content marketing

Once Again, Email Rises from the Presumed Dead

May 12th, 2013 by Collin Canright

Today’s cool new social technologies are once again discovering that nothing gets attention like plain-old email. As social and media aggregation technologies evolve into powerful tools of personal news delivery, email remains one of the most effective means of personal delivery.

PandoDaily did an article on retiring RSS feeds as Google retires Reader, the RSS reader that Google will discontinue on July 1. The author, Mike Tatum, quit using RSS readers and decided to look at alternatives. His article lists several, one of which is Pulse, which currently is my favorite way of reading news. Tatum complains, rightly in my view, that Pulse does not feel comprehensive, with its push methodology. You can add almost anything to Pulse; I find it awkward—but not so awkward that I’m currently looking for an alternative.

Tatum realized that the best alternative he’s found to RSS is plain old email: he’s reading more more email newsletters.

Tatum is not the only one. This week, Wired writer Ryan Tate published, “Why Email Newsletter Won’t Die,” which features the social media aggregation tool RebelMouse. RebelMouse provides a service that aggregates all of your social media activity, especially the links you share, into a single page.

I’ve been experimenting with the service on and off since it launched nearly a year ago, and it’s sweet. My tweets are automatically posted, including a picture. The idea behind the service is to provide “a social media front page,” a term they use that I like. Here’s my page:

 

I use RebelMouse’s Embed function to feature my RebelMouse feed at the top part of my personal blog. This screenshot from my blog shows how it looks on the post, in contrast to the native RebelMouse page above. Contrast the posts from RebelMouse on the left to my complete native Twitter feed on the left to see its appeal.

 

Now the company has launched “RebelAlerts,” which works over plain-old email. The service allows people to sign up for a daily newsletter feed. As of this week, you can integrate with MailChimp. And I’ll bet that future email-list integration options are in the works.

I am very likely to use this version, though I don’t use MailChimp, because, as Tate quoted Jake Levine, general manager at Digg, the news aggregation service that recently launched a daily email service: “If something is important to you, e-mail products are the one reliable way to make sure you’ll see it.”

Finally, Matthew Ingram, media writer at GigaOm, reported last week about LinkedIn’s evolution as a media entity. In the last few months, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn Today, which posts news updates on profiles. Last week, LinkedIn refreshed LinkedIn Today by launching “content channels” that individuals can subscribe to, sending an aggregated feed from multiple publications.

Along with LinkedIn’s purchase of Pulse, it’s part of the company’s strategy to become a media company. LinkedIn’s new magazine-style custom news channels, as Ingram writes, “has the potential to become a real competitor to other news aggregators and providers.”

And, yes, LinkedIn sends LinkedIn Today updates using plain-old email.

Every now and then, a piece will appear on the death of email, a more than 40-year-old technology. It hasn’t happened yet and is not likely to disappear anytime soon. Email remains the best way to put content in front of a potential reader, whether that content originates from an individual, a brand, or a media outlet—and whether it’s distributed through a website, social media channel, or individual.

Read our past posts on email delivery and marketing:

Email Powers Wires the Social Media Buzz (ebook)

Email: Content Marketing’s Workhorse

 

Infographics Inspiration

December 3rd, 2012 by James Richter

By now, you’ve probably heard about infographics. The secret has been out for a while, and they now seem to be everywhere.

We at Canright like the way infographics can combine data and design to tell a story in a creative, engaging way. The graphical format is not only easy to understand—it’s easy to share, too. If your infographic compels people to share it online, it can really help spread awareness of your brand while also telling your business’s story.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for your business’s next infographic, then we encourage you to have a look at these:

  • Visual.ly, a website for creating and sharing infographics, can give you a sense of the broad range of topics that infographics can cover.
  • GOOD.is magazine keeps an updated list of infographics that tend to have an altruistic or educational angle.
  • Econsultancy publishes a weekly list of the latest and greatest infographics.
  • Upworthy’s mission statement is explained with an infographic.
  • There’s even an infographic about infographics.
  • Infographics can have a sense of humor, too, as The Oatmeal has discovered.

As you can see, the rules for infographics are flexible. Businesses can use them to spread awareness, define their brands, present a value proposition, and much more.

However, you must beware of the bad infographic! Keep in mind that it’s only worth creating and sharing if it engages your audience while delivering the right message.

 

Five Ideas for Writing Blog Posts

October 18th, 2012 by James Richter

In writing blog posts for clients and ourselves, Canright focuses on five major categories. Using these blogging ideas will not only help you keep the content flowing, it will ensure that the content is diverse as well. Rich content keeps things interesting for your audience and allows your company to generate web traffic while presenting itself as a multidimensional brand.

1. Identify a Trend.

A staple of media reporting is the trends story. A trends post can start with a report on industry surveys in order to show a trend. “Mobile Ecommerce Requires a Strategy, Not a Reaction,” by lyonscg, an ecommerce developer, takes the trend post a step further by telling readers how they can take advantage of the trend.

2. Present a Case Study.

Case studies are the bread-and-butter of marketing communications and blog posts. They are also great ways to gain position in search results. “In Winnetka, Marvin Windows fit right in” shows work done by McCann Window & Exteriors so that readers see the difference new windows make in a home like theirs, as opposed to viewing the photos taken by the window manufacturers, as beautiful as those photos are. Notice, too, that this post gains search position by mentioning the town, Winnetka, the manufacturer, Marvin Windows, and the business, replacement windows.

3. Develop an Idea.

Leaders in their fields develop new ideas and knowledge. In “Principled Capitalism: A Pragmatic Approach to Corporate Governance,” Don Delves, president of The Delves Group, an executive compensation consulting firm, writes about capitalism under attack. Based on his experience at a recent conference, he proposes five principles for capitalism. And since his post touches on five ideas, he sets himself up for five more posts that dive deeper into each point.

4. Round Up the News.

There are times when a story gets a lot of media attention. TechNexus, a collaborative technology space in Chicago, received quite a bit of coverage when Alexis Madrigal, tech writer for The Atlantic, visited Chicago and surveyed its startup scene. I took the opportunity to write a post for TechNexus that wrapped it all up and provided some context. It was one more way for TechNexus to get the news in front of its network. Bursts of coverage don’t come often, so juice them for all they’re worth.

5. Make an Announcement.

Did your company win an award? Hire new talent? Launch a new product? Get a new client? Open a new office? Don’t keep your company’s successes a secret—share them with the world!

Of course, there are many other types of blog posts, too. You can comment on a news story, interview an expert, explain a technique, take a stance on an issue, and more. What other ideas and tips do you have for writing blog posts?

photo: VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Present Your Firm’s Ideas in a Case Study Ebook

September 10th, 2012 by Collin Canright

Canright Communications this week launched the McCann Window Idea Book for its client McCann Window and Exteriors. The ebook serves as a way McCann can present its own replacement window jobs, through photos and case studies of McCann custom projects. Previously, McCann relied exclusively on the beautiful photos provided by the window manufacturers it represents.

Although those photos are excellent, they do not represent the types of homes and neighborhoods of McCann’s customer base. Using photos from multiple manufacturers does not provide a unified and consistent look that can be important when establishing the expertise of a firm representing multiple manufacturers or suppliers.

To present the ebook to potential customers, we also created a landing page with a sign up form, shown below. This allows McCann to capture leads from the form. Potential customers get to the page through pay-per-click and banner advertising, as well as through McCann’s email list and Facebook page.

View the McCann Window Idea Book.

Why We Blog, and How to Do it Effectively

July 9th, 2012 by James Richter

One surefire way to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) is to consistently blog. However, blogging for the sole purpose of SEO is a bit like starting a band just to get rich and famous. The motivation will be too shallow to power you through the early stages of consistent work, microscopic progress, and a lack of recognition. There must be some passion, and you should be having fun. Otherwise, you’ll quit.

That’s why we encourage our clients, friends, and colleagues to write what they care about and then go back and optimize it for search. And SEO doesn’t just mean making it easy for Google to find; it means making it easy for people to find, understand, and read as well.

Intro to SEO Blogging

SEObook.com offers a terrific introduction to the world of blogging from an SEO standpoint. It covers how Google sees your blog, the unique social and SEO characteristics of blogs, keyword research and optimization, and much more. There’s even a video featuring an interview with Cory Doctorow, science fiction author, blogger, and technology activist.

In the video, Doctorow gives his No. 1 piece of advice to bloggers: “Write headlines like you’re a wire service writer.” In other words, don’t get too clever. This is good news, because being clever can be a lot of work. Just stick to the facts and let the reader (and Google) decide if it’s relevant.

Doctorow makes all of his work available for free under Creative Commons licenses, including Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright and the Future of the Future.

No Shortcuts

It’s tempting for most business owners and marketers to search for SEO secrets, quick fixes, and insider tips as they begin to blog. Michael Gray, who writes about SEO, social media, and blog management on his Graywolf’s SEO Blog, writes “It’s the combination of all the pieces working together–content, information architecture, and good marketing & promotion–that leads to true success, not the elusive secret you are looking for to avoid one or more of those steps.” That means no shortcuts.

And readers aren’t the only ones who are learning to spot SEO tricks: Google is learning too.

