Sensory Appeal, in Video Form

In a world where it’s easy to experience sensory overload multiple times a day just from our smartphones, it’s almost ironic to suggest that you add to it with your marketing programs. But you should.

VideoIn a world where it’s easy to experience sensory overload multiple times a day just from our smartphones, it’s almost ironic to suggest that you add to it with your marketing programs. But you should.

With all of the media consumers consume daily — about 11 hours a day, for all channels combined — we’ve become dependent on interactive digital experiences that take little more effort than listening and watching. And we don’t even like doing that for more than two minutes. Our media usage has changed our interest levels, or maybe its our willingness to read or watch long documentaries — as we are now used to getting news, and now possibly the State of the Union, in Twitter posts.

Rising to fill the gap from our changing media consumption is video — short, entertaining snippets of two to three minutes that entertain, inform and, hopefully for those who produce them, inspire us to engage, inquire and buy something. It’s working.

HubSpot shares some powerful statistics showing how video is impacting consumer behavior and why you need to jump on this bandwagon, too. Here are just a few:

  • Videos in email lead to a jump in clickthrough rates of between 200 and 300 percent
  • Videos on a landing page can help your conversions increase by 80 percent
  • Videos combined with a full-page ad can boost engagement by 22 percent
  • Videos can increase likelihood of purchase by 64 percent among online shoppers
  • Videos included in a real estate listing can up inquiries by 403 percent
  • Video inspires 50 percent of executives to seek more information about a product
  • Video inspires 65 percent of executives to visit a marketer’s website, and 39 percent to call a vendor

I could go on … but I think the point is clear: You need to create videos if you want to engage customers and sell more products. And because YouTube is the second-largest search engine, next to Google. Enough said.

I’ll Say More

Another reason you must include video in addition to all of the above is most of your competitors are doing it and that can leave you out in the cold if you are not. Okay, so more stats from HubSpot:

  • 87 percent of online marketers use video content
  • 22 percent of small businesses in the U.S. plan to use it
  • 96 percent of B-to-B organizations use it

Most importantly, 90 percent of video watchers say they help them make purchase decisions and 92 percent of those viewing them on mobile devices share videos with others.

The one challenge is that there are a lot of videos competing with each other, as evidenced by yet another statistic: On average, users are exposed to 32.3 videos a month, or roughly one a day.

So how do you create videos that build your business and use them effectively in your marketing mix?

Like all things you do in any medium — print, digital, mobile — your content needs to have value, and that value can be improving someone’s circumstances, inspiring them to live a better life, or guiding them to do their jobs better, so they achieve their goals and advance their careers. Your videos need to create an emotional reaction that drives them to contact you for further information.

Here Are Some Tips

Regardless of your business genre, keep videos short and to the point. This is not your attempt to produce a Hollywood blockbuster. It is simply a way to tell your story with a medium that appeals to our senses and makes your brand come to life. Your videos should not be more than two to three minutes long. Go more only if your content justifies it.

Before you debut your videos publicly, test them. Ask non-employees and even non-customers to sit through your videos and give you feedback. Good questions to ask include:

  • Did it keep your interest?
  • What was the main message you took away from this video?
  • Did it inspire you to inquire more about our product or service? If yes, why? If not, why?
  • Was the length appropriate?
  • Did you think the production quality of this video was in line with other brand videos you have watched?

Like any marketing communications, always include a call to action and a response mechanism. Stay away from promotions, as they’ll expire before you’re ready to stop using the video. Make it clear how to contact you for more information through your email, website, phone numbers and social channels.

Keep your videos short. No one wants to spend more than two to three minutes watching a video that they know is intended to sell them something. Use their time and yours wisely, and keep your content on-task.

Use professional footage and images. Your video can be a slide show, with text fading in and out, or it can be a true video with all of the moving parts. Regardless of the format you use, use the highest resolution and quality possible. Your reputation is on the line, per the quality you project. If you are a high-tech company and you use low-tech video, that transfers to the perceived quality of the products you sell.

