Top 18 Tips That Can Maximize Your Content Marketing

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By Hector Cisneros

Anyone engaged in content marketing today needs to cross their T's and dot their I's if they want to be successful. This means much more than just proofing their content for spelling and grammar. It means making sure that all the odds and ends need to be taken care of on a regular basis. You can think of the odds and ends of content marketing as the principles you follow to make sure you're providing not only the best content but content that is found, followed and forwarded to others looking for the same. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore a 16 point checklist that needs to be addressed and managed so that your content is at its best and has the greatest reach for the time that you invest. So read on, learn and use the Top 16 Tips that every content marketer needs to complete in order to achieve the full potential of their content marketing.

The Cybercrime Clock is Ticking

By Ryan Gilway and Glenn Gray

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Cybercrime has jumped off the big screen of Hollywood and onto the small screen of business computer users from coast to coast.  Unlike the Hollywood blockbusters, in most cases the hero doesn’t arrive in the nick of time to save the day.  Given the international nature of cybercrime, even the FBI is all but helpless to put a stop to this growing scourge, no matter how big the headlines produced by data breaches get.
In recent years, high-profile cyberattacks on companies such as Target, Home Depot, Sony and Sears have alerted the public to the growing threat of cybercrime. Criminals are endlessly creative when it comes to monetizing breaches. They exploit easily guessed or re-used passwords, lost or stolen laptops and human error. More and more, they trick people into giving them access to their machines, followed by a demand for money. Hackers sometimes breach a computer and send fraudulent emails directing others—in the name of the breached victim—to pay them a ransom.  More often, they sell the purloined financial information to the highest bidder.  Who loses? Not the banks but rather companies with minimal internal controls and weak security protocols. Many business owners are still operating under a false sense of cyber security.
Businesses have to ask themselves “what cyber exposures exist for me?” In our technologically dependent world, cyber risks arise from the most common business operations like processing credit card transactions and collecting basic customer information. Every retail and e-tail operation in the U.S. needs to process payments electronically. The vast majority of firms maintain client records on their computers that contain some form of private information. Private information such as a customer’s first initial and last name along with social security number, driver’s license number, password, account number, credit card numbers or other financial information is routinely stored on computers, servers and sometimes the cloud. When you come to realize the exploitation of private information makes up 45% of all cyber security claims, it is no longer a question of “If” but “When” a business will be hacked. 
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What many business owners believe is that they are too small of a fish to entice cybercriminals to hack their systems.  Or they take the attitude that, “If Sony can’t stop cyber criminals, what am I supposed to do about it?”  What indeed?  While major retailers and multinational corporations get all the press, make no mistake about it, small businesses are targeted every day by hackers.  And why not, when you consider that these are soft targets that are relatively easy to breach.  Most small businesses do not report these attacks as to do so would be extremely bad publicity, so they are never made public.  This can lull other businesses into thinking it can't happen to them.  It does.  

Sticking your head in the sand is not going to make this problem go away.  If you run a business that collects customer information of any kind, you should be aware that when a breach occurs, you are going to be held liable.  Federal and state laws require companies who have had customer records stolen to shoulder the burden of notifying, investigating, recovering and compensating those affected by the theft.  

When a breach occurs, expenses add up fast, including breach-event expenses like notification required by law enforcement and credit reporting agencies. Should identity theft result, you will need to provide identity restoration services to victims and hire a privacy attorney to guide you through the complex legal landscape of laws and lawsuits. You will need to hire a data forensics team to identify where the breach occurred so that it can be remedied. You might need to cope with network extortion or reimburse clients for payments made under duress. You may even face network business interruptions that lead to a loss of income and extra expense. You might need to restore, recreate or recollect data that has been corrupted, altered or destroyed.

To get an idea of the potential costs associated with a breach follow this link for a free data breach cost calculator.

