7 Steps to Documenting a Content Marketing Strategy That Works

I already know what you’re thinking. You saw the words content marketing and strategy together in the headline and thought, “Oh, cool, another article telling me how important it is to have and actually write down my strategy — just what I need.”

Don’t worry, that’s not what this is.

You already know that having and documenting your strategy is important because you’ve probably read the same reports and case studies that my team and I have read. But there’s a pretty big difference between knowing you should do something and knowing how to do it — which might explain why 89 percent of B2B marketers use content, yet only 37 percent have documented strategies.

The marketing team at Influence & Co. spent the last couple months of 2016 carefully researching, planning, and creating a content marketing strategy for this year. What follows is an exploration of exactly which elements our team determined a successful plan must include to drive results, empowering you to create your own documented content strategy.

How to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

Part of what makes a documented strategy so powerful is that every person on your team — from your content creators to your senior-level directors and everyone in between — can see what, why, and how your company is communicating.

This alignment makes it easier to get buy-in, crowdsource content, and pull employees into the distribution process, and it makes your efforts stronger because it extends your reach beyond the marketing team.

For your strategy to be helpful to your whole company and not just your immediate marketing team members, it has to address a few major questions, like:

  • Why are we utilizing content marketing as a strategy?
  • Who are we trying to reach with our content?
  • What are we hoping to accomplish?
  • How does this fit into our overall marketing strategy?
  • How will we measure success?

If you start with these questions in mind, the actual pieces of your strategy should come easily. In fact, each of the following components of your strategy should help you clearly answer those questions, align your team, and hold you accountable. Here are seven key elements your content marketing strategy must include:

1) Overall Mission

Before you get too far into the weeds, ask yourself, “What’s the real reason we’re investing in content?” And if the answer is anything close to “Well, we just know we should be doing content,” stop immediately and spend more time thinking about why you’re making this critical, valuable, and time-consuming investment in the first place.

If you do have a well-thought-out answer, write it down. Are you preparing to use content so your marketing team can generate leads and attract new customers? Are you trying to build brand awareness and credibility?

No matter your reason for investing in content marketing, it needs to take a prominent place at the beginning of your strategy; that overall mission will guide the rest of your document and keep your team on track when it’s time to execute.

2) Target Audience Personas

You may have included some general ideas about your audience members when you outlined your mission, and while that’s a helpful place to start, it’s not nearly detailed enough to start creating content for them.

Before you craft any content or develop any distribution plan, you have to know who you’re trying to reach. You aren’t creating content for the general public, you’re creating it to attract specific individuals who can contribute to your company’s goals.

You need to research and create detailed audience personas. If your personas inform the content you create, your content will do a much better job of speaking to the exact audience you’re targeting.

3) Content Mix Plan

Once you know why you’re creating content and for whom, you can determine what type to create. Depending on what your marketing funnel looks like, you’ll need a couple different types: content that educates and engages prospects at the top of the funnel and encourages them to learn more, as well as content for the bottom of the funnel that answers very specific questions and addresses objections to working with you.

That content can take any number of forms, from guest-contributed articles on online publications to blog posts, white papers, email campaigns, sales enablement materials, and more. What’s especially important here is thinking through the variety of earned, owned, and paid media you’ll need to keep prospects moving through this funnel.

4) Content Creation Process

You could follow each of the above steps exactly and still fall flat on your face when it’s time to actually put pen to paper. Creating content of your own and turning your company leaders into content creators takes time and effort.

So before you dig into executing your content plan, determine which processes, workflows, and resources make the most sense for your team. Perhaps taking advantage of content creation tools will make your job easier, or partnering with an agency to help may be a better solution.

5) Editorial Calendar

Consistency is key in content marketing. It’s your opportunity to build trust with your audience members, nurture them, and become a resource for them. Once you know what kinds of content you need to create, it’s time to develop a calendar or schedule to make sure you deliver.

Your editorial calendar should detail how often you need to publish to keep your audience engaged and when you’ll distribute your published pieces. Mapping out your target deadlines for different pieces will keep your process on track.

6) Distribution Plan

Distribution is all about getting your content to the right people at the right time. That can mean publishing articles in publications your target audience members are already reading, using a paid distribution plan on social to attract readers to your white paper, or simply including your content in your email newsletters.

Your distribution plan should be part of your documented strategy because knowing where and how you plan to distribute your content informs the type of content you create, how often you do it, and which processes you utilize. It’s a key part of your content marketing strategy, so don’t start executing the strategy until you’ve thought it through.

7) ROI Calculator

Remember when you identified your overall mission at the beginning of this document? You need to identify from the beginning how you’re going to measure success with this campaign, and now’s your chance to match metrics to your goals to gauge how well your content is helping to achieve that mission.

Set some benchmarks you want to hit concerning traffic to your website, leads generated, or opportunities created through content, and set up a plan for tracking this using anything from your own modest spreadsheets to a robust software package.

If this documented strategy seems like a lot, that’s because it is. Nobody said that content marketing was simple, but it’s well worth the investment, especially when you set yourself up for success. And with these seven must-have elements detailed in your documented content strategy, your team will be off to a fantastic start.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

What is Latent Semantic Indexing & Why Does it Matter for Your SEO Strategy?

I’ll admit that when I first heard a colleague mention “latent semantic indexing,” my immediate response was simply, “What?”

Luckily, although it sounds like something that requires a degree in computer science, it’s actually a concept you’re probably familiar with — particularly if you have some basic knowledge of keywords and their close relationship with search engine optimization (SEO).

In this post, we’ll be using an infographic by HigherVisbility to discuss latent semantic indexing (LSI) in three parts. More specifically, we’ll define LSI and how the process can potentially benefit your overall SEO strategy, take a closer look at ways to find LSI-driven keywords, and outline how to add these keywords into your content.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

What Is Latent Semantic Indexing, and How Will It Boost Your Overall SEO Strategy?

