Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety. – Francis Bacon
In Part I of this series, we examined 8 Steps to Effective Volume. In Part II we explored 8 Steps to Effective Velocity. In each of those posts, we traveled through 8 dimensions of Winning the New Game of Semantic Search, as outlined in David Amerland’s book Google Semantic Search.
Today we’re going to take a different path in exploring 8 Steps to Effective Variety. We’ll explore 8 different types of content weapons to add to your arsenal, each with the potential to positively impact the 8 dimensions.
If you are just getting started with content marketing, your Blog is the starting line. Your Blog is the hub of your content marketing universe and will serve as the central location for all content you create, distribute and bring people back to visit.
Here are eight tips to becoming an effective Blogger:
- Write Killer Headlines: No one will be reading any of your Blog posts if you don’t pull them in with a killer headline. Your headline is the billboard on the Internet Interstate that catches your eye and causes you to drift into the other lane.
You simply must interrupt people’s preoccupation with all of the other noise in their lives. Copyblogger has a great free course that includes fabulous instructions on writing effective headlines.
- Tell Stories: We love stories! The more you can weave real stories and real people into your Blog post, the more interesting and re-mark-able it will be. Where will you find your stories? Everywhere! Just observe what is happening in your business in your daily life and write about that!
- Find Your Voice: Every one of us has our own unique writing style. You need to find your writing voice and stick to it. Don’t try to be someone else. Not everyone is going to love your writing voice, but make sure that those who do love your voice hear your voice consistently.
- Keep Your Paragraphs Tight: Very few people read well, with effective speed, comprehension and recall. Reading skills are further diminished on the web, where we are much more likely to skim and scan. So, keep your paragraphs “tight” by breaking paragraphs often and seldom going beyond three sentences.
- Design Matters: Even with breaking up your paragraphs, most Blogs are walls of text. You will absolutely want to include images in your posts and if you have the opportunity, experiment with different colors and fonts and highlights and other design elements that make your posts both easier to read and more visually appealing.
- Don’t Sell: Your Blog is not an advertisement. There is simply no place in Blogging for blatantly playing your commercial and blasting your “buy now” message. Just don’t do it!
- Include a No-Risk Call to Action: Of course you aren’t Blogging just to get your words out on the Internet. You want to turn your visitors into leads and your leads into customers. How do you do that? You help them buy – when they are ready – by providing even more free content. See Reports below.
- Be Consistent: Blogging needs to become a routine part of your business week. You need to determine how often you can post and then have the discipline to stick to that schedule. How often? At least once a week as a minimum!
We are talking about everything here from free reports to white papers to e-books. Your reports can be on any topic that may be interesting and informative to your prospects in answering their questions and providing a deeper level of understanding.
Similar to your Blog, your Reports are not the place for selling. You can certainly close your report with information about what you do and an offer for a free consultation or more information, but the report should not be filled with either subtle or not so subtle attempts to sell. Simply provide great information and insights and let your content speak to your credibility and authority.
We recently published a free report titled “5 Steps to Immediately Improve Sales Results.” The report was filled with information that could help any business generate more sales, with no mention of anything we do until the very last page, where we invited people to contact us for a free consult.
Case Studies are very different than anything you would publish in your Reports. Think of your Reports as content that would interest people at the top of your sales funnel – those who are just beginning to get to know you and are interested in learning more.
Case studies are specifically written for prospects who are deeper in your sales funnel and who are looking for “proof” of your capabilities. But … they are fact-based reports of a single customer success story!
Ann Handley from MarketingProfs outlines a simple four step formula for an effective case study in Content Rules:
Most businesses fail to leverage the frequently asked questions area of their website. If you explore the essence of Google’s semantic search, your success in the search marketing game is largely about how well your website answers questions (queries) entered by users.
What’s your FAQ section all about? Answering questions! You now have a fabulous opportunity to think about every possible question one of your prospects could have and write a compelling answer to that question!
While your FAQ’s are a great place to attract visitors, they are also a great place to convert visitors. Be genuine and make your FAQ’s fun. Let your visitors feel your personality and make them feel warm towards you rather than having your corporate attorney write your responses.
Photography is your opportunity to put a face on your business. It does not need to be scary or intimidating. In fact, anyone who carries a Smart Phone can become an instant photographer for your business. If you want to step into the “big time,” you can do that by purchasing a digital camera long before you hire a professional photographer.
The more important thing is to learn how to tag and share your photos. Make sure every photo is labeled. A picture can be worth a 1,000 words, but a few words are essential to help both your visitors and search engines know what they are looking at!
Do you need professional photography too? Yes, you do. Your products, your people and your events demand the quality work that can only be delivered by a professional with professional equipment.
A podcast is simply an audio recording of your content, delivered over the web. Would you ever want to Podcast? Of course you would. Although not quite as sexy as video, Podcasts are much easier to enjoy while driving, walking on the treadmill or perhaps even right there on your computer as you multitask.
Many have successfully created Podcasting into a regular series of broadcasts and include guest interviews as if you were tuning into talk radio. You can also use Podcasting to supplement your Blog post as we have in Differentiating Everything and Anything.
A Webinar is an online conference delivered via the Web. If you can talk through a PowerPoint presentation and click just a few buttons using easy to use software, you can deliver a Webinar.
