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Content Marketing

Content Marketing, Visual Communication

The Power of Visual Storytelling: 15 Stunning Examples to Inspire You by @NikkiElizDeMere

the-power-of-visual-story-telling

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Before the days of neon lights and marquee signs, business owners had to get creative when it came to advertising their establishments. In fact, wine bars in ancient Rome used to hang bunches of vine leaves outside their door as a nod to the God of Wine, Bacchus. And when weather conditions left them with a short supply of vine leaves, barkeeps turned to bushes — inns called Bush, or Bull & Bush, still exist today.

But others didn’t even have that. They had to get artistic. And with a largely illiterate population, pictorial signs were the only logical advertising choice.

Visual storytelling — or passing on a lot of information through a relatively simple visual aid — has been a cornerstone of marketing for thousands of years. I’d like to say we’ve come a long way, but really? What worked then works now: We see what we want and we’re driven to buy it.

Perhaps, if anything has changed, it’s what we want from life. That’s where today’s visual storytellers have a chance to not only say “Hey, you can get this here!” but also lead the consumer into a whole new world of possibilities.

Below you’ll find 15 of the very best examples of visual storytelling from B2C, B2B, crowdfunding, and SaaS. These companies know how to tell a brand story that seeds desire, starts relationships, and inspires nothing short of love. Check ’em out.

Read More on HubSpot


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Content Marketing, Visual Communication

How to Support Your Copy with Images (Instead of Just Dropping Pics on a Page) ft. @CopyHackers

how-to-support-your-copy

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

“I want to go to there,” says Liz Lemon.

She’s just watched a sexily rumpled John Hamm walk out of the kitchen only to tell her:

Now that’s an image that inspires action, amiright?

We see.

We want.

We make happen.

The connection between sight and longing is visceral, primal – not to be ignored.

Except here’s the thing: most of us content creators do ignore it. In an effort to draw a prospect in with our words, copywriters may dismiss the power of images. Or, at best, we may find ourselves using them as meek supporting characters to the textual stars of our shows.

But images are far too powerful to be relegated to the backgrounds.

And words with images? You put the right ones together and you not only get momentum – you could start a movement. Says science.

Read More on CopyHackers


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Content Marketing, Diversity

Influencer Marketing: I’ve got a bone to pick with you – wanna meet me outside? by @NikkiElizDeMere

influencermarketing

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Joanna Wiebe has this great formula for writing compelling posts. As she puts it, “pick a fight.” Well, there’s been a battle brewing between me and one marketing idea for a very long time: Influencer marketing. It’s hotter than a June bug in July right now. Everyone’s talking about it, and almost everyone’s doing it.

The idea behind influencer marketing isn’t a bad one altogether.

Some have described it as “the opposite of authority marketing” – instead of you being the one drawing people in with your charm and expertise, you’re instead courting others who have already built up their authorities in your niche (or related niche) and asking them to introduce you to their audiences (preferably with a glowing review, or an anchor-text heavy guest post).

A more succinct definition from VisionCritical: Influencer marketing is the practice of “engaging and partnering with people deemed to have online clout.” Bloggers, internet personalities, celebrities and industry experts are all fair game.

The promise?

“Companies expect that influencer marketing will drive sales because bloggers are able to expose the brand to a captive audience and increase brand awareness.” – Elspeth Shek, “Influencer marketing’s big, bad problem, and what companies can do about it,” VisionCritical

So, best case scenario: Your influencer has a large, highly engaged, niche-specific audience that will listen to *anything* s/he says, and buy whatever s/he recommends.

Some influencers have that much power. If you’re a new perfumer and you get Dita Von Teese’s public endorsement? You’ve got it made in the shade. Why? Because her audience is devoted to the point of being fanatical, and she has won their trust through her own integrity of only supporting brands (and scents) she genuinely loves.

But, most influencers don’t have that much sway. They may have large followings, but maybe half are active, and the other half are “lurkers” (and at least one technology researcher and strategist, Alexandra Samuel, contends that “lurkers” are not only less likely to comment and engage, but also less likely to follow recommendations).

Still, the potential benefits of winning an influencer over to your cause are big, juicy, and understandably tempting, spawning a million-and-one articles about how to do influencer marketing. This article  isn’t one of them.

This article is about whether you should use influencer marketing at all, and if you do, how you can benefit other people in addition to your brand. Yes, I could have titled this article “How you can use influencer marketing to make the world a better place,” but I’m not running for Miss America anytime soon.

