12 Days of 2015’s Best Digital Marketing Content
Unsurprisingly, this was another fast-paced year in the industry. Enjoy some of the year's stand-out content right here.

Here is the content that we bookmarked, added to our “you-gotta-read-this” folder, shared in our newsletter, and discussed at length as a team, with our clients, and with you on social media. These are the pieces that we keep going back to — articles that we reference when explaining our whys and our hows, things that we read to keep up in the ever-changing industry, and ideas that push us to continue to ABL (Always-Be-Learning) as we head into 2016.

We wish you all the best this holiday season with your businesses (big and small), your families and friends, your A/B tests and remarketing audiences, your redesigns and site migrations, and also seriously, best wishes on your gift wrapping, because it simply is not as easy as this guy makes it look.

Day Twelve — December 23rd

This post is meant to inspire your business resolution for 2016: If you can’t track the value, don’t spend the budget.

We talk to companies all the time who aren’t tracking anything, or at least aren’t tracking things well (see Day 11, below). Or maybe they thought they were tracking things because their previous agency was reporting on metrics like “impressions” and they were selling stuff so everything was okay, right?

The problem is that attribution isn’t just marketing’s problem, but that is how it gets treated. Attribution is an organizational culture shift, where everyone gives credit where credit is due. Joanna Lord’s article on attribution is a must-read. Let it roll around in your head over the holidays and make 2016 the year you actually track results and use what you learn to make your organization stronger.

Day Eleven — December 22nd

Our favourite view in Google Analytics is Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels, and it gives us a sad feeling in our hearts when we see otherwise great data grouped in the (Other) channel bucket. That is where good data goes to die — when the Other channel eats data, you don’t get the credit you’re due for conversions or sales.

This happens a lot, to everyone (including us!). The good news? There is a way to fix this and Annie Cushing has your step-by-step guide right here.

You should also read Annie’s companion piece on campaign tagging and finally get credit for all your work in 2016.

Day Ten — December 21st

Two entries in a row from Gather Content? We’re not shocked, and you shouldn’t be either! We use Gather Content for many client and internal projects and their blog posts often get featured in our weekly newsletter. High quality tool, high quality content — you can’t go wrong.

This post explains why you can’t put the content team in a room and lock the door. Projects need buy-in from all of the hats in the office — and content can be a unifier, a stick of glue, a driving force — the edge pieces of the project puzzle.

Bookmark this for when you need to remind your team and your clients that there’s more to content than just the words that end up on a live website.

Content strategy is the glue that unites several disciplines including design and development

Day Nine — December 19th

Lauren Pope is a content strategist at Brilliant Noise and shared six important steps in this post on Gather Content that you need to take to make video content a valuable resource for you. She acknowledges first that a) video is growing; b) video is important; and c) we all know those two things are true. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve been giving video the attention and budget that it deserves.

All too often brands tackle video without the focus they give the rest of their marketing. They take an ad hoc approach, with one-off briefs and unclear objectives.

Day Eight — December 18th

In reality, the deep.design homepage should be in your bookmarks bar, but if you want to pick just one James Archer article from 2015 to bookmark, choose this one. This isn’t an anti-mobile article (as if we’d post something like that!) by any means. What you have here is a thoughtful discussion about moving beyond mobile-first thinking into user experience-first thinking.

Changing screen sizes have always caused problems for user experience designers, but the issue exploded when the iPhone came out in 2007 and sent mobile web usage numbers rocketing upward. What had once been ignored now had to be reckoned with.

Day Seven — December 17th

If you’re moving your business, or if one of your clients is moving theirs, you need this great reference list from Joy Hawkins of Imprezzio Marketing on Search Engine Land. Follow the clear steps in this article and you will avoid losing local rankings.

You probably don’t buy scotch tape very often, so you probably need to put it on a list to make sure you remember it. You don’t move locations every day either, so having this detailed list in your bookmarks bar is important in order to make sure that no ranking is left behind.

Always get these items done as quickly as possible after the move (in the first few weeks) to decrease the likelihood of a ranking drop.

Day Six — December 16th

This post from Ann Smarty on the Moz Blog explains how hashtags work on many different social networks and discusses how to use them effectively to support your brand. Additionally, Ann provides links to tools that are used to track hashtags on some networks, which is very helpful when running a comprehensive social media strategy.

A hashtag is the wonder of the past decade. It was born to address the need to organize and make sense of the overwhelming social media buzz.

Hashtags might seem basic because you’ve used them for so long, but to some clients they are going to be brand new information. This is a comprehensive post that sets a beginner up for success, and sharpens the skills of a more seasoned marketer as well. It’s also useful as a checklist for when you’re developing a social media strategy, and want to ensure that you’ve explained how hashtagging works on all of the networks that are relevant to your client.

Day Five — December 15th

We do social media coaching for some of our clients and always point this post out as a must-read, because it defines nearly everything we talk about in our training sessions and reports.  Courtney Seiter has written some of the most bookmarkable posts on the Buffer Blog this year — including this one, about building a strong following on Instagram.

Understanding social media metrics is always going to be important for digital marketers. Having these definitions in one place (and grouped into easy-to-digest metric categories) is excellent. Whether you’re starting out as a small business, or looking for an agency resource to help with large-scale social reporting, this is a post you will come back to again and again.

Two additional Buffer posts from 2015 to bookmark:

Day Four — December 14th

Sam Nemzer notes that one of the best things about Screaming Frog is that they provide regular, high quality updates — we agree. It’s not always easy to make the time to unpack product and software changes and improvements. Lucky for all of us, this post does just that and explains how the changes can make our lives easier.

It may often be the case that you have a list of backlinks to your site, but you don’t know exactly which page they refer to. In this case you need to use a regex match to extract the linked URL.

It’s important to stay up-to-date on the changes that happen to the tools we all use in the digital marketing industry, and that is a significant amount of work. Posts like this from Distilled make a huge difference in an agency’s ability to provide clients with the best service possible.

Day Three — December 12th

We always ask potential clients what video content they have produced and promoted so far. Often the answer is “none” or “a couple of videos, but we didn’t promote them” or “we did a few video projects, but don’t really know if they did anything for us.” In order for a video to be successful, it has to align with a business goal and there must be a detailed plan in place to track the effect the video has on achieving the goal.

In this post, Wistia teaches you how to use the data you collect from video views to attach a value to a lead that has interacted with your video. The concept of “anything worth doing, is worth tracking well” certainly applies here in a big way. As video advertising options increase and become more sophisticated, this post from Andrew Capland will continue to be important as we round out 2015.

Video is engaging for your visitors and can indicate purchase intent. But if you're not careful, you can get bogged down in the details and overcomplicate things.

Another one of our favourite posts from Wistia in 2015 was this one, where the team filmed a parade in one-shot and then posted a behind-the-scenes video detailing the whole process. This video had everything — balloons, a penguin in a top hat, people doing cartwheels, and a whole mess of smart cars!

Important reminder: when shooting a parade video in the street, plan for the police to come…

Day Two — December 11th

The “if you build it, they will come” concept might have worked for that corn field, but it doesn’t work for content creation. If you set a budget and then create content without including a budget for promotion, you are missing a crucial step.

In this post, Kane Jamison outlines content marketing budgets for every business size — we’re talking a wide range here, from $1,000 to $50,000+!  Each level includes estimates for time spent on research and writing, time for management, budget for tools and design, and budget for paid promotion (including remarketing).

If you’re running your own business and want to get started with content marketing, roll up your sleeves.

We shared this post when Content Harmony published it in early 2015 and have used it internally and to help clients budget for successful content strategies throughout the year. Additionally, Jen shared it with the #yegcontent group at a sweltering content strategy meet up at Elements Digital in May.

Day One — December 10th

Luke Wroblewski puts to rest some of the arguments that people try to make when they want to base design decisions on the concept of “above the fold” in this article.

The issue isn't whether the call to action is visible. The issue is whether your call to action is visible at the point where someone has become convinced to take action.

We shared There Is No Fold on twitter in May, and have referenced it in many client conversations throughout the year. It’s a quick read, but one that provides great value. Key takeaway: it’s imperative to remember that just because you stick something “above the fold”, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to get noticed.

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