How to Use Company Culture to Make Better Decisions

How to Use Company Culture to Make Better Decisions

Culture is a word that gets thrown around a lot in small business as a key element to success. But, if you are not proactively building one to grow your company, someone else in your organization may be building it for their own purposes.

Why You Need a Company Culture

On this week’s Small Business Radio ShowJosh Levine, who is the best-selling author of “Great Mondays” discusses how small business owners can use culture to their advantage. As he explains, its not just having a ping-pong table and buying pizza on Fridays (those are rituals). It’s about “how you help your employees make better decisions” since they are the ones actually doing the work. Josh describes culture allowing us to move away from “micromanagement to micromanagement”. He suggests hiring people that are good at what they do and helping them understand what the company is trying to achieve so they can make the best decisions every day. They will use your culture to guide them when a critical decision must be made.

Josh says every company has a culture whether you are using it or not. He suggests a company starts this defining their culture by writing their own company’s obituary. When people talk about your company decades from now, what did you achieve? Why was your company in business?

Josh explains there are six key components to igniting cultural change in an organization. They include:

1. Purpose: What are you trying to achieve together. (For example, Starbucks inspires one neighborhood at a time.)

2. Values: Your principles applied when a difficult choice must be made.

3. Behaviors: How you expect people to act every day.

4. Recognition: How to reward the best behaviors not just value driven outcomes.

5. Rituals: Physical things you do to strengthen the relationships inside the organization that aligns with your purpose.

6. Cues: Physical reminders of what the company is trying to do.

Listen to the entire interview on the Small Business Radio.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "How to Use Company Culture to Make Better Decisions" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

How to Use Company Culture to Make Better Decisions

How to Use Company Culture to Make Better Decisions

Culture is a word that gets thrown around a lot in small business as a key element to success. But, if you are not proactively building one to grow your company, someone else in your organization may be building it for their own purposes.

Why You Need a Company Culture

On this week’s Small Business Radio ShowJosh Levine, who is the best-selling author of “Great Mondays” discusses how small business owners can use culture to their advantage. As he explains, its not just having a ping-pong table and buying pizza on Fridays (those are rituals). It’s about “how you help your employees make better decisions” since they are the ones actually doing the work. Josh describes culture allowing us to move away from “micromanagement to micromanagement”. He suggests hiring people that are good at what they do and helping them understand what the company is trying to achieve so they can make the best decisions every day. They will use your culture to guide them when a critical decision must be made.

Josh says every company has a culture whether you are using it or not. He suggests a company starts this defining their culture by writing their own company’s obituary. When people talk about your company decades from now, what did you achieve? Why was your company in business?

Josh explains there are six key components to igniting cultural change in an organization. They include:

1. Purpose: What are you trying to achieve together. (For example, Starbucks inspires one neighborhood at a time.)

2. Values: Your principles applied when a difficult choice must be made.

3. Behaviors: How you expect people to act every day.

4. Recognition: How to reward the best behaviors not just value driven outcomes.

5. Rituals: Physical things you do to strengthen the relationships inside the organization that aligns with your purpose.

6. Cues: Physical reminders of what the company is trying to do.

Listen to the entire interview on the Small Business Radio.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "How to Use Company Culture to Make Better Decisions" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Everything You Need to Know About Billboard Advertising

I don’t own a car in Chicago, but I do take the train (referred to as the “L” here). On the L, most of my commuting companions pass the time by looking at their phones. But, my motion sickness prevents that, so I typically find myself watching the world — and many, many billboards — go by.

And I must say: Some billboards can be very, very entertaining.

Now, billboard advertising isn’t your typical inbound marketing methodology. So why are we writing about it? Billboard advertising can still be a powerful way to build brand awareness and attract customers.

Plus, if companies like MINI can incorporate inbound marketing elements in their billboard advertising, you can, too!

Billboard Advertising

Billboard advertising is the process of using a large-scale print advertisement (a billboard, or a hoarding to those in the UK) to market a company, brand, product, service, or campaign. Billboards are typically placed in high traffic areas, such as along highways and in cities, so they’re seen by the highest number of drivers and pedestrians.

Billboard advertising is effective for building brand awareness and broadcasting your business (or product or campaign) to as many people as possible. Because they’re in such busy areas, billboards tend to have the highest number of views and impressions when compared to other marketing methods.

Billboard Advertising Cost

The cost of billboard advertising depends on many factors including the location of your billboard, the total traffic in the area, and how many people are estimated to see your advertisement. Billboard advertising costs are typically charged monthly and range anywhere from $250 on a rural highway to upwards of $22,000 in Times Square.

Billboard advertising is categorized as out-of-home (OOH) advertising, which is any advertising that reaches consumers when they’re outside their homes. Each OOH advertising opportunity (e.g. individual billboard) is given an OOH rating, which ultimately determines its value and the subsequent cost to advertisers.

Geopath is a nonprofit organization that uses technology and media research to estimate the weekly impressions of every billboard in the country and give OOH ratings. (OOH advertising companies [e.g. the companies that own the billboard spaces] pay Geopath for this data to share with potential advertisers.)

According to Geopath, there are up to 10 determining factors that make up an OOH rating and, therefore, the cost of each billboard advertising opportunity.

Here are the three main factors:

  1. Circulation is the total number of people who pass by the billboard each week. This information is gathered by local transportation authorities.
  2. Demographics refer to the age, gender, income level, and other characteristics of the traffic that passes the billboard. This information is gathered from travel surveys and local transportation authorities.
  3. Impressions are the number of people who see the billboard. This information is calculated based on the billboard’s circulation, the size of the billboard, how close it is from the road, its visibility, the speed at which traffic is passing by, and more.

