• 06 Jun
    The Curse of Knowledge in Digital Marketing

    The Curse of Knowledge in Digital Marketing

    A subject which is grossly overlooked, something that not only affects digital marketers deliverable work or a client’s organic performance, but also impacts how we communicate on a daily basis. The curse of knowledge is not spoken about enough, so here’s why it’s imperative to look into and how it may impact you.


    So, what is the curse of knowledge?

    A concept dabbled with for many years, but it was Chip and Dan Heath’s explanation of the idea in Made to Stick which resonated with me. The book explained the idea that we all have insider information or knowledge about something that others do not.

    What is meant by this is that when we’re delivering information, either in the form of written text or verbally, we instinctively believe the person receiving the information is also in the know. More often than not, they’re not. This creates confusion and the critical thing we’re trying to get across is entirely not received.

    Why tapping out a song sounds like nonsense to others

    The best example of the ‘curse of knowledge’ is the tappers and listeners exercise. We’ve all tried to tap out our new favourite song using just our fingers, but, shockingly, the people hearing this very rarely pick up the tune. This is because that when we’re tapping, we have the song playing in our head, the person in front of us does not. The same thing happens when we’re communicating our skills to someone without our skill set. We’re met with blank looks every time.


    How the curse affects communicating with customers

    Blog content for customers

    If you work in an agency, it’s more than likely that in the initial stages you have very little knowledge of your clients’ target audiences. So, if you’re producing content for them, you may well be the ideal person for the job as you have no previous knowledge or impartial views. Your mind is a blank canvas.

    For instance, Forex Trading was never high on my list of skills, let alone having any basic knowledge of it. But this was great for marketing purposes. We wrote a series of blog posts that targeted a broad audience, high up in the purchase funnel that essentially just wanted to know how forex trading worked. Had I had ten years of forex trading experience, my written content may have explicitly targeted to the seasoned spread betters, and in turn, narrowing my target audience.

    Keyword Research for customer’s and client’s benefit

    One of the most satisfying parts of my job is finding a relevant, targeted set of keywords for any of my clients. But what happens if you have previous knowledge of the industry you’re finding keywords for? For instance, if you have worked with furniture clients all your life and you’re finding keywords for a furniture e-commerce brand, you may fall into product buying-specific keywords

    It is all about finding those search queries for both knowledgeable users and those first discovering your website. ‘How do I clean my sofa’, ‘why buy a leather sofa’, ‘how do I choose a sofa style’; these search queries are as important than the ‘best corner sofas in brown leather’. Yes, the latter I a search query with a buying intent, but the former will make sure your business is gaining new customers.

    Digital PR

    So, you have a drilled list of contacts to outreach your content to. You’re a niche brand in a niche industry and you want to let people know about your fantastic new product through emailing potential bloggers and news sites. It’s imperative those emails are not too jargony. If you have a glow in the dark mug for camping, don’t talk about its new technology, instead, explain how this will significantly benefit the user.

    You may go for: ‘Gone are the days of finding your mug of cocoa or soup in the dark, this product takes away all the hassle.’ The receiver of the email will then make a judgement call on whether this is ground-breaking enough to write about. If they agree to the perfect, you can then send them detailed press release of all your mug knowledge until your heart’s content.


    How the curse affects communication with clients and peers

    Speaking to a potential lead

    If we’re speaking to a potential client, we don’t bombard them with SEO technical jargon even though at times these skills may be on the tip of our tongue. Instead, they want to know how your expertise will affect their business goals; not the ins and outs of your expertise.

    Speaking to clients

    Communicating verbally has the same principles as the written word. The curse of knowledge can have a profound effect on speaking with clients. You’re a digital marketer who’s built up a substantial knowledge of the industry, but will a client understand anything you’re saying when first speaking through your SEO strategy?

    I’ve had calls when content marketing jargon starts to seep out on the phone, and, quite rightly, it’s invariably met with silence and then a ‘hmmmm… sorry, could you explain that again, please? It’s awkward, there’s no doubt and a time waster. Instead, before the call, understand what they are likely to know then adapt your explaining and questioning during the call.