To understand LSI, you want to start by taking a closer look at search engines and how they operate. At the very basic level, sites like Google use complex algorithms to understand two things:

  • Your content and its context
  • A user’s search intent and its relationship to specific keywords

In other words, LSI helps search engines identify related keywords and process synonyms to deliver more accurate search results.

Consider the word “aviator.” Pages that include this word could be anything from an e-commerce site selling the popular Ray Ban sunglasses to a fan page dedicated to Leonardo DiCaprio’s turn as Howard Hughes in the 2004 biopic, “The Aviator.”

Search engines use LSI keywords to help add context to pages that contain the word “aviator” in order to provide better search results. If the site is dedicated to the latter, for instance, it would include LSI keywords like, “Leonardo DiCaprio,” “drama,” and “movie.”

Benefits of LSI-Driven Keyword Research

Search engines are always on the hunt for the most relevant and in-depth content for a given query. When you think about how big the internet is, it’s not easy for a site like Google to determine what a page’s content is all about. This is why it rewards sites that include relevant LSI keywords with higher rankings and more traffic.

Benefits extend beyond those directly related to SEO, though. Additional and more accurate categorization helps users, publishers, and marketers alike. Publishers, for instance, can increase engagement because LSI-driven content is more targeted and ensures that it’s landing in front of the right audience. Users entering queries also benefit because they can easily (and more quickly) find the content that answers their questions.

5 Ways to Find LSI Keywords

Now that you’re an expert on LSI and why it’s important, let’s walk through the different ways you can find additional keywords you’ll want to include in future content and blog posts.

1) A Simple Google Search

One of the easiest ways to find LSI keywords is Google itself. When you enter a term in the search query field, it automatically shows the keywords related to the particular query.

Let’s use the earlier example of “aviator” again. An initial search of the word provides these results:

Again, there are a lot of pages this particular keyword could point to which is why we need to use LSI to add more context. If you continue to scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find a section titled, “Searches related to” and your given query:

Use the list of keywords as a starting point for potential LSI keywords because it reveals what Google already associates with your primary keywords.

The best part? This method is 100% free!

2) Use the Keyword Planner Tool via Google AdWords

If you have access to Google AdWords, you can also use their Keyword Planner tool.

Again, we’ll use the “aviator” example. Begin by adding the term into the initial query box. Click “Get ideas” and you’ll be redirected to a page that offers related keywords and an idea of how competitive search rankings are for said term.

3) Take Advantage of the SERPs Keyword Research Database Tool

Another free tool for you to use comes from SERPs. Their Keyword Research Database Tool is very similar to Google’s Keyword Planner.  Simply add your query into the search bar and you’ll receive results based on volume of searches and CPC.

4) Use the LSI Keyword Generator

The LSI Graph/LSI Keyword Generator is another free tool specifically created for identifying LSI keywords. And as you can probably guess, it simply requires users to add a term into the search bar to generate a list of related keywords.

5) Try Ubersuggest

Finally, another freebie you can use to identify potential LSI keywords is Ubersuggest. Simply enter your primary keyword, and the tool will produce a list of related search queries based on volume, difficulty, and CPC.

How to Select (and Use) the Best LSI Keywords

At this stage, you’ve likely got a big list of potential LSI keywords. The trick is to narrow down your best options that are both directly related to your content and carry a decent amount of search volume.

Understand the Three Different Types of Intent

It’s important that your LSI keywords help answer any questions someone might have about your primary keyword, so you’ll want to figure out what kind of queries your target audience is putting into Google to find you content.

We’ll refer back to “aviator” again, this time in the context that it’s on a site dedicated to the film, “The Aviator.” Below are three different types of intent someone on Google might have using examples related to the movie:

  • Informational intent: This type of query is typically on a much broader scale. An example would be, “What is the movie ‘The Aviator’ about?”
  • Navigational intent: This is a more specific type of query. For instance, someone might want to know who directed the film or which company was a key producer.
  • Transactional intent: This type of query relates to purchasing something. In regards to our example, it could be related to purchasing the DVD.

Choose Words That Add Context, But Don’t Overstuff

LSI keywords need to be highly relevant to your content. In the case of our example with “The Aviator,” a post on “10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Aviator” should only include LSI keywords that relate to the film. “Aviator college,” for instance, was a related keyword that popped up when we used SERPs. However, this has nothing to do with the film and, in turn, adds no value to your content.

Something else you’ll want to avoid is to not to overstuff your content with the LSI keywords you choose. A great way to judge this is by rereading your content once the keywords are added. If a given word doesn’t sound natural, leave it out.

Remember That LSI Is Only Part of an Effective SEO Strategy

Although it has quite the complex name, you don’t need to know the ins-and-outs of website development to understand latent semantic indexing. Keep in mind, though, that it’s only one factor that determines how well your content ranks in search engines. An effective SEO strategy should also include relevant backlinks, relevant alt tags, etc.

That being said, it’s worth taking the time to identify and add LSI-driven keywords into your content — particularly when everyone wants Google to be their number one fan.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

4 Strategies to Spark On-Demand Creativity

Back in the “Mad Men” days, only writers and artists were held accountable for driving an agency’s creativity. Today, that dynamic has expanded to include just about everyone.

Whether it’s the account services team bringing fresh ideas to clients, the business development team finding new ways to engage with prospects, or creative services producing content, everyone has to be creative for the agency to succeed. Individual contributors also must be able to tie their creative efforts to measurable ROI.

Why is creativity so important? Because for agencies, creativity is currency. The successful execution of good ideas separates top agencies from closed shops. The barriers to entry for marketing are lower than ever — anyone with an idea and an hour can build a website or whip up a logo. Agencies must communicate their value proposition as the owners of the best ideas and know how to measure that value.

But creativity alone is not enough. Agencies and the people within them must be creative on demand. To do that, every department and every employee must become part of a culture that excels at creative problem-solving.

Bringing New Ideas to the Table

Often, creativity is talked about like it’s a magical ability of the chosen few — something we have little control over that strikes at random. But Jason Keath, founder and CEO of Social Fresh Conference, says universal creativity is not as hard to achieve as some entrepreneurs would imagine.

I spoke with Keath recently, and he said that creativity is less about inspiration and more about learning to solve problems. “Anyone can be creative,” he says, adding that creativity is a process that we fail to teach in schools or in business environments.

This is good news, though, because it means creativity isn’t something the muses bestow upon you. Rather than wait patiently for lightning to strike, you simply must learn the process. If you want to teach people to become creative on their own and within a group, a lot of it comes down to management, Keath notes.

The first step in bringing new ideas to the table is banishing the notion of bad ideas — early in the creative process, bad ideas are an essential building block to create a better final product. A lot of times, a bad idea can trigger a better idea.

“One person might have a bad idea he considers to be the obvious solution, but he doesn’t mention it to avoid looking stupid,” Keath says. “However, as obvious as that solution might seem to one person, it probably hasn’t occurred to 80 percent of the people in the group. Plus, even the most obvious solutions are useful to put on the board because connecting to that is another idea.”

One tactic to encourage your team to get over their fears of offering “bad” ideas is to require anonymous ideation prior to creative meetings. This allows people who don’t normally consider themselves creative to contribute to the solution. “Judgment kills great ideas,” Keath says. “To preempt judgment, ask people to come to the meeting with 10 or 20 possible solutions to the problem. Have the person organizing the meeting anonymize the answers, and suddenly, ideas can be discussed on their own merit without fear of rejection.”

4 Tactics for Cultivating On-Demand Creativity

If agency leaders want to infuse creativity and new ideas into their agencies — and communicate that value proposition to clients — the path is twofold. First, leaders and team members must learn to take new steps as individuals. Second, agencies need to create an environment that enables creative individuals to collaborate. Here’s how to accomplish both:

1) Encourage individual growth.

Most creative people have a core competency that they build upon by brushing up against life. This means seeking out new experiences and connecting them to the areas they know most about.

That connection between the known and the unknown encourages people to seek out new experiences rather than hide within their comfort zones. A hiker might not know much about photography, but learning to take better pictures of hiking spots combines a known pursuit (hiking) with an unknown (photography) and allows the person to explore new ideas without feeling overwhelmed.

2) Pursue new experiences.

To achieve great output, you first need great input. According to principals of neuroplasticity, experiencing new things enables us to make connections and think in ways that would have previously been impossible. Experiences big and small can inform our decisions in surprising ways down the road.

Think about it like this: You’ve just returned home from a long trip. You need to cook something to eat, but you’ve been gone for a while and the kitchen is bare. Now, compare that to a kitchen that has been stocked with a variety of ingredients. Creativity works similarly: It’s much easier to create something interesting when we have a lot of raw materials to work with.

3) Always present two ideas: one safe, one scary.

We constantly hear CMOs complain that their agencies are phoning it in. Same old ideas, same old approaches, same old results. Of course, CMOs share the blame by selecting safe ideas, but that doesn’t mean their point isn’t valid.

No matter how many times your agency’s wacky idea gets shut down, you need to continue to bring new thoughts to your presentations. The unusual idea won’t get selected often, but bringing something new to the table shows clients that you’re willing to do things differently. And if a client decides to go with the crazier idea, that provides an opportunity for an agency to showcase its talents.

4) Host company outings.

Most of us haven’t had a field trip since high school, but they can still provide meaningful learning experiences for adults. Whether it’s catching a new animated movie, visiting the art museum, strolling the zoo, or something completely off the beaten path, getting your team out of the office together in a low-pressure environment can generate surprising discussions. The more inputs people have — especially when they share those inputs outside of work — the more creative connections they can forge.

We love to tell clients to think more broadly about their goals, but if we don’t mix up our own experiences, we fall prey to the same traps we ask them to avoid. By seeking opportunities to broaden our own horizons and building processes that facilitate creative discussions, we can transform our agencies into creative powerhouses that are capable of handling any challenge.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Pick the Perfect Font Pairings for Your Website: 7 Free Tools

With so many custom fonts readily available for download, selecting a combination of typefaces to feature on your next project can be an unexpected time sink. There are seemingly endless pairing possibilities — how can you be expected to choose?

Whether you’re diving into a major website redesign or a creating a simple infographic, you need a font combination that looks professional, polished, and doesn’t distract from your content. And you need it fast. 

These designers have heard your cries for help, and developed free tools to help you make better typeface pairings faster and more efficiently. Pairing fonts doesn’t have to be a lengthy guess-and-check process when you have the right tools at your fingertips. 

7 Free Tools for Selecting Font Pairings

1) Google Fonts

You’ve probably used Google Fonts at some point to select fonts for a web project, but did you know they also offer suggested font combinations?

From the list of available fonts, hover over a typeface. In the bottom left of the typeface preview area, click See Specimen.

This will open up a font preview page where you can enter preview text, adjust the background color of the page (using the paint bucket icon in the upper right corner of the page), and view information about the typeface’s history and usage. Towards the bottom of the page, you’ll see a section called “Popular Pairings with X.”

In this section, you can preview a selection of popular font combinations featuring your selected typeface. You can add complementary fonts directly to your Google Font library by clicking the “+” symbol beside each recommended pair. When a pairing is selected, you can use the up/down arrows beside the font names to change which typeface is used in the preview as the headline and which is used for body copy. 

2) Typ.io

This expertly curated database allows you to view trendy font combinations used on real websites, and take a peek at the CSS designers used to style and format them. Spend some time browsing through Typ.io’s impressive archives or categorized lists, and when you find a site that catches your eye, simply click “Get Under the Hood.”

This will let you view the exact fonts used on the website, see where the fonts are available for free download or purchase online, and scope out how the designer plugs them in on the back-end of things. Even if CSS isn’t really your area of expertise, Typ.io is still a useful tool for viewing professional typography combinations in action.

