20 Holiday Content Ideas for Web MarketersIf you haven’t heard any holiday music yet, expect a Christmas song to come wafting your way any moment now. The holiday season is officially upon us. While the holiday season means presents, meals, and festive decorations for most, for marketers it also means getting into gear for the biggest buying season of the year. A lot of that work will fall to more direct advertising channels like PPC and traditional advertising, but content marketers can put their holiday spirit to use by creating content around topics people are interested in and thinking about this time of year. Here are twenty ways to bring the holidays into your content marketing efforts this year (and hopefully drive some new sales for your business).
1. Holiday Gift GuideOne of the best places to start is with a content type that perfectly combines the content marketing goal of providing value to your audience while also highlighting your products at the same time. One of the biggest concerns many people have at this time of year is trying to figure out what gifts to buy for their loved ones. A gift guide supplies them with ideas. Consider creating several gift guides for different audiences. You could make one for grandma, another for dad, one of office friends, etc. You could even get cute with it like Modcloth does with categories like the Animal Lover and the Snuggle Bug.
2. A Roundup of Good CausesIn addition to spending money on gifts, people are often in a more giving spirit this time of year when it comes to good causes. You can help them by highlighting some good nonprofits to consider for their charitable donations this year. If possible, find a way to tie this back to your company or brand. If you run a local business, you could make a list of local causes and charities to include. If you run a pet store, you could focus on animal welfare charities. If there’s not a clear charitable cause related to your business, then think about the values you have as a business and start there. To make the post even more meaningful, consider offering to match donations your readers give to the charities highlighted or provide a portion of the profits for purchases they make to the charity of their choice.
3. Content About Your Own Company’s GivingPeople are in the spirit of giving this season, but in addition to their own contributions to worthy causes, they’re also more likely to appreciate knowing that a business they support is working to do good as well. This is a good opportunity to share the ways your company gives back to the community and those in need – which you already do, right? If not, this is a good time of year to get in the giving spirit yourself and look for ways to start doing so.
4. Festive PhotosHolidays often provide an excuse to decorate or dress up. You can add some character to your blog and show the humans behind your brand by sharing images of your staff and their pets in holiday garb and your office decked out for the holidays. You can share your festive photos on social media and even call for submissions from your customers to share their own cute or fun holiday-themed photos.
5. Holiday Healthy Eating TipsOne of the best things about the holidays is all that delicious food. One of the worst things about the holidays is all that (unhealthy) delicious food. In addition to gift buying and charitable giving, something many people will have on their minds this time of year is how to navigate being around loads of delicious foods while staying healthy. Content that addresses this tricky issue can be helpful for your readers. This is an especially good topic to explore if your business is in an industry related to health.
6. Holiday Party TipsYour readers will probably be going to (and hosting) more parties in November and December than any other time of year. This is another topic you can address that you know they’ll be thinking about. Your content can cover how to dress for holiday parties, office party etiquette, what’s appropriate to bring, or how to be a good host – pretty much anything that might help those holiday parties be more of a success.
7. Holiday Safety TipsThe holidays can feel like all fun and games, but you also have to worry about staying safe during the busiest travel times of the year, dealing with huge (sometimes stampeding) crowds at stores, and extreme cold temperatures in some places. There are some real safety risks for people to be aware of and prepared for this time of year. Another topic that’s therefore likely to useful to your readers is ways to stay safe during the holiday season. Think about some of the challenges and safety risks the people in your audience will be dealing with and work up content with tips on how to stay safe.
8. Holiday Travel TipsSafety is just one issue of many to be concerned with when traveling in November and December. There’s a whole host of travel-related issues people could use help with from how to pack (especially if you’re transporting lots of gifts across the country), how to find the best flight deals, or how to avoid routes with the worst traffic. Brainstorm issues that your audience is likely to face when traveling for the holidays and work up some content to help them proactively solve likely problems.
9. Holiday Saving TipsFor all the fun of the presents, parties, and food that come with the holidays – they’re not easy on the pocketbook. Between gifts for everyone you know, big meals, and expensive travel, a lot of people in your audience are probably struggling to figure out how to have a fun, fulfilling holiday season without ending up broke at the end of it all. That makes holiday spending and saving best practices another useful area for your content to cover.
10. Recipe PostsWhether they’re hosting parties, attending potlucks, or simply cooking with the family, chances are your customers will be making some food and drinks over the next couple of months. Help them try out something new by providing creative, festive recipes. If you sell something consumable that people can use in a recipe, all the better.
11. Review PostsPeople will be considering a lot of purchases over the next couple of months and will struggle with knowing which items are good buys worth the money. You can help by writing review posts of products that people in your industry are likely to be interested in. An honest review that provides information someone interested in the product would need to know can help them make a more informed decision before buying and earn you trust (and traffic).
12. Holiday Promotion EmailsA lot of the ideas up until now have been focused on providing value to the reader, which is obviously a big part of content marketing. But of course, at some point you should be a little more direct in pushing for a sale. Emails to your list are a good place to do that. Let them know about the promotions and deals you’re offering to try to drive them back to the site to buy.
13. Customer Thanks EmailsYour customers are the people who keep your business running year by year. This is a good time of year to show your gratitude (especially if you do it right around Thanksgiving). Email your customers to let them know how much they mean to you, and consider throwing a special promotion into the email just for them.
14. Holiday Advent CalendarAdvent calendars are a fun holiday tradition because they dangle the promise of a new surprise every day. You can adapt the fun of advent calendars to marketing by creating a digital advent calendar that provides your users with a new promotion or message each day leading up to Christmas. There are even templates and Wordpress plug-ins to help you with the technical side of creating an advent calendar.
15. End-of-Year Trends PostsYes, they’re a familiar content staple. But they’re popular for a reason. As the end of the year approaches, consider the main trends in your space from the past year and what you expect to be a big deal in the coming year, and work up a post letting your readers know what to expect.
16. End-of-Year Bests PostsIf you’ve been doing content marketing at least since the beginning of last year, then you’ve built up a lot of good content this year. Go back and identify your best pieces and put them into roundup posts that help your visitors revisit the best you have to offer. If you’ve been following other great content in your industry closely this year, then go ahead and work up posts highlighting the best of that content, too. Spreading a little love to other relevant blogs and companies may earn you some shares and links from them, and provide your audience with useful information at the same time.
17. Get Creative with RewardsThe holidays are about giving, so think about ways you can give back to your customers that are creative and enticing. That could mean offering a special physical holiday gift for referrals instead of your usual $20 off, or adding on a mystery item to orders over a certain amount. Cards Against Humanity rewards their holiday customers with 12 days of surprise gifts that have included such bizarre rewards as a lump of coal or part of a private island. You don’t have to go that far into the unexpected, but getting creative can inspire similar interest and delight in your customers and keep them talking about your brand.
18. Create a Holiday QuizQuizzes are great because they’re interactive and fun, and they help both you and the person taking them learn something new. Think about something relevant to the holiday you can focus your quiz on, like “What Type of Gift Giver Are You?” or a roundup of interesting holiday trivia. If you can find a way to tie it back into your brand, then do, but it can also be worth doing just as something fun to offer your audience that gets them interacting with your brand.
19. Create a GameGames are another fun way to get your audience to engage with your brand. Creating a holiday game will involve some real work, but if it attracts new customers to your website or gets people talking about your brand, it can pay off. The shoe company Bobbies created a branded game for Christmas that was played over 400,000 times by users that happily shared their information with the company. If you make brand interaction fun, people will have no reason not to partake.
20. New Year’s Resolutions PostsThe last of the big holidays of the season is the one that heralds in the beginning of the New Year, and we all know what that means: resolutions. People tend toward a few main themes when making New Year’s resolutions – getting healthier and getting finances in order are big ones. Think about ways your products can make your customers happier, healthier or more responsible and use those ideas to help inspire you in writing up a post about making and keeping New Year’s Resolutions.
ConclusionAs with any other time of year, the key to creating great content during the holiday season is to think about your customer first. If you can tap into what they’re concerned about, excited about, or just generally thinking about, then you can create content that speaks to what they care about. Where possible, tie it back into your brand and products and include relevant CTAs, but don’t try to force it. Sometimes an opportunity to interact and build on your relationship with them is enough.
Thursday, November 16, 2017 by Syed Balkhi
How to Make Your Website More Mobile Friendly (And Why You Should)Are you seeing a decline in organic website traffic? Are you still using the same old website design that you used when first starting your website? It may be hard to believe, but your bad website design may be the main reason why you’re losing website traffic. As you may know, Google recently changed its search algorithm to give a ranking boost for mobile-friendly websites and also punish other desktop-only websites. If your website is not properly optimized to meet Google’s mobile-friendly standards, you're putting your entire business at risk. It’s time you make some changes to improve your website. You can start by optimizing your website for mobile devices. Here’s why.
Mobile Is The FutureYou’re probably getting a decent amount of traffic for your website. You’re generating good sales. And everything seems to be working fine. So you might wonder: Why change your website design when nothing seems to be wrong? Well, maybe you haven’t noticed yet is that mobile devices are slowly taking over the world. In fact, mobile devices are already in the lead for most internet usage after surpassing desktop devices. In a few more years, everyone will be using smartphones and tablets to browse the web. It will probably be too late to save your business by then. So, take action now to make your website future-proof.
Beat Your CompetitionReports show that 62% of companies with a mobile-first website design see an increase in sales over companies with desktop-only websites. It’s not surprising, then, that 52% of users claim they are less likely to engage with a website with a bad mobile user experience. By making your website mobile-friendly, you're better equipped to beat your competition and rank higher on Google Search. Show the world why your business is more innovative than the competition and also increase your sales in the process.
Rank Higher On GoogleAs we’ve mentioned earlier, Google now gives a ranking boost for mobile-friendly websites. That means whenever a user searches for something on Google, the search engine will show mobile-friendly websites above other websites. Google rolled out this update to its search algorithm in May 2016. So, if you’ve noticed a drop in organic website traffic since then, this could be the reason why. Optimize your website with a responsive design and you’ll be able to recover the traffic that you’ve lost and even gain better ranking on Google.
Tips for Making Your Website More Mobile-FriendlyBefore we get started on optimizing the website, you need to figure out how much your website needs to be improved. Use the Google Mobile Friendly Test tool to test your website and see which parts of your website needs to be fixed. The tool will also offer suggestions on how to improve your site for mobile devices as well. You can also use your Google Analytics data to learn what type of mobile devices your website visitors mostly use. Then you can better optimize your website for certain device screens based on that data.
1. Optimize For Touch ScreensOne of the biggest differences between mobile and desktop devices is their interaction methods. On mobile devices, people are used to zooming in with fingertips and swiping across to view more. Making your website design responsive is not enough to offer a great user experience to mobile users. You have to optimize your website for touch screens as well. This includes adding touchscreen navigation to the website. For example, you can make sure the slideshows on your website can be swiped across with fingertips. Make forms, such as your email opt-in forms, easier to fill by reducing the number of fields in a form.
2. Compress HTML, CSS, and ImagesMaking your website load faster is another important part of optimizing a website for mobile devices. You must make sure that your website loads fast enough to keep visitors from getting frustrated, especially on mobile devices. Compress your high-resolution images to ensure your blog posts don’t consume too much data on mobile devices. Also, compress and minify your website’s HTML and CSS to give a speed boost. Installing a good caching plugin will help you with that.
3. Choose The Right Font SizesEven some of the most popular blogs are still using tiny font sizes that makes our eyes hurt when reading. Your visitors shouldn’t have to zoom in on your blog posts just to read its content. This completely ruins the user experience. You can actually fix this problem by configuring a viewport to make sure your fonts are rendered to correct sizes on different device screens. It’s a simple process, but you’ll need some CSS skills to get it done.
4. Switch To A Better ThemeOf course, since you’re using WordPress, the easiest method to make your website mobile friendly is to upgrade to a better theme. Simply buy a modern WordPress theme that comes with a mobile-friendly design and replace your old theme with the new one. It’s as simple as that. Or, you could use a plugin to optimize your website for mobile devices. However, this method is not recommended and it will make your website load slightly slower. Only use it as a temporary fix until you find a permanent solution.
5. Implement AMPAMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an open-source project developed to offer a smooth web browsing experience to mobile users. When implemented, AMP creates optimized versions of your blog posts that can be viewed on mobile devices in split seconds. It makes your website load so fast that browsing an AMP-powered website feels like using a native app on your phone. Google also ranks AMP-powered websites higher on its mobile search results. You can easily implement AMP on your website using a free WordPress plugin.
Over To YouKeep testing your website until you perfect the design for mobile devices. Use a tool like BrowserStack to get that job done. What advice do you have for making a website more mobile-friendly? Please share in the comments!
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 by Kevin Wood
Best WordPress Plugins for Anti SpamYou’ve finally done it, your site is gaining traction, and you’re getting more traffic than ever before. However, once your site starts to pick up your traffic, you might also notice the rise of something else, too: spam comments. If you run a WordPress blog or website and have comments enabled, then you’re probably well aware of the spam comments that fill your inbox. These can be a nuisance to sort through and delete yourself, but you don’t want to stop moderating comments and have spam comments fill up your site. Luckily, if you’re using WordPress, then there’s a way around this. There are dozens of anti-spam plugins you can use to help ward off those pesky spam comments. Below we profile 5 of the top anti-spam plugins you can use on your WordPress site.
