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Written by Joe



November 6th, 2015.

How Infographics Will Change Your Online Marketing Forever

…They’re not new – but they’re incredibly effective…

I’ve long maintained that infographics are the key to any online marketing process. They have benefits for Digital PR, Social Media Marketing, E-mail Marketing, and most importantly, for SEO.

72% of online transactions start with a search – so if Search Engine Optimisation isn’t your top concern, it probably should be.

SEO is about two main things: Relevance (the words on your website) and Reputation (which websites link to yours). Infographics are incredibly effective in making sure high authority, relevant websites link to you.

To explain it, I’m going to show you 3 of the infographics I’ve made to help boost the online presence of The Baltic Travel Company.

21 Travel Hacks for a Better Trip


This infographic is really simple. Obviously life hacks and ‘how tos’ are majorly shareable online, and during the summer months, most people are thinking a lot about their holiday plans.

You can view the whole graphic here.

Overall, this graphic received 27 placements, with backlinks to the client’s site. This included placements on The Daily Mail and The Huffington Post.

40 National Dishes Made from Plasticine


This was one of the most fun infographics I’ve made. Combining the internet’s love of food with something unexpected and creative made a lot of sense.

You can view the whole graphic here.

This graphic received 9 major placements, including The Daily Mail and Design Taxi.

The World’s 37 Most Iconic Breads


Again, focussing on the internet’s love of food, we created something that celebrated one of the staples of diet in any culture: Bread.

You can view the full graphic here.

This graphic received six major placements, including Shortlist, The Huffington Post and Design Taxi.


These infographics were created as part of an ongoing SEO and Digital Marketing campaign. They are only 3 of many infographics we’ve created to help raise the profile of Baltic Travel Company.

For an idea of how the brand mentions and backlinks have impacted on the process, take a look at this graph (taken from Search Metrics).

The blue line represents the company’s visibility in search engines over time. This is across all of their keywords:


An upward trend in visibility is obviously great. But what was it all worth?


t’s always hard to place a value on a ‘placement’ or a ‘backlink’, but a good rule of thumb is to ask how much it would cost for a brand mention or advert in these major publications (Such as The Daily Mail, or The Huffington Post).

It’s not unfair to say that you could hope to pay into the thousands for just one full feature like this. Even smaller blogs will charge a fee to promote a product or service.

If I was pricing up the coverage I’ve outlined above, I would expect it to cost at least £14,000. And that’s not including the hundreds of social shares the content received.

That’s what makes infographics so ingenious. They give bloggers and journalists a reason to talk about your brand in an editorial rather than an advertorial way.

So what?

I’m telling you all of this for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, I want you to know that gaining this level of coverage is achievable, both in terms of skill and cost.

Secondly, I’d like to invite you to join me in Hammersmith on December 2nd. I’m hosting a Masterclass called ‘How to Make Awesome Content and How to Make it Go ‘Viral’, and I’d love to have you along.

We’ll cover everything I’ve mentioned here in a lot more detail, as well as how to come up with ideas, develop content and the principles behind what makes content ‘shareable’.

Find out more:



October 13th, 2015.

How One Campaign Can Generate You £48,000 in Value

…An in-depth look at a one-year Content Marketing campaign…

I just wrapped up a 1-year Content Marketing campaign for my client, The campaign had an incredibly low cost, but generated about £40,000 in the value of placements – not to mention over 600,000 visitors to the site.

I’ll dig into the main facts and figures of the campaign first, but I’ll also identify some key actionable ideas which worked well. I’ll save them for the end.

The Brief wanted to improve their visibilty online, using content, so they engaged my services.

Their aims were:

  • To gain placements and mentions in high-authority, well-trafficked publications.
  • To improve their search engine rankings.
  • To increase traffic to the Lovereading site.
  • To position Lovereading as an expert-resource for book lovers around the world.

I work almost exclusively with SMEs, so naturally I like to do everything on a conservative budget. This means as well as delivering on all of the above, the campaign had to be financially viable for both the client and for me.

We finally settled on four ideas to be released across the year.

– The Game of Thrones Spoiler Machine
– 15 Words You Never Knew Came from Literature (Infographic)
– The Google Maps Book Mash-Up
– The Game of Thrones Catch-Up Machine

The Game of Thrones Spoiler Machine


This section will make a lot more sense if you take a look at the page (although be warned, there are obviously spoilers for Game of Thrones):

The latest series of Game of Thrones (Season 4) had just ended on HBO, and the internet was buzzing about the series. We decided it would be appropriate to bring everyone’s attention back to the original A Song of Ice and Fire books, which the series is based upon.

As such, I created an interactive page which listed the fate of every character, spoiling it for the show watchers.

The Cost

Research – cost: £50

The research was pretty easy, as the entire content team are ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ experts. We hired a Game of Thrones forum member as a fact-checker.

Design – cost: £250

The design was the most fun part. We made it as testing as possible for users, asking them repeatedly if they were sure they wanted to spoil it. It was a really interesting way to present the information.


When it comes to promotion of content online, it always pays to tap into existing communities.

We knew there would be two main groups of people who would get a kick from this content:

‘Fans of the Game of Thrones TV Show’, and ‘Fans of the Song of Ice and Fire books’.

Submitting to Reddit – cost: Free

Boosting on Facebook – Cost: £100

Tweeting to Influencers – Cost: Free

E-mail Outreach to Influencers – Cost: Free

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery – £50

Total Cost of content: £450


The Game of Thrones Spoiler Machine received an astonishing amount of traffic during its first few days.


This is due to the strategic locations in which the content was seeded.


At one point, the site had 2,000 concurrent users. An excellent boost of traffic from a resource which still continues to gain page views.

The resource also received some major placements. The two most prominent:

Winter is Coming (The web’s biggest Game of Thrones news site)

The Mary Sue


15 Words You Never Knew Came from Literature


View the full graphic here.

It should be no surprise to any Content Marketer that infographics can be an excellent way to gain exposure for a brand online. If you’re not sure why, check out this post from Moz.

Having had some very solid success with infographic promotion the year prior to this campaign, (including a feature on Page 3 of the print version of The Times!), it seemed like a no-brainer to keep up the good work in gaining high authority placements.

The cost

Research – Cost: £25

This is an oft-blogged about idea, so it was more a matter of narrowing down the information to the best ones.

Design – Cost: £400

The design process for this piece was pretty complicated. We work in close partnership with a number of freelance designers (in order to scale our work and keep costs down). The illustration is obviously the major draw of the graphic, but the layout and type is just as important, so we needed specialists from each field.


Submission to Reddit – Cost: Free (/r/todayilearned for anyone wondering)

Facebook Boost – Cost: £50

Email Outreach – Cost: Free

Twitter Outreach – Cost: Free

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery – Cost: £50


The infographic was featured pretty widely in literature blogs. Overall (aside from social shares) it received around 39 placements from websites with a very solid authority.

The most notable examples are:

Electric Literature Shortlist Buzzfeed All Women’s Talk Adweek


The Lovereading/Google Maps Mash-Up


Check out the full resource here:

As infographic marketing specialists, and general web geeks, it seemed like a natural conclusion to take advantage of the customisability of Google’s Maps Engine, allowing users an insight into the settings of the most popular English language books in history.

Research – Cost: £50

It only took a researcher a couple of hours to identify the setting of the most popular English language books.

Design – Cost: £200

The design was fairly straightforward. The books needed to be placed into a Google map, and a header banner and sharing buttons added. This was all relatively inexpensive.

Promotion Cost

Submission to Reddit – Cost: Free

Email Outreach – Cost: Free

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery – Cost: £50

Total Cost of Content: £300


During its first few days, the Google Maps Mashup was seeded to all the places named above. The traffic to the site was fantastic, as can be seen in this snapshots from Google Analytics:



The Google Maps Mash-Up surpassed both the client’s expectations and our own expectations too. We knew it was a great piece of content, but the level of coverage it has received in its first few months make for an excellent case study.

In total: 741 Backlinks were received from 118 Domains!

Most notable are:

WiredFlavor Pill Wired Japan BustleElectric LiteratureABC.NL

In terms of traffic, the resource also performed outstandingly, attracting some 75,000 visitors on its first day (due to careful seeding), but now due to the spread of its promotion, it continues to bring in dozens of visitors per day.


The Game of Thrones Catch-Up Machine


View the full resource here:

We’d had our fun all those months before by spoiling the series for TV watchers, so it seemed fair to give them something useful, and capitalise on the deafening buzz around Season 5 of Game of Thrones which was fast approaching.

This was a masterclass in repurposing content. We used the framework we already had for the above resource, adding new info and promoting it widely, and the results were fantastic.

Research – Cost: £25

This was a really simple one – we just had to find a writer who was well-versed with the show and pay them for a couple of hours work in updating our character list.

Design – Cost: Free

There was no real design cost as this was a pretty straightforward case of updating the existing html.

Promotion – Cost: £150

The promotional activity for this followed a practically identical process to the Spoiler machine (above).

As part of the promotion process for this, a cast member of the Game of Thrones series also tweeted the piece following my tweet to her:



The Game of Thrones Catch Up Machine proved incredibly useful and incredibly popular.

It was widely mentioned by high-authority sources and Game of Thrones blogs – securing many solid placements on well-trafficked sites, and certainly helping to cement Lovereading’s position as Game of Thrones experts.

In total: 26 mentions (with links) of came from 15 domains .

Most notable are:

Techtimes Metafilter Rotten Tomatoes Shortlist Winter is Coming

The traffic to the resource was also of a standard which we had come to expect from previous resources. Over 200,000 visitors visited the site on its first day, with close to 300,000 page views for the whole lifetime of the piece.




Campaign Results Summary

In total, this campaign gained

  • 823 new links to the Lovereading site
  • From individual unique websites
  • Including 20 ‘High Authority’ Websites
  • And over 600,000 new visitors to the site

In terms of measurable impact, this graph shows the effect on the online visibility of Lovereading. The graph is based on the past year.


The site now ranks for major high traffic keywords relevant to Game of Thrones, such as ‘Game of Thrones Spoilers’ and ‘Game of Thrones Catch-Up’ (both in the top 5 results).

Interestingly, the site also now ranks around position 9 for ‘Google Maps’.

So how about Return on Investment?

It’s always hard to give a return on investment for ‘links’ and ‘placements’, but as a crude but fair measure, most high-authority, well-established blogs would charge a minimum of £1,500 for an advertising spot. Smaller blogs might charge around £100, but ultimately nobody will promote your business online for much less than that.

Based on the 20 major placements, and the 181 other placements, paying for advertising in all of these places would have cost around £48,100.

The traffic to the site is hard to price, but it seems fair to say that any sane business owner would consider 600,000+ relevant visitors to their site to be invaluable.

The rankings we have established will help to bolster’s visibility into the future, making them able to compete with their competitors with much higher budgets and infrastructure. Again, this is invaluable.

Why this worked – your takeaway points

When I create content, I follow a few very simple rules. These are rules reached after years of trial and error. (Rules we’re so confident in that I teach them in Masterclasses to business owners and marketing managers).

  • Rule 1 – STEPPS

The content needs to meet as many of Jonah Berger’s STEPPS criteria as possible:

Social Currency (People will want to share it to seem in-the-know)

Triggers (It’s already a hot topic)

Emotion (It puts people in a state of emotional arousal, so they have to act)

Public (It needs to be understood by everyone)

Practical Value (It needs to be useful)

Stories (It should follow a narrative or chronology)

Alongside STEPPS the content should be as easy to share as possible (sharing buttons, calls to action). This is the kind of content that inspires bloggers and journalists to write about it.

  • Rule 2 – Awesome Design

The content needs to be well-designed. In fact so well-designed that it could stand on its own as an example of good design, regardless of the information contained within it.

  • Rule 3 – Extensive Research

The content needs to be so well-researched that it leaves no question that you are an expert in your industry.

  • Rule 4 – Exhaustive Promotion

There needs to be a strategy in place before the content is even finished to ensure as many relevant people see the content as possible. What doesn’t get seen doesn’t get shared, and as such we need to make sure bloggers, journalists and social media influencers see the content and share it.

This means we need to ensure the content gets massive exposure on places where these influencers look for content – places like Reddit, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter and their own e-mail inboxes.

