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26/Aug/2019
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High-level executives are disconnected from the world of search engine optimisation (SEO) and, therefore, are not providing the support digital marketing professionals need to succeed in the search environment, according to a new industry survey by software provider SEOmonitor.

The study of professionals across SEO and digital marketing, which formed part of a wider Forecasting Nightmares whitepaper, looks at the challenges of planning and forecasting in SEO and what needs to be done to help SEOs to progress and complete their tasks effectively in an ever-evolving and demand business landscape.

The C-Suite is a common barrier to success, with one in five saying they don’t get enough support from higher-ups, which many believe is because senior targets and objectives do not align with SEO efforts.

The disconnect and lack of knowledge and comprehension across the business, and especially at the management level, has other downsides. A quarter said they are given unrealistic time frames to deliver results, and one in eight are pressured into making forecasts even though they may be false or unattainable.

Therefore, it is no surprise that 33% of professionals want greater support for their SEO forecasting efforts. Greater time and resource investment into SEO would go some way to solving pressing problems, but the report noted that a culture change could have the biggest impact.

The current state of affairs is not good for business or SEOs, as 26% of the respondents said they struggle to forecast accurately on a consistent basis, while 22% are unable to demonstrate the full value of search engine optimisation.

“By translating SEO goals such as keyword rankings or visibility into simple, clearly defined business metrics, forecasting makes an invaluable business case for SEO activity,” SEOmonitor CEO Cosmin Negrescu said. “However, for the field of forecasting and, indeed, SEO as a whole to reach its true potential, it’s clear that the industry needs more support than it currently receives.”

The lack of support means that many professionals are forced to use tools that are not suitable for daily processes. This is highlighted by the fact that 15% of respondents admit to using general applications, such as Microsoft Excel, to calculate the value of SEO. While the issues are wide-ranging, 37% said that more investment in specialist tools would go a long way to help them with accurate forecasting.

Additional training is another solution put forward by professionals, as 25% said that they have not been told how to forecast accurately, while one-sixth of all respondents revealed that they had not taken a single course or received any training about forecasting during their careers.

Cosmin concluded: “Simply enough, for search professionals to consistently forecast to the accuracy expected of them, greater buy-in and investment in the field is needed. However, the industry consensus is that this support is currently unlikely to come without business decision-makers first seeing the accurate forecasts it would facilitate. It’s high time this frustrating paradox, which continues to hinder the efforts of well-meaning search professionals the world over, changed.”


19/Aug/2019
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Paid search will “probably decline” during the final months of 2019, according to a new study by audience intelligence platform SparkToro that found the number of zero-click searches on Google soared to an all-time high in June.

The latest report found just 4.42% of searches ending with a paid search click. That number was dwarfed by the 45.25% of searches that result in an organic click and the 50.33% of searches leading to no discernible action by the end-user, more commonly known as zero-click searches.

SparkToro founder Rand Fishkin says zero-click searches have been tracking steadily higher for a while now and that the upward trend is unlikely to plateau or reverse soon. He believes that brands must factor this new behaviour into their SEO and content campaigns to achieve sustainable success moving forward.

Fishkin expects paid search click-through rates, which now take up just a small portion of overall activity, to drop off even further before 2020 and zero-click searches to grow even further. Zero-click searches are more prevalent on smartphones and other mobile devices and have increased steadily from 43.9% during the last three years.

“I think paid search CTR will probably decline over the next few months,” Fishkin said. “That’s because historically, each time Google changes how paid ads appear in the search results (like the late May shift to the black ‘Ad’ labels in mobile SERPs), ad CTR rises, then slowly declines as more searchers get familiar with the ad format and develop ad blindness.”

Google’s parent company Alphabet continues to be the dominant force in the search environment, as its properties now account for 94% of all searches made in the US. Fishkin believes this is now essentially a “monopoly”, and while zero-click searches are on the rise, Google has been able to deliver a regular stream of searchers to Alphabet-owned properties.

