September Content Marketing Newsletter

September 2017
From the Edge of the Great Plains

Dear Content Marketers:

Publisher John Heaston and I decided in September’s Content Marketing Newsletter to spotlight two emerging trends – the surge in Artificial Intelligence (AI) as applied to marketing and the related and growing impact of imagery.

We‘ll also touch on Google Analytics, social media marketing, local competitive audits and, as an encore, an explanation by Jay Baer, president of Convince & Convert, on why content marketing remains a job, not an art form.

If there’s a topic you think would help you and your colleagues, please let us know. We promise to share the most effective content we find.

All the best to you as autumn returns to the eastern edge of the Great Plains.

Thomas Gunning
Content Marketing Editor
1. 10 Google Analytics Event Goals You Need To Set

There is arguably no free resource that’s more valuable to today’s online business than the Google Analytics platform. It’s a tool that would normally cost thousands of dollars per year, but is Google’s gift to you. Having said that, are you making the most out of the platform by tapping into the “goals” feature? Tracking page views is certainly interesting, but isn’t that helpful to understanding your business. If you want to know how your website performs and how customers respond, you need to set goals. In Google Analytics, says Larry Alton at, there are four primary ways to track goals: destination, duration, pages per session and events.
2. AI Applications That Are Changing the Face of Content Marketing

It’s been a subtle shift, but artificial intelligence (AI) has begun to permeate our everyday lives, automating more and more of the world around us, says Anastasia Dyakovskaya, a NewsCred Contributor. AI now powers Google Maps, Siri, smart cars, internet radio, and your favorite online shops. And now that AI is coming to content marketing, the industry is poised for disruption. AI has the power to optimize nearly all our projects and processes, augmenting human skill and creativity to generate ever more relevant, appealing, and effective content for any audience. By 2025, the artificial intelligence market is set to surpass $100 billion.
3. How AI & Image Recognition Transform Social Media Marketing

If a picture is worth a thousand words, social media users are speaking volumes. People now share more than 3.25 billion photos a day on the world’s biggest social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. In 2012, that number was less than 500 million, says Marketing Land contributor Rob Begg. Data also shows that social media users gravitate toward visual content: Facebook users are 2.3 times more likely to engage with posts that have images than with those that don’t, and tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets than those that are pure text. It’s safe to say that social media is now primarily a visual medium, and marketers can’t afford to look the other way.
4. Is Your Social Content Picture-Perfect or Merely Taking Stock?

Attention span in social media can be measured in split seconds, not minutes. While your update hopes to entice me to interact with your content, there are hundreds of other posts right below yours crying for my attention, notes Jonathan Crossfield, chief content officer – magazine for the Content Marketing Institute. This fleeting first impression, like the cover art of a magazine, may be the only chance people have to discover your content. And if you waste that opportunity, it won’t matter how wonderful your content is. When our social media feeds are choked with content begging for attention, you better hope your choice of imagery causes people to stop and take notice.
5. 10 Incredibly Useful Video Tools for Content Marketers

If you’ve tried to convince your boss it’s time to produce video content within your marketing plan, consider mentioning that even psychologists say people are 39 percent more likely to share content distributed via video. Plus, videos make it easier for people to form emotional connections with their content versus text, and the brain processes it 60,000 times faster. But you don’t just need impressive stats to win your argument, says Kayla Matthews, a contributing blogger to Convince & Convert. Tools are essential, tool. You can come armed with arguments for why it’s crucial to create video-based content, and also what tools you’d use to do it.

