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The Digital Marketer’s Guide to Content Promotion

Content Promotion ResourcesLast month, we shared a series of posts on how to create conversions-driving content. We started with proven copywriting formulas and how-tos on writing clickable headlines and email subject lines and ended with what Google can teach us about copywriting.

In the second article, we shared expert strategies for creating powerful landing pages and engaging content, and touched on content promotion. But since content promotion is now so critical for content marketing success, we thought we’d expand on the subject.

So here are the most authoritative and relevant articles, in-depth guides and specific how-tos on content promotion we could find…this time around!

Content Promotion Tips & Best Practices

The All-in-One Content Marketing Playbook for Startups

By Melani Dizon via Copy Hackers

In this intensive content marketing playbook of “seven repeatable, proven steps”, Melani Dizon begins with content creation and ends with content repurposing. Each of the individual steps is detailed, incorporating specific examples and linking out to expert sources.

Step five, “Promote More Than Seems Reasonable”, involves its own three-step process, conveniently laid out for you in a downloadable spreadsheet at the end of the guide.

Dizon recommends first reading through the entire playbook to get a feel for “the big picture” and then return to each step as needed. You’ll want to keep this gem for reference!

How to Promote Your Content Across Owned, Earned, and Paid Media

By Matthew Gratt via Convince & Convert

BuzzStream’s Matthew Gratt emphasizes that before even creating content, you need to determine how you’ll promote it across owned, earned and paid channels. He writes that all three channels should be integrated and fused into your overarching content marketing strategy if it is to be effective.

Gratt delves into precisely what owned, earned and paid media are, and shares specific techniques and platforms for leveraging each.

He notes that of the three, earned media is the most important (and the most difficult to acquire), as it lends credibility to your content and extends its reach through third-party amplification. This provides a smart framework to consult when formulating your content marketing strategy.

Content Promotion: The Difference Between Brands with Fans & Anonymous Content

By Larry Kim via WordStream

Like Matthew Gratt (above), Larry Kim writes that planning for content promotion should come before you even start creating it. He describes WordStream’s content marketing process, which starts with where they’d like media coverage then creating content tailored to its preferences using the appropriate angle.

Kim then outlines the content promotion and distribution strategies they employ, including pitching influencers, creating visual assets, leveraging social media, remarketing, repurposing and syndication. If you’re trying to build your brand, you’ll want to pay attention to this mini case study of how WordStream built theirs.

8 Nonobvious Tips to Promote Content

By Arnie Kuenn via Content Marketing Institute

Noting that most digital marketers are familiar with promotion strategies such as sharing content on social media networks, Arnie Kuenn discusses eight less obvious content promotion and distribution tools and platforms.

First up is live-streaming video content to users’ Twitter feeds with Meerkat or Periscope, allowing for real-time content distribution and engagement. He recommends Flipboard for creating industry- or location-specific digital magazines, writing the platform provides a superior user experience for desktop, mobile and tablet users.

Alternative tools include BuzzStream for discovering influencers and their contact information and BuzzSumo for its vast database and unparalleled analytical insights. Finally, Kuenn suggests distributing content to communities and blog aggregators like Triberr, Blog Engage and Alltop.

17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content

By Aaron Agius via Kissmetrics

Aaron Agius writes that while the advanced promotion methods he describes here are routinely employed by the most successful big brands, they’re available and doable for all content creators.

From asking relevant influencers for a “killer quote” for your article to sharing content with communities to paying for promotion services such as (the relatively inexpensive) Outbrain, these strategies are proven to be effective for those who know how to use them properly. To that end, Agius shares tips, recommended tools and links to resources so you can promote your new content like the big boys.

Need to Crush Content Promotion? Love Your Dealers

By Ian Lurie via Portent

Ian Lurie recommends leveraging the networks of content distributors (“dealers”) for your promotion needs, writing “the best dealers are sites that grow through curation of material related to them”. Specifically, he lists content sharing networks, new and growing toolsets, and industry-specific, user-generated content sites and publications.

Lurie considers content sharing networks such as SlideShare and Medium the premium dealers, as they need your fantastic content as much as you need their distribution. They have a respectable “audience oomph” factor and are “very deliberate about promoting the best stuff.”

Throughout, Lurie provides specific dealer features and benefits, as well as tips for using them effectively. This one’s definitely a keeper!

The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience

By Neil Patel & Aaron Agius via Quick Sprout

This exhaustive guide on blog marketing by Neil Patel and Aaron Agius is divided into 10 chapters, covering all that goes into building blog traffic. It’s specifically designed for readers who are already well versed in how to create content but want to build their brand status and ultimately, generate sales.

Beginning with the basics of building a community and an email list in the first chapter, Patel and Agius go on to more advanced strategies such as SEO, paid search and social ads, content syndication and influencer outreach. If you’re looking to catapult your brand and blog to the next level, then you should find this a valuable resource.

Social Media Platforms, Strategies & Tools for Content Promotion

5 Gospels to Follow on Social Media That are Strategic, Systematic, and Smart

By Jodi Harris via Content Marketing Institute

This article is a useful starting point for thinking about content promotion through social media sharing, providing a savvy lens through which to view and assess your social media strategy. Here, Jodi Harris presents Content Marketing Institute’s Jonathan Crossfield’s acerbic take on using social media via five “gospels”.

When promoting content on social media, he advises caution and details seven guidelines to follow that range from tailoring your message to the medium to adding quality images and the right hashtags. A great resource when mapping out your social media strategy!

Social Media Campaign Planning Guide – The Rocket Formula

By Ian Cleary via RazorSocial

In sharing RazorSocial’s “rocket formula”, Ian Cleary identifies planning as the critical factor in making or breaking a social media campaign. He details nine steps, each with their own component steps, in this extensive guide.

Cleary begins with pre-campaign planning such as selecting the appropriate social platforms, then walks you through the entire process, ending with documenting the results.

He suggests tools to help you with each step and thoroughly explains how to use them. A most helpful guide for content marketers, no matter the size of their budget.

Slideshare Traffic Case Study: From 0 to 243,000 Views in 30 Days

By Ana Hoffman via Traffic Generation Café

Ana Hoffman shares some truly impressive numbers documenting her astonishing success with Slideshare, not the least of which is that the LinkedIn-owned platform is her second largest source of referral traffic.

She details just how she did it, beginning with a five-step process for creating a Slideshare deck. Hoffman then shares seven highly specific tips to fully leverage your presentation, such as optimizing for search and including a call to action.

Finally, she discusses four ways to drive traffic from Slideshare, from being featured in one of its homepage sections to getting it embedded on other sites. An excellent resource you’ll want to bookmark!