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Following a breach, you will also face regulatory challenges. Although there are only a few federal laws on the books for data privacy— Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPAA) - you will be dealing with 47 state laws as well as with their attorney generals and the Federal Trade Commission. Since most firms have workers’ compensation data and employees enrolled with health insurers, you are also likely to deal with federal and state healthcare laws such as HIPPA, Cash Management Improvement Act (CMIA) and their regulators: the U.S. Office of Civil Rights and Health and Human Services
You also need to bear in mind that small to mid-sized businesses do not have the resources for a full data breach response. As a result, they generally need an insurance company to assign vendors, privacy attorneys, data forensics experts, credit monitoring and PR firms and to manage the claims process.  Below are several steps you need to take to make sure that you minimize the disruption to your business resulting from loss of data.

  1. Make sure that every sensitive piece of private information is encrypted.  Use a backup data system to ensure that if your system is compromised that you do not lose vital data. The backup strategy should guard against data loss and theft so should include cloud based backup as well as redundant physical backup on site.  Dropbox is not a backup , nor is a RAID file system. Test the backups to make sure the right data is being backed up.
  2. Utilize preventative measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, anti-virus software, strong password policies and procedures for document handling, storage and destruction of private information.
  3. Train employees to recognize social engineering tactics: spear phishing emails (email fraud), fake anti-virus software, malware, ransomware and ensure identity verification over the phone when dealing with finances.    Phone calls from Microsoft and banks must always be regarded as hostile and terminated.  Always call the bank back and speak to a known person before giving ANY information.
  4. One of the most effective ways to determine if an organization has adequate controls is to complete an application for cyber insurance coverage. Using the application as a guide, your HUB International risk broker can help determine if you have adequate internal controls and protection of individual information.

Effectively prioritizing cyber risks can become a challenge in establishing mitigation programs. Understanding the fast paced cyber environment can be crucial in avoiding potential problems. The HUB International team provides information and delivers education programs to clients that include:
-          Cyber liability
-          Employee training
-          Blogs, bulletins, newsletters
-          eBooks
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Ransomware, in which data is encrypted by an encryption virus, is very real and a huge threat.  Glenn Gray from Compufix, a Jacksonville based IT Company, has seen 6 instances of ransomware in Jacksonville since January.  A ransom is demanded to decrypt the data, which varies from a mere $500 to many tens of thousands of dollars.  In most cases the data is lost unless the ransom is paid, except in cases where decent backups have been made.  The worst case he encountered was a doctor's practice where HIPPA compliance rules had been breached during the attack.  The resulting collateral damage could have included a very large penalty, as well as patient lawsuits that would have put the practice out of business.  In that case a $20,000 ransom was paid and the police were not involved or informed.  There is always the risk that even paying the ransom will not end the treat.  Even if the data is decrypted, the whole network must be regarded as suspect and completely replaced down to the router and the hard drives, and reinstalled from secure backups.  The additional cost of that can be extremely high.
If you own or manage a small business that routinely handles and stores personal or financial data, you need to be proactive in understanding and defending your digital resources before it's too late.  Like it or not, the cybercrime clock is ticking.

Ryan Gilway, AAI
Account Director
Greene Hazel Insurance Group | HUB International Southeast
Direct: (904) 446-3152

Glenn Gray
Compufix Jacksonville

The foregoing content is informational in nature.  It is based on information that is generally available, and neither the author nor Hub International makes any representation or warranty as to its accuracy.  Any recommendation, analysis or advice provided therein is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any particular situation and should not be relied upon as such.  Any decision regarding the amount, type or terms of coverage shall be the ultimate responsibility of the reader.

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This article discussed how Cybrcrime has become an everyday occurrence in America today. It provides many examples of these crimes and ideas on how to protect your business from these cybercrimes and hackers. It also discusses cyber liability insurance, a new way to help mitigate circumstances if your hacked.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family and co-workers. You can find other articles on our blog by typing in “marketing” or your desired search term in the search box at the top of this blog. Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+.

