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Archives for June 2016

Use data to drive your content marketing strategy

By Kate Lee | 06/27/2016 | 10:06 PM

Data driven content marketing

A data-driven content marketing strategy will increase your program’s success and help win the buy-in of executives.

What is driving your digital and content marketing strategy? If all you have in the driver’s seat are a few creative ideas, you may find yourself frustrated with the results and struggling to garner support from the C-Suite.

Different audiences respond in different ways. The question is, where are your potential new customers and what are they looking for? Data plays a critical role in uncovering those answers.

Data can guide you to:

  • Define your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? When can you best reach them?
  • Select the best topics for your content. What information do they need, and what will peak their interest? What do they seek most from the content they read?
  • Narrow down a distribution strategy that will produce results. Which digital and social media channels will best reach your audience, grow your business, increase sales, and improve your brand’s reach? Which networks are your competitors using most?
  • Gauge what is working and what is not. Reportedly, 53% of digital content marketers don’t measure their success. No wonder so many content marketing programs fail. If you don’t take the time to determine what content is resonating with your target audience, how will you know what to produce in the future?
  • Tune into market changes. As your business evolves and customers’ needs change, data serves as your compass to remain competitive in an ever-changing marketplace.

A data-driven strategy will win over the C-suite

In addition to giving you a foundation for your strategy, data can garner the support of the C-suite, which you must have in order to fund your marketing program. A plan based simply on ideas, no matter how brilliant, will not appeal to executives who base decisions on data.

They want to see how your marketing plan provides answers to the needs of your target audience (potential customers) and what those customers are worth to the company’s growth and success. If your strategy aligns with data, they’ll be able to get behind every point.

Creating a data-driven strategy

Aligning your strategy with data takes some time and effort, but it is crucial to optimizing the performance of your content marketing program and winning C-suite support. Here are some steps to get started.

  • Analyze your reports, data, and interviews with stakeholders in the company about your target customer. Compile this information, and document the very specific demographic(s) you want to reach. Research the digital behaviors and patterns of this demographic.
  • Audit your existing content (or hire an expert to do it). Look at the substance, source, and performance of your most successful and your least successful assets. Are there changes you can make to your poor-performing content to improve it, based on learnings from your successful content and your audience research?
  • Plan an editorial calendar of future content based on what has been successful in the past. Sharing this information and seeking ideas from employees outside the marketing department can be a very valuable exercise.
  • Test the distribution channels and times that have been most successful in the past and that fit the behaviors of your target audience. Continually refine your distribution strategy based on your results.
  • Don’t forget to document your strategy! Marketers who put it in writing report success at significantly higher rates than those who don’t document their strategies.

By distributing the right content, at the right time, to the right audience, on the right channels, your content marketing program will reach its maximum potential.

The key to lead generation: stop pitching, start helping

By Kate Lee | 06/20/2016 | 10:26 PM

Content marketing

Trying to pass your sales pitch off as content will only hurt your content marketing efforts.

Do you think of your company's blog as a refreshing new way to highlight your products or services? Do your posts include verbiage like “one-stop-shopping,” “innovative,” or “industry leader?” Stop right there. Everyone you reach probably knows right away that you are trying to sell them something, and they will quickly move on.

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, being “salesy” will make potential customers look elsewhere, or run in the opposite direction — perhaps to your competition. The best way to win customers is to stop boasting about yourself and to stop trying to sell. Content that answers your customer’s needs is what will grow your business.

Nobody welcomes a sales pitch

Admit it: you tune out anyone that comes across as trying to sell you something. You get emails, voicemails, and social media updates with “information” that is really a not-so-cleverly disguised sales pitch. What do you do? Most likely you hit delete, or you do not read past the first sign of a sales promotion.

So you know deep down that “salesy” does not sell. Yet, according to a recent study of 500 global marketers from the Economist Group, many B2B content marketing programs are doing just that: promoting products throughout their content efforts. In fact, 93% of the marketers surveyed said they directly connect content to a specific product or service.

