Do You Even Lift? Executing A Content Marketing Strategy That Gets Results

Content Marketing StrategyWhat do getting swole and content marketing have in common?

More that you might think.  By applying some of the same principles that work in the gym to your content development and marketing you can get the results you are looking for.

So do you even lift?

Content Marketing Strategy | Start TodayThe first step to getting results is to take action. Do something.  Start somewhere.  You have a boring niche? So… you still have build content. Your industry is too technical? Doesn’t matter… you still have to do it. You don’t like social media… you still have to do it.

If you want the results, you have to put in the work, and the work isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels like a grind to continuously promote content in various verticals, but to be a thought leader or subject matter expert, you have to put in the effort. KISSmetrics has awesome content about maximizing engagement by leveraging available data about the timing of distribution. This post is a great example.

So, how can you get results from your content marketing?

Have a plan before you show up

Wandering around the gym doing a little of this and a little of that isn’t going to work – you need a plan.

Have goals for your content marketing. Knowing why you are developing a particular piece of content keeps the creation process controlled. Content serves various functions – is it sales copy? Educational copy? Industry specific? Linkbait? All these content types require different approaches to get maximum results.  Will Reynolds from SEER has some incredible data on putting a content plan together here.

Don’t skip leg day

Leg day sucks, but it’s important.  You can’t skip the tough parts and expect to meet your goals.

Getting results from your content marketing requires that you have a plan for your content and that you stick to the plan. Know what, when, and where you are going to promote your content before you build it. Put a timeline or schedule in place to maximize your engagement across social media networks. Preparing a distribution schedule, drafting tweets, and selecting pictures and hashtags in advance makes executing easier, and it gives your content marketing efforts a more coherent feel.

No curls in the squat rack

The squat rack is for squats – knowing where to post your content makes you more efficient, and less likely to get the stink eye.

Stop Publishing Low Value ContentKnow where your content belongs and put it there. Cluttering up Facebook with every idea that pops into your head isn’t a content marketing strategy. Evaluate your content and understand what outlets are most applicable for your particular content goals. Does it belong on LinkedIn or Pinterest? Putting your content in front of the most likely audience, respects your audience’s time – and people love that.

You can’t out train a bad diet

You can do crunches until you pass out but if you eat cake for breakfast you won’t realize your goals

Stop with the crappy, low value, content. It’s poison. It’s annoying. It’s not going to help you.

Having a disciplined approach to content creation ensures that you only turn out targeted content. Come up with a lot of ideas, cull the bad ones, flesh out the good ones to see if they will work, and develop only the ones that are new, useful, and feasible.

You gotta track your gains

Knowing your numbers is key to tracking results – if you aren’t keeping track, how do know where to adjust?

Once your content has been developed, refined, scheduled and finally released into the wild, you have to track it.  Your strategy has many assumptions, and paying attention to the life cycle of a piece of content gets you actionable insights for modifying and informing your next piece of content.

So that’s it:

  • Get started
  • Make a complete plan
  • Stick to the plan
  • Be smart with your efforts
  • Track your efficacy

Now that you have your content marketing tips if you want to “learn” more about the gym please check out one of my favorite YouTube channels to see the inspiration for this post.

 

Why Flat Design Works So Well

Have you ever visited a website that makes you leave as soon as you see it? We all have. The scary thing is that your website could be one of them. Many people, especially the newest generation of consumers, are starting to dislike the look and functionality of well-built websites from just a couple years ago. Why? Because there is too much “going on”, making the browsing experience too difficult.

If your website looks dated, then it probably has more issues than just appearance; it probably hasn’t been optimized for mobile devices, for example. Considering that mobile devices make up roughly 30% of web traffic in the U.S., it is generally considered a good idea to make sure your website is accessible to those users. If your website is too difficult for them to use, they will find another. Those people were your potential customers, gone because they didn’t like using your website.

Mobile versions of websites have solved the issue for many people, but they’ve almost worked too well. Websites created for mobile devices are convenient to use, and that is why web viewers are starting to dislike many full-size websites. This has created a new style of web design, called “flat design”.

Google Logo | Flat Logo

Google is a good example of a subtle flat design. Check out their newest logo and website.

This trending style isn’t only a result of personal preferences, though. There are reasons it is so popular this year.

Flat Design is the result of logical choices

Flat websites are easier to use.

Content is blocked out in easily understandable sections. Gradients, shadows, embossed and beveled buttons, and large amounts of text are all “going out-of-style”. “CLICK HERE” buttons, for example, are being replaced with buttons that the user can tell are clickable by their appearance and placement. Convenience for the user is one of the main focus points of the design.

Simple-color images are smaller

Flat Icons | Increasing load speed

These icons load quickly, while remaining visually appealing and recognizable to the user.

The fewer the colors in an image, the smaller the file-size. Huge, high quality images load reasonably quickly on a high-speed connection, but many people don’t have fast connections. Mobile devices often times don’t have enough “service” to take full advantage of their mobile networks, and the “free high-speed wi-fi” options available to travelers is usually mediocre at best. Flat design combined with well-written Sass CSS, could help your website load significantly faster, which increases your favor with Google’s ranking algorithm.

Navigation is difficult on phone and tablets.

Devices that use a touch screen instead of a mouse don’t have the ability to hover, which many websites utilize in their menus. This makes it difficult for mobile users to navigate. Flat design solves this issue by avoiding complex navigation and website “depth”, making the website easily navigatable for both mobile and desktop users.

Large blocks of text aren’t useful.

Flat design uses less text than a run-of-the-mill website, because more isn’t always better. Although plentiful textual information looks good to Google’s bots, your viewers aren’t reading most of it. Studies show that readers scan large amounts of text to find what they are looking for in a pattern that resembles an “F”. The first couple headings are scanned over, then the rest of the content in glanced at vertically in an attempt to find something interesting. Knowing this, your website should deliver what your business has to offer before your viewers get bored with reading about it (it happens fast). Your first two headings (remember that “F” pattern) should display your most important information. Flat design gets rid of the  low-value content to make space for high-value content, or give the design some empty space, or breathing room, if there is “too much going on”. That means you shouldn’t have have more than a couple headings for any subject on a main page.

Flat Design | Flat Website | Responsive Design

No compromises here. SpellTower’s website looks and functions the same across all devices.

Flat Design retains your website appearance across devices.

The blocked out and straight-to-the-point content of a flat design can be scaled easily without losing the core of your website’s design. The result is a website that is visually and functionally similar across all devices, making flat design an appealing choice when developing a “responsive” website.

Of course, flat design isn’t the only way to go. There are many styles of web design that also work well, but flat design solves a lot of problems that are difficult to work around otherwise. Not everyone likes the look or functionality of flat design, but you still need to make sure your website is accessible for everyone. If you have a live website already, try clearing your cache and loading it with you have a slow connection, or navigating through the site with a touch-screen.

This is the best post about better website testimonials ever. – Dan T.

Is this how your testimonials look?  Odds are that your site employs some version of testimonials like the subject of this post:

So and so is the best and “insert company focus here” and we were super extra ultra pleased with the job so and so did.  We have never been so pleased with another human in our experiences with “insert company focus here”

– RSI (random set of initials)

You may even have some faces to add credibility like these folks or these folks or even these folks:

happy customers - boy do they love you

So the $64,00o question is this:  What are testimonials supposed to accomplish on a website?

The Purpose of Testimonials vs the Reality:

Nobody Believes Your TestimonialsTestimonials are meant to do a couple of things:

  • Help establish trust with prospects that may have no experience with your business
  • Work to articulate your companies value proposition using existing clients as your messenger
  • Humanize your company or product and make your messaging more relate-able

This all makes sense – use prior customer experiences to add value, build trust, and sell more products/services.  But when a testimonial consists of a cheesy stock photo, a blurb clearly not written by a normal customer, and a set of random intials does it really do any of the above things?  I don’t think so…and neither do your prospects.  People don’t tend to declare that experiences were otherworldly when referring to HVAC service or filing bankruptcy.  Generally real people sound like real people…and so should your testimonials.

So my testimonials are awful – now what?

  • Like many recovery programs, the first step is to admit you have a problem.  Once you have come to terms with the fact that your testimonials aren’t helping (and may even be hurting), the next step is to implement change.  To get more mileage out of your testimonials consider implementing some of the following:
  • Use real testimonials – seriously…start asking your clients for REAL testimonials.  If you do a good job for your clients they can probably spare 2 minutes to write a few sentences.  If nobody will write you a testimonial maybe that reality warrants some deeper reflection.
  • Consider using video – this is a lot more to ask of your clients but video certainly brings out the human factor.  Nothing exudes the human factor like a real person saying real words complete with awkward silences and “uh’s” and “umms”.
  • Make top tier reviews easy – create a system to drive clients to your preferred top tier review sites (Google, Yelp, Urbanspoon, etc.) with an email or link on your site that you can send out quickly to those clients that will sing your praises.  Reviews on top tier sites carry weight, can carry over to your Google Places listing, and can be fed into your site using aggregator tools such as the one offered on Yelp!.
  • Develop a story testimonial – this requires more thought and work on your part but can yield big rewards when it comes to establishing trust and credibility.  In addition to a real quote from a real client, provide details of the unique situaiton or need addressed by your company or client.  Was your solution unique?  Did you do something other companies can’t or won’t?  Detail it here – provide supporting info as practical (everyone loves photos).

So get started!  Get rid of the default testimonials and start building confidence and trust with a fresh approach!