Friday, we talked about Yahoo!’s new partnership with Twitter. Today, USA Today reported that Yahoo! is purchasing Tumblr for $1.1 billion.
Here’s the kicker: Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer said, “We promise not to screw it up.”
That’s good news. It makes you wonder why she’d say that. People who have been following Yahoo! for a number of years realize it for what it is. Yahoo! executives know they have a problematic history of buying up Web properties and then screwing them up. Mayer’s comment is supposed to be reassurance to Tumblr fans that Yahoo! will accept the blogging site the way it is.
But a lot of them aren’t buying it.
Here’s my question. Assuming that Yahoo! makes good on its promise not to screw up Tumblr, how can this acquisition benefit Internet marketers?
That could happen any number of ways. Already, the company is discussing potential advertising opportunities via Tumblr bloggers agreeing to run ads on their blogs. There’s no definitive answer yet, but if that happens, then Tumblr itself could increase in value in terms of how it can benefit Internet marketers.
It also makes me wonder if Yahoo! has in mind using Twitter in any way within this relationship. Would Tumblr blogs run Twitter ads, by any chance? Or Yahoo! PPC ads?
All of these are unanswered questions, and it may be too soon to speculate. For now, let’s just hope Yahoo! makes good on its promise not to screw up Tumblr.
If you’ve been waiting for live streaming to come to YouTube, then you can relax. If you have more than 1,000 subscribers to your YouTube channel, then you can engage in live streaming video right now.
This is an awesome opportunity for serious video marketers.
YouTube has been the forerunner in video sharing and video marketing since its inception in 2005. Now that it’s owned by Google, the opportunities for marketing are even better. It’s not just a video marketing platform. It’s a video storage and video sharing platform with huge, HUGE SEO benefits.
Your audience will surely value the live streaming experience. If you produce an informational segment in your niche at a specific time every day, week, or month, then live streaming is perfect.
The WebProNews article highlights some of the features of live streaming on your YouTube channel:
- Real-time transcoding in the cloud
- Multiple camera angles
- Closed captioning
- Support for multiple devices
- And much more
If you thought YouTube marketing was good before, it just got a lot better. Video marketing is a great way to introduce new clients to your products or engage with new leads. Live streaming video takes the benefits of video marketing and multiplies them.
Are you using Google+? If you are, then you might be excited to learn that Google is planning 41 new features to Google+. Most of these you probably will have no interest in, but some of them do seem exciting.
WebProNews mentioned four of them:
- A multi-column desktop format
- Related hashtags
- A new Hangouts app
- A photo-editing feature with multiple components, one of which is dubbed “auto-awesome”
I presume the Hangouts app is going to be an Android app.
The WebProNews article came out yesterday and says, “Most of these new features will be rolling out to Google+ this afternoon.”
I haven’t seen them yet, but maybe they were talking about the other 37 features.
It’s nice to see Google improving Google+. As long as these improvements keep coming, I don’t think the service is in any danger of being killed (like Google is doing with Google Reader this summer). A product that is in continuous improvement mode is not likely to go away. To me, that means you should probably be using it, especially since the implications for search rolled into the product are very high.
Are you using Google+? Will you be using it in the future? Why or why not?
Content comes in many forms. One thing remains true, however, for all forms of content. It must be strong or it will lose your audience’s attention.
When I say “strong,” what I mean is your content must do three things:
- It must inform your audience of something that is important to them.
- It must present you as a subject matter expert.
- And it must interest your audience in learning more about you and your business.
Any content that doesn’t do these three things isn’t strong content. But here’s a caveat: You must do these three things in every piece of content you produce without mentioning your company. In other words, you don’t have to write a sales pitch. Make your content about your audience.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires a certain mindset in the content producer. You can’t be “all about me.”
You have to be all about your customer.
Your audience is going to want to know what’s in it for them. They will judge you by your content, and they will judge you on whether your content meets their needs. If it doesn’t, they will go somewhere else. You won’t have a chance.
So, here’s the question: Is your content strong? If not, why not?
Everyone is guest blogging, but are they doing it right? You know the benefits. Getting your name out there, authorship, authority, reputation, etc. But what about link building?
Guest blogging for links is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can get some good links if you have articles on influential websites with authority. However, get too many of those from the same domains and the benefits are diminishing as you build more links. Many guest bloggers, have traded one bad link building strategy for another.
