Content Marketing Revolution

For the past 8 months, I’ve been writing a book called Content Marketing Revolution, which aims to helps businesses and individuals to attract more customers, increase sales and excite brand loyalty…all using highly-targetted content.

It’s no secret that traditional marketing tactics have been struggling to deliver the same results as they once did. Today’s consumers are looking to make more educated decisions based on information, trust and brand affinity. This is where content marketing comes in…

“Dane Brookes inspiringly guides you through the five key steps to success. This book is a must for marketers of all levels.”
Mark Langshaw, Digital Spy

Over the last decade, I’ve worked in marketing andcontent strategy in a variety of sectors, from small one-man-bands to FTSE 100 companies, from local traders to television companies in Nashville and New York. The book shares everything I have learnt along the way, with examples of tried and tested campaigns.

The book guides businesses through my five key steps towards developing, executing and monitoring a content marketing strategy to take control of their market. It also includes contributions from a selection of leading content experts I’ve worked with over the years, including Olivier award-winning writer, Mark Davies Markham, Emmy award-winning television producer, Debora Fougere and the University of Liverpool Media Relations Manager, Samantha Martin. The icing on the cake comes in the form of the foreword by Matt Warnock, Digital Editor in Chief at Philips.

The book is published by Giant Leap Media and is available in paperback and Kindle format. Find out more on the Content Marketing Revolution website or get a copy on Amazon.

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New content marketing hub
The book represent the first step towards a new content marketing hub Group Dane is creating in Liverpool. The hub will pull together a collection of the best content producers and strategists in the UK.

The new hub will pull together content specialists from all over the world, providing a range of services and resources to businesses of all sizes.

Sign up to find out out more about our new content marketing hub, Content Kicks.

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Dane Brookes, Author and Director at Group Dane

One very happy Scouse Bird

Last week, Group Dane was pleased to launch the brand new Scouse Bird Problems website…

For anyone who doesn’t know her (where’ve you been?), Scouse Bird is a popular anonymous fashion and lifestyle blogger, famous for her characteristically Scouse-witted tongue. With a growing social media following of more than 250,000 people, her reach spans from Merseyside way out across the globe, while her website attracts tens of thousands of visits every month.

Souse Bird asked Group Dane to create a new website, which is not only in-keeping with the brand from a design perspective, but also includes a easily manageable blogging platform and functionality that simplifies management of advertising.

We designed a beautiful, responsive website, which supports and builds upon the Scouse Bird brand and, through effective information architecture work, displays a large amount of content in an intuitive and user-friendly way.

scouseGiven the majority of Scouse Bird’s audience visits the website via portable devices, we knew from the outset that it was crucial that the site works well on all mobile devices, such as mobile phones and tablets.

sbp4We opted for Umbraco to handle content management (including blogging platform) and developed an integrated system to manage advertising across the site, which scalable management and reporting.

The verdict?

Another beautiful and perfectly engineered website by Group Dane and one very happy Scouse Bird.

scouse-bird-problemsSee the website for yourself at: www.scousebirdproblems.com

 

An Evening with Umbraco

On Wednesday night, we were lucky enough to spend a couple of hours in the company of Umbraco founder, Niels Hartvig.

In a very candid and informal talk, Niels enthralled the 90 or so delegates that had travelled to Manchester to see hear about Umbraco from the master himself.

Niels Hartvig at Umbraco Manchester Meet UpNiels talked about the mistakes the company has made in the past, from the lasting effects of minor typos, to the major U-turn with Umbraco 5. Then, with considerable modesty, Niels talked about the significant successes the company has enjoyed with high-profile companies like Peugeot and Microsoft.

One of the key points Niels made throughout his talk was the importance he placed on the growing Umbraco community. Part of what makes Umbraco so popular with coders is the community it has nurtured:

 “Umbraco is transparent and honest… Umbraco lives because of its community which thrives on collaboration and is passionate about technology. We work together to bring about change.”
– Umbraco manifest

Niels Hartvig at Umbraco Manchester Meet UpSimplicity

Niels affirmed his personal desire to constantly make it easier to use Umbraco’s interface. Its simplicity and intuitive controls are part of what makes this such a popular content management system for web editors.

In terms of set up, Umbraco provides the basis of what’s needed to create a content managed website, allowing you to choose the add-ons and extensions you want to use. In comparison, many other content management systems are really bloated and over complicated giving users all of the options you could ever possibly need, irrespective of their requirements.

From Group Dane’s point of view, Umbraco is a winning solution, as it allows our developers to build sites from the ground up, only adding features that are required by our clients. This makes our clients lives easier because they get a very simple interface, containing only the features that they will actually need.

The future

Niels talked about Project Belle, a new user interface design, which aims to help end users use the backoffice more easily.

Find out more about Belle and how you can have your first look at it by downloading the alpha version.

Umbraco as a service

Perhaps one of the most interesting chapters in Umbraco’s history is due to unfold soon.

Niels talked about Umbraco’s plans to offer a service which will appeal to less technical users, rivalling the simplicity of WordPress in terms of set up.

The packages will offer users development, staging and live environments, with a simple one click deployment between them.

And finally…

For us, the resounding message was that, other than a great deal of talent and skill, Umbraco’s success has largely been attributed to a strong desire for simplicity, acute perfectionism and transparency within its community. I believe there is a great deal of good stuff still to come from Umbraco.

