Tag Archive for "content" - Digital Advertising Agency – Marketing Strategy | IQ Agency - page 2 content Archives | Page 2 of 3 |

Posts Tagged "content"

avatar

7 Questions for Your 2014 Marketing Plan

2014 marketing plan

Most marketers are well into planning their 2014 budgets–an arduous process that runs the gauntlet of budget approvals. And even though it’s invariably about the numbers, at some point you know someone will be asking you, “What did you accomplish?”

With that in mind, here are a few questions to ask yourself about your 2014 marketing plan to ensure you have a great story to tell this time next year.

1. Does Your Plan Reflect The Way Your Target Audience Engages With Media?
You would be surprised by how many marketing plans still start with traditional media and then add digital. That doesn’t mirror the importance of digital media to your consumers, which is why it’s time for a digital-first plan. That doesn’t mean you cut out traditional marketing–it just means you start with digital at the center of your plan. Consumers form their buying decisions through digital influences so much that to approach consumers in any other way is foolhardy.

2. Have You Done Your Strategic Homework?
The path to purchase is now so complex that you have to map it as the Consumer Decision Journey. This is a channel-agnostic process, which maps the journey for each of your target audience segments so you can see where the critical interaction points are. When combined with other audience research and competitive analysis, you get an accurate picture of when and where it’s most effective to influence your prospects.

3. Do You Have A Content Plan?
How you communicate with prospects when they are exploring your category is different than when they are evaluating options. So whether it’s the copy in an ad or a video on your Web site, you have to know exactly what to say to each audience segment, at every stage in the journey. The only way to know for sure is by doing the work of a content strategy, which acts as the messaging guide for all of your communications.

4. Does Your Plan Prioritize Owned, Earned, And Paid Media Intelligently?
The good news is many opportunities for exposure exist today that do not require you to buy media. This exposure saves you money, but has more influence on consumers than paid advertising. Therefore, your plan should start with owned and earned media before jumping to paid media. If your agency suggests otherwise, then it’s probably making money by spending yours.

5. Do You Have An Integrated Measurement Plan?
Marketers have correctly come to expect detailed metrics and analytics for everything they do. This not only allows you to optimize as you go, but also to measure your performance against goals and plan ahead. In order to really get the value of all this data, you need to plan with clear goals and KPIs, an integrated view of data from all media (both digital and traditional), and a really good analyst to tell you what it all means.

6. Is Your Digital Infrastructure In Place?
The basic idea of an integrated marketing plan is to tie together your marketing touch points into one unified system across all forms of media. This requires some basic pieces of digital infrastructure, which you can’t do without.

This includes probably the most important piece: a mobile-friendly Web site. According to Nielsen, consumers trust brand Web sites more than any other marketing, so your Web site has to be designed for mobile devices.

But technology is not enough.

The Web site is where you must cultivate that trust and convert general interest into sales. This requires state-of-the-art strategy and user experience design. Remember, it’s up to your site to convert interest into action, so make sure yours is best-in-class. Other areas that are often part of digital marketing infrastructure are your social presence across social touch points, search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM), email, ratings and reviews, mobile Web sites or apps, and marketing automation.

7. Is Content A Priority?
Perhaps the biggest problem with most plans is a lack of focus on content. The word “content,” of course, is a catch-all that includes everything from banner ads and TV spots to videos and interactive tools. All of your planning, media, and infrastructure are there to deliver content. That’s because content is the part of the equation that influences the consumer.

Brands that commit to creating an ongoing stream of high quality, original, compelling content in all forms win hearts and minds. Brands that don’t, regardless of the rest of their marketing investment, cannot win.


avatar
  • 09.17.13

UX Design: My Favorite Features Aren’t Features

User Experience blog

“The design of your product is only as good as its smallest part.” –Dan Saffer, Microinteractions: Designing with Details

The other night I was browsing the Zappos iPhone app for a new pair of boots. I found a pair I liked and added it to my favorites…and that’s when a kitty cat surrounded by hearts flew across my screen.

