9 Reasons to Take Keyword Research Beyond SEO

keyword research
When the marriage of Content + SEO + Social became official back in about 2009 (although some states still don’t recognize it) the act of keyword research became a vastly different animal.

While SEO pros still use keyword research today as a means of identifying terms and phrases to use to optimize pages on a website, the act of keyword research implies so much more in the modern marketing world.

Today, I use the art of keyword research to:

Optimize existing content – relying heavily on the Google Keyword Planner tool and the paid ad sets function in particular I try to determine key foundational phrases to build our entire online presence around. Obviously this is work is informed by our marketing strategy and some understanding of who we are trying attract and what we want them to do.

Conduct on page optimization – Again, relying pretty heavily on data from the Google Keyword Planner and competitive research using tools like MOZ, keyword research is used to work on under the hood things like title tags, alt image attributes and page descriptions.

Spot opportunities for new content – Most of the folks I’ve worked with over the years don’t have nearly enough content or in some cases any content focused on some of the most important and most profitable aspects of their business. I use keyword research to help build a content strategy.

Create content themes – I’ve long promoted the use of an editorial calendar as a tool to help properly build out your content and publishing routine. After brainstorming with a client’s team, I turn to keyword research to start building editorial themes. I then take my proposed theme list to BuzzSumo and start looking for the most shared content around these themes. I might also create content alerts for my themes in BuzzSumo so I can start passively monitoring when my themes are written about.

Build influencer lists – Once I know what my themes are going to be for the year I know that I want to start building lists of individuals who can support those themes. I believe that building industry influencer lists based on content and keyword themes allows you to create a more focused list than one that relies simply on large followings as a metric. My go-to tools for this step are BuzzSumo and Inkybee. I might also employ the MOZ Followerwonk tool to help segment Twitter lists and followers.

Build journalist lists – Just like the step above I always want to use my keyword themes to help identify a small list of journalists that might be influential in spreading the word. Once I create the list I generally create a Twitter list and employ BuzzSumo alerts to get notification when one of my journalists puts something out. I might also employ a tool like Toucan that sends me alerts when any journalist puts a query out matching my keyword phrases.

Build blog lists – Often times the best way to learn about an industry or keep tabs on what my clients, competitors, influencers and journalists are doing on a day to day basis is to create lists of blogs for each and add my keyword research to help identify new voices writing about my terms. I use BuzzSumo and Inkybee to help turn up these new blogs and then employ Feedly to easily group and scan these blogs.

Build guest lists – Another tactic that bubbles to the surface during this expanded view of keyword research is that of building lists of potential guest bloggers and potential blogs where I might try to place my content. Again, my key themes are at play here once you have a good idea of your themes you can start to unearth people who like to write guest posts and places that accept guest posts. One trick is to simply use your keyword phrases with the added term “guest post” into BuzzSumo or Topsy and see what turns up.

Build link lists – I’ll end up with a core SEO tactic that I believe is so much better informed by keyword research coupled with many of the elements above. Using tools like the MOZ Open Site Explorer you can easily build a list of backlinks to your competitors, but by thinking in terms of content themes and all of the list building and networking involved in previous steps you start to build a much more organic and potentially more useful list of backlink opportunities.

 

Elevating Customer Experience a Must When Marketing Luxury Brands

It’s no secret that luxury brand buyers’ needs are quite different from those of traditional buyers. With more resources and generally less time available than the average consumer, competition for their money and attention is fierce. So how do you amp up your brand and make it stand out to the luxury customer?

Cutting through all the noise in marketing and advertising nowadays means ditching the old school practice of simply promoting the characteristics and features of your product. Today’s luxury buyer is not sold on solely the benefits of what you are selling but on the overall brand experience; an experience that must be conveyed at every possible touchpoint whether digitally, on a customer service call or in person. Capture the attention of luxury buyers by focusing on these three aspects of your brand experience.