The predicted slump for paid ads means that organic content and SEO will take on even greater importance according to Fishkin, though he admits Google will be looking to new methods to prompt more searches to interact with ads in the coming months. He also believes that zero-click searches are an opportunity for marketers to advertisers to do something new to drive awareness and exposure.

Fishkin concludes: “Rich information appearing in Google’s results may be, like billboard ads or press mentions, harder to track than website traffic, but it’s still exposing your brand name to an audience, building familiarity, and sharing information. In my opinion, the brands that find ways to benefit from that type of SERP exposure, even without a click, will be the ones who win at this new form of on-SERP SEO.”

The rise of zero-click searches may be worrying for brands initially, as they may find it more challenging to push consumers along a traditional sales cycle of awareness and discovery to intent and purchase. The loss of traffic also means fewer marketing opportunities and a greater challenge to retain and develop audiences. However, the strength of organic clicks suggests the power of search is not waning.


25/Jun/2018
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Brands in the travel and hospitality industry are turning to content marketing to deliver more personalised messages to audiences, according to new research by digital enterprises MailCharts, Liveclicker, SmarterHQ and Cheetah Digital.

The study, titled “Marketers Are on a Mission: The State of B2C Marketing,” takes an in-depth look at the various marketing activities that brands in the travel industry are leveraging to connect and engage with customers. There is currently a laser focus on content, as it allows brands to deliver higher-quality ads and messages compared to “mass marketing” methods, such as email.

Almost three-quarters of millennials are frustrated at the number of “irrelevant” emails they receive each day, so it is perhaps no surprise that brands are looking to use more engaging and innovative forms of communication to appeal to both young and older audiences. In fact, two-thirds of B2C marketers in travel are now aiming to provide personalised messages rather than a one-size-fits-all message.

“While ‘personalization’ has been a buzzword with marketers for years, it’s clear that brands have yet to master tailored messaging; as consumers are growing increasingly frustrated by generic communications that don’t align to their specific tastes, interests, or behaviors,” SmarterHQ CEO Michael Osborne said.

Data has been a headline topic in recent months with the arrival of GDPR, and travel brands are eager to make use of the growing mass of information they collect to serve up better content to people across the web. More than half of the respondents said personalisation was a priority; however critically, the report noted that brands still must get better at using data to support their marketing objectives.

“When it comes to personalization, data is paramount,” Cheetah Digital’s executive vice president for global marketing, Judd Marcello said. “Customer data is typically underused or used inefficiently. It tells brands, especially retailers, so much about where they can improve or what their customers want, and they can use that data to make a big impact on their business.”

There are now a variety of digital touchpoints available for brands to engage with audiences. In fact, almost one-fifth of marketers are planning to spend more to improve their multi-channel content output, with social media and mobile apps among the most popular platforms. Marketers are also investing more in running ads across a variety of channels rather than opting for a single channel approach.

While customers often see email marketing as a nuisance, 54% of the brands surveyed said it still delivers the best return on investment overall. The technology has been in place for some time now, making it a cost-effective and consistent means for getting in touch with customers. Behavioural emails will take centre stage in the future, with 30% of the brands planning to spend more in this area, which again shows the need to make better use of big data and analytics. Around 30% of the brands are also turning to cutting-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence, to improve their marketing methods.


04/Dec/2017
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Content marketing campaigns and PR strategies remain out of sync at most modern organisations despite the incredible potential for positive returns when the two activities are carefully managed as a “single entity”, a new report published by Version 2.0 Communications has found.

The State of Content & PR – Optimized or Opportunity? study comes at the end of a year where content marketing has been hailed as a hot new trend for amplifying public relations and improving communications, but the main takeaway indicates brands have work to do to reduce silos, optimise strategies and make better use of PR skills for content promotion.

Over 50% of the PR professionals surveyed say they currently believe their organisation is not maximising content marketing endeavours, while a similar number claim they are never involved in the process following creative development, which suggests departments are working against each other in terms of promoting and enhancing content in the right way.

Four in ten want their organisation to bring content creation and amplification together. They believe a combined effort would benefit the company and a sizeable two-thirds of respondents are currently relying on an ad hoc, piece-by-piece strategy. This short-sighted outlook is hampering distribution, reach and awareness, making it more difficult to achieve objectives and success.

