Content marketing is a powerful weapon for influencing brand development and attracting new customers. It is also among the fastest growing branches of digital marketing. If you’re a content marketing veteran, you know how important it is to keep up with the emerging trends and innovate. From implementing new technologies to putting new spins on old tactics, the content quality bar is rising. To help you level up, we present you with the ultimate content marketing tips for 2019.
1. Have a Documented Strategy
A great content strategy starts with a simple content marketing assessment. Did you know that marketers with a documented content marketing strategy are five times more likely to succeed? In order to leverage the full potential of content marketing, you need to have a guiding strategy.
A great content strategy starts with a simple content marketing assessment that identifies the primary challenges and outlines the steps you’ll take to overcome them. Certain points of interest like lead generation and SEO are a good start, from which you can customise the strategy depending on your specific goals. Furthermore, you should include a unique perspective of your organisation and find an approach that will set you apart from the competition.
2. Tell a Story
Sticking to the good old “How To” lists won’t always do the trick. That’s where brand storytelling kicks in. Brand storytelling gives a whole new perspective to content marketing and gives you an opportunity to connect authentically with your audience by humanising your brand. This is particularly important now, when people appreciate the brands they can connect with.
You can start by sharing your own experiences. How the company started and what it took to get it where it is now is an excellent beginning. You can also reach out to customers who claim your products have changed their lives. Talk about their experiences in a way that your potential customers can relate to.
3. Take Advantage of Live Video
It’s safe to say that video is the future of content marketing. Cisco’s predictions indicate that by 2021, video will take up as much as 80% of all internet traffic. The wide acceptance of the video format opens up numerous possibilities to communicate your story and build relationships. One of the trends that should be singled out is live video.
Facebook users spend triple the amount of time watching live videos over traditional videos. Similarly, social media stats show that Instagram’s videos get two times the views of its photos. Live video creates a real-time connection with the audience, driving engagement and response.
People love seeing their favourite brand humanised, showing that not everything is always perfect. There are endless possibilities, from using live streaming, hosting Q&A sessions, and giving product demonstrations, to hosting interviews with topic experts.
4. Embrace Artificial Intelligence
Ever since it was introduced, artificial intelligence has been one of the hottest topics in the marketing world. You can use this powerful technology for discovering keywords, planning blog topics, and reviewing analyses, as well as accessing data reports that would guide the creation process, shaping it for your core audience. Furthermore, AI-powered predictive intelligence enables the gathering of information that can be used for offering personalised experiences. You can instantly get valuable insight into what your target audience is searching for, when they do it, and what content would be the most successful at any given point.
5. Go for Micro-Influencers
Influencer marketing has come a long way. In 2009, content marketing strategies generated over £68.98 billion in revenue, and, in 2019, they’re expected to generate more than £237 billion. Influencers continue to utilise social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to grow their base of followers and then leverage them to ensure a six-figure income from featured brands.
But in 2019, predictions are that the micro-influencers — those with smaller yet dedicated following—will overshadow the ‘big sharks.’ The main reason for this shift is the lack of dedication coming from macro influencers as they take on more sponsored posts, thus reducing the authenticity and, as a result, the impact of the marketing. Micro-influencers, on the other hand, build more personal relationships with the audience, delivering an authentic message.
While there’s no doubt that it will continue to be one of the most important tools for boosting brand awareness, building trust, generating leads, and educating audiences, you need to be aware that trends change. Start with preparing a documented strategy, dive into your storytelling, embrace live video and AI, and you may as well proclaim yourself the king of content marketing.
According to an article by the American Marketing Association (AMA) in 2017, individuals are smacked with 10,000 marketing messages per day – but probably don’t remember even 1%, because as savvy consumers, we’re experts at tuning out marketing and advertising, unless it strikes us personally. From advertisers who scream in their ads, “Buy me because I’m awesome” to marketers who say “content, content, content – oh, and read this, too.” Mainstream and viral forms of media seem to communicate with arrogance, as if we, as media consumers, should wait with bated breath.
If someone talks AT you instead of TO you, do you listen? (Let’s hope the answer is NO!) Marketing is no different. Prospects and customers (and every stage between, before, and after), want to be part of a conversation, not a victim of a marketing rant. Her's how to do it right
SAVE YOUR BREATH FOR THOSE WHO CARE
Not everyone will be a prospect for your company. If you do business right, only a sliver of what you consider your target market will be a prospect. If you make it seem like you sell to everyone, you’re not targeting anyone. Step back, study, and consider who you want to appeal to. Don’t be afraid to pick verticals and be intentional about who you want to target. Prospects may want to find a company they like, know, and trust, but your business also deserves to work with customers you like, know, and trust.
PERSONALISE, BUT DON’T BE OVER THE TOP
Everyone knows there are personalisation tokens in emails that sync up to your contact database, but if you insert too many, you’re practically begging to look like a marketing automation robot.
Remember about saving your breath for those who care? Try personalising emails with information that relates directly to the prospect; for example, include an interesting fact you learned about the prospect, follow up on an event the prospect shared with you, etc. If you show you care, if your empathy is apparent, if you see more than a number or an email address, you’ll set yourself ahead of the competition. You can’t beat authenticity.
EMPATHY WINS. ALWAYS.
Merriam-Webster defines empathy as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.
Doesn’t it make you feel good just reading this definition?
Empathy pulls at your heartstrings. It makes you feel alive. It makes you feel appreciated and understood. From a prospect’s perspective, it makes them feel like their challenges and problems matter. Having received empathy is a building block to the foundation of trust. And you know where trust gets you in a relationship – everywhere.
If you can’t be empathetic in your communication and how you handle prospects, customers, and colleagues, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Go beyond being believable – be real.
CREATE CONTENT THAT MATTERS
Your marketing folder is likely chock full of stuff – eBooks, webinars, guides, etc. But do the marketing materials truly matter? And salespeople, this goes for your sales materials, too. Yes, it may have taken a lot of time and money to create that eBook three years ago, but if there isn’t authentic value in the material, don’t offer it to your prospects. There’s no sense in judging their intelligence or wasting their time.
Instead, focus on creating marketing content that’s engaging and packed with valuable insight and expertise that goes above and beyond what your competitors are offering. Invest in quality content writing, killer graphic design, and an aesthetically pleasing layout. (Shameless plug: talk to our team at Leading Results to nail the above.)
Your prospects are testing the waters to see if your company is the best fit, and this is when you put your best foot forward. You can’t know – or even predict – how they find you first, so make sure every interaction with your prospects is top notch.
BE WHERE IT MATTERS
I’m a rock fan, and I thought of the song ‘Everything’ by Everclear, a 90s alternative rock band, as soon as I thought of this blog.
You do what you do
You say what you say
You try to be everything to everyone
You know all the right people
You play all the right games
You always try to be
Everything to everyone
It’s exhausting to be everything to everyone, and it’s exhausting to be everywhere to attract … no one. Remember: if you target everyone, you’re selling to no one.
If you’re intentional about prospecting to your defined target market, be where they are. If your target market reads scientific journals, then by gosh, your company better be finding creative, engaging ways to be seen in scientific circles. The important thing is to avoid wasting your time in spaces your target market doesn’t frequent. You’re wasting time, energy, and resources that could put you in front of the prospects best suited for your company.
Clear goals, a clear direction, empathy, and authenticity win. This form of marketing and communication isn’t just refreshing, it’s how prospects want to be courted. It’s how HUMANS want to be treated.
Does your marketing need humanisation? Contact us – we’d love to chat with you about a marketing strategy and program that will align and resonate with your target market and prospect base.
The rise of smart phones, apps and mobile internet access has made the mobile phone a key battleground in the fight for new business and customers' attention.
Although the pace of technological change gives you the chance to try innovative techniques and ideas, there are still opportunities for more traditional kinds of mobile marketing, like text message campaigns.
One of the main attractions of mobile marketing is that mobile phones are almost always switched on and people usually have them to hand. That means text messages (also called SMSs, for 'short messaging service') are usually read.
Mobile internet is growing fast
What's more, the mobile phone has become the first place people turn in all kinds of situations: to check for directions or to look up the price of a product, for example - indeed, to find any information online. Because people use their phones in these ways, your business can benefit hugely from intelligent mobile marketing.
In fact, the majority of people in the UK now access the internet from mobile devices. This means potential customers are going to try and reach your business via their mobile phones whether you like it or not. You need to consider the experience they have.
Mobile marketing improves satisfaction
For small businesses in particular, the mobile phone offers exciting opportunities to improve customer service and satisfaction. Texting and emailing customers on their mobile phones can be part of a better, more personal service. Sending details of promotions and events can boost business.
If you're more ambitious, you can create your own mobile app. But whatever you do, you need to mobile-optimise your website so that people using smart phones can find what they're looking for.
With the mobile landscape still changing swiftly, don't regard mobile marketing as separate to your other marketing efforts. In particular, it's becoming harder to determine where online marketing ends and mobile marketing begins.
With mobile internet access commonplace, you must consider mobile users whenever you're changing your website or sending a marketing email. (Statistics suggest most emails are now opened on mobile devices, so it's vital your emails are readable on small screens.)
You can't control how or when people use their mobile phones. And as other mobile devices like tablet computers become widely used, the mobile world will only continue to grow.
Using mobile phones to inform your customers
When it comes to mobile marketing, small firms often have an advantage over big brand names because they already have a personal relationship with customers. As a result, contacting them by mobile phone does not appear so intrusive.
Many small businesses can benefit from mobile phone communication. For example, local entertainment businesses such as restaurants can use text and email marketing to advertise special events. And retailers can text details of sales or vouchers timed to catch shoppers in the right place.
Businesses that work by appointment, such as opticians or hair salons, are ideally placed to use text messages or apps to send reminders and to alert customers when it's time to book their next appointment. What's more, they can send special offers and details of last-minute availability.
Mobile marketing targeting
Smart phones offer some interesting targeting opportunities. Most are equipped with location services, which means they can determine their location via GPS.
Your mobile app or website can use this facility to direct customers to their nearest branch, or to display special offers when people are in your neighbourhood.
With the right timing, this sort of targeting is valuable. Contact shoppers when they are on the high street - at the weekend - and you increase the potential for new business. But whatever you do, never send intrusive messages at unsocial hours.
Finally, remember that if you intend to contact customers via text messages or calling their mobile phones, you need permission - just as with all other direct marketing.
If you're marketing to a local audience, there are more tools available than ever to help you. In this blog find out how you can use online services, as well as traditional marketing techniques, to attract local customers.
Appealing to local customers is easier than ever. And it's not just about flyers and local ads; technology can also be used to market at town or even postcode level.
It's just easier to market within a defined geography, for example, in theory I can consult across the whole of Europe, but in practice I keep to my home town and neighbouring counties. I can network locally, I can use local marketing techniques, and there are enough customers in the catchment area to keep me busy. It's about fishing where the fish are.
Get listed in local directories
The internet is an increasingly powerful local marketing tool. As a first step, you can get listed with Google My Business so customers searching Google and Google Maps find your contact details.
Free Index is another free online directory. With FreeIndex, your local customers can add reviews. The more positive reviews you get, the higher up the index you go. Basic listings on sites such as Thomsonlocal.com and Yell.com are also free.
Location-based social networking
Another easy step to ensure local customers find you online is to optimise your website for local searches. At its most basic, this means including your operating area in the keywords of all pages and page title fields, and adding as many relevant backlinks (links from other local websites) as possible.
Increasingly, social media is also lending itself to local marketing. Restaurants, bars and shops, for example, might consider listing on Foursquare, a free location-based mobile app that uses global positioning data to allow people to share information about places to eat, drink, shop or visit. Users can pick up automatic suggestions on where to go from within their vicinity.
Traditional marketing for local businesses
Face-to-face networking can be an extremely effective way of building local custom, particularly for business-to-business customers. If someone has met you, they are much more likely to want to use your firm or refer you.
Networking can also help you develop marketing partnerships with local, complementary businesses. For example, a high-street wedding dress designer and florist may find it valuable to promote each other in their marketing.
Other traditional marketing techniques you could use to attract local custom include targeted leaflet drops, press releases to local media and local sponsorship.
Evaluating response to your local marketing
To ensure you're spending your time wisely, measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Put in tracking mechanisms so you can measure how successful each technique is. Evaluating web-based marketing can be easy using Google Analytics, which is free, but if you do only one thing, ask all new customers how they heard of your company.
Lisa Hunter is an experienced Marketing, Events and Project Manager. She has over 10 years’ experience working in the IT and marketing industry, delivering strategic marketing support and managing creative projects for a wide-range of clients. In this blog she shares her knowledge and experiences…we hope you enjoy it.