Know Your Audience

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is a practice ignored by brands all too often. Not all luxury buyers are driven by the same motives or respond the same way to marketing tactics, and failure to tailor your efforts to your specific audience’s needs could be costly.

kuhlman cellars

Example: Kuhlman Cellars

Those who book tastings at this Texas winery are not the average wine guzzlers, but rather aficionados with an appreciation for learning the ins and outs of wine making and tasting. They knew that their visitors would be more impressed with the high level of knowledge their staff possessed about their products and the industry than showy, grandiose surroundings. Rather than compensating with over-the-top interiors as many high-end wineries do, they chose to keep their tasting rooms simple and keep the focus on creating a personalized learning experience tailored to their visitors’ interests.

Tell a Story

Today’s luxury buyers also favor substance over style, meaning they are more likely to connect with a brand that has the marketing savvy to tell a story and align with their personal values rather with a brand that relies on its product’s flashiness. Your customers are educated, so treat them that way by ramping up your content and avoiding gimmicks and commodity marketing language.

5th and west

Example: Fifth & West

Future downtown Austin luxury high rise Fifth & West is one of the area’s most exciting residential ownership opportunities, and their marketing tactics needed to express this landmark development to potential residents on every level. While stunning renderings of the building certainly spoke for themselves, any accompanying copy needed to speak to the carefulness and thoughtfulness put into every aspect of the project. Vivid yet concise language and even quotes from interior architect Michael Hsu in marketing pieces effectively conveyed the heightened luxury living residents would experience. In fact, more than 60 percent of residences had been sold within three months of groundbreaking.

Convenience is Key

Now that you have hooked your customer with your brand experience and story, give them the ability to interact with your brand in a way that is most convenient for their demanding lifestyle. Providing ample options to suit their unique needs during every stage of the buying cycle allows them to shop and make decisions in a manner of their choosing. Accomplish this by pushing the creative envelope and utilizing technology in a way that both accommodates your buyers’ unique needs and provides that Wow Factor.

lexus of austin

Example: Lexus

Lexus of Austin’s launch party for two new vehicle models needed to set the standard for how grand and technology-centered the event would be. The invitation’s attention-grabbing, animated graphics captured invitees’ interest and created an interactive experience while allowing readers to gather information about the event and RSVP with ease. Convenience? Interactivity? Wow Factor? Check, check, check.

Fine-tuning your marketing efforts to focus on the needs and preferences of luxury buyers is a surefire way to create deeper connections with your audience and build loyalty. Doing so is the difference between your brand being uninspiring and being unforgettable.

Maria OrozovaMaria Orozova is the President and Creative Director of The MOD Studio, a boutique marketing and design agency based in Austin and the creative powerhouse behind many local and national brands. www.theMODstudio.com

The 3 Kinds of Partners Every Business Needs

When you get right down to it business is mostly about successful collaboration.

strategic partnersIn order to succeed you need to develop an ecosystem of collaboration and support. You don’t simply get new customers, you partner with them to deliver the most value over time. You don’t simply source vendors you develop relationships that allow both parties to be more profitable. The best leaders know how to partner with their team members in ways that make them want to take ownership. Even members of your network or community that you may have no financial relationship must be seen as collaborators in your success.

Over the years, I’ve come to think in terms of three very specific categories of partners that every business must intentionally develop in order to enjoy the most success.

Strategic Partners

Strategic partners are organizations and individuals that can provide something that is core to the delivery of your product or service or that enhance your core offerings in ways that allow you to go after markets you could not currently serve.

For example, my organization provides marketing consulting, but every one of our clients needs help with their website. In order for us to succeed we have to develop partnerships with organizations that can deliver website help in the manner we prescribe.

Given we now have virtual access to the greatest talent available worldwide, for every service we need to make our clients successful, aggressively packaging this talent as part of your offering has become a major competitive advantage.

Content Partners

I suppose this category of partner might seem new to those just embracing content marketing, but we’ve been preaching this idea for years. Once you start to develop content assets, one of the greatest ways to leverage those assets is to let other people share them.

Today we have to build relationships with publishers, bloggers, and organizations in need of content and use these relationships in ways to effectively get referred to tens of thousands of people currently outside of your network.

