Content Marketing Strategy Workshop - Keyword Research, Part 2 of 4

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 @ 11:44 AM

Beef up your content marketing strategy by generating related keywordsThe Content Marketing Strategy Workshop is a series of blog posts seeking to help you build your content marketing strategy from scratch.  This post is part 2 of 4 on the topic of keyword research, a process that will help you build a sturdy foundation for your content marketing.  Each week we’ll discuss a new step in the keyword research process until you have the tools and skills to identify the keywords that will help you land your next client.

Each part is designed to build on the exercises from previous steps, so if you're just discovering this blog series now, we recommend that you begin with Part 1.  However, if you've already brainstormed an initial list of keywords relevant to your product or service offerings, then feel free to proceed with Part 2:

2.  Generate Related Keyword Variants - While you may be able to brainstorm a fairly thorough list of keywords on your own, you’ll never be able to think of every keyword variation relevant to your offerings.  And since keywords serve as the foundation for your content marketing strategy, it’s vital to ensure that you’re not overlooking any keywords offering an opportunity to connect with prospective business.  

 Luckily, there are several tools available for free that will not only show you keywords related to those you enter, but will also give you valuable market information for each.  

For use our purposes, we recommend the free version of Traffic Travis, a tool with comprehensive search engine optimization, pay per click, and competitive analysis features.  Click here to register with Traffic Travis and download their software for free


Traffic Travis TabsTraffic Travis’ functionality is divided between 5 tabs displayed in the upper left-hand corner of its window.  When you’re using a newly installed copy of Traffic Travis, opening each tab will automatically play a video tutorial reviewing the selected tab’s features.  While we certainly recommend watching the videos to maximize Traffic Travis’ utility, some of the videos run a bit long so, unless you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, close them for the purposes of this exercise and return to the videos via the Help menu on the toolbar when you’ve got time to kill.

To start finding relevant synonyms and searches related to the keywords you brainstormed, you’ll need to navigate to the Research tab in Traffic Travis.  On the Research tab, simply click on the empty field below Keyword to open the keyword entry window and paste the first 5 keywords you brainstormed into it (the free version limits your searches to 5 keywords per search.  If you’re planning on doing keyword research regularly, you should consider purchasing the Pro version of Traffic Travis or investing in similar professional solutions like HubSpot). 

Traffic Travis Research Tab

Before clicking ‘Fetch’, maximize your results by clicking the numbered field to the right of the Keyword field, and selecting 100 (the free version limits you to 100 results).  Lastly,Inform your content marketing strategy with the right match type click Advanced Settings and select the radio button for ‘Exact’ under Keyword Match Type to ensure the search results are as relevant as possible to your initial keyword list (broad and phrase match tend to return less targeted results, but can be used to discover additional opportunities; try them out to see how your unique results differ).  When you click ‘Fetch’ to receive your results, Traffic Travis will automatically ask if you have connected it to a Google AdWords account. 


If you have an AdWords account, and wish to connect it to Traffic Travis, follow Traffic Travis’ directions for linking to your account now.  However, if you don’t have an AdWords account, or you’re just interested in capturing related keywords at this point, click ‘No’ when Traffic Travis asks you to add an AdWords account.

Use Traffic Travis for more than just your content marketing strategy by attaching it to your AdWords account

You’ll be presented with Traffic Travis’ list of related keywords and some useful data on both global and local monthly search volume as well as the level of advertiser competition for each.  See the below results for ‘motorola droid cases’ as an example:

data from the keyword tool is vital to your content marketing strategy

Now that you know how to use Traffic Travis to find keywords related to the queries your potential customers are using online, your next step will be to capture the keyword variants most related to your product or service offerings.  We’ll cover the process for identifying those keywords from Traffic Travis and exporting them for analysis in next week’s post.  For now, spend some time getting used to Traffic Travis and it’s various features to compliment your newly learned skills!

To ensure your access to part 3 as soon as it is published subscribe to our blog or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

M.Y. Edge specializes in content marketing strategy and stands ready to assist you with planning, implementation, execution, and measuring results.  If you have questions about keyword research, search engine optimization, or how a content marketing strategy could be tailored to your business, simply call 919-732-2842 or click the button below to scheudle a consultation with one of our content marketing consultants, free of charge.

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*Note: The original version of this post was edited to include updated tools.

