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Community Building for Retention, Awareness, Loyalty, Content, & Member Advocacy

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Community Building for Retention, Awareness, Loyalty, Content, & Member Advocacy

A little birdy told me you want to know what this “Community” stuff is you keep hearing about. I promise it’s not scary, at least not as frightening as Data Tracking and Analytics. 

Ahh, Numbers!

No need to worry, you’re safe here, and the data can’t get you. At least, not in this particular post. 

Community is a tale as old as time and is simply evolving along with humanity; perhaps it’s time you join the party! 

I like curiosity so allow me to be your guide through the magical and underrated world of Community Building. By the time you finish reading, you’ll know what a Community is, why you should want one, and what a Community Builder can do for you.

What is Community, and why is it important?

If you ask the peeps at Merriam-Webster, the TL;DR version is that a community is people with common interests living in a particular area, or a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society. That’s not a bad definition if you ask me, but I think we can do better in this case.

Community is not a place—not even that arcade you and your friends used to frequent—and despite the common misconception, it’s not an exchange of information over the internet. Community is about a feeling and relationships built among people. As DigitalMarketer says, it’s “a segment of people who form relationships due to shared goals, experiences, and interests”. 

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Community members will have built a sense of trust, belonging, and caring for each other. 

That warm, fuzzy feeling of community comes from shared experiences and shared history… uncommon commonalities, you could say. 

Like I said, a tale as old as time. We’ve all been a member of communities in one way or another, even if it wasn’t in a platform or forum.

How can this benefit your business?

When done right, the community can most commonly decrease costs and increase revenue through higher retention, brand awareness, brand loyalty, ticket deflection, content development, and member advocacy. 

When a sense of belonging is created, a relationship is built between your members and each other. Even better, one between you and your members. We’re all partying together!

A Community can be the most potent customer feedback loop you’ve ever seen! In our largest Community, DM Engage (for our DM Lab members), I know I can always count on honest and constructive feedback from our members, and they’re not shy about asking for what they want. 

The power of user-generated content? Unmatched. Imagine seeing this testimonial on a landing page.

I don’t mean to toot our horn, but you can bet that after an experience like this, Michael “Buzz” Buzinski will be a lifetime DigitalMarketer member. With the right environment, you can grab tons of screenshots like this and, even better, videos! 

As a bonus, Buzz and I will be buddies for life!

What is a Community Builder?

This one is a doozy, not because it’s difficult to define, but because there can be so many definitions! 

For me, it’s someone who nurtures connections and relationships on a small or large scale. It can be one to one or one to many. They’re strategic, semi-organized, unafraid to be the bad guy, and empathetic. They create a “home” for people to gather.

If you ask one of my favorite Twitter people to follow, it’s…

“A community builder can be someone who works to create a structure that will hopefully enable a community to thrive. The platform, the processes, and the important, sometimes difficult choices.” Patrick O’Keefe, Community Lead at CNN

A Community Builder is an architect of experiences and relationships, as cheesy as that may sound. Without one, you’re probably not achieving what you set out to do. 

A Gatekeeper, a People Manager, a Content Moderator, a Ring Master in your circus…whatever you call them, are the ones building the house your members will live in and that your members will help decorate to their needs and tastes. 

What does a Community Builder do?

A better question is ‘What don’t they do’?

Your ironing, probably. Their own ironing, maybe. (I am both of these people.)

They plan, write, structure, promote, burn out, create momentum, are really in their feelings, and don’t do anything without a reason. 

No matter how silly or unnecessary something might seem, there is a reason behind the madness.

Note: Don’t talk to your Community person when they’ve got that look on their face, they’re plotting, they’re in the zone, and something amazing or horrific is about to happen. You’ll love it. 

The big thing here is that everything in Community is about intention. It’s in how your members choose to show up and interact, and how your Community Builder architects the conversations, events, and overall experience. They’re like mad scientists, only they’re not angry, just lots of heart and not enough caffeine yet.

In Community, some things happen by chance… or do they? If you intended to start a conversation that ended up being a meaningful moment of connection between your members… is it really just luck? This is what I call ✨ vibing ✨ together.

This is where the magic happens; your Community person sets the stage for the right conversations. How? Well, with a sprinkle of inviting copy, a dash of one-on-one chats, a pinch of puppy posts (because puppy posts always get the job done), and a whole bunch of strategic content that guides your members to complete the actions you intend them to… 

…Just call me Community Witch because that’s a potion that will provide.

What skills or traits does a Community Builder need?

If you’d like to replicate yourself a Michelle, it’s about: 40% irreverence, 40% hard work, 10% wanting to show the haters they’re wrong, and another 10% of hard work (just not on Friday afternoons). 

What you’re looking for is a people person who enjoys the freedom of creativity, has a curious streak, and knows how to get shi*t done. Imagine a customer service professional with project management and content skills. Sounds cool, right? That’s because it is. 

Let’s talk about skills.

This may sound like an oxymoron, but it takes strong soft skills to make a great Community Professional. Let’s start with some of the more obvious ones. 

  • Organized. Community can be messy. You’re in twenty different tabs, three different platforms, with multiple conversations running, and Slack pinging all at once. You’ve got to be organized enough to know what is going on at any moment. Sure it can be exhausting, but boy, oh boy, is it fun!
  • Communication. How can you build relationships with someone if you can’t communicate? I’m sure it’s possible, but imagine the difficulty! Excellent written and verbal communication is essential when you’re the mouthpiece for the brand. Let’s not accidentally promise 3k worth of bonuses when it was actually 1k. 
  • Empathetic. It’s similar to Customer Service; you’re not always hearing from people on their best day. You must be able to take in what the other person is saying, listen, and understand their point of view. That way, you can provide them with honest response to their issue. Often in Community, the bond and relationship become so strong you deal with things you wouldn’t expect. You’re an advocate for members and an advocate for the brand. It’s a balancing act; the base is your ability to empathize and communicate. 
  • Leadership. As a Community Professional, you’re building paths for your members to take, and you’re leading by example. Members look to you to calm the chaos, enforce the Guidelines, and to learn how to interact in the beginning. 
  • Boundary Setting. Because Community roles are so heavy on emotion, we also need to be fully aware and able to set boundaries with not just members but also our coworkers and ourselves. It’s okay to be the bad guy once in a while if you’re protecting what has been built. While the community is for the members, it’s your house, and they’re just living in it. Your Community Professional should know when to advocate for the community and when to advocate for the brand. 
  • Creativity. You’ve got all this feedback, so now what? Time to get creative and put that feedback to work! There is no one-size-fits-all solution to Community, and they should be able to whip up some short-form copy and think up new opportunities when needed.
  • Curiosity. One of our old core values here at DigitalMarketer was to “know the why,” and I think that applies to Community. Adaptability is the game’s name, so when you see something wonky with the Community, your KPIs, or member interaction, you have to figure it out ASAP. Not only that, but the world of Community is developing at a break-neck pace. You have to be able to keep up with the progress and roll with it. 
  • Storytelling. You may not be able to tell from this post, but I can spin up a mean story here and there. You want someone who can paint a picture, set the stage, and control the narrative. You want all the things that require wordsmithing so they can tell a story that brings forth action. The other important part of storytelling is how your Community person will bring stories from the community that leadership and stakeholders care about. Testimonials, feedback, content ideas, etc..… You know, all the good stuff. 

Where can I find one?

While this one might have found her forever home, many Community Professionals are available to be adopted hired!

While I’m sure there are more, these are some of my favorites! Now go out there and find yourself a perfect match for your brand and your members.



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A Digital Practioner’s Guide to Starting the New Year Right

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A Digital Practioner’s Guide to Starting the New Year Right



It’s that time of year again – the holiday excitement has faded as we fall back into the workweek. With a year’s worth of work stretched in front of us, there can be both a sense of opportunity and overwhelmedness 

Because transitioning back into the swing of things can be daunting, We’ve gathered key takeaways from the previous year, global Opticon Tour, and how we can successfully apply those learnings in 2023.  

1. “Work about work” is holding teams back. Take this chance to declutter.  

Consider the reality of what most digital teams are up against. When it comes to managing the content lifecycle, draft documents that are stored in separate places and disparate tools that don’t work together are the norm for many. With no centralized point of communication and cumbersome workflows, it can take forever for teams to create and approve content, and work is often duplicated or unused.  

After work is completed, it can be easy to dismiss the headaches caused by inefficient, siloed workflows and processes. But the long-term effects of inefficient and bulky collaboration can be detrimental to a brand’s digital experience – and bottom line. (Those who joined us in San Diego at Opticon might recall this concept played out via ). 

Digital teams with unwieldy content lifecycles can take back control using , saving countless hours and frustration over the year.  

2. Change is constant. Set your team up to be adaptive. 

We all know how difficult it is to create amazing customer experiences these days. The world is moving faster than ever, and change is constant and chaotic with uncertainty on nearly every level: economic upheaval, rapid cultural change, ever-escalating customer expectations (thanks, Amazon), and a tight talent market.  

To not only stay the course but to also grow in this unpredictable environment, it’s important that teams constantly stay on the lookout for new ways to drive more sales and increase loyalty. In other words, consistently deliver modern, relevant, and personalized commerce experiences.  

But keeping pace doesn’t necessarily mean working harder. Optimizely’s Monetize solutions, teams can drive sales and loyalty with fewer costs and efforts.  

3. Data fuels a great customer experience. Test and optimize every touchpoint. 

As practitioners, we all know that the best customer experience wins.  

When teams don’t clearly understand what’s happening and when, they miss the mark. With little patience and high expectations, today’s customers will simply switch to a competitor that better understands them and provides a more personalized experience.  

But when teams work together to inject data across silos, they have the insight needed to make the right decisions and create with confidence.  

For instance, take the marketing team: with access to a slew of customer touchpoints and experimentation data, marketers should be a critical resource for understanding customers’ wants and needs. Developers, product teams, and beyond should utilize this data to remove the guesswork and inform strategies, priorities, roadmaps, and decisions.  

With customer-centricity at the heart of any great digital experience, the best experiences are fueled by data uncovered by high-velocity experimentation. Consider the power that Optimizely’s Experimentation products can have on your entire team’s ability to unlock personalized insights and better connect with customers.  

Hopefully, your new year is off to a great start – but if you’re feeling a little off track, contact Optimizely today to learn more about our DXP can impact your business and set you up for a successful and productive year.  

A special thanks to our sponsors at Opticon London – Microsoft, Google Cloud, Valtech, and Siteimprove – and Opticon Stockholm – Microsoft, Google Cloud, Valtech, and Contentsquare. 


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Top 6 SEO Tips for Bloggers that Will Skyrocket Google Rankings

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Top 6 SEO Tips for Bloggers that Will Skyrocket Google Rankings

The majority of blogs rely heavily on search engines to drive traffic. On the other hand, there is a misunderstanding that creating “SEO-optimized content” entails stuffing keywords into paragraphs and headers, which leads to barely readable blog articles.

But that’s not what SEO is all about. In this article, you’ll discover the top 6 SEO strategies and how crucial they are for improving your blog posts rank in Google search results.

How Important Are Google Rankings For Your Blog?

Search engine traffic is essential if you’re blogging in hopes of growing your business. After all, what’s the point in writing content if no one is going to see it? The higher your blog post ranks in Google search results, the more likely people will find and read it.

And the more people who read your blog post, the more likely someone will take the desired action, whether signing up for your email list, buying one of your products, or hiring you as a coach or consultant. So, it is essential to have SEO optimized blog.

How To Incorporate SEO Into Your Blogs?

It would help if you started putting these six pieces of constructive SEO advice for bloggers into practice immediately:

1. Write For Your Readers

The standard of blog writing started significantly declining when “SEO content” became a buzzword. Instead of writing for people, they began to write mainly for robots in search engines. Unfortunately, some bloggers still express themselves in this way nowadays.  

But luckily, things have greatly improved, especially since the Hummingbird update and the rise of voice searches. The Hummingbird update was developed to assist Google in comprehending the purpose of searches.  

For instance, Google would understand that you are seeking nearby restaurants if you Googled “places to buy burgers.” It influences SEO because search engines are now more geared toward providing answers to queries and supporting semantic search rather than merely focusing on keywords.

You typically utilize Google, Bing, YouTube, or even Siri to find answers to questions. Take that idea and use it to improve your blog. Your writing should address the concerns of your intended audience in detail.

Your blog shouldn’t exist solely to help you rank for a particular keyword. Instead of concentrating on keywords, shift your attention to creating content that addresses the issues of your target audience.

2. Link to High-Authority websites

Don’t be scared to use external links when you construct your blog content. In addition to giving blog visitors more resources to read and learn from, linking to reputable websites demonstrates to search engines that you have done your research.

Research-based statistics from reputable websites are the best way to support blog content. Using compelling statistics will help you create a stronger, more specific argument that will help you win your readers’ trust.

3. Design a link building Strategy

Your search ranking is significantly impacted by link building. Why? Consider search results a contest where the people who receive the most votes win.

