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5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

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5 creative ways to boost your content marketing roi via juliaemccoy

Content marketing works.

But – what if it’s not working for you?

What if you’re not seeing the ROI you expected?

This is a frustrating scenario, especially if you read the case studies and follow the success of top content marketers.

What are you doing wrong?

Take a deep breath.

Maybe you just need a few creative tweaks to your content strategy to boost your ROI.

1. Create High-Quality, Evergreen Blog Content

Investing, time, effort, and money in poor content that doesn’t perform is like throwing all three of those resources in the trashcan.

Instead, ensure your budget is going toward evergreen content pieces that will stay relevant long after you publish them.

Not only that, make doubly sure these blogs are the highest quality you can manage.

Evergreen content is not tied to any one season, news cycle, trend, or fad.

Instead, this content type contains information that will remain true, relevant, and useful for the long term.

If you add quality to the mix, evergreen content will continue to draw in traffic and leads for months after the fact – or even years.

According to Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines, high-quality content has these features:

  • Highly useful – Useful content serves a purpose for the reader. It should DO something for them. That can be as simple as providing information on a topic they want to know about, or as complex as solving a specific problem for them.
  • Highly relevant – Relevance in content is key. If your content isn’t relevant to the reader’s search intent for the keyword you’re targeting, you won’t rank. Period.
  • Strong E-A-T – Google wants vetted experts who know their stuff populating the search results – not know-nothing non-experts who just want to rank. Proving your E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) is non-negotiable in high-quality content.

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

Think of this strategy (evergreen + high-quality content) as putting some of your content on auto-pilot. It can perform in the background while you focus on more pressing matters, which might be exactly what you need to boost your content marketing ROI.

A truly meta example of evergreen content is Aaron Orendorff’s guide to evergreen content types on Copyblogger. It’s useful and relevant to content creators any time, any place, and the information won’t date itself quickly. It also goes without saying that this is high-quality content.

2. Find Useful, Relevant Topics Your Audience Wants to Read

Once you decide to publish high-quality evergreen content, what should you write about?

Random topics won’t do. Neither will ones tied to high-volume, highly competitive keywords.

Instead, for the best ROI, you should focus on topics that are:

  • Useful and highly relevant to your audience’s needs and interests.
  • Tied to low-competition keywords with SERPs you can edge into.

For this to work, it goes without saying you need to know and understand your target audience before you can dive into finding topics they’ll respond to.

Once you have a clear picture of your ideal customer in your mind, you can do further research to find those useful, relevant topics tied to keywords:

  • Start with broad keywords or topic areas related to your industry, products, or services. Since this is just a starting point, you can brainstorm these off the top of your head. (For example, “SEO” is a good broad topic area.)
  • Think about what your audience needs/wants to know from your chosen topic/keyword. Remember, this knowledge should help them or improve their lives in some way.
    • Example: Maybe I’m a technical SEO expert who helps clients optimize their websites. These clients could benefit from learning about SEO basics to help them nail the fundamentals. Just like that, I’ve come up with a keyword to research: “SEO basics.”
  • Use keyword research tools to find out how competitive this term is and whether you can possibly rank for it.
  • Poke around where your audience lives online to discover if this is the language they’re using to ask Google about this topic.
    • Using Answer the Public, I find lots of relevant questions users are asking surrounding the example keyword. I can enter the most relevant of them into my keyword research tool to check them out.

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

  • With my keyword tool of choice, KWFinder, I discover the keyword “SEO basics” is too competitive. However, there are related options to target, like “what is SEO.”

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

  • On Twitter, I search the hashtag #seobasics and find a few variations and related keywords within what people are posting. I can research and potentially use these, too!

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

This is just one method to find relevant keywords on useful topics. The main point to remember, though, is to think like your target reader.

What topics in your wheelhouse would be both useful and relevant to their lives? Start there, then branch out.

3. Bank on Consistency

After you start publishing quality content on high-ROI topics, you need to start getting consistent. The more consistently you produce stellar, evergreen, useful, relevant content, the better the returns you’ll see.

That’s because Google’s algorithm notices consistency. So do readers.

Think about it. Which brand is more trustworthy and authoritative: The one publishing amazing content every few weeks, or the one pushing out mediocre blogs left and right?

