You don’t need to break the bank to get your business seen online. Sure, you could invest in paid social ads and sponsored content, but with a whole world of SEO at fingertips, why bother? Here’s a handy guide on cutting your marketing spend and improving your SEO.

Do your keyword research (well)

On the topic of keywords, it’s important not to forget how important they are for your brand’s SEO. Keyword research helps you move up the SERPs by targeting words and phrases that your customers use in their web searches.

Identify primary keywords that relate to your business and that your customers will most likely use if they search for your business. Once you’ve got these, establish secondary keywords that are even more specific to your business.

Once you’ve got these words and phrases, use them to create keyword-rich content that matches what your audience is searching for. Creating useful and helpful articles that caters to your customers’ demands will boost traffic to your site and let crawlers look upon your website more favourably.

Keyword research is something that brands can do themselves in-house easily and for free (or at least very affordably). There are numerous free tools available on the web such as Keyword Tool and Ubersuggest that can help you build up some good keyword research knowledge.

There are also online resources such as Moz that offer comprehensive courses for beginners to learn more about the intricacies of SEO.

Eradicate duplicate content

Duplicate content is exactly what it says it is: it’s content that appears more than once on the internet. This can happen when content is plagiarised from around the web, or due to URL structural issues. Search engines have trouble identifying which is the original piece of content, and it can therefore negatively impact your site’s SEO.

You can combat this by using the rel=canonical function in your site’s HTML to tell the search engine crawlers where the original content lies, and that they should disregard duplicate versions. And when you’re creating content, make it original and high quality. Simply rewriting articles from other sites virtually word-for-word will be picked up, so try to keep it fresh.

Do content marketing right the first time round, and you will only have to do it once….

Get mobile-ready and responsive

75% of smartphone owners use their mobile first and foremost to complete searches. As more and more people use their mobile devices to search, the importance of a website that is mobile-friendly grows. Recognising this, search engines now rank websites with a responsive, user-friendly design higher than those without. (And Google has recently also switched to a mobile-first index, meaning that mobile sites alone are used to determine rankings).

For your brand, that means ensuring that your website provides an optimum user experience (UX) for your customers. Lay out your content in such a way that it adapts to a smaller mobile-screen, and if you have lots of videos on your site, embed them with YouTube for easy viewing. Use a free online responsiveness checker to make sure your website is user-friendly.

A mobile-first site will help you stay competitive in today’s marketplace and ensures content and brand longevity online.

Spend time on content, not money

Everyone knows by the now the oft-repeated mantra that “content is king”. But are you bowing to that king, or committing high treason?

Content is one of the most important aspects of your brand’s SEO, and it’s also one of the cheapest too. Regularly creating and sharing engaging content on your business’s website or blog boosts your standing in the eyes of the search engine crawlers.

And be sure to invest in long-form content while you’re at it. While the optimum length varies depending on who you ask (some say 300 words, some say as many as 2000), creating long-form posts gives you more chance to work in relevant keywords into your text. It also gives your readers more value as they can glean much more from your content.

And content isn’t just good for SEO either. It can be used again and again through your marketing efforts, whether it’s in your email campaigns, press releases, or even in an informative ebook for customers. Find ways to make your content work harder from you, and reap the SEO rewards of traffic and sales. Content is king, and there’s plenty of reasons why!

There are plenty of marketing channels out there that you can pay for and receive a modicum of success. But when you’ve got the power to improve your SEO efforts while barely spending a penny, why bother? Do your keyword research and create compelling content, and really ramp up your SEO game.

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

It took me a while to get my head around blockchain, as there are so many complex explanations on how it works. But luckily, I found something that sums it up quite nicely and a very neat video from The New York Times on cryptocurrency.

So, in a nutshell everything is done online and instead of tangible money, crypto codes are created so that people can invest, trade and sell with a long string of numbers within the online world. When you purchase or exchange with blockchain you are essentially securing a transaction without any traditional process. No logging into a bank account that is password protected, carrying out activity on social-media networks or any liaison with a data company that may be trying to retrieve your details.

The most obvious industry disrupted by blockchain is finance, but there are many others on the cards, including content marketing.

As content marketers we write, edit and publish the best content we can possibly produce. But will this change thanks to blockchain and will the quality be compromised as it becomes difficult to regulate?