The cost of billboard advertising doesn’t stop with “renting” ad space, however. You must also consider the cost of designing the billboard as well as printing and constructing it. Printing and construction can cost upwards of $500, depending on the size and location of your billboard.

If you outsource your billboard design, expect the cost to range from $150 to $1000, depending on what agency or designer you choose, as well as the complexity of your desired design. If you’d like to design your own, however, check out the billboard design tips in the next section.

Billboard Design

If you’re going to invest in an advertisement potentially seen by millions, you want it to do its job. Here are a handful of billboard design tips that’ll ensure your billboard is effective and eye-catching.

Tell a (short) story.

Successful billboards take viewers on a journey … even if that journey is a four-second glimpse over the steering wheel. Most billboard designs tell this story with imagery and possibly some text. In fact, most drivers stop reading after a few words. Use your billboard to convey the essence of an idea or campaign rather than describing it with text.

Take a look at this text-less billboard by Samsonite. It tells a story that Samsonite luggage lasts a long time, even longer than a billboard.

billboard advertising samsonite

Source

Make it bold and simple.

Drivers or passersby only have a few seconds to get a glimpse at your billboard advertisement. To reach the highest number of viewers (and potential customers), keep your billboard design simple. After all, some people may be blowing by your billboard at 70 mph. Use big, bold fonts against contrasting background colors and avoid narrow, script fonts.

Also, choose colors that stand out to viewers. If your billboard is in a rural area, avoid greens, blues, and browns. Check out this bright, bold (and funny) billboard by Lamar.

billboard advertising lamar
 

Consider its location.

I’m not originally from Chicago, but I’ve been here long enough to foster a certain sense of pride. So, when I pass by billboards that play on the Cubs or Bears, or make jokes about the wind or traffic, I pay attention.

Well-designed billboards are reflective of their location. They take advantage of sports teams, nicknames, nuances, or inside jokes related to the area. This can make the billboard (and brand) much more impressionable to those who see it. Check out this billboard by SmileDirectClub in downtown Chicago.

billboard advertising chicago smiledirectclub

Source

This billboard, advertising the new Grinch movie, is in New York City.

billboard advertising grinch new york city

Source

Make it interactive.

Depending on your billboard's location, you may be able to design it so it interacts with its surrounding environment. This strategy make your advertisement stick out among the noise and grab the attention of passerby (which we’ll talk about more in the next section).

Take a look at this Panasonic billboard that interacts with the wires around it.

Even if your billboard isn’t in the city, there are ways to leverage the environment around it. This billboard by Koleston Naturals used the sun to “color” the hair in the advertisement.

billboard advertising koleston

Source

Make it memorable.

OOH advertising has to be creative in order to stand out among the hustle and bustle of a regular commute (or the monotony of a long road trip). Your billboard shouldn’t be any different.

Your billboard needs to tell a story and/or share a call-to-action in a way that’s interesting and memorable. Whether you call on humor, anger, empathy, or cleverness, use emotional marketing tactics in your billboard design to make it memorable. Take a look at these examples of eye-catching, creative billboards.

This example, established by the Colorado State Patrol, warns drivers of the effects of tailgating.

billboard advertising colorado state patrol

Source

This one, advertising strong tape, is by Penline Stationery.

billboard advertising penline stationery

Source

Coca-Cola designed this one to encourage people to drink Coke.

billboard advertising coca cola

Source

Billboard Advertising Statistics

We’ve looked at some amazingly creative billboards and discussed how to design one of your own. At this point, though, you may be wondering: Do these billboards actually work? Do they reach the members of your target audience?

Let’s talk about some billboard advertising statistics that prove the impact of billboard advertising and to inform your next campaign.

  • Americans spend an annual average of 17,600 minutes in their cars. That’s almost 300 hours each year. (Source)
  • There are currently 342,306 billboards in the United States. (Source)
  • Almost 8,000 of these are digital billboards. (Source)
  • 6% of global ad spending is dedicated to OOH advertising. (Source)
  • 71% of people consciously look at billboards when driving. (Source)
  • Over 50% of people say they’ve been highly engaged by a billboard they’ve seen in the last month. (Source)
  • OOH advertising is 382% more effective at driving online activity than TV ads. (Source)
  • OOH advertising, when paired with search engine optimization (SEO), boosts its effectiveness by 40%. (Source)

Billboard Advertising: The Marketing You Never Knew You Needed

Billboard advertising might not fall under the hood of inbound marketing methodology, but it can still be a highly effective way of promoting your products and boosting your brand. It can also work to strengthen other inbound marketing efforts you’ve invested in, such as blogging, online lead offers, or SEO.

Follow our billboard design tips above to create an impactful, memorable billboard for your brand. And, who knows? Someone may look out the window during their next commute and see your billboard — and become a new customer



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Get Paid on Time With These Invoice Tips

Get Paid on Time With These Invoice Tips

Getting paid — let alone on-time — has long been a problem for business owners. Large corporations can shoulder the burden of delayed payment. However, small and medium-sized companies can’t go that long without payment. Late payments and unpaid invoices can create serious cash flow problems for a business. In some cases, payment delays can shut a small business down. There’s got to be a better way for invoicing clients.

Business owners may think they can’t control getting paid on time. After all, they do their part. They invoice the client in a timely manner and give them at least 30 days to settle up.  Many business owners don’t want to be too aggressive out of fear of losing the business altogether.

Invoice Tips

Although you ultimately can’t control when customers pay you, there are tactics that increase your chances of getting paid. From embracing online invoicing to laying out payment terms early on, here’s a look at some of the more effective strategies.

1. Go High-Tech With Invoicing Clients

The Internet has made all sorts of functions freelancers need easier to manage and that is particularly true when it comes to invoicing. Automating the process of issuing invoices can ensure you won’t forget to bill a client. The longer it is delayed on your end, the harder it will be to get paid.

