup shows
- Easy newsletter integration with Mailchimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, GetResponses, Infusionsoft, Mad Mimi, Vero and many more!
The scroll box is a sliding banner that pops out when people have read a certain percentage of your content or post. The default setting on this is 40%.
You could use this to also promote webinars and other landing pages.
This operates like most pop-ups but is easy to design and configure the settings.
If you go the top of my blog you will see the “Smart bar” that links to SumoMe and you can start setting it up today. You can also use it on your website to start building your email list.
3 ways to boost your sharing optimisation
Making it easy for sharing on a social web is critical. If you don’t work on this then you are leaving a lot of traffic in the shed. Here are 3 easy to boost your sharing.
People love sharing images. So make it easy for them. In a few seconds you can set up your site for sharing to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. In just a few days I have had nearly 100 images shared which drives brand awareness and traffic.
That alone will increase your traffic!
Now there are huge selection of sharing button apps on the market but again they are easy to design, configure and setup. The sharing buttons can also be configured to float down the side as people read your post and increase your sharing rate.
Here is how Sumome looks on the Social Media Examiner blog.
With Highlighter, your visitors can highlight sections of your articles to share with their friends, coworkers, and more. This does two insanely valuable things:
1. Drives you social traffic
2. Highlights popular sections for you readers.
Features worth noting:
- Enable highlight of any text on your page
- Get way more shares on Facebook and Twitter
- Offer ability to share any content via Facebook or Twitter
- Ability to fully customize the color of the share box
- Works instantly
Other cool features
Along with the sharing and subscribing tools the app also provides some other cool features.
- Mobile friendly
- Measures your performance with Google analytics integration
- Perform A/B split tests.
It is so easy to add another scroll box, list builder or welcome mat to a campaign and compare the results. To put this in some perspective a welcome mat that converts at 1.9% versus 1.6% means that you will capture 300 more emails per 100,000 welcome mats shown.
That’s worth testing!
You can set up another mat for testing in just a few minutes and start measuring straight away.
Let’s double your traffic!
So now you have a lot of ideas to grow your traffic. You should also know what to focus on. I would recommend you implement SumoMe today and get 12+ free tools to grow your traffic.. If you can’t set it up yourself then get your web tech partner to do it for you.
I would then implement the following as a minimum.
- Welcome mat
- Scroll box
- Image sharing
With some focus, effort and testing I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you have doubled your web traffic.
Look forward to hearing your stories about how you grew your traffic with SumoMe.
She was summoned to the office.
Anxiety, panic and stress surfaced. Am I being fired? What did I do wrong? But she had an idea of what the possible topic of conversation was about.
It wasn’t good.
It was 6 months into a 12 month digital marketing plan that had started well. They had created a content marketing strategy that had driven a lot of traffic to the website, there had been a lot of sharing on social media and the readers and viewers had been highly engaged with the great content.
The brand awareness had gone up and the corporate credibility had been improved.
But it was a short conversation.
The boss gave an ultimatum. “This content marketing looks like it is a waste of time and money. Where are the sales? If you want to keep your job I need more than just web traffic, social sharing and engagement. I need more leads“.
Fun and fast content
Don’t get me wrong.
Content that drives traffic, gets engagement and creates trust and credibility is essential. But if that is all it does, you are leaving a lot of money in the bank.
So what sort of content is great for traffic and building brand awareness. The best type is of course is content that has a great chance to go viral.
This is hard to predict.
But what is the sort of content that people love to share?
Here are 4 ideas to get your neurons firing.
1. Controversial headlines
One that worked for me was “Why You Should Forget Facebook“. It also ended up going viral on LinkedIn with 300,000 views and 1,000 comments!
2. Facts and figures in your industry
My top shared post in 2015 was “33 Social Media Facts and Figures You Need to Know in 2015”
3. The negative or the dark side of a topic
The top marketing post in 2015 according to Buzzsumo statistics was “Confessions of a Google Spammer” with nearly 100,000 shares
4. Trends and predictions in an industry
This one from Social Media Examiner “28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros“.