13 Instagram Marketing Tips From the Experts

By Cindy King via Social Media Examiner

In her post for Social Media Examiner, the late Cindy King shared Instagram marketing tips and recommended tools from 13 social media experts. Their responses range from the relatively technical (shooting square photos) and analytical (using a custom link shortener to track traffic) to the practical (editorial calendar) and promotional.

Among the promotional tips are partnering with Instagram influencers to expand brand awareness and follower reach, leveraging sponsored ads and taking advantage of trending topics.

Other promotional tips involve strategically using your bio link, whereby you can direct users to a landing page or your most recent content. All of the tips shared are worth investigating!

Your Turn

Hope you find these resources helpful in reaching your content promotion goals! If you know of an actionable guide or article — and yes, that includes your own! — please share it with us in the comments below. Thanks!

Photo thanks: ID 945449 by Unsplash / Pixabay.com

 

 

 

“Weird, Useful, & Significant”: World Building with Ian Lurie

planet earthAs an online writer and/or digital marketer, at some point you are sure to come across Portent’s CEO of 20 years, Ian Lurie (if you haven’t already). His wicked sense of humor is matched only by his expertise in all things content and internet marketing.

Here, Ian addresses questions about content visibility beyond the blog, world-building (he loathes the term “content marketing”), and creating “entry points into our world: weird, useful, and significant.”

Hope you enjoy Ian’s interview as much as we did!

In your recent ConfluenceCon presentation you covered a lot of digital marketing ground. One of your main points was about making great content visible beyond the on-site blog.

Specifically, you mentioned using the Open Graph (OG) Protocol and Twitter Cards for social visibility. Could you translate what those are in non-techie speak?

Twitter cards and OGP markup improve the way your content is represented out in the world. In terms of world building, they make the entry points more attractive, and make it more likely that customers will take the first step towards interacting with you.

In practical terms, Open Graph Protocol is something Facebook uses when you embed a link in your newsfeed. Sometimes, when you embed a link, the result includes an image, a site name, etc. The site owner can provide that information to the Facebook crawler using Open Graph Protocol. The more information they provide, the more Facebook can enhance the listing.

In nerdier terms, Open Graph Protocol is a markup standard. It’s code you can embed in a web page that provides additional information, just like meta tags. With it, you can define the page’s topic, title, author, a thumbnail image you’d like displayed when the page is cited and a bunch of other information.

There are also specific OGP attributes you can define for music, videos, products and such.

Twitter cards are similar to OGP. They let you specify images, videos and such that can attach to a tweet of a specific web page. You can link to direct download/install of mobile apps, embed videos, audio, images and thumbnails and set properties like titles, descriptions and the linked site.

You also addressed off-site content marketing, citing SlideShare and free Kindle e-books. What are some general tips for content creators to best leverage these platforms?

It’s all about audience. Use the platform that gives you entry into the biggest, most relevant potential audience. That’s the whole reason for doing it. I know – duh. But when you’re leveraging third party sites, you want to be very, very deliberate about it:

  1. Make a really good case to yourself for using this or that site
  2. Understand the upside if your content is super-successful
  3. Understand what super-successful means on each site

Here are a few examples:

Most people visit the SlideShare for business information. If you want to get visual content in front of millions of business professionals, it’s the place to be. If you don’t have visual content, look elsewhere.

On SlideShare, it’s all about being selected “SlideShare of the Day”. That gets you home page placement, mentions on Twitter by @slideshare and all sorts of other publicity.

LinkedIn owns SlideShare. So success on SlideShare may transfer over to LinkedIn because users can easily share your presentations with their connections.

If that happens, you’ll get lots of visibility. But SlideShare also lets you place lead generation forms in those presentations. I’ve seen that generate leads in the past. Finally, you can let readers download your presentation. That puts your content in a person’s hands, which is great – it’s a permanent invitation to spend more time with you.

SlideShare delivers a very strong, clear invitation to enter your world.

You might write for Medium because you have long-form text content. Medium has a huge audience who come to the site expecting to see great writing in longer format. Medium recommends content to users – play your cards right and you can build real visibility.

There’s no direct business benefit, but Medium is niche-independent. I can make a case for using Medium if I have a unique topic, a non-business topic or a long-form piece in mind and no need for direct lead generation. Medium is the place to make a low-key, sincere invitation to the audience to enter your world and look around on their own.

Finally, look at Kindle e-books. Millions of people monitor Amazon for new free e-books. If you can crack any of the top lists, those people will notice. They can download your e-book and read through it. I’ll use Kindle if I have something text-based in long form and want to create a really lasting impression. Kindle is the rulebook – the detailed map for your audience to enter your world, start learning and really dive deep.

An intriguing part of your presentation is how each marketing campaign is a “little community”, and that we create many “entry points into our world: weird, useful, and significant.” How does a content writer find their “weird” and connect those dots?

You might find “weird” purely instinctively: For instance, I’m a cyclist. I know most cyclists are technology nerds. So I might write something about smartwatches, or the best cell phone cameras (for cyclists who want to take snapshots of that long climb they just did).

You can also find “weird” using tools that dig up random affinities: Ideas, likes and wants linked only by the fact that some people like both. That’s all about collaborative filtering tools.

For example, I love using Amazon’s “people who bought also bought” tool. Did you know people who buy cookbooks are really into de-cluttering (ironic)? Sounds obvious now, but I wouldn’t have thought of it. Or that people who buy diet books also read survival stories and books about direct selling?

And, of course, I hit Facebook a lot. You can use their ads tool to test interest categories and see what Facebook suggests. Before I knew Van Diesel played Dungeons and Dragons, I did a search on D&D and his name popped up. That’s pretty random (by the way, my lifetime ambition is to run a game for him). Also, did you know tennis fans like boxing? I wouldn’t have made that connection.

Collaborative filters aren’t always right. Sometimes they’re hilariously wrong. But they’re a great tool for mining the weird.

In regard to content marketing (“whatever that is”, as you said): what content opportunities are you most excited about right now? Why?

Hmmm. As a writer, I tend to always be excited about content J. No matter what the delivery device, it’s about our ability to effectively communicate. I love it.

But you’re going to ask me again, I bet. So… I’m very excited about this ongoing democratization: Sites like Medium and Netflix delivering their own series and increasingly sophisticated social platforms mean we can engage in some really interesting world building.

Real-time information delivery like Google Now is really exciting, too. I can see some real potential for ‘ambient’ content that provides a great user experience. Imagine being able to stand in a location and ask your phone, “What happened here in 1850?” As a history nerd, I find that pretty exciting because we can curate our environments. That may sound creepy, and chances are marketers will completely trash the concept, but a guy can dream.

So how would you define “content marketing”? Do you have a more accurate definition of what we actually do?

I hate the phrase “content marketing” because it’s become a cliché that refers to cranking out dozens of crappy blog posts. I’ve avoided it because the meaning’s been twisted and over-simplified.