Google considers every website that links back to you as a vote for your website, elevating your content’s credibility. You will move up in ranking as a result. Here are some starter ideas for your link-building:

  • Communicate to other bloggers in your niche and offer to guest post on their website. Include a link back to your blog in your guest post.
  • Participate in online and offline community events related to your niche. For example, if you blog about fitness, you could attend a trade show related to fitness or health.
  • Create helpful resources that other bloggers in your niche find valuable, such as an eBook, cheat sheet or template. Include a link back to your blog on these resources.
  • Leverage social media to get your content in front of as many people as possible.

4. Learn About Google Webmaster Tools

Do you remember getting a warning from your teacher when you did anything incorrectly in elementary school? Your opportunity to clean up your act and get back on track to avoid punishment was given to you with that warning. In a way, Google Webmaster Tools serves that purpose for your blog.

Google Webmaster Tools will warn you when something suspicious is happening with your blog by giving you diagnostics, tools, and data to keep your site in good condition.

What you can observe in the Webmaster Tools Search Console is:

  • The percentage of your pages that Google has indexed
  • If your website is having issues with Google’s bots indexing it
  • If your website was hacked
  • How search engine bots see your website
  • Links to your site
  • If Google penalized your website manually

The great thing about Webmaster Tools is that it informs you what’s wrong with your website and how to fix it. To resolve any difficulties Google discovers with your blog, you can utilize a vast knowledge base of articles and a forum.

5. Include Keywords in your Meta Description

Does your post include meta descriptions? If not, you’re probably not providing your content with the best chance of being seen. Google also analyzes meta-descriptions to determine search results. The one- to three-sentence summaries beneath a result’s title is known as meta descriptions.

Use meta descriptions to briefly summarize the subject of your post, and keep in mind to:

  1. Make it brief.
  2. Use between one and two keywords.
  3. Since there will likely be other postings that are identical to yours, you should make your description stand out from the competition.

6. Establish Linkable Assets

A linkable asset is a unique, instrumental piece of content that’s so valuable people can’t resist linking to it. It’s similar to dining at a fantastic restaurant and a merely adequate one. You’ll go out of your way to tell everyone about the excellent restaurant, but if someone asks if you’ve been there, you’ll probably only mention the merely adequate one.

The ProBlogger job board is an excellent example of a linkable asset. For independent bloggers looking for compensated writing opportunities, it’s a terrific resource. The page is constantly linked in blog posts on monetizing your blog or websites that pay you to write for them. Why? Because it is rare and costly.

You can build the following linkable assets for your blog:

  • Free software or apps
  • Ultimate guide posts
  • Huge lists
  • Infographics
  • Online guide
  • Influencer tally reports
  • Quizzes
  • A case studies
  • Industry studies or surveys

Final Thoughts

By following these six SEO tips for bloggers, you’ll be well on your journey to improving your blog’s Google ranking. Remember that SEO is an ongoing process, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. The key is to be patient and consistent in your efforts, and soon you’ll start reaping the rewards of your hard work!

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B2C Marketers Treat Content Marketing as a Project; That’s a Mistake [New Research]

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B2C Marketers Treat Content Marketing as a Project; That’s a Mistake [New Research]

In The End of Competitive Advantage, Rita Gunther McGrath illustrates all competitive advantages are transient. She contends everybody understands that. So why hasn’t basic strategy practice changed?

As Rita writes:

Most executives, even when they realize that competitive advantages are going to be ephemeral, are still using strategy frameworks and tools designed for achieving a sustainable competitive advantage, not for quickly exploiting and moving in and out of advantages.

That last part resonates after working with hundreds of enterprise brands over the last 10 years. Most businesses think about how they can change content to fit marketing’s purpose, not how they might change marketing to fit content’s purpose.

Guess what? Your content will never be a sustainable competitive advantage or differentiator – all content assets are easily replicable and, at best, only transient in differentiated value.

In the newly released Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs B2C Content Marketing Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends – Insights for 2023, I see it’s time to feed the content giant that awakened last year. But be careful not to get so distracted by the food you fail to cook consistently over time. All too often, content marketers get wrapped up in content creation rather than in the ability to lead the capabilities to create consistently.

Content should be a strategic activity

Look at content operations as the catalyst that can change everything for your content marketing challenges. You should recognize the activities you perform are a competitive advantage. Success hinges on the ability of a team (of one or 100) to be dynamic and fluid – moving in and out of “arenas” (as Rita calls them in her book) of content and creating temporary advantages.

Here’s the real takeaway: Ask everyone in your business – including your CEO – if they believe compelling, engaging, useful, and dynamic content-driven experiences will move the business forward.

