Content Marketing: A Crucial Component of the Customer Experience

A stat from a recent article on content marketing caught our eye.

“Consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content on average prior to making a purchase.”

pexels-photo-296878

In the B2B world, buying journeys tend to run longer anyway, but consumers (B2B and B2C) are doing their homework these days. Studies show that 70-80% of people research a company online before visiting the small business or making a purchase with them.

Whether it’s leftover angst from the Great Recession or the availability of information today, it’s precisely why content marketing is so important.

Here’s a real-life example:

Recently, I stayed over in Park City, Utah, for a day after working a client’s conference in nearby Salt Lake City. On a whim, I decided to get a massage after spending the previous four days pounding convention center floors. I pulled up local spas on my phone, checking their hours, availability and services. Not surprisingly, I contacted the spas who had this information available online — not ones I had to call just to see if they were open. And the spas who had additional content available — more in-depth descriptions of their services, photos of their facility, online real-time availability, etc. — moved to the top of my list.

What does this have to do with content marketing? The information I sought was quality content created by (or for) these spas: descriptive services pages with quality photos, blog articles on the benefits of one type of massage over another, recommendations on how to maximize your spa-going experience. This is what consumers are looking for today before making a purchase or even contacting your company.

While I didn’t end up getting a massage, I did manage to take a break from technology and enjoy the magic of Park City. But not before I utilized even more content — a visitor’s guide from my condo, Park City Transit’s website — to plan my stress-free day.

We’re all consumers at some point, so don’t forget about your experiences as a customer when you put on your marketing hat. These experiences are valuable and can make us better marketing professionals, if we choose to use them.

Reader Feedback

How have you used content marketing to learn more about a business or make a purchase?

How do you use your experiences as a customer to become a better marketing professional?

What types of content do you prefer when researching a company or purchase?

A professional customer and marketing professional,
Jaime

 

Let’s chat (about content marketing, customer experiences or otherwise):
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Get the Party Started: 5 Ways to Revamp Your Blogging Techniques

CCC is excited to welcome guest contributor, Katrina Manning! You can learn more about Katrina at the end of her article. 

When it comes to marketing your business, one of your most critical tools is blogging. For starters, it gives you an effective way to communicate with your customers. Secondly, it can help boost the SEO of your website. Yet, is your blog still having trouble getting noticed? There isn’t any question that blogs have a lot of competition. In order to get people to read your blog, you need to make it easy to find, produce high-quality and relevant content and have a design aesthetic that appeals to the contemporary viewer.

Revamp your blogging techniques to invite more readers to the party!

Revamp your blogging techniques to invite more readers to the party!

Here are five tips for revamping your blogging techniques:

Keep your content original and interesting

It should be common sense to understand that people only want to read articles that are original and interesting. Yet, you may be surprised to see that there are thousands of blogs with copied and illogical articles that cause most viewers to shake their heads and never return to those spammy sites again. When it comes to revamping your blogging techniques, you might want to take inventory of your current article cache. Do they provide relevant and informative content? Are they original? If not, it may be time to do some housekeeping. You don’t want search engines to pass over your blog. Use keyword searches to look for fresh ideas, or offer a different angle on a popular topic. Just make sure you are not writing the same types of articles found on almost every other blog within your niche.

 

Put mobile first

In 2015, Google announced that more searches were performed on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries. In fact, U.S. web designers always advise building sites that are mobile-first, then creating desktop versions. Smartphone screens are getting larger, and tablets continue to increase in popularity. Many users enjoy the card-style layouts, made trendy by Pinterest. This might be something to consider with regard to revamping the overall look of your blog.

 

Think of video

When it comes to external communication strategies, brands are increasingly focusing on video and — the buzzword for 2016 — virtual reality. Although video is helping to strengthen messages many brands are trying to convey, content isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Think of the stories that videos tell, different formats and even videos with no sound. If you can successfully integrate video with content and perhaps start dabbling in virtual reality, you’ll have something superior on your hands.

 

Work on your social media profiles

One of the most cost-efficient methods of advertising is through social media. With that being said, you should make sure you cross-link your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn with your blog. In addition, you need a voice of your brand to promote your blog posts throughout your social media platforms. Do this on a consistent basis to get the word out and drive more traffic.

