Creating an effective content strategy is fundamental to your marketing efforts, but it’s usually about creating new content. Yet, your existing content may be even more important than creating new content because existing pages already have unique data, including rankings and on-page engagement. It’s much more effective to use your own data than relying on third-party numbers that your competitors have the same access to as you.
On March 15th, I was honored to be the guest host of the #VCBuzz marketing Twitter chat for the second time! Our discussion was focused on the benefits of updating your existing or older content and how to go about doing it. So, how do you create a content updating strategy or include updating your current content in your content strategy? Let’s discuss!
Why Updating Existing Content Is So Important
Q2 Why is updating old content so important and why do so many brands fail to do that?
Creating quality content is challenging and time-consuming, so you want to extract as much value out of it as you can. Your older content is a gold mine of benefits, which you’ve already spent time, energy and resources on, so don’t forget about it.
Updating your older content delivers a better user experience, so visitors find value on your site or blog, stay longer and show interest in your products and services. This includes visitors referred by backlinks, which will help boost your site’s SEO.
Updating older content and fixing broken links will also strengthen your site’s SEO by welcoming search engine crawlers and helping them index your site, boosting your rankings. Dead links stop search engine crawlers in their tracks.
Our society tends to focus on what’s new, which is why brands often fail to update older content. Once content is published and initially distributed, it’s put on a back shelf and forgotten about. Don’t do this and lose so many benefits!
Updating older content will also give you fresh ideas for new content! Approach a topic you previously blogged about from a different perspective, or explore a previous topic more in-depth by creating a series.
How To Identify Content That Needs Updating
Q3 How to identify content that needs updating? How to get better organized with content updates to turn it into an on-going process?
Use a tool like DeadLinkChecker to find broken links that may be damaging your rankings and usability. There’s a free tool, Multi Check (for multiple websites) and Auto Check (which runs on a regular basis and emails you reports).
Also, visit your website regularly! Before you create new content, look at older content you’ve already published on the same topic. Check popular posts to see if they need updated or can be enhanced with fresh information. Check pages before sharing!
Moving forward, include your older content in your content strategy. Dedicate time and resources to updating older content, refreshing your blog/site and cleaning up broken links on a regular basis. Make it an equal priority with creating new content!
Key Elements of a Successful Content Update
Q4 How to update content? What are the key elements of a good content update?
First, check for broken links, missing videos, corrupt images or loading issues. Are your images optimized or are they slowing down the page from loading? Have you used images without permission? Get permission, or replace them with appropriate ones.
Next, look at the copy. Is the headline drawing traffic, or can it be improved? Reread the article and captions. Is the content still relevant or does it need to be refreshed? Add any new information that will bring the content up-to-date.
Make sure your content is readable (and skimmable) with appropriate visuals, short paragraphs and different sections, or headings. White space and proper formatting are your friends on screen. Add relevant videos, GIFs, polls or other media!
Most importantly, you can communicate candidly and directly with people through your podcast. A podcast allows people access to your business’s core values and gives a glimpse into its personality.
Plus, go ahead and showcase thought leadership while helping listeners with information and resources. Sharing a mix of what you know and what you are learning means you have an eternal field of possible topics to explore.
Podcasts help humanize your company, adding brand flavor while amplifying your voice.
Awareness of your business happens in phases when you add an audio component to your digital content mix. These phases represent a path to gain awareness and attention for your business. And by creating valuable audio content touchpoints for new audiences, you increase your content reach and drive newly engaged traffic to your website.
Remember as you go, however, all roads are geared to make deeper connections between your business and potential customers.
Working the awareness stage with your audio content is as simple as recording quick audio clips. Create mini audio content campaigns to introduce content to invite people to check out your newest blog posts, for example, or promote an upcoming event.
Borrow immediate content by using your existing written content repurposed into audio episodes. Or, create batches of episodes around one or more of the core topics pertaining to your business. Further, answering most-asked questions around your business makes a good starter series to quickly get your audio message off the ground.
Using the content suggestions above on your way to creating awareness allows you to understand yourself, too. Pinpointing your business focus to produce the appropriate podcast content helps you gain insight into developing a more advanced audio strategy.
And, you can start now.
By creating valuable audio content touchpoints for new audiences, you increase your content reach and drive newly engaged traffic to your website.
Platforms like anchor.fm are user-oriented and more straightforward than you imagine. I love the Anchor App and have been introducing it as a free-to-use solution to many businesses and bloggers over the years. Try it out to experiment and dip your feet into podcasting to see if it’s a good fit before investing more.
The most established and highly recommended professional audio platform is Libsyn.
Notably, most platforms connect your podcast feed to the likes of Apple Podcasts* and Google Play, along with a slew of others. The availability of this RSS feed sharing system gives you a big step up for reaching new listeners. Again, like most content assets you create, gaining reach and finding new audiences through awareness requires amplification and distribution. (*Note: this is currently changing with Anchor and will be up to you to set this up for yourself.)
So, in addition to getting reach via these podcasting platforms, implement a social media marketing component into your audio strategy. Listeners turn into followers, and followers turn into sales.
You can also work on reach by promoting your shows, paying close attention to creating enticing titles and descriptions, for example. And don’t forget to promote to your email list, letting people know when a new episode is published.
Further, collaboration offers a chance to reach new audiences simply by “borrowing” them from your collaborators. Of course, at the same time, you share your audience right back. As an added bonus, you get to meet and make new friends and business connections in the process.
Networking is always part of meeting new people and making business connections. Your podcast is another doorway to networking. Plus, audience reach grows when you interact with listeners. Make sure to reply to comments and thank people who share your podcasts on social.
Because podcast listeners enjoy the ability to listen on their terms—anytime and anywhere they like—audio content is one of the most user-friendly types of media. On top of that, podcast listenership continues to grow, as illustrated in the infographic below by musinoomph.com.
One way to stand out in your field is to interview interesting people for your podcast; select guests to talk about your key topics or topics related to what you do. Try to find guests offering new information or a unique spin to add to the discussion. Remember, it’s all about your audience, so it doesn’t hurt if you find guests with a bit of sparkling personality to go along with the first-rate info.
If you want to stand out in your local community, pair up your content with local happenings. Get creative and discover cross-over subject matter to enrich content, and participate in local events. Cross-promotions are often good business drivers, and the addition of an audio asset gives you a new level of reach.
Think about a way to “go live” with your podcast and involve your customers in some way, or interview people attending a local event giving you networking opportunities onsite and off. Invite your neighborhood businesses to your podcast to talk about what they do or how you work together. Maybe each one can share their history of operating in the local community.
The more visible you are in a community, and the more you are willing to network and promote, the more people get to know you and want to do business with you. Your podcast is a great talking point and a way to invite collaborators into your community.
Your podcast is a great talking point and a way to invite collaborators into your community.
When you’re the one initiating things and stirring up interest, promoting others, and staying visible, your reputation and authority grow. People look to you to participate, solve problems, and come up with new ideas. Helping in this way works in the digital space as well as in your local community.
Keeping your word and acting on it proves you’re honest and reliable, a trusted business member and resource, solidifying your reputation, and continuing to grow your authority. Just remember, everything you do in business reflects on you and your reputation and builds (or destroys) trustworthiness.
Podcasting helps you show people who you are as a business—your core values, company culture, and attitudes toward business—and listeners get to know you and learn your beliefs about doing good business.
Establish and Grow Credibility in Your Industry
Another part of growing your authority is also the key to gaining credibility. And the question is, of course, do you know your stuff? Not only is it great to be a go-to resource in your community, but you also need to go a step further and prove you’re the best-in-the-business for whatever it is you do!
Taking your credibility higher in your industry requires you to stay updated and on top of exciting new developments and any changes. Go ahead and take a leadership role working towards innovation while staying on the cutting-edge. You can’t rest on your laurels as you strive to improve continually. I want to be the best in the world at whatever I am doing, so I just keep striving to improve. For business purposes, this attitude works, helping to propel you forward.
Psst, this article is starting to feel like a podcast!
Growing your credibility means finding teachable moments all around you and applying them to developing thoughtful and high-quality content for podcasting. The best kind of credibility comes after you are a proven entity backed by successes, wins and happy customers galore. You’ll know when you’ve built credibility from your podcast and your actions when customers refer business to you. The goal is to never have to sell again. How? By consistently receiving referrals because you’re already in demand!
Yes, your podcast is part of your content and inbound marketing plan.
Repurpose Top Content to Communicate Your Core Values
The core values you provide in business need to be a common thread skillfully woven throughout your communications consistently. On top of that, your business needs to offer multiple touchpoints for people to notice you, and repurposing your content does the trick.
Repurposing allows you to share the same or similar content via various formats to satisfy the different ways people like to consume content. Soooo repurposing content helps you extend content to new audiences while allowing you to communicate a message in more than one way.
Repurposing content helps you extend content to new audiences while allowing you to communicate a message in more than one way.
Initiate New Relationships and Nurture Your Community Towards Sales
There’s no doubt, creating and maintaining good business relationships lead to sales and growth for your business. But building and fostering those relationships starts with connecting with the people who are interested in your services. It’s about reaching people who resonate with your core communications and need precisely the things you do.
Podcasting is a content and media form consumers enjoy and, at the same time, cuts layers away from nurturing the know/like/trust formula over time. Lending an actual voice to your content gives you a shortcut to impact your audience. Allowing listener input for show topics offers you another opportunity to shorten connection time and build genuine relationships.
