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Where do you take your marketing strategy from here?

March 20, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Most marketers agree that creating content is a core business strategy
  • SEO can help you capitalize on the content you’ve created and see lasting results
  • Create content around common sales objections to improve the sales process
  • Instead of going all-in on the best-case scenario of in-person events being able to happen in 2021, create a plan based on what you know works now and could continue to work into the future as well

With 2020 pulling the rug out from under pretty much everyone, it’s no surprise that marketing has had to shift over the past year. Where the focus for many organizations was once in-person meetings and events like trade shows and conventions, it’s now mostly shifted to tactics that can be deployed remotely.

The biggest winner out of all this change has, without a doubt, been content marketing. In the summer of 2020, I surveyed 49 B2B companies to see how they are approaching marketing, and more than 80 percent of them agreed that content is now considered a core business strategy.

Content marketing is a strategy that doesn’t require any physical contact to connect with people, and content can be shared widely and consistently, regardless of where people are in the world. It can help current clients better understand the value of a company and even act as a way to bring new customers into the fold.

While the strategy owes much of its popularity to the pandemic, content marketing’s recent dominance is unlikely to go away once the pandemic subsides. Before 2020, many marketers had already been pushing for a more content-focused strategy. In many ways, this past year has simply created the opportunity for them to prove the strategy’s true worth.

How to plan a marketing strategy around whatever 2021 may bring

These past few months have been a time of experimentation for marketers, full of successes and failures. For some companies, weaknesses in this strategy, like poor SEO and a lack of budget for content development, have been exposed, even as the potential of content marketing has been proven. Now, the question for marketers is how to bring a content strategy into the next year and successfully meld it with a plan for a world beyond the current health crisis.

1. Focus on SEO

All the high-quality content in the world can’t help you if no one can find it. Make better SEO a key goal if you want to capitalize on everything you’ve done this past year. Perform a technical website audit to ensure your website is set up to be found by search engines and a keyword audit to ensure your content aligns with your target audience’s queries. Not only should your keyword research guide your content for the future, but it should also steer your updates of older content to maintain its relevance. Updating old content is often the most efficient strategy you can employ.

Don’t just stop at keywords, though. Perform a deep dive into your audience’s behavior to figure out exactly what they’re looking for to increase your chances of turning visits into conversions. After all, what you think you know about user behavior and what is actually true can turn out to be wildly different. For example, according to HubSpot, popups are the most-used form for sign-ups, but they only succeed in converting three percent of visitors. Landing pages, meanwhile, have the highest conversion rate, despite being the least popular version of sign-up form.

2. Develop more sales enablement content

Effective content can be useful for more than just marketing. Sales reps can also use it to better communicate with potential customers.

Listen to sales calls to figure out which questions are the most common and which are the most difficult for your sales team to answer. From there, you can create sales enablement content, such as blog posts and infographics, that the team can refer to and pass on to prospects. You can also use the biggest client successes as case studies that can help potential clients better understand your value. This will not only help sell customers, but it can also help with securing internal buy-in for a content-focused strategy.

3. Don’t bet on in-person events in 2021

Over 90 percent of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events next year. Even if everything goes perfectly over the next few months and things can begin moving toward some level of normalcy by summer or fall, don’t count on big in-person conventions and trade shows to come roaring back and take over your marketing strategy. That’s why a majority of marketers are creating strategies that can work for both virtual events and in-person events over the next year.

Content will still be just as effective when the pandemic is over, but what in-person events will look like is still up in the air. Don’t bet on an imaginary best-case scenario, create a plan based on what you know works right now and could continue to work into the future.

While 2020 might have thrown everyone for a loop, the lessons learned this year can be applied in 2021, even if we’re unsure of what the coming year will truly bring. By focusing more on a content-first strategy, you can ensure your marketing plans don’t go to waste both in best-case and worst-case scenarios.

Cherish Grimm is VP at Influence & Co., a content marketing agency that helps its clients achieve measurable business results through content marketing.

The post Where do you take your marketing strategy from here? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Here comes the Faraday fabric

December 13, 2020 No Comments

You don’t have to buy into 5G conspiracy theories to think that you could do with a little less radiation in your life. One way of blocking radiation is a Faraday cage, but this is usually a metal mesh of some kind, making everyday use difficult. Researchers at Drexel University have managed to create a Faraday fabric by infusing ordinary cotton with a compound called MXene — meaning your tinfoil hat is about to get a lot comfier.

