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5 Great Content Marketing Articles That Deserve Another Look

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5 Great Content Marketing Articles That Deserve Another Look

If you publish great content and hardly anyone reads it, is it actually great content?

That’s a question for the ages – or maybe the comments section.

Every content marketer plans, crafts, reviews, and publishes articles with the best intentions. We all want to publish the most helpful content, sharp insights, and genuinely leading thoughts.

Sometimes, articles you think will be great don’t hit the mark for audiences. (I’ve written about steps to take when your content “fails.”)

But what about the content assets in the middle? They are not top performers or true duds, but they didn’t get quite all the love you think they deserve.

Looking at CMI’s 2022 content, I found a set of articles that deserve another look. Here are a few that feel particularly relevant to this moment.

Author: Jonathan Crossfield

Reading time: 10 minutes

Why read (or reread) this now: Competition for audience attention will increase in 2023, and it will be harder to stand out. Jonathan shares his secret for finding a unique angle – even on topics so widely covered that it feels like an “SEO-to-the-death” competition. (It doesn’t hurt that Jonathan’s storytelling style kept me laughing all the way.)

Tempting tidbit:

They make this week’s topic about the common problems users experience with doodads because understanding the limitations of doodads is often the first step to deciding to upgrade to a full-featured doohickey. The team checks the keyword list, jots down the first few ideas that come to mind, and starts writing the briefs.

However, at this stage, the content ideas are wholly undeveloped.

Anyway, the writer is briefed with a title and a bunch of keywords, so they develop a straightforward structure and smash out 800 words. Time to tell the marketing assistant to look up stock images of attractive women smiling or looking thoughtfully at laptops while sitting in the most impractical and/or uncomfortable places possible. (Does anyone really write their blog posts on the stairs?)

Black woman sitting on wood stairs with a laptop in her lap.

Read the rest and learn to apply Jonathan’s originality formula.

Myth: Creative inspiration strikes out of nowhere. Reality: It takes a series of fortunate events – and a lot of brain strain, says @Kimota via @CMIContent Click To Tweet

Reading time: 7 minutes

Author: Ann Gynn

Why read (or reread) this now: Summer isn’t the only time your content program slows down while everyone’s on vacation. If you’re one of the only people in the office this week or next, revisit Ann’s suggestions for using the lull to work on things you know will pay off but rarely have time to focus on.

Tempting tidbit:

You probably write alt text for your images, use Pascal case for your hashtags (#SummerLull, not #summerlull), and provide captions for your videos. (If not, start there.)

But have you ever experienced your content as people who are blind, deaf, or have vision or hearing impairment might? Take the time to do it now.

Download text-to-speech software and feed your most popular written content assets into it. How is the listening experience? Are there commonly used acronyms, terms, or phrases that don’t translate well to the ear? Are there other glitches you could remedy by editing the content or avoiding them in the future?

Download speech-to-text software or read – word for word­ the assistance you already provide (i.e., video captions and transcripts). Are the spoken words easily translatable into text? Do the terms you use have multiple spellings that could cause confusion? How is background sound translated or disclosed in the text?

Review a few pieces of content in each format, then note and share potential trouble spots with your content creators. That way, they can avoid them in the future.

Read the article for more tips on how to have a productive slow season.

Have you experienced your #Content the way people with vision or hearing impairments might? Use seasonal downtime to try it, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Reading time: 7 minutes

Author: Lakshmi Padmanaban

Why read (or reread) this now: End-of-year analyses tend to uncover a few mysteries. If an underperforming landing page is one of them, you might want to investigate. In her first article for CMI, Lakshmi explains the curious phenomenon of stagnant conversions – even when traffic increases – and what to do about it.

Tempting tidbit:

If much of your traffic comes from search engine results, your page’s content, especially its keywords and key phrases, could be the top suspect.

Google and other search engines like categorize and rank your content differently than how you intended. Let me break it down with this example:

Let’s assume you create a landing page designed to convert visitors interested in your air conditioner maintenance services. The target keyword is “air conditioner maintenance.” You include product names and key phrases mentioning buying options. 

When the search engines crawl the page, they interpret it as a page selling air conditioners. People who click on the ranking result intend to buy air conditioners. Instead, they find content about how to maintain them after they buy.

Now you can see why visitors who land on the page don’t convert.

Read the rest of the article for other reasons more traffic didn’t lead to more conversions.

If search engines misinterpret your #Content, search-directed visitors likely won’t convert, says @Lakshmi_writes via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Reading time: 6 minutes

Author: Dennis Shiao

Why read (or reread) this now: Many content teams feel stretched to the limit, but economic uncertainty may put a big chill on hiring in 2023. Even if your team is adequately staffed, a standby freelance network can help during employee turnover, illness, or other unexpected events. As a marketing agency owner (and former accidental freelancer), Dennis hit on an easy way to develop and test his freelance network– and explains how you can, too.

Tempting tidbit:

I didn’t want to ask people for their writing samples or lowball them on a “let’s get to know each other” project. Even though I didn’t know them, I took a leap of faith and hired them for a paid gig.

I needed to decide what they would write and thought of two opportunities at my disposal – my agency’s newly launched blog and the Bay Area Content Marketing Meetup I help organize.

I gave a paid assignment to every writer who contacted me on Twitter: Craft a summary of a presentation chosen from the meetup’s playlist. Based on the length and subject of the recording, I gave a target word count, typically in the range of 800 to 1,200 words. 

… The full-length article appeared on my agency blog. (If writers requested, I added a link to their websites or LinkedIn profiles.)

This first paid assignment was essential to helping me build a network of outsourced writing talent.

Read the rest of the article to learn Dennis’ method for building a freelance network.

Don’t assess a #freelance writer as average or excellent. Get specific enough to know what type of assignments they’ll excel at, says @dshiao via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Reading time: 7 minutes

Author: Robert Rose

Why read (or reread) this now: Twitter’s acceptance of Elon Musk’s takeover bid prompted Robert to reflect on this content marketing advice: Don’t build your home on rented land. With high-profile people loudly quitting the platform (and the wait-and-see or quiet exit of many others), this column seems prescient.

Tempting tidbit:

Renting isn’t a bad thing. Finding your audience on rented platforms is critical for content and marketing strategy. But think of these platforms as rivers, not lakes. Use them to flow users to your own home (a website, resource center, email newsletter, etc.). 

Think about how to encourage visitors on a rented platform to visit your home. Remember, a social media platform’s goal is to get you to help build its audience. Your goal should be to use a social media platform’s audience to help build yours.

You can (and should) build on rented land, as long as you only build what you’re willing to lose or can easily transfer, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Read Robert’s entire column to understand when and how to use rented platforms (like social media) in a way that won’t jeopardize your content strategy foundation.

Take another look at the quiet ones

I hope these articles sparked (or renewed) your interest. Now it’s your turn to reflect on your year in content.

When you do your review, which content stands out? Most people investigate the best and worst performers. Figuring out the why behind their performance can help you repeat the success or avoid future duds.

What about your serviceable performers? How do you resurface those to an audience that might have missed them the first time around?

Let me know in the comments.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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