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Why You Must Change Your Content Marketing Approach

Now that pretty much everyone on the planet gets the importance of content marketing it’s time to throw a wrench in the works. To remain effective with your content marketing efforts you must constantly evaluate, change and evolve!

I know you may not want to hear that, but content only provides value when it’s useful and the consumer always determines what useful looks like. As more and more content marketers experiment with content form, length, frequency, mode, delivery, and style the consumer pallet for content continues to mature and evolve and you must do so with it. content marketing

I’ve been participating in content marketing for about fifteen years now, long before we called it that, but I’ve always tried to stay in touch with the wants and needs of the reader.

My first efforts were articles placed in directories and shared in an ezine. (How’s that for some nostalgia) In 2003 I started blogging here and that’s driven a great deal of my growth for over a decade.

Over the years my email newsletter has become more of a place to filter, aggregate and share other people’s content in snack sized versions. I produced my first eBook in 2004 or so and now feature ten, including some I’ve licensed from other writers.

We now feature guest blog post two and sometimes three times a week and I contribute blog style articles to about a dozen publications on a regular basis. Social media has obviously opened new doors in terms of sharing and generating new forms of content.

I believe the future of content marketing, however, rests in our ability to evolve to a more personalized form of creation and delivery where the end reader participates in the curation and creation of the content they request from marketers.

This next step will require even more from content marketers if they are to continue to deliver value in an saturated field of more and more content. I reached out to some well-known content marketers and asked them to share how their content marketing thoughts had evolved over the last few years.

Their responses are both fascinating and informative.

Enjoy!

Online content strategy has changed over the last couple of years. The focus is still on providing value, but this has been honed even further. I see businesses being more strategic about the type of content they publish online, to build the communities they want. There’s more long term strategy in the content they produce. I see businesses blogging less often but with deeper content to create strong evergreen content relevant to their business. I see others sharing more thoughtful pieces of content to connect with the right people. A few years ago providing value might have been enough to get traction to impact your business, but it’s also very important to create the type of coherent online visibility you need to establish relationships. Combining the two is essential today. There’s just too much noise, too many people publishing the same thing. And of course you need a visual marketing strategy to go hand in hand with your written content if you want to really take advantage of social media reach today.

Cindy King
Director of Editorial
Social Media Examiner

Different people in your target audience (whomever that audience may be) have varying preferences for content format, platform, approach, etc. I always knew this to be true, but in the past two years I’ve really embraced the concept that there is no such thing as all-powerful content. No magic bullet. No reliable home runs. Consequently, I’m striving to create more and more content types native to more and more content platforms, so that there is something from me in the style and format that’s preferable to each person in my tribe. That’s why I’m doing more podcasting, videos, ebooks, slideshare and just about everything else. Instead of trying to do one thing extraordinarily well, I’m trying to do many things very good. It’s not easy, but content can’t fully succeed as the tip of the spear – you need the whole spear.

Jay Baer
Convince and Convert

In the last two years, I have changed my ideas about blogging. I used to do more video posts with tutorials but I’ve switched to posting very long text posts with a lot of screenshots as my primary blog post and then occasionally add in video posts. I’ve found that having a lot of screenshots is great for people who are scanners. Even though my video posts were usually around 3-5 minutes in length, not everyone wants to sit through them. My blog posts are typically between 1000-2000 words which is much longer than I used to write when I had written posts. I’m also focusing this year on posting 2-3 times per week on my blog rather than just 1 time per week. It doesn’t always happen but I do like when I can post more often because it allows me to post a little more variety of content. I can post one in-depth technical post about Facebook or social media, and then also post something slightly different about business motivation or more general marketing or even something more personal about my journey. I’ve found that people have really responded to my personal posts – they don’t always get the biggest amount of traffic but they definitely get the most comments and I think they are great for connecting with your readers.

Andrea Vahl

Over the last two years, I’ve attempted to add more contrast to my content. It has often been said that content is king. However, with so much content out there it can all start to blend together so I’ve been focusing on making contrast king. This way, my readers look forward to what’s coming next. There’s more anticipation and surprise and, as a result, more attention and conversation is produced.

Michael Port
Book Yourself Solid

1. Publishing on weekends – CMI now publishes posts on Saturday and Sunday, as we’ve noticed that the posts get a bit more attention with less competition on those days. 2. Audio/Podcasts – Last year, we launched our first podcast and have seen amazing results. In the anticipation of more opportunities to get access to iTunes (ala Apple CarPlay), we are in the process of launching a podcast network as part of our core content offerings. 3. More In-Person Events – A decade ago, we were under the impression that social media might lead to people less likely to travel to events. Actually, the opposite has happened. With more networking going on via the Internet, people are actually craving more in-person, face-to-face time. So over the past two years we’ve added an event in Asia Pacific, as well as five additional events in North America.

