Tag Archives: content marketing

How to Win the Online Marketing Battle

30 Jan

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The quest to convert target customers into clients is never-ending. The battle to connect with such clients has moved to the web across the past couple decades. It is no longer enough to advertise on radio, TV, billboards, magazines, and/or newspapers. If you own, manage or advertise for a business, it is imperative you win the online marketing battle. Here’s how to do it:

Tap Into the Power of Inbound Marketing

Today’s competition for business requires exposure those who spend time on the web as well as those who do not use computers or smartphones. Just about every company needs a healthy mix of traditional outbound marketing with inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is all about connecting with clients who already express an interest in your product or service. These are the prospects who are most inclined to transition into loyal customers. Consider adding something like a membership form for your website. This way, new visitors to the site will be able to obtain more information about your offerings. Whether it is a membership for discounts, industry information, product/service updates or anything else to keep target customers in the loop. Regular correspondence with such clients keeps your company at the forefront of their mind. This consistent contact through online channels will prove essential to keeping target clients thoroughly engaged with your business.

If an online membership or club does not jive with your business and what you offer, consider implementing an email marketing campaign in which those who have expressed an interest in your offerings are provided with an electronic newsletter. An email campaign such as a newsletter will establish your business that is worthy of respect as well as prospective clients’ business. Though an email marketing campaign, online membership or other clubs might not generate an immediate impact on the bottom line, it will catalyze business as time progresses. Be patient, make a genuine commitment to inbound marketing and you will enjoy an uptick in business in the ensuing months and years.

Social Media Matters

Business owners and managers who take the time to study their competitors will likely find these groups have a strong presence on social media. If your organization has not yet established a presence on the popular social media sites, it is time to do so. Appoint a social media manager to manage your company’s accounts on these platforms. This professional will ensure prospective clients are engaged on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites. Use these platforms to provide clients with updates regarding products and services, tips from industry insiders, sales updates, and other important information.

Establishing a presence on social media does not mean you have to employ a full-time social media marketing manager who makes a lofty salary with full benefits. Rather, you can start out with a part-time employee and gradually increase the workload as time progresses. In fact, you might find it prudent to lean on a tech-savvy employee to handle social media responsibilities during lulls in work. Above all, your company’s social media presence should be engaging. Provide interesting information that gives prospective clients insight or facts and they will begin to view your company as a trustworthy authority figure worthy of their business.

Content is Still King

It is often said content is king when it comes to the web. This statement was true a decade ago and it is still accurate in 2018. Companies that generate a steady stream of intriguing content that helps customers solve problems or better understand the product or service offering will inevitably enjoy a spike in business. However, any old content will not engage prospective clients. The content must be laden with keywords and key phrases relevant to your industry and possibly even your locale, depending on the type of services and products you provide. The use of such keywords will help your content rank high on search engine results pages. Highly-ranked website pages will lure in target customers, provide them with captivating content and ultimately lead to a considerable bump in conversions.

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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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Six Must-Haves for an Effective Blog Post

17 Aug

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If you are suspicious that blogs are little more than personal diaries published on the web, it is time to reconsider your stance. Blogs are a severely underrated content marketing method that serves as an important bridge between businesses and clients. Yet posting any old information to your blog will not suffice. The content and frequency of blog posts matters a great deal. Here is what you should focus on when crafting your company’s blog posts.

Post With Regularity

If you post a blog entry once per month, it will be difficult to gain momentum and make a meaningful impact on your target audience. However, posting at a high frequency is also a mistake. The last thing you want is to flood your blog with entries that the bombards visitors with information. Try to post content to your company blog at least once per week. Develop a posting routine and your most loyal readers will look forward to blog entries with great anticipation.

Provide Unique Insight

The key to getting blog content to go viral is quality. Take a look at the blogs of your competitors and make sure you’re not writing content very similar to them. If you are not a good writer or are lacking inspiration, outsource the writing of blog content to professional content creators. Post a steady stream of interesting entries to your blog and readers will share those posts with friends, family, colleagues and others. Your company’s exposure will expand with each share.

Make It Personal

If your blog sounds like it was written by a random employee who is faceless and unremarkable, people won’t feel a personal connection to the content. Blog posts written from the first person perspective develop a rapport with readers. This is your opportunity to share insights, opinions, thoughts and unique information about your industry. Use your blog as an opportunity to show that your business has a human side. This approach will help readers identify with the author’s voice and be inclined to return for additional visits even if they aren’t a current customer.

A Dialogue Instead of a Monologue

Interact with those who post comments to blog entries. This does not mean you have to respond to every single comment. Pick out the best comments, provide a short but meaningful reply and it will make a massive difference. Such author responses will inspire people to read your posts in-depth, reply to the content with regularity and check out additional blog posts to find out if you have offered more insight through comments to replies.

Tone Matters

A dry, formal and overly-structured blog post won’t generate much interest. When in doubt, err on the side of being conversational and informal. The blog content should be helpful, relevant and intellectually stimulating. So don’t use complex words or write about in-depth subject matter most readers can’t grasp. Provide content that has true mass appeal. Use simple language, be direct and aim to connect with as many people as possible. This way, your audience won’t feel bored or intimidated.