So what?

I’m telling you all of this for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, I want you to know that gaining this level of coverage is achievable, both in terms of skill and cost.

Secondly. You may be interested in learning more.  I host a Masterclass called ‘How to Make Awesome Content and How to Make it Go ‘Viral’, and I’d love to have you along.

Find out more:

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 19.01.08


September 21st, 2015.

53 Steps to Ultimate PPC Success for Small Business

53 Steps to Ultimate PPC Success for Small Business

Regardless of your industry, the tactics you can employ to make life easier for PPC management remain the same. This infographic (from us to you, with love) breaks down 53 considerations for Pay-Per-Click success.

If you want to share this infographic around with anyone who can use it, please feel free.




September 21st, 2015.

How One Piece of Content Gained Over £30,000 in Value…

How One Piece of Content Can Change Your Marketing Forever

…Essential reading for marketers looking for ideas…

It’s something I thought I’d never say, but I now believe one solid piece of content can change your marketing efforts forever…

As all good digital marketers know, solid Content Marketing is built around content that provides a solution to a common problem. By giving your unique expert insights into a widely acknowledged issue, you’ll give your content the best chance it has of gaining backlinks, social shares, and press coverage to help your marketing efforts.

After years of trial and error, I now only create content that could be considered ‘Evergreen’. This means it covers issues that won’t go out of fashion or be irrelevant in a few months.

When planning content for my client, The London Speaker Bureau, I listed all the common public speaking issues, and set about forming an infographic which offers a solution.

Enter 9 Steps to Becoming a Public Speaking Expert.


The concept seems really simple, but perhaps that’s why this particular piece of content has been so effective.

The infographic has gained placements, links and brand mentions month-on-month for the past year. Including placements in Business Insider, Alltop, Entrepreneur and Fox News.

This graph shows how the number of placements per month:


As you can see, after the initial launch surge, the pick-up rate lulled heading into Christmas, and then picked up to a much steadier stream throughout 2015. The average is around 6.8 placements per month.

But were the placements worthwhile?

When considering whether a site is worthwhile in terms of providing backlinks for SEO purposes, there are a number of metrics one could use (Page Rank, Domain Authority etc.) but the one I trust the most (as it is most frequently updated) is Majestic’s Trust Flow. (Majestic is a backlink intelligence tool widely used by SEOs).

I ran the placement sites through Majestic and found out that although the average number of placements was fluctuated and had a slight tendency downward, the average Trust Flow of sites featuring the infographic undoubtedly increased over the months:


NB. The vast majority of websites on the internet have a trust flow of under 20. Very few are over 50. The highest placement this content received came from Fox News with a Trust Flow of 85, but the Trust Flow of linking sites steadily increased.

This means that it wasn’t just have-a-go-hero bloggers repurposing the content, but genuinely interested, well-trafficked, high authority websites were using the content in their editorial. 

So who did post it?

There were lots of relevant industry blogs and general business blogs who posted the piece, but I’ve picked out the major placements per month and laid them out here:


Note: Business Insider wrote about the infographic on 4 separate sites, with unique content on each. This means 4 different links from 4 different domains.
In other instances of the same publication appearing twice (Hubspot and Lifehack), the infographic was written about in separate articles.

As you can see, the level of sites publishing this infographics couldn’t have been better. The fact that the level of up-take has been sustained for a full year, with the quality of the sites increasing month-on-month is a testament to the power of evergreen content.

How about the ROI?

This infographic was put together as part of an ongoing SEO contract, so it’s hard to put an exact price on it. However, an infographic of this nature will typically cost around £500 to research and design (minus promotion costs).

If you were to pay to be featured on the upper-end sites (like the ones featured in the graph above), you’d probably be looking at upwards of £1,500 per placement. (This is based on the advertising costs associated with sites of a similar authority). At the lower end, bloggers typically charge no less than £100 for a placement of this nature.

So we’re talking about an ROI of placements and links valued between £30,000 and £50,000. With some, (such as Fox News) being nearly impossible to get without a corporate advertising budget.

Valuable infographics like the one discussed here are an ingenious way to bypass such advertising costs, to give journalists, bloggers and influencers an incredibly good reason to talk about your business – and more than that – to want to talk about your business.

So what?

I’m telling you all of this for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, I want you to know that gaining this level of coverage is achievable, both in terms of skill and cost.

Secondly. You may be interested in learning more.  I host a Masterclass called ‘How to Make Awesome Content and How to Make it Go ‘Viral’, and I’d love to have you along.

Find out more:





April 29th, 2014.

My Takeaways from #BrightonSEO

Brighton SEO has been and gone. If you weren’t there, I’ve taken the time to summarise some of my key take-away points for you in this handy-dandy blog post.

I’ll cover the talks I found the most interesting, then end with something of a cheatsheet for prospective which I formed from one of the talks.

Malcolm Coles – How I earned loads of links by ignoring SEO

Malcolm is a really interesting guy. It was very interesting to see how Trinity Mirror marries the traditional style of The Mirror with the anti-establishment UsvsTh3m. The stuff I’m taking away:

-    Tapping into news stories is a great way to hack the news. Seems kind of obvious when you say it out loud. Malcolm talked about the ways he’s received national and even international coverage from making a basic game (Badger Penalty Shootout anyone?)

-    Everybody loves quizzes. Quizbait is relatively easy to put together and has a bit potential to go viral (appeals to people’s sense of competition and social media is all about bragging). Also quizzes can be challenging or satirical, so there’s a lot of possibilities.

-    Stop fucking swearing. Headlines with swearwords in them get shared far less than their PG equivalents.

Stacey Cavanagh – The Habits that Land You Links

Stacey is so enthusiastic and supersmart. Some very cool talking points:

–    The 6-3-5 idea-creation method. Basically you get 6 people in a room to discuss content ideas for a specific purpose. They have 5 minutes to come up with 3 ideas, then they pass those ideas to the next person who uses them to inspire 3 new ideas. Repeat until all 6 people have written on every sheet and you have 108 ideas.

–    We should all be using to collaborate on projects between research, designers and everyone else involved in the process.

–    Ask clients for images to build a good visual resource bank. These can then be seeded to Flickr and their use tracked through Image Raider. Let your photos do the work for you.