1. If you want to accelerate your sharing then a great way to do that is get tips from the top people in your industry. They often have a lot of social media followers and they will supercharge the sharing on the post because they are mentioned in it. But you will need to get the tip and then let them know when it is published.
2. Some other ideas to consider include using large list headlines while seeming to be redundant and overdone do work!
3. Use headlines that can be defined as having a “curiosity gap”. Don’t reveal the content of the post in the headline!
Need more ideas on creating great content that gets shared? Then check out these 2 posts.
15 Most Viral Marketing Posts of 2015
11 Types of Content That People Love to Share
So what else makes content move fast across the web?
It’s not just about the headlines and the content. You need to implement some other tactics. From innovative technology to some social media optimized
Here are 5 top tips.
1. Build your website technology for optimal sharing and subscribing
This includes not only social networks but email. Buzzfeed and Upworthy have built in multiple ways to do this with in your face hover buttons and pop-ups
2. Create multiple headlines for the same article
David Ogilvy was famous for having written over 100 headlines for one advertisement. Upworthy have taken this practice and woven it into their editorial process. Their first step and instruction to all their content creators. “You HAVE to crap out 25 headlines for every piece of content”
3. Emotion is a key
If you want people to click and share you need to not only reach their mind but touch their heart.
4. Stack images in your articles
10 images are more shareable than just one! Twenty one is even better
5. Curation is a great way to scale your content creation
You don’t have to always be creating unique content.
Upworthy, Viral Nova and Buzzfeed are the masters of taking already popular content on the web and taking it viral. They often increase the traffic levels by 1,000% and more.
Try collecting and curating some of the top posts on blogs in your industry. Write an intro for each and create a collection.
Here is a great example by Daniel Knowlton at KPS Digital Marketing
Content marketing needs to take off its short pants
Now viral traffic is intoxicating.
When your website traffic takes off you are almost transfixed. We all get excited when viral traffic starts showing up to our blog and website. If you started with zero then one hundred visitors a day is exciting. We all have to start somewhere.
So you still need traffic…
You do need engagement…..
You need to build brand trust and credibility…..
But at the end of the day content marketers need to achieve a return on investment. A big brand is usually happy with using content to build bigger and better brand awareness. But for small businesses it it less about the fluffy stuff and more about the reality of leads and sales.
You need to convert website traffic into sales. Otherwise your content marketing can be big a waste of money and time.
What do we mean by “content that converts”?
You will need to create content that converts. But what do we mean by conversion? In essence it is two key tasks.
- Capturing leads
- Getting sales
Content marketing Institute in it’s latest study revealed the top goals for content marketers.
Leads and sales are key!
Leads for any business in a digital world now often starts with getting that all important email. A Twitter follower doesn’t count nor does a Facebook like…or even a connection on LinkedIn. That is top of the sales funnel attention.
“Social media is still essential for getting your content distributed and creating that all important brand awareness on the social web and beyond. And it’s great for the top of the sales funnel brand building. But don’t expect it to produce direct sales”.
It’s just part of the equation.
An email is where it starts to get serious. Once you have that email subscriber then you have a lead. Your next challenge is to convert that into a sale. This exact process will vary for each type of company. If you are selling online then the engagement process is done there.
If you need to get in front of a person the lead can still happen online but then you need to get that all important face to face appointment.
The tools and resources
But before we get to looking at the content that converts we need to have a conversation about the tools, resources and and technology that make lead acquisition possible at scale.
The starter pack:
Getting started is sometimes the hardest thing to do but here are the essentials you need to to start capturing those leads.
Email marketing software: This could be Aweber, Mailchimp or any of the dozens of other entry and low cost email software packages that help you build and control your email list. Do not try and do this with just Gmail or Hotmail.
Premium content: This needs to been seen as valuable enough for someone to hand over their email address. A simple ebook or even a PDF for download will do.
