What Have We Learned about Consumers from Parsing Big Data?

If you’ve shopped recently (whether in a store or online), you may have been asked for a phone number or email address, or maybe both. Have you ever wondered why you’re being asked for information more often than previous years? The answer is simple—companies are gathering data and watching buying patterns to learn more about consumers as a whole. Even if your information isn’t collected, your transaction is later analyzed to determine when certain items were bought and what to send to that store’s inventory for the following year, as most companies base their performance against last year’s (LY’s) numbers. This data that is collected is referred to as big data, a term that is essentially used to explain the large growth and quick availability of both structured and unstructured data and information (SAS).

Categories of Data

The SAS Institute explains three categories often looked at when analyzing this data: volume, velocity, and variety. While the volume of data being collected is growing higher all the time, storage of the collected data is not as big a problem as it previously was—data storage costs are decreasing. So, with the volume of data being collected at a fast pace, the question becomes how to determine the relevance of the data collected and how to make the data valuable. Data comes in a wide variety of both structured and unstructured formats—everything from structured numeric data (such as data gathered from transactions) to unstructured text documents such as emails or social media activity.

What Can the Analysis of Big Data Change?

In an article with Forbes, we learn from Kurt Abrahamson (CEO of ShareThis) exactly what can be done with data gathered. Data gathered by companies through social media is as simple as clicking a “like” button on something and then “sharing” it on with your friends and family on a social media network. Whether it’s an article, a blog post, a product, a video, or anything else you can think of, once it’s “liked,” analytics companies create a profile which is then given to advertisers. This is how major companies reach out and find new customers.

Once companies have data on potential customers, they must find a way to appeal to new customers while keeping current customers happy. Thinking about this from a content perspective, we must sell products (in a storefront or online) by making them appealing to customers. In a physical store, the story is told with the products themselves, through the way they are organized. However, as Internet Retailer points out, many more consumers are shopping online. This means that insightful content is going to continue to be valued on company websites.icons

Specific and detailed descriptions of products and services will make a huge difference when it comes to the success or failure of e-stores. Look at some product descriptions on an e-store. Are they clear and concise? Do they give you a reason to want the product? Is there a way for the product to be rated by the consumer? Perhaps they even suggest a use! For example:

  • These jeans are made with a stretch denim and come in a variety of sizes to fit everyone.
  • Our most-loved, boot-cut jeans feature the classic, 5-pocket design and are made with soft, stretch denim. All are available in sizes 0 to 13!

Which would you buy?

What Does Big Data Tell Us About Consumers?

Essentially, by watching and tracking what is bought and read online, we can learn a lot about consumers. There are some things that are bought a certain seasons, such as school supplies. However, when a family that buys the standard yearly school supplies also buys a new laundry hamper, shower caddy, storage totes, cleaning supplies, and a closet organizer, it’s an indication that they are either moving or their child is going away to college—that’s a major life change worth tracking. According to an article in the New York Times, the most common time of life for buying patterns to change is around the time a child is born. Not during the planning stages, but during the last few weeks leading up to the birth and the first few weeks after, when parents are exhausted and begin weighing options of cost, brand, and reviews. After the baby is born, parents are often hit with a massive flow of offers, deals, coupons, and other things pertaining to their new baby—content and reviews may play a part in which product parents will buy.

Analyzing big data can tell us a variety of things about consumers—what’s going on in their lives, what their favorite brands are, during what time of year they purchase certain items, and so on. Companies are also able to make data-driven decisions about what products to bring out at what part of the year, what products are in a higher demand with consumers, and even in what part of the country certain products sell better. By tracking and gathering data, companies will be able to watch where the traffic is going to better concentrate their marketing and content efforts. ~Holly

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Filed under Analytics, Business Strategy, Holiday Blog, Merchandising, Product Descriptions, Sales

Seven Ways to Improve Your Local Content

Local SEO is important for neighborhood businesses, but it’s increasingly competitive to score in the top three local results. Having better content than your competition remains key to gaining extra visits.  Keep in mind the following seven marketing strategies to improve your local content.

Get Detailed

What makes your service or product better?  Don’t skim the surface.  Provide depth, but don’t ramble.  You want to sound like the local expert by providing helpful resources to would-be customers.  If you are the local expert, get your fans and customers to talk about their experiences via Facebook, Twitter, and G+.