Seriously.

Zappos "favorites" kitty.

Yes, that’s a kitty dropping a pair of boots into my favorites list, slowing her descent with a heart-be-speckled umbrella. (Don’t you want to download the Zappos app and try it now?)

What’s the connection between a cat and boots? Maybe Puss in Boots, maybe not.

But really, who cares? The interaction clearly told me the item had been added to my favorites, and it made me laugh. Now that’s delighting your users!

Introducing…microinteractions.

In his book Microinteractions, Saffer provides the example that if a feature is a video player, a microinteraction is the volume control. These interactions are often a single task: a setting, an on/off switch, or similar. They’re tiny and often go unnoticed…until they fail or delight.

Zappos’ cat is fairly whimsical, but consider the slightly more serious profile editor for Myspace. After you’ve set up your account the first time and you return to your profile, only the content you filled in displays. When you hover over this content, the borders of a field show up so you know you can edit it.

myspace - 1 myspace - 2

In-line editing is not that new of an idea, but Myspace takes it a step further. When you click to edit the content, the rest of the profile fields (the ones you didn’t complete last time) display so you can see the entire form. Clever!

myspace - 3

Several microinteractions work together to make up this feature (the editor). The user’s content is given highest priority, while the other potential content (i.e. the blank fields) is only provided when the user requests to change their profile content.

The design doesn’t outshine the content. It enhances the experience of filling in that content. It’s only a profile editor, and a standard form design would work just as well. But would it seem as cool or fun?

Don’t forget the details

Microinteractions are tiny, but they can create a big impact on the overall user experience. So don’t forget to spend time on them even if they aren’t the shiny feature every digital agency or UX’er wants to work on.

You may also like:

Strategic Marketing: We’re All Data Points

The Big Data Bamboozle

7 Steps for a Better Voice & Tone

avatar
  • 08.01.13

Content Strategy: 7 Steps for a Better Voice and Tone

Publishing branded content in traditional spaces — better known as native advertising — has been a popular topic buzzing around lately.

From the Native Advertising Summit that stopped by Atlanta this summer to this absolutely awesome (though slightly inconclusive) eMarketer study that popped up on my Twitter feed last week, native advertising is without a doubt shaping the content that brands are creating right now. And according to that eMarketer study, 73% of U.S. publishers are offering some form native advertising on their websites.

content strategy

The growth of native advertising means more opportunities for brand produced content to be integrated in the design of a publisher’s site. As brands are taking advantage of this opportunity, they’ve become responsible for vastly more content the public sees and interacts with.

But keeping that content on track is easier said than done. From social posts to blog entries and targeted ads, it’s a challenge for businesses to manage all the content they create all the time. The solution is a holistic content strategy including SEO keyword analysis, which prioritizes content and details guidelines for consistent voice and tone.

From a small ‘mom and pop’ shop to a Fortune 500 companies, a defined “voice and tone” keeps the people (and agencies) working on a brand’s behalf on the same page when it comes to how a brand should sound and act in different situations.

A fantastic example is MailChimp’s voice and tone microsite guide that sorts the company’s V+T best practices based on situation, then color codes the tone needed for each situation from green to red.

Green is for situations that call for humor and positivity, red for content that is serious and informative. All entries feature examples and as an added bonus, the site is responsive and remarkably pleasant to use on a smartphone.

But not all voice and tone guidelines need to be as expansive as a color-coded microsite.

Creating or updating your voice and tone is as simple as following a few key steps:

1. Understand the difference between voice and tone

Voice doesn’t change, but tone does. Your brand voice should always be consistent, but tone will vary depending on the situation and emotion you’re trying to communicate to a consumer.

2. Set your boundaries

Decide if your voice and tone is a guide for all of your business communications or just a certain part. Narrow your focus by deciding if you need a voice and tone specifically for something like your company’s digital spaces or for a smaller initiative like social networks. You can easily make a separate voice and tone guide, if needed, for different parts of your business.

