lightbulb creative agency secrets content marketing

A Masterclass In Content Marketing – When You’re Out Of Ideas.

I was reading my Facebook feed and a US based content marketer of my acquaintance posted this request.

“OK, we write blog posts every month for a beach client. We’ve been writing for him for several years and the team is getting a little brain dead trying to drum up fresh ideas. Would love your help. They are a family-friendly vacation rental company (houses for a week, no weekends). Please leave your brilliant suggestions below & thanks!”

I couldn’t resist the challenge – but first, I started to read the answers she’d already garnered from her community.

What did I find out?

That there are a ton of creative folks whose minds are happy to help out when asked.

And so instead of stunning you with my amazing insight, I’m going to reproduce below the long list of suggestions made about what content to write about for a beach client.  And show you how you can adapt and learn from this list for your own business content marketing. 

How to use this content insight for your business

  • First, print out this article onto paper (old-fashioned, but helpful for this exercise).
  • Pick up a writing instrument (mine’s a fountain pen with liquid ink).
  • Draw two columns alongside the list of articles.
  • Go though the list and in the first column write down the underlying theme of the article title.
  • Then in the second column write down what an equivalent theme would be for your business.
  • Lastly, brainstorm 3-5 topic titles for each theme you write down for your business.

Have you got over one year’s worth of content already?

Here’s how to make the most of your archive and to lock good content into strong keywords and hashtags that convert.

The goal of content marketing is to get your website found, your brand recognised and aligned with the reasons people buy from you.  Creative Agency Secrets does local marketing.  I have many local marketing keyword phrase-laden articles on our website.  So when the local “grease monkey” in Pukekohe (don’t try to pronounce that if you’re not fluent in Maori) searched online for a local marketing agency, we showed up in the list, he called us; we’re meeting on Friday.  This is a marketing tactic that works and starts dialogue. And you can do it.

But if you think that ‘build-it-and-they-will-come’ is the tactic, you’re wrong. 

You must understand why people buy, what attracts them and then double down on the tactics and topics that already work for you.

Get canny with advanced content marketing

Make a keyword theme map with a few hundred keywords you’re probably not targeting. The keywords should dictate the content you write.  Use an independent, non-Google, non-Bing keyword discovery tool like SBI (we have an account and can do this for you).

Now you have that keyword theme map, which of the keywords are on page 2 of search results that could benefit from relevant, internal backlinks on your site? 

Also, does your business-model actually need new content? What does any single, new piece of content do for the business? Instead, how about focusing on the 20% of content that is already producing results and instead of writing more – promote that content more aggressively?  

Re-purpose the content that converts and share each piece more often also put it into every format (i.e. image square, image rectangle, video, audio, cinemagraph, infographic, ebook, slideshow, podcast guest) to maximise both its impact and its re-useability.

If the location is a very small place that is not overly commercial use the social content which is already being shared by visitors by searching “nearby” or local name hashtags.  The smart folks at from Socialize.co.nz demonstrated this to the Paeroa Chamber of Commerce members.  They brought up content on social media that tourists and visitors were sharing.  This already had the place name tagged on photos and other socially shared content.  If local business owners re-shared that content, while tagging each other, they could build up some serious momentum around the town name on social media.  And all this without creating any original content at all.

So thanks to Karen, she has helped us write your masterclass on advanced content marketing. 

46 Content Article Suggestions for a Beach Client

  1. What to pack (by season, by age of child, when Grandma is staying) 
  2. Activities for road trips 
  3. Kid friendly restaurants/ attractions 
  4. Road trip checklist to make sure your vehicle is road ready
  5. Beach fashion
  6. What to do when the weather is less than perfect
  7. First aid tips
  8. Disaster relief while on vacation at the beach
  9. Books to read on a beach
  10. Local beach walks
  11. Easy meals
  12. Meals using local ingredients and where to buy them
  13. Newest spots to check out this year… There are always new restaurants opening
  14. A feature on Oregon inlet fishing charters… My next door neighbor will be on the newest edition of wicked tuna, on fishin’ frenzy.
  15. The history of the area is also very interesting… And there are a wide array of topics, from casinos to shipwrecks, to boat building.
  16. The different types of architecture you can find out here is neat, too… Flat top houses (there is a tour each year), nags head style cottages (what do each of the different ornamental elements on them mean?), life saving stations, etc
  17. Beach nourishment is coming to the northernmost beaches this year, too. What is beach nourishment?  They are dredging sand from the ocean and pumping it onto the beach to widen them.
  18. Top reasons people didn’t go to the beach, but should have
  19. How to make the best sand castles 
  20. Top 5 reasons not to bury a sibling in the sand 
  21. Food that goes best with sandy fingers 
  22. Beat the heat with these 3 things 
  23. How to avoid sand spurs
  24. Top 3 things kids really want in a beach vacation 
  25. Top 3 things adults really want in a beach vacatio, 
  26. Don’t leave___ until you have eaten the____ 
  27. What NOT to do when you’re at the beach (leave the work and technology at home) 
  28. What to do when you want to sit on the beach and your spouse doesn’t
  29. Fun stuff off the beaten path
  30. Volunteer options when you’re staying at the beach (relax and do good at the same time)
  31. Best place to get coupons to save money on local attractions
  32. Do this, not that (places to go, places to avoid, etc.)
  33. Top movies to watch on netflix while you’re at the beach
  34. How to tell if you shouldn’t wear a bikini or speedos
  35. Top reasons to visit in seasons other than summer. There are lots of events in the spring and fall 
  36. Sea glass and shells are best found in the winter months
  37. The Secret to finding the best shells and sea glass
  38. Best places to take your kids out to eat
  39. Which restaurants are best for a date night
  40. Art projects for the beach
  41. 10 things to bring with if driving to save $$
  42. What to do in the rain
  43. Playing card games for 5-8 year olds
  44. Camps or other activities they can do
  45. Fun community activities if you want to meet others
  46. Where to shop for food
  47. Best source of local restaurant discounts

How to Effectively Launch a New Product

A product launch will be a busy time for a business, because the whole company will be taking steps to create a marketing campaign, reach the right buyers and build PR exposure.

However, with so many tasks taking place across the company, it can often be easy to overlook many effective marketing opportunities. We are therefore providing helpful advice on how to effectively launch a new product.

Create a Successful Sales Plan

It is important you approach each product launch differently. Each time you want to promote a new item or service to a customer, you must develop a unique sales plan. Within the sales plan, you must set goals for how many items you expect to sell within the first year, second year and fifth year.

You must also identify your core target market so you know exactly who to advertise a product to, and you could use this data with paid social media advertising placements, so you can reach the right demographic with the right product.

The plan should also determine how you are going to bring your product to your target market. For example, will you sell the item directly to the customer or with a third-party supplier?

Animated Product Videos

Once you know exactly who you need to reach and how you are going to reach them, it is time to start creating the high-quality marketing materials. While many people will turn to the likes of SEO and PPC campaigns to drive traffic to their website, one of the best ways to ensure people engage with your brand is to create an entertaining product video.

With the likes of Facebook Video set to become the next big app, you should already be taking steps to incorporate marketing videos into your campaigns. This is your chance to be different from your competitors, as you can add personality and fun to your branding. If you want to stand out from your industry rivals, consider an animated product video, which will capture the audience’s attention, whilst explaining the new product and telling your company’s story.

Expand to a New Market

If you already have a warehouse of established products, it can be tempting to simply integrate the new item into the same sales process; however, you could be missing out on viable sales opportunities that could maximise your ROI.

Do not be afraid to reach out to new buyers to promote your new product. For example, you could promote the item to powerhouse companies to make a bulk order for sales in their stores. You simply need to find the right buyer and make a great presentation – and you could even use the animated product videos mentioned above to help you make a pitch.

It is not just powerhouse chains that may fall in love with your product. You can also make a pitch to TV shopping networks, various online stores and catalogues. The worst that can happen is they say no, but you will not know unless you try.

Push Notifications: Is this the death of email newsletters?

In the world of Digital Marketing, there is a constant need for innovation to stay ahead of competitors and create the next novel experience in order to sell to customers. We saw it first with the use of email marketing communications in the 90s which was a bandwagon – everyone jumped on board and our in-boxes got swamped with newsletter.

Nowadays there are a plethora of services available to the digitally savvy, but how effective are they, and are they likely to oust the tried and tested methods?

So our thesis is that email newsletter subscriptions are falling because we get too many of them. EdgeRank removes the free postings by businesses on Facebook and Twitter is too crowded.

BUT people want high quality content.

So how can we deliver content from our website without using a newsletter or social media?

To answer this question, let’s look at a relatively new service to enter the market, Push Notifications  and how they compare to our most powerful channel at present, the good old fashion email/newsletter subscriber list.

So before we go any further, what exactly are Push Notifications?

Push notifications are simply alerts that pop up on your computer or mobile, on demand when the publisher releases something of interest to you.

“Hmm well this sounds kind of invasive though…“

I hear you. Pop-ups generally are annoying and frustrating, however these alerts only appear when you opt in to the list. A cookie is placed in your browser and each time the publisher wants to send out a notification, every browser containing that specific cookie receives the alert, regardless of whether they are browsing the web or not. In some ways they are less invasive than the hassle of having to enter your contact details to download an eBook. 

To find out if Push Notifications were a worthy substitute or indeed even a necessary supplement to our tried and tested marketing methods, we asked ourselves the following questions:

Are consumers growing weary of newsletters and email marketing?

I recently unsubscribed from at least 5 different brands’ emails because of the constant bombardment of marketing material. If others are finding themselves doing the same, does that pose a risk to the future of email marketing communications? And if so, are Push Notifications a smarter way to engage?

Are people still interested in content?

The old adage that ‘content is king’ may have held weight in the past, but do customers actually want to receive endless articles and information related to products they might purchase? With every brand under the sun fighting for your attention as a consumer, how much is too much?

My answer is yes. Emphatically. Good content gets liked, shared and commented upon.

Will people actually engage with these invasive interruptions?

My initial thoughts are yes, if used sparingly. Too much of anything can be bad. I feel the key to making the most out of Push Notifications is moderation. Subscribers aren’t going to respond well to being pestered several times a day while they browse the web. But they may be interested in what’s been going on if it is restricted to once a week, for example. Similar to SMS notifications, users must interact with the push notification in order to view it or close it. Compare this with email, where readers can simply delete, filter, file or ignore without having to open the message at all. Push notifications by-pass this barrier to opening email by displaying the message title straight away. 

You have to respond one way or another!

Would Push subscribers never have joined the email list anyway?

Perhaps. Even if there is no clear preference for one over the other, having both allows your brand to capture your audience’s attention in a medium that works for them. Without having to provide an email address, we may never know who has opted in to Push Notifications, which makes communicating outside of Push challenging unless we can cross-match against other subscriber actions.

With email and push running simultaneously, which one performs better?

We ran Push Notifications for the second half of February on a client website. Our provider of choice was OneSignal – a service that promises to remain free forever! An interesting claim, but what’s the REAL cost? I suspect Edward Snowden would fall off his стул (chair) in frustration  – let’s save it for another day.

Results from Push Notifications test

  • At the beginning of February, we had 5,334 email subscribers. At the end of the month, that figure had risen to 5,426 – a gain of 92 subscribers.
  • Push Notifications began on February 15th. Two weeks later we had 63 push subscribers.

Our Push Notifications were promoting the same material as our emails, so which one performed better?

Our blog article “Plan, Develop and Write – Content Training Workshop” was published on both. The newsletter received a respectable open rate of 30% and a Click Through Rate (CTR) of 1.4%. The Push Notification received a surprising CTR of 21.43%!

The Push list is much smaller than the email list; that is a significant difference.

This was obviously only one campaign and we have not yet built up a data set large enough to draw significant conclusions.

So do we think Push could supersede email? Well the jury is still out on that one, we’ll continue to test them both and come back with our conclusions in the future.

In the mean time, what do you think about Push?

Plan Develop and Write – content workshop training

There’s a training event run by The Online Academy coming up next Friday 3rd March in Auckland.

 

Content marketing workshop

 

Learn more at The Online Business Academy – how to Plan, develop and Write content that will rock your brand.

 

 

We’re hiring – Marketing Assistant – Digital Marketing

Marketing Assistant specialising in Digital Marketing and Copywriting.

Creative Agency Secrets provides digital marketing services for brands and businesses. We are a leading agency innovating with marketing techniques like social media, community building, direct response and advanced blogging.

Working with us you will learn how to run a website, ecommerce shop, blog, email marketing, database management and social media marketing.

This position is suited to an applicant with 1+ year experience in a similar role who wants to accelerate their learning and move up towards being a Marketing Manager.

An interest in the internet is essential and a marketing, communications, business studies degree is optional. Some prior knowledge of websites, blogs and online marketing is needed. Excellent written communication is required and a writing test in English will be part of the application.

Send your CV and one page describing an event you ran (party, event, gig, trip to the beach etc) what you did to market and promote it. Include a list of the tools and techniques you used, what worked and what didn’t work and the outcomes.

This is a full time job based at our Eden Terrace offices.  Pay is from $40,000 per annum plus 20 days holiday.

Machine Learning

Machine Learning Impact on the Future of Content and SEO

The age of Artificial Intelligence is here and it’s powering up the simplest things in our daily lives. In a nutshell, Machine Learning is the science of giving computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Kinda like showing it pictures of kittens until it creates enough patterns to identify another kitten by itself from new images. It’s very similar to how our human brains learn while we are kids. A few companies already have this type of technology running (and evolving by the second), like Facebook and Google. Every day we input more and more content online as check-ins at favourite restaurants, search queries for hotels for our next vacation, pictures with friends and peers. The list goes on.

Big Brother is watching and he can help sell your stuff

This is a bit of a futurology exercise, I know. But don’t get it confused with any supernatural nonsensery, I’m certainly not writing this article on an Ouija board. It’s pure (computer) science that you don’t have to understand completely, just harvest its potential.

Taking advantage of the massive quantity of data stored online is incredibly useful to pinpoint your target audience, facilitating conversions. Because we blindly “agreed to the terms and conditions” of most online services, social media platforms can freely record information and trace it back to your profile for future use. In a world where virtually everyone is connected 24/7, this is actually a cool thing from the marketing perspective (if you ignore the obvious user privacy issues of having every move tracked online).

Ever noticed how Facebook shows (mostly) spot on sponsored content on your timeline? By analysing everything you like and share, Facebook creates a detailed persona of each user to target ads in the best way possible. And it’s not only what you do on the platform, they can track your footprint in other websites thanks to their Facebook Pixel.

Machine Learning helps predict your client’s future actions

As you probably know, we humans are creatures of habit, which makes recording our behaviour a simple task to the machines. Knowing that, Amazon and Netflix have mastered how to give the best “related products” suggestions you can find online. Their state of the art database is taking advantage of Machine Learning to predict your next clicks offering highly tailored content. Forget one-size-fits-all. To thrive in the current market, companies must pay attention to User Experience like never before.

A simpler (and free) way to implement something a lot less fancy as that is two tools called Content Analytics and Heat Maps, both part of the SumoMe suite. They record data of how far down your readers are getting in your articles and what links are generating more clicks on your pages. With this information, you can do very good educated guesses regarding what’s working and what to change on your website. This is not the “machine learning” approach, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

Forget that “beep-boop” bullsh*t R2-D2 has been feeding us for decades

Artificial Intelligence is also being used to write texts without human supervision. For example, the biggest Wikipedia contributor, Sverker Johansson, with more than 2.7 million articles published, is actually using a bot called Lsjbot to create all content.

If you think it would be obvious to differentiate between human or computer generated articles, think again. According to a study from Karlstad University, Sweden, “the readers are not able to discern automated content from content written by a human“. The researchers used two sports articles (these tend to be more factual and analytical) one written by a journalist and another by a software previously called Statsheet (now called Wordsmith). Big media outlets as Los Angeles Times and Forbes already use similar technology as a base for some articles, with humans later improving the content before they hit publish.

And what if I told you that the previous paragraph wasn’t actually written by me, but by software?

Well, I would be lying.

But for one second you actually thought about the possibility, right? Welcome to the future.

Get creative, experiment, innovate

And how can you take advantage of this in your business? There are a few services (like the IBM Watson) that offer the power of “computer minds” to businesses.

One experiment that I believe is worth the try is applying “robot talk” to your images SEO. Using a free tool like Microsoft’s CaptionBot you can let their machines determine the Alt tag for your image in your website. With Google giving more autonomy to RankBrain and relying more upon machine learning to deliver the best search results, it’s not about how you describe an image anymore. It’s how the machines see it.

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

Preparatory work for direct mail lowers costs

Direct mail is a highly effective marketing technique that delivers sales revenue in a short time frame.  

Some direct mail is poorly conceived and so does not achieve its potential.

[WARNING – this is not always true].

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

I received three mailers from a printing firm which serve as a great example of a campaign that could have been much more effective with some pre-planning working with an expert in direct mail campaign structure such as us.

Direct Mail campaign structure

Using a mailing list of marketing agencies, three print pieces of DM were posted out.

The copy promoted “digital by nature” and a new world of digital printing.

The positives

  • Each card had a number to show where it came in the sequence
  • Each one showed different paper colours front and back
  • Each card had the print specifications for the front and back detailed which was cute
  • All print was beautifully executed
  • The 3rd card showed how to set up artwork to work with digital White Toner
  • The 4th card showed how to set up artwork to work with digital Clear Toner

The negatives

  • I did not receive the first card so the campaign opener was lost
  • My agency does not buy print or do graphic design, we are not a good prospect for this service
  • No landing page for the campaign on the website
  • When I first visited there wasn’t a mention of the campaign on the homepage, there is now.
  • This goes to a landing page which has the wrong link in the contact us button.

    wrong link

    Wrong link – testing would have showed this up

How I would have improved the campaign

  1. Combined telephone canvassing with direct mail
    1. Checked the database by phone first asking one question “Do you design for print?”
    2. This would have reduced the downstream print and mailing costs, focused the campaign
  2. Published a landing page URL on the collateral
    1. Tested all the links so the contact us URL was correct (it currently references the same page it’s on)
    2. Included a “behind the scenes” video to show the inside track of the skill Valley Print used to create the mailers and the challenges they faced e.g. printing white on black for the envelope
  3. Used a courier delivery not NZ Post to improve delivery success
    1. This is particularly important for a posted print direct mail series
  4. Followed up by phone with
    1. an invitation to watch the video
    2. stay in touch
    3. subscribe to news updates
    4. further qualify for future work opportunities
  5. This would have built a mailing list, fully up to date and ready for in-house new business sales team to continue to work in the coming months
  6. Planned follow up campaigns including more of the excellent tutorials for designers

Ready to talk direct mail with us?

Give us your challenge and let the creative team loose!

2017 light trail fireworks art

January website checks you MUST make

It’s January – we are back from the Christmas break and many firms are still on a skeleton staff.  Some are back full time – but we’re all filled with the pressures of a new year – new marketing plans, new services, new products.

For most of us, we’ve already forgotten the marketing we did in December.  But we shouldn’t.

Because many websites are now inaccurate, out of date or just plain giving WRONG information.

Here’s a good example I called up today.  I got their “out of hours” telephone answering recorded message. It is past the 9th January and nobody’s home…. cooeee…..

Company contact information is wrong

Company contact information is wrong

So if you have a holiday closure message on your website – get that fixed up and corrected pronto.

Copyright dates on website footers are another culprit.  Some are obviously years out of date and others still say 2016

Website with date out of date

MOZ footer date out of date

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Automate publishing

Post Expirator Plugin for WP

Post Expirator Plugin for WP

Website CMS systems mostly offer automation services which allow you to set future dates to un-publish pages and posts.  Take a read of this explanation of how to “expire” a WordPress post using the WP Post Expirator plugin.  Set a future date at which the post will stop being visible – you can choose whether to return to draft or to delete the post.

Use code to update dates

Here is the code to insert into your footer to ensure that the copyright year automatically rolls over on January 1st.  Get it pasted into your website FAST.

<script type=”text/javascript”>

document.write(new Date().getFullYear());

</script>

Better marketing processes

Of course, fixing up your mistakes now is fine – but wouldn’t it be better to not have made them in the first place?

How about you set up reminders in your calendar to nudge you to manually remove or unpublish information?

Get those plugins and extensions installed so the work is done for you by machines.

Or pay an outsourced marketing consultant like Creative Agency Secrets to do it for you.

Happy new year – and if you’re in need of some marketing and new business year planning, come to our Auckland workshop on 26th January.