Like all marketing now, two-way communications rule. Listening to and including the people you interact with or who interact with your audio content matters. You’ll find podcasting interactions organically spread across your channels, so engaging with comments, shares, and feedback is vital to your growth. Although you may think of audio as a one-to-many format, it’s the one-to-one interactions that help you grow your brand and reputation.
Produce Unique, Creative Audio Content in Simpler or Complex Varieties
Everyone likes to talk about short attention spans. Instead, why not focus on producing valuable content assets spotlighting important information, updates, tips, and more that clients need to know. You see, people have selective attention spans and all you need to do is captivate them with your sparkling audio content. Therefore, the message—and not its length—is what makes a difference and where your best efforts belong. Of course, that’s easier said than done, right?
As I mentioned earlier, there’re a lot of ways to get started quickly for producing valuable audio content. Still, making some decisions in advance helps to clarify what you want to communicate and how, who it’s for, and more. Naming, branding, tagline, and design considerations including logo, colors, and thumbnails are items to pre-plan for a smoother start.
But the richness in your audio productions lies in the content you create. Its uniqueness, relevance, point-of-view, and helpfulness are all factors, among others. Delivering audio clearly is the most important measure for your listeners, so focus on the quality of your sound first. But after you master the technical component for quality sound and have the administrative and overarching show theme design in place, your original content takes center stage.
Remember, the content you create remains in the spotlight for successful podcasting. However, just as you recreate written and other content forms into audio presentations, audio content easily transforms into written content for blog posts, guest posts, and web copy, for example. How-to’s, product reviews, and adding your two cents to trending topics work for on-the-fly audio subjects that reboot well in other formats to repurpose and extend visibility for audio.
The ability to reach new or extended audiences, increase visibility, awareness, traffic, and most importantly, to directly connect with people, makes audio content attractive. Ready to podcast?
The ability to reach new or extended audiences, increase visibility, awareness, traffic, and most importantly, to directly connect with people, makes audio content attractive. Ready to podcast?
What do you think? Are you ready to podcast? Already host a podcast? Drop your feedback, questions or podcast link(s) in the comments below, or share your thoughts with us on social! (Sue-Ann’s social media links are below.)
While most kids were playing with blocks or dolls, I was publishing magazines or newspapers with feature articles, ads, sports box scores and all.
In college, I majored in Journalism and Mass Communication, but I took every writing class I could—business writing, media writing, creative writing, copywriting. I wanted to be well versed in nearly any writing discipline, so I could pursue numerous avenues in my career.
I Jumped at Every Opportunity to Write
As I started my career, I jumped at the opportunity to handle any writing opportunity. While I was pursuing my love of writing, I was also gaining more attention at work and building my portfolio (unknowingly at first).
Before long I was ghost writing for my manager and members of our executive team. As I continued to write, I developed a reputation throughout our company (a $350 million company with around 115 employees) as a go-to writer and editor. Eventually, I was published under my own byline in our company newsletter, which was a thrill.
You Can Pick Up a Lot By Asking Questions and Listening
As my career progressed, I started to think about my future. What did I want out of my career? A corner office and impressive title? Or something else?
I worked at the corporate headquarters of a franchising company, so my job involved interacting with and supporting small business owners around North America.
Every day, I was learning more about running a business, even subconsciously. I’m naturally curious, so I would ask questions while communicating with our franchise owners. People like to talk, especially about themselves, their businesses, and their accomplishments, so you can pick up a lot by paying attention, asking questions and listening.
Guess Who Some of My First Clients Were?
While I was helping our owners, I noticed some of them were looking for affordable marketing and writing services beyond what our company offered. They knew they needed help in these areas but couldn’t afford to hire large marketing agencies.
After nine years of honing my skills and building a professional network in corporate America, I left that company and struck out on my own. Guess who some of my first clients were? The same people I had been helping.
Starting My Own Business Seemed Like a Crazy Dream
While it was a long road, the idea to start my own business came during an aha moment 15 years in the making. (I realized I wanted to write for a living while I was in high school, although I couldn’t see myself—a country kid from an unincorporated village—as a writer.)
One day at work, I realized that so many small business owners don’t know how to market themselves and couldn’t afford traditional agency fees. With my diverse background in marketing, I could start a business offering professional marketing services and experience at affordable rates.
I could give brands a voice via marketing, writing and social media services, so business owners could focus on the reason they’re in business, and not struggle with marketing decisions, writing copy and developing social media strategies.
After I realized I could start my own business, it still seemed like a crazy dream. But I did start thinking about it a lot. The next day, I began thinking about business names and what would make my business unique. The more I thought about it and talked about it, the more it became a real possibility.
