Smart Insights Digital Marketing > The Marketing Strategy Blog Mon, 25 May 2015 15:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Are you missing out on SMS marketing? [Infographic] Mon, 25 May 2015 15:00:00 +0000 The Fails and Fixes of using SMS for marketing

As consumers are more on the move, shopping and researching using their mobile devices, getting their attention with SMS is a good option many marketers may be underusing. Yet...

Engagement rates for SMS/Text are 6-8x higher than emails and 90% of SMS texts are read within 3 minutes of receipt.

This infographic from West Interactive shows however that even though it's a good medium, there are dangers lurking since mobile users are highly aware of unsolicited texts and opt-out rates can be high. It recommends to ' Co-ordinate your messages across your channels, be aware of country specific legislation and test load times for a good UX.'

SMS and Text - Customer Service Research

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7 options for Email marketing testing [Infographic] Mon, 25 May 2015 09:20:10 +0000 Explaining the differences and options for AB and multivariate testing for email marketing

It can be difficult to know where to start when working on testing your marketing emails to boost the results of your sequences or campaigns. Which elements should you change? CTA, subject line, colour of your button, the list goes on.

In their latest infographic, our friends at EmailMonks have designed a handy checklist to prompt testing ideas, by revealing which elements to test. Plus they share some examples and best practices from Samantha Iodice of the Email M@ven blog. The text is a little on the small side for us, so if you click we have an enlarged version for you.

AB Email marketing testing

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Commissioning online marketing videos Thu, 21 May 2015 15:42:00 +0000 Tips to help brief on-screen graphics for your videos and animations

Brands are increasingly employing video marketing to communicate their messages, engage online audiences and use content to support the sales and marketing teams. especially n B2B. According to the Demand Gen report, the use of video content in B2B marketing increased from 8% of companies employing it in 2013 to 58% in 2014.

Website Inc reports that 92% of B2B customers watch online video and 43% of B2B customers watch online video when researching products and services for their business. There is little doubt that video is both here to stay and will require your focus.

There are many styles of video from case study to product profile, feature to interview style films. What they have in common for a business is that they are professional, clear, informative and engaging for the viewer and potential buyer.

As part of the commissioning and production process, on-screen graphics should be agreed and added to reinforce the marketing message. And graphics are ideally suited to B2B brands as they help explain complex technologies and services.

For a marketing team, commissioning films should be creative and fun. But there are many pitfalls and making the wrong decision can cost you money.  If you're about to commission a video series, then take a look at this film. It's designed to explain some of the technical terms and to help you decide what kind of graphics and/or animation best suit your company.

Tips to help with commissioning animated graphics for videos

1. Don't get bamboozled by technical terminology

Any production company worth its salt will employ editors who have a working knowledge of Adobe’s After Effects or Apple’s Motion. These software packages should satisfy nearly all of your graphic needs. 3D or CGI graphics can also be commissioned but before you do, decide whether they are really necessary and worth the extra cost. The rule of thumb is: the more complicated the graphics, the more they will cost you. Complex CGI films can cost upwards of £50k, however most production companies can produce films featuring graphics effects similar to 3D for a lot less.

2. Make sure your graphics reflect your company image

Give your production company your brand guidelines. With simple guidelines, simple graphics can be created so that the video will sit seamlessly into your website using the same colours and fonts. This Hiscox film is a good example of where the company's font and colour palette has been utilised to create a basic animated graphic 'look and feel' that can be added to live action content.

3. Don’t let your production company go overboard

Graphics should not get in the way of the message; they should complement your content. Remember that it’s not the 1970s and your corporate film is not Top of the Pops. We think this HP info-graphic gets the balance about right between being highly creative and informative.

4. Make sure the viewer can actually read the information that’s on-screen

Do remember that it’s just as likely that your film will be watched on a smart phone as a widescreen computer monitor. So the font should be a decent size and the information should appear on the screen for a reasonable amount of time. Before you sign-off on an edit, watch your carefully crafted video on a range of different devices. If you can’t read the graphics on a phone then your potential customer won’t be able to either. So ask your friendly production company for a re-edit, it won’t take them long and shouldn’t cost you any more money.

