Content Marketing Revolution

For the past 8 months, I’ve been writing a book called Content Marketing Revolution, which aims to helps businesses and individuals to attract more customers, increase sales and excite brand loyalty…all using highly-targetted content.

It’s no secret that traditional marketing tactics have been struggling to deliver the same results as they once did. Today’s consumers are looking to make more educated decisions based on information, trust and brand affinity. This is where content marketing comes in…

“Dane Brookes inspiringly guides you through the five key steps to success. This book is a must for marketers of all levels.”
Mark Langshaw, Digital Spy

Over the last decade, I’ve worked in marketing andcontent strategy in a variety of sectors, from small one-man-bands to FTSE 100 companies, from local traders to television companies in Nashville and New York. The book shares everything I have learnt along the way, with examples of tried and tested campaigns.

The book guides businesses through my five key steps towards developing, executing and monitoring a content marketing strategy to take control of their market. It also includes contributions from a selection of leading content experts I’ve worked with over the years, including Olivier award-winning writer, Mark Davies Markham, Emmy award-winning television producer, Debora Fougere and the University of Liverpool Media Relations Manager, Samantha Martin. The icing on the cake comes in the form of the foreword by Matt Warnock, Digital Editor in Chief at Philips.

The book is published by Giant Leap Media and is available in paperback and Kindle format. Find out more on the Content Marketing Revolution website or get a copy on Amazon.

Book-cover-inage-for-amazon

New content marketing hub
The book represent the first step towards a new content marketing hub Group Dane is creating in Liverpool. The hub will pull together a collection of the best content producers and strategists in the UK.

The new hub will pull together content specialists from all over the world, providing a range of services and resources to businesses of all sizes.

Sign up to find out out more about our new content marketing hub, Content Kicks.

dane-brookes-group-dane

Dane Brookes, Author and Director at Group Dane

Hotel guest experience starts online

If you ask any independent hotel manager what their priorities are for the next 12 months, increased online bookings and better reviews will figure prominently on the list.

Yet the solution most managers will come up with will be around increasing traffic to their website, increasing marketing initiatives and encouraging more happy customers to review the hotel. But what are the decision-making factors behind a booking? What are the reasons people leave good reviews? The answer each time is guest experience.

If your website visitors have a good experience online and they like the like what’s on offer, they will book. If your online experience isn’t great – if the booking system is clunky – if the site doesn’t work well on a mobile – if it’s hard to find the deal-closing information – visitors will not book. No matter how much web traffic you get to your site, you won’t hit your booking target unless you focus your attention on the guest experience.

hotelBut most hotel managers don’t realise that the customer experience doesn’t start when your guest arrives at the hotel – it starts as soon as they search Google or hit your homepage. According to Trip Advisor research, 87% of guests use the internet for the bulk of their travel planning and nine out of ten people will have some form of digital contact with the hotel prior to staying there. Yet, how many hotels are still failing to invest time and resources in digital channels like their websites, booking engines and social media profiles?

Whether it’s the hotel website, social media pages or profiles on third party sites, huge opportunities to influence customer decisions remain untapped. If you want to get ahead, keep the customer experience at the heart of everything you do, starting with your online front of house.

Below we’ve put together the top three considerations for your website and your social media activity…

Top three website tips

  1. Think first impressions

If your website is out of date, poorly designed and not fully functional, your visitors will expect the same when they arrive at your hotel. Your website is likely to be the first contact you have with customers, so make a good impression with strong content (including good quality photographs and clear, concise copy), a fresh professional design and no broken links or defunct features.

  1. Be mobile-friendly

It’s 2015; your website simply must work well on mobile devices like phones and tablets. If your website doesn’t look good or work effectively when your guests are on the move, they’ll more than likely move right on past you to one of your competitors’ websites.

  1. Keep structure and calls to action

So your potential guest has come to your website for a reason. Either they will are looking for information or they have come to book, so help them out and make your website structure as logical as possible. The big aim of your website is to either get them to book or get in touch, so wherever they are in the structure, make it obvious how they can do that.

Top three social media tips

  1. Be present

You really need to be where your customers are. If you aren’t using social media, you’re missing out on connecting with new customers and keeping in touch with current and past guests. The best sites for hotels are Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

  1. Always respond

Social is another communications channel, so treat it like one. If someone asks a question or makes a comment, make sure respond to it. Remember to be gracious with negative comments – don’t forget that everyone else is watching and judging how you respond to criticism. In this case, the best defense is never offense!

  1. Don’t just sell

Don’t use social media solely as a sales vehicle. People will quickly be turned off by overly sales-led messaging. Sure, talk about offers and encourage people to stay with you, but you’re going to need to be a bit more creative if you want people to listen. As a guide, only posts things that are in some way valuable, useful or interesting.

Hotels can get a free digital report from Guest Core which provides a full review of the hotel’s online performance, including booking engine, website and social media performance.

 

Posted by Kyle Brookes, digital sales and marketing specialist at Group Dane.

Plan now for Facebook and Twitter buy buttons

As Facebook and Twitter near the end of testing new buy buttons, businesses must start planning their social sales strategies.

The new social ecommerce functionality will revolutionise online buying behaviours, allowing businesses to sell products and services directly via status updates and social advertising, without the customer ever having to leave the platform.

The most digitally savvy businesses are already setting up social sales strategies that will position them competitively when the functionality is released.

take-actionBusinesses are set to enjoy a more tangible and measurable return on investment from social media activity in the form of direct buys rather than just likes and followers.

Traditional websites and ecommerce stores are likely to become a less important (even redundant in some cases) part of the sales journey, as social profiles are transformed into ecommerce sites.

Buy buttons not only signal the beginning of a shift in the way we use social media, they also further demonstrate the increasingly consolidated nature of our online experiences, as more and more traditionally separate elements are built into central platforms.

Over the next 12 months, we will see social media managers taking more of a merchants role, directly driving revenue and closing sales. This will create a whole new hybrid breed of social salespeople, with the most successful being those who can maintain the communities they have built without killing their influence with pervasive sales tactics.

Is your business ready to get competitive? Get in touch for a free social sales consultation.

Time for a digital health check

We all know that if we don’t look after our own health and lifestyle, we’re likely to get sick sooner or later. To most of us, this means eating the right food, limiting poisons like alcohol and caffeine, doing enough exercise and getting mental and emotional satisfaction.

Believe it or not, thinking about these principles helps us to understand how to keep a healthy digital presence. By digital presence I mean your online existence through websites and social media.

Whether you’re a business or an individual, your digital presence is just as unique as you are. And whether you have consciously developed it or not, it even has a personality in its own right. Hold that thought and humanise it one step further by relating your whole digital presence to the human body. Trust me, this will eventually make sense!

Take a look at Group Dane’s digital health check infographic below, then read on for a magical metaphorical tour of your digital presence.

Group Dane Digital Health Check Infographic

Click image to view full size

Brain

Think of the brain as your digital strategy. Just like your brain controls your body’s actions, your strategy should control the actions on your website, social media and email marketing.

Face

Your face is usually the first thing people see when they look at you. Equally, the first thing people see when they visit your website is the design. Make sure it does you justice. Be honest, do you need a face lift?

Eyes and ears

You don’t need eyes in the back of your head to keep an eye on your customers and competitors. With good social media infiltration, you’ll be able to easily watch and listen to what people are saying about you, the types of products or services you offer and of course, your business rivals!

Vocal cords

Human beings use their vocal cords to communicate. When it comes to your digital presence, you have two voices: your website content (let’s call this your baritone voice) and social media interactions (this is your tenor voice).

Heart

Of course, this is your brand. Keep it central to everything you do. After all, it defines you. Just like your body relies on a strong healthy heart, your digital presence is dependent on a strong healthy brand.

Lungs

Take a deep breath and breathe some life into your website with dynamic up-to-date content. If you don’t have time to update your website regularly, think about feeding in some relevant automated content to keep your site breathing between your updates.

Skeleton

Think of your site map as your skeleton. Not only will it hold everything together and help visitors to navigate your site, it will also help search engine spiders to index it and boost search performance.

Right hand

When it comes to updating your website, a good content management system (CMS) is your right hand man/woman. If you aren’t able to easily and efficiently update content, it could be time to seek some professional help.

Bowels

Here is where all of your waste website content should go. Think of the bowels as a trash can for out of date content, or better still – an archive. Putting old content into an archive on your website can help with search engine optimisation. But whatever you decide to do with old content, don’t just leave it where it is or you risk making your website look like it’s been abandoned.

Blood and veins

Just like blood runs through your whole body within veins and arteries, html runs through your whole website. Just like blood, html can become dirty, old and heavy and this can cause problems to the rest of the site if it isn’t cleaned up.

Mojo

Have you got the X factor when it comes to design, functionality and content? If you don’t have anything special to show, your customers may not see your package in a favourable light.

Achilles heel

Poor search engine performance is where many websites fall down – don’t let this become your Achilles heel. Make sure yours stands up well in the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Muscles

Your website functionality is just like the muscles on your body. Flex the functions your website can perform and assess whether it’s strong enough to do everything you need it to. Remember that your web functionality needs to be strong enough to carry the weight of your business.

Treatment

If you feel that your digital presence is suffering from a long-term ailment or just needs some defibrillator action, Group Dane has the cure. Get in touch.

So you want more followers on Twitter?

Ok, other than making you appear more popular, how will having more followers help you?

The first thing you need to consider is what you specifically want to achieve as a result of Twitter follows. Examples of potential objectives include:

  • Promote/increase interest in your business/activities
  • Use as a two-way communications channel
  • Increase traffic to website

Once you have your objectives nailed down, you can refine your tactics. Below we have discussed the questions our clients ask us most about Twitter.

How can we get more followers?

A popular question! Think about the reasons for this in relation to your overall objective.

Is your desire for more followers driven by vanity? Many people believe if they have more followers, they will appear to be more popular and this means people will consider them better at what they do. This is a valid reason for wanting more followers, but how will this help you to achieve your overall objective(s)? For example, if you want to drive more traffic to your website, will you achieve this by having a huge number of followers? Not necessarily.

For example, if you have 2000 followers predominantly consisting of students, how many of them are likely to read or react to your tweets if they are about holidays for the over 60s? However, if you have 100 retirement-age followers, the results are more likely to be fruitful.

Therefore, rather than simply looking for more followers, it is more effective to seek more of the right followers.

Why do people keep un-following us?

There are a number of reasons people might choose to stop following you.

One reason could be that they don’t have an interest in you or your business. In this case, don’t lose any sleep because they were probably not the right followers.

Are you tweeting too often – or not enough? If you’re flooding your followers’ feeds with tweets, it’s likely they will quickly want to restore some balance and un-follow you. Equally, if you don’t tweet often enough, you might be considered inactive and fall victim to your followers’ spring cleaning.

Are your tweets interesting enough? Make sure you only tweet when you have something worth saying – people quickly grow tired of bland, uninspiring tweets.

Do you follow back? Digital manners are important, so if someone follows you, they probably expect you to follow them back. If you don’t they may choose to un-follow you.

Why aren’t followers clicking on the links we post?

People don’t like clicking on links if they aren’t sure where they go. Make sure you clearly state what the link is for and tell your followers why they might be interested.

Make links worthwhile. If followers are interested enough to click on your link, don’t let them down with an irrelevant, uninspiring destination. If they’re disappointed this time, chances are they won’t click any more of your links.

Why don’t we get many ‘cold’ followers?

By ‘cold’ followers we mean people who follow you first. To attract cold followers, you’ll need to get onto their radar. You can do this by encouraging people to retweet you (more on this below), use hash tags (#) and engage in conversation with followers.

When followers retweet you, your tweet appears in their followers’ feeds. This can extend your reach significantly (depending on the amount of followers they have).

Using a hashtag will group your tweet with other people’s tweets that have used the same hashtag. When people search for the hashtag you’ve used, they may see your tweet. This is a good way of attracting the right followers – the fact they have searched this keyword means they are likely to have a shared interest with you.

Engage in conversation with your followers, even if using Twitter as a communication channel isn’t one of your objectives. Not only will this help to get your @name onto the other persons profile, it will also help to build lasting relationships with your followers.

How can I get people to retweet me?

People will only retweet you if your followers consider your tweet to be of interest to their own followers. So, keep your tweets relevant, interesting and current. You can ask your followers to retweet your tweet (many tweeters add “please RT” or “pls RT” to the end of their tweet), but don’t forget that the “pls RT” part will be visible on the retweet. When a retweet has obviously been requested, it sometimes has less impact.

If you’re expecting people to retweet your tweets, the least you can do is occasionally return the favour. However, make sure you endorse the message and any links/or images in tweets you retweet.

More tips and support

For more help with social media strategy, management and monitoring, get in touch with Group Dane.

Post by Frankie, Social Media Adviser at Group Dane

Learning from Obama

US President, Barack Obama, has just won a second term in office. What can your business learn from his election campaign?

Take gambles

Sometimes you just have to take chances. The Obama campaign made a big gamble when they turned negative after Mitt Romney captured the Republican primary. Obama’s attacking rhetoric branded Romney (a former investment manager) a corporate vulture, accusing him of putting good Americans out of work.

Clearly, this approach worked well for the President, but taking this line was a big gamble at the time. I’m not suggesting you verbally attack your competitors, but if you want to be victorious in business, you need to take gambles.

But remember that it’s crucial to take educated risks wherever possible. Don’t forget that Obama’s gambles were highly researched, carefully planned and always executed with a comprehensive fall-back strategy.

Albeit on a smaller scale, you need to do the same in business decision-making. When making decisions, calculate the probability of each possible scenario and plan for best, moderate and worst case outcomes.

Show strength

With the bin Laden raid and his war on terror suspects abroad, Obama adopted the image of a steely commander-in-chief keeping Americans safe. He used this as a key symbol of strength as a unique selling point.

If you’re going to instil customer confidence in your business, you need to show strength in areas your competitors can’t demonstrate.

Think about your unique selling point and exploit your competitors’ weaknesses or lack of experience in these areas.

Take a new approach

For the second election running, Obama’s campaign reinvented the way presidential elections are won.

The President’s path to victory lay in the most sophisticated voter targeting and turn-out methods in history. Think about how you can target your customers more efficiently and encourage them to “turn out” for you.

People don’t vote for political parties; they vote for people. Similarly, customers don’t choose to buy from companies, they choose buy from people.

Think about your customers and their needs. How can you make a real connection with them? Let your unique voice speak through your business.

Going Social

If ever there was an example of the power of social media it’s the latest presidential election. As expected, Obama echoed his 2008 campaign by demonstrating his social media prowess. Although Mitt Romney increased his social media presence hugely compared to 2008 candidate John McCain, Obama remained in poll position. Pre polling day, Obama achieved 1,124,175 Facebook likes, compared with Romney’s meagre 633,597. On Twitter, Obama was retweeted 150,106 times compared with Romney’s 8,601.

Some of the fastest, most effective ways to reach your audiences include social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Think about how you can use Obama’s online campaign as a model to help you gain competitive advantage in your business area.

For a social media campaign fit for a President, get in touch with Group Dane.