At a company event, I finally made the decision: I had to go out on my own. A year later, I left and never looked back. On May 15, 2012, Clearly Conveyed Communications (CCC) was born.
You Learn a Lot About Running a Business When You Jump Out On Your Own
When I started my business, I never dreamed of today—eight years down the road. I was just trying to get through each day. Eight years later, I’m still trying to get through each day, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.
You learn so much about running a business when you jump out on your own. (I know I did!) As much as I researched and planned (and you should research and plan), at some point you have to jump in and learn as you go. (Here’s some lessons we’ve learned over the years.)
To get started, I focused on the professional network I had spent the previous nine years building. I reached out to contacts I had made and relationships I had built over time to let them know I was in business. Not only were these people potential customers, but they were also connectors.
In addition, I worked out an extensive transition plan with my former employer. It helped them maintain their services as we hired and trained my replacement, and they were my first paying client. It was nice to have income as I was building my business and looking for more clients.
I Didn’t Foresee that Businesses Would Want to Outsource Their Social Media Management
While I planned on starting a marketing company that focused heavily on writing services, I didn’t foresee the interest in businesses outsourcing their social media management. I started receiving so much interest in this area that I added a new page to my website.
Today, social media management and content creation is a significant part of my business. In turn, they’ve led to additional writing opportunities.
Offering an array of services as a marketing company allows me to present a full-service front to my audience.
For example: We partnered with a fellow marketing company, owned by a volunteer firefighter, to handle FDIC’s (Fire Department Instructors Conference) social media for six years. (See picture above.) We developed a year round social media presence for them, so firefighters could connect, learn and train virtually, too.
A Trend in Content Marketing: Long-Form Content
While my company creates a variety of content, we’ve noticed a trend in content marketing for long-form content, and we’ve jumped on it. It seems counterintuitive to our short attention spans and the constant state of information overload we live in today. However, quality long-form content performs well online, draws traffic and gives you a lot of content to repurpose.
The key is to make it readable (and skimmable) with appropriate visuals, short paragraphs and different sections, or headings. White space and proper formatting are your friends on screen.
SEO is important, but remember to write for people, not search engines, because they’re the ones actually reading it. You can still include keywords and appropriate tags and code while making your writing readable—by humans.
While we enjoy creating long-form content, CCC pursues all types of project-based work and programs. For example, we love writing all the copy for a new website or managing a company’s entire social media presence (as opposed to only creating content). These projects and programs pay more, so we can devote the time and resources to producing our best work. They’re also easier to schedule in advance, so we can utilize our time as effectively as possible.
Putting Our Clients First Helps Us Grow Our Business
Having said that, we will take on small programs, including minor content editing and distribution, or some one-off projects, to make more contacts and build more relationships.
Doing good work for people and helping them with their needs, however minor, can result in referrals.
We’ve been fortunate to be referred several times, resulting in new customers and opportunities.
That’s why we always put current clients first. It may seem better to focus more on business development, because small business owners usually don’t have the resources to wait for new customers.
However, we’ve found that by putting current clients first, we’re their first call—for any marketing activity. As we continue to help them with their needs, they continue to come back and refer us to their clients, business associates and friends.
In fact, we work with some businesses through our clients. They can expand the services they offer without hiring full-time employees or making a significant investment.
For example, a company who sells branded merchandise and printing services can add writing, social media and additional marketing services to their service offering to truly become a full-service marketing agency. As long as we work closely together, it’s a win for all three companies—CCC, our client and our client’s client.
Marketing: What to Consider Before Expanding Social Media Platforms
How do we market our marketing and writing services? We practice what we preach—although sometimes we’re a little slow to take our own advice.
We always advise clients to consider their resources before jumping into social media. It takes time and dedication to build an active, engaged community on a social platform. You don’t need to be on every social platform available or jump on the latest trend.
While social platforms all have their own strengths, they tend to copy each other. Has a new platform grabbed your attention? What features do you like? Wait a minute, and they may appear on a platform where you already have an engaged community.
For example, Snapchat become a darling in the social media world, and then Instagram (and later Facebook) added ephemeral content, or Stories. TikTok has exploded in popularity over the past year, but Instagram has recently announced that it’s rolling out a new TikTok-like feature, Reels, to new markets and expanding its capabilities.
This feature isn’t available in the U.S. yet, but we’ll probably see it eventually. There may be reasons you want to expand to new social platforms, but think about it first and make sure you have a strategy.
When CCC started, we jumped on numerous social media platforms and overextended our resources. Slowly, we reassessed and cut back to where we are today. That has allowed us to focus more on original content creation and distribution for ourselves instead of mainly curation.
Curation is important, because it introduces you to new people and delivers a wider range of voices to your social media communities. However, original content will help you stand out and bring on new clients.