Think about it. If you were penalized by Google Panda or Google Penguin for excessive link building, or building low quality links from low quality websites, then why does it matter if you’ve got your name on those articles? They’re still bad links.
What you really want to do is spread those links around. Do some guest blogging on as many websites as you can. Diversify. That’s the name of the game.
Link building isn’t dead. Neither is guest blogging. But there are good and bad ways to go about each.
In today’s online marketing environment, you’ve got to make sure you don’t do too much of a good thing. Or do a good thing badly. It’s as important as doing a bad thing altogether.
For most of Internet marketing history, search engines were the place people found information online. Content was king, and by “content” it was meant text. Then came along social media. There was Friendster and MySpace. Then, YouTube and Facebook took over. Flickr allowed people to store and share photos – and still does. Then something else happened.
Mobile phones became popular. Then smartphones. People were taking photos with their phones. And sharing them online. Pinterest hit the scene followed by other image-rich social media platforms. Now, it seems, images are taking over.
A recent article at Wired highlights the move toward image-based marketing. And the truth is, this trend is growing.
It makes sense. People want to see items before they purchase them. That was the premise behind the old Sears and J.C. Penney catalogs. If you’re old enough to remember those, then you know what I’m talking about. Modern websites like Pinterest are the catalogs of our day. They allow people to see a product before they buy it.
That doesn’t mean that search engines will go away. Actually, it’s probable that search engines will find a way to adapt to this new trend and create new algorithms to help people find the images that lead to greater online commerce. Such a move would only benefit them while also benefiting searchers. One thing remains sure, however. Images are becoming a lot more important for online marketing. No one can ignore that.
It’s firmly established in the minds of most online marketers that analytics is a necessary component of their marketing program. You need analytics that tell you how many visitors and unique visitors you are getting, your bounce rate, keywords searchers are using to find your web site, social media analytics, and conversion rates too. But should you be tracking all of that in realtime?
Realtime analytics is important for a number of reasons.
First, if you start a new marketing campaign, then you can gauge its effectiveness right from the start. You can see if people are responding to your social media posts immediately. You can tell if your PPC campaign is getting the responses you’d hoped for right off the bat. That’s important actionable data that allows you to tweak your marketing initiatives if necessary.
Another reason realtime analytics is important is because you can see who is on your site right now. If you see people arriving at your site from Northern California, then you can rearrange the content on your home page to target that demographic. Right now!
Those are two very important reasons to track your website usage in realtime. You can probably think of other reasons on your own.
No matter what kind of business you are running, you’ll have to create content, but there are different types of content and each type has a different purpose. Here are 5 different kinds of content you should concern yourself with when planning your content marketing strategy.
- Foundational content – This is content that is foundational to your website and business. It includes your home page, About page, and landing pages. Foundational content is necessary content that gives potential customers an idea about who you are and what you do.
- Community-building content – This content is social. It can be on your site or off site, but its purpose is to engage with your audience. It usually involves your blog, but it can be wholly contained on your social media outposts as well.
- Promotional content – Promotional content should be kept to a minimum. Its sole purpose is to promote, such as a notice of an upcoming event or a book you’ve published.
- Informational content – This content is strictly to inform your audience about a particular topic. It can be a newsletter article, a free download, a white paper, or even a web page or blog post, but it’s strictly for informational purposes.
- Fleeting content – I call this “fleeting” content because it typically is short lived. That is, it has no long-term appeal. Certain types of blog posts typically fall into this category, but guest articles can too. They address topics that are hot right now but may not be hot next year. Like promotional content, you want to keep this content to a minimum, but it can be good marketing to include it.
There are other types of content, but these are the types you’ll encounter most often. Design your content marketing strategy around them.
I’m going to assume for the purpose of this blog post that you already have a website, you’ve done the right keyword research for your online marketing plan, and you have already established a marketing plan and budget. You are ready to begin the implementation phase. How should you start your blog?
I’d recommend with starting an editorial calendar. Begin your calendar with the first day of next month. You want to give yourself a little lead time.
Plan to post two days a week the first month. Pick the days and put them on your calendar. For each blog post on the calendar, pick a keyword from your list and write a blog post for that day. Write the entire first month’s blog posts and then schedule them to post on the appropriate days. WordPress makes this easy.