Communicators appear to be happy with the content they are creating. Insightful blog posts (94%) topped the list of popular format types ahead of videos (70%) and infographics (62%), but high-quality creative content could be performing much better if it was matched with a long-term strategy and tighter integration with PR.

“There’s been a lot of talk about how content will change the PR industry, and this survey shows that there’s been less action when it comes to maximizing that opportunity,” Version 2.0 Communications Senior Vice President Katelyn Holbrook said. “And it’s unfortunate, because the data demonstrates just how effective content can be at achieving results where PR shines, such as raising brand awareness.”

Larger organisations are doing better overall, as 78% of enterprises with a marketing team exceeding 25 people said they regularly see value from content campaigns. However, this dips to 47% for medium-sized teams and to just 35% for teams with fewer than five people. Despite the challenges, respondents believe content is crucial for awareness and thought leadership. Holbrook urged PR to demand involvement, as there is vast potential for contributing more heavily to these aims.

She concluded: “PR pros need to demand a seat at the content table if they don’t already have one (our research suggests many don’t) and have an active voice in determining the themes and messaging of content, as well as how it gets promoted and amplified. If PR and content teams are operating in silos, neither will do their best work. This can be as simple as holding weekly, cross-departmental meetings to ensure both sides can weigh in on key campaigns, or as robust as creating metrics that monitor and reward collaboration and shared results.”


06/Jun/2017
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Content marketing continues to be an extremely popular with businesses, with different types of companies jumping on this form of marketing regardless of whether they’re selling to the public or to other firms.

For business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategists, there may be a strong urge to automate as much of the process as possible. However, content marketing needs a human element if it is to engage an audience in the right way.

According to the Demand Gen 2016 Content Preferences Survey, 96 per cent of B2B buyers would like to see more content developed by industry leaders. This shows that even business buyers want detailed and engaging content.

Cornerstone principles

 There are several cornerstone principles when it comes to creating great content that engages people and holds their attention. These include having empathy, being honest, showing commitment and remaining humble. Sticking to these helps marketing strategists create content people can relate to. After all, content marketing is much more than a tool for grabbing the attention of Bing and Google.

The human aspect

 The best content is human, helping marketers reach people on a relatable level and get some form of emotional reaction. To attain that, storytelling is required. When marketing strategists think of the best stories they’ve heard and the authors behind them, those that related to people on a personal level are the most effective. It doesn’t have to be deep and meaningful either; it might simply be a story showing how a product helps solve an everyday issue a lot of people want a solution to.

There are three key facts to remember when developing a story that will make for engaging content. The first is that stories always seem more interesting to the writer. The takeaway from this is that it’s essential to keep the target audience in mind to ensure stories relate to them. The second is that stories normally contain conflicts and should be told honestly. There is no point brushing over potential issues – few products or services are perfect. In fact, carefully shining a light on such areas builds trust without putting potential customers off.

Finally, ensure that all content has a resolution. Audiences, regardless of whether they’re consumers or businesses, need an ending to every story. For example, if the content focuses on an industry-specific problem, make sure it offers a solution.

Successful B2B marketing needs humanisation

 It’s easy to think B2B content marketing doesn’t need humanisation because business buyers understand the concept of marketing and don’t need to be pandered to. However, this is far from true.

Business customers still need to be drawn in by engaging, intelligent content that has a human touch and tells a great story. Marketing strategists able to achieve this stand the best chance of success.


25/Apr/2017
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Content marketing is a go-to form of online marketing in the modern era, with many businesses replacing link-building campaigns with content marketing strategies.

However, for consumers, seemingly never-ending reams of content are nothing but clutter. Therefore, marketers should optimise their efforts to ensure they stand out from the crowd.

  1. KPIs and strategy need to be defined

It’s important for marketers to clearly define their strategy and key performance indicators (KPIs) from the very beginning of a campaign.

