How To Produce Content That Gets Read And Shared

viral content

If you are tasked with writing content for your business or you are an online entrepreneur that writes your own content then you know that like anyone who writes on a consistent basis, you sometimes find yourself scratching your head wondering what to write about. The key point to remember is to provide content that speaks to YOUR audience. If you run a blog about women’s shoes it is highly unlikely that they would care to read an article about “How to Change Your Oil” or something equally male oriented. This is just the tip of the iceberg of that which is called demographics. You need to know the demographics of your audience and what they are looking for. So how do you find this information?

Google Analytics

For starters you can get a lot of great information from your webmasters tools via Google Analytics. The data there will give you things like keywords people are searching for, browser used, mobile or desktop, country, city, etc. This is a good place to start gathering your information. It will give you the information you need to take the next steps. Another great piece of information to have is from referring sites. If you know the sites that are sending the most traffic to you then you can focus extra effort on promoting and interacting with them as well.

Facebook

With Facebook’s Open Graph Search feature, the social media giant officially become a true search engine. What is great about Open Graph is that it gives marketers an opportunity to do a little spying on the competition and also find out what other things people interested in your product are into. You can input keywords into the search and it will bring up pages and groups that are related which helps you to see what other kinds of content people may be looking for.

Twitter

Twitter is another great resource to find out what people are looking for and what kind of content is getting the most action with replies and retweets. Not only should you follow your competition but also create lists in Twitter based on the keywords that people are using to find you. This in turn will help you find ides for content to write or produce videos about.

Pinterest

Most people think of Pinterest as an image only social media network but it is actually quickly becoming one of the top “search engines” that people go to to find information. The reason for this is that most people use the pin feature to bookmark actual websites and articles with information that they like or want to read a later. These pins of course are shared with their networks of followers. Again, you want to follow your competition but also search the site by keyword and you’ll find some ideas you may not have considered. In addition you’ll get a great look at how to use images to go along with your articles and posts.

In addition to the suggestions mentioned above I also highly recommend using Google Trends as well as setting up Google Alerts for those chosen keywords you are looking to target. This way you can have hot and upward trending content coming straight into your inbox as it happens. This is a “secret” tool that many journalists use. Use YouTube in the same manner by finding YouTube producers that produce consistent content and subscribe to their channels, every time they upload a new video or even like one you’ll find out about it.

Another really cool resource that I have found recently to be a treasure trove of current blog activity over virtually every type of subject you can imagine is AllTop.com. AllTop collects blog posts from all over the web in a wide range of topics and also has sections that feature the hottest topics. You can get some excellent ideas for writing on topics that are currently trending hot that your readers might be looking for. In closing, I’d like to remind you to keep your focus. Don’t try to be everything to everyone, know your optimal audience and then write to them and get over your fear of video and produce some video content as well. One easy tip to help with that is to do short recap videos about your article. Then you can send people from your YouTube channel to your blog as well to read the entire post.

If you don’t have the time or feel that you just can’t write the quality content that your business needs to be effective give us a shout at Market Taffy and let us handle it for you. We can help you with everything from creating content and email newsletters to copywriting and social media management.

Cloud 2.0 And Why Entrepreneurs Should Be Taking Notice

Cloud 2.0 Definition

Cloud 2.0 Definition

Welcome to Cloud 2.0…

Cloud 2.0 is being built upon the infrastructure of today’s cloud and will provide significant opportunities to startups and entrepreneurs. In some ways this revolution will be similar to Web 2.0, which capitalized on the technical advances, standardization and ubiquitous reach of the Internet to create new digital platforms, applications, social networks, and content sharing resources. What’s most exciting is that because Cloud 2.0 is still in its infancy, forward thinking startups and entrepreneurs that embrace the next generation of cloud computing now will reap substantial benefits for years to come.

Where Does The Cloud Stand Today?

It was only a few years ago that the idea of “the cloud” was still relatively obscure to those outside of Big Data, Networking, and SaaS (software as a service). Given this reality, it is amazing just how rapidly cloud computing has entered the mainstream and become a staple in the lexicon of the average American. Today, the cloud has expanded to encompass a broad range of services and technologies, including PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (infrastructure as a Service). It’s also been firmly embraced by some of the most important technology companies in the world, with big players like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, and IBM all heavily invested in its success.

It’s my guess that the average reader of this article will already have a decent understanding of what the cloud is. In order to contrast today’s cloud with Cloud 2.0 however, it’ll be worth providing a quick and basic definition. Simply put, the cloud is a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet. Because they are all connected through the web, they provide both businesses and individuals with the ability to store, access, manage, and process data without the use of local servers or personal computers.

The average consumer’s cloud experience might be embodied in their use of DropBox for file storage and sharing, or iCloud for backing up their Apple devices, or Google Drive for storing and sharing different documents. For businesses, the cloud can be used for things like CRM, electronic records storage, system networking, and advanced computation.

So What Makes Cloud 2.0 Different?

It may be hard to remember, but in the late 90s and early 2000s, the Internet was a fairly static experience. Social networks like Facebook (and even Myspace) did not yet exist, nor did mobile integration with the web. It was not until the mid 2000s, as the Internet matured and technical advances continued, that a dynamic and interactive web replaced a static web. This unprecedented boom transformed not only the Internet, but the lives of virtually all human beings on the planet. Suddenly we were managing our schedules with Google Calendars, connecting with long lost friends on Facebook, streaming live music on Pandora, and increasing business productivity through Zoho.

The Cloud 2.0 will be the exact same thing because the current cloud has created a mature infrastructure that’s ripe for opportunities in innovation.

Some of these new innovations will be in the continuing expansion and development of powerful cloud based applications. These applications will be increasingly integrated with mobile, thus enhancing the capabilities and functionality of tablets and smartphones.

Other innovations will be in the strengthening of currently existing Cloud 1.0 competencies. Data storage, virtualization, edge computing, and security are all still in their infancy, and there will be almost limitless opportunities to expand both their efficiency and capabilities.  Concepts that are on the fringe now, like cloud-based programming will begin to be universally adapted because they drastically increase the speed and simplicity with which new applications and platforms can be created. And of course, Big Data and analytics will continue to be pushed forward because of the incredible and ever expanding availability of computing power.

3 Opportunities That Cloud 2.0 Provides…

Now finally, let’s get to the explicit opportunities that Cloud 2.0 provides to motivated entrepreneurs and startups:

1. Because of continuous development and competition between the major players like Google, Amazon, Oracle, and Microsoft – access to the cloud is now ridiculously cheap. Even a small startup in a garage can leverage the cloud’s capabilities to develop a new app, offer secure data storage and security to a mega corporation, or create a unique content sharing platform.

2. Those same large companies that have driven costs down through fierce competition are also stuck in the business model of “cloud vendor,” rather than being true cloud-based SaaS or PaaS companies. That’s not to say they won’t make forays (most already have), but rather they will have trouble fully committing because so many resources, and so much of their money, is still tied up in being a cloud gatekeeper.

3. Which means that nimble, agile, and fast-moving startups can seize on the new opportunities afforded by the Cloud 2.0 and carve out significant niches and market spaces for themselves without worrying about the immediate pressures of competition from the cloud’s giants.

Putting It Together And Moving Forward…

Through technology and continuous innovation, the Cloud 2.0 definition will likely continue to expand and change. Yet even so, it’s important to understand that there are very real, very tangible differences between how the cloud of 2016 will look compared to the cloud of today. And the entrepreneurs, startups, and tech-based companies that recognize this coming sea change now will be perfectly positioned to capitalize upon it when the floodgates open.

 

Stefan Georgi is the founder and majority owner of Market Taffy, LLC, an online marketing firm that helps both local and online businesses to realize increased sales and significant growth. You can find out more about Stefan Georgi here.

How To Get Started With Real Time Bidding

Real Time Bidding

Getting Started with Real Time Bidding

Since the ability to purchase online advertising began, advertisers have seen media buying opportunities evolve from buying advertising directly from website publishers themselves, to using  ad networks that manage multiple accounts. Today,  the current innovative real time exchanges trade advertising in a similar way as stocks and commodities are sold on Wall Street. In this constantly evolving industry that is now being led by RTB, it can become a management nightmare to a business owner or manager who wishes to test these waters. In this post, I want to share some basics to help you get started with Real Time Bidding.

Automation Processes

The automation of the buying process is one of the biggest advantages in Real Time Bidding. Before the advances made possible with RTB and Programmatic Marketing, much of the management of accounts had to be done manually. This required someone dedicated to staying on top of it constantly. RTB technology has made online advertising much simpler and easier to handle for newcomers to the industry. Due to the automation processes in place, there are fewer mistakes and management is far less time intensive. This makes the process much more efficient while at the same time reducing the overall expenses on both sides, for the agencies and clients as well as website publishers.

What Are Demand Side Platforms? (DSPs)

In the RTB and programmatic marketing environment this is a term that you will hear frequently. Demand Side Platforms, in a nutshell, are Networks that online advertisers and marketers operate through to create and launch their Real Time Bidding campaigns. These networks manage online advertising in real time much the same way as the stock exchanges work. Due to direct integration into traffic sources they are also a virtually unmatched resource for real time data from website visitors.

What is Real Time Bidding? (RTB)

Real Time Bidding is the latest evolution in online advertising technology and allows website publishers the opportunity to earn additional revenue from their websites or social media accounts. This is done by selling ads as each impression or visit comes available in real time using an ad exchange company or DPS such as SiteScout.

The reason RTB is so attractive for both parties is that it allows them to dynamically adjust bids and offers in real time in reaction to changes in the market as well as from new data being collected. This eliminates many of the difficulties associated with traditional marketing and creates a very cost effective method for the testing of new products and services as well.

One of the ways that RTB differs from traditional ad buying is that due to all of the real time data available, ad buyers are buying specific audiences instead of buying ad inventory. This allows the individual advertiser to truly target their optimal prospect or client by a number of factors such as geographic location, age, device, interests, and more. All you do as an advertiser is bid on the types of impressions you want and if you are a penny higher you win!

How Much Does This Traffic Cost?

As with most goods and services in the marketplace, ad prices are set by supply and demand. Traffic or impressions that an ad network is trying to sell that are in lower demand may be very inexpensive, as low as .20 CPM or cost per thousand impressions. Conversely, if an advertiser wants to bid on impressions for chocolates or “Vermont Teddy Bears” around Valentine’s Day they could be much more expensive, especially for ads on a high traffic website in the United States. Costs for impressions like these could conceivably cost $10 CPM or more.

RTB utilizes actual live data that is collected milliseconds before the ads are served which allows for targeting of an audience like never before, all the way down to browser, exact device, time and location, gender, age, and even the exact keywords searched for!

Watch this video –  How Real Time Bidding Works in 30 Seconds

Website Fails That Can Kill Your ROI

Web Development Mistakes

How Website Mistakes Can Kill Your ROI

 1.     Not Setting Up Measurable Goals And Baselines – In any endeavor, setting up goals and baselines is a prerequisite in order to properly measure results and identify problem areas. When marketing online this is even more crucial, not having key data to analyze can destroy your online business if you have no idea what it takes to produce a sale or convert a visitor. You need to be able to answer questions such as, “How many unique visitors do I need to reach X revenue?” What is the optimum click through rate I need on my sales/lead pages?”

In my experience consulting with upper level managers and business owners most are quite frankly clueless when it comes to online marketing. The fact is that you need to be even more stringent than offline with monitoring your various marketing methods because there are so many facets. You need to know which online marketing methods work best for your particular business and customer demographic. The only way to do this is to have measurable baselines to start from and utilize tools such as Google Analytics to measure data such as unique visitors to leads and leads to sales.

 2.     Establishing Your Own Unique Selling Proposition Or USP – This is like an expansion of the “elevator speech” that many of us were perhaps taught in sales. You know, the quick 20 second overview of what you do and why people should do business with you. In the online world with millions of competitors most businesses fail before they begin because they don’t separate themselves from the crowd.

Don’t follow into this trap. Develop a solid USP and market it on your site and in your advertising. You MUST tell prospective customers what it is about your company or brand that sets you apart from everyone else and WHY they should do business with you. This post from About.com shares some great USPs from well-known brands that should help you see how you should structure your own.

 3.     Failure to Monitor Bounce Rates – Do YOU know the bounce rate of your website pages?  To keep it simple, a bounce is when a visitor comes to a page on your website and then leaves without clicking through. In my experience the majority of websites tend to have bounce rates of 60% or higher. This is costing them a fortune, the target bounce rate should be under 30 percent.

To lower bounce rates be sure that your USP is displayed concisely, while giving a solid overview of the products and services you offer. It should also cover your customer profile(the market you serve), along with how the solution you have to offer solves their problem or need. This information should always be above the fold on the left side of the page so it is highly visible. Get rid of any visual clutter that may distract visitors, and always include clearly defined CTAs or Calls to Action on every page.

4.     Search Engine Optimization Or SEO Is Lacking Or Nonexistent

With the information available and the many qualified individuals who have years of SEO experience there is simply no excuse for this. Establishing and online presence without SEO would be like opening a new brick and mortar business with no signage and not telling anyone you are open.

SEO is NOT about “gaming” the algorithms as many novice SEO companies try to do, it is about providing QUALITY content that gives solutions to problems visitors are searching for. SEO is about providing “visitor optimized” content in the form of website copy as well as blog posts, videos and more that utilize the predictive keywords that someone searching for your product or service might be searching for. While you want to include these keywords and phrases in your copy for the “search engine spiders”, you must also ensure that it is “visitor friendly” and not written for particular search engine algorithms which change constantly.

5.     Know The Demographic Of Your Ideal Customers – Many online retailers make the mistake of trying to be everything to everybody instead of focusing their marketing where it gives them the best results. Large multi-billion dollar companies can afford to do this because they have broad client bases but most companies NEED to focus on their optimal demographic.

It should go without saying that a website that is marketing medicare to Baby Boomers should be constructed and written differently than one that is selling skateboards and accessories to Gen Xers! You must take the time to implement in depth demographic research to discover your optimal client and create your content primarily for them to obtain the best ROI for your efforts.

 6.     Be Sure Your Website Is Easy To Navigate And Understand – A lot of brands and businesses get sold on fancy flash presentations and high tech designs that lose the message in all the glitz and glamour. Just because you and your web designer love the look doesn’t mean it will convert well. Make sure that the information flows properly and includes instructions that lead visitors through your sales funnel with no issues that could cause roadblocks in the buying process. Have contact and comment forms on each page and don’t let your ego keep you from accepting constructive criticism from visitors. Use visitor and customer comments to fine tune your every aspect of your online marketing plan.

 7.     Don’t Lose Your Visitors In Industry Jargon – With few exceptions website copy should be written for the average visitor, which according to statistics is reading and comprehending on around a 6th grade level. This means you need to stay away from using words that aren’t commonly used that require a thesaurus to figure out and don’t write like you are writing your Doctoral thesis.

Obviously if your site is specifically geared towards a niche market such as physicians, or Quantum Physicists then the above may not apply. It all goes back to KNOWING you target market demographic and creating content optimized for them.

 8.     Include A Strong CTA For Each Page – Don’t put up content on your website just for the sake of content. Each page of your website should have a defined purpose and include a call to action that directs the visitor to accomplish some measurable goal.  These actions include opting in to email lists for newsletters, ebook downloads, social media interactions and sales. All of these can and SHOULD be set up and tracked in Google Analytics so you can see where to invest your money and where to cut back. Yes, Google CAN be your friend, IF you know how to use the tools.

Establishing an online presence and creating a marketing plan is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing a brand or business on the internet. The Internet is constantly changing and evolving due to the infinite amount of data available to those who create the systems that run it. Even those of us who have made this our chosen career must stay on top of new innovations and changes on a daily basis to continue to be effective.

This is why it pays to hire a company to handle all of these processes for you. No one can run a company and stay on top of the day to day operations that they need to be doing and handle all of the online aspects as well. It just can’t be done. It takes a team of qualified professionals with varied skillsets to accomplish all of the tasks mentioned above in an efficient manner. Even those of us who know how to do all of them would not take on the task alone.

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