Tags: Digital Marketing Strategy, Content Strategy, Content Marketing, Keyword Research, SEO

Content Marketing Strategy Workshop - Keyword Research, Part 1 of 4

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 @ 05:21 PM

guide your content marketing strategy with keyword researchOne of the simplest ways to increase traffic to your organization’s website is by developing and working a content marketing strategy.  Content marketing is the practice of building interest in your business and/or offerings by creating content relevant to your target market.

A content marketing strategy can help you to engage new customers more meaningfully while serving as the foundation for better search engine rankings.  The more relevant content your website contains, the more authoritative it appears to search engines like Google and Bing, allowing your pages to rank higher in search results.  But simply writing blog posts or creating new webpages will not result in higher search rankings.  To be found on a search engine, you’ll need to identify keywords you’re able to rank highly for, and build content strategically around those keywords. 

A content marketing strategy allows your organization to work smarter by identifying market opportunities and tailoring content to maximize its chances of being found and its impact on your bottom line.

The Content Marketing Strategy Workshop is a series of blog posts seeking to help you build your content marketing strategy from scratch.  This post is part 1 of 4 on the topic of keyword research, a process that will help you build a sturdy foundation for your content marketing.  Each week we’ll discuss a new step in the keyword research process until you have the tools and skills to identify the keywords that will help you land your next client. 

So before starting the time-intensive process of writing new content, take the time to do some keyword research ensure your content gets found and your time writing is well spent:

 content marketing strategy starts with focused brainstorming

  1. Start by Brainstorming Keywords Relevant to Your Business- The content you create is only useful if it is ultimately consumed by a prospective customer, and the easiest way to get your content found is by showing up on the search engines.


Because all searches start with your prospective customer entering a keyword, you should begin building your content marketing strategy by identifying the keywords that are relevant to your ideal customers.  Brainstorm a list of 15-20 search queries that someone looking for your products or services might enter into Google.  Include specific descriptors in addition to general terms.  For example, if you sell cell phone cases online, include the names of phone manufacturers and models that you support in addition to the more general keyword phone cases.

You can use Microsoft Excel or Word, or a simpler application like notepad to keep track of the search queries you brainstorm.  Your only requirement at this point is that they’re easy to cut and paste, as you’ll be working with various digital tools to expand and analyze your keywords in parts 2 through 4. 

For now, simply concentrate on brainstorming the different ways that a prospective customer might search for your content.  Once you’re satisfied with your list of prospect search queries, make sure you save them for reference because in step 2, we’ll show you how to discover related keywords and expand your list to include as many relevant keywords as possible.

To ensure your access to part 2 as soon as it is published subscribe to our blog or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

M.Y. Edge specializes in content marketing strategy and stands ready to assist you with planning, implementation, execution, and measuring results.  If you have questions about keyword research, search engine optimization, or how a content marketing strategy could be tailored to your business, simply call 919-732-2842 or click the button below to scheudle a consultation with one of our content marketing consultants, free of charge.

 Click me

*Note: The original version of this post was edited to include updated tools.

Tags: Digital Marketing Strategy, Content Strategy, Content Marketing, Keyword Research

Facebook’s ‘Subscribe’ Feature a Boon For Your Content Strategy

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Thu, Oct 06, 2011 @ 12:00 PM

Facebook Subscribe ButtonThe introduction of Facebook’s subscribe feature in weeks past seemed at first to be a simple return volley to counter Google+’s asymmetrical user relationships, it does stand alone in one important factor:  Facebook’s established user base.

Technical discussions aside, the only reason that businesses care about Facebook, Google+ or any other social media in the first place is that they’re effective means for communicating with customers.  By adding the ability to subscribe to an individual or organization’s feed without entering into a more intimate relationship, Facebook, like Twitter and Google+ before it, is allowing businesses on its network to adopt a more traditional, broadcast-style content strategy. 

Allowing users to consume content through subscriptions empowers individual users to use Facebook for more than just socializing.  Ever wonder why Twitter became mass media’s favorite channel to the internet seemingly overnight?  The one-to-many, broadcast-style method of content distribution now enabled by subscriptions is more familiar to both businesses and users.  It simply fits most business' existing content strategies better than most social media.

