Essential SEO Considerations For Any Website Migration

Website Migration SEO Considerations

Sometimes implementing a website migration an essential part of doing business in a digital world. There are a variety of reasons why a company may choose to migrate from one site to another. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to remember that your website is your virtual calling card to prospective customers and sometimes a website migration is a necessary step in providing your customers the best possible user experience.

Like botched plastic surgery, a poorly executed website migration can bring a host of SEO problems, including making your site difficult to find in search engines, confusing to use or filled with errors that make the searchbots run away.

To ensure that your website migration goes smoothly and leads to improved business, follow these essential migration SEO recommendations:

Assess Visitor Behavior with Web Analytics

Assess Your Analytics

In order to improve the user experience of your website, it’s important to first understand how visitors use your website now. Your website analytics platform can be a treasure trove for insights into historic usage patterns that can be essential to identifying issues, opportunities and sticking points that can be improved with a strategic site redesign.

Make sure you’re putting all of that valuable data to use by reviewing:

  • Top-viewed website content – Make sure you aren’t cutting content your audience loves.
  • Least-viewed website content – Even the best sites have some junk, take this opportunity to drop it or improve it.
  • Click maps – Looking at where people are clicking (or trying to click) can help to design an intuitive and frustration free navigation interface.
  • Paths to conversion – Regardless of what your website goals are (i.e. build subscribers, generate leads), understanding the paths which your visitors are taking to key conversion points can help to optimize these paths to make it easier and more enticing for visitors to convert into customers.

Web analytics tools:

Website Migration 301 Redirect Mapping

Map Url Redirects

If your website has been around for any amount of time, there’s a good chance that you’ve built up search equity in the form of links and social shares. In addition to tight keyword optimization, these are the primary factors that help to increase the visibility of your content in search engines and since they are tied to the urls on your site, a migration in domain or url structure can snuff out the valuable search equity you’ve spent time and effort building.

To avoid starting from SEO square one with your new website, it’s important to strategically implement 301 redirects from your old page urls to the new ones, as this will effectively tell search engines where your new site pages are and that they are replacements for the old versions. In addition, it will ensure that people and bots who follow links to your old urls will end up in the right place rather than an error page.

In order to map redirects effectively, start by documenting for all your existing pages:

  • URL
  • Page topic
  • Target keyword
  • Organic search traffic (I recommend looking at a minimum 6 month time range)
  • Links to page
  • keyword rank

Also document for your planned new site pages:

  • URL
  • Page topic
  • Target keyword

Once you have these two lists compiled, the next step is to map each page on your current site to it’s planned new location on your soon-to-be launched site. Redirect mapping isn’t rocket science, but it does take some thought (when done correctly). Fortunately, the previous exercise should give you all the information you need.

Of primary concern is topic relevance, in particular for highly trafficked and linked-to pages. When planning redirects, always consider what the experience of a visitor would be if they ended up on the redirect page rather than the original. Would it serve their needs as well or better than the old page? Would it feel confusing? Ideally the new page should be such a seamless transition that people don’t even notice the switch.

Redirect mapping tools:

 

Consider Time of Year When Planning a Website Migration

Choose Ideal Timing

Even the best planned and executed website migrations come with some downtime and a temporary decrease in traffic (approx. 30%) and search rankings. It’s a price worth paying, as a new and improved website can drive significant improvements in business over an outdated and clunky site. However, it’s important to time the transition for when it’s likely to have the least amount of negative impact on your business.

The best time of year to implement a website migration is when business is likely to be the slowest. Companies vary in the degree of seasonality they experience, but most have a ‘slow season’. You probably already know when this is, but if not, take a look at your historic yearly web traffic or revenue patterns to determine when your slow season typically occurs.

As with time of year, it also makes sense to migrate your site on a slow day of the week during off hours. For many B2B focused websites, this is late on Friday or Saturday, but make sure to make the decision based on your own analytics, as every site and audience is different.