Don’t forget this little fact: The more ranking blogs you have, the more qualified traffic chances you have. The more qualified traffic coming in, the more potential conversions.

That’s why publishing high-quality content regularly is just one of the secrets to boosting your content marketing ROI.

4. Tweak Your Website UX

For better content marketing ROI, absolutely do focus on improving your content strategy, but don’t forget about another important foundational element: Your website.

Without a good website serving as your content hub and brand headquarters, you won’t rank nearly as high with both Google and readers.

For one, readers/users (or whatever term you prefer to call them) need to be able to seamlessly access your content to consume it, engage with it, and gain something useful from it.

If your site takes 10 minutes to load, or has a confusing design, or too many ads or pop-ups…

Those are roadblocks to your content. The user will be too annoyed or lost to stick around to read your amazing article and start to trust you.

Google picks up on these signals and takes them into account when determining your page’s ranking, especially if your UX lags far behind the competition.

Good UX, or user experience, is a baseline necessity.

A few things you can tweak to improve UX, and thus convince users to at least stay on your page long enough to read your blog headline:

  • Improve your site speed and page load times.
  • Reduce annoying distractions like interstitials and ads. Only include them when they make sense, have relevance to the user experience, or will help the user in some way.
  • Revamp your page navigation so it’s clear, easy to find, and logical.

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

5. Renovate Your Internal & Outbound Links

Did you know one way to improve your site’s E-A-T is to use internal and outbound links strategically?

Yes, you should link to your other relevant content pieces inside the new ones you publish.

At the same time, you should also link out to other authoritative sources of information inside your content.

Now, a lot of site owners are resistant to this practice, because they think any link going to another site is a distraction that will lead the reader away from their page.

However, that’s just not true.

As long as you’re not linking to direct competitors, linking out to other high-quality information sources to prove points, back up research, or add strength to your argument or topic analysis strengthens your E-A-T.

According to a Reboot study, linking out to other sites shows you associate with them.

If you thus link out to topically relevant pages with authority, that counts positively for you.

Why?

Because you’re showing the user (and Google) pages related to yours that may expand and improve their experience.

In other words, you’re contributing to a useful, connected web, which is exactly how it’s supposed to work.

Take the Holistic View When Boosting Content Marketing ROI

No single tactic is going to help you win more ROI from content.

Instead, you need to think of each piece of your content strategy as parts of an interconnected machine.

No one part will do all the heavy lifting.

Each piece needs to pull its own weight for the whole strategy to work.

So, tweak and tinker with all of the above suggestions, but remember you aren’t working in a vacuum.

If you pour all your focus into one part of content marketing, you’ll lose the big picture.

Zoom out from each piece of the strategy from time to time, see how everything connects, then refocus. With hard work and patience, the ROI will come.


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, October 2019
In-Post Image: Usability.gov

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MARKETING

Comparing Credibility of Custom Chatbots & Live Chat

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Building Customer Trust: Comparing Credibility of Custom Chatbots & Live Chat

Addressing customer issues quickly is not merely a strategy to distinguish your brand; it’s an imperative for survival in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace.

Customer frustration can lead to customer churn. That’s precisely why organizations employ various support methods to ensure clients receive timely and adequate assistance whenever they require it.

Nevertheless, selecting the most suitable support channel isn’t always straightforward. Support teams often grapple with the choice between live chat and chatbots.

The automation landscape has transformed how businesses engage with customers, elevating chatbots as a widely embraced support solution. As more companies embrace technology to enhance their customer service, the debate over the credibility of chatbots versus live chat support has gained prominence.

However, customizable chatbot continue to offer a broader scope for personalization and creating their own chatbots.

In this article, we will delve into the world of customer support, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of both chatbots and live chat and how they can influence customer trust. By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of which option may be the best fit for your business.

The Rise of Chatbots

Chatbots have become increasingly prevalent in customer support due to their ability to provide instant responses and cost-effective solutions. These automated systems use artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to engage with customers in real-time, making them a valuable resource for businesses looking to streamline their customer service operations.

Advantages of Chatbots

24/7 Availability

One of the most significant advantages of custom chatbots is their round-the-clock availability. They can respond to customer inquiries at any time, ensuring that customers receive support even outside regular business hours.

Consistency

Custom Chatbots provide consistent responses to frequently asked questions, eliminating the risk of human error or inconsistency in service quality.

