Tag Archives: content marketing

15 Online Marketing Techniques: How they Relate to Your Firm’s Growth

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With so many different marketing channels at your fingertips, how do you decide where to invest? Which online marketing techniques are really going generate leads for your firm?

Here at Hinge, we set out to answer these questions in a recent study of 500 CEOs and marketing executives from professional services firms across the globe. The survey was simple: rate each of 15 online marketing techniques on a scale from 0 – 10 on how effective they are in generating leads for your firm. Continue reading

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Writing Workshop: Before You Hit Publish

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writing for the web checklistWhile my Kansas City friends were stuck with more snow, I spent the end of last week soaking up the sun and fun in the Gaylord Biodome at Blissdom (where is that sarcasm font when you need it)?

At V3, we work with agencies and brands and do a lot of blogger and influencer outreach. My recent workshop: Writing for the Web: What, Why and How to Kick Butt At It is intended to help bloggers master the art of not only writing for the web, but also understanding how to deliver great results for the brands and agencies they work with.

Content marketing is the number one strategic marketing focus for brands and agencies, so when bloggers understand the basics of content marketing, they can better position themselves for relationships that are mutually beneficial. And agencies and brands, we’re all over that.

But writing for the web and effective content marketing takes skill. It’s not as easy as writing a blog post. And the work doesn’t stop when you’ve written the post. The distribution channels you develop and relationships you’ve cultivated over the years can have a huge impact on the success (read that: reach and impact) of your content. Equally as important is tracking your results and reporting back to your brand or agency partners–which is delivering the ultimate value as a content partner.

But distribution and reporting are things I’ll cover in a subsequent post. Back to writing. Here are the bare bones, must-do things you should do before you hit that “publish” button:

Before You Hit “Publish”

The Basics

  • Your headline is key. Make sure it’s compelling, captures attention and is clear on the value your post delivers. Cute but unclear won’t cute it.
  • Make sure your post is 300 words minimum and no more than 700.
  • Images are important. Sometimes an image is what makes me read your post, so be sure and include one.
  • Your first paragraph is very important. Make sure it delivers the key message of the post and that it’s short and compelling.
  • Cite your sources and make sure that any claims made are linked to clear sources.

SEO 101

  • Your headline must be 60 characters or less.
  • Your first paragraph must be strong and include the keyword or keyword phrase from your title.
  • Make sure you’ve included a link in your first sentence or first paragraph that connects to a related piece from the blog on which you’re publishing.
  • Include 2-5 additional links within the body of the post that connect to relevant material on relevant external sites, as well as the site on which you’re publishing. All links within the body of the post should not be to your site or to the site that your post is appearing on.
  • Make sure your links use text phrases 2-5 words long and describe where the link leads (i.e. use “writing for bloggers” vs. “click here”).
  • Use bolded subheads in your post to help readability.
  • Use keywords wisely in your subheadings.
  • All images have captions, alt text and titles relevant to the post topic.

Content

  • Read the post aloud to proofread before publishing.
  • Use contractions. This will help your writing sound conversational.
  • Ask yourself if you’re using needless jargon and if so, ditch it.
  • Make 100% certain that your post delivers what the headline claims, otherwise, you’ll annoy your readers.
  • Don’t ramble. This is where reading aloud will help you. If your content isn’t on topic, get rid of it.
  • Provide valuable action steps instead of vague, empty statements.
  • Finish with a strong call-to-action at the end.
  • Edit, edit and edit again.

And there you have it–your pre-publish writing checklist. Bookmark it, print it out, tattoo it on your arm–whatever you do, make sure you keep these tips in mind as you’re creating content for the web. My wish is for you to develop fantastic, long-lasting relationships with great brands and agencies. And hopefully these tips will help you write content that knocks their socks off.

Image: Courtney Dirks via Compfight cc

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4 Steps to Guest Blogging Success

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guest blogging tipsYou’re likely no stranger to writing content for your blog. As you adapt to a writing schedule that works for you, take your content creation strategy one step further by submitting guest posts to other blogs.

After all, when it comes to the Internet, the wider your digital footprint, the better. And regularly contributing content to blogs you admire (and whose audiences align with your own) is an effective way to expand your readership, increase your personal brand recognition and showcase your knowledge and expertise.

Before you submit your guest post, however, it helps to make sure you’ve covered all of your blogging bases. The devil’s in the details, right? And that’s never truer than when it comes to blogging. Just consider the following 4 tips your guest blogging checklist:

Include Your Bio

Whether it’s at the end of your post, included in the email or added as a second attachment, don’t forget your bio. Keep it short—3 to 4 sentences should be sufficient. And in addition to telling the blog audience about yourself, be sure to include links to pertinent websites, too, including your About page, social profiles, etc.

Link It Up

As someone who edits a large amount of guest blog content (and prepares content for other sites, too), including links is one of the most helpful things you can do when submitting a post. Don’t go crazy—instead, aim for 3 to 5 links and make sure you’ve included one in the first sentence. When you’re searching for relevant links, don’t forget to go to the site that’s hosting your guest blog and search for a related post or two that would make for good back links.

A Picture’s Worth…

Keep in mind that when you’re guest blogging, the less work you can make for the blog owner, the better. If possible, when submitting your post include a primary photo (and any relevant screenshots). Another tip? Don’t mail it in on your images and for sure don’t swipe them from somewhere on the Web. Just because they’re on the Internet doesn’t mean you can use them. So when it comes to images, make sure they are good ones. The V3 team tends to steer clear of cheesy stock art—instead, we use tools like Compfight to find images that are relevant but entertaining. Just don’t forget to include a photo credit and accompanying image link either in the body of the blog or in your email.

Follow The Rules

Before you submit your post, take a quick cruise through the site to see if any submission guidelines are available. Some sites, for example, may prefer that you submit your post in HTML format or follow other specifications including a minimum word count, etc. The editor or site owner may relay this information to you once your pitch has been accepted, but if not, it doesn’t hurt to see if those details are available elsewhere. Again, it’s all about doing your homework first and minimizing the work for the person who’s gracious enough to feature your work.

Of course, when it comes to the actual blog content, you’ll want to make sure that the tone and subject matter aligns with the blog to which you’re submitting. You’ve likely had some sort of communication with the site editor or business owner so you’re not blindly submitting content. This helps get your relationship off to a good start and hopefully paves the way for future guest posting opportunities.

And another tip? When your post goes live, be sure to pop back to the site and respond to any comments as they’re posted. And don’t forget to share the post, too!

I’d love to hear more from the guest contributors out there. What else do you do before submitting a blog?

Image via Raygun

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Curating Or Collecting?

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Rock Collection (or curation)?Content creation in the form of curating content, your own and that of others, is the hot new trend  in the digital world. Notable platforms have emerged which cater specifically to this form – YouTube playlists, Tumblr blogs, and, of course, Pinterest.

Tuning the content you’ve created is a bit of a different beast than doing the same thing to content you’re curating.  When actually creating new content there’s a built in system to avoid creating too much irrelevant content (at least for good writers and self-editors).  You’ll know if you’ve done something before, and if so from what perspective and tone. Continue reading

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What Spaghetti Sauce Can Teach Us About Empathy

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Ragu - Das Original © by Toni Birrer

Earlier this month, Ragu spaghetti sauce launched a video Facebook campaign called “Ragu Asks” aimed at uncovering the mystery of how parents motivate their finicky kids to eat. The short, 30 second video content that followed was created based on responses from their community and the result was a string of hilarious videos depicting parents going to bizarre lengths to get their kids to eat, which as most parents know can often times be a monumental struggle. Although the content was extremely exaggerated and a bit absurd it seemed to strike a chord with parents through its deft blend of comedy and desperation to speak at what can often be a daily struggle that parents fight to keep kids nourished and healthy. Continue reading

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PR Pro’s New Title: Content Marketers

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Is it me or is PR not actually evolving and instead completely disappearing?

It’s safe to say that you can start calling all PR people “marketers.” Why? We’re all about marketing strategy now; we’re not just relating to publics but trying to learn how people tick, how they’ll be moved to purchase or pass along something – based on research and continuous analysis found in deep dives into social networks and by reading a vast amount of blog posts on the topic. The practice of PR has traditionally been built upon persuasion, but persuasion isn’t accurate.  Continue reading

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Facebook Launches Timeline for Pages

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Unless you live under a rock, you’re aware that Facebook’s Timeline for Pages is here. I’m not sure if the announcement was met by a collective cheer or one big groan, but one thing’s for sure: the brand experience on Facebook is about to change in a big way.

Timeline offers a number of advantages compared to traditional pages, one being the layout’s visual appeal. TechCrunch’s How to Use Timeline coverage is a terrific overview and I love how they’ve captured the visual nature of the new pages. Like the personal timelines that many of us have been using since they rolled out, brands can now choose a cover photo that offers a lot more visual real estate. The interface looks cleaner and infinitely more compelling, and creates an opportunity for brands to tell their stories in a way that’s heretofore not been afforded. And when you think about it, isn’t that the goal of a site like Facebook or any social media channel—brand storytelling? If that’s not your goal, it should be. Continue reading

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