The Perfect Couple: Content Marketing and Direct Marketing

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By Sue Brady

Thanks EELECTRIK marketing‏. @eelectriklady for this oldie!

Thanks EELECTRIK marketing‏. @eelectriklady for this oldie!

Direct Marketing and Content Marketing are often seen as two very different aspects of marketing. But in fact, as Wayne Hendry @ideakid88 so aptly tweeted: They are two sides of the same coin.

Earlier this week I was honored to be the ‘guest tweeter’ at Content Marketing Institute’s content marketing Twitter chat (#CMWorld is the hashtag and there is a weekly chat on Tuesdays at noon Eastern). The topic was how Content and Direct can (and should!) work together.

I have pulled together some of the conversation here. Great insight and learnings from the crowd and hopefully you’ll pick up some ideas to help with your own marketing. This was a lively group of intelligent marketers!

The first question helped define what direct marketing actually is, along with why content marketers should care:

Direct Marketing (aka direct response marketing, aka DM) refers to marketing efforts aimed directly at a consumer to drive a specific action. It’s all about finding out what resonates with your audience so that they’ll respond.

Mike Myers ‏@mikemyers614 Direct marketing and content marketing are perfect compliments…getting a targeted #audience to do something specific in both.

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Next question was about using DM to inform your content.

Question 2

Angela J. Ford ‏@aford21 uses customer response to direct marketing and turns questions she hears into to blog posts with step by step solutions.

And Marcel Digital ‏@marceldigital:

Direct marketing and direct engagement give you SO many content ideas – it’s straight from your clients! What are user questions? Issues? Ideas? How can you take that information and provide REAL value? CONTENT!

The real key here is seeing what your audience responds to in DM and using that to inform your content.

Lars Helgeson ‏@larshelgeson:

A great way to develop content is by seeing what resonates with your audience. What do they respond to? Write that.

Remember that one method of communication with your audience can inform all your communications. Listen to your audience when they talk to you!

Rosaline Raj ‏@creativechaosc:

When you have direct feedback from customers, you have a major advantage in creating valuable content.

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Crowd Content ‏@CrowdContent

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Question 3

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And some quotable tweets:

From Varun Kumar ‏@varunkr842 – Direct #Marketing is the gas station for your #contentmarketing vehicle

And from Liliana GH ‏@Liliholl – DM warms up your leads and content marketing helps them to convert.

And from Blue Fountain Media @BFMweb – With direct marketing you’re saying check this out and with content marketing you’re saying here’s why

Liliana GH @Liliholl reminded us: You want your DM to have the customer asking for more.

Question 4

 

There are many answers but consider what content is read most. Test those themes in a mailer, DRTV or space ad. And if some of your content creates social media buzz, use that in your DM to engage your audience.

Regarding how social and community management can support DM programs, think about how you can use your social posts to reinforce messages from your DM. If DM is touting a product benefit, soc. posts can talk about the same.

Social and community are all about listening and responding to customers:

Lars Helgeson ‏@larshelgeson: I think they go hand-in-hand. Your strategy should be integrated for better reach and exposure.

Lynn Suderman ‏@LynnSuderman also reminded the group that “affiliate & refer friend programs are an easy 1st step.”

Jeremy Bednarski ‏@JeremyBednarski “Your content, DM and social should all work together for a consistent message.”

Marcel Digital ‏@marceldigital “It gives you the language for copy that your audience is using to understand the need for your service / product.

SurveyGizmo ‏@SurveyGizmo “If you know what your audience is talking about, you can better respond, and put yourself in the position to be of relevance.”

Importantly too, social and communities can ID hot buttons. If you hear ‘they use cheap materials,’ test a message around quality in your DM.

As always, keeping a tab on your competition is so important and social/community can help you do that, while giving you great ideas for your DM (and content).

The Gary J. Nix ® ‏@Mr_McFly When listening, you’re not only listening for brand mentions. You have competitors, industry thoughts/changes, sentiment, etc

Vanessa LeBeau ‏@VanessaLeBeau2 Social media is a great way to learn what your competitors are offering and how their consumers are responding

I’ve only just skimmed the surface! You can read the full transcript of this Twitter chat here.

5 Sources for Inspiring Marketing Content

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By Sue Brady

IdeasIt’s not news that engaging, informative and interesting content is key to gaining readership and attracting visitors to your website. Many business websites have blogs. In fact, the number of blogs from January 2015 to January 2016 has risen by 25% to 276 million (source: statista.com).

And there are plenty of stats about how blogging can help a business. Just these three stats alone from Business2community.com should be enough to convince you that you need a blog on your website. Sites with blogs that have continual postings:

  • Have 97% more links to their site
  • Generate 55% more site visits
  • Have pages indexed <by search engines> 434% more often.

So where do you get the content for those blog posts?

The Competition – What does your competition post about? Reading your competitors’ content can give you a good sense for how they are positioning themselves. And, it can give you some good ideas for your own content.

Customers – Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you were in the market for your product, what would you want to know about? You can even take the step of asking some of your customers what’s important to them. All great fodder for future posts! Plus, your customers post on social media, sometimes about your company. Stay vigilant in tracking those posts so that you can identify topics that are of interest.

Your Salespeople – Ask your salespeople what objections they hear most often when they are on sales calls. Use those objections as a way to formulate content that counters them. You wouldn’t want to say: “Our customers say our product easily breaks. But our studies show…” Instead you’d write a post about how you build your product using the top materials available in the industry.

Your Customer Service Staff – These people are on the front-lines. They talk to your customers every day and have great insight. They may be able to identify potential issues that may come up on their calls, and if you can tease them out, you can write a post that counters an issue before it becomes a real problem. And, they hear about other things, not just issues. All of that can be turned into compelling blog posts.

Other Bloggers – Identify bloggers who write about your industry and actively read those blogs. They will be a great source of information that you can write about too.

Write on!

 

Content Goldmines Part 2

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By Sue Brady

Most companies these days post on various social media, or keep a blog as a part of their website. Usually the most difficult part is trying to figure out what to write about. Last year I wrote a post about great places to find inspiration for your content. That article mentions sources like:Idea

  • Talking to your sales team
  • Talking to customer service
  • Talking to other employees in your company

But there are other places to seek inspiration and here are just a few:

Senior Management. Interview senior management at your company and find out if it would add value to write content about something they know will be of interest later in the month/quarter/year.

Press Releases. Check press releases from your company and from your competition to see if there’s anything that would make a good topic for some timely content.

Twitter. Start participating in Twitter chats. You can search by subject for scheduled chats here: http://tweetreports.com/twitter-chat-schedule/. You can actively participate in chats or you can anonymously read the chat as it’s taking place. And most make transcripts available after the chat. Twitter chats are a great way to learn about a particular topic and can also provide great ideas for content.

LinkedIn. LinkedIn groups are another great source for content ideas. By joining groups relevant to your business, you can read conversations taking place and gain insight into questions being asked.

Your competition. Do some web searching to see where your competition is turning up in the press. Perhaps they are participating in a ‘conversation’ where you also should be at the table. Or maybe they do something really well. By writing a post on that topic, you can start to position your own company as the subject matter expert in that area.

The key is to get creative and imagine where you might find inspiration. I’ve overheard conversations in airports that have lead to some interesting blog posts. You just never know where your next idea may come from.

 

 

Get Your Twitter On: The Changing World of Customer Service

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It’s no secret that social media is playing a bigger role than ever when it comes to customer service. Customers expect responses fast when they tweet to a brand. A study by Lithium (social software provider), found that 72% of consumers who tweet a complaint expect a response within one hour! Twitter understands the role it plays in enabling Customer Service and  recently removed the 140 character limit for direct messages. Now brands can direct message responses to customers without worrying about how many words they are using.

I recently attended a Content Marketing World (aka @CMIContent) Twitter chat. They cover great marketing topics that I find relevant. If you’re curious about something, it’s a great way to gain insights (and no one needs to know you’re there!).

Last week’s chat was about social media and customer service, with @jaybaer. I thought I’d recap some of the content that was shared because it was so good.

The first question to get us rolling was: How has social media changed the game for customer service? Here are some of the responses:

@mikemyers614: (social media) means the lights are always on and the “phone” must always be answered. We’re all 24/7 now.

@dmboutin: brands are accessible where people are already spending their time, instead of a 800 # in the fine print

@sgoldberger12: Social Media Has Amplified It. Those Who Engage Expect Quick Answers. Customer Service Is Ever More Important.

@ardath421 (social media) means that customer service needs to be served up wherever the customer wants it

@LeadPath (social media) allows us to respond at real time to customer concerns and feedback. It lets us engage with our customers

On the topic of how B2B is different from B2C in social media:

@LeadPath: With both B2B and B2C you need to remember you’re talking to customers.

@mewzikgirl: the advancement and immediacy of response/resolution in B2C has changed expectations, and B2B has to grow and adapt

The key thing to remember is that you are still talking to people, in both B2B and B2C.

On whether you should answer all questions posed to your company in social media:

‏‏@dmboutin: Yes. Look at cost of customer acquisition & retention then tell me addressing all concerns isn’t worth it

@Magnani_Dot_Com: The user doesn’t see all the messages being answered, they simply see theirs going unanswered.

‏@LUCYrk78: It’s 100% realistic. You make the time and team to ensure customers are listened to. It’s today’s expectation.

@netvantage: Realistic, no, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

‏@CTrappe “Thanks for your tweet” is not that great of a #custserv response.