If the answer is yes, then the strategic value lies in your ability to evolve and coordinate all the activities to create those content-driven experiences repeatedly. It does not lie in the content or the distribution plans. Your team’s job is not to be good at content; your job is to enable the business to be good at content.

#ContentMarketing’s strategic value lies in the ability to repeatedly deliver content-driven experiences, not the content itself, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Consider some highlights from this year’s research.

Struggle is real for content marketing strategy

Content marketing remains important.

Seventy percent of B2C marketers told us that content marketing has become more important to their organization over the last year. (Only 4% say it’s less important.)

Importance of B2C Content Marketing in the Last Year

With an increase in importance comes a need for more resources. When asked what they would change about content marketing in their organization, they say they want more staff, more budget, and better access to subject matter experts.

70% of #B2C marketers say #ContentMarketing is more important in their organization than last year according to @CMIContent #research via @Robert_Rose. Click To Tweet

Yes, content marketing is more important, but content marketers struggle to keep up with the demand.

Why?

Because so many businesses treat content marketing as a campaign-, project-focused effort that requires different “assets.” Content marketers are so busy churning out projects of content that they haven’t figured out how to make it a repeatable, consistent, and scalable process.

As far as their biggest challenges in content marketing, 57% of B2C marketers say creating content that appeals to different target audiences. Rounding out the top three: developing consistency with measurement (44%) and differentiating our products/services from the competition (40%).

B2C Organizations' Current Content Marketing Challenges

57% of #B2C marketers say they are challenged to create #content that appeals to different target audiences according to @CMIContent #research via @Robert_Rose. Click To Tweet

Solving all three of these challenges centers around strategic content operations – setting a consistent long-term strategy to differentiate, developing a measurement plan that stands the test of time, and scaling to meet the needs of different audiences. But most marketers aren’t planning to acquire the help to tackle those challenges. Among the resources they plan to hire or contract in the coming year, almost half (45%) say they will look to grow writers, designers, photographers, and videographers.

It’s like trying to design a bigger house by simply adding more bricks.

45% of #B2C marketers plan to hire content creators in the coming year. @Robert_Rose says that’s like designing a bigger house by adding more bricks via @CMIContent #research. Click To Tweet

But B2C content marketing is working

Despite their challenges, talented practitioners find success. Overall, 81% of B2C marketers rate their success as either moderately, very, or extremely successful. Only 2% say they were “not at all” successful.

How B2C Marketers Rate Their Organization's Overall Level of Content Marketing Success in Last 12 Months

And 86% say content marketing provides a “meaningful/purposeful career path.”

These results align with the research discovered in CMI’s Content Marketing Career & Salary 2023 Outlook (registration required). We found though content marketers are generally happy in their current roles, they would be happier if their organizations prioritized content marketing, backed it with strategies and resources, and invested in technologies to help them do their jobs faster and more efficiently.

The final bit of good news? Almost three-quarters (73%) of content marketers expect their organization’s investment in the practice will increase or remain the same this year. Only 3% believe it will decrease.

Different activities, not more efficient ones

The B2C research presents some interesting insights into the priorities for 2023:

  • Businesses must increasingly stop organizing and scaling new marketing teams based on platforms, technologies, or inside-looking-out views of the customer journey. The format and placement of those experiences on multiple channels will always be temporal. Success happens when the business becomes skilled and integrated at operating and managing all manners of content-driven experiences.
  • Businesses must stop looking at content from a container-first perspective – designed solely to support marketing tactics or initiatives. Success happens when the business recognizes content operations as a function, supporting the fluid use of content to fuel better customer experiences.
  • Businesses must not say, “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” when one experience no longer works. Success happens when the business can healthily disengage and dismantle experiences that aren’t working. They can constantly reconfigure their activities and manage portfolios of content-driven experiences.

Starting with the wrong premise

Often the first sign of trouble in any content marketing approach is when you hear, “How do we get more efficient at content?”

Efficiency involves changes to a process to remove friction. The question often assumes a working, standard operation providing value already exists. But if there is no repeatable standard operation, efficiency ends up meaning producing the same or more content with the same resources.

That rarely works out to be better for the business.

The more difficult task for content marketers is to determine the different activities necessary to create or augment the processes and identify the activities to undertake differently.

The content you create provides no sustainable competitive business advantage. But a strategic content operation just might.

Get the latest Content Marketing Institute research reports while they’re hot – subscribe to the newsletter. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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