Dive into augmented reality for digital marketing
Dive into augmented reality for digital marketing
The latest buzzwords in a long line of digital trends, or the next innovation that will change the face of the market? The jury is still out over augmented reality (AR), the technology that superimposes computer generated images over a user’s view of the world.

You’ll be familiar with AR if you’ve ever used animated filters on Snapchat, or used the IKEA app to work out whether that particular model of wardrobe will suit your bedroom. The most prominent and interesting uses of AR have reaped huge benefits for brands – one example is Nintendo’s monster catching game Pokémon Go, which was the most profitable app in 2016, with over 500 million downloads.

By 2020, it’s estimated that there will be one billion AR users around the world. The market is estimated to be worth around four times that of the existing virtual reality industry. AR for shopping is already being used to let customers imagine products in their own living space – and yet the technology is not industry standard yet.

There are several ways AR can be incorporated into your marketing beyond the IKEA use case above, where your products can be projected into a user’s way.

Another way is to bring products to life using AR-enabled adverts. A still, static advert on a page or advertising board could become an animated catalogue or interactive 3D demonstration of a product.

The benefits of offering all of the information about your products to your customers without a need for them to leave the house – or even look away from their smartphone – is priceless.

Though it’s relatively new in the marketing world, AR is already capturing imaginations, particularly when using video. Though you usually only have a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention, AR can extend this window to around 75 seconds thanks to its immersive properties. Therefore, producing AR video content already places you in front of the correct people for a significant period.

It’s also immediately shareable and social-friendly, so perfect for spreading on Twitter.

Finally, AR can give those impulse shoppers a gentle push to turn them into a certain buyer, thanks to the ability to actualise a life with said product.

In order to survive the changes to digital marketing, you must adapt to new trends. If the statistics are anything to go by, AR is here to stay.

Why this is the year of marketing to millennials
Why this is the year of marketing to millennials
2018 marks a landmark year in the digital marketing world, and not just in light of recent scandals between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica and the implications for a user’s data security, or other widespread attacks on information via malware and other attacks.

No, 2018 is important because by the end of December every member of the so-called “millennial” generation will be old enough to buy themselves a beer.

In order to make sure you are reaching this crucial demographic with your digital marketing efforts, there are a few tools you should overlook at your peril:

Social Media

It’s an over-used cliche, that of the millennial addicted to Twitter and Facebook, but it has been shown time and time again that young people will turn to the internet alone to interact with businesses and brands. New updates to many of these platforms’ algorithms, however, mean it is more expensive than ever to reach your customers through these channels.

As a result, your strategy must focus on engaging content that incentivises sharing, so that you get the most organic bang for your buck. Turn your customers into digital brand ambassadors and they will do the work that sponsorship money would usually do for you – at just for a fraction of the price.

Video Content

Again, this should hardly be news to a seasoned marketer, but video content attracts 10 times the engagement of text or image based posts and is currently responsible for around 80 per cent of all internet traffic.

These rates are pushed up by millennials, particularly given the power of video to help create atmosphere and excitement among followers. You will also rank higher in news feeds by varying content and you will sooner capture the minds and imaginations of this demographic.

New Technology

Millennials have never known a world without the internet, and are also a tech-savvy bunch, so staying ahead (or at least keeping up!) with their appetite for new technology is key. There are all sorts of developments worth staying abreast of that can not only boost the reach of your marketing, but unlock new possibilities for your company too.

AI is a great example, with machine-learning techniques applicable to your data approach and enabling you to hone your messaging to match particular audiences. Elsewhere augmented reality – as used by popular mobile game Pokemon Go! and several brands like Google, Coca-Cola and Starbucks – can be a powerful tool, even though it is in its infancy.

Video - the future of digital marketing?
Video - the future of digital marketing?
Video marketing really should be an important part of your marketing strategy in the coming year. Creating a short video that talks about your offering and even demonstrates your service gets people hooked.

Prospective clients or customers who are pushed for time (and who isn’t?) aren’t going to spend an age reading through your longer blogs or articles. Sure, existing clients may want to read about your business in more detail but for those who want to get a quick view of what it is you actually do and how you do it, they’ll click on your video.

Decided to give video a whirl? Great, but make sure you do it right. Here’s a few tips on how to make the most of what is arguably the most engaging digital marketing tool:

1. Make your video short and sweet.
Research suggests that most viewers will only watch a video for ten seconds and you’ll need to grab their interest within that time. A great video content creator can help you to do this.

2. If you want your video shared, make it amusing.
Videos that are largely just marketing waffle will not be shared. People want to find out something new, or laugh, or both!

3. SEO the hell out of it.
Make sure your video description is comprehensive enough to enable people to find it through search engines. Google needs a decent description to make sense of your video and include it in search rankings. Use keywords and as much detail as you possibly can.

In conclusion, if you succeed in making a video that entertains or grabs viewers within the first few seconds, you’ve nailed it and return on your investment will follow. Working with content creators who can write engaging scripts might just be the best business investment you'll ever make.

Rights and wrongs for thought leadership content
Rights and wrongs for thought leadership content
Thought leadership content, when used correctly, can help your business build a reputation for providing valuable, problem-solving insights that your customers really want to read.

Does your content solve problems and answer questions?
It’s no longer about packing an article full of product placement. Nor should your thought leadership content be too preoccupied with offering unique views on well-trodden subjects. Instead it’s about considering your audience and offering them the chance to read something that answers their questions, solves a problem or gives them food for thought.

Providing your audience with thought-provoking, valuable new content as often as you can is a great way to engage potential new customers and build a sense of authority. Ideally you want your thought leadership material to demonstrate your subject matter expertise in an accessible way.

There’s plenty of room for showing personality and a unique viewpoint in the right situation, but there’s also no need to get bogged down in either of these factors. Your readers just want their questions answered effectively and if you can do this while helping them gain a greater understanding of a particular area, you may well have just won their business.

Use your SMEs
It may sound obvious, but try to be thoughtful in the creation of your thought leadership material. Utilise the SMEs within your business and get them to come up with ideas for pieces. Have them work with you to create special content that helps your site stand out as the leader in your field. We often help our clients to incorporate quotes or snippets of expertise into the thought leadership pieces we write for them and this can add a valuable personal touch.

Be generous with your expertise
Consider giving away some expertise for free through your thought-leaders. This will demonstrate your integrity and can build trust and loyalty among your audience. Your thought leadership content should show that you enjoy writing about the aspects of your business that you feel passionate about.

Well-crafted thought-leadership content can help your brand become the go-to place for indispensable market insights.

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.”