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  • Public Relations and Content: The Yin and Yang of Marketing Mar 6, 2019

    If you haven't noticed already, content marketing has seen a steady increase in popularity in the recent years. And, there is a good reason for that. Conventional forms of marketing, the ones you might call “in your face” tactics, can’t cut it anymore. Therefore, content marketing is skyrocketing like never before!

    More people are investing their advertising budgets in blogs and social media. In fact, they are forgoing the more traditional forms of marketing. Why? Because, in the word of modern technology, where the latest scoop is just a few clicks away, people value knowledge and information. And that is the main selling point of content marketing.

    Yet, this change of pace in marketing forms leaves public relations in a peculiar state of limbo. The typical path of advertising put much emphasis on PR in the past. What’s more, advertising and public relations went hand in hand. However, marketers that consider content to be the king, often neglect public relations. They do so for different reasons. Some don’t see the benefits of writing a story and then getting the media to cover it. Furthermore, others understand the appeal but don’t know how to achieve that. Finally, some marketers wrongly believe that public relations and content marketing shouldn’t be mixed, but rather kept as separate categories.

    The dynamic relationship of Yin and Yang

    However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. When it comes to advertising, public relations are equally important as content marketing. What’s more, they should go hand in hand. Just like Yin and Yang.

    The ancient Chinese philosophy tales say that Yin and Yang are seemingly opposing forces. They are in a constant dynamic relation. They work better as a whole than as separate entities. This duality is a focal point of change and progress. The opposite forces work in such a way so as to create equilibrium. If disturbed or separated, they are thrown out of balance.

    The situation with PR and content marketing is very similar. The equilibrium between those two advertising forms brings a much-needed balance to your business. The Yin and Yang are described to be integral, correlated, and reciprocal. PR and content marketing should have the same dynamics. At the end of the day, you need to utilise both for a successful promotional strategy.

    Integral: necessary to make a whole complete; essential and fundamental

    Public relations are, in fact, very akin to content marketing. That’s precisely why you shouldn’t look at them as separate entities. Media relations use the news, press releases, and other forms of media to publish features that focus on a specific company and their products. And, when you think about it, that is very similar to content marketing. What’s the essential difference? Who is publishing the work.

    When you’re putting out information about your business, it’s important to remember to utilise both PR and content marketing, each to their extent. You should use them in conjunction. However, choose your battles wisely. For example, PR is more credible. What’s more, you should probably take that route when announcing something big. Publishing big news on your blog isn’t the best way to get the attention you seek. Furthermore, a strategic media relations move will spread the word around and attract more visitors, leads, and customers. Thus, it will perfectly complement your marketing strategy.

    Correlated: where two things affect and depend on each other

    Like we mentioned before, Yin and Yan work best in conjunction. They are stronger when connected, rather than being apart. The same goes for media relations and content marketing. Content marketers know how to use their ability to tell a remarkable tale to engage their audience. That is the essence of content marketing. On the other hand, media relations has the task of distributing those stories to a broad and diverse audience. They do so by using contacts with media houses and independent journalists. Therefore, the connection between the two is as clear as day - they work best in unison.

    When combined, PR and content marketing can work wonders. How? Well, first the content marketers compile great stories. Then, the media professionals handle them so that they could reach big audiences. Media professionals know all about spinning a story. Therefore, they will surely boost your content so that it gets the attention you need.

    On the other hand, content affects PR, as well. It’s a kind of a “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” situation. The better the content you produce, the easier it will be to get media coverage. Excellent content marketers are a dream come true for PR experts. After all, a good story isn’t hard to sell. Their job is to convey amazing stories and give the worldwide audience an opportunity to see them. Therefore, excellent content makes their job that much smoother. Furthermore, if your content is unique, there is a chance that the media relation experts you reach out to for PR already know who you are and what you do.

    Reciprocal: an equal binding of two parties

    When you really think about it, everyone is a content writer. Everyone who is producing any kind of content is a content creator. The posts on your blog, social media, etc., as well as other publishings like ebooks - all of that is content. So, if everybody is creating content, you might be pressed to see why media relations are that important. You might even be wondering - what’s the point?

    The fact that content marketing and content creation are on the rise is the exact reason why PR is crucial today. That is especially true since the two rely upon each other.

    The whole point of marketing is visibility. You want the right people, i.e. prospective clients and customers to be aware of you and your business. If you can’t accomplish that, it means that your target audience isn’t seeing your content. In short, if that’s the case, don’t bother even publishing your content. However, how will you achieve visibility in the seemingly never-ending sea of content that’s flooding the internet? That’s precisely where PR takes charge. PR can guarantee the visibility and the attention your material needs and deserves.

