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Why Businesses Can’t Ignore Google AMP Stories

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project was launched by Google in February of 2016 with the goal of putting mobile performance above everything else on the web.

And Google definitely met their goal.

AMP powers more than two billion mobile pages and 900,000 different domains. Pages with AMP now load twice as fast as pages without added AMP elements.

If you think you can ignore AMP, you’re wrong. AMP has some pretty awesome features and benefits that can take your content creation efforts to the next level.

If you don’t take the time to understand or use AMP stories, you’re missing out.

Here’s why businesses can’t afford to ignore them.

But first, let’s analyze what AMP stories truly are.

What are AMP Stories?

Google’s AMP stories features allow publishers to create content that is very similar to Instagram stories, designed with mobile websites in mind.

But the content created with AMP doesn’t get added to an app. Instead, it’s placed right in search results pages.

AMP is an open-source project that was created in response to the fact that mobile users now spend more time on apps than in websites.

77% of their time, to be exact, according to Statista data.

mobile users spend most time on top three apps

With AMP, content loads extremely fast, which helps keep mobile users on those pages and off of their apps.

Instead of regular search engine results, users receive a swipeable story that’s easy to navigate. The UX is somewhat similar to the popular dating app, Tinder.

swiping through cnn AMP stories from Google

AMP partners include CNN, Mic, Wired, The Washington Post, Mashable, and People.

AMP partners

Beyond loading at lightning fast speeds, AMP Stories can also be shared in the same way news articles are shared.

Here’s a breakdown of how they work.

How Accelerated Mobile Pages Work

Today, JavaScript can be used on almost any web page to modify any portion of it.

But it also slows the loading and rendering of pages. And since page speed is so important (we’ll talk more about that later), that’s something you want to avoid.

AMP only allows for asynchronous JavaScript to run on pages, meaning that the JavaScript code won’t block any other code present on your site.

asynchronous javascript on AMP

JavaScript written by the webmaster is forbidden on AMP stories, and interactive pages must only contain custom AMP elements.

Custom elements can consist of JavaScript at their core, but they must be specifically designed to make sure that they don’t cause any restrictions on the overall performance of a page.

Third-party JavaScript is also allowed with AMP, but it cannot block page rendering.

AMP also does not allow for any kind of extension mechanisms to block page rendering, but it can be used for Instagram embeds, tweets, or lightboxes.

Because of this, users can swipe through mobile-optimized content on AMP pages without all of the unnecessary distractions.

AMP vs non-AMP story

As you can already tell, there are a lot of reasons why AMP stories are growing fast.

Why Should You Use AMP Stories?

Some of your competition is probably consistently using AMP.

If you aren’t, you might as well be accepting defeat.

On the other hand, if you start using AMP protocols before your competitors, you’ll differentiate yourself as a frontrunner in your industry.

Why? Because AMP features can help you tell stories, and storytelling is powerful.

Storytelling is Powerful

Everyone loves a good story.

At least 100,500 digital words are consumed by the average U.S. citizen in one day, while 92% of consumers want to view and read ads that feel like stories.

amount of words americans consume

There is some evidence out there that suggests that people view AMP stories much longer than they view traditional alternatives.

This could be because faster loading times make it easier to view more content for a longer period of time.

AMP lets you tell stories in a powerful, fast, unique way. And when you tell a good story well, you’ll be able to reach your audience effectively.

Speak to your readers’ needs, give each piece an interesting arc, and don’t forget to add in all of the hard data needed to prove your point.

Page speed plays a huge role in AMPs success, too.

Page Speed is Important

Site speed is important. Pages that take a long time to load can kill your conversions. If your site takes a while to load, you’ll rack up less and less conversions.

conversion rates and load time

Luckily, AMP pages load about twice as fast as regular mobile pages.

AMP pages load faster

With such quick loading times, customers will be able to get to your content faster than ever before.

This is great news, since the probability of a bounce increases by 32% if a mobile page takes as long as three seconds to load.

If it takes five seconds, the probability of a bounce increases by 90%.

Because of the quick loading times provided by AMP, users will be more likely to go ahead and buy from you.

When they know they can interact with your brand without any friction or wait time, they’ll be willing to trust you with their money.

To make the case for AMP even stronger, Google tends to give faster loading mobile pages special treatment and better rankings.