Design and technology partner: You will need someone to help you ensure you get that premium free content producing those email optins. Most people can’t design even simple landing pages or connect a free ebook download to your email platform. Hire someone to do that for you.
The advanced pack:
After a while you will want to get serious. You need to surround yourself with the right resources and implement various technologies and tools to help you convert traffic and engagement into leads and sales.
Email capture technologies: This includes the tools that I recommend and use such as the Welcome mat from Sumome and the opt-in tool from Optin Monster that captures emails using “Exit on intent” app.
Landing pages: The simplest place to start is with Leadpages. But if you want to build longer landing pages then you have some other options. These include plugins for WordPress such as OptimizePress and finally custom designed and developed landing pages which are you most expensive option.
Digital marketing automation software: Using starter email systems like MailChimp while a good place to start as you grow you are going to need to look at digital marketing automation platforms. These include Infusionsoft, Marketo, Ontraport and Hubspot to name a few. For a better review you can check out this article on the 10 Top Digital Marketing Automation Tools according to review ratings on G2 Crowd.
Webinar software: There are a range of webinar platforms for hosting online seminars (Webinars). These include GoToWebinar, WebinarJam, Cisco Webex and Adobe Connect. Even the free service Google+ hangouts could be included in this category (but needs additional add ons) and a platform built on top of that is Webinars OnAir.
Payment gateways: If you want to convert leads into revenue online then you will need a payment gateway that allows you do that easily. Paypal is maybe your best option to start with. But some new players have emerged that are worth keeping an eye on. These include Stripe and Selz.
Copywriter: For writing that all important landing page and email copy you can do it yourself. But I would recommend that you hire a professional.
Designer: Making a landing page look great is where the designer comes in.
Video platform: – You will need a video platform so you can publish and own your videos. There are a bunch out there such as Wistia, Vimeo and many more.
Technology partner: Making sure that your website, blog or WordPress site can be updated easily and loads fast is not a job for amateurs. As you grow this is essential.
Content that converts
So you have the traffic and you have great content that drives traffic and engages your audience. Now comes the important last stage to ensure that your content marketing is not a waste of time.
What are 4 top types of content for capturing leads and turning them into sales?
Webinars have proved to be one of the top types of content to collect those email subscribers.
These can be hosted on a range of platforms. This includes GoToWebinar, WebinarJam, Cisco Webex and Adobe Connect. Even the free service Google+ hangouts could be included in this category (but needs additional add ons) and a platform built on top of that is Webinars OnAir.
I use GoToWebinar because I can integrate it with my Infusionsoft to collect those important emails.
LeadPages has discovered that it is their top producing lead generator when they partner with other bloggers to promote. Here is an example of a Leadpages webinar landing page with a collaboration with Clay Collins.
To do this you will need to subscribe to GoToWebinar, setup a webinar landing page with leadpages and get these both integrated into your email system. Then it’s time to find someone with a target audience and good sized email list that you can collaborate with to add value to your audience with a great webinar that you jointly promote.
Short free ebooks are one of the best types of content for capturing leads. Another term that is used for this is “Opt-ins”.
But printed books can be a great way of capturing leads. These are now often used at the start of a product launch to drive a ton of email opt-ins!
If you are not up to writing an ebook then creating a 1-2 page PDF that provides a guide or lists some tools can be very effective. To put some perspective on this let’s consider the game of golf. All the amatuer golfers want to use the tools (clubs, balls and other equipment) that the pros use.
Offering a PDF that lists the tools (software, apps and systems) that you as a “Pro” have used to achieve success in your industry is a logical step to use as an incentive to build your email list.
Here is the one I use as part of my “Exit on intent” app from Optin Monster to build my email list.
In any successful sales and conversion funnel you will be using videos that educate and build trust and credibility. In running a promotion it is worth keeping in mind that 75% of the time and the content should be educating and not selling.
A marketing funnel is in essence more about an educational process with sales and a call to action only being a small part of the tactics.
