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Best Practices for Content Marketing in 2023

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Best Practices for Content Marketing in 2023

There is no silver bullet in content marketing. Just as there is no universally best approach to fat loss, you would be hard-pressed to find one content marketing strategy that works for every business. 

However, that doesn’t mean your efforts are futile. Far from it. For 85% of businesses that use it, content marketing performs from moderately to exceedingly well. Part of that success comes from understanding and following the industry’s best practices.  

Now, before we dive into best practices for 2023, let’s quickly run through foundational content marketing principles you need to follow regardless of the year on your calendar.

The Core Principles of Content Marketing 

Even if you follow best practices discussed later in the article, your content marketing strategies are bound to crumble without good foundations.

Understand Your Target Audience

Behind every successful marketing campaign there is a marketer that carefully analyzed their target audience. The exceptions are mostly blind luck and not something you should bet on.

Having an intimate knowledge of you target audience helps you:

  • focus on the right content distribution channels
  • adjust style and tone of voice to create greater emotional connection
  • create content that helps solve actual problems your target audience has
  • zero in on customers pain points and increase conversions rates

Furthermore, you need to keep in mind that your target audience aren’t just the people that are using your product or services. The pool is often much wider, forcing you to also target people who your customers take advice from (influencers), as well as the people they need to get approval from (decision makers).

Set Realistic Goals and Plan of Action

The same research mentioned in the intro states that 73% of B2B marketers have a marketing strategy, with 40% having the strategy written down.

I would argue that this research actually shows how only 40% of marketers have a marketing strategy. Because if it is not written down, there is little accountability, and it is generally too complex to just sit in one person’s head.

Defining realistic marketing goals and metrics is challenging. When you are doing it for the first time, you are going to miss with your estimates. Probably by a lot.

My advice is to get down and dirty. 

First, watch who you are comparing yourself with. Your marketing budget is likely to be much smaller than top dogs in your niche. Instead of picking a fight with them right off the bat, aim to surpass companies that are just one or two levels above your weight category.

Secondly, be sure to outline the steps you need to take to reach your goals. Increasing organic traffic by 50% in 12 months is a fine goal. However, don’t stop there. Break it down. Define how many content pieces you need to publish and how many backlinks do you need to build to get there.

Do that for all of your goals and you will already be a step ahead of most content marketers.      

Master the Basics

I like to think of content marketing as using content to build trust and awareness and generate traffic, leads, and customers. Usually in that order.

When you look at it that way, they only way to be successful at it is to understand the basics of:

  • Content planning (target audience research, keyword research)
  • Content production (selecting the right content type, consistently producing well-structured content with actionable advice)
  • Content optimization (on-page seo)
  • Content promotion and distribution (off-page SEO, PPC, influencer outreach, social media marketing) 

This is a tall task for any business that isn’t big enough to set up an in-house marketing team. However, even if you outsource it, it pays to understand the basics to ensure that the agency you are working with is spending your money wisely.

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Content Marketing Best Practices in 2023

With firmly established foundations, it’s time to explore what are the best content marketing practices you need to start implementing in your business in 2023.

1. Create Keyword-Based Content Strategies

In personal experience, one of the most common mistakes businesses make is not having a clear, keyword-based content strategy. They think that just creating quality content is enough. Unfortunately, this is not the case of “if you build it, they will come”. 

If you want to grow by converting organic traffic into leads and customers, you need to have a content strategy based on in-depth keyword research.

We have a few clients in industrial B2B niches and even there we are seeing competition seriously ramping up. Just throwing content at the wall and hoping something sticks rarely worked so far, and is definitely not the way to go in 2023.

2. Find Ways to Provide Additional Value with Your Content

More and more brands are understanding the value of quality content. If you want to compete for the top spots in SERPs for challenging keywords, look for new ways to provide additional value by making your content more convenient to consume and easier to apply. 

