Monthly Archives: July 2011

Why content marketing starts with your ‘sign up button’

Whilst much of the talk about content marketing strategy focuses on the creation, packaging and presentation of information that might encourage your target customer to interact and transact with you, the reality doesn’t need to be so complicated.

Committing to the setting up and writing of a blog, developing thought provoking white papers, producing video, webinars or hosting slides and documents is a serious undertaking and not for every business.

But what is within the reach of all businesses are a number of little fixes that can be made throughout your website, your email marketing and advertising to give your marketing the best chance of conversion.

A focus on headings, action buttons and supporting copy can make a significant impact on click-through, lead generation and conversion.

Changing an action button from ‘Register’ which may be an obstacle in the mind of prospective customer to ‘Start now’ alters the perception from being a task to becoming a desirable, benefit enabled action. In this example from a natural wellbeing site, Start Now is softer and less prescriptive.

Hubspot is a masterful example in the art of content marketing. Everything they do is aimed at developing deeper relationship, evolving to product trial. Free Demo buttons stand out on every page throughout the site, which uses its multiple daily blog posts and free webinars, white papers and ebooks to drive traffic.

Joe Browns clothing and accessories, below, help the browsing process by colouring their search button and using the words ‘make it easy – search sale by size’ to help customers get straight to what they want. Simple. Effective.

Expedia simplify site browsing, whilst personalising it, with the use of the copy ‘Find your deal’. Great copy which implies you’ll be able to locate a holiday that’s relevant for you at a price you’ll be happy with. Pretty powerful stuff when you analyse it.

Even the banks are getting creative with their action buttons as this example from First Direct illustrates. From  the core ‘Apply Today’ button to the standout buttons to the right offering online security, partner offers and free software, they are making the most of their real estate and trying to drive traffic to key transactional areas of the site.

What can you be doing better to help your visitors and customers along?

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Why email still matters in b2b marketing

My second post as b2b digital marketing expert commentator has gone live at SmartInsights.

 

Email may well be in terminal decline with the next generation of business professionals more likely to rely on SMS and social network messaging if recent research is to believed.

Yet, most B2B companies still use email-based newsletters as a primary way of attempting to communicate with and engaging customers and prospects.

Find out how you can still make email work for your business by clicking through.

SmartInsights is fast becoming a ‘go-to’ digital marketing resource for marketers and business owners at every level of digital confidence. 50,000 unique visitors hit the website every month, 10,000 are subscribed to the weekly email newsletter, 1,650 follow on Facebook, 1,200 are members of the Linkedin group and 2,400 follow via Twitter. Bookmark the site now sign up for the weekly email by clicking through here.

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7 reasons you need to blog your business

Blogging is a perennial hot topic when it comes to digital marketing. And for good reason. In this era of social currency, where profiles and content positively effect your search engine visibility and your ability to go viral, blogs continue to tick a number of boxes.

And not just as a cathartic, method of outpouring your inner most thoughts and feelings. No, businesses are realising that there are tangible benefits to blogging in their business.

Millions of businesses are blogging, millions are not. There are lots of strategies which are covered in other blog posts (see below), but if you are still not convinced or need to convince a sceptical manager, use this blog post to inspire you.

1. Relevant content referenced regularly makes your site more attractive to customers. It is becoming cliched but people really are looking for useful and usable information that develops them, challenges them and benefits their role. Becoming a trusted source of information that people can come to rely on puts you in a powerful position to potentially encourage them to transact.

2. It gets better. Relevant content referenced regularly makes your site more attractive to the search engines. At a base level, we know search engine spiders index sites based on how they are structured, the relevance of the content on the site and the frequency of new material. So if you add new posts on your blog regularly, they’ll stop by and re-index you more often, placing you higher up the rankings.

3. It gives your company personality. Whether it is the CEO, the MD, the Marketing Director, Sue in accounts or all of them, a blog offers a critical insight into the people that make the company tick. Sure your products and services are world beaters, but people do business with people. Don’t miss the opportunity to set a tone and deliver insight by drawing on contributions from your key people. Taking a group collaboration approach also means the workload is shared.

4. It creates experts. Over time, certain contributors will build a name for themselves on certain topics. They may even roll out their blogging to industry recognised sites, write their own and access the speaking circuit. Use them and their rising profile for the good of the business.

5. Blog content offers a perfect foundation for an entire marketing plan of activity. I’ve written extensively on the topic of content marketing. Having something to say, content that people can use, and content that can be distributed widely and re-purposed for use in all marketing channels makes it a natural prerequisite  of any modern marketing plan.

6. It stimulates community. The focused and sharing nature of a blog site provides a great opportunity to bring like minded people together and can position your blog as a hub, a place for the important discussions. Community leads to greater engagement.

7. It draws prospects out and makes them more receptive to working with you. As a business, there needs to be some tangible end point to the ideas, counsel and best practice you are providing through your blog. What the blog does over time is paint the picture of a knowledgable, forward thinking, approachable business that your readers may want to do business with in the future.

Follow up blog activity with opt in emails, webinars and white papers to really hammer home your credentials, to deepen relationships and to help ease the move to business transaction.

There are many other reasons for businesses to blog? What drives you to blog your business?

Want more?

Five ways to get more readers to your blog,

Why, what and how to blog,

Image: Labour List

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Is social taking over search?

There is without doubt a growing influence of social media sites and profiles on search. With 750m Facebook users, 200m users of Twitter, 1bn daily users of Google and well over 100m on Linkedin before we even look at video, image, document sharing, bookmarking and so on, it is a phenomenon that shows little sign of abating.

Sharing is at the heart of all social media and increasingly search results too as this Slideshare illustrates. The risk is that search results become less relevant as they are based more on recommendations on social media rather than objective search engine optimisation but time will tell.

For now, keep looking for and using your ‘like’ , ‘share’ and ‘+’ buttons, especially those below!

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4 reasons to consider outsourcing (some) of your b2b social media activities

Committing to any form of outsourcing in simplistic terms means you have to pay for a service. Yet Social Media Examiner’s 2011 survey found that over 72% of marketers still retain in-house control of social media campaigns.

So why consider outsourcing some elements of your social media activity when the whole point is supposed to be about personal engagement of prospects and customers and the creation of deeper relationships?

By paying for external support with your social media you will have to:

1. PLAN: Outline what you want to achieve to a third party which means you will have to provide a written brief detailing what you want social media to do for your business.

2. GOALS: Set objectives that will give you something to frame your activity within, to work towards and to evaluate your success against.

3. ROI: Deciding how success is going to be measured helps to quantify what the return on investment your management can expect to see.

4. CREATIVE: You may not have the creative spark (the big idea), technical expertise (to translate dry product information into high impact lead generating content) or in-house resource to develop a relevant and durable social media campaign.

Going through the process of explaining what you plan to do opens up your plans to scrutiny, which brings clarity. And whilst bringing in the experts naturally creates an additional cost,  managed well, you may just execute sharper, focused more creative and more relevant social media campaigns as a result.

Image: Tom Fishburne

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Marketing lessons for brands from the News of the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, after a frenzied seven days, News International closed the door on one of the world’s oldest and most popular newspapers yesterday.

At the time of writing this blog, none of the senior management responsible for one of the darkest periods in British newspaper history have fallen on their swords, but a loss making though popular Sunday tabloid has been shut down, with the loss of hundreds of jobs. And the rumours swirling even before Thursday’s BBC Question Time were that the paper will be quickly replaced by The Sun on Sunday.

From a marketing perspective, it was interesting to watch the discussion unfold as to the reaction of advertisers, their brands and their promotion using channels like tabloid newspapers to access huge demographic groups.

In some cases, it could be seen that first movers like Ford made the decision to remove their advertising with ethical considerations in mind. But in others, surprisingly brands including The Cooperative waited too long, wanting to see how far and how deep public anger would run before clarifying their position.

Marketers must take some critical learnings from this sorry episode.

1. Chose your marketing partners wisely. Your reputation and integrity are intrinsically linked once you do.

2. Whether it is advertising, direct marketing, sponsorship or PR, be mindful that the Internet and portals like Twitter have changed the game forever, transferring power to the public. We saw this week the ease of viral spread of online petitions, lists of target companies,  pre-populated emails and tweets.

3. Deal quickly and decisively and communicate your position and intentions as transparently as you can. Some advertisers had to run adverts in the magazine supplement which was already printed and were quick to advise.

4. Remember corporate social responsibility isn’t just a fad to be included as a bolt on in your marketing plan. Increasingly, it is a critical point of difference and the companies that embody it stand head and shoulders apart from those that merely pay it lip service.

Call me cynical, but I wonder if brands like Halifax, T-Mobile, Virgin and Tesco didn’t just switch their allegiances to other papers on Sunday AND continue to work with the News International stable. Waiting for The Sun on Sunday.

Yes it’s time to make a stand, but as we’re seeing, business is still business. Will marketers learn anything and even remember all this in twelve months time? I’m not so sure.

Image: The Telegraph

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Links worth a click #7

Some digital titbits to start your week with.

GOOGLEWant to know more about the almighty battle going on between Google and Facebook right now and need an explanation of the key battlefields? Check out this must read piece on Google’s strategy to dominate on six fronts including search, mobile, browsing, local, social and technology.

B2B SOCIAL MEDIA: Interesting piece on locating and engaging with your connections online 5 Ways to Find Your B2B Company’s Online Fans

FOCUS ON BLOGGING: Three posts dedicated to the channel of blogging. First an interesting piece on 21 common blogging mistakes and how to fix them. Next some great advice on using a blog as a viral online publishing hub, and finally a useful piece on the biggest benefits of a company blog.

Image: Ark Wildlife

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