    Speaking with your peers

    Whether you’re in-house or agency, the team you work with is not likely to know as much as you in your specialist area. If you’re a year into content marketing and you’re next to a paid media specialist with three years’ experience, it’s likely they’ll need things explaining from you despite their longer industry experiences.

    There’s no doubt that sometimes it comes down to vanity. Instead of helping our peers, we may think it’s an opportunity to parade our skill set. This is in no way beneficial. Communicating with your peers comes down to mutual respect and the way you speak with each other; condescending or patronising them with your slightly greater knowledge is not best practice.

    How the curse of knowledge impacts teaching methods

    I’ve only tried my hand at teaching for the first time recently, but it’s something that has taught me so much about communication, and particularly the curse of knowledge. My first presentation was a mess; I was attempting to explain everything I knew in two hours. This is a) not possible, and b) not the point of teaching.

    If I had put myself in their shoes – a mixed group with relatively little digital marketing knowledge – then I would have done things very differently. Making sure they understood one area of content marketing with the help of engaging group tasks would have been much more efficient than me reeling off things to blank faces.


    The importance of user intent and knowing your audience

    Understanding user intent

    Everything I’ve spoken about really comes down to thinking about your audience before engaging with them and understanding their intent. This both means to have a grasp of their knowledge of a subject as well as what they want to know about it.

    Whether it’s verbal or written communication, if you have never met your audience before then it’s important you use all the tools you can access to create a persona around them. Potentially ask all of the questions below:

    • Who am I communicating with (is the key target audience experienced in the industry?)?
    • What is their previous experience of what I’m offering (whether someone reading your blog post or a peer asking for digital marketing advice)?
    • What information do I have that’s unnecessary and hard to understand for my target audience? (Is it worth mentioning the technical specifications of a new product to prospective journalists? Probably not)

    These are just a snapshot of questions you need to answer, the more you think about them, the more they will start to expand.

    Lift the curse by creating personas

    How to combat this and lift the curse of knowledge upon you? Create personas for your target users. It’s one of the greatest clichés, but put yourself in their shoes.

    For example, you’re writing a blog for your new client – a small online wine business based in the UK. You have years of wine experience, both researching and tasting, home and abroad. A knowledge built up that is far above the norm. However, your end goal is to make people aware of this British-produced wine.

    Create the persona of your core target audience:

    • Andrew
    • 35-year-old office worker
    • Lived in Britain his whole life
    • Likes to drink wine but bored of the same stuff

    Once you have this persona in your head, you’ll write for Andrew, you’ll no longer write from the point of view of someone with above average knowledge of wine. Your initial title before thinking about the target persona might have been ‘how the age of grape affects its dryness’. This is great for wine enthusiasts but what about Andrew.

    How about ‘British Wine: Same Quality as European, But Half the Price’. If this is true, which I have to be honest I don’t know, then this will resonate with a much broader audience than the initial title.


    Final word on lifting the curse of knowledge

    Always understand your audience. Never let the curse of knowledge rear its ugly head. If you do, there will be heaps of confused faces and unproductive dialogues – either the written word or verbally. Time will be wasted, money will be lost, and there will be lots of sad faces.

    It’s not rocket science, it’s more how rocket scientists should communicate with us lesser individuals.

  • 01 May
    My First Brighton SEO

    My First Brighton SEO

    If you’re reading this, you’ll probably be aware of the SEO industry’s biggest gig of the year. Held in sunny (most of the time) Brighton in a large conference hall hugging the coastline, Brighton SEO is the UK’s largest free SEO conference.

    With the top names in the industry delivering talks on a broad range of digital marketing topics, it is a no-brainer for any agency or search enthusiast to attend.

    More →

  • 10 Apr
    Finding your Path in Digital

    Finding your Path in Digital

    When you first start out working in digital marketing, you’ll find that eventually there’s a need to specialise. The amount you can learn and do is so broad that it’s very difficult to be an expert in every element. Whilst at first you’re going to want to keep your knowledge broad and learn about all the different sides to it, as you gain more and more experience it’s likely you’ll begin to prefer one side of things more than others. So how do you make that choice?

    Have an open mind

    More →

  • 23 Mar
    A Day in the Life at

    A Day in the Life at

    As’s newest recruit (as a Content Marketing Specialist), I didn’t know what to expect when I initially took the job. I’ve now been at for over three months so I thought I’d take some time to reflect on everything so far. More →

    By Ed Content News
  • 11 Apr

    The Telegraph, Travel and Tom Hiddleston

    The Telegraph, Travel and a Tom Hiddleston

    We’ve all heard the sayings in the last few years that TV, both stateside and here in the UK, is in the ascendance.

    Recent months have seen big budget, trans-Atlantic productions, such as The Night Manager (the most expensive drama in BBC history at £20m), and epic historical saga War and Peace (£8m production) hit our screens with a vengeance.

    These mega-productions are drawing not only celebrated silver screen actors to the small screen, but are driving increased viewing figures for TV in general, with The Night Manager averaging 6.2 million viewers during its 6 week run.

    So what does this all have to with digital marketing and, indeed, the daily newspaper The Telegraph?

    In researching this blog post, which was originally going to be about how brands are capitalising on the growth of big-budget programmes, The Telegraph kept popping up in search results and twitter feeds as a winner in the TV search trend stakes. This post will look at the recent opportunities The Telegraph has taken advantage of, and look at how brands could replicate this success.

    Let’s take a look at our first example; the aforementioned phenomenon, The Night Manager.


    The Night Manager

    With the series taking place across a number of glamorous (and some not so glamorous) locations, the broadcast period of The Night Manager (and the weeks afterwards) inspired a great deal of related search traffic. This included viewers seeking images of Tom Hiddleston, and also those wondering if there’d be a second series.

    But it wasn’t only these direct topics that were of interest to searchers; the products and destinations featured in the series got their fair share of search queries too.

    When I think about the possible reasons for this, it’s easy to see how the sleek attire of the principal protagonists and the luxury locations lend themselves to daydreaming viewers. After all, they are watching the series during the cold, stormy winter months and can imagine themselves living the life of luxury in stylish, sun-drenched locations.

    Let’s look at few topics in particular that have seen uplifts in search volume.

    Majorca Villas

    Below shows the uplift in impressions for a travel retailer for terms related to Majorca villas (one of the principal locations in the series) over the broadcast period of The Night Manager.

    We can see defined peaks around the broadcast of episodes that featured the Majorcan villas location. However, these impressions and boosts in search volume can be converted into real traffic with the help of clever planning and quick action.


    Surprisingly, it was not travel and villa retailers that managed to capitalise on this story. Instead, this opportunity was taken by the newspapers. The Telegraph, in particular, took the bull by the horns and utilised the increased interest in this location to drive traffic to 3rd party websites via affiliate links.

    Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 16.32.33

    This content also serves to promote other Telegraph travel articles and location guides.

    Other news outlets that covered this topic were Radio Times and The Guardian. This example presents a prime opportunity lost for travel/villas to ramp up paid media spend, write relevant and focused content, and create conversation on social media off the back of a TV show.

    A missed opportunity for Marks and Spencer

    In the days and weeks following the airing of a scene in which a principal character, known for wearing expensive designer wardrobe pieces, is shown wearing its brand of underwear, Marks and Spencer did, well, nothing.

    Once again, the traditional news outlets, this time the Daily Mail and the Mirror, covered this topic with gusto.

    This was certainly an opportunity missed by Marks and Spencer, which, as we have written about previously, has features on its website dedicated to editorial content and ‘picks’. So what could Marks & Spencer have done differently? We’ve created some tips for next time this happens…

    • Add the product and at least a short story to the Editor’s Picks which feature across the website (shown below)Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.09.22
    • Monitor brand mentions and tweet about the product during the show, and follow up the morning after so people can find the featured product
    • Create a promotion/competition around the product

    War and Peace….and city breaks

    When epic saga War and Peace debuted on our screens just after Christmas, travel brands were in peak holiday booking season. However, search terms around ‘visits to St Petersburg’ jumped big time during January and this presented a great opportunity for Russian Holiday brands to make some noise and capitalise on a new audience for its offerings.

    Unfortunately, not many appeared to have made the most of this opportunity.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 16.37.02
    Big jump in searches for holidays and trips to St Petersburg
    Once again, The Telegraph jumped in with great, timely content, the day before the first episode (forward planning – the production was announced in 2014 after all) with a comprehensive guide to the city of St Petersburg.

    They didn’t stop there, but went as far as to use this content to promote a reader offer.Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 12.19.29Picture1

    At a time when lots of people are talking about Russian destinations, the largest Russia holiday operators ended up promoting The Telegraph’s article, instead of gaining the traffic and brand-awareness for themselves through valuable on-trend content.

    As you’ll see below, Regent Holidays were in fact featured in one of these articles – as the operator of one of the 5 best tours of Tolstoy’s Russia – so they did gain valuable publicity and probably quite a bit of referral traffic from people landing on The Telegraph.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 16.52.13

    But it’s unlikely this was a planned and meditated strategy. More likely, Regent Holiday’s PR team responded to a media request from The Telegraph’s writer asking for Tolstoy themed tours and pitched one of the best options available. This is a great effort from the PR team. But wouldn’t it have been awesome if the PR team flagged the trend with the onsite content team and they complimented this feature with their own branded piece of content which they could promote too?

    Finally, on 8th March, more than a month after the series had finished airing in the UK, Regent finally put together a page that addressed the demand for visits to Tolstoy’s great cities.

    By this point, much of the buzz around War and Peace had died down and the telegraph had already run a series of 3 articles on the topic:

    This screams of a well researched and planned campaign to capitalise on the popularity of a TV series, and The Telegraph have done a great job. So this leads me to actions, and what we can actually learn from The Telegraph.

    What can we learn from The Telegraph and how can we replicate their success?

    Plan ahead
    Most major series are announced months in advance, so put relevant dates in the diary and keep an eye on build-up and noise around the topic in the lead-up.

    Be comprehensive
    Where possible, make content comprehensive and useful. Yes, you may be writing a feature ahead of a traffic peak, but don’t underestimate the power a long-form piece of content can have in the visibility stakes. That articles might bring you thousands of visitors in the years to come.

    A joined up approach

    • Make sure different departments and teams are informing you of any opportunities. One assumes the Marks and Spencer PR department must have known their underwear would be featured in the Night Manager?
    • Keep an eye on Journo requests from publications who might be planning articles and features to take advantage of these topics – just as we saw Regent Holidays did above. But don’t stop here – use them as a source of inspiration for your own content – Haro is a free platform you can sign up for which might be a good place to start, as well as #JournoRequest on twitter

    Use your strengths

    Take advantage of the insider knowledge that news outlets won’t have. Use in-country insights, opinions and tips in the case of destination based topics. You will be in a much better place to create authoritative and expertise-based content than commissioned writers.

    Track and understand
    Create Calls To Action (CTAs) either within or at the foot of the post, and set up ways to track users that have engaged with this content to understand how this content works for your brand.

    Monitor Google Alerts and Trends
    Never underestimate the power of a Google Alert in keeping you informed on news about the latest TV series announcement. Also check out Google Trends’ Rising and Top trends, see what specific phrases people are using, and act on them (shown below is the example from the day after the first episode of War and Peace aired).

    Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 12.34.02

    The key point to remember from all of this is that your brand may not consider an article or blog post about a TV show to be a real conversion path, but if other brands and news outlets write about it instead, you’ll be missing out on a potentially relevant audience. Don’t think that you can jump on the bandwagon later, you may well have missed the boat!

    By Alexandra Johnson Content Marketing SEO
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