For more thoughts on Umbraco, check out our post, Umbraco we love you.

Images courtesy of Simon Antony.

Time for a digital health check

We all know that if we don’t look after our own health and lifestyle, we’re likely to get sick sooner or later. To most of us, this means eating the right food, limiting poisons like alcohol and caffeine, doing enough exercise and getting mental and emotional satisfaction.

Believe it or not, thinking about these principles helps us to understand how to keep a healthy digital presence. By digital presence I mean your online existence through websites and social media.

Whether you’re a business or an individual, your digital presence is just as unique as you are. And whether you have consciously developed it or not, it even has a personality in its own right. Hold that thought and humanise it one step further by relating your whole digital presence to the human body. Trust me, this will eventually make sense!

Take a look at Group Dane’s digital health check infographic below, then read on for a magical metaphorical tour of your digital presence.

Group Dane Digital Health Check Infographic

Click image to view full size

Brain

Think of the brain as your digital strategy. Just like your brain controls your body’s actions, your strategy should control the actions on your website, social media and email marketing.

Face

Your face is usually the first thing people see when they look at you. Equally, the first thing people see when they visit your website is the design. Make sure it does you justice. Be honest, do you need a face lift?

Eyes and ears

You don’t need eyes in the back of your head to keep an eye on your customers and competitors. With good social media infiltration, you’ll be able to easily watch and listen to what people are saying about you, the types of products or services you offer and of course, your business rivals!

Vocal cords

Human beings use their vocal cords to communicate. When it comes to your digital presence, you have two voices: your website content (let’s call this your baritone voice) and social media interactions (this is your tenor voice).

Heart

Of course, this is your brand. Keep it central to everything you do. After all, it defines you. Just like your body relies on a strong healthy heart, your digital presence is dependent on a strong healthy brand.

Lungs

Take a deep breath and breathe some life into your website with dynamic up-to-date content. If you don’t have time to update your website regularly, think about feeding in some relevant automated content to keep your site breathing between your updates.

Skeleton

Think of your site map as your skeleton. Not only will it hold everything together and help visitors to navigate your site, it will also help search engine spiders to index it and boost search performance.

Right hand

When it comes to updating your website, a good content management system (CMS) is your right hand man/woman. If you aren’t able to easily and efficiently update content, it could be time to seek some professional help.

Bowels

Here is where all of your waste website content should go. Think of the bowels as a trash can for out of date content, or better still – an archive. Putting old content into an archive on your website can help with search engine optimisation. But whatever you decide to do with old content, don’t just leave it where it is or you risk making your website look like it’s been abandoned.

Blood and veins

Just like blood runs through your whole body within veins and arteries, html runs through your whole website. Just like blood, html can become dirty, old and heavy and this can cause problems to the rest of the site if it isn’t cleaned up.

Mojo

Have you got the X factor when it comes to design, functionality and content? If you don’t have anything special to show, your customers may not see your package in a favourable light.

Achilles heel

Poor search engine performance is where many websites fall down – don’t let this become your Achilles heel. Make sure yours stands up well in the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Muscles

Your website functionality is just like the muscles on your body. Flex the functions your website can perform and assess whether it’s strong enough to do everything you need it to. Remember that your web functionality needs to be strong enough to carry the weight of your business.

Treatment

If you feel that your digital presence is suffering from a long-term ailment or just needs some defibrillator action, Group Dane has the cure. Get in touch.

Umbraco, we love you

So you’re looking for a content management system (CMS) for your website? At Group Dane, we usually recommend Umbraco to our clients.

Read on to find out more about Umbraco and why we love it so…

What is Umbraco?

Umbraco is a free, open-source CMS platform that helps web editors to quickly and easily update and publish content to their sites.

Currently, Umbraco is a privately held profit-making company with about 10 permanent staff, who are supported by an additional 15 volunteer developers.

How did it come about?

First developed by Niels Hartvig in 2000, it was released as open-source software in 2005. By 2009, it was widely considered to be one of the leading .Net-based open source CMSs around.

Who else uses it?

Umbraco is used by some of the biggest organisations in the world, including Peugeot, Heinz, Microsoft and Vogue.

umbraco clients

What sets it apart from competitors?

Umbraco is free and easy to use for both editors and .Net developers. Because it’s open-source, it thrives on collaboration, which means that anybody can submit their own bug fixes, features and extensions to be considered for inclusion in the CMS. This means it is quickly and constantly improving.

The diverse usage of the CMS and collaborative development effort means it’s highly flexible. Almost everything in Umbraco is customisable and extensions are available that can enhance the standard installation. These extensions are mainly provided by the community and most are free or available for a small charge.

Umbraco offers support via the community site Our Umbraco, which is not only huge (it has more than 55,000 registered users), it is also extremely knowledgeable. Many of its members are top notch developers keen to help and advise on all things Umbraco.

Although the CMS is free to use (and according to the Umbraco Corporation, it always will be), there are additional options you can opt in for, which include productivity enhancing add-ons. For a small fee, you can also add a support package to the CMS for guaranteed and professional help and bug fixing warranty.

Find out more

Hear it from the horse’s mouth at the official Umbraco website.

Group Dane is a Liverpool-based digital agency, with more than 15 years digital experience. Get in touch if you’d like to know what we can do for you, whether you need a new website/CMS or not.

Post by Louise, Head of Development.