Below is a screenshot of a video, with Chandler Bolt using it as part of the sales process of his course “Self Publishing School”
Over to you
Is your content marketing just about traffic and engagement? Is it a waste of time and money? Could you do better?
Building leads and converting them into leads is on is not as much fun as content creation and viral traffic. It’s hard work. It means doing things like A/B split testing, wrestling with apps and grappling with technology.
Maybe it’s time to get the right tools and and technology and modify your strategy and tactics.
Over to you.
Thanks to technology, it is no longer difficult to find work right from your home. We can see how the blogging industry has been booming ever since and filling in the need to make a living for people who may otherwise find it difficult to go out in the physical world to perform a job.
Technology is not the only factor owing to the bloom and burst in the blogosphere. A lot of it also has to do with moms being ever-so-determined to make a living or contribute an income to the household – even with a baby and bottle in hand!
If you’re new to the idea, you’re probably wondering about what makes mom’s like that so successful and profitable in their blogging endeavors. Well, this is exactly what we’re here to discuss today.
Here are few tips for moms to break into the blogosphere and create a blog that has the potential to make money.
1. Establish whether or not it’s in you
I’m not going to advise all moms to jump into this business just because they think it may be an easy way to make money. Be warned, it is NOT easy. To be sure you can make it work, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I take out even thirty minutes from my day for something I can do alone?
- Do I have the time required to dedicate myself to my blog/business every day?
- Do I have the self-motivation required to deal with rejection and failure and move past my mistakes? (very important for entrepreneurs)
- Am I creative? Can I come up with great ideas?
- Do I have the basic skills needed to regularly write (or blog) about my topic?
- Do I have the basic skills required to monetize my efforts?
If you’re more than willing to take the leap without letting any of the above conditions get in your way, you might be a blog-ready mom. Only you know best what you’ll need to make it work and whether or not it’s in your, as well as your family’s, best interests to make it happen.
2. Figure out your niche
The next most important question to ask is: what are you going to write about? If you’re a little lost, try to think of areas that you know you are skilled at (or have knowledge in) and you think would benefit your targeted audience as well. The more passionate you are about your subject, the better.
The reason why it is crucial to dig deep into a subject you know well and are quite passionate about is because given the amount of competition that exists to make a steady income, keep your readers motivated, and publish volumes of content to keep up with search engine standards, it can be easy to give up.
A subject that you’re passionate about will automatically add fuel to the fire and never let your desire to keep up with your blog burn out.
3. Be realistic
One thing moms often miss out is that their dream and passion to create a robust blog also has to be realistic. It certainly sounds fanciful to say things like “you should pursue your passion” and start blogging away. However, as we mentioned earlier, it’s important to consider whether or not what you’re offering would benefit your target audience as well.
For example, you could be passionate about famous old hairstyles worn in the Victorian time period, but if your target audience (assuming you have one – and you certainly should) is not interested in such a topic, there’s really no reason to spend an enormous amount of effort researching and writing about it.
Furthermore, you have to be realistic about what the search engines require. For example, Google could rank your blog based on how old it is, how well-placed the keywords are, how authoritative the information provided is, load speeds, frequency of content, and several other factors that can’t be ignored. Here’s a helpful list of Google’s Ranking Factors by Backlinko.
4. Peek into your competition
Once you’re mind is set on a domain – and by domain we mean an area of interest (not the web word) – the next step is to research away your competition. My advice would be to pick out a few “top blogs” and come up with a list of favorite blogs. Of course, you don’t have to copy their style. You could come up with something entirely new. However, knowing what you’re up against is always the best way to be prepared before you begin.
5. Pick a platform
You can get started with a free platform like Blogger or WordPress. It’s best to first “explore” your area of interest and writing ability, and then move on to the premium stuff. However, if you’re serious about making money, it’s best to start on a platform like WordPress.org that will allow advertisements on your website. A hosting fee will be required, but if you wouldn’t mind paying for a cup coffee in a year, you wouldn’t mind paying the fee either!