1. AkismetAkismet is one of the most popular and longest running WordPress anti spam plugins. Automattic, the team behind WordPress, developed this plugin. If you’ve done a default installation of WordPress, then this plugin comes atomically installed. However, to use this plugin you’ll need an API key, which is free and easy to setup. However, if you run a large commercial website, and need to moderate over 50,0000 comments per month, you'll want to upgrade to a paid plan. Whenever a new comment is submitted to your site, Akismet runs through their cloud-based algorithm, and filters out any spam comments.
2. Antispam BeeAntispam Bee is a simple and free spam protection plugin. It doesn’t require you to register or setup an account, just install the plugin and you’ll be set. To filter out spam this plugin compares spam requests to an existing spam database, uses IP address checks, and Gravatar validating. Plus, this plugin will show the statistical data of spam requests blocked and filtered. There’s also a feature that will delete any stored spam every couple of days, so it won’t slow down your site. If you’re looking for a simple spam solution, then this plugin is worth trying out.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 by Kristen Hicks
Snapchat Advertising GuideFor some of you reading, the mass appeal of Snapchat might still be baffling. Who knew one of the things social media users were missing was the ability to make the social experience even more temporary and fleeting? Well, the founders of Snapchat knew and they’re banking on just how right they were in that realization. With a growing list of social media channels that advertisers feel pressured to be on, Snapchat may not top the list for you, but it’s well worth considering as an addition to your advertising efforts.
Why Businesses Should Be Advertising on SnapchatTo start, the most obvious reason to consider advertising on Snapchat is that its user base is sizeable. The app has 173 million daily users. While that’s considerably less than Facebook’s 1.32 billion daily users, it’s more than Twitter’s estimated 157 million. That makes it a bigger player than it often gets credit for being in conversations about social media marketing. As you could probably guess, most of those users are young. 71% of Snapchat users are under 34. If you’re selling hearing aids, you may be better served in other channels. But if you’re selling anything that teens or millennials are likely to buy, Snapchat is worth paying attention to. Notably, a lot of those Snapchat users show real engagement. While a lot of advertising on the web is easy for people to scroll past or overlook, brands on Snapchat have shared getting impressive results in engagement. Taco Bell has said that 80% of their Snapchat followers open the snaps they share, and 90% of the people who open them watch them in their entirety. And viewers are much more likely to be listening as well as watching on Snapchat: 70% of the video ads on the platform play with the sound on, in comparison to the 85% on Facebook that play muted. That said, possibly in part because of the use of sound, many users don’t bother watching ads in their entirety on Snapchat, so that seeming benefit may come with a serious tradeoff. Advertising on Snapchat isn’t right for every business, but if the people using the app every day are in your target audience, then it’s probably worth it for you.
Your Snapchat Ad OptionsIf you’re ready to consider paid advertising on Snapchat, your first step is figuring out the types of ads to use.
1. Snap Ad VideosThe ad option Snapchat provides that comes closest to traditional ad formats you’re already familiar with is Snap Ad videos. These are videos you create that last up to 10 seconds and play in between other pieces of content users consume while using the Snapchat Stories part of the app. They include the option for users to swipe up to access additional content you provide, whether that’s a longer video, written content, your website or an app install. Snapchat claims the swipe-up rate on these ads is five times the click-through rate of ads on other social media platforms, so there’s a decent chance you can guide users to seek out more information on your brand. Typical Cost: While the cost for Snap Ads varies for different companies based on the particulars of their ads and campaigns, Snap Ad campaigns start at around $3,000 a month.
2. Sponsored LensesSponsored lenses are a fun and engaging way that brands can tailor their advertising to the platform’s strengths. Brands create lenses relevant to a product or event that people can apply to their own pictures in the app. Movie studios have used sponsored lenses to let people change their pictures so they look like characters in upcoming movies, Taco Bell once let people change their faces into tacos... it's easy to understand why people find them fun. You can see a number of successful examples of how brands have used this advertising option here. The very nature of sponsored lenses is interactive. Because they give people a fun way to center themselves in the ad campaign, they’re great for brand awareness. Snapchat’s data shows that they drive three times as much brand awareness as other types of mobile marketing campaigns and often have a positive influence on purchase intent. This is a big ad campaign though – it’s not something you can take on lightly. It’s expensive (see below) involves some serious design chops and creativity, and requires working directly with one of Snapchat’s API partners to pull it off. But, if you can afford Snapchat Lenses and they’re a good fit for your business and products, then they can get impressive results. Typical Cost: A lot. Although costs vary based on the particulars of your sponsored lenses campaign and the timing of when you launch them, expect them to cost a minimum of $450,000 per day.
3. GeofiltersGeofilters are like a much simpler and scaled down version of sponsored lenses. They’re a photo or video filter people can put on top of (or around) their own images in the app. Geofilter campaigns often have a local focus – instead of reaching the whole nation with them, you can focus just on a specific city or area. These are often useful for short-term events where it makes sense to target a specific place during a specific time frame. They still center the user in the experience (it’s their picture the filter gets added to), but they aren’t as interactive as sponsored lenses. For that reason, they’re easier to design and a much simpler ad product for companies to pursue. Typical Cost: Much cheaper than the other offerings. While the total cost of a campaign will depend on the length of time you launch it for and the size of the area you target, these can cost as little as $5. For smaller businesses and those with limited budgets, they’re the most realistic option for Snapchat advertising.
4. Snapchat Discover AdsSnapchat’s Discover feature collects trending stories and event coverage into one tab on the app for users to browse. Brands can have their own snaps and stories included in the Discover section of the app for a fee. Usually, these ads go to media companies or especially big brands. This is another costly option that’s out of reach for many, but for those who use it, it provides an extensive reach and a lot of brand awareness. Typical cost: $50,000 a day
Other Ways to Reach Your Audience on SnapchatIf your business has a limited marketing budget (as almost all do), getting to the pricing section on most of these types of Snapchat ads probably had you shaking your head in hopelessness. A lot of the Snapchat advertising options simply aren’t going to be within reach for many of the businesses hoping to reach people on the platform. Fortunately, advertising isn’t the only option for interacting with users on Snapchat.
Use your own Snapchat profile.As with other social media channels, paid advertising isn’t the only way to play on Snapchat. You can set up a profile and start sharing snaps and stories with your followers. For a lot of brands, this will be the best way to get bang for your buck (your buck meaning mostly time, in this case) from Snapchat. You’ll need to promote your Snap profile and start getting followers for this to be worth your time. And you’ll need to be creative and fun – it’s not really a platform for serious how-to videos or in depth educational content. But the right approach can provide you with opportunities to interact directly with some members of your target audience and build up awareness of your brand.
Use Snapchat for influencer marketing.A lot of people follow influencers on Snapchat, which makes it fruitful ground for practicing influencer marketing. Influencers with a strong following on the platform can help bump awareness of your brand and help you reach a new audience. Research influencers on the app that are relevant to your brand or product and reach out to them to propose a partnership. If they’ve worked with other brands before, they may already have good ideas about how to proceed with bringing awareness of your brand or products to their audience. If not, be prepared with some potential ideas (and a budget – they’ll expect payment).
Snapchat TargetingSnapchat offers over 300 “Predefined Audiences” that advertisers can use to better target their ads. While their targeting options aren’t as extensive as those of other social media platforms, you can still narrow the focus of your ads based on categories that include:
- Device type
- Household income
- Parental status
- What users typically care about
- What they buy
- What they watch
- Where they go
Snapchat AnalyticsOne complaint some advertisers have had with Snapchat is that their analytics reporting is subpar in comparison to other ad platforms, but they’ve recently made changes to improve the reporting they provide. Advertisers now have access to data that shows them:
- Number of ad impressions
- Number of video views (that last over 2 seconds)
- How long people watch snaps/videos
- Average time spent watching your ads
- Your cost per thousand impressions
- Your cost per video view
- The number of conversions (swipe up or app installs)
- The conversion rate (ratio of conversions to impressions)
- The cost per conversion
- Demographics of the people that viewed and interacted with your ad
How to Get Started Advertising on SnapchatIf this guide has convinced you that some form of Snapchat advertising is for you, you can get started here. Start with the (relatively) easy ad options like Snap Ads and geofilters, and decide once you have a feel for the platform if moving up to some of the costlier options may be right for you. Snapchat may have seemed like a fad at first, but it’s taken its place among the most popular social media channels that are here to stay. If you want to reach young consumers in a way that makes engaging with your brand fun and interactive, it’s a platform you can’t miss.