Why Writers Should Have a Blog
If you’re a writer, you probably have a blog, or at least you should. Your blog serves as a place to showcase your writing, and it can lead to partnerships or business opportunities.
Try to set up a consistent publishing schedule based on when the most readers are stopping by your blog. While it’s important to be active, only commit to what you can do. If you’re on your own and spend a lot of time on client work, then you may only be able to publish once a week or twice a month. Don’t try to publish too often for the sake of publishing; your content will likely suffer.
House your blog on your website. It will be easy for your readers to learn more about your services, and your fresh blog content will help optimize your site’s search performance. While I’m not a big fan of consistently removing content (which is a trend today), updating older content helps boost your blog’s performance. Fix any broken links or missing videos you come across, and add any relevant, new information on the post topic to inform your readers.
Don’t Publish Your Content and Wait for People to Find It
Producing quality blog content can be time-consuming, but there’s even more work ahead after you publish. Distributing your content is important, so it’s seen by a larger number of potential readers.
Don’t publish content and wait for people to find it. You have to actively and consistently promote your content, because there’s such an overload of content today.
Don’t just blast your content across various social platforms in one format at the same time. Share each article in a format best suited for each platform. Repurpose your content so you get as much mileage as possible out of it.
Write a long-form article? Share bite-sized tidbits on Twitter, each time driving more traffic back to your article.
Record a video sharing highlights of the article, and post it on your LinkedIn profile or Page.
Share your article as a link preview post to your Facebook Page or group.
Share behind-the-scenes content while you’re writing to tease a new blog article in your Stories and to let your audience know when it will publish.
Content is king, but distribution is queen—and she rules the roost.
Meet Your Readers Where They Are
Some readers will prefer to read your content on these distribution channels instead of subscribing to your blog. We’re living in the age of assistance, so you need to meet people in the moment—where they are.
Building active, engaged communities on social media takes time, but these communities are full of potential readers and people who will share your work.
Use your social presences to interact with your audience and request their feedback. Instagram Stories has numerous stickers you can use to interact, while Twitter offers polls and the ability to have conversations with people around the world.
Facebook Groups have become increasingly popular, as you can offer a smaller part of your community first access to your projects, advice in a specific area (i.e. non-fiction writing tips) or a community of peers for fellow writers to bounce ideas off of. Depending on how you utilize Facebook Groups, you may be able to monetize them.
While CCC receives most of our work through referrals, social media and content creation are crucial in our marketing efforts. Even when you are referred for an opportunity, people will often look you up online first.
Do you have a strong presence on LinkedIn? Is your website up-to-date? What comes up when people Google you? Make sure you have a strong digital presence, so people actually contact you when you are referred to them.
What To Do When Your Writing Business Slows Down
If business has slowed down, spend more time creating and distributing content. Be even more active in your social media communities and work on growing them. Genuinely engaging with others will help you grow your community and may lead to new opportunities.
One of our larger clients watched our social efforts for some time before reaching out to us. Everything you do online is visible, so make sure you’re being your best self. Setting aside 10-15 minutes per day on a platform, including reading and commenting on other blogs, will help you make new connections and grow your communities.
We’ve had success utilizing these tactics, even though they take time. Social media is a long-term game; don’t expect success overnight. Instead of trying to create content that will go viral, focus on building and delivering value to your audience one day at a time.
This year, we’ve focused on creating more original content and distributing it more. By cutting back our overall social presence, we have more time to focus on our current communities and how we can help them.
By doing so, we’ve landed a few new, smaller clients. We’re excited to continue helping them, so we can grow these accounts into larger ones. You never know where an account or new opportunity might lead.
How Writers Can Expand Their Services
Speaking of opportunities, expanding your services or collaborating with fellow writers, editors and marketing agencies (or even fellow small or local businesses) can help you grow your business as well.
Are there additional services you can offer that make sense with your current business? Or maybe you already offer them, but people don’t realize that you do. If you see a trend in your industry or notice interest in a particular service, highlight it on your website and social channels.
Working with other companies who complement your services can help you land larger clients and opportunities. If you write copy for the web, look for a designer to partner with so you can offer complete website solutions.
Or look for companies that you can refer your clients to for related services, so they always come to you first. Building relationships with fellow business professionals and owners will make them more comfortable referring business to you, too.
This has been a stressful and trying year, so we hope everyone is pulling through it as well as you can. It may be the time to try a new idea, launch a related service or partner with another company. We wish everyone the best of luck moving forward in 2020 and beyond.
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A version of this post was first published on WriterCEO.com. Thank you to Colleen M. Story for sharing our writing and marketing tips!
How does inbound marketing work? Watch a coneflower.
On a recent visit to the Akron Art Museum and its beautiful garden, I stopped to watch some butterflies flying around a coneflower. Coneflowers attract butterflies with their sweet nectar, so people love to plant them in their gardens. Plus, they don’t require much attention, withstand colder temperatures and can be divided every few years to attract even more butterflies to your garden.
