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What Do You Do When Inspiration for Your Content Marketing Wanes? [Rose-Colored Glasses]

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Are you inspired?

I was struck by a long article I read last weekend. In it, a content marketer lamented the state of content marketing and thought leadership.

His primary complaint? The increasing uselessness of content platforms like Medium, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even trade publications. The author pointed to algorithmically driven content marketing as the culprit.

Headlines such as 6 Easy Steps To Solve X Problems make it easy to spot the content marketing articles, which he claimed offer few helpful ideas or education but inevitably contain a product pitch. 

“Is this proliferation of bad content the beginning of the end of content marketing?” he wondered.

Is content marketing dying?

I don’t think so. But it may enter a new phase where you can no longer rely on algorithms to feature differentiating content.

Let’s put that aside for the moment.

The disappointment in the author’s piece struck me more than anything he wrote. He’s lost inspiration for his practice.

Has the overwhelming content environment sucked the inspiration out of your content? It’s all too easy to dismiss an idea by saying, “Oh, I’m sure that’s been covered a million times. Who are we to try and answer that?” So you don’t.

Has the overwhelming #content environment sucked the inspiration out of your ideas, asks @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Have you lost your inspiration?

It’s a funny word: inspire.

Most people think of inspiration as something ephemeral. It’s that burst of emotional energy that comes from a supernatural place and propels you toward something. It is, in a word: awesome.

When you’re inspired, you jump into life with both feet. Every opportunity seems to awaken another. You transcend the normal experience of whatever you’re doing – playing a sport, performing your art, designing your business strategy, or even changing a diaper. You’re present. No one is better at that thing at that moment than you are. (By the way, science has proven this.)

It’s the best of all possible drugs. Why would anyone allow themselves to lose inspiration?

You don’t lose inspiration. Inspiration loses you.

You don’t lose inspiration. Inspiration loses you, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Inspiration is not motivation

When people lack inspiration, they sometimes think getting it back is a matter of moving, acting, and pushing to yield better results. But that thinking confuses inspiration with motivation.

Inspiration is different. The word itself has interesting origins. It means “influence of the divine” and, literally, “to inhale” or take a breath. It is when you are pulled to action effortlessly. Instead of pushing things to happen, you simply allow them to happen through you.

When you lose motivation, you lose confidence in the usefulness of the task. When you lose inspiration, you lose confidence that you are the person to do the task.

In the article I referenced earlier, the writer suggested an antidote to the content marketing overwhelm. It was a plea to the world (mostly content marketers) to slow down and only say things when you have meaningful things to say. While I love that sentiment, that kind of slowdown or thoughtfulness seems unlikely in today’s world. The bystander effect is in full effect. The more people participating, the less likely anyone will take helpful action.

What can you do? How do you make sure you don’t lose the inspiration for your craft? You know you can’t force inspiration to happen. But can you increase the chances that inspiration doesn’t lose you or you inspire others?

As it turns out, you can.

How to stay inspired

Researchers point to several things that can help. Two stand out to me.

The first is “an openness to experience” – be more open to ideas and be conscious of that openness to trigger more of them. That’s where the breath comes in. Take a breath or give one to your audience. Relieving the pressure to be inspiring might actually give you a better chance of finding it.

The second key to increasing inspiration is exposure. These researchers found the more inspiration people are exposed to, the more inspired they become. If you find yourself lacking inspiration, you may be in need of a good fix of the movie Rudy, a Maya Angelou poem, or (my favorite – turn it up loud) Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

Fixes for the inspirationless? Be open to experiences. Look for more inspiration, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Here’s the thing. I got into content marketing because it’s my job to become inspired, so I inspire others. Imagine having a job where your purpose is to find a light to shine on universal truths, lead thoughts, entertain, and deliver value through media.

The ironic thing about that content-marketing-overload article is that breath. In the first breath, I found it disheartening the author had lost his inspiration. In the second breath, look at what it inspired? That author inspired me. In a sea of content marketing, I was inspired.

To overcome his particular challenge, all you, as content marketers, can do is allow for inspiration. A great place to start is a simple question: “Who is the audience?  What does the audience value?”

Whatever that is, do more of that.

Every great inspirational story starts without revealing how it’s going to turn out. Take a breath. Open up to possibility. What happens next might inspire you.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries
Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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(Re)Introducing your favorite Optimizely products!

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(Re)Introducing your favorite Optimizely products!



It’s important to us that you, our valued customers and partners, can identify with the tools you use daily.  

In that pursuit, Optimizely set out to simplify the way we talk about our product suite. That starts, first and foremost, with the words we use to refer to the technology.  

So, we’ve taken a hard look at everything in our portfolio, and are thrilled to introduce new names we believe are more practical, more consistent, and better representative of the technology we all know and love.  

You may have seen some of these names initially at Opticon 2022 as well as on our website. In the spirit of transparency, the team here at Optimizely wanted to make sure you had full visibility into the complete list of new names, as well as understand the context (and rationale) behind the changes. 

So, without further ado… 

Which names changed?  

Some, but not all. For your ongoing reference, below is a complete list of Optimizely products, with previous terminology you may be familiar with in the first column, and (if applicable) the new name in the second column.  

Used to be… 

Is now (or is still)… 

Meaning… 

DXP 

Optimizely Digital Experience Platform 

A fully-composable solution designed to support the orchestration, monetization, and experimentation of any type of digital experience — all from a single, open and extensible platform. 

Content Cloud 

Optimizely Content Management System 

A best-in-class system for building dynamic websites and helping digital teams deliver rich, secure and personalized experiences. 

Welcome 

Optimizely Content Marketing Platform 

An industry-leading and user-friendly platform helping marketing teams plan campaigns, collaborate on tasks, and author content. 

DAM 

Optimizely Digital Asset Management 

A modern storage tool helping teams of any size manage, track, and repurpose marketing and brand assets (with support for all file types). 

Content Recs 

Optimizely Content Recommendations 

AI-powered and real-time recommendations to serve the unique interests of each visitor and personalize every experience. 

B2B Commerce 

Optimizely Configured Commerce 

A templatized and easy-to-deploy platform designed to help manufacturers and distributors drive efficiency, increase revenue and create easy buying experiences that retain customers. 

Commerce Cloud 

Optimizely Customized Commerce 

A complete platform for digital commerce and content management to build dynamic experiences that accelerate revenue and keep customers coming back for more. 

PIM 

Optimizely Product Information Management 

A dedicated tool to help you set up your product inventory and manage catalogs of any size or scale. 

Product Recs 

Optimizely Product Recommendations 

Machine-learning algorithms optimized for commerce to deliver personalized product recommendations in real-time. 

Web 

Optimizely Web Experimentation 

An industry-leading experimentation tool allowing you to run A/B and multi-variant tests on any channel or device with an internet connection. 

Full Stack 

Optimizely Feature Experimentation 

A comprehensive experimentation platform allowing you to manage features, deploy safer tests, and roll out new releases – all in one place. 

Personalization 

Optimizely Personalization 

An add-on to core experimentation products, allowing teams to create/segment audiences based on past behavior and deliver more relevant experiences. 

Program Management 

Optimizely Program Management 

An add-on to core experimentation products, allowing teams to manage the end-to-end lifecycle of an experiment. 

ODP 

Optimizely Data Platform 

A centralized hub to harmonize data across your digital experience tools, providing one-click integrations, AI-assisted guidance for campaigns, and unified customer profiles. 

 

So, why the change?  

 It boils down to three guiding principles:  

  1. Uniformity: Create a naming convention that can be applied across the board, for all products, to drive consistency 
  2. Simplicity: Use terms that are both practical and concise, ensuring the names are something that everyone can understand and identify with  
  3. Completeness: Develop a framework that showcases the full and complimentary nature of all the products and solutions within the Optimizely suite 

 As the Optimizely portfolio comes together as a complete, unified platform, it’s important that our names reflect this, as well as support our 3 key solutions (i.e. orchestrate amazing content experiences, monetize every digital experience, and experiment across all touchpoints).  

Other questions? We’ve got you covered. 

Q: Why have you made these product name changes? 

    • We wanted to simplify how we talk about our portfolio. The renaming applies a naming convention that is both practical and concise.  

 

Q: Do the new product name changes affect the products I own? 

    • No, there is no impact to product functionality or capabilities.  

 

Q: Do the new product name changes affect who is my Customer Success Manager or Account Manager?  

    • No, there are no changes to your Customer Success Manager or Account Manager. 

 

Q: Do the new product name changes affect the ownership of the company?  

    • No, ownership of the company has not changed. We have only made changes to the Product Names. 

 

Q: Have any contact details changed that I need to be aware of?  

    • Only contact details for former Welcome customers has changed. These are the new contact details you should be aware of: Optimizely, Inc.| 119 5th Ave | 7th Floor | New York, NY 10003 USA. Phone: +1 603 594 0249 | www.optimizely.com 

 

Q: Where can I send any follow up questions I might have?  

    • If you have any questions about the Product Names, please contact your Customer Success Manager or Account Manager.  


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Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts

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Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts


Every year, we see new trends entering the world of email marketing.

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5 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve the Content Experience for Readers

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5 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve the Content Experience for Readers

Who doesn’t like to have a good experience consuming content?

I know I do. And isn’t that what we – as both a consumer of content and a marketer of content – all want?

What if you create such a good experience that your audience doesn’t even realize it’s an “experience?” Here’s a helpful mish-mash of easy-to-do things to make that possible.

1. Write with an inclusive heart

There’s nothing worse than being in a conversation with someone who constantly talks about themselves. Check your text to see how often you write the words – I, me, we, and us. Now, count how often the word “you” is used. If the first-person uses are disproportionate to the second-person uses, edit to delete many first-person references and add more “you” to the text.

You want to let your audience know they are included in the conversation. I like this tip shared in Take Binary Bias Out of Your Content Conversations by Content Marketing World speaker Ruth Carter: Go through your text and replace exclusionary terms such as he/him and she/her with they/them pronouns.