 

Connect with readers

One thing that readers will value is a personal connection. Other than your content, there isn’t anything to keep your readers coming back to your blog. On the other hand, if they have an outlet to share their thoughts and get the sense that a response will be made, they might be more inclined to revisit. Compare this to your personal Facebook page. When you post about something you like, do you not go back to see if any of your friends liked or commented on your post? When one of your readers has the opportunity to comment on your articles, they may come back to see if you’ve responded or if anyone else has responded.

On top of that, you can create an email list of willing subscribers by placing an optional subscription link on your blog. You can make it non-optional, but people don’t like to feel they were forced into doing things. If you make it optional, you have a higher likelihood that the people who signed up will be more receptive to your messages. When you email your subscribers with your updates, you can use your real voice to give it a more personal touch. You can be a subject matter expert and still appeal to the human trait of desiring companionship. People don’t want to feel like a number, they want to feel important.

As markets and personal preferences change, so should your blog. Performing a revamp every several years isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for business.

Katrina Manning is a web writer and editor with over six years of experience penning content for a wide variety of sites and publications, such as Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, IBM, The Purple Cow Agency blog, Sweet Lemon Magazine, Udemy, Business 2 Community, Personal Finance Hub, The Iowa City Owl, Newsiosity and Seven12 Magazine. 

Are Company Blogs (As We Know Them) Nearing Their End?

At the end of last year, a local icon in our community closed its doors. While it’s the end of an era, it’s not the end of West Point Market. The legendary gourmet specialty food store is reinventing itself to thrive against increased competition by reopening a smaller flagship store and eventually opening satellite stores in suburbs surrounding Akron.

Blogging by Carla Arena via CC BY-NC 2.0

Are centralized company blogs moving to a multitude of satellite locations? (Image courtesy of Carla Arena: http://bit.ly/2h3GzIx)

What’s that have to do with blogging you ask?

The future of blogging is starting to take shape, and we’re questioning whether it will revolve around centralized blogs at all.

First, LinkedIn opened its publishing platform to everyone. Earlier this year, Facebook expanded its Instant Articles program to all publishers. If Twitter ever decides to abolish its 140-character limit, its own publishing platform will be quick to follow. Of course, we also have SlideShare, Periscope, SnapChat and so on.

What do all of the previously mentioned platforms have in common? You publish content directly on them instead of sharing articles or links from other locations, like your company blog.

Of course, the company blog has become popular due to several factors, including:

  • drawing regular traffic to your company’s website
  • improving your site’s SEO with fresh, organic content
  • hosting your thoughts on owned real estate, not rented
  • positioning members of your company as thought leaders in your industry

We’re not pushing for the end of the company blog; it just seems inevitable at some point. Or will companies keep blogs on their websites but reduce the number of posts or switch to more of a micro-blogging format (i.e. short videos, pictures, fewer words)?

As we move further into an era of satellite publishing, how will you adapt? Hire more content writers? Kill the company blog and divvy up platforms between contributors? Ask your employees to shoulder more of the load?

The future of blogging is closer than it appears. Will centralized company blogs still exist?

Looking forward to your thoughts,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about blogging, your writing needs or otherwise):
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The Dark Side of Social: How to Respond When Things Go Wrong

At CCC, we’re big believers in the power of social media and the value that it can provide to your brand. However, you need to understand the darker side of social so you’re prepared for anything that could go wrong or reflect your brand in a negative light.

Velvet Heart Promoted Tweet

Velvet Heart was trying to promote its new arrivals for spring, not trend with a mass shooting.

Recently I was on Twitter and noticed the name of a nearby town trending (regionally). I clicked on the link to see why it was trending and discovered a mass shooting had occurred at a retirement village. (My thoughts and prayers are with this community during this difficult time.)

While scrolling through the feed, I saw a promoted tweet advertising a retailer’s new spring arrivals. I was included in the audience targeted in this campaign, so the tweet showed up in my feed — no matter what I was viewing at the time. The advertiser had no say where its targeted audience members saw its tweet. (For more on Promoted Tweets, click here.)