That can mean a lot of different things in practice:

  • Making sure that long form pieces are logically structured and come with an easy to use content table.
  • That broad and general advice gives place to actionable tips and relevant real-life examples.
  • Supporting complex concepts with custom animations or (info)graphics that include steps, diagrams, and other visual representations that increase the understanding of the topic.
  • Reaching out to experts in the field and sharing their thoughts on specific issues.
  • Adding polls, quizzes, and calculators to make content more interactive.

This is not a definite list, but it should be enough to get your creative juices flowing.

3. Be Consistent

Doing quality content marketing is a lot like trying to achieve a fitness goal. The key ingredient is consistency.

You should:

  • produce and publish content consistently
  • have a minimum level of quality every content piece should satisfy before it goes live
  • try to keep a consistent style and tone of voice across all channels
  • have a set of visual brand guidelines to create a recognizable visual style

If you are just starting out, don’t be afraid to test things out. It might take a while until you find your brand voice. When you do that, create your brand style guide – and stick to it!  

4. Build What You Can, Outsource What You Can’t

Scaling up content production without any drop in quality is hard. If you do not have a dedicated marketing department, I would recommend turning to a content marketing agency for help. 

Now, that doesn’t mean you should abdicate all of your responsibility to an agency. Nor does it mean that you should give them all of the reins. 

For example, we work with a few businesses that have excellent content writers with in-depth knowledge of the subject area. In this case, we take the role of an editor – prepare content briefs, review outlines, add custom graphics, and make sure the content follows best on-page SEO practices.

In other words, those businesses use us to plug holes in terms of their marketing skills and knowledge.  

Another reason to stay involved to some degree is to make sure the content follows your brand tone and voice and really connects with your brand, as well as to coordinate lead generation and other promotional activities you might be doing in parallel. 

5) Leverage Your Analytics

As more and more businesses compete for customer’s attention, only those with a strategic approach to content marketing are going to see a fat ROI.

Recently, we talked with a semi-known brand in the interior design niche. They have over 500k monthly organic traffic but fairly low conversion rates as most of that traffic is generated by awareness phase-level content.

They wanted to spend most of their budget on building links to pages that are already performing well. While that would probably work ok, the more cost-effective idea was to split that budget in 3 parts. 

The first part would be used to continue boosting pages that are already generating some leads. The second part would be used to increase overall conversion rates on the site. 

Most interestingly, the third part of the budget would be used to boost pages that have the best conversion rates in terms of percentages, but currently generate a very small amount of leads because they are ranking poorly and do not get a lot of traffic – in other words, potential gems.

Source: Scoop.it

The key takeaway from this story is that creating such a concrete and cost-effective strategy was only possible because the client meticulously tracked the performance (traffic,conversion to lead, conversion to paying customer…) of all of his pages.

6) Be Transparent and Authentic

9 out of 10 consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. 

In an age where every brand message is designed to sell something and where every social media post is meticulously planned, people are sick of that uncomfortable feeling of being manipulated and told what to think. They crave transparency and authenticity. 

It is one of the reasons behind the huge success of Joe Rogan’s podcasts.  

So, if there are causes you want to support and talk about, find those you really care about. Be honest about your product and service, and what you can offer. 

Last but not least, when the context allows it, try to have some fun with the content you’re creating. Do your part to make the Internet a better place.

Trust the Process

It is not easy to measure the success of your overall content marketing efforts, especially as VPNs, GDPR, and other tools and laws reduce your tracking capabilities.

On top of that, content marketing campaigns with a modest budget can take 6+ months of consistent work to show provable results.  

Putting in earnest work for a few months and not seeing results can quickly become discouraging. You might even be tempted to pivot and make significant changes. Think twice before doing that.

If you are following industry best practices and have polished internal processes that can catch and eliminate quality issues, it is time to exercise patience and put some trust in the process.


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  1. bus rental dubai

    January 8, 2023 at 7:57 pm

    nicely written

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MARKETING

How to optimize your online forms and checkouts

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How to optimize your online forms and checkouts



Forms are probably the most important part of your customer journey. They are the final step where the user entrusts you with their precious personal information in exchange for the goods or services you’ve promised.

And yet, too many companies spend minimal time on making sure their form experience is a good one for their users. They don’t use data to establish where the UX problems are on their forms, and they don’t run form-specific experiments to determine how to improve their conversion rate. As a result, too many forms are unnecessarily driving potential customers away, burning potential revenue and leads that could have been converted if they had only spent a little time and effort on optimization. Two-thirds of people who start a form don’t go on to complete it, meaning that a lot of money is being left on the table.

This article contains some of our top tips to help optimize your forms + checkouts with the goal of improving their conversion rate and delivering more customers and leads.

Use data to identify your problem fields

While user testing and session replay tools are useful in identifying possible form issues, you should also be using a specialist form analytics tool, as this will allow you to quantify the scale of the problem – where are most people dropping out – and prioritize improvements accordingly. A good form analytics tool will have advanced insights that will help work out what the problem is as well, giving you a head start on creating hypotheses for testing.

A/B test your forms

We’ve already mentioned how important it is to nurture your forms like any other part of your website. This also applies to experimentation. Your A/B testing tool such as Optimizely should allow you to easily put together a test to see if your hypothesis will improve your conversion rate. If there is also an integration with your form analytics tool you should then be able to push the test variants into it for further analysis.

Your analytics data and user testing should guide your test hypothesis, but some aspects you may want to look at are:

  • Changing the error validation timing (to trigger upon input rather than submission)
  • Breaking the form into multiple steps rather than a single page
  • Removing or simplifying problem fields
  • Manage user expectations by adding a progress bar and telling them how long the form will take upfront
  • Removing links to external sites so they are not distracted
  • Re-wording your error messages to make them more helpful

Focus on user behavior after a failed submission

Potential customers who work their way through their form, inputting their personal information, before clicking on the final ‘Submit’ button are your most valuable. They’ve committed time and effort to your form; they want what you are offering. If they click that button but can’t successfully complete the form, something has gone wrong, and you will be losing conversions that you could have made.

Fortunately, there are ways to use your form data to determine what has gone wrong so you can improve the issue.

Firstly, you should look at your error message data for this particular audience. Which messages are shown when they click ‘Submit? What do they do then? Do they immediately abandon, or do they try to fix the issue?

If you don’t have error message tracking (or even if you do), it is worth looking at a Sankey behavior flow for your user’s path after a failed submission. This audience will click the button then generally jump back to the field they are having a problem with. They’ll try to fix it, unsuccessfully, then perhaps bounce back and forth between the problem field a couple of times before abandoning in frustration. By looking at the flow data, you can determine the most problematic fields and focus your attention there.

Microcopy can make the checkout experience less stressful

If a user is confused, it makes their form/checkout experience much less smooth than it otherwise could be. Using microcopy – small pieces of explanatory information – can help reduce anxiety and make it more likely that they will complete the form.

Some good uses of microcopy on your forms could be:

  • Managing user expectations. Explain what information they need to enter in the form so they can have it on hand. For example, if they are going to need their driver’s licence, then tell them so.
  • Explain fields. Checkouts often ask for multiple addresses. Think “Current Address”, “Home Address” and “Delivery Address”. It’s always useful to make it clear exactly what you mean by these so there is no confusion.
  • Field conditions. If you have strict stipulations on password creation, make sure you tell the user. Don’t wait until they have submitted to tell them you need special characters, capital letters, etc.
  • You can often nudge the user in a certain direction with a well-placed line of copy.
  • Users are reluctant to give you personal information, so explaining why you need it and what you are going to do with it is a good idea.