 Appeal to the Eyes

Take extra measures to include photos which look of professional quality on your webpage.  If this means hiring out the work, do it.  This small investment can bring in a great increase in revenue.  The same goes for web design. Your homepage should reflect the quality of your goods or services, all while being aesthetically pleasing.  Search engines are moving toward more visual searches, and you don’t want to be left behind because of a shoddy homepage. Plan out your keyword navigation and do include video.

Claim Your Company

Chances are there is already a location listing for your business.  You simply need to claim it and verify the information as correct.  You should do the same with your Google+ page.  Incorrect location information can mean a big hit to your business.city

Verify Yelp and City Search

Take the time to examine the correctness of the information on CitySearch and Yelp if they are applicable to your business.  The information included on these databases is sometimes incorrect or out-of-date.  Do not be overly concerned if you see some negative reviews as you do this.  If you know you are offering the finest quality goods and services, the positives will shine through in the form of favorable reviews.

 Pinpoint Your Location

One of the simplest practices to increase local content is to include your business address and phone number on each page of content on your webpage.  This ensures identification of your location regardless of the current page being viewed.  Your goal is to give contact information each precious moment someone is visiting your page.  If a potential customer has to take the time to search for this information, they will probably move on.

Team Up With Other Locals

Collaborate with like-minded local business owners with an agreement to recommend their business on your site in exchange for recognition on their site.  This sign of goodwill can provide a boost for each party, yielding positive return to your local culture.  All this is the recipe for a win-win situation.

Go Mobile

In a world of mobile devices, modern customers are on the move.  Reliance on mobile devices drives the market for a mobile presence.  Make your website mobile-responsive so customers can have a better browsing experience when viewing your website on smart phones or tablets.  Be sensitive to the appearance of your content pages on mobile devices.  Try to steer clear of using technology such as PDF or Flash, which are less usable on many popular mobile devices.

Finally, brush up on Google’s Pigeon update and then make necessary adjustments to your local profile.

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Filed under Algorithms, Local, Mobile, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Who is Madeline Hunter and What Would She Say About Your Conference Presentation?

Let’s face it.  Nobody likes to sit through a boring presentation.  So, why do so many presenters put together information in a manner that is undeniably boring?  If you are regularly presenting information to audiences or if you are working on a one-time conference presentation, there are methods to delivering the necessary information in engaging and interesting ways without compromising the message.  In fact, following Madeline Hunter’s model for learning will result in an audience that takes away the information you’ve presented, tucked away in their minds and ready to be applied to the desired situations.table

Madeline Hunter was an American educator who developed a teaching and learning model which was widely used by schools during the last part of the 20th century.  Her model, the Instructional Theory into Practice teaching model (ITIP), is a direct instruction program which identifies seven components for teaching.  These include knowledge of human growth and development, content, classroom management, materials, planning, human relations, and instructional skills.  Hunter is most widely known for her instructional model.

You may ask how an educational strategy relates to your upcoming conference presentation.  Any presentation is a means of educating an audience.  Viewing one in such a manner and modeling it as a lesson will yield positive results, including better understanding and applicability of the information.  Include the following components of Hunter’s Instructional Theory Into Practice (ITIP) in your next conference presentation, and it will be a success.


  1. Set (Hook)

The set is a tool used to gain the interest of the audience, while introducing the material to be learned.  This is often presented as a handout upon entering the conference, an ice-breaker game which ties into the material, an overview of the material, or a video to give an overview.  This aspect of the presentation is of utmost importance, as it sets the tone for the entire presentation.  Set the stage for an interesting presentation with a clever opener.


  1. Objectives

We learn more effectively when we know what we are supposed to learn and why we should learn it.  When you are presenting information, you will be more effective if you have the same information as well.  The objective, or purpose, of the presentation includes why the audience needs to learn the objective, what they will be able to do once they’ve learned the material, and how they will be able to demonstrate that they have learned the material.  The equation for the objective is:  The Learner Will Do What + With What + How Well.


  1. Teaching

The new knowledge you are bringing to the table must be presented to the conference audience in the most effective manner.  Some examples are discovery, discussion, reading, listening, and observing.  Take a good look at the material you will be covering, the audience demographics, the setting, and the tone of the conference.  Think outside the box with your presenting, or teaching, style.  Discern which manner of information transmission will be the most effective for your situation.  Each presentation should be unique, since the contextual circumstances are unique for each conference.


  1. Guided Practice/Mentoring

In this portion of the presentation, allow the audience to practice the new learning under your direct supervision.  Lead the audience through the necessary steps in order to perform the skill you’re teaching using a tri-modal approach.  More simply put, this approach involves hearing, seeing, and doing.  Tailor this portion to your specific needs.  This portion may also be omitted if the setting and material does not necessitate it.