3. Interview stakeholders

This is key because your employees are already speaking your brand’s voice and tone. Interview key stakeholders and employees and ask them to share why they’re passionate about the company. Also ask what kind of content they think would be compelling coming from the brand. Their language will give you insight into what your brand voice and tone should sound like.

4. Determine voice with keywords

Start by creating a massive list of words that define the brand — we’re not talking about product names, but instead how a product or service makes the customer feel. Use these important adjectives to shape a mission statement paragraph that defines overall how your brand should sound. Follow up with a list of keywords.

5. Define tone based on situation  

Think of the different situations where you will use voice and tone guidelines to structure copy or content for your brand. Define these situations one by one — from social copy to company blog entries — then decide what tone is needed to communicate with a reader during these situations. With its list of uses, MailChimp’s V+T is a fantastic examples of this.

6. List your “watch outs”

Define words, phrases or messages that absolutely cannot be used in content produced by your company. Additionally, define customer service protocol for dealing with negative feedback — like finding a way to direct a customer complaining on your blog post to customer service quickly.

7. Share and get feedback from key stakeholders

Once you’ve created a preliminary document, come back to the stakeholders you interviewed to get feedback. Constructive feedback will help you continue to improve your voice and tone — rinse and repeat until you have the guidelines you need.

You may also like:

7 Steps for Better Branded Journalism

4 SEO Trends Every Marketer Needs to Know

All Content is Not Created Equal

Learn about our marketing approach — click to download the whitepaper How to Market Now:

How to Market Now | voice & tone

avatar
  • 06.05.13

How to Make Great Brand Videos

Consistently making great content is a tall order for many brands.  Get some insight and tips from the presentation below:

How to Make Great Brand Videos from IQ Agency

You may also like:

Responsive Design POV 2013

Content Overload

avatar
  • 05.28.13

The 4 SEO Trends Every Marketer Needs to Know

Google SEO Updates

by Noah Echols

It seems like as soon as I wrap my head around Google’s latest algorithm update, there’s another release that changes the game.

While SEO experts should live in the weeds of these updates to understand the nuances in how Google ranks content, marketers should recognize a few high level SEO trends that drive successful content marketing initiatives.

1. SEO used to be an exercise in optimizing content for spiders. Today, SEO is about optimizing content for the user.

This is an important distinction that should drive every piece of content produced, from how you choose the topic to the words you use to express the idea. Search engines think like people, but for some reason most brands don’t speak like people. This is causing a disconnect between the brand and the consumer on every level – in relating to them obviously, but also in just being discoverable. No one searches in corporate speak.

So, how do you do this? Research.

A combination of both keyword research and social listening will show you what words and phrases consumers use. Once the content is written and optimized appropriately for search, the language used in social media should reflect the language used in the content.

The same keywords should be used in a similar tone since search engines are now considering social interactions in search ranking. You not only want to be shareable, you want the language used when sharing your content to be the language that will serve you best.

2. Links still matter, but the game has changed.

Without getting into the weeds, it is important to know that linking to quality websites and being linked to by quality websites is still important.

In fact, when a website links to your site and also links to another website of higher authority on the same page, your site will benefit from the authority of the other linked site.

Another important factor in outbound links is, just as above, the language you use. The anchor text should clearly indicate what you’re linking to and the text around the link should be carefully considered too.

3. The power is in the long tail.

This isn’t news, but it is so important that it should be emphasized.

There are 500 million active domains competing for the attention of consumers. Unless you have a huge budget, you aren’t going win big, broad buzzwords.

Optimize your content for the long tail keywords that niche audiences are looking for and publish often. Not only will you rank higher for less competitive topics, but Google will assign you higher authority for publishing regularly.