The Internet is full of invoicing tools — some offering basic features and others integrating with your data to stay on top of all your bills. These services provide business owners with invoice templates, the ability to sync payments with the business’ financial records, make payments, and to monitor and manage late and unpaid invoices.

2. Create Clear Billing Invoice Terms

Even if you are a one-person shop, it’s best to have clear and transparent payment terms toe define how you will invoice clients. If you are ambiguous about when payments are due or send your invoice on different days each month, it can create confusion with your clients.

When bringing on a new client, lay out your expectations clearly. If you expect payment within 45 days, say so. You want to include which payment methods you accept, perks of paying early if you have any, and the due date.

3. Reward Early Payments

A surefire way to get at least some of your customers to pay in a timely manner is to reward them for doing that. Let’s say your invoices are due within 30 days of receipt. Offer customers a 5% discount if they pay within 15 days. On-time payments can get a smaller discount while late payments get hit with a fee.

Or for instance, if your customers pay in installments, you can offer a bigger discount if they pay the entire bill upfront. Doing so will alleviate the costs and time wasted tracking down late payments.

4. Charge Clients Late Fees

Nobody wants to upset their clients and customers, however, if they are paying late and it’s impacting the business, there may be no other choice. Penalizing customers who pay late may seem aggressive, but it can go a long way in getting paid on time.

Business owners instituting a late payment fee policy have to clearly lay out all the rules. That includes how its charged — a percentage of the invoice or flat fee — when it’s triggered, and what happens if the bill goes unpaid for an extended period of time.

For instance, if the bill is past due for 90 days, you may report the customer to a collection agency.

5. Make It Easy for Clients to Pay You

For lots of people who are late paying bills, it’s not because of a lack of resources but rather a lack of motivation. Making it as easy as possible for them to pay you will greatly improve client invoicing results.

To remove late payment excuses, provide a variety of payment options for your clients. Whether its direct deposit, a mobile app, a check, or a credit card, providing lots of options will ensure speedier payments.

6. Follow-Up With Payment Reminders

Life is hectic with information and bills coming out businesses and individuals from every direction. It’s easy to forget to pay a bill, and that’s where follow-up and payment reminders come in. The online invoicing platform can be set up to send regular payment reminders to customers, while DIY business owners can get them out on their own.

Sometimes, one reminder is all a client needs, while other times it may take a few more reminders to get them to take action. Send an invoice reminder a few days before its due, again on the day it is due, and again a few days after the due date if the payment hasn’t been made. If the reminders don’t elicit a response, pick up the phone and give the client a call to remind him or her.

7. Set a Due Date and Stick With It

Consistency is everything, and that’s true of the process you use for invoicing clients.  The more regular your invoices are, the better. That’s why you need to choose a due date and keep it consistent for all future invoices. If you want to get paid quick, set the due date for two weeks after you send the invoice.

If you are comfortable giving your customer more time, set the due date for 30 to 60 days after the invoice is received. Either way, ensure that the due date is clearly stated on the invoice. The last thing you want to say is “due upon receipt.” That provides leeway for the customer to avoid paying on time.

8. Know Your Customers

Timing is everything when it comes to getting paid on time. If you know when your customers tend to pay their bills each month and time your invoice before that, you increase your odds of getting paid early. Some companies will process all their payments on the 15th of each month. If you get your invoice in on the 16th, you will have to wait for an entire billing cycle to get paid.

9. Itemize Everything

Questions about a bill often delays payment. If you don’t itemize every expense and display it prominently, then the client may hold up the payment while waiting for an answr. But, if the invoice clearly states project work, then it can speed payment.  It may require more time upfront, but it’s worth it if it reduces payment time.

10. Make Sure You Know Who Pays the Bills

Sometimes human interaction is all it takes to get a late bill paid. Picking up the phone and contacting the right person will usually yield good results. But in order to make that happen, you need the correct contact within the organization.

Nothing can be more frustrating than getting the run around because you don’t know the proper person to contact. When signing on new customers, make sure to ask for that information.

Final Thoughts

Invoicing clients ranks high on the list of headaches business owners face. However, employing smart invoicing strategies can alleviate some of the pain. At the end of the day, consistency gets results. None of these strategies will work if you don’t do it regularly.

Image: Due.com

This article, "Get Paid on Time With These Invoice Tips" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Get Paid on Time With These Invoice Tips

Get Paid on Time With These Invoice Tips

Getting paid — let alone on-time — has long been a problem for business owners. Large corporations can shoulder the burden of delayed payment. However, small and medium-sized companies can’t go that long without payment. Late payments and unpaid invoices can create serious cash flow problems for a business. In some cases, payment delays can shut a small business down. There’s got to be a better way for invoicing clients.

Business owners may think they can’t control getting paid on time. After all, they do their part. They invoice the client in a timely manner and give them at least 30 days to settle up.  Many business owners don’t want to be too aggressive out of fear of losing the business altogether.

Invoice Tips

Although you ultimately can’t control when customers pay you, there are tactics that increase your chances of getting paid. From embracing online invoicing to laying out payment terms early on, here’s a look at some of the more effective strategies.

1. Go High-Tech With Invoicing Clients

The Internet has made all sorts of functions freelancers need easier to manage and that is particularly true when it comes to invoicing. Automating the process of issuing invoices can ensure you won’t forget to bill a client. The longer it is delayed on your end, the harder it will be to get paid.

The Internet is full of invoicing tools — some offering basic features and others integrating with your data to stay on top of all your bills. These services provide business owners with invoice templates, the ability to sync payments with the business’ financial records, make payments, and to monitor and manage late and unpaid invoices.

2. Create Clear Billing Invoice Terms

Even if you are a one-person shop, it’s best to have clear and transparent payment terms toe define how you will invoice clients. If you are ambiguous about when payments are due or send your invoice on different days each month, it can create confusion with your clients.

