Is it Time to take Content Marketing off its Pedestal?

Posted by frank harris on 28/02/19 15:50

b2b content marketing 0618The idea that content marketing is some sort of messianic marketing device has stuck so well that, regardless of business, product or market, there has been a compulsion to simply ‘do content’. With securing and retaining permissions, building relationships and earning trust more important than ever, is it time for content to integrate more with the rest of the marketing mix?

 

Never mind about the consumer’s experience – what about the content? Never mind about how, when or even whether you should engage – what about the content?

 

Too often, content marketing has not had the data, insight and creativity to support it. We have got personal without building the foundations. We have kept content and data strategy apart.

 

Now, GDPR puts the way we engage under greater scrutiny than ever before. If consumers want to hear what brands have to say, and share information with them, then content is going to have to climb down off its pedestal and integrate.

Permission to Speak?

GDPR doesn’t mean the end of email marketing. But it gives permissions the sort of currency usually only associated with US dollars in Cuba.

 

GDPR means content has to work harder to earn and protect those permissions. It should cultivate the journey from the initial privilege to communicate, to securing the long-term relationships that make people want to share their data.

 

Amaze One commissioned research to understand how UK consumers feel about the information they currently share. 70% of consumers said they were concerned about the way their personal information is collected and used. Only 18% feel they have some degree of control over their data. 80% have concerns about the way their data was sourced and sold.

 

The research revealed a feeling of imbalance in the ‘value exchange’, the quid pro quo of reward in return for personal information. Consumers feel they’re giving a lot of quid for very little quo. That would be worrying even without GDPR. But with the marketing landscape having changed, now is hardly the best time to be alienating customers who just want a fairer deal.

 

The right to share your content starts with clear permission. That is what gives you the privilege to engage. So, be transparent about the ask. Make requests big and bold, front and centre: permission that says, ‘here are some of the great things we are going to be sharing with you – and here is how you get to see them’.

This transparency is appealing, but there is pragmatism too.

 

GDPR does not have to be scary or difficult. If we embrace it, we share the benefit with consumers. If we don’t, we get to spend the next few years testing the boundaries of GDPR compliance to no real purpose.

Collaborative Content Marketing

Crucially, this model ensures content marketing is not the headline act. It forces it to work with data, strategy and consumer experience, and that forces us to ask questions about the nature for content before we create it:

  • Is content desirable and appropriate? How does your brand sit in your customers’ lives? How does that inform the content you create?
  • What is the role of the content marketing? How does it fit your communications strategy? If it doesn’t fit the strategy, why do it?
  • How does the content fit the customer experience of your brand?
  • What is the publishing model? Let the data, strategy and customer journey guide you to a production, publishing or newsroom model that is a natural fit.

How Personal is Personal?

Amaze One’s research showed that even a simple breakdown by age reveals major differences in the way we want to consume content.

  • Preference for visual (including video) content is strongest in younger groups (18 to 44) and falls away with age.
  • Entertainment is a key determiner of channel appeal among younger groups (18 to 44).
  • Being informative is a universal preference, but peaks in the 25 to 34 age group.
  • Trust in the originating brand/sender is a key factor in brand interaction. The older the target group, the greater the trust required.

So be personal. Tailor your voice to your customer. Mass marketing is fine when you are issuing a change of terms and conditions to every account holder, but it is personal content that generates interest and inspires a response.

New Time and Place for Content

Traditionally, content has been created parallel, but often not quite connected to other marketing activities, CRM-driven communications and distribution strategies.

 

But if content is to help drive sharing in this post-GDPR world, it needs to be constantly in the mix, a part of – but not superior to – the data and insight that informs the initial brainstorms and briefings.

 

It is time to take content marketing off its pedestal? Next time someone suggests you should just ‘do content’, pull back and ask what you are doing it for. When you do, you will find it’s a far more effective tool at generating the trust, permissions and sharing we are all going to need.

 

For your content marketing toolkit click the link below:

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, interactive content marketing, content marketing strategy

SEO for Better Content Marketing

Posted by frank harris on 12/02/19 10:21

content marketing 0119As marketers we should provide our customers with quality experiences. One way is by implementing a customer focused content marketing programme.

 

Content marketing includes blog posts, infographics, email, podcasts, and many other content types. Every online channel provides a unique way for us to reach our personas. So, we need to optimise every piece of content to make it easier for people to find.

 

Competition for your audience’s attention has never been higher and it’s challenging to get your content in front of your personas. This challenge continues to become more difficult as over 91% of B2B marketers claim they already use content marketing. Although that number is high, many can better optimise their existing content.

 

Here, we’ll cover basic SEO tactics you can deploy to make your content easier to be found by search engines.

Keywords

The first step for writing online content is choosing the right keywords to target. Conducting keyword research is an important optimisation process. First identify a group of selective keywords that are semantically related, i.e., share similar interest to your personas. By choosing a semantic group of keywords to target, you broaden your reach by ranking for multiple keywords instead of just one main keyword as search engines are getting cleverer at determining what keywords are related.