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Google now integrating Twitter into its search results [@SmartInsights alert] Thu, 21 May 2015 12:34:45 +0000  

Twitter suddenly becomes more important to marketers with the latest integration - currently only available on Mobile in US


Recommended link: Google's announcement of new Twitter Integration

So, they've made up! You may remember how Google used to partner with Twitter and take their firehose to display tweets in near real-time - I remember it was sub ten seconds. Then they fell out and this feature disappeared back in July 2011. Well a new form of the integration is back as has been previewed over the last few months. I've been taking a look to see how significant it will be for businesses. It looks like a great deal for Twitter to me and an acknowledgment by Google that Twitter, not Google+ is THE source for real-time updates as it had hoped.

What marketers need to know about Google's Twitter integration

1. The new 'Popular on Twitter' feature is available on mobile only to start with. This feature was launched on the 19th May 2015, but you won't see this on the desktop just yet, although this is planned according to Google.
2. Twitter results are prominent for some search results, displaying in a 'Popular in Twitter' carousel 'OneBox'. This gives a link through to the Twitter Profile and recent tweets:
Example of Google Twitter integration

In some cases, as here for a celeb, the carousel appears right at the top of the listing. I'm surprised about this since I'm not sure this is what users will want, but it does vary by type of search and Google's OneBox featuring different types of content such as images automagically changes position depending on how popular it is.

3. It's typically displaying for 'trending topics' only not for product or brand information. As would be expected, it only displays for when something is being shared actively on Twitter. This means the 'Popular on Twitter' often displays below the 'News' box when that is triggered. Adding a hashtag also makes the carousel more likely to appear.

So it looks like it's should encourage more 'Real-Time marketing' where brands look to be involved in broader conversations.

Google's intro post suggests this too:

'It’s a great way to get real-time info when something is happening. And it’s another way for organizations and people on Twitter to reach a global audience at the most relevant moments'.

Brands may appear if Twitter is added to the search string:

brand twitter example


4. It's English only currently but it is being rolled-out. Google say:

'To start, we’re launching this on in English in the Google app (on Android and iOS) and on mobile browsers, rolling out gradually. We’re working on bringing it to more languages and to desktop, so stay tuned'.

Although this implies you may be able to see it from elsewhere if you access this isn't the case, so we can't see it in the UK on mobile.

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28 Days Later – What was the impact of Google’s Mobile-friendly algorithm update? Thu, 21 May 2015 07:00:00 +0000 Who are the winners and losers since Google's mobile update?

If you're involved in using SEO to drive traffic, you’ll no doubt know the hype of the build up to Google’s mobile friendly algorithm update since it was initially announced in the autumn of 2014 and finally rolled out a month ago today on April 21st, 2015.  Many predicted major changes as a result of the update, with Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji saying at SMX Munich that the upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm update would 'impact more sites than their Panda or Penguin algorithms'. Even the mainstream media picked up on it, dubbing it 'Mobilegeddon'...

So one month on what has the impact been? Has it impact been like that of a zombie apocalypse, or is it more a case of Business as Usual for most? In this post I'll look at insights from different studies which show the impact of effected websites. I'll also look at how you can review the impact using Google Analytics.

What has been the impact of the algorithm update?

It’s fair to say that the impact of the mobile update has been underwhelming for many.. Google had stated that the update would affect more queries than Panda and Penguin, and although no official numbers have been disclosed, far more volatility in the search results has been observed on previous algorithm updates.

The initial consensus from the WebmasterWorld thread since the April 2015 update seems to back this up, with typical comments including:

'No change on one of the sites I monitor, though we’ve already been mobile-friendly for some time, and mobile has completely surpassed desktop+tablet organic traffic combined within the last year.'

'[UK] If it’s rolled out – then it looks like a very small ranking factor indeed. 

I have […] sites that are mobile friendly and sites that aren’t – and I can’t detect any traffic changes whatsoever on a Google + Mobile segment.'

'The joke is nothing has changed.

 My sites have seen zero change. I have responsive sites and old school html sites using tables and ZERO change for any of them.

Was expecting a boost for the responsive sites and getting dinged for non-mobile friendly sites.

After one week nothing has happened.'

Who were the winners and losers?

Surveys of a defined set of keyword rankings across websites are useful for seeing the overall impact and Searchmetrics’ 'winners and losers’ report offers a useful review of the impact of these changes across a diverse keyword set: 

Mobile keyword Search from Searchmetrics

Looking at the losers in more detail show some large declines in visibility, but remember that these aren't visits, they are falls in an index of the rank of selected keywords. Searchmetrics advises...

It's important is to take the “Ratio Mobile vs Desktop” into account. It shows the difference between the performance in Desktop rankings and Mobile rankings. The lower the ratio, the worse is this domain ranking in Mobile compared to Desktop. These domains are the losers of the Mobilegeddon update.

Google Mobile friendly impact

Analysis of the first week listed as the website as the biggest loss in UK. Analysing it reveals how big an impact the update may have had on SEO performance, with losing visibility on key generic keywords including:

Keyword review from Next after Google's mobile algorithm update

Pages that were not mobile-friendly dropped on average five positions, which is enough of a decrease to significantly impact CTR and therefore share-of-voice.

Other losers included sites such as non-mobile-friendly Songlyrics:Songlyrics keyword review after Google's mobile algorithm update

Although there were some positive results, including GQ:

GQ keyword analysis after Google's mobile algorithm update

What does Google say?

It’s good that Google has given plenty of warning and education on this update. On April 21st they issued this clarification in a blog post that downplays the importance of the mobile-friendly ranking factor:

'While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query'.

This information would have been useful before and might have prevented the ‘mobilegeddon’ hype, although it does explain why the impact has been less than expected.

Google suggested that the lack of impact may have also been due to a significant number of websites migrating to mobile-friendly websites following their announcement of the mobile update. However, it could be perceived that it’s in Google’s interests to make the internet as mobile-friendly as possible, meaning they purposely hyped the impact to incentivise websites into migrating to mobile-friendly platforms.

There are also suggestions that the weighting of the mobile ranking factor may be increased through time, so the reasons for moving to a mobile responsive or adaptive design are as strong as ever.

How has the update impacted your site?

You will probably know this already! But if you're asked the question and need a quantitative answer, Dave Chaffey has created a handy step-by-step guide for checking the impact of ‘Mobilegeddon’.

Within Google Analytics you can check the impact by isolating mobile traffic through the creation of a Custom Segment (formerly Advanced segments) by choosing ‘+Add Segment’ from the bar at the top:

Google analytics reporting on your mobile keywords

  • Choose the 'Technology' segment option and then 'Mobile' from the device category.
  • Organic traffic is in the 'Traffic sources' segments tab, so you'll need to click this and then choose a Medium of organic which are 'SEO' visits.

Smartphone organic traffic

  • Once you’ve saved the segment you can then review the trends over time, comparing month-on-month or year-on-year as the example below demonstrates:

GA overview

What’s next for the Mobile Update?

It’s likely that Google will roll out improved iterations of the mobile-friendly algorithm over time. There are two key ways in which Google could make improvements:

  • 1. Get better at detecting whether there is a mobile experience

Google can make improvements to how it detects whether there is a mobile-friendly webpage or not. Currently it is possible to trick Google into thinking you have a mobile-friendly website and get the positional improvements even if you don’t. If you simply redirect a user to a mobile friendly page and then navigate them back to the desktop page, you will be rewarded as being classified as being mobile friendly.

  • 2. Quantify whether or not that is a good user experience

There isn’t much consideration given to how good or bad the user experience is on a mobile device. Over time, we would expect Google to incorporate more user signals into qualifying how good the mobile experience is look more at behaviour metrics and search sequence, so focus must now turn from just having a mobile site, to making it as good as possible.

So that's the story of Mobilegeddon, I hope it had a happy ending for you (so far)!

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Driving website outcomes using Facebook’s new Call-to-action buttons [@SmartInsights Alert] Wed, 20 May 2015 16:26:12 +0000 How to add Calls-to-action to your Facebook business page and ads


Recommended link: Facebook Help: Enhanced Calls-to-Action for your Adverts

Another day, another update from Facebook.

Today it's a relatively minor ad change.

But an opportunity to remind you about the similar, but more significant change relevant to all page owners, i.e. the ability to add organic call to action button options from your home page which was introduced earlier in 2015.

For example, here is the Smart Insights Facebook page with a 'Sign-up' Call-to-action (CTA) selected.

Facebook CTA Buttons

To learn more about how to implement these company page CTAs, see this Facebook help advice.

Now brands are now given the ability to promote the CTA with an ad. The benefit of this is that you can more prominently drive business outcomes rather than page likes.

Open up Facebook and you'll likely see this:

Call to Action Promote

Click on your CTA and you'll get the option to Promote:

Call to Action Promote Video

Be aware that if your normal cover image contains more than 20% text you'll need to upload something within the Ad Policy limits.

It's also worth re-writing the copy that will auto surface.

Here's what I've done on the Musicademy Page:

Call to Action Promote Mobile

I've uploaded a decent sized thumbnail from the video that the CTA links to (it's always good practice to make the thumbnail image representative of wherever the click leads). I've also crafted a headline and tweaked the default targeting:

Call to Action Promote Facebook

You get to see a preview of how it looks on mobile and desktop newsfeed. Click "Promote" and you'll then get a Review notice. Mine took considerably longer than the estimated 15 minutes.

Facebook Review

Refine your targeting

Once you've got your ad posted you can then further refine your targeting by going into the Ads Manager or Power Editor. For instance, you might want to target a custom audience or exclude a certain audience.

Is it worth it?

Who knows? I've not seen great traction from the Call to Action feature to data (a handful of video views each week) so this may well give a little more oompf to the Page. At the very least it's a novelty factor for now and at the most it's another way of surfacing a video ad (or whatever else your CTA is trying to get people to do).

Learn more about Facebook Marketing

Head over to The Digiterati website for information on their upcoming Advanced Facebook and social media webinars.

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Best practices for Optimizing Email marketing for Ecommerce Wed, 20 May 2015 10:20:28 +0000 Litmus, Liveclicker and Unbounce speak on conversion optimisation for ecommerce

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) can be a very complex creature – particularly when it comes to optimising ecommerce sites and campaigns. During this process we need to put our subjective opinions aside, create some robust hypothesis’ based upon data and insights and try to start optimising for the biggest wins first – not always an easy task.

So in the run up to the eagerly awaited online eCommerce Summit we asked three of our expert speakers from the summit the following question:

“So many channels, so many aspects of a campaign to test. What’s your key piece of advice that you would provide to increase conversions for an ecommerce site?”

dave-hollandDave Holland, European Regional Director of Liveclicker and expert presenter for one of our eCommerce Summit webinars  “Cutting through the clutter in the inbox – Exploring the Benefits of Real-Time Email”, gives us his thoughts:

“Marketers have a new opportunity to drive site conversions through contextually relevant off-site messages - email, in particular.  Every marketer knows that personalized email messages convert better than 'batch and blast' messages.  Unfortunately, most e-commerce businesses lack access to the rich store of data that's required to deliver personalization at scale.

To solve for this, marketers should seek to capitalize on each recipient's real-time personal context: geolocation, time, device, weather, etc.  All of this can be done at the moment a recipient opens his email, thereby enabling 1:1 personalization to everyone in the database.”

Join Dave and hear more about real-time emails in his webinar “Cutting through the clutter in the inbox – Exploring the Benefits of Real-Time Email”

speaker-justineJustine Jordan, Marketing Director of Litmus and expert presenter for one of our eCommerce Summit webinars  “Designed for Success: Optimizing the Email Experience”, provides us with her advice on the matter:

"While many marketers utilize A/B testing with email, the focus is often on the subject line. To increase ecommerce conversions, incorporate new and varied A/B tests into your email marketing. One of my favorite things to test is preview text—the little bit of copy that follows the subject line in many email programs. Instead of the all-too-common "click here to see images in this email" (or even worse, "having trouble?") copy that is often standard in this space, highlight a promotion, free shipping offer, or other content that will encourage the subscriber to open.

Your call to action (CTA) is arguably the most important part of any ecommerce email and should also be the subject of A/B testing. The possibilities are endless—try testing different language ('shop now' vs. 'buy now' is a personal favorite), adding an arrow, or changing the color. Bulletproof buttons used for CTAs will also display even when images are turned off, which can help increase conversions in otherwise image-heavy emails."

Join Justine and hear some more great advice on optimizing emails in her webinar: “Designed for Success: Optimizing the Email Experience”

speaker-oliOli Gardner, Co-Founder of Unbounce and expert presenter for one of our eCommerce Summit webinars  “Create Campaigns that Convert Using Conversions-Centred Design” provides us with his wisdom on this subject:

“One of the most under-utilized aspects of e-commerce optimization is to create specific experience for each of your most competitive features/benefits and business advantages.

If you have same day delivery, next day delivery, locally sourced ingredients etc. you should be running paid search campaigns to capture those searches, and drive them to landing pages that confirm that your business has this feature before you send them to your site and further down the funnel.

Without this you risk your website not communicating these things in a timely enough manner – especially if you send campaign traffic to your homepage. If you can own these types of search queries you will have a large competitive advantage.”

Join Oli and hear more about why your homepage sucks for campaign traffic in his webinar  “Create Campaigns that Convert Using Conversions-Centred Design”.

Lot's of great ideas and there's plenty more to come!   Join us for our online eCommerce Summit  which features Dr Dave Chaffey, Dela Quist of Alchemy Worx, Oli Gardner of Unbounce, Catherine Toole of StickyContent, Rob Moores of Paypal, Justine Jordan and Chad White of Litmus, Olly Beckett of Expedia and more!

Register now for this free summit to ensure your place!


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Customer Activation – Marketing with a measurable purpose Wed, 20 May 2015 08:08:00 +0000 6 tactics to get started with Customer Activation

As a marketing leader you know that each customer experiences numerous touch points with your company throughout their lifecycle. With Lifecycle marketing it’s the job of marketing to ensure that each interaction has a positive impact and moves the customer on to the next stage. But how can you measure the success of your combined efforts and their impact on your customer’s lifecycle? It's time to think about Customer Activation...

Customer Activation means motivating customers to move to the next stage of their lifecycle faster than they would on their own.

But, how do you activate your customers when you’re interacting with millions?

You need to think about your customers' lifecycle from potential customer to eventual advocacy. Cultivating relationships with your customers throughout their lifecycle is key to extracting maximum value from them.

Unfortunately many marketers fail in activation through not delivering effective, relevant emails. The problem is shown by the 98% of consumers surveyed in a recent Janrain study on solving the engagement gap, who said the information they receive from marketers is off target. And 94% of survey respondents reported taking one or more of the following actions after consistently being mis-targeted:
Janrain study on Customer Activation

How to get started with Customer Activation

  • 1. Get to know your customers: Engagement throughout the lifecycle isn’t just about the value you can cultivate from your relationship with the customer - it’s also about the value you can deliver to your customer. A recent McKinsey & Company global survey found that the ability to create sustainable and engaging customer relationships is the top priority for CMOs, even taking precedence over demonstrating bottom-line results.
  • 2. Begin buyer persona creation: Buyer personas represent your target customers. Based on what you know about your customers’ demographics, behaviour, transactions, needs and motivations, each persona should capture something unique about that type of customer that can be used to better engage them. To create your buyer personas, interview your current customers, potential customers, and members of your organisation that interact with customers.
  • 3. Identify digital behaviours: Building personas based on demographic information isn’t new. Taking into account a customer’s behaviour is now possible in our digital world, even with millions and millions of customers. Knowing your customers in terms of their demographics tells you who they are, but knowing how they behave tells you what they’re interested in.
  • 4. Map customer journeys: Once you’ve defined your personas, you need to outline the stages of the customer lifecycle as a customer journey map. That way you can develop a strategy that speaks directly to customers based on where they are in the lifecycle.

Start by mapping out these stages based on the customer behaviours you note as customers move through the lifecycle. Pay attention to the channels your customers turn to and the types of information they want at each stage.

  • 5. Take the reins: Move consumers through their lifecycle faster:
    With your customer lifecycle and personas defined, you’re now in a position to deliver relevant, personalised information and content that addresses your customers’ interests and lifecycle stage. Specifically, you’ll be able to offer information and content that can trigger the customer to take action.
  • 6. Identify customer stage and speed: Decide which stages you want to drive customers to, and which stages you want to ensure customers avoid. In other words, are customers getting stuck in stages you want to move them out of quickly? For example, do customers become dormant for a year after their first purchase? How can you keep customers engaged even if they’re not making a purchase? 

If you’re like most marketers, you grasp the importance of moving away from a channel-or product-focused perspective to a customer-centric model. We understand that it can be daunting to think about making that shift.

To help create a plan to activate your customers we have produced a customer activation work sheet which includes a template showing the questions to answer before producing your customer activation plan. The questions we’ve outlined in this worksheet provide you with a solid framework to start aligning your efforts with the customer lifecycle

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5 techniques for getting the most from Google Analytics Tue, 19 May 2015 17:10:49 +0000 What do businesses need to do to gain more insights and value from Google Analytics?

Successful-Analytics-coverYou know the way it is with using Google Analytics... nearly all businesses have it installed, but far fewer have customised it correctly for their business AND have a structured approach for using it to improve their online marketing. I think many business owners and marketers know that because of this and the lack of skills to interpret the data, the obvious potential of using Google Analytics to review and improve online marketing is missed by many organisations. The reason for this missed opportunity is not a technology problem. As Avinash Kaushik has pointed out, in his 10/90 rule of managing analytics, that's because this is largely a People issue, i.e. how to provide People with the right processes, tools and KPIs to drive performance.

Those most aware of the challenge and the solution are often Analytics consultants who have worked in multiple businesses to assist them in this process. So, I was pleased to see new in-depth advice available in Successful Analytics: Gain Business Insights by Managing Google Analytics, the latest book by Brian Clifton. You may know Brian as the author of Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics which he wrote after his time as the first Head of Web Analytics at Google EMEA, drawing on the experiences of many analytics consulting projects.

After reading his new Successful Analytics book, I was keen to invite Brian talk to our Smart Insights members and Brian has agreed to discuss these in our next webinar when he will be explaining 5 of the most common mistakes of managing Google Analytics and how to solve them.

I also thought it would be useful to give my take on some of the best advice for managing analytics Brian that gives in his book. The main takeaways I took from the book were:

1. You need to carefully customise your Analytics setup

Returning to my first point in this article, customisation of Google Analytics is often missed, so businesses don't have the right Goals or Events setup in Google Analytics so that they can see the value generated by different types of website visitors and the content they browse. For example, it's common in business-to-business marketing to not have a value attributed to Google Analytics goals for outcomes such as leads generated, but without this, you can't work backwards to readily see which content is responsible for prompting leads and which digital media channels are most valuable in achieving this.

2. A STAG audit will set you on the right track

To get started with customisation, it's not always essential to get a consultant in since Google has extensive help systems and learning content in the Google Digital Analytics academy. Agencies can help here also. With the right type of Google Analytics audit template like that available in our toolkit, you can review which customisations are needed, and which are missing.
Brian's new book has a detailed advice on this in chapter 3 where he explains his STAG or Site Tracking Assessment and Guidelines process. Related to this there is a 15 checkpoint Scorecard which I think would work really well for agencies too, for example when setting up new sites or taken on new client accounts. Data Quality is also reviewed in depth in Chapter 4 too.

3. Ask the right questions

Taking the smart decisions using Google Analytics and more generally in managing digital marketing is, in large part, about asking the right questions. This is an approach we use on Smart Insights with our resources highlighting the key questions to ask yourself, colleagues or agencies. Others will likely ask these questions of you too, so it's best to be prepared. Successful Analytics takes a similar approach with regular tables throughout the book summarising the questions to ask.

4. Integrate customer, campaign and sales data. Use attribution.

Arguably the biggest change to Google Analytics over the last couple of years isn't the interface enhancements or new reports rather it's the launch of Universal Analytics which now includes capabilities to integrate data from other sources. This may be customer data such as demographics or campaign data. Brian explains all the options so you can see which is relevant to you. The importance of campaign tracking and attribution are also covered in these sections.

5. Build a capable Digital Insights Team

Brian ends the book with a detailed review of the options for structuring an insights team in different types of business. He starts by looking at the 'Dream Team' of ideal roles and responsibilities in a large organisation and then looks at which of these skills are important in a smaller team. This goes into the details of what job descriptions and the interview process should look for. However the analytics skills needed by non Insights team marketers aren't covered which would be interesting to see also.

You can learn more about Brian's Successful Analytics book here and Expert members can listen to Brian explain how to setup Google Analytics the right way in our next Digital In-Depth webinar for Expert members.

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15 handy tools for hands-on content marketers Tue, 19 May 2015 10:30:00 +0000 Digital marketing tools to support your content marketing

digital marketing tools

The importance of content marketing in a business cannot be overlooked especially since we have to work hard to engage our audiences rather than pushing messages to them. Long gone are the days where creating billboard ads and radio spots were enough to get your business to the next level. Today, consumers want more and they like to have content they can relate to in order to feel a part of your business.

Content can help you to craft a story about your business to help you connect further with your customers and to share your unique values, showcasing the personality of your brand.

It's not easy to get started with your content marketing strategy.  Before any success story can be realized, a business needs to have the right tools in place to be in a better position to fulfil the business goals. Think in the lines of a marketer or a journalist and create content that is not only informative but interesting as well. You need to keep your audience intrigued so that they can keep on coming back for more.

These are the tools I find indispensable for content marketing. How many do you use?

Tools for content research and discovery

  • 1. Google Trends

With this tool at your disposal, it can go a long way in helping you to track the popularity of keywords in Google Search over a specified period of time. Google Trends also allows you to see the things that are appealing and popular among people.

  • 2. Topsy

An awesome tool when it comes to identifying trending topics and shareable ideas. The tool is available as both a free and paid version to match the needs of its users. Topsy has the ability to search content across links, tweets, videos and photos to address the multiple needs of the users. Besides, in addition to Topsy you may also try such tools as Wefollow and Ritetag.

  • 3. BuzzSumo

This is research a specific keyword to identify the content that is being shared the most relating to the keyword. With these search recommendations, you can then create your own.

  • 4. Alltop

Upon selection of a keyword, Alltop will provide you with an array of articles which you can use to generate ideas for your own content. The results you get are strictly linked to the keyword you input into the tool.

  • 5. HootSuite

Hootesuite is very effective especially when it comes to managing multiple social media accounts. It's a free tool and this is why I am homing in on it, even though there are an array of automation tools available which are paid services. This platform helps the user to successfully synchronize the different social media accounts. In addition to this, it is also effective in helping on find new topic ideas for your audience.   

Tools for content creation

  • 6. Copyscape

Your content needs to be unique and original. Part of ensuring this is possible is through protecting your online content. Copyscape is designed to help you ensure that the content you create is 100% unique and original. Plagiarism is not tolerated anywhere and with Copyscape, you are guaranteed protection.

  • 7. Google Keyword Planner Tool

Ranking amongst the top sites on the major search engines is what we all want. However, achieving it is not easy. With this keyword search tool, you can search for the right pairing of keywords to use throughout your content. When properly done it can greatly generate traffic to your site. It helps when building an advanced search funnel.

  • 8. Portent

The fact that Portent provides you working titles that can help you build content can be seen an effective way of getting you started with your content. In most cases, this is normally seen as the hardest part during content creation. Simply just type in the keyword and the tool will generate titles.

  • 9. Wordcounter

Besides just helping you get the correct count of your words and character, Wordcounter by Essaymama is also capable of identifying words and phrases that are most repeated hence giving you an opportunity to make adjustments.

  • 10. Canva

Content creation also involves images and graphics. In fact, visual content is believed to have carry more weight as compared to non-visual content. Canva is a tool that is designed to help the user generate beautiful graphics without even the need of having a designer's skills. The program was developed with a very simple interface that allows you to drag and drop content before creating the graphics.

  • 11. ThingLink

This interactive media tool is ideal for creating engaging content. It does this by helping the user to add amazing media links to photos and videos. The program can be used to create interactive news photography, maps, posters, infographics and catalogues amongst other types of media.

  • 12. Piktochart

This stunning tool is designed to offer assistance when it comes to creating infographics. Piktochart comes with well over 100 theme elements that can be used in the process together with images found in the library. You can also opt to upload your own images and use them as you please. In addition to Piktochart you may also want to try

Tools to help with content planning

  • 13. Sprout Social

This scheduler is designed as a social media monitoring tool that has the ability of allowing its users to schedule messages and posts on the different social media channels including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Besides just queuing posts and cross-post content, Sprout Social can also allow you to integrate RSS feeds for sharing.

  • 14. Gather Content

This involves a simple procedure using site mapping tools to easily consolidate content in a new website or even in the case of redesigning the site. Using the drag and drop technique, you can simply organize the way the content appears in the website, it makes it easier to structure the entire workflow. Planning involves increasing pages, collecting content, uploading the data and finally saving. The project can be managed by assigning pages, creating due dates, deliberating content elements, and establishing status approvals and transferring the contents to the desired CMS.

  • 15. Compendium

Most if not all businesses strive to maintain a consistent message for their brand. Compendium is a program that is specifically designed to help you with that. The tool allows you to easily create and place appealing content both from inside and outside your company.

So those are my 15 recomended tools - how do yours compare - are there others which you would choose instead?

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