Post Website Migration

Post Migration

After making your new site live, it can be tempting to relax and celebrate, but hold off on breaking out the champagne just yet. In the period of time shortly following a website migration, it’s critical to keep a sharp eye out for issues or opportunities as well as monitor website traffic patterns to make sure it’s heading in a positive direction.

QA Like Your Site Depended on It (Spoiler: It Does)

In addition to checking your 301 redirects, it’s important to give a visual inspection of each page on your new site. For efficiency, you can check both simultaneously.

Make sure that each of your redirected pages:

  • Goes to the correct new destination page
  • Gives the correct server response (301)
  • Loads quickly
  • Directs to a page that renders correctly

Upload XML Sitemap

XML Sitemap and Robots.txt

Like moving a brick and mortar business to a new location, it’s important to let people know where you’ve gone or else they may not be able to find you. On the internet, this is primarily accomplished via an xml sitemap, which tells search engines all about your new site and what it contains.

While you should have a properly formatted (and ideally auto-generated) xml sitemap on your site from day one, it isn’t enough to simply have it there, as search engines may not immediately find it without a little prompting. To avoid unnecessary delays, upload your xml sitemap to Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) and Bing Webmaster Tools.

Once uploaded, check back to make sure your sitemap isn’t resulting in errors from either Google or Bing and that the majority of your submitted pages have been indexed.

Monitor Web Analytics After a Website Migration

Analytics

As mentioned earlier, a temporary decrease of approximately 30% in website search traffic and visibility can be expected in the period immediately following a migration, but it’s very important to monitor closely to make sure it is indeed temporary and that things are headed in the right direction.

Make sure to keep a close eye on:

  • Organic search traffic
  • Visit bounce rate
  • Conversion rates
  • Keyword rankings

Website Migration Crawl Test

Crawl Errors

Generally, crawl errors like broken links, 404 not found pages or duplicate content will be at their lowest levels on a brand new site, but it’s still important to check and fix any errors, especially as this can be an indicator of a mistake during the migration.

There are many good automated crawl tools available, but make sure you use one that can find:

  • Broken links and 400 error pages
  • 500 error pages
  • Duplicate content
  • Inaccessible content

A website migration may seem like a lot of work, and it most certainly is (when done correctly). But the potential payoffs in improved experience for your site visitors and increased business for you are more than worth the investment.

While none of this is exactly rocket science, it is important to get it right, as the risks of a poorly executed migration can be significant. If you don’t feel that you have the resources or knowledge to correctly implement your website migration, I strongly recommend enlisting the help of a skilled digital marketing agency or expert to help.

What are your best tips for a successful website migration?

Images from ShutterStock: First, Second, Third, Fourth


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Learn How to Land Your Content a Leading Role: Jay Acunzo of NextView Ventures #CMWorld

JAcunzo---interview-header-

A talented movie director makes sure that actors give an authentic performance that will emotionally affect the intended audience. A good content marketing strategist has the same goal: authenticity that creates audience engagement. And just like a movie director, content marketers are expected to deliver on time, under budget, and follow up each hit with a fresh blockbuster.

Jay Acunzo, VP of Platform & Content at NextView Ventures, has built his career on getting star-making performances out of content. He began as a Digital Media Strategist at Google and has spent time managing content for Dailybreak Media and HubSpot. In his position at NextView, Jay helps startup entrepreneurs with education and business development including content marketing strategies that addresses tech startups’ unique marketing challenges.

In advance of his presentation at the 2015 Content Marketing World conference, I interviewed Jay about the importance of personality in content marketing, his “Content Marketing Wheel” strategy and the most-overlooked metric for measuring content marketing ROI.

Innovation in content marketing isn’t about inventing wild new things or new ways of doing something.

What are three lessons you’ve learned that you believe have made you a better content marketer in your journey from Digital Strategist at Google, to VP of Platform & Content at NextView Ventures?