 

To help explain semantic keywords, a keyword glossary would include the following terms for “marketing book reviews:”

  • Marketing book comparison
  • Marketing strategy book
  • Reviews for marketing books
  • Best marketing book
  • Marketing books to read

Your semantic keyword group should contain some long-tail keywords that are less competitive. Long-tail keywords are much easier to rank for and brings most of your organic search traffic.

 

Another advantage of using a semantic group of keywords is the ability to sprinkle keywords naturally throughout your content. You will build relevance for the overall topic by doing this.

Content Marketing Structure

When creating your content, ensure you plan the structure. Content should be presented in a way that provides a solution for the issue your personas are searching for - answering a question, finding a product or anything else. Writing good content that solves a problem gains audience interest and potential visibility via social shares and links. Your engagement rate will be better, which sends positive signals to search engines.

 

Creating structure for your content is challenging. To create structure, fashion an outline of how you want the content to be viewed, with the most important information near the top of the page.

 

If your post gets long, use anchor links to push people to the content. Use heading tags (<h1>, <h2>, etc.) to break content up to allow users to skim and scan the content. Avoid using long blocks of content, and if content is becoming long, visually break it up by:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Testimonials
  • Bulleted list

Creating a fluid structure for your content will help improve your audience engagement metrics by making the user experience friendly.

 

The structure of the content should be considered at the beginning of the optimisation process.

Build a Map to your Content

After writing optimised content, the next step is to build backlinks to it. Backlinks help people and search engines crawl and find your content more efficiently. They can be related to three areas - internal, external, and social links.

 

Building backlinks can be like a map. For example, you have the most amazing beach and you would like to charge admission. You’ve put in a lot of work to make your beach the best in the area and you know people would love to visit. The first problem is that no one knows how to find it. So, you build paths to make it easier for people to get to the beach (internal links). Next you place signs near your beach for local visibility (social shares). Now people start coming to your beach and they love it so much they go and tell their friends (external links). Soon, your beach is filled with happy and paying customers.

 

The moral of this scenario is to optimise your content by building links to your content. Links are still important to receive organic and overall traffic. The easiest way to get some links to your asset is to build internal links strategically with correct anchor text. Use keyword variations and long-tail keywords as your anchor text to not over optimise the content, which sends better relevance signals to the search engines.

Share your post on social media with a promotion plan to gain more visibility via referrals. Increasing social shares for your content sends more positive signals to search engines about how popular it is.

 

Lastly, focus of earning backlinks from credible sources on other websites. Reach out to influencers that might be interested in your content, so they can either share socially, or even better, on their website. Also, reach out to websites that are linking to the pages that are ranking for the keyword topic to see if they will link to your content. Hopefully, your amazing piece of content goes viral, which helps earn backlinks naturally and easily.

Writing more Optimised Content

This can be challenging. We can optimise content, so our personas can find it easily over our competitors. Optimised content will lead to more organic traffic and ultimately potentially higher conversions/ROI. We don’t need more content in general, but we need more optimised content that helps solve the audience’s problem.

 

For more on up to date SEO follow this link>>>

 

new website seo checklist

Tags: small business seo, content marketing, small business seo marketing, b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, seo for b2b business, b2b seo programme, website seo

3 Reasons you should be doing Content Marketing in 2019

Posted by frank harris on 21/01/19 16:23


b2b content marketing 0618Content marketing is a very general term that can be used to refer to many individual areas, from digital PR to the creation of blog content. Put simply, it is the creation of content that is shared online using a variety of marketing channels and assets. However, it can be so much more than this. Here are three ways content marketing can be useful for your business:

  1.  Stand out from the Crowd

In a world where almost everything is online, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd and that is where content marketing comes in. The aim is to provide content that is useful to the user so that people want to share and engage with your brand and in many cases, this means staying away from branded content that looks to sell.

 

It’s important to consider what your personas wants to know or talk about, this information can be found on

platforms that are probably already used by your business such as social media or social news aggregators.

  1. Brand Identity

Initial thoughts are that content marketing does not benefit a business instantly or directly however it can

help build relationships and loyalty. This is developed over time and whilst users are engaging, they are also a persona, providing an emotional aspect that the user can relate to in a digital landscape.

 

So, the next time potential customers look for answers or need a certain product your brand will be there in the forefront of their minds ready to assist and provide the answer.

  1. Learn about your Personas

Understanding consumers wants and needs can sometimes be baffling, especially at the pace they change today, so running content marketing campaigns means you are always monitoring your target audience’s interests. Ultimately, providing a deeper understanding of your market, which can be useful when looking to expand or change your product offering.

 

However, content marketing is experimental so not every creation will be a success, but you can learn from this. It is all about the research, talking to your users, experimenting with mini campaigns, and learning from

experiences. Analysing the performance of a digital campaign is much easier than a traditional marketing campaign, if you choose your platforms wisely.

 

Just like most elements of marketing, nothing stays the same for long, so how do we expect content marketing to grow in 2019?

2019 Content Marketing Trends

We are now in the age of assistance and so the content we produce may see a change in 2019. Providing content that answers a question for the audience will meet the need for assistance, whilst also positioning your brand as thought leader in the industry.