While this won’t majorly change to the way the average user interacts with Facebook, it shows that Facebook is getting more serious about its relationship with businesses, especially content publishers.  If your digital content strategy includes blogging (which anyone’s should right now), the subscribe feature gives you easier access than ever to Facebook’s 800 million active users. 

After subscribing to some of my favorite blogs and thought-leaders’ profiles in Facebook, I’ve begun simultaneously using Facebook as a content aggregator like Google Reader and a social network.  I log into Facebook for the updates from friends and family, but quickly find myself reading formal articles and posts from the headlines appearing between new pictures of my niece and football smack talk. 

So what does this mean for your content strategy?  Your business’ blog posts can now get exposure every time your subscribers log into Facebook.  And since 400 million people log into Facebook at least once a day, your odds of gaining traffic, and generating more leads are looking pretty good.

If your company isn’t blogging, start now.  Deep, original content is now requisite for top Google rankings.  If you’re blogging, but not publishing to Facebook, create an account and encourage your readers to subscribe.  Setup is easy and the traffic available is rivaled only by Google.

However, publishing to Facebook is only half the battle.  Likes and visits to your blog are great, but they don’t generate revenue.  You’ve got to keep track of what Facebook activity is impacting your bottom line to ensure your work is worthwhile.  And while Facebook’s native Insights application can certainly help, it doesn’t always give you the whole picture.  At M.Y. Edge, we recommend using third party social media analytics solutions to connect your Facebook activity to your revenues.  The right tool for the job depends on your goals, reach, and budget.

To help businesses get the most out of social media marketing, we’ve researched the top social media analytics platforms on the market and distilled their strengths and weaknesses in our 2011 Social Media Analytics Review.  Download the guide for free!

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As Facebook’s proven with its latest updates, it’s serious about becoming a better tool for businesses and social users alike.  And as long as it continues to be the world’s social platform of choice, it will be an effective outlet for your organization’s content.

Tags: Content Strategy, Social Media, Blogging, Facebook

How Will Facebook's Updates Impact Your Social Media Strategy?

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 @ 03:35 PM

Xzibit FacebookAnother day, another much-maligned Facebook interface update.  But before you run off to post an obligatory "OMG WTF Facebook!" comment, why don't we take a look at what they've done, and the underlying reasons why they've done it?  Because, believe it or not, the point of these changes is not to frustrate you or give you yet another reason to contemplate leaving Facebook.

Firstly, there's a good case to be made that theseFacebook Recommends changes are in response to Google+'s stradling the personal social networking of Facebook and the interest oriented, one-way following of Twitter.  Facebook, it seems, wants to move users outside of their social circle by encouraging them to 'subscribe' to notable people like Pete Cashmore of Mashable or Bradley Horowitz of Google in my case.  These recommendations appear below the new, eye-catching ticker that updates in real time.  Is it a coincidence that Facebook started recommending these 'subscriptions' almost concurrently with its shiny new (sort of) Lists feature?  Does this remind you of anything we've seen before?

Speaking of the ticker, by simultaneously providing you with updates of all content in real-time and a more curated and prioritized look at what's going on across your social graph and among the pages you follow in the main feed, Facebook is further blending social content with broadcast business and informational content. This benefits Facebook by eliminating the need to switch your feed between the Top Stories and All Stories by providing both feeds to the end user at the same time.  Less channel surfing between feeds means that a higher likelihood that you'll see and interact with posts from content pages and ads, which makes Facebook a more attractive platform for businesses.

The placement of the ticker is no coincidence.  Previously, random event updates and picture thumbnails never provided a compelling or particularly eye-catching reason to pay attention to the right column, but with the ticker showing users what's happening right now, Facebook is drawing attention there, right above sponsored stories and ads, and the suggested subsciption box.  It's a better use of the space, and will no doubt get more users to see sponsored content, another win for Facebook.  Do you think they'll start feeding sponsored content into the ticker?

Overall, it seems that these most recent updates to the Facebook interface was implemented with an eye on Google+'s initial advantages, especially for business use.  But as Mr. Cashmore himself posted on Google+ today, this feature copying will be par for the course as each network vies for social media supremacy.

What do you think of the new Facebook interface, features, and Google+'s counterpunch?  Do these updates change Facebook's role your social media strategy?

