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Personalizing Content to Empower Your Sales Team

7 Nov

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Marketing and sales must work as a team in order for your revenues to keep pace with your competition. Just as your sales team has the responsibility of finishing the job on the front lines, your marketing team has the responsibility of making the initial lead acquisition and journey through the sales funnel as easy as possible. If your sales team goes into battle with personalized content, they will be greatly empowered to bring home the bacon.

The modern customer demands personal attention. However, they do not want to be pushed into a sale. The goal of personalizing content is to create a relationship between the salesperson and the customer that will eventually translate into action. Here are just a few of the ways that your marketing team can help your sales team succeed by personalizing content.

Buyer Personas

Your salespeople are dealing with individuals, but those individuals definitely fit a certain psychology. Make sure that your salespeople understand the buyer persona of each customer. Forward them the email threads that go to different personas. Make them understand the differences in marketing to those different personas as well. If your front-line salesmen understand how you have introduced the company to certain people, they will be able to follow up with a much more personalized message.

CRM

Is there any reason that the marketing team knows that the big client’s CFO has recently retired and the sales team doesn’t? Is the sales team privy to the latest information about a prospect’s ability to make a purchase? It is very important to let the sales team in on all the real-time information that your customer relationship management CRM program gets from your prospects. This is yet another building block that your salesmen can use to create a personalized pitch when doing business.

Synergy

The best companies are now opening the doors of their marketing staff meetings to salesmen. No longer is a position on the marketing team seen as a promotion over sales – the two positions are treated equally in terms of determining marketing campaigns, advertisements, and social media rollouts. When the sales team has a say in the way that ads are rolled out, they will be more likely to understand the message that marketing is putting in front of prospects.

Regardless of your industry, your sales and marketing team must work together to create the personalized content that will empower your sales team to succeed. Otherwise, you are basically throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. Follow the tips above to ensure a close connection between your sales and marketing teams and the personalized content that will work well in the field.

 

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Clearing Up Content Confusion

28 Sep

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hillmanGuest Contributor: Matt Hillman, Creative Director

September 2017 was the fifth anniversary of my first visit to the annual Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland. Back then, content was a term that was showing up more and more frequently at all levels of marketing, but there was still confusion around some of its most fundamental elements—and as I work with clients, I still witness a certain degree of blank looks and furrowed brows when talking about what content is and what it can do for a brand.

So to mark the five-year anniversary of my own immersion into content marketing’s biggest event, here’s a quick review of three content fundamentals to help building materials marketers better understand content—or at least feel less lost in content discussions.

Content

There are many, many definitions available to explain what content is, and while I have my favorites—not to mention my own definition—let’s start with what content isn’t. Content isn’t about selling; it isn’t sales collateral, spec sheets, features & benefits, or anything else that drives the audience to buy. Instead, content is about informing and sharing what you know. Content drives the audience to understand what you know as a subject-matter expert—and that, in turn, makes them more comfortable buying from you.

So whether it’s a blog post, ebook, video, Slideshare post, infographic, podcast, or any other vehicle for sharing thought leadership, that’s what we mean by content. And content can be something you create yourself or that you curate from other respected sources, demonstrating that you’re plugged in to industry information and trends.

Content Strategy

Like a strong brand, strong content doesn’t happen by accident. It begins with deliberation and is sustained with discipline—and that means planning. Content Strategy is simply the plan you put in place to determine what your content will say, who will create it, and how frequently it will be shared.

Having a written strategy—and this is key, it must be captured and shared with everyone who will be contributing—is step one. Look at what you are qualified to speak to, what your audience is interested in consuming, and what else is out there on those topics; what comes out of that is your strategy. At the heart of a content strategy is a curator who makes sure what’s being created, referenced, and shared aligns with the plan—if it doesn’t, throw it out. Focus and consistency are critical if your content is going to get recognized.

Content Marketing

Once you have content, now you need people to find it. Sure, you have it available on your website or on YouTube or in that monthly newsletter, but that’s passive content. What you need is to connect your valuable, information-rich content with the people who want to consume it—that means marketing.

Getting content to your existing audience is easy enough through emails, newsletters, and blog posts. Getting it in front of new audiences takes more effort. Organic web searches will help, so having SEO keywords and phrases woven into your content is important so that Google and Bing will offer it in search results. But to really charge your content game, look at social posts—LinkedIn is an especially good place to find to your B2B audience—pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, as well as services that specialize in distributing content across multiple platforms.

The Key Takeaway

Most importantly, remember that despite data being a critical element to charting your content, content is an art, not a science. Chances are you won’t get it perfectly right on your first try—or even a few after that. So do your research, make a plan, and then be ready to bob & weave as you learn what works and what flops with your particular audience.