A good example of reassuring microcopy

Be careful with discount codes

What is the first thing a customer does if they are presented with a discount code box on an ecommerce checkout? That’s right, they open a new browser tab and go searching for vouchers. Some of them never come back. If you are using discount codes, you could be driving customers away instead of converting them. Some studies show that users without a code are put off purchasing when they see the discount code box.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can continue to offer discount codes while mitigating the FOMO that users without one feel:

  • Use pre-discounted links. If you are offering a user a specific discount, email a link rather than giving them a code, which will only end up on a discount aggregator site.
  • Hide the coupon field. Make the user actively open the coupon box rather than presenting them with it smack in the middle of the flow.
  • Host your own offers. Let every user see all the offers that are live so they can be sure that they are not missing out.
  • Change the language. Follow Amazon’s lead and combine the Gift Card & Promotional Codes together to make it less obvious.

An example from Amazon on how to make the discount code field less prominent

Get error messages right

Error messages don’t have to be bad UX. If done right, they can help guide users through your form and get them to commit.

How do you make your error messages useful?

  • Be clear that they are errors. Make the messages standout from the form – there is a reason they are always in red.
  • Be helpful. Explain exactly what the issue is and tell the user how to fix it. Don’t be ambiguous.

Don’t do this!

  • Display the error next to the offending field. Don’t make the user have to jump back to the top of the form to find out what is wrong.
  • Use microcopy. As noted before, if you explain what they need to do early, they users are less likely to make mistakes.

Segment your data by user groups

Once you’ve identified an issue, you’ll want to check whether it affects all your users or just a specific group. Use your analytics tools to break down the audience and analyze this. Some of the segmentations you might want to look at are:

  • Device type. Do desktop and mobile users behave differently?
  • Operating system. Is there a problem with how a particular OS renders your form?
  • New vs. returning. Are returning users more or less likely to convert than first timers?
  • Do different product buyers have contrasting expectations of the checkout?
  • Traffic source. Do organic sources deliver users with higher intent than paid ones?

————————————————————-

About the author

Alun Lucas is the Managing Director of Zuko Analytics. Zuko is an Optimizely partner that provides form optimization software that can identify when, where and why users are abandoning webforms and help get more customers successfully completing your forms.


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3 Smart Bidding Strategies To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Google Ads

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3 Smart Bidding Strategies To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Google Ads

Now that we’ve officially settled into the new year, it’s important to reiterate that among the most effective ways to promote your business are Google Ads. Not only do Google Ads increase your brand visibility, but they also make it easier for you to sell your services and products while generating more traffic to your website.

The thing about Google Ads, though, is that setting up (and running) a Google Ads campaign isn’t easy – in fact, it’s pretty beginner-unfriendly and time-consuming. And yet, statistically speaking, no platform does what Google Ads can do when it comes to audience engagement and outreach. Therefore, it will be beneficial to learn about and adopt some smart bidding strategies that can help you get the most out of your Google Ads.

To that end, let’s check out a few different bidding strategies you can put behind your Google Ads campaigns, how these strategies can maximize the results of your Google Ads, and the biggest benefits of each strategy.

Smart bidding in Google Ads: what does it mean, anyway?

Before we cover the bidding strategies that can get the most out of your Google Ads, let’s define what smart bidding means. Basically, it lets Google Ads optimize your bids for you. That doesn’t mean that Google replaces you when you leverage smart bidding, but it does let you free up time otherwise spent on keeping track of the when, how, and how much when bidding on keywords.

The bidding market is simply too big – and changing too rapidly – for any one person to keep constant tabs on it. There are more than 5.5 billion searches that Google handles every day, and most of those searches are subject to behind-the-scenes auctions that determine which ads display based on certain searches, all in a particular order.

That’s where smart bidding strategies come in: they’re a type of automated bidding strategy to generate more conversions and bring in more money, increasing your profits and cash flow. Smart bidding is your way of letting Google Ads know what your goals are (a greater number of conversions, a goal cost per conversion, more revenue, or a better ROAS), after which Google checks what it’s got on file for your current conversion data and then applies that data to the signals it gets from its auctions.