Tags: Social Media, Facebook, Google+, Social Media Strategy

5 Digital Marketing Lessons Learned from Fantasy Football

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 @ 02:31 PM

hk 20080207 footballstats resized 600Last week, I kicked off the football season with my eyes glued as much to my laptop as my television.  I’ve mentioned my media consumption habits before on the blog, but this Sunday was different.  I wasn’t surfing the usual internet haunts; I was playing fantasy football, along with an estimated 21 million other people around the world.

What started in the 1980’s as a way for only the geekiest of sports fans to take their obsession to the next level has become a mainstream phenomenon and very big business, thanks in no small part to the internet.  Fantasy football alone was estimated to be an $800 million industry last year, not counting the value it creates for the NFL. 

I’ve gone from being a casual NFL fan, watching one or two games a week before playing fantasy football, to spending all Sunday on the couch, cursing the networks for depriving me of the chance to watch my starting quarterback and running back by not showing Minnesota vs. San Diego in my hometown of Raleigh. 

Where I was once a reasonable, fair-weather Panthers fan (Cam Newton what what?!?!) I now am an obsessive, nit-picking football fiend, ravenously consuming every bit of content the NFL throws my way.  Thanks to fantasy, I can’t get enough football and I’m not alone:  


Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

Skip to 4:10 for Sports Journalist Mike Florio’s Angle on the Marketing Impact of Fantasy Football

Believe it or not, I’m not trying to pass off a post about my new favorite obsession as work.  Indeed, fantasy football is a tremendous marketing tool for the NFL.  A study conducted by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) found that:


The growth [of fantasy sports] has also been positive for the sports industry as a whole as fantasy sports players watch more game telecasts, buy more tickets and spend money at stadiums at a much higher rate than general sports fans. For example, 55% of fantasy sport players report watching more sports on television since they started playing fantasy sports

Isn’t this exactly the kind of response that we, as marketers, hope to generate online?  The growth of fantasy football means growth for the NFL.  Moreover, the intense interaction with NFL content required to play pushes fans to learn about players they would have otherwise ignored, and teams they never cared about.  Fantasy football sells the NFL’s product the way that rooting for the home team never could.

The interactive capacity of the web presents every marketer with this same opportunity.  Sure, your products or services may not be as fun or exciting to the customer as pro sports.  Few are.  But the principles that make fantasy football a successful marketing tool for the NFL can be applied to any digital marketing effort.


  1. Create Inherently Valuable Content – You hear this time and time again, but it bears repeating.  People ignore content that isn’t compelling.  Make sure that your blog posts, tweets, links etc. are not only relevant but also inherently valuable.  Nobody has to ask why people play fantasy football.  Its value is obvious, and your content’s should be too. 

  2. Be Consistent – The NFL and the media covering it don’t stop when the final whistle blows.  Fantasy players rely on updates, news, and analysis from the league every day of the week to make decisions that impact their team.  It’s fresh, relevant coverage that keeps fantasy players logging into their accounts every day, and keeps football on their minds (most spend over an hour a day thinking about fantasy football). 

  3. Integrate the Fan Experience – Playing fantasy football makes watching football better, and vice versa.  Ensure that your digital presence enhances your customers’ experiences with exclusive content, special deals, and responsive & tailored customer service.  Make sure that your most loyal customers are rewarded.

  4. Up Sell & Cross Sell – Fantasy football forces fans out of their comfort zone and gets them excited about new players and teams.  When your customers are used to consuming your content consistently, you have an open door to present them with opportunities to transact additional business with you.  Do not underestimate the revenues this can generate. 

  5. Profit from Partners – The NFL partners with television networks and websites to broadcast games, disseminate content, and facilitate fantasy competition.  Fantasy football’s popularity allows fantasy websites like and Yahoo! to rake in advertising revenues without charging for participation.  It’s a win-win situation.  Partnering with companies or consultants in complimentary industries to share each other’s content, guest blog, or jointly produce webinars will help you gain more exposure while providing better content to prospects and customers.

    Customers and prospects are more than willing to interact with your brand, provided the right content and engagement.  By applying these principles, marketers can engage their customers on a deeper level, creating more selling opportunities, more revenue, and greater customer satisfaction.

    If you need help putting together your digital marketing playbook, fill out the form to the right or the button below to sign up for a free consultation.  We’ll discuss your specific marketing goals, and show you how to create and distribute content that will boost interest and grow revenue.

      Click me


     And maybe you can help me figure out whether to start Dez Bryant or Robert Meachem this week...

