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Three Ways (and Tools) to Improve The User Experience of Your Content

Three Ways (and Tools) to Improve The User Experience of Your Content

Content is a key element of just about any page. No wonder it can make or break the user experience your site provides.

Have you ever thought about your content strategy in the context of user experience? Is your content user-friendly and accessible?

Here are three ways (and three tools) to improve the user experience of your content:

1. Align Your Content with User’s Expectations

Poor content that doesn’t prioritize its reader is by default poor user experience. But what exactly does “poor” mean when it comes to a copy?

There are numerous ways to define and evaluate content quality. We can talk about length, depth, readability, clarity, and comprehensiveness of a copy and still fail to explain why we think we are dealing with a poor copy.

The problem is, content quality is subjective. What one thinks is a shallow copy is a perfect article explaining the basics for someone who is less familiar with the topic.

This is why the best way to define a poor copy is from a target reader’s perspective.

In other words, a high-quality page is the one that satisfies a searcher’s intent, or the one that meets searchers’ expectations.

Tools for Fulfilling Your Searcher’s Intent

How do we know if our content fulfills the searcher’s need?

  • Clearly understand who you are writing for: Define your target reader’s profile (or persona) to better relate to their needs. Are they experts or newbies? Travelers? Stay-at-home parents? Which challenges are they facing on a daily basis? Why did they turn to Google to search for this particular query you are targeting? Talk to your customer service team to better understand your target audience. Take this Unified Communications Test to set up an effective knowledge sharing process within your company.
  • Keep an eye on Google clues: What search elements is Google showing for your target search query and what do those tell you about people searching for it. Are there video carousels showing for that search? Do “People Also Ask” boxes include broad or specific questions? Do top-ranking pages provide in-depth or 101-type of answers? Google knows their target searches. They have had years of data to analyze their users’ searching patterns for all kinds of data. All you need is to be able to see Google’s hints.

Using Google For UX Clues

Looks like this search is often performed by beginners!

Narrato WorkSpace is a great platform to put all of these multiple pieces together. Narrato allows you to keep all your content workflow (ideation, research, creation, editing) under one roof empowering your team with research, collaboration and AI writing tools. You can add projects, invite collaborators and let your team create content together:

Narrato WorkSpace

Finally, use Text Optimizer to grade your writer’s intent optimization efforts. The tool uses semantic analysis to help you create a copy that matches your target user’s expectations: the higher your content is graded, the better it satisfies your searcher’s intent!

Text Optimizer tool

2. Build an Effective Content Structure

Organize content into well-defined sections using headings, (ordered and unordered) lists, and visual elements (icons, graphs, etc.)

This helps on many levels and makes your content user-friendlier:

  • Subheadings help readability because people can scan them and quickly decide if that’s something that is going to be helpful for them
  • Clearly visible subheadings that stand out improve engagement as they prompt readers to stop scrolling and read a section that seems to be the most relevant to their particular needs
  • Content that is broken into logical sections is easier to remember and follow
  • Well-written subheadings help accessibility as it helps blind web users to navigate the page using screen readers. Another way to help people with disabilities navigate your content is to create video subtitles.

Break content into shorter sections with appropriate subheadings (use true and visually significant headings rather than simply big bold text) and create a clickable table of contents to help your readers to easily navigate to the most relevant section..

You can review your content structure by using the free tool called Wave by selecting the Outline View.

Each page should typically have one main <h1> and multiple subheadings that follow the logical hierarchy (they should not be skipped). The tool will alert you of any structural errors like skipped or missing subheadings, too long headings, etc.:

Wave content structure tool

Additionally, the tool will check your lists that also provide semantic meaning: orders, unordered, and definition lists.

Keyword clustering (i.e. breaking keyword lists into groups by meaning) is a great way to create a logical content structure and rank for multiple keywords within a single group.

3. Eliminate Confusing Page Elements and CTAs

Even great content will fail to engage a reader if it is full of confusing and distracting CTAs or other (often redundant) page elements.

One of the best ways to identify those page elements that prevent your page visitors from reading your content in full and/or engaging with it in any way is using a free tool from Bing called Clarity.

Clarity is pretty easy to install: You need to connect it with your Google Analytics account through standard Google’s authentication process and then install Clarity’s tracking code. This way the tool will have two reliable sources of data (GA and its own pixel) for more in-depth insights.

As soon as it is installed, Bing will need at least 24 hours to accumulate and process your data. From then on, keep an eye on “dead clicks” insights that show you page elements that people clicked and tapped with no results (i.e. those page elements are easily confused with clickable links, buttons, etc.). You can view the recordings of people using your site and clicking/tapping:

Microsoft Clarity

Or you can use Clarity’s heatmaps to identify page elements that attract most “dead clicks”:

Clarity dead clicks

Bing promises that the tool will be free forever!

More Tools for Optimizing Pages

There are quite a few on-page engagement solutions for you to experiment with and test with Clarity. If you are using standalone content assets, pick a content management system that already has a smooth conversion funnel already built-in. There are a few great webinar platforms, for example, that have that done very well.

Page speed is another big factor that can make or break on-page user experience. Keep a close eye on that as well. Google’s Search Console will alert you of any issues with your page performance, and if you are using a flexible content management platform, you may even be able to fix it in-house. Both WordPress and Shopify offer built-in solutions and integrations for page speed optimization.

via Three Ways (and Tools) to Improve The User Experience of Your Content

 

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6 Old-School Techniques To Integrate Into Your Influencer Marketing

While you can use many software tools to help manage and scale influencer marketing programs, don’t forget to look back.

Old-school methods – alongside the tools – can mitigate the common pitfalls of influencer marketing. I asked six experts in the influencer arena for their best technique, and they went retro with their recommendations.

Let’s explore:

1. Influence through influencers

John Andrews, president, The Katadhin Company, says:

When we were starting Collective Bias (a shopper-focused influence marketing firm), we had a general rule: Someone on our team had to personally know the influencers we worked. This got harder as we grew, but we typically hired our influencers to manage our programs and influencer relationships. We called this approach influence by influencers.

Hire #influencers to manage your programs and influencer relationships, says @Katadhin via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

The best part was we had a real understanding of the influencer process and virtually instant feedback when our business approach or messaging wasn’t connecting with their goals. We also implemented a hand-raising model where influencers chose the programs that were right for them. They knew their audiences better than any data set ever could. The analytics then built themselves as we measured the impact from campaign to campaign and captured the audience metrics along the way. Over time, we built a great understanding of what groups of influencers were the best for any given campaign.

2. Ask employees for their picks

Justin Levy, director of social and influencer marketing, Demandbase, says:

One of the best resources for influencer marketing is asking your employees who they find value from. When identifying someone as an influencer is often based on similar criteria, such as the number of followers, topic, location, etc., learning from your employees is even more important.

One of the best resources for #InfluencerMarketing is asking your employees who they find value from, says @justinlevy via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

We are working on a campaign focused on the sales persona (sales leaders, account executives, sales development reps, sales ops, and rev ops). Beyond influencers with whom we already have relationships and newly researched influencers, I’m meeting with members of our sales team to find out who they follow and what communities they find valuable. It’s also important to focus on online communities where niche conversations are happening and who is leading these conversations.

3. Focus on the audiences

Rand Fishkin, founder, SparkToro, says:

Oddly enough, I actually don’t love the ‘influencer marketing’ model nor most influencer tools for two reasons:

  • Traditional influencers are rarely followed for their product endorsements and rarely trusted for them either. If you’re a giant consumer brand seeking raw impressions, influencers can work fine, but if your goal is more targeted, it’s usually a mismatch.
  • Almost every influencer marketing tool ranks results based on follower counts and the influencer’s self-described area of focus. But that’s not what brands should care about.

Instead, you should focus on whether the audience of a given person or publication is relevant to your message. Are these followers really the people you want to reach? And do they trust this source to give them information about this topic? This is why I’d rather be featured in a small email newsletter that reaches my target audience than go viral on TikTok or Instagram from a highly followed but irrelevant account.

Focus on whether the audience of a given #influencer or publication is relevant to your message, says @randfish via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

4. Communicate

Johanna Voss, founder, Johannavoss.com, says:

The best influencer marketing tool for driving great outcomes is communication, luckily, it’s something we all have available to us. When an influencer is partnering with a brand/agency for a campaign, understanding the campaign’s goals is incredibly helpful so that the influencer can best figure out on their end what set of deliverables would achieve that goal.

The best #InfluencerMarketing tool for driving great outcomes is communication between the influencer and the brand, says @JohannaVoss via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

Perhaps the campaign goals are app downloads or new user signups. For an influencer who does more education and brand awareness than conversions, it’s in their best interest to pass on the project versus committing and failing to meet expectations, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

Conversely, if an influencer is great at converting and they know their winning combo of making that happen is through storytelling via Instagram stories and links to click, they can put together a scope of work to do just that.

From the first moment of connection between an agency/brand and an influencer/manager, asking questions from the talent side to get the full perspective of the project gets everyone on the same page from the get-go. Questions about timing, exclusivity, expectations, goals, and creative vision from the brand side and open-ended questions such as ‘Is there anything else I should know about this project?’ will be insightful and helpful to achieving the goals and knocking the campaign out of the park.

5. Be authentic

Hilary Thompson, off-page SEO and digital PR team lead, Portent, says:

Relying on one tool to attain success in influencer marketing is not ideal. The key to success is building relationships, and that can easily be done without complicated or expensive tools.

Email and Zoom have been our favorite platforms for building relationships and establishing trust. Nothing beats a face-to-face conversation, even a remote one.

The key to #InfluencerMarketing success is building relationships. You don’t need expensive tools, says Hilary Thompson of @portent via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

Authenticity is the key to successful influencer partnerships, and when an influencer can meet you, exchange ideas, talk about the product or brand, and receive feedback directly about their integrations, there is a connection, a level of trust and authenticity, and engagement in each ad that is irreplaceable.

6. Do podcasts

Trevor Oldham, founder, Podcasting You, says:

The best influencer marketing tool for driving robust outcomes from collaboration comes from podcasting. This can be either hosting a podcast with guests or guesting on other people’s podcasts. Where else can you spend 30 minutes with someone where the only task at hand is to have a conversation?

The best #InfluencerMarketing tool for driving robust outcomes from collaboration comes from podcasting, says Trevor Oldham of Podcasting You via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

From these conversations are built collaborations beyond your wildest dreams. If you do not have your own podcast or not guesting on other people’s podcasts, you are missing a gold mine of collaboration.

Make sure to integrate your old-school influencer tools

True influence doesn’t start with tools. It begins and ends with a network of influencers who drive valuable conversations within your chosen audience.

Some tech tools are necessary for scaling your influencer marketing strategy, especially around process, data, and content analysis. But never forget to integrate old-school “tools” into your influencer strategy. The goal of influencer marketing is always to get a return on the relationship.

via 6 Old-School Techniques To Integrate Into Your Influencer Marketing

 

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How To Bring Big Word-of-Mouth Content to Your Marketing

Every customer has the potential to alter perceptions of your business positively or negatively. When handled proactively, their word-of-mouth influence can be a powerful tool for your content marketing team.

Not only is word-of-mouth marketing much more cost-effective than paid strategies, it can produce a greater impact in the short and long term. Research from Kantar found that 93% of consumers say they trust their family and friends and 91% trust review sites for brand and service information. Advertising was at the bottom of the list – only 38% say they trust it.

90+% of consumers trust family, friends, and review sites for brand and service information, according to @Kantar via @CallRuby @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

Companies using authentic reviews and user-generated content from their customers in their content marketing tactics bolster their own reputation while expanding their customer base.

Here are four ways to incorporate word-of-mouth marketing into your content:

1. Feature relevant user-generated content

Done well, user-generated content can be perfectly authentic and make an impact. Reshare social shout-outs about your business. This is a low-effort way to draw attention to the public affection your business is garnering. But don’t stop there:

  • Identify content that focuses on the service or product you provide. Look for content that shows the customer using or benefitting from your service or product. That type of “use-in-context” content can be invaluable.
  • Elevate customer stories that involve your brand as a whole or your products/services. Follow up with customers who have shared their opinions publicly to see if they want to tell their stories in more detail. Make them the star of the story – let them do the explaining so that your brand doesn’t have to.

Resharing #social shout-outs about your business is a low-effort #ContentMarketing strategy, says @CallRuby via @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

TIP: Word-of-mouth content does not have to rely on lengthy reviews. Even a photo with a brief, positive caption can work.

Example: The Home Edit organizing brand, which has a Netflix show, created an Instagram post with this positive quote from Katherine Sivells: “Thanks to @TheHomeEdit, when I open a drawer or closet, I find myself saying, ‘We need to call Sumner.’ Then I realize it’s not “we,” it’s me and I don’t have Sumner’s number.”

2. Engage in real-time conversations

Your content marketing team should pay attention to customers’ social media posts even when they relate to customer service, not marketing. You can amplify the reach of customer feedback by engaging in the moment. Not to mention, responsiveness can quickly turn a negative into a positive when you can resolve or clarify a situation.

To join the conversation with customers, consider these strategies:

  • Monitor mentions in real-time so you can join the conversation as it’s unfolding and address it if you want the conversation to end or propel the talk to keep it going. Customers value responsiveness highly – a HubSpot survey found that 90% rate an immediate response as important or very important when they have a customer service question.
  • Thoughtfully insert yourself into the conversation. Whether a customer is putting out a call for help, asking a question, showing off your product, or talking about a great experience, engage authentically rather than hijacking the conversation. Answer the question, provide assistance, say thanks, and talk about why you love the product, too. If the natural opportunity is truly there, you may be able to share details about a new product or service.
  • Sound like a person, not a company. Brands that do well in real-time conversations with customers are those that come across as a person, not a corporate brand. These conversations are not the time to sell your branded messaging. These are the opportunities to show off your personality, brand values, and commitment to your customers.

Example: Online pet supply company Chewy replied to a tweet from a customer remarking about their cat sitting in the small box rather than the bigger (Chewy-branded) box. They didn’t talk about their cat-related supplies or how to order and get a box. Instead, they responded with “You know what they say, if it fits I sits,” and a cat emoji.

You know what they say, if I fits I sits.

— Chewy (@Chewy) March 31, 2022

@Chewy is a brand that gets its #social voice right, replying to customers’ tweets with a personal voice, not a corporate brand, says @CallRuby via @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

3. Build stories around customer reviews

People are inspired to write reviews because of outstanding (or poor) service, and many customers won’t make a purchase without looking at reviews. So those stellar customer reviews you already have? Proudly use them in your content – with the permission of the customer.

  • Find the reviews that most accurately describe your brand and what you do and build stories around them. Elevate across social channels, your blog, and your newsletter.
  • Look for a customer with a specific problem or need that your company was able to solve. Add context to the review by sharing any behind-the-scenes work that went into solving the challenge.
  • Convert standout quotes from customers into visual posts for social media.
  • Turn multiple reviews into a content series by coupling together similar reviews to tell one story that demonstrates your company’s service consistency.

Example: Patagonia actively encourages customers who use its Worn Wear repair service to tell the stories behind their repaired garments. One customer writes about her Patagonia nano puff jacket. Within her colorful back story: “Sharp ends of yucca plants and prickly pear pierced tens of holes in the jacket, but it preserved through weeks in the desert, protecting me from sharp flora and chilly morning temperatures alike.”

Image source

Example: At my company, we used feedback from SensoryKidz, an occupational therapy business, for this Instagram post. The visualized quote – “I was doing five things at one time. When the phone rang, I had to go into therapist mode – even though I’m not a therapist – because families are anxious to get something done,” Mike said, jokingly adding, “we need more Mikes.” The accompanying caption went into more details about what SensoryKidz is and why its owners need our virtual receptionist services.

4. Create and share video testimonials

Customer videos can be a valuable asset in your content marketing strategy. Like other forms of word-of-mouth content, they can serve as a vetting source for potential customers. When done well, they deliver personal narratives where future customers can see themselves or their problems being solved. These videos also can be used in multiple ways:

  • Feature full video testimonials on your company’s website. They can be paired with a brief write-up or as part of a larger case study.
  • Share snippets of the video on social media with perfectly edited soundbites that feature how your brand delivers on expectations.
  • Create a thematic blog post series around the content from these videos.
  • Build your audience on YouTube (and other video streaming services). This content can then be leveraged in your search engine optimization and your Google My Business profile.
  • Use in your email outreach.

via How To Bring Big Word-of-Mouth Content to Your Marketing

 

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Think Outside the Search Box for SEO Keyword Opportunities

Competing for popular keywords to win search engine rankings and attract clicks from searchers is a difficult, time-intensive process.

Too often, that type of SEO is a losing proposition.

But you don’t need to give up. Instead, develop a keyword strategy that gives your brand a better chance of ranking on search engine result pages that attract your target audience. Explore keyword search volume, competition level, relevancy, etc., to find the right balance of elements, so your content earns higher rankings.

Don’t compete for popular keywords to win rankings. Play an #SEO game that gives you a better chance to rank big, says #DanBrunell via @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

Here are five actions to develop a keyword research process that delivers better results:

1. Prioritize potential keywords based on preferred factors

Many factors come into consideration when you contemplate whether to target a keyword. Some might weigh more heavily than others based on your site’s current conditions.

First, create a spreadsheet to list all potential keywords you want to rank for. Then, add columns for evaluation factors, including search volume, difficulty, and intent to understand the competitive landscape.

Several SEO tools can help you assess difficulty. This example comes from Ahrefs. It estimates how many backlinks your site would need to rank for your proposed keyword. It ranges from easy (fewer than 10 domains publishing a backlink) to super hard (over 200 domains backlinking to your site).

TIP: If geography is important to your brand, consider evaluating keywords based on country-specific data.

A spreadsheet gives you the flexibility to sort the data to weigh one factor over another. For example, you might sort the keywords by difficulty score rather than search volume. From there, you can prioritize your targeted keywords.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

2. Consider the potential of long-tail keywords

Many content marketers ignore long-tail keywords because searchers don’t use them frequently. Ahrefs illustrates this conundrum in its Search Demand Curve chart, going from The Fat Head (small number of insanely popular search queries) to The Chunky Middle (millions of searches with decent monthly volumes) to Long Tail (billions of search queries with a small number of searchers).

That lack of interest in competing for long-tail keywords is just one of the benefits. These words also better indicate search intent, making those who click more likely to convert. You also can spend less time creating content because you’re targeting a narrower topic rather than attempting to be a comprehensive source.

Long-tail keywords are great for #SEO. There is less competition and searchers are more likely to be your target audience, says #DanBrunell via @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

3. Listen to the searchers

The People Also Ask and related search sections in search engines indicate topics related to the query. Use those results to identify alternative keywords that your search target audience might use.

In this tasty example, you can see the broad query – how to make a fettuccine sauce – becomes more specific in the People Also Ask section:

  • How do you make a fettuccine sauce thicker?
  • How do you make a creamy sauce for pasta?
  • What is the real alfredo sauce made of?
  • What is fettuccine sauce called?

In looking at these results, each searcher’s intent becomes clearer. The first topic – make fettuccine sauce thicker – likely would be an inquiry of someone who is cooking the dish. But the last – what is fettuccine sauce called – is more likely the search of someone who couldn’t remember the name Alfredo. The first listing’s keywords would be better targeted by a brand looking to help people cook.

Listen to what searchers are saying. Look at the People Also Ask and related search sections on search engine ranking pages, says #DanBrunell via @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

The same process works for the related searches section. In this case, you can see searchers who are looking for cooking-related tips (how to make alfredo sauce without cream) vs. those looking for products (best alfredo sauce in a jar).

While these sections can be helpful in understanding similar alternative keywords, they also can assist when developing your content. You can use some of those related search topics as subheadings in your content.

4. Examine your competitors’ place on SERPs

Do a search for your proposed keyword and see which sites own the top rankings. If you find popular websites ranking at the top, you might think the keyword competition is too high and cross it off your list.

However, before you do, check if the content really answers the targeted keyword. If the high-ranking content answers only part of the keyword phrase, you may have an opportunity to rank by creating quality content that tackles all or almost all of it.

For example, let’s say you want to target the “best 14-inch gaming laptop” keyword. Analyzing its competition on the SERP, you see popular websites (The Verge and PC Mag) are the top rankings.

You take a closer look at their content and realize they don’t satisfyingly answer the keyword search intent. Their content is about the best gaming laptops in general, not just about the 14-inch size. It might present an opportunity for your site to rank high by publishing content narrowly focused on the 14-inch aspect of the keyword phrase intent.

5. Take note of ‘out-of-reach’ keywords

A website’s authority likely influences search ranking results in some capacity. If your site doesn’t have a high authority now, it will be difficult to compete for some keywords.

Backlinko’s research, which uses Ahrefs authority ranking, illustrates this. Ranking positions closely correlate to the site’s domain rating. At least 75% of the top 10 ranking positions came from sites with domain ratings of 50 or higher.

At least 75% of the top 10 ranking positions came from sites with domain ratings of 50 or higher, according to @banklinko #research via #DanBrunell @CMIContent.Click To Tweet

While your site likely can’t compete now, you might be able to in the future. If you continuously implement an SEO strategy for your website, its authority should grow and become more prominent.

Thus, take note of the keywords for which you want to rank but would find too difficult now. As your domain authority grows, revisit this list of out-of-reach keywords to assess whether they’re within reach given your higher domain authority.

Look outside the box for SEO potential

Keyword research is essential for SEO. But you don’t always have to use the most popular or most often used keywords.

By looking outside the search box for related but less-tapped potential keywords, your site will be more likely to inch itself up in the rankings and be tops for your target audience.

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Create Content Like a Publisher

publishI’ve been talking about how content drives action and serves as the backbone of marketing for more than 20 years now. During that time, I’ve seen hundreds of people and organizations implement these strategies and they work.

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