Customers see right through this trick. The same study found the majority of B2B customers are annoyed by pitches. In fact, 71% of B2B executives reported that content they didn’t like seemed more like a sales pitch than valuable information.

Focus on your customers to increase sales

So what should you content be doing? Rather than forcing your products on your prospective customers, take time to answer their questions. Be the expert advice they are seeking. You do this by:

  • Keeping content informative and educational. Your content should hold value for your readers.
  • Letting your content demonstrate market expertise. It should give the reader a favorable impression of you and your business. They should walk away thinking that you know what you are talking about.
  • Write as if you are speaking to a business peer. You are approachable and intelligent. Speak the language of the customer, and bring something new to the table, in terms of information.
  • Focus on topics and questions of crucial importance to your target audience. What do they care about or want to know more about?

The philosophy of content marketing is to offer help, to educate, and, at times, to entertain your target audience. This is accomplished by focusing on the customers’ needs and interests, not your company’s latest product. When you form this online relationship with your audience, you gain their trust and respect, and that is what brings in sales.

A Social Strategy Can Help Break Your Company’s Silos

By Kate Lee | 06/15/2016 | 9:26 AM

Social media

A cross-departmental social strategy can help facilitate company collaboration.

In your company, social media should be everybody’s business. It is time for your social strategy to include broader collaboration, breaking down your company’s silos. Here is why:

Though marketing departments like to keep tight control over access to social media, doing this can cost you. Such isolation can impact:

  • Brand awareness
  • The quality and diversity of your content
  • Overall customer engagement on social media
  • Customer satisfaction and trust
  • Insight into industry trends, so you stay ahead of the competition

The truth is, social media is bigger than just the marketing department. It can help gain insight into what customers need, generate sales leads, answer questions, and distribute valuable information to consumers. It impacts many different aspects of your business, so it makes sense to tap into departmental intelligence throughout the company.

Allowing access to the right people, across multiple departments, could actually facilitate the ultimate company collaboration. Your business can realize the full potential of social media use, and your customers get better service.

Tearing Down the Silos

Often a company has several silos in place: sales, customer service, new product development, and marketing are just a few examples. Historically these departments do not work together, and the sharing of information is rare.

But the digital age has changed the way business is conducted. Consumers are not only buying online, they are researching before they buy and asking questions about products or services through social media channels. In fact, one study found that social media is asserting itself as the primary customer communication channel.

Response time is also a factor to consider. One Harvard Business Review report found that the number of customers who expect a response through social media has doubled since 2013, yet seven out of eight messages to companies go unanswered for 72 hours. Why? Because the marketing department often needs to obtain answers from other departments in order to respond.

If you are ready to tear down those company silos, here is how you begin:

  • Define goals and identify who will be on your new social media team. Who is knowledgeable, articulate, and can handle social media needs within each department?
  • Assign social responsibilities to key individuals throughout your company, perhaps one assigned person per department. This can be effective and make one-on-one customer engagement manageable.
  • Clearly define the roles and responsibilities for customer service, public relations, marketing, sales, management, etc.
  • Marketing professionals are not typically trained to answer questions or complaints about service or product issues. Since the customer service department may need to handle several questions through social media channels, consider assigning more than one person within this department to provide a timely response.
  • Tap into knowledge from all departments to generate ideas, information, and data for informative, fresh content creation.
  • Keep your brand voice consistent by crafting guidelines for the style and tone for all social media interactions. Compiling a list of dos and don’ts is always helpful so everyone knows how to respond in difficult situations.

Today’s consumers are on social media and ready to engage. The question is, do you have a cross-departmental team ready to respond quickly and work collaboratively to meet their needs?

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Kate Lee

Kate Lee

Kate Lee is the senior director of research and strategy for Fronetics Strategic Advisors, a Newburyport, Mass.-based consultancy that works with clients in industries including logistics and supply chain. She has over 20 years of domestic and international experience as a writer, researcher, and strategist.



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