What do we actually do? OK, get ready for some seriously trippy metaphysics:

People are surrounded by content. We’re steeped in it, with clumps and clusters of related content forming worlds around, say, our favorite football team, or the car we want to buy, or childcare advice.

Usually, those worlds are pretty random. We see an article here, a social media post there, a blog post in another place, and then we link them together in our minds.

Content marketing – or whatever you call it – deliberately creates worlds around products or ideas. It creates new content and links it to old, or vice versa, or one or the other. Then it creates points of entry – advertising – to bring people into those worlds. It’s intentional, and it’s immensely powerful.

That’s content marketing. Or, as I call it, world building. I don’t expect that term to ever catch on. It’s too geeky. But I like it. So there.

Connect with Ian on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

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5 Branding Tips for Building Your Biz: The Chicken & Egg Strategy

Your brand and audience are inextricably linked.

Your brand and audience are inextricably linked.

by Tracy Mallette

Your audience — meaning your combined readers, as well as potential and current customers — and your brand are inseparably linked.

Your audience builds your brand and your brand builds your audience.

Like the chicken and egg, it can be hard to know which came first – and which should come first when building your business.

The truth is: in the brand or audience question, neither comes first. They both feed each other.

The following five brand-building tips can also be used as five consecutive steps to building your audience.

1. Tell Your Story and Define Your Culture

Share Your Brand Story

Every brand has a story. What’s yours?

Why did you start your business? What led you on the quest to create your business? Was something missing in your life that you couldn’t find an existing solution for?

Chances are that’s the same problem your audience is having.

Help them relate to you and your brand by sharing your story with them.

Write up your story without your editor’s hat, then spruce it up with editing, and create a blog post or an “About” page that shares the story with your readers.

As I type this, my cat’s freaking out over a thunderstorm, and it reminds me that I should get her a ThunderShirt – a vest invented to help pets stay calm during storms.

It also reminds me of the ThunderShirt About page, which tells the story of the company’s founder Phil Blizzard and his dog Dosi. Dosi’s thunderstorm stress led Phil to invent the ThunderShirt.

Other pet owners can relate to that story and will likely trust his solution will probably work for their pet, as well.

Define Your Culture

Along with sharing your brand story, you should define your company culture.

Tell your audience exactly who you are, who you aren’t and what you stand for. Let them know what they can expect from your site.

The Bloggess does this really well. She has built an audience that loves her style and offers a warning to others: “If you are easily offended, you’re in the wrong place.” Her tagline is “Like Mother Teresa, only better.” You like her or you don’t. You’re a member of her tribe or you’re not. You fit in or you don’t. There’s no wondering if the site’s right for you.

Key Takeaway: Your story combined with your company culture will help build your true audience. Your audience will love you because you “get” them. You know what they’re going through and you share their beliefs and ideals.

2. Tell Your Audience How You Can Help Them

Spell Out the Benefits of Your Product or Service

If you’ve crafted your perfect story explaining how you’ve solved a problem with a solution that fills a need in the market, you expect your audience to realize that it’ll work for them, too.

Well, that’d be great if they just got the point and leapt over to your purchase page immediately. And some precious customers actually do that.

But you can’t assume they will.

Always spell out the benefits of your product or service to potential customers – even if you’ve explained all of the glorious ways your solution helped you in your brand story.

Specify Your Competitive Advantages

Not only should you list all of the benefits of your offer, but you should also detail the benefits of going with you over the competition.

If you’ve defined your culture, you can (and should) personalize your benefits and competitive advantages.

For example, there are a lot of copywriters out there. Why should someone choose your copywriting business over another?

If you’re Pam Foster, the answer is simple. She’s the pet copywriter – as in, she writes exclusively about pets; you don’t get to keep her. (Although that’d be cool. I’m sure there’s some copywriter out there who’s offering themselves up as your pet. Now that’s a unique audience!)

Anyone in the pet industry who’s looking for a copywriter and is overwhelmed with where to begin, can type “pet copywriter” into Google, and BAM, there’s Pam’s PetCopywriter.com website in first place.

Key Takeaway: Spelling out the benefits of your product or service, along with specifying your competitive advantages, further defines your audience and endears them to you. Not only does your company “get” them personally, but it also understands what they’re going through and how it can help them solve their problems.

3. Make Them Heroes

This goes along with the benefits you’ve highlighted via tip 2.

Don’t just solve their problems. Go above and beyond by telling your audience how your product or service will help them help others – and the accolades they’ll receive from their success.

Are you on the marketing team for a company that offers same-day plumbing services? Let your reader know that by hiring your company, your customer not only solved his/her leaky-kitchen-sink problem but became a hero to their family.

Can you just hear their spouse now? “Wait, we just discovered the kitchen sink’s leaking this morning and it’s already fixed? I thought we were gonna have to wash our dishes in the bathroom sink for a week! Whew, such a relief.”

Heather does this really well with her B2B SEO copywriting certification page. She opens with: “Over 69% of B2B marketers don’t have time to produce SEO content. Now you can help …”

She lets you know that you can be the hero to all of these crazy-busy B2B marketers – and that there’s a huge market for B2B content creation services.

Key Takeaway: Making your audience the heroes gives them a bonus. Your company solves their problem AND lets them feel extra good about helping others. When your audience feels that good about your product or service, they’ll come back for more and they’ll bring friends, which is an audience-building bonus for you, too!

4. Personalize Communication with Your Audience

This goes beyond just autofilling your subscribers’ first names in email messages.

When you really know your audience, you can put extra care and attention into communicating with them.

Heather creates and sends an email to all of her SEO Copywriting Certification graduates. In this email, she actually includes job opportunities, which I’ve never seen someone do in a newsletter before.

She knows that a lot of her certification grads are looking for freelance writing opportunities. She also knows that because they’ve taken her course, she can vouch for their skills to her business connections. She provides personalized value for her audience while also building trust and gratitude.

When you give your audience something extra, they want to give back to you.

Key Takeaway: Personalizing communication with your audience lets them know that you care about their success and happiness. They’re not just a sale to you. This will pay off for your brand through customer loyalty, repeat sales and brand evangelism.

5. Foster Your Community

When you build a brand, you’re building a community.

You’re like Irving Bacon in The Marriage License episode of I Love Lucy: You’re the mayor, the hotel owner, you run the gas station and the fire department, among other duties in your small town. (See 13:32 in the episode to get the idea.)

Here are some ways to build your audience and brand through nurturing your own online community.

  • Facilitate discussions with your community by starting a forum or LinkedIn group. Copyblogger offers a paid membership group with an online marketing forum called Authority.
  • Educate your community with a blog and content offers. Marketing automation platform HubSpot offers a marketing academy, a marketing library, an inbound marketing conference, a marketing blog, a sales blog, certifications and more to educate its audience.
  • Entertain your community through social media. Porch, a network connecting homeowners to home-service professionals, offers design-inspiration eye candy on its Pinterest page.

