There has, somewhat predictably, been a backlash against the hype that has surrounded content marketing.
However, though the backlash is understandable, this does not mean that content marketing has ceased to be useful, far from it.
Doug Kessler explores the issue in this excellent post, and debunks several of the arguments against.
Here, I've put the question to several agency and client side marketers, as well as the Econsultancy research team.
While there has been a slight backlash around content marketing, I think mainly due to the hype, brands in general have upped their game this year, and there are some great examples around.
i've asked agency and client side marketers, as well as the Econsultancy editorial team for their favourite examples of content campaigns and strategy from the past 12 months.
2013 has seen plenty of changes to paid search, mainly driven by Google. For a brand in a competitive market like insurance, little tweaks here and there matter.
Changes include the addition of Google's own comparison products to the SERPs, meaning less visibility for organic results, enhanced campaigns, and changes to the style of PPC ads.
I've been asking Heledd Jones, head of search marketing at Confused.com (and an Econsultancy guest blogger), about the challenges presented by these changes, and her thoughts on how PPC will evolve in the next year.
Small details can make a big difference to the user experience, saving users' time, making it easier for them to spend money, or just generally making it more enjoyable.
Some of these things are so widespread and expected now that you don't even notice them, such as postcode lookup tools on sites. They were not always there, and save you a lot of hassle.
So, inspired by sites like littlebigdetails, I've rounded up 15 examples of little UX touches I've come across myself, or have found via sites like Pinterest.
Some are obvious, some less so, and there is a general ecommerce slant to this list. Please suggest any examples you've seen lately...
Earlier on, I published a post looking at best practices for product page copy, now it's time to show some examples of ecommerce sites doing this well.
In a nutshell, copy should be easy to read and scan, it should sell the benefits of the products and entice shoppers to make a purchase.
Different approaches will work for different sites, so some of these examples are descriptive, some funny, and some technical...
Product page copywriting is vitally important, but seems to be overlooked by some ecommerce sites, which simply plonk the standard manufacturer's descriptions on their pages.
Paying attention to product page copy can help improve conversions rates, as better copy can be more informative and persuasive.
It can also help your site to stand out in the search results over competitors who have paid less attention to their product descriptions.
I've rounded up some examples of great product page copywriting here, but first some views from the experts on the essentials for effective copy...
Last month, with the help of Dr Pete Meyers from Moz, we looked at how PPC ads are changing and what they will look like next year.
Some of these predictions have already happened, such as the yellow 'ad' labels and less obvious background shading.
One of the themes of that article was Google's efforts to make ads blend in more on results pages, something Dr Meyers referred to as 'ads in sheep's clothing'.
This is now happening in Google's UK results, with the top PPC ads on some brand searches resembling results more than ads.
According to our recent Digital Landscape Report, Russia has the highest number of internet users in Europe, and represents a potential growth market for ecommerce.
In addition, just under half of Russia's 61m web users are buying online, though a mistrust of the finance industry means that cash on delivery is the prevelant payment method.
There are barriers though, such as mistrust of retailers, and the risk of parcels going AWOL due to the number of people living in communal apartments.
However, as our report, and this two part infographic from Search Laboratory shows, there are many opportunitues.
Custom reports are perhaps the most useful feature in Google Analytics, as they enable you to find the data and presentation that best suits your business goals.
I'm no big Google Analytics expert, instead I've picked it up and figured things out as I've gone along, mainly with the aim of understanding our users' behaviour and improving this blog.
I explain more of my approach to measuring and optimising this blog here, but I wanted to provide a beginner's guide to creating custom reports.
If this is too basic for you, or I've made any glaring errors, please forgive me (and put me right in the comments), but I hope this will be useful for you.
So here's how to create a basic custom report from scratch...
Since it's free, and ubiquitous, small businesses are likely to be relying on Google Analytics for online measurement.
Indeed, our Online Measurement and Strategy Report 2013 found that 56% of businesses rely exclusively on Google for data analytics, while others use GA in conjunction with paid analytics services.
Even if you're no data expert, you can still find some valuable insight from the basic reports in GA, which can be very useful for your business.
Also, ready-made custom reports and dashboards can save you a lot of time.
As the UK is celebrating its first Small Business Saturday on 7th December 2013, I've rounded up some useful examples which should be helpful for SMEs.
(By the way, if you don't have Google Analytics, read this post by Google's Daniel Waisberg on setting up and using Google Analytics).