  1. All content marketing is supposed to be solving the same problems for your customers that your product does.
  1. Innovation in content marketing isn’t about inventing wild new things or new ways of doing something. Instead, I take my cues from Ev Williams (founder of Medium, Twitter, and Blogger) who said about innovation: “Take a human desire … and use modern technology to remove steps.” If you line up all the steps your buyer takes to do something, you can suddenly see all kinds of creative ways your content can be helpful and relevant and stand out more than the competition’s.
  1. Have a strong point of view! Ever since I started inserting my voice more strongly into my personal blog, and using really unique tones, storytelling styles, and angles on NextView’s podcast, only good things have happened.

Drive traffic to that pillar piece, which again, is built to hit your KPIs and built to be the most educational or entertaining piece for your buyer.

Can you provide a high-level description of ‘The Content Marketing Wheel’ and share how you believe it helps marketers get the most value out of core content marketing assets?

In one sentence, the content marketing wheel is about creating a single pillar piece (the hub) and then orienting all your marketing activity around that piece (the spokes) to drive traffic to it.

More specifically, you first create a core resource — some call this a pillar piece. The topic of the piece is driven by your audience, while the format is driven by your goals. If your audience thinks blogging is difficult, then you can teach them to blog more easily through any type of content, format aside. But if your goals are, say, broad awareness, than an infographic trumps other formats, while a gated eBook might be better for lead-gen.

Second, with that piece as your “hub,” you then orient your marketing around that resource for a time. The “spokes” that make up your distribution are tactics that feel natural to a marketer, but they now have a purpose and all topically relate to the original resource. For instance, your blog pipeline is easier to fill with ideas based on that bigger, pillar piece (excerpts, topical tangents, related news, repackaging to new mediums, etc.). And other channels like email, social, paid distribution, search, and third parties (PR, co-marketing partners, and guest publishing) all focus on either distributing that core piece or smaller pieces that relate.

Lastly, all of those “spokes” exist for one reason: Drive traffic to that pillar piece, which again, is built to hit your KPIs and built to be the most educational or entertaining piece for your buyer.

The Content Marketing Wheel helps you codify your work and stay relevant, creative, organized, and prolific.

What are three actionable takeaways that you want arm your audience members with after your presentation “The Content Wheel: Sustaining Momentum with Greater ROI While Punching Unicorns in the Face” at CMW?

This playbook really helps with three core things that we’ll discuss together:

  1. How to be relevant to BOTH your audience’s needs or desires and your own goals.
  1. How to be sustainable with your publishing. It can be really hard to continually publish content, especially for folks who don’t wake up eager to write and create things in the morning.
  1. How to be lean about this. I work with startups and have run this playbook dozens of times with them. Ditto for larger companies at which I’ve worked. This Wheel idea helps you codify your work and stay relevant, creative, organized, and prolific — but you can easily launch and iterate on the exact execution as you learn from your work.

(Oh, and as a bonus, I will teach you how to punch a unicorn in the face. Like, right in their big dumb faces.)

Bring lead-gen data to open the discussion, but close your boss by demonstrating an understanding of your L2CC metrics.

What do you think are the most often overlooked KPIs in determining content marketing success?

If I had to pick just one KPI, I’d say we greatly overlook lead-to-customer conversion (L2CC) rates in B2B. At the time I was leaving HubSpot, where I was head of content for a time, the company was heavily focused on that and rightfully so. Knowing which pieces convert people from leads to MQLs or SQLs or from leads to customers is invaluable. Want more budget for B2B content? Bring lead-gen data to open the discussion, but close your boss by demonstrating an understanding of your L2CC metrics.

The “right” mentality is to view content as a means to more efficiently scale your marketing a few months down the road.

In your role at NextView Ventures you oversee education and business development for many of NextView’s portfolio companies. What content marketing challenges have you found to be unique to this group of startup companies?

My biggest two challenges are getting founders and startup marketers to think about content with the right mentality while also balancing the near-term, scrappy, non-scalable tactics they need to do that fall under “marketing” at a startup. The “right” mentality is to view content as a means to more efficiently scale your marketing a few months down the road, since it’s far more beneficial to create a collection of useful content that continues to get engagement, rather than try to publish one hit after another, each needing to “beat” the last one.

What resources do you rely on most to stay current with content marketing trends?

Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose’s podcast, This Old Marketing, is invaluable because of how they run down the big news in our industry.

