5 content trends to watch out for in 2018
5 content trends to watch out for in 2018
By now, we're all used to hearing how technology is changing and revolutionising just about every area of our work and lives.

Nowhere is this more true than at the forefront of digital marketing. The bloggers, the coders, the UX specialists – from creation to distribution to distribution to consumption, tech is changing the way we use and consume content.

Brands need to stay up to date with the latest advances and affect their strategies to stay ahead – or risk losing out. So, to give you a helping hand, we've rounded up five tech trends that are set to shake up the content marketing landscape in 2018. Don't say we didn't warn you.

1.Virtual and augmented reality
Experts are saying that 2018 will be the year when VR goes mainstream, and it's expected that its soon-to-be widespread usage will create whole new opportunities for brands to optimise their content.

VR and AR still represent unexplored marketing territory, but as a market that's expected to generate upwards of £110 billion in revenue by 2020, it won't be ignored.

For most SMEs, creating virtual reality content is still out of their capability, but that doesn't mean they can't take steps to improve their visual content. Videos, graphics and apps all lay the groundwork for future moves into VR/AR, while also improving your overall appeal.

2. Personalised content
Content has gradually been becoming more personalised, but precision analytics that track profiles and establish buyer personas are promising to take this to a whole new level in 2018.

Big companies like Amazon and Google are already experimenting with creating hyperspecific customer profiles, and companies of all sizes will soon be following suit.

In fact, a survey from marketing firm Gartner have predicted that, by 2018, businesses that have invested in across-the-board personalisation will outsell those that haven’t by 20 per cent.

3. Live video streaming
This year, we've seen live streaming introduced to just about every major social media platform, and its success so far has been astronomical. As many as 82 per cent of consumers favour live video over other types of social posts, according to a recent survey.

Live video streaming is more immediate and more resonant, plus it helps to establish closer customer relationships with your audience.

4. Mobile optimisation
Things are more on-the-go and immediate than ever before and, as a result, more than 69 per cent of all digital media engagement happens across mobile platforms – that's why you need to make sure your content has to be suitable for mobile consumption.

In order to grow and sustain your reach, this one is essential.

5. Artificial intelligence
Some of the biggest universal tech developments of the moment are in the field of AI.

Tools like predictive analytics, natural language processing, and generation algorithms will soon have the ability to drive smarter, more effective content – and at a much increased volume and speed.

Some predict that within the next 5 years, half of all content will be machine-generated, with humans only being needed to edit and oversee where necessary.

As technology reshapes all that content marketing is and could be, it's important for brands to anticipate and embrace these new trends and the opportunities they present.

Make sure your company is one of those leading your industry into this bold new media landscape.

Content Strategy and Content Marketing: What's the difference?
Content Strategy and Content Marketing: What's the difference?
When it comes to taking your business forward into the digital age, tech-babble and SEO terminology can put anyone off – especially SMEs who may only just be coming round to the idea of a website as a necessary extension to their business. There's one distinction in particular that’s liable to cause confusion:

Content strategy and content marketing – what's the difference? Surely they're one in the same?

Well, actually no. And knowing why not may just be the difference between digital success and its less favourable alternative.

In the simplest terms, content strategy is the 'why' while content marketing is the 'where'.

'Why' will my audience find this valuable? 'Why' does it work for my brand? A content strategist needs to know the best direction for their content, and work with the content development team to deliver it.

On the other hand, content marketers will know 'where' to distribute and promote this valuable content in such a way as to attract, engage and acquire a clearly defined audience with the aim of driving customer action, and directing profits back to the company.

It's not hard to see then, that when combined, these two roles can be so effective at delivering insightful content to exactly where it needs to go. But to get there, both the strategist and the marketer need to ask the right questions and really get to the bottom of the motivation behind their content, and how it’s going to help them to achieve their business goals. For example,

Who's going to see it?
Who do you want to see it?
Why is it relevant?

Answering even the most rudimentary and overlooked questions will ensure your content falls in line with your strategy. Thinking outside the box certainly has its place, but sometimes it's the most seemingly obvious concerns that get overlooked. For example, 'why am I doing this'; the most important question of all when it comes to content, and the one that’s most likely to get lost in the melee.

But remember, knowing the answers is only one thing – turning them into targeted actions is another ball game entirely. So don't spend all your time on the whys and whatfors; put what you've learned into effect, and the results will speak for themselves.

Visit our Content Services page to find out how we can help you.

Audio content: The latest frontier?
Audio content: The latest frontier?
Audio is a timeless and universal medium for communicating, informing and entertaining. It’s been around for far longer than the internet, TV and film, and connects millions of people worldwide on a daily basis.

But despite this (and somewhat surprisingly) audio is yet to be fully integrated into the world’s largest sharing platform: social media.

At the moment, social networks often work against audio content, even when shared as a link to a website. Often, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter employ algorithms that prioritise native video content (meaning video content uploaded directly onto a platform). This is hardly surprising since social media executives have the same aim as most marketers: to keep people onsite, and are therefore likely to suppress those links that risk leading them away.

At the moment, this lack of an integrated technology is the main obstacle to introducing a new and dynamic medium to social media marketing. As it is, you can’t just upload an mp3 to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and podcasts are not easily shareable.

But this could be about to change.

Several new tools are in production to provide podcasters, radio professionals, producers and audio makers a super easy way to share their work across social platforms including Facebook and Twitter, without leading people away from the sites.

There will be a wide variety of super-customisable features such as the ability to add captions and custom background images using a dynamically generated waveform.
WNYC, one of the companies responsible for research in this field found that:

“On Twitter, the average engagement for an audiogram is 8x higher than a non-audiogram tweet and on Facebook some of our shows are seeing audiogram reach outperform photos and links by 58% and 83% respectively.”

With figures like this, and the inevitable period of novelty that will follow the release of such content, becoming one of the first employers of a tool like this could really boost your company’s profile, and allow you to lead the field in a brand new form before your competitors are even awake to its benefits.

There’s still a lot of work to do in the social audio world, and conversations with social platform execs are ongoing. But this research could be the first step in native social audio that turns an already hugely popular medium into some of the most shareable and customisable content on the web.

Watch this space, and visit our Content Services page to find out how we can help you.

Harnessing creative content to further boost SEO
Harnessing creative content to further boost SEO
In the modern, online world where SEO is king, it should not be news to anyone that one of the best ways to boost brand exposure is through content marketing.

Writing news posts, blogs and other web copy around topics that your company specialises in is a good way not only to capture more traffic, but also to position you and your employees as reputable sources of thought leadership.

However, a step that many miss out on is optimising content for SEO, too, which can mean that you are missing out on driving more people to your organisation and, in an ideal world, getting them to engage with you.

Using keywords effectively is one such way of boosting the power of your SEO. Though you are likely to be using many of these already in your content, there are often keywords you have not considered that can help you reach even higher in search rankings.

Brainstorming the kind of language potential customers may use when asking questions or describing problems common to your product or service can glean new keywords, as can services like Google’s Keyword Tool.

A good rule of thumb is to concentrate on just one or two per piece of content, making sure each article’s focus is tight.

There are also different places to put keywords to further optimise their use. One of the easiest and most often overlooked is a piece of content’s URL – including a keyword or two will really help search engines determine what is on your pages.

Article length is important, too. Though Google does prioritise longer pieces, readers can be turned off by a wall of text. Articles over 300 words – ideally somewhere around 700 words – work best, with keywords making up between 1 and 2 per cent of the text.

Finally, leveraging links can be very powerful in your content. Internal links to relevant content help search engines map out your website more fully and improve the ranking of any pages included. External links, meanwhile, help identify keywords and,most importantly, can convince other content creators to link back to you.

All in all, using content marketing to boost your website’s SEO is a holistic and long-term activity. With a lot of hard work and paying attention to best practices, it could pay dividends.

How to improve your SEO with internal linking
How to improve your SEO with internal linking
In terms of SEO strategy, internal linking is one of the most important methods for development.

Building links with other sites gives added authority to your site – resulting in high rankings and a most trusted brand image. But internal linking can be just as important in the overall development of your site.

The concept of internal linking is a pretty simple one – each page of your site should include links to other pages of your site. By including the 'right' number of links, a few magic keywords and relevant destinations, you can optimise your SEO and user experience.

Unlike links to your site from external sources, these links won't pass any new authority to your pages, but that doesn't mean they have no effect on how your site is indexed and ranks.

In terms of SEO, there are several benefits from internal linking. For example, the anchor text that you consistently associate with a given page can help Google to understand its relevance in that field. Likewise, links help Google's search crawlers to understand the layout of your site to establish a page hierarchy.

Internal linking also provides non-SEO benefits; namely visitor retention, a more easily navigable site and a marked increase in conversion possibilities as links give more momentum in directing users through the buying cycle.