Create a YouTube channel to house all of your videos. You can archive videos on YouTube and on your website. For either option, include a transcript of your video to help you achieve higher SEO.

For B-to-C, you can add a little more fun and focus on life messages, not just brand messages. Coca-Cola does a great job of this. Its channel has more than 1.2 million subscribers and its views have topped more than 22 million for a single video. Coke’s “Happiness Truck” video, which shows a Coke truck dispensing gifts to people on the streets in Rio, has more than 1.6 million views — another inspirational message that worked to build the emotional equity of the Coke brand. Interestingly enough, its video with 22.3 million views as of this writing is about spending more time offline and enjoying the journey of life in the real world.

B-to-B Video Tip

For the B-to-B world, here are some tips:

  • Create product demo videos to showcase the features that set your products apart.
  • Show how your products compare to competitors, when applicable, and how your products fulfill the needs of your viewers.
  • Include statements from your company leaders to show their vision and help tell your brand story.
  • Include customers talking about their experiences with your product and your team. Video testimonials are powerful, because viewers can see the body language, the smiles, the looks of relief and hear the excitement in voices that written testimonials do not provide.

Again, consumers like to see brand stories in which they can see themselves. They want to be the proud father, or the mom being thanked by her Olympian child as shown in Proctor and Gamble’s “Thank You, Mom” ad series that makes many moms cry, no matter how many times they watch the videos. Consumers want to be the vacationers on the beach, the newly engaged couple, the happy family.

Find ways to associate your brand with what matters most to your consumers and then get creative and start writing video scripts that tell your story in conjunction with the goals they have for their lives.

Add More Traffic With Universal and Extended Search Optimization

If your organic search optimization plan does not include optimization for pertinent elements of both universal and extended search, you may be missing out on a surprising amount of traffic.

SEOIf your organic search optimization plan does not include optimization for pertinent elements of both universal and extended search, you may be missing out on a surprising amount of traffic.

In the beginning, organic search optimization was focused on the pursuit of top placements for your site’s pages. Search has evolved and so, too, must your optimization plan.

Today, instead of 10 blue links on a page, most contain 8.5. An array of universal and extended search elements enhance and complement the Google search results pages. The inclusion of maps, images, video results, the Knowledge Box and Twitter results enhance the user experience and speed searchers to their desired information.

A recent white paper from Searchmetrics looked at the results from approximately 500,000 general, frequently searched terms. Because Google increasingly is applying different algorithms for mobile vs. desktop searches, the results from both were analyzed. This study clearly shows that any optimization plan is incomplete, unless it includes the elements of both universal and extended search.

Universal Search — Vertical Search Integrated Into the Results Page

Universal search, launched in 2007, was Google’s integration directly into the search results of vertical search elements that had previously been developed as separate search engines. These included: shopping, news, videos, images and maps. Although showing up integrated into the search results page, these vertical silos of information can still be accessed from tabs on the Google results page.

The type of elements displayed vary depending on the keyword search. For example, a search for a “Zen frog fountain” yields a results page rich in images and shopping details. There is even a video. A search for your local hospital will yield a results page with a map and directions.

Each element in universal search has its own optimization requirements, and many organic SEO plans employ them. The SEO can clearly guide the optimization of images so that relevant product images will be included in the array of images shown for keyword searches.

For e-commerce merchants, it is quite important to optimize all of your images, because they can drive substantial amounts of traffic. Similarly, video content can be readily optimized using available guidelines.

Google’s emphasis on quality of the information and the authority of the source has driven the evolution of news optimization from press releases to publishers. Today, the news integration includes just the freshest and most authoritative sources. Because the news elements evolved from vertical search, there are a set of guidelines for optimization of news.

Not all elements are equally important for every business, but traffic can be gained by optimizing all the germane elements.