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is completely free. However, advertisements are not allowed on this platform. Regardless, using this as an “intro to blogging” and then transferring to WordPress.org later, is not a bad idea either.
Blogger.com is nice too. But, in my opinion, it gives you less control over your blog and the headache of transferring to WordPress (when you decide to make serious income) is just not worth it.
If you’re going with WordPress.org we recommend Bluehost as a reliable hosting service.
6. Start blogging
Finally, when your website is all ready to be rolled out, start sharing what you love! Create posts about your niche and don’t forget to add cool photos or images along with it. Humans are visual creatures and they love – well, visuals!
In this step, you’ll be experimenting and exploring a lot (which is good). Make sure you also use analytical tools such as Google Analytics or Crazy Egg to map out what your audiences like, dislike, or prefer. Of course, the key to a successful blog is always amazing content! Try to give it your all and then figure out where you need to improve. Apart from using analytics, feedback is always great to get to know what makes your readers smile or frown.
Once you start growing a steady traffic to your website, that’s when the monetization should begin!
7. Start monetizing
Not every mom is into earning money through a successful blog. However, if you’re willing to pay a little more time and effort to it, an extra income wouldn’t hurt. There are several ways you can make money including using Google Adsense, Amazon links, Banner Ads, Affiliate marketing, selling a product or service, and other methods.
We’ll warn you though. If you start earning piles and piles of cash in a few days, you’re one of the lucky few! It could take years of experience, practice, and networking to get it right and start making a solid and consistent income. Patience will be required!
These are just a few rules you should have in mind when you get started with your all-new robust blog. The journey to a successful blog is indeed a long one! So, we’ll update you with more tips and advice to let you know where to go from here.
Guest Author: Ashleigh Everston is a social media trend analyst for a start-up that offers peakdissertation.co.uk. She has a pure love for sweet tweets, interesting pins and more. When not roaming around in social channels, she spends her free time with her favorite books and novels.
Content is by far the most valuable asset businesses can use, to not only engage and inform customers, but to increase traffic to their website and dramatically improve search rankings.
If you have ever wondered why world class content marketers place so much effort into content marketing, it is because they find it a critical part of the marketing mix to help a brand be found among the 170 million-plus websites around the world. At our company, content marketing has been the most effective tool for us, helping drive feature stories and exposure of our brand in more than two hundred publications, radio and television programs such as Consumer Reports, USA Toay, CNBC, and ABC News.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 86% of B2B businesses and 77% of B2C businesses incorporate content marketing into their marketing mix. In fact, more than 70% now create more content than what they did in the previous year, and the volume of quality content produced continues to grow. Businesses rely on content marketing for both lead generation and brand building. Content marketing was named as the top digital priority for both B2B and B2C businesses in 2013, outperforming the previous front-runner (social media engagement) as a means to support search engine optimization (SEO) and to convert online readers into potential customers.
In findings provided by AOL research, the data suggests around 27 million pieces of online content are shared every day in the U.S. and 60% of the content specifically mentions a product or brand name for promotional purposes. Consumers trust and rely on quality and authoritative content to form brand impressions, and ultimately purchase decisions. Studies also indicate 90% of customers find custom content useful, while 78% believe brands creating custom content do so to build customer relationships by sharing valuable information consumers can use.
Content marketing and big brands
Considering these statistics, it comes as no surprise that “76% of marketers are increasing investment in content marketing,” according to a 2014 study by Curata. In fact, many big brands already prioritize content marketing over paid advertising initiatives. Coca-Cola, for example, spends more money on creating content than on its television advertising. The company has a few full-time employees and several other freelancers to make its Content 2020 advertising strategy a big hit.
It’s not just Coca-Cola; Kraft too, leverages content marketing. According to the American manufacturing and processing conglomerate, it generates almost 1.1 billion ad impressions per year. However, its ROI from content marketing is around four times better than its targeted advertising.