So, where to start? Here are three quick ideas:

Use a plugin
If your site is built in WordPress, there are a number of plugins available that will automatically include internal links as a hyperlink to certain keywords.

Avoid 'keyword stuffing'
Google has become quite clever at spotting keyword stuffing and will flag any pages it deems suspicious.

Choose which pages you want to rank highly
Identify which pages you'd like to direct people to and make sure you place internal links on the highest authority pages of your site that lead directly to those pages.

Overall, it's recommended that, on your site, no page should be more than three clicks away from another page. This level of linking will improve both your SEO and your site (and, by extension) your company's bottom line.

Although internal linking tends to be overshadowed by the more powerful effects of intelligent, external link building – it's a strategy that's well worth the small amount of effort it takes.

Visit our Content Services page to find out how we can help you.

Why Oxford is winning the SEO war against Cambridge
Why Oxford is winning the SEO war against Cambridge
You would imagine that two of the world’s most famous universities would not need to compete for Google rankings – after all, how many times have you met someone who needed to search for one to know what it was?

The Boat Race is the most obvious instance of Oxford-Cambridge rivalry, but both cities are synonymous with punting (from different ends of the boat) as well as world-famous hospitals, publishers and universities.

One SEO expert based in Cambridge has worked out, however, that the rivalry between the two UK cities extends in new ways online.

In what Andrew Cock-Starkey, founder of networking and learning group Optimisey, called an SEO showdown,
he discovered that the dreaming spires of Oxford were better optimised than Cambridge.

Scoring both cities across seven match-ups between similar institutions, Cock-Starkey awarded points for SEO basics, page speed and number of backlinks.

Though the two universities tied, Oxford’s football team – Oxford United – pulled ahead of Cambridge’s – also United – thanks to a superior number of links (and, perhaps, league position).

Other measures included pitting Oxford rockers Radiohead against Cambridge stalwarts Pink Floyd, which the Oxford quintet comfortably won (rather than Comfortably Numb), as well as the two punting techniques, of which Cambridge’s was far better optimised.

In the end, Oxford came out on top in four of seven pairings, while Cambridge won two and one was tied.

Cock-Starkey said that although the project started out as a “fun idea”, it illustrated some interesting SEO takeaways for organisations around the country when it comes to showing how even small differences can make a world of difference to a search engine.

Poor metadata, messy page headings and slow mobile loading speeds were some of the most obvious mistakes made by Oxford and Cambridge’s institutions, he adds.

He advised: “Good SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. ‘SEO’ tends to conjure ideas of spotty nerds, on a laptop in the basement but – as this study shows – if you can just get the basics right you can elevate yourself above a lot of your competition.”

mkhmarketing.wordpress.com
mkhmarketing.wordpress.com

Creating a must-click social post is on a par with excellent headline writing and there are certainly some elements of this art that carry across well to social media. But there’s more to great social content creation than just great headlines. More often than not it’s how a social post is written and presented that determines whether or not your followers will click through to your blog or website. And, for a content marketer, there’s nothing worse than creating great articles but having no one actually read them.

There are many schools of thought about what constitutes super-shareable content, and certain trends tend to come and go as users become overly familiar with seeing the same thing everywhere they go. Nevertheless, doing some research on how to thread a killer hook into your social posts is an extremely valuable skill for content marketers.

We’ll mainly concentrate on Twitter, as it only allows 140 characters, which means you have to get creative with how you use that space. But these tips easily translate to Facebook, Instagram and more. You can also combine some of the tricks below to make your social posts simply irresistible.

So, without further ado, here are nine time-honoured formulas for writing a must-click social post that will help get eyeballs on your articles.

1. The list

We used this one above. And it’s still one of the most clickable forms of headlines to use on social media because numbers help posts go viral. People just love lists. What’s more, it’s wise to use odd numbers whenever you can. Numbers that are not easily divisible tend to jar us – odd numbers are harder for our pattern-loving brains to comprehend, and therefore seeing them causes us to pause. Ultimately, however, a list-style post suggests that it won’t take the reader too long to digest.

2. Make a promise (and keep it)

Sharing insider knowledge, particularly mysterious, little known or ‘secret’ knowledge, about a particular topic is a surefire way to earn social click-throughs to your blog or website, as long as the content delivers the goods. Just be sure not to disappoint, otherwise your website’s reputation will start to dwindle and people may think twice about clicking on your social posts in the future.

