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How Content Marketing Is Reshaping Video AdvertisementsFor the past decade or so, digital marketers have thought of content marketing and video advertising as separate realms; video ads are meant to sell customers on a product, while content is meant to naturally attract them with the information they actually want. As illustrative examples of the differences between “inbound” and “outbound” marketing, both content marketing and video advertising have been effective in their respective realms.

Now, video advertisers are learning from content marketing strategies, and are evolving their art in response.

How Video Ads Take Cues From Content Marketing

These are just some of the ways video ads are transforming to incorporate and benefit from key content marketing insights:

  • Authenticity. One of the most important factors for a content campaign’s success is its authenticity. Content marketing emerged as a popular marketing strategy, in part, as a response to the insincerity of traditional advertising; ads were seen as insincere and unbelievable because they were clearly developed with the intention to sell a product. When consumers feel like they’re being manipulated or pressured, they stop paying attention. Video producers have learned this lesson, and have since strived for more authentic, personal content.
  • Brevity. Though some content marketers do focus on volume, making sure their newsfeeds are constantly full of new content to peruse, conciseness has always been a predictor of success. Short articles do perfectly well so long as they have a central point, and longer articles need to be trimmed down to their most basic components if they’re going to maintain readers’ attentions. Accordingly, video ads have gotten progressively shorter, with some running for just a few seconds before YouTube videos.
  • Targeting. With rare exceptions, you can’t write a generalized article and make it appealing to the masses. Instead, you need to thoroughly research your target audience, draft content specifically relevant to them, and make sure to promote it in a place where that audience will find it. Though audience targeting has always been a part of video advertising, today’s video ads are even more specific; if you want to convert an ad viewer into a customer, you need to understand who that viewer is, what their needs are, and where they’ll be most likely to view your ad.
  • Value. Content marketing doesn’t sell products. Content marketing provides value to readers, whether that’s in the form of information or entertainment; the sale always comes as an afterthought. Video ads are evolving to favor this approach, and are using similar means to attract more viewers. Today’s ads are funny, insightful, or practically valuable (such as offering immediate discount codes or assistance). A simple request for customers to purchase something isn’t going to stand out.
  • Sales avoidance. Again, consumers stop paying attention to provided content when they feel like they’re being manipulated or “sold” on something. Accordingly, video ads have stepped back from using overly aggressive sales language, or dramatic voiceovers to persuade viewers. Instead, they’re using softer, less obvious approaches, and they’re using more direct, transparent methods. They’re showing products in action in such a way to appear unbiased, and take care not to make audiences feel pressured.

Have you noticed these qualities emerging in video ads? Have you noticed the departures from the gimmicky sales tactics of older video ads? It’s no coincidence. Consumers are gravitating toward businesses employing traditional “inbound” tactics like providing value and avoiding pushy sales language; this creates a network of positive reinforcement that encourages more brands to take part.

Blurring the Lines

As these content marketing tactics become more popular on the “advertising” end of the spectrum, we may bear witness to the gradual erasure of the line between inbound and outbound marketing. Tactics like native advertising have started blurring the line in the other direction, allowing content creators to artificially place their content higher in more visible publications.

In any case, the best marketing strategy is the one that incorporates lessons from each area and each tactic, rather than allowing tunnel vision to produce singular—and unimpressive—results. Take lessons from content marketing and apply them to all your marketing and advertising efforts, just as modern video advertisers have done.

Geo-Modifiers: Not Just an SEO ToolSince the inception of search engines and SEO, businesses have used local keywords to improve their ranking and attract online customers. Though search algorithms have been regularly updated, and new best practices evolved over the years, the value of local keywords has never changed.

But have are you aware of the fact that the value of geo-modifiers isn’t exclusive to SEO?

What are Geo-Modifiers?

A geo-modifier is simply a specific keyword that communicates to search engines the local intent of a search query. So when someone searches Google for an auto repair shop, the search engine notes the user’s location and provides relevant results within the immediate neighborhood and region.

Thus, an auto repair shop in Austin, Texas would want to include the following geo-modifier in its content: “Auto repair shop in Austin.” That’s the keyword + geo-modifier.

Moving Past the SEO Benefits

Most businesses assume that geo-modifiers and local keywords have value only in the sense of optimizing content for search engines. But common sense and a little knowledge of human psychology indicate there’s an additional benefit.

Have you ever considered how much inherent appeal lies in calling someone by his or her name and having that person refer to you by your particular name? As writer Luke Davis explains, “When you say someone’s name the next time you greet them you have told that person they were important enough to remember, they were special enough for you to take note of them.”

The same principle holds true for areas that people regard special, such as the town in which they live. As health and psychology writer Julie Beck puts it, “The first thing we ask someone when we meet them, after their name, is where they are from, or the much more interestingly-phrased ‘where’s home for you?’ We ask, not just to place a pushpin for them in our mental map of acquaintances, but because we recognize that the answer tells us something important about them.”

But what might this have to do with SEO? Well, it indicates that there’s more to geo-modifiers than simply getting a higher ranking on Google.

Every time a business uses a local keyword, that name or phrase resonates with most of the other people who call the town, city, or state their home. It turns a general topic into a personal topic that instills an instant sense of connection — of identification.

The law firm of Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker provides an excellent real-life example. For most people, the word “Surprise” refers to an emotion or unsuspected event, but for the residents of Surprise, Arizona, the word resonates with a sense of home.

That’s where they’ve raised their kids, accumulated memories, and forged business and personal relationships. So in addition to using the geo-modifier “Surprise” for SEO purposes, Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker integrates the word throughout its onsite content — such as this page — in order to raise familiarity and build trust with the target audience.

Can you see the dual benefit of using geo-modifiers? Yes, there’s a substantial amount of SEO benefit, but a human psychology component goes along with it. When people see the name of a geographical location that means a lot to them, their interest level automatically rises.

Account for Human Readers, Too

Coming from a digital branding perspective, it’s easy to fall for the idea that SEO is only about keying into search engine crawlers and algorithmic equations. That’s an undeniable part of it, but you can’t overlook the human visitors who will also be exposed to the content.

A failure to develop content with the human readers in mind will never result in anything more than technically sound material that delivers minimal (if any) value to your target audience. Geo-modifiers are great because they empower you to satisfy the search engines yet simultaneously engage your audience.

Are you utilizing local keywords to your best advantage?

The 6 Most Important Qualities for Your Brand to Demonstrate Through ContentContent marketing is a strategy that’s used for both customer acquisition and customer retention. On top of that, how you present your brand through content marketing will affect how it’s interpreted on other channels, like social media. Though you’ll use content to improve search rankings and incite conversions, the most important function of content is, arguably, to illustrate the nature of your brand, including:

  • Your core values. What’s most important to your brand, both internally and externally?
  • Your target audience. Who are you speaking to, and how do you want to come across to them?
  • Your unique identifiers. What is it that sets you apart from your competitors?

So what are the most important qualities for your brand to demonstrate through the content you write, and how can you demonstrate them?

Top Qualities to Show

These are some of the most important qualities you’ll need to emphasize in your content:

  1. Trust. As Michael Johnson of Bridgepoint Consulting explains, trust is the single greatest factor in building and maintaining long-lasting customer relationships. In content marketing, that quality is of the utmost importance, as it dictates reader acceptance of all the other factors. Trustworthy brands will draw readers in and hold more persuasive power over them; they’ll also attract more recurring readers, as readers specifically seek out sources they know they can trust. Unfortunately, it’s hard to demonstrate trust with just one post; committing to facts and objective reasoning (along with citing high-authority external sources), over time, can help you build that trust.
  2. Novelty. Novelty is useful for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that novelty and surprises lead to higher memorability. Novelty also distinguishes you from the competition. Fortunately, novelty is much easier to display than trust—especially for new readers. Selecting unique topics, finding unique angles, and presenting genuinely surprising information can all be valuable here.
  3. Passion. If your content reads like it was written by a bored high school student, it isn’t going to attract any shares, comments, or links. You need to demonstrate some degree of passion about your subject matter, and the best way to do that is to entrust a writer who’s actually passionate about the subject to write it. Cover your topic in depth, and show that your content is more than just an item on a mandatory checklist.
  4. Expertise. Are you making generic statements, or giving concrete, detailed recommendations? Are you summarizing what other people have written, or are you presenting new opinions and perspectives? The level of expertise you present through your content will have a substantial effect on how people respond to it—and how they view your brand, especially compared to the competition.
  5. Care. To be successful, you’ll need to show your readers and customers that you truly care about them. You need to understand and demonstrate that you know what their core needs are, and that you want to address them. The first step of this process is doing the market research necessary to understand the psychology of your core demographics. Beyond that, you’ll need to spend time experimenting with different subjects, angles, resources, and tips to see what’s most likely to appeal to that audience.
  6. Culture. According to Dennis Hahn of Liquid Agency, modern branding depends on far more than just image; you have to present an entire “brand culture.” This is an accumulation of beliefs, values, and personality-like qualities that come to represent your brand. Is your brand laid-back or hyper-vigilant? Does it encourage rebelliousness or order? There’s no right answer to these questions, but your content needs to clearly demonstrate what your brand culture is—and how it affects what you do.

Mastering the Demonstration

It’s one thing to know which qualities need to be demonstrated, and another to actually demonstrate them. After all, you can’t simply announce, “Our company is very trustworthy” and expect your customers to be on board. Instead, you need to subtly present these qualities, through:

  • Topic selection. These qualities may become evident based on the topics you select; they’ll illustrate your target audience and values, and could help people understand how trustworthy your brand is.
  • Brand voice. The tone, vocabulary, and subjective qualities of your brand’s “voice” will also play a role in how your content is received.
  • Consistency. Anyone can write a single post that exemplifies a brand’s nature, but if you want that reputation to stick, you’ll need to display it consistently.

Some of these qualities will vary based on the nature of your brand, but all of them need to be present if you want your content campaign to be a success. It may take some practice to perfect your approach, but your reward will be ongoing reader loyalty.

4 Website Marketing Tips For Property Investors And Real Estate MogulsAs a property investor, you’ve got a full plate. Between showings, calls, and managing tenants, you’re probably wondering if there’s an easy way to market your rentals. There is, and it’s fairly simple. Here are some helpful tips to get the most out of your efforts:

1. Don’t worry too much about SEO

This sounds like marketing heresy, but SEO for your website shouldn’t be your primary focus and here’s why:

SEO is a term describing methods used to optimize a webpage so it can be found in the search engines. In the past, this involved getting backlinks with specific anchor text, and phrasing content perfectly on each page based on popular keywords.

Today, this method rarely works because search engines like Google continually change their algorithm, and have eliminated exact and phrase matching. What you type is no longer what you get.

I’m not saying SEO is dead, but it’s transformed significantly. Context has become the new king, and Google uses LSI algorithms to determine a page’s relevance.

2. Get a Google My Business Listing and focus on it

Whether you’re selling properties or renting them out, what you need most is a local business listing presence on Google. Google returns search results with appropriate business listings based on a person’s zip code. For instance, if you live in Chicago and search for “carpet cleaners,” you’ll get a list of local carpet cleaning businesses at the top of the page. These aren’t search results – these are local businesses who have listed their business with Google.

If you want to be in that top spot when people search, you have to register your local business with Google. If you aren’t taking advantage of Google’s free listing, you need to head over to this guide to find out how it works. Once you register your business, you can optimize your listing so people see you when they search for property related terms.

When you have a local business, your website may get buried in the SERPS (search engine results pages) no matter what you do. It’s a better use of time to focus on your Google My Business listing rather than optimizing your website for SEO. Even if your website does come up on the first page, your business listing will be seen first.

3. Outsource taking care of your tenants

Many property owners choose to use a property management company to handle their rental properties. If you don’t want to find or manage your next tenant, you don’t have to. In fact, this is probably the easiest way to be a property investor because it’s almost completely hands off.

Property management companies will screen your tenants, provide maintenance services, and even collect rent on your behalf. Sure, there’s a small fee involved but it frees up your time.

4. Qualify your leads strictly

It’s tempting to cast a wide net and call everyone you can, but realistically, that’s not effective. It’s referred to by many as “the shotgun approach” and has proven to be a waste of time. When you’re targeting leads, you want to be a sniper.

Identify your target market for leads and be specific

Identifying your target is harder than it looks. Not because it’s actually hard, but because the temptation to claim “everyone” as your market runs deep.

Your target could be “anyone looking to buy a home in the next 6 months.” Or, your target could be “people with a minimum income of $300k/year and a member of a country club, looking to buy a home in the next 6 months.” The latter is easier to market to because you’ve narrowed down enough criteria to craft your marketing messages specifically aimed toward them. And you know exactly where to publish your marketing messages.

For instance, if your property is near a golf course, your copywriter could easily craft a marketing message aimed at country club members looking to buy a house next to a golf course so they don’t have to drive very far to play their favorite sport all the time. In this case, your property’s proximity to a golf course is an asset to your marketing efforts.

On the other hand, the same message will be of no interest to people who don’t play golf.

Marketing your properties doesn’t have to be hard. It’s all about leveraging your resources and investing your energy in the right places.

Authenticity Is Your Best Content StrategyCreating quality content is the foundation for all content marketing strategies. Your visitors won’t know which marketing gurus you follow or what strategies you use – they just want amazing, fresh content.

Content marketing is like creating a restaurant for people who know they’re hungry, but don’t know what they want. Your job is to get them to look at your website and say, “This is what I want!”

In order to get people to look at your website, you need to get people to click on your link. Most marketers refer to this action as “driving traffic,” although that paints an overly simplistic picture.

If you’re like most internet marketers, you’ve been taught that traffic is everything and without traffic, your site will die. So, before getting into authenticity as a content strategy, let’s quickly dissect the traffic myth because frankly, traffic isn’t everything. You need to unlearn this myth before you can understand authenticity.

Don’t drive traffic like cattle

According to Wiktionary, a cattle drive is “the process of transporting a herd of bovine animals by compelling them to walk across a significant distance of countryside.” The animals don’t know where they’re being led or why; they’re just following the rest of the herd.

If you’re driving traffic to your site that isn’t converting, you may as well be driving cattle. You’re just moving people from one website to another; they don’t know where they’re going.

A low conversion rate means the people you’re targeting aren’t interested in what you’re selling. You’re probably targeting mass numbers of people in the wrong demographics using non-buying keywords. They probably clicked on your link because of a clever ad, and when they arrived at your site, they just bounced.

Stop thinking of your visitors as “traffic”.

Referring to your visitors as “traffic” makes them seem like a crowd of insignificant people who are only numbers and stats to you. You may not know your visitors personally, but thinking of them this way makes it easier for you to say, “Oh well, there’s plenty of fish in the sea” when your efforts to “drive traffic” fail to convert. You perpetuate the cycle of driving mass amounts of traffic, hoping for a few sales.

Authenticity as a content marketing strategy

If the marketing guru you’re learning from doesn’t focus on authenticity, you’re wasting your money. With millions of websites sharing the same type of content, only those with unique voices become a success. A unique voice doesn’t come from a checklist; it comes from authenticity.

What is authenticity?

Authenticity is being true to your passion in a way that benefits the people you’re trying to reach. It’s having no ulterior motives in what you do, even in business. If you’re going to start a business to make money, but you market your product to people as if you’re in business to help them, that’s being inauthentic.

When you’re honest and your intentions match the way you market your product, that’s authenticity and that’s what people want. Nobody wants to read a blog about how to make money online unless the content is original, unique, and authentic.

Success in a saturated niche

Achieving success in a saturated niche is possible when you’re authentic. How many review websites are out there? Yet, Tim Schmidt does it differently. He makes a great point about the lack of useful reviews. Schmidt says, “I’ve never found a go-to source for information. Somewhere I could read REAL reviews of products that people actually used. In specific, products I buy. Sure, Amazon is a decent place to read reviews, but there is just zero VOICE out there and you don’t know who is behind the product reviews many times.”

Schmidt offers something you can’t find on Amazon – authenticity. In addition to reviewing the product with video demonstrations, he provides enough background information for visitors to discern who is reviewing the product.

Similarly, Dave Asprey created an internet empire around coffee by adding his authentic flare to the heavily saturated niche. Sure, his brand name “Bullet Proof Coffee” is catchy, but that’s not why it took off.

Asprey used his passion for improving biology (also known as “biohacking”) to inspire the world to change the way they drink their morning coffee. He wasn’t trying to get rich by dominating the market; he used the market to help people transform their lives.

It’s not that traffic isn’t important, it just shouldn’t be your priority. Authenticity should be your number one priority. Once you’ve found your authenticity, your visitors will have a reason to buy from you.