Take advantage of the creative design features offered by AMP to keep viewers engaged and intrigued.

Take Advantage of Creative Design

In case you didn’t already know, design is important. And AMP pages let you add in creative elements that take your content to the next level.

Don’t be afraid to add forms, buttons, videos, images, shopping options, or links to your AMP stories.

Your site will look much more sleek and functional, giving you tons of opportunities to attract, engage, and hold your viewers’ attention.

AMP on google and the layout of AMP

AMP can give your site the SEO boost it needs.

AMP Helps SEO

AMPs give your site a huge visibility boost.

As of right now, a page with AMP protocols won’t increase your site’s page authority or domain authority.

That being said, it does give the page a chance to be featured in the AMP carousel that appears above traditional Google search results.

AMP carousel

This means that if your site shows up in the carousel, it will appear before the number one placement.

It doesn’t get any better than placing before the number one spot, does it?

This can give you the big boost in organic search results that you need, bringing more traffic to your site than ever before.

Next, let’s break down all of the moving parts that make AMPs so great.

Introducing the AMP Story Features

Traditional AMP content relies solely on text, but the new and improved format includes videos, animation, and images to give users a full experience.

For publishers, you can:

  • Embed your stories across apps and websites
  • Access stories via both desktop and mobile
  • Tell stories without needing to have a ton of technical knowledge

The best part? AMPs are free for everyone to try.

Let’s examine all of the parts involved in completing an AMP story.

Parts of an AMP story

Before you can create your first AMP story, you have to master all of its components.

Every story is structured with individual pages. Each page consists of individual layers that are made up of a combination of HTML code and AMP elements.

Here’s how the components will look when added to your code:

Story = amp-story
Page = amp-story-page
Layers = amp-story-grid-layer

When added to a page, the code might look something like this:

AMP story code

The story component contains your entire AMP story, while the page component contains each specific page that exists within your story.

The layers component contains all of the elements that are present on a page.

Here are some examples of a few AMP stories.

Examples of Google AMP Stories

It’s no secret that Google will link to AMP versions of web pages over traditional ones any time that they’re available because Google prefers them.

Because of this, every AMP partner has used the feature of the service to suit their strengths.

The most commonly known AMP adapters were news organizations since they could use AMPs to get information out quickly and effectively to searchers.

Here are examples of how CNN has utilized AMP stories to share and amplify breaking news:

CNN AMP stories

Some publishers have even written AMP stories over the exact same kinds of content (with the same cover photo):

same content on AMP

But AMPs aren’t just for news sites. You can turn your long-form content into an AMP if you want to. And you should.

What are people saying about AMP, overall?

What People Are Saying About It

AMP Product Manager Rudy Galfi recently told AdWeek that AMP stories “should make for a really engaging ad format.”

But what does everyone else seem to think about publishing content with AMP?

Econsultancy writer Stuart Shaw says that while AMP pages require some maintenance, the payoff and exposure that they provide is well worth it.

In an April 2018 post, he wrote:

“Sure, all you’ve done is improve things for your mobile users – and only on the few scant pages that you’ve implemented AMP on…But optimization isn’t about making things perfect in an instant It’s a gradual process that must adapt to the ever-changing ‘techscape’ that is search.”

In general, reactions to AMP on sites like Twitter are fairly positive. Some people are calling AMP one of the most important trends of 2018.

AMP trend to watch 2018

Others really love the recent changes and updates to AMP, like Gumpo, who says “We love this as a way of delivering interactive content with rich visuals.”

Gump Web Marketing AMP tweet

In September of 2017, SEO company Optimising had this to say about AMPs on Facebook:

optimising facebook post about AMP

“We love Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) here at Optimising.”

The experts at Search Engine Journal have some awesome tips on how implementing AMP for eCommerce sites can help improve users’ experience and boost conversions.”

Overall, it looks like AMP is here to stay.

Here’s how you can get started creating your own AMP stories.

How to Get Started With Google AMP Stories

Now that you know what AMP stories are, how they work, why you should use them, and what people are saying about them, you can get down to business creating your own.

To get started, download the code.

1. Download the code

In order for Google to pick up on the AMP version of your articles, you have to modify the code of the article page.

The original article must have the following tag, which is an AMP canonical tag:

<link rel=”amphtml” href=”http://www.example.com/blog-post/amp/”>

If you want all of the AMP code you need all from one page, click over to the amp-wp GitHub page and select the “Download ZIP” button.

download AMP

Then, install this code on your WordPress site just like any WordPress plugin.