 

During 2016, there was an 80% increase in live videos viewed online, and in 2018, 78% of people watch videos online every week, and 55% every day. With video playing such a big part in daily life written content alone just won’t cut it – it is time to use video to share content, of course written content still has its place, and it’s important to accompany any video with some optimised text.

 

Authenticity plays a big part in marketing today with consumers wanting to know where, when, and how products are made. When it comes to content marketing, authenticity can come into play with the type of content you create and the way that it is shared.

 

To get the best content for your industry is essential. The toolkit that you can download from the link below will give you many great tips:

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: content marketing, b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, b2b content, small business content, content marketing strategy

10 Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

Posted by frank harris on 28/11/18 15:32

online marketing 1018A content marketing strategy plays a crucial role in digital; marketing as it tells you how successful your programme is going to be. It’s about planning, strategizing, execution and measuring results.

Why you need Content Marketing?

Here are 5 reasons why you need it:

  • Trusted by customers - When you write a blog post or publish an eBook, that content will be trusted more by your customers than the marketing copy on your website.
  • Supports purchase process - A sound strategy helps guide your personas down the marketing funnel to conversion.
  • Feeds social media - With social media, content drives behaviour. It’s not just the cat pictures that people like and share on Facebook but also content that your personas like. Your content distribution feeds your social media channels.
  • Delivers your message multiple times so customers believe it - You can produce the same content in different formats like blog, eBooks, infographics, video etc. In doing this your customer has more chances of believing it.
  • Is less expensive - There is a cost in producing pieces of content. It comes from the time you spent researching, writing, editing, designing that piece of content.

So now let’s start your content marketing strategy with our 10 Steps:

  1. Establish your content marketing goals

Be clear on what you are trying to achieve. Goals may vary per campaign e.g., building your brand or generate leads and sales?

  1. Know your personas

If we try to market to everyone, we reach no one.

 

Start with identifying a simple demographic and then expand. This link shows you how to develop personas:

 

personas cta

 

  1. Determine information needs

What information are your customers seeking? Providing something they need and want makes you a useful source. Not sure what your audience wants? Test. They may want answers, product information or how to tips. Ensure any ratings or reviews are accurate and legitimate. Honesty is a must!

  1. Select Content Formats

Content comes in many forms so decide what works best for your brand and your personas.

 

Once you start to relate to your personas and develop a better understanding of them, you’ll be able to cater for their needs. If you use a format and determine an alternative would be better, don’t worry change tactics!

  1. Tell stories

You can share stories, but you must allow your personas to do the same and remember it’s not always about you.

  1. Brand content

You have to take everything you do and make it consistent. Colours, text, sound, and even the structure of your language.

  1. Develop an editorial calendar

This ensures you stay on track with your content marketing efforts and will save you time in the long run. To create an editorial calendar, decide its structure. Decide how many posts you will be sending out daily and the metrics you’ll track. Remember seasonality and holidays to embrace content like seasonal tips to humanise your brand and directly relate to your personas.

 

Your calendar allows you to establish recurring content features and decide on your major content offerings. It also means you can do some advanced keyword research and enhance your content’s SEO.

  1. Optimise search and consumption

If no one can find your content, no-one can consume it. It’s easy to get close to your business and become removed from your personas are searching for. You must start by finding out! Your headline is crucial so ensure that it is attention grabbing. Your content should be visually appealing with eye-catching images. Write your content around one keyword phrase that your personas are searching for.

  1. Distribute and promote content

After creating content, distributing and promoting it will determine how successful your content marketing efforts will be. Start by placing it on your website, then promote and direct people to it from your social media platforms. Include links in all communications and incorporate your content into offline interactions.

 

It’s important to ensure that people are aware of and can find your content, otherwise all your hard work won’t bring the rewards they should.  Attend events relevant to the topics you have covered in your content and spread the word!

  1. Track results

You have established your goals, implemented a strategy and worked on creating and promoting your content. Now, track the results.

 

What were you trying to accomplish? If you were trying to increase traffic, did people come? Have you generated leads?

 

To make things measurable, you need to create a sense of urgency by including a promotional code, a call to action or insert a tracking into any links that you share beforehand.

Conclusion

Content marketing is about establishing goals for your target audience and then determining their needs. It is also about selecting the content format that your personas use along with keeping your branding in mind. Finally, it’s about being focused with the help of a content calendar and then optimising your content and distribution and measuring results. Content marketing is hard but if it was easy everyone would be doing it!

 

To get my toolkit to help you further, click on the link below>>>

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: content marketing, b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, content calendar, real time marketing, call to action, content marketing strategy

How to write B2B Content for your Personas & Yourself

Posted by frank harris on 18/11/18 16:38

digital marketing 1018Writing B2B content for online marketing is difficult. On one hand you have a set message to deliver, but on the other you must be interesting, otherwise, you risk losing your audience.

For short passages - keep words simple, sentences short, and use signposts in your writing.

 

But for longer copy, you have to do more than that.  

 

Your writing must make an impression, convince someone of something, and then get the reader to do what they might not otherwise do.

So how can you do that? 

