explainer video

5 Simple Reasons Your Business Needs an Explainer Video

What if –

  • You could increase your email click-through rate by 200% to 300%,
  • Raise the understanding of your product or service by 74%, or
  • Condense 1.8 million words of a marketing pitch into 1 minute?

Chances are, you would – and you wouldn’t be alone.

All three of these statistics describe one of the most important mediums around – video. At Resourceful Business (RB), we’re big fans of explainer videos, in particular, videos that cleverly explain or grow the understanding of your product or service. But, don’t let the animations or whimsical drawings of an explainer fool you. They are powerful marketing tools and much in demand.

Here are 5 simple reasons your business needs an explainer video:

1. Explainers work hand in hand with social media

Businesses continue to push into social media, now an essential part of multi-channel marketing. Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular social networks with 1.71 billion and 500 million active monthly users, respectively. On Facebook, videos can be up to 120 minutes in length, and Instagram permits videos up to 60 seconds. Explainers often run about one minute, and therefore, work well on both platforms, and the statistics are mind-boggling.  The amount of average daily video views doubled on Facebook from 4 billion to 8 billion between April and November 2015.

2. Videos can amplify your brand and define your value proposition

While a host of facts and figures can make a pretty tedious article, sprinkled into an explainer, they promote a company’s strengths and brand in an engaging and memorable way. Key points can be weaved into the script, and in fact, we believe there are four must-haves in an explainer video script:

  • A clear description of a problem or pain point
  • The value proposition – how your product or service solves the problem
  • Differentiators – strengths which make the product, service or approach unique
  • A compelling call to action

With these components in place, an effective explainer video can get the desired message across, boost a company’s brand recognition, and define the value proposition in a persuasive way.

explainers simplify difficult concepts

3. Explainers can simplify difficult concepts

In any industry, there are complicated ideas, workflows, and products. Explainer videos are an excellent way to help customers visualize what a product or service can do. They can take the viewer from point A to point B without large chunks of text, and explainers have an added benefit – people remember video. According to the Online Publishers Association, 80% of Internet users recall a video ad they watched in the last 30 days.

video increases engagement

(Image Source)

4. Videos give websites an SEO boost

If your business has a website, no doubt you are familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), strategies used to drive visitors to a site. Explainer videos give websites an SEO boost in several different ways. As examples, video increases the amount of time visitors spend on a website, and it also lowers the bounce rate because people often visit other pages beyond the original landing page. Multimedia content such as video can also be viewed by search engines as indicative of content quality, so varying the types of content on a website to include video is a helpful optimization strategy too.

 

Age matters in online video consumption

5. Video has massive audience reach

YouTube has over a billion users, and the demographic profile of video consumption in the US skews towards Millennials and Generation X, peak consumer spending years. The advantage of an explainer video is that in addition to being on a company’s website, it can be hosted on video-sharing sites such as YouTube or Vimeo. Video-sharing sites have an expansive reach and even extend to international audiences; 70% of Vimeo users, for example, are outside of the United States.

So, don’t underestimate explainers; they are powerful digital marketing tools. Video can tell a brand story or simplify complicated concepts, broaden audience reach and help boost website page rank. Engaging to watch, sometimes animated and playful, explainers are nevertheless a must-have digital marketing asset for business.

 

social media management

Why Social Media Management Takes a Village

The numbers are staggering.

According to The CMO Survey, since 2009, social media spending by businesses has increased 234%. Currently, at just over 10% of marketing budgets, it’s projected to double in the next 5 years.

Hands down, social media is the area of digital marketing where our agency receives the most questions. Clients ask about changing algorithms, the ad creation process, and audience targeting. In a recent conversation with one of our clients about our social media management process, she expressed her amazement at the many layers to our approach, and it made me think that perhaps our process would be useful to others.

At Resourceful Business (RB), we have found that simply put – social media management takes a village. The process is fluid and complex, and to execute it well, we must PLAN, THINK, COLLABORATE, and MEASURE with rigor and consistency.

Here’s what we do:

PLAN the content that drives social media

Step 1: Rotate the focus and types of social media posts

Every business has different facets to their brand, and marketing should use these defining aspects to reach different audiences. Our social media team will develop a content calendar that looks at what types of social media posts might optimally represent the brand and put these different categories into a rotation. For example, each week we may create one inspirational quote, link to a past blog, curate one article we like, create a new visual for some aspect of a blog or even build a quiz. On our internal content calendar, we will plan these posts out several weeks in advance for each client, so they can be put into rotation with consistency.

content continuum

Step 2: Use the content continuum

Digital marketing content is on a continuum. At RB, we are in the camp that believes there are three categories: lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight. Social media is lightweight content, but it is intricately linked to both middleweight and heavyweight content. In fact, social media is often used to leverage middleweight and heavyweight content and push it out to new audiences in novel ways. When we create social media content, our team is always thinking about how it relates to other content on the continuum. For example, if we have a great blog, we might take the key points and create a visual infographic from them. That visually enticing infographic might take off on Pinterest or LinkedIn SlideShare. The point is that content, including social media posts, is not created in a vacuum but rather as one piece of the content continuum.

THINK about the target audience

Step 3:  Identify the social media platforms used by the target demographic

Social media marketing is an incredibly powerful tool, and what differentiates it from mass market tactics is the ability for customers and marketing practitioners alike to define and target a specific audience. Social platforms give many audience targeting choices from geographic location to interests, job titles and even type of mobile device.

Sprout Social has an excellent blog outlining audience segments and which social media platforms they use. Depending upon the platform, there are distinct variations in user age, income, location, and education. One interesting contrast, for example, is that Snapchat attracts a young crowd with 71% of users under the age of 25. On LinkedIn, only 23% of users are between 18 and 29. Not surprisingly, if we have a client that is targeting a young audience, a LinkedIn company page may not be a marketing priority.

Facebook organic reach

Step 4: Establish the role of paid social

The organic reach, audience reach not related to a paid ad, of different social media platforms varies considerably, but certainly, strategic boosts, ads or promotions are an essential part of any successful social media strategy. A case in point is that by some estimates, only 2 to 7 percent of organic Facebook posts reach followers. The decline in organic reach on Facebook has been trending since 2012 when Facebook changed its algorithm to reduce the number of organic views. In fact, one of the real challenges of social media management is algorithms can change at any time.

Therefore, any social media strategy must include a component of paid social to widen its audience reach beyond what can be attained organically. In addition to selecting which posts will be boosted or promoted each week, a member of the RB team must create the ads in the social media portal. This process includes budgeting, audience targeting and tracking metrics after the fact.  

COLLABORATE to ensure social media excellence

Step 5: Use social media management tools

One of our essential social media management tenets is that the more team views and eyeballs we get on our client content before it goes out, the better it will be. That philosophy drives RB’s use of a number of collaborative social media management platforms. Some examples include Schedugram for Instagram posts, Canva for visual creation and post edits, Hootsuite for scheduling posts and Google Docs for collaborative social media documents such as a list of relevant hashtags.

One of our essential social media management tenets 

is that the more team views and eyeballs we get on our client

content before it goes out, the better it will be.

Step 6: Gather multiple team inputs for “agency quality” social media posts

A social media post that appeals to one person may not appeal to another, so an engaging post or image is an art and by no means a science. However, some aspects of a social media post which contribute to its strength include relevant hashtags, well-written copy, an absence of typos and crisp imagery. These factors can be controlled, and our strategy is to gather multiple inputs from our team in these areas to maintain a standard of social media excellence.

Here’s an example of our Instagram post creation process. RB team members play different roles throughout the workflow:

  • In Canva, begin with the Instagram Post design type template so the image is sized correctly
  • Add an image to the Canva template, typically sourced from numerous free stock photo sites
  • Overlay the client’s logo as a watermark in the corner of the design
  • Write the post copy and hashtags in two different Canva Team Stream comment fields
  • Reference the source of the image in another Team Stream comment field (RB team use only)
  • Solicit comments, edits and changes from different members of the RB team
  • Once approved, add the image and copy to our social media client queue in Schedugram

social media ROI

MEASURE social media impacts and then refine the strategy

Step 7: Define and track social media Return on Investment (ROI)

For any marketing strategy, it’s essential to look at the Return on Investment (ROI). Social media is no exception, and broadly speaking, ROI for social media can be viewed against many different metrics – audience reach, website inbound marketing traffic, or as a viable lead acquisition source.

Each month, our clients receive a report which shows social media engagement by platform. The RB team looks at many metrics (likes, shares, comments and top performing posts) and user growth. If there is a paid social strategy in place, we will look at top performing organic posts and boosted posts. More broadly, we look at month-to-month trends per platform, across different platforms and analyze the impact of social relative to key statistics in Google Analytics. As the year progresses, RB will examine trends and patterns over a longer trajectory.  

Step 8: Continuously refine the social media strategy

With consistent reporting in hand, our team will talk to clients and refine the social media strategies in place. Some recent examples include a shift of paid social dollars into more Instagram ads and away from Facebook ads. This particular business was very visual, and we saw Instagram users grow rapidly and overtake Facebook users within a few months. In addition, the type of follower we were attracting with Instagram aligned with the target audience the client desired. Another example is a doubling of Facebook ad dollars for one client as the Facebook user growth continued to climb and attract users that were converting into new clients.

“It takes a village.”

The old African proverb, “It takes a village,” alludes to the notion that the broader community is involved in the raising of a child, and today, the saying suggests collaboration is essential for a task at hand. When it comes to managing social media for clients, it’s an important maxim. Although a person can put an Instagram post up in seconds, it makes far more sense for client social media management to take a “village” approach, one that incorporates process, rigor, and accountability.

Plan, think, collaborate, measure – and throw in a great team. These are the essential elements of social media management excellence.

________

On occasion, RB may use an affiliate link in its blog and receive some form of compensation should you purchase a specific product. RB will only use an affiliate link for a tool we actively use ourselves and recommend as a resource.

digital marketing tools

10 Go-To Digital Marketing Tools

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”– Michael Jordan

With so many apps and tools at our fingertips, one would think digital marketing has never been easier. Not so. As the freelancing or “gig” economy takes off, remote teams are becoming commonplace; and digital marketing with its many moving parts can pose real logistical challenges. Upwork estimates one-third of American workers are now freelancing, and project work, digital or otherwise, demands that everyone stays talking, collaborating and informed.

It can be frustrating to roll out a collaborative tool only to find it doesn’t have the functionality to facilitate a team or do what is needed. Over the past several years, my team has found that some of the tools we use for our digital marketing projects consistently make the “A” list. So, I thought I would share! Whether you’re a small business mostly managing your own marketing efforts or a large cross-border team, there is something on this list for everyone.

Here is the Resourceful Business list of ten go-to digital marketing tools:

VISUALS

1. Create great visuals in Canva

Graphics are a necessity for online marketing and often need to be created. While Adobe Photoshop is best for more complex projects, Canva is a simple drag-and-drop design platform for creating social posts, documents, banners and other visuals. It is an important tool for our social media team. The canvas size you choose can be customized by social network (e.g., Facebook post, Instagram post, Pinterest graphic), and pictures and watermarks can be maintained in an Uploads library. There is a wide selection of fonts and templates; and in the premium version, designers can create brand folders, save brand colors, and resize images for different social platforms.

Favorite Canva feature: Team stream, which allows different team members to share their work and comment on team submissions

Canva.com

2. Find high resolution, free stock photos on Stock Up

It’s impossible to be in digital marketing and not utilize imagery. According to Hubspot, “Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.” It’s only one of 37 must-read visual marketing stats in a recent Hubspot article. Stock Up is a unique website that aggregates photos from 27 free stock photo sites. There are close to 14,000 pictures, and the number continues to grow. Users can put keywords in a search bar to search for images, and the photo selections are expansive and varied.

Favorite Stock Up feature: If you hover over the photo, the license terms appear.

sitebuilderreport.com/stock-up

SOCIAL MEDIA

3. Schedule Instagram posts with ScheduGram

For any business that has the luxury of beautiful product visuals, Instagram is an essential social platform. As a digital marketing agency creating social media for clients, we prefer not to do things on the fly. ScheduGram is a scheduling platform for Instagram posts, and it is available on desktop. In our view, this feature is mission critical. Posts can be scheduled in advance, and first comments–the preferred location for hashtags–can be as well. ScheduGram allows us to review, edit and see our posts on a desktop prior to posting. Tagging photos, or identifying other people or businesses in the post, through the Schedugram platform is currently in test, and we hope the ability to add location will follow in short order.

Favorite Schedugram feature: First Comments field so that hashtags can be scheduled in the first comment at the same time you schedule the post itself

schedugr.am

4. Manage social media posts with Hootsuite

Social media work for clients should be a collaborative, tag team effort. Content can be written by one part of the team and then edited and hashtagged by another. Creatives can design graphics, and if the client uses paid social campaigns, other team members can manage the ads too. For us, scheduling social media posts is a must because it drives consistency, quality and collaboration. We use Hootsuite for social media; it allows us to schedule posts and use different team members in the creation process. Recently, Hootsuite added an integration with YouTube, so now you can schedule videos too.

Favorite Hootsuite feature: AutoSchedule, which will send scheduled posts at optimal times

hootsuite.com

Twitter hashtag

5. Develop a list of relevant hashtags with Hashtagify

When a “#” is put in front of a word, it creates a hashtag, or clickable link, that directs you to content which also contains that hashtag. Hashtags are an important tool in marketing, because they can drive a person to your content–and ultimately your business–via the hashtag. If a person doesn’t know about your company, (s)he may never find your brand through traditional search. However, hashtags can attract an audience with an interest in your subject matter. The Hashtagify portal allows a user to type in a hashtag and see other related, popular hashtags. Visuals like the size of a circle that surrounds a hashtag and the thickness of connecting lines that extend from the hashtag being analyzed cue the user to a hashtag’s popularity. You can even see Top Influencers and compare performance between hashtags.

Favorite Hashtagify feature: The Hashtag Wall which gives a tiled, visual representation of recent posts for a hashtag

hashtagify.me

spelling

CONTENT CREATION

6. Correct spelling and grammar with Grammarly

Grammarly is a writing app which has a handy Chrome add-on. It highlights grammar, syntax and spelling errors. The interface is incredibly user-friendly. Errors are underlined in red and then upon hover, fixes are suggested in green. It is easy to see errors visually, and Grammarly offers an explanation for the problem. You can take the suggestion or decline it. Although not currently integrated with Google Drive, a quick workaround is to download your Google Doc as a Microsoft Word document and just pick the errors up from there. Another alternative is to copy and paste the copy into Grammarly directly. A Google Drive integration is apparently in the works.

Favorite Grammarly feature: explanation cards for errors which describe the mistake, suggest the correction and offer an “Add to Dictionary” option

grammarly.com

COLLABORATION

7. Collect client input with Google Forms

Whether it is a website information questionnaire or input for a logo design, every business needs client input. The collector must be user-friendly, gathered in an organized way and viewable by the team. Google has a cloud-based solution for survey creation, Google Forms. There are several ways to receive and view the responses. Our favorite is to have the responses automatically populate a Google Sheet, which is accessible by the entire team.

Favorite Google Forms feature: basic customization tools for branding such as a header image for logos and a color palette

google.com/forms

8. Collaborate with Google Drive

Great content begins with a talented writer or creative. Better content is a collaboration of many inputs and viewpoints. Google Drive, a cloud-based file creation and storage service offered by Google, is our go-to tool for team collaboration. Notwithstanding the importance of all of the work being in the cloud for accessibility by the team, the Google Drive interface allows for direct editing, review and comments. A user can see past revisions and which team member has recently worked on the document. In fact, our team will drag and drop almost everything a client sends us into organized Google Drive folders, and the search toolbar functionality is robust. One handy feature is the ability to see Recent items that have been worked on or viewed, which makes finding current work a breeze.

Favorite Google Drive feature: Suggesting mode so team edits are seen as suggestions and only incorporated if accepted

google.com/drive/

to-do list

9. Assign work out to the team with Wrike

As any business grows, so too does its client base, project list and task complexity. Our agency needed an application that would allow the management team to assign out the various moving parts of each project, keep track of progress and deadlines, and allow other members of the team to provide input. We landed on Wrike. As projects come in, they are scheduled on Wrike and assigned out to team members. Tasks can be made recurring, moved around on a calendar, and organized by folder. The team can add comments, upload attachments and mark assignments as complete.

Favorite Wrike feature: Daily To Do emails that show tasks and overdue tasks, each with a link back to the original Wrike task

wrike.com

10. Tackle big projects with Basecamp

There are projects and then there are projects. Large, complicated client engagements, websites for example, have many inputs and require the involvement of multiple parties, possibly even outside freelancers and creatives. Basecamp is one of the most versatile project applications around, and it has a great dashboard–my personal favorite of any of the applications I use. In the various sections on the dashboard, project team members can see documents, the project schedule, team chats in the campfire section, and the running to-do list. It shows team profiles across the top of the dashboard so you always know who is involved, and importantly, it will email or “ping” people to keep them posted on updates and communications.

Favorite Basecamp feature: Link a Google doc, where you can add a document by just linking the URL of a Google Doc

basecamp.com

What makes a digital marketing tool best in class?

No doubt you will have noticed some consistencies in our list of go-to digital marketing tools. They offer user-friendly dashboards and portals, utilize the cloud for accessibility and storage, and facilitate the many inputs and stages of complex project work. Tools that are emerging as best in class facilitate teams collaborating from all corners of the world.

Think of the possibilities!

____________

Please note that on occasion, RB may use an affiliate link in its blog and receive some form of compensation should you purchase a specific product. RB will only use an affiliate link for a tool we actively use ourselves and recommend as a resource.

Not Just Boat Poses and Downward Dogs: How A Yoga Studio Leveraged Social Media to Grow Its Brand

By Kate Goldberg, guest blogger for Resourceful Business

“Pull over and let me out,” I beg. We are navigating some pretty tricky roads through the Berkshires in a driving rainstorm, but for me, this is the perfect moment – and backdrop – to capture and post my yoga pose-of-the-day.

Semi-dramatic scenes like this were part of my daily routine in July when I participated in a month-long social media campaign run by Powerflow Yoga, a New Jersey yoga outpost with 10 locations. Contestants like myself eagerly awaited the studio’s daily morning post on Instagram with a specific pose to recreate. Students had until midnight every day for the entire month to upload their own interpretation of the pose to Instagram while using the hashtag #SummerofPower, as well as a basic tag to @powerflowyoganj. The reward was a free month of unlimited classes to all who completed the challenge.

In today’s digital environment, many businesses use social media contests as a marketing tool. This approach allows companies to interact with consumers in a more casual, and entertaining way. The content may be unconventional, but if run effectively, social media campaigns like #SummerofPower can be even more successful than traditional marketing strategies at a fraction of the cost.

Social media campaigns like #SummerofPower can be even more successful than traditional marketing strategies at a fraction of the cost.

Here are four digital marketing insights I gained through Powerflow’s challenge that demonstrate the value of an effective social media contest:

1. Social media marketing builds brand loyalty

Throughout the month, I often logged on for the pose-of-the-day before I had even poured my morning coffee! I became extremely passionate and dedicated to the challenge, and I was always looking for unique scenery where someone could take my photo. I did a backbend on a cliff, a crow pose while crossing a footbridge, and a forearm stand overlooking the ocean. It made me feel great about my practice, and motivated me to get back into the studio whenever possible. The buzz surrounding the contest was palpable in classes, and I quickly learned that most people had an experience very similar to my own. This social media challenge was successful at creating a positive vibe, both in-studio and on Instagram, which in turn made everyone feel good about the Powerflow brand.

2. Social media brings exposure to untapped audiences

In a Pew Research Center Social Networking Fact Sheet, researchers found that 74% of online adults use social networking websites. Powerflow capitalized on that trend with their contest. By requiring students to use Instagram in order to participate in the challenge, current customers who were not already following Powerflow now had to do so. In addition, through the several hundred contestants sharing a total of 8,440 photos and tagging the studio each day, they were able to gain exposure to a previously untapped audience. As a result, Powerflow added 700 new followers, and according to VP of Operations, Alison McCue, it was the studio’s “largest and fastest digital growth” since they’ve been online.

“#SummerofPower was also used to promote all of our free outdoor classes…and the response was overwhelming,” said McCue.

3. Social media contests can lever the marketing of other events

There is no doubt that the Summer of Power yoga challenge gave Powerflow a captive audience that used Instagram to track the studio daily. Powerflow Yoga maximized this opportunity with a contest hashtag and leveraging the marketing of other studio events taking place during July. “#SummerofPower was also used to promote all of our free outdoor classes…and the response was overwhelming,” said McCue. Evidently, the social media campaign built some serious in-house momentum, along with the potential for a new client base.

yoga studio social media contest

4. Contest prizes incentivize social media sharing

Powerflow did a great job designating a reward that would keep people sharing photos and tagging the studio day after day. A free month of yoga is worth a lot of money to anyone who practices, and the promise of that at the end of the month was certainly enough to keep me going! A business needs to know their patron, and understand what will entice them to follow through with any type of social media contest. Whether it is a free tee shirt, a complimentary membership, or simple bragging rights, different incentives work for different consumers.

Social Media can grow a company’s brand and audience reach

Social media contests are an innovative, cost-effective way of reinforcing a company’s brand and have the potential for exponential reach. Many of the Summer of Power participants purchased packages after completing their free month. Another boon to the Studio, of the 223 people who completed the Powerflow Yoga challenge, 22 gifted their free month and 7 of those gifted purchased some type of package offered at Powerflow Yoga.

A recent marketing Infographic projects that social marketing budgets will double over the next five years. In order to stay ahead of the curve, businesses will need to follow the Powerflow Yoga lead and build and maintain a social media presence using everything from Instagram and Facebook, to Twitter, LinkedIn and beyond. The Summer of Power is a great example of a creative and savvy social media strategy that resonated with an audience and inspired them to come back for more.


Interested in talking social media strategy? Contact us.

 

crowded digital marketing space

Stand Out in a Crowded Digital Marketing Space: 3 Ways To Rise Above the Noise of Your Competition

By Chris R. Benjamin, Guest Blogger

Companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated about digital marketing and the need for high-quality communications in the digital space. That means more competition than ever before, in just about every industry.

With your target audience already being reached through sharp content marketing and carefully-cultivated relationships, how can you make room for your messages to be heard? The answer is to make your marketing messages stand out.

Here are 3 strategies that you can employ in order to be heard “above the noise,” even when you can’t seem to get a word in edgewise.

1. Get the timing right

There’s a lot to be said for delivering your marketing messages at the right time. By paying close attention to your target market’s habits—that is, how they use social media, what they do online, and when they search for the solutions you can provide—you can learn the best times to hit “publish” on your blog, or make snappy posts and announcements on social outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

 Some solid research exists on the right time of day to execute content on various platforms:

Belle Beth Cooper of social automation app Buffer reports that the average blog receives the most traffic on Mondays (out of all other days of the week) and at 11am (out of all other times of day. Most comments on blogs are made on Saturdays, and around 9am regardless of day.

Jason Keath, CEO of Social Fresh, reports some interesting data from Shareaholic: Social sharing happens more on Thursday than any other day of the week, followed by Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays. 27% of content sharing happens between 8am and 12pm.

If you’re just starting to form your content strategy, you might start out by making your blog and social media posts around the times suggested above. Later on, once you have a dedicated following, you can look at your own data to discern the optimal times for content publication.

How to stand out: Using the broad statistical data or your own metrics, construct a content schedule you will stick to, testing and refining as you go along. If you get your content out to your audience when they’re most likely to be looking for, engaging with, and sharing it, you will catch many more eyes than your less time-conscious competitors.

2. Segment your market

One of the defining characteristics of successful companies is that they know their market intimately. The more deeply you understand your customers’ specific wishes, fears, and needs, the better you’ll be able to convince them that your solution is the right one.

First, compose a sketch of your audience. Things to consider include age, sex, location, beliefs, education, and personality. With those factors in mind, visit the forums your ideal users frequent and take note of popular discussion topics. Use tools such as the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to see how often relevant words and phrases come up. You’ll then be able to write blogs and social media posts that instantly arouse interest.

Need some more insight? Conduct a survey. Send out an email to your subscribers asking them what their greatest hurdles are, and then construct content around the answers you get.

How to stand out: Get to know your audience and speak to them directly through your content. Answer their questions. Ask them to share their experiences and stories with you. Become intimately familiar with what drives your followers and respond to their deepest needs, and you’ll gain the coveted access to their trust.

3. Infuse Your Messages with Creativity and Novelty

It’s a fact. Humans are fascinated by items that are “out of the ordinary.” Capturing their attention and redirecting it towards a practical solution is exactly how you’ll make a lasting impression.

First, think about your brand. A strong Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is one way you can set yourself apart the moment a new prospective customer encounters it. Consider what your brand says that’s different from anything else out there. What remarkable results can you alone (or, your company alone) deliver? Define your USP succinctly, and then build content around it.

Creativity can also involve providing a new perspective. It can mean:

  • Bringing up a hot-button issue in your industry and offering a unique take on how to solve the problem.
  • Being humorous in a way that’s not too abstract, but that connects your brand with a new sense of how your product can enhance lives.
  • Hosting contests on social media to create excitement and buzz surrounding your brand.

How to stand out: Identify the one (or two) things that your company is in a unique position to accomplish for your target market, and develop or refine your USP around those points. With that as a launching pad, think outside of the box to get your audience to see you, and the rest of their own world, in a new light.

Put all of the above together, and you’ll create a complete experience for your target audience—one in which they see you as a thought-leader who’s immediately responsive to their needs, wherever they happen to be in your sales cycle. Engage with your customers at the right times, in their language, and with interactions that intrigue them, and you’ll have no problem rising above the competition—both today and for the foreseeable future.


Chris R. Benjamin is a New York City-based freelance writer who specializes in the topics of digital marketing, small business development, and applied psychology, among others. See more of his work at BennyTheWriter.com.

Leverage the Inbound Marketing Traffic from your Blog

Motivating companies to organize a blog for their website can be challenging. Often the management of the company do not see the value of it, there is no one who really wants to write it, and the cost of an outside blogger can be expensive. It’s hard. The true marketing power of blogging begins with creative, original content. A great blog can drive visitor traffic back to your website, especially if you understand a little about on-page search engine optimization (SEO) and inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is the ideation, creation and sharing of content with the goal of increasing traffic to your website. Both the content and the target audience should be strategically planned. Inbound marketing only works when you figure out the right content and get it to the right people. There is no better vehicle than a great blog. You wonder whether traditional marketing campaigns can achieve the same results? Not if you know how to leverage the inbound marketing traffic from your blog. Here’s how.

social media

1. Send your blog link out with social media

Use social media to get the word out about your blog. Keep the headline short, around 60 characters. Link the headline to your blog so that people can click-through to your website blog page. If you are using WordPress, make sure to choose a Featured Image for the blog and upload it so that the social media networks populate the picture along with your blog. See our recent blog on the importance of imagery, Why You Must Fix Your Company’s Social Media Imagery and How.

email

2. Add a link to your email signature with your blog

Each time you send an email, take the opportunity to share your blog. Throw in your company name as well and then link it back to the blog on your website. You can place the blog link right below your regular signature.

Name
Title at ABC Company
Contact Details at ABC Company
ABC Company is blogging about Really Neat Topic

 

long tail keywords

3. Include keywords and long tail keywords in your blog

In the main copy of the blog, include keywords or tags, which best describe the important concepts in your blog. Think search. What themes are you talking about and what words might someone use to search for these topic areas? Find long tail keywords, or longer phrases that are specific to your topic, and include those as well as they can attract a more targeted audience. There are several free keyword suggest applications like Wordstream’s Free Keyword Tool, which you can use to research the best keywords and long tail keywords.

4. Use image tags

Images are a powerful tool that can drive engagement for your website. Website pictures have image tags. After choosing great photos for your blog, ensure that you have written alternative text or “Alt Text” for each image used. Alt Text is read by text bots, and image tags identify your picture, which increases the chances of it being displayed in search. The effective use of Alt Text is often overlooked, and it can drive traffic back to your website by optimizing images in search.

5. Segment with Subheadings

Partition the blog into core points or themes and use subheads. Each of those subheads can include keywords and phrases that explain the main points of your blog. The phrases should be identified as Heading 3 or Heading 4, a technical attribute which gives the headline more weight in search. When your blog is shared in social media, the subheadings can be used as talking points and sent out as separate headlines on social media with links back to the blog.

Hopefully, you have been persuaded that a blog is not just a digital platform to put your thoughts in writing. Rather, it is a powerful inbound marketing tool that can leverage traffic back to your website where you can share your expertise. You can educate potential customers on common questions and showcase the services of your business. In the call to action, you can encourage a dialogue and hopefully gain a new customer!

If you are ready to leverage the inbound marketing traffic of your blog but feel you could still use some assistance, email us, or call (973) 218-6558 today.

 

5 Essential Elements to a Knockout Content Management Strategy

The digital nature of marketing today allows for the distribution of content at breathtaking speeds. Advertisers target ads based on a population’s demographic profile including a consumer’s age, geographic location or areas of interest. In fact, the power and precision made possible by electronic marketing has made a content management strategy even more critical to a business’ success.

Simply put, content management is the process of creating, editing, posting and managing digital content. Whether you create your own or hire an outside company to develop and execute it for you, here are 5 essential elements to a knockout content management strategy.

1. Define your Target Demographic

A traditional marketing campaign might include print media, internet marketing, networking events, or television ads. Today, over 80% of small business owners also incorporate social media in their marketing strategy. A quick look at social media provides an excellent example of why it is imperative to define the target demographic, because social media networks are not all created equal, at least as far as user demographics are concerned.

Social media networks are not all created equal, at least as far as user demographics are concerned.

The Pew Research Center compiles comprehensive statistics on social media user demographics broken down by characteristics such as age, race, income, and education. In the Social Media Update 2013, their researchers confirmed that Facebook remains the most popular social media network by far, and along with Instagram, has the highest levels of user engagement. So, for example, if you own a retail business, these two social networks are great choices for engaging the client base and encouraging them to post how they are enjoying or using your product. Facebook and Instagram would also be ideal platforms to run a contest and do a product give-away. Another example is that women are four times more likely to use Pinterest than men, so perhaps Pinterest would be a good choice for a business with highly visual, eye-catching products geared towards women. And older consumers like LinkedIn, which after Facebook, has the highest percentage of users in the 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 age brackets. So, if your service or product targets C-level employees or managers, LinkedIn might be the right social network choice.

2. Understand Media Consumption Patterns

One aspect of content management strategy that is often overlooked is what device the target audience is actually using to access social media, a general marketing campaign, an e-commerce site, or an app for the business. Eighty percent of mobile device users have the Android operating system, and Android users tend to have lower incomes and slightly lower rates of engagement than iPhone users. iPhone owners have a higher level of device engagement, make purchases more often with their mobile device, have higher incomes, but are much less widespread than Android users. So in developing a content management strategy, a business must determine if the income and location of the target audience is conducive to owning iPhones or Android devices, and also whether the marketing strategy needs breadth, depth or both to work. For an interesting article on this subject, read the Business Insider comparison published in April, “These Maps Show That Android Is For People With Less Money,” and to analyze a target area specifically, try Mapbox which shows geographic mobile device usage based on Tweets.

3. Identify Meaningful Goals

To ensure it is on the mark, a content marketing strategy should have meaningful goals that are established upfront and agreed by all parties. If the goal can’t be defined, then the outcome can’t be measured either. Examples of tangible goals are increasing subscribers or readership of an electronic newsletter as well as engagement with those clients when the newsletter is released. Another objective might be to convert engagement or ad clicks into an actionable response by the client, such as a call for a consultation. A company blogger might try to get the blog syndicated for more recognition and a wider audience. For some businesses, the management team may want to see Facebook likes and Twitter followers increasing every week. Another measurable goal might be the number of customers posting product pictures on Instagram or Pinterest and sharing their personal stories related to the products.

A great content management strategy must have meaningful goals defined for every platform and metrics which quantify the base case before the campaign is even launched. After the marketing effort begins, data points should be compared to the base case on a regular basis.

Social Media Metrics

 4. Measure Return on Investment (ROI)

A content management strategy must also include a basis for measuring both the financial impact and reach of the campaign. Metrics like organic subscriber growth versus paid subscriber growth, blog comments from readers, click-throughs and page likes are measurable indications of reach, but quantifiable financial impacts are a must too.

Levels of engagement for a content management strategy must be viewed in the context of campaign spend to see if the strategy has a bona fide ROI. You can easily analyze the basic data. For example, add a promotional code to a new social media ad to see how many people actually redeem it. Compare how many dollars were spent running the campaign to the number of coupons redeemed and you have a measure of the actual dollar spend, per new customer. Vary content blocks in a newsletter and monitor click-throughs. If click-throughs rise, dollars spent on creating the campaign relative to click-throughs will tell you the actual dollar spend, per click-through. If Page Likes and the number of Followers increases after a campaign, the company could be seeing increasing brand awareness and reach. Another great example of a measurable ROI is to link a product discount to a Pin on Pinterest. Monitor the number of click-throughs to your e-commerce store from the Pin and whether the coupon is redeemed.

5. Use Tracking Tools

To confirm the effectiveness of content marketing initiatives, choose a suite of tracking tools and monitor the metrics. For campaigns that link back to a company website, Google Analytics can provide extensive information on website engagement including whether visitors clicked through an ad, if they are new or returning, what pages were visited, how long they were on the page, and what keywords they typed in to find the site. Similarly, Facebook campaigns have a detailed Ads Manager dashboard which will show the number of users who saw an ad, Page Likes, website clicks and even the average price paid for the click on the ad. The Facebook Insights dashboard also provides an excellent visual summary of Page Likes, Post Reach and Engagement. For electronic newsletters that contain a multitude of clickable components, the post distribution statistics will detail opens, unique click-throughs for the individual parts, social media shares and open rates. All of these tracking tools will provide tangible measures of campaign effectiveness and a basis for tweaking a content management strategy. If you have engaged a content management firm to manage your strategy for you, many of these statistics can be exported to Excel, so ensure you receive monthly reports for review.

Would you like a more targeted, measurable and effective content management strategy? Resourceful Business can help define your user demographic and their consumption patterns and then put a knockout content management strategy in place to reach them. Contact us for a free consultation.

social media content

5 Shortcuts to Finding and Managing Great Social Media Content

For small business owners, there are never enough hours in the day. They juggle business strategy, production schedules, bookkeeping, payroll, marketing, human resources, content management and social media. It is no surprise that with such a long to-do list, social media marketing can fall by the wayside leading to inconsistent content posts and mundane points. But, there is hope for small business owners in pursuit of a social strategy filled with relevant, noteworthy and interesting topics that will engage their clients. Here are 5 shortcuts to finding and managing great social media content.

Set up News Feeds for Aggregation

Every industry has websites and electronic newsletters covering topics that are worth following. Feedly.com is one service that helps aggregate news feeds of interest, and you can create custom lists to follow. Our company, for example, manages content for multiple clients and we set up a custom list for each client, which collects stories from relevant news feeds in their industry. Another aggregation tool I really like is GetPocket.com. By installing the Chrome extension for Pocket or Feedly on your browser, you can upload any articles you want to read with a mouse click and even tag the articles. If you would like news to come directly to your Inbox, another option is to set up a Google Alert, www.google.com/alerts, a notification system based on keywords. Google Alerts will send you a list of relevant articles based off of your keywords and found in search as they happen, daily or weekly.

Follow Blogs by Industry Thought Leaders

follow blogs by other thought leadersEvery field has thought leaders or individuals who are blogging and of interest to you. It is fun and educational to follow and engage with them. Their blogs also provide relevant social content that you can share. Feedly.com allows you to follow blogs, so it is a great option for both news feeds and blogs. Often bloggers post their blogs on Facebook pages as opposed to WordPress or other blogging platforms. In that case, Liking the Page will do the trick and you can receive notifications of new blog posts. Another easy way to follow a blog is to click the RSS feed button if the blog has one. Typically, you will get an option to choose a Feed Reader service which will show all of the new blogs posted from the website and sometimes an option to receive an email alert. RSS feeds are often a point of real confusion amongst our clients, so here is a brief tutorial should you choose to try the RSS feed route, What is RSS.

Search for Content by Hashtag

hashtagsIn the context of social media, the pound sign is called a hashtag. A tool first used on Twitter, hashtags group topics and allow the reader to search and follow those topics through a clickable link. You can look for what is Trending on Twitter, and then even build some of your own social content around trending topics with high user engagement. You can also identify hashtags and related hashtags on relevant subjects with tools like Hashtagify.me. Once you have identified the hashtags you want to follow, set up a free Tagboard using the hashtag and you will get a fabulous visual of all of the trending content linked to that hashtag. Since all of the major social media platforms are using hashtags, creating great content means learning both how to deploy hashtags in your posts as well as how to use them to search for content.

Manage your Content with a Social Media Management Tool

After finding or creating your social media content, there are a number of tools you can use to schedule and manage it. Two of the most popular social media management tools are Buffer and Hootsuite. These platforms permit a user to post content to several social media accounts simultaneously, see user engagement and respond. User-friendly dashboards display character counts and image previews. Posts can be scheduled by day and time, so content postings can be input in advance. Many of the social media management tools offer news feed links right in the dashboard, so users can follow relevant content and then post it right from the news feed.

Nothing equates in value to original, creative content written by you.

Create Original Content

Most importantly, take the time to write your own content. Nothing equates in value to original, creative content written by you. If you like sharing interesting articles, write headlines yourself and post them on social media. If you blog, write about interesting trends in your industry. Answer common questions in your field of expertise. Summarize an interesting conference that you attended or offer a unique point of view on a controversial subject. Can’t think of a topic? Try the really fun, Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. You simply enter three keywords and then the algorithm will give you a week’s worth of blog topics. In short, although thoughtful social media content takes time to write and develop, it is well worth it because you will slowly establish a following on social media and build a respected online voice.

Hopefully, these shortcuts will save you time and help you find and manage great social media content. If you think there still aren’t enough hours in the day to do your social media marketing, contact us. We can customize and implement a content management strategy for your business that is timely, consistent and engaging!

personal brand

Why a Personal Brand has Become a Marketing Must

Small businesses come in all shapes and sizes. Your company might even be just one person – you! Although you may have never really thought about it, you do have a personal brand which can be one of your most important marketing tools. A personal brand is your reputation, your experience, your approach to business and how you conduct yourself when working with clients or colleagues. It determines how you are perceived by others and whether people trust you.

Answering e-mails in a timely fashion, returning phone calls promptly, showing up to meetings on time and even how you dress are all components of a personal brand. It is imperative to convey it thoughtfully and consistently across websites, social media, blogs and personal interactions. Most importantly, your personal brand must reflect who you really are, not what you believe the market demands.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, a personal brand has become a marketing must. If you don’t have one, here are some steps to help you get started.

Compile your past experience and see what strikes you about it

When building your personal brand, start by making a list and make sure to include all of your volunteer work, board positions, outside coursework or hobbies and anything that defines you as an interesting person. Look for patterns in your work, education and activities. If you are always volunteering for a certain charity or work in a particular field, these interests are the start of your personal brand. Pull out two or three and feature them in your marketing strategy. Build a LinkedIn profile while doing it!

Consider how you would like to be perceived by your clients

If you want to be viewed as a thought leader in your field, you should have a professionally branded blog page which frames the key aspects of your experience. Blog and create original, timely content at least once a month. If it is important for you to be looked at as tech savvy, then develop a social media strategy and presence with branded backgrounds, banners and professionally photographed profile pictures to convey your abilities and understanding in this area. Link your social media account to your blog page with stylish icons that further reflect your personal brand.

Develop consistency in your branding

If you are a solopreneur, then don’t be afraid to blog as “I” or present yourself as an individual when building your personal brand. If you are part of a team, then make sure to differentiate your personal brand from that of the team and define areas that highlight your skills as opposed to those of the team. Whether it be in your website copy, social media or blog, stay consistent and remain “I” or “we,” otherwise clients will become confused.

Create an online presence and reference your brand in the domain name

One of the critical components of creating a personal brand is deciding how people will search for you online. If you have developed a business that centers around your expertise in an area and plan to blog, for example, your domain name might be your name, www.yourname.com. Also, if your network of contacts is from business school or college, classmates may search for you by name; or if your business is a consultancy, a blog that uses a domain with your name may be an excellent choice. However, if you plan to operate under a business name, your domain should reflect the business name and then define your personal brand under an About page on the website instead.

blogging builds your personal brand

Create valuable, original content by writing a blog

Whatever your field of interest, take the time to build your personal brand by writing original content and posting it in a blog. Brand the blog and choose a platform like WordPress which can be optimized for search and tailored to reflect your personal style and image. Make sure your blog has a headshot on the page or you have uploaded an avatar (the small profile picture associated with your blogs or comments), so people can associate your face with your name. If possible, tie in the domain name to boost your personal brand.

Market your personal brand on social media

Social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have a wealth of choices to market your personal brand like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. On the other hand, people often start social media accounts and then neglect them, so social media can become a negative aspect of your personal brand. Creating a social media presence that reflects your personal brand takes time and effort, so allocate the time to build it and engage with it or have a content marketing firm do it for you. See my recent blog, Stop Ruining Your Business with Social Media.

Do you need help creating a personal brand?

At Resourceful Business, we can assist you in developing and defining your personal brand, help convey it effectively on your website and social media or even help with blog writing so your personal brand comes through with consistency. Contact us to learn more.