Extended Search — More Boxes and Features

Extended search is the term applied to the additions to the search results that are not based on vertical search engines. These results are algorithmically developed from a variety of internal and external sources available to Google. Extended search includes: The Knowledge Graph, the image carousel, the Twitter Cards, the direct answer/fact boxes, the related questions that are delivered along with the direct answers, and the app packs found in mobile searches.

Because the results pull information from a number of sources, they are much more difficult to optimize for. They are best viewed as the result of a broad footprint of information that will satisfy the demands of these elements.

For example, the Knowledge Graph relies on Google My Business and Wikipedia information. If your company has a complete profile on these two key sources, you will be feeding the information needed to drive the Knowledge Graph. Similarly, sites with recipes, events and reviews can use structured data to enhance the likelihood of appearing in the direct answers boxes.

As we move into the fourth quarter and plan for the next year, do be sure to review the universal search and expanded search elements that have the most traffic-driving potential for your business and strategize for how to include them in your optimization planning.

The Past Is More Than Dinosaur Bones

The past is important to examine … wait, scratch that, it’s crucial to examine, and I’d venture to say hubris if you do not. No crystal ball is needed; instead you can look at what has been done and make informed decisions based on the successes and failures of others.

I was in Upstate New York this past weekend for my cousin’s wedding, and fairly off the grid. So, suffice to say, I was pretty surprised to check my Twitter notifications Monday night and see this as I drove home to Philly after the long weekend:

Wait, me? Wilde Agency is referring to me? And my videos?

Fangirling gifSo then I jumped into the conversation.

Tweets with Wilde AgencyMore tweets with Wilde AgencyYes, that’s right … I’ve already started filming some throwback videos, which will be peppered into the regular Friday rotation of What Were They Thinking? shenanigans. I think it’ll be a good time, and I plan to look at these campaigns the same way I look at present day ones, celebrating the fantastic and questioning the poorly done.

The past is important to examine … wait, scratch that, it’s crucial to examine, and I’d venture to say hubris if you do not. No crystal ball is needed; instead you can look at what has been done and make informed decisions based on the successes and failures of others.

And so I leave you with this motivational platitude this Tuesday, which is probably framed on the wall of some manager’s office, but it does ring true. And, of course, I made a little edit:

Smart people platitudeHave an idea for a What Were They Thinking? video? Leave a comment below OR drop me an email!!! If I use a suggestion, I’ll be sure to mention where it came from.

6 SEO Trends in Small Business

Staying on top of the latest SEO trends is vital, yet difficult for small businesses. The basic tenants of a solid SEO strategy have not massively changed from year to year, but Google continues to adjust its algorithms to keep pace with how consumers interact with the Internet.

SMBStaying on top of the latest SEO trends is vital, yet difficult for small businesses.

The basic tenants of a solid SEO strategy have not massively changed from year to year, but Google continues to adjust its algorithms to keep pace with how consumers interact with the Internet.

If one theme has emerged so far in 2016, it’s that SEO is changing — perhaps more rapidly than usual — to keep up with the rising importance of smartphones, smart watches and mobile technology on the whole. Business owners who fail to adapt their SEO strategies accordingly risk being invisible to potential customers.

That said, I’ve listed six of the most current trends in SEO that all small business owners should be aware of. Keep in mind that most of yesterday’s truths about SEO still hold water today. Now, business owners must simply do more to avoid being left in the virtual dust.

1. Keyword Usage in SEO Is Evolving

Not long ago, keyword usage could make or break your SEO strategy. That’s because most people conducted Web searches by typing keywords into Google, and optimizing your landing pages with these keyword terms was a simple way to improve your ranking for these queries.

Fast forward to today, and it’s clear the game has changed. Rather than type specific keywords into search engines, more and more people are searching the Web by speaking into their smartphones and watches. Voice recognition apps such as Apple’s Siri were novelties when the technology first launched — the apps were more amusing than efficient — but now these apps have improved to the point of being just as functional as traditional Web searches. Now, instead of someone typing “Mexican food Seattle” into a browser window, an equally likely Google query will be spoken: “Find a Mexican food restaurant near Prospect Park Brooklyn.”