    Tags: Social Media, Strategy, Fantasy Football, Integration

    Strategy - The Secret Sauce for Digital Marketing Success

    Posted by Tim O'Rourke on Thu, Jul 28, 2011 @ 05:00 PM

    Who can forget the infamous “dot com” bubble where business plans never showed a profit, when neither VCs nor VPs knew why their companies existed other than to show off some cool technology. Unfortunately, in Web 2.0, there is again potential for some glorious implosions.

    Like the expanded professional sports leagues has reduced the quality of the average professional athlete, the sheer number of digital media consultants tells you that the depth of experience level per consultant is paper thin. Certainly, social media, email marketing, website optimization, PPC and other tools for digital marketing make sense in many situations. The key is knowing the business strategy well enough to know which tools support the achievement of the business’ strategic objectives.

    As a subsidiary of a 40 year old business consulting company, we have access to seasoned strategists and the resources necessary to integrate digital channels with your marketing strategy to achieve real and ongoing results. The path to profitable digital marketing is a four step process:

    Consulting Process

    Unless such a process is used, you might as well be throwing digital mud against the wall to see if anything sticks. Stop wasting your time and start getting real, quantifiable results from your digital marketing. Schedule your consultation today. It cost nothing to discuss the your goals, our process, and how to align your digital marketing for maximum ROI.

    Tags: Digital Marketing Strategy, Strategy, M.Y. Edge, Strategic Process, Integration

    +1 for Business: Google+ Streamlines Social Media Marketing

    Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 @ 01:13 PM

    Google +1I tweeted last week that Google+ is already a “digital darling” mere days after its release into the wild, and based on the buzz coming from the press (no pun intended), I’m not the only one who thinks so.

    After spending some time playing around in my own Google+ account, I’ve started to see why friends, co-workers and the media are swarming what I’ve heard some skeptics refer to as a “just another Facebook.” While at first glance, it bears more than a striking resemblance to Facebook, leading many to herald it as the ‘Facebook Killer’ or at least debate its status as such, my experiences with Google+ indicate that it’s far more than a simple Facebook competitor. In fact, as others have posited, perhaps Google+ is a bigger threat to Twitter than it is to Facebook.

    Google+ adopts the same asymmetrical user relationship as Twitter (one user can follow another’s content without the other reciprocating) while granting users richer social networking features to rival Facebook. Google+ is just as useful for broadcasting content as it is for maintaining personal relationships. The parallels between traditional broadcast media and Twitter and the familiarity with how to take advantage of them are no doubt a major reason why businesses swarmed to the channel in the first place. And while Facebook has implemented similar broadcasting features with its news feed and later with dedicated Facebook Pages, Google+ allows you to broadcast to your existing social network without needing to direct friends to an entirely separate page, making it easier to leverage for marketing purposes.

    While Google is hardly doing something revolutionary by combining the best features  of Facebook and Twitter, the centrality of Cirlces in Google+’s functionality provides users with a much more intuitive method of filtering their streams and publishing content for specific social subsets than either rival service does. By allowing users to segment their social network any way they wish, and using those segments as the basis for networking and publishing, Google+ elegantly navigating the privacy minefield that Facebook has seemingly hobbled through for years.

    Everything Google+ brings to the table is good news for businesses. While Google is only supporting formal business accounts on an extremely limited basis at the moment, Google+’s asymmetrical relationships mean that marketers will be able to easily apply their Twitter strategy to Google+ while having their content displayed in-line with more socially oriented content to the end user. 

    The mechanics of Circles allow businesses to segment their followers based on their level of engagement, tailoring content more appropriately to prospects and customers by their position in the funnel.  Additionally, independent contractors, small business owners, and other individuals wishing to leverage their personal social networks for business purposes can post promotional content to the appropriate connections without spamming social connections. 

    Meanwhile, integration between Google+ and Google’s bread and butter search is inevitable, granting businesses more results page real estate as content posted through a business page appears alongside organic listings. Google needs only to integrate its suite of other business tools (AdWords + social targeting, product feeds and Checkout within business pages, etc.) with these already-apparent strengths to make Google+ an even more powerful marketing asset.