Big Picture: How Ethical – not to mention effective – is Influencer Marketing?

“The voice of the customer has always been one of the most powerful concepts in marketing, and today’s social media platforms act as one giant megaphone for that voice.” – Kyle Wong, “The Explosive Growth of Influence Marketing and What it Means for You,” Forbes

The theory is that by choosing the right influencers with whom to partner, you’ll get an all-access pass into the minds and hearts of their audience (who is also your target audience). But first, you have to choose your influencer, and there’s a scientific approach to this called “influencer targeting.”

According to Forbes, the winning influencer targeting equation is:

“Influencer = Audience Reach (# of followers) X Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) X Strength of Relationship with Followers”

I’ve written about The Problem with Influencer Marketing before. My biggest beef is that because of the way influencers are chosen, only the voices that are already the loudest get amplified. Brands who pick influencers based solely on numbers ensure the people who already dominate the conversations continue to do so.

This is problematic when, as I found:

Of the “50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2016,” published by Entrepreneur magazine, you’ll find that:

74% are male

86% are white

This isn’t only an issue of diversity in sex and ethnicity; it’s an issue of differentiation. When the same voices are retweeted by every brand’s social media, every brand starts to sound the same. And that means that, pretty soon, your brand’s social media will have all the impact of white noise. (Get it? White noise? Ha!)

But what if brands chose their influencers differently, and with a weather eye towards diversity?

What if we could change the way brands and influencers and audiences interact altogether?

Mirror, mirror on the wall – who’s the cloutiest of them all?

My theory: Truly effective and impactful influencer marketing can only be built on a foundation of trust, mutual respect, and mutual benefit. And, if you’re building your influencer “network” based on a formula, rather than making genuine person-to-person connections, you won’t have that.

Here are my new and improved formulas for your consideration:

influencer

influencer2The only kind of brand/influencer relationship that works in the long-term is one that is not just mutually beneficial, but mutually supportive. I’d like to see brands, marketers and entrepreneurs create circles of authentic relationships that support each other – which is actually far easier than cold-Tweeting influencers with variations on “Hey, can I use you to sell our product to your audience? KThanks!”

In short, Building trust with influencers requires not having the attitude of “What can you do for me?”

Let me share with you one of the nicer requests I’ve received. She starts out great, with lots of compliments (compliments will get you almost anywhere), but her message missed a vital component. Can you guess what it is?

Hi Nichole,

I’ve read your article on “Truly Awesome Tactics to Gain Traffic from Twitter” on Moz and found it very interesting and inspiring.

I especially like your point about storytelling and writing clickbait headlines.
We operate in the Tech/Business space as well, so I’m sure we’ll be able to collaborate.

We’re currently looking to increase our brand awareness, and I really like the quality of your article, I thought I’d reach out to you personally.  Do you think it would be possible to mention [company] on one of your articles on Moz?

We’re a business software directory specializing in the software reviews and deals. You can check out blog to get an idea about the type of topics we cover, here.

I’d be happy to hop on a call for a quick introduction. 🙂

Thank you so much in advance!

Honestly, I get so many similar requests that my responses have become downright terse.

Hi [Marketer], thanks for reaching out, but that doesn’t really sound like a collaboration, and I can’t think of any articles that I’m writing soon for Moz in which “software reviews and deals” fit.

Regards,

Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

I love to collaborate with great brands, but let’s check that dictionary definition: “to work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something. Synonyms: Join forces, band together, ally.”

Essentially, help each other. This marketer had a firm grasp on how I could help her, but had nothing more meaningful to offer me that a little sweet talk. I like compliments as much as the next human being, but c’mon. And I’m not talking about financial remuneration, though offers are always appreciated. I’m much more interested in forming real partnerships with genuinely good, customer-centric businesses.

And that typically doesn’t result from an unsolicited private message from a marketing department.

Yet this is what influencer marketing encourages: People reach out to influencers without building real relationships, without any real connection, and asking for a one-way exchange.

“The best way to approach someone in demand is to not approach them! In general, this feels like a shortcut, but it’s not. The opportunity is to create your own sphere of influence, curate your own content, lead your own tribe… it might take longer, but it doesn’t put you at the mercy of the delete key.” – Seth Godin

What I would like to see instead is this:

Brands increasing their brand awareness the right way, by practicing customer success, creating delight, and building an army of brand advocates who will spread the message for them.

