This blog was updated March 2017.

Who loves stats??? I love stats! And there is no topic with more abundant stats than the impact of videos on potential customers. Here’s data-driven confirmation showing why you need to start exploring the different elements of video in your content marketing strategy:

  • 87% of online marketers use video content
  • 90% of users say product videos are helpful in the decision process
  • 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching video
  • 80% of users recall a video they viewed in the past 30 days
  • 22% of small businesses plan to post a video in the next 12 months

Making the decision to create video content opens you up to a lot of avenues so we’re recommending five elements of video that you should include in your video content strategy.

recording video on a iPhone, DIY videos, elements of videos

1. Mini Videos

Until recently, Vine was the king of mini videos, with its looping 6-second videos that were perfect for social media consumption. Now the king is dead, but that’s fine. There are plenty of ways to add a video to your social content strategy without Vine. The newest way to get quick videos into your social feeds is with the use of Boomerang. If you’re not familiar with Boomerang, it’s part hyper-lapse, part GIF, and lots of fun! With the use of the Boomerang app and the click of a button, you can create a 1-second looping video that can have a big impact. Even in such a quick burst, using Boomerang video you have the opportunity to:

  • highlight a product feature
  • show off your personality
  • tease something new

2. DIY Videos

Some companies may be reluctant to get started with video content because they mistakenly think they need big budgets and professional resources to create a successful video. That’s not necessarily the case. So grab your iPhone and don’t be afraid to get a little down and dirty. Even though a DIY video is meant to have a grassroots feel you still want to take care to create a quality product, so take the necessary steps to stabilize your phone with a tripod, use proper lighting, and ensure good sound quality. Use DIY video production to create:

  • a tips or advice video series
  • instructional or how-to videos
  • a “day in the life” video

3. Splashy Production Videos

While we advocate for giving DIY video a try, we also realize that there are circumstances when you’ll need the services of a professional videographer and big-time production value. Hiring a videographer will give you a more polished end product because he or she will expertly fine-tune all aspects of the production process, including lighting, sound quality, framing, and editing. Add a budget line item for professional video production when you want to create:

  • product launch videos
  • branding videos
  • company culture videos

4. Animated Videos

Animated videos may be the trickiest addition to our elements of video list, as it not only requires professional video production but also a talented illustrator. That being said animated videos can play a special role in your content marketing strategy and have been given the nickname “explainer animation.” Animation’s strength is that it can break down complex information and present it in a format that simply and visually presents information to the viewer. Here are a few examples of explainer animation videos that consistently top the “best of” lists:

5. User-Generated Videos

Some brands have uncovered the secret of creating loads of video content – letting their customers do the work for them! User-generated content (UGC) is a photo, a tweet, or in this case, a video that features a user or fan promoting a product or brand, instead of the brand promoting itself. User-generated content is a fantastic tool to address the trend that consumers, especially those in the millennial demographic, trust personal recommendations and endorsements over traditional advertising messages. Use these examples of successful user-generated videos to inspire your own UGC campaign:

Are you ready to put these elements of video to work in your content marketing strategy?

It’s not always easy brainstorming new content ideas; especially when you’ve been blogging since Day One, and you feel as though you’ve covered every topic under the sun within your industry. Trust us, we’ve been there, staring at the blank piece of paper labeled “Amazing Content Topics for XYZ Month.” So what to do when you’ve got a serious case of brainstorm block? Below we’ve outlined some creative ideas to get outside your own head when brainstorming new content ideas. Some we’ve tackled, others we can’t wait to try ourselves. Let’s dive.

The Magic of Generalized Topic Ideas

If you work with SEOs, then you know that the more niche and long-tail the focus keyword is for a content piece the better. I agree (as I AM an SEO myself). However, sometimes looking for that perfect, specific, unicorn keyword isn’t realistic. Focus, instead, on generalized topics and narrow it down from there.

