Location-Based Analytics Brought To Google Maps

Google Maps and Urban Engine

Google Maps and Urban Engine

Urban Engine has been bought by Google. What is Urban Engine? Urban Engine is a provider of location-based analytics for urban planning and will help Google Maps better understand how the world moves.

How Can Google Maps Help Your Business?

Google Maps helps people searching for local businesses with local searches, e.g “plumber in X”, “restaurant in X”, though it is much more competitive now, as Google Maps only displays the top 3 businesses on Page 1. You can find more businesses by clicking the “more” button.

Being in the Google Maps 3 pack at the top of many search results is the holy grail of online exposure for a local business online. So how is Urban Engine going to help your business? By helping people get around traffic jams and find the fastest most efficient combination of public and private transport to get to you?

Google Wants To Totally Dominate The Local Space

This makes your mobile phone a highly competitive GPS for your car. If you’re going somewhere and you use a Google search to work out the fastest way to get there Google has you covered. Which in turn, means Google can track people more and has more opportunity to advertise. That puts Google in even control when it comes to local!

How To Rank in Google Maps & Improve Local SEO

Ranking in Google Maps is essential for any local business, especially for those local businesses wanting customers from the internet (or not wanting to lose customers on the internet), ranking on Google for local search terms and on Google Maps is vital.

Here are a few tips on how to improve your Google Maps rankings:

  • Google Maps rankings are still based largely on “citations”…the sites where a business’s name, physical address and contact details appear -NAP -Name, Address, Phone
  • Get the business name, address and phone number listed on a pile of local sites, authority sites and pages related to the industry the business is in. Press releases on high authority trusted sites, like you get with PressCable.com, can help you with this (and as it’s a little-known strategy it gives you a solid advantage – also great for SEO – Blue Square Management also offer a Press Release service at a much less cost!)
  • Be sure the contact details are EXACTLY the same in every listing, as well as matching your website This is vitally important.
  • Get authority site links back to the local business site in a natural Google-safe way (quality online press releases help with this too).
  • Encourage people to search for the specific local business, and drive traffic to the site in other ways, as this gives a strong signal to Google that the site is important (and yes Google can track all of this very well).
  • Put a lot of targeted, high quality unique content on the local business site related to what they sell and information that’s valuable to their prospects and customers.
  • Use clearly structured data on the local site, like a page that Google can clearly understand is a menu for a restaurant, clearly labelled opening times, and schema code for the location.

Need Help Promoting Your Business in Google Maps?

If you own a local business and are struggling to get found by your local customers, Blue Square Management can help not only improve your Google Maps ranking, but help you business appear on Page 1 of Google for the products or services you provide locally.

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3 Tips to More Accurately Measure Your Content Effort


Many people jump into content marketing because they were inspired by all the success stories and case studies they read. You know what I’m talking about, the content marketing for content marketing.

But while content marketing seems straightforward, actually measuring its success can be challenging in practice. Customer journey mapping, attribution modeling, and segmentation can help you improve and more accurately measure your content marketing efforts.

1. Identify and document content goals with customer journey mapping

Before getting into the more technical aspects of measuring your content, it’s paramount that you create clear goals for benchmarking purposes. Without a system of measurement, you won’t be able to make data-informed decisions – and that’s simply no good.

Without a system of measurement, you won’t be able to make data-informed decisions says @jacobwarwick.

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To identify your content goals, use a process called customer journey mapping.

Customer journey mapping is a technique that can help you better understand your customer’s experiences through their interactions and touchpoints with your brand, wherever the customer may be in the lead cycle. It also aligns your content efforts with personas and identifies gaps and optimization opportunities within your content.

First, document the five stages of your customer’s journey: awareness, interest, evaluation, decision, and retention. Using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets should suffice.


Image source: Blast Analytics and Marketing: Customer Journey Mapping

Next, craft goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for each stage.

For example, your overall goal could be to increase leads 15% or boost white paper downloads by 50%. Regardless, each stage of the customer journey can drive those goals and should have KPIs to keep you on track.

Consider tracking the following KPIs to get started:

  • Awarenesskeyword rankings, impressions, and overall search visibility
  • Interestwebinar registrations, white paper downloads, and marketing-qualified leads
  • Evaluation – quote requests, demos, and sales-qualified leads
  • Decision – conversions and total customers
  • Retention – shares, comments, subscription renewals, and social community engagement


Image Source: Blast Analytics and Marketing: An example of what to build in your customer journey map in Google Sheets

After documenting your goals and KPIs, audit your current content and assign it to the appropriate customer journey stage. This will help you create stronger and more realistic goals, while also helping identify gaps in your content coverage.

2. Apply attribution modeling to understand channel performance

Note: Before working with attribution, you must have implemented an analytics platform such as Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics 360 and have your content properly tagged using Google Tag Manager, Tealium, Ensighten, or another tag manager. Without tagging, your data will be insignificant.

The concept of attribution modeling is to assign a set of rules to determine how much credit a touchpoint should receive during your customer’s journey to complete a conversion. That can help you determine how valuable your marketing channels are.

A successful attribution model will help you see how your marketing channels work together to create a lead, conversion, or sale while ultimately identifying where you should invest resources.

Start by finding an attribution model that best meets your needs.

Some common attribution models include:

  • First-touch attribution – full credit is given to first customer touchpoint
  • Last-touch attribution – full credit is given to last customer touchpoint
  • Linear attribution – credit is evenly distributed among all customer touchpoints
  • Time-decay attribution – credit is given to each touchpoint based on the amount of time that passed between the first touchpoint and conversion
  • Participation attribution – full credit is given to each touchpoint that participated in a conversion
  • Position-based attribution – a majority of the credit is given to the first and last touchpoint and any remaining credit is distributed evenly amongst the middle touchpoints

The key is to find a model that balances the data you need without being too complex, which could cause analysis paralysis (particularly with less mature marketing and analytics teams).

For most content marketing strategies, I recommend staying away from first- or last-touch attribution because it doesn’t show the entire customer journey.

If you’re newer to attribution modeling, I would start with the linear or participation attribution model to get a general idea of what touchpoints your customers use before converting.

As your needs evolve and become more mature, you can use a more advanced attribution model such as time decay, position-based, or even a custom solution.

I personally like the position-based attribution model because it stresses the importance of both the first- and last-touch channel, while also considering the complementary channels that lead to conversion.

For example, the first touch could have come through an organic search result to your blog, second touch was a white-paper download, third touch from a social media link, fourth touch from another blog visit, and finally, last touch from a product-spec download. Position-based attribution gives credit to the assisting visits – and helps you identify the value of your channels.


Image source: Occam’s Razor, Multi-Channel Attribution Modeling – Avinash Kaushik

If you’re fortunate enough to work with an analytics team, ask them about attribution modeling and whether they have implemented a model of your organization. If you’re on your own, reference these guides for Adobe Analytics attribution modeling and Google Analytics attribution modeling to dive into the specifics. (Disclosure, I work at Blast Analytics and vouch for the content too.)

3. Use segmentation to understand content performance

This section builds a case for why you should use segmentation. For detailed how-to on segmentation, visit these guides for Google Analytics segmentation and Adobe Analytics segmentation.

Segments are subsets of your analytics data that can help you better examine your customer trends by drilling down into your data. You can segment each channel (e.g., only people who have converted, males over 40 who live in Australia), if that’s your prerogative.

Segmentation can become complex, so you should use it to answer specific business questions.

For example, say that you are developing a content marketing strategy for next quarter. The goal is to increase conversions 25% and you’re tasked with scheduling and creating high-converting content.

Start by segmenting visitors who have made a purchase and ask questions such as:

  • What channel(s) attracted these customers?
  • How old and what gender are these customers?
  • Are these customers using a desktop or a mobile device?
  • What content did they read before becoming a customer?

With segmentation, you can answer these questions, identify trends, and better inform your content marketing strategy moving forward.

Segmentation can answer ?’s, identify trends, & inform your #contentmarketing strategy says @jacobwarwick.

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Image source: Google Analytics

Take notes of trends that you identify to inform your ongoing buyer persona research.

You should become intimately familiar with all of the segmentation options that your analytics platform provides so that you can understand what type of marketing questions you can answer with your data – even if you don’t use analytics in your day-to-day routine.

As you begin to mature with your analytics, you can evolve to use more complex segmentation techniques, such as recency, frequency, and monetary (RFM) analysis.

Again, attribution modeling and segmentation can get extremely complex; however, with a game plan and goals to meet, you can begin making more data-driven decisions with your content marketing efforts.

Do you have other methods to more accurately measure your content marketing efforts? Did I miss anything that you could expand upon? Please put your comments and links to helpful resources in the comments.

Want to connect with Jacob Warwick as he answers questions on the ROI of branded storytelling? Join the CMI Twitter Chat at 12 p.m. U.S. EDT Tuesday (Sept. 27). Simply follow the hashtag #CMWorld.

Cover image by publicdomainpictures.net via pixabay.com

Please note:  All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team.  No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

The post 3 Tips to More Accurately Measure Your Content Effort appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

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How to Get People to Actually Listen to You


By now, you may have heard of a musical called Hamilton.

In you haven’t, here’s a rundown: Since its Broadway debut in August 2015, people can’t get enough of it. They’re paying upwards of $500 for crappy seats, and close to $3,000 for good ones. It won a Pulitzer, a Grammy and 11 Tony Awards. Its composer and original star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is now a celebrity.

In other words: People are listening to this stuff.

Seeing the way Hamilton captivated such massive audiences — in less than a year — fascinates me. How the heck did this thing blow up?

(Psst. If you’re eager for some Hamilton action, Leslie Odom Jr. — a star from the original cast — is performing at INBOUND this year.)

Watching the progress and near-instant success of Hamilton is really a lesson in why people listen — not just to a hit musical, but to a person, a podcast, or anything, really. A lot can be learned by looking into those reasons, especially for marketers. To what and whom do people listen? Why? And how can we get them to listen to us? 

To answer those questions, we did some research on the listening process, our motivations for listening, and more.

The Listening Process

To listen, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true.”

Listening helps us to satisfy different physiological goalsWe listen to alter our moods, stay alert, and figure stuff out. In humans, that’s been the case for pretty much as long as we’ve been in existence.

The listening process starts when we receive auditory stimuli. Then, our brains have to interpret that stimulus. That’s enhanced by other senses — like sight — which help us better interpret what we’re hearing.

Then, once we receive and interpret auditory signals, we follow a series of steps that consist of recalling, evaluating, and responding to the information we consume: 


Source: Matthew Edward Dyson

It’s that third step in the entire process — recalling — that might be the most important one for marketers. Numerous studies have discovered how listening triggers a widespread network of activity throughout the entire brain. That activity is what so strongly links auditory stimuli to memory.

That’s particularly true of music: Research has revealed a partial restoration of memory in Alzheimer’s patients upon hearing their favorite music. In other words, we know that listening heavily correlates with memory, which helps explain the mjor success of something like Hamilton — it’s a musical theatre production, which really epitomizes the intersection of auditory and visual stimuli.


Source: Carina Zimmerman

When people talk it up, they’re actually sharing a story about their memories of seeing it. And no matter what happens to our attention spans, we still seem to love a good story.

That comes back around to what we do as marketers, really. We share the stories of and about our brands in a way that will get people to — you guessed it — listen.

The Art of Getting People to Listen

Earlier this year, my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich, put together a post on how to make a speech memorable. The infographic touched on a few guidelines that can be applied to, well, pretty much anything that you want someone to listen to:

  • Start strong
  • Make it informative and interesting
  • Think of your audience

Aha! Your audience — remember them? Knowing your audience is going to help you create the content they want to listen to, but that also requires an understanding of their motivations for listening. 

And in a modern context, our motivation to listen runs a bit deeper, especially when it’s something we don’t have to hear. We’re not listening in survival mode as much as we did in infancy or ancient times — we now have the luxury of electing to listen to most things.

So let’s explore some generally understood, non-survival motivations for listening these days. I’ll use our old friend Hamilton to put those things in context — it shows how people’s reasons for listening have been successfully put into practice.

4 Motivations for Listening (and How to Tap Into Them)

1) They’re familiar with the person or the work.

Hamilton‘s earliest audiences may have tuned in because they knew about Miranda’s previous work. Perhaps they were fans of In the Heights, or had seen one of his smaller performances. Either way, it got them to come back and listen to him again.

Some people think of that as the mere-exposure effect: A psychological principle that states we prefer the things that are familiar to us.

Key takeaway: When you’re trying to figure out how to get someone to listen to you, start by tapping the folks who already know you — the ones whose attention you already have. At HubSpot, we call those folks evangelists: The people who advocate for your brand. If you want to expand your reach, it’s important to know who your evangelists are, and how to keep them motivated (which you can learn more about here).

2) They share values with what or whom they’re listening to.

Even if someone wasn’t familiar with Miranda’s work, if they had the basic context of Hamilton — a hip-hop musical about a historical figure — that might have been enough to get them to listen. Maybe that person just likes hip-hop. Or musicals. Or history.

When you isolate the different components of what you’re trying to market, that gives you more options to pique people’s interests. I’ll use myself as an example — while I’m the type of person for whom The History Channel quickly cures insomnia, I will jump at the chance to listen to some great rap music. Therefore: A rap about history? Okay, I’ll bite.

Key takeaway: Break your message or story down into different elements that people might actually want to listen to. That can help to draw in a diversified audience, by pitching these different pieces to the people who like them the most. 

3) Someone told them to.

I have to wonder how many people bought tickets to see Hamilton, or even first listened to its soundtrack, because so many people recommended it. We call that social proof: the theory that people will adopt the beliefs or actions of a group of people they like or trust.

In his book Contagious, Author Jonah Berger found that the content receiving the most word-of-mouth contained six essential qualities: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories.  

See that? “Stories.” “Emotion.” “Social.” Those are the qualities that get people to keep listening, and get the people who they share it with to listen, too.

Key takeaway: Give your current audience the right incentive to listen and share. illustrate your message through an emotional story. Teach people something they’ll want to pass on to their coworkers or friends. In short: Position your message in a way that makes it hard not to end up telling someone else about it. 

4) They think that what they’re listening to will be good.

And while you can’t please everyone, you can do your best to make sure that you’re giving them something of quality. Remember — make it informative and interesting, but also make it true to yourself and your brand.

After all, that worked for Lin-Manuel Miranda. He took the things that fascinated him — musical composition, hip hop, and the life of Alexander Hamilton — and turned it into a phenomenon that actually got and held people’s attention.

Key takeaway: Find out what matters to you, and use what we’ve covered here today to make it matter to others.  

Amazing things happen when people listen. Now, you have the tools to get them there.

What are your best tips for catching the attention of an audience? Share them with us in the comments below. 


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Podcasting Pioneers Explain Value of Audio Content and Rookie Mistakes to Avoid


As This Old Marketing approaches its 150th taping, Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose wax philosophical about why podcasting is so powerful, and the rookie mistakes they now avoid.

A handful of marketing contrarians have been predicting a spike for podcasting for a few years. While a steep climb hasn’t materialized, audio content is rising steadily in popularity year over year. According to the Pew Research Foundation, the percent of Americans who had listened to a podcast within the previous 30 days more than doubled between 2008 and 2016 (9% to 21%). The numbers look better among younger Americans. A study by ypulse found 35% of Millennials ages 18 to 34 regularly follow at least one podcast.

35% of Millennials ages 18 to 34 regularly follow at least one #podcast via @ypulse.

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The % of Americans who listened to a #podcast w/in previous 30 days doubled from 2008 to 2016 via @pewresearch.

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Is it high time for an audio revolution? The New York Times reports that many amateur podcasters are going professional as major media companies invest in this new form of digital publishing (May 7, 2016). Advertisers are getting in on the action too: They expect to spend $35 million on podcasts in 2016 (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 2016). And even a few big venture-capital deals in the space signal that the industry may be poised to grow even more.

Ready to launch a podcast?

As content-heavy brands consider new channels, podcasting should be on the table, say Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, hosts of This Old Marketing. “Podcasting is different because it’s an extremely intimate way to interact with your audience,” says Rose, chief content adviser at Content Marketing Institute. “Joe and I share our family and personal lives on the show, and many times they are issues others struggle with. People come up to me all the time, asking about something very personal I’ve shared on the podcast. I think being in someone’s head when your voice comes through those headphones is a wonderful experience. It creates a connection that other mediums can’t make.”

#Podcasting is an extremely intimate way to interact with your audience says @robert_rose.

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All that connection, however, requires a good bit of work. It may look easy (“Hey guys, let’s record ourselves chatting about stuff and make a podcast out of it!”), but the pre- and post-production work is sizable. Pulizzi and Rose estimate that for each weekly show, they spend about four hours on research and production – or eight hours for every one-hour show.

Explains Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, “We want it to sound like we’re two guys having a conversation, but there’s a lot of background work involved. And the more care we put into it, the better the show is.”


As for measuring effectiveness, any podcaster will tell you it’s like being beamed to the earliest days of digital. Yes, you can see how many people downloaded your podcast via iTunes (the biggest aggregator by a large margin), but you won’t know how many listened or at what point they turned it off. And if you suddenly see a spike in downloads, it’s nearly impossible to tell whether the show was just that good or whether a change in iTunes algorithms was the culprit.

“The lack of podcast data is kind of shocking,” said Gina Delvac, the producer of Call Your Girlfriend, a pop-culture show for women. (Executives at Apple appear to be listening. In the spring, Apple brought seven leading podcasters to its headquarters to discuss their complaints, though the outcome of those conversations is still unknown.)

The lack of #podcast data is kind of shocking says @gdelvac.

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The most useful information, say Pulizzi and Rose, comes from reviews on iTunes and other player platforms, as well as tweets that begin to roll in almost immediately after a show is uploaded. The good and bad reviews, say the duo, help them improve each week.

The most useful information comes from reviews & tweets says @joepulizzi @robert_rose. #podcast

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Comparing to the early days, Rose admits he’s become more careful about how his opinions come across. “What I’ve learned is that when you have this platform from which to speak, your ideas can come across a notch stronger than you intended,” he explains. “So if you’re being a little snarky on air, it comes across as extra snarky. Don’t get me wrong … we still attack stupid ideas, but we’re more careful about criticizing ideas and not people.”

Tools and techniques

All their efforts require the right tools to execute a quality podcast. Here’s how they do it:

Studio and production

Pulizzi and Rose both say a high-quality microphone is essential. Many of the tools they use are either free or low-cost. They record conversations via Skype, use GarageBand (Rose) and Audacity (Pulizzi) for audio editing, and Rose buys stock music online for show openings.


This Old Marketing uses Libsyn to host and publish the show to the major players like iTunes, Stitcher, and SoundCloud. Libsyn also offers podcasters an RSS feed (essential to distribute the show to aggregators) and an HTML5 media player so listeners can tune in right on your website (rather than through a mobile player like iTunes). Libsyn’s competitors include Blubrry, Spreaker, PodOmatic, and SoundCloud.

The podcasting paradox

After scores of shows and over a thousand hours of work invested, Pulizzi and Rose say the medium is their favorite of all the ways they reach their audience. Why? Because people often listen to podcasts while they are doing something else – and paradoxically, it means you often have their undivided attention. “People listen to us while they are running, on the subway in the morning, while they are doing dishes. You capture them at a moment when they are not in front of a screen or otherwise distracted,” explains Pulizzi.

Even so, both Pulizzi and Rose warn that podcasting isn’t for content marketing beginners. “You need to have an audience first before you launch a podcast,” says Pulizzi. That’s because getting attention on podcast aggregators is too difficult for new entrants. Instead, Pulizzi and Rose say, podcasting should be a diversification strategy for brands already pumping out great content.

Podcasting isn’t for beginners. You need to have an audience first says @joepulizzi.

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This article originally appeared in the August issue of Chief Content Officer. Sign up to receive your free subscription to our bimonthly print magazine.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Fitt’s Law Says Button Design is Like Shooting Pool

How your button designs are like Pool Tables

According to Fitt’s Law, clicking a button on your site can be modeled like a pool shot. It’s a fun way of saying that you should make buttons big and put them where the visitor expects them to be. If you’re looking for good ideas for testing button design, consider the game of pool. Most of…

The post Fitt’s Law Says Button Design is Like Shooting Pool appeared first on Conversion Sciences.

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This Week in Content Marketing: Digital Advertising Will Survive by Limiting Inventory

digital-marketing-survive-limiting-inventory-2PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this episode, Adblock Plus starts its own ad network (or does it?). Robert and I also discuss the future of advertising, analyze AT&T’s aim to become a media company (of course), and share our thoughts on whether or not content marketing is hard to measure. Rants and raves include a lengthy talk about diversity in the event business, then we wrap up with our example of the week: Walmart World.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on September 19, 2016; Length: 1:03:11)

Download this week’s PNR This Old Marketing podcast.

If you enjoy our PNR podcasts, we would love if you would rate it, or post a review, on iTunes

1.    Content marketing in the news

  • Adblock Plus may or may not have switched its advertising alliance (06:42): Confusion abounded after ad-blocking technology company Adblock Plus announced its new ad exchange platform, which many have interpreted as the company’s decision to start selling ads. An interview with Adblock Chairman Tim Schumacher on Contently explains the motivations behind the surprising move – and the backlash that ensued – in more detail. But Robert feels the bigger question here is why publishers are letting third parties dictate the terms of ad inventory, when they should be serving higher-quality content experiences themselves.   
  • Is AT&T trying to transform into a media advertising company? (17:28): A recent article on the CNBC website examines evidence that may indicate the telecom giant is in the market for a media-company M&A play. As the article explains, a strategic media acquisition would be a smart path to AT&T shoring up its advertising technology business. Long-time PNR fans will recognize the bigger story here, which is that AT&T is just one in a large number of giant companies that are looking for better ways to deliver signature, media-oriented experiences to consumers.
  • Does the content marketing industry have a measurement problem? (30:20): In his recent post on the Martech Advisor website, ScribbleLive CEO Vincent Mifsud attempts to demystify the equation when it comes to the best metrics to use for content marketing. While I’m sure measurement is a complicated issue for anyone in marketing – regardless of the discipline – I explain why there’s one metric that should stand above all others when it comes to content: subscribers.

2.    Sponsor (38:21)

  • ON24: Webinars have become the single most important marketing tool to generate leads and drive new business, but are you happy with the performance of your webinars? A few best practices can make the difference between a huge success and a waste of time and resources. ON24’s 2016 Webinar Benchmarks Report highlights data from over 12,000 webinars that will help you understand the latest trends in webinar marketing. Watch it on-demand today.


3.    Rants and raves (40:42)

  • Joe’s rave: I have some praise to heap onto Jerry Seinfeld’s online series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The series’ Emmy nomination in the short-form nonfiction category was explored in a recent Chicago Tribune article; but beyond the entertainment value it provides, the show may also be one of the first examples of an Emmy-nominated content marketing effort, since it is entirely underwritten by Acura.


  • Joe’s “semi-rant”: A tweet from Rand Fishkin during Content Marketing World 2016 reminds us of the urgent need for greater diversity at marketing events, particularly when it comes to women speakers. It’s also the subject of a thoughtful LinkedIn post from our own Cathy McPhillips. Though we at CMI are doing our part to make progress in this area – in fact, 45% of the speakers at Content Marketing World 2016 were women, compared to 37% the previous year – this is an important issue that our entire industry should be doing more to address.

45% of the speakers at #CMWorld 2016 were women, compared to 37% last year says @joepulizzi.

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  • Robert’s “rant-y” rave: Robert gives a shout-out to Daniel Newman, whose Futurum blog featured a great article on the cultural obstacles companies face when trying to make a digital transformation. One of the issues that particularly connected with him when it comes to digital content is the need to acknowledge that not everyone is suitably equipped to create content for the organization. If an effort isn’t adding value to the business, there’s no point in doing it just for the sake of giving everyone an equal voice.

Not everyone is equipped to create #content for an organization says @robert_rose. #ThisOldMarketing

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4.    This Old Marketing example of the week (56:50)

  • Walmart World: Among my vast collection of old magazines, one jumped to the top of the stack for me recently: Walmart World. As I did some digging into the publication, I discovered its content mission: “The Walmart World program, both print and digital, fulfills the mission of engaging, inspiring, and educating Walmart associates in the things they care about… Store associates are the real front-line of Walmart; they are in touch with our customers every day.” After exploring the associated Walmart World website, I was impressed at how comprehensive a resource it is for employee issues and discussions, as well as associate promotions, likes, and trends. What I liked most about it is that there is plenty of content directly created by the employees themselves, making it a fine This Old Marketing example of how to enable your team members to willingly participate in your content marketing efforts.


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For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The post This Week in Content Marketing: Digital Advertising Will Survive by Limiting Inventory appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

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Say Cheese for These 7 Free Stock-Photo Sites


Whether you promote content that is fresh or seasonal, evergreen or topical, your endeavor will be meaningless if it doesn’t make your readers sizzle and pop with excitement. How do you capture the attention of your audience without crafting content from scratch?

Perhaps all you need is a high-quality photo. Not a bland, lifeless image, but an attention-grabbing picture – one with a story behind it. Maybe you need a series of compelling images if you’re marketing a lengthy content piece.