Essentially, we’re turning the idea of an influencer on its head.

Instead of reaching out to an established “influencer” – brands can make their own through empowering their most enthusiastic users. Then it’s not based on numbers; it’s based on passion, existing trust, and an existing relationship that will only continue to strengthen and grow.

And if you must have influencers, I recommend this:

  • Choose people based on who you, personally, would love to get to know;
  • Look for voices that are outside of the mainstream (but who still have passionate, engaged audiences);
  • And forge a genuine relationship with them.

Their audience and yours will respond far more positively to authentic relationship-building than a clearly transactional plug. Trust me on this.


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Content Marketing, Customer Development, Customer Success, Product Management, SaaS

Free E-Book by @NikkiElizDeMere: How to Align SaaS Content Marketing and Product Management

success

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

You’ve seen the studies – companies that retain customers grow bigger and faster than companies focused solely on customer acquisition. You can fill your funnel to the brim, but if your onboarding process acts like a leaky sieve, you’ll never have enough revenue to build and grow sustainably.

The good news? You have everything you need, right now, to create a sustainable system for acquiring and retaining your ideal customers.

It’s not a magic formula. It’s just two people: Your content marketer and your product manager. Working together.

We hear you. We understand every objection rattling off in your head about the crazy – COMPLETELY CRACKERS! – notion that content marketers could actually help your product development department:

  • Do better work, more efficiently
  • Be less distracted by support tickets
  • Align behind a single, shining vision of your ideal customer
  • Produce products, features, and updates that result in retention and growth
  • And have more fun

These are wild claims to be sure, so allow us to present you with a 3-part paper that will show you how your content creators and product developers can join forces to build the kind of business you’ve envisioned all along: A business with the right products, successful customers, and zero limits.

Read More on Inturact


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Content Marketing, Data Science

Here’s How to Combine Storytelling and Data to Produce Persuasive Content ft. @VisageCo

1

Can you recall Don Draper using statistics in a quote? Neither can I.

Draper’s pitches were successful because they focused on stories. (Remember the famous Kodak Carousel pitch?) He was onto something: Research highlights stories as key to capturing an audience’s attention.

Jennifer Aaker, a social psychologist and professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, cites a study in which students were asked to present a one-minute persuasive pitch to their class members. Each pitch included an average of 2.5 statistics. Only one of those pitches included a story. Ten minutes later, the researcher asked the students to pull out a sheet of paper and write down every idea they remembered. Only 5% of the students remembered a statistic; 63% of the students remembered the story.

For most people, numbers aren’t memorable. Stories are.

stories

Numerous studies have shown that stories aren’t only more effective in making a message memorable, they’re also more emotionally persuasive. Pair this with research that shows we make decisions primarily with emotion (using logic to justify them later), and you have the power of story in a nutshell.

Read More on Moz


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Content Marketing, Data Science, Metrics, Tools

Data Storytelling 101: Helpful Tools for Gathering Ideas, Designing Content & More by @NikkiElizDeMere

data-storytelling

It’s an exciting time to be a content marketer. But it’s also a challenging time.

As more companies continue to jump on the inbound marketing bandwagon, the influx of content seems to be turning into a bit of a traffic jam. And few things have the power to cut through this noise like data storytelling.

Combining the visual appeal of images with the trust engendered by raw data, data storytelling is a force to be reckoned with. Marketers are using data storytelling to support every part of the buyer’s journey, from attraction and consideration to conversion and delight. What better content to offer a consideration-stage buyer than a comparison chart between your services and your competition’s?

Not a data analyst? No worries. Check out the list of tools below. From data collection to design, this roundup of resources is designed to make it easy for anyone to get started with data storytelling.

Read More on HubSpot


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Content Marketing, Customer Success, SaaS

Inbound Marketing Alone Isn’t Sufficient for SaaS Customer Success by @NikkiElizDeMere

inbound-marketing

If you ask an inbound marketer, inbound marketing is not only the best thing since sliced bread – it’s the saving grace of marketing in general. Now, I will admit to having some bias towards Inbound. I think it works a helluva lot better for today’s customers who are becoming increasingly resistant to the “hard sell” tactics of outbound marketing.

But, it’s not the be-all and end-all, everything-you-need, one-stop-shop for SaaS success.

Not even if you do it really, really well.