4. Traditional marketing tactics will boost digital marketing initiatives.

Google likes to tell us that if we build a quality website and publish quality content, users will come. While that might be true to some extent, it is important that marketers realize that traditional tactics can actually help boost content efforts.

Press releases, for example, provide branded mentions and links that will increase the authority of your website while also increasing exposure. Despite what some might say, email is still extremely effective in creating opportunities for awareness and sharing.

Penguin 2.0 was just released and everyone is in a frenzy to figure out the next button to push to get out ahead of the competition. That is important and every serious brand should have someone doing that for them.

But it is equally important that everyone involved in digital marketing understands basic SEO trends in order to ensure content is being produced in a way that will drive success.

Use this list as criteria to check off on each time content is added to your website:

  1. Am I using the language of my target consumer?
  2. Am I linking to authoritative websites?
  3. Am I optimizing this content for a specific user by targeting a few long tail keywords?
  4. Am I promoting this content using more traditional marketing tactics?

What do you think? Tell me in the comment section below.

You may also like:

Ditch the Likes for Loyalty

The Rise and Ruckus of Branded Journalism

All Content is Not Created Equal

avatar
  • 05.09.13

7 Steps for Better Branded Journalism

I don’t pretend to be a savvy shopper, but when I dive wallet-first into the clearance section at The Gap, I tend to stock up on accessories in my favorite color — black. Why? It’s a universal truth that black goes with everything.

So does branded journalism. In the words of veteran digital content guru Ann Handley, “Content is the new black.”

Handley is right, branded journalism (also known as brand journalism or branded content) has caught on like a wildfire this year. From Tory Burch’s fantastic branded blog to Mint.com’s MintLife section, brands realize the value of consumer-facing content like articles, photos or videos, and are rushing to create some with the company name on it.

Why? For a lot of the reasons we discussed in the first post in this series and mainly because consumers are demanding it. As brands become more accessible to fans through social media, people want more from brands than their products and services. So much so, even Twitter is looking to hire a Head of News. That leads us to branded journalism.

But branded journalism breaks the natural order of business that advertisers, journalists and businesses have subscribed to for decades. This makes some people nervous, traditionalists angry and opportunists jumping on the branded content bandwagon faster than Baltimore fans during the last Super Bowl.

So that leaves the question, if you’re going to start creating content for a brand, be it a local business or a Fortune 500 company, what are the best practices? Better yet, how do you do it ethically?

Try these simple steps for better branded journalism:

1. Build a process

Journalistic content should be more than an article or blog post thrown together quickly. Create an editorial plan, support whatever content you create with strategy, edit it, review it with key company team members and a set time to distribute it via a medium that will reach your intended audience.

2. Share something valuable

Share something that your target market will respond to. For example, Home Depot’s YouTube page features an array of do-it-yourself garden tutorials. Completely different from Red Bull’s adrenalin-pumping YouTube page that offers an array of video features on the brand’s extreme athletes.  Both give their fans journalistic content in the same medium, but do it completely different ways to reach separate audiences.

3. Know your boundaries

Producing journalistic content doesn’t equate to producing a Pulitzer winning news article, so stick to your industry and the topics surrounding it. Create content targeted at a company’s audience, on subjects related to your company’s industry. Find creative ways to make content relevant to trends and new stories without reporting the news.

4. Stick to the facts and cite your sources

People want transparency from their favorite brands. Always support your content with facts from experts and credible sources. Back up your claims with research, data or testimonials from credible experts that you mention by name.

5. Strike a balance

Don’t use branded journalism as an opportunity to knock a competitor’s product or service, use it as an opportunity to share valuable content. If needed, acknowledge competitors professionally when it’s appropriate. Focus instead on sharing real insight about a subject consumers are interested in.

6. List a byline

If possible, list the author or producer of a branded journalism piece. This gives your work credibility and gives audience members a face representing the brand to connect with. Melissa Lafsky Wall left her job at USA Today to head up content production at dating site How About We, where every article or column in the site’s Date Report section is credited with a byline.

7. Track results

Producing branded journalism is useless if it doesn’t reach the correct audience to support business goals. Use analytics to track your results and SEO to shape the strategy behind your content. This ensures that you don’t just produce quality branded journalism; you produce branded content that gets results.

avatar

Content Overload

Content Marketing Overload

91% of B2B companies are diving into content marketing according to eMarketer. It seems that the fat part of the curve is upon us as the corporate world realizes that savvy consumers of all stripes just don’t buy the old advertising game. The new bargain is, if you give me valuable content of some sort, I’ll maybe think better of your company. Seems a bit tenuous, but I’ll vouch that it works, or used to.

We started our first thought-leadership led strategy with IBM back in 2002. We didn’t call it content marketing back then, but IBM had realized that they were not in the blue box business anymore, they were instead in the business consulting business; that’s why they sold their PC operation to the Chinese and bought PwC Consulting.

The problem is that with everyone and their brother buying into marketing automation systems, which need to be fed with content, I’m afraid the marketplace is rapidly going into content overload mode. Enterprise marketers cite producing engaging content as their number one challenge, according to the Content Marketing Institute. That’s code for: “Whoops! We’re making content, but nobody’s looking at it”.

So what’s a marketer to do? Advertising doesn’t work like it used to and the hoi polloi are ruining content marketing for the good guys (that’s us!).

Table stakes today are having a constant flow of content designed to appeal to each of your key personas at every step in the Consumer Decision Journey. This requires doing serious work mapping your consumer’s path to purchase, discovering their key touch points and understanding their psychology at every step. It sounds complex and it is. But if you don’t do this foundational work, you will not have the right content in front of the right consumer at the right time. That, however, just gets you in the game.

The challenge then is to create content that is sufficiently valuable and distinctive that your prospect not only engages with it, but also shares it, and most importantly is intrigued by the company that has produced it.  This is a very high bar and not for the weak of spirit.

Unfortunately, in content marketing today there is no substitute for a living content strategy effort informed by data and analytics and activated by best-in-class content created around valuable consumer insights. Makes you pine for the days of a clever print ad and a scotch and soda.

What do you think? Tell us below!

Like us? Stay connected:
IQ Agency Twitter
IQ Agency LinkedIn
IQ Agency Facebook

avatar
  • 04.30.13

IQ Wins 3 Gold Horizon Interactive Awards

IQ Wins Horizon Award

3 entries, 3 gold awards.

The Horizon Interactive Awards is a prestigious international competition recognizing outstanding achievement among interactive media producers from all over the world.

CIT

We created a simple narrative in which tiny gifts come to life, in order to help CIT employees connect with their contacts. Production was as follows: First, the team created concept boards, depicting different ideas of how to approach the card. Next, the team got to work with simple storyboards, depicting the basic story and messaging. Then, they created a mock desk set in the studio, shooting 24 still images for each 1 second of video.

The result was an endearing, simple, and concise 30-second stop-motion video. The messaging was then translated into 9 different languages, so that the video could be shared across the world.

Click to see the project: CIT Holiday Card 2012 – Motion Graphics / Effects – Video

Neenah Paper’s Astrobrights

Starting with no fans, we built to over 26,500 Facebook fans and 55 million impressions using social, sweepstakes contests and paid media. A crucial part of this growth came through our bi-weekly crafting contests, which were supported by origami style display ads featuring Neenah Paper’s Astrobrights products. We followed our crafting contest series with a school-based sweepstakes, driven by display ads, UGC and original content created for Astrobrights. The ensuing sweepstakes lead to more brilliant user-generated content—we gained survey response data and over 2,500 email opt-ins for Astrobrights!