When bringing on a new client, lay out your expectations clearly. If you expect payment within 45 days, say so. You want to include which payment methods you accept, perks of paying early if you have any, and the due date.

3. Reward Early Payments

A surefire way to get at least some of your customers to pay in a timely manner is to reward them for doing that. Let’s say your invoices are due within 30 days of receipt. Offer customers a 5% discount if they pay within 15 days. On-time payments can get a smaller discount while late payments get hit with a fee.

Or for instance, if your customers pay in installments, you can offer a bigger discount if they pay the entire bill upfront. Doing so will alleviate the costs and time wasted tracking down late payments.

4. Charge Clients Late Fees

Nobody wants to upset their clients and customers, however, if they are paying late and it’s impacting the business, there may be no other choice. Penalizing customers who pay late may seem aggressive, but it can go a long way in getting paid on time.

Business owners instituting a late payment fee policy have to clearly lay out all the rules. That includes how its charged — a percentage of the invoice or flat fee — when it’s triggered, and what happens if the bill goes unpaid for an extended period of time.

For instance, if the bill is past due for 90 days, you may report the customer to a collection agency.

5. Make It Easy for Clients to Pay You

For lots of people who are late paying bills, it’s not because of a lack of resources but rather a lack of motivation. Making it as easy as possible for them to pay you will greatly improve client invoicing results.

To remove late payment excuses, provide a variety of payment options for your clients. Whether its direct deposit, a mobile app, a check, or a credit card, providing lots of options will ensure speedier payments.

6. Follow-Up With Payment Reminders

Life is hectic with information and bills coming out businesses and individuals from every direction. It’s easy to forget to pay a bill, and that’s where follow-up and payment reminders come in. The online invoicing platform can be set up to send regular payment reminders to customers, while DIY business owners can get them out on their own.

Sometimes, one reminder is all a client needs, while other times it may take a few more reminders to get them to take action. Send an invoice reminder a few days before its due, again on the day it is due, and again a few days after the due date if the payment hasn’t been made. If the reminders don’t elicit a response, pick up the phone and give the client a call to remind him or her.

7. Set a Due Date and Stick With It

Consistency is everything, and that’s true of the process you use for invoicing clients.  The more regular your invoices are, the better. That’s why you need to choose a due date and keep it consistent for all future invoices. If you want to get paid quick, set the due date for two weeks after you send the invoice.

If you are comfortable giving your customer more time, set the due date for 30 to 60 days after the invoice is received. Either way, ensure that the due date is clearly stated on the invoice. The last thing you want to say is “due upon receipt.” That provides leeway for the customer to avoid paying on time.

8. Know Your Customers

Timing is everything when it comes to getting paid on time. If you know when your customers tend to pay their bills each month and time your invoice before that, you increase your odds of getting paid early. Some companies will process all their payments on the 15th of each month. If you get your invoice in on the 16th, you will have to wait for an entire billing cycle to get paid.

9. Itemize Everything

Questions about a bill often delays payment. If you don’t itemize every expense and display it prominently, then the client may hold up the payment while waiting for an answr. But, if the invoice clearly states project work, then it can speed payment.  It may require more time upfront, but it’s worth it if it reduces payment time.

10. Make Sure You Know Who Pays the Bills

Sometimes human interaction is all it takes to get a late bill paid. Picking up the phone and contacting the right person will usually yield good results. But in order to make that happen, you need the correct contact within the organization.

Nothing can be more frustrating than getting the run around because you don’t know the proper person to contact. When signing on new customers, make sure to ask for that information.

Final Thoughts

Invoicing clients ranks high on the list of headaches business owners face. However, employing smart invoicing strategies can alleviate some of the pain. At the end of the day, consistency gets results. None of these strategies will work if you don’t do it regularly.

Image: Due.com

This article, "Get Paid on Time With These Invoice Tips" was first published on Small Business Trends



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10 Link Building Lies You Must Ignore

Do You Consider Yourself a Business Professional?

There are many different pathways to be successful at your job. But one of the more interesting perspectives to take is if you ask yourself a question – do you consider yourself a business professional?

Business professional working

You might think of yourself as an expert in your field. Perhaps you believe you are a great salesperson. But what does it mean to be a business professional? To answer this question, one of the things that you have to think about is how well you present yourself online these days.

The best business professionals are the ones who have the best online presence. They also have the most precise description of what they do and who they are.…

The post Do You Consider Yourself a Business Professional? appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.



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11 Content Marketing Examples That Stand Out in 2019

Think back to the last thing you Googled. Did the content you discover actually answer the question you were asking? Did you feel engaged in reading the article or watching the video that you found? Were you able to find a helpful next step to learn more?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then the person who created the content probably paid close attention to its structure. And they're reaping the benefits -- you, along with many others, are now aware of their business and potentially interested in engaging with future content related to their brand.

Ultimately, all effective digital content has a blueprint. You may not notice it, but it's intended to help you and other readers make well-informed, confident decisions -- whatever those decisions may be.

I've been a content marketer for over a decade. During that time, I've worked with thousands of businesses to help them effectively tell their brand's story while increasing visibility online. Through this process, I've learned a thing or two about what works, what doesn't, and why.

If you're looking to improve your content marketing skills, it's helpful to know what goes into creating content that both humans and search engines love. We'll run through several of my favorite examples of content marketing that I've seen in 2019, below. Additionally, I'll explain why each tactic was successful.

Sign up for HubSpot Academy's Content Marketing Certification course to learn how to grow your business in a human and helpful way.

1. Switchback Travel's Image Featured Snippet

First, a reminder -- featured snippets are Google's attempt to answer a search query on the results page itself. Google features these snippets in a box just before the number one organic search listing. They're important because they take a significant portion of the search traffic from the results below them.

Featured snippets can show up in a variety of formats. However, below are the most common featured snippets Google generates:

  • Paragraph featured snippet
  • Image featured snippet
  • YouTube featured snippet
  • List featured snippet (bulleted and numbered)

One good content marketing strategy is to try and optimize your images for Google's featured snippet. For instance, take a look at Switchback Travel's image, displayed below as the image result for the search term "best hiking boots":

As shown in the above example, Google sometimes pulls from more than one site to answer a person's question. Occasionally, a source might claim both the text and image featured snippet, but that's not always the case. In the above example, the text is from New York Magazine but the image is from Switchback Travel.

Ultimately, you might consider optimizing your images for search to try and capture the featured snippet result for keywords related to your product or service, like Switchback Travel did. 

2. Toyota Europe's YouTube Featured Snippet

Google looks at more than just website content when it comes to featured snippets. Google additionally pulls content from YouTube, which is why it's important to optimize your video content accordingly. Google may choose to recommend a specific clip from the YouTube video, as well.

For instance, check out Toyota Europe's YouTube featured snippet, which offers a suggested clip:

By correctly optimizing your YouTube videos for SEO, you have a chance of being featured on search engines, rather than just YouTube. This enables you to reach a larger audience. 

3. Washington Post's List-based Article

List-based articles are powerful opportunities to win Google's featured snippet box for an intended search. 

For instance, if you're unsure of how to plan for a road trip, you'll likely stumble across this Washington Post listicle when searching "how to plan for a road trip" on Google or another search engine: 

4. RVing Planet's Bulleted Featured Snippet

Additionally, the bulleted list featured snippet is often used for list-based articles, as well. This could be in the form of ranked or unranked items as well as a best-of list.

For example, let's say you're looking for a home on wheels to travel in -- this RVing planet blog post could bring value to your search:

Screen Shot 2019-09-12 at 2.23.24 PMThere are several ways to optimize your content in a human and helpful way that can lead to Google pulling your content into its featured snippet box.

Here are some quick pro tips for optimizing for Google's featured snippet box:

  • Include a YouTube video near the top of your page and optimize it according to how the page is optimized.
  • Similar to your video content, make sure to optimize the alt-text of your images throughout the page.
  • Near the top of the page, state what this page is about. This could be a definition or clear introduction to what this person is going to learn.

To learn more about featured snippets, check out the video below.

5. Content Marketing Institute's Click to Tweet

If you make it easy for people to share something interesting with their network, then they're much more likely to do so. An effective way to encourage readers to share your content with their social network is to embed a "click to tweet" button that automatically shares an interesting quote or statistic from your article.

For example, this blog post that I wrote for Content Marketing Institute is the most widely shared guest blog post I've ever written:

Months after publication, I still get daily Twitter notifications from people tweeting about this article. And the majority of the tweets come from the "click to tweet" option that Content Marketing Institute offers throughout the post.

If you want to start adding "click to tweet" options throughout your website content, check out this free tool.

6. Digital Olympus's Expert Roundup

No matter what industry you're in, there are influencers to whom people look for advice.

Partnering with these folks will strengthen your content, and more importantly, they'll be more likely to promote the content if they're mentioned in it.

Digital Olympus interviewed over 40 digital marketing experts for one of their blog posts, asking each expert to provide their most effective method for acquiring traffic.

What I most like about this blog post is how Digital Olympus organizes the contributions. At the top of the page, there's a headshot of each expert next to their name. If you want to read a particular expert's tip, you simply have to click on their headshot and you'll jump down to their quote.

There's also an anchor-linked Table of Contents that allows for topic-based searches. This way, readers can jump to the specific sections that are most applicable to them.

7. Colgate's Research Page

Creating a resource page made up of helpful links on a given topic is an effective way to create helpful content.

If your business has been producing content for a while, then chances are you have clusters of related content to support the topics around which your business wants to build authority.

For example, oral hygiene company Colgate has over 2,400 pieces of content related to their broad topic "gum disease":

That's a lot of content to sift through … which is why Colgate created a resource page made up of specific sections of gum disease-related content, like "gum disease cause" or "gum disease diagnosis".

Each section offers:

  • A paragraph of explainer text
  • A bulleted list of details on the sub-topic
  • Links to relevant content on their site

8. Moz's Topic Clusters

The topic cluster framework is a highly effective SEO strategy that demonstrates to Google that the content on your website is organized and relevant to searchers. To learn more about this framework, watch the video below.

Some brands have taken this approach to the next level by creating a multi-page masterclass or guide that links together like-themed pillar pages. A pillar page is a website page that covers a topic in-depth and links to a cluster of related content, also known as a cluster. One of my favorite examples of this is Moz's Beginner's Guide to Content Marketing.

Moz creatively puts a chapter list at the end of each page that links out to more specific content marketing-themed pages within the topic cluster.

Additionally, using an anchor-linked chapter list is an effective way to connect the cluster together -- it provides value to the reader while passing authority through to each pillar page. This has worked well for Moz, since the majority of their pillar pages included in this guide rank as the first position on Google for their intended key terms:

9. Mailshakes' Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a combination of software and strategy. With marketing automation, businesses can target prospects and customers with automated messages across multiple online and offline channels including email, text, web, and social media. Each message is sent automatically according to a pre-set list of instructions, called workflows.

Marketing automation can be an effective tool to keep your audience engaged with your brand, but it's important to make sure you're sending the right messages to the right people at the right time.

Mailshake, an email outreach tool, implemented marketing automation effectively by creating a Cold Email Masterclass to teach people how to make better connections via email outreach. The masterclass is made up of eight comprehensive lessons (i.e. pillar pages).