Blockchain changing content

Most content agencies currently work with freelance writers, producers and possibly editors to make sure that client briefs are filled and quality content is produced.  But in the future the marketing middleman could be cut out as content creators may connect with publishers directly. Freelancers could also exchange value propositions with one another in an online portal where smart contracts are signed and sent directly to the client.

According to Christoph Burgdorfer, Tech Director of This Place, “Blockchain technology will enable creators of content to capture the value from each piece more efficiently. Examples of such concepts are Steem.io and yoyow.org which enable users to earn value bearing tokens such as cryptocurrency for blog posts, social posts, comments and so on. This may encourage more people to get into content creation, which, if connected properly to marketing, provides potential to a vast array of new business models yet to be explored.”

There are already organisations popping up that are testing a new model. Take Socialmedia.market for example – an online portal simplifying transactions between businesses and influencers.

How we consume and who we trust

There is a lot of control over how and where content is consumed, because of brand affiliation and media control. But if you took this away and allowed consumers to pay for content directly from the publisher, without dealing with a media company, this would change.

Blockchain will also enable closer relationships between newsrooms and their audiences as there will be a protocol that is monitored by regulators.

Authenticity and quality

Arthur Falls has a background in journalism, content marketing and media production, and has produced several popular blockchain-centric podcasts, most notably Beyond Bitcoin, The Ether Review, and The Third Web. He suggests that blockchain will help bring back quality journalism or limit the amount of fake news we are exposed to.

“In the simplest of descriptions, blockchain is powerful because it gives us a way to represent global truth. We can expect to see this used to trace the original source of media, ideas, and popular phraseology. This will increase the value of original content and reward quality and timeliness over strong distribution.”

However, does the rise of blockchain mean the internet will become cluttered with promotional content?

“When it comes to cryptocurrency payments, there are fewer regulations, less control over who pays whom, and bigger anonymity. It means, it’ll be easier for content creators, whether marketers or journalists, to receive payments directly from brands they’re covering in their stories,” says Krista Krumina from Truesix.

Brands will probably have more access to their audience as data is collated through third-party sites. This may mean that content creators will be able to reach a more targeted audience.

Jessica Oram, content and PR manager at Maxwell Scott, says that “Consumer trust is especially important within the luxury sector. Blockchain can aid content marketers to fulfil consumer needs. Validating ad spend and legitimising influencer content are just a few ways in which it can be used to support marketing.  Making authenticity and transparency some of the most important factors when marketing a product or service – something that is bound to appeal to the consumer and provide them with a higher level of experience.”

It’s probably too early to tell what will happen to the content marketing world and how everything crypto will affect it. But it’s worth keeping an eye out for changes and being ready to get onboard with a new form of disruption.

*All persons interviewed in this post volunteered and were not paid.

I received an email with the following subject line: ‘Babe, those shoes you wanted are now on sale.’

Even though it caught my attention, it also made me cringe and feel a little uncomfortable.

So I decided to post about it on LinkedIn

Firstly, I simply don’t like the word. It’s grating, and is something I can only just about deal with when a friend addresses me in this way. A brand will never be my friend, so I can’t give it a similar pass.

It wasn’t just ‘babe’ I had a problem with – the retargeting was all off, too. The shoes weren’t the ones I wanted, so the attempt at coming across like a mate felt even more clunky.

If you’re going to try and act buddy-buddy with your customers, at least make sure you’re offering them something they actually wanted in the first place.

After all, your friend would know that you didn’t actually like those shoes, wouldn’t they?

Finally, like it or not, babe is a gendered word. It presumes all females talk to each other in this way, and has the potential to turn a lot of customers who are sensitive to this kind of thing off – myself included.

When crafting an email subject line, it’s important to try and capture attention in as few words as possible. This isn’t always an easy job.

In order to succeed, you need to know your audience. To do this, marketers need to avoid alienating those who may not be familiar with colloquial or unnatural language – like ‘babe’, for example.

So why are brands trying quite so hard to be our friends?

As the market becomes increasingly cluttered and we hear more and more about the importance of personalisation, marketers are trying harder than ever before to connect with their customers on a personal level, and make them feel more valued.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for this approach in theory, but somehow ‘babe’ seems to take things to the next level. It reads a that generic girly way of greeting someone, which outside of teen movies doesn’t actually exist. All it does is make me, as their consumers, think they don’t actually know me at all.

Ultimately, the reminder for marketers here is the importance of language. If one small word has the potential to turn customers off for good, then you’d better make sure you’re paying attention to every single word you use to communicate.

Using smart and witty one liners can be a risky game. Sure, you might find bold headlines lead to more initial clicks, but are you really going to forge a genuine relationship through shock tactics and gratingly over-familiar language?

A/B testing is a great way to get around the uncertainty.

And when all is said and done, ask yourself the question: would you do the same in person?  Or it is easier to push the boundaries a step too far because you’re behind a screen and can’t see them?

After all, would you dare call a customer babe if she walked into your shop?

This article was written for and published on Mumbrella 

Around this time of year, there’s a lot of discussion around marketing and PR plans, and whether it’s worth spending money on content marketing in December. When making this decision, you really need to assess what’s right for your business, and where to spend money during the festive period.

A lot of brands embrace the opportunity to create timely content that will resonate with their core audience. Whether this is driven by humour or data and facts, something around the old Christmas cheer often generates attention.

But content marketing isn’t just for Christmas.

If you start a content marketing plan, then you should think of it as a long-term investment. As the saying goes, it should be ‘always on’, and publishing on a regular basis gives the ‘Google bots’ something to think about – meaning consistency over Christmas will help with your overall SEO strategy, and it needs to continue beyond this.

Your social media strategy is likely to suffer if there isn’t any content to fuel it. When customers are at the peak and looking to purchase (which is usually around December), a little bit of content marketing could just gently remind them and nudge them to do so.

Australians are more engaged on Facebook during the Christmas break, sharing 18% more mobile content compared to the rest of the year on average. People share 73% more mobile content on Christmas Day and 64% more on New Year’s Day.

With this increase in social media activity, we can infer that audiences are more likely to consume the valuable content you target them with. But how do we prepare the content and make sure it’s worth the investment?

I spoke to some of the experts in the content marketing arena – Jordan Teicher, Managing Editor of Contently, Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor at the Content Marketing Institute and Dan Hochuli, Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn APAC – to get their thoughts.

Should our approach to content marketing change over Christmas?

 While you may want to adjust your creative approach throughout the year to fit certain trends and themes, you should never turn content off. Only focusing on content during the holidays is a short-sighted approach that limits your ability to reach an audience.”

“Building a relationship with a consumer takes time (Depending on the industry, it could take more than a year). So even if your holiday content is phenomenal, you won’t be able to follow through on whatever impact you make if you just turn content off,” says Jordan.

But what if it’s not feasible?

If you don’t have the resources or time to make quality and consistent material, then it might be better to slow your activity down.

Robert Rose says, “Ultimately, your audience and their needs will help you decide. But know there is no ‘wrong’ decision. If you decide that it’s in your best interest to go dark during the holiday time, because you simply can’t create great content that will have the intended impact on your audience – then go dark. Don’t scrimp on quality just to meet an artificial deadline.”

“There is no one, right way here. At Content Marketing World, we have always continued to maintain consistency in our cadence over holiday periods. Our blog posts continue, our podcast episodes continue and all email newsletters go out as usual. We decided that during the one week of Christmas to New Year, while we honour the cadence, we switch up the content to be ‘classics’ from the year  – a kind of a ‘best of’ series,”

Make use of what you already have

If you don’t have the funds, rehashing your best content could result in a quick win during the festive period.

“If investment in content is difficult during this time, it’s a good period to repurpose your greatest hits. Carry out some analysis and republish or repost the content pieces that were your best performing in 2017. Turn it into a feature.”

“Also do a 2018 predictions post – such timely content often does well because audiences are thinking about hitting the reset button in areas that underperformed in 2017. They will be looking for direction on how to be a better person, business or brand – so use content to seize that opportunity to help them make the change,” says Dan.

Test and learn

If you aren’t used to producing content on a regular basis, then the Christmas period could be a great opportunity to see what resonates with your audience.

“Audiences do engage with content, but often in a more inquisitive’ way in their downtime,” says Dan.

“With some B2B audiences, their purchase intent may have slowed down because they are not at work but their demand for content around news, trends and information increases. Savvy CXOs and hard working SMBs never really switch off their professional minds over the break so shift the purpose of your content from demand generation to higher funnel, informational content that assists in brand awareness. Consider publishing content that helps your audience kick start the New Year and helps them maintain knowledge of their current market over the break.”

So if you’re planning to press ‘pause’ or ramp up your efforts over December, make sure you know your audience well and do what it takes to keep them happy. (Within budget.)