During that first month, you want to monitor your analytics. How much traffic are you getting, where is it coming from, and how long are people staying on your site?
Also, each time one of your blog posts goes live, share it to social media.
During that first publishing month you’ll want to plan the next month’s posts. It’s a good idea to have your publishing schedule completed before the 15th of the previous month. This time, plan to post three days a week. Write your posts and pre-schedule them. Monitor analytics.
Before the halfway mark of the second publishing month, have your posts for the third month planned. This time, plan to post five days a week. If you are a service business open Monday through Friday, post on those days. If you are open on weekends, post on your five busiest days, or the days that make the most sense for your business.
This is your first three months of posting. Continue sharing your blog posts on social media and monitor your analytics.
Guest blogging has been quite popular for a couple of years now, but it isn’t for everyone. Whether or not you should accept guest bloggers for your blog depends on a number of factors.
First, what are the benefits of having guest bloggers?
Well, one benefit is you get to take a break from blogging while still providing your readers with quality content. Another benefit is, if you get a good guest blogger, then you’ll attract that person’s audience to your blog, picking up traffic you might not otherwise gain access to. Those are pretty good benefits.
However, there are some drawbacks. You’ll have to sift through quite a bit of low quality content to get to the good stuff. You’ll have to deal with e-mail spam from people pitching a blog idea who have no idea what your blog is about and probably don’t even know your name. Don’t waste your time responding to those e-mails. Instead, should you decide to accept guest bloggers, create a set of guidelines for them to follow and enforce them religiously.
You may want to keep the content on your blog entirely your own. That’s OK. It’s your blog. You are perfectly within your rights to do that.
It’s a matter of choice. There are pros and cons to accepting guest bloggers. Do what’s right for your business.
One of the most successful – if not the most successful – online business models is called a hub-and-spoke model. Think of it as like a bicycle wheel. There’s a hub and there are spokes that connect the hub to the actual wheel. Without both of these two components, the wheel will not do its job – even though neither component is the actual wheel.
So now that you have the visual, what is the hub and what is the spoke?
Your hub is the center of all of your marketing efforts online. It’s the place where you plan, strategize and implement your online marketing plan.
In essence, it’s your website. Your website should include your blog.
The reason you don’t want just a website without a blog is because your website is static. You want to update it on a regular basis to keep the search engine spiders coming back and crawling it on a regular basis. Fresh regular content is one of the most important things you need on your website.
So now, onto the spokes. Your spokes are the outlying bases that you use to drive traffic back to the hub. These could be popular forums in your niche, directories, or social media websites. It could also include other blogs. The key is to find locations around the Web where your target audience is hanging out. Then you go there and hang out too. Create content they will like, engage their imaginations, and then slowly siphon the traffic and direct it to your hub.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s much harder than it sounds, but it’s necessary. This is one of the most successful content marketing plans on the Net. Try it.
It seems the whole world is going ga-ga over social media. It’s practically all you hear about nowadays. People are flocking to the social media sites to establish a presence and build their brands. Often, when they get there they realize it is more work than they thought it was going to be. Then they get the “what next?” glaze in their eyes.
Social media is important. But far more important than social media is the voice behind it. In a word, it’s authority.
Think about the sources where you receive your daily news. Why do you like them? Are you more interested in CNN or Fox News? Why? Chances are, you get your news from the sources you select because you like their reputation as news sources. You consider them authorities.
Readers in every niche look at online content the same way. They want to get their information from a credible authority.
But how do you build authority? How do you establish yourself as a voice of authority in your niche? The surest way to become a respected and recognized authority on any topic is to produce regular material on your subject that is respected. You can get your content recognized by a large number of people interested in the topic, by a few respected leaders in your niche, or a combination of the two.
How you build authority is up to you. The fact that you need to become an authority is getting more and more evident every day. When it happens, social media will be there to help reap the rewards.
If you’ve been writing your company blog for a while and you’re not sure if you are reaching your audience – maybe the engagement is low, you’re not getting a lot of comments, or there’s little interaction with your audience – then try incorporating these 5 content marketing ideas into your blog. Measure your efforts to see how audience engagement on your blog is improved after you implement these ideas.
- Invite guest bloggers – Guest bloggers can often add a different flavor to your blog and encourage new comments. However, a guest blogging program is more effective if you set reasonable guidelines for your guest bloggers. Among those should be included a requirement to respond to comments and keep readers talking beyond the blog post.