Mailshake knows that this is a lot of content for people to consume, and visitors won't likely read it all in one sitting.

To make it easier for people to learn step-by-step, Mailshake repackaged their masterclass into an eight-part email series. In other words, they automated their education to help their audience.

Mailshake acquired 5,321 email opt-ins for their cold email masterclass workflow in under one year -- proof that, if done well, this could be an incredibly effective strategy.

10. Townsend Security's Content Offer

One tried-and-true way to convert visitors into leads is by offering something of value in exchange for their contact information (i.e. email address). This "something" is referred to as a content offer.

Content offers include, but are not limited to:

  • Guides
  • Workbooks
  • Templates
  • Webinars

It can take a lot of time to create a valuable content offer from scratch.

One effective way to create a meaningful content offer is to repurpose and repackage pieces of content found on your website. For example, data security company Townsend Security created a pillar page for one of their topics of expertise -- encryption key management.

To help convert visitors into leads, Townsend repurposed and repackaged the content on their page into a guide. This allowed people to take the content with them, as opposed to having to search for the pillar page each time they wanted to read about encryption key management.

In the first year of publishing their encryption key management pillar page, 63% of visitors gave their information in exchange for a packaged PDF of the on-page content.

11. Venngage's Free Product

Your product should be your best marketing. An effective way to provide real value to your prospects is to create a free tool that aligns with your products and/or services.

If you can get a free user hooked on one of your free tools, then you're giving yourself (and your sales team) the best chance at demonstrating the value of your paid tools, too.

Let's say, for example, that you're a writer who needs help with creating visuals for the web content you create. You might consider using Venngage, a company that helps businesses create compelling visuals. In the free version of their platform, users get access to a wide variety of templates for infographics, presentations, brochures, checklists, and so on.

In the future, when your marketing team is considering paid products for design, you'll have Venngage top-of-mind.

And there you have it -- 11 content marketing examples to help get your creative juices flowing. Consider how you can apply one (or several) of these examples to your business to strengthen your content marketing efforts.

We live in a fast-paced digital world. In the time you read this blog post, a new channel, a new tactic, or a new competitor has emerged. The best chance you have at telling your business's story and growing a pool of engaged prospects and customers is by learning the art of content marketing -- and starting to apply it to your business, today.



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YouTube Ads for Beginners: How to Launch & Optimize a YouTube Video Advertising Campaign

You've spent months perfecting the script, storyboarding, finding the right talent, shooting, and editing. The end result? A blockbuster brand or product video.

With all that time invested, you can't stop at just embedding the video on a homepage or sharing it on social media and hoping someone watches.

While great content is bound to be found, it's also important to be proactive about gaining the attention of and educating prospects and those unfamiliar with your brand. Running a series of YouTube ads is one way to make sure more of your target audience finds the video content you've produced.

And with new formats and tracking capabilities, you can also use this information to report on its ROI.

The thing is, advertising on YouTube is very different from running a PPC or paid social campaign. There are specific creative constraints and a ton of options for this platform, and you need a base knowledge before you even scope out your next video project to make the most of the paid possibilities.

What’s New With YouTube Advertising

In January 2017, Google announced it would make changes to AdWords to allow advertisers to reach more viewers on YouTube -- especially across mobile devices, where 50% of YouTube views take place. Among the changes it rolled out, possibly the biggest announcement was that advertisers will soon be able to target viewers based on their Google search history, in addition to their viewing behaviors YouTube was already targeting.

Marketers can now target ads at people who recently searched for a certain product or service to target the video ads they’ll be served on the platform. If the content of a video ad is closely related to a search the viewer has been researching, they might be more likely to watch the entire ad or click through the ad to the website.

Keywords are relatively less expensive to target on YouTube than in traditional Google Search: Views cost an average of $0.06 per click on YouTube, compared to the average Google Search cost per click, which is estimated to be between $1-2. When YouTube targeting includes search history, it may be a more cost-effective way to target your audience with a more engaging form of content -- video.

The 3 Types of YouTube Video Ads

There are three key types of video ads in which you can invest on YouTube: TrueView, Preroll, and Bumpers.

1. TrueView Ads

TrueView ads are the standard video ad type on YouTube. Advertisers only pay for TrueView ads when viewers watch or interact with their ad (for example, by clicking on a call-to-action), and videos can be easily customized to share a variety of content.

Advertisers only pay when a user watches the ad for at least 30 seconds or until the end of the video or if the viewer takes an action, such as clicking on a call-to-action. YouTube requires that skippable TrueView ads be between 12 seconds and 6 minutes in length, and that non-skippable TrueView ads be 15-20 seconds in length.

There are two types of TrueView ads with which you can optimize your YouTube channel:

Video Discovery Ads (Previously Named In-Display Ads)

Video discovery YouTube ads show up on the YouTube homepage, search results pages, and as related videos on YouTube video watch pages.

These ads appeared after performing a YouTube search:

Two TrueView Video Discovery Ads in a YouTube search result

This display ad appears as a related video on the right-hand video sidebar:

TrueView In-Display ad in YouTube's related videos sidebar

Once a user clicks on the ad, the destination video page features a spot on the right-hand column where a companion banner display ad will appear.

TrueView video ad companion banner

In-Stream Ads

TrueView in-stream ads play before someone watches the video they’ve selected on YouTube. Viewers sometimes have the option to skip the ad after watching it for five seconds. You can also make them play anywhere in the Google Display Network (GDN) -- or sites that purchased Google video ad space.

In-stream ads let marketers customize video ads with different CTAs and overlay text, as highlighted in the skippable in-stream ad example below from Grammarly.