Content is about a conversation and building trust, and trust doesn’t happen overnight. Being the consistent, reliable, relevant provider of valuable thought leadership for the building materials industry is the immediate goal, so think long-term and plan ahead, and in time, you’ll find more and more leads are coming from people who tell you, “I saw your video on YouTube” or “I’ve been reading your blog for a few months.” That’s the ultimate power of content.

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Inbound and Outbound Marketing: A Lesson in Marketing Reinforcement and Recall Value

11 May

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Too many business owners assume that inbound and outbound marketing are mutually exclusive and have little, if any, impact on one another. The truth is that both forms of marketing reinforce the other. Inbound marketing is best thought of as a “pull” style of marketing that makes use of premium content, referrals and an array of other means to bring in customers through online channels. Outbound marketing is more of a mass marketing effort that attempts to reach a wide audience. It pushes the service or product directly to the audience rather than relying on them to find it on their own. 

Inbound and Outbound Marketing: The Importance of Recall Value

Business owners, managers, and marketing managers are finding that inbound marketing greatly enhances outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a somewhat covert means of advertising that keeps the business’s services and products on the minds of potential customers. Furthermore, the company itself, including its brand, remains at the forefront of the customers’ minds. The importance of this ubiquity cannot be overstated. This is the “recall value” that companies and marketers strongly desire.

Consider a target customer who is exposed to a company’s product, service, and/or brand by way of inbound marketing channels over and over again. Such a customer is able to rapidly recall his familiarity with the product and its features after being exposed to the selling points through outbound marketing campaigns. This means inbound and outbound marketing efforts reinforce one another in an effective manner.

Another Layer

Inbound marketing also enhances outbound marketing by providing an additional layer of depth to the overarching marketing picture. As an example, a traditional outbound advertisement on TV that motivates a prospective customer to visit the advertiser’s Twitter or Facebook page to learn more about the product or service gives the customer another way to engage with the company, its brand, and it’s product/service. This is an important additional layer to the product’s marketing. Inbound marketing really does provide a prospective customer with the opportunity to interact with the business, its offerings and even fellow consumers. This in-depth experience is much more important than functioning as passive observers who are subjected to conventional outbound marketing efforts.

Covert and Overt Marketing

Inbound marketing engages the target customer with the company’s offerings as well as its brand. It really makes customers feel as though they found the company’s products/services on their own. This experience provides customers with a sense of empowerment that has truly organic roots. Whether it is a web search, social media, or a referral that brings the consumer to the product, the point is the customer did it on their own so they value the connection with the product that much more. This phenomenon builds a unique style of brand loyalty as the consumer finds the product or service on their own rather than receiving it in a traditional top-down outbound advertisement.

A consumer who finds a product or service through inbound marketing and later sees the company name, brand or a specific offering in an outbound marketing effort will likely be that more receptive to the message. They already identify with the company and its offering, as their own actions connected him to the seller’s inbound marketing efforts. It is a spontaneous sequence of events, making it that much more legitimate from the customer’s perspective. This is the magic of reinforcing inbound marketing with outbound marketing. It is the perfect way to inspire brand loyalty across posterity. 

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How to Diversify Your Content Strategy

20 Apr

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Content marketing of one or two varieties will only take you so far. The key to making a meaningful impact on your target audience is diverse content. An engaging blog with a steady stream of insightful posts lays the foundation. However, one blog post after another won’t prove sufficient in the quest to turn prospects into loyal clients. Every business needs to build on blog material with balanced content to gain traction with their target audience.

  1. Audiences are Becoming Increasingly Selective

Contemporary audiences are quite sophisticated. While some are willing to read 1,000 word blog posts, many prefer videos, images, social media and other forms of online content. It is imperative that your business achieves the right mix of content to appeal to a wide variety of prospective clients. Key in on creating helpful and engaging content for each buyer persona at every point of the “buying funnel” and your business will establish itself as legitimate in the eyes of as many prospective clients as possible.

  1. Don’t Produce Marketing Material Simply for Content’s Sake

If your content creation team generates new content on a regular basis, it won’t make many inroads with prospects unless it is highly unique. Google penalizes websites that contain generic and weak content. So don’t develop any old content for the sake of having a regularly updated blog, social media website or other online presence. Key in on which style of online content your target audience desires. Content style and the platform it is hosted on will help you attain your goals of enhanced search engine optimization, the generation of new sales leads, boosting brand awareness, increasing conversions etc.

  1. Ways to Diversity Online Content

The number of online platforms available for content marketing continues to increase. Though blogs and social media are the basis for most content marketing strategies, all sorts of other content is proving critically important. Consider expanding your online marketing footprint with an eBook, white paper, educational webinar, video, Instagram presence and beyond. Even a live video stream of your product or service in action will help connect with prospective clients.