There are countless blog posts on this topic. Sorting useful tips is not easy.  

 

At a high level, writing online B2B content requires two approaches which may seem contradictory, but can help you deliver lively, yet relevant, online copy.

Write your B2B Content for your Persona

To write persuasive and compelling copy, think about your personas.

  • What do they care about?
  • What’s on their mind?
  • What problem are they trying to solve right now?
  • What can they accomplish by reading your writing? 

This is not the same thing as keeping your words simple and your sentences short.

 

Writing for personas means stepping back from your writing tools, assembling a logical structure, and checking, constantly, that you’re writing something which your personas value.

 

Focusing on your persona offers three main benefits.

  1. De-clutter your copy

When you have a clear idea what you are writing and who you are writing for, you’ll feel confident to remove the 'business speak' which clutters writing and confuses readers.

 

Using words like 'leverage', 'synergies', and 'learnings' during a corporate meeting might seem normal, but you would never use them elsewhere, so don’t clutter your writing either.

  1. Grab your reader's attention

When you feature items which people are already interested in, rather than what you want to say, readers will be attracted to it. 

 

According to research, individuals pay close attention to and focus on things which they consider interesting.

  1. Keep your reader's attention

Readers are faced with the same distractions we all face: emails, messaging apps, phone calls.

 

The competition to keep your reader's attention is almost too overwhelming to consider.

 

But writing about something which the reader thinks and cares about, can transcend these distractions and capture the reader.

But….

… you're not finished yet. Writing which only considers its audience can end up sounding like an essay written at school.  

 

It will cover all the right points but be lifeless. And lifeless writing loses readers.

 

There is a paradox though. To make your writing interesting, you must write for yourself. This means putting words down as they come into your head. Writing as you speak and think.

 

Somehow, this seems wrong. We’re meant to write to attract and keep your personas’ attention. How will writing in our own voice accomplish that?

 

I will address this later, but first let’s look at the benefits from just writing for yourself.

  1. Your writing will flow more naturally

If you bind yourself to writing for someone else, then you will simply find it harder to write.

 

Writing is easier when the only filter you use in deciding what to say is your own preference, not what you imagine someone else's to be.

  1. Your writing will sound more human

Back to removing clutter. If you write in a way that makes sense to you, then you’ll naturally remove the words which make you sound like a corporate-speak robot.

 

Words and phrases such as mission-critical and going forward never appear naturally when speaking.

Writing for yourself will keep them out of your copy as well.

  1. You will break rules and catch people off guard

The most important reason to write for yourself is because it makes your writing more interesting.

 

So, delivering your own quirks through your writing makes you stand out from the crowd and be interesting.

Resolving the paradox

William Zinsser, in On Writing Well, discusses these two opposing approaches to writing.  He says that trying to do both seems like a paradox but explains that writing for personas and for yourself are two separate tasks which you can do in the same copy.

 

Writing for personas, he calls 'craft' and writing for yourself, he calls 'attitude.' 

 

When you think of what you are going to say, you are practicing the 'craft' of writing and you should think of your personas. 

 

When you think of how you are going to say it, you must inject your own personality, your own 'attitude', and you need to think of yourself.

 

It's easier said than done as nearly all writers struggle with these opposing constraints.

 

Yet to capture and keep an audience, we must use both approaches when writing.

So...

…how can you manage this paradox?

 

Every writer does it in their own way, but consider:

  1. Think what you want to say and who you want to say it to.
  2. Put together an outline which covers your main points.
  3. With your outline in view, write a draft in your personal voice.

It takes practice, but allowing yourself to write in your own voice is liberating and will produce more interesting copy.

 

And managing this apparent paradox also makes writing online copy much easier, even enjoyable at times!

 

For more on B2B content, just follow this link>>>

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: b2b marketing consultants, b2b marketing agency, b2b marketing leads, b2b marketing, b2b content marketing, b2b content

7 Ways to Humanise your Brand through B2B Content Marketing

Posted by frank harris on 09/11/18 10:38

B2B marketing 1018Some B2B content is so flat and boring that it can be hard to read.

 

No one wants to be faced with an article that is corporate, uninspiring, and feels like it has been written by a robot.

 

Behind every brand is a human being that is passionate about the industry they work in and is driven by their area of expertise.

 

But how do we make the human side of a brand come across? Being authentic in your content marketing efforts is key.

 

If your audience doesn’t feel like they are talking to and engaging with a real human being, they will likely lose any connection they have with your brand and start to look elsewhere for a brand they can relate to.

 

If your social media accounts look robotic, and the content you post becomes repetitive, you will start to lose your fans and followers and may even drive customers away.

 

Content marketing provides the perfect way to humanise your brand, so here are 7 ideas:

  1. Buyer Personas

A humanised approach to B2B content marketing means focusing on the behaviours, goals, and needs of your target audience.

 

Focusing on sales and conversions takes any human connection away, resulting in corporate-based processes and communication.

 

You need to know who your audience is in order to create content that meets their goals and needs. So you need to create Buyer Personas.

  1. Write for People, not Bots

The easiest way to humanise your brand is to talk to your personas whenever you can.