Research shows that:

Articles with images receive 94% more views than articles without images via @jeffbullas. #visualcontent

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How’s that music for your ears?

High-quality imagery is hard to come by without a significant investment. Having access to a number of free, high-quality, stock-image sites can make it easier. To this end, I’ve put together a list of free cream-of-the-crop sites.

  1. Unsplash: Ten new images are released every 10 days under the Creative Commons Zero license. The uniqueness of the images is what makes this resource intriguing. There are several high-resolution photos to choose from, with exceptional effects and almost Instagram-style filters.

Every image features a link to the photographer’s bio in case you want to know more about a certain image. Just scroll through the Unsplash royalty-free photo collection to discover mystical mountain ranges, faraway rivers, and even natural roads in their high-resolution glory. With several options to choose from, you won’t be forced to use any cheesy handshake shots in your content.

  1. StockSnap.io: The site says it’s “not your typical crappy stock photo site.” StockSnap adds hundreds of high-resolution versatile and interesting photos each week. The site also has a search bar that makes it easy to discover images for a specific keyword.

Additionally, StockSnap sorts photos by date, views, trending, downloads, and favorites. All images fall under the Creative Commons Zero license. Therefore, users can modify, copy, and distribute any image on the website without asking for permission, even commercially.


How to Use Content That Isn’t Yours

  1. Magdeleine: Featuring a collection of hand-picked photos for your inspiration, this site has categories for people, animals, food, nature, city & architecture, objects, abstract, and technology. The majority of photos include color images but there’s a decent collection of black-and-white images as well.

Users can switch the user interface between light and dark from the top right of the screen when navigating through the site. Additionally, they can see the dominant colors and dominant tags that have been used to search for photos. Each image includes a link to the photographer to help users see his/her image collection to date. Images on Magdeleine fall under the Creative Commons Zero license, but require attribution.

  1. SplitShire: Italian creative Daniel Nanescu built this website with the goal of giving life to images that would have been dead without utility. The stock images on SplitShire have received more than 6 million page views, and over 600,000 downloads. From sleek work stations to striking portraits, you won’t find it difficult to pick a photo for your next blog post or social media update.

Categories include abstract, animal, fashion, automotive, food, street, technology, nature, things, people, wedding, landscapes, blur backgrounds, interior, low poly background, still life, various, mock up, bokeh, and video.

When users open a particular image, they also get to see suggestions of similar images. Photos on SplitShire are free of standard copyright restrictions.

  1. Gratisography: The images on this website are quirky, striking, evocative, and often surreal. All photos are taken by the talented Ryan McGuire of Bells Design. The free stock-image site has categories for animals, nature, objects, people, urban, and whimsical. You can subscribe to receive an email alert when new pictures are added to site.

A search bar at the top of the page can be used to find keywords. All images on Gratisography are under the Creative Commons Zero license, so they’re free to use.

  1. Pixabay: This site offers thousands of free photos and videos. Users also can download vector graphics and illustrations. Pixabay enables you to choose between vertical and horizontal orientation, and define if you want an image to be larger than a particular width and height. Users can search for a particular keyword, and limit the search to a particular category if desired.

Pixabay also offers images handpicked by the site’s editorial team. Moreover, you can see the latest or the most popular images available on the website. Users don’t have to deal with any confusing photo licenses; photos can be used in printed and digital form without attribution, for both commercial and personal purpose.

  1. Pexels: A vast collection of free stock images, the site receives 50 new additions of high-quality photos every day, which increases the Pexels library’s stock by 350 high-quality photos each week. All images are handpicked from other free stock-image sites, and users are given the option to explore categories, photos, and photographers.

You can see which photographer is leading the race in terms of downloads in the leaderboard section on the website. Additionally, users can see the most popular photos from the last 30 days, and the most popular search terms used on the website. All photos on Pexels fall under Creative Commons Zero, so they are free to use for any commercial and personal purpose.

Bottom line

The use of captivating photos isn’t just about injecting visual media into text – it improves content performance across the board. Leaders in content marketing use a variety of images to build and share their brand story. Now you, too, can leverage visuals to improve your content footprint. These free stock-image sites will ensure that you secure high-quality images without spending a fortune.

Using captivating photos improves content performance across the board says @itaisadan. #visualcontent

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Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

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The post Say Cheese for These 7 Free Stock-Photo Sites appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

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