For example, we produce eBooks from our content rather consistently and instead of simply putting them on our website and calling it done, we shop these eBooks out to organizations that have our ideal client as part of their ecosystem and allow them cobrand and distribute the content to their world.

This tactic alone has led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales from businesses that grew to trust us by being introduced to us by way of shared content.

Marketing Partners

I suppose a more specific term for this category might be co-marketing partners. In this case, we are developing relationships with like-minded organizations with the stated goal of promoting each other in a variety of ways.

This relationship can happen virtually through online communication only or it can happen in your town by way of sales reps and service techs.

For example, I once worked with an electrical contractor, heating and cooling contractor and plumbing contractor that carried each other’s marketing materials and offers in the service techs trucks. At the end of each call, the technician was incentivized to pitch the other businesses with a coupon. This effort effectively doubled the amount of leads each organization received almost overnight.

Imagine if your combined content and marketing efforts and a small group of businesses created a hub of information for their specific market. So, in the example above, our contractors would get together and create content that answered all of the home maintenance questions people could possibly have. My guess is that website would be gobbled up by Google for local questions.

How to find the right partners

Finding the right partners is obviously a big variable in the success of this idea. In order to do this part right, you have to take the point of view that you won’t partner with just anyone. You’ve got to respect what they do and in the case of strategic partners, understand exactly how they will treat your customers.

One of my favorite places to go to search for partners is my existing clients. Make it a habit to ask them who they love to refer and why. You’ll quickly develop a list a potential partners that not only come recommended by someone you know, you’ve already got a mutual relationship through your shared client.

How to successfully work with your partners

One thing that will kill any partner relationship is confused expectations. No matter how great the reputation of partner you must spell things out in advance if you want things to work.

If a partner is going to provide a service like the website in my first example then you must develop a process for how you are going to communicate, orient the client, provide the work, bill, and follow-up. If you take the time to think about the entire process and even develop checklists for each step along the way you’ll be able to successfully work with multiple partners and effectively scale your ability to do more business. Don’t take this step and you’re inviting disaster!

Finally, being a good partner means looking for ways to develop mutually beneficial relationships. If your view of collaboration is mostly one sided you’ll soon find that you are losing partners faster than you can develop them.

The Most Excellent Qualities of Shareable Content

Today’s post is by Duct Tape Marketing’s Kala Linck – Enjoy!

You posted a picture of your new shoes on Facebook, and now the whole world is debating whether they are pink and green or red and yellow. 50 thousand shares, and umpteen million interactions. People are going to your Facebook page; most are even liking the page for updates on the real color of your new shoes… The alarm clock buzzes. Time to face reality.

Does this sound like a social media dream you’ve had? Ok, maybe not shoes, but having a piece of your content go viral? For this to happen, you’ve got to create shareable content. Your followers are looking for certain qualities in the content they share. If you’re not ensuring that your tweets, updates, blogs, etc. have those qualities, you’re ensuring that no one beyond your followers will ever see that information. Here are three qualities to consider including if you want to make that viral dream a reality:

Relatable

You’ve seen the tweets that say something along the lines of “I’m at Applebees,” or “I take good pictures.” While this sort of content might get some shares because of it’s comic undertones, many people cannot relate to this content, and some might even wonder why you’re sharing these updates.

With your content, instead provide something that people will relate to or use to help their daily routines, their business grow, etc. For example, “5 Ways to Make Your Instagram Photos Stand Out,” makes me want to share this information that I find valuable and think other might as well.

Refutable

If you haven’t noticed, people love to argue on social media. The most famous thing this year is a black and blue dress or was it gold and white? If you can get people passionate about something, and keep them talking – they will enlist the help of their followers, and the process will repeat.

Now, this might not be the kind of shareable content that you want. There is an art to having a debate happen and it being beneficial for the poster.

For example, you need your content to be less like this, “Why I Think Wisconsin Will Win the National Championship,” and more like, “We are thinking of offering training on-line in addition to our in-person training, what are your thoughts?” The comments that you get are likely to support a business decision, and this also gets people talking about your organization.