 

Remember, you are writing for people, not search engines, and while optimising your content is important, don’t detract from your brand’s personality with keyword stuffing, misleading headlines, and bland topics.

 

Ensure your readers’ interests and requirements are always at the front of your mind when you publish B2B content.

 

You are writing for another human and therefore their experience is important.

 

You want them to see your content as helpful and informative, and repeatedly return c your site, with the end goal of a conversion.

  1. Tell a Story

With so many online platforms, you must tell a meaningful story through a clearly thought-out B2B content marketing strategy.

 

Focus on the people who use your products, rather than the products themselves.

 

Use blog posts, pictures, videos and live engagement, to tell a story and show your human side through the content you produce.

 

The most successful stories are those that generate emotion and social engagement and help the audience feel closer and more connected to you.

  1. Keep up your Engagement

Don’t always use social media as a platform to promote your products and services.

80 20 rule

 

While this can be a good place for self-promotion, keep to the 80/20 rule and try not to drive followers away with constant promotional noise.

 

Social media should be used to build relationships with your personas, by showing them your brand’s human side in a real, meaningful way.

 

Different customers will engage with you through different social media channels, so it’s important to remain consistent with how and when you interact with your personas.

  1. Think like a Journalist

The best thing about content marketing is that it allows thought-leaders to demonstrate their expertise by communicating directly with readers.

 

This is good for readers as content is more likely to provide detailed insight into specific areas or topics.

 

By writing about your brand’s current trends, you’re automatically encouraging engagement from a large audience and presenting yourself as a personable, knowledgeable business that people can turn to for advice.

  1. Create B2B Content Experiences

Providing information to your personas is great, but it’s better to entertain your audience, connect with them, and keep them coming back for more.

 

Use videos and pictures to keep them up to date and share funny, serious, and interesting moments with them as they happen.

 

By creating experiences around your brand, you’re showing your personas that you want to involve them in your business.

 

By using the human aspects of your brand and showing your humorous/emotional/personable side, you’re providing your personas with entertaining or interactive content.

 

This encourages them to connect with the people behind the business, not just the external face of the brand.

  1. Listen and Respond

Online marketing gives your audience a platform where they can comment, reply to, and share your content.

 

It’s one thing to listen to what they have to say, but you should show you have listened by responding to them with an action.

 

By doing this, you gain their trust and respect, and, most importantly, build brand loyalty.

 

This could be by answering questions as quickly as possible or fully reacting to customer feedback by introducing a new loyalty scheme.

 

Because you have taken on board what your customers have said will make them like you, stay with you, and tell all their colleagues about you.

Finally

In a busy world of B2B digital marketing, you need to stand out from your competitors, and shouting the loudest isn’t always the best way.

 

It’s not about what you say, it’s how you say it and who’s listening.

 

Think about who your personas and talk to them as you would a friend.

 

A little can go a long way when it comes to human interaction and regular engagement – just keep your tone and content consistent, and try to be reactive online.

 

To understand your customers and their journey to become one follow the link below>>>

 

Your perfect customer journey

Tags: content marketing, b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, digital marketing, b2b, b2b marketing blog, b2b customers, b2b customer experiences, b2b lead conversion

3 Steps to Creating an Inbound Marketing Content Inventory

Posted by frank harris on 09/10/18 15:57

content marketing 0918In inbound marketing, we spend a lot of time creating content, and it can be a struggle to constantly come up with fresh ideas. 

 

However, the key to creating effective content is to know what you have already in your content inventory.

 

Creating a register of effective content means mapping your content to the appropriate stage in the buyer’s journey.

Once you know what content you have, you can identify opportunities and holes, and then create new content to fill gaps in your content library.

 

Here are 3 steps to help you create the content you need to align with the buyer’s journey.

  1. Gather your Inbound Marketing Content

Sometime in the future you realise you have no idea where your content is stored or how much you have.

Good, quality content that you’ve invested time, effort and expertise creating gets lost. There are lots of places where you can look to find your lost content. Consider:

  • Shared Drives
  • Folders
  • Your computer
  1. Create a Content Inventory Spreadsheet

First, you need to set up a system to capture important information about each piece of content.

 

Setting up a spreadsheet about each content offer in your digital library will enable you to access your content for use in campaigns and marketing initiatives.

 

Identify the categories that are specific to your business and the appropriate values. I'd recommend at least the following:

  • Buyer Personas - identify which buyer persona a particular content offer is most relevant to. Since buyer personas are unique to your company, list your company’s buyer persona choices in your spreadsheet. 
  • Topics - when you get to 3 below, you’ll want to specify content subjects. To do this easily, prepare a list of your business’ topics of importance.
  1. Map Content Offers to the Buyer's Journey

In inbound marketing, you want to deliver the right content, to the right person, at the right time.

 

To achieve this, know which stage of the buyer’s journey readers would likely find your content offer most helpful. 

 

Each stage of the buyer’s journey is characterised by unique behaviours, motivations and information needs. Review content and determine which set of the above needs your content aligns with. Here are descriptions of the stages in the buyer's journey.

