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Stop Putting Out Content For Content’s Sake – Doing Content Marketing Right

When wielded properly, content marketing is a powerful weapon. It engages potential customers. It converts them. It builds brand ambassadors over the long term. But it can also derail your marketing efforts if mishandled.

The main problem business owners are facing these days is that their content marketing plan is no longer making a substantial return on their investment. But the bottom line is that without an underlying strategy, producing content for the sake of it will never yield you the desired results.

Here’s how to overcome this common mistake.

The pitfalls of poor content production

Everyone can write, but not everyone can write well. This issue seems inherent in a lot of businesses, especially small businesses with minimal marketing budget. It’s just easier to knock out a few hundred words instead of paying a professional, right?

But poor content marketing can be hugely damaging to your brand. What’s more, it wastes your time and threatens to drive away loyal customers. Here are a couple of warning signs for poor content production:

  • The content is irrelevant or not aligned to what your customers want to see from your business.
  • It’s poorly written or poorly designed.
  • You’re producing content that doesn’t add any value for the reader.
  • There’s no creativity or originality, and they can find better content elsewhere.

How to turn those pitfalls on their heads

An ongoing trend these days is to just create a basic content calendar of topics and then tick them off as you go. But that’s not a content marketing strategy – it’s just a foundation. A fully fledged strategy involves research, competitor analysis, keyword research and a healthy feedback loop with your audience.

Want to start producing great content? Make sure it:

  • Looks great, jumps off the screen and is fantastically written. Engagement is key!
  • Adds real value for the reader. Give them something they can’t find anywhere else.
  • Is original and creative. Find your own voice and shout it from the rooftops.
  • Tells a story. People want to hear exciting tales, so use content marketing to tell good stories.

Content marketing isn’t a sole strategy – it’s a tactic

If there’s one takeaway from this blog that we really want to drive home it’s that content marketing isn’t the be all and end all of marketing. Rather than relying on it as a sole solution, content should be part of a multi-pronged, overarching strategy.

It’s a tactic that can deliver great benefits for your business, but it must be supported by other tactics like analytics, social media, SEO, audience research and more. The biggest mistake you can make when starting out is to invest in content but forget about all the other arms of marketing.

3 steps to using content more successfully

Ready to get back on the horse and take your content to the next level? Here are three questions to drive your new marketing strategy:

  • Who do I want to speak to? Do you really know your audience? Consider who it is you want to speak to, research what they want and then give it to them.
  • What’s the purpose of my content? Determine what you want to achieve with your content. Obviously converting customers is your ultimate goal, but when you create content with a purpose in mind, that will translate to your readers and make them more engaged.
  • What does my audience want? Your content should always be solutions-oriented, and more importantly you’ll want to guide your audience along the content journey. Put yourself in their shoes and help them solve their problems.

By cultivating and nurturing your content marketing in line with a solid strategy, it will soon flourish into a key driver of ROI for your business.

Want to get more out of your content marketing efforts? Contact us to find out how we can help you define a strategy that produces results.

You can also read more about content, social media and all things marketing at The Beat.

How To Create, Monitor And Optimise Your Social Media Strategy

Social media might be something everyone does, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. This is especially the case for business owners. Locking down a solid social media strategy takes time, effort and plenty of research.

But if you’re reading this then you obviously want to get it right, right? Read on to find out how to make every post, every comment and every interaction with a customer count.

Did you know that 95% of adults aged 18 to 34 follow at least one brand on social media? That’s a huge market of potential customers to get your business on top of the competition. But figures are one thing – actually converting those eyes into dollars takes a smart strategy, and not everyone is doing it right.

In fact, most businesses aren’t doing social media right. Research from Smart Insights found that 80% of businesses reckon they are delivering an exceptional customer service experience on social media, when in fact only 8% – that’s right,  just 8%!– of customers agree.

We’ve put together six key steps to creating a social media strategy that works for both you and your customers.

Make your goals SMART

You’re no doubt a business veteran who’s worked for a number of companies in your life, so you’ve probably come across the SMART acronym before. But do you know what it’s all about? And, more importantly, can you apply it to your goals?