‏@flinds: An effort should be made to address all complaints on (social media), even if just to tell them to email. Being noticed goes a long way.

 There were many suggestions on dealing with negative comments online.

@mikemyers614: Removing or editing is a dangerous thing. Chances are if one person says it, 10 more are experiencing it. Deal with it. Fast.

@Jaybaer : Respond to every hater, both the Offstage Haters (phone, email) and the Onstage Haters (social, review sites, forums).

Jay has a book about to be published on this very topic that I can’t wait to read. It’s called “Hug your Haters: How to Embrace your Complaints and Keep Your Customers.”

He adds: But my best tip is the rule of Two. Never respond more than twice online. Take it offline.

I wrote a post a while back on dealing with trolls. That might help too. You can read it here.

And on handling positive comments, the common answer thread was to turn those commenters into brand advocates by acknowledging them, retweeting them, doing something nice for them, asking them if you can use them as a recommendation. What others say about your business is so important. 90% of customers are influenced by reviews!

My daughter works for a minor league baseball team and sometimes is assigned to tweet during the games. She seriously texted me this just this afternoon, and I swear I did nothing to prompt it!

I’m so proud.

Don’t Make These Common Website Mistakes

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By Sue Brady

ABCsIf you haven’t evaluated your website recently, it might be time. Put on your customer hat as you take the journey through your site. Do you intuitively know where to click? Can you easily find what you’re after? Does the content make sense to you? If you’re using your mobile device, does it render properly, quickly and show you appropriate content?

The most important thing to remember is, make it easy. The harder you make it , the more likely your customers will leave. KISSmetrics gives the following reasons (among others) for why people leave websites: Poor navigation, too many ads, bad content structure, automatic video and audio content, registration required, poor legibility.

Here are 8 tried and true things to consider:

1. Do your navigation buttons match with the things users do most often when they come to your site? Look at your analytics to determine if you are calling out the right things. If you have a tab for Case Studies for instance, check to see if anyone is reading them. If not, perhaps something else should have the prominence, and your case studies should be moved.

2. Is it clear to the customer what they should do when they get to your site? There’s a difference between a landing page and a website. If a user has clicked your ad, they should end up on a landing page that makes sense based on the ad copy they just read. There should be a clear call to action so that the customer knows what you expect them to do.

It’s the same idea on your website. You’ve generated the visitor, now make sure they know what to do by visually giving them clues that lead them to: ‘Click here for product information,’ ‘look at this burst for our latest offer,’ ‘focus on our carousel for the latest and greatest products/information/offers.’ Quick note on carousels: I have read consumer studies showing that users don’t like them. Carousels move too quickly to read the offer and are too hard to get to the right screen if something was of interest. If you have one on your site, be thoughtful about how you use it.

3. Is it easy for users coming to your site to quickly figure out where to click if they want:

  • More information
  • To purchase your product
  • To contact you

4. Do your web pages load quickly? The Nielson Norman Group did a study that revealed that users stay less than a minute. Granted, their sample was mostly related to blogs and news stories, but it still should give you pause. More interesting, according to KISSmetrics, almost half of all website visitors expect pages to load in a couple of seconds or less, and 40% will leave if loading takes longer than 3 seconds. 3 SECONDS! Tweet that! That means you need your pages to load quickly, and immediately engage the reader.

5. Are you taking mobile into account? Everyone’s been talking about Google’s mobile search algorithm change scheduled for this Tuesday, April 21st, 2015. It seems as if that change will only impact the top 10 mobile organic search results. If you don’t have a mobile site, your results are not likely to organically show up when someone does a mobile search. But more importantly, if you do have a mobile site and it loads too slowly, the user will bail before you have a chance to engage. And if you don’t have a mobile site, your mobile user will bounce as soon as that becomes clear.

6. Is your site easy to read? This one is so obvious, but I continually see web pages that use reversed-out white type in their body copy. REVERSED OUT WHITE TYPE IS HARD TO READ! This is one of those changes that you should make to your site now…without testing! It’s been tested for you…lots of times. It’s fine to use it in titles, headlines and subheads, but a paragraph or more is too difficult to read.

7. Have you considered basic SEO practices in your site design? I’m referring to easy things like using your keywords in your content, especially on your home page, adding meta titles and page descriptions to your pages, including a site map at the footer of every page. You can read more about basic Google tips here.

8. Have you made it easy for your customers to buy from you? Make sure it’s easy to add products to the shopping cart. And then make it easy for them to check-out. Don’t force a registration or ask for information that you won’t use or don’t need to make the sale.

If you are looking to tweak your website, check out this article. It details a methodology that uses continual tesing and improvements to maximize the effectiveness of your website.

Remember to think like your customer. It will make your website a better place.