Whether you have been doing content marketing for years or are just now adding content marketing to your overall strategy, it is crucial to examine the tactics used to get the most value from your investment in creative content. The investment does pay off if your strategy aligns with creating high-quality, engaging and valuable content positioned to build online community and strong customer relationships.
Every successful content strategy requires a creative team to produce content that is valuable to consumers. It also requires developing a schedule to ensure content is not repetitive, but produced as part of a holistic marketing strategy. We share four routine methods used by top marketers on a weekly basis to both optimize the discovery of a company’s content online and continually build its brand.
1. Don’t shy away from over-investing in big content
Rand Fishkin, the former CEO of Moz once said that over-investing in big content has been a philosophy of the company. There is no questioning Moz’s content strategy, given its success, massive online audience and engagement. But if you do, consider this: Content marketing adoption is growing at a rapid rate and to leverage it, businesses must be prepared to invest in it.
So if your focus is in creating smaller, less valuable content pieces or rely only on social media as your content funnel, your promotional strategy will not keep pace with other businesses who heavily invest in the production of interesting multimedia content adding value to the reader or audience.
What is changing quickly is the way brands move away from the trifecta of “blog + social + email marketing” as the holy grail of marketing engagement and SEO. Blogs remain one of the most powerful assets in the arsenal of brand marketing, but diversification is needed in the type of content you share. Augment your blog content with embedded videos (live production or animated video graph styles are highly engaging if kept under two minutes in duration). Adding a photo gallery to a post is a great way to share images of a corporate charitable events or the launch of a new product, demonstrating the key consumer benefits.
There are many different types of software that can convert a PowerPoint presentation to a SlideShare or an animated flip book, which can be embedded in a blog and shared on social for mobile viewing. This is also a great way to add new life to a monthly or quarterly newsletter, by turning it into an interactive “look book” of products, rather than a static email flyer.
We experimented with video at iSeeCars.com using a few different topics and formats. We created mobile-friendly videos in a cost-effective manner by appropriating existing video collateral with short slideshows on popular topics. In one test study, we are already approaching 135,000 views for the simplified content video format, which demonstrates that the strategy is worth investing in (even if new video production is not in your budget). You may be able to successfully use what you already have in a new way.
Since audiences move at the speed of mobile viewing, infographics remain a popular delivery method. But what is better than an infographic? A videograph, which is animated content easily viewed on a desktop, tablet or mobile phone. Videograph content does not require reading; the audience simply presses play, and they are entertained and informed.
2. Find your ideal customer persona & connect with them emotionally
All brand conversations are tooled to a target audience. You need to take time to evaluate your target customer, and understand their priorities before designing strategic content tailored for their consumption. Content marketers need to be adept at developing a persona that is representative of the people who are most likely to consume your content, and convert the engagement into a favorable brand impression and ultimately a purchase decision.
Use content to develop deeper emotional connections with your target audience through storytelling. One of Coca–Cola’s content strategies is to leverage storytelling to connect with social values and relationships. Stories, as the company points out, are “the heart of all families, communities and cultures.”
Coca-Cola’s “Content 2020” vision has subsequently been followed by many other brands. It is symbolic of the shift most brands make during the holiday seasons typically, but now this deeply emotional type of marketing is prevalent throughout the year. Brands want to make customers feel that the connection is deeper than the next product purchase and appeal on a personal level.
Ikea, for example, embraced storytelling to develop deeper emotional connections with its audience to promote the opening of its Malmo, Sweden store. The company used a Facebook campaign to showcase images of its new showroom. Using Facebook’s photo tagging function, Ikea connected with people on an emotional level. It rewarded them; the first person who tagged a name to a product shown in the pictures won the item. The result? The news of Ikea’s Malmo store opening grew exponentially through personalized viral sharing on Facebook.
3. Share consistently on social media
It is no secret content marketers use social media to promote content. It is crucial, however, to do it on a regular basis to cultivate its full potential.