Relevant

This word comes up quite a bit when we’re creating content, and can seem like a buzzword at times. What does “stay relevant” really mean? By definition, it means “closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand.” A good starting point.

Photo courtesy of delightfuldisney.tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of delightfuldisney.tumblr.com

What is important here is to figure out what exactly is the “matter at hand,” and then provide information pertaining to, or providing value for it. For example, on LinkedIn, a post that says, “2015 PowerPoint Presentations are now available on the website from those presenters who granted us permission to post their slides,” might be relevant if your following went on LinkedIn to find your PowerPoint presentation, but is that what they are looking for?

It would be my thinking that the first thing people would do when looking for said PowerPoint presentation would be to check on your website, or send an email to your organization.

A more relevant post for LinkedIn would look something like this: “Meet the VP that could be hiring YOU.” People get on LinkedIn to look up connections and jobs, and to find encouraging workplace content. Think about your audience and what they are really seeking on each social media platform, and that will help you create more relevant content.

There are lots of reasons that things go viral. Maybe they contain a cute baby or a puppy, or maybe they make you laugh or bring you to tears. More often than not, viral content pulls an emotion out of the reader or viewer. Making sure your content is relevant, refutable and/or relatable is a good way to start inviting those emotions that will make people want to share your content. And who knows, maybe your dreams of viral shoes will come true. What aspects of content make you want to share it?

Kala LinckKala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels, praying for summer or tweeting about coffee and cats @tadasunshine.

Experiential Design: the Importance of Cohesive Event Branding

Today’s Guest Post is by Tori Atkinson – Enjoy!

Event branding offers companies, organisations and collectives a chance to massively amplify awareness – using experiential design best practices to offer an impactful and unforgettable experience. Through the power of distinctive, dynamic design, businesses can harness the immense potential of event branding – but it’s only through an intelligent and cohesive approach that you’ll experience the full effect.

Here’s how it’s done.

The Campaign Trail

The success of any event depends on how you execute the countdown. This phase is often neglected by businesses and organisations during the run-up to the big day – but taking the time and initiative to plan the preliminary elements, with a focus on cohesive design, is the key to ensuring the best possible results on the day of the event.

A strategic approach to event branding involves the creation of elements designed solely to build awareness and maximise the hype prior to the event itself. Considering how professional event design could enhance your invitations, tickets and even social media pages during the proverbial drumroll will generate as much interest as possible – boosting attendance and creating some welcome buzz around the event during the weeks or months beforehand.

Try it: bring some design cohesion to your event campaign materials by using one consistent tagline across the invite emails, print media and physical or online tickets to create a sense of recognition. Using one core aesthetic theme throughout, like one unifying symbol or colour scheme, adapt and embellish this as you see fit across the various design elements so that all materials are complementary without being visually identical.

From the Drawing Board to the Big Day

Event branding is an involved, ongoing process that starts with the drawing board and develops and evolves continually until the day of the big event. A sense of cohesion is crucial to experiential design – as no event will have the aesthetic or conceptual impact it should have without some harmony among its various parts. From the initial design stages to the production of event elements, the overarching concept should ring loud and clear across the campaign.

Ensuring that the unifying idea behind your event isn’t forgotten along the way will prevent the core message from being lost or diluted. So whether it’s pre-event advertising, the all-embracing branding or the experiential design itself, keeping a firm grip on the concept of the event will guarantee that it’s cohesive, connected and delivers on every promise.

Our work with 100%Design involved creating a holistic campaign design and carrying this concept throughout all elements made to support, promote and populate the event. Settling on an idea of ‘inspiring connections’ that tied everything together, we were able to guarantee total cohesion across the event branding.

Try it: keep a rigid focus on the overall purpose and concept of your event and create every element with this in mind. Promotional materials give you a chance to hint at your concept in a more abstract way, whereas the event itself is where you can bring these abstractions into the tangible, three-dimensional world.

‘Inspiring Connections’ was a theme that simultaneously offered inspiration for the pre-event promo design and informed the way the actual event was populated and presented. All elements of the event served as a translation or physical representation of this key concept.