‘Discover the secrets of [blank]’

‘Little known ways to [blank]’

3. Ask a question

Asking questions of your social media followers shows that you care about their opinion, and it can even help inform your content. However, don’t ask something that can easily be answered with ‘no’. Instead, try to ask something that is a little more open or leading. And if you get a huge response to something that you initially considered a throw-away question on social media, start writing the corresponding blog post right away.

‘How much money do I need to [blank]?’

‘What [blank] would you most like to see?’

4. Call to action

Telling your audience to click on a link, or to perform some kind of action, usually works wonders, so long as you sell it right. And research by Dan Zarella suggests that the most retweeted word is ‘you’. Also, putting time-pressure on your call to action will make people fear missing out on something if they don’t click right now.

‘Don’t miss out on your chance to [blank]’

‘Click here to download [blank] for a limited time’

5. Target your message

Get to know your audience and target your social post directly to them. If your message only applies to a certain part of your readership, for example, then be very clear about that from the start – it will prevent you from wasting the time of those who have no interest, while also making those who do fall into the category feel as if the content has been specifically written for them.

‘Recent graduates should [blank]’

‘Having a baby soon? Be sure to read [blank] first’

6. Infographics

World's Greatest Social Media Marketer
socialmediatoday.com

For some reason infographics do something magical to our brains — take a look at the one above from socialmediatoday.com. We just can’t get enough of them, it seems, with infographics getting 832 per cent more retweets than images and articles. So if your blog contains one of those highly digestible infographics, consider putting the word in your social posts, using the hashtag #infographic or embedding the infographic directly as an image.

7. Intrigue

Try to get your readers to do a virtual double-take. The use of stand-out phrasing, an unusual word or stating the reverse of something that’s seen as common knowledge can sometimes appeal to our thirst for information, or otherwise our need to disagree with the writer.

‘Here’s why Facebook won’t exist in five years’

‘15 reasons why Justin Bieber is actually cool’

8. Name-check an expert or celebrity

Barack Obama
Barack Obama by Marc Nozell

If your content is in anyway related to someone who is well known in their field, put their name front and centre in your social post, and perhaps find them on Twitter to link them to your post by using the @ symbol in front of their username. You never know, they may even retweet you, which should hopefully bring everyone and their mother over to your blog or website.

‘Find out what Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said to us about [blank]’

‘Catch @BarackObama talking about [blank]’

9. The how-to guide

Being genuinely helpful is not only going to win you traffic that will hopefully return again and again, but it will also endear you to thousands of readers who are looking to fix things in their life quickly. Tips, tricks and guides have made sites like Lifehacker immensely popular, for example, so it makes sense that a well-worded social post about how to do something will get tons of clicks. Try using phrases like ‘life-hack’, too, which suggests that your audience has been doing something wrong when there’s been a much easier way to do it all along.

‘How to life-hack your [blank]’

‘15 top tips for streamlining your [blank]’

megaphone-50092_640

The digital age that we live in demands flexibility and adaptability. For those working in content marketing, this means that they need to be so much more than simply a great writer. A team can produce the best content known to man, but if it doesn’t feed back into the sales channels of the website it’s published on its value is immediately limited.

Calls to Action (or CTAs) are the tool that link great writing back to a great product; the article interests and engages the reader and the CTA shows them how to take their interest further with some real action.

CTAs are actually pretty straightforward little phrases or snippets of content but sometimes, when you’re in the midst of creativity, it helps to have a some extra ideas to come up with the right sales hook.

We’ve rounded up five of the most effective calls to action below and explored ways in which they can help with the sales process to give you and your team a starting point for inspiration.

1. Try it free for a week

This doesn’t have to be a ‘week’, it could be a fortnight, 30 days or three months. The time on offer will depend on your business plan but the point is to encourage people to start thinking seriously about your service and giving it a go. Getting hold of their contact details is also a clear driver here.

2. Learn more

The way in which you enable your visitor to learn more could be with a full ebook, a price list or simply another page with a bit more data on it. But whatever the means, this CTA is about providing a break in the visitors’ journey at which point you can request their details.

3. Start your free trial subscription now

This one’s simple really, the word ‘free’ still entices people and once they’ve started using your product you’ve moved them one step closer to conversion.

4. Get started now

If you’ve understood your audience well you will know at which point in their path through your website they will be ready to give your service a go. At this point you simply need to make it as easy as possible for them to convert. Adding the word ‘now’ in connects with their sense of ‘yup, I’m ready’ and urges them to keep moving forward.

