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alex c

Total posts: 4
Last post: June 15, 2018

3 Recent Resources for Better Content

3 Recent Resources for Better Content

By alex c on  June 15, 2018

Keeping track of the best resources can be tough, that's why we like to feature blogs, infographics, podcasts, etc. we find interesting so you don't have to go digging.

This month we are featuring three articles focused on improving your website content, making the most of your social accounts, and deciding if asking your users to pay for content is the right move.

13 content questions to kick-off your website project by Robert Mills

What we liked: Every website project should take a content-first approach, this article broke down the important questions to ask yourself before a redesign gets started. It highlights what you should think about and notes when not knowing the answers to these questions may become an issue.

Favorite quote: "...[this] will help you gauge the project team’s awareness, emphasis, and appreciation of the content strategy elements that will make or break a website project and the longer term success of the site."

Incorporating the value: Having a starting place to begin thinking about content strategy is great! That's why this article is a great tool for people who may feel over whelmed when thinking about the large amounts of work that comes with content. It breaks things down on the manageable chunks and important questions.

Infographic: What Are the Best Days and Times to Post on Social Media? by Joe Lazauskas & CoSchedule

What we liked: Knowing when to post to social can be a difficult game of trial and error. This infographic not only provides the best times to post for each social network, but it also provides helpful tips and tricks to help social posts preform the best.

Favorite Quote: "While LinkedIn is more professional, the best times to post are still before and after work"

Incorporating the value: When thinking about social media you want to make sure you are posting at the appropriate times for maximum engagement. Using an infographic like this gives a starting place, taking some of the guess work out of the process and allowing you to see results faster.

The Big Question: Paying for Content by Mike Connell

What we liked: Paying for content has been a question in our industry for a while. Is it worth having content that people pay for? Will they actually pay for it when there are so many "free" content options? This article does a fantastic job of tackling those questions.

Favorite Quote: "I pay for Medium because I have been extremely satisfied with the amount of user engagement and camaraderie that it generates. And that’s the real value of great content—it starts conversations." Chad Zollinger:

Incorporating the value: Offering paid content can open many doors, like the opportunity for your users to engage with you and other users. It can be a great way to help show the value of your content to your users, since paid content is often higher value than free.

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Interested in working with us on your next content related project? Contact us to learn more about how we can help!

Slowing Down In the Fast World of Content

Slowing Down In the Fast World of Content

By alex c on  April 24, 2017

I'm Seeing Orange!

New friends! World class speakers! All the orange food you can imagine! Content Marketing World 2016 was a whirlwind of excitement. But as the excitement winds down and I begin writing my first blog post, I keep circling back to one theme: slowing down.

Many marketers ignore slowing down, favoring instead to put out as much content as possible as fast as they can. But as a content strategist, slowing down spoke to me. Slowing down to focus on the point and purpose (the strategy) of the content is important. When helping clients evaluate their content and constructing a plan to move forward, it's important to make sure the focus is on the one person that matters: the user.

 

Slowing Down with Content Strategy

Attending Kristina Halverson's session, Content Strategy: Clarity, Constraints, and Common Sense gave me a glimpse into the benefits of slowing down. She spoke about the need to ask three questions when thinking about content:

Image of content strategy questions: why? for whom? what next?

Halverson proposed a definition of content strategy that accounts for working through these questions:

Image of slide description of content strategy

This spoke to my young content strategist heart. Too often we get caught up in churning out content for results. But someone needs to be responsible for "grounding" this process. Because who is going to give the results we are looking for? Who is going to buy a product or contact a sales person? Users. This is why content needs to take the time to be focused on quality, not quantity. She also talked how content strategy is important to the content marketing process as a whole, these areas working together is what defines content strategy:

kristina halverson this is content strategy

Working through these questions with a content strategist can help to take a pause and slow things down. This allows for the creation and marketing of content that will be beneficial to the user throughout this process.

The "Good Slow" of Content Marketing

Ann Handley also dove into the "good slow" of content marketing in her keynote. Admitting that while there can be a "bad slow" in marketing, the case for a "good slow" can be made over and over again. She had three questions content marketers and creators need to ask themselves:

  1. So What? Why does the reader care?
  2. Wait What? This is an important strategic question; it helps to align to the why before the how or the what.
  3. Does this sustain us? Are you proud of what is being created? Identify these key moments to slow down to help sustain the company and stand out.

An understanding of all of these before creating and marketing content gives the process perspective. In a quote from an article Handley wrote following CM world she hammered the point home:

"...we need to go deep into purpose and identity if we're going to ground our marketing and content strategy in something substantive—so that our programs can find a place within the context of what our customers care about."

Content marketing shouldn't be about who can get "innovative" content out the fastest, it should be about improving content, about using content to help guide users to an end goal, surprising and delighting them as they go. As Handley points out, slow marketing leads to rapid results.

ann handley slow marketing

So What? What Next?

As a content strategist, these are all points I need to consider. Many clients feel they need to scrap everything and start creating at a rapid pace, adding a lot of marketing channels along the way. Content may need improvement and there may be a need for more marketing, but we still need to take a step back and evaluate how those things will help with the overall user goals.

kristina halverson content strategy

Content Marketing World set the tone for 2017, from speakers to keynotes, to twitter chats everyone wanted to talk about slow marketing. So as you begin to think about your 2017 marketing plan and you feel like it's time to slow down give us a shout, we would be happy to make a plan with you.

Content Planning Challenges for a Website

By alex c on  April 24, 2017

Before you start thinking about a website redesign, you need to think about content.

We advocate for a "content-first" approach when it comes to redesigns. This means that we plan for content before the process of designing and building the new website begins. Content is your brand, it represents who you are as a company. Often it is the first interaction a user will have with you, so it's important to get it right. But it can be a challenge, we have often seen clients want to complete the content process themselves without really knowing what goes into it.