Here’s what Corey Eridon, managing editor of HubSpot’s blogs, had to say about its growth through audience education:

HubSpot’s cofounder Dharmesh Shah started blogging before there was even a piece of software to sell – educating the community about business, marketing and tech. Now, almost a decade later, HubSpot’s educational marketing blog has become almost inseparable from the HubSpot brand. While we’ve started to write about other subject matter over the years, what keeps people coming back to the blog is the marketing how-to articles – the pieces that answer marketers’ most fundamental questions about how to do their job every day. Those articles are how people discover HubSpot, and then rediscover it over and over as they grow in their marketing careers.

Key Takeaway: Become like a parent to your own online community by helping your audience learn and grow. Interact with, educate and entertain them. Encourage them when they’re feeling down or stressed. Offer a little tough love when necessary. Love them and they will love you back. This is the real community that comprises your brand.

Build Your Brand, Build Your Audience and Help Each Other Thrive

By defining your business story and culture, you attract and hold the interest of your audience.

Take that further a few steps further by telling that audience how you can help them, even making them heroes, and you can convert that audience into fiercely loyal customers who’ll share your brand with others.

From there, you take it over the top with personalized communication and building a warm and fuzzy community for your now tribe, and they will pay you back as brand evangelists, who can’t stop gushing about you on social media.

This cycle feeds itself as your brand gets stronger and your audience grows.

Enjoy it!

What do you think? What other brand-building techniques have been successful in also building your audience? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

Connect with Tracy on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Photo credit to ©Raising Chickens.org

The do’s & don’ts of partnering with other web content providers

Thinking of partnering up with another web content provider? Consider these tips from the trenches.I took a big step this week for my company – I closed its virtual doors.

But I’m far from being out of business. I’ve decided to focus on content marketing clients who are also working with a marketing company for complementary services like social media and inbound marketing strategy.

Working with partners – whether formal or informal – has helped me reach new levels in my business. And it can do the same thing for yours too. But you need to be careful you aren’t compromising yourself, your ethics, or your sanity when you strike up a partnership.

Here are some of the do’s and don’ts that I wish I’d had when I first started working with partners.

DO look for complimentary partners for your SEO copywriting services.

Fortunately, we’re working in a time where the demand for copywriting and content marketing is at an all time high. Anyone involved with providing web marketing services to clients – from web designers to social media consultants – needs to know great content creators. If they don’t have one they trust an email away, they are doing their clients a big disservice.

Start your search by finding complimentary providers on LinkedIn, exploring small business sites, or looking for freelancing blogs where similar, but not competing, providers might be hanging out.

DO learn about the different ways of partnering with other providers.

Partnership doesn’t have to mean going into business together.

You can work with other providers under a referral agreement or set up a deal where you provide a service as part of their company – but still retain your own clients. It all depends on what you and your potential partner decide to do.

Consider where you want to take your SEO copywriting business and then pick an option that works best for you.

DON’T jump into a partnership too soon.

Finding a good partnership is a lot like dating. You’re not going to run off to Vegas to get married the first night you go out. And if you do, you’re going to end up getting the partnership version of an annulment.

Network with other providers, but take things one project at a time until you get a good feel for how you work together. There’s nothing worse than getting into a contractual relationship with someone whose business practices you don’t respect.

DO evaluate your potential partner’s target market and marketing approach.

There are dozens of opportunities out there for working with another provider – so you can afford to be choosy.

Pay close attention to your potential partner’s own marketing. Who are they working with and speaking to? This is important for two reasons. Finding a provider that works with your own target audience will make it easy for you to create client content – and easy for you to create content for the fellow provider. Everyone needs blog posts and website copy, so chances are your partner will be looking to use your content services at some point. It helps to be familiar with their target audience and know who you’re writing to.

DON’T work without a contract.

No matter how friendly you may be with another provider, you’ll want to treat them just like any other client.

There needs to be contracts in place for each project or – depending on the nature of your partnership – for the length of time you’re working together. Even if you’re working with a fellow business owner it doesn’t mean that they have your best interests in mind.

DO pay close attention to their business practices.

Finding a good fit with another provider goes beyond the leads or projects you can bring one another.

Are you truly on the same page when it comes to growing your businesses? Case in point, after a single project with a particular SEO provider I came to realize his opinion of clients (that they were stupid and deserved to be duped) didn’t jive with the way that I want to do business. This isn’t always apparent based on their website, marketing and social media usage – so keep things low on commitment until you know more about their business practices.

DON’T explore partnership unless you’re sure you can handle it.

If you’re someone who prefers to work on your own, partnership probably isn’t for you.

For me, I found the life of a solo copywriter to be sort of lonely. I always found myself conferring with SEO providers, web designers, and social media marketers so I decided to make it official. Do some soul searching and figure out what you want your business to look like in the future.

Have you worked with referral partners or other partners? What was your experience like?

About the Author ~ Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of SuccessWork’s SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

photo thanks to buddawiggi

Need a partner to help your web copy sizzle in search and convert like crazy? Check into my SEO content services today!

 

The 4 C’s of a smokin’ hot YouTube marketing strategy

A powerful YouTube marketing strategy is distilled into four elementsWith over 100 hours of video uploaded every minute and over one BILLION people across the world accessing the site every month, YouTube is no longer just a destination for one hit, viral videos.

In fact, with Channel partners such as the Warner Music Group and Machinima, its video content rivals that of popular streaming services Netflix and Hulu.

It’s no wonder that an astounding 87% of online marketers use YouTube video content in their marketing mix. In addition, YouTube is the number 2 search engine on the planet, making it a fantastic platform to grow your audience.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the four C’s you need in your online video strategy to successfully drive traffic and sales from YouTube:

– Captivation

– Consistency

– Conversion

– Community

Captivation

Simply put, you need to hook your viewer from the start and continue to engage them throughout the video. This is especially important since YouTube has changed its algorithm to give more weight to average watch time than number of view counts.

Also, videos that retain viewers throughout the entire video rank higher in YouTube search and are more visible in YouTube’s related videos algorithm (suggested videos at the end of each video and related videos on the right sidebar).

But how do you go about captivating your audience? Here are 3 easy steps that you can implement today:

1. Compelling Content Comes First

Many viewers decide whether they are going to keep watching your video within the first few seconds. Attention spans are short, and viewers are just one click away from abandoning your video.

Having an animated intro is a great way to instantly captivate your audience. You can find some great templates over at VideoHive or get a custom one at SmartShoot.

It’s even more important to have an animated intro if your video only uses one camera angle (such as a webcam) or is a talking head video.