  1. Closure

Presenters often errantly fail to utilize this step, which is important in the learning process.  Ask the audience to tell you or show you what they’ve learned.  This can be achieved in a variety of ways, but the bottom line is that the audience is demonstrating the acquisition of knowledge.  Interesting forms of this are mini-presentations, demonstrations, or skits by groups created during the presentation.  Quizzes or tests also demonstrate this.  It is important to view this as not necessarily an end point, but more of a final check for understanding used at the conclusion of the presentation.

If you employ the model introduced by Madeline Hunter when preparing for your next conference presentation, you will surely create a successful experience for everyone involved. ~Tricia

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Filed under Conferences, Keynote Ideas, Speeches

Who is Carl Jung and What Would He Say About Social Media Marketing Today?

Whether you use the Internet as a vehicle for delivering your business webpage, selling products, or educating, you’re probably always trying to better understand and connect with customers.

There is a ripe market for business growth directly stemming from social networking.  A smart strategy is to delve into the psychology of the audience at hand.  Let’s take a look at what psychologist, Carl Jung, who founded analytical psychology, would say to better employ your marketing strategy.

Jung developed theories of psychological types, including introversion and extraversion, as well as other sound psychological theories.  The current Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test, or MBTI, has been developed based on Jung’s theory of psychology types.  Jung would consider his audience when marketing through social media.

How the Myers-Briggs Test Relates to Social Media Marketing

Using the MBTI test, people are classified as being introverted or extraverted, sensing or intuitive, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving.  This information can be applied to social media users and platforms.  According to recent studies, “more introverted people use Facebook as a way to socialize without the commitment of human interaction.” Extraverts were much more likely to “air dirty laundry” on Facebook.  According to CPP, introverts are involved with this form of social media, but are more often found silently observing.  Social media users who are classified as intuitive are more likely to use Linked In and Twitter.  Extraverts are also more likely to be involved in social media during working hours, while people guided by feelings are more likely to use social media during personal time.  Consider this when timing announcements according to your audience.  Since two-thirds of online adults are using social media of some sort, it is important for marketers to see this as a window of opportunity to achieve positive results for business growth.  In order to achieve the desired results, consider the target audience.


Catching Attention and Getting Interest

Since the natural focus of the extravert is the external world, use the social media platforms which focus on others to cater to this personality type.  Instagram and Facebook are great vehicles.

Taking in Information

Those with sensing personality types take in info in a sequential manner, making Twitter the perfect avenue for marketing when targeting this group.  The social media platform which will be most effective for the intuitive types is Facebook, where viewers are able to see the big picture, including a link to a web page, where information can be spelled out, as these personality types like to take in the big picture.

Making Decisions

While people with thinking personality types like to make decisions by stepping back from the situation and taking an objective view, those with Feeling personality types make decisions by stepping into a situation and take an empathetic view.  If you are trying to reach Feeling personality types, appeal to the senses.  Use Instagram or other visual Social Media sites with a strong emphasis on the visual in order to gain favor.  Stick to more factual, spelled out types of media, such as blogs and podcasts for thinkers.

Responding to the Outside World

Individuals with a judging personality plan ahead, for example, meeting deadlines in a scheduled way, while those who are more perceiving employ a more spontaneous approach to meeting the deadline with a rush of activity.  Tweeting as a form of marketing is more effective for the perceiving types of audiences, while blogs and forums are more appealing to the judging types.

 What Would Carl Jung Say?

It is important to consider your audience when marketing. Match your targeted persona’s personality type to the medium most often chosen by that personality and then deliver messages in the styles that the personality generally prefers.  You’ll soon be on your way to a more successful, social media engagement! ~Tricia

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Filed under Audience, Capturing Audience, Marketing, Personas, Social Media

15 Must-Use Content Promotion Tools

In a world where everyone is turning to the Internet, it’s a necessity to ensure whatever content you post is not only consistently updated, but also promoted. There are a variety of ways to promote your content.

Image courtesy of Flickr.com user mkhmarketing

Image courtesy of Flickr.com user mkhmarketing

Read on for the top fifteen must-use content promotion tools:

G+: G+ allows you to choose with whom you want to share your content. If you select “public” when you post, your updates are visible to anyone, so the amount of people who see your work will increase. G+ is a social media site that brings content to you—you’ll be able to find posts and articles tailored to your interests in your news feed, even if you do not know the person who shared or posted the content.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is great for building a professional network. Groups on LinkedIn are similar to a forum—you simply select a group and enter a keyword, then you’ll find others with the same interests and you’ll be able to promote yourself and your content on one site.