As part of your content marketing strategy, do not rely only on your own “shares”, but inspire the action of sharing through your audience as Ikea did. Consumers will no longer share content when you ask them to, there must be a strategic incentive offered to motivate the action. But when you provide an incentive, the strategy works quickly and very well, providing valuable word of mouth advertising.
Does your brand reuse content? While sharing duplicate content across multiple blogs can net a content penalty from Google, you can successfully repurpose content on social media. In fact, evaluating the most popular social posts and content and re-sharing them is a valuable and important part of content marketing. Check out what Buffer has to say about reposting the same content on social media.
There are three reasons you should be re-sharing successful brand content:
- You get more traffic; each time you repost content, more people will share and consume your post’s content.
- You can cover multiple time zones. In fact, this is the reason why Guy Kawasaki is in favor of posting the same content multiple times.
- You can reach new followers who missed the original post.
Does this mean you should repeat the same social post verbatim? No. Consumers dislike what they perceive to be “automated posting”. Create a new social post linking to the same content, leveraging key hash tags and repurposing successful evergreen collateral in an interesting way. Relatable and useful content never goes out of style.
4. Develop a mobile-friendly content strategy
If you are not optimizing and creating content for mobile sharing, you miss a big opportunity to reach a bigger audience, and to influence purchase decisions while your audience is mobile. Content marketing for mobile has the ability to be promoted in a geo-targeted method that can essentially drive regional foot traffic to your store, leverage events such as sporting events or holiday celebrations, and influence the purchase decision of consumers.
According to Pewinternet.org, “Smartphones are used for much more than calling, texting, or basic internet browsing. Users are turning to these mobile devices as they navigate a wide range of life events.”
By making a few changes to your existing content, you can make your content available to those who prefer mobile content consumption. A Nielsen and Google study suggests 77% of total mobile searches are made from places like the home or office, where consumers are more than likely to have access to a desktop computer.
Mobile phones are used on lunch breaks, or sometimes during the workday off-network (it’s hard to explain shoe shopping to your boss on the corporate network). However, given the portability of the mobile browser, views are shorter in duration versus audience views on desktop. The bounce rate for mobile visitors is also 9.56 percent higher than desktop visitors on average, which tells us a lot about content designed for mobile marketing.
- Mobile content must be able to be read quickly as the viewer is “on the move”.
- Incentives must be easy to enroll and register for. Most brands now use a login with Facebook feature to circumvent detailed form fields that are often difficult to fill out on a mobile device. If you have to use forms, keep them simple and the buttons larger with more space between them for use on small screens.
- Video advertising for mobile is the preferred method of engagement. Whether it is using Vine on Twitter or short 15 second clips on Instagram; video works.
- Length matters. The shorter the better.
Many leading brands leverage mobile into their content marketing strategy. Coca-Cola, for example, made a major commitment to mobile content marketing by providing “right-time” content rather than real-time content. They leverage mobile-based advertising on the preferences of each market, making mobile content highly personalized and relevant. It is no longer just about creating good content, it is about delivering it at a time when the audience is most receptive to it, in the natural flow of the consumer’s day in order to optimize engagement and memory retention of the advertorial content.
When it comes to digital strategy, use cues from large brands: Diversify your content channels, and make sure the content design is effective for mobile consumption. Time your content sharing at relevant days and holiday’s to strike a personal chord with your audience, and re-purpose evergreen content that works.
Whether you develop an internal creative content team or outsource your content needs, factor original, useful and entertaining multimedia content into your schedule to improve traffic and targeted reach online.
Guest Author: Phong Ly is the CEO & co-founder of iSeeCars.com, a car search engine using Big Data to help users find great car deals and save money. He has more than 15 years of high tech and business experience spanning large companies and the start-up world. Before iSeeCars.com, Ly was an executive at SAP, leading strategic initiatives to expand the company’s reach into new markets.
Diggin' this content? Sign up for updates... it's FREE!