Sit down and write out your goals. Having a visual description of what you want is always better than ideas just floating around in your head. Now it’s time to analyse them. Are they:

Specific (well-defined and easy to understand)

Measurable (including descriptive criteria)

Achievable (within the realms of possibility)

Realistic (relevant to your social media and brand), and

Timely (including a clearly defined target deadline)?

If not, it’s time to investigate how to build SMART social media goals and then get back to the drawing board.

Narrow your channel focus

Do you feel like there’s never enough time to tend to all your social media duties? Does the mere thought of publishing an update across all platforms tear you apart inside? It could be because you’re trying to do all things for everybody.

But a sound social media strategy shouldn’t take a scattergun approach. Instead, you need to narrow your focus and dedicate your social media time to a few select platforms. Is the best way to advertise your business through visuals? Then Instagram is where you will get the most traction. Are your clients and competitors in the professional space? Publishing thought-leadership pieces on LinkedIn could be a solid bet.

Too many social media accounts can actually damage your brand, so focus on what works and make those one or two platforms really shine.

Really, truly understand your audience

Do you think you know your customers? Maybe your regular interactions (either in-person or online) make you feel like a master of knowing exactly what they want from you. But if your social media isn’t giving you the returns you expect, it could be because you’ve misread their desires.

Your audience on social media will likely be very different to what they are like in real life. This is because their feeds are already so busy that they will only engage with content that speaks to them. Get their direct feedback and start rebuilding your social brand around that. Furthermore, by truly understanding your audience you are able to generate greater ROI from your paid social campaigns too. By creating social ads that are relevant to your target audience you increase you chance to lower CPA costs and reach more people within the same budget.

Monitor the competition

You should always be watching what your competitors are doing. In terms of social media, if they are on a particular platform and finding success, you need to be there as well.

Also use your general sleuthing senses to find out what they are publishing. Are their blogs getting huge hits, subsequently sending traffic to their online store? Are people commenting on their photos and generating organic conversations? There’s no shame in copying the competition if what they are doing is working!

Get auditing

You might find that you simply don’t have enough time in the day to focus on all your social media efforts – let alone build a complete social media strategy for your business.

A social media audit is a must for any business owner who wants to leverage the power of social. So if you can’t handle it on your own, it’s well worth investing in a social media expert who can audit your platforms and advise you on the best approach for your business moving forward.

Additionally auditing your paid social campaigns is also beneficial to tweak and adjust your campaigns to increase resonance and in turn improve CPA.

Monitor, analyse, rectify… repeat

The final step is to actually make use of the data you’ve accumulated. By this stage you’ll have loads of information on what channels you’re using, their success (or failure) metrics, as well as what your competition is up to. Use those analytics to find out where you need to change for the better.

This is especially true when you have paid campaigns running. It is important to monitor them to ensure they are performing as expected and if they are not, take the time to analyse what is going wrong and tweak the campaign settings to rectify the problem.

And don’t stop there.

Every six to 12 months, take some time to revise your social media strategy and adjust wherever necessary.

Want a comprehensive social media strategy but don’t have the time to do it yourself? Contact us to find out how we can match the perfect social strategy to your brand.

You can also read more about content, social media and all things marketing at The Beat.

Why Do Your Email Subscribers Unsubscribe?

With so much focus on social media and video, you might think email has gone the way of the dodo. Not so! It remains one of the most successful marketing strategies available. Recent data from McKinsey shows that the buying process on email happens three times faster than on social – even in 2019!

But with more competition and more ‘noisy’ advertising, consumers are switching off from emails that aren’t relevant to their interests. So, if you’re seeing your subscriber numbers dipping, here are some ways you can stop the rot.

Why are your subscribers unsubscribing?

It’s easy to get down on yourself when people start hitting that ‘unsubscribe’ button, but this could actually be a positive turning point. If you’ve noticed your email list decreasing then you’re already measuring that engagement, which is a great first step.

Now it’s time to figure out whythey are turning their back on your emails. There are plenty of reasons why your open rates might be declining, from uninspiring subject lines to a lack of consistency. Once you understand the problem, you can rectify it – and hopefully get that subscriber rate back up.

Here are five ways you can retain your email subscribers.

Get the timing right

There’s such a thing as ‘list fatigue’, where you oversaturate your email list with communications and they, inevitably, unsubscribe. At the other end of the spectrum, too many businesses fall into the trap of only sending an email sporadically. So when one finally lands in your customer’s inbox, they’ve forgotten who you are – inevitably, they hit the unsubscribe button as well. Or worse, ‘flag as spam’.

You want to find that sweet spot between the two: not too much, but just enough so that it excites your audience when they see an email ping from you. It will probably take a bit of time and A/B testing to nail down, but start by creating a schedule of content and sticking to perceived norms for email frequency.

Keep your IP healthy

Are your emails somehow ending up in your customers’ trash or spam folders? You might think your technology is top notch, but what lies underneath may not be so healthy.

Luckily there are a couple of tools that can really help you out. Sender Score measures the health of your IP and gives you actionable insights into how to improve it. ReputationAuthority, on the other hand, will show whether your eDMs are more susceptible to end up in spam folders. Best of all, it’ll show you the percentage of your emails that were good and bad.

Be relevant

It should go without saying, but it’s important to reiterate that your readers are subscribed to receive promotions, news and general information about yourbusiness. So don’t treat your emails as a place to compile all the latest industry news. Your audience can find that themselves.

Instead, give them something unique – something that will drive them to an action. It could be some new stock that’s arrived, a special promotion for this week only, a free webinar you’re providing, or a social media competition that drives them directly to your Facebook page.

Ask for feedback

Maybe you’ve scoured your email list, checked the health of your IP and really believe you are offering your readers useful content. But still the unsubscribes are coming in thick and fast. What are you supposed to do then?

It could be as simple as reaching out and asking them what’s wrong. Feedback should be an integral part of your business growth. After all, consumers’ needs change over the years, and so should your marketing strategy.

So, ask for feedback on your social media accounts or on your latest EDM. Perhaps you could offer a 10% discount code to anyone who fills out a feedback survey. People will tell you the truth if you just give them the opportunity to do so.

Make it easy to engage

We’re all time-poor these days. And consumers don’t want to waste their precious time. In a market where they’re often being ‘screamed at’ from advertisers, they want to consume the most relevant content in the shortest amount of time.

Could you provide them with something visual instead of just a block of text in your e-newsletter? Maybe a quick recap video that you upload to YouTube and embed in your eDM. Or perhaps a visually enticing infographic will get your point across and boost open rates. What about a podcast – it could be an entry point to a new market and help connect you with like-minded business owners in the same space.

Finally, make it easy for people to get in touch with you. Providing them with your contact info and social platforms in every email. This will help build up a sense of trust and let them interact with you how they want, when they want.

It’s about the people

The bottom line? It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the people. Once you start engaging them the way they want to be engaged, you’ll see that subscriber count start to rise again.

We’d love to know what are some of your tips to keeping your email subscribers from leaving? Let us know in the comments below.

Are you leveraging the full power of your content?

Any business owner knows time is a priceless commodity. That means you should be spending all your energy on building up your business, maintaining clientele and reaching new audiences.

Marketing is a key part of that, but creating unique content across multiple platforms (blogs, social media, video, etc.) is time-consuming and expensive. However, it is extremely important to produce content for different channels because your audience lives across multiple channels and being present across those channels is vital to your success.

So ask yourself: are you making the most out of your marketing investments? Here are 5 tips to help you maximise your content strategy.

Tip #1: Get sharing!

So you’ve created something special in the form of written content. You’ve posted it on your blog, it gained a little traction but nothing to write home about.

Don’t stop there. Social platforms are useful for this exact reason. On Instagram, for instance, you can share your original blog content like an Instagram Story and ask your followers to swipe up. You’ll no doubt see a ping in your website visitors, and if the content is useful you’ll probably start conversations on Instagram.

Tip #2: Widen your readership

It’s not plagiarism if you’re copying off yourself, so republish your web content on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the ideal spot to publish interesting, entertaining or downright insightful content. With LinkedIn Pulse, you can publish entire articles in a highly professional setting. This gives your content credence and engages your readership.

Tip #3: Create ‘micro’ content

An unfortunate by-product of our digital era is that people’s attention spans aren’t what they used to be. That means to grab someone’s attention you need to ‘capture’ them in a matter of seconds.

People will leave a page or swipe past your posts if they aren’t snappy and insightful. The solution? Create ‘micro’ content. Pull out key quotes and stats from your previously published articles and create image-based quote posts. These are hugely popular on visual-heavy platforms like Instagram.

 

Tip #4: Harness the power of video

If you haven’t started using it already, video is an essential part of a complete content plan. Even more so now that video has been integrated into most – if not all – of the top social platforms.

And remember that ‘short attention span’ we spoke about in the previous tip? Video is another solution. So keep on the theme of that ‘micro’ content and produce short, snappy videos with all the key stats and points from your web content.

If your audience prefers watching videos instead of reading long blogs, why not cater to their preferences?

Tip #5: Repurpose often

These are just a few ways you can reuse your high-quality content, but the crux of it is to repurpose often. As a business owner, it’s important to give your marketing the attention it deserves – but not at the cost of losing customers.

Repurposing content is extremely important and it will prove to be an effective way to increase the longevity and relevance of your content.

 

Are you ready to take your strategy seriously?

Contact the Brandalism team today to learn how our strategy experts can get you a real return on your marketing investment.

You can also read more about content, social media and all things marketing at The Beat.

5 Ways To Troubleshoot Your Content Marketing

The history of content marketing has always been a topic ripe for debate. Some lunatics claim it began with cave paintings. But we’re more inclined to think it really started kicking off – at least the digital kind of content marketing – after the first blog was published in 1994.

Since then, content marketing has gone from strength to strength, with 78% of CMOs claiming that “custom content is the future of marketing”. But what happens when this ‘perfect’ tool in your marketing arsenal doesn’t go to plan? Should you give up? Or is it more about learning from your mistakes to deliver amazing results?

What are some common reasons why content marketing fails?

There’s a reason the average Joe doesn’t perform surgery. They don’t have the training nor the expertise to do a quality job. Content marketing is the same, and so many brands fail because of it. That’s why there’s a whole career trajectory for content marketing these days.

If you’ve tried content marketing in the past but come up short, see if any of these ring true:

    • You thought you could write about anything: By all means, blog away till your heart’s content – that doesn’t mean anyone will read it. People who haven’t worked in content often think blogging is easy. On the contrary, you need to investigate your audience and plan out a comprehensive content calendar that will deliver engaging, relevant topics.
    • You didn’t think about SEO: Another misnomer is that optimising content for search is complicated. But modern keyword research is so easy and user-friendly. If you want to get eyes on your content, SEO is as important as the words on the page.
    • You forgot to build a strategy: When you first started your business, you had a plan or at least an outline, right? Then why wouldn’t you do the same for content marketing? If you’re investing in a marketing tactic – whether it’s time, money or both – you need to build a strategy around it.
    • You didn’t measure anything: In the same vein, all the strategy in the world won’t pay off if you aren’t measuring your results. By measuring how your content is doing (time on site, page views, bounce rate, etc.) you can A/B test your content and get a better idea of the stuff your audience engages with
    • Your expectations were unrealistic: We live in an instant-gratification world right now (thanks, Instagram…), and unfortunately that’s bled into business. But no marketing tactic will pay off if you don’t stick with it. If you fail at the first hurdle and then simply quit, did you really give it a fair crack? Remember, content marketing is a long-term strategy.

5 troubleshooting questions

Ready to get back on the horse and give content marketing another go? If you’re unsure where to begin – or even what is wrong with your current content – ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Do I have an end goal for my content marketing?
  2. Do I know which audiences I want to engage?
  3. Am I publishing across a variety of formats (blogs, social media posts, eBooks, e-newsletters, etc.)?
  4. Can I do everything on my own or should I harness the power of content experts?
  5. Am I promoting my content in the right places?

There are plenty more questions to ask, but this is a good jumping-off point. And it’ll hopefully get your strategy better aligned.

These brands are doing content marketing right

If it helps to see what the masters are doing, here are three companies doing content marketing really well. 

Evernote is a simple note-taking app, but the team behind it are connecting with audiences through storytelling. This personalises their offering, making them appear less like a soulless entity and more like a knowledgeable friend.

 

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Grow and Convert cuts through the noise of a polluted content world by offering readers relevant, actionable content which you can read here

John Deere, one of the most recognisable business names in the world, is actually a content marketing master. For more than 120 years they’ve stayed true to their roots with their The Furrow publication. And consistency here is what makes new and existing customers convert time and time again.

Need a bit of help troubleshooting your content marketing? Contact us today to find out how we can get you on the road to success.

And if you’re keen for more content marketing tips, check out The Beat.

Why Video Will Be Instrumental For Every Content Marketing Strategy In 2019

You only need to jump on your favourite news website to see how deeply video has permeated our lives. All the majors players (Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) have embedded videos into their feeds, while 82% of Twitter users watch video on the platform. But when it comes to the big kahuna – YouTube – we collectively consume more than 500 billion hours of video content on the platform every single day.

Video is essential to a content marketing strategy in 2019. Here’s why you should join the 87% of online marketerswho use video content to drive their brand.

Why video is essential in 2019

 Anyone who hasn’t recognised the massive surge in video in recent years has been living under a rock. It’s big, it’s brash, and it’s here to stay. While you may not have adopted it quite yet, here are a few reasons you should:

  • YouTube hosts 856 million site impressions a day – think about how many potential customers even 1% of that is!
  • Nearly every marketer (97%) says video helps their customers better understand their product or service. And 76% of those marketers says it increases sales.
  • Nearly half (45%) of all people online watch more than 1 hour of video on Facebook or YouTube every week.
  • 65% of executives will visit your website and 39% will call you after watching a video.

That’s all well and good. Everyone knows video is highly engaging. But when it comes to inserting it into your content marketing strategy, you only want to know one thing: will it convert customers?

Yes.

Think about this. From the very same research, video was found to:

  • Increase click-through rates in email by 200–300%.
  • Boost conversions by 80% when used on a website’s landing page.
  • Convert better than any other medium, according to 70% of marketers.
  • Increase email open rates by 19% when the word ‘video’ appears in an email subject line.

 But why video?

It’s a fair question: why should you use video in your content marketing strategy?

After all, maybe your business has nothing to do with the digital world. Maybe you run a café. Perhaps you’re the owner of a landscaping company. Or maybe you’re a professional speaker who engages people face-to-face at events.

Would it surprise you to find out that video could enhance every one of those businesses? When used correctly, it’s a fast-track to better engagement and higher conversions.

Consider:

  • The café: Online reviews are one thing, but there’s nothing quite like seeing a café or a restaurant in the flesh to figure out if it’s up your alley. Video is the next best thing, and a quick walk-through video or a short recipe video of one of your specialities could show potential customers what you’re all about in visual form.
  • The landscaping company: Much like the café, it’s difficult to know if a landscaper will be any good at their job without seeing the evidence. Pictures are fine, but a video of one of your employees on the job tells a much more vivid story. You could even create a series of ‘handyman tips’ so customers can take care of the little tasks themselves – and be more likely to call you when they have a proper job that needs doing.
  • The professional speaker: Video is particularly useful to this line of business as it opens up an additional sales channel. Why not create a series of webinars that you either give away as a ‘taster’ for an upcoming paid event, or you sell as a self-help package over the course of several weeks?

The opportunities for video are seemingly limitless. So, when it’s time to review your content marketing strategy for 2019 – which should be as soon as you’ve finished reading this – think about how you can best utilise the medium to drive greater engagement and more conversions.

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