Can you imagine speaking directly to a captive audience of potential customers? I’m not talking about the room of people you might find at a conference or seminar, but potentially tens of thousands of prospective...
Tag - online content
Having an effective digital marketing strategy is central to creating a successful and recognisable brand in today’s digital age. With so many markets in a state of flux, being able to pivot in real-time to adapt to changing market needs is one of digital marketing’s key benefits.
SolarQuotes is a company that used digital marketing to do just that. The company helps Australians buy solar power for their homes and business.
Finn Peacock, CEO and Founder, started SolarQuotes with just $500 for Google Ads using the free wi-fi at his local public library. The company’s website now contains over 17,000 reviews of solar installers, solar panels and inverters.
Thanks to a strong digital marketing strategy, SolarQuotes now turns over about $3 million per year. While still a small business, there are several valuable lessons brand owners can learn from SolarQuotes’ success.
Invest in Valuable Content.
To build those first Google Ads, SolarQuotes needed something to advertise. Over time, the company has built up an arsenal of articles, blog posts and practical tools to help its users navigate the solar market.
These types of articles aren’t just general information about the industry, they contain useful and actionable advice and tools for their audience. You can read about how a specific product like The Sonnen Battery has an unclear warranty or about how leaders in the industry, like Tesla, are faring.
These articles highlight the key thing your content needs to perform well both organically and with paid ads: real value for your target audience. Don’t get too excited though—it’s not enough to just provide value. Your content must end up in front of the right eyes.
Leverage PPC ads wisely.
For SolarQuotes, these paid ads came in the form of Google Ads. There are many other options, like working with advertising technology that re-targets prospects, or social media ads that find a home for your content in already built niche audiences.
The SolarQuotes team has spent six years building up their Adwords account into a “highly optimised machine,” and therefore can rely on their ability to successfully target the market.
That initial $500 I told you about earlier—that went towards design, coding and the cost of clicks.
Peacock explained his strategy to The Sydney Morning Herald:
“I put up the website, tested the concept and when it looked like it had legs, I started spending on the credit card.” His next outlay was around $3,000 on advertising. “I only did it after I was confident that I would get a return,” said Peacock.
These Google ads helped him drive traffic to his website, but once these audience members were there, he had to figure out a way to keep them there.
Grow your Audience and Keep them Happy.
The company kept their audience with organic (in other words free) strategies. In addition to its website, SolarQuotes has several social media channels for which they have built a pretty robust following.
Their Facebook (26,000 likes), Twitter (791 followers with tweets every day), Google+ (423 followers), RSS, YouTube and Pinterest accounts all work toward distributing their content and allowing them to engage with their highly-active audience.
Build Media Relationships.
They didn’t just stop with content. SolarQuotes developed a mobile strategy that would allow them to harness the power of technology via apps.
The company featured several ‘Current Solar Incentive’ apps on various media websites like The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times, Weather Zone and more. They didn’t just talk about their product either, they grew their audience by talking about their success story, and putting a face behind their brand.
Most importantly, SolarQuotes saw huge digital marketing success with their customer testimonials.
Their website features numerous testimonials from real customers and includes a blog that focuses solely on solar panel issues that customers may experience.
These testimonials and articles help build trust with new prospects that find SolarQuotes on the web and drive more leads for their business every day.
SolarQuotes’ success makes for a great story, but it isn’t unique. Businesses across the world are finding success by taking their digital marketing strategies to the next level.
There is one thing you can do to ensure your digital marketing success—ensure that the content, messaging and media coverage you promote is valuable to your audience. It’s through them that your business will inevitably grow.
Content is not a magical formula that will make your target audience find your product and then breathlessly buy from you.
The power of actionable content comes from your ability to attract the right audience, enabling them to interact with you and then to elevate that relationship to the next level i.e. for them to become a customer.
So, how do you make your content actionable? Most importantly, you must give the reader, viewer or listener a sense of how they can – and should – apply that information to their own problems and experiences.
To begin your journey towards making your content more actionable you need to start by understanding what actionable content isn’t. It’s not condescending, it’s not obvious and it’s not something your reader can easily Google and find somewhere else. Actionable content gives your reader assurance that they best know how to use the information you’re giving them.
Content, of course comes in many styles, shapes and sizes but the most important thing to remember is that it has to be useful. Check out this great example for marketers, helping them build a comprehensive strategy, step by step.
At its core, actionable content has a few key steps that give you the best possible chance of succeeding every time.
Get your story straight — create and keep a good narrative.
Good writing is essential to all content, of course. The trick to making your content actionable is taking your good writing a step further and framing a narrative for your readers.