Last week, I saw a news story about a guy who blew his lower leg off while shooting a lawn mower packed with explosives. As usual, an ad played prior to the video on the news site where I watched it. AT&T didn’t ask for its ad to play prior to a graphic video, but that’s when I saw the ad and its brand.

“A brand can’t control the message in the way it once did but it can still have influence.” –Jeff Barrett, CEO, Status Creative

These examples both point to why some brands and companies are so afraid of getting social — loss of control. On social media, it’s impossible to control every aspect of the message about your brand.

I’m not trying to discourage you from joining the conversation — just the opposite, in fact. If you’re a part of the conversation, you can help guide its direction and speak directly to your online community.

What if I hadn’t known that advertisers don’t control where Promoted Tweets show up? A user may have tweeted the advertiser expressing her dissatisfaction that the company would try to profit off a tragedy. That’s why you need to be aware of all the possibilities before jumping into something like Promoted Tweets. You can respond to say that you only chose to promote a tweet to a targeted audience, and did not use a trending hashtag or phrase inappropriately. If you’re not active on a social platform where a discussion breaks out about your brand, you can’t help set the record straight.

“While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.”

Don’t worry about controlling every aspect of the conversation about your brand. Be prepared and know what you’re doing before jumping into social media in general, or a specific area, such as Facebook advertising or Promoted Tweets. Have a plan, but be prepared to adjust it as necessary.

Social media may not be easy for brands, but it’s worth it. Getting social can start a conversation that takes your business to new heights!

Are you struggling with your social media strategy, goals or execution? Let’s talk. We’d love to help you join the conversation and shine the spotlight on your brand.

Getting social (day or night),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Share the Luck of the Irish with Your Clients & Employees

Whatever your background, we’re all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick's Day revelers enjoy the celebration

St. Patrick’s Day by Courtney Collison via CC BY-SA 2.0 http://bit.ly/1QVmT1J

Here’s how to share the spirit of this holiday with your business family:

  • Throw an Irish potluck — Ask employees to bring their favorite Irish-themed foods for a festive event in the office. If you’re throwing a last-minute shindig, order in from your favorite Irish restaurant. Hand out fun promotional items, such as four leaf clover-printed sunglasses, green hats or four leaf clover beads. Remind everyone to wear green and punctuate the event with some fun Irish music (or March Madness)!
  • Enjoy March Madness during a St. Patrick’s Day Happy Hour — Invite your employees and/or clients to Happy Hour at your favorite local pub. Cheer on your favorite men’s college basketball teams (or the ones you picked on your bracket) with an ice cold Guinness in hand. If you’re feeling lucky, pick up the first round of drinks along with some hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy the camaraderie as you survive the roller coaster ride of the NCAA Tournament!
  • Hold a Luck of the Irish Contest — Invite your clients to participate in a themed contest celebrating this popular holiday. Anyone who places an order receives a mystery discount or gift. You can hold the contest digitally with a well-designed landing page, email marketing and social media promotion. Take the contest offline with direct mail, scratch off tickets and in-person visits. Don’t forget to create a hashtag and encourage clients to post their winning tickets on social!
  • Bring the Irish Spirit into Your Office — Encourage employees to wear green along with festive accessories. Reward the most festive, creative and other categories of your choice with gift certificates to your local pub, lunch delivered in the office or a day (or afternoon) off. Throughout the day, highlight your festivities on social media so fans can get to know the faces behind the scenes and see your fun culture.

St. Patrick’s Day 2016: How the World Will Celebrate From Dublin to Tokyo

However you decide to celebrate, have fun! May the Luck of the Irish be with you and your business always.

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about green beer, holiday marketing or otherwise):
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Content Marketing: Transforming Business Since 1895

The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing by the Content Marketing Institute

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a big-screen showing of The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing. What a great story!

The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing by the Content Marketing Institute

Image courtesy of the Content Marketing Institute

If you’re not familiar, the Content Marketing Institute made a documentary telling the story of content marketing — past, present and future.

Yes, content marketing has a past, and I’m not referring to 2015. In fact, John Deere has been succeeding at the art of content marketing since 1895, when it introduced The Furrow. Some of the earliest printed ads were prime examples of content marketing before the ad industry switched directions.