To capitalize on this trend, focus your content on themes rather than specific keyword terms. Strengthen your site by giving each page a distinct purpose. Make sure to emphasize local angles in your content. Blog about how your business is active in your neighborhood or district. Of course, keyword terms still have their place in SEO for small businesses, but now you must also think in terms of long-tailed keywords that are more likely to be spoken in conversation.

2. Get the Most Out of Deep Links

The most poorly optimized website imaginable would have all of its information crammed onto a single page. Clearly, that’s not a great idea, and instead your website should have different pages for each specific aspect of your business.

Deep links capitalize on this and help make your SEO even stronger. Simply put, deep links are hyperlinks that lead people to highly relevant pages “deeper” inside your website.

Deep links are likely to enhance how visitors interact with your site — they’re less likely to bounce and they’ll likely stay on pages longer because the information is more relevant. Combine these signals with a strong content structure, and Google is more likely to view deep-linked pages as more authoritative and deserving of better search rankings.

3. Invest in Social Media

One of the biggest debates among SEO gurus is just how much social media signals affect Google’s search rankings. Studies have shown that businesses that accumulate favorable social media signals — such as likes and shares on Facebook posts or retweets on Twitter — are more likely to get favorable placements in organic search results. Although Google officials have flat-out denied this is true, nobody is arguing that social media is going to become increasingly important in SEO strategies.

Already, Google displays pages from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social platforms in its organic search rankings, highlighting the need for small businesses to be active on social media. Socially shared videos, advertisements and blog posts (think deep links) can drive interaction on your website and result in more links, enhancing your site’s SEO. Also, more people are using social media platforms as their front doors to the Internet. It’s only a matter of time before search rankings on Facebook matter just as much as rankings in Google.

Regardless of whether likes and shares matter (and the data strongly suggests they do), there are enough other reasons to incorporate a strong social media campaign into your overall SEO strategy.

4. Engage Customers With Videos

Videos are the undisputed kings of grabbing people’s attention online.

More than 60 percent of Google searches are by people looking for video content, according to a report by Marketing Land. Videos are even more impactful on social media; a study by Socialbakers revealed that video posts on Facebook tended to get twice as much organic reach than any other type of content. Another study by found that Web pages with videos achieved search rankings up to 50 times better than pages without videos.

Small businesses can produce videos to establish themselves as authorities in their areas of expertise. Product demonstrations and how-to videos are short, sharable and don’t require big budgets to produce. Embed videos on your website, post them on Facebook and tweet them on Twitter. Don’t forget to start a YouTube page that could also get ranked high in Google’s organic results.

5. Optimizing for Mobile Is Now a Must

We’ve already reviewed the rising importance of voice recognition, videos and social media – all trends that are being driven by the widespread use of smartphones and other mobile devices. So it should come as no surprise that mobile Web design is also an absolute must in 2016. And by “must,” I mean MUST.

The benefits of mobile website design aren’t new – for the past two years, more people browsed the Web through mobile devices than desktop computers. However, now people expect to find seamless, intuitive websites whether they’re using large tablets or tiny smartphones. A mobile user who lands on a website that’s only functional on a 23-inch computer monitor is almost certain to bounce.

Many small business owners manage their own sites using WordPress or similar platforms, and most of those platforms offer free responsive site templates that adapt for mobile users. That said, you can’t go wrong with hiring a professional to ensure your site behaves properly on mobile devices. It’s that important.

6. More People Want Hyperlocal Search Results

Local SEO has always been important, but never more than it is now. As we discussed earlier in this article, more people are using smartphones and wearables to seek out goods, services and entertainment on the go.

Registering your small business with sites such as Google My Business, Bing Local and Yelp is critical if you want to have a shot at ranking in the local “map” results. Make sure all of your business information (such as your name, address and phone number) is listed correctly, and make sure it corresponds with whatever is on your actual website. Do the same for your social media profiles.

Starting a blog is another great way to harness the power of hyper-local searches. Blog about sales, products, company changes and even your customers. Make frequent mentions of your street, your neighborhood and the role your business plays in the community. Anything to strengthen the local identity of your business can boost your SEO efforts.

Want more SEO Tips? Click here to get the Ultimate SEO checklist.

Never, Ever Outsource Your Content Marketing Strategy

Should you outsource your content marketing strategy? Don’t—unless you want your blogs, whitepapers, videos or webinars to blend in with those of your competitors. Good, effective content marketing cannot be outsourced. No matter how much you’re struggling to create a constant stream of content that effectively generates leads, keep it in house.

Should you outsource your content marketing strategy? Don’t—unless you want your blogs, whitepapers, videos or webinars to blend in with those of your competitors. Good, effective content marketing cannot be outsourced. No matter how much you’re struggling to create a constant stream of content that effectively generates leads, keep it in house.

Let’s be honest. All of us are racing to “produce quality content” and distribute it on blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms. But what does “quality content” really mean and why is so much of it failing to generate leads for B-to-B marketers? And what can you do to make sure your articles, videos, white papers and webinars (content) produce leads? Keep it inside.

Despite what “the experts” say, effective content marketing has less to do with frequency or how often you produce it. Blogging often (and getting that blog retweeted) earns the fleeting attention of prospects at best. Content that generate leads:

  • Solves problems and/or dramatizes the emotional end benefit
  • Is designed to induce behavior (sometimes addictive)
  • Translates customer need (analyzes and feeds it back into design)

Eschew the “Experts”
Relative to these key success principles, having a constant stream of content emanating from your business will not produce sales. Despite what “the experts” keep saying, the most effective content is not that which gets discovered in search engines and gets people to your website. Nor is effective content that which has “your voice” or “reflects your culture” or “is authentic.” These qualities do not define effective content because they never have.

Content marketing is about as new as custom publishing (it’s not new at all). The most effective content produces measurable outcomes—leads and sales. Period.

I can hear the social media gurus screaming. OK, OK. Are all those things I just mentioned important pieces of the puzzle? Yes. But over-focusing on them will cause you to put far too much faith in them.

For instance, take frequency. Making content marketing produce sales is not purely (or even mostly) a numbers game, nor a matter of how much attention you earn from search engines or blog visitors. Believing this to be true will only cause you to—that’s right—outsource it!

The Key to Success
If leads and sales are what you’re after with content marketing, then you’ve got to come to grips with the truth: Effective webinars, blogs, videos, etc., take your target market beyond the realm of useful information. Sure, providing information is essential but you’ve got to go the extra mile—you’ve got to provide new, previously unknown knowledge that tells customers how to avoid risk or exploit opportunity.

Think about it this way: It’s difficult enough to hire an employee that a) understands this concept; b) knows enough about your competitive environment to know how and where to find what your customers truly need to know; c) can actually execute the research needed to produce effective (behaviorally provocative) content—and produce it over time. Good luck finding someone on the outside who can do all of that well enough!

Want your content to look like your competitors? Just outsource it to people who repackage information your customers already know. They’ll take your money and in return pass off what they create as thought leadership or insightful information. And then you’ll pass that junk on to your customers.

The Honest Truth
Ninety-five percent of content marketing is generating worthless information that everyone already knows surrounded by buzzwords. Need proof? Search the Web for whitepapers and give them a scan.

“I’m a huge fan of earned attention,” says Edward Boches, chief innovation officer at Mullen. “And owning content. And being in the publishing business. But the one downside of everyone and anyone—and that includes brands and companies—being a content creator is that just like cable television, the good stuff becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of all that’s out there.”

Want your content to produce leads and sales? Hire people who know how to produce written or multimedia materials that make readers/viewers say, “Hmm, I never thought of it THAT way … that’s scary” or “I see the opportunity in that, I better get in touch with these people to take action!”

This is what good social media marketing and content marketing does—induces responses that you can nurture toward an eventual sale.