For a comprehensive list of articles on this subject, we recommend reading The State of Internet Privacy & Security in America Today. It has a list of 25 related articles spanning a wide variety of perspective to enhance the readers understanding of this subject.

Big Brother Built-In - Who's Watching You Now?

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By Carl Weiss

If you think George Orwell’s novel “1984” was farfetched, think again.  Everything from Doublespeak to the Thought Police is alive and well in our every more wired world.  Big Brother is being employed by everybody from the government to big business and cybercriminals worldwide.  Many intersections, some homes and every shopping mall in the world currently sport video cameras.  More than 1 million camera-toting drones currently fly the friendly skies.  What’s even more alarming is that our homes and businesses are rapidly becoming listening posts bristling with bugging devices galore that we have invited to share our space.  In today’s blog, we will take a look at where this technology is headed, as well how it has undermined the concept of “The land of the free.”

7 Myths that Entrepreneurs Often Believe That Lead to Big Mistakes

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By Hector Cisneros

We speak to lots of Entrepreneurs and startup organizations and invariably many have the same misconception about what successful companies do when starting a new venture. Many of these companies come to us with ideas that have a good starting point, but are not fully fledged. Often these entrepreneurs haven't taken the time to work through their ideas. More importantly, they have not bounced their ideas off a seasoned professional who could give them advice that is not based on selling them a final product or service. Most newbies try and get their advice via "free consultation" from vendors who are there to sell them something (like marketing).  In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will discuss these 7 common myths that many entrepreneurs hold when starting a new venture. We will debunk these myths and give entrepreneurs the knowledge they need to stay on the right path so that they will avoid making these common marketing mistakes.

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Now before I get into the seven myths and common mistakes they lead to, I want to tell you the easiest way to avoid making lots of marketing mistakes. The best way to avoid making mistakes is to find a good marketing consultant. Not all marketing consultants cost an arm and a leg either. For example, the SBDC (Small Business Development Council) and the local Chambers of Commerce (with marketing Matters) have programs to help entrepreneurs learn the marketing ropes. Another way is to pay for a request of bid specification to be created. Having a marketing company create an RFP (request for proposal) can be a low cost way to create a great marketing plan. If you do this, keep in mind the idea that you will not be using that company as part of the marketing process. In other words, pay a business development company a consulting fee without trying to buy marketing from them. It’s a great way to start.  Later on in this article I will provide the elements that their plan has to include so you will have a leg up on what the RFP has to include. Now let’s look at these 7 common myths.

7 Common Myths

Myth #1: If you have a great product or superior service, it will sell online. It is true that almost any product or service can be sold online. However, some products lend themselves to online sales better than others. For example: Unique items that you have an exclusive on, items that can easily and cheaply be shipped, small items that will fit in a USPS package etc. But the real question is not whether a product or service can be sold online.  The real issue is whether you can sell them in a high enough volume to make a profit. The emphasis here is on making a profit. There are hard costs associated with selling anything online. You have website development costs, marketing costs, shipping and logistic costs, and labor costs. You may have warranty issues, payment processing fees and other hard costs. All of these have to be factored in as part of your marketing plan. 

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The major stumbling block for many business owners is marketing their products. For example: the company website or landing page needs to be easy to use, it needs to include all the contact information and other relevant information needed to make a decision., Plus the company's web presence must portray trustworthiness in order for visitors to move to the next step (i.e. make a purchase, phone call, or fill out a form). On top of that, the product or service has to rise to the top among the billions of pages on the internet. This is a common conundrum, since if you can’t get found online, how will you sell your products or services. The maximum number of listings on page 1 of most search engines is about 12 items. Pay-per-click advertising items per page average from 7 to 12 items on the first page. Most of the people who are searching the web don’t scroll down past the fold at the top of the page and a large majority never look past page one. The reality is that the world is filled with great products and services that never made it because of poor marketing. They just never got found.