So, let’s compare this process to your inbound marketing efforts. You can attract butterflies (your target audience) to your coneflower (product or service) with sweet nectar (compelling content). While your inbound marketing efforts do require attention, they’re worth the effort—and help is available. Plus, these efforts can help you withstand a cold spell in your business and can be replicated to help you grow your business.
Create and share content your target audience wants. Are you a lawn care company? Share lawn maintenance tips, including seasonal activities people should be doing throughout the year (i.e. applying fertilizer, weeding). Help people care for their lawnmower and other yard maintenance tools. When they’re ready to buy, they’ll turn to you—because you’ve built trust by giving them the information they need when they needed it.
When you do mention your products or services, educate your target audience on how you’ll improve their lives. Go beyond listing features to share benefits your customers will receive from your product or service. What pain point(s) does it address? How will it make their lives better?
No matter what you do for a living, you’re probably looking for customers. That’s where Inbound marketing comes in. It helps you attract the right customers, not more empty leads. The Inbound methodology turns strangers into promoters or evangelists for your brand. It takes time but produces results.
Ready to see how Inbound marketing can help you? Let’s talk. As an Inbound Certified company, we’re positioned to help you navigate the ins and outs of the Buyer’s Journey.
We’re living in the age of assistance. What does that mean for marketers?
Customers have more options than ever before today, thanks to technology. Therefore, each buyer’s journey is unique and customers are looking for valuable content to educate themselves before making a purchase.
“Focus on the user and all else will follow.”
Your marketing strategy needs to be focused on your customer or prospect. Where do they look for information? How do they like to shop? How do they like to interact with brands?
If people need help, they usually start with Google. (While the search giant reaches 93% of US consumers, note that your customer base or target audience may use Bing or another search engine. It’s important to know where your customers go.) We’re busy, distracted and always on the go, so people are searching on mobile, including reviews, for information to make decisions in the moment.
Consider this example… Jon is working at home when he hears water running. The problem is that he’s not running any water. After heading upstairs, he realizes that his toilet is overflowing. He lives in an older home, so there’s no shut-off for the toilet; he needs to turn off his water at the main shut-off. Quickly, he Googles shut off water main and finds a YouTube video showing him how to locate his main water valve and shut it off. Jon follows the directions and shuts off his water before suffering any damage. Who does he call to fix the toilet? The local plumbing company who provided the video, of course.
Note that this local company gave Jon the information he needed first. He didn’t have to dig through their website or sit through a sales pitch beforehand. Educating consumers before you ask for a purchase or deliver a call-to-action (CTA) drives business.
Meet People in the Moment
People are living in the moment today, so they rarely plan in advance. Jon probably should have known where his main water shut-off valve was, but he had recently moved in and hadn’t gotten around to finding it yet. He’s not alone.
Mobile searches for today, tomorrow or now are up 900%. Our phones are never out of reach, so it’s always convenient to find the information we need—in a traffic jam, at the doctor’s office or at your kid’s ballet recital.
How can you meet your customers or prospects in the moment?
Start where they start: Google yourself.
Google yourself, your category and your business (in incognito mode, if you prefer). Do you like what you see? Are you providing valuable content to help your customers and prospects educate themselves and move along the buyer’s journey? Or are you only asking for the buy? Be a part of the conversation along the entire journey, so consumers can get to know your company and form an emotional connection with you. If you just show up at the end when consumers are ready to buy, they’re likely to go with another company who has been there all along the way.
While we’re on this subject, does your business have a Google My Business listing? If not, set one up. This free resource helps you connect with customers across Google Search and Maps, boosting your SEO efforts. Remember to include a phone number too. It allows people to quickly call you, which could be the difference between you getting an opportunity or your competitor.
While Google My Business is an important starting point, don’t stop there. Tracking how your customers first found you is important, but so is measuring every moment that matters to your business. Each buyer’s journey is unique today, so you need to track every interaction with your customer and map out their individual customer journey.
Your customer may have found your company through Google, but then she visited your website, read a few blog articles to learn more about a subject that interested her and connected with you on your Facebook Page. After those steps, she contacted you to discuss a project. If she hadn’t made all of those steps, she may not have ever contacted you to do business. That’s why it’s so important to measure every interaction or touch point with your customers, so you understand how they want to be communicated with and helped along their unique buyer’s journey.
Make an Emotional Connection
People are looking for more from brands and businesses today. They don’t want to just buy stuff; they want to support companies who have similar values to theirs and are good corporate citizens.
Tell your brand’s story: how you got started, why you’re in business and the faces behind the brand name. Talk about your charitable efforts and community involvement, so customers can see your values in action. They want to know where their hard-earned dollars are going and what kind of company they’re supporting. Tell your founder’s story and shine the spotlight on your employees with behind-the-scenes content, including how your product is made, a day in the life or following employees outside the office.
While customers want to get to know your business or brand, they also want to be entertained. Most people make decisions emotionally and then look for rational reasons to support their decisions—especially when we’re making so many decisions today in the moment.
So, your content needs to educate, entertain and connect with your customer on an emotional level. In fact, advertising campaigns are twice as likely to perform well if they contain emotional content instead of rational content. Buyers consuming your content want to feel a connection with your brand—not think about how your brand will help them.
In 2019, we average a 3-second attention span online, so you need to grab a viewer’s attention quickly. Create joy or surprise right away to keep viewers engaged with your content. Consumers get distracted every 10 minutes, on average, and take three minutes to refocus, so you’ll need to keep them engaged the entire time they’re consuming your content. If you lose them, they may jump to something else and never come back.
3 Key Principles in the Age of Assistance
Be There—Connect with the right people during key moments of intent.
Be Valuable—Give consumers the information they need where they are.
Be Quick—Automatically act on intent. Consumers expect quick responses today!
As marketing professionals, how can you deliver on these three key principles?
Know Your Audience—Go beyond demographics to target consumers effectively. Detailed buyer personas are important!
Know Your Brand’s Story—Tell your story, so your audience can understand your values and connect with your business on an emotional level.
Conceptualize the Space—Understand the marketing domains your customers are operating in so well that you know the best ways to connect and communicate with them in those areas.
Self-Educate—Marketing knowledge is constantly updating today, so you need to always be learning.
Understanding your customers (beyond simple demographics) is so important today, because you need to meet them where they are when they need you. What data do you have on your customers (that you’re protecting)? How can you leverage that data to better serve them (not to sell to them)?
Knowing how your customers first heard of you is no longer enough. Go beyond the first click to measure every interaction or touch point with your buyer. It will change your understanding of how each customer wants to be communicated with and helped along the way.
Follow your customers across social media platforms (however they use them) to email and messaging services to brick and mortar locations. We’re living in the age of assistance where micro-moments and individual interactions matter for your business. How are you making the most of every single one?
Questions? Comments? Leave your feedback We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Are you struggling to connect with your customers in the age of assistance? Let’s discuss how we can help you with your marketing efforts!
I recorded this video the day after a massive Facebook and Instagram outage, but its message is relevant whenever you’re watching it. Social media is a powerful marketing tool for your business, but you still need a website today.
Your website is the hub of all your digital marketing activities.
Your website is your home on the internet, your front door to customers and prospects everywhere. It helps visitors learn more about your company and how you can help them. They can find your website via search engines, social media platforms, advertising campaigns and even offline marketing efforts.
A well-designed, updated website improves your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and works with social media to enhance your online presence and give your business credibility.
This summer, social media platforms debuted so many new features it was hard to keep up. (Miss out while you were on holiday? Catch up with our roundup.) As fall color explodes, the platforms continue to test and release new features, with Instagram leading the way. With all the changes, the story of the year continues to be Stories.
“By the end of next year, Stories are expected to outpace Feeds as our primary mechanism of content creation. Every marketer should be thinking of an effective, sustainable and human-first Stories strategy—especially on Instagram—before it’s too late.” -Chris Strub, CEO of I Am Here, LLC [source: Forbes]
While Snapchat started the ephemeral content craze, Instagram and Facebook quickly delivered their own options. So, what platform should you use? Go where your audience lives.
Have you already developed an active, engaged following on Instagram? Share compelling behind-the-scenes content on Instagram Stories, taking advantage of the features available. Does your audience reside on Facebook? Go live on the largest social platform in the world, sharing product launches and event sessions. Were you an early adopter of Snapchat, building your loyal following ever since? Share exclusive sales and can’t-miss moments from your company’s day-to-day life.
The takeaway? Don’t jump on every platform and overextend your resources. Are you a small business or solopreneur? Do your research, figure out where your audience lives and devote your resources to those platforms (or even a single one). Develop your approach to an individual platform (or two or three), and master sharing quality content that will compel your audience to act.
“With limited resources and time, it’s appropriate to let the under-performing projects go to make way for new opportunities. Too many marketers attempt to ‘do it all,’ at the expense of doing what works.” -Michael Stelzner, Founder of Social Media Examiner [source: Forbes]
Speaking of compelling content, video is hot—especially live video. But, it still needs to provide value to your audience. Based on our experience, pictures still outperform video in your Instagram feed, but Stories (and now IGTV) is a great place to share video. Show how your product is produced, live-stream your session or share your blog article distribution process.
Test various types of content with your audience to see what resonates best. While it’s important to stay on top of trends in the ever-evolving social media landscape, don’t abandon proven content types, posting times or your brand’s aesthetic to go all in on the latest shiny object. Try working in trends that you think will resonate with your audience, but don’t feel pressured to jump on every new feature or platform as it’s introduced.
Before you try a new feature, think about how it fits into your overall strategy. Testing is an important part of effective social media marketing, but a consistent voice and tone is central to your overall presence. If a new feature doesn’t fit with what you’re doing, don’t use it. If your audience isn’t interested in a platform, devote your resources elsewhere.
Establishing an active, engaged following on platforms where your audience lives is helpful beyond connecting with them. Customers, prospects and fans are more likely to share their experiences with your company on platforms they love.
“When you create a loyal engaged community and reward them by surprising and delighting them for their loyalty, then those people will always share your content and feel part of your brand’s journey!” -Samantha Kelly, Founder/CEO of the Women’s Inspire Network [source: Forbes]
Word of mouth marketing is powerful, because it comes from consumers, not your company. While your brand or company needs to share its story, it’s important for others to share your story. User generated content (UGC) helps you reach a wider audience and gives you content to share. For example, you can share your customer’s posts on Instagram to your Stories to spotlight them.
When you share a customer’s post, they receive a notification via Instagram Direct. It opens a direct conversation between your brand and your customer, which can lead to further engagement, a referral or even a purchase. Every time you interact or engage with someone in an authentic manner, it helps to strengthen their loyalty to your brand.
Despite all of the updates and changes, the story of the year in social media marketing is all about Stories. Whether your audience prefers Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, they’re likely spending a lot of time creating and viewing Stories. So, take some time to think about how Stories fit into your social media marketing strategy, so you can meet your customers (and future customers) where they live.
Share Your Story
How is your business using Stories?
What platform does your audience prefer for Stories?
What’s your favorite Stories feature?
“Consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content on average prior to making a purchase.”
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.
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,
Let’s chat (about content marketing, customer experiences or otherwise):
What a week! Between working the polls and planning a conference, we managed to renew our Inbound marketing certification for another year. As an Inbound Marketing Certified company, we’re positioned to help you navigate the ins and outs of the Buyer’s Journey.
What’s Inbound marketing? We’re glad you asked. Check out the blog post we wrote last year showcasing this new way of thinking in action, how it works and how it can help your brand. The basics are the same, but new ideas and research continue to come along. That’s why we wanted to make sure we’re up-to-date and can offer your business the best ways to succeed in our crowded, fast-paced world.
If you’re struggling to reach your target audience, let’s talk about your buyer personas. Who are they? Do you know their pain points and biggest challenges? What stage are they at in the Buyer’s Journey?
We would love to help you attract visitors, convert them into leads, close sales with customers and delight them into promoters. Learn more about how inbound marketing works, and then contact us so we can help you achieve success.
The trailblazing show has launched an integrated marketing campaign to support Frank Underwood’s run for President which is winning votes (and viewers) left and right. The campaign includes social media, direct mail, promotional products, printed pieces, a microsite and real-life appearances by President Underwood (played b Kevin Spacey).
For me, it all started with a tweet. I came across a video of the President asking me for his support by tweeting #Underwood2016. As a fan of the show (and its marketing), I obliged. Shortly thereafter, I received a response from House of Cards thanking me for my support and asking me to enter my information on a well-designed microsite, which I did.
Who are you supporting in 2016? CCC is all in for Frank Underwood. #FU2016
I forgot about our interaction until I received a package this week. Upon opening it, I discovered a handwritten note from the President along with a badge and decal. Not only did House of Cards send me a gift, but the promotional products were popular political items. Spot on!
Of course, I snapped a picture of my new swag and posted it to Twitter and CCC’s Facebook page. Pinterest and Instagram posts are forthcoming. Last night, I checked the show on Netflix just to make sure I hadn’t missed the season 4 premiere.
Another part of this well-executed campaign is personal appearances by Frank Underwood. On February 23, Underwood debuted his official presidential portrait at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in Washington, DC.
This wasn’t just a digital stunt. The portrait is now available for viewing at the NPG.
Of course, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect with the real presidential race heating up. The House of Cards social media team has been on tone while interacting with fans and the media.
A Presidential Review
In summary, the House of Cards marketing campaign nailed the timing, cross-channel integration and tone of the brand. Every detail has been painstakingly addressed, and fans the world over are gearing up to cast their vote for House of Cards season 4. The real presidential candidates — and marketers everywhere — could take a page from the House of Cards marketing team.
Rock the vote for #FU2016 (and on brand, relevant marketing). ✔️
p.s. House of Cards season 4 debuts March 4th. Will you be tuning in?
Let’s chat (about House of Cards, your marketing needs or otherwise):