Alternatively, you can also download the following code from AMP directly and save it to a file with a .html extension.

AMP code

Once your code is downloaded and added, you can run the sample page.

2. Run the sample page

In order to test out your sample page, you’ll need to access your files from a server.

There are a few ways you can create a temporary local web server to help you test it:

AMP recommends that you use HTTPS, here, for added security.

After you set up a local web server, you can access your sample article by heading to this URL:
http://localhost:8000/article.html.

If everything looks good, go ahead and create the cover page.

3. Create the cover page

Your cover page is represented with the tag.

You can have more than one components within a story, which contain each of the individual screens for that story.

But the first page that you specify will act as the cover page.

To create a cover page, assign a unique ID for your cover to the first page:

<amp-story standalone>
<amp-story-page id=”cover”>
</amp-story-page>
</amp-story>

That code acts as a shell for your cover page. But you need to specify at least one layer to make it valid.

layers on AMP

Layers in AMP work similarly to layers in graphics: they consist of different elements stacked on top of one another.

In the example above, layer one contains the image that serves as the cover photo, while layer two contains the title and byline of the story.

To create layer one, add the <amp-story-grid-layer> element to <amp-story-page>.

If you want the image to fill the screen, add the template=”fill” attribute to the amp-story-grid-layer tag.

Inside the layer, add the <amp-image> element for a cover.jpg file and make sure it’s responsive by adding the tag layout=”responsive”.

Here’s what the code for the first layer should look like when it’s all said and done:

layer code for AMP

Check how the page displays before moving on.

To add a second layer, use the “vertical template” instead of the “fill template” found here.

AMP vertical template

Once your cover page is complete, you can add more pages.

4. Add more pages

Adding more pages is similar to adding your sample page and cover page.

The code you use will depend on the template you choose.

To add text to a layer with the vertical template, add something similar to the following elements:

  • An <h1> element containing the title
  • A responsive amp-img
  • A <q> element that contains all of your text

Your new page should come out looking something like this:

cats AMP page

You can also add animating elements to enhance your story.

5. Add animating elements

If you want to take your story to the next level, you can make your title drop into a page, fade in, twirl in, and so on.

The AMP framework currently includes the following preset animating elements:

AMP animating elements

If you want to add an animation to an element, add animate-in=”animationpresetcodehere”.

For example, to use the pulse animation, your code might look like this:

<amp-story-page id=”page3″>

<amp-story-grid-layer template=”vertical”>
<p animate-in=”pulse”>Pulse this text into the page </p>
</amp-story-page>

Once you’ve added animating elements, you’re ready to create the bookend.

6. Create the bookend

The “bookend” is the last screen that wraps up your story.

You can use it to add related links or social sharing links, too.

In your amp-story elements, add the bookend-config-src attribute. Then, point it toward the bookend.json file.

<amp-story standalone
bookend-config-src=”bookend.json”>

</amp-story>

Your bookend should look something like this when you’re finished:

AMP bookend

Finally, you’re ready to validate your AMP HTML.

7. Validate your AMP HTML

There are a number of ways to validate your AMP pages.

For example, you can use the Chrome DevTools console:

  1. Open your page in a browser
  2. Add “#development=1” to your URL
  3. Open the Chrome DevTools console and check for any validation errors

validation errors in google chrome inspector

You can also use the AMP Validator browser extension.

AMP validator browser extension

Both tools will show you any issues with your AMP code and describe ways to repair them.

Here are three quick tips to keep in mind when creating AMP stories.

3 Quick Tips

To make a great AMP story, you’ll need to add videos, text, pictures, or all of the above.

Here are some quick and easy ways to save yourself some time in the process.

For videos

It’s not uncommon to add a click-to-play overlay on videos across the web. You can use it to add a custom play icon that matches your page’s style along with the title of your video.

video overlay on AMP

AMP stories don’t come with this feature automatically added.

However, you can easily add it with a tag like:

<div id=”myOverlay”
class=”click-to-play-overlay”>

For text, you may want to manage the size or fit to make certain text fit within a specified area.

For text

The amp-fit-text component lets you manage the size or fit of text within a specified area, which is perfect if you don’t want to play around with font sizes all day.