6. How to Build a Smart Yet Simple Social Media Marketing Plan

One of the core tasks involved in documenting your content marketing strategy is to develop your social media marketing plan, also known as your channel plan. This details where you will distribute your content and what you expect achieve by doing so. Many brands assume they must post their content anywhere and everywhere. But plastering your brand’s content across every social network, trendy news site and video platform is not a channel plan — it’s more like a channel pipe bomb, says Jodi Harris, director of editorial content & curation at the Content Marketing Institute.
7. How to Perform a Basic Local Business Competitive Audit

“Why are those folks outranking me in Google’s local pack?” If you or a client asks this question, the answer lies in competitive analysis. You’ve got to stack Business A against Business B to identify the strengths and weaknesses of both. Then you can make an educated guess as to which factors Google is weights most in the results for a specific search term, says Miriam Ellis of Moz. She shares a real-world example of a competitive audit, including a chart that depicts which factors she investigated, as well as explanatory tips and tools for how she arrived at the numbers and facts.
8. Content Marketing Is a Job, Not an Art Form

Storytelling is the concept du jour in content marketing. Make sure you have a hero, and a journey, and a harrowing tale, and a surprise twist. It’s not bad advice. Infusing your content with a story makes it emotionally resonant, creating memorability and impact it might otherwise lack , says Jay Baer president of Convince & Convert. So I’m absolutely on board with storytelling as a content marketing device. But just because you understand story arcs and can riff on Joseph Campbell doesn’t mean you’re now Francis Ford Coppola or William Faulkner. Content marketing is a job, not an art form. You’re not competing for accolades and critics praise. You’re competing for consumer attention, period.


August Content Marketing Newsletter

August 2017

From the Edge of the Great Plains

Dear Content Marketers:

In August’s Content Marketing Newsletter, Publisher John Heaston and I offer eight online posts we think will help you improve your skills as Content Marketers. We focus on some fundamentals of the writing process, as well as issues like social media and review fraud.

The stories we share with you this month include:

·         Social Media: These Are the Trends You Need to Know
·         Paint by Numbers: Using Data to Produce Great Content
·         6 High Impact Ways to Enhance Local Business Visibility Online
·         Fight Review Spam: The Complete Guide for the Local Enterprise
·         How To Use Visual Content To Drive Results
·         How to Explain Content Marketing to Anyone
·         The Content Marketer’s Guide to Story Structure
·         Why You Need Both Personalization and Humanization

If there’s a topic you want us to address in the future, let us know. We promise to share the best content we find. And if you have suggestions, bring ‘em on!

And I apologize for sending this so late in the month. I allowed family issues to overwhelm me.

All the best to you and yours.

Thomas Gunning

Content Marketing Editor


Social Media: These Are the Trends You Need to Know

It’s time we talked about how you use social media. That’s right, this is an intervention. We’re concerned about what you do, and more importantly what you don’t. Your lack of adoption of new channels. Your total disrespect of mobile first users. Your reluctance to try video. Your fear of spending money on social ads. Your results. We’re concerned. We bring up these concerns out of love for you and modern marketing. You see, social media marketing has changed, but most social media marketers haven’t, says Marcus Andrews, a HubSpot product marketing manager

Paint by Numbers: Using Data to Produce Great Content

Prior to joining Moz, I was a consultant at an agency like many of you. More often than not, one of the key concerns of my clients was what to write about, says Russ Jones, search scientist at Moz. It seems that webmasters and business owners alike can easily acquire writer’s block after trudging through the uninspiring task of turning a list of keywords into website copy. So where do you look when you have run out of words? Numbers. What I hope to show you is how data can be an incredible source of inspiration in writing, especially if you can hit a few key principles: expose, relate, surprise, and share.

6 High Impact Ways to Enhance Local Business Visibility Online

Although potential customers already look for local businesses online – and there are billions of Google searches each month – they’re unlikely to discover those nearby stores that don’t have a solid local presence management strategy in place, says Bernadette Coleman, CEO of Advice Interactive Group. So what’s a local business to do? To begin, start taking local presence management more seriously. Today I want to share six simple yet clever ways a business can optimize its local presence online. These actions will drive more traffic to the website – and more customers through the front door.

Fighting Review Spam: The Complete Guide for Local Enterprise

It’s 105 degrees outside my office right now, and the only thing hotter in this summer of 2017 is the local SEO industry’s discussion of review spam, says Miriam Ellis at Moz. It’s become increasingly clear that major review sites represent an irresistible temptation to spammers, highlighting systemic platform weaknesses and the critical need for review monitoring that scales. Just as every local brand, large and small, has had to adjust to the reality of reviews’ substantial impact on modern consumer behavior, competitive businesses must now prepare themselves to manage the facts of fraudulent sentiment.