- Content curation – Look for opportunities to incorporate content created by others on their blogs or through other online media into your blog. This can as simple as creating resource posts with links to pages online that could be helpful to your audience.
- Include multimedia content – Every now and then, add a slideshow or a video to your blog.
- Ask open ended questions – Get people talking on your blog by ending your blog posts with requests for feedback. Use open ended questions whenever possible. You can also incorporate surveys.
- Sync your posts with off-site content – Become a guest blogger on another blog in your niche. Sync your guest posts with a more in-depth post on your own blog. Drive traffic back to your blog and engage your readers with thought-provoking content and open ended questions.
Content marketing requires a creative approach. You can increase your blog engagement, but it will require some planning and thinking outside the proverbial box.
What’s it mean that Amazon has acquired the social networking site for readers, Goodreads?
One thing it could mean for authors, especially indie authors, is that more opportunities for marketing themselves to Kindle owners could arise. Cynthia Boris does a good job of pointing out that both the Amazon press release and the Goodreads press release mention the Kindle. That might mean a Goodreads Kindle app is on the way.
If that is the case, then that will make social networking via Goodreads more accessible to Kindle owners. It might also mean more Goodreads users overall.
The reason that is good news for Kindle owners and authors is because a lot of indie authors publish e-books as opposed to print books. It’s easy to do, costs much less, and the potential for return on investment is much greater. If Amazon can create a way to bring indie authors and readers closer together in their reading devices, that could mean more e-book sales.
Of course, there are other ways this could impact e-book sales. There could be ways for Amazon to influence the use of Goodreads from inside of the books on Kindle devices. That would certainly benefit authors and readers. Social networking while reading a book, being able to ask questions and have conversations about specific passages within a book, and interact with authors and other readers within the book where those comments can only be read by people who have purchased the book? Those would be really powerful benefits.
If you are an author, this might be good for you. Anything that leads to better social media marketing is a good thing.
Surveys can provide great feedback for your business. They’re not hard to construct and don’t cost must to produce. All they really cost is your time, or the time of someone on your team, to think of questions to ask and promote the survey to your audience.
With online surveys, you can get results in real time. By taking results online, you can measure them as people fill out your survey. That’s a big plus. Especially if you want data fast.
A survey can also help you decide on a new direction or offering for your customers. If you have two or three or four different ways you can roll out a new product, just ask your customers what they prefer. You can learn a lot by asking the right questions and potentially save your company a lot of money by avoiding a costly mistake.
Surveys also get your customers talking. If you ask at least one open-ended question on your survey, you’ll be surprised at the feedback you can get.
When you do create a survey and ask your audience to help you out, offer some sort of incentive for taking the time to give you feedback. It can be a free white paper, a discount coupon, or anything of value. It lets your survey respondents know you value their input and helps you to maintain contact with them in the future. If your incentive requires an e-mail address for delivery, you get the contact information as well.
That’s real effective internet marketing.
Five days ago Google announced that July 1 would be the last live day for Google Reader. So what does that mean for your business?
Honestly, not much. You’re losing one avenue of readership. One channel. That’s all.
Most people don’t use RSS anyway (and never did). The good news is everyone uses e-mail. If you don’t already have an e-mail subscription option for your blog, then you should offer one. You should set it up before July 1, 2013. In fact, you should set it up right now.
Another way you should be promoting your blog subscription feed is through social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc.
If you do these two things, you will not lament the loss of Google Reader for long. You’ll likely miss it more as a blog subscriber yourself than you will as a business owner. You may see your subscription rate fall in July, but if you offer an e-mail option, then I’d be willing to bet that you’ll see your subscriptions go up on a continuous basis after July.
If you publish a newsletter, you should also include one or two sample blog posts in your weekly newsletter. This will introduce your newsletter subscribers to your blog and encourage more readership.
Google Reader may be dying, but it’s not the end of the world. Just find other ways to keep your human readers coming back.
If you are a big believer in analytics and customer tracking, as I am, then you’ll be excited to know that a company out of California is making offline tracking possible through smartphones. The company is called Euclid.
But hold on because there’s a battle brewing in Washington. Sen. Al Franken wants Euclid to get customer approval before tracking them.
