Archive | June 2018

10 Ways to Find High Performing Content Ideas

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11 Content Curation and Collaboration Tools to Save You Time

content-curation-collaboration-tools-save-timeEditor’s note: You may have missed the original version of this post a couple years ago. We’re sharing Aaron’s updated version today, as more efficient teamwork is a constant need for content marketers.

As content marketers, we have our work cut out for us.

Getting original ideas off the ground is hard enough. Unfortunately, when we add all the curating, collecting, and collaborating necessary for full-scale engagement, overwhelmed is an understatement.

Yet, curating and collaborating is essential. And not just for in-house research. By a landslide, social media posts top the lists of types of content both B2C (96%) and B2B (94%) marketers say they use.

The problem is that social media marketing is notoriously self-centered. Without curation, we inevitably pack our feeds with pitch after promotion after pitch. And, without collaboration, we end up being echo chambers of our proclivities — instead of a diverse repository of thought leadership.

Without curation, marketers pack their feeds with pitch after promotion after pitch, says @AaronOrendorff. Click To TweetWhen Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs asked B2B marketers what was holding them back from developing a full-scale content marketing strategy, the top two roadblocks were a “small team” (67%) and “lack of time” (44%):

reasons-b2b-no-content-marketing-strategy-research

The question is: How can you create a system to curate and collaborate on content that doesn’t require more people or waste your time?

The answer lies in these 11 tools.

1. Quuu

Before getting into Quuu, let me head off an objection: “How is Evernote not No. 1?”

Two reasons. First, because most of us already use Evernote for content marketing, including it wouldn’t be groundbreaking. Second, mastering Evernote can be daunting and it’s not a platform I can speak to with expertise.

What I can speak to is the desire to automate social sharing without losing the human touch.

Use @quuu_co to automate social sharing without losing the human touch, says @AaronOrendorff. Click To TweetEnter Quuu. Quuu is the first social-sharing automation tool curated by humans, vetted by humans, designed for humans. Here’s how it works:

The Quuu community submits unique social posts through Quuu Promote into categories that are reviewed by Quuu’s editorial board to ensure quality. Those posts are then shared automatically across your connected social accounts — Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook — or you can have Quuu send you daily suggestions to quickly sort through yourself. Both the automatic sharing and suggestions are based on your selection of relevant categories.

In addition, its Collections offer even more choices for direct and native sharing:

quuu-social-sharing-automation

But, what if you want to go beyond individual curation?

2. Smarp

Naturally, I’m a huge fan of Slack for direct sharing and company-wide communication channels. The struggle with Slack is that — without augmentation from plug-ins — it’s difficult to overlap with group collecting and direct social sharing.

With a UI that resembles social networks, Smarp specializes in employee advocacy: the art of leveraging staff at all levels to become brand ambassadors.

Use @BeSmarp to solicit #content for sharing or research within departments. @AaronOrendorff Click To TweetWhile that external focus is valuable, you can also set up Smarp for internal collaboration around categories or departments. By essentially creating “feeds,” marketers can more easily collaborate with subject matter experts within their companies to (1) solicit content for sharing or research, (2) start niche dialogues around that content, and (3) enable integrated social sharing either from official channels or by employees themselves.

smarp-dashboard-example

3. Zoho Social

As a collection-and-sharing hub, Smarp excels. But what if you need more granular control over internal roles as well as external clients? That’s where Zoho Social comes in. Zoho is a full-scale social-sharing platform akin to Buffer or CoSchedule on agency-enabling steroids.

For the purposes of this article, it’s the collaboration tool set that shines.

A collaboration tool like @zohosocial allows you & your team to make decisions faster. @AaronOrendorff Click To TweetOn Zoho, for instance, you can set roles with corresponding access and permissions. Clients can view and interact with shared dashboards, collaboration tabs, and reports, while staff — e.g., writers or social media managers — can alternate between open and closed conversations.

zoho-social-dashboard

4. Flipboard

Where the previous two tools excel as closed hubs for content curation and collection, Flipboard operates at the other end of the spectrum. With just over 100 million monthly active users in nearly 200 countries, its audience falls evenly along generational lines — millennial, generation X, and baby boomer — as well as gender lines.

Built to be the content equivalent of Pinterest’s visual dominance, Flipboard is a robust platform not just for public-facing curation but for driving traffic.

.@Flipboard is a robust platform for public-facing curation AND for driving traffic, says @AaronOrendorff. Click To TweetAlthough it lacks the seamless social integrations and control levels of Zoho, you can still use Flipboard to create private boards for internal collaboration with your team:

flipboard-private-board-example

5. Curata

Pawan Deshpande, CEO and visionary behind Curata, knows a thing or two about content.

He has worked for both Microsoft and Google, so when he talks about content curation, we listen:

By having content curation involved in your company’s overall marketing plan, your company can save time, money, and resources. Without it, your company’s content marketers will be suffering from burnout. Content curation is the only way to go.

Without #content curation, your company’s content marketers will be suffering from burnout. @TweetsFromPawan Click To TweetCurata’s content curation software — a paid service — guides you through the process of finding, curating, and sharing content to your target market with consistency and data-backed ease.

Curata’s specialty is personalization. Discover and sort content served up from a smart engine. It’s this intelligent content technology that allows Curata to learn your interests and directly deliver content that’s valuable to you.

curata-content-curation-software

6. ScribbleLive Trapit

Following in Curata’s footsteps, ScribbleLive Trapit is another reader-learning engine.

However, ScribbleLive’s specialty is tapping into the content curation and publishing power that most enterprise organizations overlook — their employees. By enlisting insiders for ideas and promoting content from the inside out, you can improve your organic following, influence, and overall reach.

.@scribblelive is a tool that learns interests of users & gathers custom-picked articles. @AaronOrendorff Click To TweetThis discovery tool, which has been compared to Flipboard, learns the unique interests of each user and gathers custom-picked articles.

Boost your content marketing ROI by empowering people across departments to become advocates, evangelists, and leaders among their online circles.

scribblelive-trapit-reader-learning-engine

7. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is the mother of all social-measuring and virality tools. Back when I was targeting mainstream publishers for guest posting, it was literally my first stop in the research process.

Why? Because BuzzSumo allows you to search URLs (i.e., domains) or keywords using a host of filters — like date, location, content type, and even word count — and then share that content directly to every imaginable platform:

buzzsumo-dashboard

Of course, you probably know that already. What you might not know — and the reason BuzzSumo is one of my go-to tools for collection and curation — is you can create team “Projects” by saving specific results or uploading a bulk list of URLs:

buzzsumo-projects-dashboard

Projects let you not only collaborate internally, they also enable you to identify the top influencers in very specific niches to reach out for external collaboration. Plus, the Chrome extension works almost identically to Evernote with all the added benefits mentioned above included.