Here are some examples of great seasonal content starting with the fun stuff. Video

A Very Merry Mistake #MirryChristmus #AirNZXmas:

2017 Audi Christmas Commercial:

Social media post: Woolworths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editorial piece: NRMA

Make your online retail business a success with these seven easy steps.

While high street chains and independent stores continue to suffer in this tough economic climate, the ecommerce market is rapidly growing. As consumers turn to the web for their retail needs, now is the perfect time to see your online business soar. In order to entice, satisfy and retain your customers, you will need to be digitally savvy. Including everything from clever marketing to consumer experience – these are our seven digital tips to make your online shop thrive.

1. Have a facility for customer reviews

Customer reviews are beneficial for your ecommerce site in many different ways. They are helpful because they will assist the buyer with their decision making. Additionally, they are valued more than just basic product descriptions. In fact, 84% of people say that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Also, having user-generated content in the form of comments written by users actually boosts your Google ranking. Displaying your reviews in the form of a star rating is a great idea, as it’s a simple measuring scale that’s familiar to most users.

2. Ensure your website has good mobile functionality

As of July 2017, 38.76% of all online UK content was viewed on a mobile. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile use and consumers are viewing your web page on their smartphone, they will at worst leave almost immediately, or at best, have a very bad user experience. So, if your website doesn’t operate correctly on mobiles, then you are essentially eliminating over a third of your potential customers. The easiest and slickest way to perfect your mobile site is to use a responsive design format that simply adjusts the layout depending on how the user is browsing.

3. Make the customer journey as easy as possible

You’ve succeeded at driving traffic to your website, but now you need that time online to convert into actual sales. In order to for this to happen as frequently as possible, you must prioritise the ease of the customer journey. If users can’t find how to select the colour, style or quantity of the product or have trouble using the shopping basket, they will lose interest very quickly. This is where sophisticated ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce come into play. They offer various levels of online shopping infrastructure – everything from a pre-set shopfront that organises your products in an easy-to-view display, to the backend functions like order processing and inventory management, so your transactions can run as seamlessly as possible.

4. Work on the accuracy of your search results

The search tool is something that is utilised by the digital consumer a lot – especially if you have a wealth of products and extensive categories on your website. But, as well as enhancing the user experience, a search bar is crucial for you to track and analyse what your website visitors are looking for. If you use an ecommerce platform, then the search option may be inbuilt, but otherwise you can opt for an add-on like the Google search bar.

5. Be SEO savvy

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an all-singing, all-dancing website; if it doesn’t rank well on Google, then you aren’t going to get a lot of organic search engine traffic – and less traffic correlates to less sales. Firstly, it’s essential to keep your content updated, as a stagnant, uninteresting site will never get boosted. Also, get in the habit of using keywords wherever possible ­– not only in your product descriptions, but also in your image alt tags, as these will help to improve your searchability. Another search engine optimisation secret is the art of securing as many backlinks as possible, because the more people that are referencing your site, the more credible your business becomes. Reach out to bloggers to review your products and also ask your manufacturers to list you as a stockist on their web pages.

6. Utilise customer sign-ups

Newsflash: when online shops ask you to create an account, it isn’t just to make your life easier for future ordering purposes. Consumer data is the holy grail of marketing because having your customers’ email addresses on file means that you are free to pitch to them at any given time. With an email sign-up system, you’ll find yourself acquiring a substantial mailing list very quickly; then you can send newsletters to inform your customers of discounts and new products. Just be sure to keep the content relevant and perhaps add a capacity for the receiver to decide how frequently they get notified to prevent any unhappy clients from feeling bombarded.

7. Get noticed on social media

As an online business, you simply cannot ignore the ever-growing juggernaut that is social media. There are 2.8 billion active social media users worldwide, so getting your brand into the social space is essential for success. The constant process of updating social media can be incredibly time consuming, so perhaps channel your focus and energy into one key social network that’s most relevant for your brand. If you’re selling products to 18–25 year old women, you will need to have an Instagram presence, but if your target audience is 30+, then consider a Facebook page.

With these tools and techniques under your belt, you’re now in the best position to excel in the ecommerce market and make your business a resounding success.

 

This post was a guest post from: Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant & Freelance Writer.

I work with online businesses and entrepreneurs to create valuable content and marketing strategies that yield strong results. I am always happy to share my knowledge and love discovering opportunities for collaboration.

It’s hard to capture images that look good and tell a story, especially if you don’t have the experience. Owen Harvey, professional photographer listed on the freelance website, Bidvine, shares a few tips on how to nail your blog photography.

Having original and professional looking photos are important for a compelling first impression no matter what sector your blog focuses on. But is it especially difficult if you are a beauty or fashion blogger?

When professional photographers work with models, they usually focus on giving guidance on what they want the models to do, but then let the model interpret that into their own style.

If you are a blogger, it’s important to experiment and let your own style shine through the photoshoot. Don’t be scared of taking a photo from a bad angle; you’ll get to decide which shots to keep anyway. It’s going to be a journey. It will have a beginning and an end, with stop off’s on the way… just keep your mind on the end shot you want. Try different approaches, allow yourself to try new things and stray from your path a bit.

A lot of great things have come out of accidents.

Image credit to Owen Harvey

How does one find his/her best angles for a photo shoot?

Photographers can instinctively recognise the best angles for their subjects from studying their art form and practising it, a lot. The knowledge that comes from studying different photographers, painters and cinematographers, which then photographers practice, gives them the ability to see the shot before it happens. If you are also an aspiring photographer, that’s the best way you can learn photographing people other than yourself—by studying great artists across a range of visual disciplines.

Before the shoot, spend 5-10 minutes talking with your model and study their features. Over time you will get a feel for what works and what doesn’t for models with different types of features. If you only have a few moments, do what you can to study the model from afar while they are doing something else. Move around and see what angle you think will work best.

If you like to model OOTD shots or if you’re both the photographer and the subject, spend some time learning what feels natural to you. If you are uncomfortable, it will come through in the image!

Practice pushing poses to extremes. Be different! It is what will make you stand out. Obviously keep it classy though :) Get into a habit of picturing what you look like from the point of the camera.

Image credit to Owen Harvey

 

Why would you say it’s important to hire a professional photographer for bloggers? What can they do that an amateur photographer cannot?

Knowing what you want, is different to knowing how you go about getting it. This is where a professional photographer comes in. A professional photographer will know how to get the shots you want, quicker and better. Also because of the quality and range of kit they bring, you will find the shots are to a higher quality as well. If you only have a few moments to get the shot, a pro will stand a much better chance of getting the shots you want.

Would you say that hiring a professional photographer is more important at the beginning stages of a blog as an initial investment or once the blog has gathered some following?

I would recommend getting a professional in at the beginning. Your blog will stand a much better chance of getting a bigger audience quicker, if you have great images.

Be sure to check all of the different photographers’ work, and choose the one whose work lines up with your vision the most.

Image credit to Owen Harvey

 

Sometimes when bloggers are starting out, their outfit photos can appear a bit stale because they are afraid to experiment. What are good ways to mix up outfit photos?

There are many ways to liven up your photos. Shoot low, shoot high, shoot close, shoot far away. They will all have a different and interesting impact on your photos. You can also take some pictures when you’re in motion or try dynamic poses.

Research a wide range of photos beforehand and see what jumps out, and then try to figure out why it stands out, and then try to incorporate that into your images.

Switching up the location and involving prompts can also help make your photos unique.

Image credit to Owen Harvey

Finally, if a blogger doesn’t have a budget yet to hire a professional photographer, is there an affordable camera that you would recommend for someone just starting out?

What is the saying? “The best camera is the one you have with you”. I have seen amazing photos shot with all sorts of cameras. Smartphones, micro four thirds, crop, full frame, mirrored and mirrorless.

There is no perfect camera, and it will be a journey to see which camera best suits you.  The best thing to do is to get your hands on as many different cameras as you can to see how they feel in your hands. If you have any friends or family who have cameras, they are a great place to start.

Personally I love mirrorless, as I can see my final exposure even before I have taken it, which makes for much quicker shooting. But that is just my opinion.

You will want something that you are comfortable with and that can become an extension of you. I have come to learn, it is the glass that is important. That is what will give you that nice shallow Depth of Field.

I can certainly recommend the 50mm F1.8. It is a fantastic lens quality wise, and it is also one of the cheapest. I know a lot of photographers are also fond of the 35mm F2.8. Again, it’s about playing with them and seeing which one suites you.

This post is brought to you by Bidvine in partnership with photographer Owen Harvey.

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