The Importance Of Content Marketing For Promoting Your Business

Content marketing- this term is all over the web these days. When it comes to promoting your business’ products and services online, the WAY to achieve results is throug an effective content marketing, social media and SEO strategies. These are actually the three crucial steps for a successful promotion of your business: 1) creating compelling and engaging content that attracts your audience, 2) sharing this content on your social profiles, which is where your audience can find it and 3) making sure you rank high on Google search results so that prospects interested in the type of content you’re sharing, can find you and add to your clients list.

Image source: Geary LSF

Image source: Geary LSF

The first question that arises though, especially in beginners’ heads is ‘How do I create content that counts?’ And my immediate answer would be ‘REASERCH’. Research is the stepping stone for everything. It is the foundation without which one cannot achieve anything. Through solid research you’ll be able to identify your goals, your target audience, the types of content you can use to achieve the desired results, how to manage your content strategy effectively etc. In order to build a successful content marketing strategy, it is essential that you set up clearly-defined goals, what you want to achieve. This way you’ll be able to decide the type of content you are going to use, the channels you are going to share it from etc.

The Content Marketing Institute defines the term ‘content marketing’ as:

“A marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Again ‘clearly defined audience’ is the first thing you need to have in hand before starting your content marketing strategy. For example, let’s say you’re a marketing technology provider. Your business is B2B, then who your potential customers would be? Businesses that need this technology of course. Probably they don’t know they need it yet, so your job is to tell them. Very important key words in the definition of ‘content marketing’ are also ‘valuable’, ‘relevant’ and ‘consistent’. Sharing information your target audience already knows wouldn’t do you any good. Your aim is to stand out of the crowd and to achieve that, you need to add value to your content. The types of content your audience would be most interested in reading, is another crucial thing you need to find out as part of your research, before starting to build your content marketing strategy. HubSpot has produced a nice list of the most popular types of content, marketers use to attract prospects and turn them into long-time customers:

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According to recent research conducted by Regalix, 98% of marketers say content marketing is core to their marketing strategy. For me, this means content marketing should be an integral element in every successful business plan. A good example for an effective content marketing provider is B2B Marketing. They constantly post stats, industry news and survey results on their website which generate a lot of traffic and directs many potential customers their way. Their content is relevant, valuable and being shared on a regular basis.

Image source: STRYDE

Image source: STRYDE

Now that you know the importance of content marketing, it would be unforgivable to ignore it as a tool, very effective tool actually. It will take some time until you get on tracks and achieve the results you want but with consistency and perseverance, soon you’ll be an established and successful content marketing guru.

Lidiya Kirilova

5 Successful SEO Strategies That Will Boost Your Traffic

Search engine optimization, or as most of us know it by its acronym SEO, is this powerful marketing discipline which makes you popular on the web. Nowadays, when everything is digital, it becomes tougher and tougher to get yourself noticed and attract visitors to your website. And this is where SEO comes to help, although sometimes that might not be enough. If you want a proper search engine optimization, you need an expert, which could be quite expensive as SEO’s work is hard, time-consuming and requires a lot of strategic thinking. For small businesses, which normally have tight budgets, it could be quite a challenge to get a proper SEO support from someone experienced. In this case, it’s always a good idea to do some research and familiarize yourself with the basic principles of SEO. I recently came across MOZ’s Beginner’s Guide To SEO, which is very informative and is great for anyone who wants to get a general understanding of search engine optimization.However, for those of you who have clicked on this post with the hope to find effective strategies to help you increase your traffic, here is my top 5 favourite SEO techniques:

1) Optimize your website to be mobile friendly

Yes, I know, this is a very banal strategy but it actually works. Most people nowadays possess smart devices and use them a lot to search the Internet. As you can see from Smart Insights infographic below produced for their Mobile Marketing Statistics 2015 report, the percentage of people accessing websites from their smart phones is almost the same as those using PC/laptops to browse the web. That is why it is crucial that you implement mobile traffic optimization for your website. If you want your brand to be successful and recognisable and to appear on top of the search results, you need a mobile-responsive website.

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2) Social Media Activity

I keep saying in all my posts that social media is an integral part of every aspect of today’s business world; it should be part of crisis comms, internal comms, external comms, marketing & PR etc. And of course it should be part of your SEO strategy as well. Social media gives you platform to get yourself noticed, so make sure you do so by setting up your profiles on as many social channels as you can (these need to be in line with the nature of your business). But as you can imagine, setting up profiles is simply not enough. You need to create presence, build a network and engage with it. It takes time and consistency, but at the end it pays off very well. For more social media marketing tools, check my guide.

3) Content Publishing

Nothing can boost traffic like fresh content, and search engines love that. What you need to do is start posting articles, press releases or company news on your site, but in my opinion, having a blog section is the best traffic booster in terms of content. But if you want this strategy to work, you need to do it on a regular basis; publishing content at least two times a week is a good start. This SEO strategy also gives you the opportunity to embed key words that will rank you higher in the search results, so make sure you do your homework properly. Key words on blogging work the same way as hashtags on Twitter. You just need to research which are the most popular key phrases/words people are talking/posting about that are relevant to your piece of content, and just use them.