Joe Pulizzi
Content Marketing Institute

We’ve not really changed much at all with regard to our content during the course of the last couple of years. Since launching our corporate blog, we’ve always focused on just one thing: our audience. We try to write content for the blog that is informative, educational and which can help marketers (our audience) do what they do more efficiently, effectively and with fewer headaches. We try to stay on top of trends, tools, and must-know, must-consider things as marketers develop and execute their integrated marketing strategies. Much like you, we understand that relationships today are built with information, and by giving it away (information), people come to trust and rely on us as a go-to source for whatever it is they need. I use just one phrase as a barometer (and I use this when I’m on the road speaking as well): How do you know if you’re doing it right? Ask yourself just one questions: Is it good for people. If so, then you’re doing it right. I believe that applies to every facet of your content marketing and lead gen initiatives: website, landing page campaigns, blog, social, email, and is applicable both online and off.

Shelly Kramer
V3 Integrated Marketing

“At Social Media Examiner our approach to content has not fundamentally changed in the last five years with two exceptions. We still publish 1000+ word articles that are extensively edited by a team of at least 6 editors. However, the first major change is the use of images. We custom design Facebook open graph and Twitter card images for our high profile articles to help them appear better in social. This means we have a designer create a nice image with words that will compel more clicks and shares. Secondly, we have upped the frequency of our original content from six times a week to ten. This means publishing two articles per day on most days.”

Mike Stelzner
Social Media Examiner

The last two years have been a time when we’ve experimented a fair bit with our content on numerous fronts including: 1. we’ve seen our longer form content do very well so have experimented with what we internally refer to as ‘mega-posts’ that are more comprehensive guides to larger topics. These posts are generally 2000+ words (and have gone as high as over 5000 words). While this isn’t what we publish every day we’ve tried to throw them into the mix ever few weeks and have been rewarded with great sharing, traffic and comments. 2. I’ve experimented increasingly with repurposing posts in different mediums. This has included using content previously published on the blog as slideshares and republishing older posts on LinkedIn and Google+ (usually with updates). I’ve also done it around the other way by publishing content that was still in a ‘first draft’ format to LinkedIn to get reader reactions before publishing it to the blog. 3. On ProBlogger we’ve also slowed our frequency down slightly and have been experimenting with ‘themed weeks’ where we tackle a larger topic over a series of posts over 5-6 days. This means we’ve been able to dig deeper into topics and build momentum. These theme weeks have been very well received. 4. The other major change for me has been the way I’m sharing content. I’ve put a huge effort into Facebook (on Digital Photography School) where we’ve gone from auto-posing new posts to 5-6 manual updates every day. The results of this have been amazing for us – while others are seeing reduced results with Facebook we’ve seen significant improvements in our organic reach, engagement and traffic driven from Facebook.

Darren Rowse
ProBlogger

I’ve become even more convinced of the power of brevity.

Dan Pink
To Sell Is Human

I just made a change… this week! After 5+ years of writing two posts a week, I’m now publishing content every day. It wasn’t so much that I thought “more is better” — the old way was good for a while, too. But then it became stale and I felt like I wasn’t challenging myself. Just as important, I felt like I wasn’t serving my readers well. The new blog has a lot of more frequent, shorter content, as well as a new series of Reader Stories and Profiles to highlight some of the great people in the community. So far, I’m very happy with the change and I think the readers are too.

Chris Guillebeau
The Art of Non-Conformity

I tend to go to longer content in social media and shorter content in blogs and direct response. I’m not sure why other than I use stories in social media and those tend to go longer. I don’t know that I’m using content for just education about ‘how to’ — but education about who I am and how I serve, how I live and how I see the world.

Carrie Wilkerson
Barefoot Executive

I stopped sending newsletters monthly that were long and had multiple subjects to it. I found that they were not getting read. Now I send brief single subject emails weekly with very enticing titles to get open, click thrus and shares. This has resulted in much better open rates and easier content generation.