I also use a personal, private Twitter list, subscribe to 8-10 blogs in Feedly, and receive Digiday’s newsletter.

Thanks, Jay!

Ready to Create Blockbuster Content Marketing?

Reserve your space at Content Marketing World 2015  for strategic presentations from 200 superstars in the marketing industry.

Get a sneak preview of Jay and 12 other marketing superstars’ presentations with our new eBook, Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing.


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An Island made from plastic bottles by Richart Sowa



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Where some see a simple garbage Richard Sowa saw a way to make his dream. More than 150,000 plastic bottles used to create this magical floating island, talk about creative recycling! Watch this video to learn more about your almost completely sustainable development now calls home. This will make you think twice before just throwing a lot of things we consider trash.

Interview: Content Strategy Words of Wisdom from Kristina Halvorson #CMWorld

KH---interview-header-V2

When it comes to content strategy for the web, Kristina Halvorson wrote the book. Literally. Now in its second edition, Content Strategy for the Web is widely recognized as the go-to resource for content strategists all over the world. Kristina is also the CEO and Founder of Brain Traffic, and the founder of the Confab conference series.

We sat down with Kristina in advance of her upcoming keynote presentation at Content Marketing World (September 8-11) for her no-nonsense, no-holds-barred-or-prisoners-taken opinion on the current state of content marketing. Read on for her thoughts on challenges content marketers face, how to really listen to customers, and why a sensible marketing approach is better than a sexy one.

When you first founded Brian Traffic, were you planning on becoming a content strategist?

No, I started out as a freelance copywriter. The reason I picked BrainTraffic.com was there were too many ways to misspell KristinaHalvorson.com. So my only goal was to figure out how to make a living as a freelance web copywriter. My, how things have changed!

What are you passionate about in regards to content marketing and content strategy?

I’m really interested in advocating for going beyond “we’ve got to deliver valuable content to build a customer relationship.” I think we need to take several steps back and find out what the customer wants from us.

Everyone is so enthusiastic about content marketing that it can be difficult to ask the tough questions. But I think we need to be really brave about asking those questions and willing to hear what the answers are. It’s easy to get excited about tactical stuff, and start executing without asking really tough questions about what is and is not something we should be spending money on.

What are some of the top-line measurement opportunities that warrant a lot of attention? What metrics should content marketers be concerned with?

Well, first I should say my work as a content strategist is not only in marketing. We work with folks all across the board, so marketing is only one part of what we do. But no matter what industry you’re in, there is always an end user. There’s a customer, even if it’s an internal customer or an employee.

So the shared metric across the board is customer satisfaction, for me. I think we need to look at sales support as part of the equation. We should be retrieving and reviewing ongoing customer feedback to really measure our content success.

I think customer satisfaction is very difficult to measure on the very front end of customer engagement when we’re still doing awareness and discovery phases. It becomes about getting people’s attention or getting the referral. So the follow-up needs to go beyond the lip service we sometimes pay to sales support.

What does content success mean to our customers?

I think that it only falls into a couple of categories. One is post-sales support. By that I mean ongoing customer relationship support, not just “engagement.” It’s a huge area we sometimes miss as purveyors of content. There are no blanket strategies or tactical initiatives that make sense for everyone.

Like, we often hear “there is no marketing left but content marketing.” That’s a blanket statement which may not apply to every single brand. Like, if my kid has a toothache, I’m not going to Crest.com to read about what to do. But at the same time, if I’m shopping at Banana Republic, I sure do want to read an article.

What are some of the challenges facing organizations as they develop a content strategy?

There is a lot of pressure to go after the next big thing: You’ve got to be on Facebook; you’ve got to be on Twitter; you’ve got to be on Vine. People are scrambling from thing to thing. Then suddenly you have content in a lot of different places and you haven’t touched it in years.

Our company infrastructures are not set up to deal with our websites, let alone any gigantic content marketing commitment. Sometimes, people rush after new opportunities without really cleaning house first. Businesses can end up spread thin across the content marketing landscape. And who decided that was what their customers wanted?

What does a successful situation look like, where someone is approaching content with a customer in mind?

I think that a real opportunity and one that is really difficult to get is going and asking customers “what do you want?” Because oftentimes the answer is either critical of what we’ve been delivering, or it has nothing to do with what we have been marketing.

And I also think it’s easier to listen to more things we could build versus more things we could fix. A lot of the stuff we should be doing for customer support is just not that sexy. Marketers are aspirational, we want creative opportunity, we are curious individuals who want an outlet for brand expression, and to represent what we spend day-in and day-out doing. And if our customer says, “put your coupon offer on your home page” versus “your fancy Instagram account,” that’s not as sexy. But that’s the kind of feedback we need to hear to be effective.

What’s the most common advice you find yourself giving in a marketing context related to content strategy?

Talk to your users. Over and over and over. Talk to them. Don’t run a poll. Don’t do “social listening.” Because then you’re only going to hear the super unhappy or the super happy people, not the people who don’t really care, whose attention we’re trying to get. Go out and just talk to them.

I think the number one reason we don’t talk to our customers is we’re really afraid of what they’re going to say. The number one thing they might say is “I don’t care.” But that’s exactly what we need to know.

Who comes to your mind as a great example of an organization listening to customers and taking action in the way they’re creating content?

Speaking as a consumer, somebody who has delivered useful content since way before the internet is USAA. I would expect based on their bundle of services and their niche market that they would be delivering very custom, targeted, educational content. And that comes in the form of their magazine. I still get their print magazine. They’re one of the original content marketers.

Room & Board send their people on the delivery trucks into people’s homes to find out how they live, what they want, what makes them happy. They’re seeing in a real setting how people use their products.

Would you say content strategy is more important than ever, with the content production overload that exists today?

Oh yes. The role of a content strategist is to help launch a scalable, sustainable content marketing program within your organization in context of everything else you’re already committed to, keeping in mind the skill-sets you have. Or, maybe after you do an analysis, you decide to make less of a commitment because there are other priorities.

The role of a content strategist is ensuring that business goals are very clearly articulated, that user needs and what they want from your product/service have been clearly articulated. We help identify scalability, internal capability, realistically what it’s going to take to make this happen. And then helping organizations to make decisions not only about what they are going to do, but what they’re not going to do. It’s making sure the content plan is in line with what, ultimately, the end user wants and needs.

Reserve your space at Content Marketing World (September 8-11) to hear Kristina Halvorson’s keynote, as well as insights from over 200 content marketing thought leaders.

For more content marketing strategies that don’t require booking a flight to Cleveland, read the full eBook, The Big Picture of Content Marketing Strategy.


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Interview: Content Strategy Words of Wisdom from Kristina Halvorson #CMWorld | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Best Practices for Incorporating Sponsored Posts & Ads In Your LinkedIn Marketing Strategy

POT-OF-GOLD

For many B2B marketers, LinkedIn can prove to be a figurative and literal pot of gold. While there’s no majestic rainbow to show you the way, I can show you how to incorporate social media advertising as part of your LinkedIn Marketing strategy.

A few years ago, HubSpot surveyed B2B organizations and found that 65% of them reported that they have acquired a customer by using LinkedIn and its paid advertising features.

Many organizations have found LinkedIn users to be incredibly receptive to seeing ads and sponsored updates within their feeds. Because LinkedIn is professionally focused by nature, users expect to be having conversations about business.

The best practices below provide some helpful insights into LinkedIn paid advertising basics and can help drive the performance of your campaigns.

Sponsored Updates vs. Sponsored Updates

In our experience, sponsored Updates drive much higher engagement than LinkedIn Ads for the majority of the clients we work with. Below is a sample of conversion rates for both sponsored updates and LinkedIn Ads.

Ad and Sponsored Conversion Rate

Why is There Such a Gap in Conversions?

  1. Sponsored updates appear in the users news feed, which makes them hard to miss. Ads however, appear within the right hand column and can be easily looked over.
  2. A sponsored update is only noted by small gray text that says “Sponsored” if not looking closely, users may not even notice that they’re clicking on boosted content.
  3. Sponsored Updates give the marketer much more flexibility with messaging and imagery compared to ads that have much stricter guidelines.

linkedin image 2

LinkedIn Ads have their place within a social advertising strategy and can often help marketers meet their hit their fiscal goals. However, if you’re just starting out and want to get the most out of your marketing dollars, we recommend focusing your efforts on sponsored updates.

Target Your Audience

LinkedIn has an entire suite of targeting options for you to choose from. If targeting is too broad, your messaging will lose its effectiveness.

We always recommend testing different types of targeting within your LinkedIn campaigns. For example, you can test targeting by title, then grouping. Alternatively you can target by group and then title. Our clients have seen a great deal of success by targeting specific titles within groups, as well as targeting titles within specific companies.

The bottom line, experiment with your targeting to find the best mix for your audience.

Create Messaging That Resonates

Be social, be interesting and be conversational. Sometimes you may have to remind yourself that users flock to platforms like LinkedIn because they add a social element to their personal and professional life.

The messaging used in sponsored updates and ads should focus on your target’s problem and the solution that you offer to meet their need(s). Your prospects may not care about your new eBook or whitepaper, but they will care if your content helps them solve a business problem.

Remember to always create content that speaks directly to your audience. Messaging for a CEO should be different from that for a Manager or Consultant. That’s the beauty of LinkedIn; you have the opportunity to be the answer to all of those unique questions, so tailor your answer/solution accordingly.

You only have 160 characters for direct sponsored posts, so make sure your CTA or your primary takeaway is front and center.

Be Mindful About Images

Rule of thumb, if you have an alternative to stock photos, use it. LinkedIn is filled with stock imagery so creating images that are unique, bright and energetic will go a long way.

Your imagery should be used to support your content.

In the first image below you can see that the visual used of IBM and Facebook clearly aligns with the message of their partnership. The two images on the right however, don’t particularly match up to the message that is being promoted.

IBM Facebookopal financial group

Be sure to update your messaging and imagery frequently. We typically recommend that messaging is adapted every couple of days. Your audience will gravitate towards different messaging and images so I will typically launch new campaigns as opposed to revising existing so we can keep track of which messages work best.

Call to Action

We always recommend using some sort of download as your CTA. A demo or meeting may be your ultimate goal but from an engagement standpoint, a download always wins hands down. It’s easier asking for that demo once they’ve gotten the information from you.

As you can see below, we have typically found that downloads have a much higher conversion rate than demos.

demo and download rate

Budget & Bids

Your daily budget should be dictated by your audience and the bids that LinkedIn is recommending. If you apply the lowest bid acceptable, it will greatly reduce the number of impressions your campaign will be severed. If you feel that your activity is low, that normally means your bids are too low.

Go Forth & Find Your Pot of Gold

Be mindful that success with LinkedIn sponsored posts and advertising takes time. If you know your audience and can be nimble in your approach, your chances of success will greatly increase.

If you’ve used LinkedIn advertising in the past, what were the biggest lessons that you learned?

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Online Marketing client.

Top Image: Shutterstock


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The Evolution of Public Relations Through Content Marketing

Content Marketing PR

Brands are answering the call to create more value for customers and their community by publishing their own news and editorial content.  As companies adopt a publisher model of content and media creation, many are surpassing the reach and influence of traditional publications in their industry.

Some great examples of popular content hubs include Intel IQ, Target’s Bulls Eye View, Adobe’s CMO.com and Dell’s Power More (client).

Dell Power More

Dell’s Power More Content Hub

I think everyone watching these trends can agree that the PR industry has been in a state of flux over the past few years. Over 17,000 newsroom jobs have been lost since 2007 and if you’re a journalist, that can be a scary statistic. In fact, if you’re in media relations, it can be concerning too, because with fewer journalists, the competition for stories is even higher.

Declining readership of traditional media, exploding use of social and mobile technologies, shortened news cycles and an explosion in brand publishing make today’s media environment very different for the Public Relations and Communications industry.