How To Use Visual Content To Drive Results

If you are a content marketer, you probably realize a picture is worth a thousand words. Quality writing is crucial to your content success, but to really stand, visual content must become part of your marketing arsena, says Lucia Wang of VisMe. Effective use of visuals goes beyond just pleasing the eye. The value of visual content is literally a cascade effect: people find visual content irresistible because it is engaging, easy to understand and fun. Marketers love visual content because it makes it easier for them to reach their target audiences. And major search engines love visual content because people do.

How to Explain Content Marketing to Anyone

The concept of content marketing has been around for hundreds of years (see this example from 1672), and the discipline has gained incredible popularity since 2007, according to Google Trends. But, when we recently launched a new e-book that answers common content marketing questions, we learned many readers are just starting, says Michele Linn, vice president of content at the Content Marketing Institute. We want to continually cover the basics. Whether you are new to the practice, need a new way to look at what you’ve been doing or need help explaining this to your relatives, this post is for you.

The Content Marketer’s Guide to Story Structure

Content is everywhere, most of it free and most of it utterly buried by other content. As content marketers, we struggle and fight to be heard. Meanwhile, author James Patterson earned $95 million in 2016. People pay to read his content. If you haven’t thought about that before – that people will pay a lot of money for great storytelling – then I hope you do now, says Pratik Dholakiya, co-founder of E2M, a full service digital marketing agency. Best-selling fiction authors know something. It’s something you ought to know too if you want to be heard.

Why You Need Both Personalization and Humanization

Last week, a student in my Content Marketing Master Class asked about the difference between personalization and humanization. Personalization and humanization are both foundational elements of modern marketing success, says Jay Baer, president of Both are valuable to companies and organizations, but for very different reasons. Personalization increases message relevancy, which boosts behavior rates (the likelihood a consumer will open, click, share, buy). Humanization increases kinship, which boosts trust (impacting behavior rates, advocacy, and retention).


July PioneerMedia Content Marketing Newsletter

July 2017

From the Edge of the Great Plains

Dear Content Marketers:

In July’s PionerMedia Content Marketing Newsletter, Publisher John Heaston and I suggest a feast of eight online posts we think will grow your effectiveness in Content Marketing.

The topics we hope you ponder this month include:

  •  10 Types of Content that Work Best for SEO
  • An A-to-Z Guide to Google Analytics for Content Marketers
  • The Value of Mission-Driven Content Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing Hacks on a Shoestring Budget
  • 8 Things Any Good Marketer Should Know About Email
  • Mid-Year Content Marketing Checkup
  • How Long Should Your Blog Articles Be?
  • The Ultimate Guide to Small Business SEO

Please note only two of our eight recommended links start with numbers.

If there’s a topic you want us to address in future newsletters, please let us know. We’ll make sure to share the best content we find.

We hope your summer is productive and profitable.

Thomas Gunning

Content Marketing Editor


10 Types of Content That Work Best for SEO

In a comprehensive piece, Rand Fishkin, self-proclaimed “Wizard of Moz” at, identifies the 10 distinct content types that work best for SEO. He classifies what formats are suited for which type of queries. In this Whiteboard Friday from last December, he explains those content types and how to use them to satisfy searcher intent, match them to the right projects, and enhance your overall strategy. Fishkin talks specifically about content rather than content for e-commerce product pages, a contact pages and similar kinds of products.

An A-to-Z Guide to Google Analytics for Content Marketers

Analytics makes the world go around, says Payman Taei, designer and founder of Maryland’s HindSite Interactive, particularly in this data-driven environment. According to Forbes, more data was created during the last two years than in all of human history combined. As a result of this massive influx, analytics services, particularly Google Analytics, are now an invaluable tool for content marketers. Analytics lets you go beneath the numbers to the heart of the story that hides in plain sight. If your data give you the “what,” analytics gives you the “where, why, and how.”