The component finds the best font size to fit content in the available space automatically, so you don’t have to.

best font size fit to scale

Some HTML image tags can become problematic when it comes to AMP.

For pictures

Most HTML tags can be added directly in AMP HTML.

That being said, some tags (like the <img> tag) are sometimes replaced with enhanced AMP HTML tags. A few problematic HTML tags are banned completely.

Instead of the <img> tag, be sure to use <amp-img>, which has an end tag.

You can view the full list of AMP tag conversions here.

HTML img tags for AMP

Conclusion

AMP was created by Google to put mobile first in search engine results pages and across the web.

AMP stories are similar to Instagram stories, and tons of well-known companies are dominating the Internet with them. If you think you can ignore them, you’re wrong.

Billions of mobile pages are powered by AMPs. Those pages load twice as fast as before because JavaScript code isn’t allowed to slow them down.

There are plenty of reasons to use AMP stories. They can help improve your storytelling efforts, boost page speeds, improve your site’s creative design, and help SEO efforts.

There are three parts to an AMP story: the story, the page(s), and the layer(s).

Huge media sites like CNN are using AMPs to share breaking news, while other sites are using them to share their long-form or video content.

And the reactions to AMP are positive overall. Most people are calling it the next big thing of 2018. Publishers love it.

To get started creating AMP stories, download the code, run a sample page, create your cover page, add more pages and animating elements, create the bookend, and validate your HTML.

If any issues are uncovered when you validate your AMP code, fix them immediately.

To save some time, there are a few quick tips and tricks you can use when adding videos, text, and pictures to your stories.

Add a custom click-to-play overlay for videos, use the amp-fit-text component to automatically size your text, and never try to use <img> tags. Instead, use <amp-img>.

Now, go forward and put mobile users first on your site, too.

Which piece of content are you going to turn into an AMP story first?

The post Why Businesses Can’t Ignore Google AMP Stories appeared first on Neil Patel.


Blog – Neil Patel

Facebook F8: The New, The Wild, The Crazy

Just incase you missed Facebook’s F8 conference last week, here is everything you need to know in a quick video wrap from TechCrunch. It wasn’t just any old F8, this year Zuckerberg stepped way outside of the norm for F8 and into a whole new world of wild… weird? but awesome. From Brain-Computer interfaces, technology […]


Digital Buzz Blog

Instagram Stories now lets its 400M users add soundtracks

The right music can make a boring photo or video epic, so Instagram is equipping users with a way to add popular songs to their Stories. TechCrunch had the scoop on the music feature’s prototype in early May, and now it’s launching to iOS and Android users in 6 countries including, the U.S. Thanks to Facebook’s recent deals with record labels, users will be able to choose from thousands of songs from artists including Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris and Guns N’ Roses. The launch could make Instagram Stories more fun to post and watch in a way that copyrights won’t allow on Snapchat, while giving the app a way to compete with tween favorite Musical.ly.

And just a week after revealing its app has 1 billion monthly users, the company also announced today that Instagram Stories has 400 million daily users, up from 300 million in November and 250 million a year ago. That means Instagram Stories is growing about six times faster than Snapchat’s whole app, which only added 13 million daily users over the six months of Q4 2017 and Q1 2018 to reach 191 million.

Snapchat’s growth rate fell to its slowest pace ever last quarter amidst a despised redesign, while Instagram Stories has steadily added unique and popular features like Highlights, Superzoom and resharing of public feed posts. Instagram said last September that it had 500 million total daily users, so it’s likely that a majority of community is now hooked on the Stories format Snapchat invented.

Instagram Stories music

“Now you can add a soundtrack to your story that fits any moment and helps you express how you’re feeling,” Instagram writes. To access the new music feature, users will be able to choose a special song sticker after they shoot a photo or video. They can search for a specific song or artist, or browse by mood, genre or what’s popular. Once they select a song, they can pick the specific snippet they want to have accompany their content. Alternatively, iOS users can switch to the Music shutter mode in the Stories camera to pick a song before they capture a photo or video so they can sync up their actions to the music. That will come to Android eventually, and the whole feature will roll out to more countries soon following today’s launch in Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Sweden, the UK and the U.S. [Correction: The feature is launch in version 51 of Instagram, not in 51 countries.]

When friends watch a music-equipped Story, the song will post automatically. They’ll also be able to tap on the sticker to see artist and song title info, but for now these stickers won’t link out to a musician’s Instagram page or their presence on streaming services — though that would certainly be helpful. I also suggest that Instagram should create deeplinks that artists can share with their fans that automatically opens the Stories camera with that song’s sticker added.

It’s easy to imagine users lip syncing to their favorite jams, adding clashing background music for comedic effect or earnestly trying to compose something emotionally powerful. Suddenly people ‘Gramming from home will be a new way to entertain themselves and their pals.

Instagram tells me that musicians and rights holders will be compensated for the use of their songs, but wouldn’t specify how those payments would work. Facebook secured deals with all the major record labels and many independents to pave the way for this feature. Facebook has since announced that users can also add copyrighted music soundtracks to videos on their own before uploading and they wouldn’t be taken down like before. It’s also started testing a Lip Sync Live feature with a collection of chart-topping hits.

The big question will be whether the “thousands” of songs available through today’s launch will cover what most users want to hear, otherwise they might just be disappointed. With a few enhancements and a widened catalog, Instagram Music could become a powerful way for artists to go viral. All those shaky phone camera clips are going to start looking more like indie music videos you’ll watch til the end.


Social – TechCrunch

Why Problem Solving Should Be The Only Value Proposition You Use

There’s more than one reason why people love brands like P&G, Warby Parker, and Apple.

But, can you guess what these three brands have in common?

They all solve consumer problems.

P&G invented a better way to mop with the Swiffer.

Warby Parker created affordable, stylish glasses.

Steve Jobs of Apple introduced the iPhone as a “smarter mobile device.”

These brands manufactured their own value propositions by solving problems. They are creative problem solvers.

In the spirit of these creative problem solvers, I’m going to analyze the concept of designing a value proposition by thinking outside the box with problem-solving.

But before we dig in, we first need to understand how we got to this point.

We used to live in a world where “marketing strategies” boiled down to bombarding audiences with messages about how your product was the best.

If that seems a bit simplistic to you, that’s because it was.

And that begs an obvious question: Did it actually work?

It absolutely did.

Why did it work? Well, it was largely because of the media channels that dominated consumer attention.

Television and radio promotion had a massive impact on the effectiveness of a brand’s marketing efforts. Television advertising alone accounted for 2% of the US GDP beyond 1950.

And if I had to point to one thing that made these kinds of marketing strategies so successful, it would be the culture of the traditional consumer.

Passive media channels were a staple of that culture. Television and radio were constantly interrupting the user experience to throw in some ads.

With no other options available, the traditional consumer got used to the idea of repetitive ads being a part of daily life.

But all of that changed once the Internet started gaining traction.

Embrace the nature of digital media

The marketing rules of engagement changed suddenly and completely.

The experience went from passive to interactive. The average person gained the ability to pick and choose what marketing content they consumed with a simple little search engine:

google homepage 2018

This transition would end up determining the future of digital marketing strategies and fundamentally changing the way businesses communicate with consumers.

And it’s not that surprising when you stop and think about it.

In a world where ads were the status quo, consumers didn’t have much of a choice.

But the moment consumers became aware of a life without ads was the moment traditional marketing began its quiet death.

It’s how we ended up here today with 615 million devices that use adblock and 59% of millennials skipping ads on YouTube.

estimated youtube ad revenue

With their 92 million consumers, Spotify has a large usership that doesn’t even mind paying extra for ad-free streaming services.

spotify monthly active users

Of course, all of this speaks to a bigger issue.

To put it bluntly, the modern consumer plays by a different set of rules.

They reject the idea that a jingle or a self-promotional TV spot should be enough to earn their business.

If you want their attention, you’ll need to give them something that traditional marketing strategies can’t: real value.

Real value is about problem-solving

At this point, some small business owners might say, “Isn’t my product/service value enough?”

Well, the answer is yes and no.

Real value isn’t about how often you self-promote. It’s about problem-solving.

Having a valuable product or service is important, and it always will be. There’s no doubt about that.

Buffer didn’t become Buffer just because they had a nice interface. They built a brand around offering a social media solution for consumers looking for an easier way to share content.

buffer value proposition

There’s a reason Buffer has 82,156 paying customers. They have a 19-person advocacy team that helps their customer solve problems.

In this highly competitive, ever-changing digital media landscape, you need to stand out before and after the sale.

One of the easiest ways to convey the problem you are solving is with content marketing.

content marketing costs less

Particularly on social media, content is the key to developing a relationship with consumers.

Audiences are in constant need of new content that’s worth their time.

And when you’re trying to solve problems with your content, there’s one approach that just about every small business can get behind:

Educational content.

It’s the cornerstone of most successful brand blogs, and that’s for good reasons.

Sites like NerdWallet pride themselves on their ability to provide users with this kind of content.

NerdWallet ranks for more than 1.3 million keywords in the personal finance advice industry.

nerd wallet credit card keyword

Here’s what NerdWallet’s VP of Content, Maggie Leung, explained during an interview:

“At NerdWallet we see content people as an investment.”

But getting here isn’t easy.

To begin content ideation to achieve NerdWallet-status, you have to understand your audience.

And, to better understand your audience, you’ll need to use tools and strategies to help generate content ideas.

Your content isn’t just convenient. It’s the backbone of online authority, and it gives you the opportunity to connect with consumers.

And that leads us to the most important reason to focus on educational content:

It effectively sells the brand without selling a product.

Think about the American Express OPEN forum.

american express open forum in 2018

Here’s what Courtney Colwell, Director of Content Marketing at American Express OPEN Forum, told Entrepreneur about the forum:

“It all stems from our mission of helping these businesses do more business. With our small business customers, their growth fuels ours. It’s a win-win if we can help them succeed.”

They have 109.9 million cards in circulation and a valuation of around $ 18.3 billion. They don’t need to worry about selling their brand. This forum does it for them.

Or, take Irene Pavico, a videographer and post-production professional, for example.

Irene created a course called THE iPhone Film School to help people get started with video marketing that only uses an iPhone.

the iphone film school

She explains that those who are just starting out with making videos may not want to invest in an expensive camera. So, she wants to show you how to start off with the technology that everyone has: an iPhone.

Irene’s approach shows that she understands her audience. She breaks down pain points they have when getting started with video marketing and then solves them.

As far as educational content goes, there are typically two categories that you can focus on.

The most common one that businesses tend to tackle is the tangible solutions category.

Tangible solutions are all about the here and now.

No matter what industry your business is in, your audience likely has plenty of issues and questions that they need help with.

That’s why consumers are 131% more likely to buy from a brand after they consume educational content.

content vs control

It may not be glamorous, but consumers need and appreciate actionable advice that helps them deal with these immediate problems.

Bux implemented a knowledge base, and it helped them improve their first call resolution by 18%.

bux support centre

It’s easy to follow, it doesn’t ask for anything from the reader, and it’s objectively valuable.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

While actionable, tangible solutions are important, there’s more to value-driven content than the immediate future.

Can you focus on solving specific problems for your audience? You absolutely can.

Is that all your content can do for them? It certainly isn’t.

The flip side of the coin is thought leadership.

If tangible solutions are all about the short-term, then thought leadership is all about the long-term.

This is the kind of content that you’ll see industry leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk post:

gary vee i choose optimism

Gary is a thought leader that connects with his fans to inspire loyalty. He’s worth more than $ 160 million, and he employs more than 700 people.

When you’re creating thought leadership content, you’re not just looking to solve someone’s problem today. You’re looking to address the source of that problem altogether.

Just take a look at how brands are becoming thought leaders by addressing changes.

SEMrush does a weekly chat on Twitter where they talk about the latest SEO trends.

semrush tweet

Or, consider Content Marketing Institute’s webinars.

content marketing webinars

With thought leadership, you layer educational content with a breakdown of marketing principles that small business owners should be adopting.

And don’t think that this is exclusive to digital media. Any business can benefit from thought leadership.

According to CEO Omar Sayyed, the tie company Ties.com saw a 30% growth in revenue over the last five years by earning trust with digital content.

Here is an example of one of their top-performing pieces of content on how to tie a tie.

how to tie a tie

Thought leadership doesn’t just pay attention to symptoms. It identifies the illness and helps your audience cure itself.

As you can probably imagine, this is the most difficult kind of content to create. It requires a strong understanding of industry-wide issues and, more importantly, how to solve them. But if you do it well, the results will be well worth the effort.

Of course, there’s more to problem-solving than just crafting blog posts.

You could create e-books and give them away in exchange for email newsletter sign-ups like Mike Gingerich does.

Or, you can build brand authority through your email list with help from your blog at the same time. After all, email marketing has a median ROI of 122%, which puts other marketing formats to shame.

Or, you can treat social media like an extension of customer support by focusing on one-to-one interactions and addressing customer issues directly.

KLM, Europe’s airline industry leader, used Facebook Messenger to increase customer interactions by 40%.

At the end of the day, your marketing strategy exists for one reason:

To convince people that they should do business with you.

And if you want to showcase just how valuable you are, you have to solve consumer problems more efficiently and more consistently than your competition.

Focus on understanding your audience

At this point, it’s pretty clear that treating marketing as an opportunity for problem-solving appeals to the needs of the modern consumer.

So far, I’ve only covered what that looks like in a general sense.

If you really want to get your hands dirty, you need to see what it looks like in action.

That’s why I’m going to take a look at three brands that have managed to create compelling, valuable marketing content.

More specifically, I’m going to analyze how their particular audiences dictated their marketing strategies.

Why? Because understanding your audience’s needs guarantees that your marketing content will be meaningful, impactful, and valuable to them.

Here’s how Seth Godin puts it:

“Trying to appeal to everyone is almost sure to fail, for the simple reason that everyone wants something different!”

So, how do you do this? My advice is to start by creating buyer personas.

You’ve probably already created them for your product or service. Now’s your chance to expand on them.

If you haven’t updated your buyer personas in a long time, you can use this template from Xtensio:

user persona template

Overall, there’s a pretty clear correlation between your attention to customers and the success of your business.

In fact, one study found that 65% of businesses that exceeded their lead and revenue goals had updated their buyer personas within the previous six months.

The more information you have, the more you’ll be in tune with the problems of your customers. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

What social media platforms do they like to engage with you on?

Who are the industry influencers that they actively pay attention to?

What problem does everyone in your audience struggle with on a regular basis?

General digital media marketing principles are important, but they aren’t worth much if you can’t apply them to your unique marketing situation.

Businesses that have used problem-solving effectively

In this next section, we’re going to look at some marketing strategies from successful businesses. But as we do so, keep in mind that the goal isn’t just to copy them.

Instead, use them as a reference point for your particular marketing strategy.

No matter what tactics you choose, your content still needs to appeal specifically to your audience and provide them with value at every opportunity.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some businesses that have found success with problem-solving.

Mint

If you’re not familiar with Mint, here’s what their elevator pitch might sound like:

Struggling to keep your finances in order? Use our service to stay organized, get back on track, or start saving up enough cash to buy a house.

mint homepage 2018

After the company started, it grew rapidly. They managed to acquire 1.5 million users in their first two years.

But marketing a service like this is actually a bit tricky.

After all, who couldn’t use more help keeping their finances in order? How do you make a marketing strategy that targets most of the population?

Mint came up with a solution: Market to their two types of users.

The first group is already relatively financial literate. They’re looking to build wealth.

The second group is trying to budget as efficiently as possible. They’re more interested in keeping their bank account in the green than anything else.

How can I tell that these are their two types of users?

Taking one look at their official blog tells me everything I need to know.

mint blog

These blog posts target the extremes of their buyer personas, and Mint appeals to both equally.

With most of their audience likely falling somewhere between those two extremes, it’s fair to say that Mint managed to effectively cover their bases without diluting their message.

As for the content itself, it focuses on tangible, actionable advice.

And that makes perfect sense when you consider the audience they’re speaking to. People looking for concrete financial advice won’t appreciate vague tips.

Someone who’s struggling to manage their finances wants a roadmap to get back on track, not a study on the growth of a Fortune 500 company:

mint life blog post

Mint’s content is a mix of blog posts, interviews, and infographics that target younger audiences who are beginning to manage their money.

Largely because of their blog posts, their SEO strategy drove 20% of their total site traffic.

Mint drives thousands of visitors from their budgeting templates and budgeting spreadsheets alone.

mint keyword traffic

So, what’s the lesson?

You shouldn’t just make your content relevant to your audience’s problems in general. To make it as effective as possible, you have to be sensitive to their particular situation.

Slack

slack homepage in late 2017

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the tech startup scene, you’ve probably heard people raving about Slack.

And it’s worth all the hype it’s receiving.

When you need a messaging app that prioritizes productivity and ease of use, it’s hard to find anything better (especially if you’re working with a remote team).

This is why they’re worth about $ 5.1 billion.

With all the tools and integrations they offer, it’s easy to see why their taglines are “be less busy” and “where work happens.”

In fact, instead of focusing on content marketing, Slack aims to rank for keywords related to their integrations.

slack integrations keywords

With that in mind, you can already start to see what the Slack audience looks like.

You can picture a startup C-level executive looking for a credible solution to her workplace productivity issues.

Slack’s onboarding process is really where the magic happens. Slack has a deep insight into what their audience needs and they create a unique approach to onboarding.

slack onboarding

Right off the bat, you’ll see content that they’ve designed to improve overall workplace efficiency.

Slack even has articles for advice on naming channels and email templates for introducing Slack.

moving to Slack

Beyond that, Slack also opts to provide value with updates about their own product.

get the slack app email onboarding

And, admin users can opt-in for weekly summaries of activities.

slack weekly summary

They also offer instant notifications.

slack unread message sent email

Slack also keeps a blog with product updates, integration announcements, and tips for improving productivity.

The design their blog posts to ensure that the audience can use Slack to the best of their ability.

slack blog post

For them, it’s not about selling the product as much as it is about improving the user experience.

So, what’s the moral of the story?

Support consumers whether or not they’ve spent their hard-earned money on you. Always provide solutions to their problems as they develop.

Dollar Shave Club

At this point, you’re probably tired of hearing about how impressive the marketing strategies of Dollar Shave Club are.

dollar shave club homepage 2018

But acquiring 12,000 customers in their first two days is a little too impressive to ignore.

There are plenty of digital media marketing experts who are fascinated with this brand, and I’m one of them.

Why? Well, mostly because it’s a success story that proves that sound marketing tactics, regardless of the audience in question, can help your business excel.

To put it simply, Dollar Shave Club excels in their ability to create a unique consumer experience in an industry that desperately needs it.

And their audience, which is primarily men looking for a stylish, playful, and witty brand, can benefit from the content on the Dollar Shave Club blog.

dollar shave club blog

The articles have clear, eye-catching headlines, and they’re full of value — all while maintaining that unique DSC brand voice.

They even send personalized emails based on previous purchase history.

dollar shave club personalized emails

If you take nothing else from Dollar Shave Club’s example, remember that your ability to create compelling customer experiences is just as important as the advice you give in your content.

It’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it.

Conclusion

I get it.

Digital media marketing can be a bit overwhelming.

But there’s no getting around the fact that you need to stand out in your industry if you want your business to stay competitive.

The age of traditional marketing is over. Don’t waste time trying to plug holes in the Titanic.

Whether you’re new to the game or you’re trying to rebuild your marketing strategy, focus on the big picture: problem-solving.

Value drives sales. And if you want to increase sales, you’re going to have to find new and exciting ways to offer consumers more value.

With your blog content, be sure to address the problems of today as well as underlying issues that will lead to problems in the future. This will help you stay relevant while also establishing yourself as a thought leader.

In order to solve the problems of your audience, you need to understand your audience. You need to determine exactly who they are so that you can address the specific problems that they have.

And as you think through your strategy for solving the problems of your users, look to innovative brands for ideas. Just be sure to make each strategy your own and adapt them to your audience.

How have you focused on problem-solving in your marketing strategy?

The post Why Problem Solving Should Be The Only Value Proposition You Use appeared first on Neil Patel.


Blog – Neil Patel

Twitter gets a re-org and new product head

Twitter has a new product manager in the wake of a large re-org of the company announced this week. The changes will see Twitter dividing its business into groups including engineering, product, revenue product, design and research, and more, while also bringing on Kayvon Beykpour, the GM of video and former Periscope CEO, as product head.

Beykpour will replace Ed Ho, vice president of product and engineering, as Ho steps down into a part-time role. In a series of tweets, Ho explains his decision was based on a family loss, and says he hopes to return full-time in the future. He had been on leave from Twitter since May.

As Recode noted, these change will make Beykpour the sixth exec to head up product since early 2014.

Meanwhile, Ho’s other role — head of engineering — will now be overseen by Mike Montano, who is stepping up from product engineering.

Twitter CEO’s announcement of the changes, below, was tweeted out on Thursday:


Social – TechCrunch