Awareness stage 

A prospective buyer starts identifies a problem and begins research to understand the problem more clearly, develop context, and finally define their problem and give their problem a name. They are seeking educational information that helps them understand the problem.

 

The person in the awareness stage is self-involved and not ready for product or vendor specific information.

 

This self-indulgent time spent learning about their own problems in the awareness stage will help them prioritise their research and articulate their needs for features later in their journey. At the end of this stage, the buyer has defined their problem and is committed to finding a solution.

Consideration stage 

The prospect researches all available solution options in the marketplace. They consider technologies and ways to solve their problem. At the end of this stage, they’ve chosen the solution strategy for their business and their problem.

Decision stage

A prospect is building a list of potential vendors, products and services and seeking information to help them reduce the list to a short list, make a decision and based on that decision, they’ll make a happy purchase.

In pictorial form the journey vs the content looks like this:

 

buyers journey 1

Use the steps in this article to consolidate your content into a content inventory and then sort each content offer into its appropriate stage in the journey. Once your content library is nicely ordered with your content inventory spreadsheet, you’ll be able to take action by using this content in the following ways:

  • Do a Content Analysis - to gain actionable insights, identify holes and spot content opportunities that will influence your content strategy, drive your content roadmap, and fuel your content creation efforts.
  • Repurpose content - select content from your inventory that you’d like to increase exposure.
  • Create new content offers -  to create new content to fill the holes and gaps in your current library.

To help you define and construct the content just use the toolkit you can find by clicking below:

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: inbound marketing, b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, inbound marketing campaign, small business content

A Content Marketing Toolkit for Small Businesses

Posted by frank harris on 03/09/18 15:57

toolkit  (1)New to the ‘interactive marketing content’ concept? In this article, I’m going to take a quick look at what interactive content is, the most common types, and why it’s so effective, i.e. an introduction into my latest eBook on the above topic.

What is Interactive Content?

In a nutshell: Browser-based digital content experiences that are designed for visitor participation.

Why Interactive Content?

What makes interactive content not simply a nice consideration, but a pressing marketing imperative? Far more certainty about every aspect of marketing content - from leads and sales, to measurement and insights.

Better engagement

Static content provides limited opportunity for audience engagement. Visitors can read, watch,

convert and share. But not much more.

 

An interactive experience is inherently participatory - solutions configured, calculations made, quizzes taken, chapters navigated. Visitors naturally interact with the content, becoming immersed in the experience instead of passively reading.

Higher conversion rates

An exceptional, relevant content experience drives more leads and sales than static content.

Real differentiation

Interactive content is a proven way to differentiate your brand and offer something more interesting and compelling to your audience. It’s a more conversational way of interacting as opposed to just pushing resources and hoping people respond.

Richer measurement

Virtually everything within an online content experience can be tracked, measured and reported on. Beyond page views, bounce rates and conversion, interactive content provides an opportunity to see the outcomes and patterns of content interactions.

Assessing Your Content Marketing Need

One of the best ways to understand this is to assess your content maturity level and get a sense of

where on the spectrum of interactive content your company is currently. Ask the following questions

about your existing content efforts:

How would you characterise the nature of your content?

If you’re only producing blog posts, whitepapers and static content, you’re missing out on the data-gleaning opportunities of interactive. And while not all of your content needs to be interactive, at least some interactivity deserves to be in the mix.

How effective is your content at educating your buyer?

Are your leads coming in as well-educated and ready to purchase - or are they loaded with questions that your content ought to be answering? If they’re not completing the buyer’s journey or asking questions they should have answers to, your content may not be engaging them on a deep enough level.

How effective is your content at differentiating your brand?

When you compare your content to that of your competitors, can you tell who created what? Does your content do a better job of engaging leads and answering questions? If not, you’re probably blending in a little too much.

How effective is your content at getting shared socially?

Are you seeing the kind of traction in social proportionate to your audience and promotional effort that you should be - or is your content falling flat? If nobody’s talking, interactivity is a good way to shake things up and start some conversations.

How effective is your content at converting your visitors?

How often does a visitor become a lead? How often does a lead become a qualified lead? Are your content pieces inspiring people to call, demo, or sign up? If conversion rates are low, interactive content can be an intelligent way to not only give more data to sales, but get your leads taking action on their own.

How effective is your content at generating organic traffic?

Are you seeing much traffic from search? Are you earning links naturally and organically? If not, your content is probably poorly optimised - or just unremarkable. Interactive content can change that.

How would you characterise your content measurement?

Measurement is a big challenge for marketers - we will dedicate a section to it later on, with some tools to assess how well you’re doing. If your content measurement is poor, interactive can help you tap into some really useful data.

 

The eBook goes on to go into more detail on Assessing your need before it covers>>>

  • Getting Started with Interactive Content
  • Evaluating Effort vs. Value
  • Defining Your Process
  • Your Small Business Team & Allocating the Work
  • Measuring Your Impact

Finally, let’s look at some Questions to Assess Your Content

Is it useful, educational or entertaining?

Are your customers benefiting from the content you create? Would they miss it if it wasn’t there?

Do you analyse results for insights and areas of opportunity/improvement?