Barry Moltz
barrymoltz.com

More Long Form Content We are gravitating away from shorter more informal “blog” posts and are investing much more in creating lengthier, more authoritative articles. There’s a glut of blog content of the short style, and while it may be shared on social media widely, it also tends to have a short shelf life. Longer, more in-depth pieces on evergreen topics tend to deliver a better ROI on the investment (time or money) in an article. In other words, if you’re going to write an article, you might as well make the extra effort to make it rich in detail and fantastic! It’s not unusual for Small Business Trends to publish pieces I’ve personally written or we’ve commissioned from others, at 1,500 – 2,000 words each, several times per week. (We publish around 50 articles per week, since we are an online magazine.) We don’t have a steady diet of long pieces, but we do a greater percentage of them today than two years ago. Here is why we do more long-form content. We find that people AND search engines tend to favor well-written, in-depth pieces. For instance, Google recognizes Schema markup for in-depth articles. But even if you don’t know what Schema markup is or don’t want to bother with it, you may just find that longer content helps your site’s engagement because (a) people tend to spend more time on your site reading longer pieces stuffed with useful information; and (b) they are more likely to explore the rest of your site, not just consume a short snack and immediately go away. Also, a page with a lot of quality content on a specific topic tends to naturally rank well in search because of the sheer quantity of information for the search engine spiders. That means more people may find your article — and your site — via search. And perhaps hire you or buy from you. However, everybody has their own style, and every site is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all. I recommend that people experiment. See if long-form content works for you.

Anita Campbell
CEO and Publisher
Small Business Trends

My approach is much different now than in years past. When I first started out with my blog in 2006, I posted ten to twelve times per week, then a few years later, I brought on contributors in order to scale the blog, while I focused on writing for business media outlets. Now, I rarely publish on social networks and only write articles six times each year when I have new research I want to push out to the marketplace. Part of this is because I believe the marketplace is changing and part of this is because I burned out from posting so much. I have so much going on now that I would rather focus my content production when I need to get something out there rather than random articles.

Dan Schawbel
Author of Promote Yourself

The biggest change for me has been that there are more outlets to share my content on. Specifically I think of Instagram. In the past the only way to share what I was seeing out in the world was in a blog post. Flickr has always been around as someplace to upload photos, but that is where it ended. There was no real community. But, using Instagram I can take a photo, tag the location and then write as little or much as I want and share it out to all other channels. I love having that flexibility and functionality right in my pocket anywhere in the world. I no longer have to take out my laptop to create and share.

C.C. Chapman

“Social media has changed the way I approach the content I create. Twitter, Facebook, et al have reduced our attention spans and at the same time increased the amount of “noise” we have to wade through, in order to get to the “signal.” As a result, I am creating more visuals and making any written content more succinct. I’m using images to gain attention, graphics to convey my message, and even my new book, Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, is just 194 pages, spread out over 30+ concise chapters. In short, less truly is more.”

Andy Beal
CEO of Trackur

I’ve changed it all. I write once a week or so for chrisbrogan.com, instead of once or twice a day. Instead, I write my newsletter once a week, and write for private communities multiple times a day. I’m sharing a peek from outside, but only the faithful gets the payload.

Chris Brogan
Publisher of Owner Magazine

So, if you’ve made it to this point why not share thoughts on how your content marketing is evolving!

8 Ways to Amplify Your Content on Mobile

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dave Landry – Enjoy!

photo credit: shutterstock

Mobile is becoming a powerful, driving engine in the content world. The January 2014 Mobile Technology Fact Sheet shows that 63% of adult cell phone owners use their phones to go online, while 34% of cell phone Internet users go online using only their phone rather than any other device.

Mobile content is distinct because of the idiosyncratic and curious ways users interact with it. A Rumble study from 2013 found that while certain mobile app user behaviors were similar, most of those interacting with mobile content exhibited unique behavior.

Apps account for 86% of the average US consumer’s time on a mobile device, while time spent on the mobile web declined. How can marketers make their content stand out in such a crowded mobile marketplace?

Here are eight ways marketers can amplify content on mobile:

1. Be mobile-friendly.

You must optimize for the device as well as the way that users will interact with your site’s content. Mobile users NEED simple sites with easy navigation. Utilize the principles of responsive design to ensure that your content will display correctly for all users on all devices.

2. Build a community.

You can amplify your reputation by being helpful and relevant to your audience. When you build trust, you also build a community – and this community will be vital when it comes to amplifying content. The cultivation of long-standing relationships is key to having your content amplified. Even if you’re not posting undeniably quotable and shareable content all day every day, your base community of followers with whom you regularly engage with will still have your back and interact.

3. Develop a mobile app.

With so many users trading in time spent on the mobile web for time in apps, it’s easy to see why it’s beneficial to develop your own app to deliver content to users. The added bonus is that you can further target content for the segment of users that download and use your mobile app. Enable all possible sharing options to allow users to share content with their network.

