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

Why is content king?

It’s no secret that a website’s success depends on strengths in a few key areas, including: design and structure; functionality; and content.

Interestingly, when a client asks us to develop a website, content is often the last item on their priority list.

From copy, images and videos to the titles of pages and sections, content is fundamental to the success of any website.

But why is website content so important? Here are a few pointers to help you to understand why great content is important.

Search ranking

Search engine rankings are driven by content. No matter how well designed or user-focussed your website is, without high quality, subject-relevant content, Google, Bing and other search engines will not rate your web pages as well as you would like.

Guiding visitors

It is important to remember that visitors are always looking to do something, whether that is perform a task, be entertained or find information. It is ultimately content that will guide a visitor around a website and encourage them do something. Without strong messages and appropriate calls to action, the user will struggle to follow the paths you have set out for them.

Images, video and beyond

Strong copy isn’t the only thing to consider when it comes to content. A picture may paint a thousand words, but if labelled up correctly, they can also pull in more website visitors, not to mention compliment the design of the website. There is little point investing time and money into fantastic webs design if you are going to assault it with poor quality images.

Given YouTube is now the world’s second largest search engine, why not try to capture some of that traffic by creating video content that you can upload and embed into your website? Don’t forget to label the video appropriately and link back to your website.

Further guidance

If you would like more support or advice about improving your website content, find out more about our content services.

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.

Top tips for email marketing

How many times have you deleted a marketing email without even reading it? It didn’t take long for digital junk mail to become almost as annoying as its ugly paper-based cousin!

That said, email marketing can be rather effective if you do it properly. We’ve put together a few key tips to help you get it right and maybe even avoid your messages heading straight to the recycle bin.

Target contacts carefully

Make sure you take care when putting together your contacts list (this is the list of people you’ll be sending your email to). If you send specific demographics of your customer base targeted messages and offers you are far more likely to have a higher success rate.

Keep it real…and simple

Only send a marketing email if you have news, a special offer, a brand new service or something else interesting to say! Every time you send an irrelevant, uninspiring or babbling email, you could lose potentially valuable contacts.

And remember not to tell your customer absolutely everything there is to know about your business or products in the email. Think of it as a call to action; make it clear what the action is and stress the benefits.

Tone and style

Think carefully about language and tone of voice in your email. If you over-do the marketing speak, you may turn people off.

Always make sure the words and images in the email are in-keeping with your brand.

Service providers

It is important your emails are managed properly, look professional and have tracking enabled. You can do this effortlessly by using an email campaign service provider.

There are a number of great providers to choose from and some of them even offer free packages. Our favourites include MailChimp, eShot, and Pure360.

Tracking

Whether you use an email campaign service provider or not, you should have analytics tracking set up on your emails. This will help you to monitor how many times the email has been read and by who.

Links and replies

You’d probably be surprised how many companies send out marketing emails that don’t link back to their websites. Don’t make the same mistake!

Just as importantly, make sure you include a reply email address in your message.

Stay legal

It is a legal requirement in the UK to include an “unsubscribe” link in marketing emails. But, wait…this isn’t a bad thing. After all, it’s pointless sending emails to people who don’t want to receive them or don’t have any interest or use for your product or service. The unsubscribe button will help to keep your contacts database more efficient.

Always remember to include a link to your privacy policy, which should explain what data you keep about your recipients, how you keep it secure, who (if anyone) you will share it with and what they can do to access it.

Don’t forget, by UK law, all marketing emails must also include your business address in the footer.

More…

For more advice or help with planning, creating or measuring a digital marketing campaign, get in touch with Group Dane.

“Don’t tell me what to do!”

So you have a website, but will your visitors use it in the way you hope they will? Whether you want visitors to find out information, watch/listen to media or buy/sell something, your aim is to get them to do it before they leave your site. How can you do that when people hate being told what to do?

Force the user journey?

In short, you can’t ever force your visitors to do anything. We call people who enter your website “visitors”, we don’t call them “prisoners”. So it is important to constantly bear in mind that they are usually there out of their own free will. Equally, the way they use your website (their “behaviour”) is their own choice. You may have a very specific and wonderful user journey planned out, but the best you can do is guide and encourage them to follow the path you’d like them to take.

Why carrot over stick?

No matter how much you try to remove your visitors’ choices by limiting their navigational options, there are always two choices – to stay or to go. If you don’t allow them to choose their own journey through your website, they will probably just decide to leave.

Put simply: respect your visitors and offer them everything they need in the most logical, attractive way possible.

Use a logical site structure and layout

Do some user testing and listen to your own instincts. Ask your testers to find certain things or perform specific actions on your website and record their feedback. Could they find everything they were looking for?

If you have any analytics data for your website, check what the most visited pages are, along with the most frequent exit pages. This is an invaluable insight to your visitors’ behaviour. Are they doing what you expect them to do?

The key here is to give visitors lots of what they want and never less than they need.

Attract, coax, intrigue

If you want a visitor to perform a particular action, whether it’s watch a video or click on a link, you need to somehow persuade them to do it.

Dangle that carrot again:

a. Videos

  • Give your videos titles that accurately describe the content and entice users to click the play button.
  • Always pick an interesting, visually stimulating video thumbnail (the freeze frame that shows when the video isn’t playing). The thumbnail you choose can help to sell or repel video plays. You can change YouTube video thumbnails easily.

b. Links

All links within your website should describe what you are linking to and, if possible, why the visitor should click on them. Remember that links are calls to action, so make sure you sell the action well. What benefit will the visitor get out of this click?

c. Section and page names

The titles you give to sections and pages should clearly represent the content they contain. This goes for the page headings and navigation labels too.

d. Page presentation

If you want someone to read a passage of text, make it look as appealing as possible. Break up big blocks of text with smaller manageable chunks. Make sure your content is easy to read – a good way to check is reading it out loud.

e. Image slide shows

Obviously, all of the images on your website should be stimulating to some degree. But if you’re using any kind of image slider or transition, you need to carefully think about the image order. Always try to use the best ones first to hook visitor attention.

f. Cohesion

Think about how all of this ties together. Don’t allow items of content to clash or compete with each other. Make sure the page has a focal point, which is closely related to what action you would like visitors to perform.

A safer “get out clause”

Don’t forget that visitors always have the ultimate “get out clause” – if they don’t like the page they are on, they can easily exit your website. Where possible, always offer an alternative call to action that doesn’t involve leaving the site. For example, if the focus of a page is a video, accompany it with a link to an alternative piece of content.

Your website should be like a pick ‘n’ mix sweet shop; full of choices. But remember to carefully choose which sweets to stock.

More

There’s so much more we want to tell you. For help with information architecture, user experience, web design and more, get in touch with Group Dane.

10 great tips on writing for the web

Content is one of the most important aspects of your website. The copy (words) you choose is the main vehicle for your message, which after all is the whole purpose of your website. Follow our top ten tips to help you choose your words carefully…

1. ATTENTION!

Capture your audience’s attention as soon as they reach the page. Consider what’s in it for them and reflect this in your copy. What will they get out of reading on? Use descriptive, eye-catching and thought provoking headings to lure them into the rest of your content; try using questions and relevant key words.

2. Keep it relevant

One good way to avoid waffling is to imagine you’ve just bumped into a friend you haven’t seen in a while, but they’re in a rush. You need to tell them something, so you need to get straight to the point. The average visitor stays on a web page for around 30 seconds, so make sure you tell them everything they need to know in that time frame.

3. Start at the end

Don’t make your audience have to trawl through paragraphs to find out what they need to know, because they almost certainly won’t. Start with the conclusion or summary, then use the rest of your text to elaborate.

4. Know your primary audience

Understand your target audience and write with them in mind. Use an appropriate tone and keep their needs at the heart of your copy. What do you have that they want? Give it to them or at least tell them how they can get it.

5. Consider secondary audience

Although you’re writing predominantly for your target audience, where possible, avoid using jargon that could alienate potential secondary and tertiary audiences.

Oh, and remember to always clearly explain/spell out any acronyms or abbreviations on all pages you use them.

6. Make it snappy

Stick to just one idea per paragraph and keep them short to break up the text. Remember that people typically don’t read web pages, they scan them.

7. Time to get personal

Using you, we and I adds relevance to your copy and helps to build a more personal, friendly relationship with your audience. After all, if you can’t trust your friends…

8. Formatting

Wherever appropriate, use short bulleted lists rather than chunks of text. Most web users read the top two and bottom two bullet points before the rest, so put your key points there.

9. Proof is in the pudding

You’ll be the pudding if you don’t carefully proofread your copy, then proofread it again. If possible, ask someone else to do the final chek (oops).

10. Call to action

You have your audience’s attention, so use it wisely. Think about what you want your audience to do next. Make sure you offer clear calls to action. Here’s an example of a good one:

For more help with writing for the web, visit Group Dane.