Typ.io also offers a useful search feature, enabling you to filter websites by primary font, desired font type, and font availability. You can even see which font combinations are popular on different types of websites (e.g., blogs, portfolios, etc).

3) Web Font Blender

Web Font Blender is a quick, intuitive way to test font combinations in a minimal environment. Set up like most text editing programs, this tool lets you mix and match different web font combos, edit the body, subheading, and headline copy, and adjust the styling of the preview text to your liking.

Choose from a wide selection of popular web fonts and play around with the settings to find a group of fonts that work well together. Once you have a combo you’re happy with, you can even grab the CSS for your creation under the “Grab Code” tab. 

4) Fonts In Use

Fonts In Use is an independent archive devoted to showcasing creative typography from designers around the world. Whether it’s a website, a print campaign, a package design, or something else entirely, the curation team at Fonts In Use is committed to uncovering interesting font combinations wherever they appear.

Scan through their archives for seemingly endless pages of inspiration, or check out examples of popular typography in your specific industry using the “Industries” option from the top drop-down menu. If you have a font in mind you want to use, but aren’t sure what font to pair with it, you can also filter results by typefaces.

5) Canva Font Combinations

This simple tool from Canva lets you select a font and instantly discover complementary typefaces and examples of your chosen font in action. Just pick a starting font from the main drop-down menu, and the tool will automatically produce some aesthetically pleasing combos for you to peruse.

Once you get a perfect match, you can edit the preview text to see how the fonts will look with your content.

6) Font Combinator

Font Combinator is a sleek typography tool developed by Typotheque, a type foundry and design studio based in The Hague, Netherlands. If you’re looking for a way to preview font combinations with lots of customization options, look no further.

Use the drop-down menu in the upper left to select a pre-made font selection designed by the Typotheque team, or use the settings to build and test custom font combinations of your own. You can adjust the size of any text group using the sliding bar above each section. Not loving the current combo? You can introduce a new font to the mix by dragging and dropping from the typeface list on the left.

7) Font Pair

Hayden Mills, a design student at Indiana University, developed this tool to help designers quickly and painlessly find proven font combinations using Google Fonts.

Organized by typeface categories, each of the combos featured on Font Pair are curated by Mills himself or suggested via a Google form available on the site. Want to plug in your own copy? You can click directly into any of the font pairing examples and edit the preview text anywhere on the site.

What are your current favorite font combinations?

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

6 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Freelance Graphic Designer

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Hiring the wrong freelance graphic designer can make or break your brand or marketing objectives. A designer that can’t complete projects on time, lacks the ability to adapt to your brand aesthetic, or has never taken on the type of work you’re doing could cause you to lose business.

Regardless of the type of project you’re hiring a designer for, it’s important to make sure you’re bringing in the right person for the job. Pose these six questions to each candidate before making a hire.

6 Freelance Designer Interview Questions

1) What motivated you to apply for this project?

This question can reveal a lot about whether the graphic designer you’re interviewing is genuinely interested in your company and what they’ll be working on. If they aren’t, it’ll show in the final product — and that’s a losing situation for everyone.

Ask questions that gauge their knowledge of your business and goals, and observe how well their skills and interests align. You want a graphic designer who fundamentally understands what you are building and why it’s important. Ideally, they’ll already be familiar with your company or will have interacted with you as a customer in the past.

2) What is your workload like?

There’s a big difference between the level of attention you’ll get from your freelance designer if you’re providing a significant portion of their income versus sending them a small project here and there.

Before committing to a contract, set clear expectations around your requirements. Will you need closer to five or 40 hours of their time each week? Find out how booked up they are with other clients and if it’s realistic for them to take on your project given your expectations and their other commitments.

3) Can you describe your design aesthetic?

A critical factor to consider when hiring a graphic designer is whether their work aligns with the overall design aesthetic you envision for your project.

If the designer you’re considering has a portfolio full of edgy, hand-illustrated black-and-white cartoon characters, they might not be the best fit to work with a mature brand that wants to appear authoritative. It’s a good idea to look through the designer’s work to get a sense of whether their aesthetic jibes with your vision before getting too far into the interview process, but be sure to ask this question regardless.

4) What is your design process like?

The graphic designer you’re considering should be able to articulate a clear path to achieving your desired results. An inability to do so could mean they don’t have enough experience to suit your needs.

For example, here’s how veteran graphic designer Ian Paget of Logo Geek kicks off a project with a new client: “I start my design process by creating a list of goals that can be used as a tick-list to refer to during the design phase and when selecting the best solution. We cover areas such as the brand’s story, values, competition and target audience.”

Having a well-defined, agreed upon design process like this is key to the success of the designer-client relationship.

5) How would your other clients describe working with you?

When a graphic designer has a page of their portfolio website dedicated to testimonials or keeps an offline copy of positive reviews they’ve received from past clients, it tells you their customers are happy with their results and willing to publicly vouch for them. If they don’t offer to share, just ask.

However, if they’re unable to produce a few positive testimonials, that’s might be an indication they are unable to sustain good client relationships or produce quality results. Tread lightly.

6) Do you have a blog?

Graphic designers who have a blog and actively take steps to showcase their domain expertise are more likely to bring additional value, advice, and experience to the table –beyond the deliverables you’ve agreed upon. The right graphic designer with an active social media following or established personal brand can help create more than just a new style for your company; they can become a worthy advocate, too.

As for who should be asking the questions: If your graphic designer will be working hand-in-hand with other members of your content team such as writers and marketers, it’s essential these stakeholders have a say during the interview process. Aside from being able to weigh in on whether they like the designer’s work or not, your other team members’ inputs are valuable for a few reasons: they will have a close pulse on anticipating the timing for upcoming projects, an understanding of the deliverables, and will likely be the ones interacting most with the designer on a day-to-day basis.