4. Make mobile a part of your overall strategy.

Keep your business and marketing goals in mind as you consider your mobile campaigns. Don’t make the mistake of treating mobile as something separate from your marketing strategy, as it should be integrated into the rest of your initiatives. Do not silo mobile because it will likely affect other aspects of your organization and marketing. Understanding where mobile falls into your overall strategy allows you to drive sales activities.

5. Consider real-time video.

In May 2014, Grabyo, a company specializing in real-time video, released a report stating that 72% of the traffic on their platform came from mobile. The company found that live TV clips generate exceptional levels of engagement on Facebook and Twitter. Content creators can sponsor these mobile clips to reach new members of their target audience. Content creators interested in amplifying content on mobile should consider paid sponsorship and advertising opportunities. With targeted advertising you will be able to measure exact analytics.

6. Don’t just think social – think branded.

Mobile users are almost twice as likely to share content on social media sites. A study from the video technology company Unruly showed that branded Vines are four times more likely to be shared than branded videos. Brands like PepsiCo, AT&T, and General Electric are already taking advantage of consumers’ love for bite-size content and use it to boost their overall content marketing strategies.

7. Add SMS to the mix.

comScore’s January 2014 report showed that 159.8 million people in the United States owned smartphones, making up only 66.8% of the mobile market penetration. The majority of devices on today’s market are SMS enabled. SMS messaging is affordable and provides a sizable ROI for marketers, as 90% of SMS text messages are read in the first 4-6 minutes of delivery.

8. Always analyze.

Perform a thorough analysis to help you understand what campaigns are working and which need to be adjusted. Take your newfound data and apply it to your next round of marketing. Your collected data and improved campaigns will be critical to amplifying future content.

Successful content amplification is rooted in providing your audience with engaging, valuable content. With creative power and vision, marketers can take advantage of the wealth of opportunities that mobile opens up for them.

Dave Landry Jr.Dave Landry Jr. is a journalist and business owner who enjoy creating graphic and written content on his downtime. He hope you enjoy this article.

Just Work the Program

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Justin Belmont – Enjoy!
Work The Program

Photo Credit: Barber Chair

Many barbershops go beyond a simple haircut to treat customers to a grooming extravaganza. A haircut may come with a beer, great conversation, hairstyling tips, full shampoo and conditioning with top-notch men’s hair products, and a massage chair. A repeat customer will likely expect a repeat performance. Yet, if the barber falls short on the friendly conversation, if he forgets to offer a beer, or even if the massage chair is out of order, the customer may not return.

While any of these mistakes is forgivable, the customer has come to expect a certain type of haircut. As the owner of a new luxury barbershop, you would need to set the standard of service and stick to it.

Marketing is no different. Patience may be difficult in the midst of a marketing program, but if you lay out a plan and follow it consistently, you build customer confidence in your brand.

Work The Program

Photo Credit: Maplay out a plan and follow it consistently, you build customer confidence in your brand.

For example, if your social media campaign begins with three tweets per day and you begin to build an audience on this strategy, that audience is going to expect to find tweets three times a day. Along the same lines, if you only tweet once or twice a week, you may build an audience that prefers a sparse style. If you start to ramp up your daily tweets, this audience may un-follow you.

In either case, decide on a consistent strategy that is appropriate for your brand before execution. If your social media ship has already set sail without a consist heading, reevaluate the program. Start anew, but be faithful to the new program. In some ways, correcting course on a social media program may be easier than on other marketing platforms. Format is fairly standardized, making frequency the primary consideration. As long as you supply relevant content, there are relatively few corrections to be made. Traditional marketing campaigns, such as pitching media or running online advertising, may require more work to recover.

Work The Program

Photo Credit: Marketing

Whether the business is a barber shop or a new real estate investment firm, the rules are the same for any small venture. Consistency is key. The logo on social media pages should be the same as the logo on emails signatures and on the bandit signs posted around town. If you want to build consumer confidence that your business is legitimate, maintain branding across platforms to establish recognition. For example, the Nike “swoosh” branding is so recognizable that Nike no longer needs to supplement it with the brand name. The logo speaks for itself.

Inconsistencies are a red flag to audiences that something is amiss. Sloppy marketing may indicate that the product cuts corners as well. Audiences may think your company can’t handle the work, either because distractions have let the marketing program fall to the wayside or because the company cannot afford proper business promotion. No matter the cause, inconsistent marketing will elicit shaky confidence, which in turn will make customers disappear.

