Monitoring is key to content marketing success

A few years ago, I did some acting. I started off with stage plays, before going on to do quite a lot of short films, web series and a couple of b-movie features.

In some ways, being involved with film productions felt more glamorous than theatre. This was partly because of screening events in swish venues (basically parties), those glossy publicity photographs and, of course, the strangely satisfying IMDb records, preserved online for all eternity. I was young and I felt like a movie star! Yet, I desperately missed something about performing on stage…

The intimacy and the immediate audience connection just isn’t there when you’re performing for the camera. After all, it can be months, even years, between the Director shouting “it’s a wrap” and the audience seeing the final edit. As a theatre actor, on the other hand, I had the audience right there with me. My eyes and ears were like real-time monitoring devices that enabled me to test and validate my performance on-the-fly. Moment by moment, I could adjust and adapt according to silences, laughter, tension and applause.

As a content marketer, I still feel like I need that instant audience validation. I’m always looking for their approval and seeking the rewarding feeling that comes with knowing my efforts are valued. The only way you’re ever going to succeed with content marketing is if you’re obsessed with wooing your target audience. Indeed, it’s the pursuit of that satisfying feeling that makes me successful in my efforts. And let’s face it, what are your customers going to do with their approval? They’re going to pay it back in loyalty, advocacy and years of repeat business. Get obsessed with giving the audience what they want!

I’ve found that content marketing is not a million miles from theatre acting in the way you can monitor and adapt to your audience as you go, using real-time analytics and social interactions as our eyes and ears. Are they enthralled or bored, cheering or booing? You can use this instant feedback to continually adapt your performance, make sure you’re holding attention and confirm in your own mind that you’re giving the audience everything they need from your story.

Across all industries, there is a real problem with the measurement of content marketing activity. Just 8% of businesses consider themselves to be ‘very successful’ at tracking content marketing return on investment, according LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community.

Most businesses fall down by looking too broadly at general numbers like page views and shares, without interpreting this data into actionable insights. In fact, according to research by Contently, 90% of marketers don’t feel that their key content metrics effectively measure business results.

Why not take this as an opportunity to get ahead of your competitors? What do you need to look for and how can you translate your findings into actions that will help tip the scales?

Although you’ll measure and monitor each piece of content continuously, you’ll probably want to report more broadly on your activities at certain points. When you set out your content marketing strategy, hopefully you were clear about what you wanted to achieve. Are you getting there? At the end of the day, you need to be able to answer one question: is it working?

I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus only on metrics that directly relate to your aim, goals and objectives. Don’t waste time collecting data and reporting on anything else. In my experience, information that doesn’t prove or justify your activity will just distract you from those actionable nuggets of insight, not to mention bloat your reports and encourage extraneous questions that are impossible to answer.

In a nutshell, by only monitoring the right things, you’ll keep your wits sharp and be empowered to cut loose ineffective efforts that are slowing you down.

The concept is simple: collect the right information, make informed judgements and change things that aren’t working. The mantra goes like this: ‘GAUGE – ACT – MEASURE – ADAPT’.

by Dane Brookes, Director at Group Dane and author of Content Marketing Revolution.

If you build it, will they come?

Last week, I caught a bit of the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams. If you haven’t seen it, the story starts with the main character hearing a mysterious voice one night in his cornfield saying “If you build it, he will come.” As the story progresses, Costner feels compelled to take action and ends up building a baseball field in his yard…and of course, he does come.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAaXAAAAJDc0MjZmMzZiLTYyN2MtNDhhYy1hOTE4LTZhYzZmM2I0ODE5YwThis got me thinking…

I meet a lot of businesses that have built great products and services, yet are struggling to succeed because not enough people are coming. This is because, generally, businesses don’t sink or swim on the quality or utility of their product alone; it’s only when there’s a sense of appeal that customers start switching on. In reality, the product’s existence isn’t ever reason enough to attract the volume of customers you want.

When these businesses realise nobody is coming, they often turn to special offers, discounts and even drop the price in a bid to attract customers. But this thinking is fundamentally flawed if the overall objective is to attract new customers – especially if they aren’t be aware of the product (or its value) in the first place. The actual problem is the product’s obscurity in the customers’ world – it isn’t inside the bubble they’re living in yet. If they don’t understand the value of the product, a drop in price isn’t going to create appeal.

Appeal is built on attraction, urgency and perceptions of demand. For some businesses, creating product appeal using content marketing will be easier than others, but the same basic ingredients usually apply:

  1. Attraction

Attraction in this context is the power of evoking interest in or liking for your product or brand. Here, you need to think about how you can attract customers without just telling them that you think your product is great.

My book, Content Marketing Revolution, talks about how today’s consumers are increasingly making decisions based on useful information, valuable engagements and brand affinity. To expand on this, I strongly believe customers hardly ever make decisions based on the product itself – in most cases customers don’t buy products – they buy brands. It’s usually more about the way they feel about the seller, brand or provider.

Think about how you can use informative and educational content to demonstrate how your product or service is solving a problem or making something better. Whether it’s hard facts, tutorials or user-generated content, you need to make sure your content delivers the message clearly and is appealing or relevant to your target customers.

  1. Urgency

In sales and marketing, urgency is often created with time pressures and scarcity. When attraction and urgency are paired, swift action naturally follows. Think about how you can create a sense of immediacy in the content you create. For example, you might make a download available for a limited period for a limited number of people, or maybe schedule a live webinar or Periscope talk on a specific date and time. The idea is to encourage your audience to take some kind of action before the opportunity passes.

  1. Demand

Demand is something every seller wants to keep and every buyer wants to get rid of (the buyer seeks to end “demand” by making a purchase). Often, this is heightened when their peers, influencers or even competitors also desire or advocate the product. Think about how you can use content to demonstrate demand within this group – endorsements, user-generated content and social conversations are a good starting point.

“Demand is something every seller wants to keep and every buyer wants to get rid of.”

Beyond this, how can you fortify the connection between the brand and the buyer to increase demand? A great way to do this is to create an intrinsic connection between the content you’re creating and the buyer’s relationship with the product. How about creating exclusivity with a club, a newsletter, or a social profile that offers exclusive content, advance access to offers and information?

Whatever your product, whether it’s a new idea, an improvement to an existing one, or even just an offering that’s new to your business, the product’s existence isn’t enough to attract buyers. Instead, be proactive and start creating your market right now with valuable content that directly appeals to your prospects.

If you set your target and build the content, they will come.

 

by Dane Brookes, Director at Group Dane and author of Content Marketing Revolution.

How to make an impact with real-time content marketing

One of my favourite business experts, Grant Cardone, says “success loves preparation”. It makes perfect sense that you’ll perform better in any given situation if you’re suitably prepared. Content marketing is no exception – the best content marketing is always well planned, executed with precision and highly targeted to the intended audience. This is the epitome of good preparation, right? But, it isn’t always possible to plan for every situation before it arises.

What if something unexpected happens? Perhaps a new product is released by a competitor, there’s a sudden economic slump or even a hot topic of discussion emerges among your target audience overnight. As content marketers, sometimes the only way we can take unexpected opportunities and swerve dips in the road is to adapt and respond quickly, if not instantly with relevant, valuable content.

timeReacting and adapting to the audience’s world can make your voice more relevant and dynamic, but it can be a risky tactic, so you need to make sure everything we publish in “real-time” supports your strategy.

CREATING IN REAL-TIME

Sometimes an opportunity will arise that calls for content to be created from scratch. The scope for pay-off will be more risky because there just won’t be time to follow all of the usual planning and development processes. However, there are a few questions to answer before creating anything on-the-fly, including:

  1. How will the content specifically contribute to your big aim, goals or objectives?
  2. Will the topic still be ‘hot’ by the time it is ready to publish?
  3. Are there any legal considerations associated with publishing the content right now?
  4. Is the situation really time-limited?

IDENTIFY KEY CONVERSATIONS

What are the topics, issues and discussions you want your brand to be associated with? They might be conversations people are already having, or they might be new ones that we’re anticipating. Think about how you can valuably contribute to and fuel these conversations early on. How will this content help to bolster your voice among the target audience?

LISTEN UP

You can monitor the use of keywords and phrases related to the topics and conversations you’re interested in. The best way is to use social media monitoring tools and online keyword scrapers to sift through blogs (including blog comments), news articles and other user-contributed content. There are a large amount of systems available to help with this:

  • For social media monitoring, my favourite system is Radian6. With huge data depths, this system scours the internet and highlights virtually every relevant conversation happening right now across the social web.
  • Services like BrandWatch dashboard complex keyword searches across social platforms and beyond, with a high degree of filtering. Like Radian6, this is a paid option, but well worth considering if budget allows.
  • The best of the free systems is probably Hootsuite, which enables you to identify the words and phrases you’re interested in across various social channels, all displayed in a series of real-time feeds.
  • Google Alerts is a great free service that allows you to identify keywords and phrases and get real-time alerts when they appear in news and other online publications. There is also a special setting to include results from social media sites.

stand-therePIVOT AND ADAPT CONTENT

It is important that you’re ready to adapt to the market challenges and opportunities whenever necessary. Don’t be afraid to bring scheduled content forward in the content calendar if it’s particularly relevant to a current topic. Market need always trumps the schedule.

The same goes for archived and live content. If there is an opportunity to bring it back to prominence or reinvent it, go ahead and adapt, refocus, or republish. But be careful not to crowbar content into tenuously linked topics, as the lack of relevance will be obvious and will only devalue your voice.

INDIVIDUAL TARGETING

We have already discussed how important key market influencers are. While it is crucial that you listen to how they are using their dominant voices, you must remember that every single member of our audience has the potential to influence others.

Some of the biggest companies in the world, such as Philips, take the time to respond and deliver bespoke content to audiences of just one person. There is no engagement like a one-to-one engagement.