The Value of Mission-Driven Content Marketing

To make our content marketing efforts stand out is increasingly tough. The sheer amount of content creation and consumption staggers the imagination, says Anastasia Dyakovskaya, a NewsCred Contributor. Last year, business management software platform Domo released data that showed YouTube users upload 300 hours of new video, Twitter users send almost 350,000 tweets and Instagrammers “like” nearly 250,000 posts – each minute. It seems an insurmountable task to make your voice heard. But quality content rises to the top, and content with a mission goes further. Mission-driven content marketing not only creates customer loyalty. It also leads to increased revenue.

Mobile Marketing Hacks on a Shoestring Budget

One of the most powerful digital marketing tools is literally in your hands, or at least within reach, right now. Mobile Internet usage overtook PCs and laptops in 2016 and has continued to climb, notes David Schneider, co-founder of NinjaOutreach, a blogger software company. More than half of the world’s population uses the Internet, 90% of which is through a mobile device. In 2021, the number of mobile devices may well reach 11.6 billion, pointing to the fact that your business needs to keep up, adapt or slowly wither away. It can be done, even on a shoestring budget.

8 Things Any Good Marketer Should Know About Email

Email is the most valuable tool for any content marketer, says Ann Gynn, editor the Content Marketing Institute blog. She notes 93% of B2B marketers use email to distribute content. And of those, 91% consider email to be critical. Email can help you build better relationships with your audience, understand behaviors and maximize your paid social content’s reach. That’s the advice from Mathew Sweezey, principal of marketing insights at Salesforce. His tips include how to leverage email in today’s world to why it’s more important than ever to obtain people’s email addresses.

Mid-Year Content Marketing Checkup

In a piece primarily aimed at corporate decision-makers, Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute’s founder, says it’s the perfect time to reflect on content marketing strategy. What works? What doesn’t? What needs to change? Here are some suggestions he makes to those decision-makers. And to us:

  • Get rid of the wannabes. If your internal experts can’t write, use a professional.
  • Partner with non-competitive businesses on content marketing projects.
  • Kill your current e-newsletter. It’s more important than ever, so create real value from its ashes.

How Long Should Your Blog Articles Be? (With Word Counts for Every Industry)

Word count. It’s a topic that gets a lot of notice. Bloggers and content marketers always wonder what the ideal word count to shoot for is, Neil Patel says. Should each single piece be long form, or is it better to opt for shorter pieces? One thing Patel makes clear about word count is it only matters if the content is good. Word count is not a standalone ranking factor. Word count only has merit if the content quality is high. You can produce a 10,000-word article. But if the content and quality suck, then the article doesn’t deserve to get ranked. You lose.

The Ultimate Guide to Small Business SEO

SEO isn’t just for large companies, notes Michiel Heljmans, COO at  As a small business, there’s a lot properly structured SEO can do for you. Many relate to focus. In his “Ultimate Guide” to small SEO, Heljmans discusses how to find your niche, optimize the pages of your website and strengthen your social media efforts. So long as Google’s local search result pages continue to grow and improve, any small, local business that wants to succeed must keep pace. So here is Heljmans’ ultimate guide to local and small business SEO.

GMB Tests, Duplicates, Streetview Schedule, Website Optimization and more

GMB Testing on a Tear, Especially with Restaurants

Blumenthals reports daily testing — “a testament to Google’s continual effort to gain audience and more importantly, keep that audience at Google long enough to complete a transaction” — especially with restaurants, including a reservation answer box and visual attributes. [Blumenthals]

How GMB Menu Listings Can Change Restaurant Search

With the new GMB feature to publish your entire menu with images, consumers are more likely to search by menu item, and see different restaurant results. [GeoMarketing]

What You Need to Know About Duplicate GMB Listings

With MapMaker dead, here’s the steps from expert Joy Hawkins on how to address. [Moz]

When Will Google Fix My Streetview Image?

There’s a schedule for Streetview updates here. [Blumenthals]

17 Killer Link Building Ideas

Lots of things change in SEO, but one thing hasn’t — links matter. [Search Engine Journal]

Easy Ways to Create Local Content to Boost Local Rankings

From NAP in the footers, a reviews/testimonials page and multiple location pages to FAQs and About Us pages. [BrightLocal]

How to Optimize a Small Website: On-Page & Mobile Factors

Great checklist covering coding, navigation and content. [Search Engine Journal]

What Is A Local Citation for Local SEO

The definition, the different types and why it’s important. [Whitespark]


Google Ads Simplified – Introducing AdWords Express

Google AdWords can be a very powerful tool in the marketing arsenal of a small business.

AdWords is now time-tested. Its proven methods have been in use since October 2000. These methods are utilized by more than a million advertisers. It’s one of three online advertising tools, along with programmatic and Facebook, that every business should consider.

By point of comparison, at its peak in 2000, total newspaper advertising revenues were $67 billion. Last year that dropped to $16.4 billion as Google’s revenues — almost entirely from AdWords — hit $89 billion. A blog post for another day, but Facebook’s revenues last year hit $27.6 billion, passing the entire newspaper industry.

Needless to say, we’ve noticed and it’s a strategy we implement for our clients, often with the help of Infogroup, an Elite Premier Partner. If anyone ever tells you they’re a Google partner, that just means they manage at least $10,000 in Adwords spending every 3 months. Infogroup manages quite a bit more than that and they have good team overseeing it. For budgets under $500/month, we often recommend a simple AdWords Express account.

When used correctly, Google AdWords can really round out a small business marketing strategy. Interestingly enough, while AdWords have become a fundamental strategy for typical “yellow page” advertisers – think service categories like home improvement or legal – over 70% of small and mid-sized business (SMBs) report not having spent much on AdWords, according to Borrell’s annual study.

There’s still opportunity out there.

AdWords Introduced

Google serves answers (mostly in the form of links to websites, but that’s changing) to the questions it’s asked. It’s no coincidence those ads on your Google search results match what you’re looking for. While all those ads together represent less than 10% of clicks, on average, it’s the only way to appear on page 1 quickly. The organic results, the other 90%+ of the clicks on a search page, takes a lot of time and hard work.

For example, if a user types “auto shop” into a Google search, ads appear for nearby auto shops that use AdWords advertising. The obvious benefit is that the ad messages are targeted to the search, delivering pertinent details to users who actually look for them.

There is an intent established on the part of the searcher that isn’t there in most forms of advertising. The traditional media most impacted by this are the role phone books and yellow pages used to dominate.

The AdWords interface has expanded to include display advertising and video ads, but we’re going to focus on the text-based ads seen in a typical search.

How AdWords Works

Google sells its advertising in a very fluid, very fast marketplace, allowing advertisers to “bid” on their advertising based on clicks, which go where the advertiser directs them (almost always your website and preferably an optimized landing page). It’s possible to have Google prominently display your message (impressions) at no cost until an Internet user clicks on the ad.

But bids are only one part (albeit the most important) in the equation. Google considers bids based on another metric – Quality Score. Based on how the ad performs (does it get clicks, do Internet users not bounce immediately after clicking), Google will score each ad’s relevance and click-through rate, with some consideration for the historical performance of your account.

All of these factors together determine which ads are served and in what order.

Getting started with AdWords Express

Small businesses commonly start with Google AdWords Express. This version will offer a suggested range of 3 bid limits and their estimated clicks, making it quick and easy to set up. You can enter your own amounts as well.

  1. Sign up to get started.
  2. Provide information on your business.
  3. Create your ad with the help of Google’s tutorial.
  4. Set up a billing profile and your Google AdWords campaign begins.

A full tutorial on how to set up Google AdWords Express is available from HubSpot.

Google AdWords isn’t complicated, nor is it terribly expensive. Yet kit’s one method of advertising that will complement the marketing campaign of any small business.

If you’d like to explore Google AdWords more and have questions, we can certainly help you.