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.

Happy 1-Year Blog Anniversary to Me!

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By Sue Brady

birthday-border-edges

It’s been exactly one year since I posted my first article to this blog. It’s taken me down many paths and I’ve met some really cool people as a result. For my anniversary post, I thought I’d call out some of my ‘most read’ posts for your enjoyment…just in case you missed them. Next week’s post will return to the Social Advertising 101 series (Parts 1 – Facebook and 2 – Twitter can be found here).

Maybe it should come as no surprise that not all of the popular posts were marketing related. Enjoy the reads!

Creating Content: 6 Goldmines for Finding Relevant Topics

How to Setup Twitter, LInkedIn, and Facebook for your Business

Why Everyone Should Take Acting Classes

The Multi-touch, Multi-device Attribution Dilemma

How I Added Two Hours Back to my Day

Is Native Advertising the New Online Banner?

How to Handle an Internet Troll

You Are Losing Sales if you Don’t Buy Your Own Branded Terms

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Awesome Ideas for Generating Blog Content

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By Sue Brady

An idea!

The hardest part about writing a blog is generating meaningful content for your audience. The real trick to fresh content is opening up your mind to the resources already at your disposal. Maybe you need a quiet place to work, or maybe you’re like me and pick up your best ideas while exercising. Know your content goals, and then try these tips to find ideas that will work for your audience.

  1. The News. Most news sources sort their content by topic. Are you writing about tech issues? Visit the technology section and see what’s trending.
  2. Social Media. Find others who write about your topic too and see what they are posting on Twitter or on their blogs. If you follow any of your customers/potential customers, see what they are talking about to determine if there are applicable topics. One way to use Twitter to identify relevant topics is to pick 5 people who you consider to be your targets. Look at all of their tweets over a 5-day period. Look at the links they are posting to see if there’s a common topic thread and write about that. You can also search Twitter and Facebook using a # in front of a topic to see what folks are posting about that topic.
  3. Your Call Center/Receptionist. If you use a call center, never underestimate the knowledge that your call center agents pick up from callers. These can be customer service calls or new business calls. Find out what callers are asking about, and write about those topics. If you are a small business, you or your receptionist probably spend a great deal of time on the phones. Start noticing recurring topics and write a post about that. You may even head off a customer service issue by writing about a solution before other customers have a chance to call in to complain about a problem.
  4. Employees. Ask around and find out what other departments are hearing. You might even have an employee who wants to write an article for you. I’ve gotten ideas from my boss, from the tech department, and even from someone in the finance department (and I write on marketing topics!). And of course, if you have a Sales department, they’ll provide a wealth of ideas.
  5. Thought Leaders. Know your industry’s thought leaders and see what they are writing about. Or, call one of them up and see if they’ll give you an interview. Or perhaps they’ll answer some questions via email if you can’t get them on the phone.
  6. User Reviews. If your product has online reviews, see if there are recurring features or benefits and use those as topics for your next post. And read the comments that others leave after reviews to see if there is a frequently asked question that you can write a post about.

Quiet Place

If You Build it, They Will Come: How to Get Facebook to Work for You

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By Sue BradyBuild a social media plan

With over 500,000 million active users, Facebook is an important tool for your social media strategy. If you aren’t sure how to set up your page, you can read this post. If your page is already setup, read on.

Goals. What do you want to get out of Facebook? Is your goal customer engagement? Are you trying to reach influencers to spread the word about your product? Do you want prospective employees to see your page and want to come work for you? Or is your goal simply to get as many followers for your page as you can (aka ‘likes’) in the hopes of driving more business?

Content. After you’ve set your goals, think about what you want to post about. Your topics should support your goals. Are all of your posts going to be product-centric, can they Editorial Calendars are Importantvary with the seasons, do you want to include personal stories about some of your employees? Whatever it is, establish a content calendar to help guide you. This calendar can help you organize all of your social media content (across different media), and probably should. I have a client who lets multiple people post dependent on the day, but the theme for the content is provided by management. Your content calendar can be a simple excel sheet that tracks date, title, topic and keywords.

Content Sources. Sources of content are plentiful. Think about asking your sales people for the types of questions they hear from customers. Or talk to your customer service phone or sales reps. They have daily interactions and are a wealth of information. Ask other employees if they have a pertinent topic they’d like to write about. Take a look at your competitors and see what they are writing about. Or check out what experts in your industry are saying.

Posting. Decide on your posting frequency. Will it be multiple times a day, daily, weekly, monthly? It’s important that you are clear here. If you post too much, fans may ‘unfollow’ you. And the same may happen if you don’t post enough. Facebook is a visual medium, so post with pictures. Here are some statistics from KISSmetrics that show the value of posting with pictures:

  • Posts with photos get 53% more likesPhotos with likes get more shares
  • Posts with photos get 104% more comments
  • Posts with photos get 84% more click-thrus

KISSmetrics also states that posting with a question generates 100% more comments than posting a statement. Get users to engage with your brand by asking questions!

Gaining Fans

  • Ask your personal network to ‘like’ your business page. It’s a great way to gain exposure early on, and to generate some immediate buzz and activity on your feed.
  • Include ‘Please share this’ in your post. You’ll generate more shares that way.
  • Advertise. Advertising on Facebook took a while to work for many brands. But that’s been changing. I know a company who went from a fan base of less than a few hundred followers to over 5,000 fans in three months. How? After about 6-months on Facebook they started running ads that offered a cents off coupon. Now they are enjoying much greater customer engagement, with fairly frequent posts from customers on their page. Facebook has some easy to use methods to help you maximize return on your advertising. This post is a great read on the subject. (Little known fact from the folks at Hubspot: you can test your messaging before you run your ad by creating unpublished posts, known as dark posts. Dark posts appear in the News Feed but not on your timeline. This article tells you how to do it.) If you aren’t sure how to get started, here’s another gem from Hubspot explaining the options.