 

Justin BelmontJustin Belmont is the founder and editor-in-chief of Prose Media (prosemedia.com), a writing service that creates high-quality content for brands–from blog posts and newsletters to web copy and white papers. Prose (@prose) employs top professional journalists and copywriters with expertise in a variety of industries.

With a background in corporate communications, Belmont has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and was formerly an editor at Google.

How Your Unique Worldview Affects the Content You Create

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Justin P Lambert – Enjoy!

photo credit: ZeroOne on Flickr

photo credit: ZeroOne on Flickr

If you’re making an effort to create and distribute content these days, you know that standing out from the crowd is difficult.  There’s so much “me too” out there, and precious little that demands to be seen.

But success requires differentiation.  If you don’t stand out somehow, you may as well not try.

Fortunately, everyone has a tool at their disposal that can help them to stand out no matter how saturated their niche, no matter how talented their competition.  Even you have this tool sitting right there waiting to be used.

Your unique worldview – the way you see the world and your own place in it.

Your worldview involves aspects of your personality as well as your emotional connection to your environment and the people who inhabit it.

It’s formed – at least in part – by a combination of things like your upbringing and your background, but unlike so many factors that are out of your control, your worldview is one thing you have a lot of conscious control over.

As noted in one of the Core Tenets of The Worldview Exploration Project created by the Institute for Noetic Sciences,

“Worldviews not only impact how we understand and make sense of the world around us but also influence how we express ourselves in the world. The constellation of personal values, beliefs, assumptions, attitudes, and ideas that make up our worldview have an affect on our goals and desires, relationships and behaviors. The more aware we become of our worldview and the worldviews of others, the more effectively we can navigate through life.”

For example, based on your background and upbringing, you may tend to be an optimist, or a pessimist. You may lean toward being altruistic and helpful, or selfish. You may be able to readily commit yourself to a cause or a project, or you may be easily bored and restless.

Your level of self-esteem, your personal inhibitions, and even your secret prejudices, all play a role in shaping your worldview, and all can be traced back to some aspect of your background or upbringing.

But in all these cases, unlike cultural or economic forces that changed who you were as your brain was developing, these aspects of your personality are yours to play with.

Despite your natural inclination, you can choose to be more positive, more generous, more goal-oriented. Regardless of what your parents did or didn’t do, you can choose to value yourself, to make smart choices, and to favor equality.

Your worldview is yours to create, not simply a product of your past that you have no control over.

And that makes it a powerful tool indeed!

How does this affect your content marketing?

There are a million different variations on this theme: what you’ve come from has combined to color your perspective on the world in a way that’s unique to you. And that perspective, in turn, colors everything you think, do, say… or create.

As in, content.

So, the point here is not just to try to change who you are or how you view the world. It’s not about trying to put that integral part of you into the background while you’re creating content so you can write or record something that you think is “more appropriate” or “politically correct”.

On the contrary!

This is about being aware of how your worldview is going to affect what you create, and using that knowledge to your advantage! Because your unique worldview is the basis of one of the most important ingredients you can add to a successful marketing strategy: your unique voice.

And more than many other tools at your disposal, your unique voice is crucial to creating engaging content that truly speaks to your target audience.

Profile-7Justin P Lambert is a content marketing specialist, owner of Words That Begin With You, author of The Content Marketing Hurricane (available for free July 7-11, 2014), and Chief Meteorologist at the CMH Stormwatchers Community.

 

The Biggest Stereotype About Marketing Automation

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Alexandra Skey – Enjoy! 

It’s not our fault that most of us associate marketing automation with complex campaigns run by advanced marketers in bigger companies.

That’s how it took off in the last decade.

But that stereotype is threatening the future of small businesses…

How It All Began

We know content marketing works.

We also know that more information is being created every 48 hours than the entire amount we made before 2003.

So, every 2 days it becomes harder to create content to engage people, especially those who are interested in what you do and are likely to become your customers.

This is a serious problem.

Roughly 5-7 years ago, a group of companies saw what was happening and did something about it.

They were HubSpot, Pardot, and Marketo, among others.

These companies knew it would be almost impossible to succeed at content marketing without streamlining the process. So they started automating tasks their corporate clients needed, and combining them in one place.

That was the birth of marketing automation platforms.

Why They’re “Too Complex”

Since the key with any great campaign is delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time, one of the things the industry became focused on was automating emails. Specially, creating complex trigger scenarios so that you could deliver those messages on an individual basis, ideally converting more customers.

Now we send over 294 billion emails a day.

Unfortunately, that complexity plagues the stereotype of marketing automation. It’s what most people think of when you mention the concept.

Besides the price.

And while it’s certainly useful for businesses with significant traffic, the cost and time involved is prohibitive for many smaller companies.

The Irony

The irony of marketing automation is that it’s viewed as complex and time consuming – yet the goal is to simplify tasks and save you time reaching your most profitable customers.

It’s simply a way of automating mundane tasks, so you can be more effective and reserve those spurts of energy for creative projects.

Due to the rapid adoption of content marketing, and the associated challenges of creating successful inbound campaigns, it will become more crucial than ever for all businesses to start adapting these time saving techniques.

In fact, some may be doing it without even realizing it:

  • When you use an SEO tool like Yoast to optimize your blog, that’s marketing automation – because instead of learning the rules, Yoast shows you what to do.
  • When you use a plugin to automatically share posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social channels, that’s marketing automation.
  • When you schedule your tweets using a service like Hootsuite, Buffer or TweetDeck…
  • When you monitor mentions of your business on the social web using Meshfire or Google…
  • Even when you use canned email responses to answer common questions…

It’s not about saving 1 hour by doing something different.

It’s about streamlining the process, so you save 3 minutes here and 8 minutes there at every step along the way.

With marketing automation, everything counts.

What’s next?

The demand from businesses with smaller budgets and time requirements is growing.

While the first wave of automation platforms was built for enterprise teams and budgets, we’re now seeing companies like ScribeContent, Orbtr, Spokal, Nurture and others designing platforms specifically for smaller teams, making it easier for anyone to create successful content campaigns.

Raab Associates recently showed that over 75% of companies adopting automation platforms in the USA are now small and micro businesses. And B2B Online shows that over 50% have fully integrated automation into their marketing.

 

photo credit: B2B Online

photo credit: B2B Online

 

Here’s the catch.

As it becomes easier for small businesses to leverage tools to make their content better, it will become easier to create better content. This means the quality of content that businesses need to produce to attract potential customers (and nurture them over time) will increase.

This is fantastic news for customers.

And it’s good for small businesses too, because those who can implement time saving techniques into their marketing practices now will have an even better chance of getting ahead of their competition and succeed at doing what they love.

Henry Ford was right.

Automation leads to great things.

AlexandraSkeyAlexandra Skey is the co-founder of Spokal, an award winning marketing automation platform for small businesses, and author of Zero Friction, which explores the future of online retail and will be released in fall 2014.

She lives on the west coast of Canada and is obsessed with customer experiences, horses and kiteboarding. You can connect with her on Twitter.

 

Marketing Automation: What is it and Why Should I Care?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Scott Thomas– Enjoy! 

 

Marketing AutomationMarketers, meet your secret weapon: marketing automation. Only recently, has this underutilized method of demand generation been brought to the forefront of public attention. Marketing automation has slowly become a go-to buzzword in the marketing world but what does it really mean and more importantly, how can it help your business?

For starters, marketing automation refers to technology that allows marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple online channels (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. In its most ideal state, marketing automation provides you with a platform to efficiently deliver engaging content that turns prospects into customers and then follow up with personalized messaging that keeps those customers coming back.

What Marketing Automation Means to Marketers

Marketing automation means two huge things for marketers: conversion and attribution. First we’ll look at its success converting leads. According to a study by The Aberdeen Group, companies that use marketing automation see 53% higher conversion rates than non-users, and an annualized revenue growth rate 3.1% higher than non-users of marketing automation platforms.

Marketing AutomationSounds good, right? It gets better. Marketing automation solves the marketers age-old problem of attributing marketing spend to earned revenue. Because these platforms typically feature CRM integration, lead activity within marketing efforts can be directly tracked from campaign inception to lead conversion. In fact, companies that use marketing automation are 3 times more likely than companies without automation to track and attribute their content-marketing efforts to multiple touchpoints.*

The ‘Automation’ in Marketing Automation

Despite marketing automation’s capacity to generate increased revenue and attribute that revenue to your marketing team’s efforts, many people seem to overlook one key fact: in order for marketing automation to be successful, you have to have something to automate. Think of marketing automation as the hyper-efficient delivery vehicle between the programs you already have in place and your audience. It won’t create the content for you but with it, you can build the most effective route by which to push your content. The following are examples of programs that can be integrated into your marketing automation strategy:

  • Content Marketing: Today’s consumers don’t respond to conventional “Mad Men” style marketing and advertising tactics; instead, they respond to engaging, informative content that speaks to them and not at them. By distributing content that engages your audience, you’re not only satiating their appetite for information, but you’re also working towards the end result of creating a connection with these potential buyers and ideally, driving them closer to a sale.
  • Email Marketing: Does your organization already employ use of email marketing? Although it might not seem like much, even something as simple as a monthly newsletter can be engineered to drive optimal engagement. With marketing automation you can create any number of follow up actions based on how a lead interacts with an original email. This brings us to…
  • Lead Nurturing: This process of educating and staying fresh on the minds of prospects who aren’t yet ready to buy allows you to turn otherwise cold leads into added revenue. Lead nurturing can take many forms, from personalized, Happy Birthday emails to reengagement campaigns.