If you want to be in the media, become the media. (tweet this)

Here’s the good news: Brands are evolving as publishers, hiring journalists to better tell brand stories and investing in content marketing.  10 years ago, maybe 25% of our our consulting engagements involved content creation. Today, nearly 100% of our client marketing programs involve creating content to achieve marketing objectives.

Optimize for Customers AND Journalists

In the same way marketers segment customer data to create profiles that reflect key behavioral data about information discovery, consumption and what motivates action, so too can PR professionals approach content creation and optimization for journalists, analysts and reporters doing research. Time on social media and search engines means being where the target audience is looking, whether it’s buyers looking for solutions or a journalist looking for statistics or a story source.

How can you be where journalists are looking? By creating and optimizing content that’s useful on “in demand” and relevant topics.

Where does content marketing fit in the public relations and communications mix? I think defining content marketing in the context of PR answers that question well:

Content Marketing is the planning, creation, and amplification of brand and customer focused narratives that drive measurable business outcomes. (tweet this)

When you look at the idea of storytelling targeted to a specific audience intended to affect certain intended outcomes, it sounds a like influencing publics to me. When you combine that ability to incorporate key messaging into content stories with marketing level accountability – it’s a clear competitive advantage over PR or standard content marketing by itself.

Of course there’s a diverse array of skills involved with content marketing that go way beyond the purview of most PR professionals. But the messaging, ability to influence and target groups is spot on.

Content is the currency for building social relationships that can boost earned media. (tweet this)

Here’s the thing about content marketing and PR: Both Marketing and Public Relations are in the content business. At TopRank Online Marketing (previously Misukanis & Odden Public Relations) we’ve lived this duality for nearly 15 years. Some of the content types you’ll find PR pros creating include:

  • Newsroom
  • Blog Posts
  • Press Releases
  • Case Studies
  • Social Content
  • Newsletters
  • Contributed Articles
  • White Papers
  • Events
  • Video, Image, Audio

The value PR brings to the content marketing mix is more than content creation.  By providing news content that traditional sources are not, brands are creating new connections with their communities and customers. While much of content marketing falls under the realm of corporate marketing, the expertise in messaging, content creation and media relations that many Public Relations professionals bring to the table can offer competitive advantages.

Storytelling

“Facts tell, stories sell”. Content Marketing is the ability to tell brand stories that consumers and the media will care about. Who better to find and tell those stories than PR and Communications pros?

It is often said that people make decisions based on emotion but justify them with logic. Therein lies the intersection of PR and content marketing. Stories can connect with customers on an emotional level and the architected narrative of content marketing can provide a vehicle for both facts and stories that matter to your customers.

Editorial Based Marketing

PR professionals understand how news organizations work. Businesses are investing in content from planning to production to editorial. Corporate Journalism is on the rise and PR professionals are perfectly capable of fulfilling those functions or supporting them to create compelling brand content. Content designed to engage also inspires action – whether it’s a social share, a purchase, a referral or an inquiry to do a story.

Influencer Marketing

Working with industry and media influencers has been the stock and trade of media relations professionals for years. Numerous tools from Traackr to GroupHigh to The Shelf can support the need to identify influencers and content creators based on their ability to affect action. PR professionals are well positioned to identify and engage influencers for a variety of content marketing based outcomes ranging from guest blog posts to co-creation of content with industry thought leaders.

Now more than ever, creating content that influences growth in market awareness and new business requires an integrated approach. While this has been a challenge for many PR professionals as marketing and PR functions converge, the good news is that through a model of Attract, Engage and Convert, organizations can better plan, implement and optimize the performance of their content based PR programs.

Public Relations pros that are skilled in messaging, content planning, social media and promotion have an excellent base to become better content marketers than many of the opportunists now calling themselves “content marketing experts”.  The main area of opportunity is in measurement, because marketers are accountable to performance and business outcomes in ways that most people in the PR world aren’t.

Learn More About PR and Content Marketing

I’m going to be presenting on this topic of public relations and content marketing at several events this year. Most notably, at PRORP’s Congreso Internacional de Relaciones Públicas in Mexico City next week on June 8th. PRORP is the largest association of public relations professionals in Mexico.