The proof is in the science. Researchers at Washington University in St Louis found that instead of just being able to produce facts presented to them, listeners of a story were living the narrative right alongside their protagonist.
This is a powerful tool for brands who want customers to understand how their product fits into their audience’s own narrative, not just communicate what they do.
You can differentiate yourself through your voice, relatability and the delivery of useful content.
The Humane Society of Silicon Valley had this dog adopted by telling a, yes humane and entertaining story about him—shaping a narrative instead of the traditional sad angle taken by most pet adoption societies:
Here’s what some of their readers had to say:
“[I]f you’re looking for a floor-sleeping, speed bump of a dog that minds his own business, strike Eddie clean off your list.”
“Actually he’s kind of a jerk. But he’s a jerk we believe in. We’re not expecting you to want to meet him but if you must, we really can’t deter you.”
This organisation urged their readers to take action through their narrative, and accomplished their goal because of the way they framed their content.
Speak directly to your customers and prospects.
If you’re wondering how to make your audience act, look no further than those who already have. Tapping into the minds of your customers and prospects is the perfect place to start, as many of them have already taken the action you’re looking to obtain from others.
Lean on your customer service and sales teams and find out what experiences they’ve had with your current customers. What questions do they ask? What problems are they facing every day?
Directly addressing these concerns is a powerful step towards making your content actionable.
Barry Feldman of Feldman creative told Forbes how this has worked for him:
“A client asked me to give her and her staff an SEO 101 in 15 minutes. I responded with a post that did exactly that and it caught fire and became one of the biggest drivers of traffic to my site ever.” — Barry Feldman, Founder, Feldman Creative
Getting to the right pain points and questions is just the first step. To make your content actionable, you must know how to ask them what you should do next. And then do it.
Get your audience to connect with you in person, not just through an email newsletter.
The most common call to action that marketers use in their content is a mechanism to get the reader to fork over their email address. They ask prospects to sign up for an email newsletter, subscribe to a blog or possibly another content series.
If you’re looking to connect with your audience on another level, try getting them to meet you online at a specific time and place.
There, you’ll be able to interact with them directly, and create a platform that will better allow you to drive the conversation towards moving them down the funnel.
“Trish Witkowski the Chief Folding Officer at Foldrite invites website visitors to sign up for her 60 Second Super Cool Fold of the Week every Thursday afternoon. She’s set an expectation for her audience and delivered on it every single week for years. And it works.” — Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships told Forbes.
Think about promotion first.
The last step should be your first. Before you even begin writing, designing or recording, you need to think about how you’re going to get this piece of content in front of your audience.
The #1 downfall of brands when trying content marketing is producing excessively promotional content. Boring. No one (and I mean no one) wants to promote your product unless you make it relevant to them.
Start by researching different publications that your customers frequent—find out who the industry experts are and build relationships with them. Shape content that they might want to share.
Another tactic is leveraging social media listening for topic distribution. Spend a day or two on different social media groups, hashtags and topics to find where your content might fit best, or find the most traction.
The goal is to create a long-term relationship between the content creator and content consumers.
To transform your content from bland to actionable include strong narratives, direct customer/prospect feedback, in-person call to actions and a rigid distribution strategy.
Humane Society Silicon Valley
Donald Trump teaching you marketing lessons? Seriously? Yes, seriously.
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has made the race for the White House fascinating. And fascinating doesn’t happen by chance.
Exceptional marketing combined with good old fashioned, in-your-face salesmanship are central to the success of his campaign – so far.
So putting aside your opinion on his politics, let’s look at what can be learned from Trump’s ‘Making America Great Again’ campaign.
Know Your Audience
Contrary to the opinion of many, Trump is no fool and knows his audience incredibly well. He has identified the pain and passion points of his supporters and has moulded his campaign accordingly.
As a digital marketer, this should be the first thing you do when devising a strategy. You need to know who you’re targeting, how to address their needs with valuable content and then get them to take action.
Yes, it sounds obvious but it’s astounding how many digital campaigns don’t have any compelling customer reasons for being.
Engage Your Audience at Every Touchpoint
Trump is particularly well-known for his power to motivate, outrage, and entertain his audience on Twitter but it’s not the only platform that his campaign uses.
Today’s campaigners are connected through multiple digital channels and are faced with an array of methods to reach out to their voters. This brings opportunity and challenges in equal measure. Get your content’s message, tone, and platform right, and you’ll win loyal supporters. Get it wrong, and your audience clicks over to the next hot thing.
Engaging with your audience through relevant social media platforms is important. While Facebook will always take a leading role, this year’s election campaign has seen candidates reaching beyond the social giant to more niche platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
Zig when Everyone Else Zags
From suggesting he paid Hillary to attend his wedding to the claim that Ted Cruz’s father was involved with JFK’s assassination, Trump marches to his own beat.
He does the opposite of what other politicians have been taught to do, but clearly it’s working.
Hillary Clinton says that all is wonderful with the USA; Trump says the complete opposite. By graphically highlighting the country’s problems real or supposed he offers the ultimate solution: him. America will only be great again if you vote for Trump.
The takeaway here is to take chances. Do something different. When everyone is focusing on eBooks and blogs, create a podcast or set up a Periscope account. When everyone goes horizontal, go vertical.
Want to Stay in the Game? Don’t Be Boring!
How many times have you listened to Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz? Do you remember a single thing they said or tweeted? I can’t either.
So how about The Donald?
Like most of us, I can easily rattle off any number of quotes, tweets and incidents from his campaign. Many of Trump’s tweets have taken on a life of their own, garnering enormous global coverage.
What does this tell you about his marketing?
Right from the outset, Trump has been outrageous, disrespectful, rude, controversial and, without fail, utterly compelling.
While his opponents were trying to cut through by spending many millions of dollars on advertising, Trump’s messages and style have earned him more free publicity and media time than all of his erstwhile Republican opponents: combined.
In the marketing world, Trump’s content stands head and shoulders above his competitors and makes people take notice. As a marketer, if you market the same old boring content everyone else is putting out there, no one’s going to see it or care.
From a content marketing perspective, be like Donald, not Jeb.
Build Rapport with Everyone, Even the Haters
This is a risky way to approach a digital marketing campaign but if your brand is ready to take a little heat, you can even get value from your haters.
Of course, while most of us don’t want to “feed the trolls,” Trump has a knack for beating his detractors
to the punch. When Ted Cruz didn’t endorse Trump on day three of the RNC, Trump was quick to tweet about it and turned a negative into a positive. Brave and smart.
Manage Your Brand or Domain
You may have heard about Trump redirecting Jeb Bush’s website to his own. Due to poor brand management, Bush’s team forgot to renew payment for their domain which meant that the address became available to anyone else. Trump’s team grabbed the opportunity and automatically redirected all visitors to his website.
Lesson: don’t be a digital dill. Make sure your domain payments are up-to-date or outsource management to someone who knows what the hell they’re doing!
Trump understands just how dramatically digital communication has changed the way we engage and has invested in his online presence. He has more than 23 million social media followers / likes, dramatically more than any his competitors for the Republican nomination. And 50% more than Hillary Clinton.
Like any successful digital marketer, Trump maintains an active presence and regularly tweets, posts and interacts with both friends and foes alike. He also stays abreast of the latest digital trends (he announced his intention to run on Periscope).
Offensive, buffoonish or smart? Whatever you feel about the man, there’s no denying his masterful use of digital marketing. There a thing or two we can learn from The Donald; or at least from his campaign.
a) Getty Images, Tom Pennington
c) CNN Money
“Be controversial to get traffic to your site.”
Sometimes, controversy can be a good thing. You can get people talking about your brand and gain more recognition. However, trying to be controversial is essentially playing with fire. It is so easy to stray a little too far into the controversy and have the whole thing blow up in your face. Also, it is almost impossible to sustain controversy for too long, and a digital marketing plan is one thing that needs to be sustainable.
“Don’t worry if you mess up. Just delete it.”
In the new age of the Internet, deleting something is incredible difficult. If you make a negative comment or a poor joke online, everyone can see it immediately. Even if you delete it as soon as you realise your mistake, thousands of people could already have seen it and they can share it with many more. Some people think the best advantage about the Internet is how quickly things can spread, but in some cases this can also be the greatest disadvantage.
“It doesn’t matter what you post about, just post as often as possible for new traffic.”
Although posting often is a good thing, if what you post is lousy or boring, it will not help your business get found online. You may get a lot of traffic early on, but readers will quickly get tired of sub-par posts and leave your site for good. This is a common mistake and all businesses should live by the recognisable saying “quality over quantity”.
“Establish a presence everywhere.”
There are SO many social networks and other ways to market you business online that it is almost impossible to be everywhere. The key is to focus on a few popular options and use them dedicatedly. Spending your time marketing on 10-15 different networks takes time away from doing other important things for your business. By focusing on the most important networks, you can effectively market your business without spending too much time managing profiles or updating information.
“Dealing with comments is hard, so it’s better to just disable comments altogether.”
Of all they bad advice out there, this one definitely takes the cake. First of all, people are going to express their opinions in other ways if they cannot comment. They will go on social media or other platforms, which makes it harder for you to manage the conversation. In addition, disabling comments makes you look like a company that is unable to deal with reality. Comments are supposed to help you to know what your readers are looking for. Comments could give you new ideas that help you grow and attract new customers. And yes, negative comments can be difficult to deal with. Readers can complain or unjustly criticise your company, making it hard to respond without hurting yourself. The best way to do this is just to be honest and genuine with your readers. Do your best to answer them if they have questions or help them if they have complaints, but the worst thing you can do is to not let them comment at all.
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Moving a letter one pixel to the left may be the digital equivalent to splitting hairs, but as it turns out, even small changes can have a big impact. Nowadays we know that you can achieve a 42% higher click-through-rate by not littering a page with more than one Call to Action (CTA). How do we know that? Well, someone actually tried to pit a website with just one CTA against another with two or more. As the majority of people in marketing are aware, changes to things like colour, positioning and size can actually make all the difference – but are they willing to take the time to do some serious experimenting?
Online design can differ enormously from one webpage to another. There are a number of unwritten rules; you might for instance want to adapt your site to the population’s F-shaped online reading behaviour, and people have come to expect contact details at the bottom of a site. But apart from those guidelines, it’s up to you. As your audience will constantly change their view of a good website, experimenting with new design and online solutions is very, very important.
We could present a number of statistics on user behaviour, but those would only provide general guidelines when all you really need is to be specific. At the end of the day the crowd of people visiting your website differs from the one visiting your competitors’. By adapting your digital platforms you can make sure to target the audience most relevant to you.
So how does one know what works on their website? Well, A/B testing of course! You pit your original website (version A) against one with a variation (version B) in order to find the best solution, thus allowing for information based decisions. This may be Marketing 101, but quite frankly A/B testing is something a whole bunch of marketers are not very good at. This is rather odd, considering tools such as Optimizely have turned A/B testing into child’s play.
You could for instance test out tweaking:
Copy length Wording Whether to use bullet points or not CTA button placement/colour Images
What matters are the bits and pieces that will help you reach your goals. If an image will increase traffic to your site – try it out. If a different colour will make a button more clickable, go for it. Just make sure to test both versions simultaneously and have patience – you won’t get reliable results in just a couple of hours.
In the fast paced world of digital marketing, it’s only natural that those in charge of a company’s marketing efforts want to avoid a creative stand-still. Creative forces want to do just that, create, and not dabble in the almost scientific world of A/B testing. The trial and error approach may be a great way of learning the ropes, but it is also a way of spending a budget at light-speed. A little testing will go a long way in today’s harsh marketing climate.
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image courtesy: monicamlewis.blogspot.com, ergonomics.ucr.edu
The art of good content relies on how well you say what you’ve got to say…
Good content can present itself in many forms. It doesn’t have to be rigorously planned, nor does it have to use every five-syllable word in the dictionary. One of the most important elements is rhythm. The ability to take a reader on a journey through your content at an enjoyable pace – allowing for pause when both text and reader) would benefit from it – is a skill that is undervalued by many web content producers.
When people pick up a piece of writing – any piece of writing, be it the product blurb on the back of a cereal box or the latest New York Times bestseller – they enter into a fragile bond of trust with the author. This trust is almost always complete when starting to read, but the delicate strands that tie the reader to the content can be irreparably broken when the author’s fallibility shows its face.
Imagine, if you will, that good content is a river that carries a passenger (the reader) downstream in a boat. The journey of the passenger is dependent upon the pace and consistency of the river to take her where she needs to go. Obvious typos, spelling mistakes, poor grammar and awkward syntax can throw a reader off-course in the content stream just as quickly as a rogue log, unseen waterfall or hidden rocks can overturn a boat in a river.
This is not to say good content must adhere strictly to every grammatical rule.
Because sometimes, the rhythm can be enhanced by flouting those rules a little – by starting a sentence with ‘because’, for instance.
Poor grammar and spelling disrupt a reader’s ability to engage with the content. In a website context, this can translate to a drop in readership, ranking and, consequently, sales.
Poor grammar and spelling disrupt a reader’s ability to engage with the content.
In the golden age of Google, where content is king but SEO is its advisor, the need for high-quality, intelligent and error-free copy has never been more important. Your web copy may be keyword-rich, but unless the copy is worth reading in the first place, SEO alone will not secure you high rankings.
Web-design best practice is to create a site that is easy to navigate; a virtual space that gently guides visitors to where they need to be in the shortest amount of time. Content is at the heart of this, which is why it cannot be approached as an afterthought.
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image sourced from: SEO Copywriting