    What we’re seeing with Google+ is a refinement of the social channel; taking the real-time broadcasting power of Twitter, combining it with the compelling social features of Facebook, and using them to augment Google’s already superior search capabilities. With social networking, content aggregation and sharing features making it easier for users to find the content most relevant to them, Google+ may have finally cracked the social search code, which is good news for users and businesses alike.

    If you’re considering marketing your business or non-profit organization via Google+, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or any other social channels, our consultants can help you to choose the right channel, craft a sound strategy, build your following, and monitor your progress. If you’d like professional advice on any or all of these crucial steps in social media marketing fill out the Free Consultation form to the right and we’ll contact you, free of charge, to answer all your questions and put you on the road to social marketing success!

    Tags: Social Media, Facebook, Google+, Search, Advertising, Integration, Twitter

    How Banks Can Beat Google & Facebook at Their Own Game

    Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Mon, Jul 11, 2011 @ 01:10 PM

    Banks Can Beat Google and FacebookTo most, the fast moving, pseudo-celebrity world of the tech industry may seem worlds apart from the conservative traditions of today’s struggling banking sector. Banks across the country are suffering from the one-two punch of the credit crunch and increased federal scrutiny and regulation that has dried up many of the industry’s traditional sources of revenue. The future looks gloomy to most working in financial services today, but thanks to the recent cross-over of advertising techniques rooted in the digital world, bankers may have reason for renewed hope.

    It’s common knowledge today that digital powerhouses like Google and Facebook generate their sizable revenue by mining their users’ data and serving them paid advertisements based on their searches, likes and interests. The model has proven quite effective, allowing advertisers to display ads only to prospects that have shown interest via search queries or other submitted information. Google still earns over 95% of its revenue from such targeted advertisements, and growth of its AdWords and AdSense advertising platforms show no sign of slowing down.

    The rosy news for financial institutions is that, thanks to outfits like Cardlytics and Billshrink, they can start earning revenue through similarly targeted advertising models that have proven even more successful at reaching motivated customers than Google’s. That’s because banks are sitting on some of the most valuable information a marketer could dream of – their customers’ spending data. 

    Banks struggling to make ends meet, and afraid to alienate customers with new fees and hiked maintenance costs can now team up with an analysis company like the aforementioned to offer their customers Groupon-esque discounts from retailers like Wal-Mart, Lowes, Pottery Barn or Foot Locker, earning money each time a customer cashes in on one such coupon. According to Rod Witmond, head of product management at Cardlytics, roughly 20% of banking customers that received electronic coupons from their banks opened them,  and 30% of them cashed in on their coupon. Having worked for years on Google AdWords campaigns for clients in all sorts of industries, I'll attest that most advertisers can only dream of such conversion rates.

    Thanks to statement-targeted advertisements, banks not only have a revenue source that benefits their customers in this time of increased regulation and tighter budgets.  Community banks also have a new service to offer local businesses that provides loyalty rewards and could win customers back from national chains, increasing their brand equity with their traditional most valuable customers. Participating financial institutions could package this service with other desirable business accounts and services at a discount to increase their market share among local businesses; just what the doctor ordered during such hard times for the industry.

    Banks using statement-targeted advertising can rest easy knowing that while Google and Facebook are chugging along using proxy data to determine which offers are relevant to their users, their customers and partners, consumer and business alike, benefit from the most telling targeting data there is. Transaction data.

    If your bank is searching for ways to boost revenues without risking customer backlash, our consultants stand ready to help you explore your options and tailor them to your bank's unique needs. Simply fill out the form to the right, and one of our digital marketing consultants will contact you to learn about your institution’s unique goals and challenges, and to work with you to develop a revenue-driven digital media strategy.

    Tags: Banks, Banking, Advertising, Banking Crisis, Revenues

    Financial Institutions Need Digital Marketing Strategy and Risk Management Policies

    Posted by Tim O'Rourke on Thu, Apr 14, 2011 @ 06:55 PM

    risk reward diceRegulators of financial institutions are concerned about digital media, and while a great deal of thought has gone into maintaining security of digital banking transactions, not much has been done with social media and other “inbound marketing” tools. In the uncontrollable world of social media, bank and credit union employees, as well as their customers and members, can engage in risky behaviors without thinking about the ramifications. Yet, the financial industry needs these tools in order to communicate with customers and the public at large in the new digital world.

