Content marketing: Driving quality

Every day for work, I wear a suit and tie with a pocket square. Over the last few years, this has become a sort of trademark among people that know me. But, for me, it isn’t just a style choice – when I’m wearing these clothes, I feel like I’m ready to take on anything that comes my way. Batman has his cowl, Superman has his cape and I have my pocket square! Ok, a bit much? Bear with me…

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The way we present ourselves, sends out a clear message to the world. What do you want that message to be? For me, it is about demonstrating effort, professionalism and attentiveness. Whether I’m meeting clients, colleagues or rivals, I want them to know I’m there with full commitment and strong conviction.

Whether we are meeting customers at the cash register or speaking with them through our content, the way we present ourselves will dramatically influence perceptions of our brand.

I’m not suggesting we make all of our content overly formal like my clothes, but we do need to let an air of quality and reliability permeate everything we do.

VOLUME & VELOCITY RISKS

It’s easy to get carried away with the idea of filling space and pumping out masses of content in all different formats, across a range of platforms. But, the more content we are producing at pace, the more quality and consistency comes under threat, particularly if we’re stretching limited resources.

Consider the ‘Speed – Quality – Cost Triangle’. For every piece of content we create, there is a trade-off between the speed we can deliver it, the production cost and the quality of the end result. It’s not possible to have more than two of these factors working in our favour at any one time. For example, if we’re looking to deliver the content quickly to a high quality, it will be expensive to produce; if we want it to be high quality and inexpensive to produce, it will not be delivered quickly. The final option is the one we’re to avoid at all costs: delivering quickly, but inexpensively – this is where quality fails.

Picture1Problems with our content reflect badly on our brand; if customers spot quality flaws, they will expect the same sloppy effort from us when it comes to our products and services.

We can mitigate these risks by complementing our style guide with a quality assurance framework that all work must pass through before it is published.

The process can be as simple as a manual checklist, or it can involve automated devices or sophisticated checking systems. In all cases, there are some crucial factors to consider before we hit the little red publish button.

COPY 101

The most obvious and easy way to manage quality checks are for spelling, grammar, punctuation and language, yet these are some of the most common content flaws.

No matter how compelling our content, simple typos and grammatical errors will immediately create the perception that it is low value and less authoritative.

Just as these errors are easy for us to check, they are also very easy for audiences to pick up on. It is beneficial to set up a process for checking the basics, making full use of the tools built-into our text editing programs as well as human proof reading.

APPROPRIATE MULTIMEDIA

Multimedia like videos, slideshows, photos, playlists, audio and photography can be highly engaging, but only if it is produced to an appropriate quality.

We might not need every piece of content to be top notch, but we do need to make a judgement call on whether or not the media is appropriate quality for the context it’s used and the target audience.

Lower-quality multimedia might be acceptable if it’s user-generated, deliberately ‘home-made’, or it fits into the context of its channel, such as Vine or Periscope. But in some cases, the context of the content will call for higher, even professional-quality media. For example, if we’re recording a podcast series, we’re probably going to want the content to be as professional as possible.

One aspect we can never compromise on, however, is the quality of the message. Whatever context, regardless of the audience, the message is the purpose of the content. What do we want it to say? What statement do we want to make? Is this clear enough?

GRAPHIC DESIGN

When producing anything that has a visual element, use a professional graphic designer or the best in-house resource. Whether it’s a flyer, an infographic or a web element, try and not be tempted to do it without the right skills or experience. Not only will an inferior attempt be less likely to get used or shared, there is also a chance it will damage perceptions of our brand. Is our business slapdash, unprofessional or dated like that homemade infographic?

LAYOUT

The layout of the content will affect its usability, so we must ensure we deliver the best possible experience by presenting the content in a logical format. Huge blocks of text are difficult to negotiate, especially online, and could cause your audience to skim read.

If we are not thinking about our audience’s needs when creating our content, they simply will not use it.

DON’T GET STUFFED (WITH KEYWORDS)

Let’s acknowledge for a moment that we have an ulterior motive at play. Although we’re working really hard to create content that our audiences will find useful, interesting or entertaining, we are doing this because we want something: a place in our target customers’ minds.

Naturally, in our quest to get our content out there to as many of the right people as possible, we’ll want to search engine optimise it with relevant keywords. But be careful not to diminish the overall quality and readability of the piece with unnatural keyword stuffing or phrase manipulation. Our audience won’t like it and, actually, neither will the search engines.

Your brand may not be the biggest or most influential in the marketplace, but what makes you the BEST in your niche area? Is it your unique relationship with customers? Or, perhaps your passion for the topic? Whatever the proposition, the clarity of your voice and the quality of its delivery will define your customers’ perceptions.

Next time you’re about to hit the publish button, stop for a moment. How much do you believe in this piece of content? Do you genuinely see where it delivers value? Don’t allow things like the pressures of a publishing schedule or a rapidly emerging opportunity to cloud your judgement. Quality concerns should trump all other commitments!

Remember, delivering quality content is your obligation, your privilege, your raison d’être.

by Dane Brookes, Director at Group Dane & Author of Content Marketing Revolution, Giant Leap Media, 2015.

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Putting customers first: UX and customer experience

You’ve probably read and heard lots of people in the digital marketing industry talking about user experience (UX) and how important it is to achieving your website’s objectives. Similarly, more biz-wigs are talking about how important customer experience is to your business. Both of these whisperings are true, but how do they relate to each other?

User experience versus customer experience

The term user experience (UX) refers to your customers’ relationship with your digital interfaces…how they feel about these interactions and how they behave and interact with your brand online through your website and any other digital platform or software you’re using.

On the other hand, customer experience refers to the complete experience, perceptions and interactions with your company as a whole. This includes how they found your business (for example online, on the high street, in the yellow pages, etc), their experience or interactions with your business (i.e. online, on the telephone, at your office or shop, etc) and how the relationship has progressed through continued contact (such as repeat purchases, product support, marketing emails and advertising).

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Get on UX

UX is just one piece of the overall customer experience jigsaw, but it is also likely to be one of the first points of contact between your business and its customers. This is because, like you and me, many customers check out a company’s websites before making any kind of contact. It’s really important that customers (existing and potential ones) have an online experience that is positive and reflects the overall desired customer experience.

Ensure that your website’s UX is strong by checking accessibility standards and carrying out user testing; take a close look at design, content and site architecture.

Consistency is key (and lovely)

Once you have your UX polished, you need to consider how this relates to the overall customer experience. There’s no point having a great UX if it isn’t supported by a great customer experience when it comes to the quality of communications, complaints handling, brand perception, etc.

It’s a good idea to build the general principles of great UX into your overall customer experience strategy. How do your customers feel about each stage of their interaction with your company? Have you made customer-facing processes as simple, efficient and easy to follow as possible? Does the customer experience reflect your desired brand image?

The main thing to remember when looking at UX and customer experience is that your visitor/customer should be at the heart of everything you do. They will thank you for it in return business, recommendations and a generally warm and fuzzy glow when they think of you. Never forget that your customer has a choice.

For help with user experience or customer experience, get in touch for a chat.

Also see our blog post: How is your UX affected by responsive design?

Stop emailing me!

How many times have you signed up for a company’s “newsletter” (purposefully or inadvertently) and then received a barrage of marketing emails? If you’re anything like me, it’s way more than your delete finger can handle.

Because most marketing emails don’t accept replies, I’m going to list my frustrations below in the hope that someone, somewhere gets the message:

Don’t keep introducing yourself!

If it’s not the first time you’re emailing me, please don’t write things in the subject line like “Hello, nice to meet you”, “Welcome” or “Thanks for signing up”. This is why it annoys me:

  1. I have already received emails from you before; it’s too late to be introducing yourself.
  2. It makes me wonder if you have sent the wrong email to me, which doesn’t give me much confidence in your business.
  3. It makes me feel undervalued. Am I just another name in your database? Not even worth a bit of tailoring?

Don’t overtly stalk me

We both know that you’re able to monitor whether or not I open your emails, but please don’t tell me you know I don’t read your emails. I’ll be honest, it’s a bit “Big Brother” and it freaks me out. If you want to find out why I don’t read your emails, you’ve got to be a bit cleverer and a lot more subtle.

Don’t hassle me

OK, you’re keen for me to know about your great products and services, but I don’t need to hear from you every week. Shucks, you contact me more than my mum does.

Don’t tease me

If you write something intriguing in your subject line, I WILL open it. Good plan then, eh? Not really, because if you’ve tricked me, I’ll be so annoyed that I’ll instantly unsubscribe from your list.

Things change

Ok, I might have been interested in your business in the past. I might even have used your services. But really, if I haven’t been in contact with you for 18 months, you need to move on. Let me go.

And relax! Well, it feels good to get that off my chest.

If you have any questions about email marketing, get in touch with us. Why not sign up for our email newsletter? – just kidding.

Post by Frankie, digital marketing consultant at Group Dane.

Top tips for email marketing

How many times have you deleted a marketing email without even reading it? It didn’t take long for digital junk mail to become almost as annoying as its ugly paper-based cousin!

That said, email marketing can be rather effective if you do it properly. We’ve put together a few key tips to help you get it right and maybe even avoid your messages heading straight to the recycle bin.

Target contacts carefully

Make sure you take care when putting together your contacts list (this is the list of people you’ll be sending your email to). If you send specific demographics of your customer base targeted messages and offers you are far more likely to have a higher success rate.

Keep it real…and simple

Only send a marketing email if you have news, a special offer, a brand new service or something else interesting to say! Every time you send an irrelevant, uninspiring or babbling email, you could lose potentially valuable contacts.

And remember not to tell your customer absolutely everything there is to know about your business or products in the email. Think of it as a call to action; make it clear what the action is and stress the benefits.

Tone and style

Think carefully about language and tone of voice in your email. If you over-do the marketing speak, you may turn people off.

Always make sure the words and images in the email are in-keeping with your brand.

Service providers

It is important your emails are managed properly, look professional and have tracking enabled. You can do this effortlessly by using an email campaign service provider.

There are a number of great providers to choose from and some of them even offer free packages. Our favourites include MailChimp, eShot, and Pure360.

Tracking

Whether you use an email campaign service provider or not, you should have analytics tracking set up on your emails. This will help you to monitor how many times the email has been read and by who.

Links and replies

You’d probably be surprised how many companies send out marketing emails that don’t link back to their websites. Don’t make the same mistake!

Just as importantly, make sure you include a reply email address in your message.

Stay legal

It is a legal requirement in the UK to include an “unsubscribe” link in marketing emails. But, wait…this isn’t a bad thing. After all, it’s pointless sending emails to people who don’t want to receive them or don’t have any interest or use for your product or service. The unsubscribe button will help to keep your contacts database more efficient.

Always remember to include a link to your privacy policy, which should explain what data you keep about your recipients, how you keep it secure, who (if anyone) you will share it with and what they can do to access it.

Don’t forget, by UK law, all marketing emails must also include your business address in the footer.

More…

For more advice or help with planning, creating or measuring a digital marketing campaign, get in touch with Group Dane.