If you are creating a “how-to” video, consider showing the final outcome first then show the instructional steps. Hooking the viewer from the onset will keep them engaged through your video.

2. Vary the Camera Angle

There’s no hard and fast rule to how long you can stay on one angle, but I would recommend that you keep it at about 30 seconds and no longer than 1 minute.

Think about a trailer to your favorite movie. There are multiple cuts to different scenes and no scene receives longer than 15 seconds of airtime.

If you’re doing a talking head video, consider varying the angles or background for the different sections of your topic.

3. Add Transitions, Overlays, and Graphics

Caution: adding a transition does NOT mean inserting a “page over” effect on your video.

Transitions can be as simple as a single frame that introduces a new section or topic of a video.

An excellent example of adding a simple transition to break up different sections can be found in this video by CopyHackers’ Joanna Wiebe.

Remember, it does NOT need to be complicated.

Consistency

“Consistent audience requires consistent content!” – Freddie W., Top YouTuber.

We all understand the importance of consistency when it comes to growing a blog.

And although creating a video can be more time consuming, the same principle of creating consistent content should be applied to marketing on YouTube.

By creating regular content on YouTube, you will keep your channel feed active, increase your reach, and build more subscribers. While there’s no hard and fast rule for how often you should produce content, YouTube suggests a minimum of one video per week.

However, the right amount of content depends on your audience and your goals.

A quick and easy way to create more frequent content is to do a Google+ Hangout interview with an expert in your industry. You can then use this material for your YouTube channel and blog.

Here’s an example of a video SmartShoot created from a Google+ Hangout expert interview, outlining the process that goes into creating an animated explainer video.

Conversion

While conversions are always top of mind on your website, they somehow become an afterthought on YouTube.

Remember, online video is an interactive experience and prompting your viewers to take action will help you build engagement and a larger audience.

Depending on your message, you can use the middle or end of the video to prompt your viewers to take action.

Here’s a sampling of a few actions that you can use on your videos:

  • Subscribe: Give viewers a reason to subscribe by highlighting how often you’ll produce new videos. If you’re a host or personality, you could also end your videos asking for viewers to subscribe.
  • Like / Add to Favorites / Share: Simply asking your viewers to Like, Favorite, and Share within your video can yield some amazing results. The more you can get from your viewers the more likely the video appears in more places across YouTube.
  • Comments: Encourage your audience to participate by asking a specific question or a topic that they’d like you to cover in an upcoming video.
  • Video Graphics: Create a video “end slate” that appears at the end of the video to direct viewers to your website. Give them a lead magnet to increase email subscribers.
  • Link to your website: Within the first 2 lines of the YouTube description, make sure that you include a link back to your website. Be sure to include the “http://”, otherwise YouTube will not make the link clickable.

Here’s a great example from the Nerdist channel using Conan O’Brien to ask viewers to subscribe to their channel:

Nerdist Conan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community

While YouTube is a massive online video platform, don’t forget that it’s also one of the biggest social networks.

People are drawn to online video because unlike regular broadcast television, they can interact with their favorite channels and YouTubers. From video responses to parodies to musical covers, YouTube is an engaged community of viewers and creators.

So, listen to your audience and speak to them in a way that grows your following and empowers them to become your biggest ambassadors.

3 Easy Ways to Build Your Community on YouTube:

1. Ask the Viewers

Ask viewers for their opinions, ideas, or feedback on videos by leaving a comment. Ask them if they have any specific questions that they’d like you to cover.

Rather than asking general questions, ask specific questions. This will lead to more responses and a more engaged community.

For example, rather than saying “what would you like me to cover in my next video?” instead say “would you like me to cover a) Facebook marketing; b) Twitter marketing; or c) YouTube marketing?”

2. Feature the Community

Once you have feedback from your viewers, feature them and their content in your video. The goal is to make your community feel as if this is their channel by highlighting their comments and/or user-submitted content.

Consider doing a Google Hangout Q&A with a few of your most loyal fans. Seeing other viewers within your videos will not only build a loyal following, but also encourage passive viewers to become more active on your channel.

3. Reward Your Super Fans

Beyond the typical mention in your videos, look for ways to reward your super fans (both on and off YouTube).

Simple things such as a discount code, free month to your service or even a t-shirt can go a long ways to building an engaged and loyal following on YouTube.

Concluding Thoughts

While online video in general is still a confusing medium to most businesses, it does provide a fantastic platform for businesses looking to grow their audience beyond their blog.

Remember, Blendtec, a company that some may say sells a boring product (blenders), has over half a million subscribers on YouTube and is proof that when done correctly, YouTube is a powerful social network to attract new customers!

About the Author ~  Steve P. Young

Steve P. Young is the Director of Product Marketing for SmartShoot where marketers go to get stunning photos and video from the best local photographers and filmmakers. Connect with Steve on Twitter or LinkedIn.

image thanks to Maurits Knook (mauritsonline)

Learn the latest SEO copywriting and content marketing strategies with SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting training!

 

 

 

From surviving to thriving: lessons from Sean McGinnis

Today we feature our interview with Sean McGinnis, a highly successful online marketer and trainer who started out his internet marketing career with a simple DVD movie review website in 1999.

Here, Sean shares his experience and the insights he has gleaned through his 14+ years in the internet marketing industry, from how he first started out with his online business to what he did to carve out his market niche in digital marketing training with his launch of 312 Digital.

A most informative and inspirational chat! Enjoy…and please feel free to ask Sean your own questions in the comments section below.

Please do tell: how did you start out in internet marketing?

I got my start in the industry the same way so many others have – I built my own web site. I launched DVD Verdict, a DVD movie review web site, in April 1999. Along the way, I learned a lot about HTML and web development.

Later, I sold websites to lawyers for a premier web development company focused on the law firm market. From 2006-2009, I managed the SEO team for that company.  My team consisted of 37 consultants. I served as CMO and General Manager of an internet bar exam test-prep business. Today, I’m VP of Sales & Marketing for a startup in the legal space that drives highly qualified traffic to law firm web sites.

You recently launched your business, 312 Digital, as a “hard-core, how-to digital marketing training business.” Could you elaborate on what 312 Digital is about?

312 Digital offers a wide range of digital marketing training classes. The classes are always conducted in-person and they are limited in size to encourage the best possible learning environment.

Many people attend a conference or webinar to try to learn the various disciplines that fall under digital marketing – or they just muddle through and learn on their own.

Most conferences don’t teach attendees how to perform digital marketing tasks. Instead, they focus on teaching strategy or worse yet, simply highlight keynote speakers.

Most webinars don’t teach anything, either. Instead, they exist to get people to hand over their contact information so businesses can follow up and sell them something else – a product or a service. Webinars are the perfect lead gen machine – but they very rarely teach very much.

312 Digital provides a rigorous, structured method for learning the ins and outs of digital marketing. We offer classes in Email Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media, Video and much more.

What inspired you to create 312 Digital?

The “idea” of 312 Digital is really a coming together of a few different ideas. I really wanted to do more speaking, because speaking and teaching is something I really enjoy.

I also love to work closely with people I love and respect. Collaboration is, to me, one of the highest art forms of professionalism. I love to surround myself with people who are much smarter myself: Better writers; better speakers; amazing people.

I have a pretty robust network and was looking for a way to collaborate with the best and brightest. 312 Digital is a coming together of these two things – collaborating with really smart people and teaching people about digital marketing.

Could you share your insights into what’s involved in starting up an online marketing business?

I’m not sure we’re doing anything different than what you would do. We’ve created a tightly defined offering – one that lends itself to robust storytelling. We’ve identified a group of influencers and shared what we are doing with them in hopes that they would actively share our story with their networks.

We have focused quite a bit on potential off-line marketing channels, because our target market is not necessarily heavily involved on-line. A significant segment of the market still needs to learn these digital marketing skills. We’re targeting them.

So what makes 312 Digital training unique?

My main goal for 312 Digital is to be able to offer the best possible training for the money. One of the ways we do that is via a business model and a mission that keeps the focus on the training and on serving our students.

The best way to illustrate what I mean is to share with you a few guidelines we’ve developed as I thought through the business model.

  1. 312 Digital will NEVER accept sponsors at our events. Ever. I believe the very act of selling access to your paying customers is akin to pimping them out – a vile act that has no place in business.
  2. 312 Digital pays our speakers. This ensures there is an arms-length business relationship between 312 Digital and our speakers. This is the best possible way to ensure the content they provide is the best it can be. My time has value; so does your time; so does our students’ time. I value that time and pay accordingly.
  3. 312 Digital speakers receive every lead from every class. I will never take a consulting fee from one of our students. I will never take a finder’s fee or a cut of any work our speakers that generates from a 312 Digital class. Ever. This ensures I have the best interest of our speakers at heart, just as I do our students.

I know of no other provider who has stated operating principles like these. These are the cornerstones of what I would call “business integrity.” I believe we charge a fair price for an amazing day of learning. I don’t want that muddied or muddled by side deals and sponsorships. I want the focus on the classroom and the student.

Any words of wisdom you’d like to offer to the newer online copywriter or internet marketer?

My advice is this. Study hard. Work hard. Be a student of the game. Understand your customers. Understand the rules of the game. Understand who the judges are and what they want as an outcome.

My single most important advice is this – stop trying to find shortcuts to success. As marketers, it is endemic in us, and I cannot for the life of me understand why. If something is freely available, cheap and easy to execute it probably doesn’t work. If it does work, it won’t work for long.

 

More about Sean McGinnis

Sean McGinnis is founder of 312 Digital, a company that teaches marketers, consultants and small business owners how to market their business on the web via training classes focused on Digital Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing, PPC, and more. Sean also brings his 14+ years of digital marketing experience on behalf of clients through regular consulting and speaking engagements. You can connect with Sean on Twitter and LinkedIn.

photo thanks to woodleywonderworks

 

Is your website not converting as it should? Or do you need a content marketing strategy for 2013? Check into my low-cost, high-value SEO Content Review service – I can diagnose (and treat) your web content blues and strategize an awesome content marketing plan for the new year!

 

 

 

Drive site traffic & social shares with email newsletters

Greetings! Last week, Heather discussed the many advantages of email newsletters for content marketing, even over and above your blog .

Today, she picks up on the discussion, addressing yet another advantage of email newsletters: how they can increase social shares.

Tune in to learn more about the social-sharing power of email newsletters….

This is so simple…and powerful, too.

  • Rather than include the entire article, include a snippet with a link back to your site…

To demonstrate how easy (and powerful) an email newsletter is, I’m using this example from Marketing Profs Today. (And if you’re not already a subscriber, I definitely recommend signing up!)

The trick is, when you send out your email newsletter, rather than re-printing an entire blog post or article that is already on your site, all you need to do is just reprint a little snippet of it. So, in this example, you see that they have a headline, and then a little snippet of the article with “Read More”.

Drive site traffic and see more shares, too!

Once you go to the site and you’re reading the article, look on the left hand side: there’s all these different ways that you can share the content.

This is not only great for your new content, such as a blog post or an article that you just released, but it’s also a way to bring life back to older content that is still relevant, but it’s no longer getting any social media traction because you wrote it so long ago.

So definitely try implementing this snippet strategy with your newsletter, because you will see an increase in social shares as soon as your newsletter goes out – it can be that instantaneous and the powerful!

Thank for joining me for this week’s video how-to! If you have any questions or suggestions for a blog topic, please let me know: email heather@seocopywriting.com, or tweet @heatherlloyd!

And in the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about SEO copywriting, you can sign up for my free email newsletter, and as a thank you I’ll send you a free download of my “How to write for Google” whitepaper!

Thanks again, and have a fantastic week!

Would you like to make more money and attract higher quality clients? Check into the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training program – the only certification program independently endorsed by AWAI, SEO Pros, and Top Rank!

photo thanks to FontShop

Content is Currency: the powerful synergy of mobile & social media marketing

Today we feature our interview with Jon Wuebben, author of Content is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web and Mobile.

Jon recently honored the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification community with an interactive webinar highlighting the essential takeaway’s from his new book.

Jon’s presentation on the synergistic power and strategic intelligence of integrating social media and mobile marketing was just too awesome to keep to ourselves. So here we share our follow-up interview with Jon Wuebben with you!

You spoke about integrating social media and mobile content to maximize exposure and ROI. Do you have any specific examples of how to accomplished this?

Absolutely! A great example of this comes from the shoe manufacturer, Crocs.

They held a mobile marketing campaign that provided consumers with an instant savings coupon for 15% off of a “Croslite” purchase.

The call to action was: “What is a foot’s bestest friend? Find out and save 15 percent off today! It is as easy as one, two, three …

“1. Text ‘CROCS 1234’ to 63103 on your mobile phone.

“2. Instantly receive a 15 percent off coupon code answer.

“3. Show the mobile coupon code to the cashier at check out.”

Signage with instructions, the store number and mobile short code was placed throughout 185 Crocs retail locations nationwide. Store associates then encouraged customers through their Facebook page to stay opted-in to receive further communications and discounts from Crocs.

The results? Crocs received 94,000 requests for coupons during the first month of the campaign.

For those of us unfamiliar with mobile-social media integrated marketing, how would we go about choosing the appropriate social media platform? Would your recommendations differ for B2B vs. B2C? 

Right now, B2C is a bigger social media-mobile marketing integration player than B2B, as the Crocs example highlights. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge opportunity for B2B…it’s just different.