We outline some common issues we encounter with the content process to help you understand the importance of taking a content-first approach.

What are Top Challenges with a Content-First Approach?

1) Content Planning

It takes time to know who will be writing, editing, and migrating over content to your new website. Usually, this will be in addition to the responsibilities of someone's current job. Keep in mind how all of the moving parts of the content process will affect someones day to day work. Some things to think about:

  • Who will be writing/editing content for the site? Will they have time to do this?
  • Who will be maintaining deadlines? Tip: It should someone other than the person writing content so that they are kept accountable.
  • Who will be editing the content?
  • Who will give the final "OK"?
  • Who will add the content to the site?

2) Waiting to write content

You may be thinking, sure content is important but what we really care about is the design, we'll work on content after we see what the website looks like. There are some issues with this approach:

  • A nice looking site is not enough for your users, you need to have the right content so they can use your site effectively.
  • Without good content, successful content marketing will be hard to achieve. Marketing efforts to bring users to the new site will fall short when the content does not stand up.
  • The content will not get done. Saying you will get around to writing new content on top of the work that needs to be done on a daily basis is very difficult.

3) Using old content

There is probably content on your current website that can be used on the new site, but before just moving all of the old content over, there are some things to consider:

  • Content audit. Do you know what content you have and what kind of shape it is in? Before moving content over blindly it needs to be reviewed to see if it matches the tone, voice, and needs of your users. Anything that is outdated or no longer relevant should not be brought over.
  • The new site structure. With a new website, there is almost always a new sitemap, which means the place where that page originally lived now may be somewhere else, so there may need to be slight tweaks to the content so that it fits in its new home.
  • New page structure. The layout of the page has probably changed, so the layout of the content will have to change also.

No matter what, all content will need to be touched in some way during the redesign process.

Without thinking through how writing, editing, organizing, etc. will get done and how much time it takes, you could be setting yourself up for a less-effective website. 

Do you feel like you might benefit from talking with our content team? Feel free to reach out, we love helping clients with content. We also have a newsletter with more information about the content-first process, sign up here!

Content Marketing Articles We Love (in March)

By alex c on  April 24, 2017

The incredible thing about the internet is that there always seems to be resources at your fingertips. The trick is wading through it all to find what's valuable. To help with this, we have decided to do a monthly round up of articles, blogs, videos, etc. that relate to content marketing, strategy, SEO, and anything else we find interesting.

Here are some of the resources we found valuable this past month:

Article: How to get your content & marketing sorted, in 3 deliberate Acts by Sharon Tanton

What we liked: The way the article is broken up is a perfect way to explain how to plan for content strategy. There is a lot that goes into a content strategy, but many times the amount of both time and work is overlooked. The author does an excellent job of breaking down how the overall process should go. We like the suggestion to start with a strategy, after all, a content-first approach makes projects go much smoother. As the author mentions, knowing what your audience wants and needs makes figuring out what content to create much simpler.

We also like the no-nonsense approach to this process. There will be bumps along the way when restructuring. Or in some cases, like completely overhauling a website, it's important to take those bumps in stride and know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Favorite quote: "There are many obstacles during this construction phase. After all the work putting together the strategy and the plan, it’s easy to get sucked back into business as usual. Don’t get waylaid in Procrastination Lane. Be prepared for hold ups in Nightmare Team Mews. A new digital platform is a change project, so be prepared for a bumpy ride."

Incorporating the value: The article is focused on having a process for content, which is something we can't argue with. This article follows a similar path that we do here at Aztek, while some companies may choose to proceed down this path themselves, we love helping clients down this road and working together.

Article: How to Make the Most of Your Workday by Phyllis Korkki

What we liked: It's important not just to focus on the content marketing work we do day to day, but also how we complete that work. We can all agree that how we complete our tasks during the work day can always be tweaked, this article did a wonderful job of calling out some of the main things we all struggle with and how to work on them.

Favorite quote: "You can’t expect to change years of working habits overnight. Small changes in how you work can gradually add up to big changes in productivity."

Incorporating the value: Taking even just one suggestion from this article would be valuable to anyone who has a more "traditional" desk job- like working on content. At Aztek, we have started encouraging each other to stand at our desks more. We made this into a competition to see who could stand for 20 minutes each hour. This way, it helped us create a habit of standing more often at our desk and encourage other healthier habits.

Article: A Beginner's Guide To Content Marketing by Tony Restell

What we liked: The focus on content in this article was spot on, but what we liked, even more, was the notion of promoting that content. It's important to work to have good content, but if that content is not promoted we are not maximizing the benefit of it. Content and marketing have to work together so that both can be successful, and this article did a great job emphasizing that point.

Favorite quote: "Generating content for content’s sake produces minimal ROI. Instead, we have to be doing this in a structured manner so that we are attracting people who will ultimately go on to become valuable prospects, customers or hires for the business."

Incorporating the value: Many times clients will understand one piece of the collective whole of content strategy and marketing, but what this article does is point out that without planning, good content creation, and marketing working together, you are really setting yourself up to be less successful. This is a concept that we try to explain to our clients, having an understanding of their users, creating content for those users, and then promoting that content is the way to a successful digital campaign.

It seems that the theme for two of the articles this week was understanding users. Doing this will help not only with the strategy for content but the creation and marketing of that content as well. This is something that Aztek strives for, we offer user testing for clients to gain insights into how their users are using their site and viewing their content. These insights then lead to more useful content and an overall more useful website.

As for the third article, here is a reminder to try out a new work habit, like making a to-do list. Take a moment to take a deep breath (no really, try it right now), and take a stroll or two during your work day today.

Interested in any of the services we talked about in this article? Contact us here, we would love to work with you.

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