Are you deliberate and rigorous about measuring the results of your content - and are you using those insights to make existing and future content efforts better?

Do you link visitor behaviours or outcomes to sales?

Have you been able to take the knowledge of your customers gained from interactive content and turn it into tools your sales team can use to close more deals?

Do you A/B test this interactive content?

Are you comparing and contrasting variants and content types to see which are working best for you in different contexts? Are you looking at your results on a campaign/traffic basis?

Is it a good user experience?

Based on both qualitative feedback from customers and your data (bounce rates, time on site, etc.), is the experience intuitive and easy?

Is there a clear call to action?

Have you added a “so what?” or a prompt that helps customers move into the next stage of their journey? Is it obvious how a visitor can take action?

Is the interactive experience responsive?

Is your content designed to be consumed on any and every device, or are you alienating an important part of your audience?

Take Action

If you can answer “Yes” to most of these questions, you’re doing great! If not, you’ve got some work to do to improve your content and measurement – but don’t be discouraged!

 

By now, you’ve seen how straightforward and methodical interactive content can be, so ally you have to do is arm yourself with the resources you need to make it work for your business. All that’s left to do is to take action by downloading the full eBook from the link below>>>

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, marketing content, interactive website content, interactive landing page content, interactive content marketing

Internet marketing tips for small businesses: 5 Questions on Content Marketing

Posted by frank harris on 21/08/18 15:19

small business content marketing 0718The small business content marketing gold rush doesn’t seem to be slowing, and articles advising brands they need to jump on the bandwagon continue to plague the internet like timeshare salesmen in 1970s Spain. 

 

But does your brand really need content marketing? 

 

Maybe. Personally, I’m pro-content, but I also don’t believe enough thought goes into why and how brands are doing it. 

 

If you’re currently planning or re-evaluating your small business content marketing efforts, you could save yourself a lot of wasted time and effort by using these internet marketing tips for small businesses to answer these five questions on content marketing first.

1. Why are you doing it?

In marketing or any other fast-moving industry there is a tendency for fear to trump logic. The idea being that if your competitors are doing something then you ought to be too. 

 

Nobody wants to be like those poor brands who saw the value in social media five years too late. 

 

But content marketing requires an enormous amount of investment – time, effort, money, resource – to do well.

 

So rather than saying brands shouldn’t do it at all I’m simply suggesting it needs to be for the right reasons, i.e. not a vanity project but something your customers want or need. 

 

But this question is about more than that. What are you hoping to achieve as a business by investing in content marketing? 

 

We all know the standard answers: brand awareness, building credibility, generating leads, and so on. 

 

Those reasons are fine, but you need to work out what you want your specific business to achieve through content marketing because that will ultimately help you determine whether it’s right for your company and, if it is, what your content strategy should look like.

 

The vast majority (88%) of B2B businesses currently use content marketing, yet only 32% have a documented strategy.  

 

These statistics suggest to me that most brands have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to content marketing, yet they’re ploughing on regardless. 

2. Who are your customers?

I’m not talking about their age, location, occupation, etc. If you don’t know that then content is the least of your worries. 

 

Who are your personas? What makes them tick? Which publications do they subscribe to? What specific articles are they reading? What problems do they face on a day-to-day basis ad which brands are already helping them solve those problems?

 

There are a number of tools you can use to find this kind of information. Here are a few to get you started:  

  • Buzzsumo – analyse a competitor’s best-performing content and see trends around specific keywords for all websites in your industry.
  • Google Keyword Planner – find out what people in your industry are searching for.
  • Google Trends – see how different keywords have performed over time.

Or you could collect first-party data and build your personas to give you a starting point from which to work. 

 

Personas made up of first-party data are perhaps the most accurate and effective way to find out about your customers, but also the most time/budget-consuming. 

3. What do they want?

Small business content marketing, contrary to what some misinformed people will tell you, is not the same as advertising. 

 

With advertising you are directly prompting somebody to take a specific action, and you pay to put that message in front of a pre-existing audience. 

 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t include calls to action within you content, but the theory behind content marketing is that you’re giving your target audience something of value in return for brand awareness, consumer trust, and so on, ultimately culminating in increased sales. 

 

Take this blog as an example. My customers – as in the ones who actually sign up for subscriptions, download reports, buy training – are small local, mainly B2B businesses.

 

Because I am also a small business I can answer their problems through posts like this. 

 

The best part is that if you truly understand the challenges people face in your industry and produce posts that help them overcome those challenges, there’s a good chance those posts will become evergreen and show up in the SERPs for years to come.

 

The cost of not really understanding what your customers want from content? Well, they’ll simply ignore you. 

4. Which medium?

Almost half (45%) of small businesses say blogging is the most important part of their content strategy and 69% said they were planning to increase their use of blogging in 2018. 

 

I’ll wager a good percentage of those are doing it because it feels like the right thing to do rather than because they’ve done their homework and discovered that’s how their specific customers want to consume content. 

 

Every brand wants to be a publisher these days, and most seem to assume that automatically means editorial content. 

 

There are an incredible number of mediums out there now, from imagery to video as well as live-streaming.