Vicke Cheung – Tips for Designing Great Content

Vicke is a designer, so she gave a designer’s perspective on content creation with some great advice on how they think and how to discuss projects with them. The things I’ll be implementing:

-    Vicke hammered home the importance of for collaborating. Especially in doing the early visual research and getting a designer’s opinion.

-     It’s a good idea to set up a briefing template that you can fill in and send to your designer. I’m also going to be using this idea when briefing researchers and developers.

-     Typekit is a good platform for getting free typefaces, and Stocksy is a site which offers realistic alternatives to the rubbishy stock photos we see everywhere.

Patrick Hathaway – Cool Shit You Can Do With WordPress

Patrick is a whizkid and had lots of tricks we can use to achieve fantastic goals in WordPress (i.e. no coding). I won’t take the words out of his mouth, so you can read his blog post on the subject here:

If that’s too much to read, the one piece of advice I’d most agree with is you should start looking at IFTTT (If This, Then That). It’s a way of linking and automating pretty much all of your online platforms and it’s amazing.

Carolyn Jones – Link Prospecting: Step Away from the Search Engine

Carolyn’s talk had loads of really great, actionable advice. I’ll do my best to recreate something of a cheatsheet here:

Use List Sites:,,,,,,,,,

Linkclump is a great tool for opening multiple links at the same time, so effectively you can access an entire list without the need to click every single link.

Search Google for ‘list of [keyword] bloggers’ or ‘top [keyword] blogs’.

Also look at blog rolls (the lists of sites other bloggers have created)

From an Email List:

Use Rapportive in Gmail

In Twitter:

Use Followerwonk:

Search ‘[keyword] blog’ > more options > “http” in URL field – find blogger hashtags to find bloggers

In Google+:
Look to Google+ communities.

Search “[keyword] blog” > click on group > scroll down o members > click see all > visit profiles and collect url data

In Facebook:

Associated Facebook groups

Graph Search

Events pages

On Google:

Find people who are already talking about the topic with Google News Downloader

Other important stuff:

Use Buzzsumo – this is amazing and it’s free. I don’t know why more people aren’t using it.

Paddy Moogan’s Infographic Search Engine




February 20th, 2014.

3 Reasons Google’s Marketing Stinks – and why it’s costing them billions.

Google seems to have mutated into some kind of mutant King Sidam. Everything they touch turns to old (news).

Ask Joe Public who he thinks the leader of modern technological advances are and chances are he’ll say Google. And he’s probably right. Then why can’t Google seem to get it right when it comes to launching new products?

I’ll tell you why. But first I need to explain I’m not talking about Google’s acquisitions. They buy a new company every day. Whether it’s Motorola or Boston Dynamics (of terrifying Big Dog fame), they make strategic purchases to position themselves as market leaders in technology. Whenever they buy a company the ensuing press coverage surely boosts that company’s profile. That’s not their problem. Their problem is in launching new products.

Google Glass

First announced in 1901, Google Glass has been in tech news every 5 seconds ever since. You can’t move online without someone mentioning Google Glass. This isn’t the results of Google’s PR team though, it’s just because bloggers are lazy. They’ll write about anything that they think will generate page views. These posts are predictable and pernicious to Google’s overall success. Mostly they’re speculative or fluffed up with rumour, so by the time the real announcements come along we feel like we’ve heard it before.

Bloggers writing about something is one thing, but are people interested? According to Google’s own trend data, apparently they’re not.


Compare this with the pageantry and sense of mystery surrounding other tech announcements. Apple hold a massive conference every year to announce their new products. This occurs a few months before the official launch, fuelling discussion until the actual launch. Here is proof:


The same applies to the PS4 and XboxOne.


You could argue that this is an unfair comparison since these products had an existing market and Google Glass hasn’t been launched yet. I would contend that there is an existing market for Google Glass, but they’ve shown their hand too early. There’s no mystery and no awesome features for us to get excited about. Just a load of pictures of pretty people wearing obnoxious eyewear. And Sergey Brin beginning his transformation into Robert Downey Jr.

Google Helpouts

Remember Google Helpouts? Don’t worry. Neither does anyone else…

Basically it’s a peer-teaching platform where you can teach (or learn) through video calling. The learner pays the teacher for their time and everyone’s a winner. Except Google, who forgot to do any marketing…


It’s a good idea in theory. The main problem is people can use Google’s fairly well-known search engine to find free answers to their questions for a dash of the time, effort and cost of using Helpouts.

Consider Helpouts as a start-up (one with a billion-dollar backing, but a start-up all the same). Most successful Start-Ups use a growth marketing model. They start out small and build their exposure as interest and logistics allow. It seems like Google just launched their platform and hoped for the best.

Here’s a comparison with a red-hot start-up called Ranku (for finding free degree courses). Other than offering an entirely unique and useful service, Ranku has the benefit of not being called ‘Google CourseSearch’. I’m of the opinion that ‘Google [anything]’ is starting to feel a bit stale. People like to talk about fresh new ideas more than ‘Look what Google is doing now…’


Google Helpouts also sounds criminally like Google Hangouts. To the point where I typed the wrong one about 4 times when writing the preceding paragraphs. Hangouts feels like Google arriving late to the party (about 11 years too late…)


Speaking of being late to the party:


Ray Liotta says it best:

Or, as Google put it:


I think Google+ might be the exact moment Google’s PR went a bit wrong.

A social network that offers entirely no benefit over its rivals is a stupid idea to begin with. They’ve tried basic marketing, they’ve tried reasoning with us, they’ve even tried forcing us to get involved. The fact is, people don’t want it.

Like Vinyl, Betamax, DVD, and Blockbuster, there’s just no need for it. At all. Like actually no need whatsoever.

The PR campaign here just seems to be some kind of war of attrition. Google won’t admit defeat (I guess 300 million ‘users’ can’t be wrong), so they’ll just keep flogging a dead horse. After all, they have YouTube and Gmail – properties their rivals at Facebook and Twitter can never even hope to emulate. All the same, Google+ is a a fart at the proverbial shit fight.


It’s all about the Billions

You could argue that these losses of interest are negligible in the overall scheme of things. Google still has its crafty little fingers in pies of every flavour – so why does it matter if a couple lose money?