Use @buzzsumo to identify top influencers to reach out to for external collaboration. @AaronOrendorff #tools Click To Tweet

8. Scoop.it!

If you’re unfamiliar, Scoop.it! grew up as a lowly algorithm destined to change the way content is promoted, shared, and curated. Since its 2011 launch, Scoop.it! has built a thriving community appealing to individuals and businesses alike.

When you’re on Scoop.it!, you’re essentially surfing the web to find vetted and targeted content from and for your audience. You can then “scoop it” to publish either your own work or your favorite pieces from other sites.

Instant, one-click publishing is what makes Scoop.it! especially valuable for content curation management. Not only does this create a digital paper trail to mine, but it also connects you with influencers in your niche.

Instant, one-click publishing is what makes @ScoopIt valuable for #contentcuration management. @AaronOrendorff. Click To TweetOptions for discovering, publishing, and curating content abound.

scoop.it-content-curation

9. Feedly

Here’s a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed that truly satisfies when it comes to content curation. We all know that reading is good for idea formation, but not every feed reader is created equal.

Feedly delivers by offering a business-centered content focus. Also, it incorporates YouTube videos to add a powerful boost to the written content world.

Feedly’s best benefit is its privacy feature. You can conduct your content brainstorming behind the scenes with your team. This is a huge bonus, as content creation success hinges on the ability of your team to work together. In fact, teamwork is the focus of the next tool on the list as well.

.@feedly’s best benefit is its privacy feature, says @AaronOrendorff. #contentcuration #tools Click To Tweetfeedly-rss-feed

10. Triberr

If it takes a village to raise a child, what does it take to raise a company’s content?

Triberr. One of the non-obvious ways to promote content is to dive into a content community. Triberr is essentially a digital coffeehouse or corner pub, delivering readers to your content while exposing you to new content. Blogger communities can support each other’s content, inspire ideas, and drive traffic from one location.

While criticized for its auto-posting tactics (theoretically, a user can tweet about an article without ever reading it), Triberr remains a premier method of exchanging ideas and accolades in a professionally focused group.

Use @Triberr to exchange ideas & accolades in a professionally focused group. @AaronOrendorff #tools Click To Tweettriberr-content-promotion

11. Pinterest

To be honest, I never would have thought to include Pinterest as a content curation tool. Sure, it’s a great marketing and community platform, but collection and curation?

What opened my eyes was Nicole Kohler’s article, The Powerful Content Curation Tool You’re Not Using:

Pinterest may seem like just another fluffy, feel-good website full of cupcake photos and endless boards of shoes, but beneath its soft exterior lies the makings of a powerful content curation machine.

What makes Pinterest a powerful content curation machine? First, Pinterest is a direct connection to your audience. Follow your followers and your feed will hand you what they like.

Second, Pinterest is visual. As you build a content library it can be easy to become fixated on SEO, keywords, and search queries. Pinterest reminds us that humans are creatures heavily reliant upon visual cues.

Follow your @Pinterest followers & your feed will hand you the #content that they like. @AaronOrendorff Click To TweetAnother great feature of Pinterest is that it can boost creativity when it comes to your content ideas. And — since the half-life of Pinterest content is three and a half months — your team won’t be finding stale material.

More curating, less time

Naturally, diving into all 11 tools for curating, collecting, and collaborating can be overwhelming. So don’t. The point is to simplify your process and find out what works for your content curation management needs.

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Keys to Business Growth for Professional Services

Sure, people in professional services need to be good at what they do, but their audience hopes that’s a given. Sometimes even the best of the best have a hard time growing their business because they are so focused on the services they provide, they just don’t dedicate time to the growth of their company (or simply don’t know where to start to do that).

Whether you’re in accounting, law, tech consulting, or provide and other professional service, the advice below still applies if you want to separate yourself from the competition and grow your business.

Common traits I hear from my professional service-based clients include:

  • Business to-date is primarily from referrals and word of mouth
  • They’re successful to an extent but could be more successful with the right strategy in place
  • Scaling is intimidating and it’s unclear how to do it effectively

To take control of your growth efforts, take some of my advice below.

Identify your ideal client

This notion goes above and beyond simply identifying and understanding your target audience. While that’s important, it’s equally important to understand the types of clients you want to work with. This will make both your life and your client’s life easier. Ask yourself the following:

  • Who needs the services you provide?
  • Who can you deliver the greatest value to?
  • Who do you enjoy working with?

Think about your best clients today and what makes them ideal for you so that you can apply it to attracting new clients moving forward. Take the following into consideration when developing these ideal clients:

  • What are the must-haves to be a client (this will help you narrow down your list)?
  • What attributes are you looking for in a client (not required, but preferred)?
  • What makes them ideal?
  • What behaviors signal that they are the right fit for you?

Once you can answer these questions, put the list together and keep it nearby to help qualify prospects moving forward. This will help to ensure you don’t waste time spinning your wheels on the wrong candidates.

Develop a promise

Once you have your ideal client in mind, it’s important that you create a clear promise for them that can help you articulate you understand their wants and needs and that you are the right business to help them.

What’s tough about professional services is that they’re intangible, which is what makes your promise (and that you live up to your promise) so important. The promise needs to reinforce that you can help them reach their goals.

In addition to your promise, make your distinct point of view and point of differentiation from your competitors clear. This will help to separate you from the rest of the crowd.

I have a friend that owns an SEO firm and he basically says, “All you need to know about SEO is that we make the phone ring.” He doesn’t dive into how his business works, or SEO jargon, he gets to the root of what his clients care about and how he’ll help to get them what they want. See how that works?

Focus on problems, not solutions

What I’m essentially saying here, is focus on what your ideal clients are experiencing, not your services. People don’t really care about what you sell. All they care about are that their problems are solved and that you can help them solve them.

How to figure out your client’s problems

It’s important that you solve these problems early on in the customer journey. You need to get very good at understanding your ideal client’s intent because that’s where the data is that you’re looking for. To do this:

  • Master keyword research
  • Use online tools (like Answer the Public)
  • Look at your reviews
  • Read past emails
  • Ask your team who interacts with your clients what problems they’ve picked up on through conversations

You can even reach out to current clients to get the information you’re looking for. Here’s a list of questions that may be useful to ask them:

  • What are their goals and dreams?
  • How do they gather information to solve their problems?
  • What are some things that are important to them?
  • Do you know what the biggest unmet need is in your marketplace?
  • What is the biggest pain point your customer experiences?
  • How hard have you worked to try to solve their problems in the past?
  • Why is the problem so hard for them to solve?
  • Who else is trying to solve the problem and how are they approaching it?
  • What does success look like to them?
  • What might hold them back from buying a product or service?
  • How do they come to a purchase decision?