Of course that doesn’t mean you can deliver a great Webinar. A great Webinar can reach participants on many levels, so you’ll need to get both the visual presentation and the audio presentation right. You’ll want to move quickly through the content, NEVER read slides to people and generate enthusiasm and excitement.
As in other forms of content marketing, this is not the place to just sell, sell, and sell. You can certainly make a compelling offer in a Webinar, but your first job is to educate, inform and inspire. If you have done that, then and only then do you have permission to sell.
Nothing has the potential to be more powerful than The Holy Grail of content marketing – video. Video can be powerful because of the opportunity to feature real stories about your company, include real people and include outside sources for credibility. More importantly, video allows you to engage your viewer’s senses with moving images, music and your spoken voice in a way that no other content can touch your viewers.
You will need to write your story and then shoot your video scene by scene, just like you were making a movie. Although a professional videographer and editor will certainly do a better job than you can with your web camera, you should not put off creating videos until you can afford those services.
Video carries significant search marketing value and as with all content marketing, you just need to start and learn how to create better and better videos. Be willing to fail, but do it faster! Here’s my business partner describing some Powerful Prospecting Strategies in a brief video.
Variety is the spice of life. Variety is also a critical component of Winning the New Game of Semantic Search.
This is Part III of IV How to Win the New Game of Semantic Search – 8 Steps to Effective Variety. Please also read Part I: 8 Steps to Effective Volume, Part II: 8 Steps to Effective Velocity and Part IV: 8 Steps to Effective Veracity.
The bad news: Good content does not necessarily sell itself.
The good news: Content marketers, like me, still have a job.
Most businesses do not have the time or money to devote to effective content marketing campaigns. If they do put money into it they want to see results. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your content is going to go viral no matter how much you spend on it. In fact, some of the most successful viral campaigns are not ones founded in money, but rather ones that follow these four much cheaper tips.
This may seem obvious, but for every time I see the tip, “make your content unique”, I see twice the amount of re-spun topics. You are competing with thousands of other sites for the attention of people on the web. In addition, the average person is exposed to somewhere in the range of 5,000 messages every day, so the likelihood of them clicking on your generic/overused article is steadily decreasing.
People recognize different, it stands out from the crowd and they are going to be more prone to sharing what they have never seen before. The key to going viral is not only to create unique content, but also brand it that way. Even if you can’t create completely unique content, a creative and unique title will help increase its virality. The Verge just released a report showing that there is no correlation to social shares and actually reading the content. A lot of individuals will retweet or share something based solely on the title or source that posted it.
If your content is just run-of-the-mill and your title reflects that, you are going to have an uphill battle getting it to go viral.
In addition to being different the next most important aspects to an effective viral campaign is its timeliness. Take DiGiorno’s Live-Tweeting of NBC’s “The Sound of Music” for example.
DiGiorno decided to use the free social media platform to reach its audience in a unique and relevant manner. Live tweeting was an excellent way to connect their brand to target individuals who most likely were at home watching the event (i.e. a perfect time to have a frozen pizza).
What’s the key to being timely? Make sure you have processes in place to stay current on news in your industry, strategize so that you can capitalize on opportunities, and do not post outdated or inaccurate content (it ruins credibility). If you do this, your content stands a much better chance of reaching its full potential and go viral.
Another tip to getting your content to go viral on a budget is learning your target audience. The better you understand your targets, the more apt you will be to provide them with valuable content that will warrant going viral. The “WestJet Christmas Miracle” is one of the most well-known viral campaigns that takes information learnt from their audience and turns it into a brilliantly executed viral campaign. This stunt was performed during the Christmas holiday, it asked travelers what they wanted for Christmas and then when they landed at their destination, Santa had brought those exact gifts to them at the baggage carousel.
The combination of holiday sentiment and customer satisfaction helped humanize the WestJet brand better than any past campaign. Their targets wanted to feel like they were being heard, so they literally listened and gave them what they wanted. Even though this was a small sample of their targets, WestJet is now considered a brand that understands their targets and implements changes based on their needs. Understanding and listening to your targets will do wonders at launching your content virally.
Content goes viral because a mass amount of people understand the message, whether they agree or disagree with it is somewhat irrelevant. Know the takeaways that you want from your content and make that the focus of the piece. It doesn’t hurt to reiterate takeaways at the end to reinforce the message.
The old expression K.I.S.S (Keep it simple stupid) is a great concept to adhere to. Keep in mind that just because your message is simple doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with the delivery. Check out this anti-smoking ad below that is a good example of a simple message portrayed in a unique light.
The message was to get adults to recognize that they know smoking is unhealthy. The delivery was to have children come up to smoking adults and ask for a cigarette. All of the adults tell the kids that they should not smoke, that it is bad for them. The kids then hand a note that says “You worry about me. But, why not about yourself? “This unique and simple video generated an increase of 40% in phone inquiries by smokers who wanted to quit.
One of the biggest misconceptions in content marketing is that you have to throw a lot of money into a campaign to make it go viral. The fact of the matter is that a lot of what goes viral, was never intended to. When Oreo tweeted during the Super Bowl two years ago, they probably had no idea that it would take off like it did, but they did know that it was different, timely, targeted, and digestible, all of which helped it reach its viral potential.
Key Take Aways: