All posts by James Carson

James Carson is a Content Strategy consultant and owner of Carson Content. He was formerly Head of Digital Marketing at Bauer Media, where he oversaw digital integration and content strategy for some of the UK's largest media brands including FHM, Grazia and heat. You can talk to him on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

Which digital marketing activities you should keep in-house or outsource?

The companies that continue to move to a more integrated digital model while managing their Digital Transformation process, may be left wondering which activities are best to be outsourced and which are preferable to keep in-house. It is very common for companies to outsource at least part of their digital capability, but this is likely to affect how well they can move to an integrated model. But what are the particular disciplines most suited to outsourcing and what is preferable to keep in-house?

The ‘Slow Burners’ vs. Campaign Based

When we think of digital marketing activities, there are many that need to be managed, but let’s consider the following eight key disciplines covering paid-owned and earned media and managing the customer experience should sit within an organisation: 1. Email marketing 2. Social Media 3. Paid Search 4. SEO 5. Display advertising and retargeting 6.…

A review of digital change management – examining ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’methods

"Like so many other revolutions, digital marketing has taken hold from the bottom up. Here, we find digital natives steeped in digital culture and practice — twenty- and thirty-somethings who came of age on the social web." Jake Sorofman, The Rise of the Digital CMO We often think of Senior Management as being the drivers of change within a business. After all, it is they who have they experience to see when change is necessary, and them who have the power to enact the change itself. However, as the quote above suggests, this is somewhat of a fallacy in the current climate – digital change has bubbled like a kind of ‘groundswell’, often meeting executives who are almost unaware.

Bottom Up Change is Commonplace

There are few better practical illustrations of change coming from the bottom than the growth of…

Do We Need a Digital Department At All?

When I began working on the Smart Insights Digital Transformation guide, I believed that the days of the digital department were numbered. After all, if digital integration was a true goal of a business, shouldn’t this department simply be merged into marketing and other ‘non-digital’ departments? I felt that we’d only created digital departments as a bolt on reaction to the changing landscape, and that over time different skills would simply be ‘absorbed’ into the rest of the business. While this sentiment may run true amongst some readers, I soon found that this ideal has seldom been reached, and may never occur in many verticals. After all, it often seems that there will always be requirements for specific skills that need to sit within a specialist team. Rather than saying whether we ‘should’ or ‘should not’ have a digital department, there are varying ‘phases’…

An introduction to the "Hero's Journey" method of storytelling

Your product or services will likely solve a problem for your customers, or fulfil particular needs and wants. No matter how boring you view this product, it sits within a ‘story arc’ that can always be made interesting to consumers facing the challenges that it solves. In Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, a basic pattern of storytelling is defined as a ‘monomyth’ or ‘hero’s journey’. This is a pattern that can be seen in a wide range of storytelling from around the world. Essentially, protagonists within a story go through a number of common stages, as below:

From Homer’s The Odyssey, to Medieval Romances and modern sci-fi adventures such as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Avatar, this story arc persists: The protagonist is inspired to go on…

Practical advice on WHO you need to execute your content marketing strategy

Many content roles I see are the domain of trained Journalists and Copywriters, but this doesn’t always add up. On the web, many of the best examples of engaging content, and certainly the most sharable, are visual in nature, and often application based. Thus creating content teams made up of skilled writers will limit success. If you have a large site, with hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of product pages that need writing, then hiring copywriters to get the job done makes good sense. But if you’re also looking to create a good blog, regular email newsletters and possibly applications that integrate with social networks, then you’re going to need some Designer / Development resource as well. If things are going to be promoted well, then a Community / Outreach Manager would be useful. Finally, to measure everything properly,…

A practical guide to setting up categories and tags on your blog or website

For every content project I’ve been involved with, categories and tags have had a role to play. Sometimes, there are clearly defined systems, which make a positive contribution to the user experience. However, it must be said that very often something goes awry. There is no set plan, and users find themselves confused by numerous and options. Over a period of years, this can lead to a sort of digital rabbit warren that can be expensive to sort out. Thus it’s important to have a defined approach to categories and tags to order your content.

Categories and Tags – What’s the Difference?

Any users of Wordpress will be familiar with categories and tags, but a number of sites I’ve worked with have struggled to differentiate between the two. Typically I define the two as follows: Categories – grouping of content…

A 3 Phased Approach to integrating Content and SEO Audits

In every book about Content Strategy, the recommended process will have an audit as one of the first steps; this is much the same as for Search Engine Optimisation. Granted, there are some specific technical aspects of SEO – particularly regarding server-side issues – that aren't related to content, but SEO audits will also cover onpage issues that need to be forwarded to product or editorial teams. As these disciplines merge, it is useful to get these groups working together, and it saves time to do onpage SEO and content auditing in one go. Thus I suggest combining the audit process as I'll explain here.

Phase One: Gathering Through Crawling

Using Xenu & Excel

Content Strategy books seem slightly wary of using crawlers for content audits. In Content Strategy for the Web, Kristina Halvorson writes (p.48): "During the audit process… technology can…

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