  1. A Wide Range of Voices

Part of diversifying online content is making each piece unique. If an audience reads, hears or sees the same style of content over and over again, they will eventually tune out.  Reach out to professional freelance and other content marketing professionals to create idiosyncratic content. These diverse viewpoints, voices and ideas will help expand your brand to a wide array of prospective clients. A well-rounded team of writers, creative thinkers and content generators will also serve to produce a dynamic message that doesn’t sound repetitive or stale.

  1. Take Risks

The challenge of content marketing partly lies in your abaility to gain exposure to new audiences. Switch things up by contributing a guest post to an industry partner or another business that plays a role in your industry. Make sure the piece contains a “backlink” to your website/blog so web traffic can be redirected for your benefit. Reciprocate by allowing other businesses to post a guest blog article to your website/blog with its own backlink. Record a podcast, create some slideshares, infographics or research reports. Even something unconventional like a tutorial video or a video featuring company leaders/employees will serve as refreshing content that further engages your target audience in an intriguing way.

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Plan to Measure What Matters

13 Apr

 

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The “measure what matters” phrase has been around for a long time, but as marketers we can put it into practice more today than in any decade or generation in the past. I have recently had the opportunity to help a prospective client navigate their options when being aggressively pursued to renew a yellow pages agreement. It is a classic example of an outdated marketing tactic, with pressure and confusion being pushed on a small business owner. It’s important to take full advantage of the many effective tactics that can be measured for results in our current era of digital marketing.

You likely have a website and are exposed to at least the basic analytics. Beyond that, you probably have the ability to dive deeper if you want and have access to advice or interpretation of the analytics. However, data doesn’t mean anything without specific goals and analysis – it is just a collection of numbers. If you want to improve the value of your digital marketing and understand how it is impacting sales, there are four specific metrics to track.

 

1. Traffic

Website traffic is critical to seeing measurable success. The problem is that many companies consider it the end goal. Traffic should be the precursor to the goal of the conversion, which depending on the type of business, conversion can mean a lead submission form, a tracked phone call, a white paper download, an email signup, or other identified desired action. If you desire X number of conversions to generate revenue, then you need Y number of website visitors to get there. The conversion rate of your website dictates the number of visitors you need. However, this isn’t a crapshoot. You have control over variables that drive traffic to your site through the various traffic sources.

If you globally have a 2.5% conversation rate, then you can quickly get to the number of website visitors you need to reach your goals or you can invest time and effort into improving your conversion rate (bonus if you can do both). You can see through basic web analytics what the number of visitors is by source and work to further optimize or advertise to push more visitors from each source category.

 2. Activity

Activity is what you’re doing to generate impressions, traffic, and conversions. This is the broadest category to track, but is important. To be able to calculate ROI, you need to measure the cost and resources invested in the activities that drive the other measureable aspects of your digital marketing. This is the time you put into SEO, PPC, social, content marketing, content creation, and other efforts that you invest in through time or through an outsourced vendor. Without measuring this cost, then you can’t fully understand what your true cost of goods sold is or what your cost per lead is.

3. Impressions

Getting less tangible, but still important to gain traffic to drive to conversions is impressions. This can broadly be classified as the number of people who see an ad, see an organic search result featuring your listing, receive an email from you, or otherwise are exposed to your brand. Impressions aren’t guaranteed to be seen by your audience, but is a measure of reach and intended exposure. By pushing to increase your reach and impression-share, you can see what campaign tactics and channels are most likely to drive traffic an ultimately, conversions. Not all traffic channels are created equal and you can quickly see what is driving quality traffic versus just wasting your time and budget dollars.

 4. Goal Conversions

This is the total number of specific conversion actions taken by users driven to your website. Like stated previously, depending on the type of business, this could be a lead submission form, a tracked phone call, a whitepaper download, an email signup, an ecommerce sale, or other identified desired action. These are tracked through several sources and can be tied to “goals” in Google Analytics that will allow for reporting by source. You can determine whether organic search, direct, referral, social, or traffic from specific campaigns drove the desired action. For ecommerce sites, you can also pass through sales revenue data so you can see in nearly real-time what you’re making from each traffic channel.

Beyond Google Analytics, you can get granular data from pay-per-click advertising campaigns through Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and other paid campaign sources to know what is working and what isn’t. If you don’t know this data, know that it’s “knowable” and work with trusted partners to get it set up for your site, advertising account, analytics platform, etc.

Before launching any campaign–and even during well-established campaigns–we recommend taking a step back quarterly to review metrics in these primary categories and shore up any areas where they are not fully known or detailed. If you can’t measure it, then it can’t matter.

 

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