I will also be presenting on integrating PR and content marketing at the PRSA International Conference later this year November 8th in Atlanta.

Photo: Shutterstock


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
The Evolution of Public Relations Through Content Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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New Report Reveals the True Impact of Social Media Marketing for Business

IMPACT-SOCIAL-MEDIA-052715

The way social networks have impacted our personal and professional lives is far greater than most of us could have anticipated. While we were battling with our friends over getting cut from their top friends list on their Myspace profile, we couldn’t have imagined the impact of social media today. The evolution of social networks in the past 10 or even 5 years has been truly remarkable.

Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report holds valuable insight into how marketers are incorporating social media, how much time they’re spending and what is on the horizon.

With  92% of marketers reporting that social media is important to their business, it’s clear that marketers believe social media holds weight, but what is the true impact on their business?

Top 5 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

The 3,700 marketers surveyed as part of this report had a wide range of experience and goals for social media. However, the actual impact that social media had on their business can be broken down into 5 easy to understand benefits.

#1 – Increased Exposure

With a whopping 91%, increased exposure was the top benefit that marketers participating in this report have seen from deploying social media marketing efforts. Many of the respondents stated that as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media created an increase in exposure.

Social media marketing presents a unique opportunity for companies to stay top of mind with current customers and get on the radar of new customers on their preferred platforms.

#2 – Increased Traffic

70% of marketers found that social media activities increased traffic to their website while 75% of businesses engaging in social media activities for a year or more reported an even bigger increase in traffic.

Encouraging social media users to leave a social media platform and visit your website is no easy undertaking. A solid mix of engaging content and well formulated ads with a compelling call to action can help encourage consumers to visit your web properties.

#3 – Developed Loyal Fans

Not surprisingly, B2C marketers (73%) were more likely to develop a loyal fan base than B2B marketers (63%).

It is no mystery that most social media users engage on social platforms for personal needs first. B2B marketing often involves multiple decision makers at different stages in the purchasing journey. Fortunately, social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are beginning to make it easier for marketers to target audiences based on interests, job titles and demographics. This opens the door for B2B marketers to segment individual messages based on need.

#4 – Provided Marketplace Insight

68% of marketers felt that social media provided market insight that they did not previously have or reaffirmed what they already knew.

Social media enables you to see your consumers in their true habitat. It is easy to uncover who else they interact with, what their favorite movies or tv shows are, where they work, the list goes on and on.

#5 – Generated Leads

Over 50% of marketers who have been utilizing social media for over a year were generating leads through social media.

Of all the benefits in the top five list, this one has the largest impact on the bottom line. In order to generate qualified leads through social media, your community has to trust you, be engaged and have a need for what it is that you offer.

What other benefits made the top ten list?

  • Improved Search Rankings – 58%
  • Grown Business Partnerships – 55%
  • Established Thought Leadership – 55%
  • Improved Sales – 51%
  • Reduced Marketing Expenses – 50%

Additional Report Must-Knows

Top 3 Most Important Social Platforms For Marketers

  • Facebook – 52%
  • LinkedIn – 21%
  • Twitter – 12%

B2C Vs B2B: Platform Breakdown

B2C and B2B marketers may be using the same social media platforms, but their efforts differ between platforms and which they consider to be the most important.

b2b versus b2c

Investing in Paid Social

The vast majority of marketers surveyed (84%) said that they use Facebook Ads , with Google ads in at a cool 41% and LinkedIn ads at 14%.

paid social

Looking for More Social Media Insights?

To learn more about how your marketing peers are performing on the top social platforms and what is on the horizon for 2015, download the full report from Social Media Examiner.

A primary takeaway from this report is that many marketers are finally beginning to justify time and resources invested on social media marketing because they’re finally able to quantify a return based on objectives.

What results from this survey surprised you the most?

Top Image: Shutterstock


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
New Report Reveals the True Impact of Social Media Marketing for Business | http://www.toprankblog.com

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