Faraday cages work because radiation in radio frequencies is blocked by certain metals, but because of its wavelength, the metal doesn’t even have to be solid — it can be a solid cage or flexible mesh. Many facilities are lined with materials like this to prevent outside radiation from interfering with sensitive measurements, but recently companies like Silent Pocket have integrated meshes into bags and cases that totally isolate devices from incoming signals.

Let’s be frank here and say that this is definitely paranoia-adjacent. RF radiation is not harmful in the doses and frequencies we get it, and the FCC makes sure no device exceeds certain thresholds. But there’s also the possibility that your phone or laptop is naively connecting to public Wi-Fi, getting its MAC number skimmed by other devices, and otherwise interacting with the environment in a way you might not like. And honestly… with the amount of devices emitting radiation right now, who wouldn’t mind lowering their dose a little, just to be extra sure?

That may be much easier to do in the near future, as Yury Gogotsi and his team at the Drexel Nanomaterials Institute, of which he is director, have come up with a way to coat ordinary textile fibers in a metallic compound that makes them effective Faraday cages — but also flexible, durable and washable.

The material, which they call MXene and is more of a category than a single compound, is useful in lots of ways, and the subject of dozens of papers by the team — this is just the most recent application.

“We have known for some time that MXene has the ability to block electromagnetic interference better than other materials, but this discovery shows that it can effectively adhere to fabrics and maintain its unique shielding capabilities,” said Gogotsi in a news release. You can see the fabric in action on video here.

Image Credits: Drexel University

MXenes are conductive metal-carbon compounds that can be fabricated into all sorts of forms: solid, liquid, even sprays. In this case it’s a liquid — a solution of tiny MXene flakes that adhere to the fabric quite easily and produce a Faraday effect, blocking 99.9% of RF radiation in tests. After sitting around for a couple years (perhaps forgotten in a lab cupboard) it kept 90% of their effectiveness, and the treated fabric can also be washed and worn safely.

You wouldn’t necessarily want to wear a whole suit of the stuff, but this would make it easier for clothing to include an RF-blocking pocket in a jacket, jeans or laptop bag that doesn’t feel out of place with the other materials. A hat (or underwear) with a layer of this fabric would be a popular item among conspiracy theorists, of course.

It’s still a ways from showing up on the rack, but Gogotsi was optimistic about its prospects for commercialization, noting that Drexel has multiple patents on the material and its uses. Other ways of infusing fabric with MXenes could lead to clothes that generate and store energy as well.

You can read more about this particular application of MXenes in the journal Carbon.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


Wall Street needs to relax, as startups show remote work is here to stay

November 28, 2020 No Comments

We are hearing that a COVID-19 vaccine could be on the way sooner than later, and that means we could be returning to normal life some time in 2021. That’s the good news. The perplexing news, however, is that each time some positive news emerges about a vaccine — and believe me I’m not complaining — Wall Street punishes stocks it thinks benefits from us being stuck at home. That would be companies like Zoom and Peloton.

While I’m not here to give investment advice, I’m confident that these companies are going to be fine even after we return to the office. While we surely pine for human contact, office brainstorming, going out to lunch with colleagues and just meeting and collaborating in the same space, it doesn’t mean we will simply return to life as it was before the pandemic and spend five days a week in the office.

One thing is clear in my discussions with startups born or growing up during the pandemic: They have learned to operate, hire and sell remotely, and many say they will continue to be remote-first when the pandemic is over. Established larger public companies like Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Shopify and others have announced they will continue to offer a remote-work option going forward. There are many other such examples.

It’s fair to say that we learned many lessons about working from home over this year, and we will carry them with us whenever we return to school and the office — and some percentage of us will continue to work from home at least some of the time, while a fair number of businesses could become remote-first.

Wall Street reactions

On November 9, news that the Pfizer vaccine was at least 90% effective threw the markets for a loop. The summer trade, in which investors moved capital from traditional, non-tech industries and pushed it into software shares, flipped; suddenly the stocks that had been riding a pandemic wave were losing ground while old-fashioned, even stodgy, companies shot higher.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Here comes the next IPO wave

November 9, 2020 No Comments

This is The TechCrunch Exchange, a newsletter that goes out on Saturdays, based on the column of the same name. You can sign up for the email here.

Are you tired? I am. What a week. But, if you kept your eyes off American politics and instead focused on the stock market, this was not a week of stress at all. It was a celebration.

Yes, the election appears to be influencing stocks, with investors delighted at what could be a divided government. Their bet is that with different parties in control of different bits of the government, nothing will happen, and thus taxes and regulation won’t change. You can handicap that as you wish.

Regardless, this week’s stock market boom was a multifaceted affair. Software stocks rallied as the summer-era trade appeared to come back into vogue, in which investors pour capital into SaaS and cloud companies in hopes of parking their wealth into something with growth potential. Software earnings also look pretty good thus far (we chatted with JFrog and Ping Identity and BigCommerce), improving on their early performance.

Uber and Lyft drove their own rally as California voters decided that their long-standing labor arbitrage would stand. And then Uber failed to vomit on itself during its earnings report. Not bad.

Big tech stocks rose, as well. All this is to say that after some fear in the market a week ago, things are back to being heated for tech companies. And it is, as we expected, flushing out the next wave of IPOs.

Airbnb is expected to file publicly early next week (we have four questions here that we cannot wait to get answered), and Upstart actually filed this week, which you probably missed because you were watching something else. No worries. We are here for you.

Another notable possible include DoorDash, now unshackled from its expensive California regulatory battle. How many debuts shall we see? Hopefully many.

Market Notes

Upstart’s IPO filing brings a fintech IPO to the fore, and overall its numbers are pretty good if you discount worries about its customer concentration. Its debut could augur well for fintech as a whole, a segment of the startup population that, when viewed through the lens of PayPal’s earnings, is having a hell of a year.

Fintech VCs are active, as well, dropping over $ 10 billion into startups focusing on financial technology products and services in Q3. Payments, insurtech, wealth management and banking startups caught our eye as sectors to watch in that niche.

It was not a perfect week for fintech, however, as the U.S. government decided that the Visa-Plaid deal should not happen. Damn. As discussed on Equity, this deal could limit M&A interest for fintech startups from large players. Does that mean that fintech IPOs, then, have to carry the liquidity bucket for the sector?

Maybe! And if so, Upstart’s impending flotation seems to take on extra importance. We’ll keep you posted.

  • Moving along, the Ant Group IPO termination by the Chinese government was probably the biggest tech story of the week, though as the company is worth a few hundred billion, it’s not really a startup event. For China, it’s a bad day, as it undercuts its goal of becoming a global financial center. For Ant, it’s a huge setback. For Jack Ma, it’s a warning, if not more.
  • The nine-figure neobank rounds? Not done yet.
  • Pony’s epic raise this week makes the point that self-driving tech is not dead. Indeed, the great race to let computers drive continues. Just more slowly than everyone had hoped.
  • Udacity underscored the edtech boom by raising $ 75 million in debt and reported “Q3 bookings up by 120% year-over-year and average run rates up 260% in H1 2020.” Our own Natasha Mascarenhas also reported on booming edtech M&A volume, again highlighting that edtech has gone from zero to hero in 2020, at least from a VC perspective.
  • $ 30 million for Hustle Fund, and €66.5M for All Iron Ventures, among other VC raises this week.
  • ByteDance is looking for $ 2 billion at a valuation of $ 180 billion? Also, what happened to the whole TikTok fiasco?
  • And TikTok’s rival’s IPO filing really shows how hard it is to build a similar network. It’s also very expensive.

Various and Sundry

Sticking under our target word count for the first time in so long I nearly forgot what it is, here are a few iotas and crumbs for your weekend:

Have a good weekend. Stay safe. Fight COVID-19. And listen to this.

Alex


Startups – TechCrunch


2020 will be a big year for online childcare — here are 7 startups to watch

December 29, 2019 No Comments

Over the weekend, media and digital brand holding company IAC announced that it had agreed to buy Care.com, which describes itself as “the world’s largest online family care platform,” in a deal valued at about $ 500 million. Despite being the best-known marketplace in the United States for finding child and senior caregivers, Care.com has spent the past nine months dealing with the fallout from a Wall Street Journal investigative article that detailed potentially dangerous gaps in its vetting process. The company’s issues not only highlight the problems with scaling a marketplace created to find caregivers for the most vulnerable members of society, but also the United States’ childcare crisis.

Childcare in the United States is weighed down with many issues and arguably no one platform can fix it, no matter how large or well-known. Over the past year and a half, however, several startups dedicated to fixing specific challenges have raised funding, including Wonderschool, Kinside and Winnie.

IAC and Care.com’s announcement came at the end of a year when more media attention has been paid to the difficulties American parents face in finding and affording childcare, and how that contributes to gender disparities, falling birthrates and other social issues. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world without mandated paid parental leave and childcare is one of the biggest expenses for families. Several Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have made universal childcare part of their platform and business leaders like Alexis Ohanian are using their clout to advocate for better family leave policies.

But the issue has already created deep structural problems. From an economic perspective, a September 2018 study by ReadyNation and Council for a Strong America estimated that annually, the 11 million working parents in the United States lose a total of $ 37 billion in earnings because they lack adequate childcare. Businesses in turn lose a total of $ 13 billion a year as a result, while the impact on lower income and sales tax reduces tax revenues by $ 7 billion. Many parents change their career trajectories after they have children, even if they did not plan to. For example, a study published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 43% of women and 23% of men in STEM change fields, switch to part-time work or leave the workforce.


Startups – TechCrunch


UX matters for search: Here are two reasons why

June 19, 2019 No Comments

SEOs are always scouring the internet and exhausting their networks trying to find new ways to optimize websites for Google and other search engines. Whether they are tips to improve page speed or new keywords to target, the work of an SEO seems to be never-ending.

However, rather than chasing new visitors to increase your site traffic, the key to search performance could be found outside of search engine marketing altogether.

Quickly envision the process of successful conversion from a Google search:

  • Step one: The user enters their query into Google.
  • Step two: Google generates a SERP based on its perception of the type of content that that user is looking for.
  • Step three: The user analyzes the metadata displayed on the SERP and selects the link that will most likely solve their needs.
  • Step four: This is the make-or-break moment where the user decides whether or not to bounce or stay on the site to find the information or solution that they searched for.
  • Step five: The new visitor quickly connects with and trusts the site they are on. They instantly found the information or product they were searching for or can easily navigate to it to fulfill a purchase or schedule a meeting.

Step four not only illustrates a pivotal moment for SEOs but for Google as well. If a search user consistently clicks through to sites that are slow to load, hard to navigate or entirely irrelevant to their needs, they’re going to switch to a different search engine. In short, Google wants to please its users by highly ranking sites that are friendly to its users’ want.

By shifting your mindset from, “how can I crack the Google algorithm?” to, “how can I delight Google and its users?”, you create a better focus on engagement rather than simply acquiring search volume. Essentially, your search success hinges upon your site’s UX. Two elements of UX are particularly relevant to SEO.

1. Give users an engaging experience

Place yourself in the shoes of searchers. What do you look for when you Google something? It’s probably these three things:

  • Fast load speed
  • Web design that is industry appropriate and stimulating
  • Information that is presented clearly

So, while you study analytics for metrics like time on site and bounce rate, understand that the context of those metrics matters. Why are users sticking around? Is it because they’re truly engaged with your site or is because they’re having troubles finding what they’re searching for? You can utilize heatmapping services to gain a better understanding of how users are truly interacting with your site. Services like Full Story, Looker, Hotjar, Crazy Egg, Lucky Orange, and Optimizely. If you have a favorite comment it below.

Focusing on user experience can help increase traffic; According to a blog post in Think With Google, 1-800-Got-Junk decreased their load time by 28% and received a 19% increase in mobile sessions.

By establishing a strong first impression, you give yourself the best chance of a first-time conversion or, at least, a better chance for a return visit for users in the “shopping around” stage.

How can you make your site more engaging?

Based on your industry and the intent of the page, your design and layout should create an experience for users that feels immersive, natural and frictionless. This means that:

  • Your call-outs are clear, but not too flashy.
  • Your design (from colors and images to font choice) should command the user’s focus.
  • Optimization of speed on desktop and mobile

Once you’ve gained the reader’s attention, seal the deal with engaging and relevant content.

2. Focus on the context of your content

Going through the work of finding relevant keywords and creating insightful and engaging content that looks great is only half of the battle. The other half of the SEO equation is search intent. Let’s say you’re an e-commerce brand creating a product page. It’s pretty clear what your CTA is – “Buy Now”. By focusing the design and copy of this page towards searchers that are in the ready-to-buy mode, you ensure that both Google and its users are happy to have your site at the top of SERPs.

Likewise, if you’re creating a more informative page that is focused on educating viewers on industry insights, news or FAQs, including salesy rhetoric will only set yourself up for failure once visitors are sent to a page that doesn’t support a quick purchase decision.

Create a lingo-free supportive copy that sells your company as a guide to their need. We used a book called BrandStory by Donald Miller to define our website copy. The idea is to create a story that makes your customer the Hero and makes you the guide towards solving their need. You want to create a story people want to be part of, think of Toms Shoes. You don’t have to be a bleeding heart to accomplish this, Just explain who you are and how you will meet the customer’s needs.

Making this type of connection with your customer is a big impact on your sales funnel. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review shows how emotional content can impact your bottom line. In fact, according to HBR a retailer even had a “50% increase in the rate of same-store-sales growth”.

Some great examples of quality “StoryBrand” content Include:

  1. Soul Cycle
  2. GoPro
  3. Uber’s One Billion Ride
  4. Mouth

These brands explain a story in which engages a user into becoming the “Hero” of the story. GoPro, for example, gives the customer the experience of recording their moments enjoying life, Making Gopro the “guide” to helping customers remember their adventures.

Even Google tested this on their retail call-to-action by consolidating their content and received an increase of organic traffic by 64%. Quality content is only part of the user experience but can create an impact on your business when it becomes “ego-less” and more about the customer.

The better your site performs in terms of relevancy and engagement, the happier the visitors are going to be. At the end of the day, Google is just looking to please its users too.

Search engine best practices are going to help place your site on Google’s radar. However, what’s going to set you apart from the rest of your competitors on SERPs is your commitment to delivering a high quality and hyper-relevant website to searchers. A newfound emphasis on your site’s UX can be the exact refresher your sites SEO needed.

Jonathan Alonso is Director of Digital Marketing at CNCMachines.Net. He can be found on Twitter at @jongeek.

The post UX matters for search: Here are two reasons why appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


The Mueller Report Is Out. Read It Here

April 18, 2019 No Comments

Attorney general William Barr has released the redacted Mueller report to Congress. You can read all 300-plus pages of it right here.
Feed: All Latest


Watch SpaceX launch NASA’s new planet-hunting satellite here

April 19, 2018 No Comments

It’s almost time for SpaceX to launch NASA’s TESS, a space telescope that will search for exoplants across nearly the entire night sky. The launch has been delayed more than once already: originally scheduled for March 20, it slipped to April 16 (Monday), then some minor issues pushed it to today — at 3:51 PM Pacific time, to be precise. You can watch the launch live below.

TESS, which stands for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is basically a giant wide-angle camera (four of them, actually) that will snap pictures of the night sky from a wide, eccentric and never before tried orbit.

The technique it will use is fundamentally the same as that employed by NASA’s long-running and highly successful Kepler mission. When distant plants pass between us and their star, it causes a momentary decrease in that star’s brightness. TESS will monitor thousands of stars simultaneously for such “transits,” watching a single section of sky for a month straight before moving on to another.

By two years, it will have imaged 85 percent of the sky — hundreds of times the area Kepler observed, and on completely different stars: brighter ones that should yield more data.

TESS, which is about the size of a small car, will launch on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX will attempt to recover the first stage of the rocket by having it land on a drone ship, and the nose cone will, hopefully, get a gentle parachute-assisted splashdown in the Atlantic, where it too can be retrieved.

The feed below should go live 15 minutes before launch, or at about 3:35.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


Tesla’s Model 3 Is Here: How to Watch the Big Event

July 28, 2017 No Comments

The long-awaited affordable electric car is finally here, for a lucky few.
Feed: All Latest


Watch Google’s I/O keynote live right here

May 17, 2017 No Comments

 Are you ready for some major news on all things Google? Google is kicking off its annual I/O developer conference today. The conference starts at 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM on the East Cost, 6 PM in London, 7 PM Central European Time) and you can watch the live stream right here on this page. We have a team on the ground ready to cover the event, so don’t forget to read our live blog to… Read More

Mobile – TechCrunch


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