For example, let’s say you work at Pets-R-Us. You feel as though you’ve beaten pet care, pet emergencies and adopting pet topics into the ground. You’ve focused on heartworm in dogs, dental care in cats, things your audience may not have known about guienea pigs, and why certain fish can’t be together in a fishbowl. You’re feeling stuck.

Instead of looking for a granular keyword, pull out your focus and pick something basic…like birds! Now, you may have written 100 blogs on birds. That’s cool; keep in mind what ones you have already written, but start narrowing down from there. Pull out as many possible bird blog ideas as humanly possible. Write a giant list of all the possible scenarios you could touch on when it comes to birds. Your list is probably getting pretty long. If you’re still feeling a bit perplexed, we tend to turn to Answer the Public. Here you can type in a keyword phrase and it provides you hundreds of questions people have asked surrounding that topic that you can answer.

Jeopardy Topic Ideas

This method has the #TeamTower stamp of approval for topic generation. If your business has multiple facets and/or product lines, pull a sample of people from each team. Come together and start writing in the form of questions about your specific department. Categorize your questions based on monetary value:

  • $100-$200 Questions: Basic, top-level questions that we receive on a pretty regular basis
  • $400-$600 Questions: Questions we receive that are a little more intensive, for the intermediate level customer
  • $800-$1,000 Questions: Questions that we ourselves ask others in the office as experts or have seen on professional forums about this product/department/skill

Set a timer for each round of questions and keep the questions for brainstorming new content pieces moving forward.

Getting Outside Your Four Walls

Oftentimes as marketers we forget that there’s a whole world of people outside our office, including a) our audience itself and b) influencers who speak the same language we do. Consider the following when brainstorming content ideas:

  • Ask current customers what they want to know more about. Send them a survey or pose the question on social media.
  • If you’re open to guest writers, pick their brains about topics they feel are your weak points on the blog and/or topics that they themselves have more experience in than you do.
  • Look at popular industry forums and see what questions other professionals are asking. Write a couple blogs that specifically answer these questions and post the link back in the forum when you’re done.
  • Reach out to businesses/consumers that might use your product/service. Ask them, if they were looking into purchasing your product/service, what questions would they want to have answered when looking at a potential site.

“Do Geckos…” and Other Recent Google Search Ideas

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It may seem too simple, but oftentimes the best ideas are. Looking for a topic? Start typing into your Google search bar and see what others have looked for recently regarding that topic. You may be surprised that many of the questions posed could all be included into one singular blog.

Imitation Is the Greatest Form of Flattery…And Then Do It Better.

Get inspired. Find other content pieces and topics that you love on Pinterest, on competitors’ sites, through popular content publications, by other influencers…and then figure out how you can either a) expand on the topic or b) make it more compelling, interesting, or entertaining.

For example, you find an amazing blog on a competitors site entitled “The First Six Months With a New Puppy.”  It explains all the vaccines you should be getting for your pup, what common health issues might pop up, training qualms to expect and growth patterns. The information is comprehensive and the writing is easily formatted enough to not be overwhelming for users. It’s a 10/10 on the content scale. So how can you do the same but better? We know humans are visual creatures. How about an infographic? How about personal anecdotes from your customers? How about a “Case by Case” scenario or a comparison chart between common breeds? In what way can you take a topic that’s already been done and make it 10X better?

Feeling like your creative well has run dry can be tough, but finding the right brainstorming technique can crack the code for the jackpot of all ideas. We wish you luck and happy writing!

How are you brainstorming content ideas? Have a topic you’d like us to write about?

Clients often ask us, “How can we measure our website performance? Furthermore, how can we learn more about our customers wants and needs to ensure they become repeat visitors?

While there are many tools on the market that measure performance, if you want a tool with robust statistics and comprehensive data [for FREE, we might add] our go-to suggestion is always Google Analytics.