    The fact that social media has risks need not stop a bank or credit union from embracing an inbound marketing and customer/community engagement strategy. Banks are in the business of taking risks, but they need to get a better handle on the risks associated with digital marketing. Since no money transactions occur in most social media channels, the risks are more related to the security of private information and damage to your brand.

    Every financial institution needs a Social Media Policy. Regulators will be looking for one the next time they do an IT examination (funny that they think of social media as IT). The policy should address the dos and don’ts of using social media for all employees and how to deal with situations in which customers make mistakes in your branded media. Common sense should be the rule, but in today’s litigious society you need to be clear about protecting customer information and protecting the company’s reputation. In helping banks and credit unions develop these policies, we have seen good policies and policies that backfired on the Company. An Australian bank set a policy that employees could be disciplined if their friends and family members posted negative things about the bank in any social media. Employees and their union took the bank to task and the bank finally admitted it was a mistake. They changed their policy.

    orienteeringIf you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. Policy guides strategy and if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy, you are likely to make mistakes in your policy. So, before a bank or credit union sets out to develop a social media policy, an important first step is to think through the overall plan for digital media, inbound marketing and use of social media.  We’ll do more on bank and credit union inbound marketing strategy in future blogs. 

    We would love to hear from banks and credit unions about what they are doing to plan their digital media strategies and mitigate the risks. Call us at 919-732-2835 or click here and complete the form on our home page and we will contact you.

    Tags: Digital Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Banks, Financial Institutions, Risk Management, Banking, Integration, Credit Unions

    A (New) Media Plan for 2011

    Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Thu, Dec 30, 2010 @ 03:27 PM

    distractedAs the 2010 draws to a close, smart businesses are taking a moment to step back and take in the big picture of how they spent their year. For more than a few folks in marketing, this time is being used to evaluate their successes and failures mixing it up with competitors across print, broadcast media, and online communities, networks, feeds and directories.

    If you’re a marketer and you’re not ADD already, you’d better start fragmenting your attention now because the people you’re trying to reach certainly are, at least with respect to the way they consume their media. According to Nielsen, 60% of television viewers are simultaneously using the internet on their computers. I count myself among that 60% often, and the odds are good that you’re right there with me (if so, mute the TV now and focus on this article!).

    While it’s almost impossible to gauge exactly how people are dividing their attention between their computer, tablet or smartphone and their TV, the point is that people are dividing it. This audience behavior can be overwhelming for marketers who want to embrace new media, but aren’t sure how to target campaigns and measure ROI. As Simon Mainwaring points out in his excellent article, What happens when everything is social media?:

    Each media, whether its the iPad, mobile phone, television, movie, VOD, Xbox, game console, tablet or Hulu, has its own ‘use case’ (why someone is selecting that device) that has to be cross-referenced with the others and then measured as a whole. Only then can you know if your marketing spend is having any impact on share of conversation, brand awareness or sales.

    Effective brands must now define themselves in prospects’ minds as the aggregate of the content and conversations about them (controlled and earned coverage). To truly communicate the value of your brand, you can no longer dominate one medium at the expense of the others. Chances are good that your prospects are just too distracted to effectively absorb your value proposition through a single channel.

    How then, should marketers deal with this fragmentation of attention in 2011? Don’t start this year’s plan by budgeting media. Start instead by defining or reexamining your brand’s core value proposition. Refine it until it’s elegant (you’d be surprised at how many brands never take the time to define their unique value proposition in the first place!). Be able to tell prospects what you can do for them simply and effectively. Once you’ve defined your brand’s message, consider how best to communicate that message, and choose your media based on the capabilities that each brings to the table.

    Traditional, one-to-many channels are refined and well understood. But they’re now sharing the stage with a more engaging and less controllable channel in the internet. Online, marketing objectives are won and lost by how brands contribute to the ongoing conversation, not only about themselves, but about their areas of expertise and influence.

    This year, it will be vital to approach each channel based on its ability to reach and engage prospects, and to develop a plan that takes advantage of the unique strengths of each. When most of your prospects are engaging multiple media, simultaneously, mastery of a single channel will no long be enough to succeed. Quality marketing in a magazine looks very different from quality marketing on twitter, and with each year, fewer prospects have the time or attention to give to content that doesn’t match its medium.

    To your marketing success in 2011!

    Tags: Digital Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Television, Strategy, Marketing Integration, Media Planning, Advertising, Integration