Facebook: Facebook is great for getting your content to many people. With a vast number of users, you have potential for many to see and share your content. You can also give shout outs, thanking those that influenced you and those who shared your work.

Twitter: Twitter is a social network that uses hashtags to allow you to connect with other users. With the variety of communication networks, your content may reach a variety of people, many of whom (depending on the communication network) will retweet your message and content to their followers.

Various Industry Forums: With the increase in social media networks, many people are forgetting about various industry forums on which they can promote their work. By ignoring this content promotion resource, you may be missing out on thousands of views.

Email Lists: Whether those on your list are customers or not, sending emails as a way of promoting your work will also increase your readers. A link to email can usually be found on a cell phone next to a social media link.

Earned Media: A great way to promote your content is to ask your followers to share with their followers. The followers that share your content make up a “trusted third party,” which will show others that your work is worth their time. As Convince and Convert points out, “earned media is most important,” because it is based off the respect others have for your work.

Social Media Tools: Sites such as Commun.it and SproutSocial are useful for tracking and maintaining your followers and relationships on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. By building relationships and responding when necessary (which can also be tracked on these sites), you are effectively building a group of trusted third party followers that will aid you when promoting your content.

Blogs: Writing about your content is a great way to promote it. Blogging sites like WordPress are quickly becoming social media networks in their own way. You can follow other bloggers, so when you write a blog about your content, your followers will read it and maybe direct others to it, thereby promoting your content.

Social Sharing Communities: Similar to blogging sites, websites such as Social Buzz Club are made up of bloggers trying to deliver their content to the masses. How much they share your content depends on how much you share their content, so it’s important to be very active if you join these communities.

Add a Link: KISSmetrics suggests finding you most popular content and adding a link to your newest content. If your readers check your site regularly, they’ll see the new. If new readers find your more popular content, they’ll see the link to your new content.

Communicate: Contact people who have liked or shared content similar to yours. Use hashtags on sites like G+ or Twitter to see who is sharing content similar to yours and direct message them to ask to read and share your content.

Use Key Words: When sharing content on your social media accounts, use key words or phrases from your article as snippets to intrigue your followers.

Ask for a Quote: Contact an expert in your field, explain the content, and ask if they’d be willing to contribute some thoughts. When your work is complete, email them to express your thanks and attach the final product for them to read (and possibly share).

Thank and Tag Influencers: Search Engine Watch brings up a good point—whatever social media outlet you use, always make sure to thank and tag those who influenced the article. They’ll see the notification of your tag, see the content, and then possibly share it with their followers.

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Filed under Content Marketing, Social Media

How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy across Paid, Earned and Owned Media

To effectively market your content, you must have a strategy that includes the use of paid, earned and owned media. Bombarding your target audience with only paid advertising or relying solely on your owned media such as your website or social media to spread the word creates major blind spots in your overall marketing plan. It also leaves a lot of missed opportunities on the table where you could have reached a broader audience if you had spread your efforts out into all three types of media.Promotion Plan

Before you can sit down and build content marketing strategies using paid, earned and owned media, you must first understand the differences among the three. Let’s take a closer look at what each type of media brings to your marketing strategy.

Paid Media

Most obviously, you can purchase advertising through almost every social media platform. Facebook provides the ability to create highly-targeted ads that appear either in users’ newsfeeds or on the sidebar. You can also promote your tweets or buy clicks on StumbleUpon or Reddit. Carefully consider your target audience and the type of social media that they are most likely to use.

Aside from social media, you might choose to use Google AdWords to boost your SEO or pay for placement on another website or blog. Using all of these tactics can be quite costly to implement. Determine your budget for this piece of your marketing strategy and do you research on what form of paid media will give you the highest ROI.

Earned Media

Out of the three categories, earned media can be the trickiest piece to implement successfully. The simplest reason for this is because you are really not in control. You are asking for other people to share your content because they find it to be of value, but you are not paying them to do so.

Some options for earned media include submitting your content as a guest contributor to a blog or website that’s relevant to your target audience. You should also share the content multiple times and in various ways on social media (sites like StumbleUpon, Reddit, Linkedin and Pinterest are especially effective) encouraging readers to share with their networks. You can also attempt to spark discussion (and sharing) in Linkedin groups. You can also pitch your article to a blogger or professional writer who may be interested in featuring a review or op-ed piece of the article.