That’s just bad business. Why do something if you’re not going to do it right? Google has the reach, the money and the talent at its disposal to turn virtually any idea into a profit – it’s just about finding the right market (i.e. not launching your rocket into space and hoping for the best). This hit-and-hope mentality needs to change.

What Next?

We hear a lot of rumours about Google’s self-driving car. Here’s what they need to do to ensure PR success and sustained interest:

1)      Don’t drip-feed us with non-news stories about what colour the steering wheel might be, or pictures of pretty people in the passenger seat.

2)      Don’t market it as something instantly lame like ‘Google Drivecar’. Give it a cool modern name that we won’t shudder to hear.

3)      Create mystery and speculation around it. Talk about the crazy things it can actually do. Design elements are not cool functions.

4)      Have a launch event where you tell everyone the same thing at the same time. Make it awesome.

5)      Make sure all the marketing is as cool as this (it actually makes us get goose bumps about the possibilities):

(Just don’t use Oscar Pistorius…)

6) Watch this Ted talk. It’s about focussing on why a product is great rather than just what it does.

And if all else fails, you can make an infographic about it.

If you don’t work at Google but you want to talk about an online PR strategy for your company, give me a call.



February 6th, 2014.

Our Infographic was featured in The Times

We’ve been making infographics as a linkbuilding method for our clients.

If you don’t know why, see here.

Last week we launched a new piece for our friends at Love Reading. We’d researched the crimes committed by the most popular children’s book villains and worked out the sentences they would have received in a European court.

You can take a look at the piece here.

Long story short, the infographic came to the attention of The Times and they ran the research on page 3 of the Saturday edition. They mentioned the client’s site (and provided a link in the digital edition).

A testament to the power of infographics.

If you want to talk about an infographic for your brand, give us a call.





January 23rd, 2014.

Reducing Your Content Marketing to 1 Hour a Week

I ran an experiment last year. I had a website with no blog. It had lots of pages on a niche topic, but very few readers. I installed a blog and began posting once per month. In a year, the traffic doubled – (I’ll admit it increased from ‘barely perceptible’ to ‘quite unremarkable’, but you can’t argue with the numbers).


The massive spike around April 2013 was from some experimenting with paid discovery. The second, smaller spike was a particularly controversial blog post.

I think this settles the argument once and for all: A regular content schedule is a sure-fire way to get traffic.

I know what you’re wondering – ‘How does this affect me, the business owner?’

Well, business owner, I’ll tell you.

It means that you should be publishing regular content on your site if you want people to be visiting it. But as a business owner (or marketing manager) you’ll be plenty busy enough with all sorts of other concerns – do you have time for creating a content marketing strategy too?


You need to be producing content – that’s a fact. It’s a thing you can’t deny. I create content for 30 clients – I use the ‘DEAL’ system, from Tim Ferris (author of The Four Hour Work Week):

Define, Eliminate, Automate, Liberate.


Define the sort of content you need. I daresay you won’t go far wrong with one blog post per week and one infographic per month.

You’ll also need to consider sharing and seeding the content as it’s produced. This can be done via the regular social networking channels, but also on targeted interest sites via email outreach.

All of these things take time – hours and hours of time. But only if you do them all yourself…


Remove any unnecessary steps in the programme. Don’t waste your time getting bogged down with trying to design things yourself or write blog posts yourself – there are plenty of people in the world who will do it for you in exchange for money. They are called freelancers and are readily available online.

Think about what you really need to do for the job to work. In fact, I’ll do it for you – you need to come up with content ideas and you need to check it, then post it. The rest can be done for you.



Automation is achieved by setting up a system that handles the tasks for you. In essence, you feed the machine with briefs and it comes back with content. Online freelancing services exist purely to make your life easier, and they’re really great.

My favourite freelancing sites include:

-Research/Data Input:


O-Desk is very useful for finding people to do basic tasks – data analysis, basic research, number crunching etc. I use O-Desk for jobs that are too time consuming to handle myself. For example, if I was trying to make an infographic about football transfers (which I am), I’d post the job on O-Desk and find someone more capable and efficient than me to handle the research and analysis while I concentrate on planning the next infographic.

O-Desk also allows you to create teams of people to handle larger ongoing projects. It’s efficient and easy to manage and provides a screentracker so you can make sure your freelancers are staying on task.

Do note, however – O-Desk has a very high number of have-a-go-heroes. They aren’t necessarily qualified in a given field, so although they are competent, you can’t expect them to do more demanding tasks. For basic stuff though, it’s ideal.



Textbroker’s site is fairly basic in functionality, but it focusses solely on copywriting so it’s far more targeted. Prices vary based on the writer’s rating (out of 5). I’ve found some really fantastic writers on Textbroker, but also some absolute stinkers. Usually I have to edit a few things as it’s easier than sending it back for amendments, but it saves a lot of time.

Good copywriters also tend to be good researchers. They’re generally more able to follow a complex brief than their counterparts on O-Desk, so you can offer them more in-depth projects to research.


People Per Hour – covers pretty much every digital-based job, but I use it for designers

PPH is more useful to me than some of my own body parts. I can post a job at 9 in the morning, receive proposals and have the job in the bag before I go to bed that night. People Per Hour has the benefit of knowing where your freelancer is located, so you can target areas that are likely to have more qualified personnel.

For instance, in searching for a designer, Europe has more reliable design schools than other parts of the world, and by choosing someone in Britain I can guarantee we’re in the same timezone, language and operate on the same working hours. It makes the tasks much more manageable.


The site is really fun. You could spend hours looking at the fantastic artwork and designs people come up with. It costs a lot as it’s targeted solely for design and membership is by invitation only so the vetting process is quite thorough.

Hiring works like a traditional jobs list – you post your jobs and people apply.

It is possible to contact the designers for one-off work, but generally they know the value of their work so be prepared to pay for it.


You need to get your content in front of people. Using services like O-Desk will be futile as the workers tend to take the easy option, and language barriers often mean briefs are misinterpreted. People Per Hour is better as you can find people with proven experience who can provide you with a list of relevant sites to contact with a view to posting your content.

Sites like BuzzSumo (free) and GroupHigh (not free) really speed up the process as you can tap into existing conversations about the things you’re promoting, and target the people interested in them.


Seeding is an essential part of the content process. Making sure your content appears in the right places and in front of the right people is undoubtedly going to reap its own rewards. By building lists of relevant sites to post to, you can automate this process and make sure every piece of content is placed in front of the influencers, sharers and promoters you need.

If you’ve got a bit of budget, you might also consider paid promotion on social media. ‘Boosting’ a post on Facebook, or StumbleUpon’s paid discovery service guarantee the content will be exposed to more people. However, the content needs to be useful and relevant to the audience to gain more traction. If it’s not engaging, people won’t engage with it (click/share etc.) and you’ll have wasted the promotion budget.


As you practice and refine this process you’ll find yourself free to do other things for your business. You’ll be free to chase new clients and more work, and the best part is, you won’t need to do any more work yourself – the system can handle it!

You’ll notice I didn’t mention anything about idea generation – that’s because I think idea generation is the one thing you shouldn’t outsource. You need to make sure your content is completely suitable for the purpose, and you can have a lot of fun coming up with new ideas.


Katie Hopkins


January 6th, 2014.

The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton


The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton

“The Daily Mail is a worm-ridden sack of pus, sucking the life out of everything that’s beautiful about our world”

– reportedly the opening lines of The Dead Sea Scrolls. That said, they run one of the most successful websites on the internet.

Now I’m going to tell you how you can be loathsome and get 100,000,000 visitors to your site. I’ll also tell you how you can do it without being loathsome. That’s the kind of nice guy I am.

First, a quick note on ‘Virality’ and ‘Sharing’. ‘Viral Content’ is a term that can only be applied retrospectively. Nobody makes intrinsically ‘Viral’ things – it’s theoretically possible for anything to go viral provided it’s appealing and enough people share it. When I talk about ‘Sharing’, I mean exclusively the sharing that takes place on social media. Tweets, Retweets, Likes, Shares etc. The two concepts go hand in hand.

I’m a big fan of Jonah Berger, author of ‘Contagious’. Berger has scientifically tested different theories about virality and sharing to see what makes the best web content. He gives a selection of ideas. They are:

Social Currency – Make sure you’re supplying information that people will want to know.

Triggers – Make sure it’s something people are likely to be talking about.

Emotion – Make people emotional – this is really important (I’ll explain why later)

Practical Value – Make something useful

Public – Do everything you can to make it sharable

Stories – Tell a story. People love stories.

I will now go through and systematically address each of these points and explain how the Daily Mail uses them to great success.

Social Currency

People love to show off about things they’ve learnt. ‘Pub Ammo’ is the toe-curling cliché that seems to sum this phenomenon up neatly. If you make something that you think people will want to tell people then they’ll want to share it.

Take this example:


A cursory glance is enough to make you think we’ll all be riding around on ‘hoverboards’ next week, but a little critical thinking tells us that this would only apply to hoverboards that were 1mm in size. Take away the misleading opening question and this article could be quite interesting – and it certainly fills a knowledge gap (albeit not the one it advertises), plus 447 people shared the article

hoverboard shares


…presumably with this expression on their face:

You don’t have to be misleading with your own content. Just telling people something really, really interesting will be enough to ensure it gets shared around.


In creating content, I would normally advise you to see what people are talking about by going on Twitter or Reddit and trying to tap into that subject with your own slant. Giving a different perspective can be good. However, if you’re the Daily Mail, instead of adding to the discussion you can just make news up about anything you like.

Here is a selection of things deemed newsworthy by The Mail. I have provided notes on how each tapped into ‘Triggers’.

‘The Only Way is Pregnancy: Billy Faiers and boyfriend Greg are ‘expecting their first child’ in the summer

(5 shares in the first 20 minutes. Not bad. I have no idea who these two people are, but based on the particularly rubbish pun I guess they’re reality TV stars. Obviously I’m not the target audience, so possibly they’re well-known in certain circles. The people who are interested in the breeding habits of television stars will be likely to share it).

‘What are THEY doing together? Justin Bieber takes Selena Gomez for a Segway ride around his neighbourhood’

(Obviously ‘Justin Bieber’ is a hot topic. I forecast that there is someone Googling ‘Justin Bieber’ somewhere in the world every second of every day. By running a non-story about ‘Justin Bieber’, The Mail ensures it will appear in the news results for ‘Justin Bieber’, increasing its clickthroughs and engagement. This article had 79 shares in an hour)

 ‘I would rather be alone with dignity’: ‘Relieved’ Jack Cockings opens up on Twitter following abrupt ‘trial separation’ from wife Melanie Sykes

(Only 4 shares for this one. Probably because nobody knows who Jack Cockings is. I’ve heard of Melanie Sykes, but she’s not the focus of the story, so this is quite unremarkable.)

‘Sam Faiers leaves home to cheers from family before being ‘hidden’ as she arrives at secret location ahead of CBB’

(Obviously the whole world will be tuning in for ‘CBB’ tonight. And readers will be pleased to learn that Sam Faiers (possibly a relation to the Billy Faiers above?) is a potential housemate. A reality TV star is going on a different reality TV show. This is the greatest thing to happen since The Flintstones met The Jetsons. For tapping into a ‘big new story’ (CBB) they’ve earned 34 shares).

You may think that these articles don’t have a particularly huge number of shares, but bearing in mind The Mail produces hundreds of new pages each day, these shares (and views) soon add up.


We all know that the Daily Mail’s articles usually tick one or more of the following boxes:

Inaccurate, insensitive, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-NHS, warmongering, scare-mongering, sensationalist, science-fearing.

That’s because they’re trying to make people emotional.

According to Jonah Berger, the best emotion for getting people to share things is ‘Awe’. If you create something awesome, people will be more willing to share it. Some people would incite ‘awe’ by cataloguing every sighting of Jesus’ face in everyday objects… but The Mail doesn’t care about awe. They’re targeting a different emotion (and one which I personally think would be more useful to target…) Anger.

Anger causes arousal and arousal causes activity. If you spend an hour on Facebook, you’ll see roughly 66,753 posts from your friends, outraged about some story or another.

