tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/blogging Latest Blogging content from Econsultancy 2016-06-02T14:59:12+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67858 2016-06-02T14:59:12+01:00 2016-06-02T14:59:12+01:00 Eight reasons why content strategy should be central to every marketer Blake Cahill <p>At the same time, consumers are no-longer passive armchair spectators.</p> <p>They are much more likely to be contributors and commentators on their own platforms and social media feeds.</p> <p>In many ways, consumers are leading the debate – whether via social media, web, video, podcast or blog – which makes it even more important that the content that brands develop is smart, targeted and relevant.</p> <h3>So what is content marketing?</h3> <p>According to the Content Marketing Institute, approximately nine out of 10 marketers today are using <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64539-introducing-the-periodic-table-of-content-marketing/">content marketing</a> – regardless of company size or industry.</p> <p>Content marketing can be used to influence business decisions (b2b) or consumers (b2c) but either way, the techniques are the same and they’re not new.</p> <p>The father of content marketing is a little known (in his day) farmer called John Deere.</p> <p>He launched <a href="https://contently.com/strategist/2013/10/03/the-story-behind-the-furrow-2/">The Furrow</a> magazine back in 1895 in order to tell farmers how to be more profitable – and of course, sell his wares on the back of it.</p> <p>It helped catapult the John Deere tractor into a global brand and was the very first example of content marketing. Over a century later, and The Furrow is still going strong, available in 12 languages in more than 40 countries.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5617/john_deere_the_furrow.png" alt="" width="779" height="623"></p> <p>For a formal definition, the Content Marketing Association says content marketing is, “the discipline of creating quality branded editorial content across all media channels and platforms to deliver engaging relationships, consumer value and measurable success for brands.”</p> <p>Perhaps a less formal definition is to say that, unlike other lead generation strategies, content marketing gives something to readers, rather than asking them for something.</p> <p>The reason The Furrow worked is because it carried content that was useful. If there was a selling message in the content, it wasn’t obvious and it wasn’t the primary point of the exercise.</p> <h3>Why is it different to social media marketing?</h3> <p>There is also a distinct difference between social media marketing and content marketing.</p> <p>According to the <a href="http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/02/content-marketing-vs-social-media-marketing/">Content Marketing Institute</a>, in social media marketing, the center of gravity - the focus of the marketing activity - is located within the social networks themselves.</p> <p>When marketers operate social media campaigns, they are operating inside of Facebook, inside of Twitter, etc. As they produce content, they place it inside of those networks.</p> <p>In contrast, the center of gravity for content marketing is a brand website — whether it be a branded URL like AmericanExpress.com or a microsite for a brand’s specific product, like <a href="http://www.openforum.com/" target="_blank">Amex’s Open Forum</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5620/Amex_Open_Forum.png" alt="" width="700" height="423"></p> <p>Social networks are vital to the success of content marketing efforts, but instead, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are used primarily as a distributor of links back to the content on the brand’s website — not as containers of the content itself.</p> <p>Here are eight good reasons why a successful content marketing strategy is worth its weight in bitcoins:</p> <h4>1. It’s produced for a brand, by a brand</h4> <p>Traditional media advertising is increasingly losing its value. Users don’t like it, or trust the sales messages.</p> <p>By comparison, content marketing represents a form of word-of-mouth marketing, whereby users consume, engage and share your brand content.</p> <h4>2. Content marketing delivers quality lead generation</h4> <p>In general, content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, <a href="http://www.demandmetric.com/content/content-marketing-infographic">but costs 62% less</a>. </p> <p>Great content will attract high-value customers, and these customers will come back for more.</p> <h4>3. It builds bonds that last</h4> <p>Good content will work across any channel. Engagement is the key. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2013/may/10/google-content-marketing-seo">Google</a> has also taken a strong preference to content marketing, rather than SEO, to rank search results.</p> <p>Content marketing forms a powerful, <a href="https://insights.newscred.com/the-top-32-most-influential-content-marketing-brands-of-2014/">long-lasting bond</a> with its target audience. Authentic content will position you as a brand leader in your own right.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5618/John_Deer_the_furrow_2.png" alt="" width="800" height="388"></p> <h4>4. It’s measurable and effective</h4> <p>All content platforms have a number of established methods for proving effectiveness. Despite the rise <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67083-is-native-advertising-sustainable/">in native advertising</a>, content marketing still seems to rule the digital world.</p> <p><a href="http://frac.tl/" target="_blank">Fractl</a> and <a href="https://moz.com/" target="_blank">Moz</a> used survey responses from more than 30 content marketing agencies and cost data from more than 600 digital publishers. They found that content marketing has a better overall return on investment.</p> <p>Great content marketing can also earn a company significant ‘earned media’, where you don’t have to pay for including branded content in magazines, for example.</p> <p>If it is shared across media channels, it potentially produces thousands of dollars of free brand exposure.</p> <h4>5. It performs a number of marketing tasks</h4> <p>Content marketing is a Jack-of-all-trades tool. It can help build awareness, loyalty, sales, engagement, cut-through, point of difference and much more.</p> <h4>6. It will influence consumer decision making</h4> <p>Content marketing allows you to influence decision makers well before they have made up their minds.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5619/john_deere_the_furrow_3.png" alt="" width="776" height="619"></p> <h4>7. Consumers will love you</h4> <p>Content marketing helps to inform, inspire and entertain.</p> <p>Helping your current and potential customers first, without even thinking of pushing products, builds trust, word of mouth respect and high-quality, long term advocates.</p> <h4>8. It creates content for good</h4> <p>While there’s nothing inherently wrong with “feel good” content or even product-lead content, today’s culture views those traditional approaches as ultimately self-serving. </p> <p>Content with embedded social values that are deeply ingrained in the company culture (Uber’s recent fight against New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, for example) or that drive its business strategy, will be a differentiator in consumer decisions going forward.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Remember, while the content medium can be extremely powerful, context is all important; if you respect the platform, your audience and the agenda, then content marketing can really strike home with your target audience.</p> <p>So, the next time you are questioned on the cost effectiveness of content marketing, remember the story of John Deere, the humble Mid-Western farmer in the US who went on to forge a global business empire on the back of some very savvy tractor-tainment, and a world class product too!</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67752 2016-04-20T01:00:00+01:00 2016-04-20T01:00:00+01:00 Three online copywriting tips supported by research Jeff Rajeck <p>These include:</p> <ul> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67708-10-common-online-copywriting-mistakes">10 common online copywriting mistakes</a>.</li> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66120-12-handy-tips-for-writing-better-web-copy">12 handy tips for writing better web copy</a>.</li> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65642-nine-writing-rules-you-can-safely-ignore">Nine writing ‘rules’ you can safely ignore</a>.</li> </ul> <p>But where do these tips come from? Are they just general 'rules of thumb' or is there some scientific substance behind them?</p> <p>Though most writing tips come from writers sharing their personal approach, research does exist which supports some of the best practices.</p> <p>Three such tips are listed below along with links to the original research, for the curious.</p> <h4>Before we start...</h4> <p>Econsultancy is offering an Online Copywriting Workshop in Singapore on Wednesday, May 25th.</p> <p>You can find more details about the workshop and register here: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting-workshop-singapore/dates/2780/">Online Copywriting Workshop (Singapore)</a>.</p> <h3>Tip 1: Use simple vocabulary</h3> <p>Using simple words makes sense. Doing so forces the writer to think clearly and makes it easier for the reader to understand what is being said.</p> <p>But there is another reason why writing simple words is a good idea. In short, literacy in English-speaking countries is not as high as you may think.</p> <h4>The research</h4> <p><a href="https://www.ets.org/research/report/reading-skills/contents">A recent study by ETS</a>, a non-profit dedicated to advancing education, measured three aspects of reading comprehension across print vocabulary, sentence processing, and passage comprehension.</p> <p>After testing a variety of people in a number of countries, the researchers organized the participants by the level of reading proficiency.</p> <p>The first chart, Table 2, shows the distribution of subjects by levels of reading proficiency. Notice that, for all countries, around half of participants are below level three.</p> <p> <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3993/Picture1.jpg" alt="" width="748" height="435"></p> <p>And the second, Table 10, shows the relative time it takes for people with proficiency below level four to complete a passage comprehension task.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3994/Capture.PNG" alt="" width="762" height="383"></p> <p>The paper notes that level three is a reference point for 'a typical, skilled adult reader.'</p> <p>So, <strong>more than half of participants in the study take much more time to comprehend writing than a 'typical' adult reader.</strong></p> <p>The study has more details about the methods used and the differences between the levels, but the overall point is that people read at very different levels.</p> <p>When you are writing for the web you typically cannot choose your audience, so your readers may require more time than you think to understand your writing.  </p> <p>And in our age of short attention spans, difficult reading could mean that many people will not read what you have written.</p> <p>There are no quick solutions for this issue. Using focus groups to review your brand copy would be ideal, but it would be a lot of work to manage the testing and implement the recommendations.</p> <p>One easier way to help <strong>keep your vocabulary simple is to check what you write against a basic English dictionary.</strong></p> <p>Ogden's Basic English publishes a <a href="http://ogden.basic-english.org/wordalph.html">2,000 word index</a> which can help you identify words that should be easier for all audiences to understand.</p> <p>Once having reviewed the vocabulary, be mindful of the words that you write. If you find yourself reaching for a thesaurus or dictionary when writing, then be aware that you may end up losing readers.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3996/image.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="400"></p> <h3>Tip 2: Use short sentences</h3> <p>Another way to ensure you don't lose readers is to use simple sentences.</p> <h4>The research</h4> <p>In a frequently-referenced (yet sadly not available online) research paper, the American Press Institute measured reader comprehension against sentences with a varying number of words.</p> <p>The study found that: </p> <ul> <li>For sentences with less than eight words, readers understood 100% of the information.</li> <li>For sentences with nine to 14 words, average comprehension was 90% of the information.</li> <li>But for long sentences (up to 43 words), average comprehension dropped to as low as 10%.</li> </ul> <p>The results make sense and the recommendation is clear. <strong>Use shorter sentences.</strong></p> <p>(Source: “Readers’ Degree of Understanding,” American Press Institute)</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3995/pic.jpg" alt="" width="945" height="454"></p> <h3>Tip 3: Help readers navigate your writing</h3> <p>Simple words and concise sentences are a good way to ensure readers will understand your writing, but they still have to read it.</p> <h4>The research</h4> <p>According to <a href="https://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-users-read-on-the-web/">research</a> by the Nielsen Norman Group (NN Group), people do not read sentences in sequential order when browsing the web.</p> <p>Instead, they 'scan the pages' and choose sentence fragments to get the information that they are looking for.</p> <p>Because of this behavior, tests indicate that text which is 'concise, scannable, and objective' enjoys a comprehension boost of 124% among readers.</p> <p>The link offers more details of the research, but the NN Group offers suggestions on a few simple things writers can do to achieve this boost in comprehension: </p> <ul> <li>Use highlighted words</li> <li>Include meaningful sub-headings throughout an article</li> <li>Use bulleted lists</li> <li>Keep paragraphs to one idea</li> <li>And remove at least half of the words used in offline writing.</li> </ul> <p>Following these guidelines are a good way to ensure that readers will, at the very least, skim your writing correctly and understand the point you are making.  </p> <p>What more can you ask for?</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3997/image2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="400"></p> <h3>So...</h3> <p>For experienced online copywriters, these tips are obvious.</p> <p>Most successful writers online use simple words and sentences and employ headlines, bullet points, and emphasis to help readers navigate long blocks of text. </p> <p>It's good to know, though, why we should do so.  </p> <p>Research shows that people are simply more likely to read and understand what you have written if you follow these guidelines.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67731 2016-04-11T14:27:17+01:00 2016-04-11T14:27:17+01:00 Think affiliate marketing doesn’t work for luxury brands? Think again Chris Bishop <p>But no longer. Affiliate marketing has truly come of age.</p> <h3>Isn’t affiliate just voucher codes?</h3> <p>This is not just about voucher codes, cashback and last-click for advertisers, this is part of a holistic approach to digital advertising that promises real and sustained ROI for high-end brands.</p> <p><img src="https://openmerchantaccount.com/img2/whoaretheaffiliates.jpg" alt=""></p> <p>The modern managed affiliate programmes use sophisticated groups of content publishers, including mainstream “offline” publishing houses such as Condé Nast.  </p> <p>This is performance marketing through deep partnership, levered via tenancy, editorial, blogging, email and (yes) incentives like voucher codes or cashback. </p> <p>Partnerships with high volume and niche sites that can deliver the kind of primed-to-buy, long tailed traffic available nowhere else.</p> <h3>Are you at risk of losing control of your message?</h3> <p>No, but…</p> <p>For years affiliate networks and technology companies used the size and scale of the channel as a key selling point, promising brands access to tens of thousands of affiliates.  </p> <p>Given that they worked on tracking fees based upon revenue generated by activity, who can blame them? </p> <p>However, this wasn’t what luxury or designer retailers, already nervous about losing control of their brand’s messages, wanted to hear. </p> <p>Only now, with dedicated, digital agencies selling these solutions as part of a wider media strategy, are brands being given the whole picture.</p> <p>When properly managed, affiliate marketing allows brands to deliver relevant messages to highly-targeted customer segments.  </p> <p>But it’s the size and scale of the networks that makes this targeting possible in the first place.</p> <h3>But isn’t luxury all about exclusivity?  </h3> <p>Why would luxury brands want their valuable name bandied about on affiliate channels with everyone else’s?</p> <p><img src="https://openmerchantaccount.com/img2/chriscarcollection.jpg" alt=""></p> <p>Success in the digital age requires a change in mind-set for luxury brands as customers’ buying cycles accelerate and competition stiffens in every part of the market place.  </p> <p>No longer can scarcity be the strongest value in a luxury brand's armoury, as the array of choice and quality available elsewhere can fill any sales vacuum.  </p> <p>Instead, luxury today is defined by desirability, product excellence, exemplary service and, fundamentally, a brand promise.</p> <p>And affiliate channels are exactly where a brand’s promise, desirability, service and excellence are defined for its target audience.  </p> <p>They are key to the continued success of luxury brands in the digital age and are proven to send ready-to-convert customers direct to online stores.   </p> <h3>Luxury is talked about and bought online more than ever</h3> <p>Deloitte says that 58% of UK millennial luxury consumers buy their luxury goods online. What’s more, 85% of luxury consumers regularly use social media.</p> <p>According to Google one in five luxury purchases happens on the web.</p> <p>And participating in high profile online retail events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday clearly doesn’t dim the lustre of a luxury brand or cannibalize their full-price sales.</p> <p>In 2015 our client NET-A-PORTER saw Black Friday was its highest day for sales that year, with one item sold every second on its website. </p> <p>What’s more, offering deals and vouchering is not regarded as damaging to luxury brands’ reputation by consumers.  </p> <p>In fact, these luxury customers were four times more likely to be searching for deals on Black Friday 2015 than non-luxury customers (Experian).</p> <h3>Do affiliate tactics really deliver incremental sales to luxury brands?</h3> <p>Yes, they do.</p> <p>One of our retailers had always assumed cashback websites would only reach customers already on its files and has little effect on overall profit. We helped them prove otherwise.  </p> <p>A tactical trial conducted with Quidco for the brand found that 86% of consumers that bought their products via the publisher during the trial were “new to file” and their average order value was much higher than the norm.</p> <p><img src="https://openmerchantaccount.com/img2/shopstylesolacelondon.jpg" alt=""></p> <p>For another fashion retailer, working with affiliates achieved over 300 pieces of content coverage in a three-month period which, in turn, contributed to content websites driving 50%+ of the brand's affiliate revenue.</p> <p>Affiliate channels have proved, time and time again, to bring new customers and incremental sales to the table for every kind of brand, particularly those at the very top end of their sector.</p> <h3>Who else is using affiliates?</h3> <p>The roll call of brands that are using the affiliate channel as part of the marketing mix is impressive – Agent Provocateur, Barneys New York, Burberry, Liberty London, NET-A-PORTER to name a few.</p> <p>But if the affiliate channel was just about vouchers and cashback, they wouldn’t be using it.</p> <p>These brands know the value of curated conversation and content-led buzz to their brand; they are finding new and exciting ways to engage through affiliate marketing.  </p> <p>Crucially, they are realising that careful planning, targeted partnership and innovative execution ensures the biggest ROI alongside an extension of digital PR.</p> <h3>The lessons of affiliate marketing</h3> <ul> <li>Luxury affiliate marketing is happening... if you’re not doing it, you’re already losing out.</li> <li>Luxury consumers are savvy, switched on and impulsive – take advantage of that.</li> <li>Be led by the data and use experts to help you execute the highest quality campaigns.</li> <li>Choose who manages your affiliates carefully – your brand’s success will live or die by their experience both within wider digital marketing, the specific affiliate channel and naturally their knowledge of your brand / sector.</li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67565 2016-02-24T11:42:50+00:00 2016-02-24T11:42:50+00:00 A day in the life of... Head of Editorial at Government Digital Service Ben Davis <h3><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/2245/carrie-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="Carrie Barclay, GDS" width="300"></h3> <h3>Please describe your job! What does a Head of Editorial in UK Government do?</h3> <p>I’m responsible for the overarching editorial strategy for our blogs platform - which is home to over 80 government blogs. </p> <p>I work with colleagues across government to encourage and support blogging as an important communication tool.</p> <p>I’m also responsible for the content on the Government Digital Service (GDS) blog - my role is similar to an Editor-in-Chief; I plan and commission content, edit posts, as well as working with other GDS teams to make sure their content is reaching the right audiences, and that they’re receiving the right level of support.</p> <p><a href="https://www.blog.gov.uk/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2264/Screen_Shot_2016-02-23_at_15.22.29.png" alt="government blogs" width="615"></a></p> <h3>Whereabouts do you sit within the… government? Who do you report to?</h3> <p>GDS is technically part of Cabinet Office, and day to day my work feeds into the strategy and development of the Head of Digital Engagement and Design.</p> <h3>What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?</h3> <p>You need to be really organised, and pretty ballsy; but you also need to balance that with a patient, supportive nature.</p> <p>You need to have a deep understanding of the workings of central government, and be confident enough to be a leading advocate for the platform and its processes.</p> <p>It’s my responsibility to make sure that teams and individuals across government have the skills and support they need to blog successfully, and autonomously.</p> <p>You need to be a strong communicator, and have a really strong, developed editorial approach.</p> <h3>Tell us about a typical working day…</h3> <p>I check emails first thing and deal with anything urgent. I’m a parent, so I make sure my daughter gets off to school before either heading into Holborn or to my home office if I’m working remotely. </p> <p>Before anything else I’ll have a coffee and a catch up with my Assistant Editor - she’ll fill me in on anything that I’ve missed, and we’ll go through my diary to see what the day holds.</p> <p>During the day it’s usually a mixture of meetings and planning, commissioning, and publishing posts.</p> <p>I also spend quite a lot of time away from the office around government working with colleagues either to talk about prospective blogs, working through issues, or just catching up and offering support. </p> <p>My role is very autonomous so I’m free to plan my days the best way I see fit. Some days are very admin-heavy, others are dedicated to strategy and planning.</p> <p>Whether I’m working in the office or remotely, I’m in constant contact with my team online or on the phone to make sure we’re all up to speed with each others workloads and priorities.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gov.uk/guidance/content-design/blogging"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2266/Screen_Shot_2016-02-23_at_15.25.50.png" alt="gds blog guide" width="615"></a></p> <h3>What do you love about your job? What sucks?</h3> <p>I love the autonomy and flexibility; I’m able to work from home when I need to, and go where I’m needed across government.</p> <p>Fundamentally, I love being part of such a high-profile project that directly affect citizens around the country.</p> <p>What sucks? <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66973-how-to-ensure-a-pain-free-sign-off-process/">Sign off process</a>. Government is a very busy and complex place to work, so sometimes getting a post signed off by all the interested parties can mean delays and missed deadlines. </p> <p>But, it’s a completely necessary evil. When you’re working with words that represent the UK government, you can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to sign off.</p> <p>It can be frustrating, but the reality of publishing misleading or false information is much worse.</p> <h3>What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?</h3> <p>We use a blend of analytics and social media monitoring to keep an eye on things.</p> <p>I’m not massively interested in high numbers of visitors - some of our blogs are quite niche - I’m more concerned with consistency and engagement.</p> <p>Our comments facility is important, but these days many more conversations happen on social platforms, so that’s where we focus our attention.</p> <h3>What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?</h3> <p>Well, the platform itself is pretty important - we use <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65372-the-complete-guide-to-setting-up-and-running-a-wordpress-site/">Wordpress</a>. For my work day to day I use <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67489-slack-yammer-facebook-who-ll-win-the-collaboration-battle">Slack</a> and Google Hangouts to engage with colleagues and Google Drive for reports, presentations, documents, and images.</p> <p>I also use <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66187-17-fantastically-useful-tools-for-content-writers-and-bloggers">Hemingwayapp</a> (to check readability); Flickr (for creative commons images); Basecamp (to organise our communities); Brandwatch (social media management); and Trello (to manage workflow).</p> <p><em><strong>Hemingwayapp</strong></em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2275/Screen_Shot_2016-02-23_at_15.37.17.png" alt="hemingwayapp" width="615"></p> <h3>How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?</h3> <p>I started out as a digital journalist about 12 years ago, and ended up as a spa reviewer and beauty journalist. I began blogging alongside my job in 2010, running three blogs: one lifestyle, one food, and one interiors.</p> <p>By 2012 I’d quit my day job and was blogging, writing, and consulting through my editorial agency, Digital Bungalow, full-time. I joined GDS in 2013.</p> <p>Although I have no plans to move on at the moment, I imagine that my next steps could be taking my central government blogging expertise to another part of government, or another public sector or charity organisation.</p> <p>That said, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider a step back into the private sector, or even back into digital journalism again, if the right opportunity presented itself.</p> <h3>Which brands do you think are doing digital well?</h3> <p>My favourites at the moment are: </p> <ul> <li> <strong>ASOS</strong>: they’re really committed to content across blogging, social, and apps and understand their audience incredibly well.</li> <li> <strong>Toblerone</strong>: these guys are the kings of strong real-time marketing.</li> <li> <strong>Nike</strong>: now one of the best brands on Instagram - they’re always creating communication from the perspective of the user.</li> </ul> <h3>Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?</h3> <p>You have to have curiosity; things change so quickly that you have to have a curious spirit to maintain the energy needed to stay on top of everything.</p> <p>You need to be confident and friendly, but also be willing to stick your head above the parapet and fight for what you believe in. Oh, and don’t be a dick.</p> <p>-----</p> <p><em>If you're looking for a new challenge in digital, see the <a href="https://jobs.econsultancy.com/">Econsultancy jobs board</a> or benchmark your own digital knowledge using our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-skills-index-lite/">Digital Skills Index</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Alternatively, if you already work in the digital industry and would like a Day In The Life profile, you can email us via press@econsultancy.com.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67448 2016-01-27T11:11:00+00:00 2016-01-27T11:11:00+00:00 Dear marketers, stop using generic stock images Jack Simpson <p>Why spend hours <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66633-12-elements-of-a-user-friendly-blog-page">crafting a lovely blog post</a> only to litter it with pictures of strangers in suits smiling at each other? </p> <p>It’s meaningless corporate guff. The photographic equivalent of saying ‘I hope you’re well’ at the beginning of an email.</p> <p>I mean, look, if you want your website/blog page/marketing material to look utterly generic and devoid of any personality whatsoever then be my guest. </p> <p>Otherwise, read on…</p> <h3>What constitutes generic stock imagery?</h3> <p>It falls into two camps: excruciatingly cheesy lifestyle photography or dull, stupid graphics. Sometimes the two are combined for extra awfulness. </p> <p>Plenty of fun has been poked at the former already. Women laughing alone with salad is the first example that springs to mind. </p> <p><a href="http://thehairpin.com/2011/01/women-laughing-alone-with-salad/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1066/Screen_Shot_2016-01-26_at_14.41.40.png" alt="women laughing alone with salad stock photography" width="650"></a></p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67434-four-brands-with-a-brilliantly-funny-tone-of-voice">Innocent Drinks</a> recently had a dig on Twitter, posting images of stuffy business types standing around water coolers. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">That photo from our newsletter led us to search for more stock images of people at water coolers. It's a goldmine. <a href="https://t.co/G8c3YZQfyF">pic.twitter.com/G8c3YZQfyF</a></p> — innocent drinks (@innocent) <a href="https://twitter.com/innocent/status/685409528385503232">January 8, 2016</a> </blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PeopleAtWaterCoolers?src=hash">#PeopleAtWaterCoolers</a> <a href="https://t.co/qi9BIwwWv1">pic.twitter.com/qi9BIwwWv1</a></p> — innocent drinks (@innocent) <a href="https://twitter.com/innocent/status/685409889028542465">January 8, 2016</a> </blockquote> <p>The issue has become such a blight on the world that even Hollywood had a swipe.</p> <p>To market comedy film Unfinished Business last year, makers Photoshopped Vince Vaughn’s face onto some classic corporate stock imagery. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/0575/unfinished-stock-01c-2015.gif" alt="" width="650">

</p> <p>And be careful when Photoshopping your product into rubbish lifestyle stock images, or you might end up on the sharp end of a meme. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1067/bLs6vmq.jpg" alt="bad stock photography tv" width="650"></p> <p>As for the latter of the two horrors I mentioned above, bad graphics, let’s take a look at what I mean. </p> <p>Say you’re writing a post or page about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/seo-best-practice-guide/">SEO</a>. Do you think this would be a good image to include? </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1069/Seo-blocks.gif" alt="bad stock photography graphics" width="500"></p> <p>The answer is no. No it wouldn't.</p> <p>Why? Partly because it adds nothing to the content. Partly because it is entirely bland. And partly because it has probably appeared about a thousand times across God-knows-how-many other websites and will continue to do so as long as it shows up under ‘SEO’ in Google images.</p> <p>What about a nice word cloud, then?</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1072/4431348645_8bf799117e.jpg" alt="Bad stock images word cloud" width="380" height="316"></p> <p>No. Why would you do that? Just stop it. </p> <p>Word clouds might work for data visualisation, but what good could you possibly add to a page of content by including the above monstrosity? </p> <p>Graphics are almost invariably meaningless and should be avoided if possible, especially on the news...</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9mnVWJpMhuE?wmode=transparent" width="640" height="360"></iframe></p> <h3>What you could do instead...</h3> <p>To avoid being accused of abject negativity, I’ve listed a few ways you can make your images less awful. </p> <p><strong>Find something relevant</strong></p> <p>Here’s a whacky idea: how about finding an actual picture of the specific thing you’re talking about and using that?</p> <p>You’ll probably have noticed on this blog that we like to include lots of imagery to support whatever we’re writing about.  </p> <p>Take the below paragraph about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66920-why-visitors-only-read-20-of-your-web-page">scanning</a>. I could have included a stock image of a man staring at a screen to indicate somebody reading a blog post.</p> <p>Something like this, maybe:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1073/man-coffee-cup-pen.jpg" alt="bad stock photography man looking at screen" width="587"> </p> <p>But that would have been stupid, so instead I used an image from a real study that tracked readers’ eyes as they read on-screen content. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/6990/PowerPoint_Presentation_-_Online_Copywriting_september_2015.pdf_2015-09-11_16-00-38.png" alt="The F shape content scanning" width="587" height="425"></p> <p>The first of those two images is pointless. It adds nothing. People understand what a person reading a blog post looks like. They don’t need a visual representation. It isn't relevant to the point I was making in the post. </p> <p>Images should always add something to a piece of content that words can’t achieve alone. </p> <p>Look at the imagery in a recent <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67339-three-marketing-trends-to-watch-in-2016">marketing trends post</a> we published. </p> <p>When you’re dealing with general words like ‘social’ it can be tempting to use some ridiculous abstract graphic to represent them.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1074/Social_Media_Marketing.jpg" alt="Social graphic stock image" width="337" height="307"></p> <p>But in this case the writer used screenshots to illustrate specific points. A much better idea. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0751/Screen_Shot_2016-01-15_at_11.01.39.png" alt="" width="363" height="357"></p> <p><strong>Make your own</strong></p> <p>We’re lucky enough that we all carry fairly decent cameras around in our pockets. Most of those cameras enable you to edit images and send them to your computer with ridiculous ease. </p> <p>Why not spend a bit of time creating your own images so you don’t have to rely on the generic dross your stock photo library is likely to cough up?</p> <p>Here’s one somebody made to show what a Venn diagram is:</p> <p><a href="http://visual.ly/venn-me"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/2903/venn.jpeg" alt=""></a></p> <p>If you want to take photos for static landing pages or <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67377-10-ecommerce-sites-with-grand-product-photography">product imagery</a>, you might want to use something more advanced than your phone.</p> <p>But even doing that costs relatively little time and money, and the results will be well worth it. </p> <p><strong>Use humour</strong></p> <p>It can be hard trying to find relevant photos. Sometimes I think a post is done but I spend another 20 minutes desperately trying to find a header image that isn’t completely rubbish. </p> <p>If you really can’t find an image that is suitably relevant, and you can’t or don’t want to make your own, try going down the humorous route. </p> <p>This means you can be a little bit abstract in your choice, as long as people will actually get the link between the image and the written content. </p> <p>How can a single image illustrate the perils of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67437-marks-spencer-s-new-australian-website-six-things-to-note/">a British ecommerce site marketing to the local Australian population</a>? Through a rude search mix-up involving the word ‘thongs’, of course.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67437-marks-spencer-s-new-australian-website-six-things-to-note"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1076/Screen_Shot_2016-01-26_at_14.59.50.png" alt="stock photography using humour" width="379" height="351"></a></p> <p>Trying to represent silent video? Stick a picture of Charlie Chaplin in there. </p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67442-how-to-create-facebook-video-ads-that-cater-for-silent-autoplay"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1077/Screen_Shot_2016-01-26_at_15.00.07.png" alt="stock photography using humour" width="379"></a></p> <p>Friday stats round-up? Rebecca Black, obviously. </p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67436-top-10-digital-marketing-stats-of-the-week-2/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1081/Screen_Shot_2016-01-26_at_16.39.14.png" alt="stock photography using humour" width="379" height="362"></a></p> <p>What I’m trying to show you with these examples is that if you can’t find a decent image that directly relates to your content, find something that indirectly relates to it and make it funny or entertaining.</p> <p>At least then you’re adding something to the content. </p> <p>To be fair, the thongs image achieves both. </p> <h3>Conclusion: stop being lazy</h3> <p>I’m not trying to insult people, but ultimately the reason bad stock photography is so rife in business is because it’s easy. </p> <p>It takes seconds to find a stock photo that is loosely connected to your content, and by the time you’ve written a post or a web page you’re probably ready to be done with it. </p> <p>But that little bit of extra time and effort you spend on finding and including decent imagery could <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/digital-content-strategy-best-practice-guide/">make your content stand out</a> against the sea of indistinguishable tripe floating around the internet. </p> <p>What are your thoughts? Generic stock photography: yay or nay? </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67439 2016-01-26T14:07:00+00:00 2016-01-26T14:07:00+00:00 How creative SEO can deliver big wins for luxury fashion retailers Chris Bishop <p>Neither were they desperately researching which colour would dominate this season and updating their collections accordingly.</p> <p>They were mostly trying to work out how not to break their necks on a Saturday night.</p> <p>But even more surprisingly, this term was searched for equally by men and women.</p> <h3>Why you need to understand search behaviour</h3> <p>Both these strange insights from Google underline one important message.</p> <p>If you want to understand and take advantage of the retail opportunities presented by search, you really have to understand what search is all about.</p> <p>Because, despite the odd quirks of search behaviour – or maybe because of them – there is vast branding and commercial potential here for fashion brands.</p> <p>And now, more than ever, luxury brands that are ignoring search are missing huge revenue opportunities that others are capitalising on.</p> <h3>But what’s the opportunity in search for luxury brands?</h3> <p>With 1 trillion Google searches in 2015, luxury customers are just as likely to Google as everyone else.</p> <p>And luxury customers were <strong>4.7 times more likely to Google ‘Black Friday’</strong> than the average.</p> <p>Add to this the fact that <strong>39% of luxury clothes bought on the internet last year were bought on impulse</strong>, search really <em>does</em> look like the place where the smartest luxury brands would want to be.</p> <p>At a fashion digital conference last week we presented with our client Net-A-Porter on luxury consumer search behaviour and it really demonstrates how crucial ecommerce is for luxury brand health in the years ahead:</p> <h3>Black Friday: what a difference a day makes</h3> <p>Luxury brands really can benefit from the retail ‘holidays’ which have established themselves in recent years.</p> <p>Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2015 marked the highest and second highest sales days on record for Net-A-Porter.</p> <ul> <li>The retailer sold one item every second.</li> <li>Of these, the most expensive item sold online was priced at <strong>$27,307.</strong> </li> <li>While a single Saint Laurent mini-dress was sold for <strong>$14,943.</strong> </li> </ul> <p>This is not loss-leading discounting reluctantly undertaken for fear of losing brand profile.</p> <p>This is a strategic opportunity to engage with high-net-worth individuals and galvanise profitable sales activity at specific points in the calendar.</p> <p>And search plays a crucial part in this.</p> <h3>And what a difference a change makes</h3> <p>Data from fashion brands is pointing to a shift from slow, curated purchasing patterns to fast decision making tipped by arresting content. </p> <p>Once luxury brands understand that price is no longer the key driver behind online luxury brand buying decisions, it becomes much clearer what search barriers are really in the way of increased sales.</p> <p>McKinsey released research demonstrating that returns (75%) and delivery policy (73%) were key factors influencing luxury buying decisions, especially interesting when considering only<strong> 48% were interested in price</strong>.  </p> <h3>Adjusting to a multi-device world</h3> <p>It’s a cliché, but luxury brand customers are cash rich and time poor – the question is how does this translate into search and buying behaviour online?</p> <p><img src="https://openmerchantaccount.com/img2/multidevice.png" alt=""></p> <p>In online luxury retail there is no such thing as a single customer journey anymore, these customers with their demanding lifestyles, constantly switch between devices that are ‘always on’.</p> <p>What’s more, they have the best devices (high spec, tablets, laptops, smartphones) and they expect the experiences they have on them to be equally high spec.</p> <p>Therefore, as one absolute takeaway - don’t ever think in devices (desktop, mobile), think only of the consumer journey.</p> <h3>The beautiful customer experience</h3> <p>Ecommerce is now a multi-device world and brands need to understand the importance of a ‘beautiful customer experience’, meaning a series of seamless, all-encompassing, cross-platform customer journeys that often begin with search and are highly mobile.</p> <p>Every year marketers have been told that this year is the year of mobile and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67397-ashley-friedlein-s-10-digital-marketing-ecommerce-trends-for-2016/">2016 will be no exception</a>.</p> <p>For luxury mobile is becoming increasingly important to keep up with the demands of the luxury consumer.</p> <p><img src="https://openmerchantaccount.com/img2/catwalkmobilephone.png" alt=""></p> <p>Often we hear about the increase in mobile penetration in a market – however when you consider the affluence of a luxury shopper that becomes even more important.</p> <p>McKinsey suggests that across the world <strong>95% of luxury shoppers have a smartphone</strong>, with <strong>100% penetration in some markets</strong>.</p> <p>Forrester research last year stated most luxury consumers expect retailers to have mobile optimised website or app - however in January 2016 only half do.</p> <p>Luxury customers are everywhere in terms of device and location, and mobile has become key to closing sales.</p> <ul> <li>41% of Net-A-Porter’s customer orders over Thanksgiving were on a mobile device.</li> <li>Nearly half (48%) of its sales in Japan were on mobile.</li> </ul> <p>Customers are not only visiting Net-A-Porter's sites on mobile, but buying items as well.</p> <p>As such there are opportunities to optimise search in specific ways, in specific locations and for specific groups that could make all the difference to traffic and sales.</p> <h3>Gender targeting through Google search</h3> <p>Gender targeting is one of these opportunities. Male luxury customers still often seem to be impulsive and impatient in their purchases as they tend to shop for gifts on mobile devices at the last minute. </p> <p>Males tend to spend more time examining search engine results pages (SERPS) and are <strong>5.4 times more likely than females</strong> to inspect lower ranked results.</p> <p>Therefore, a key opportunity to maximize conversion from search is by reassuring customers on the SERPS that the mobile checkout process will be simple and painless.</p> <h3>Location, location, location?</h3> <p>Location is also significant when selling to these customers, but not necessarily in the ways that you think.</p> <p>The average luxury customers takes <strong>16 trips a year</strong>. So, where these customers are searching is not necessarily where they live.</p> <p>This means brands need to be careful about the kind of delivery offers they’re making based on location.</p> <p>Don’t go offering free delivery in Tokyo when the customer lives in New York.</p> <p>Therefore, when a consumer adds location-based search queries we have to listen to the signal - dig deeper into data, don’t make assumptions and tailor to location.</p> <h3>Social &amp; content converts</h3> <p>Even if they’re not buying, your customers want to talk to you and about you.</p> <p>Working out when to sell to them and when to talk to them is part of the challenge of dealing with customer search.</p> <p>But in reality every search is an opportunity for engagement that may lead to a sale.</p> <p>In fashion it is even more important to have a focus on social, with two-thirds of the target audience generating content on a regular basis and <strong>15% doing that on a daily basis</strong>.</p> <p><img src="https://openmerchantaccount.com/img2/customerswantcontent.png" alt="" width="660" height="390"></p> <p>Social and content is presenting more and more chances to capture the imagination of potential customers and shortening the gap between catwalk and shopping basket.</p> <p>Fashion is throwing open the doors to the public with live streaming and interactive digital tools.</p> <p>Lining up your social, content and search is presenting more and more chances to share amazing content and arrest the attention of a customer base primed and willing to buy into your brand.</p> <h3>Rising to the challenge of search for luxury brands</h3> <p>“<em><strong>How to Walk In Heels</strong></em>” is not a comment on the mundanity of search.</p> <p>Instead it’s an imaginative challenge to agencies and marketers to interpret needs and wants in ways that are thrilling to customers.</p> <p>I hear there’s a trick to walking in heels, but once learned it looks elegant and effortless.</p> <p>Learning the secrets of luxury search is learning to create beautiful experiences, optimised customer journeys that seamlessly capture, build your brand and convert sales in new and exciting ways.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, read:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66501-how-fashion-brands-are-setting-trends-in-digital/"><em>How fashion brands are setting trends in digital</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64543-20-beautiful-examples-of-web-design-from-high-fashion-brands/"><em>20 beautiful examples of web design from high fashion brands</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/fashion-ecommerce-and-content-marketing/"><em>Fashion Ecommerce and Content Marketing Report</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67217 2015-11-18T15:25:00+00:00 2015-11-18T15:25:00+00:00 Could the ‘pay what you want’ principle work for publishers? Jack Simpson <p>I’m not suggesting mainstream sites should remove all ads immediately and leave begging bowls outside their offices (although this would save us all from <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66650-how-do-you-solve-a-problem-like-ad-blocking">the Independent’s dreadful display ads</a>), but there’s no reason smaller publishers shouldn’t consider it. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/9167/Screen_Shot_2015-11-18_at_10.24.38.png" alt="Pay as you feel principle for publishers" width="713" height="296"></p> <p>PWYW is nothing new in the wider publishing world. 15 years ago Stephen King offered chapters of his novel-in-progress, The Plant, with a ‘guide price’ of $1 and pledged to continue writing it if three quarters or those who downloaded it paid.</p> <p>Radiohead’s seventh album, In Rainbows, was released under a PWYW arrangement. It made the band a not-to-be-sniffed-at £3m in sales. </p> <p>But these are big names in fiction and music, and those campaigns were arguably more PR stunt than sales strategy. Could this tactic actually work for smaller, lesser-known digital publishers?</p> <p>Let’s have a look at the potential benefits:</p> <h3>People have tried it already, and it worked</h3> <p>This is not just a theoretical business model devised by some ideological ‘digital prophet’. Many small publishers have already experimented with the idea and made a living off it. </p> <p>A personal training site called the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/admin/blog_posts/new/%20http:/thehybridathlete.com/">The Hybrid Athlete</a> brought in $400-$600 per day by letting customers choose their price for digital fitness programmes. That’s $146,000-$219,000 in annual revenue. </p> <p>Computer game developer <a href="http://joostdevblog.blogspot.co.uk/">Joost van Dongen</a> released a hobby project on a PWYW basis. He didn't want to charge for it, so instead just asked for donations.</p> <p>The results within just three months?</p> <ul> <li>Total revenue: $23,000+</li> <li>Total installs of the game: 250,000</li> <li>Average price per paid download: $5.23 </li> </ul> <p>Again, these numbers are not exactly going to stand up to the likes of the Guardian or The Mirror, but it’s certainly food for thought. </p> <h3>You will improve the user experience</h3> <p>I hate to keep picking on the Independent, but screw it. Its uncompromising use of nauseating <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/digital-publishing-increasing-advertiser-value-through-data-and-identity">display advertising</a> makes the perfect case study for the use of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66572-safari-in-ios9-to-make-ad-blocking-easier">ad blocking software</a>.</p> <p>In fact, I’m beginning to think it has shares.</p> <p><em>A screenshot of the Independent</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/4701/Screen_Shot_2015-07-01_at_11.24.40.png" alt="Annoying display ads" width="720"></p> <p><em>Another screenshot of the Independent.</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/4703/Independent_2.png" alt="Annoying display ads" width="720"></p> <p>Looking at the atrocities above, clearly the user experience would be drastically improved without those ads. </p> <p>Publishers that rely on advertising revenue are forced to give up a certain degree of control when it comes to the user experience. They have to include clearly visible ads, or why would anyone pay them?</p> <p>But 'clearly visible' to a publisher or advertiser translates to 'utterly intrusive and annoying' for the reader.</p> <p>The PWYW principle removes the necessity for brightly displayed ads, and the publisher can have complete control over the look and layout of its site once again. </p> <p>Granted, valuable ad revenue would be lost. But there is definitely an argument to suggest this would be counteracted, at least in part, by a greater and more engaged audience thanks to a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66731-25-excellent-ux-examples-from-ecommerce-sites">better user experience</a> overall. </p> <h3>You develop a better relationship with your readers</h3> <p>Relationships work both ways and are built on trust. </p> <p>I trust my wife to borrow my credit card because I’m confident she won’t use it to buy one-way tickets to The Seychelles with a bloke named Roger. If I told her she couldn’t borrow it because I <em>was</em> worried about that, it wouldn’t go down well. </p> <p>Obviously I’m simplifying things (‘are you not entertained?!’), but you get the drift: if you show your readers you trust them it will have a positive impact on your relationship. </p> <p>PWYW is all about honesty, so obviously you’re going to get the odd a***hole who doesn’t pay anything even though they’ll happily lap up your content. </p> <p>But for each of those a***holes I bet there are more people who would gladly pay a decent price for content they love as long as you proposed it in a fair and honest way. </p> <h3>What would you do?</h3> <p>Perhaps you’re yet to be convinced by PWYW despite my best efforts, but I want to end by asking you this: </p> <p>Think about your favourite publisher, whether it’s a blog or a news site or a research hub. </p> <p>Let’s say they removed all ads, kept their content free to consume/download, and then invited you to donate as much money as you thought that content was worth. </p> <p><strong>Honestly, how much would you pay?</strong></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67080 2015-11-06T11:11:46+00:00 2015-11-06T11:11:46+00:00 Why it's time to leave old-school SEO behind Lori Goldberg <p>Despite significant changes in search algorithms and user-friendly web design tools (ie; Wordpress, Drupal, Squarespace), many core elements of what has traditionally been known as SEO have become automated or less technical.</p> <p>Even Google has restructured its view on back-linking and often favors quality content over its old 'inbound links = relevancy' model.</p> <p>Despite this, the term “SEO” still remains and often intimidates non-technical people who view SEO as some foreign language that only their webmaster speaks.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/8681/google_webmasters.png" alt="" width="800"></p> <p>The fact is, the SEO of 1997 ended a short time ago, but the term lives on.</p> <p>What has evolved from old school SEO is a need for quality web content that people view, enjoy and share.</p> <p>Google’s user-friendly guide to SEO states this very clearly when it explains, “creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors.”</p> <h3><strong>Let’s change the way we speak of SEO</strong></h3> <p>Today, SEO has evolved into two unique strategies: website architecture and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/content-marketing-web-mobile-social-media/">content marketing</a>.</p> <p>Good website architecture is a requirement, not a strategy for optimization. <em>It’s fundamental.</em> Good website strategy includes search engine indexing, responsive display and mobile efficiency.</p> <p>Content marketing is where the optimization occurs.</p> <p>Create great content and search engines will reward you with premium placement and users thirsty for compelling content.</p> <p>Gone is the strategy of robotic text stuffed with high scoring keywords. This was a mechanical strategy at best and never satisfied readers.</p> <p>Given this, don’t ask your webmaster how to improve your SEO. Instead, align your webmaster with your digital marketing team and try this instead:</p> <h3><strong>1. Use a content management system</strong></h3> <p>Use a content management system (CMS) to publish your quality blogs, articles and images.</p> <p>A simple CMS, like <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65372-the-complete-guide-to-setting-up-and-running-a-wordpress-site/">Wordpress</a>, removes the technical obstacles for creatives that want to publish straight to the website. The CMS has a lot of search engine friendly tools that are automated for great indexing on search engines.</p> <h3><strong>2. Publish great content, often</strong></h3> <p>Get into a weekly rhythm of creating new content on your website. Keep the content fresh by adding new images, revising text and keeping things up to date.</p> <p>If pages on your site read the same as they did when the site was launched three years ago, search engines may no longer be crawling your site. Invite them back with fresh content.</p> <h3><strong>3. Google’s spiders love Google’s partner sites</strong></h3> <p>With more search users than anyone else, clearly you want your site optimized on Google and its family of websites.</p> <p>For this reason, create a YouTube account and embed your videos on your website. Create a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64985-why-google-local-is-vital-for-offline-businesses/">Google Places page for local listings</a> and map attribution.</p> <p>Submit your site to Google’s Webmaster Tools (it’s easy, no need for your webmaster despite the name). Get a Google+ page for your business. Submit your mobile sitemap to Google’s mobile testing tools.</p> <h3><strong>4. Social media distribution</strong></h3> <p>Have a social presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. Clearly these are popular tools but they offer strong links to your content and easy content distribution through their sharing features.</p> <p>As your content gets shared by your fans and followers, more people will visit your website and your community of visitors will grow. </p> <p>For more on this point, read Econsultancy’s guide on content distribution and influencer networks: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/how-to-go-viral/">How to Go Viral</a>.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66843 2015-08-20T10:41:00+01:00 2015-08-20T10:41:00+01:00 What I've learned from eight years of editing & blogging Graham Charlton <h3>It works if you do it properly</h3> <p>This blog was initially launched as an alternative to using other forms of marketing such as PR.</p> <p>It was a great fit for our paid research, events and training, allowing us to demonstrate our knowledge of digital marketing, and also to help us to learn along the way.  </p> <p>Most importantly, we've produced orginal content that people couldn't always find elsewhere. That has helped us to build an audience.</p> <p><strong>We've also generated countless sales and leads from the blog</strong>, by raising awareness of the company, referring visitors to our products, generating search traffic and more. </p> <h3>Keep it simple</h3> <p>It's very easy to make digital sound complicated and intimidating to newcomers, and there are some complex concepts in digital marketing. </p> <p>However, I've always felt it was our responsibility to explain potentially complex subjects (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65677-a-super-accessible-beginner-s-guide-to-programmatic-buying-and-rtb/">RTB</a>, etc) in plain English. </p> <p>If you can't explain it clearly yourself, perhaps you don't understand it. </p> <h3>The importance of content for SEO</h3> <p>Way before content marketing become the next big thing, and before <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63979-forget-the-content-marketing-backlash-it-s-still-a-valuable-tactic/">the backlash</a>, we benefitted from excellent search visibility. </p> <p>We've been ranking highly for digital marketing terms, especially those that relate to our products, and search has been a valuable acquisition channel for the business. </p> <p>This has come through content and writing with SEO goals in mind (though quality comes first). While we have used the services of various SEO agencies from time to time, we've never had a full time SEO person. We've just relied on content. </p> <h3>Measurement is key</h3> <p>We're not slaves to data and we don't set impossibly hard traffic targets for writers, but we do take note of what the stats say. </p> <p>We want to know which content is effective in funnelling traffic through to other areas of the site, which content hits the mark with our audience, and which topics and themes are working well. </p> <p>There are lots of content marketing <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65443-a-smorgasbord-of-content-marketing-metrics/">metrics</a> to look at, and the ones you choose will depend on business goals. </p> <p>I like metrics that measure engagement with our site, such as this chart which looks at the number of visitors viewing three or more pages.</p> <p>If this is moving in the right direction it indicates that content is hitting the mark and that related content recommendations are effective, as people are sticking around longer. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/6391/visit_depth.png" alt="" width="800"></p> <h3>Learn from your peers</h3> <p>Fortunately this industry is full of talented people who know their stuff and are prepared to share what they have learned. </p> <p>As well as my colleagues at Econsultancy, countless industry experts have been willing to lend their opinions and advice to help me to write posts. Thanks to all of you. </p> <p>In addition, I've learned loads from some of the excellent speakers at Econsultancy and other industry events such as <a href="http://www.brightonseo.com/">BrightonSEO</a>. </p> <h3>The importance of the details</h3> <p>We've taken care over details like headlines, anchor text, which pages to link to internally, and so on. </p> <p>Our primary task on the blog has been to write articles that our readers find useful, but details like these ensure that the posts we spend time writing find an audience. </p> <p>It also marks the difference between a useful blog which brings in some traffic, and a proper content strategy. </p> <h3>Original and useful content works </h3> <p>There are thousands of marketing blogs out there, and lots of them are just writing the same articles. </p> <p>I recieve most of the same press releases, and so often they're just copied, barely edited into some digitial news site or other. </p> <p>This is not to say there's no value in press releases, or that we never just write about a survey or a piece of news we've seen, as these posts can be useful sometimes. </p> <p>However, the best content, and that which is most popular on the blog and keeps traffic coming in long after being published, is that which is original. Or <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65455-why-you-need-an-evergreen-content-strategy/">evergreen</a>. </p> <p>My experience with this blog is that people want to read something that helps them do their jobs better or that tells them how to make sense of recent trends. This is what works long-term, and is why sites like Smashing Magazine are so useful. </p> <p><strong><em>Thanks to everyone who has read and commented on my articles and this blog over the years...