Go through your text and replace exclusionary terms such as he/him and she/her with they/them pronouns, says @rbcarter via @Brandlovellc @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

2. Make your content shine brighter with an AI assist

Content published online should look different than the research papers and essays you wrote in school. While you should adhere to grammar rules and follow a style guide as best as possible, you also should prioritize readability. That requires scannable and easily digestible text – headings, bulleted text, short sentences, brief paragraphs, etc.

Use a text-polishing aid such as Hemingway Editor (free and paid versions) to cut the dead weight from your writing. Here’s how its color-coded review system works and the improvements to make:

  • Yellow – lengthy, complex sentences, and common errors
    • Fix: Shorten or split sentences.
  • Red – dense and complicated text
    • Fix: Remove hurdles and keep your readers on a simpler path.
  • Pink – lengthy words that could be shortened
    • Fix: Scroll the mouse over the problematic word to identify potential substitutes.
  • Blue – adverbs and weakening phrases
    • Fix: Delete them or find a better way to convey the thought.
  • Green – passive voice
    • Fix: Rewrite for active voice.

Grammarly’s paid version works well, too. The premium version includes an AI-powered writing assistant, readability reports, a plagiarism checker, citation suggestions, and more than 400 additional grammar checks.

In the image below, Grammarly suggests a way to rephrase the sentence from:

“It is not good enough any longer to simply produce content “like a media company would”.

To:

“It is no longer good enough to produce content “as a media company would”.

Much cleaner, right?

3. Ask questions

See what I did with the intro (and here)? I posed questions to try to engage with you. When someone asks a question – even in writing – the person hearing (or reading) it is likely to pause for a split second to consider their answer. The reader’s role changes from a passive participant to an active one. Using this technique also can encourage your readers to interact with the author, maybe in the form of an answer in the comments.

4. Include links

Many content marketers include internal and external links in their text for their SEO value. But you also should add links to help your readers. Consider including links to help a reader who wants to learn more about the topic. You can do this in a couple of ways:

  • You can link the descriptive text in the article to content relevant to those words (as I did in this bullet point)
  • You can list the headlines of related articles as a standalone feature (see the gray box labeled Handpicked Related Content at the end of this article).

Add links to guide readers to more information on a topic – not just for SEO purposes says @Brandlovellc via @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

You also can include on-page links or bookmarks in the beginning (a table of contents, of sorts) in longer pieces to help the reader more quickly access the content they seek to help you learn more about a topic. This helps the reader and keeps visitors on your website longer.

5. Don’t forget the ‘invisible’ text

Alt text is often an afterthought – if you think about it all. Yet, it’s essential to have a great content experience for people who use text-to-speech readers. Though it doesn’t take too much time, I find that customizing the image description content instead of relying on the default technology works better for audience understanding.

First, ask if a listener would miss something if they didn’t have the image explained. If they wouldn’t, the image is decorative and probably doesn’t need alt text. You publish it for aesthetic reasons, such as to break up a text-heavy page. Or it may repeat information already appearing in the text (like I did in the Hemingway and Grammarly examples above).

If the listener would miss out if the image weren’t explained well, it is informative and requires alt text. General guidelines indicate up to 125 characters (including spaces) work best for alt text. That’s a short sentence or two to convey the image’s message. Don’t forget to include punctuation.

General guidelines indicate up to 125 characters (including spaces) work best for alt text, says @Brandlovellc via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

For both decorative and informative images, include the photo credits, permissions, and copyright information, in the caption section.

For example, if I were writing an article about Best Dogs for Families, I would include an image of a mini Bernedoodle as an example because they make great family pets. Let’s use this image of my adorable puppy, Henri, and I’ll show you both a good and bad example of alt text.

An almost useless alt-text version: “An image showing a dog.”

Author’s tri-colored (brown, white, black, grey wavy hair), merle mini Bernedoodle, Henri, lying on green grass.

It wastes valuable characters with the phrase “an image showing.”

Use the available characters for a more descriptive alt text: “Author’s tri-colored (brown, white, black, grey wavy hair), merle mini Bernedoodle, Henri, lying on green grass.”

It’s more descriptive, and I only used 112 characters, including spaces.

Want to learn more? Alexa Heinrich, an award-winning social media strategist, has a helpful article on writing effective image descriptions called The Art of Alt Text. @A11yAwareness on Twitter is also a great resource for accessibility tips.

Improve your content and better the experience

Do any of these suggestions feel too hard to execute? I hope not. They don’t need a bigger budget to execute. They don’t need a lengthy approval process to implement. And they don’t demand much more time in production.

They just need you to remember to execute them the next time you write (and the time after that, and the time after that, and the … well, you get the idea.)

If you have an easy-to-implement tip to improve the content experience, please leave it in the comments. I may include it in a future update.

All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please feel free to add it in the comments.

If you have an idea for an original article you’d like to share with the CMI audience, you could get it published on the site. First, read our blogging guidelines and write or adjust your draft accordingly. Then submit the post for consideration following the process outlined in the guidelines.

In appreciation for guest contributors’ work, we’re offering free registration to one paid event or free enrollment in Content Marketing University to anyone who gets two new posts accepted and published on the CMI site in 2023.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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