Owned Media

Finally and most obviously is promoting your content on the media that you already own and control. This includes your social media, email lists, website and blog to name just a few common assets. This is low hanging fruit that you should always take advantage of as part of your ongoing marketing strategy.

For example, if you publish an article, create a home for this content on your website and publish it on your blog. Then promote these links on your social media accounts (for Linkedin you may consider publishing the entire article on your profile as well). Finally, incorporate some of the content of this article into an email blast to your lists to offer valuable and relevant information tailored to what is likely to interest them. By consistently marketing your content across owned media, you will maximize its impact and fuel your website and social media with fresh, high-quality content that will increase your SEO.

Now that you have a better understanding of the different ways you can promote your content across paid, earned and owned media, now is the time to get started creating your own diverse strategy that uses a little bit of each. Most importantly, remember that even the best marketing strategy still needs high quality content in order to be successful. Provide valuable information and give your readers every opportunity to find it!

How have you build an effective media campaign including paid, earned and owned media? Share your experience by commenting below!

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Filed under Branding, Business Strategy, Marketing, Pinterest, PPC, Reddit, Sales, Search Engine Marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, Twitter

How to Profit from Content Writing in 2015 (What’s Changed?)

Content writing is an ever changing, rapidly expanding profession. How do you profit midst the competition and changes? Influenced by search engine optimization and an audience which has become used to accessing large volumes of content on an instant basis, the content writing market will continue to evolve in 2015. Understanding what makes content useful for customers will help one to profit, additionally knowing technological changes will allow a content writer to adapt to these changes and become more marketable.money

Quality Opposed to Quantity

Today content marketing is about writing high-quality informative pieces. With a seemingly unlimited number of sources and endless possibilities for information persons, searching the internet are looking for something useful, informative, and of a high-quality. Gone are the days where the sheer amount of content written with the right amount of keywords alone would drive someone to your site, or service. In today’s market, it is about finding a balance between a solid body of content of high quality and quantity. Content writers as such should shift focus from how much they write to the overall quality of writing. Offering one or two high-quality pieces will further add to a portfolio while at the same time will result in a customer receiving higher benefits than four or five lower quality pieces.

Target Audience: Personal as Opposed to Mechanical

Once upon a time search engines only looked for key words. Content was used to drive people to your website and built solely around a select number of words that the search engines would be able to find. As search engines have evolved, so has the content needed to achieve the same results. In today’s market with ongoing development and sophistication of algorithms that search engines employ, writing with an audience in mind is essential. Experts mainly agree that as search engine optimization changes into 2015 content writing will need to continue to become aimed at the audience as opposed to the list of keywords used historically.  Writing informative informational content with the reader in mind will help guide search engines to the content being created.

Link to Social Media

Ignoring social media would be akin to writing and not hitting spell check.  Social media has an influence on not only search engine results but also is a viable way for a content writer to network, and expand writing into new markets. Often persons hiring a content writer also may need someone to manage social media accounts, by offering your social media as an example you can and will find writing work managing others social media accounts. When it comes to driving search engine results to your site social media is essential to increase ratings. As content is shared, tagged, and liked on social media search engine results are increased.  Social media will continue to drive the content market in 2015 as sites such as Facebook integrate search features, and in app searching becomes used more and more often.

Consistency and Themes

When writing a blog focusing on one or two themes is essential for not only the search engines but also to build an audience. When you are a trusted source for consistent information on a single theme, your blog is visited more often, and you build a customer and audience base. When you shift topics or themes, your audience loses interest or finds you less organized decreasing returning visits.

Staying Up To Date

Content writers in 2015 will need to continue to be aware of mobile optimization and app writing. As more and more apps are created writing for these apps evolves. Reading and searching on a cell phone screen appears different than a computer monitor. When using voice search on mobile devices a person interacts more personally than a traditional web search. Finally, being aware of how users will read your content can help you to create the high-quality, user-friendly, informative pieces necessary. Large words, or sentences often will not translate well onto mobile devices. Being aware of technological changes and how your content will be viewed becomes more and more essential in 2015.  ~Jenny

Do you think content writing will be more or less profitable in 2015? Why or why not?

Other Articles:

Making a Living Writing Website Content

How do I Become a Writer?

Ten Organizations for Women with Careers in Writing


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Filed under Resumes, Web Writers, Writing Careers