    So, like Yin and Yang, public relations and content marketing create an equilibrium. They work well on their own, but the best results are only possible if you combine their powers. They work better together - PR needs excellent content, while content won’t be seen without proper coverage and fantastic PR. Therefore, make sure to make PR an integral part of your content marketing strategy.

    Richard Larson is Brand Manager for GoPromotional, leading supplier of business gifts in the UK. He enjoys sharing business and marketing tips both online and offline.
  • The Top Social Media Platforms Have Changed – What Does It Mean for Marketers? Jan 11, 2019

    If you want to remain relevant in the world of social media marketing, you have to stay up to date with all the changes that are happening on the most important platforms.

    Anyone who has spent more than a year in social media marketing knows that top platforms change periodically. However, while some changes are great, and help old favorites to remain popular, others can cause popular platforms to sink, or unpopular ones to suddenly experience significant growth.

    If you want to keep your marketing relevant, you must keep track of these changes. With that being said, we should definitely take a good hard look into this year’s top platforms.

    Facebook
    The biggest and most important social networking platform didn’t lose popularity, and it probably won’t any time soon. At the moment, Facebook is the undisputed ruler among all demographics. This is thanks to its 2.23 billion active monthly users, and its popularity is still on the rise.

    YouTube
    Another oldie but goodie. With 1.5 billion active monthly users, this video sharing platform is in the second place when it comes to popularity. This fact alone speaks in favor of video content – as people obviously love it. Plus, this platform has something Facebook still lacks – it is immensely popular among young people. Actually, for the 18-to-24 demographics, it’s the most used platform. Although popular, YouTube still has stuff to do, things to improve. Only 45% of its users claim to access the platform every day.

    WhatsApp
    With 1.5 billion monthly active users, this platform is almost as popular as YouTube. When it first appeared, it became instantly popular because it changed texting, upgraded it. In WhatsApp there are no word amount limits, you can send one message to several people at once, and you can send videos, images, and audios. At this moment, WhatsApp manages to keep its users and gain new ones by adding new features regularly.

    Facebook Messenger
    No.4 on our top list is Facebook Messenger. Yet another messaging platform Facebook owns. It has a steady influx of new monthly active users. Now, while it might seem irrelevant for you as a marketer, this is actually great. This platform offers numerous opportunities for reaching users via content, ads, or with chatbots.

    WeChat
    If you’re not doing marketing in China, you probably know close to nothing about this social platform. However, in spite of its lack of popularity in other countries, this platform is flourishing in China. There, it is the most popular platform, outranking all the other global favorites by far.

    This platform started out as a messaging app, but with constant upgrades, it grew into something much larger. For example, users of this platform can share their location, play games, order cabs, book doctor appointments, and even make payments. It’s sort of like having all of your favorite apps within one.

    When you consider the fact that Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and WhatsApp are all among the top five most used social platforms at the moment, a trend becomes apparent. When you take into consideration that dark social now boils down to 84% of all social shares, this information becomes even more relevant for marketers. Also, dark social isn’t only limited to these three platforms; there are also Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and Facebook Stories.

    Instagram
    This platform definitely deserves to be on the list. Ever since it was launched, it has been steadily growing. Even more important is the fact that we don’t see why that trend would change in the next few years, unless they completely change the entire app. To a marketer, this means that Instagram is a platform that cannot be ignored. According to a recent survey, more than 60% of micro-influencers claim that this is the most effective platform when it comes to audience engagement. Not to mention that Instagram is easier to fit into your SMM strategy than those platforms that ranked higher on this list.

    Instagram’s popularity doesn’t stem from one single factor; there are several that keep contributing to its constant growth. The first factor is the ever-growing number of mobile users. The more people who use mobile devices, the more people who need a simple, fun platform. This platform fills this need because it is perfect for editing, uploading, and viewing posts on mobile devices. The second important factor lies in Instagram’s visual content. As it became apparent with YouTube and Facebook, people love their visuals. And that’s another reason for the popularity of this platform – it takes us a step further than other platforms by being almost completely wordless.

    But, why isn’t it higher in the list then? Well, for all of its good sides, it seems that Instagram has some bad ones as well. For example, you can’t delve deeply into any topic. Single image posts with very little explanation are interesting, but sometimes far from being enough for users. Another negative lies in the fact that people can’t really share opinions and have discussions on this platform. And, last but not least, there are no links where people can find out more.

    The Rise of Snapchat
    Although it isn’t in the top ten when it comes to monthly active users, Snapchat is due to experience a popularity surge soon enough. Officially, it is the 17th most popular social platform, but Generation Z will increase its popularity. That age group is massively leaving Facebook, and we believe that they will most probably join Snapchat.

    Well, now we’re wondering, why is this platform so popular among the younger users? You see, other platforms successfully used creating stories to attract people, but Snapchat offered something different. It allows users to create content that only lasts for several seconds. That means that people can share their experiences as they are living them, instead of worrying about creating lasting content that other platforms offer.

    What’s Going on With Twitter?
    Not such a long time ago, Twitter was consistently in the top 5 social networking platforms. At the top of its game, it was in the second place, with only Facebook beating its popularity. Unfortunately, now, Twitter dropped to the 12th position in the most popular list.

    Due to a general lack of direction and poor earnings, not long ago people were predicting that Twitter would have to close its doors forever. Luckily, this platform has made significant improvements since then and added 6 million new users in the first quarter of 2018 alone. Even better news is the fact that Twitter’s active user base has been growing by 10% each year. So, for those marketers who work in niches that target this audience, Twitter is far from being history.

    Should You Pay Attention to Pinterest?
    Circling the bottom of the list, Pinterest ranks 19th among the most popular platforms. This makes us pose the question above. But, the fact that it’s this low still doesn’t mean that it’s insignificant. Pinterest has 200 million active monthly users, which really isn’t a small group of people you can dismiss.

    Now, if you really want to include Pinterest in your social media strategy, you should consider it from another perspective. How? Well, it doesn’t have re-pin counters anymore, and it has no likes. Instead of that, Pinterest is now about collecting pins that appear in your suggestions that are generated by this platform’s algorithm. This means that marketers have a great opportunity here. You can put your content in front of the exact users who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer.

    Also, keep in mind that this platform is the perfect place for ads – it generated about $500 million in revenue last year alone.

    In the end
    If you pay attention to which social media platforms are most popular at every moment, you will be able to point your marketing strategy in the right direction. If you want to keep up with the trends, you need to be aware of the fact that numbers are always changing and that popularity is fickle. Also, don’t forget that although the population as a whole might be a fan of a certain platform, your target audience might like a different one. After all, knowing what your audience likes, and what they might like in the future is the most important information you need.

    Richard Larson is Brand Manager for GoPromotional.co.uk. He has a background in sales and internet marketing. Richard enjoys spending time with his family, as well as surfing the interwebs for the next great idea.
    Abhinandan Jain likes this.
  • 6 Ways Creativity Can Have a Positive Impact on Your ROI Nov 27, 2018

    When you work in marketing, you might think that the creativity part is left to the design team; however, creativity is important in all aspects of marketing. It means thinking out of the box and aiming to do things differently during the day to day imagining of your marketing campaigns. Here are 6 ways that you can make sure that you remain creative with your marketing efforts so that it will have a positive impact on your ROI.
    1. Mix up Your Visual Media: When it comes to creativity with marketing and promotions, where you have a great deal of room to be creative, visual media should be the first area to come to mind. Make sure that you aren’t just using one type of media; you should mix it up with different types of media including images, video, gifs, memes, infographics and everything you can think of. Visual media attracts much more attention than text does, especially when it comes to social media.
    2. Infographics: There is something special about infographics. They are very effective in getting your message across, which is why we are calling this out separately from all of the visual imagery we mentioned in number one above. Infographics blend text information with imagery, which helps grab the attention of your readers, as we already mentioned. In addition to that, images are processed faster and remembered better than text alone.
    3. Contest Marketing on Social Media: Contests allow you to get creative and stand out. There are different types of contests that you can host on social media that can make you memorable for a number of different reasons. Here are a few different creative contest ideas:
      • Caption This Photo Contests
      • Voting Contests
      • Video Contests
      • Photo Contests
      • Sweepstakes
    4. Get Creative with Headlines: Headlines are very important. They can be social media headlines, article titles, email subject lines, or the headline for your press release. You should spend a great deal of time on them because they are very important. Coming up with at least 5 to 10 subject lines or headlines for each project will help spark your creativity and will impact the end result in a very positive way. Brainstorm your headlines with other teams to come up with the best variations for subject lines that draw in your audience and garner the results you are looking for.
    5. Show Your Workplace Culture: One of the most unique things about your company is the organizational culture you have. It is something that can’t really be replicated or stolen. Showing your unique company culture on social is a great way to be creative and help your brand stand out.
    6. Try One New Thing: One of the ways to ensure your marketing strategy is always evolving and creative is to try one new thing on a regular basis. It can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly; but as long as you try one new thing that you would normally not do, you will remain creative. Some of the most successful marketing campaigns in history were born from trying that one new risky thing. Examples of creative campaigns that were risky but paid off includes Domino’s changes everything campaign, Dove’s ‘real beauty’ campaign, and LEGO does more than Legos campaign which lead to some of its most popular franchises including Star Wars, Marvel, video games, and The Lego Movie.

    Summary and Takeaways for Your Business

    Just when you think creativity is only for designers, think again! Marketing can be all about creativity, not just in the art sense. Today, we discussed 6 ways that creative marketing tactics can help improve your bottom line. We hope that you can apply each of these tactics to your marketing strategy in the very near future. Remember to use visual media, infographics, contests, pay attention to headlines, show your workplace culture, and try one new thing that you normally would not do.
    Abhinandan Jain and Eugene Hill like this.
  • 5 Tips for Making Your E-Commerce Content SEO and Sales Friendly at the Same Time Aug 3, 2018

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that creating SEO friendly content is a big mystery. In actuality, the search engines favor content that helps you promote your brand. Many of the same techniques that get your content to the top of the search engines also appeal to your online shoppers. Therefore, making your content search engine friendly, also helps sell your products or services online.

    Over the years, webmasters and digital marketers have tried to figure out how to get their content to the top of the search engines. As you know, Google ended up penalizing websites for trying to “trick” their way to the top. Many sites tried to pass underhanded tactics by as search engine optimization technique. However, the fact still remains, trying to trick the search engines doesn’t help achieve your e-commerce goals. As it turns out, the search engines like the same things that appeal to e-commerce website visitors. To win over both, you need content that makes sense. Here are our 5 tips for making your e-commerce content SEO and sales friendly at the same time.

    1. Format your content: Good formatting is important for any content structure. It helps your audience easily read your content when you separate it into small chunks, use headers, sub headers, and create catchy titles. You should also similarly segment and format your content for SEO purposes, including the title, header tags, and bold text. This lets the reader and the search engine know what is important.
    2. Include links to relevant content on your website: When you are writing a page about your product or service, it is a great idea to link to older content that either helps explain what you are talking about, or that is related to other products or services you are cross-selling or upselling. The links help the search engines understand the structure of your content while helping your customers know what they could (or should) buy.
    3. Include metadata to help automatically fill social media posts: The search engines have gone back and forth with the importance of meta data for SEO purposes. At one time, all the tags were more important than they are now. However, meta data can help with your site preview in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and the canonical tags in the meta data can definitely help when promoting your content across social. It will automatically fill the title and website page URL for you.
    4. Don’t stuff keywords: One of those older tactics used was stuffing keywords into the page. Your content must be easy to read and shouldn’t sound like a broken, repetitive record. It is important to have your main keywords on each page, but don’t overuse them, and make sure not to use the same keywords over and over. Vary your keywords. Do your research and find out what alternate keywords are popular for the keywords you use. Mix in the keywords that consumers use, as well. Your keywords should be used in your title and sub headers. Once you are done with the final draft of your content, re-read it and see where you can add keywords. Take a final count and make sure that you have hit the sweet spot of not too many and not too few keywords.
    5. Create original content: The search engines will penalize you if your content is duplicated from another site. Similarly, using someone else’s words won’t help you promote your products and services. Use the words you are passionate about and your passion will come through your content and impress your target audience as well as the search engines.

    Summary and Takeaways for Your Company
    We hope we have explained how SEO friendly and sales friendly content are so similar. When you execute our 5 tips covered today, you can make your e-commerce content SEO and sales friendly at the same time. It is interesting to see all the parallels between catering your content for promotion and the search engines. The search engines favor many of the same techniques that also make your content easy to promote and helps sell it.
  • Social Media Tips for Promoting Your Booth at Trade Shows Jan 13, 2015

    Trade shows have pros and cons when it comes to attracting visitors to your booth. They have a limited number of booths they can see, but the large amount of intensified competition could mean that they miss your booth if you don’t take precautions to stand out in the crowd. One of the best ways to stand out is through social media. Many trade show marketing efforts concentrate on getting your target audience to come to the show, but social media marketing can help ensure that trade show attendees won’t miss your booth.

    Here is a 5 step checklist for your trade show social media campaign:

    1. Select Social Channels You Can Keep up with. Even if your company has multiple social channels, if a small staff is on hand for the trade show, there is no need to activate all of them with the trade show campaign. Only use the channels you can keep up with. If any attendees interact with you on other channels, you can then make the decision to redirect them to the ones you are using or engage them there. Our top recommendations are Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest and Instagram. You should, of course, choose the platforms that are right for your team and your company.

