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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.

1673171105 805 Best Practices for Content Marketing in 2023

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.

1673171105 290 Best Practices for Content Marketing in 2023

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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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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