Why do consumers follow brands?

  • It’s no secret that a big reason consumers like brands is because they are hoping for coupons. In a survey by market research company Lab42, they found that 77% of those who had ‘liked’ a brand saved money as a result. Tweet that stat! In the same study, 69% said they ‘liked’ a brand because a friend did.
  • Understand the Facebook Algorithm. Facebook’s goal is to keep users interested, and to do that, they show content they think will be of interest, based on past behaviors. It’s important to understand this because it impacts how your posts will be ranked. Rank is determined through an algorithm, formerly known as EdgeRank. EdgeRank was created as a way to prioritize stories in a user’s news feed and referred to the concept of ‘gaining an edge.’ The key elements have remained the same over the years, although according to Facebook, they now use over 100,000 factors.

Key Elements in Facebook’s EdgeRank

  • Affinity Score – This is based on an action the user took, his ‘closeness’ to the person posting, and how much time has passed since the posting. Commenting on someone’s posts, or ‘liking’ those posts, increases a fan’s affinity to a brand. ‘Liking’ gives that brand an edge.
  • Edge Weight – Edges are weighted based on the effort required on the part of the user. Leaving a comment has more weight than leaving a ‘like.’ A video view has more weight than leaving a comment.
  • Time Decay – This refers to the length of time that has passed since an edge was created. As time passes, it loses value. However, if a story is very popular, even if it’s a few hours old, it could be bumped to the top of a feed.

You can read more about EdgeRank here.

3. Promotions. Promotions are a great way to garner fans on Facebook. But there are rules that have to be followed. The rules around promotions continue to evolve, so make sure you are using the most current set. For instance, it is now okay to use the ‘like’ functionality as a way to collect entries. Here’s a summary of the <current> Facebook rules as of August, 2013. You also must follow local and national rules imposed by the government (check with your lawyer!).

Be prepared for trolls. A troll is someone who frequently posts negative comments on your page. Trolls can be problematic. They may have a legitimate beef with your company or maybe they have nothing better to do. Have a plan. And, let management know that they are likely to see some negative comments on the company Facebook page. No surprises. And also let them know you have a plan.

See you on Facebook!

Owning Your Media: Some Content Marketing Basics

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By Sue Brady

Typewriter

Owned, Earned and Paid.

All three of these media types may play an important part in your marketing strategy. ‘Owned’ media refers to channels that you control such as your company Facebook page or blog. ‘Earned’ media is in essence word of mouth. When someone shares your content, that’s earned. ‘Bought’ is media you purchase, such as an ad or event sponsorship.

The focus of this article is content marketing for your Owned media.

What is content marketing?  Content marketing refers to published information designed to acquire, educate or engage prospects and customers. Content published in this way needs to be valuable to the reader and should be an integral part of your marketing strategy.  Content marketing is not a way to sell…at least not directly.  Rather, it’s a way to provide information that your prospects and customers will find useful.

How can you get started? First, clearly define your goals.  It’s not enough to just publish articles and blog posts. You need to understand what you hope to accomplish with your content. Is your goal to show that you are the thought leader in your field and therefore the place to go for specific types of information? Is your goal to educate your prospects about the capabilities of your products? Is it to dive into topics of interest to your target audience? Whatever you decide will drive how you go about choosing topics, writing about them, and ultimately publishing.

Your content marketing really breaks down into these main steps:

  1. Decide on a strategy to best meet your established goals (see above). To figure out your strategy, think about some basic things: What am I trying to solve for my customers? What type of content do they like to see? What’s my end game (what do I want to achieve)? Additionally, you should think about how you want to use your content. Are there multiple channels where you can use versions of the same content? This step should also include identifying where you want to post.
  2. Identify your audience. You need to know who you are writing for so that you can choose topics of interest.
  3. Decide how frequently you are going to post. This may not sound important, but if you want people to keep coming back, you need to keep your content fresh.
  4. Create an editorial calendar. Calendar-Clip-Art-FreeThis will help you to keep your content organized. There are templates available for no cost on the web. I use a simple spreadsheet with the dates down the sides and the following column headings: Article Title, published/not published, category, and keywords/tags. I try to schedule topics for myself as far out as possible so that I have a working list to guide my efforts.
  5. Start writing. This sounds easy but of course is not. There are a number of steps involved with the actual writing
    1. Generate topic ideas (here are 6 Goldmines for finding relevant topics). In addition to those 6 goldmines, make sure to take a peak at what your competition is writing about to see if their topics make sense for you too.
    2. Consider SEO in your writing.
      1. SEO (search engine optimization) is important for search engines like Google to be able to find you in their searches. Do some research to figure out what terms your prospective customers are searching on and make sure you include those words in your article. You don’t want to overdo it, but you want to make sure your content is found.
      2. Note that Google+ is also important for SEO. While Google+ is unproven as a means to gain customers, Google itself considers Google+ presence when ranking content. So open up a Google+ account and post your content there. It’s free and can only help with your rankings.
      3. Once you’ve created your account, make sure Google knows who you are. You do this through Google Authorship and it’s how Google knows to start looking for you when someone searches on relevant terms. You can do that here. Doing this also means that when you do show up in a search, your name will be visible in the listing.
    3. Create an outline for the article. To be honest, I don’t always put this to paper, but I always have an idea, at least in my head, of how I want a post to flow.
    4. After you write your post, go back over it carefully to delete redundancies, fix grammatical errors, and in general tighten it up.
  6. Respond to comments. Once you’ve published an article, check your post for reader comments and respond to them. It’s a great way to engage with your readers and help them to feel a personal connection.

Don’t be afraid to publish that first article. The first time is always the hardest.