Cost-Efficiency

Implementing chatbots can reduce operational costs by automating routine inquiries and allowing human agents to focus on more complex issues.

Scalability

Chatbots can handle multiple customer interactions simultaneously, making them highly scalable as your business grows.

Disadvantages of Chatbots

Limited Understanding

Chatbots may struggle to understand complex or nuanced inquiries, leading to frustration for customers seeking detailed information or support.

Lack of Empathy

Chatbots lack the emotional intelligence and empathy that human agents can provide, making them less suitable for handling sensitive or emotionally charged issues.

Initial Setup Costs

Developing and implementing chatbot technology can be costly, especially for small businesses.

The Role of Live Chat Support

Live chat support, on the other hand, involves real human agents who engage with customers in real-time through text-based conversations. While it may not offer the same level of automation as custom chatbots, live chat support excels in areas where human interaction and empathy are crucial.

Advantages of Live Chat

Human Touch

Live chat support provides a personal touch that chatbots cannot replicate. Human agents can empathize with customers, building a stronger emotional connection.

Complex Issues

For inquiries that require a nuanced understanding or involve complex problem-solving, human agents are better equipped to provide in-depth assistance.

Trust Building

Customers often trust human agents more readily, especially when dealing with sensitive matters or making important decisions.

Adaptability

Human agents can adapt to various customer personalities and communication styles, ensuring a positive experience for diverse customers.

Disadvantages of Live Chat

Limited Availability

Live chat support operates within specified business hours, which may not align with all customer needs, potentially leading to frustration.

Response Time

The speed of response in live chat support can vary depending on agent availability and workload, leading to potential delays in customer assistance.

Costly

Maintaining a live chat support team with trained agents can be expensive, especially for smaller businesses strategically.

Building Customer Trust: The Credibility Factor

When it comes to building customer trust, credibility is paramount. Customers want to feel that they are dealing with a reliable and knowledgeable source. Both customziable chatbots and live chat support can contribute to credibility, but their effectiveness varies in different contexts.

Building Trust with Chatbots

Chatbots can build trust in various ways:

Consistency

Chatbots provide consistent responses, ensuring that customers receive accurate information every time they interact with them.

Quick Responses

Chatbots offer instant responses, which can convey a sense of efficiency and attentiveness.

Data Security

Chatbots can assure customers of their data security through automated privacy policies and compliance statements.

However, custom chatbots may face credibility challenges when dealing with complex issues or highly emotional situations. In such cases, the lack of human empathy and understanding can hinder trust-building efforts.

Building Trust with Live Chat Support

Live chat support, with its human touch, excels at building trust in several ways:

Empathy

Human agents can show empathy by actively listening to customers’ concerns and providing emotional support.

Tailored Solutions

Live chat agents can tailor solutions to individual customer needs, demonstrating a commitment to solving their problems.

Flexibility

Human agents can adapt to changing customer requirements, ensuring a personalized and satisfying experience.

However, live chat support’s limitations, such as availability and potential response times, can sometimes hinder trust-building efforts, especially when customers require immediate assistance.

Finding the Right Balance

The choice between custom chatbots and live chat support is not always binary. Many businesses find success by integrating both options strategically:

Initial Interaction

Use chatbots for initial inquiries, providing quick responses, and gathering essential information. This frees up human agents to handle more complex cases.

Escalation to Live Chat

Implement a seamless escalation process from custom chatbots to live chat support when customer inquiries require a higher level of expertise or personal interaction.

Continuous Improvement

Regularly analyze customer interactions and feedback to refine your custom chatbot’s responses and improve the overall support experience.

Conclusion

In the quest to build customer trust, both chatbots and live chat support have their roles to play. Customizable Chatbots offer efficiency, consistency, and round-the-clock availability, while live chat support provides the human touch, empathy, and adaptability. The key is to strike the right balance, leveraging the strengths of each to create a credible and trustworthy customer support experience. By understanding the unique advantages and disadvantages of both options, businesses can make informed decisions to enhance customer trust and satisfaction in the digital era.

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The Rise in Retail Media Networks

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A shopping cart holding the Amazon logo to represent the rise in retail media network advertising.

As LL Cool J might say, “Don’t call it a comeback. It’s been here for years.”

Paid advertising is alive and growing faster in different forms than any other marketing method.

Magna, a media research firm, and GroupM, a media agency, wrapped the year with their ad industry predictions – expect big growth for digital advertising in 2024, especially with the pending US presidential political season.

But the bigger, more unexpected news comes from the rise in retail media networks – a relative newcomer in the industry.

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain how these trends could affect marketers or keep reading for his thoughts:

GroupM expects digital advertising revenue in 2023 to conclude with a 5.8% or $889 billion increase – excluding political advertising. Magna believes ad revenue will tick up 5.5% this year and jump 7.2% in 2024. GroupM and Zenith say 2024 will see a more modest 4.8% growth.

Robert says that the feeling of an ad slump and other predictions of advertising’s demise in the modern economy don’t seem to be coming to pass, as paid advertising not only survived 2023 but will thrive in 2024.

What’s a retail media network?

On to the bigger news – the rise of retail media networks. Retail media networks, the smallest segment in these agencies’ and research firms’ evaluation, will be one of the fastest-growing and truly important digital advertising formats in 2024.

GroupM suggests the $119 billion expected to be spent in the networks this year and should grow by a whopping 8.3% in the coming year.  Magna estimates $124 billion in ad revenue from retail media networks this year.

“Think about this for a moment. Retail media is now almost a quarter of the total spent on search advertising outside of China,” Robert points out.

You’re not alone if you aren’t familiar with retail media networks. A familiar vernacular in the B2C world, especially the consumer-packaged goods industry, retail media networks are an advertising segment you should now pay attention to.

Retail media networks are advertising platforms within the retailer’s network. It’s search advertising on retailers’ online stores. So, for example, if you spend money to advertise against product keywords on Amazon, Walmart, or Instacart, you use a retail media network.

But these ad-buying networks also exist on other digital media properties, from mini-sites to videos to content marketing hubs. They also exist on location through interactive kiosks and in-store screens. New formats are rising every day.

Retail media networks make sense. Retailers take advantage of their knowledge of customers, where and why they shop, and present offers and content relevant to their interests. The retailer uses their content as a media company would, knowing their customers trust them to provide valuable information.

Think about these 2 things in 2024

That brings Robert to two things he wants you to consider for 2024 and beyond. The first is a question: Why should you consider retail media networks for your products or services?   

Advertising works because it connects to the idea of a brand. Retail media networks work deep into the buyer’s journey. They use the consumer’s presence in a store (online or brick-and-mortar) to cross-sell merchandise or become the chosen provider.

For example, Robert might advertise his Content Marketing Strategy book on Amazon’s retail network because he knows his customers seek business books. When they search for “content marketing,” his book would appear first.

However, retail media networks also work well because they create a brand halo effect. Robert might buy an ad for his book in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal because he knows their readers view those media outlets as reputable sources of information. He gains some trust by connecting his book to their media properties.

Smart marketing teams will recognize the power of the halo effect and create brand-level experiences on retail media networks. They will do so not because they seek an immediate customer but because they can connect their brand content experience to a trusted media network like Amazon, Nordstrom, eBay, etc.

The second thing Robert wants you to think about relates to the B2B opportunity. More retail media network opportunities for B2B brands are coming.

You can already buy into content syndication networks such as Netline, Business2Community, and others. But given the astronomical growth, for example, of Amazon’s B2B marketplace ($35 billion in 2023), Robert expects a similar trend of retail media networks to emerge on these types of platforms.   

“If I were Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, HubSpot, or any brand with big content platforms, I’d look to monetize them by selling paid sponsorship of content (as advertising or sponsored content) on them,” Robert says.

As you think about creative ways to use your paid advertising spend, consider the retail media networks in 2024.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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AI driving an exponential increase in marketing technology solutions

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AI driving an exponential increase in marketing technology solutions

The martech landscape is expanding and AI is the prime driving force. That’s the topline news from the “Martech 2024” report released today. And, while that will get the headline, the report contains much more.

Since the release of the most recent Martech Landscape in May 2023, 2,042 new marketing technology tools have surfaced, bringing the total to 13,080 — an 18.5% increase. Of those, 1,498 (73%) were AI-based. 

Screenshot 2023 12 05 110428 800x553

“But where did it land?” said Frans Riemersma of Martech Tribe during a joint video conference call with Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec and HubSpot. “And the usual suspect, of course, is content. But the truth is you can build an empire with all the genAI that has been surfacing — and by an empire, I mean, of course, a business.”

Content tools accounted for 34% of all the new AI tools, far ahead of video, the second-place category, which had only 4.85%. U.S. companies were responsible for 61% of these tools — not surprising given that most of the generative AI dynamos, like OpenAI, are based here. Next up was the U.K. at 5.7%, but third place was a big surprise: Iceland — with a population of 373,000 — launched 4.6% of all AI martech tools. That’s significantly ahead of fourth place India (3.5%), whose population is 1.4 billion and which has a significant tech industry. 

Dig deeper: 3 ways email marketers should actually use AI

The global development of these tools shows the desire for solutions that natively understand the place they are being used. 

“These regional products in their particular country…they’re fantastic,” said Brinker. “They’re loved, and part of it is because they understand the culture, they’ve got the right thing in the language, the support is in that language.”

Now that we’ve looked at the headline stuff, let’s take a deep dive into the fascinating body of the report.

The report: A deeper dive

Marketing technology “is a study in contradictions,” according to Brinker and Riemersma. 

In the new report they embrace these contradictions, telling readers that, while they support “discipline and fiscal responsibility” in martech management, failure to innovate might mean “missing out on opportunities for competitive advantage.” By all means, edit your stack meticulously to ensure it meets business value use cases — but sure, spend 5-10% of your time playing with “cool” new tools that don’t yet have a use case. That seems like a lot of time.

Similarly, while you mustn’t be “carried away” by new technology hype cycles, you mustn’t ignore them either. You need to make “deliberate choices” in the realm of technological change, but be agile about implementing them. Be excited by martech innovation, in other words, but be sensible about it.

The growing landscape

Consolidation for the martech space is not in sight, Brinker and Riemersma say. Despite many mergers and acquisitions, and a steadily increasing number of bankruptcies and dissolutions, the exponentially increasing launch of new start-ups powers continuing growth.

It should be observed, of course, that this is almost entirely a cloud-based, subscription-based commercial space. To launch a martech start-up doesn’t require manufacturing, storage and distribution capabilities, or necessarily a workforce; it just requires uploading an app to the cloud. That is surely one reason new start-ups appear at such a startling rate. 

Dig deeper: AI ad spending has skyrocketed this year

As the authors admit, “(i)f we measure by revenue and/or install base, the graph of all martech companies is a ‘long tail’ distribution.” What’s more, focus on the 200 or so leading companies in the space and consolidation can certainly be seen.

Long-tail tools are certainly not under-utilized, however. Based on a survey of over 1,000 real-world stacks, the report finds long-tail tools constitute about half of the solutions portfolios — a proportion that has remained fairly consistent since 2017. The authors see long-tail adoption where users perceive feature gaps — or subpar feature performance — in their core solutions.

Composability and aggregation

The other two trends covered in detail in the report are composability and aggregation. In brief, a composable view of a martech stack means seeing it as a collection of features and functions rather than a collection of software products. A composable “architecture” is one where apps, workflows, customer experiences, etc., are developed using features of multiple products to serve a specific use case.

Indeed, some martech vendors are now describing their own offerings as composable, meaning that their proprietary features are designed to be used in tandem with third-party solutions that integrate with them. This is an evolution of the core-suite-plus-app-marketplace framework.

That framework is what Brinker and Riemersma refer to as “vertical aggregation.” “Horizontal aggregation,” they write, is “a newer model” where aggregation of software is seen not around certain business functions (marketing, sales, etc.) but around a layer of the tech stack. An obvious example is the data layer, fed from numerous sources and consumed by a range of applications. They correctly observe that this has been an important trend over the past year.

Build it yourself

Finally, and consistent with Brinker’s long-time advocacy for the citizen developer, the report detects a nascent trend towards teams creating their own software — a trend that will doubtless be accelerated by support from AI.

So far, the apps that are being created internally may be no more than “simple workflows and automations.” But come the day that app development is so democratized that it will be available to a wide range of users, the software will be a “reflection of the way they want their company to operate and the experiences they want to deliver to customers. This will be a powerful dimension for competitive advantage.”

Constantine von Hoffman contributed to this report.

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