The overall cost per click of all media tactics went from an average of $5.90 in week 1 to $2.81 by the end of the campaign, lowering the CPC by 53%. Facebook was our most successful paid tactic in terms of Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and Cost Per “Like” (CPL). The average Facebook CPC was $1.50 and the average CPL was $2.06. Through ads, we generated 20,000 total fans and the CPC and CPL continually lowered as the campaign progressed.

neenah paper IQ

Click to see the project: Neenah Paper – Online Advertising, Integrated Campaign

Like us? Stay connected:

IQ Agency Twitter

IQ Agency LinkedIn

IQ Agency Facebook

avatar
  • 04.15.13

#TalkIQ – Social Marketing

TalkIQ

We get asked a lot of questions by clients, friends, students, colleagues, you name it, so we want to bring our knowledge to the masses.

This Wednesday (4/17) from 1:00 – 2:00PM EST, Hagan Ramsey, digital strategist at IQ, will answer any questions you have related to social listening, campaign development, social strategy and more!

Tweet @IQ_Agency with the hash tag #TalkIQ and you’ll receive a quick response from a true expert in the field!

avatar
  • 04.03.13

The Rise and Ruckus of Branded Journalism

Branded Journalism

As a growing copywriter with a print journalism background, I love the idea of “branded journalism.” Editorial content written for brands, targeted at consumers, supported by analytics, published in digital spaces, that raises a big middle finger to the rule that advertising and journalism can never mix? Sounds good to me.

For brands, the need for journalistic content stems from growing branded communities in social spaces. As brands and consumers engage in more personal conversations via social, consumers simply demand more from them.

More than ever, consumers want brands to give them things of value outside of their products or services. A sense of community that includes transparency, responsiveness and quality branded content. That’s where brand journalists and copywriters come in.

Last week, I stumbled on the work of Kevin Maney, a veteran USA Today reporter who turned his attention to advertising after two decades of writing and reporting as a journalist.

After a successful reporting career, Maney made an interesting move. He started working with big brands like IBM to create journalistic content.

Maney co-authored a book in conjunction with IBM, but branded journalism can include works of art, articles, blog posts, books, photos or videos produced by a brand to reach an identifiable market.

Couple creating content with the market downturn, and many wannabe journalists and former reporters are turning to jobs in advertising, marketing and digital. Many seek jobs that offer more security but still challenge them to use skills from writing in the newsroom like critical thinking, deadline management and creativity.

According to Robert McChesney, co-author of Will the Last Reporter Please Turn Out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done to Fix It, public relations professionals now outnumber reporters 4-to-1. With print journalism seeing a continual decline in revenue, it isn’t surprising that some journalists are now writing for brands. Market aside however, branded journalism still causes some debate.

Critics fear that branded journalism might fully eclipse traditional journalism. Will the news report about a damaging tornado suddenly be sponsored by a home insurance company? I highly doubt it. The audience would be too quick to call a news organization on it, like they did with The Atlantic’s big advertorial fail in January.

The Atlantic fiasco highlights that we’re working in a time where the line between advertising and journalism is blurrier than ever. Marketing, digital and journalism just came crashing together, giving us a choice. We can either sit here staring or use this opportunity to create new, innovative content that people will respond to.

By we, I mean brands or agencies working on behalf of brands. New organizations don’t have the freedom to pepper advertising content in their editorial work, but ad professionals now have the unique opportunity to produce journalistic content. If done right in digital spaces, that journalistic content will likely produce results.

The key lies in planning responsibly. Branded journalism needs to be intentional, driven by strategy as much as it is by good writing. It must be targeted and audience-specific and not overstep it’s bounds. Producing journalistic content doesn’t equate to producing a Pulitzer winning news article, so brands shouldn’t try to.

How each company executes branded journalism will vary, but hopefully by the end of the year we will see more fact-based, journalistic content reaching consumers and generating revenue.

To track branded journalism, its growth and the debate surrounding it, a good place to start is Maney’s blog. Ignore the clunky WordPress theme and focus on the journalistic content. After all, content is becoming very valuable.

Want to learn more? Email IQ