Myth #2: If you build a great looking website, customers will come. Don’t get me wrong, having a good looking website is important. It needs to look professional. The question is whether the form or function is more important. Many entrepreneurs believe that a cool looking website with lots of bells and whistles is what gets people’s attention. While it may be true that the bells and whistles will get their attention, for the most part, it will not keep their attention. In fact, after a short while, the bells and whistles become a distraction and even an annoyance. Many companies spend way too much money on building in the cool factor and ignore the necessities all websites need. These necessities include:
  1. Easy navigation
  2. Easily locatable contact information
  3. A video testimonial
  4. A compelling offer
  5. A clear call to action

Web pages also need to have focus subject matter if you want them to rank well organically. A focused page has a single subject matter. This makes it much easier for a web crawler to read, understand and categorizes the page and its contents. This is why we like landing pages (often referred to as microsites, splash pages or marketing pages). These pages are usually highly focused and generally will rank higher than pages with mixed content. Don’t spend a lot of money to build flashy pages. Stick to the fundamentals and make sure your pages are focused.

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Myth #3: I have an offer and a contact form.  That should be enough to get the job done. Having a special offer and a contact form is very important. However, that is not enough to make people take the next step. Earlier I also said you have to have a clear call to action. If you don’t communicate your needs, intent and instructions to the visitor, they will not move forward. If they feel confused, they will get frustrated. If they feel something is missing or out of order, they will lose trust. Speaking of trust, a good testimonial video above the fold can add credibility to any web page. When it comes to producing testimonial videos, prospects like to see real people, not actors. Keep your videos short, no more than 90 seconds at best. You can also use written testimonials as long as they are original documents, complete with verifiable dates and full names. 

Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The offer! Your offer is only as good as the prospects think it is! Your offer has to take the risk out of the transaction. It also has to seem like a no-lose proposition. If your offer doesn’t have these qualities, it’s not a compelling offer. Remember Domino’s Pizza compelling offer? Hot pizza to your door in 30 minutes or less or its free! In most instances, if prospects aren’t calling, clicking or filling out the form, it’s because your offer isn’t a compelling one.

Myth #4: If I write a high quality blog, people will read it and my audience will grow quickly. The truth is there are millions of blogs out there with very few readers. Thousands are created every day because all the pundits are saying “content is king” and “you should be blogging”. Well, here is the harsh reality. A great blog is just a billboard in the desert if it doesn’t have good distribution. If no one knows it exists, no one will read it. And if no one reads it, you can’t use it as an effective marketing tool. So how do you get readers? That’s the million-dollar question! The best way to build readership if you are on a budget is to push your blog out to your social nets. If you only connect with a few people via your social nets, you’re not much better off than if you had no followers at all.
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Here is where the big lie about blogging and content marketing gets buried. You have to have an audience to be a successful content marketer. This means you have to spend time, energy and money building an audience. Whether that’s through grass roots efforts, email marketing, buying lists, doing pay-per-click or hitching your caboose to someone else’s train, you have to have a sizable audience to succeed. What do I mean by hitching your caboose to someone else’s train? At Working the Web to Win we spend a lot of time, energy and money building an audience. We currently have approximately 70k Twitter followers and another 15k in LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ followers and about 100k connections through other social groups. A client that signs on with us can tie their blog to our huge following and we can push them out to more than 100k+ followers with the push of a button. Great content is very important for the long haul in any content marketing program. But make no mistake, the real issue is building an audience and then being able to distribute your message to them.

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Myth #5: I am on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. That's enough to get more sales and build my credibility. Being on these social networks is important. In fact, we believe that being in the top eight networks is important for most businesses. These networks include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogger and YouTube. However, there is a big difference between being on a network and managing them day in and day out.  Managing even four of these networks can be a full time job for many. Being on a network and actively engaging your followers are two different things. Social networks need to be fed on a daily basis. Social networks can produce high quality prospects and customer engagement when utilized properly. They can also add significantly to your ranking score as well. But they will produce nothing if you rarely use them or worse if you only use them to post advertising on your time line. Remember, no one ever joined a social network to be sold to! They joined to connect with others, make friends, find news, and be entertained among other things. Being sold was not one of their goals. Post useful, engaging, thoughtful, entertaining, timely, high quality content to your social nets. Be professional and avoid crass behavior. Posting customer testimonials is a great way to build credibility. If you want to sell on the social networks use their pay-per-click platforms.

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Myth #6: I built my website only 3 years ago, so there’s no need to update it.  In the world of the Internet, 3 months can seem like an eternity much less three years! One of the most important rules to remember is that a website needs to have fresh, high quality, timely and relevant content for it to succeed. In general, a website that receives fresh content generates 4 to 10 times more traffic than static websites. Five years ago we told our clients that it was important to make sure you had a mobile-friendly website because 28 percent of all web traffic was coming from mobile devices. That meant that more than a quarter of all web traffic was mobile. Today mobile traffic accounts for more than 60 percent of all traffic. On top of that, mobile users today are pickier, choosing websites that are smartphone friendly. If they have trouble reading your web pages on their smartphones, they will leave it for a more mobile-friendly site. To make matters even worse, in 2015 Google further implemented their mobile friendly algorithm update (dubbed Mobilgeddon) that penalizes websites that are not mobile friendly. Google has even implied that in the future, they will not list a website that is not mobile friendly to anyone doing a search on a mobile device.

Having a blog on your site (or using your blog as your website) is a great way to keep your content fresh and give visitors a reason to come back. Creating seasonal offers, adding seasonal color schemes, a photo gallery and video blogs are all ways of keeping things interesting. This is true for your visitors as well as keeping Google interested in you. Websites are like Fruits and Vegetables; they are at their best when they are fresh.

Myth #7: My website is all I need for Internet Marketing. Back in 2000, all you needed was a website and a search engine. Today content marketing is king and the content I am referring to does not reside on your website. Your website at best accounts for 25 percent of the overall ranking score on most search engines. High quality, timely, relevant and useful social posts, reader comments and reviews, social shares, blog posts, YouTube videos, rating sites, visitor traffic, and backlinks all have an effect on website ranking. On top of that, you still need effective webpages along with a continual flow of traffic to grow your online business.

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It is often a case of putting the cart before the horse. You need traffic to grow your business, but you also need other marketing elements to get people to look at your website. Earlier I stated that I would give you a list of items needed in your marketing plan. Make sure your plan addresses the following elements; You can use email marketing, social media marketing, pay-per-click in social and in search to drive traffic. Blog marketing combined with newsletter touch marketing can also be a great way to ramp up traffic. There is video feed marketing, banner advertising and even off-site marketing where you place your URL or a QR code on printed material and TV or radio ads to generate more visitors. Yes, you need a website, but a website is only part of the overall scheme of things. You also need to make sure you use marketing to drive traffic to your website in order to give your online business any hope of succeeding. Each of the 7 sections above provided ideas and necessities that all marketing programs need to include. Make sure you take into account these 7 myths, but more importantly, make sure you marketing program includes everything it needs to succeed.

That’s my opinion, I look forward to reading yours.
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In this article I have discussed 7 internet marketing myths that entrepreneurs often believe, which in turn lead to big mistakes.  I have provided many examples of both the myths and solutions that help entrepreneurs avoid making these big mistakes. I have also listed the internet marketing elements needed and have included links to dozens of articles that provide other perspectives to help you on your journey.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family and co-workers. You can find other articles on our blog by typing in “marketing” or your desired search term in the search box at the top of this blog. I recommend reading Marketing 101 – What you need to Know before Buying AdvertisingWhat Every Business Needs When it Grows Up, How to Get Fish to Jump in The Boat - A Social Media Analogy and Seven Habits of Highly Successful Internet Marketers For starters. Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+.

Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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