Photo by Shaw+Skerm

Photo by Shaw+Skerm

Attendee Journeys

Creating a sense of togetherness throughout your event branding is especially important where the attendee journey is concerned. Whatever the ultimate aim of your event is – whether it’s to increase brand exposure, raise awareness on a given topic or drive sales and subscriptions – the journey an attendee takes from entrance to exit needs to be subtly and strategically designed.

With all elements of the event working in synergy, the journey from A to B should be seamless – that way, your audience will have the most immersive and engaging experience possible. Maintaining a sense of perspective throughout the event branding process guarantees results. It’s by keeping one eye on the big picture, exploring how different elements interact and how they work to communicate your core message, that you’ll deliver a meaningful and memorable event.

Try it: when designing the event itself, keep all primary components connected by enforcing one overriding aesthetic theme – whether that relates to colour, form or the message your displays communicate. Guaranteeing that all elements contribute to the central theme in a way that’s clear to all attendees will ensure you leave a powerful and lasting impact.

Tori AtkinsonTori Atkinson is a creative design blogger for Shaw+Skerm – providing professional event branding services to SMEs and organisations throughout London.

Do Something That Won’t Scale

In the world of marketing automation, robo Tweets and autoresponders it’s pretty easy to lose touch with reality, let alone with the thinking, caring, and feeling human beings that make up the market you’re attempting to serve.

bracesMarket research and user testing can help you keep a bit of a pulse on what’s going on in the world of your prospect or customer, but today I’d like to suggest a practice that just might make you the smartest marketer in the world.

I would like to suggest that once a quarter you select an ideal customer and deliver an experience you know won’t scale at your current pricing model. In other words, do something so over the top in terms of serving them, not as a revenue source, but in order to learn everything you can about what they need, how they struggle, what they love and maybe even what you could actually figure out how to scale if you knew how super important it was to them.

No matter how many tools we develop to engage, enchant and entertain our audiences the businesses that consistently win do so be getting very, very good at the things that matter most to their customers.

The problem quite often though is we assume we know what that is.

I recently spoke to a ballroom full of orthodontists and I challenged them to choose one ideal patient each quarter and become more than an orthodontist to them – become a consultant.

Get them to agree to allow you to spend extra time with them, eat with them, floss with them (okay I know that one’s a little personal, but it turns out it’s one of the keys to success with braces and most hate doing it.)

Get them to agree to tell you everything about the experience of having braces, let you interview them on camera, keep a food diary, keep a “how am I feeling today about my braces” diary. Write down everything their friends and not so friends say to them about their braces.

Give them priority appointment slots, hook them up gift cards and other perks.

The point of the exercise is about a dozenfold.

Done correctly, your customer is going to get a better result – they can’t help it. You are going to learn what you can and can’t do that adds value. You’re going to learn about all the little things that get in their way from succeeding. You’re going to discover a couple of really, really easy wins – things you actually can do, but never thought to test. You may even learn that there’s a demand for this level of service that makes sense as a new offering.

I know that what I’m suggesting is going to take work, but in my opinion the only way you distance your business from everyone else that says they do what you do is to discover what matters most to your ideal clients and get very good at delivering it.

In order to do that – sometimes you’ve got to do things that don’t scale.

How to Use Marketing Automation Correctly

Today’s Guest Post is by Zach Watson – Enjoy!

marketing automation

Photo via PhotoPin

Marketing automation can’t be described as a new concept anymore. It would be more accurate to say it’s a difficult undertaking because automating anything requires precision and constant maintenance.

But it’s not impossible to use this strategy effectively. The fact that marketing automation is no longer a new, mysterious technology provides small businesses with the one resource they need to capitalize on this software: best practices.

The biggest risk of automating your marketing is that you will do it incorrectly, and your customers will be left confused and alienated. But by using other marketers as a guide, you’ll be better positioned to avoid the common pitfalls of automation. Here are a few:

Common Uses for Marketing Automation Include:

1. Content Marketing

Educational or entertaining content can be used both as a means to grow your email list and a way to increase engagement from your subscribers. If you’re offering a product or service, then using content as a means to move buyers through the sales funnel is an excellent use of marketing automation.

