SEO & SEM: The Dynamic Duo of Website Traffic | Content Strategy Basics

Batman & Robin SEO SEM

The Dynamic Duo of SEO and SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are essential techniques for driving users to your website properties. These core tactics are similar, but not the same.

SEM and SEO are often confused, particularly since these acronyms only differ by one letter. Of course, if they were the same thing, we wouldn’t name them different things. Plus, it’s the acronym that’s different, not the underlying meaning.

I’ve found an easy way to remember these different tactics. These may help you differentiate for your extended strategy teams. If you’re a content strategist, it is essential to know how SEO and SEO work together.

SEM: Paid Advertising for Driving Traffic to Your Website
For SEM, the “M” may as well stand for “money.” That’s a nod to the fact that this includes an out of pocket (OOP) expense.

SEM works for a wide range of click traffic to websites, mobile properties, YouTube, apps, and more. Google and Bing give brands many options for driving traffic. For simplicity, let’s just talk about website traffic for now, even though your specific needs may be in a different channel.

It has been pointed out that this isn’t marketing at all. That’s true. SEM is primarily paid advertising. At some point, there was an effort to rename this search engine advertising, but the name didn’t stick.

The dominant player in SEM is Google. Their Google AdWords platform accounts for the majority of their billions of dollars in income. Google earns money each time someone clicks on a paid ad, which is why SEM is also referenced as pay per click (PPC).

Google AdWords and Microsoft’s Bing Ads both work from a similar auction-style model. There are limited ad slots and users bid for top slots. The highest qualified bidder (more on this later) will get the top slot. Continue reading

How Chevrolet’s Ads Played It “Safe” & Failed a Safety Story

Chevrolet had me at “safety.” Sure, it was a print magazine ad, but the topic of safety has become increasingly important to me. The started with “safety” and then added “story,” and I wanted to know more.

It may seem odd to talk about a print advertisement on my blog about digital content marketing, but it’s not at all. Content strategy needs to connect the dots across all channels — print and digital alike — to ensure the best possible user experience. Continue reading

Marketing Tesla & What It Says about Us

2016-tesla-modelsAs if enough praise hasn’t already been heaped upon Tesla Motors, here’s a bit more. This time, it’s not about the car. It’s about the marketing of the car and what it says about us.

The Tesla is just another car. When you get down to it, it’s a manufactured to serve a utilitarian purpose. It gets you from Point A to Point B. All cars are designed to do this, and so is a Tesla. Continue reading

KPIs & User Journey Metrics for Marketers: Part 1

In marketing, we can measure so much that in many ways, we aren’t measuring anything. We are drowning in data. And the worse part, it may even be the wrong data.

There are ways to ensure that the data that we analyze is actually useful to the brand. Of course, this all starts with a content strategy. Which, of course, starts with a persona. Which, of course, starts with data and insights about your target user. Of course.

Starting with a data-informed persona, you can determine what actions are important to that user. Remember, if you are marketing your brand to a human, you need to figure out what that human needs from you and your content to complete their own personal user journey. Remember, inside every “persona” is a “person.” Continue reading

Infographics and Visual Storytelling with Author Ross Crooks

ross_profile-511x652

Ross Crooks of Column Five Media

Better, more powerful devices have made it possible to tell better, more powerful visual stories. These days, content marketers are discovering that infographics can help express essential information and complex concepts.

Infographics (aka information graphics) are becoming an essential tool for visualizing concepts that may otherwise be locked in databases and spreadsheets. In the hands of skilled designers, infographics strap a jetpack to your data and help it reach a wider audience across multiple devices.

Data visualization is nothing new, but we’re seeing an emergence of innovative techniques for showcasing and sharing ideas. Some infographics are a single static image, while others are complete interactive stories.

For content marketers, infographics represent another way to provide value and engage with their target audience or existing customers. Brands must consider new and creative ways of creating utility, and infographics are becoming a cornerstone of strategic and tactical plans.

I caught up with Ross Crooks Co-Founder And COO of Column Five Media, an agency with offices in Newport Beach, CA and New York that creates visual stories for brands. With his partners Josh Ritchie and Jason Lankow, Crooks co-authored the book INFOGRAPHICS: The Power of Visual Storytelling, an essential guide for anyone interested in visual content strategy. The book is packed with examples and explanations that will help you get started building your own infographics. Continue reading

Brandscaping with Author and Marketer Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, brings personality to marketing.

Andrew Davis is the guy you want on your marketing team. He’s smart, passionate, funny, and has an uncanny knack for nailing it.

His book Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships captures the essential rules of modern digital marketing. And if you had to distill it down to just one idea, it would be that marketing isn’t for loners. These days, you have make some friends and try new things.

And Andrew Davis is very good at identifying good partnerships and great marketing. In his book, he writes about large and small companies that are discovering new customers, simply by thinking beyond their traditional owned, earned, and, well, whatever campaigns.

He is like your favorite coach who both applauds you for reaching a new personal best, but also suggests that you can do better. He deconstructs successful campaigns, admires the work, and then suggests clever ways to make it even better. He’s smart, nimble, and it comes through on every page of his book.

But Andrew Davis is more than a writer. He’s also a surprisingly good speaker. When I met him this year, we were participating in a series of videos for Content Marketing Institute.