These six questions will ensure you come out of the interview with a clear sense of whether the graphic designer candidate is right for the job. When you and the person you hire are on the same page, you’ll cultivate a better rapport and get mutually beneficial results.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

15 Common Logical Fallacies and How to Spot Them

Logical fallacies — those logical gaps that invalidate arguments — aren’t always easy to spot.

While some come in the form of loud, glaring inconsistencies, others can easily fly under the radar, sneaking into everyday meetings and conversations undetected.

Having an understanding of these basic logical fallacies can help you more confidently parse the arguments and claims you participate in and witness on a daily basis — separating fact from sharply dressed fiction.

Our list is by no means an exhaustive guide to every formal and informal fallacy, but it should help you build better arguments and identify logical missteps. 

15 Common Logical Fallacies

1) The Straw Man Fallacy

This fallacy occurs when your opponent over-simplifies or misrepresents your argument (i.e., setting up a “straw man”) to make it easier to attack or refute. Instead of fully addressing your actual argument, speakers relying on this fallacy present a superficially similar — but ultimately not equal — version of your real stance, helping them create the illusion of easily defeating you.

Example:

John: I think we should hire someone to redesign our website.

Lola: You’re saying we should throw our money away on external resources instead of building up our in-house design team? That’s going to hurt our company in the long run.

2) The Bandwagon Fallacy

Just because a significant population of people believe a proposition is true, doesn’t automatically make it true. Popularity alone is not enough to validate an argument, though it’s often used as a standalone justification of validity. Arguments in this style don’t take into account whether or not the population validating the argument is actually qualified to do so, or if contrary evidence exists.

While most of us expect to see bandwagon arguments in advertising (e.g., “three out of four people think X brand toothpaste cleans teeth best”), this fallacy can easily sneak it’s way into everyday meetings and conversations.

Example:

The majority of people believe advertisers should spend more money on billboards, so billboards are objectively the best form of advertisement.

3) The Appeal to Authority Fallacy

While appeals to authority are by no means always fallacious, they can quickly become dangerous when you rely too heavily on the opinion of a single person — especially if that person is attempting to validate something outside of their expertise.

Getting an authority figure to back your proposition can be a powerful addition to an existing argument, but it can’t be the pillar your entire argument rests on. Just because someone in a position of power believes something to be true, doesn’t make it true.

Example:

Despite the fact that our Q4 numbers are much lower than usual, we should push forward using the same strategy because our CEO Barbara says this is the best approach.

4) The False Dilemma Fallacy

This common fallacy misleads by presenting complex issues in terms of two inherently opposed sides. Instead of acknowledging that most (if not all) issues can be thought of on a spectrum of possibilities and stances, the false dilemma fallacy asserts that there are only two mutually exclusive outcomes.

This fallacy is particularly problematic because it can lend false credence to extreme stances, ignoring opportunities for compromise or chances to re-frame the issue in a new way.

Example:

We can either agree with Barbara’s plan, or just let the project fail. There is no other option.

5) The Hasty Generalization Fallacy

This fallacy occurs when someone draws expansive conclusions based on inadequate or insufficient evidence. In other words, they jump to conclusions about the validity of a proposition with some — but not enough — evidence to back it up, and overlook potential counterarguments. 

Example:

Two members of my team have become more engaged employees after taking public speaking classes. That proves we should have mandatory public speaking classes for the whole company to improve employee engagement.

6) The Slothful Induction Fallacy

Slothful induction is the exact inverse of the hasty generalization fallacy above. This fallacy occurs when sufficient logical evidence strongly indicates a particular conclusion is true, but someone fails to acknowledge it, instead attributing the outcome to coincidence or something unrelated entirely.

Example:

Even though every project Brad has managed in the last two years has run way behind schedule, I still think we can chalk it up to unfortunate circumstances, not his project management skills.

7) The Correlation/Causation Fallacy

If two things appear to be correlated, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that one of those things irrefutably caused the other thing. This might seem like an obvious fallacy to spot, but it can be challenging to catch in practice — particularly when you really want to find a correlation between two points of data to prove your point.

Example:

Our blog views were down in April. We also changed the color of our blog header in April. This means that changing the color of the blog header led to less views in April.

8) The Anecdotal Evidence Fallacy

In place of logical evidence, this fallacy substitutes examples from someone’s personal experience. Arguments that rely heavily on anecdotal evidence tend to overlook the fact that one (possibly isolated) example can’t stand alone as definitive proof of a greater premise.

Example:

One of our clients doubled their conversions after changing all their landing page text to bright red. Therefore, changing all text to red is a proven way to double conversions.

9) The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

This fallacy gets its colorful name from an anecdote about a Texan who fires his gun at a barn wall, and then proceeds to paint a target around the closest cluster of bullet holes. He then points at the bullet-riddled target as evidence of his expert marksmanship.

Speakers who rely on the Texas sharpshooter fallacy tend to cherry-pick data clusters based on a predetermined conclusion. Instead of letting a full spectrum of evidence lead them to a logical conclusion, they find patterns and correlations in support of their goals, and ignore evidence that contradicts them or suggests the clusters weren’t actually statistically significant. 

Example:

Lisa sold her first startup to an influential tech company, so she must be a successful entrepreneur. (She ignores the fact that four of her startups have failed since then.)

10) The Middle Ground Fallacy

This fallacy assumes that a compromise between two extreme conflicting points is always true. Arguments of this style ignore the possibility that one or both of the extremes could be completely true or false — rendering any form of compromise between the two invalid as well.

Example:

Lola thinks the best way to improve conversions is to redesign the entire company website, but John is firmly against making any changes to the website. Therefore, the best approach is to redesign some portions of the website.

11) The Burden of Proof Fallacy

If a person claims that X is true, it is their responsibility to provide evidence in support of that assertion. It is invalid to claim that X is true until someone else can prove that X is not true. Similarly, it is also invalid to claim that X is true because it’s impossible to prove that X is false.