Solving the problem

Once you have all the information mentioned above, you can actually start to solve their problems.

  • Start by refocusing your messaging and match your message to your ideal client so that it resonates with them quickly.
  • Take some time and break down every solution you sell, every benefit you attribute to what you do, and map it back to a handful of “trigger phrases.”
  • Develop an attention-grabbing headline to put on your website (think back to your promise with this one).
  • Through content, show them that you are experts in the field that will help to make their pain points go away. Providing actionable advice can go a long way.
  • Be responsive to comments, emails, and social media in an effort to build trust and establish a connection.

Provide an excellent customer experience

So many people are focused on the changes in marketing and all the new things we have to master and pay attention to.

The fact is the most significant driver of change today isn’t the way marketing is changing, it’s the way buying is changing.

With clients now in charge of their buying journey, the most important marketing element still left in our control is the customer experience.

While they are in charge of their journey, it’s your job to influence it, and in my opinion, this starts with your website.

Your website today is the jumping in point of the customer journey. Its job is to lead and guide prospects into a journey of awareness, trust, knowledge, insight, and conversion. All your ideal client wants is is a frictionless path to the information or action they’ve gone there to find. Website design should be renamed customer experience design.

Additionally, when it comes to the customer experience, the most tenuous point of the relationship is the beginning. Once a person becomes a client, you must look at their first 90 days as a trial period where your entire goal is to construct the type of experience that can only turn them into a raving fan (and great referral source down the road!).

At the end of the day, businesses that deliver the best customer experience do so because they care about helping the people they serve.

There are many other important factors that lead to a successful business, but nailing the points mentioned above is a great start. What have you found to be helpful in growing your business?

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4 Job Ad Essentials That Turn Readers Into Applicants

Recently I shared some thoughts here on Inc. about the necessary ingredients for a job advert, in order for it to be more engaging. But even the most engaging job advert has only one purpose in life, and that’s to convert those engaged readers into applicants.

Running an agency that specializes in employer brand, I know that great candidate experience starts the moment someone sees your job ad and starts to consider applying. Making the ad as engaging as possible will go a good part of the way in helping them decide that they want to apply. What takes the person the rest of the way is an application process that has been well designed, is easy to follow, gives peace of mind, and displays your employer brand.

Here’s some essential ingredients to help make your job ads convert interest readers into eager candidates.

1. Use simple application forms.

Don’t make it harder for your candidates to apply than it needs to be. Place your application form directly within the job page rather than requiring an external download and you’re more likely to get an application submitted. A form that needs downloading, completion, signing, and uploading is only likely to deter applications. No-one has time for that sort of thing, especially not great talent looking to get a flavor of what it might be like to work for you.

2. Use forms that allow CV upload.

An alternative or additional helping hand for your applicants is to give them the ability to upload their CV from your job page. No-one wants to rewrite huge chunks of their resumé on a web page. Better all round to just allow them to upload their CV as an attachment.

Additionally, the use of cloud-based storage is widespread, and it makes sense to make sure that your job application form allows a candidate to attach their CV from a cloud provider. Doing so makes it easier for candidates to manage their CVs across multiple devices.This simple functionality helps conversions.

3. Use large tap targets.

In case you don’t know what I mean here, a tap target is the call to action button or link that you want your user to click or tap on. Tap target size issues can occur when the target button or link is too small, or is too close to other targets. This is particularly the case on mobile, so keep your tap targets large enough to press on smaller screened devices to avoid frustrating your candidates.

4. Use a Security Certificate (SSL).

SSL stands for ‘Secure Sockets Layer’ and is a form of encryption used to increase security and protect privacy on a site. It means your site is running on what is known as HTTPS (the “S” denoting “secure”). Visitors can tell if SSL is enabled on a site by the padlock that shows up next to the site’s URL. this has two benefits. Firstly, it will reassure candidates that your site is secure and trustworthy, and that the personal information that they share will be secure. Secondly, it also has SEO benefits, too. Search engines now take security very seriously and treat trust as one of their “ranking” signals when indexing your site.

So, there we go. Nothing I’ve outlined here is time consuming or complicated, these are all pretty quick wins. Auditing your job ads and making sure these 4 essential ingredients are in the mix will lead to more applications and better hires.

Published on: Jun 21, 2018

It’s Not About the Tea: How to Make Buyer Personas That Really Satisfy

make-buyer-personas-that-satisfy

“These buyer personas will help you craft killer content for our client’s audience,” they told me.

They were wrong.

You see, “Marketing Agency X” (unnamed for reasons which will soon become clear) would send us four-page buyer persona descriptions. Each one delved deep into the fictional lives of the characters they had created for their clients – describing a day in the life of that character in Dickens-like detail. And boy, did they love to set a scene:

Yep. Four endless pages of frankly useless detail.

Not only is this type of buyer persona development a massive waste of time, it can even have an adverse effect.

That’s right. Your marketers, copywriters, and content creators may get so caught up in this made-up story that they tailor messaging exclusively for this Sarah character, excluding a far more true and useful representation of your actual potential prospects (e.g., those buyers who aren’t divorced, don’t drive to work, and don’t drink Earl Grey tea).

Are you guilty of this buyer persona frivolity?

Many marketers are.

And they’re all missing the true power of one of the most valuable weapons a content marketer can wield.

Keep reading, and I’ll arm you up.

You see, a proper buyer persona includes two components.

  • Buyer profile – explains who your ideal customer is through relevant demographic and psychographic details
  • Buyer insight – reveals what makes your ideal customer pull out their credit card and buy

Too many marketers stop at the profile. Or leave the buyer insights portion of their buyer personas looking like an unfinished painting.

Buyer insight should detail the buyer’s feelings, motivations, and expectations relating to the part of their life that your product or service will impact. It should identify their goals and doubts, and methods of evaluating products/services like yours.

Buyer insight also encompasses the reasons the persona chooses to buy or not buy similar products/services in the distant or recent past. It specifies what time of day they buy, under which conditions they tend to buy, and how long that buying process takes. It also explains what kind of advertising or marketing they like and respond to.

These buyer insights are the real key to rock solid buyer personas and content marketing results. And most importantly, they are the details relevant to your service and marketing strategy, nothing more!

No favorite morning cup of tea flavors here (unless you’re selling them tea, of course).

Buyer insight difference

Picture this scenario …

You’re helping a friend who’s looking to buy real estate. You talk to the real estate agent to set up some viewings. You could:

  • Tell the agent your friend is tall, white, married with no kids, works as an architect in the city, plays tennis on Wednesdays, likes to drink Guinness, and reads the Times.

or

  • Tell the agent your friend is looking for a two-bedroom, well-lit apartment with a garden, within a 10-minute walk from a public transit station on the central line, and won’t pay more than $700,000. His wife is concerned about house safety.