TrueView In-Stream video ad by Grammarly

Here’s what another skippable in-stream ad from Wix looks like. In this example, there’s another CTA from Wix on top of the right-hand video menu display:

in-stream ad youtube.png

What TrueView Videos Can Include

TrueView video campaigns can include people, dialogue, and music that was retrieved with permission -- or is considered royalty-free. However, it's best not to run a standard promotional commercial. Because these videos can be skipped, you need to give your audience a reason to keep watching, and product plugs historically don't get the views you might expect.

Instead, tell a story with the time you have in this video. People love seeing case studies of those who faced a struggle that they can empathize with. It's a source of entertainment that makes your brand memorable and less tempting to skip.

With TrueView ads, advertisers can gain a ton of information about the performance of their ads for optimization and testing purposes.

Using AdWords, YouTube account managers can collect data on an ad's completed views, partial views, if the video drives channel subscriptions, clickthrough rates on CTAs, views sourced from a user sharing the content, and views on the brand's other content that can be attributed to a person initially viewing a video ad.

These actions help advertisers better understand the full value of their video ad spend and where to allocate budget to increase results.

2. Preroll Ads

Some in-stream ads are non-skippable and can play before, mid-roll, or after the main video. These are called Preroll ads, and they can be 15 to 20 seconds in duration.

Here's an example of a non-skippable video ad before the main content on YouTube:

Preroll ad on YouTube with "non-skippable" features highlighted in the video

There are also non-skippable, mid-roll video ads, which appear midway through a YouTube video that's 10 minutes or longer in length.

Midroll preroll ad on YouTube

Source: PC Daily Tips

What Preroll Videos Can Include

Preroll ads give you just as much freedom as TrueView ads in their allotted content. You can include people, dialogue, audio, and more elements that you find best represent your brand in 15 to 20 seconds.

Because preroll ads can't be skipped, these videos are best created with a call-to-action (CTA) so you can optimize the attention you do have from the viewer. In other words, encourage viewers to click on your ad and receive something in return. Perhaps you've released a new product or promoting a major event this season and are looking for signups -- use this preroll ad to get those clicks. 

Keep in mind YouTube sells Preroll video space on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis. Make the click worth it.

3. Bumpers

Bumpers are the third and shortest type of YouTube video ad available to you. At just six seconds per bumper, these ad spots play before a viewer's chosen video. 

Bumper video ads obviously can't tell a good-enough story in just six seconds, but they make terrific complements to larger video campaigns on a new product launch or event. Just be sure to use this six seconds wisely, and include only the components of your brand you want your audience to remember.

How to Set Up & Launch a YouTube Video Advertising Campaign

Once you’ve created a marketing video you want to advertise on YouTube, it’s time to create your video ad campaign. (If you haven’t made a video yet, here’s how to get started with Animoto or Wistia, along with a few great examples.) Then, upload your video to YouTube.

YouTube creator's page prompt to select files to upload

Now, you're ready to set up your advertising campaign. First, go to your Google AdWords account to set up your campaign.

Campaign Type

Tap the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the red "+ Campaign" button on your Google AdWords homepage and select "video."

launch_new_video_ad.png

Campaign Name

Enter a name for your campaign, and make sure Video has been chosen from the Type drop-down menu.

YouTube_AdWords_Step1.png

Video Ad Format

Select "In-stream or video discovery ads" to ensure your video ad will be in TrueView format (in the style of the examples outlined above).

video_ad_formats_adwords.png

Budget

Set your budget per day. You can also select a delivery method -- either the standard delivery, which shows ads evenly during the day, or accelerated delivery, which drives views as quickly as possible. The latter would be useful if you want to capitalize on a trend or news item relevant to your brand's video.

video-ad-budget-delivery.png

Networks

Decide where you want your ad to appear.

  • YouTube Search: Your video ad will appear in results for searches and will appear on the YouTube home page, channel pages, and video pages.
  • YouTube Videos: This runs TrueView ads that can appear in-display ads or in-stream ads. With this option, you can choose for your video ad to appear before or around videos shown across the Google Display Network.

You should create separate campaigns for YouTube Search and YouTube Video as this will help you to better track performance metrics. These ads are served to people performing very different activities and require a different amount of commitment from the viewer, so it's best to monitor performance separately.

youtube-networks.png

Locations

Define the location of users whom you want the ad to be shown to. You can also exclude certain locations.

video-location.png

Language, Device & Mobile Bidding

AdWords will let you specify the operating system, device, and carrier for more advanced targeting. This is especially useful for mobile app ads, and there's an option to increase or decrease your bid based on if the video ad is shown to someone on a mobile device.

youtube_language_ad_adjustment.png

Advanced Settings

With the advanced settings section, you can set begin and end dates for your campaign, create a custom schedule for when your video ad should be shown, and limit the daily impressions and views for users. This all helps you to get the most return for your ad spend.

Advanced settings on YouTube ads.png

Creating the Video Ad Creative

Name your ad group, and then insert the YouTube link for the video you would like to run the ad for. You will then choose whether you want this to run as an in-stream ad or an in-display ad.

video_ad_creative_youtube.png

For in-display, you'll need to include a title and short description, which is entered on two separate lines. Note: Titles are limited to 25 characters, and the description lines are limited to 35 characters each.

youtube-in-display.png

In-stream ads provide you with the option to overlap a display URL on top of the video. You should use a vanity URL that directs to another final URL to make it more memorable. You can include advanced URL tracking options. In addition, a companion banner made from images from your video will appear on the right side of the video ad.

youtube-in-stream.png

Bidding

You'll then determine the max price you will pay for each view, which you can adjust to increase the number of projected views your video may receive.

bidding_video_ad_adwords.png

Targeting

Finally, you can further define the audience you would like the video to be shown -- options include gender, age, and parental status. You can also target individuals by their interests, such as beauty mavens, cooking enthusiasts, horror movie fans, etc. Try running multiple campaigns to target different groups of users to discover who is most engaged, rather than including everyone you want to target in one campaign.

video-adwords-interests.png

Advanced Targeting

You can also target individuals by keywords, topics, or websites where you would like your video ad to appear. Keyword targeting with in-display ads can be a powerful tool for finding individuals who are looking for a visual answer to a question. Be sure to do your research, and try testing out different groups of keywords to see which leads to more views, clicks, or conversions.