In other words, just because there is no evidence presented against something, that doesn’t automatically make that thing true.

Example:

Barbara believes the marketing agency’s office is haunted, since no one has ever proven that it isn’t haunted.

12) The Personal Incredulity Fallacy

If you have difficulty understanding how or why something is true, that doesn’t automatically mean the thing in question is false. A personal or collective lack of understanding isn’t enough to render a claim invalid.

Example:

I don’t understand how redesigning our website resulted in more conversions, so there must have been another factor at play. 

13) The “No True Scotsman” Fallacy

Often used to protect assertions that rely on universal generalizations (like “all Marketers love pie”) this fallacy inaccurately deflects counterexamples to a claim by changing the positioning or conditions of the original claim to exclude the counterexample.

In other words, instead of acknolwedging that a counterexample to their original claim exists, the speaker ammends the terms of the claim. In the example below, when Barabara presents a valid counterexample to John’s claim, John changes the terms of his claim to exclude Barbara’s counterexample.

Example:

John: No marketer would ever put two call-to-actions on a single landing page.

Barbara: Lola, a marketer, actually found great success putting two call-to-actions on a single landing page for our last campaign. 

John: Well, no true marketer would put two call-to-actions on a single landing page, so Lola must not be a true marketer. 

14) The Tu quoque Fallacy

The tu quoque fallacy (Latin for “you also”) is an invalid attempt to discredit an opponent by answering criticism with criticism — but never actually presenting a counterargument to the original disputed claim. 

In the example below, Lola makes a claim. Instead of presenting evidence against Lola’s claim, John levels a claim against Lola. This attack doesn’t actually help John succeed in proving Lola wrong, since he doesn’t address her original claim in any capacity.

Example:

Lola: I don’t think John would be a good fit to manage this project, because he doesn’t have a lot of experience with project management.

John: But you don’t have a lot of experience in project management either!

15) The Fallacy Fallacy

Here’s something vital to keep in mind when sniffing out fallacies: just because someone’s argument relies on a fallacy doesn’t necessarily mean that their claim is inherently untrue.

Making a fallacy-riddled claim doesn’t automatically invalidate the premise of the argument — it just means the argument doesn’t actually validate their premise. In other words, their argument sucks, but they aren’t necessarily wrong. 

Example: 

John’s argument in favor of redesigning the company website clearly relied heavily on cherry-picked statistics in support of his claim, so Lola decided that redesigning the website must not be a good decision.  

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Next Wave in Digital Agency Marketing: Brick-and-Mortar Pop-Ups

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At this point, everyone knows that e-commerce is no longer “the next big thing” — it’s the current big thing. eMarketer estimates e-commerce sales will reach $4.058 trillion in 2020, or 14.6 percent of total retail projections for that year.

The e-commerce space is a hot, crowded market, and the brands that rise to the top will have to be able to cultivate a loyal and rabid fan base. As an agency pro, it’s your job to help your clients grow that base.

You’re probably already killing it using social media, paid advertising, and other digital tools and techniques. However, when even those tried-and-true channels become stale, it’s time to step outside of what we do every day to gain a new perspective.

One way to do that is by placing your clients in a physical location — at least temporarily. 

Thinking outside the box in this way helps them build stronger relationships with their customers, as well as connect organically with fans of similar brands. While people like to purchase online for the convenience, the truth is that many consumers would love to be able to touch, smell, and see whatever it is they’re buying in person.

Building a Concrete Case for Brick-and-Mortar 

According to Retail Dive’s Consumer Survey, 62 percent of consumers want to examine and try out items before buying. Researching products online is key, but most people enjoy the tactile experience of hunting for them and actually touching them.

Shopping is a form of recreation for much of America. One could go so far as to say that America’s real favorite pastime involves going to a store, browsing the options, picking things up, and putting them back — all of which can increase brand awareness and tighten the bond between the brand and the consumer, even if it doesn’t result in a sale.

Of course, e-commerce brands are online for a reason, so diving into brick-and-mortar storefronts may not be in their business plan. That’s why agencies should use physical locations to cross-promote their e-commerce brands. It’s not about making a complete pivot to brick-and-mortar locations — it’s about making a brand’s presence known in a clear and tangible way and boosting consumer interest by bringing related brands together under one roof.

We did this recently at Hawke Media with a new initiative called The Nest. Basically, we took the co-living and co-working cooperative trend to the next level and offered our clients an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a co-retail space.

Launching a Pop-Up Store That Performs

For our recurring pop-up retail space, we curate 10 complementary client brands — including fashion, lifestyle, health, and beauty brands for both men and women — and bring them together seamlessly, without any direct competition.

Every brand has its own custom-tailored space in the store, but we chose certain design elements that lend overall cohesion to the layout of the shop. We produce six in-house events featuring live music, drinks, and giveaways, beginning with a kickoff where each brand can invite 150 guests so there are supporters of each one in attendance.

By launching The Nest, we helped our clients provide a new experience to their customers and cross-pollinate with fans of other brands with minimal involvement on their part. We reached more than 2,800 new customers in person, as well as hundreds of thousands of people on social media.

Before you can make physical cross-promotion work effectively, you have to identify the right e-commerce clients by asking two questions:

  • Who needs a physical touchpoint the most?
  • Who will be able to capitalize fully?

Identify brands that currently sell only online but whose products would benefit from being seen and felt in a brick-and-mortar space. Sometimes, it’s difficult to adequately convey their subtle, yet tangible, selling points in the digital realm. Consider the scent of a candle, the taste of craft tea, or the comfort of a hoodie.

Putting clients who sell products such as these into a physical space allows them to establish a connection with a larger pool of potential customers and really showcase what makes them so unique.

Brand buy-in is vital. A lot of e-commerce companies disregard brick-and-mortar options altogether, and that’s OK. They know their space and where they have the best chance of success, so they’re probably not the ones you would ask to pursue a physical channel.