Which description is more valuable to the real estate agent? It should be glaringly obvious.

The inclusion of the buyer insights makes a mahoosive difference in helping the real estate agent show properties that are relevant to the buyer’s interests and needs.

Buying insights make your customers and their purchasing journey real. They tell you all the little things that make them like, dislike, act, or flee.

If you know how to gather this info as you market, you’re a long leap ahead of the competition, most of whom just know the most basic stats (yep, those little feeble buyer profiles). For them, the customer is a stranger. For you, it will be like selling to a friend.

Starting to understand the power of what you’ve been missing?

Gather kickass buyer insights

Adele Revella’s excellent book, Buyer Personas, lays out the methodology and reasoning behind it with crystal clarity. I can’t recommend it enough.

In a nutshell, you’ll need to interview people who have recently evaluated your product or a product just like yours. They might have bought or not. In fact, if they didn’t buy – the insights you squeeze may be even juicier.

Either way, you want to know why.

Find these customers and prospects, offer them a reward for helping you. Get them on a 20-minute recorded phone call with the friendliest person in your team – or, even better, a third-party agency that offers an arm’s length distance, which might encourage the interview subjects to be more open in sharing their real reasons.

Carefully guide the interviewees into answering questions like these:

  • What triggered your decision to search for a solution like this?
  • What results were you expecting and hoping to get?
  • What concerns did you have that prevented you from going ahead with a solution you didn’t choose?
  • What top three to five factors did you use to compare solutions before deciding on one?
  • What was your personal role in the final decision?
  • Who else impacted the decision?
  • How were they involved and what resources did they trust to guide the decision?
  • What was the overall process of making the decision?
  • What was the first step in your process? And the last?

Ask interviewees to tell you the entire story – from the moment they thought “I should consider investing in X” to the moment they parted or didn’t part with their cash. What was the chain of events and thought processes they went through from point A to point Z?

And, from their answers, build your list of buyer insights and add the buyer profile demographic and psychographic details. Simplify it all, nice and clearly, and stick it up on your content marketing team’s walls for all to see.

The interviews should reveal similarities and differences among the triggers, desired results, objections, comparison factors, and journeys. Group those interviewees with similar responses into a single buyer persona. Not those with similar tea tastes – or even job titles or company types or locations. But those who fit into the same boat when it comes to their entire buyer’s journey – whatever walk of working life they may come from.

Ask internally first

Before you interview buyers (or potential buyers), you can glean a great deal of insight from your company’s people.

Send a message to the people in your organization, paying special interest to your top sales operatives, as they are probably in closest contact with your prospects. Ask them to answer the questions with care and reward the most detailed answers (yes, sales people like rewards, don’t you know?).

 

You might find that this exercise leads to a greater understanding of the customer across your organization before you even flesh out your persona.

After you conduct the interviews with buyers, see how close the internal assumptions were. If they weren’t closely aligned, it’s even more important to share your fully realized buyer personas across the organization.

How buying insights lead to a content marketing win

When you have the insights, you have the answers. When you truly understand what’s going on inside the minds of your buyers at each stage of the sales funnel, you can create the content that helps nudge them closer and closer toward conversion.

Let’s imagine you’re selling a shiny new CRM platform, for example.

Your interviews lead you to create a persona for buyers looking for a CRM system to cope with their startup’s fast growth. You create a blog post, How to Keep on Top of Your Startup’s Rapidly Growing Client Base,” to tap into that trigger.

And voilà. You’ve enticed that persona – because of your buyer insight research – into the top of your inbound funnel.

You’ve also discovered through the interviews that prospective buyers perceive your company’s lack of brand recognition as a negative. Now’s your chance to preempt the objection on your website.

You craft home page text: “Yes, we’re the new kids on the block in the CRM world. But no, that doesn’t mean our software is any less powerful. In fact, it means we’re more agile, more future focused, and more committed to each and every client than our old, stagnant competitors.”

This tactic not only overcomes the objection before the prospects have time to dwell on it, it shows them that you understand their thought process. You “get them.” You’re similar to them and you’re cooperating with them to achieve a mutual goal (which are key ingredients in getting prospects to like you; the fifth principle of persuasion detailed by the legendary Robert Cialdini).

Next, your buyer’s journey insights tell you a portion of your typical buyers are fresh-thinking marketing managers with big ideas who have to run everything by their old-fashioned CEOs. These CEOs are the ultimate decision-makers, but not the buyers who interact with your brand during the buying process). And they tend to think spreadsheets are all fine and dandy. They dig the status quo.

Armed with this knowledge, you can help those innovative marketers influence their bosses’ decisions and preempt the resistance. You email an article into their inbox, entitled How to Prove to Your CEO That a New CRM Will Boost Their Bottom Line. Accompanying the email is a downloadable PDF report with all the relevant stats needed to sway your buyers’ stubborn CEO, which they could simply hand to him or her.

You’ve made that buying hurdle a whole lot easier for your buyer to hop over – with pre-calculated, pre-crafted, triggered content. No salesman required.

Boom! Thank you, buyer insights.

See how much you can ethically persuade your buyers when your personas forgo their favorite tea or marital status and comprehensively detail the buyer insights relevant to the journey they might take with you?

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How Machine Learning in Search Works: Everything You Need to Know

Now, the term “machine learning” gets thrown around a lot these days.

But how does machine learning actually impact search and SEO?

This article will explore everything you need to know about how search engines use machine learning.

What Is Machine Learning?

What Is Machine Learning

It would be difficult to understand how search engines use machine learning without knowing what machine learning actually is.

Let’s start with the definition (provided by Stanford University in their course description for Coursera) before we move on to a practical explanation:

“Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed.”

A Quick Aside Before We Continue …

Machine learning isn’t the same as Artificial Intelligence (AI), but the line is starting to get a bit blurry with the applications.

As noted above, machine learning is the science of getting computers to come to conclusions based on information but without being specifically programmed in how to accomplish said task.

AI, on the other hand, is the science behind creating systems that either have, or appear to possess, human-like intelligence and process information in a similar manner.

Think of the difference this way:

Machine learning is a system designed to solve a problem. It works mathematically to produce the solution. The solution could be programmed specifically, or worked out by humans manually, but without this need, the solutions come much faster.

A good example would be setting a machine off to pour through oodles of data outlining tumor size and location without programming in what it’s looking for. The machine would be given a list of known benign and malignant conclusions. With this, we would then ask the system to produce a predictive model for future encounters with tumors to generate odds in advance as to which it is based on the data analyzed.

This is purely mathematical.