There are some great B2B apps that have been developed which have become game changers. If you provided a B2B software application, like Salesforce.com for example, then you could offer a dashboard (or other view) that would simplify the process for your customer.

Think about what your business customers do on their smart phones. How can you make their lives easier, or reduce the time it takes for them to do something?

The bottom line is that you need to go to where your customers are. If you’re B2B, that may mean doing a series of webinars that you promote through the mobile and social channels (especially Twitter and LinkedIn). HubSpot has also put together some great ideas for B2B apps that are worth checking out.

How do you “develop a presence” on social media sites? Do you have a process or system in place that works for you?

Definitely! Here’s my process for making my presence known:

  1. Open accounts and set up business profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
  2. Connect with “influencers” in your industry on all of these platforms. Search for your industry, your products and services, and your competitors – find out who the movers and shakers are, follow them, and develop relationships with them.
  3. Provide value added content to each channel. If you can only handle two, take on Twitter and Facebook first, then LinkedIn and YouTube. The reason for this order is because of the time investment to benefit ratio – a return on effort. Over the last couple of years, we have found that 10 hours put into Twitter or Facebook weekly can get you approximately 10-15% more benefit than with LinkedIn or YouTube – but this can differ depending on the type of company/industry.
  4. Entice all of your customers, partners and others to “Like” you, “Follow You” and become a part of your community. The best way to do this is to send out emails to everyone with your links, and provide an incentive to get them to join your community. For instance…
  5. Create a contest or giveaway or other unique event to develop your community and gain exposure.
  6. Promote the influencers’ content and keep adding content of your own.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? 

Yes, actually. I’d like to emphasize the point that social and mobile marketing combined create brand loyalty, positioning, and differentiation – and if you reward your customers accordingly, you’ll also create a very high rate of customer satisfaction.

The positive effects of integrating social and mobile marketing cannot be matched by direct mail, television, radio or other forms of print or mass media marketing. After all, mobile is one of the fastest-growing platforms in the world.

With 40% of U.S. mobile subscribers regularly browsing the internet on their phone, and a projected 12.5% of all e-commerce transactions going mobile by the end of the year, it’s a channel that you need to be aware of. According to Google, mobile web traffic will surpass PC traffic by 2013.

Finally, a few parting thoughts…

Mobile is the connection that binds a person’s online life to their real-world activities.

Social is the connection that binds us to each other.

Your customers are on the go, and your marketing needs to reflect this reality.

MAKE IT HAPPEN TODAY!

 

About Jon Wuebben

Jon Wuebben is the CEO of Content Launch, a web content marketing agency that handles content development and content strategy, providing content for hundreds of companies, digital agencies and web designers around the world. His new book, Content is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web and Mobile, helps businesses everywhere learn how to plan, create, distribute and manage content.

 

Would you like to learn how to turn your content into currency? You’re at the right place! Check into Heather Lloyd’s Turn Content Into Cash Business Bootcamp and make that quantum leap towards a profitable copywriting business!

photo credit to J.J. Verhoef

 

 

Don’t assume your clients need you

Guest Author, Amy C. Teeple

You’ve most likely heard the saying, “Don’t assume because it makes an ass out of you and me.” When it comes to your business, assuming certain things can mostly just make an ass out of you … and send your clients elsewhere.

Tis the season

The holiday season is often a busy time for many product-based businesses. Even in this down economy, people still spend a bit extra on their Christmas and Hanukkah shopping – a bonus for retailers.

Many service providers see a jump in projects after the first of the year when new budgets go into effect. (Some even see an end-of-the-year jump as the budget for the current year needs to be completely used to ensure a similar budget next year.)

However, just because you had an influx of customers last year, don’t assume those customers will return automatically.

They sell milk across the street too

Having customers is not the same as keeping customers.

If you do not provide your clients with the products and services that they need and the level of service that they expect, there is a good chance they will look elsewhere.

For example, earlier this year I spent a long weekend at a timeshare in Big Bear, California. A short distance from the condo there was a Vons (one of the Safeway supermarket chains), which we went to buy food for our stay. When we arrived at the store, there were only a couple of open cashier lanes (all with long lines), the store was in disarray, the shelves were not well stocked, and the employees were irritable.

As I walked through the aisles, I heard many customers complain to each other and watched several leave the store without groceries – some just abandoning their full carts. Where were they headed? They simply went across the street to the Stater Bros. Market (part of a smaller grocery chain, but still a full-sized supermarket).

Vons may have been the better-known chain where customers went to first, but poor service and low inventory sent people across the street to its competitor. There is a good chance that they lost customers not only for the day, but also for return trips. Personally, I gave the Vons poor reviews on Foursquare and Yelp and, when I needed more groceries, I went to Stater Bros, where the staff was friendly and the shelves were stocked.

Is your business Vons or Stater Bros.?

Where does your business fall? Do you think your customers need you more than you need them? (Guess what, they typically don’t.)

As you hit your “busy time” of the year, don’t let the excess business cause you to lose sight of what brought your customers to you. “I’m too busy” is no excuse for poor service. Make the time to serve your customers now or you may find yourself with too much free time when unhappy clients look elsewhere.

If you are an online business, staying on your game is just as important – if not more so – as it is for brick-and-mortar stores. If customers left a grocery store mid-shopping because they were unhappy with their experience, you can bet that shoppers in a virtual store will leave too. Online customers are more likely to abandon a shopping cart or to hit the back button to find something better when they do not see what they want.

Banish assumptions and hedge your bets

Although it may be too late to change your behavior from your last “busy season,” you can still court those customers. Even happy customers may need a reminder about your business. Take the time to:

  • Send an email blast with a holiday greeting or a newsletter letting customers know what specials you are running or other important information.
  • Call those big clients (when feasible) with whom you haven’t touched base recently.
  • Send a coupon (electronically or using the postal service) for an item or service related to their past purchases.
  • Keep your website up-to-date and relevant
  • Stay current with your PPC (pay-per-click) and SEO campaigns – new and old customers should be able to easily find you.

You also need to make sure that when potential customers visit your website or brick-and-mortar location, they find what they need. Don’t give your customers a reason to leave.

In this down economy, you don’t have to be the cheapest option to get the sale, but you do need to be the best value.

When potential clients reach your website and/or contact you, be sure that they find:

  • Guaranteed products and services.
  • Amazing customer service.
  • An intuitive, easy-to-navigate website.
  • Information that applies to them and addresses their pain points and needs.
  • A referral service if you are unable to meet their needs – you’d be amazed how far a good referral can go. It’s better to have a happily referred person than an unhappy customer.

Eat, drink, and be merry

Keeping your clients happy will make your holiday season (or other busy season) a joyous occasion – especially when you see the boost to your bottom line. Remember, pass on the assumptions this year and just wow your customers.