This will likely turn into a big battle for privacy in the near future, but the outcome will still likely end up allowing companies to track consumers. The issue is whether consumers should know about it first. Either way, you can get real data about your customers, and your brick-and-more retail store, using the Internet and smartphone technology. This is information you would have had to pay a lot of money for in the past and still not get accurate data.
Here’s how it works:
Euclid installs sensors in retailers’ locations that can measure how many people walked by a store, how many walked in and for how long they stayed based on when their smartphones emit a kind of radar searching for wireless Internet signals.
That’s pretty clever. All a person has to do is walk past your store and they get tracked.
So here’s the question: How is that actionable data?
If you know that 10,000 people walk by your store in an 8-hour period of time and only 500 of those enter, then you can work on ways to get more people to walk into your store. If those who do enter only browse 10 minutes before leaving, then you can figure out ways to get people to stay longer. You can know whether your efforts are successful or not based on future tracking. That’s pretty powerful.
It’s just a matter of time before someone figures out how to use this technology in conjunction with online marketing. Then retailers will have an upper hand indeed.
Headers have a difficult job. They’ve got to attract attention, but they can’t detract from the rest of the website. Their job is to make an impact, to draw people in, and that’s pretty much it. Well, that and branding. They have to give your website or blog visitor an idea about who you are and what you have to offer.
In other words, your header’s job is to spark an interest. It’s like the carnival barker. Without the carnival.
Unless of course your website is a carnival website (wink, wink).
All kidding aside, what does your header say about your business? Does it confuse your prospect? Do your website visitors show up and ask, “What does this business do?” If so, then it’s time to revise your header. You need a new one.
It’s not a graphics problem. Sure, your graphics department will likely be creating the header, but it’s your marketing department’s job to make sure that all of your communications are in sync – with each other and with your company’s overall vision and mission statements. Your marketing department is responsible for your image and for making sure that your brand is likable.
So ask yourself, “Is my header confusing people? Is it doing its job or did we just throw it together?”
What do you make of Internet marketers, or search engine optimizers (professional SEOs), recommending putting your content behind a paywall? Won’t that drive your traffic elsewhere?
There are content publishers making good money with paywalls. And there are others going belly up. So what’s the recipe for success?
There’s no one recipe that will work for every website just like there’s no one way to bake a cake. There are certain things you don’t want to put in a cake, and even if you have all the right ingredients, you have to have them in the right measure. Plus, you have to mix those ingredients in just the right way, and keep it in the oven just the right amount of time, etc.
I’m no baker, but I know about SEO. I know about marketing online. Sometimes it makes sense to put your content behind a paywall. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Here are a few things to consider if you are looking at putting your content behind a paywall:
- How much does it cost you to produce a page of content?
- What is your expected return on each page of content?
- How much competition do you have in your niche?
- What is the availability of the content you are producing for free on the Internet? If you have a lot of competition producing the same content for free, then it might not make sense to add a paywall. You have to create value or people won’t pay for it.
Paywalls can be good if you produce enough high value content that can’t be acquired anywhere else. If there’s an audience for it, there could be a profit in your content behind a paywall. But don’t jump into it blindly.
If you’ve dreamed of becoming an Internet publisher, allow me to proclaim how simple it is to become one. I’m not going to fill your head with “get rich quick” formulas, but the opportunity to become an Internet publisher with current technology is right at your fingertips. You don’t even need a lot of money to get started.
So what do you need?
All you really need is an idea, the motivation to succeed, a passion, and the right technology. Here are 5 distinct ways to run an online publishing company and make money with your efforts:
- Publish an ezine – An ezine is a digital magazine that you can publish by e-mail or promote through e-mail.
- Write a blog – You can write your blog yourself, curate what others write, or take submissions and publish the writings of others. Blogs are very popular, and if you can successfully publish a blog that attracts great traffic, you can charge advertisers for sponsoring your blog.
- E-books – Through Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iPad, and other e-book reading devices, you can be a successful digital publisher selling e-books on a variety of topics, fiction and nonfiction.
- Squidoo Lenses – Some writers and publishers are making a decent living or supplementing their income with Squidoo Lenses.
- Articles - Articles are the shortest form of online publishing and can be formatted in many ways. You can publish them on your blog, in your ezine, as e-books, in your Squidoo Lenses, or as guest posts on other people’s blogs.
Online publishing is a growing field. More and more writers and entrepreneurs are building their Web presence by starting their own publishing companies. You can too.