The Ideagraph

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http://moz.com/blog/the-ideagraph-whiteboard-friday

This Whiteboard Friday video discusses the concept of the ideagraph, or how seemingly random topics can be related because of human preferences and connections.  The example here is that cyclists may have a common liking of eggplants.  This is not an obvious connection but it had the possibility of creating high converting traffic if you can find the right associations.  This currently exists in the current layouts of grocery stores.  Milk is placed in the back to make people walk through the store to it and items that people looking for milk are likely to buy are placed along the route.

Online this concept can be utilized in several ways.  First, G+ authorship can help search engines understand these connections in a way that their “words and links” structure does not.  Finding these connections can also help guide content creation and keyword research.  Examples of places where these connections can be researched/found are Facebook Ad Planner, collaborative Filters (“people that bought X also bought X) and Followerwonk.

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Brand as Story

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http://moz.com/blog/giving-a-voice-to-your-brand

This article discusses the value of looking at brand marketing from the standpoint of storytelling.  It first looks at psychology and the way that the human brain is wired to respond to stories.  The argument is made that emotions more than facts influence decisions, especially purchasing decisions.  The story, life style and memories that are built around a certain brand or product are far more effective than a list of facts about the product.

Every brand has a story though they are often buried out of sight of the average viewer.  Examining the company mission can give a great starting point for the overall story about the brand.  This can be used as the overarching plot or concept behind marketing efforts.

Story based marketing can also be broken down into the elements that make up any story:

Plot

In a story the plot is the path of events leading through the story.  It starts with the introduction of a circumstance and a problem then builds to a solution and resolution.  There may be other aspects to the plot but this is the simplest form.  The plot of a brand is the things it does to address its mission statement.  It is the connection between the values of the brand and the needs of the customers and how it comes up with solutions that meet match the two together.

Character

In the framework of brand as story the characters are the users of the products, or the customers, and the things the brand creates, or the products.  The users should always be the main characters in the story.  This helps to build the emotional and personal connection that will convert new customers and keep the old ones.  This is also why things like audience research and personas are so important.

Thought (Theme)

Here the theme is presented as the universe the story is built within.  It is the tenants and values that shape and define the story and the products of the brand.  This theme or universe should be appealing and welcoming, inviting customers to join in the brand story.

Diction

Diction in a brand story is both the words and tones that are used throughout the story and the specific words that are created for a brand and the culture they represent.  These are a combination of jargon and branded words (such as brand names) that helps create a sense of community within the story.

Song (Rhythm)

In traditional stories rhythm is about the pace and flow of the story.  When related to brand stories it addresses usability and accessibility for the user.

Spectacle

Spectacle is all of the little pieces that fill in the gaps, pull at the heart strings and create an exciting experience.  It can be little more than fluff at times but it completes the experience and gives it a flashy front.  In the article the graphic design element of webdesign is given as an example of spectacle.

 

The article concludes with some examples of exceptional brand storytelling and the evidence of how effective it was.  Creating a story is about engaging an audience and making them part of the story, especially in the digital space, and has far more ability to grab attention, keep it and convert users than more more traditional marketing models.

Headline Preferences

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http://moz.com/blog/5-data-insights-into-the-headlines-readers-click

This articles summarizes the results of a study about headlines.  It breaks down the five common types of headlines: normal, question, number, how to and reader addressing.  It then looks at survey data as to the preference for each type of headline.  The results found that number (such as _ ways to _) were by far the most common with reader addressing coming in second.  The conclusion that was drawn from the data is that readers like headline that are clear as possible, giving precise information about what is in the article.

There are also some statistics here about the importance of headlines.  2 million blog posts, 294 billion emails, and 864 thousand hours of video are created daily.  That’s a lot of content, and while many people look at a large number of headlines statistics show that only about 20% of articles that are seen are actually read.  This means that creating headlines that are enticing and appealing is incredibly important.

Content Strategy for Marketing

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http://moz.com/ugc/content-strategy-youre-doing-it-wrong

This article presents a simplified flow for marketing content that focuses on finding people that are actually interested in purchasing your product or service.  This is the basic structure the author presents:

  1. Create a valuable piece of industry specific but general information (such as a white paper document or a webinar)
  2. Use the contact information gathered from this content to offer more specific information without being an advertisement such as addressing a problem in the industry your product solves
  3. For those that engage offer more product specific information and engage through sales and marketing.

The most important aspect of this model is to provide valuable content and not attempt to sell anything until the user engages with content that shows they are open to buying your product or sales.