May you all have happy and safe holidays and a very profitable busy season!

Amy C. Teeple is a proud graduate of Heather’s SEO copywriting certification program. As the owner and lead copywriter of ACT Web Consulting, she offers copywriting and social media services. A Jersey girl living in Southern California, Amy is also a dedicated 3-Day for the Cure walker and a sports lover. Follow her on Twitter: @ACTeeple.

Would you like to make more money as a freelance copywriter? Check into the SuccessWorks Turn Content Into Cash Copywriting Business Boot Camp. And if you’re interested in specializing in SEO, look into one of the SEO Copywriting Training program options!

 

An intimate interview with Marty Weintraub, CEO of aimClear

In a most brutally honest and open interview, Marty Weintraub shares his journey from his humble beginnings as a college web writer to the CEO of aimClear, battling and beating a devastating cancer diagnosis and kicking online marketing butt along the way. We are most grateful to Marty for sharing this amazing insight into his life, both personal and professional. He more than met any expectations of an “expert interview.” We were blown away, and we’re sure you will be, too.

LC: Please share a little history about aimClear, and how you came to be the CEO?

MW: This is a fantastic question, because the story is somewhat unique. I’ve never told it in writing, and it’s emotional for me.

From 2002-2005, I was the in-house web writer at a small .edu in Minneapolis. It was a fantastic job because I was in charge of all aspects of our online program. This included SEO, Yahoo PPC, Google PPC, running the affiliate program, email, and even building a cool custom student portal.  Those were heady times and I used to refer to myself as a “hybrid” marketer, with my fingers in all channels.

Coming from a classic .asp/MS SQL background, as early as 2002 I was programming dynamic landing pages and doing multi-variate message testing, building D.I.Y. curl-scrapers to automate Google and Yahoo Panama bidding, and I touched every lead that the school mined online, literally, for years.  Yes, those were heady days. In 2002 I think we spent about $700 on AdWords and booked about $3 million in business. The next year, we spent about $20K and did $5 million. Ah, those days of simple search PPC were freakin’ beautiful! As social media emerged and SEO became more complex, we evolved.

It was, seemingly, all too good to be true. In August 2005 I received devastating news, that I had stage 3B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was crushing to my family and me. During the treatment, 7 months of chemo and weeks of intensive radiation, my employers made it crystal clear that they did not care if I came to work every day, they just did not want me to stop doing their AdWords.  And so it was. Day after day at Mayo Clinic, and then recovering at home, I poached Internet access from my Treo650 and ran the AdWords program.  I literally sat there in chemo, praying with a needle in my arm, running AdWords on my laptop.

I was PET negative and clean from cancer by late 2006, and I got all good things in return, after so much pain.  At first I just wanted to give up.  Chemo and radiation had gutted my physically, though I had survived. I was sick to my stomach for years, had no stamina, was terribly out of shape and psychologically destroyed. #fuckcancer. My employer, who had been my friend and fishing buddy for 25 years, challenged me: “Where has your entrepreneurial drive gone Marty,” he chided me on his bass boat out on the Chippewa flowage one day. “You can’t give up!” That day he offered to turn my .edu job as an employee into the first client of a new company he dared me to start.

I took the risk. 5 years ago during Thanksgiving (2006), I made the decision, wrote the business plan, and began laying the groundwork for aimClear.  Shortly after that one of my early clients showed me a USA Today article about Danny Sullivan. I attended SearchEngineStrategies (SES) Chicago 2006 and it blew my mind.  It was my first live exposure to Danny, Rand Fishkin, Barry Schwartz, Chris Sherman, Chris Boggs,  Christine Churchill, Michael Gray and many others.  The last time I had been that piqued emotionally was at age 14, when I danced with the cute girl I coveted at a high school mixer.

It was amazing. I had been in the industry since 1995, when I helped a dozen CBS affiliate stations create their first website, but I did not know there were so many kindred spirits, lovely people, just like me, out there in the world. It was moving. I had found my true future. I set the goal of being qualified to be VP of Search for the New York Times and to build a company that was one of the top 100 boutique online marketing firms in the world.

I became fascinated with blogs and blogging.  Determined to participate as much as possible I resolved that aimClear would have a blog. By the time SES came around that spring, I was ready. I had moved into an office January 1, 2007, and already had a couple of employees. Things were moving quickly.  By later that year I was known for conference coverage and started getting press passes.

In 2008 I made it my goal to speak at 1 mainstream online marketing conference and write one article for a mainstream trade publication. I spoke at 8 conferences that year, wrote a dozen articles, and the company grew 2X over the previous year. Since then aimClear has doubled, year over year, for each of our 5 years. We have 10 employees in Duluth, Minnesota and 5 in Saint Paul. We’re about to add more.

All of this comes on the ragged tails of cancer. All this joy, world travel, these amazing clients, my Facebook advertising book (Wiley/Sybex 2011), my family life, aimClear, everything, is all a bonus…a gift.

LC: You’ve clearly a passion for Facebook marketing, as well as expertise. So what are the unique ways that marketers can use Facebook to reach target audiences?

MW: Look into the real world to find how humans cluster. Think about the publications users read, unions they belong to, causes that matter, people they follow, personal predilections, tastes, biases and every part of what makes them unique.

Most advertisers approach Facebook, and other social channels, and ask, “Who is here that I can advertise to.” The coolest marketers look to the physical world, note how humans actually cluster, and then look for the same clusters mirrored in Facebook.

LC: According to Top Rank, the rally cry heard throughout your SES Toronto presentation was “PPC is to SEO, as Facebook Ads are to social SEO.” Could you elaborate on this?

MW: Sure! SEO marketers use paid inventory tools like AdWords keyword research tools to blueprint their SEO. The reason we do that is because PPC inventory research tools are the only place that search engines give up what users search for. They have to, because otherwise it would be more difficult to sell that inventory (searches) by way of AdWords. The same dynamic exists for social. Anywhere social media platforms sell inventory, the have to give up where the users are. Otherwise, it would be hard to sell that inventory.

Also, SEO artists use PPC to test conversion funnels and messages. With SEO it’s too hard to move traffic fast enough and with quick enough feedback to undertake multivariate testing.  The coolest SEO practitioners test their keywords, messages, landing pages and funnels with PPC and then apply what they know to SEO. Social is the same. Use Facebook Ads to test messages that community managers take out into the social-virtual world. Anywhere you can buy focused eyeballs in social to test audiences, messages, landing page experiences, etc… consider taking advantage of it. PPC is to SEO what Facebook Ads is to community management.

About Marty Weintraub 

An expert, speaker, and author of Killer Facebook Ads: Master Cutting-Edge Facebook Advertising Techniques, Marty can be found at the aimClear Search Marketing Blog and on Twitter.