New Trends in Online Marketing – Part 3

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Think of these new trends mostly as optional extras after you have attended to the fundamental marketing rules outlined last month. Some will be great for you to implement in your business and will bring results, but others will be damp squibs and not worth bothering with. Again, some careful market research and knowing your market will guide you on which strategies will be worth a try. I do recommend content marketing, though – it makes perfect sense…

Content marketing

Content marketing is all about creating and publishing original content. This can include website content, blog posts, articles and so on. The purpose is to generate leads and promote your business. Research has shown that 82 percent of business to business marketers use content marketing.

Most marketers use content to drive sales and boost brand awareness, while around 28 percent use content to increase web traffic and improve their search results.

Content marketing is a very cost-effective way to engage your prospects online -- and most marketers believe their customers can be found online and they therefore focus their marketing efforts on the Internet. Bricks and mortar businesses should have a web presence these days.

Content marketing is still very new and is evolving with some developments growing and others falling by the wayside. For example, content syndication that uses republished links or content gathered from the Internet is losing ground at the moment -- much of this is due to the release of the Google Panda Farmer Algorithm and the changes it made. Instead, content curation will be taking over with far more human input from experts adding their own commentary and selecting what they consider the best content. This is developing rapidly because it is adding value and convenience -- always a good thing to build into your business.

You should keep your eye on how things pan out in the coming year or so but at the moment, these are the trends that are expected to gain favor or fall away.

•    Crowd sourcing: crowd sourcing is being used for creating content. Basically it taps into people's willingness to create free content in return for exposure. Companies are keen to try this method and include bloggers posting guest blogs on their sites. It is also being used on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other sites and invites followers to upload photos and videos and attach themselves as friends on their business pages. It is a good way to show customers actually using and experiencing their products and services. Crowd sourcing allows a business to create content by using the power and reach of a crowd, rather than having to spend time and money creating it themselves.

•    Using social media for traditional marketing: this trend is falling out of favor as more and more companies realize that social media sites are not working for their marketing. People want information in the form of informative content, not the type of social media marketing we've seen over the past few years.

•    Video: more companies are using video and other mobile-friendly content as the number of smart phones and tablets grows. I assume that video is easier to use on a mobile device than trying to read long sections of text.

Content is still the best way to market your products and services and has been shown by many studies that it performs better than search engine marketing, PR and even television and radio advertising as a marketing tool. In fact, according to a recent report, twice as many business to business marketers employ content marketing than print, TV and radio advertising.

So how can you market your content?

Firstly, I recommend you make your content relevant over the long term -- also called ‘evergreen’ content. Your work could be available over a long period of time so it shouldn't be something that is out of date next week. In other words your content should stand the test of time. However, it also needs to be interesting and up-to-date, so the best way to make your content relevant is to have 70 percent of it as evergreen content and 30 percent something new.

You should also diversify your content so that you publish it in multiple formats, including blog posts, articles, webinars, white papers, case studies, newsletters, FAQ lists, forums and message boards as well as social media posts.

Don't forget that your website content is crucial when it comes to getting your marketing message across -- pay particular attention to this and add new content on a regular basis.
Visible content

In module two, I left you with a quote from Google,

Google said: “As we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change.

“If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.”

“Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.”

So, what’s all this about?

Well, Google are concerned about the user experience and are addressing complaints. People are complaining that they have to scroll down the search engine results past increasing numbers of sponsored results – paid advertising – before they get to the natural search results. It is a fact that most people ignore paid advertising in favor of the organic listings.

Also, when people get onto a website, they often have to scroll past a lot of adverts and banners before they get to the content of the site. Frequently, these sites have little if any useful content within the fold. People are complaining about this as nobody wants to be bombarded with adverts and irritating pop-ups continuously. Google is taking note and making changes.

So, if your site is crammed with paid advertising, banners, pop-ups and the like, it may be time to start cutting down – better still, eliminate them completely. Evaluate the payoff. Do these ads actually bring in more revenue than your products and services? If not, you have to consider if it’s worth bothering with them at all. Clearly, these ads simply irritate visitors and like those first impressions I talked about in the last module, they don’t make for a good visitor experience. In fact, I would boldly say that you cheapen your site and your business by having too much (if any) paid advert on your website.

Consider getting rid of all paid ads on your site for the next 6-12 months and evaluate the difference. You may find you will attract more serious buyers and increase your credibility if you eliminate paid ads from your site, blog etc.

Yet another reason to eliminate these ads is that they distract your visitors away from your own marketing message. If people click on a paid ad on your site, they are clicking away from your message and could be lost forever – why give your potential customers away to your competitors. This is what it amounts to!

Focus on providing quality and value for your visitors and improving your offer – that’s the way to make a profit and build longevity into your business – not scraping together miniscule amounts of money for paid ads that clutter and cheapen your site.

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