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):
Facebook_2013_30x30Twitter_2013_30x30LinkedIn_2013_30x30Pinterest_2013_30x30https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

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?

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):
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo

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):
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo

2015: Storytelling, Platelets & Facebook, Oh My!

2015: what a long, strange road it’s been.

Our visitors and views climbed for the 4th straight year!

Thank you for visiting the CCC blog this year! We’re excited to see an increase in visitors and views for the 4th straight year, each year of our existence.

We publish a wide range of content and that showed in the diversity of our most viewed posts in 2015.

Our top 5 posts as voted by your eyeballs:

  1. The Psychology of Color: Following Guides or Going With Your Gut?
  2. To Give or Not To Give…
  3. 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Facebook
  4. Kindness in the Workplace: A Guide for Your Organization
  5. Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Bonus: Things I Carry: Pen and Paper (missed the top 5 by 1 view)

As wide-ranging as our content is, it all leads back to our four main categories: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection (including entrepreneurship/small business).

Our fourth most viewed post this year was written by one of our contributors, Carol Preibis from Ahh the Simple Life. If you would like to contribute an article (or series), check out our guest blogger invite.

We’ve had contributors from all over the world, just like our audience. Here are the top 5 countries that read our blog:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Brazil
  4. India
  5. Canada

How did our visitors find us? Search engines refer most of our traffic, although social media plays a role too. Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook all sent readers to our front door.

We look at analytics to help us craft future content, but we’d love to hear from you! Are there any subjects that you’d love to see an article on in 2016? How about follow-ups to any articles you’ve read? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or contact us to make your voice heard.

Chime in on 2015 (and beyond)!

What was your favorite article or series on the CCC blog?
What country do you join us from?
How did you first find the CCC blog?
What topic(s) would you like to see covered in 2016?
How will you ring in the New Year?

As we count down toward the ball drop, enjoy one of my favorite memories of last year.

In 2016, may we all be champions.

Happy New Year!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about content, your marketing needs or otherwise):
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo

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):
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo

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):
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo

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

Let’s chat (about digital marketing, flying cars or otherwise):
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo

The Key Elements To Running A Successful Blog

Good Blog Design

The success of your blog begins with good design. Why? The average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds, continuing a downward trend. In other words, visitors won’t stick around if their first impression is negative. Make sure the design of your blog is user-friendly and easy to navigate. There should always be a search bar for people to look for posts on specific topics quickly. Also, you should have menus displaying your categories (and tags, if applicable). Ensure that the overall design is easy on the eyes too. You don’t want there to be too much going on, distracting visitors from consuming your content. It should be simple, but classy, and reflect your brand. It’s not that hard to come up with a good blog design with a little help. And, if you do, you’re on your way to a successful blog.

Image via CC0 Public Domain

Post Regularly

One key to all popular blogs is regular posting. If you have a blog that you like to read, you prefer that they post regularly. It’s hard for people to get involved with a blog if you’re posting once a month. Viewers want regular content, and frequent posts will only see your view count increase. Naturally, you should make sure that all your posts are of a high standard. Don’t post any old thing just for the sake of posting. You have to post good content on a regular basis to run a successful blog.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a clever way for your blog to make some extra money. You will work in tandem with another company and promote something for them. You could write a blog post reviewing one of their products or services and link back to their website. You’ll then receive financial payment depending on how many of your viewers click on the link and visit the affiliate’s site. If your blog is generating a lot of traffic, you’re likely to make more money! First, you need to find some affiliate marketing platforms, and sign up with one that you like. The company will add your blog to its database and contact you if they find an affiliate that’s a good match for your blog. It can be a great way to earn some money and help make your blog successful.

Image via CC0 Public Domain

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Social Media

You want your blog to get a lot of views, earn money and be a success, but you’ll only get views if you market it properly. The best ways to market a blog are by improving SEO and using social media. If you improve the SEO of your site, it will rank higher in search engine rankings. Work on improving your ranking for relevant keywords, and focus on long-tail keywords, which are easier to rank for. For example, shoes (or even running shoes) is a short-tail keyword. Women’s trail running shoes for flat feet is a long-tail keyword.

Similarly, social media is the perfect place to promote your blog to millions of people. Make sure you post links to your latest articles across various social media platforms, formatted appropriately to maximize exposure on each platform. Use hashtags to increase the the eyeballs on your posts and strong calls-to-action (CTAs) to drive potential customers to click through to consume your content.

Are you interested in blogging or improving your blog? Check out our previous blog-related posts or contact us with your questions. We love supporting fellow bloggers, so drop your blog link in the comments below or suggest your favorite blog to read.

Happy blogging!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about blogging, SEO or otherwise):
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo

How Flexible Should Your Blog Schedule Be?

Blogging. As a small business owner, writer or business professional today, you understand its benefits (and may even enjoy it). But some days it becomes a four letter word in your vocabulary.

Computer Problems by CollegeDegrees360 via CC BY-SA 2.0

Computer Problems by CollegeDegrees360 via CC BY-SA 2.0

Recently I read a post from a fellow blogger who was asking her readers about her new posting frequency. She had committed to posting more often, so she had set up a schedule. However, sticking to the much-increased schedule was wearing on her and killing her spontaneity and creativity. In other words, she felt like it was making her writing worse.

Quality over Quantity

If your current posting schedule is overwhelming, cut back the number of posts. Quantity is never a substitute for quality, and we remind ourselves that at CCC every day. As I tell clients, commit to a schedule that you can keep, and don’t create a schedule in your fantasy world. Yes, blogging is hard work and a time commitment, but it shouldn’t keep you from running your business, working with clients or whatever else it is that you do (unless you’re a full-time, professional blogger, of course.)

Consistency is more important than frequency. Set up a schedule that you can handle — perhaps once or twice a week or even less often at first. Then stick to it and post quality content on your publishing days. That doesn’t mean that you should be afraid to test out different days if you notice your analytics suggesting you do so. If you find yourself posting anything just to stick to your schedule, stop!

Consistency is important because search engines send crawlers around the Internet to find content. If they know when to look for your new content, they’ll find it faster and make it available to people searching for those topics.

Work Ahead for Flexibility

That doesn’t mean you have to sit down and blog on set days or at set times. If you come up with ideas on a whim, jot them down. Sit down and blog when the mood strikes and schedule the post to publish on one of your scheduled days. You don’t have to write a full post; get a draft down with all its imperfections and smooth it out for publishing later.

With consistent publishing, you can let your readers (and search engines) know when to expect new content. However, you can still write or blog when you’re in the mood by working ahead. I keep a dry erase board in my office and a notebook on my phone to jot down ideas for posts and descriptions. If a trending topic catches your eye, adjust any scheduled posts you have so you can blog about the topic while it’s still hot.

Related Reading on Blogging

Let’s Talk About Blogging

Do you follow a blogging schedule?

How often do you post new content?

Have you adjusted your schedule over the past two years?

Is your schedule purely data-driven or a good fit for you?

Happy blogging!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about blogging, a new project or otherwise):
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo