Content is King: The Importance of Content Marketing

content marketingIf you want to be a success at digital marketing, you have to wrap your head around the fact that content will always be king.  From cave paintings to John Deer and even Jell-O, content marketing has been around for literally thousands of years. Anytime someone wanted to get the information out about anything, they could turn to someone who provided great content to help. Cookbooks are a great example of how this strategy was implemented even before he internet was around.  If a cookbook listed a particular brand of item in it, then that’s what people would buy.

Today, content marketing is especially important because it’s how you get people to visit your website. It’s also how you can teach people about the issues that are important to your audience, and hopefully turn that audience into a customer who sees you as an expert on the topic.  So what is content?  The following are some types of content broken down into how that content is used.

Types of Content Used in Content Marketing

Digital Search Content – All content is fodder for search engine traffic. Search engines use the information on your blogs, websites, and social media to send customers your way. They do this with the terms used within the content or in the “alt” descriptions.

Social Media Content – Everything you put on social media is content. It doesn’t matter if it’s a meme, an image, words, a video, or something else; it is considered content. When you realize all that content marketing encompasses, you quickly realize that yes, it is very important. It’s not just a blog post or text; it’s everything.

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Blogs – These need to go out on a regular basis to help your visitors find your website. You can also include original guest blog posts sometimes to bring other audiences to you.

Newsletters – These can be sent via email on a regular basis to keep your subscribers engaged and active.

Magazines – Today, you can create your own online magazine to help keep your audience informed.

Podcasts – This is another way to put out information without having to type it. Instead, you can record your thoughts and upload them to be listened to later.

Videos – YouTube is a great example of the power of video to get the word out about anything and teach others something that requires visuals.

White Papers – These are long research documents that often compare and contrast the solutions to a problem discussed in depth. They are great for educating a wide audience without overtly advertising your solution.

EBooks – Using books to build your expertise is a great way to teach an audience about something that requires a lot of information. Today publishing on Kindle is simple and free.

Online Presentations – You can post PowerPoint slides on SlideShare.net and other presentation-sharing sites as another way to keep your audience informed.

Webinars – These are growing in popularity due to their live nature and the way the audience can interact with the hosts.  Webinars are a very effective form of content because it offers direct access to you in a convenient way.

Infographics – Often used on social media, infographics are a great way to help your audience picture important data visually.  It makes a lot of information easy to understand.

Games – If you can create an online game that teaches or markets your offerings to your audience, then you will have some really awesome content that invites high engagement and gets results.

Branded Tools – Whether it’s a diet app, a WordPress plugin, or something else, creating a tool that your audience can use daily (even if it’s an old-fashioned calendar) provides the type of content that will remind them that you’re there and bring them back to you often.

As you can see, there are so many different types of content.  Anything you do to market your business and inform people about your solutions and interact with people is actually content. That’s why content is king. Content is the most important asset you own when it comes to digital marketing.

Making YouTube Videos Make Money

making youtube videosEveryone seems to love YouTube.  But one thing that is really awesome about it is that you can actually earn money by making YouTube videos. There are several different ways to accomplish this.  You can earn money via views and advertisements, but you can also earn by subscribers buying your offerings. It’s a wonderful way to make a living, and it’s possible for almost anyone who is in the right niche and is willing to make regular videos.  In order to monetize your videos, you have to be strategic about how you choose to go about it.

Making YouTube Videos Work for You

Ads –- Joining the ad network is simple with YouTube. You just turn it on or off, and then they approve you. You will need to enter in your social security number or tax ID number to collect any money from your ads. They have a choice of display ads, overlay ads, sponsored cards, and skippable video ads. It is highly recommended to allow your audience to skip the ads if they desire.  Giving them that choice will actually work better for you because viewers prefer choice.  How interesting you make it determines whether or not they will actually skip it.

Affiliate Sales -– You can also put links to any products you talk about in the video. Place them under the video in the description box. During the video, at some point just point your audience to the description box for more information and affiliate links to the products. You do need to reveal that you’ll earn a percentage of sales and thank them for it.

Merchandise Sales – If you have a t-shirt, mug, or other types of merchandise that you want to promote, you can also link to it in the description box. Be sure to show them what the merchandise looks like and tell them any details they need to know, such as whether sizing is accurate or not.

EBooks – If you write a book, you can promote it on your YouTube channel by mentioning it at the end of each video and putting a link in the description box. You can even make a special video just for the book trailer to let people know that it’’s published and where they can buy it.

Exclusive Content – You can make some content hidden on YouTube,   You can then create a link to it from your website that is behind a pay wall. This will make some videos only viewable through the right link, thus creating a membership for exclusive content, which would create another income stream.

Donate Button – You can also add a donate button to your YouTube channel via PayPal. Be sure to mention to your audience that they can support you via the donate button and tell them how they can do it. Even though many people can use technology,  not everyone understands how technology actually works.

Sponsorships – If you have been making YouTube videos long enough to have a large subscriber base and viewership, some companies will contact you for sponsorships. The way that works is they may give you free merchandise, plus a fee to wear or use their product on your channel. You may need to say something like “sponsored by …” in your videos to live up to your end of the bargain.

Paid Product Placement – When your channel is super busy and has an audience that is niche-specific, you may be asked if you’re  interested in paid product placement. This means that you take money to use the product and mention it in your video. Again, you must reveal when you have been paid.

Earning money on YouTube and via YouTube is something that you can do rather quickly if you’ve chosen the right niche for you, and if you’re willing to put in the work it takes to build up your channel. Making YouTube videos can lead to making a lot of money if you follow the right steps.  If you’re curious about any YouTube channel and how much people may be making on their channel, check out SocialBlade.com.

How to Create Targeted Email Messages

targeted email messagesIt is so important that the messages you send to people who are in your database are targeted email messages. Why is it so important? So many people who sign up to get email marketing messages end up regretting that they did. They end up feeling like all they get is spam and even get to the point that they eventually stop opening the emails.  When they finally do open them, it’s only to unsubscribe. Here’s how to stop this happening to your messages.

Tips for Creating Targeted Email Messages

Study Your Audience – Never think that you know enough about your audience. You’ll need to know as much as you can know about them. If you really want to send targeted email messages to your audience, you have to know them!  Send surveys, study the particular demographic and get to know them as fully as you can so that you can better develop messages that mean something to your audience.

Segment Your Audience –- It helps if you niche down the audience into different segments to assist with writing more targeted messages. You can segment by behavior and demographics. The more niched down your segments are, the easier it will be to craft the messages, and the more targeted email messages will be to that particular group of people.

Ask the Audience What They Need – Use your email list to ask the audience directly what they need from you to make them open your emails. When you give them a say in that, they will feel more connected to you, and it will be easier to write messages because you will be sure of what they really want.

Watch and Engage with Your Audience on Social Media – Observe the interactions your audience have on social media. Watch their conversations, notice their questions, and try to give them what they need based on that interaction. Any single question can turn into a blog post, an email message, or even an information product.  Respond to them as well, because targeted email messages can also come from their responses to what you post!

Personalize Each Message with Names The software that you use to send out autoresponder messages comes with personalization features. If you get your audience to fill out their information and provide names as well as email addresses, then use it. Studies show that personalization gets more conversions.  The more connected they feel to you, the less likely they will end up dropping you. Also, instead of a business name or a cute name as the return address, use your own personal name. It will make the audience feel even more connected and trusting of you.  In addition to names, also use personal pronouns so they really feel like you are talking directly to them in your message.

Email marketing messages are important to help guide your audience to make smart purchases for themselves. Don’t be shy about sharing the benefits and the awesomeness of your products and services.  Just make sure you are hitting the target!

How Not to Annoy Your Audience – the Key to Effective Email Marketing

email marketingEmail marketing might not be as easy as it sounds.  Once you get someone on your email list, it’s important to keep them there, and keep them happy. If you send them misleading messages, too many messages, or the wrong type of messages, they’ll leave the list, and they might even report you for spam.  If your messages become an annoyance, people won’t care what you have to say or offer.  There are really good ways to avoid annoying your audience, and all it takes is being very aware of these factors in your messages. Its all has to do with the frequency and type of emails that you choose to send them.

Tips to To Make Your Email Marketing Work:

Don’t Use Clickbait Subject Lines –- Create subject lines that really mean something to your audience. Instead of trying to trick people into clicking, make the subject line be something that meets a need or serves a purpose to them. Misleading subject lines don’t work and just make readers upset. Instead, use subject lines that actually represent what you’ll be saying in the email message.

Don’t Send Too Many Email Messages – If your email marketing frequency is too much, you’ll just irritate your audience. They’ll feel as if you’re sending them spam and you don’t want that. Each email message needs to have a purpose, and it has to provide something authentic and useful to your audience.

Don’t Ignore Them for Months – On the other hand, if your email marketing isn’t providing contact regularly, that won’t work either.  You don’t want to ignore your subscribers for too long. They’ll forget that you exist, and, once again, they may end up thinking that your information is spam. You want to find a happy medium between too many emails and not enough.

Provide Great Value to Them, Not Just Offers – Sometimes you need to send emails that are simply informational in nature. Let them know about a new blog post, or tell them something interesting. Ask for their opinion about something.  Anything that communicates to them that they are important to you, and that you will provide great information to them, not just sell to them.

Keep Your Email Offers Simple – When you do send a promotional email, it’s important not to send too many offers in one email. You want to give them a clear choice of how to act and not confuse the issues by overwhelming them with options.

Grammar COUNTS, Even in Emails – Good grammar is as important in email marketing as it is in a blog post or any other publication.  Even in email messages, the grammar you use is communicates your competence and attention to detail.  It says that your standard of quality and excellence is something you value, even in your personal communication. You don’t have to use perfect English teacher grammar, but you do need to avoid obvious oversights that give the impression that you don’t check your work.

Keep Your Emails Brief –- Many times people are reading emails on their smartphones or other mobile devices. Reading a long, drawn-out email can be draining on the eyes and mind, and hard to read on a phone. Short, sweet, and to the point is best when it comes to email messages.

Don’t Forget to Check the Links -– When you send the test message to yourself, take the time to click through to the links to ensure that they work as you expect. Broken links can destroy a marketing campaign, forcing you to resend messages.

Preview Your Emails – Finally, remember to preview your emails before they go out.  Send a test email to yourself.  Does it look right visually, especially in terms of any graphics?  Does it look as good on a mobile device as is does on a desktop?  Many people use smartphones to check emails, so making sure it looks good on a smartphone is a MUST.

Email marketing is an essential piece of your marketing strategy, but be mindful of these tips when composing your emails.  It can mean the difference between, “Hey I love this…it’s good stuff!” and being unsubscribed and reported as SPAM.

 

Why Your Website is Your Best Digital Asset

websiteNo matter what people think, the website is still your most important digital asset when it comes to digital marketing. In fact, it is the center of your entire online marketing endeavor. Everything you do should seek to send people straight back to your site, and then on to an email list.

So Why is Your Website So Important?

1. Social Media Can Be Gone Tomorrow – It’s not likely, but any one social media account could change drastically when you wake up in the morning. It can go from free to paid, it can also change the rules, and so much more can happen. All the hard work you put into building up that social media network with content and engagement could be all for nothing tomorrow.  Social media marketing has great value to you as a business owner, but it cannot take the place of a website.

2. You Own It – If you have a self-hosted website (whether it’s built with WordPress platform or another builder), as long as it’s self-hosted on a server you rent, you can move it and use it how you want to without interference or worry from someone else telling you what to do. Even if you lose all social media accounts tomorrow, your website will still be there.

3. It’s a Destination – You’re really expected to have a website today if you have a business. If you send people to a Facebook page instead, they will not see it in the same way as they do a real website that represents your business, and only your business, without distraction. You can use the website to direct people to other media, but your website is first and foremost your storefront.

4. Everything Leads Back to It – Everything you put out there on the web, on social media, in brochures, on your business card, books, games, apps, guest blog posts, bookmarks, and other marketing collateral all lead right to your website because that will never change. Your website will always be your website.  It’s the one constant in a marketing world with many moving parts.

5. You Control It – When you own something, you control it. You can update it, change it, move it, and do whatever you want with it. When you use builders like GoDaddy, Website Builder, or native builders that can’t be moved, you’re trapped in that space, and rebuilding is harder to do. You can have as many features, email addresses, sales pages, and anything else you want to use if you control it, and it’s not hard to do.

6. They’re Inexpensive – Having your own website is not expensive. You can buy a domain name for less than 15 dollars a year, and hosting can cost less than 10 dollars a month. The only expense left is having someone build your site if you don’t want to do it yourself. But, with self-hosted WordPress, you can easily find someone for less than 1000 dollars to build it, or you can even pick a theme and give it a go on your own. It’s not  that hard – so at least give it a try. (Hint: If you can use one of the native builders, you can use self-hosted WordPress.)

7. It’s Your Brand – When you own your own website, you can brand it how you want to. You don’t have to leave any “built by” notes up, or notifications about your hosting company, or anything. You own it, which means that  it carries your branding. It’s really that simple.

8. Customers Judge You – If you don’t own your own website and use a builder, or if you try to pass off a social media site as your destination, people will judge you. They won’t view you as a serious business owner, and they will not want to work with you. Instead, put your efforts into creating the best website you can within your budget, and customers will respect you as a business owner.

Owning your own website in order to market digitally to your clients is imperative in today’s online marketing world. Without it, you’ll be wasting a lot of time and money on building up someone else’s empire. Why not build your own?

How to Set Up a Sales Funnel

sales funnel

Set up a Sales Funnel: How to Set Up High Converting Sales Funnels [Kindle Edition]

Where to buy: www.amazon.com

Are you familiar with sales funnels? Every business has one, but not everyone gives it the attention that it deserves. It is the process of how you go from gaining traffic to your site to converting that traffic to profitable sales. In “Set up a Sales Funnel,” you will learn how to go from traffic with no results to making the sale consistently.

A sales funnel has several components. It is not enough to just drive traffic to your websites. They have to find something there that they want to take advantage of – that they need. You have to wow them with your offer on the opt-in page if you want to build your list and ultimately make the sales conversion. If you aren’t sure what to do or how to fix your current funnel, this book provides step-by-step instructions.

This volume covers everything from conversion strategies to creating your product and sales videos. It gets as technical as you need it to be to craft the perfect funnel from start to finish. Everything you need to know is here and available to you in 60 seconds with this kindle edition book.

Set up a Sales Funnel direct link:
http://www.amazon.com/Setup-Sales-Funnel-conversion-funnels-ebook/dp/B00AP9S1SE

What is Video Advertising?

video advertisingNow more than ever, businesses are using video advertising in their marketing efforts.  But in order for it to be effective, you have to truly understand what it is and how to use it.  No longer is it just slick ads, like those which would appear on TV, but more and more popular are ads that appear on YouTube, Facebook, and other online real estate. Sometimes, though, video advertising isn’t as straightforward as it seems. For example, today many people create high-interest informational videos that are really advertising, but it’s hard to tell because it is so engaging to the viewer. The videos are actually meant to impart information, with the goal of selling what they have to offer within the context of educating you through video.  Regardless of the forum you choose, it is important to understand the pros and cons to video advertising.

Advantages of Video Advertising

It’’s Inexpensive. – Believe it or not, video ads aren’t very expensive. You can pay for placement, but you can also just create and post the video yourself on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter for viewing. Ask people to share it, and the only money you’re out is the money you spent in creating the video.

It Works across Platforms. – – If you place your ad on YouTube, it will work on any mobile device. If you’ve made sure your website is mobile friendly, it will work there, too. It will also work without any adjustments on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

You Can See the Results Immediately – – You’ll be able to see the analytics of the video ad almost immediately in terms of views, click through, and more. You will be able to see where viewers are located, their demographics, and more.

You Can Reach Anywhere – – Your videos can be local in nature, but they can also be international without any tweaking. If you offer a good product or service, it will translate into almost any language.

Your Audience Keeps It with Them – – Your audience carries their mobile devices with them wherever they go, which means your video ads go with them, too. You will be able to reach more people in more intimate ways than ever before with video ads.

Disadvantages of Video Advertising

Ad Skipping – – Some people don’t watch the ads and will automatically click to skip one, which means that no one will see it if you do it as a display in video advertisement.

Bad Timing – – If you release your potentially viral video on a day that something else is already going viral and you can’t compete, it may be a wasted effort.  Choosing the right time to release your video is a key factor in making it work.

Lack of Confidence – – The truth is, the biggest con of all is that people just don’t jump in and do it.  Many think that you have to be a sophisticated actor or actress in order to deliver a great video.  But the truth is that people crave authenticity.  Embrace your mistakes and make light of them.  Don’t strive for perfection because everyone loves real people being passionate more than slick actors trying to sell you something.

Video advertising is very lucrative. It is inexpensive, and, best of all, it works. You’ll get great results by adding video into your marketing mix – whether it’ is advertisements, marketing videos, or something else. Video gets results because people love videos, and as such they are more likely to watch it and share it,spreading the good news about your business everywhere.

Who Are They, Anyway? Marketing to Millennials

marketing to millennials

Finding your target audience and understanding their needs is hard enough, let alone when it comes to specifically marketing to millennials. Because millennials are highly educated, technology savvy, and curious about everything, they are also very brand- loyal once they find that brand that gives them the openness, honesty, and thoughtfulness that they’re looking for. If you want to attract millennials, you’ll have to learn about what makes them tick and what drives their behavior.  If you really want a great return on investment, you have to know how to get them to respond to your marketing efforts and not waste your time on what doesn’t resonate with them.

What You NEED TO KNOW About Marketing to Millennials

Traditional Advertising Is Out – Instead of advertising, it’s best to offer information about your product or service that is realistic and hopefully proven by other customers. To them, ads are just more spin and lies and don’t actually reflect the truth of what the product does. They will believe their friends over an advertisement any day, no matter how convincing you are.

The Sharing Economy – Business like Uber.com, Airbnb.com, and Renttherunway.com are the way millennials like to enjoy the large life without having to put out a lot of cash.  Some places even offer rental dogs!  Many cities have bike rentals and other means that millennials can use to share instead of buy outright. While a lot of millennials have cars, many lease them instead of own them, and they often prefer to rent homes over buying because it’s not as usual to stick to one place as it used to be.  Understanding that is key to marketing to millennials, because the more you can offer opportunities for them to share, the more it will attract them.

They Research before Buying – Millennials like to do a lot of research before making purchases, even for small items. They’ll not only read blog posts, but they’ll also use social media to ask their friends, often while shopping. If they can’t find enough good information about the item in question, they’ll pass it by.  Never has it been more important to provide great information to your audience as when you are marketing to millennials.

People Not Logos – They don’t care one bit about a big corporation and put zero trust in that company over individuals. If an individual blog owner posts something negative about a product they’re interesting in, even if the company has a lot of information out there, they’ll trust that blog post by the individual over the info put out by the company.  That’s why it is essential when you are marketing to millennials to put a lot of effort into showcasing great ratings and reviews, while responding appropriately to any negative ones.

Less Money to Spend – Due to having less money to spend, despite their education levels, growing up in a troubled economy informs much of what they do. This is why they’re great with keeping their ownership light and like to focus on experiences over ownership.

Socially Connected – Even the introvert is social and connected today thanks to the social media that millennials grew up with, and in some cases even created. They are less private and like to share their entire lives, which is why they value authenticity and openness over money and things.  Millennials will respond readily to social media marketing because it speaks their language.

Older Age to Reach Milestones – The age that millennials get married, have children, buy property, and do those life activities that are considered major milestones is considerably older than the generations before them. The average age of marriage is about 30 for this generation. That means you, as a business, need to redirect your marketing to take into consideration these new demographics.

Millennials lived a different life than many generations. They probably saw their parents lose everything in the stock market crash, even parents who “did everything right.” This is why they may find themselves making far different choices based on their perceptions that success and life is fleeting. As such, it is essential that you keep in mind these differences when you choose which marketing strategies to employ if you want you best return on investment when marketing to millennials.

Book Recommendation: The Visual Marketing Revolution: 26 Rules to Help Social Media Marketers Connect the Dots

visual marketingThe Visual Marketing Revolution: 26 Rules to Help Social Media Marketers Connect the Dots

Where to buy: www.amazon.com

When it comes to audiences online, content is king but it doesn’t have to be simply text. Enter the world of visual marketing. Employing visuals in your business can greatly improve your engagement, traffic, list building efforts and sales. “The Visual Marketing Revolution” shows you what you are missing when you don’t use images to tell the story.

It’’s called the “art of persuasion.” A customer must believe that they have a problem that only your product or service can solve. How do you do that? They must identify on an emotional level with you and your product. Text alone doesn’t accomplish this. Express your point in images: from photos to video to infographics. Visual marketing is the new way to relay information, and people get an idea of their interest faster than with text. They are more likely to stick around and view the nuances of an image. Learn to integrate image media into emails, landing pages, and social media. Optimize your visual tools for tablets and mobile devices. Create a sales-winning message that hits all the senses.

The Visual Marketing Revolution: 26 Rules to Help Social Media Marketers Connect the Dots

Creating a Community; The Power of Video Marketing

video marketing

It’s easy to see the power of video marketing.  When you take it a step further and create a community of followers, the sky is the limit!  Not sure?  Just look at YouTube’’s popularity and the earning power of some of their top performers to see how important building a community is. When you build a community you can quickly get results from any new product or service as soon as you launch it, because the community is already primed and ready to respond. To make that happen, though, you’re going to have to work hard to build that community – one video at a time.

Tips for Creating a Community of Followers for Your Video Marketing

Speak Directly to Your Audience – When you make a video for your audience, make sure look right into the camera and talk directly to them. You probably have a picture in your head of who your ideal audience is. If that is the case, picture that person, look into the camera and just speak from the heart.

Show Your Softer Side – Don’t be too stiff and formal in your videos. Even if you’re trying to attract lawyers and accountants, they want to see the humanity in you with your videos. Attempt to be relaxed. Practice makes perfect, so if you need to practice a few times to get it right, do so.

Mistakes Are Endearing – Don’t worry so much about tripping over one or two words; it’’s okay. Normal mistakes made in the course of a conversation are nothing to correct or be ashamed of. Being too perfect will make you seem cold and unapproachable.

Get to the Point – Don’t take too long to make a video. More than three to five minutes is simply too long. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but break up longer videos if you can. Make a loose script if it helps you stay on topic and not get sidetracked.

Set It to Music – Put some light music in the background that signifies the mood you want your audience to feel as they listen to your video. Be sure to make it quiet and not too loud; you don’t want to hide what you’re saying and distract from your message.

Show Your Sense of Humor – The beauty of video marketing is that you can add personality to nearly any topic.  Even if you talk about serious topics in your video, being a little funny can lighten things up and take the sting out. Being funny can also make videos go viral, so be ready.

Tell Them Secrets – It’s just you and your niche audience, right? It’s okay to share something deep with them during the video. You want them to feel as if they are part of your life, and one way to do it is to be honest and transparent.

Make Some Content Exclusive – You can make some content exclusive to your audience by hiding it from others and only letting people who get the link see the video. You can also hide that content behind a membership wall. This type of content can bring your audience closer to you and also help you collect email addresses.

Respond to Others  – This works very well on YouTube. When someone makes a video that affects you in some way, make a response video and include it in a comment to their video. This can help you connect more with the entire community while bringing more people over to your community.

Building a community using your video marketing is entirely possible on any platform – not just YouTube. However, YouTube is an excellent place to start creating and hosting the videos that you make. Start with an introductory video and then keep going, sharing it on social media, then asking others to share and get the ball rolling.