Inbound’s strengths are in supporting the Awareness, Consideration, and Decision-making stages of the buyer’s journey. At its best, it reaches out to ideal customers, reels them in with genuinely helpful content, warms them up, and gently nudges them towards clicking the “Buy” button.

“What else is there?” you might well ask.

All of the stages inbound marketing typically addresses are about acquisition, which is great. You need to acquire customers or you won’t have a business.

But you also need to retain customers – or you won’t grow your business.

Ah, yes. Retention.

Inbound Marketing doesn’t do much, if anything, for retention – but your content strategy, together with your onboarding process, should.

Because your goal isn’t just to attract and convert customers. You have to keep them too.

Life after the Buy button

Inbound marketing – to date – has been about making that initial sale. But with more and more SaaS companies coming online with subscription-based models, SaaS content has to include retention strategies.

Let’s strip the jargon for a second. What I mean by “retention strategies” is:

  • Building relationships with your customers based on trust
  • Earning that trust with a solid track-record of supporting customer goals from the beginning
  • Managing expectations, so you don’t over-sell and under-deliver
  • And setting customers up for success in the real-world

It sounds good, right? But in most companies, this outline would likely find some pushback. Management, in most cases, is very fond of evaluating their sales teams, and gauging the success of their companies, based off of revenue – not Lifetime Value.

What’s the difference?

Revenue is the amount of money you make in a month, a quarter, or a year.

Lifetime value is the dollars-and-cents number you can attribute to each of your customers, both in terms of what they pay in recurring subscription dues, and in terms of the business they bring to the table over the entire time they are your customer. Think cross-sells, up-sells and referrals.

It’s too easy to see the $20K you make from a new customer, and miss the slow and steady $5K that drips in from your existing customers – but if you only focus on those shiny new customers…

  • You’ll pay more to acquire that short-term sale (it costs far more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one)
  • You’ll make less revenue in the long-term
  • And, you’ll grow more slowly – unless you are able to retain the customers you make

When all of your customer acquisition effort and budget is spent just trying to replace existing customers who’ve left, growth is sluggish – if it happens at all.

Lincoln Murphy sums it up in this equation:

Anti-Growth Math: 1-1+1=1

Focusing efforts (and budget) on Lifetime Value (LTV) requires a substantial shift in mindset. But, when you nail retention, you’ll find that acquisition rates rise, and revenue?

It. Blows. Up.

Let’s look at the numbers.

Here’s some stats from a Drift article on The Power Of Marketing To Your Existing Customers:

  • According to Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 25% to 95%.
  • In a study of over 500 SaaS companies, Patrick Campbell, CEO and Founder of ProfitWell, found that increasing retention had a 6.71% impact on a company’s bottom line – compared with acquisition, which only had a 3.32% impact.
  • Gartner Group found that, on average, 80% of a company’s future profits come from 20% of their existing customers.

The Customer Success Equation: 1+153162562939000+Their_Friends=A Lot

How do you retain a customer?

Let me put it to you this way:

    • If your goal is to have more people find your website and buy your products through Facebook ads
      • And there’s a company that sells Facebook ads… (Note: This is where most companies stop – once they’ve found product/customer fit)
      • And that company not only sells you Facebook ads but also teaches you how to create highly-effective Facebook ads…
      • Then, you actually succeed in having more people find your website and buy your products via Facebook.

Are you likely to leave that company? No!

That, at least, is the theory driving AdEspresso’s customer retention efforts. Since success for their customers isn’t actually the act of placing an ad on Facebook – they’ve gone one extra step to ensure that customers learn how to get the very best results from their ads by launching the AdEspresso Academy. Their academy doesn’t fit into the Awareness, Consideration, and Decision-making stages of Inbound Marketing – that is, it isn’t focused on bringing in new customers, instead it’s focused on keeping the ones they have. By investing in the real-world successes their clients care about most, their retention rates soar, as do their referrals.

And, by producing so much genuinely helpful content, they attract new clients who want to learn how to improve their Facebook ads – who then find the AdEspresso product that helps them do just that.

Hubspot has the same model, offering Inbound Marketing certifications for free and introducing marketers to their impressive platform at the same time.

Hubspot also builds in success markers into their onboarding process, so that new clients can easily keep track of how they’re doing – and get help if they’re not meeting their own benchmarks.

This is customer success in action. This is retention in the making.

This is why SaaS content marketing is different than SaaS inbound marketing. SaaS content marketing is different than SaaS inbound marketing. Click To Tweet

When every user has an entire World-Wide Web of choices, you have to compete based on the one factor that really counts: Do you have what it takes to help that user achieve his or her desired outcome?