Take this example:

breast is best

The article is about a woman who had post-natal depression and committed suicide after seeking help for her mental illness. The article (written in the words of the woman’s husband) suggests that she was failed by the system because the hospital staff focussed on the breastfeeding issue and ignored the mental health issue.

Firstly, women aren’t admitted to hospital just because they can’t breastfeed. Maybe she had Mastitis and needed antibiotics, maybe the baby was losing weight and needed to be monitored. In any case, this probably wasn’t the focus of the hospital staff when treating her.

Secondly, breast feeding wasn’t the direct cause of her suicide. She still killed herself after she’d fed her baby with a bottle so although the breast feeding problem probably wasn’t helpful, it wasn’t the only cause.

Thirdly, hospital staff aren’t trained to treat mental health issues (it’s still a fairly new discipline). Even then, people aren’t admitted on mental health grounds unless they’ve attempted suicide before or have a solid plan to do so.

So this article is unscientific, inaccurate, insensitive, sensationalist, anti-NHS and misleading. But it was still a viral success.

People could have shared it for 4 reasons:

1)      They applied basic critical thinking and were outraged that this type of ‘journalism’ exists.

2)      They were angry that a woman was driven to suicide by a breast-feeding obsessed society.

3)      They were angry at the mail for suggesting the breast feeding obsession is a bad thing.

4)      They were depressed by the story (sadness is still an emotion, though not as arousing and therefore not as useful for sharing).

It doesn’t matter what made them emotional. They still got worked up and shared it, causing more people to read it and get worked up and share it.

And with every angry share, The Mail grows in strength.

(If you’re creating content for your business, a bit of controversy is ok but it’s probably better to stick to ‘awesome’ stuff)

Practical Value

Content that teaches people how to do something in a simple way is a success story in the making. Life Hacker has made its entire business model out of it, and there are thousands of similar tips and tricks doing the rounds all the time on social media.

The Daily Mail doesn’t really target this aspect too much (unless you find paparazzi shots useful), but occasionally they’ll offer something vaguely practical:


The article doesn’t answer the question, the ‘expert’ is a dietician who says ‘there is no quick-fix for weight loss’ and the rest of the article reads like a series of press releases from dieting products.

But you can see they were trying to be useful, and for their trouble the article got 226 shares.

If you were thinking about content for your company, you could keep it interesting and useful and summarise some kind of industry secret. That would be pretty valuable. The more useful, the more people will share it and promote it.


Making your content easily sharable is the key to getting it shared. If you can prompt people to talk about your company on Facebook or Twitter then you’re on the path to viral success.

Just think about The Daily Mail. If you’ve ever taken to Twitter or Facebook to complain about the latest ball of hate spouting out of the Daily Mail, then consider yourself a sucker.

Last year, Samantha Brick wrote an article claiming other women hate her for being beautiful.

She claimed that although she is heaped with gifts from men, she is admonished by jealous women. The article included lots of pictures of Brick. I don’t want to republish them here (I’d have to credit The Mail) so instead, I’ve done an artist’s impression of Samantha, complete with Rotten-Seafood Grimace.


Bearing in mind The Mail’s readership is 52% female, the formula of ‘piss off the most people’ seems to be in full swing. People took to Social Media in their thousands to complain. In the blink of a heavily mascaraed eye, ‘Samantha Brick’ was trending on Twitter and the firestorm of comments drove an untold amount of traffic to the Daily Mail site.

Digital success is fickle. While it’s likely 100% of the Tweets were chiding Brick, they turned out to be a tool of success. By complaining about her en masse, the Twitterers strengthened her platform – lifting her onto a pedestal and turning an unknown woman into a ‘celebrity’ overnight. Now we have to put up with her trending on Twitter every time she meets her controversial opinion deadline.


We enjoy stories.

I mean ‘we’ as a species. It’s possible other species also like stories. Of course, there’s the famous case of the bonobo which learned a rudimentary sign language. He was able to tell the zookeeper that the missing toucans could be found in the lion’s belly. Amazing.

I made that up, but I reckon you liked it. People like stories. See?

I’m afraid The Daily Mail’s stories aren’t quite as heartwarming as mine.

They’re ‘human interest’ I suppose. The breastfeeding example above is a beacon of story-telling. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. A hero (the woman who died). A villain (the NHS). And a moral (don’t obsess over breastfeeding?).

Other stories the Daily Mail has introduced to the literary cannon include these heart-warmers:

‘RAF veteran has clocked up a million miles over 73 years (and hasn’t had a single accident or prang)’

 ‘Baby-faced gang leader is banned from town centre unless he is with his mother after terrorising shoppers’

‘You’re the best dad ever’: Mairead Philpott’s sick letter to a vile father of 17 who killed six of their children in a house fire’

‘Kim Jong-Un killed his ‘scum’ uncle: Dictator had him stripped naked, thrown into a cage and eaten alive by a pack of dogs’

These stories are so reductionist they can fit into one grammatically-questionable sentence, but that’s part of their beauty. You’re intrigued by them and you click on them to read more.

Then you get angry and share it.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand why The Daily Mail is so consistently horrible.

In the words of Pope Benedict: ‘I DID IT ALL FOR THE RETWEETS, BABY!’

If you want to emulate this kind of viral success, give us a ring and we’ll sort you out with a bespoke content marketing strategy.

P.s. If you don’t like anything I said, you should probably share this with everyone in your social circles and possibly write a blog post about me (but be sure to link back).



November 25th, 2013.

Nobody Cares About Your Brand

One of the biggest problems facing Content Marketers is how best to represent ‘The Brand’ when developing engaging content.

I’ve got a newsflash for you:


In fact, I’d go even further and say you should always try to move away from your brand when building content. The less ‘advertorial’ the content is, the more engaging and sharable it will be.

Far be it from me to tell you your brand is boring, but unless you own a company that makes Star Wars costumes for cats, the internet won’t care what you have to say.

The best content is the stuff that:

  • Fills a knowledge gap,
  • Answers an important question, or,
  • Gets people worked up into a frenzy of commenting and sharing.

You need to ask yourself one important question when planning your content:

Who Will Find This Interesting?

The best answer to this question is ‘Everyone’. You need to ensure maximum appeal to encourage maximum sharability. You need to be getting your content in front of high authority websites and bloggers. If they see the value of the content, they’ll be more willing to use it and provide you with that all-important link. You will never, ever, ever be able to trick people into posting an advert for your website. That’s just not how it works. However, if you’re offering something entertaining or useful that they can reuse to their advantage, they’ll be much more willing to promote your brand.

Here’s a nice thought experiment to explain what I mean:

You’re at a festival with two stages. On one stage, a man is stood talking about the history of his company. On the other stage, a man is riding a lion and juggling swords while a penguin tries to shoot an apple off of his head with a revolver. Who do you think would draw the bigger crowd? Which will be filmed and go viral on the internet and which will be ignored?

The internet is the world’s biggest festival. There’s plenty of content out there, so make sure yours stands out.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘But, Joe! My brand is interesting. I’m offering something unique and my clients love it’. That may be true, and it’s a great system for driving sales. Unfortunately, web content for the most part isn’t about driving conversions – it’s about promoting the brand, building authority and increasing engagement.

I’ll agree your brand probably is very interesting, but I guarantee you’ll find your content more successful if you focus on using your unique industry position to inform your content, rather than define it. I’ll bet you’re sitting on a goldmine of insider information that would be perfect for filling knowledge gaps or creating a useful resource. Everyone has some information lying around – whether you’re a travel company with a great knowledge of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe or a rug manufacturing company with an insight into the psychology of rug design. Put a spin on your data and make it as interesting as possible.

Here’s a takeaway list of things to remember when planning content:

Interest: You need to make it interesting. Make sure nobody will be saying ‘So What?’

Emotion: Getting people worked up on a human level is a surefire way to increase engagement. Happiness and funny content are well shared, but (I’ll let you in on a secret…), making people angry is the best method. The more furious people get, the more active they become. That’s how the Daily Mail is so successful (See Matt’s post: ‘Why the Daily Mail became the world’s most read newspaper‘)

Topical: Try to tap into a current trend on Social Media or in the news. If you can give it a new slant, all the better.

Usable: Usability is a hugely beneficial trait of online content. If people think their friends might find it helpful, they’ll send it to them. Life Hacker is a fine example of this in practice.

In summary: sometimes it pays to step away from your brand a little in the name of creating good content. Especially on the internet.

Take a look through our Complete History of Viral Content and apply this criteria to see why things were successful.



October 10th, 2013.

Google’s Biggest Update in Years has Already Happened: Hummingbird

Those of us interested in how search engines work have been talking this week about ‘Hummingbird’. Not the hollow-boned, nectar-loving tweetie-pies; rather Google’s newest and most revolutionary search engine algorithm in quite some time.

You’ll likely have heard of ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’. They were algorithmic updates which supposedly made the search results better. Unlike their counter-parts in the animal kingdom, they weren’t cute and they didn’t make for good YouTube videos; but they did improve the quality of websites and the practices of SEOs.

‘Hummingbird’ is a different beast entirely. Far from being an update to an existing algorithm, it’s an entirely new feature which shows Google’s desire to move searching away from ‘Keywords’ and towards ‘Semantic Searches’. They’re approaching what they call “conversational search”

In 2001, you may have searched for:

And you may have been presented with an article from The Times about a new movement of filmgoers in London who are avenging the demise of arthouse productions.

But search isn’t like that anymore. People search more or less how they talk, so searches are more like:
‘Cinema times in London for The Avengers’.

And the rise of voice search on mobile devices means people will try to search:

‘What time is The Avengers playing in London?’

Words like ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘when’ etc. now have a value in Google’s searches. They want to give the most accurate response to your request.

What does that mean for website owners?

As a website owner you’ll need to be improving the information content of your site. Undoubtedly keywords will still matter, but since Google is now holding keyword data to ransom, the best thing you can do is improve the quality of your on-site content. This also means you can stand out in your industry – if you’re the world’s authority on Playstation Game Artwork then make sure you can answer questions like ‘Who designed the GTA 5 artwork?’.

‘Hummingbird pays more attention to each word in the query, ensuring the whole query is taken into account – so if a resulting page is a bit less strong in general, but it’s the most relevant to your search terms, that’s the result you’ll get.’ – Google, as told to The Register.

People are asking questions. If you’re equipped to answer them then your site should reflect that.

Personally I think this is a step in the right direction. The internet is becoming more personal, so responding to the intricacies of language is more essential now than ever before. It makes far more sense to work out what people mean rather than just responding literally to the words they use.



July 11th, 2013.

How We Gained 1000 Facebook Fans in 2 Weeks

How we gained a client 1000 new fans in two weeks.

‘How can we increase our social following?’

It’s a question we get asked all the time.

There are a number of ways to boost your social profile, but the most efficient and effective is a targeted and well-publicised competition.

This is something we told our friends at The Turtle Mat Company when they approached us to help build their social reach. We sat down and developed a plan for a brief but effective competition – tying in with the launch of their new range of door mats and their promotional stall at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The prize was simple, but attractive to their target demographic: £100 in Gardening Vouchers, with runners up receiving a mat from their new range.

turt mat

We wanted to make a big impact, so rather than relying on Facebook’s somewhat costly promotional posts and adverts, we developed an app using Offerpop – a really straightforward and comprehensive competition design service.

Entry to the competition required Liking the page; answering a simple question: ‘What’s your favourite flower that blossoms in May?’ and also included the option to leave an email address to sign up for more promotions and news.

In the run-up to the competition launching, we publicised the competition via email, Facebook and Twitter; then during the course of the competition we arranged for some paid-exposure through relevant social platforms.

The results were phenomenal:

–          Turtle Mat’s Facebook fans boosted to over 1200 in the two week run of the competition

–          90% of people who Liked the page also supplied an email address for future contact.

–          Since the competition was targeted, the responders were passionate and excited to be involved.

–          Cross-promotion on Twitter led to a run-off increase in Twitter followers.

Overall the competition was a huge success, and gave a huge boost to Turtle Mat’s marketing power on Facebook.

Social competitions are a really effective way to generate a buzz around your product, engagement with your brand and (most importantly) give a natural increase to your marketing potential.

To talk to us about boosting your social profile, give us a call!

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