Shift Your Perspective

If you have writer’s block, take some time to shift your point of view. Put yourself in the position of a prospective client. Think about what your audience would like to read. Then write it. Provide your audience with such high-quality content and they will return to your blog for more information in the coming weeks, months and years.

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Content Marketing No Longer About Increasing Awareness?

20 Jul

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Content marketing is still king. The discussion among professionals is not whether to incorporate content marketing, but what it should be used for. The modern world of marketing is always moving. The purpose of today’s content marketing is different from the content marketing of the past.

What is Modern Content Marketing, Really?

As it is defined today by many industry experts, content marketing is a strategic marketing vehicle that is used to deploy value through content. This content is meant to appeal to and retain a specific audience and drive that group down the sales funnel. The main focus of content marketing is to take the focus off of marketing and place attention on the value based relationship between customer and company.

Although this is well and good, the problem is that content marketing starts to become long winded very quickly. Podcasts, online events and even short videos all stretch out the time that a customer has to pay attention to a single stimulus over a direct ad. If you can retain the attention of that customer for the proper length of time, your marketing efforts will be very successful – much more successful than with direct ads.

Content Marketing and the Modern Consumer

However, the attention span of the average customer is short and getting shorter. (A Microsoft study showed that humans are now actually less able to focus than goldfish – this is no longer a joke.) Long winded content marketing may garner more attention after your customer has committed him or herself to your brand a bit more. This commitment does not usually occur at the beginning of the sales funnel.

The classic buying cycle still consists of the same steps: 1. becoming aware of a product, 2. researching a product, 3. considering that product, and 4. the purchase. It may be completely possible that content marketing is more efficient during the consideration process than during the awareness phase.

Moving Content Marketing Into its Most Effective State

Continuous engagement is just a shorthand way of saying that a marketing campaign keeps a customer interested throughout the sales funnel. The classic stages of the buying cycle tend to overlap – they do not occur in distinct sections. For instance, during the “research phase,” a prospect must be constantly reminded of why a product is worth researching. This reaches over into awareness “Now what was the name of that new lawn care company again?” and consideration “Oh yeah! That’s the company with that funny meme about the rabbit on Facebook. Let’s see what they are doing.”

If the lawn care company uses the funny rabbit Facebook meme once and expects all customers to remember them a week later when the grass is actually in need of a trim, that company will likely lose business to the market leader.

SEO and Content Marketing

Google is just as forgetful of old content marketing as people are. In order to maintain a decent search position, a company must consistently provide new content marketing to be crawled. This makes content marketing just as important to maintain during “stage 3″ as it is during “stage 1.”

The Content Marketing Bottom Line

As new technologies continue to introduce themselves into the marketing conversation, the uses of content marketing will continue to adapt. With new ways of increasing awareness on the table, content marketing will continue to move down the sales funnel and serve as a vehicle for other efforts.

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New Content Marketing Ideas for the Rest of 2017

18 Jul

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B2B marketing is becoming more about hard data than ever before. Forget the vanity metrics – the content marketing that you invoke should be cost and time efficient, focused on the data, and directed by modern standards. Here are some of the best marketing ideas for your business to take you through 2017.

Help Customers Instead of Selling Them

You are already dealing with a longer sales cycle when it comes to B2B. Lead nurturing is essential to success, so don’t even try to close any deals on initial interaction. This is the time to showcase your self as an expert in your field. Eventually, your target customers will convince themselves they need you.

In the first stages of your sales funnel, focus on giving value to the most important buyer types in your profiles. Make sure that you are putting yourself forward as a transparent individual and your business as an authoritative solutions provider. This will make your customers more likely to convert when it is actually time to put all cards on the table.

Pick Up on Long Tail Keyword Variants

There is no need to jostle for the top spot on Google with your industry’s leader. They likely have a marketing budget that dwarfs yours, and they will be able to simply buy you out of any position for generic keywords. Use your industry niche to focus your keyword ranking efforts in a more specific direction.

The advantages of longtail keywords are numerous and immense. However, you must be sure that you are looking for the appropriate kind of results. You will generate less overall search volume, but the volume that you do generate will be more qualified.

Focus on Interactive Content

Making sure that your blogs rank, even with longtail keywords can be difficult if you are not using interactive content. This may cost a bit more, and you may not be able to spread the word to as many prospects, but that is exactly the point. You will have to focus your buyer’s profiles and fixate your efforts on specific customers, which will give you better results in the end.

Interactive content also ensures more personalized content to more qualified leads. You will be able to promote your content directly to those accounts rather than trying to come up with marketing slogans that fit everyone. Believe it or not, the former is easier than the latter.

Focus Your CTAs on Information Grabs

One of the most important aspects of any B2B marketing campaign is the notion of customers opting in. At some point, you must convince your customers that it’s their decision to choose you rather than the other way around. One of the best ways to do this is to gradually take your customers step-by-step through gradually more in-depth information grabs.

Although all you really need is an email to start, from there, you can continue to provide value through newsletters, viral videos and other exclusive content. Properly deployed, these tactics will have your prospects looking forward to your emails. They may eventually forget how they got in touch with you – all they know is that right now, you are an essential part of their world. This is where sales come from.

The tips above will certainly give your marketing campaign a boost if employed in tandem. Keep your ear to the street for new marketing techniques that will show themselves as the B2B market evolves.

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