Beware Geeks Bearing Gifts… Marketing Insight

a blue eyeWeird pop-ups, why ‘relevant’ content can’t always matter, how to retire online content and more

When you’ve been immersed in content creation seven hours a day, five days a week for ten years, you tend to look at everything through the eyes of a marketer. Here are some random chunks of marketing insight.

Beware geeks bearing gifts

It’s pop-up central. Am I infested with adware or are there more pop-ups around than ever?
Adware via free downloads – Bad marketing
Adware is a key source of pop-up hell. They get implicit permission to download the adware to your machine via the T&C, which nobody reads. You scroll through, ignore everything except the tick box at the end, click ‘yes’ and you’ve got adware. It’s sneaky, and it’s bad marketing.
If someone does the nasty on you like that, you won’t want anything else to do with them. It’s hardly something a savvy marketer would do. To maintain brand equity you’d make adware a clear and obvious choice instead of hiding it in impenetrable T&C.
Naked Russian lady pop-ups – Weird marketing
The worst of the spammy pop-ups are rubbish because they’re so poorly targeted. When I visit a camping equipment website, hell bent on a new cagoule, I don’t expect to see a pop-up of a naked Russian lady.
The camping website owners won’t know a thing about it, but naive visitors might think they’re responsible. It’s bad for the brand’s reputation unless, of course, your site actually sells ‘encounters’ with naked Russian ladies. 
This type of thing is the marketing equivalent of throwing shit at a wall – pardon my French: when you throw enough of it, hard enough, for long enough, some of it will stick. It’s not so much lazy marketing as weird marketing, where the offer and its context couldn’t have less in common.
eCommerce pop-up fails – Lazy marketing
Plenty of legitimate websites are using pop-ups, to varying effect. Done well, harnessed as a direct marketing medium, they probably work beautifully. Done badly they’re just annoying.
Some pop-ups ask you to review the site, buy something, react to a special offer, fill in a survey or even hand over your contact details on your very first visit, the second you hit the home page. The timing is inappropriate, they often block important bits of the site from view and it’s lazy marketing. Exercise intelligence, people.

Let me entertain you – Why ‘relevant’ content can’t be the only fruit

I started this blog in 2008. I’ve talked about every aspect of copywriting and content marketing I can think of. I’ve written evergreen content about the basics of writing commercial copy, direct marketing and on-site optimisation, which I keep up to date. Ram the messages home any farther and I’ll only get repetitive. So how do I keep my blog alive and kicking in the long term?
When content optimisation loses the plot  
What Google and people want is a constant supply of interesting content. But how does writing off the beaten track work from a content optimisation perspective, where all you have is words to ‘tell’ search engines how to categorise your content so the ‘right’ people see it?
Say I wanted to write about toads in my next diary post, in an ongoing effort to showcase my writing skills. The words I use will have bugger-all to do with my trade.
If the post eventually ranks for a toad-related Google search query, visitors interested in toads will find themselves on a copywriting blog. Hopefully they’ll find the toad post interesting and informative, but there’s no Google-style contextual relevance whatsoever. Good on-site optimisation it isn’t. But good people-fuel, it is.
Exploring farther than your own back yard helps you build a blog people love to read, simply because it’s so interesting and eclectic. But it misses the content optimisation point completely, leaving you with a digital marketing dilemma.
On one hand you want to optimise your content and tick all the right Google boxes so they can deliver the best search experience to users. On the other hand you want to win hearts and minds by engaging with a much broader spectrum of subjects, some utterly random and – to all search engine intents and purposes – irrelevant, which in their eyes isn’t a good thing.
My recommendation? Mix it up to get the best of both worlds:

  • Cover evergreen content better than anyone else, properly optimise it for search engines and keep it up to date
  • Cover everything your clients need to know in as much detail as they could possibly need
  • Talk about – and broadly around – your sector and related sectors
  • Explore the wider world from your organisation’s perspective – forget the strictures of on-site SEO once in a while

Sales propositions – Marketing with fear and greed

Conventional marketing wisdom says we sell most products, whatever they are, through fear or greed. Fear, for example, drives sales of home insurance while greed drives people to buy investment products. I’d add pleasure to the list, an equally powerful motive… if not more so, because it’s positive.
I thought it’d be interesting to test the fear / greed thing by using fear to sell the concept of growing your own veg – an innately harmless, safe and happy pastime.
Scary climate stuff
This week’s New Scientist is full of worrying climate news. Because the oil giant Shell isn’t seeing governments acting to stop global warming past 2C, a critical tipping point, they’re planning a host of ill-advised fossil fuel extraction projects. With experts also predicting a sixfold hike in the number of us exposed to the fatal effects of extreme temperatures within 30 years, things are not looking good.
Antibiotics crisis 
Then there’s the ongoing antibiotic crisis, with more fatal diseases becoming resistant and few new drugs of any significance in the pipeline. Big Pharma is welded to a profit-led business model that benefits shareholders to the detriment of the human race, and new diseases like avian flu are poised in the wings, pun intended.   Again, things don’t look good.
Can I sell home grown veg through fear?
How does all this fear tie in to selling the concept of growing your own veg?
If the climate goes into a rough spin and harvests fail, home-frown food could save your life. The same goes if a pandemic strikes. When the supermarkets are shut and the electricity’s off, where else do we get food?
That’s what I call an inappropriately radical sales proposition… and it wouldn’t be received at all well.
Can we do the same with greed?
Yes, focusing on all the delicious, garden-fresh, pure, organic, healthy veg you can stuff yourself with and not pile on the pounds, and all the irresistible recipes. That’s more like it. But the best approach is probably a blend of greed and pleasure, combining the legendary zen-like vibe of gardening with the lip-smacking foodie side of things.

Digital marketing insight – How to retire online content gracefully

It’s out of date / no longer relevant / not needed any more / out of stock. So you delete the entire web page and forget about it…
Oops. No wonder Google webmaster tools is reporting a notable escalation in ‘not found’ errors for both desktop and mobile devices, something that happens when previously-indexed site pages are retired from a website without redirection.
It’s really important to stick to a rigorous process when removing old website pages. Ideally you 301 redirect them to the nearest equivalent remaining page. If there isn’t one, your 301 should send people to a suitable parent page or even the home page.
It’s also important to avoid redirect chains. When you’re about to remove a web page from your site, check for any existing redirects targeting the page. It’s also helpful to either make sure all the on-site links to retired pages are removed or change the links so they point at the replacement page.

More soon…

I’ll be back soon with more news and views. In the meantime if you need top quality online content, get in touch.

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