The possibilities for customizing your marketing automation pipeline are limited only by your organization’s capacity to do so and while it may take some heavy legwork to initially set up, don’t be intimidated. Marketing automation can save you time and money while converting more leads by simply utilizing the programs you already have in place.

*(The Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups, 2013 Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness Study, Nov 2013)

Scott ThomasScott Thomas is the founder and president of the Intelechy Group, an Austin-based revenue growth agency. Scott has spent more than two decades driving highly profitable revenue for industry leaders such as AT&T, Dell, AMD and SAP. Intelechy Group specializes in Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy & Development, Brand & Market Positioning, Demand Generation and an array of marketing services that propel organizations to become revenue and profit leaders in their marketplaces.

 

 

Involve Your Prospect In Their Story to Ignite Inbound Selling

Today is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Mike Hanski – Enjoy! 

wiifm

photo credit: flickr

In certain ways, inbound selling is a lot like inbound marketing.  At the very least, they have one very important concept in common – content is king.

The success of any inbound technique – letting potential leads come to you rather than go hunting for them – is quality content.  And the driving force behind quality content is the idea of letting the reader understand “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM).

Understanding WIIFM

Any business professional will tell you the most important concept of business writing is answering the question, “what’s in it for me?”

Prospects don’t care about how many products you sold last year, the size of your company, the awards you’ve received or anything else that is wholly unrelated to them.  All they care about is what they can get from the deal.

Fortunately, this idea plays right into the hands of inbound sales specialists.  Check out the ways you can use WIIFM writing to enhance the success of your inbound selling strategy.

Using WIIFM Writing to Create Problems

Last year, John wrote a post outlining the anatomy of inbound selling.  He mentioned the following:

“Inbound sales professionals build and sell problems that prospects don’t even know exist.”

If done properly, WIIFM writing creates problems and initiates questions.  You want your content to answer some of the questions the reader might have, but not all of them.  This draws attention to specific areas of need.

For example, you might write…

We can help with your search engine optimization, social media marketing, and other marketing techniques.

The reader would wonder…”what ‘other marketing techniques?’  Can you do my offline/print marketing too?

To get the answer to that question, the prospect will seek you out.  In the meantime, he might realize he does, in fact, need online marketing techniques in addition to the offline marketing he intended to implement.  You’ve created a problem he didn’t know he had.

WIIFM is All about Providing Education

In another post about the correlation between marketing and selling, John mentioned the following:

“Today’s salesperson must be ready to teach, publish and demonstrate expertise.  Every sales person should answer questions via blog posts, engage in social media conversations, and conduct online and offline seminars.”

Again, this idea plays right into the hands of WIIFM business writing.  The best education tactics are centered on how the reader will benefit.

Do you need some ideas for educational blog posts with WIIFM principles?  Try writing about…

  • Industry secrets.  Is there some insider information you can provide?  Are there questions people are dying to know the answer to?  Give away the recipe to the secret sauce and prospects will love you forever.
  • Controversial topics.  Is there something taboo about your industry?  Are there things no one wants to talk about?  Expose those issues.  Educate prospects about topics they didn’t even know they needed to know.
  • Other areas of expertise.  Demonstrations and tutorials are golden.  Teach something and prospects will be hooked.  Consider making a video of your efforts.

Social media is another arena that offers prime learning opportunities.  When you think about providing educational information with your social media account, remember…WIIFM.

That means, less self-promotion and more client-centered content.  A general rule of thumb for any social media marketing effort is 80/20 – 80% of your content should be links and shares of other people’s content and only 20% should be about you and your brand.  If you are going for a true WIIFM approach with the goal of inbound selling, you might want to change the ratio to something even more drastic – maybe 90/10.

Just focus on providing genuinely helpful content.  Link to other leaders in your industry.  Share significant news pieces.  Be helpful.

Writing Stories about Them

Another concept of inbound selling is the idea of switching from lead nurturing to storybuilding.