Be My Guest Blogger

Once you’ve gotten the hang of writing your blog—or working with a writer who knows blogging—consider sharing your insights on someone else’s. Guest blogging is a practice emphatically supported by SEO professionals and content marketers alike. That’s because when you publish on another site, both interests are served.

At the end of your guest post, you can say a little about yourself and your company while also linking back to your site. The higher the quality of the site you’re guest blogging on, the more that link back to your own site will help your search rankings.

Content marketers love guest posts too, because it spreads your message to a larger audience, allowing them to engage with your brand. Thankfully, James Agate contributed a guest post of his own to SEO Book.com titled “How to Evaluate Guest Post Opportunities,” a checklist of considerations that everyone should keep in mind before submitting their valuable content to another site.

Give it a Shot

If you still haven’t gotten around to starting a blog—whether a personal or business one—why not start today? We’ll be following up with more information in the weeks to come that will help you develop effective content of your own.

Email: Content Marketing’s Workhorse

May 14th, 2012 by Collin Canright

Today, the Canright content marketing inbox teems with emails on . . . email. Social media continues to rise on the agenda of all marketers, but email remains the marketing workhorse.

In “Marketers Use Growing Number of Tools to Spur Website Engagement,” eMarketer writes that “the most popular tool in digital campaigns was tried-and-true email marketing, which 78% of respondents said they used. Email newsletters were the No. 2 tactic (59%), followed closely by a social network presence (58%).”

Increasing organic search presence is also critical to marketers, eMarketer notes, reporting on a survey conducted by the trade publication Chief Marketer. To raise search listings, two-thirds of marketers surveyed include Facebook and Twitter “share” buttons on their websites. More than half use optimized landing pages, while just under half upload new content regularly or add blog content.

BtoB online reported last week that “mobile devices are on track to be the dominant platform for viewing email by the end of this year,” with email open rates on mobile devices growing some 82% over the past year. Those results come from “Email in Motion: Mobile is Leading the Email Revolution,” a survey from email deliverability and reputation monitoring company Return Path Inc. The post on the Return Path blog summarizes results in the increasingly popular infographic format.

It may not be surprising to see that companies which primarily focus on email marketing release reports on the increasing relevance of email marketing. Yet these reports also give clues to shifting preferences in content consumption and reading preferences. ExactTarget’s “2012 Channel Preference Survey” provides good insight into how consumers use digital channels, with excellent analysis of which channels work best for what messages.

The survey segments consumers and finds that although the means for personal communications has broadened, preferences for permission-based marketing communications have not. Email leads all other media by a wide margin, with an average of 77% of consumers of all ages preferring email for marketing messages, followed by direct mail at 9%. The ExactTarget report argues strongly for segmentation in email marketing to ensure reader relevance in the inbox.

It turned out to be quite relevant and very convenient for me that Hubspot sent me an email tagging the inbound marketing firm’s report on email marketing segmentation. “How to Segment & Integrate Your Emails for Better Results” shows how offer-based emails work best when the offers are highly targeted and sent to the segment of your list that has shown the most interest in the content related to the offer, based on their past email and website usage.

“The average click-through rates and open rates both showed a considerable increase for the segmented lists compared to the overall lists,” write the researchers at MarketingSherpa, the report’s author. You do not need an elaborate system to accomplish that. As the report states, “If you are tracking opens and clicks, you have enough information to dramatically improve your performance of your emails.”

Back in 2008, we at Canright published our report on the exaggerated death of email. Check out the latest ebook version, “Email Wires the Social Media Buzz.”

Content Marketing Heats Up

April 19th, 2012 by Collin Canright

I know it’s true because I found three great articles on content marketing in my in-box this morning, reminding me of several more I had marked in the dreaded “to read” bookmark.

In FM Signal, from John Battelle of Federated Media, I found a link to “Story Time: The Rise Of Content Marketing,” an article in cmo.com. Anoop Sahgal tells how content marketing is not new. It goes back man years to magazines published by companies wanting to help their customers live and work better.

It’s a very good introduction to content marketing. I especially like his description of what content marketing is and does:

“Content marketing involves creating and curating unique, relevant, and compelling materials that position a company as a genuine industry expert or brand deserving of loyalty. A company’s content can take many forms, including advertorials, white papers, email newsletters, blogs, webinars, Web content, and videos. It can be created by the company, its users, or even by competitors. The overall goal is to attract and retain customers and help ensure that they will not only purchase more products and services, but also become brand evangelists.”

The section “Five Ways to Tell a Story” is also worth a look.

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios provides “17-Point Checklist for Web Content,” a blog post designed “to make your content more search friendly, sharable, and effective.” It covers the basics of making sure blog and web page content gives you the most Google juice while remaining readable by people.

A story from the Social Media Examiner, “17 Creative Social Media Marketing Mini Case Studies,” puts it all together. These success stories, from both b2b and b2c companies, point to one critical lesson: know your audience and give them stories they can use. Each case study focuses on a different content technique, including blogging, YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn.

For a more in-depth explanation of content marketing techniques and five longer b2b content marketing case studies, register for the MarketingProfs website and download “Content Marketing Success Stories.”

 

“A Ranking is Not a Business Outcome” and Other Tweets on Optimize by Lee Odden

April 10th, 2012 by Collin Canright

You get ideas through friends on social media and then go to Google to validate.

Not social only. Not paid search only. It all needs to work together.

Starts with who you audience is. How consume content? What content? What device? What sharing preferences?

Think about who that end audience is and what you want them to do, the business outcomes you want.

What can we do to inspire our audience to take the action we want them to take: purchase, share, word of mouth?

Look at optimization holistically and what your hub and spoke strategy look like. What at hub and what spokes.

In B2B marketing, some 50-70% of customers are pulling themselves through the sales process by finding information online.

Hub and spoke publishing model: One central repository of information (blog) with distribution spokes (social channels)

That results in shorter sales cycles and prospects.

A ranking is not a business outcome. It’s a stepping stone mechanism for what we really want.

Great content isn’t great until someone shares and reads it.

 

The Ebook: The White Paper’s Stylish Younger Sister

April 23rd, 2010 by Canright Communications

By Collin and Christina Canright

Ebooks have gotten a lot of attention over last the month with the excitement of the Apple iPad. Before that, however, ebooks had proven themselves as business-to-business marketing tools with distinct advantages over the traditional white paper.

Now we are not discussing ebooks as the electronic books read using the Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad. Instead, we are referring to ebooks used for marketing purposes to show thought leadership, explain a subject, or take a position, much like traditional white papers.

Like a white paper, a pertinent and relevant ebook can generate leads, as they attract attention to the author. The marketing ebook is essentially a unique twist on the white paper format, but is different, especially from a design perspective. Generally published in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, marketing ebooks feature lively, educational copy enhanced by engaging graphic design, in a format that works especially well when read online.

A white paper is like a journal article. An ebook is more like a magazine article.

The ebook format provides a more engaging experience for the reader, builds a case, and uses a more design-intensive format. It’s fun, too. You can use the best of visuals developed online and in magazines to attract readers and compel them to read the concepts you are laying out for them. This is definitely not white-paper style.

But like a well-formed white paper, an ebook tells your prospects that you are a credible source of information, giving you that sought-after expert status. The best part about an ebook is that it is distributed widely for free and is intended to educate, generate interest, and inspire action. Ultimately, an ebook is a way you attract people in order to get a relationship.

In “The New Rules of Viral Marketing,” David Meerman Scott goes so far to say, “ebooks have become the stylish younger sister to the nerdy white paper.” He further stresses the importance the ebook serves by stating that, “ebooks have a great deal of importance to readers. People can instantly see the value of a product that looks like for-purchase content but can actually be downloaded for free. In my opinion, ebooks should be material people want to read….”

Although Scott dismisses white papers, we believe that white papers and ebooks each have a place—each are valid tools. White papers, for instance, are still the top source of information for technology buyers, according to the Eccolo Media 2009 B2B Technology Collateral Survey. It all depends upon the specific marketing message and the audience you are trying to reach.

The release of an ebook can also be a web and social media catalyst. People prefer to consume collateral from their computers: Only 1 in 4 surveyed even print out an online document, the Eccolo survey shows. And content is as much a source of social media outreach as conversation and customer service.

For further ideas on marketing ebooks, here are links to get you thinking:

16 Must-Read B2B Marketing Strategy Ebooks
A survey of ebooks from lead generation to case study writing.

10 Must-Read eBooks for Social Media Lovers
A great list of social media and marketing related ebooks.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How Could You Not Read This Article (03-29-10)?

March 29th, 2010 by Collin Canright

Nothing—I mean nothing—beats a good headline to ensure an article or blog post gets read. A case in point:

“Sumo wrestling bank robbers … and Tesco”

A good description helps, too:

“I guess these desperate times cause desperate actions, as the last few weeks must have created the funniest spate of bank robberies ever seen. First, there was the Russian Sumo wrestler who wrestled an ATM out of the wall. . . ”

Needless to say, I clicked immediately on the link to see Chris Skinner’s whole story, “Credit crunch bank robberies.”

-Collin