Video for example, accounts for over 50% of all online mobile traffic now, 78% of people watch videos online every week and 55% every day. 

 

How-to guides, for example, are often best-served via video. Or at least with plenty of imagery to show visual examples. 

 

But what if your personas prefer reading long-form written guides and don't care for visuals? What if they like text but in short, snappy soundbites they can read on the move? 

 

The mix of mediums you use should depend entirely on their suitability to your messages and your personas’ preferences. 

5. How are you going to measure success?

As small business content marketing success is difficult to measure is both a blessing and a curse, i.e. it’s hard to either prove or disprove that it’s contributing to the company’s revenue. 

 

In Optimax’s case we can see how many people come into the blog from Google, social, wherever, click on a link to a report or something similar.

 

But beyond traffic there are other things you can measure, and this links back to the first question: why you’re doing it. 

 

If you want to grow your social media community, for example, then you might measure social follower growth and engagement over time.

 

If it grows significantly after beginning your content campaign, it’s fair to assume you’ve succeeded. 

But you cannot answer the question of how to measure success until you have answered the first question in this post.

To recap…

  • Why are you doing it?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What do they want?
  • Which medium?
  • How are you going to measure success?

When you’ve answered those five questions, in that order, you’ll know whether small business content marketing is right for your brand and, if it is, you’ll have a much better idea of how to go about creating a content strategy that will actually produce results. 

 

For more help on this, follow the link below:

 

content marketing

Tags: content marketing, b2b small business marketing, b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, small business goals, small business marketing strategy

8 B2B Content Marketing Myths…BUSTED

Posted by frank harris on 30/07/18 15:27

b2b content marketingIt is a universal truth that a B2B company in possession of a marketing budget needs B2B content marketing. Or is it?

 

Maybe not as much as you think. 10% of companies are still holding out on using content to market their products and services. They haven’t adopted one of the most necessary and effective marketing tactics ever. This is a problem, especially considering that most of us could do more to optimise what we’re already doing.

 

Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions about B2B content marketing…and the stats to prove it.

1.       Our type of audience won’t respond to content marketing!

False. 70% of consumers would rather get to know a brand through articles rather than through ads. People want to feel like you’re talking with them, and that you’re giving them information that’s useful (rather than just shouting at them to buy your stuff). Very likely your customer base is among them.

2.       Content marketing can’t work in our industry!

Some industries seem like they are better suited to content marketing than others – but only if you don’t understand all that content marketing can do.

 

While it’s easy to picture pinboards full of lifestyle photos, Instagram feeds with pretty meals aplenty, and blogs that tout the benefits of this or that beauty brand, consider that two of the best content marketing companies out there are in shipping (Maersk) and manufacturing (GE). 

3.       Content marketing costs too much!

Like any other form of marketing (including social media), you’re going to have to pay for it in order to make it work on a large scale.

 

Everyone is wise to us marketers which is fine – it’s just about putting your money in the right places. Content marketing clearly is that place. According to CMI, the most effective B2B marketers spend 39% of their marketing budgets on content.

4.      We don’t have the capabilities to create enough content!

64% of marketers do say that their biggest challenge is creating enough content, and yet 90% of them continue to do it. While content marketing is now front and centre in most marketers’ minds and budgets, many brands still have a lot to learn about how to do it efficiently. For starters, try recycling your content, hiring freelancers to help, or licensing content.  

5.      We don’t have an interesting story to tell!

If you don’t have an interesting story to tell, you wouldn’t be in business.

 

Whether you’re a company that has grown over the course of 100+ years to be a multi-million-pound enterprise or a two-person bakery, there is more than likely something interesting you can say.

 

Tell a story about the data or research you have on your own industry or customers. Tell stories of your employees and customers. Answer your customers’ most commonly asked questions. Every brand has a story to tell! 

6.      We can’t prove the ROI of our B2B content marketing!

What do you want to show?

 

Increased traffic? Well, 329 million people read blogs every month, and companies that blog get 5x more traffic than their peers.

 

Want leads? Active content marketing companies see 97% more digital leads than those who don’t. Set your goals and then build your strategy around them using content to move your customers and prospects down the funnel. 

7.      We can’t get leadership to buy in to content marketing!

Maybe you should mention that clicks from the shared content you are going to put out there is 5x more likely to result in a purchase, and that conversion rates are 105% higher for consumers who interact with ratings and reviews as a result of content marketing.

 

Your leadership is interested in their bottom line. So take the time to build a case based around your specific brand’s numbers.

8.       There are better ways to spend our marketing budget!

72% of your marketing peers believe that branded content is more valuable than advertising in a print magazine, and 69% believe it’s superior to direct mail and all that PR you’re doing. 

 

Clearly, content marketing is one of the best ways to diversify what you’re doing, if not the centrepiece. Did you know that 86% of people are shown to SKIP television ads these days. Traditional marketing is now less effective and certainly more difficult to measure its effect. 

 

So Ok you buy this so now see how to use it to get those new leads you crave……

 

b2b lead generation

Tags: content marketing, b2b content marketing, small business content marketing

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