A few hundred mathematicians could do this – but it would take them many years (assuming a very large database) and hopefully none of them would make any errors. Or, this same task could be accomplished with machine learning – in far less time.

When I’m thinking of Artificial Intelligence, on the other hand, that’s when I start to think of a system that touches on the creative and thus becomes less predictable.

An artificial intelligence set on the same task may simply reference documents on the subject and pull conclusions from previous studies. Or it may add new data into mix. Or may start working on a new system of electrical engine, foregoing the initial task. It probably won’t get distracted on Facebook, but you get where I’m going.

The key word is intelligence. While artificial, to meet the criteria it would have to be real thus producing variables and unknowns akin to what we encounter when we interact with others around us.

Back to Machine Learning & Search Engines

Right now what the search engines (and most scientists) are pushing to evolve is machine learning.

Google has a free course on it, has made its machine learning framework TensorFlow open source, and is making big investments in hardware to run it.

Basically, this is the future so it’s best to understand it.

While we can’t possibly list (or even know) every application of machine learning going on over at the Googleplex, let’s look at a couple of known examples:

RankBrain

What article on machine learning at Google would be complete without mentioning their first and still highly-relevant implementation of a machine learning algorithm into search?

That’s right … we’re talking RankBrain.

Essentially the system was armed only with an understanding of entities (a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable) and tasked with producing an understanding of how those entities connect in a query to assist in better understanding the query and a set of known good answers.

These are brutally simplified explanations of both entities and RankBrain but it serves our purposes here.

So, Google gave the system some data (queries) and likely a set of known entities. I’m going to guess on the next process but logically the system would then be tasked with training itself based on the seed set of entities on how to recognize unknown entities it encounters. The system would be pretty useless if it wasn’t able to understand a new movie name, date, etc.

Once the system had that process down and was producing satisfactory results they would have then tasked it with teaching itself how to understand the relationships between entities and what data is being implied or directly requested and seek out appropriate results in the index.

This system solves many problems that plagued Google.

The requirement to include keywords like “How do I replace my S7 screen” on a page about replacing one should not be necessary. You also shouldn’t have to include “fix” if you’ve included “replace” as, in this context, they generally imply the same thing.

RankBrain uses machine learning to:

  • Continuously learn about the connectedness of entities and their relationships.
  • Understand when words are synonyms and when they are not (replace and fix may be synonyms in this case but they wouldn’t be if I was querying “how to fix my car”).
  • Instruct other portions of the algorithm to produce the correct SERP.

In its first iteration, RankBrain was tested on queries Google had not encountered before. This makes perfect sense and is a great test.

If RankBrain can improve results for queries that likely weren’t optimized for and will involve a mix of old and new entities and services a grouping of users who were likely getting lackluster results to begin with then it should be deployed globally.

And it was in 2016.

Let’s take a look at the two results I referenced above (and worth noting, I was writing the piece and the example and then thought to get the screen capture – this is simply how it works and try it yourself … it works in almost all cases where different wording implies the same thing):

how do i fix my s7 screen

Some very subtle differences in rankings with the #1 and 2 sites switching places but at its core it’s the same result.

Now let’s look at my automotive example:

how do i fix my car

Machine learning helps Google to not just understand where there are similarities in queries, but we can also see it determining that if I need my car fixed I may need a mechanic (good call Google), whereas for replacing it I may be referring to parts or in need of governmental documentation to replace the entire thing.

We can also see here where machine learning hasn’t quite figured it all out.

When I ask it how to replace my car, I likely mean the whole thing or I’d have listed the part I wanted. But it’ll learn … it’s still in its infancy. Also, I’m Canadian, so the DMV doesn’t really apply.

So here we’ve seen an example of machine learning at play in determining query meaning, SERP layout, and possible necessary courses of action to fulfill my intent.

Not all of that is RankBrain, but it’s all machine learning.

Spam

If you use Gmail, or pretty much any other email system, you also are seeing machine learning at work.

According to Google, they are now blocking 99.9 percent of all spam and phishing emails with a false-positive rate of only 0.05 percent.

They’re doing this using the same core technique – give the machine learning system some data and let it go.

If one was to manually program in all the permutations that would yield a 99.9 percent success rate in spam filtering and adjust on the fly for new techniques it would be an onerous task if at all possible. When they did things this way they sat at a 97 percent success rate with 1 percent of false positive (meaning 1 percent of your real messages were sent to the spam folder – unacceptable if it was important).

Enter machine learning – set it up with all the spam messages you can positively confirm, let it build a model around what similarities they have, enter in some new messages and give it a reward for successfully selecting spam messages on its own and over time (and not a lot of it) it will learn far more signals and react far faster than a human ever could.

Set it to watch for user interactions with new email structures and when it learns that there is a new spam technique being used, add it to the mix and filter not just those emails but emails using similar techniques to the spam folder.

So How Does Machine Learning Work?

This article promised to be an explanation of machine learning, not just a list of examples.

The examples, however, were necessary to illustrate a fairly easy-to-explain model.

Let’s not confuse this with easy to build, just simple in what we need to know.

A common machine learning model follows the following sequence:

  • Give the system a set of known data. That is, a set of data with a large array of possible variables connected to a known positive or negative result. This is used to train the system and give it a starting point. Basically, it now understands how to recognize and weigh factors based on the past data to produce a positive result.
  • Set up a reward for success. Once the system is conditioned with the starting data it is then fed new data but without the known positive or negative result. The system does not know the relationships of a new entity or whether an email is spam or not. When it selects correctly it is given a reward though clearly not a chocolate bar. An example would be to give the system a reward value with a goal of hitting the highest number possible. Each time it selects the right answer this score is added to.
  • Set it loose. Once the success metrics are high enough to surpass existing systems or meet another threshold the machine learning system can be integrated with the algorithm as a whole.

This model is referred to as supervised learning and if my guess is right, it’s the model used in the majority of the Google algorithm implementations.

Another model of machine learning is the Unsupervised Model. To draw from the example used in a great course over on Coursera on machine learning, this is the model used to group similar stories in Google News and one can infer that it’s used in other places like the identification and grouping of images containing the same or similar people in Google Images.

In this model, the system is not told what it’s looking for but rather simply instructed to group entities (an image, article, etc.) into groups by similar traits (the entities they contain, keywords, relationships, authors, etc.)

Why Does This Matter?

Understanding what machine learning is will be crucial if you seek to understand why and how SERPs are laid out and why pages rank where they do.

It’s one thing to understand an algorithmic factor – which is an important thing to be sure – but understanding the system in which those factors are weighted is of equal, if not greater, importance.

For example, if I was working for a company that sold cars I would pay specific attention to the lack of usable, relevant information in the SERP results to the query illustrated above. The result is clearly not a success. Discover what content would be a success and generate it.