Creating ad hoc content for individual customers might sound like a great deal of work, but it shouldn’t actually be an indiscriminate process. In reality, it is more about responding to individual customers in a very personal way with content that will also appeal to the rest of the audience segment.

ADD VALUE OR GO HOME

Although you need to look for content marketing opportunities around the hot topics you’re interested in, you don’t need to interact with every single conversation and related sub-topic. Only get involved with hot topics that are relevant to your audience and that you’re able to add value to.

DON’T KILL CONVERSATIONS

If you see conversations on websites, social media, blogs and forums that you want to get involved with, it’s important that you keep your contributions appropriate and highly-relevant. We want to position ourselves as part of the community, almost like friends sharing useful information. But, bear in mind that nobody likes that friend who won’t let anyone else speak; you can be that clever, understanding and helpful friend instead.

Remember, you’re not telling people where to go next or what to do, we’re just going with the flow of the conversation and helping with content where it might be useful. Avoid spammy interruptions!

FINAL THOUGHTS

For me, real-time content marketing is about heightening empathy by listening to customers’ rants and sharing their joys. If you aren’t watching, listening and relating to customers, they will quickly realise you are speaking at them, not with them.

Before you start publishing any content “on-the-fly”, it’s important to be sure it contributes in some way to the overall aims, goals and objectives of your content marketing strategy. If it doesn’t help you move towards your purpose, don’t publish it.

This blog post contains an excerpt from Content Marketing Revolution by Dane Brookes and is used with permission. You can buy the book on Amazon and the offical book website.

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.

Thrash your bounce rate and improve ranking

When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO), lots of businesses focus purely on getting visitors to their website. Many don’t realise that the way visitors behave when they are there affects its search ranking.

Did you know that your website’s bounce rate, which is the number of people navigating away after visiting just one page, is one of the factors search engines like Google and Bing use to calculate your website’s relevance, quality and importance?

High bounce rate can be a sign of low visitor engagement, poor keyword targeting and poor design/functionality. So, what can you do to try to reduce your website’s bounce rate?

Relevant keywords

Make sure the keywords you have optimised your website for are 100% relevant to your business. If your strongest keywords aren’t carefully aligned to what you do, you’re likely to pull in visitors who aren’t interested in your website.

High-quality content

Once you have attracted the right visitors, you need to make sure they actually want to be there. You can do this with strong, engaging content. Make sure all of the pages on your website have genuine, relevant copy, images and videos, which are useful or interesting to the visitor.

Intuitive navigation and structure

Make it as easy as possible for users to find content on your site; use clear navigation and page structure. If you have a user journey in mind, at each point make it clear where you want visitors to go next.

Regardless of how trendy it might look, avoid overly complicated or stylish navigation that isn’t user-friendly and intuitive for the user.

Design

When it comes to visitor engagement, presentation is content’s twin brother. If your design isn’t good quality, visitors may assume that this reflects the quality of your business and quickly bounce off to one of your competitors.

Functionality

From links to coding, make sure everything works the way it should. Clicking on broken or inaccurate links is very frustrating to users, while broken functionality is likely to send your visitors packing.

For help with search engine optimisation and reducing your bounce rate, get in touch with Group Dane.

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

QR you?

Last week, we were in Berlin for a meeting. Amidst the anticipated misty November cold and the seemingly constant aroma of bratwurst and cinnamon roasted almonds, I was surprised to see QR codes almost everywhere I looked.

This got me thinking about QR codes and why we don’t seem to have embraced them in Britain as much as our European counterparts.

Let’s start from the beginning.

What are QR codes?

Originating in Japan, QR codes have been around for a few years. QR stands for Quick Response (they can be read quickly by mobile phones). They work like barcodes by directing anyone who scans the code to a piece of information (usually a webpage). Typically, they’re used for marketing purposes on print media (like magazines and flyers), billboards and even promo hats and t-shirts.

QR codes Berlin

Reading a code

You can read a QR code either with an application that you’ve downloaded or via software that’s already on your phone.

Creating a code

There are lots of websites that generate QR codes for free. You simply enter the target URL and the tool will generate a downloadable QR code. Good free QR code generators include GO QR, Kaywa and QR Stuff.

LOVE.HATE

Personally, I’m unsure how I feel about certain uses of QR codes. A lot of companies have misused them in the last couple of years, which has led to many people considering them as a little bit gimmicky.

Having said that, there are many great ways you can use them (I have one on my business card). If using a QR code will benefit the user in some way (save them time or effort, for example), you can justify using one. However, it’s important to proceed with caution and remember that users have certain expectations when they scan a QR code, so don’t leave them disappointed; make sure it’s worth their while.

Think about practicality. Consider whether they will be able to get close enough to the QR code to scan it. It doesn’t make much sense having one high up on billboard on a busy road. Nor does it seem like a good idea to have one on the bottom of a Boeing 747.

For tips, advice and support on all things digital/markety, get in touch with Group Dane.