    2. Plan Ahead. Not everything relating to social media marketing can be done while at the show. Planning ahead is vital to the success of a trade show social media campaign. Schedule a social marketing calendar with planned posts for each day. Create events and invite your connections and email subscribers to the events on Facebook, EventBrite, Plancast, and other social channels that have social event planning. Next, create check-ins for your booth at each trade show. Event check-ins can be done on Facebook and Foursquare and when attendees check-in, the word will instantly spread to their network. Coordinate plans with other booths to cross market and boost reach.

    3. Execute the plan. Create buzz, run contests, and get people talking about your company and your booth. Follow through on your calendar plans and do not let all of the planning ahead go to waste. Capitalize on any down time you have and engage potential booth visitors online socially.

    4. Find Trade Show Attendees Online and Engage Them. Search for trade show attendees online by seeing who has checked in to the trade show venue, searching for the name of the trade show on Twitter, or targeting people who live in the city. As long as you keep your interactions social in nature and offer something that they can get out of the interactions without making it too sales-oriented or pushy, they will react well.

    5. Follow Up and Evaluate What Worked. Once the trade show is over, be sure to follow up with everyone who interacted with your brand on social media. Keep connected with them and try to close the sale or continue engaging them online. The other important thing to remember is to evaluate what worked and what did not. There are tools available, like those from iSentia, to help monitor and analyze your social media efforts. Do this as close to the end of the trade show as possible so that everything is still fresh in your head. It is also the perfect time to brainstorm and make plans to make it better next time.
  • Website Design Mistakes That Make You Seem Like a Beginner Jan 6, 2015

    Website design is not an exact science. It’s more of an art with technical elements. The goal is to create a usable experience for the visitor that conveys the brand’s tone and goal. Above all, you want your design to look complete and polished. And as with many things, the devil is in the details. Avoid looking like a beginner with these amateur mistakes.


    Design Elements That Don’t Work
    Design should always favor function over form. A beautifully designed website that doesn’t convey the necessary information or allow the audience to perform the required tasks is useless. Contact forms, share buttons, and search forms are all susceptible to this problem.

    Let’s use the flash intro as an example. While it used to be one of the most popular website elements, it has become a dated option in recent years. Long load times made it harder for the websites to actually serve their purpose. If your visitors came to your website on their mobile device to see what time you close today, that flash intro is more of a hindrance than a help.

    Missing Favicon
    A favicon is the logo or image that shows in the Internet browser tab when your website is displayed. Favicons also show when you bookmark the page. A missing favicon isn’t a cardinal sin but it is a sign of unfinished design. A default favicon from WordPress, Wix, or some other website platform is just as bad.

    Think of it this way: your website is your best outfit. You’re hoping to look good from head to toe. And then you don’t put any shoes on. Or perhaps even worst, you put on a pair of cardboard boxes that your website provider was giving away free.

    Comment Boxes on Standard Pages
    Comments are the lifeblood of a blog. Any site that promotes community is focused on leveraging comments in some way. But comments where you don’t want them are a problem. Standard pages like About, Services, or anything else that isn’t a post don’t call for comments from readers. When a website has comment boxes on pages that are not for discussion, it looks amateurish.

    There are a few ways to control whether comment boxes appear on your pages. You can do so in the Discussion section of the WordPress global settings. You can also make the change on each individual page. If your theme includes it the options, it might be in your Appearance settings.

    Meta in the Sidebar
    The meta widget is a default WordPress sidebar widget that offers a link to the sign-in page, the comments feed, and the post feeds. It appears after you install WordPress and you have to manually remove it. This is also the reason it makes you look like a beginner. It shows that you’re probably still rocking the default settings of your installation.

    Also, the meta widget implies you want random visitors logging into your site. In most cases, you don’t. Not sure how to log in without using that widget? Just add “/wp-admin” to your website’s URL to display the log-in page.

    Crappy Copy
    Although it’s not traditionally thought of as part of the design, website copy can absolutely affect the look of your website. Typography is becoming more and more important to the overall design. And what you put into that typography can take away from the experience you’re trying to create for your visitors.

    Ask yourself if your web copy is clear to the reader. Is it telling them what they need to know? Is it professionally? Is it free of any grammar or spelling errors? Does the tone fit the overall experience of the website? If the answer to any of these questions is no, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

    Richard Larson, GoPromotional Logo Pens