The key to this strategy is to create campaigns that use if/then logic to deliver personalized content for the interests of each prospect. This builds rapport and trust between your company and your audience while also moving these prospects closer to using your product or service.

2. Onboarding

As software as a service has become a more common delivery model for software products, so has the onboarding email chain become a more common tactic for marketers. Many organizations devote a great deal of effort to getting prospects to sign up for free trials of their software in order to get them in the sales funnel.

Once the prospect signs up, it’s critical that they use the software to its full extent. After using the software becomes a habit, then the free trial user is exponentially more likely to become a paying customer.

The key to automating onboarding emails is to sync your marketing automation system with the software you sell so you can target users based on what behavior they have or haven’t taken.

The approach is similar to content marketing, but instead of a series of educational pieces of content, onboarding campaigns are usually personal emails discussing how to use specific features of the software.

3. Promotions and Discounts

These are often the bread and butter of e-commerce retailers as well as brick and mortar shops. Sending discounts is an effective strategy for driving both online and instore purchases, and it can be tempting to blast your best offers to everyone. However, like the other two tactics, you need to base these campaigns on user behavior to make sure your offers are as targeted as possible.

Now that you’ve got a framework for what you can do with marketing automation, it’s important to examine what you should not do with this type of software.

Don’t send the same emails to everyone

Marketers new to automation software often worry that creating automated email campaigns and scheduling other types of interactions along the sales funnel will make them sound like a robot. That’s not true — unless, of course, you send the same emails to your entire audience.

Failing to appreciate the differences in the interests of your customers is precisely what will make you sound like a robot. Fortunately, marketing automation products make it particularly easy to track user behavior on your website, in your email campaigns, and on your social media.

Use that information to make your marketing personalized, and your communication won’t sound robotic or mass-produced.

Don’t set and forget

To gather all the correct information you need to segment your marketing campaigns, you’ll need to test different approaches with different audiences. For example, “Does offer A work well with customers interested in product 2, or does offer B work better?” Test early and test often. You need to monitor your campaigns on a daily basis and make changes as necessary.

One of the cardinal sins of marketing automation is creating a single campaign for each segment and simply letting that campaign run without oversight. This is a massive mistake. It’s unlikely you’ll create the perfect marketing formula the first time around, so testing provides a way to improve quickly.

Marketing automation vendors don’t just make software that only huge businesses use; many make products for businesses of all sizes. But a cheaper price doesn’t take the pressure off of the marketer. Automation demands a lot of work.

You’re essentially playing the role of an engineer to construct a marketing lifecycle for your prospects. Be sure to follow industry best practices and constantly monitor your results to succeed in your automating endeavors.

Zach WatsonZach Watson is the content manager at TechnologyAdvice. He covers gamification, healthcare IT, business intelligence and other emerging technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Free Webinar – How to Make Marketing Darn Easy

Please enjoy an archive of the webinar below – How to Install a Turn-Key Marketing System.

How to Build a Turn-Key Marketing System from John Jantsch on Vimeo.

The recording above includes an hour long webinar packed with information.  


Here is the slide deck from the presentation as well.

We also introduced an innovative new online program and community, based onthe Duct Tape Marketing System, to help you create your own marketing system with the support of others.

When you join the Duct Tape Marketing Program you are joining a community of business owners, coaches and marketers all determined to make a difference – to make certain that you meet your objectives.

Once you understand that marketing is just a system, things get a whole lot clearer.

Here’s what you get when you join the Program

  1. Immediate access to the Duct Tape Marketing Course (Click here to see the full course curriculum)
  2. Monthly group coaching webinar
  3. Monthly live Q and A sessions
  4. Membership in an exclusive community forum
  5. Chance be chosen our monthly VIP Member
  6. Access to our proven toolbox
  7. Introduction to Duct Tape Marketing Consultants
  8. Connection and accountability

I hope you consider joining this growing community and I look forward to connecting with you inside!

Find out more about the Duct Tape Marketing System