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Content Marketing

Content that Captivates: The Power of Interactive Content by @KaitlynKirkaldy

content-that-captivates

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

This is a guest blog entry by Kaitlyn Kirkaldy.

At this point, you’ve probably heard that consumer attention spans are now shorter than that of a goldfish. While you might get sick of the comparison, the point remains important: The shift to mobile has changed how we consume content.

As content marketers, our first instinct might be to freak out a little. Collectively, let’s all take a deep breath. While shortened attention spans might make our jobs more challenging, it doesn’t make them obsolete. It’s more of an evolution – something to be excited about. It’s up to us to create content that immediately captures attention, that stands out in the fleeting moments of attention we receive.

The Evolution of Interactive Content

With awareness of micro-moments – Google’s term for the seconds consumers spend using their smartphones to take various actions – increasing, marketers have experimented with new tactics to capture attention immediately.

One answer? Interactive content. One study found that interactive content better educates customers, putting its effectiveness at 93 percent compared to 70 percent for static content. That makes sense – it’s the moderated discussion style of learning versus the memorize-the-information-for-a-test approach. Like a mutually beneficial discussion, interactive content better educates viewers because it helps the brain process information in a busy environment (in our case, the Internet).

If the educational benefits aren’t enough to convince you, consider this: Consumers actually like interactive content. Ninety-one percent of buyers prefer it to static content, which gives you the window you need to further engage them beyond the initial micro-moment. Interactive content lengthens the digital conversation they have with your brand. Consumers typically spend very little time on a landing page – 55 percent of them will leave in fewer than 15 seconds. Interactive content not only keeps them there longer, but allows you to better measure exactly how long they stayed on the page, what they clicked on, and how they engaged.

Using Interactive Content

Interactive content provides viewers with something more powerful than a static landing page or another listicle blog post. There are numerous great use-cases for interactive content that will not only drive results, but diversify how we spend our days as content marketers.

Retail

Retail brands, not typically known for content marketing, can actually use interactive content effectively with pieces like personal style quizzes, complete-the-look features, and shoppable video. Added bonus: marketers can collect valuable, self-declared data from this kind of content even if the shopper doesn’t convert.

CPG

CPG brands often use coupons, videos, and recipes on their sites. All of these forms of static content can be adapted and made interactive. Consumers can unlock coupons and recipes by taking a fun quiz to find out what kind of Oreo they are, for example. Interactive video can give a product demo that asks questions of viewers along the way.

B2B

Interactive content increases the fun factor of B2B marketing. Interactive infographics help companies qualify leads by engaging them and collecting profiling data. Marketers can do the same with interactive video. Product hunts help leads find exactly what they came looking for, reducing bounce rates.

Interactive content can power marketing success when used effectively, because it will educate, and engage your customers while moving them further along in the customer decision journey. Ninety-one percent of non-engaged customers become dissatisfied – but engaged customers are 4x more likely to appreciate a brand’s outreach and 7x more likely to claim offers from the brand. We can’t ignore those numbers any longer. The next time you’re in your content planning session, challenge yourself to think: Would this capture attention in eight seconds? If not, consider making it interactive and see what it does for your marketing.


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Content Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization

Good Copy, Great Copy, and Copy That Converts by @NikkiElizDeMere

conversion-copywriting

Good copy is readable, maybe even enjoyable, and probably free of spelling errors, grammatical snafus and typos. But it’s not going to win you customers (though it might show Google your website still has a pulse, which isn’t nothing). Great copy is the kind of thing people talk about and share with their friends. Great copy makes the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, garners high page views, and contributes something of genuine value to the world – or it’s just really, really funny.

But I’m not here to talk about good copy, or even great copy. I want to talk about a very specific kind of copy: Conversion copy.

Read More on SEMRush


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Content Marketing

Education and Marketing in the Future: What They Have in Common by @NikkiElizDeMere

The most inspiring, forward-thinking educators and marketers may have different goals, but I see a future in which their methods converge. Education is evolving right alongside our ideas of how to deliver what people want in the ways they need. And, just as educators learn how to teach their students, marketers can use the same techniques to reach their audiences.

education-and-marketing

Two thought-leaders in education right now are Salman Kahn and Sir Ken Robinson. They both argue that education works better when it’s interactive and individualized – much like marketing.

Read More on SEMrush


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