Image source: gatelogix.com

Image source: gatelogix.com

4) Key Words Matter

As I mentioned above, you need to do your homework properly, if you want to achieve the desired results and even exceed them. It is extremely important in terms of SEO, how you structure your key phrases/words and how you position them on the web. The so called long tail SEO can do a great job in increasing your traffic and selling your products/services. Long tail key words are normally 4-7-word long phrases that describe very specifically your piece of content (70% of Google search terms are long tail). They can be very useful as they are unique, which means you might be the only one using a key phrase structured this way. Therefore, if your customers search for this articular phrase, guess who will show up first on the search? Yes, you! However, to achieve that you need to do a very good research on what your customers are looking for. You can use help from research tools such as Wordtracker.

5) SEO & Public Relations

SEO and PR are an unexpectedly good combination. Public relations is about building relationship with your various audiences and now, with the help of social media, that is much easier. You can start interacting with key influencers and people who are likely to share your links. Guest blogging could be a really good way to achieve that. Also sharing your targeted influencers’ content and actively engaging with them, might result in them following you and sharing your content back. The more you appear on the web, the higher you rank on searches. LinkedIn is another great platform for publishing your content and increasing your traffic. You can start by writing LinkedIn posts, which of course need to redirect to your website, engaging in LinkedIn conversations, joining relevant LinkedIn groups and so on. Traditional PR could also be very helpful. If you manage to build relationships with journalists, there is no better way to get publicity and boost your traffic.

Image source: considerthis.co.uk

Image source: considerthis.co.uk

The SEO industry is very broad and sometimes unpredictable; what works for one could be a disaster for another. Everything is error and trial. However, what I can say for sure is success lies in the balance, so whatever you do always try to find the golden mean and you will never be wrong.

Lidiya Kirilova

Is PR More Aligned With Marketing Than It Used To Be

Today I read an article by B2B Marketing on the connection between marketing and public relations nowadays. The results revealed in the B2B PR Agencies Repot 2015, suggest that 96 per cent of PR agencies think ‘PR is more mixed in with marketing than it used to be’ as the result of rapid digitisation. Moreover, 74 per cent said that nowadays ‘PR agencies are competing with marketing agencies much more.’ In this post I will attempt to analyse these results and explain why the border between marketing and PR is fading and will become even more blurred in the future.

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Originally, public relations (PR) is part of the marketing communications mix. However, PR evolved a lot by itself and became a whole new discipline. While marketing is more associated with sales, PR is focusing on communicating and building relationship with its various publics. At the end of the day, both marketing and PR aim to increase profit, but where the real difference comes from is in the means they use to achieve it. 

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Nowadays, things are completely different than they used to be, say about 5 years ago. This is when I started my first year at university and what I remember is social media was still at its dawn, marketing was all about sales and profit, and PR was mainly associated with press releases and the traditional media. During these years we have witnessed the dramatic changes PR and marketing have gone through, and their transition from traditional to digital. Originally, social media was rather associated as part of PR than marketing since it’s all about media and communication. But soon marketers also started seeing the huge potential social media has, and the opportunities it provides. And this is how the border started fading away.

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These days every business, as well as practitioner from any industry that pretends to be successful, is supposed to have well developed social profiles. A website, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles are a must. Digital marketing, content marketing, visual marketing, infographics, etc. are all innovative means of reaching the customer who has become much smarter and informed than they used to be. Technology and digital media are the things that are uniting marketing and PR nowadays and they are likely to make them bond with each other even more.

Lidiya Kirilova

Can You Learn PR At University

Today’s post is a bit different from the other topics covered in this blog already. It is looking at PR, marketing and social media from an academic perspective rather than a practical one and discusses whether higher education can provide the foundations of PR and teaches students how to practice it.

Schools Education - apple

I have read a few articles in the recent weeks suggesting higher education is lost on PR and social media- these are entirely practical disciplines and one cannot learn them at university but at work “by trying things out, evaluating results, stepping back, thinking again and learning by doing.” dd_socialEven though the suggestion seems quite accurate, I have to strongly disagree. It is true PR and social media and marketing as well are all very practical disciplines- the more you practice, the more you learn. However, we have to take one thing into consideration- these are all new and undeveloped sectors that need to be properly researched and backed up academically. Before you come up with a certain theory, you do a proper research first, compare and contrast it with other theories, identify the weaknesses and test it. This is why I believe it is of great significance for PR and social media practitioners to possess academic knowledge on these subjects as this way the industry will go forward. Academics and practitioners need to go hand by hand in order to develop the PR industry and this includes social media as well.

I have to admit the PR industry has a bad reputation as it is quite often related to manipulation, black PR practices, gossip and so on. And this is because every second person is calling themselves a PR practitioner. For me, you cannot be a PR professional unless you learn how it works from the Public-relations-words-with-manbottom to the top. From writing press releases to doing corporate communication- it is all considered PR. Yes, you can learn the basics by practicing and trying things out, you can develop instinct when you create a daily routine, but you will never possess real knowledge. People around the world are fighting for the right of education while others who have easy access just refuse to make use of it. Countries such as Germany and UK have made their education systems accessible for their citizens from all classes within the society. Taking the decision not to receive education in these countries is a matter of choice and not of opportunity.

In my opinion, the statement one does not need education in PR, social media or marketing is just not serious. It is true neither PR and social media nor marketing is considered a science; it is more practice than knowledge that you need. However, it is so just because the practitioners have the wrong attitude. I’m not saying it’s wrong to call yourself a PR practitioner without having a PR degree- many practitioners have degrees in marketing, journalism and even in disciplines such as maths or engineering; I’m saying it is wrong to condemn the industry to remain all the same for years ahead by denying it the opportunity to be developed academically. I think the only way for PR to get rid of the bad reputation and receive popularity and respect is to reach out a hand to education.

Lidiya Kirilova

Visual Content Is The Next King

I’ve read recently that 2014 has been the year of visual. Well, it hasn’t passed yet, we have two more months to go but up to now, this statement seems accurate. Visual content has become extremely popular in the recent year or so; many companies have adopted the strategy in order to increase sales, make their brands more noticeable, grab their target audiences attention etc. But what is it that makes visual content so successful?

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In the first place, its innovation. The market is overwhelmed with content and it’s becoming more and more difficult for your story to stand out of the crowd. In the second place, visual content is quite engaging; it catches the eye, is easier for the human brain to process and therefore generates more views, clicks and conversations. Everyone is recognising the importance of visual content nowadays. Social media platforms are constantly improving their image and video news feeds, visual sites like Pinterest and Tumblr are gaining more and more popularity every day. Twitter which was almost an entirely textual platform, has now updated its feed to show pictures and videos and has made its users’ profile photos and headers bigger and more visual.

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It has been proven, that the brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than text. Have you ever wondered why textbooks and children novels are full of pictures? To catch children’s attention of course. When I was a child, I was learning more things from the pictures than from the text. For instance, during my Biology classes I’d understand the structure of the cell much better when I’d seen it pictured out rather then read about it and than try to imagine it myself. It is the same principle with content marketing as well. We may grow up but some habits never change. And taking an interest in the visual rather than the textual is one of them (I, personally, do not read blogs or any type of articles which lack images or videos).

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Infographics and Vine videos are all over the web these days. It’s easy to notice them and twice as easy to remember the messages they are spreading, especially if offered in a creative way.  Basically, visual content could be applied to anything- any industry, any type of social platform, any type of business, interest etc. Not only the professional but the academic world is using visual content too. The research papers and text books are full of graphs and charts and models, showing in a much more understandable way the complexity of a certain theory, invention, discovery and so on.

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So, if you haven’t integrated visual content to your marketing strategy yet, you’d better do so now. Be innovative, be brave, but most of all be creative. After all, creativity is intelligence having fun!

Lidiya Kirilova

Marketing Automation- the Most Intelligent ‘Marketing Intelligence’ Tool

Marketing intelligence is becoming an integral part of business and organisational growth; it’s a synonym of success. As a marketing intelligence tool, Marketing Automation (MA) is growing its popularity on the B2B market and it is expected to increase its revenue by 60 per cent in 2014.

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The benefits of MA have been evangelised for years by many practitioners, but it is now that more and more marketers are recognising the wide number of opportunities it provides. Not so long ago quantity and quality could not exist in the same marketing plan; it was either one or the other. Not anymore – Marketing Automation allows you to reach a big quantity of your most qualitative prospects. This way it not only increases your marketing budget but also saves you time by making the processes, which would otherwise have been performed manually, much more efficient.

That’s why we love Marketing Automation! And now there are many others who are just starting to recognise its qualities. Here are five statistics showing the continuous growth of MA:

1) Marketing Automation has seen the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the last five years (Source: HubSpot)

2) Monthly Google searches for the term ‘Marketing Automation’ have grown by 22 per cent in the past year, from 3,600 in February 2013 to 4,400 in January 2014 (Source: Google Keyword Planner)

3) 25 per cent of B2B Fortune 500 companies already use Marketing Automation, as do 76 per cent of the world’s largest SaaS companies (Source: Pardot)

4) The number of Marketing Automation jobs has increased by 25 per cent in just the past four months (Source: Eloqua)

5) 78 per cent of high-performing marketers say that Marketing Automation software is responsible for improving revenue contribution (Source: Position2)

As you can see MA is scoring 5 out of 5, and this is just the beginning.

MA

Lidiya Kirilova