Additionally, you can use AdWords video ads to remarket to people who have been in contact with your brand already. This can help you to re-engage those who are already familiar with your brand.

narrow-targeting.png

Linking Your Account

You should link your AdWords account to the YouTube channel where the video is hosted if you haven't already. You can also click "finish" to begin running your video ad campaign.

adwords-linking-account.png

10 Tips for Optimizing Your AdWords for Video Ads

Launching a video ad campaign is a great step, but there are some things you should set up prior to starting to pay for views to make the most of your budget and to see the highest return for your client.

1. Define your metrics and goals.

When analyzing the results, there are four main categories of metrics you can track for each video. These are located under the "column" drop-down in your campaigns interface.

Views

Under the "views" category, you can better understand what percentage of the ad people viewed and understand how the ad drove earned views or views on your brand's other videos.

views-metrics.png

Audience

This category can be used to track likes and shares for each video ad.

audience-metrics.png

Branding

The view rate should signal if the creative and message are interesting or entertaining enough for people to watch the ad. By increasing your view-through rate (VTR), you will lower your cost per view.

video-branding-metrics.png

Conversions

Conversions will help you better understand if your ad is driving leads and returning a high ROI for your brand.

conversions-metrics.png

Depending on the goals for the brand, you should determine a few goals based on these metrics and formalize a plan for optimizing creative and trying different targeting criteria to improve results. Your goals should also determine the type of content you will feature in the ad -- some metrics are better for branding goals and others will drive leads and conversions.

2. Track low performing placements.

If you're running in-display ads that will appear across the Google Display Network, you can review where the ad has appeared in by navigating to Video Targeting > Placements > Where ads were shown > Display network from your Google AdWords Campaigns dashboard. Review this list to see if any particular sites are contributing to poor performance for your desired metrics. Exclude these sites from your ad campaign moving forward to increase your average CPV.

3. Use a custom thumbnail image.

Design or use a high-quality still image from the video to entice a viewer to click on your video. Remember, this image needs to be legible by users on different devices, including mobile. If your image contains a person, make sure he or she is looking into the camera. If you are featuring a product, make sure the background isn't distracting. 

4. Drive people to buy with cards.

A YouTube card is teased with a small "i" symbol, which the viewer can click to expand. You can time this appearance so only users engaged with the video and content will see the notification.

With cards, you can feature a product related to or featured in the video to drive product purchases. You can also use cards to drive fundraising donations, traffic to a URL, or traffic to other videos as shown in the example below from Refinery29. Each format will allow you to customize the card with text, images, and other options.

refinery29example.png

5. Create calls-to-actions.

When promoting a video on YouTube, you can include call-to-action overlays that link to a URL. You could link to a landing page, product page, information page, career page ... whatever you'd like. You could also send people to a favorable report or interview featuring the brand.

Adobe highlights one of its live videos using a call-to-action overlay:

adobe_youtube_ad_CTA.png

6. Create a YouTube end slate.

Create an end screen to drive subscribers to your channel, promote your social networks, or increase interest in your brand. If someone has watched a video until the end, it's a good sign they enjoy your content and might be interested in subscribing to your channel for future updates. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon's end slate uses this screen to drive subscribers and social media fans while also highlighting other interesting topics its host has featured. Once you build the image, you will be able to annotate the end screen in YouTube's video editor.

yeahboy_endslate.png

7. Use negative remarketing.

If you are running a campaign for a longer period of time and want to only attract new users to a brand, consider creating a list of people who your ad will not be shown to. When viewing your AdWords Campaign screen, select "Shared library" on the lower left sidebar. Then select "Video remarketing" and "+ Remarketing List". You can stretch your campaign budget and target only unique users by selecting to not show your video ad to someone who has previously viewed the specific video, who has visited your YouTube channel, or shared, liked, or commented on any of your videos on your channel.

remarketing-adwords.png

8. Use close captioning to cater to viewer's needs and wants.

This tip applies to all YouTube videos -- but it's a general best practice that's not followed by many brands. Include a quality video transcription you've generated and approved. Only user-uploaded transcriptions are indexed by Google because YouTube's automatic captioning can be less than reliable. Depending on your target audience, you may also want to include transcriptions in various other languages. You can also offer users the option to download or visit a site page with the full transcription in your video description.

9. Qualify viewers.

Sometimes, your ad will be seen by people who have no interest in your product. Encourage them to skip the ad if the content isn't relevant so you don't have to pay for the view and they don't waste their time watching irrelevant advertising.

10. Consider making your ad longer.

When it comes to TrueView ads, if the ad is under 30 seconds, you pay only if a viewer watches until the end. If the ad is longer than 30 seconds, you pay if the viewer watches it for at least 30 seconds. In both cases, you pay if the viewer interacts with your ad before it's over. Consider this when you are coming up with ideas for content for the ad. You may want to put messaging at a certain point so uninterested viewers can skip the ad, or you might provide special offers towards the end of the video.

The Future of Video is Bright

We’ve told you before: Video content is a must-have part of your content strategy. This is even truer now that YouTube lets marketers target users based on their search histories. YouTube advertising is more targeted than ever, and it’s less competitive real estate than the world of Google Search because video content is newer to the content scene and less popular than blog posts.

Stay tuned for more from us about how to make great video ads for YouTube and social media, and where we think YouTube marketing is headed next.



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