At Content Marketing World 2013, Andrew delivered a presentation on Brandscaping: The Secret to Unlocking Bigger Content Marketing Budgets and Driving Faster Results, and was the highest rated presenter at the conference. Not bad, considering the marketing legends at the event.

Despite his non-stop speaking schedule, Andrew found time to participate in an email interview with me.

BUDDY SCALERA: First, can you tell me what your book Brandscaping is all about?

ANDREW DAVIS: Brandscaping is all about leveraging the audiences of others to more effectively and efficiently sell your products and services. Essentially the entire book asks you one question: who already has your next customer as their current customer? Thinking this way opens up tons of new opportunities to work together, creating content that both your audiences will find valuable.
Continue reading

My (First) Kickstarter Crowdfunding Success Story

Thank you to kickstarter supporters

Thank you graphic for my Kickstarter supporters.

Last week, my first Kickstarter project ended successfully. I was funded 115% of my goal, which means I raised $694 and my goal was $600. Not bad.

The idea here was twofold:

  1. First, I wanted to raise a few bucks to print a batch of custom t-shirts, but without taking on a personal risk. As noted, mission accomplished.
  2. Second, I wanted to have the experience of running a Kickstarter project. All too often, people talk about stuff without really knowing how it works. I’d heard a lot of about crowdfunding, how it relates to marketing, and figured it might make sense to know how it actually worked. Again, mission accomplished.

Setting It Up
As I mentioned in my first Kickstarter post, the setup process took longer than expected. I wanted to be running a few days earlier, but my project was initially rejected. It took me a day or so to appeal and get approved. Plus, there are the financial requirements, which took some time with the bank and Amazon.com.

Once I got started, the Kickstarter contributions surged. Within the first 48 hours, I’d almost completed my funding. Between several friends and a couple of generous benefactors, I was almost ready to retire to a beach in Miami.

Almost. Continue reading

Interview with “Likeonomics” Marketing Author Rohit Bhargava

Author Rohit Bhargava

Author Rohit Bhargava with his second book “Likenomics.”

Every once in a while, you read a business book and it becomes obvious that what you’ve been doing is…wrong. You know at that moment that you need to start doing things differently.

I had that feeling the first time I read “Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back” by Rohit Bhargava. At the time, Rohit was a co-worker at Ogilvy and I was reading the book as a professional courtesy. I mean, sure, he was a smart guy, super nice, and seemed to understand marketing, but I wasn’t expecting much. Most marketing books are bland and theoretical. Short on insight and long on catchphrases.

But Rohit’s book was different. It was clear that Rohit had taken great pains to write a book that went beyond basic theories social media and marketing. It was an insightful, actionable book that is as relevant today as when it was published in 2008.

In his second book, Rohit tackles a range of marketing topics. The umbrella concept of “Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action” (2012) is “likeability,” but that’s just part of the story. He shares case studies and anecdotes that reveal why believability and trust are so powerful for brands. Continue reading

Would Paid YouTube Accounts Reduce Pre-Roll?

YouTube Skip Logo

Would you pay to skip ads on YouTube?

In the online world, it’s rare that we’re willing to pay for anything. We almost never want to pay for content, which is understandable considering how long we’ve been getting it for free.

But as of today, I am ready to pay for a premium version of YouTube. Yup, I am prepared, PayPal in hand, to give Google my money for something they provide for free.

Anything to stop the pre-roll. Or at least require only premium-level pre-roll that is relevant to my tastes. This is worth paying for.

Freemium Upgrade to Premium
So you’re familiar with the concept of “freemium” right? Sure you are. That’s where you can get most of the features for free, but to get the “extra special awesome bonus stuff,” you have to pay.

For example, I’m an avid photographer, so I pay for Flickr Pro. Even though Flickr is free, I pay $25 a year for the upgrade. It’s not much money and I feel like I get some good value from it.

I’m also using the free version of Evernote more frequently, so I am considering an upgrade there. Maybe Dropbox too. Both provide good free services, but the extra stuff on the premium may make it worth the few bucks.

To be honest, I use YouTube way more than any of these other services. Google invests bazillions of dollars running YouTube and charges us nothing for it. A few moments of our attention (for a paid advertisement) is all they ask. Seems fair, right? Continue reading

The “Idea Etherverse” (or How to Be More Creative at Work)

Idea lightbulb

Did that lightbulb in your head just go on? Maybe it’s coming from the Idea Etherverse.

In my line of work, people talk a lot about creativity. As a content strategist and copywriter at a marketing agency, people look to my creative services team for fresh ideas.

They appreciate unique angles, bursts of inspiration, and the proverbial lightbulb-over-the-head.

Yet, that creativity doesn’t just come from “the creatives.” Not at all.

Ideas can come from anyone in any role, if you encourage people to express their own ideas. Account managers, project managers, quality assurance testers, proofreaders, and traffic coordinators have come up with ideas that rival the best copywriters, art directors, and other people typically associated with “ideas.”

The problem? Most “non creative” people feel boxed in by the words printed on their business cards. They incorrectly assume they are less qualified to share new ideas or whatever. It’s really just “whatever.”

 

The Big Secret Revealed: Where Creativity Comes From

For a few years, I worked as a professional comic book writer (which was outstanding training for new media). At comic book conventions, fans and aspiring creators would sometimes ask where I got my ideas. Continue reading