</em></strong></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66633 2015-06-29T13:57:00+01:00 2015-06-29T13:57:00+01:00 12 elements of a user-friendly blog page Jack Simpson <p>I may be inviting criticism of our own site (and this article), but I wanted to explore some of the key things to remember when it comes to creating a brilliant user experience on your blog page/post.</p> <h2>1. Use subheadings</h2> <p>Break up your posts into manageable sections. You’re not writing a novel or a newspaper article here, and the majority of people will not want to tackle an enormous block of text. </p> <p>Some people might read the whole article, but many will just want to skim through and pick out the parts that are relevant or interesting to them. </p> <p>Using subheadings brings structure to your post and makes it easier for the reader to navigate. </p> <p>I’ve used a list post format for this article, partly to demonstrate this technique (as if anybody isn’t already aware of it) but also because I think the content works well as a checklist (and 12 is a nice number). </p> <p>Whatever format you choose, the important thing is to make sure you have lots of relevant subheadings that tell the reader what to expect under each section. </p> <h2>2. Create white space</h2> <p>White space is your friend. Create lots of it. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/4542/White_space.png" alt="White space on blog post" width="889" height="888"></p> <p>Write in short paragraphs of only two or three sentences and use plenty of line breaks. This is particularly important in long posts or reports where there is a lot for the reader to take in. </p> <p>Present each idea in its own paragraph rather than trying to cram multiple points into one block of text.</p> <p>This helps readers digest individual thoughts and avoids confusion, and it naturally creates a lot of white space. </p> <h2>3. Use bullet points</h2> <p>Bullet points are effective for the following reasons:</p> <ul> <li>They help the reader easily digest points.</li> <li>They are a great way to present lists of points under the same idea (like I’m doing now).</li> <li>They are visually pleasing.</li> </ul> <p>Use them at will. Your readers will thank you for it.  </p> <h2>4. Use imagery</h2> <p>All blog posts should contain imagery, whether it’s photos, videos, gifs, screenshots or embedded social media posts. </p> <p>Not only does this make the post more interesting, it also breaks things up nicely and makes the whole thing easier to digest for the reader. </p> <p>Images and videos can also be a great way to put points you’ve made into context through visual examples (as I did under the previous subheading). </p> <p>Plus it makes the whole post more visually pleasing, like this picture of an Indian sunrise.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/4548/Sunrise_Beauty_of_Nature.jpg" alt="Indian sunrise" width="600"></p> <h2>5. Include internal links</h2> <p>It’s important to link to other pages on your site with descriptive anchor text.</p> <p>This gives visitors relevant further reading options, encourages traffic to other areas of your site and can also help with search rankings. </p> <p>From a user experience point of view, you can direct people to another piece of content that expands on an idea without having to too far off topic in the current post. </p> <p>Remember: <strong>the link text should read naturally and actually relate to what you’re directing people to. </strong></p> <p><strong>Good:</strong> Many marketers struggle to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66355-the-irresistible-business-case-for-blogging">make a business case for blogging</a>.</p> <p><strong>Bad:</strong> Did you know that blogging regularly could actually help with <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ">best SEO tips Aldershot?</a></p> <p>Try not to include too many internal links. Two or three per article is fine (although for longer posts you might want to include more). </p> <h2>6. Highlight key points</h2> <p>Again, don’t overdo it, but if you make an important point <strong>you might want to make it bold.</strong></p> <p>One example of this might be a stat that backs up what you’re saying, such as <strong>66% of people remember stuff better when it’s in bold.</strong></p> <p>Obviously I just made that up. </p> <p>You might also want to block out quotes to make them stand out. As in:</p> <blockquote> <p>72% of people remember quotes better when they’re blocked out like this, and I obviously made that one up, too.</p> </blockquote> <h2>7. Don’t use silly fonts</h2> <p>Funky fonts are great for logos or your 15-year-old self’s MySpace page, but they have no place on your blog. </p> <p>Stick to simple fonts that are easy to read. Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, that sort of thing.  </p> <p>Comic sans? Just no. </p> <h2>8. Include sharing buttons</h2> <p>Somebody enjoyed your post so much they want to share it. Great news. Make it easy for them to do that by including visible share buttons on your blog page. </p> <p>Sharing buttons can also be a good form of social proof if they include a counter.</p> <p>If people see a post has been shared multiple times they can only assume it contains mind-blowing content that must be consumed at once. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/4544/Share_buttons.png" alt="Sharing buttons" width="819" height="629"></p> <h2>9. Allow comments</h2> <p>It may be tempting not to allow comments given that you’re opening yourself up to potential criticism. But comments encourage people to engage with your post and, even better, to keep coming back.</p> <p>But there’s more to it than that. By including comments you’re turning it into a two-way dialogue rather than a dictatorship. Surely the former is the kind of relationship you’d rather have with your customers?</p> <p>The example below shows how some really interesting conversations can begin in the comments section, often adding additional content that wasn't covered in the original post.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/4547/Comments_section.png" alt="Comments section" width="824" height="3497"></p> <p>The comments section below, incidentally, will probably be filled with people pointing out various hypocrisies in this post, such as its distinct lack of user-friendliness. And that’s absolutely fine.</p> <p>In fact, I encourage it.</p> <h2>10. Go easy on the acronyms</h2> <p>This one is, TBH, more of a personal gripe than anything else, but if you’re going to use acronyms in your post then at least write them out in full the first time so people know what you’re talking about.</p> <p>What may seem obvious to you could be baffling to your reader, and you will lose their interest very quickly if they have to start searching on Google for what things mean. </p> <h2>11. Keep your language simple</h2> <p>On a similar note to acronyms: don’t use a long or obscure word when a short and common one will convey the same meaning (think Orwell or Hemingway over Will Self).  </p> <p>Keep things simple, particularly if you work in a highly technical industry. Don’t fill your sentences with confusing jargon or business speak. You won’t impress anyone and your reader might just switch off and go elsewhere.</p> <p>Reading this list of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66631-20-banned-words-from-the-econsultancy-blog-and-their-alternatives/">words that are banned on the Econsultancy blog</a> might help, but please don’t tell my editor if you spot any of them in this post. Cheers. </p> <h2>12. Finally: be yourself</h2> <p>One day, in a future populated with self-eating dinners and apps that spend quality time with your spouse so you don’t have to, machines will power journalism. Articles will be pumped out at a thousand words per minute using complex data-fuelled algorithms.</p> <p>That will be a sad day, so let’s make the most of the present. Nobody wants to read something that sounds like it was written by a computer. </p> <p>Don’t be afraid to write in your own voice. Use humour. Tell stories. Put your personality on the page. Relax. You’re not a robot. </p> <p>Even in the B2B world (that’s business to business if I don’t want to be accused of hypocrisy), it is people who make buying decisions. Make sure your style appeals to human beings.</p>