Pay attention to the types of content that Google feels may fulfill a user’s intent (post, image, news, video, shopping, featured snippet, etc.) and work to provide it.

I like to think of machine learning and its evolution equivalent to having a Google engineer sitting behind every searcher, adjusting what they see and how they see it before it is sent to their device. But better – that engineer is connected like the Borg to every other engineer learning from global rules.

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How To Navigate The Top 5 Digital Marketing Trends Influencing Your Business

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Trends in digital marketing come and go, and it’s easy to dismiss some that appear to be fleeting. However, in today’s fast-paced marketing landscape, many of these trends are simply setting the stage for the future. As technology improves and customer demand increases, it is essential that businesses do all they can to stay relevant.

Missing out on an up-and-coming trend or being late to the party, so to speak, can be detrimental to a company trying to grow. However, getting sidetracked by each new shiny tactic that comes along could result in a disorganized and ineffective strategy that goes nowhere.

Let’s discuss the latest trends in the digital marketing world and the exact reasons why marketing teams should be paying attention to them.

1. The growth of the Micro-Influencer

Judging by the numbers alone, influencer marketing is one of the most powerful tools that a brand can utilize. It is not only one of the most trusted forms of advertising, but it also generates double the engagement that typical branded content does.

Well-known influencer names these days also demand a big paycheck, but that does not necessarily guarantee high returns for you. Take weight-loss supplement Fit Tea as an example. It is featured frequently on the Kardashians’ Instagram pages. This family has famously been dubbed Instagram royalty, so promotion like this should ideally be super profitable; except for the fact that each post can cost about $500,000. In regards to Fit Tea, the product itself only has a three-star rating on Amazon due to its unsupported health claims – a rating that deters many customers. This just goes to show that while large audience exposure matters, it may not necessarily be beneficial for a brand promotion.

The Growth of the Micro-Influencer

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Micro-influencers have smaller followings (the numbers can be anywhere between 2,000 to 100,000), but their engagement numbers are typically much higher than large accounts. One study found that micro-influencers generated nearly three times the amount of engagement than accounts with 500,000+ followers.

Instagram Engagement Rates

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The true benefit of the micro-influencer is their authority within a specific niche. They generally have a certain topic of expertise that their content revolves around. Their followers are highly invested in what they have to say, and 40% of social media users report that they have bought something because of an influencer’s promotion.

Brands that want to connect with these micro-influencers must have a firm grasp on their own audience base, as well as the influencer’s. Since the demographics and interests are so specific, using analytical tools is a must. Systems like Traakr and Upfluence gather loads of data from social media influencers to break down their exact audience demographics to help marketers identify the best accounts to partner with.

Traakr and Upfluence gather loads of data

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With the help of these tools, brands can not only determine which influencers have the strongest pull in their industry but also which ones have the greatest amount of audience overlap.

2. Live video

Live video streaming now makes up 66% of all internet usage, and that number is expected to jump to about 80% in just a few years. While many brands have hopped on the live streaming train because of its amazing results in terms of engagement, it is no longer enough to simply hold up your iPhone and share your thoughts as your audience watches on. The quality of the video and its message is the most important factor for the majority of watchers, and if the video is not up to their standards, they will likely stop watching.

Live video streaming has become more of a production these days in order to keep audiences interested. The best way to increase viewers and prolong watch times is by including opportunities for engagement and interaction. If you are a B2B company, a live video webinar is a fantastic platform to get audiences to participate with the add-on features that many hosting services provide.

According to ON24’s Webinar Benchmarks report, the tactics that drove the highest engagement rates were live Q&A sessions, offering resource lists, and including an integrated social media experience. These interactive features allow people to participate in the production by sharing their opinions, asking questions, or even voting during live polls.

Webinar Drive Audience Engagement

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Including features like these makes a live video stream far more interactive and exciting for viewers, which means better engagement rates, and ultimately, better conversions.

3. Hyper-personalized customer journeys

Personalization has become increasingly complex and customized in recent years. Nowadays, each step in the customer’s journey can be supported by precise datasets. However, while the benefits of personalization are quite clear (59% of shoppers agree that it influences their purchase decisions), it seems that many brands are simply not stepping up to the plate quite yet.

According to Evergage’s report, over half of marketers do not believe that their company is offering personalization correctly. Furthermore, only one-third are confident that they have the necessary tools to generate meaningful personalized experiences for customers, and just 30% of teams are satisfied with their current strategies.

Evergage’s report

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The only way brands can provide the level of personalization that will actually make an impact on their customer’s decision to purchase is to gather the essential data points correlating to the intended action. AI, machine learning, and big data technology can support an accurate personalization strategy by virtually “learning” what customers want.

With AI technology, content can be customized for each step of the buyer’s journey, from the introduction to repeat purchases. By using big data systems, brands can identify online users who fit the criteria of a potential customer through deep analysis. From here, AI can offer personalized shopping suggestions based on preferences and historical behavior patterns. AI-powered tools like OneSpot use machine learning algorithms to gauge interaction data on your website. Then, it uses data collected from each user to automatically match content with their unique preferences.

Companies that have incorporated AI technology into their personalization strategies report that it drives 26% of their revenue and increases the number of repeat customers by 37%. By sending things like personalized links, shoppers are also far more likely to purchase an item, and their average order value can increase as well, proving that AI can finally make the dream of hyper-personalization a reality for brands.

Recommendation Click Statistics

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4. The importance of instant conversations

The demand for instant customer support has grown exponentially over the past few years, and in today’s market, failure to provide this service could result in lost sales. A shocking 77% of customers will not buy something online if the website does not offer live chat service.

When customers engage with a business through live chat, they are 4.5 times more likely to make a purchase and far more likely to become a loyal customer. However, even with statistics like these, less than 10% of websites offer this function. These companies also seem to struggle with the quality of service that is expected through live interactions, as sadly 21% of customer inquiries are ignored completely.

Simply offering live chat assistance is clearly not enough, as companies must be able to handle all kinds of queries and tasks that stretch beyond customer service. Chatbots and Facebook Messenger bots have become an integral part of today’s sales process, so brands must find ways to improve these systems and how they are programmed. Once again, AI technology is helping to create instant engagement with customers through conversations and support options, which can greatly improve the customer experience.

Not only can AI chatbots be programmed to answer FAQ’s, they can also be a helpful sales tool. For example, Kia introduced a Facebook Messenger chatbot that could answer car buyers’ questions and help guide them to the vehicle that fits their exact needs. This resulted in 3 times higher online conversion rates.

chatbots

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The demand for instant assistance is at an all-time high these days, and companies must focus on creating more options for customers to engage with their brand for better conversations and higher satisfaction. By using AI-powered chatbots, businesses can guarantee that every customer inquiry is addressed to improve the overall experience.

5. Connecting IRL (in real life)

Taking online companies offline has been a major trend in the past few years, and for good reason. It gets a lot of hype going and can draw huge crowds of fans-turned-customers to get a real hands-on experience with products. For example, Kylie Jenner’s cosmetic line was founded online, but exploded in popularity thanks in part to social media. When she announced a one-time pop-up store, fans were ecstatic. This finally gave them the chance to handle the product in-person, try out the colors, and even meet the teen-mogul herself.

This popup shop shows the power of offline experiences for online businesses to show off their products. However, this kind of experience is not limited to retail-type companies; B2B, SaaS, networking programs, and other companies that offer services, rather than a physical product, can get in on this, too.

The online dating and networking app Bumble has always focused on taking online relationships into the real world. But lately, this brand has been doing an excellent job at engaging with users through experiential marketing events that prove that Bumble is more than just swiping left or right. To promote their latest Bumble BFF and Bumble Biz features, which allow people to meet up to form friendships and business relationships, they’ve held brunches, networking events, and even a winter wonderland at Coachella to build more personal connections with their user base.

experiential marketing events

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A brand is so much more than just a logo and a product. With tools like social media and the popularity of real brand experiences, customers are able to connect with businesses and other like-minded people in ways that were never before possible. Building these relationships with consumers is essential for establishing brand recognition, and ultimately, customer loyalty.

Conclusion

Not every new idea or tactic is a fit for every business; however, there is something that companies can take away from each trend to improve their results. The key is to stay aware of what’s new and be able to tell the difference between what is “hot” and what is actually effective.

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3 Ways to Get More Facebook Comments on Your Facebook Posts

In this article, you’ll find three ways to get more comments on your Facebook page posts.

3 Ways to Get More Facebook Comments on Your Facebook Posts by Ann Smarty on Social Media Examiner.

3 Ways to Get More Facebook Comments on Your Facebook Posts by Ann Smarty on Social Media Examiner.

Why Facebook Comments Still Matter

In the fast-paced world of social media, it’s not easy to get people to stop and engage with your business on Facebook, especially now that organic visibility is being limited for businesses on the platform.

Yet organic engagement is crucial for a Facebook page’s success because Facebook uses it as the quality signal — the more people who engage with the page, the more people will see the business’s next update on Facebook.

Comments are the most effective method of Facebook engagement, thanks to the “queuing up” psychology: more and more people feel inclined to engage when they see an already active discussion in the thread.

So how do you attract more comments to your Facebook page posts and page post ads? Here are a few effective tactics to try.

#1: Post Open and Closed Questions to Spur Responses

Asking questions is the most efficient method of engaging someone, be it your blog reader or Facebook follower. Questions trigger the natural human reflex called instinctive elaboration. This reflex forces people to pause and start looking for or formulate an answer.

example of Facebook post with open-ended question

Getting always-moving Facebook lurkers to stop for a second is half of the deal. Now, it’s up to your question to engage them.

Because every audience is unique to the page it’s attached to, there’s no single recipe for a good engaging question to ask on your Facebook page. That said, keep the following guidelines in mind while you brainstorm, play, and experiment to find the right formula to engage your community.

A good question typically has some of these qualities:

  • Open — It promotes an open-ended discussion.
  • Timely — It revolves around a current trend or a hot topic.
  • Easy — It doesn’t require too much thinking and invites an impulsive or emotional answer.

A bad question tends to have some of these characteristics:

  • Loaded — It contains an answer.
  • Political — As a brand, you’ll be accused of either taking a side or failing to do so.
  • Complicated/philosophical/rhetorical — It requires some research and much thinking.

Mashable uses the question tactic a lot. Almost every other update from their page is a question and those posts also noticeably attract the most comments. It works well because all of the questions are based on a hot trend.

example of Facebook post with question

Asking questions on your Facebook wall will also help you understand your audience better and create buying personas.

#2: Structure Posts to Elicit Quick Comment Replies

The best way to get people to do something is to ask. This rule works like a charm in marketing, too. If you want more comments, ask people to comment and make it easy for them! But don’t forget to make it fun and entertaining.

Note though that you should only ask for authentic engagement. Facebook doesn’t like “engagement bait” and it has threatened to penalize updates that explicitly ask for likes or comments. So instead of actually asking users to comment, use the following update types to promote discussion:

  • Caption this — Post a funny picture and ask your followers to come up with funny captions.
  • Fill in the blank — Come up with a funny or edgy sentence and invite your audience to fill in the blank.
  • Multiple choice — Ask your audience to help you choose something. To illustrate, give them the power to choose your next banner or marketing creative.

National Geographic is one of the most commented-on pages, thanks to the “Caption this” tactic, which they use on a regular basis to engage fans with animal pictures.

example of Facebook post with caption this

Here’s a good example of an engaging update that plays on people’s emotions:

example of Facebook post with fill-in-the-blank question

Another example is this post from Class, which is one of the most commented-on updates from their whole Facebook stream:

example of Facebook post with fill-in-the-blank question

#3: Use Comments as a Conduit to Your Opt-In

If you have a valuable offer your followers would like to receive, why not use your comments to shorten the opt-in cycle?

Mobile Monkey is an innovative Facebook Messenger marketing platform that lets you turn your page comments into leads. It offers both free and paid plans. Here’s how it works.

First, sign up for an account and authenticate your Facebook account. Then choose a page (and then a thread) for which you want to enable the auto-responder.

Craft your auto-responder so that it’s both generic (will work for any comment) and authentic. The tool will send an auto-message through Facebook Messenger each time someone comments on your thread that encourages them to engage further with you.

example of Mobile Monkey autoresponder with Facebook post

Tips for Finding Facebook Post Ideas to Encourage Meaningful Discussion

Looking for ideas to help you create more varied posts? Here are two tips to get you started:

Look for Complementary Post Topics

Social media marketing should inform your overall digital marketing but it should also be informed by other channels, too.

Encourage your social media team to use your other marketing departments’ tools to better understand your target audience’s expressed interests. For instance, your content marketing department likely has a tool for finding search phrases that are related to your top keywords.

Ubersuggest is an easy-to-use option for this kind of research. It requires no login and your team can play with it for free when crafting social media updates. It will suggest related terms and synonyms to help you diversify the wording you use in your posts and to brainstorm more topics to post about.

Ubersuggest is powered by Google so it shows which words Google’s users tend to type into their search box. These topics are in high demand among your audience. Encourage your social media team to rely on tools like this when crafting social media updates.

Ubersuggest search results

After you identify search phrases your target audience is using, use these insights to craft more interesting and engaging Facebook updates. This will increase meaningful discussions on your posts that Facebook’s algorithm is prioritizing. Additionally, keep using Facebook Insights to better understand what brings results! You can also integrate it into your blog.

Take a Cue From Your Competitors

It’s always smart to learn from a good example. What works for your competitors? What are they doing to engage their Facebook audience best?

It can be helpful to monitor your competitors on Facebook on a continuous basis. This will help you keep an eye on how they react to daily trends, how often they post, and how much they’re being discussed on the platform.

Awario is a useful brand- and competitor-monitoring tool that can be set up to track only Facebook. You can try it out by signing up for a free 14-day trial. After that, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, which start at $29/month.

After you sign up, simply add alerts for your competitor’s page and disable everything but Facebook from the list of sources.

set up alert with Awario

The tool will then show you the most recent Facebook updates mentioning your competitor.

most recent Awario search results for Facebook

Note: You need to authenticate Facebook for this tool to work properly.

Conclusion

While the tips above can help you bring more discussion to the posts on your Facebook page, remember that individual interaction from your personal account can help build that engagement, too. People are more likely to join in when they see other people commenting!

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How to Keep Your Team Excited About Content Marketing

Content marketing is an essential part of any company’s marketing arsenal. Nearly 90 percent of B2B marketers utilize content marketing these days, while 60 percent of all marketers create at least one piece of content every single day.

But this doesn’t mean content marketing always comes easy.

If teams aren’t careful, the relentless demand for content marketing can lead to burnout. (In fact, one study found more than half of all participating marketers struggle to create effective content marketing on a regular basis.) When burnout happens, it can degrade the quality of your company’s marketing campaigns, motivate costly employee turnover, and minimize the chances that your team will continue to develop creative content ideas.

So what’s the antidote to the content marketing crash? Start by keeping your team motivated, inspired, and refreshed with the following seven strategies.

Fund professional development opportunities

Encouraging your team members to participate in professional development opportunities (and providing them with the resources to do so) serves multiple purposes.

First, it communicates to your employees that you’re invested in their professional wellbeing. This can boost morale, which helps keep the team engaged in the day-to-day work of content marketing.

Additionally, it provides an opportunity for team members to be exposed to new ideas for and approaches to content marketing. This can reawaken their creativity and excitement about your company’s content.

Cultivate a sense of purpose

Research from Gallup suggests a shared sense of purpose is essential for keeping any team motivated. Their research studied more than 192 organizations from 49 industries and 34 countries. What they found is that mission-driven companies enjoy the following benefits:

  • A more loyal workforce and less employee turnover
  • Greater strategic alignment throughout the company

  • Enhanced customer engagement

  • Significantly enhanced employee engagement

In order to develop a mission-driven team, spend time thinking about the “why” behind what you do. Brainstorm together as a team to come up with a set of shared values that inspires team members to rally around the cause. Make that mission front and center in your team culture in order to motivate ongoing engagement.

Make it personal

One easy way to drive home the purpose (or “why”) behind content marketing is to make it personal by connecting the team’s work with the people/customers for whom they’re producing that content.

You could accomplish this in several ways. For example:

  • You might invite your content team to pick your sales team’s brain.

  • You could get the content team involved in conducting customer surveys or other customer research.

  • You could encourage team members to read what customers are saying on social media and via reviews and testimonials.

All of this helps drive home the point that the content your team creates goes on to reach real human beings, which can help team members stay connected to the value of their work. This sense of meaning, in turn, helps fuel engagement and mitigate burnout.

Facilitate work-life balance

Study after study shows that over-work leads to burnout, and that burnout kills creative thinking and engagement at work. Rest is essential both for staying energized at work and also for processing and internalizing new information, all of which is critical for sustaining an effective content marketing machine.

To stave off the content killer of over-work, be sure to prioritize your team’s work-life balance. That could look like any or all of the following:

  • Discouraging work on evenings and weekends

  • Offering plenty of paid time off

  • Encouraging employees to use their paid time off

  • Setting healthy examples at every level of the company

  • Stressing the importance of adequate sleep

At first glance, these strategies may not seem relevant to a company’s bottom line. But a growing body of research affirms that a company’s capacity to produce quality content on a regular basis is intimately linked to its employees’ wellbeing.

Make it easy to complete tasks

By reducing task-related friction as much as possible, you can avoid draining team members’ energy with menial tasks and reduce the risk of team members becoming resentful about their workflow.

To that end, make sure to assign everyone clearly defined roles, ensure everyone is utilizing consistent workflow processes, and invest in effective tools for task management, collaborative communication, and so on.

Some of the best tools for collaborative projects right now include:

  • Appear.in

  • Asana

  • Dropbox Paper

  • Slack

  • TickTick

  • Trello

  • Wunderlist

Whenever you adopt new project management tools, make sure to get buy-in from your team. There’s no sense investing in tools that don’t actually make team members’ lives easier. Just as important? Make sure everyone on the team knows how to use the tools they do select.

Find inspiration from different sources

Drawing content inspiration from a diverse array of sources helps fuel creativity and reduce boredom and burnout.

For example, you might encourage your team to look for inspiration in sources ranging from the news cycle to competitor research, topical holidays and other cultural events, keyword research, analytics, customer surveys, professional conferences, collaborative brainstorming sessions, an archival swipe file, and so on.

Pulling from a diverse pool of possible inspiration sources helps ensure you don’t suck any single creative well dry.

It also enables your team to create content that is optimized for a variety of different platforms. Research suggests the top 10 types of content marketing are:

  • Social media content

  • Case studies

  • Blogs

  • Email newsletters

  • In-person events

  • Website articles

  • Videos

  • Illustrations / photos

  • White papers

  • Infographics

In order to create these types of content, it’s essential that your team regularly consumes content from each of these categories. This will help inspire new ideas for a diversity of platforms and devices.

Celebrate successes

Because the demand for content is insatiable, it’s easy to finish one project only to dive right into the next one. But if this happens over and over again, it’s liable to lead to burnout.

Team members need time to reflect on their successes, learn from their fumbles, and affirm the hard work that goes into producing every single piece of content. This will help ensure team members begin the next project feeling appreciated, refreshed, and reinvigorated.

Celebrations could take different forms , from an individual or team sharing the story of their success to social events, bonuses, or small gifts of appreciation. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate; the most important thing is that you do.

Companies that dominate the content marketing game enjoy nearly eight times the year-over-year growth in unique traffic relative to companies that fail to produce stellar content on a regular basis. This speaks to the irrefutable importance of keeping your team engaged in developing stellar content marketing.

The tips outlined above will help you do just that. In addition, make sure to keep your focus on quality over quantity. That will help establish clear priorities, ensure your team’s morale doesn’t deteriorate, and increase the chances that your team continues to produce high-quality content marketing for years to come.

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