Types of smart bidding strategies

Now that you know what smart bidding in Google Ads is and why it’s important, let’s cover the best smart bidding strategies you can use to your advantage.

Maximize your conversions

The goal of this strategy is pretty straightforward: maximize your conversions and get the most out of your budget’s allocation toward said conversions. Your conversions, be they a form submission, a customer transaction, or a simple phone call, are something valuable that you want to track and, of course, maximize.

The bottom line here is simply generating the greatest possible number of conversions for your budget. This strategy can potentially become costly, so remember to keep an eye on your cost-per-click and how well your spending is staying inside your budget.

If you want to be extra vigilant about keeping conversion costs in a comfy range, you can define a CPA goal for your maximize conversions strategy (assuming you’ve got this feature available).

Target cost per acquisition

The purpose behind this strategy is to meet or surpass your cost-per-acquisition objective that’s tied to your daily budget. When it comes to this strategy, it’s important to determine what your cost-per-acquisition goal is for the strategy you’re pursuing.

In most cases, your target cost per acquisition goal will be similar to the 30-day average you’ve set for your Google Ads campaign. Even if this isn’t going to be your end-all-be-all CPA goal, you’ll want to use this as a starting point.

You’ll have lots of success by simply leveraging target cost per acquisition on a campaign-by-campaign basis, but you can take this one step further by creating a single tCPA bid strategy that you share between every single one of your campaigns. This makes the most sense when running campaigns with identical CPA objectives. That’s because you’ll be engaging with a bidding strategy that’s fortified with a lot of aggregate data from which Google’s algorithm can draw, subsequently endowing all of your campaigns with some much-needed experience.

Maximize clicks

As its name implies, this strategy centers around ad optimization to gain as many clicks as possible based on your budget. We recommend using the maximize clicks strategy if you’re trying to drive more traffic to your website. The best part? Getting this strategy off the ground is about as easy as it gets.

All you need to do to get started with maximizing clicks is settle on a maximum cost-per-click that you then earmark. Once that’s done, you can decide how much money you want to shell out every time you pay for a bid. You don’t actually even need to specify an amount per bid since Google will modify your bids for you to maximize your clicks automatically.

Picture this: you’ve got a website you’re running and want to drive more traffic to it. You decide to set your maximum bid per click at $2.5. Google looks at your ad, adjusts it to $3, and automatically starts driving more clicks per ad (and more traffic to your site), all without ever going over the budget you set for your Google Ads campaign.

Conclusion

If you’ve been using manual bidding until now, you probably can’t help but admit that you spend way too much time wrangling with it. There are plenty of other things you’d rather be – and should be – spending your time on. Plus, bids change so quickly that trying to keep up with them manually isn’t even worth it anymore.

Thankfully, you’ve now got a better grasp on automated and smart bidding after having read through this article, and you’re aware of some important options you have when it comes to strategies for automated bidding. Now’s a good time to explore even more Google Ads bidding strategies and see which ones make the most sense when it comes to your unique and long-term business objectives. Settle on a strategy and then give it a whirl – you’ll only know whether a strategy is right for you after you’ve tested it time and time again. Good luck!

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

The world survived the first three months of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

But what are marketers doing now? Did your brand follow the shift Dennis Shiao made for his personal brand? As he recently shared, he switched his primary platform from Twitter to LinkedIn after the 2022 ownership change. (He still uses Twitter but posts less frequently.)

Are those brands that altered their strategy after the new ownership maintaining that plan? What impact do Twitter’s service changes (think Twitter Blue subscriptions) have?

We took those questions to the marketing community. No big surprise? Most still use Twitter. But from there, their responses vary from doing nothing to moving away from the platform.

Lowest points

At the beginning of the Elon era, more than 500 big-name advertisers stopped buying from the platform. Some (like Amazon and Apple) resumed their buys before the end of 2022. Brand accounts’ organic activity seems similar.

In November, Emplifi research found a 26% dip in organic posting behavior by U.S. and Canadian brands the week following a significant spike in the negative sentiment of an Elon tweet. But that drop in posting wasn’t a one-time thing.

Kyle Wong, chief strategy officer at Emplifi, shares a longer analysis of well-known fast-food brands. When comparing December 2021 to December 2022 activity, the brands posted 74% less, and December was the least active month of 2022.

Fast-food brands posted 74% less on @Twitter in December 2022 than they did in December 2021, according to @emplifi_io analysis via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

When Emplifi analyzed brand accounts across industries (2,330 from U.S. and Canada and 6,991 elsewhere in the world), their weekly Twitter activity also fell to low points in November and December. But by the end of the year, their activity was inching up.

“While the percentage of brands posting weekly is on the rise once again, the number is still lower than the consistent posting seen in earlier months,” Kyle says.

Quiet-quitting Twitter

Lacey Reichwald, marketing manager at Aha Media Group, says the company has been quiet-quitting Twitter for two months, simply monitoring and posting the occasional link. “It seems like the turmoil has settled down, but the overall impact of Twitter for brands has not recovered,” she says.

@ahamediagroup quietly quit @Twitter for two months and saw their follower count go up, says Lacey Reichwald via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

She points to their firm’s experience as a potential explanation. Though they haven’t been posting, their follower count has gone up, and many of those new follower accounts don’t seem relevant to their topic or botty. At the same time, Aha Media saw engagement and follows from active accounts in the customer segment drop.

Blue bonus

One change at Twitter has piqued some brands’ interest in the platform, says Dan Gray, CEO of Vendry, a platform for helping companies find agency partners to help them scale.

“Now that getting a blue checkmark is as easy as paying a monthly fee, brands are seeing this as an opportunity to build thought leadership quickly,” he says.

Though it remains to be seen if that strategy is viable in the long term, some companies, particularly those in the SaaS and tech space, are reallocating resources to energize their previously dormant accounts.

Automatic verification for @TwitterBlue subscribers led some brands to renew their interest in the platform, says Dan Gray of Vendry via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

These reenergized accounts also are seeing an increase in followers, though Dan says it’s difficult to tell if it’s an effect of the blue checkmark or their renewed emphasis on content. “Engagement is definitely up, and clients and agencies have both noted the algorithm seems to be favoring their content more,” he says.

New horizon

Faizan Fahim, marketing manager at Breeze, is focused on the future. They’re producing videos for small screens as part of their Twitter strategy. “We are guessing soon Elon Musk is going to turn Twitter into TikTok/YouTube to create more buzz,” he says. “We would get the first moving advantage in our niche.”

He’s not the only one who thinks video is Twitter’s next bet. Bradley Thompson, director of marketing at DigiHype Media and marketing professor at Conestoga College, thinks video content will be the next big thing. Until then, text remains king.

“The approach is the same, which is a focus on creating and sharing high-quality content relevant to the industry,” Bradley says. “Until Twitter comes out with drastically new features, then marketing and managing brands on Twitter will remain the same.

James Coulter, digital marketing director at Sole Strategies, says, “Twitter definitely still has a space in the game. The question is can they keep it, or will they be phased out in favor of a more reliable platform.”

Interestingly given the thoughts of Faizan and Bradley, James sees businesses turning to video as they limit their reliance on Twitter and diversify their social media platforms. They are now willing to invest in the resource-intensive format given the exploding popularity of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other short-form video content.

“We’ve seen a really big push on getting vendors to help curate video content with the help of staff. Requesting so much media requires building a new (social media) infrastructure, but once the expectations and deliverables are in place, it quickly becomes engrained in the weekly workflow,” James says.

What now

“We are waiting to see what happens before making any strong decisions,” says Baruch Labunski, CEO at Rank Secure. But they aren’t sitting idly by. “We’ve moved a lot of our social media efforts to other platforms while some of these things iron themselves out.”

What is your brand doing with Twitter? Are you stepping up, stepping out, or standing still? I’d love to know. Please share in the comments.

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

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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