The major pro of Google Analytics? There is limitless information you can learn about your website and your users. The con? It can be immensely overwhelming for beginners taking the plunge. Not to fear! We have compiled the following list of Google Analytics Beginner must-knows to help ease the transition between novice and expert.

1. The Initial Set-Up

  • Installing the Tracking Code: This is the very first step to setting-up your Google Analytics. Tracking code, called a snippet, that is unique to your website domain acts as the gateway between your customer’s behaviors and you. The code allows you to track where your customers are coming from, what page they landed on first, what links were clicked, how long they were on the site, what they read, what they bought, and so much more. If you have a developer or IT, they should be able to insert this code in less than 5 minutes.
    • Be aware that you tracking code can be customized! Google Analytics lets you customize your unique tracking code to be able to measure how your customers interact with your website. For example, you can track email campaigns, banner ad clicks, coupon codes – the list goes on.
  • Creating Different Views: Setting up multiple views is important to obtain a more accurate depiction of your website data. There’s no right or wrong way to set up your Google Analytics, but at Tower, we set ours up with 3 views:
  1. Unfiltered View: This view tracks all traffic from all domains that flow through the site
  2. Master View: This view tracks all website data but pulls out domains that may skew true traffic data (like your employee’s computer domains).
  3. Test View: A view that we are able to test different trackings & codes before pushing to live analytics
  • Setting Up Goals: Set goals in the Admin menu that are specific to your website and what you’d like to achieve using the goal categories provided. You can set goals for items such as average purchase amount, email sign-up, time on site, etc. You can even give goals a monetary value so you can see how a conversion translates into dollars.

2. Understanding Reports

Google Analytics offers a variety of reports for you to view and glean information from. It is important, as a Google Analytics Beginner, that you understand the functionality of these reports and how they best can be used to strategize & analyze marketing efforts. Here are the four basic reports in Google Analytics:

  • Dashboard View: Your dashboard is one-and-done report that shows you an overall perspective of your website traffic and user behavior. The dashboard view is the “big picture” that also allows for managers and marketers alike to see key success factors.
  • Conversion Reports: Also considered eCommerce reports, conversion reports tell the story of a sale, form submission or event sign-up from beginning to end.
  • Content & Behavior Reports: Content & behavior reports dive into a user’s brain and help marketeers understand: 1) How a user interacts with a piece of content and 2) Whether that content is performing well based on A, B, and C factors (like bounce rate, amount of time on page, exit percentage, etc.). Content & behavior reports and incredibly useful when A/B testing new types of content or if you’re trying to understand how a user might flow through your site and through your sales funnel.
  • Sources Report: Looking to see where traffic comes from helps marketers better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their overall strategy & team efforts. A Source Report shows you whether your organic SEO efforts are paying off with a gradual increase month-to-month or if your social media traffic is drastically down in comparison to the same time period last year.
  • Technology Report: We all know that mobile comprises 60% of all web traffic, but for certain industries, this can shift. Learn more about what devices your users are using to interact with your site to form strategies around remote design and types of content in the future.
  • Customized Reports: With Google Analytics, you can create a variety of custom reports that best suit the needs and goals of your company. For example: keyword analysis report, hours & days report, browser acquisition report or a page timing report.

3. Knowing What to Look For

Google Analytics can be mind-boggling. There are numbers and data and graphs all over the screen; where to concentrate on first? Before you start digging into the data, first consider what your most important objectives are. Traffic increases? Greater user engagement? Broader source of leads? These goals will drive future analysis. For Google Analytics Beginners just getting acquainted with the system, it’s better to break the interface down to specific parts (because looking holistically can sometimes be misleading). These three areas are good to start:

  1. Landing Page Stats: This may include bounce rates, time on page, user drop-off, engagement with certain links and/or forms. Your landing pages can give a lot of information on how a user interacts with your site, especially landing pages that are house conversions. Look at the landing pages that you are trying to drive the greatest amount of traffic to and start familiarizing yourself with what each statistic does, and does not, mean.
  2. Traffic Sources: By viewing your traffic sources, as mentioned above, you can see where most of your traffic is generating from and what cylinders to fire and what others to keep on idle.
  3. Demographics: If you have a brick-and-mortar store, one of the first things you will do is analyze your customer base. It’s no different digitally. Understanding first and foremost what demographic of people are coming to your site helps you create web copy, strategize on how a person would use your site and how to approach a sale.