“Salespeople must be able to relate the organization’s core stories to the world of their customer and they must help the customer build a new story that stars them in the leading role.”

This strategy is the one most likely to cause a WIIFM stumbling block.  While creating the organization’s stories, it can be easy to slip from them-oriented tales to us-oriented success stories.  When you write, remember to make sure your stories are problem creating (them) rather than problem solving (us).

Other WIIFM Web Content

The driving concept behind inbound selling is letting the prospect come to you.  Therefore, you need to make that task as easy as possible.  Again, think about them and what they need to reach you.

  • Make your “Contact Us” page easy to find.  Clearly link to it from the homepage – and each internal page.
  • Provide as much information as possible on your “Contact Us” page – physical address, email addresses, phone number, fax number, GPS coordinates…everything.  You can’t possibly go overboard here.
  • When applicable, give specific contact information.  Do you have different departments to handle different issues?  List all those out with the appropriate contact person and information.  Try to avoid the ambiguous “[email protected]” email address.
  • List basic information – like your phone number and email address – on each page of your website.  Don’t make visitors go to your “Contact Us” page if they don’t want to.
  • Share customer testimonials.  Let other people be your sales rep.  They might connect with the reader in a way you can’t.

When it comes to inbound selling, your website is one of your most powerful tools.  Be sure to keep the content focused on the reader.  Tell them exactly what’s in it for them.  Write with your prospect’s interest at heart and you can’t lose.

 

Mike HanskiArticle by Mike Hanski – content strategist and a blog writer at Bid4papers.com. When not writing about education technology and business, he enjoys American literature and traveling in far countries.  Learn more about Mike at Google+.

5 Landing Page Mistakes That Erode Trust

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Kristen Gramigna  – Enjoy!

The 5 Content Mistakes That Make You Seem UntrustworthyWhen someone clicks an online ad or banner, he or she usually comes to a customized landing page — a webpage specially designed to move him or her to action. But the way things are said on that landing page — i.e., the content that is used — can make all the difference between whether a visitor becomes a customer or whether he or she clicks away. Have you thought about some of the most common content mistakes that can harm credibility and, by extension, results?

Below are a few easy mistakes copywriters can fall into, without even realizing it, when crafting content for landing pages:

  1. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords: Sure, keywords are important for online content, but they are never more important than creating content that makes sense. When your writing is so hyper-stuffed with keywords that your readers get lost, you’re making a classic content mistake. Instead, to make your content powerful, stop stuffing keywords haphazardly and focus on writing content that is legitimately useful and valuable. Keep in mind that a well-written landing page should include keywords in a way that isn’t obvious. Ask yourself: Will it be obvious to my readers what keywords I’m pushing here? If so, you need to rework the page.
  2. Not Delivering: It’s popular nowadays to write headlines to be clickable and easy to notice — but even if your content gets a lot of hits, those hits mean nothing if readers are frustrated once they arrive. Just as important as getting visitors to your landing page is keeping them there. That’s why your content must deliver on what your headline promises. Ask yourself: Is my landing page appropriate for my headline? Are visitors getting what I’m promising when they click over to the site? If not, rework your content.
  3. Writing to the Wrong Level of Consumer: A good tip to keep in mind with all copywriting is that good content is targeted content. If you’re writing a basic cake recipe for beginner home cooks, you’re on the right track. If you’re writing a basic cake recipe for master chefs with culinary degrees, you’re not. Likewise, a lot of companies make the mistake of writing to the wrong level of consumer, whether that means beginners (when they should be writing to intermediate) or intermediate (when they should be writing to beginners). Ask yourself: Who is my audience? Who am I targeting? Then, make sure your content lines up with those answers.
  4. Me, Me, Me: Your landing pages is not about you; it’s about your prospective customer. Rather than waxing eloquent about your company and its history and its products, tell the reader what you offer him or her. Ask yourself: Why should my readers care about this? Then find a way to focus on what’s in it for them.
  5. Treating Content Like Ad Space: Advertising might drive readers to your landing page, but it won’t keep them there. Your landing page is not a place to be flashy and salesy; it’s a place to show the reader why they want what you offer. Ask yourself: Does my landing page sound like an advertisement? If so, rewrite it.

Your Thoughts

After going through the above list, what do you think? Are your landing pages helpful and relevant, or are they keyword-stuffed and dull? Do you speak to the reader’s desires, or are you just talking about yourself? Think about your landing pages strategically, and you’ll see better conversion rates over time.

 

Kristen GramignaKristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm, and also serves on its Board of Directors. She has more than 15 years of experience in in direct sales, sales management, and marketing.