With The Nest, we drove the promotion and awareness-building efforts surrounding the space, and the brands brought in the people and inventory. If the brands aren’t all-in on maximizing the effort to make the experiment work for them, it will weaken the experience for everyone.

Find clients who are excited to try new things and willing to experiment. Collaboration is also key; brands have to be willing to cross-promote each other and share the wealth. The right brands will make any physical location the place to be.

The Keys to Cross-Pollination

Co-retailing is not about huge spikes in revenue: It’s about the experience and about cross-pollinating customers from brand to brand.

Remember these three key points to keep your agency and your brands focused on the goals of a temporary pop-up store:

1) Encourage brands to invite their most ravenous customers. 

In order for brands to cross-pollinate, they have to bring out people who care about the whole industry, not just their brand. If only friends, family, and targeted shoppers show up, they won’t engage with the other brands in the space.

2) Promote it as a social experience. 

People love farmers markets and festivals for a reason: The experience of browsing is often as good as gaining access to the products. Encourage your brands to re-create that experience, and include brands with broad social reach that will entice even more followers to come out. If you have 10 brands, and each introduces 50 of its own fans to another brand, you’ve helped each brand reach 450 new potential customers.

3) Focus on awareness. 

This is a play for attracting customers, not a direct attribution play. When you gather your brands together, it gives their super fans the ability to form connections with other brands. It’s not about driving a direct response, building revenue, or fueling sales; it’s about letting people experience the product and the brand’s culture. Accentuate visual, aural, auditory, or olfactory features — anything that affects the senses will strengthen the connections formed in the space.

As a digital agency, you’re already taking all of the essential steps to serve your clients. But every other digital agency is serving its clients with the same tactics. Doing the same things your competitors do means settling for the same returns or worse. You need novel ways to help your clients’ brands take flight.

Creating a co-retail space was one of the best things we’ve done for our clients in the last year. Opening up to new fan bases lifted everyone’s brand awareness, and allowing customers to see, feel, taste, and experience their products deepened connections.

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Source: The Next Wave in Digital Agency Marketing: Brick-and-Mortar Pop-Ups
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Copywriting for Conversions: 9 Ways Emotion and Word Count Affect Your Landing Pages [New Data]

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We all know that words matter — in life, but also in marketing.

When it comes to landing page copy, many a debate have begun over which words to choose, the context in which they’re used, the order they’re presented in and the amount you use to convey a message.

“Shorter is always better — no one has the attention span to read hundreds of words!”

“Longform pages get better results!”

“Use fear to persuade readers to act!

“Forget fear, pull at their heartstrings!”

The truth is, these quote-unquote best practices are the result of gut instinct and a ton of trial and error. And what works for one industry might not work for the next. So even if so-and-so does figure out the key to high-converting real estate landing pages, that same key might not unlock the full potential of your legal landing page.

I get it, you need more granular, data-backed insights to help inform your marketing copy. Hell, we need data-backed insights.

So we did a thing.

With the help of Machine Learning model and an Emotion Lexicon, Unbounce data scientists analyzed the behavior of 74,551,421 visitors to 64,284 lead generation landing pages to reveal what kind of emotional language is effective across 10 popular industries.

They looked at eight basic emotions (anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise and trust) and analyzed how copy associated with these emotions affected user behavior. Specifically, they looked at how language associated with these emotions correlated with the number of users who converted on a page. Not only that, they looked at how word count affected conversions — helpful for marketers and copywriters alike.

Download the full report here, or check out some of the juicy insights below.

9 Industry-Specific Takeaways About How Emotion and Word Count Affect Conversions

1) In the Travel Industry, Keep Language Positive

Our findings showed that if even 1% of page copy evoked feelings of anger or fear, conversion rates could be up to 25% lower.

anger-image-updated.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

Some of the keywords that evoke fear or anger include: “limited,” “money,” “hot,” “desert,” “endless,” “challenge,” “treat,” “fee,” “rail,” “bear,” “buffet,” “bang,” “cash” and “despair.”

(I don’t know about you, but limited money, hot deserts, and endless fees sure sound terrible to me.)

On the opposite side of the spectrum, words that established trust include: “enjoy,” “secret,” “top,” “guide,” “save,” “personal,” “spa,” “policy,” “provide,” “star,” “award,” “friendly” and “recommend.”

Keep in mind, though, this data was generated by an algorithm, so if you’re using it as a jumping off point for optimization, use your best judgement.

2) Don’t Disgust in Business Consulting

Business consultants get a bad rap. Television shows like House of Lies paint an image of the cutthroat consultant out to make a buck.

Whether or not this has any impact on conversion rates, we’ll never know for sure. What we do know, however, is that you should probably avoid words associated with disgust.

disgust-new.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

The study found that words like “blame,” “cheat,” “collapse,” “disaster” and “offend” tend to negatively affect conversions.

Which, when you look at them together like that, is not all that surprising.

3) Fear mongering doesn’t lead to more conversions (most of the time)

Words associated with fear often had a negative impact on conversions, particularly in Health, Legal and Travel.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 2.25.07 PM.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

In Business Consulting, however, we found that filling between 1% to 2% of your copy with words that create a deep-seated sense of fear and unease can actually help conversion rates.

So, certainly don’t be liberal with the scary words, but you might see improvement with a little peppering here and there.

4) Shoot for Short and Sweet Business Services Pages

When it comes to Business Services, treat your landing page like an elevator pitch and keep the copy tight and concise.

word-count.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

Data showed that overall, pages with fewer than 100 words convert 50% better than those with more than 500 words.

And when you’re considering words to cut or keep, keep in mind that words that evoke trust may have a positive effect on your conversion rates. The caveat? You have to be extremely trustworthy, meaning more than 8% of your language needs to imply trust — words like “leading,” “compliance,” “account,” “powerful” and “maintenance.”