4. Our Favorites

At Tower, we use Google Analytics day in and day out. Our team is filled with Google Analytics nerds (and we better be as Google Partners). Here are our team’s Google Analytics Awards, including reports and tools, we think you should know about:

Most Useful: Traffic Channels

Most Fun: Behavior Flow

Least Likely To Be Accurate: Bounce Rates

Most Thorough: Landing Page Analysis (it’s a rabbit hole of information)

Most Underrated: Campaigns

Most Overrated: Referrals

Un-Sung Hero: Social Reports

Favorite Overall: Conversions

Do you have more questions about Google Analytics? Have nominations for our Google Analytics Awards? Unsure where to start?

As a business, you have your own tasks and duties to focus on. That’s why you hired an agency to do your marketing in the first place, right? Not quite. You want to see results from the agency you hire, but there is a big difference between good results and great results – YOU. All too often, clients hire an agency to do their digital marketing and then don’t partake in the process. I’m not blaming clients for this; rather, I want to stress that businesses that hire marketing agencies should be involved from A-Z . That is when they will see the best results.

Why Do Clients Need to Collaborate with the Marketing Agency?

There needs to be agency and client collaboration for any and all digital marketing services to achieve the best results. Good marketing is relational by nature. Nurturing and understanding from both the client and agency contributes to online success. Find out why your business should be involved with your marketing agency’s plans and projects:

Clear Communication and Understanding Goals from the Get-Go

This might seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. There should be an initial discovery discussion where the agency can ask questions to better understand your business, culture, target audience, needs, and business approach. The marketing agency needs to learn about the current state of your business so it can prepare to move ahead with a solid plan. You, as their client, are who will shed that much-needed light.

Being Involved Means Understanding the Process

A large reason why I encourage clients to be involved with the marketing execution is so they understand the process.

  • Clients will have a better understanding of timelines for creating a website, creating an SEO campaign, or developing creative content.
  • Clients will be able to offer insight as the agency makes progress.
  • Clients will have a better sense of what to communicate to higher management

Trust and Transparency

When a client is involved, sharing ideas and being a team member, this allows for transparency. When there is nothing to hide, there will be no nasty surprises for either party to be caught unaware and have to fix. Developing a working relationship on a regular basis with an agency prevents miscommunication, helps to move the process along, and encourages an environment of trust. Where there is trust and transparency between client and agency, there are productive marketing results.

A Stronger Force

The marketing agency does not know your business as well as you do. That is why it is imperative for your business to be involved in all areas of marketing efforts being carried out by the agency. The client should be the face(s) of the company, not the agency. People trust you more than your agency. The agency is more of a supportive device rather than the front-facing part of your company. As a result, when an agency supports the client, the client will be more willing to support the marketing efforts of the agency. This collaboration will produce a stronger force that can achieve more.

The Client Becomes Better at Marketing

Through collaboration with the agency, the client will become a well-oiled marketing machine. By building relationships and working in a transparent environment, the client will naturally become better educated in internet marketing.

Better Results

Clients hire a marketing agency to get results. A marketing agency that has the collaborative efforts of their clients will be able to do more in less time and with a better understanding of the client’s industry. When clients help navigate the murky waters of marketing, agencies can focus on other important factors. Collaborative business relationships are not easy. It takes time to build-up communication, trust, and transparency, but it can yield long-lasting results.

Looking for a collaborative relationship with a marketing agency? Meet our expert team and learn how we can collaborate.