5. Contact us / Talk to us

There’s a trend among digital marketers to avoid using basic business terms like ‘contact us’ and instead shift towards more human terms like ‘talk to us’. You’ll need to assess your own audience to decide which one is for your business but don’t be obliged to follow trend without testing different language with your visitors. This CTA is simply about offering a simple route to enquiry. Your sales team might also be able to pick up contact details while they’re advising.

And on that note … do contact us if you’d like to receive more information about our content marketing services!

The question of what marketing methods to invest in is one that troubles all businesses. Of course there can be no universal answer for the most effective way to allocate a marketing budget – best scenarios will vary by industry. But recent research has shown that consumers do tend to show higher levels of engagement and positivity towards certain forms of marketing.

Inbound vs Outbound

Image: Walter Lim
Image: Walter Lim

The meaning of inbound marketing is somewhat open to interpretation and at risk of manipulation depending on who is trying to explain it! But on a basic level, inbound simply means that you provide something of value to your audience to pull them in. Outbound marketing, on the contrary, involves going out and shouting about your services to potential customers, it’s more ‘push your services’ than ‘pull in your audience’.

Since inbound marketing first started to hit the mainstream, marketers have been attempting to determine and demonstrate its ROI. Recent survey results from Fractl and Moz have certainly helped in that regard.

Consumer Engagement Levels

The study, which looked at the opinions of more than 1,000 people, the majority (73.2 per cent) of whom were in the 18 to 34 age bracket, found that certain forms of marketing tend to resonate more effectively with audiences, and more modern forms of inbound marketing were perceived as particularly effective.

The research found that content marketing, appearing in search results and direct mail were the marketing tactics that were most effective for attracting new business.

Furthermore, when asked about the marketing approaches that were most likely to have a positive influence on their buying decisions, the consumers who took part in the survey cited online articles, search and customer reviews as among the most effective marketing channels. On this point, however, there was some crossover between old and new as traditional advertising and direct mail were also listed.

Changing Platforms

Image: Moz and Fractl
Image: Moz and Fractl

The study results come at an interesting time for online marketers in particular. Many outbound marketing routes are being closed down or their scope reduced significantly as ad blockers grow in popularity.

Research from Adobe found that some 198 million people are blocking adverts online at the moment and with the news that Apple’s iOS9 will enable ad-blocking extensions in its Safari browser, this number will no doubt continue to climb.

Fractl and Moz themselves found that around 58 per cent of people they surveyed are already using ad-blocking software. Clearly consumers are not responding well to interruptive adverts during their online browsing experience.

The Solution

At the moment, content marketing looks like one of the best marketing channels to invest in to navigate the issue of adblocking. If you can’t force your message on to your audience’s screens, you need to entice them to choose to view your message. More and more businesses are seeing the value in this and creating innovative content-focused campaigns to help share and amplify their message.

Some, like Dreams’ Sleep Matters Club, are taking the long-term view and building whole information-focused websites publishing articles they know will be of use and interest to their customers. In cases like these, the most successful campaigns tend to be those that don’t even try to monetise their content until they’ve built up their audience’s trust over months or even years.

On the other hand, there are thousands of businesses already providing news feeds and blogs on their own websites with snippets of useful information for their target audience to find. Not only do these help readers to find websites through search and social media channels, but, when written well, they build trust between company and consumer, and deliver that all important positive first point of contact that helps smooth the journey from enquiry to sale.

Whether you’re publishing news articles, blogs or features on your website, headlines have the power to make all the difference to your content marketing.

Research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism this year confirmed that headlines are the biggest driver of engagement in online articles. The study, which looked at US online readers, found that 51 per cent of people claim a compelling headline is what makes them click on an article.

The quality of an article’s source accounted for just 37 per cent of clicks, so clearly headlines are a good area to be focusing on to improve engagement with your audience.

With this in mind, it’s great to see so many ideas doing the rounds about how to write better headlines.

Here’s a fantastic infographic from the team over at CoSchedule which looks at ‘How To Write A Headline That Will Get The Best Results’.

how-to-write-a-headline-that-will-get-the-best-results-infographic

To summarise, here are three quick actionable ideas to write better headlines:

  1. Don’t sit on the fence. Very positive or very negative headlines get more attention.
  2. Focus on the beginning and end of your headline. This is where the greatest impact lies.
  3. Tweak your headline using Google search suggestions.