5) Spread the Joy of Higher Education

Advancing one’s education is a beautiful thing, so it’s no surprise that words associated with joy correlated with higher conversion rates on average in the Higher Education industry.

joy-chart.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

Words associated with joy commonly found on Higher Education pages include “scholarship,” “graduation,” “share,” “succeed,” “success” and “excellence.”

6) Trust Words Work in Some Industries … But Not Others

Using words that subconsciously evoke feelings of trust can lead to higher conversion rates in the Travel and Business Services industries.

In Credit & Lending, however, trust words can hurt conversions:

trust-chart.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

The study showed that words which reinforce a sense of trust should be used strategically and sparingly — for up to 3% of your copy. Anything beyond that resulted in up to 10% lower conversion rates.

Among the common words associated with trust in Credit & Lending were “advice,” “pay,” “cash,” “lender,” “law,” “fixed” and “council.”

7) Keep Copy Concise in Credit & Lending

Analysis of thousands of lead generation landing pages in Credit & Lending revealed that less copy is often correlated with more conversions.

In fact, the study found that while keeping to under 400 words is good, pages below 100 words have nearly double the conversion rate.

word-count-2.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

8) Avoid buzzwords in Business Consulting

If you work in the Business Consulting industry, you may think that words like “predict,” “attainable,” “achievement,” “exceed” and “excel” help hype your offering, but your audience may perceive these as empty buzzwords.

The report showed that pages with more than 1.5% of copy building a sense of anticipation around the offer were correlated with pages with up to 25% lower conversion rates.

anticipation-chart.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

9) Joy Isn’t Always a Conversion Booster

Although joy had a positive impact on conversion rates for the Higher Education industry, having too many words associated with joy is correlated with fewer conversions in the Legal and Home Improvement industries.

joy-chart-2.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

In Home Improvement in particular, the best converting pages tend to have less than 1% of their copy communicating joyful concepts. Words associated with joy for Home Improvement included sun, perfect, satisfied, money, pay, special, safe, happy and more.

Choose Your Words Wisely

When it comes to writing marketing copy that converts, no word should be selected without a purpose in mind. As you build your landing pages, make sure you’re giving extra consideration to how each and every word will affect your target audience and influence conversions. 

Did any of the data surprise you? Let us know in the comments!

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Source: Copywriting for Conversions: 9 Ways Emotion and Word Count Affect Your Landing Pages [New Data]
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

What Color Should Your Logo Be? How to Pick the Perfect Color [Infographic]

Color has a major impact on how we perceive the world around us. 

Research has shown that the psychology of color can not only influence the way food tastes, the way some medicines perform, and the way we feel — it can also play a massive role in our brand preferences and buying habits.  

But selecting the right colors for your company logo (or a client’s logo) can be tricky. You want the color scheme to attract your company’s target consumers and elicit positive emotions, but your own personal color preferences can easily get in the way. 

Just because blue is your absolute favorite color, it doesn’t mean your target persona feels the same way. You need to put yourself firmly in their shoes to find a color scheme that reflects their preferences, habits, and interests. 

How to Pick the Perfect Color for Your Logo

This quirky flowchart from the folks at 99designs can help you select the perfect colors for your next logo design project. Just imagine your brand is a person, and answer the questions below. The flowchart will lead you to a color combo that suits your brand’s personality and reflects the image you want to project to consumers. 


Image Credit: 99designs

What colors are your favorite brand’s logos? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Most Searched Agency Services, According to the Time of Year [New Data]

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According to the latest Top Agency Trends Report from Agency Spotter, marketers and brands search for different services depending on the time of the year. Knowing which services to offer and emphasize at different times of the year could help your agency stand above your competition. These search trends, based on seasonality, come down to a couple of different factors based on what companies are looking to accomplish at different times of the year.

The report covers marketing services trends based on data from more than 120,000 unique users and three years, data on service seasonality, the top 25 agency services being searched, and the rise of project-based engagements.

Let’s dig in.

Marketing Services Searched More in the First Half of the Year

As companies begin the new year, they are looking to establish initiatives that are relatively quick fixes and do not take as much time to implement. Business leaders often take a look at their marketing data from the past year and see which areas need more attention or may have fallen down the to-do list.

Looking at the Trends Report, we can see that services like content marketing, PR, SEO, data analytics, shopper marketing, and events all perform better in the first half of the year. From the top 25 agency services for 2016, content marketing took the 7th spot as the most searched service from marketers all year. Interestingly, if you divide the list into H1 and H2, you can see that content marketing was 9th in H1 but did not even make the Top 25 in H2.

Content marketing is becoming increasingly important for all companies to utilize because it helps attract and inform customers and potential customers. But if you think about it, companies don’t generally set a content calendar at the end of the year — they tend to do that at the beginning of the year. Same thing goes for SEO and PR.

Check out the list below to see which keywords fall off or perform better at a certain time of year, and then optimize your site accordingly.

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Agency Services Perform Better in H2

Taking a look at the data, services like ecommerce, branding, UX design, email marketing, and CRM automation all perform better in the second half of the year. These align with initiatives that take more planning and are services that many companies want to have ready before the start of a new year.

Design-based services like ecommerce, branding, and UX all have to do with experiences that directly interact with customers. A website redesign or branding makeover are usually planned in the middle of the year so that companies are ready to debut their new look in the new year.

As you can see in the report, ecommerce went from 18th most searched in H1 to 5th in H2, branding from 12th to 6th, and UX took the 9th spot despite not even appearing on the H1 list.

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Services Shopped Consistently Year Round

There are also agency services whose demand remains stable throughout the year.

The big services like advertising, web design, digital, social media, and marketing perform all year. Use this data to better understand the behavior of your customers and when they are searching.

Finally, here are the biggest shifts from 2015 to 2016:

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Knowing what services perform better throughout the year can help your agency strategically position business development, staffing, and other factors to help your agency rise above the competition. For more information about the marketing service industry, download the free Agency Spotter Agency Trends Report.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing