Why do you create content? Why do you send it out into the vastness of the internet? What are you trying to achieve? Is anyone reading it? These are some of the questions our clients often ask themselves when they create content for their brands — and the Avalaunch Media team keeps these questions top of mind when crafting creative content strategies. At this year’s Avalaunch Google Day event in Redwood City, California, we set out to help our clients understand what makes content stand out — and what makes it last.
As a Google Premier Partner, Avalaunch Media stages events twice a year featuring insider information from the minds at Google, as well as renowned headlining speakers and our invaluable clients. Our Avalaunch Google Days are some of our favorite days of the year, as they give us the chance to personally connect with our clients — many of whom travel across the country to attend.
During our Avalaunch Google Days, our clients get the opportunity to learn from industry experts they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. And with fun activities like ski trips and tours of the Google campus, clients have a great time and leave not only with unforgettable memories — they also have the tips and tricks needed to help them meet their business goals.
During this year’s two-day event, we learned lessons about evergreen content — what it is, and how to use it. Our speaker lineup was comprised of a mix of Avalaunch employees, Google representatives, startup powerhouses, an inspiring MLB Hall-of-Famer and a Professor of Rock Music. Read on to discover the highlights from Avalaunch Google Day 2019, and start considering how you can apply evergreen principles to your business’ content strategy.
Double Down On Your Content With PPC
Kyle Shurtz, director of PPC at Avalaunch Media, is established as an industry master of risk and strategy. He looks at PPC as a driver that can inform your content strategy by giving you insight into what your audience thinks of your content:
- How much time your audience is spending on a page
- How they’re engaging with your content
- What you should continue doing
- What you should change
Once you glean this information from your PPC strategy, you can then test your messaging to enhance your web content. This helps you see which headlines work in your search ads, which in turn helps you improve what you’re doing from a paid standpoint. Of course, your audience wants to see content that is interesting and relevant, and to create that, you need to come up with unique blog ideas. Start by:
- Researching the top blogs in your industry.
- Search top “how-to” keywords and create custom intent audiences around them.
- Search your top keywords and plug in the top five blogs that rank organically in that space.
You can use this same strategy with videos by looking at channels and specific videos that are popular among your audience. From there, you can create custom intent audiences and custom affinity audiences and target YouTube videos with display ads. This is a great way to show up in the right place in front of a consumer and build trust.
Marketing Automation: Best Closer in Digital Marketing
Last year, Avalaunch rolled out marketing automation as one of our eight pillars of digital marketing. Casey Petersen, Avalaunch’s director of marketing automation, has ensured that MA is a core marketing strategy for many of our clients. According to Casey, in the digital marketing game, PPC, SEO, social media, and content marketing are the starters, while marketing automation is the closer.
Let’s break that down. In baseball, the starting pitcher and the closer have very different roles, but they work together to accomplish the ultimate goal of winning the game. Starting pitchers often put people in the seats, and make a lot of money from endorsements. Closers might not have the same recognition, but they are tasked with an equally important job: ensuring the game finishes strong.
MA isn’t a standalone strategy in digital marketing. It’s best when combined with the other pillars of digital marketing: web development, SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media, PR and outreach, and branding. How? MA moves customers down the sales funnel and closes out the game.
Much of this is achieved through lead nurturing — something many businesses fail to implement. In fact, 79% of leads never turn into customers due to a lack of lead nurturing. For example, social media can be treated as lead generation because it gets people to convert. But MA keeps those customers in the sales funnel because it nurtures the leads.
As a business, you should have two main goals when it comes to marketing automation: increase inbound conversions and boost email marketing performance. If customers take the time to engage with your content, they want something from you. It’s hard to leverage that on your own, but MA gives you the tools to make it happen.
Winning With Creative: YouTube-First Content
Ashley Walter, YouTube product specialist at Google, talked us through one of the biggest trends in digital marketing: YouTube content. According to Ashley, YouTube offers brands a unique opportunity to showcase creative content while potential customers are actually paying attention.
However, not just any ad will grab your audience’s attention. To resonate, your ad must be relevant to the person watching it — and for good reason. Relevant video ads get three times the attention of an average video ad.
So how can you make your ad relevant? It can seem difficult when all power is in the hands of the consumer. Within three to five seconds, they decide whether they want to continue viewing your ad, or switch over to the content they came to YouTube to watch. For many web users, it’s not a difficult choice. This means that the first three to five seconds of your video ad are crucial, as they determine whether viewers click “Skip Ad” or hesitate. And you want that hesitation to last as long as possible to ensure your content’s message is received.
Ashley gave us some helpful tips for making your video ad relevant, especially in the first few key seconds:
- Think about how you use sight, sound, and motion. Using two or more shots in the first five seconds keeps the viewer’s mind moving, and makes long videos feel digestible.
- Don’t forget to use the element of surprise in the form of stunning, delightful, unexpected, or otherwise memorable imagery.
- Overall, your brand is your most valuable asset. Introduce it in the first five seconds in a way that feels natural.
- Show off how your product or service looks and works, and offer a deal, discount, or promotion to encourage viewers to take action.
- A lot of viewers watch ads on their phones or other small screens, so be sure you’re editing for mobile.
With these tips, you can boldly tell your story, embrace the platform, and tell consumers what to do next.
Stories That Last a Lifetime
Adam Reader, aka Professor of Rock, has made it his life’s work to create evergreen content that is interesting, relevant, and never outdated. Adam has earned his title of Professor of Rock with a career that includes interviews with world-famous musicians including the Beach Boys, Carlos Santana, and Journey.
So how does Adam’s content stay relevant? It has a lot to do with the subject matter, but most of it has to do with Adam’s natural interviewing skills and hours of research. According to Adam, music is a universal language that weaves every facet of civilization together.
Musicians are revered, sometimes more than actors and successful politicians. Certain songs act as time machines, causing us to relive memories every time we re-listen. That’s why Adam creates his evergreen content: it’s all centered around his love of music, instilled in him by his dad. That’s his “why.” Have you identified your business’ “why?”
Your “why” is your purpose — it’s the reason you put out content in the first place. Your customers are interested in learning your “why” because it’s your origin story — it’s what drives you, your employees, and your business goals. If you want to communicate your business’ “why,” it’s imperative to create interesting, relevant content.
Adam’s tips for creating interesting, relevant evergreen content:
- Be specific. If you ask canned questions or put out dry content, expect to get canned responses.
- Go the distance. Leave nothing to chance; leave no stone unturned. For great content, you have to do heavy groundwork, and most of the time that means research.
- Passion + sincerity = vulnerability. Passion can’t be taught or faked. Vulnerability is the crown jewel of evergreen content. People today want something real and positive. It’s important to have genuine conviction in your content because consumers can see through insincerity. Passion is contagious and it creates an irresistible energy.
- Tell “real” stories. When communicating your “why,” tap into authenticity, which can change the way people look at the world.
Smart Scale: Machine Learning for Sustainable Growth
Ted Weber Gola, regional product manager at Google, taught us how to leverage advanced technology in digital marketing strategy with smart budgeting. This starts with creating a growth strategy that combines the broad reach of Google platforms with machine learning. Google reaches 90% of internet users — so it only makes sense that you should be employing its tools in your business’ digital marketing strategy.
It starts with showing the right creative assets to the right customers, since 75% of advertising impact is determined by creative quality.
- Focus on maintaining the quality of your conversion data. Every conversion counts, so you’ll be thankful you chose to use tools like Global Site Tag, Google Tag Manager, and Google Analytics to accurately track conversions.
- Know your audience. Google provides unique insight into who your audience is, through unique intent signals, real-time audiences, efficient targeting, and full-funnel solutions.
- Show the right creative assets to customers. An estimated 75% of advertising impact is determined by creative quality. Build your assets with intention by nailing down your audience, defining what they care about, building value propositions, and, finally, publishing content.
- Build a mobile-friendly website. You can do all you can to create beautiful content, but it will be all for nothing if your website offers a poor customer experience. Keep your audience engaged with a positive user experience and a well-defined path to connect with your business.
- Provide a data feed. Dynamic remarketing helps you create a feed of your products with unique IDs, images, and prices. Dynamic prospecting shows only the most relevant information, which can lead to a 20% higher ROI. Google tools including Smart Shopping, local campaigns, and Smart Display can help with this.
Organizing Your Product Ecosystem: Empowering Customers and Teams With a Content Hub
Madelyne Van Hoff, co-founder and director of operations at Tangible and Avalaunch alumna, walked us through creating content hubs for engaging, creative content. Put simply, a content hub is a designated area of your website where visitors can find curated, branded content related to a topic or family of topics.
A content hub is more than a mere blog. It encompasses so many different types of content, such as e-books, white papers, infographic outlines, user-generated content, and more. Your hub is a place for your audience to find the answer to any question they may have, and it positions you as a thought-leader in your space. Companies with a content hub have 80% more new site visits and 97% more inbound links.
Before you even begin planning your content hub, you need to make sure you truly understand your audience. Customer personas stretch far beyond basic demographics. Once you determine who your customer is, you can get into their mindset and cater to them. From there, you can create content themes your customers will care about.
Madelyne shared her six key content hub strategies:
- Leverage SEO data to create content themes. Learn what your customers are actually searching for so you can determine which content will resonate with them. Answer the Public is a great tool for this.
- Make sure you’re posting at the right times. People prefer to read online content on Monday and Thursday mornings at around 10 a.m.
- Focus on getting your customers’ attention quickly, as they tend to click away within seven seconds.
- Collect emails through sidebar forms or popups, and don’t give away the best content for free.
- Link to your product pages from your content and include engaging CTAs.
- Be consistent in publishing content or don’t list the publication date, as this can quickly age your content.
Above all, Madelyne left us with this thought: You know what to do and do what you love!
5 Ways to Turn Your Evergreen Content Into an Interactive Experience
Jake Reni, vice president of sales at Tiled, showed us how to imagine new ways of displaying original content — encouraging us to think outside the box of short blog posts and traditional hygiene content. All companies can achieve this with Tiled, an exciting new interactive content platform that allows content to be presented in an interactive microapp platform, without the need for custom coding. Tiled, through its microapps, is revolutionizing options for building immersive and experiential content.
With Tiled, you can make any content interactive, as long as it is structured and formatted for experiences across mobile and other devices. A microapp is the perfect solution for this, as it is specially created as a way for customers to interact with your brand in a new way. With curated content and an innovative microapp, Tiled helps your brand move beyond static content into rich content that inspires engagement.
Jake shared his top five ways to make content interactive:
- Create tactile, navigable experiences. You already understand the importance of providing a positive user experience. With Tiled, you can capitalize on user experience even more by creating an experience that is both positive and unique.
- Use rich media to enhance interactivity. Include assets such as video and micrographics to make the entire experience noticeable and appealing.
- Go from prototype to (Ava)launch. Roll out your content strategically so that you get the most out of your investment.
- Make your designs extensible. The same piece of content can be consumed across multiple channels in the same way in an omni-channel environment.
- Evolve without disruption. Static content is harder to edit as it often involves updating images or data. Tiled content is easy to update, making it the ideal platform for evergreen content.
Decisions That Create Resilience
We closed out Google Day with an epic presentation from our keynote speaker: baseball legend Dale Murphy. With an almost two-decade MLB career under his belt, Dale is best known for his time at the Atlanta Braves. After such a celebrated career, Dale has much wisdom to impart about creating resilience — an element imperative to evergreen content.
Dale’s three decisions for creating resilience:
- Decide not to quit. You may have to change positions or responsibilities, but the most important thing is to keep going. There is perhaps no better example of this than the game of baseball. MLB players like Dale are up against some of the toughest competition in the world — but at the end of the day, what matters is that you show up and keep showing up when things get hard.
- Learn from the past, but don’t live in it. Our pasts shape who we are — our values, our actions, and our personalities. But no matter the challenges of your past, you can learn from the hard times and become a stronger person — just don’t dwell on the negative. Instead, keep picking yourself up and keep moving forward.
- Keep your ultimate big picture in mind. Dale explained that for him, the big picture could, and does, mean so many things: the big picture of a career in major league baseball or the big picture of a happy family, just to name a couple. When you keep your big picture in mind, small daily challenges seem less debilitating. After all, when you look back at your life years from now, you won’t think about a single instance — you’ll reflect on a collection of combined moments that affect more people than you could imagine.
At the end of Dale’s presentation, the audience was left not just with a blueprint for living a better life — but also for creating things that last. Whether that’s the content you put out as a business, or the personal attitude you display to the world, resilience is something we should all consider more in our lives.
Our Google Day Takeaways
“Our speaker lineup this November really blew me away and I gained valuable insights. For instance, Casey Petersen’s presentation helped me to better categorize and define what marketing automation is and how we should be thinking about it and using it in our omni-channel digital campaigns. And Adam Reader’s presentation was so inspiring that I had to text my parents and spouse during his speech just to tell them how grateful I was for them in my life.” — David Mink, CEO and co-founder of Avalaunch Media
“I loved Avalaunch Google Day. Avalaunch finds amazing speakers who have incredible first-hand experience. It left me with concrete takeaways to be able to deliver strategic evergreen content.” — George Banner, project manager at Avalaunch Media
“It’s always a pleasure to our clients at Google Day. We always leave being inspired by our presenters to try new strategies. We had such a good line up this year on one of my favorite topics. I’m grateful for the clients who were able to make it.” — Julia Olson, Marketing Strategist
Thank you to all of the clients who attended this year’s Avalaunch Google Day event in Redwood City. We hope you learned a lot from our lineup of speakers, and we hope you’re ready to launch into 2020 with a brand-new evergreen content strategy. If you weren’t able to come to this event, you’re not too late! More Avalaunch Google Day events are in the planning for 2020, in Utah and California. Keep an eye out for your invite!