While it’s clear target audiences need to be engaged throughout the purchase journey, a distinct idea of how this will occur is needed. For example, each stage of the journey should have defined content requirements.

Marketers should also consider the link and authority requirements needed to compete for top-ranking positions.

  1. Understand content purpose and target audience

For a content marketing strategy to be successful, it’s vital for brands to not only understand their target audience, but ensure the content directed at that audience has a clearly defined purpose. For example, while one article might be used to drive brand awareness, another might be used to drive conversion.

To create the right content, marketers need to know the personas and emotional intelligence of their target audience. It’s also wise to set clear guidelines with regards to content designed to attract new customers and content seeking to engage existing customers.

  1. Connect with consumers across channels

If businesses want to offer true value to consumers, it’s essential to utilise an owned, earned, shared and paid (OESP) strategy for content marketing. This means marketers need to consider not only what their target audience is and where it is to be found, but also what messages are sent and when.

By identifying these two things, brands put themselves in a position to be able to repurpose content for various channels, increasing overall engagement as a result.

All this means content cannot be put into siloes. Teams need to collaborate on a single, wide-ranging content strategy. A widely-utilised framework for this is ‘hero, hub, hygiene’. ‘Hero’ content is that which captures the imagination using storytelling and entertainment. ‘Hub’ content is that developed to build authority and trust. And ‘hygiene’ content is that which provides educational and help.

  1. Less is more

Finally, in an age where consumers are bombarded with information, marketers should adopt a ‘less is more’ approach. Studies have found consumers believe up to 60 per cent of the material produced by brands is just clutter. Therefore, it’s important to adopt a consumer-centric approach and go for quality over quantity, ensuring the content produced is focused and makes and impact across multiple channels.

Overall, the most important aspect of content marketing is to ensure the target audience is being served with truly helpful, high-value material that fulfils its needs. This alone will boost organic search and engagement, driving business performance.


01/Apr/2017
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Content marketing has become a crucial tool for businesses wanting to increase their exposure and brand awareness. However, it is far from a quick fix and takes many resources to craft and run a successful campaign. All too often, many of the common mistakes occur, even when seasoned professionals are running advertising. Therefore, it is important to regularly review strategies.

Lack of content promotion 

In this era, it is crucial to promote content. Once upon a time, material could be posted onto a blog and then left to gain attention. No more. Now, even the best content has to be shared if it’s to gain the right attention – even if it’s an exceptional piece of carefully crafted content.

Without promoting posts across a varied range of platforms, there is less chance the right people will see it. Though focussing on SEO can help gain more views, organic reach shouldn’t be relied on. Instead, every single piece of work should be shared on multiple platforms to get as many views as possible. This helps build followers, brand awareness and consumer trust.

Publishing content on the wrong channel

There are many platforms available to content marketing strategists these days, but it’s important to publish the right content in the right place. For example, a blog post might work well as a link on Twitter, but it might not gain attention on Pinterest. Meanwhile, LinkedIn certainly isn’t the right place to share personal or funny GIFs, though these can work well as occasional content posted to FB pages.

Focussing on quantity instead of quality 

It’s unsurprising that marketers want to create a lot of content and publish it regularly to remain visible to their target audience. However, focusing solely on producing a lot of content instead of checking for quality is a huge mistake. Content must be genuinely useful to consumers, of high quality and with added value; there’s no point in producing average content.

Failing to harness the power of Google Analytics

Good Analytics is an extremely powerful tool, yet many content marketers fail to use it properly. It can give insights into which content is performing the best, thereby helping creators make material that is most likely to find appeal with audiences. It can also tell marketers which website pages get the most hits, and how long people spend on a website. This information is invaluable, and should be used as a matter of course.

Not listening to target consumers

To get more views on content, businesses need to know what their customers want. And to understand this, it’s vital to actually listen. There are many tools to help monitor specific keywords across social media platforms, allowing marketers to follow conversations about brands, products or people. It is also important to respond to all social media comments and act swiftly to correct problems; showing people the face behind the brand.

By avoiding the above mistakes, content marketers can help hone their strategies, develop better content, and give campaigns the best chance of success.