We were delighted to welcome four fantastic speakers on stage last week for the fifth edition of our digital marketing event, MKGO.
It was the biggest event yet and we were treated to talks on digital PR for small businesses, the challenges of SEO at a large travel brand, the psychology of language in PR and link building, and ultra low budget digital marketing.
Read on for a summary of the evening:
Being a Small Business and Gaining Coverage on Top Tier Press
Speaker: Aliyah Loughlan
Aira digital PR consultant Aliyah Loughlan makes her speaking debut tonight to give the audience her insights on how to gain that top tier press coverage - whether your business is big or small.
She takes us through some key tactics that have helped her earn top level coverage for some of Aira’s clients:
1 Find a way to resonate with your audience
Aliyah discusses the value of Simon Sinek’s golden circle theory, which focuses on the ‘why’ of a company - why exactly a business does what it does.
Aliyah explains that the ‘why’ is what resonates with an audience, or in the case of digital PR, with a journalist. It’s what makes a business human, and what helps us create a story that people will care about.
Resonance = coverage.
2 Become a professional storyteller
Aliyah’s next tactic is to help journalists and your content by becoming a great storyteller. Journalists are actively looking for their next story, so hand it to them on a plate.
Aliyah has three tips to help you become a pro storyteller:
1 Find a hook
This is the one point that resonates most clearly and grabs a journalist’s attention.
2 Be emotive
Whether it’s fear, a challenge, or a story of triumph over tragedy, emotive content helps you get your content published.
3 Ask ‘What’s my point?’
If you’re not sure of your point, a journalist won’t be either, so have this well thought out before you contact the press.
Aliyah also advises that you consider how to conclude your story. Just like in novels, TV and movies, dramatic conclusions are great at capturing people’s attention.
3 Outreach tactically
Outreaching shrewdly and considerately is essential, Aliyah tells us. Journalists have full inboxes - very full inboxes - and if you want a chance of being seen you need to plan your outreach carefully. And you need to reach out to the right journalists.
To do this there are various tools to help you find the right people who are writing about the right thing. Vuelio, Gorkana, Cision and ResponseSource are all options, but some of these tools might be too expensive for your marketing budget. In that case, Aliyah tells us, Twitter is a great option. You can use it to find journos, see what they’re publishing (make sure you read their stories!) and often you can find their contact details right on their Twitter profile.
When you get to outreaching Aliyah tells us of the importance of succinctly pitching your story. Don’t waffle, get to the point. Get your hook in the headline, make your pitch interesting and impactful, show how your story is new and current, prove its accuracy and include an image to grab the journo’s attention.
If your pitch does this and your content is outstanding, the journalist will think it’s newsworthy.
The Challenges of Running SEO at a Well-Known Travel Brand
Speaker: Rob Kingdom
Rob Kingdom is senior SEO manager at TravelSupermarket.com. He also makes his speaking debut tonight at MKGO, discussing the challenges of getting things done when working for a large travel brand.
Rob takes us through a few issues that have or are causing hurdles for him and his team, and how he tries to circumnavigate them.
Google is of course a challenge for all digital marketers, Rob tells us, but there are specific issues his team faces at TravelSupermarket.com. For instance, Google has a flights and holiday interfaces that take up a significant amount of space in the SERPs. Rob shows us that TravelSupermarket.com are ranking number one for certain phrases, but because of such interfaces a searcher doesn’t see their listing without some serious scrolling. So how can we get around this monopolisation?, Rob asks.
His team thought carefully and created content designed to appear in featured snippets, and they created interfaces of their own in order to also appear before organic results. It doesn’t work every time, Rob says, but it often gives his business back the SERPs exposure they want.
Market behaviours always provide challenges, Rob tells us. For instance, 60% of searches for holidays are done on mobile devices. However, buying confidence is low on mobile so lots of people are researching and consuming content with phones and tablets, but not going on to make purchases on the same devices.
To encourage greater trust and overcome this challenge Rob tells us that his team try to keep their messaging consistent across all formats and platforms, so that consumers are more happy to proceed to make a transaction, whatever device they are using.
Brexit is dominating the news, Rob observes, and it is having a detrimental effect on the amount of people booking holidays. There is uncertainty about lots of things relating to travelling to Europe post-Brexit, and there are negative stories in the press talking about how much more expensive holidays could be because of Brexit.
Rob tells us that one way to promote a holiday provider in this environment is to interrupt the news with your own content. TravelSupermarket.com has done this, with stories answering common questions about travelling abroad at the moment. This works because TravelSupermarket.com is a trusted brand, talking about its own industry, Rob tells us.
Managing data at scale
For a large company, managing huge amounts of data can be very challenging, Rob says. And slicing data into segments in the answer. At TravelSupermarket.com his team have done this in various ways, such as splitting data into sections like:
They have also split it down by site categories and by the buyer personas related to those categories. This makes the data more digestible and makes it easier to gain valuable insights to help shape SEO strategy.
The Psychology of Language and Online Persuasion in PR and Link Building
Speaker: Aoife O’Connor
Next up is our very own digital PR team lead Aoife O’Connor, also making her speaking debut - though you can’t tell.
Her talk is about the psychology of language and online persuasion, and the tactics we should be using to apply these theories to our digital PR and link building. As PRs, she explains, we are generally great at communicating, but sometimes it is difficult to effectively convey our messages across to journalists or audiences using language.
Aoife explains Kahneman’s (2012) theory of two systems in our brain: system one being responsible for our fast, emotional responses to stimuli, and system two being responsible for more logical, considered responses. The key to communicating effectively and grabbing an audience, she explains, is tapping into a system one response, allowing readers and journalists to quickly emotionally resonate with the content you are outreaching.
Aoife takes us through some key tactics on how to tap into these system one responses in our content, outreach and email headings.
Essentially, in order to provoke a system one response from your audience, you need to make your content easily digestible. You can do this by ensuring that your content has easily readable fonts, good symmetry, strong contrasts, and no waffle, i.e. make sure any text is as concise as possible. This will ensure that your piece has perceptual fluency - meaning your content can be easily processed by viewers.
In addition, tapping into the emotional responses or emotional contagion provoked by your content will ensure that the subject of your content is tapping into the impulsive, emotional response of your system one, making the content significantly easier to digest and remember. Aoife uses the ‘Modern Santa’ campaign as a great example of this.
Aoife then goes on to explain how we can make our outreach for our content as easily digestible as possible, by using case studies. Case studies allow audiences to tap into their system one because they’re relatable, and are on a more human level than stats and research, which generally take longer for readers to process and put into context. Case studies tap into homophily, which refers to the tendency of people to have ties with people who are similar to themselves in socially significant ways.
Therefore, we need to ensure that we’re personalising and tailoring our case studies to ensure they will appeal to journalists or audiences. You can do this by reading previous stories, narratives and case studies of the journalist or publication you’re trying to target, says Aoife.
Finally Aoife tells us how we need to be injecting emotion into our subject headings to grab and keep the attention of our audiences. Tapping into local, personal or dramatic headlines, will ensure that your headlines are capturing the attention of your prospects. Instead of using headlines devoid of emotion such as ‘10 Ways to...’, use trigger words and compelling adjectives such as ‘weird’, ‘surprising’, ‘outrageous’ or ‘essentials’ to create intrigue and add emotion. Even if you feel like this sounds ‘clickbaity’ - that’s good! We want to capture an impulsive reaction from audiences.
In conclusion, ensuring your content is perceptually simple and easy to digest, emotionally charged in it’s subject and tailored to the journalist, your content is more likely to get on to top tier sites.
Ultra Low Budget Digital Marketing
Speaker: Dom Hodgson
After telling us about the numerous companies he’s started Dom explains to us how his wife insisted they went on holiday on a cruise ship without wifi so that he wouldn’t start another business. Except he did.
This was the start of SEO tool LittleWarden, he tells us - a company he initially had very little budget to market. So he turned to Fiverr with a budget of $50!
Dom tells us how he found so-called ‘digital marketers’ on Fiverr to do his online marketing for him, and to do it cheap! From SEO audits to Adwords copy and a viral video, Dom shows us the dubious work delivered (when it was) from the marketers, some of whom are even more dubious than their work - Rob Stark, anyone?
Seemingly Dom takes us through a series of ill-fated attempts at slashing the cost of his marketing, then reveals that he blogged about this cheapo campaign, got some shares on social media and this was the basis for his successful (and cheap) attempts at marketing LittleWarden.
We learn from Dom that you can market your business with a limited budget, but you probably shouldn’t do it all on Fiverr. Dom tells us that he used his humour, his humanness and his imagination (plus some industry contacts) to create and share resonant content. It’s a bespoke approach to marketing and inspiration to marketers that there may be other ways to approach getting traffic, conversions and sales.