So where are we today? Content marketing is all the rage, but like any other form of marketing, it requires a strategy and commitment. While you may receive extensive engagement on one piece of content, content marketing is a long-term strategy, not an overnight success story.

However, if you stick with it and do it right, you’ll become a valuable resource to your clients, partners and online communities.

Looking for inspiration? The documentary contains real-world case studies of companies in various industries succeeding in the content marketing arena today. We also welcome you to check out some of our past posts on the subject.

Is your company interested in developing relationships and creating value with content marketing? Let’s talk about a strategy that’s right for you.

What brand excels at content marketing in your eyes?

All about the content,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about content marketing, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Social Media Isn’t Easy: 5 Reasons Why It’s Worth It

Last week, we reminded everyone that social media isn’t free and recommended five ways to maximize your time and money. This week, we’re addressing another misperception.

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

 

Social media isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. We’re not talking about the act of tweeting itself or posting pictures of your kids on Facebook or Instagramming every meal you eat.

We’re talking about getting social for business, engaging your brand’s communities and developing long-term emotional connections. In other words, creating fans for life.

Related Reading: How Long Does It Take for Social Media Marketing to Start Paying Off?

Here’s 5 reasons why social media is worth it for your business:

  • Find New (Targeted) Customers: In a sea of 2.03 billion social media users*, someone is interested in your products or services. Find the right audience by utilizing hashtags, groups and platforms they’re using.
  • Delight Current Customers: 65% of customers leave over a single poor customer service experience.* Delight your current customers by providing amazing service via social media and beyond.
  • Participate in the Conversation: Customers will talk about you online and share their experiences with others. While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.
  • Deliver Content Straight to Your Fans: 61% of people are more likely to buy from a company that delivers content.* Deliver value to your fans by creating content they love, and you’ll have a better chance of converting them into customers.
  • Turn Fans into Fanatics: Consider this: 53% of people who follow brands on social media are more loyal.* After converting fans into customers, make them fanatics for your brand by delighting them every step of the way. They’ll become your best advertising!

As we said before, social media isn’t easy, but it’s worth it if you do it right. Just remember that it’s a long-term addition to your marketing mix, not an overnight savior for your sales.

If you need help with your social media efforts, from strategy to management, we’d love to chat. There’s nothing that we love more than brands getting social — and getting it right.

Get Social on Social Media

Why is social media worth it for your brand or business?

How much time do you spend on social in a typical week?

Do you have a documented strategy?

What’s your brand’s favorite social media experience so far?

*Statistics via The Inbound Marketing Checklist: 21 Strategies for Growth

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, strategy or otherwise):
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Social Media Isn’t Free: 5 Ways To Maximize Your Time & Money

Social media isn’t free. There, we said it. It’s been said before, but no one seems to believe it. Even if you’re not advertising or boosting posts, someone (or multiple someones) is spending time strategizing, creating content, posting and engaging with community members. Or at least we hope they are.

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

Social Media Isn’t Free

Time is money, something that entrepreneurs and small business owners say often but don’t usually take to heart. We try to race full speed ahead doing everything ourselves, trying to fit 30 hours of activity into a 24-hour day. That’s a poor long-term strategy that leads to burnout and failure.

How can you maximize your time (i.e. money) on social media?

  • Think before you post. In other words, spend time putting together a strategy before you rush into creating a presence on a social platform. Think about the resources that you have (time, money, staffing), and factor that into your decision. Research your buyer personas to see which platforms prospective buyers are on, and talk to your current clients about which platforms they connect with brands on. Focus on platforms that fit your business niche the best.
  • Take advantage of holidays, special events and trends. We’re NOT telling you to use unrelated hashtags or run a special on an inappropriate holiday. However, you can reach new audiences by tapping into the marketing power of Small Business Saturday or jumping on the popularity of a trending hashtag. Just make sure that it’s applicable to what you do like the example below.

  • Get mileage out of your content. Repurpose content to fit other platforms, and continue to keep popular content in the rotation. It’s OK (and a good idea) to share a hot blog post multiple times, depending on the platform. For example, Twitter is a higher volume platform than Facebook, so it makes sense to share the same content at different times in different ways (i.e. a quote from the post vs. a picture tweet). Track your results, so you can see what works best with your audience.
  • Curate, don’t create. While original content targeted to your audience reigns supreme, it’s difficult to produce enough quality content to satisfy your audience all the time. That’s where content curation comes in. Find resources who are creating quality content that delivers value to your communities, and share it with them. There are a number of tools available to help with content curation, including Pocket, Buffer and Flipboard.

Related Reading: 11 Content Curation Tools Every Marketer Needs

  • Spend your advertising dollars wisely. If you decide to advertise, put together a strategy first and review your options. What are you trying to achieve? For example, it may make more sense to boost a specific post showcasing what you do than advertising your Facebook Page in general. A Twitter Card may work better for you than a Promoted Tweet, depending on your objectives.

Social media isn’t free, but it is worth doing if you do it right. Figuring out your objectives first will help you determine how to proceed in the social landscape. If you have questions, let us know. From strategy to management, we’d love to help your brand get social — and see the results.

Get Social on Social Media

What social platform have you seen the best results on?

What’s your favorite content curation or social media management tool?

What holiday, event or trending hashtag have you tapped into with success?

Feel free to leave your social handles and/or URLs in the comments below, so we can connect.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, content marketing or otherwise):
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4 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016

I know, I know; 2015 isn’t even over yet, and we’re already talking about 2016. Digital marketing trends move fast, so you always have to look at what’s next to stay ahead of the game and start adapting your strategy early. If you can pinpoint the major marketing trends of the next twelve months, you can begin budgeting for the change, and subtly change direction now. Take a look at these four new trends, and think about how you can move towards them.

United Nations of smartphone operating systems by Jon Fingas via CC BY-ND 2.0

1) Mobile and location-based marketing

Mobile growth had an important year in 2015. At the start of the year, mobile browsing finally overtook desktop and laptop browsing. More people are using mobile devices to get online than any other technology, a trend that is expected to continue to grow in 2016. We’ll also start to see wearable technology find its feet and establish itself, which means coming up with unique location-based marketing strategies. How can your company harness your customer’s location to its benefit? Finally, it’s time to start thinking seriously about developing an app.

2) Long-term relationship building

Until now, digital marketing has focused on short-term success. It’s been all about hitting certain numbers of Facebook fans or Twitter followers, and making quick, easy sales online. After all, the Internet provides a forum for real-time conversations with customers and prospects 24/7. The most successful marketers are slowly realizing that a more traditional approach might actually be more cost effective. By nurturing customers for longer, they can double or even triple their sales over time. Start thinking about a way to retain customers, and make the second, third, and fourth sale.

3) SEO is more important than ever

It’s no secret that Google is always updating its algorithm. Every year, the search giant introduces a new change, and every year, it gets smarter. That means your SEO strategy needs to change and adapt alongside it. We asked the experts at Pay On Performance about what SEO will look like in 2016, and here’s what they told us. First, we’ll need to be more careful and targeted with our keywords. Don’t add redundant or unrelated keywords to pages and posts, and focus on long-tail keywords for more traffic. We’ll also need more organic and natural back links to bring more visitors to our sites and blogs. Finally, we’ll need to focus even more on producing quality content and new metrics like ‘time-on-site’ and engagement. That’s what Google is looking for in 2016.

4) Social media is expanding

If 2015 proves anything, it’s that social media isn’t going anywhere. Many predicted that Facebook’s bubble would eventually burst, but it shows no signs of slowing down (although Twitter has hit a stumbling block). In 2016, Facebook will integrate itself even further into our lives, but it doesn’t end there. Instagram and Pinterest have posted enormous growth figures in 2015. Statistics also show they have much higher rates of engagement and drive more sales. These two platforms will be critical for you next year, so start building a strategy now.

Taking note of these trends now will help you get a head start on next year! Where do you think digital marketing is heading? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Are you thinking about adding new platforms into your social media mix? Does your digital marketing strategy need an overhaul? Let’s talk, so we can put together a plan for you.

p.s. Wednesday, October 21st is ‘Back to the Future’ Day. What technology from the 80s blockbuster do you wish we had today?

Riding my hoverboard to 2016,
Jaime

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