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Is your brand’s content is working as hard as it can?

By Carrie Webb, Head of Content, The Bigger Boat

It’s no secret that a brand’s content is hugely important. It can mean the difference between and organisation being discovered online or not.

But so much more than that, quality content elevates brand perception, nurtures lasting relationships with an audience and enables companies to build authority and credibility.

In such a content-rich environment, it can be difficult to know how to grab consumers’ attention, drive real engagement, create conversations and ultimately increase conversions. Whether it’s via a well-designed infographic, a collection of helpful blog posts or a fully-fledged PR campaign, here’s how to give great content the best chance of surviving and reverberating in such a crowded place.

Build out a strategic approach

Don’t create content simply for the sake of posting something. There should be a sound detailed strategy behind it that takes into account many factors, but most importantly aims to create a connection between brands and consumers.

The first step is to identify the brand’s strengths and consider this alongside a competitor’s offering. Take a holistic view of how those in the same space behave, and look at the types of content they’re producing – what’s working and what isn’t and, crucially, how audiences are responding.

A structured, analytical approach is required to then apply learnings to the content strategy. This will provide internal guidelines and is the brand’s ‘why’ and ‘how’.

Begin by defining audience personas (include their needs, where they consume content and any challenges and pain points), the organisation’s story and messaging and nail down content purpose.

There should also be considerations for business-wide and content KPIs. Detail success metrics for every piece of content – traffic, views, shares, conversion rate, brand awareness, for example – and jot down outreach plans for them. Collating and assessing all this information leaves an overarching strategy that plans ahead for every aspect of the organisation’s marketing activity in an effort to produce the best results.

Consider shareability from the outset

Creating a fantastic piece of content that ticks all the boxes – for example, it’s user friendly, relevant, and has SEO coursing through its veins – is great, but it’s not enough to simply upload and sit back in the hope results will flood in.

If a business isn’t promoting its own content, it’s missing out on many outreach possibilities. There’s no harm in giving customers a helping hand in finding content. If there’s budget, look towards PR, consider paid promotion or use influencers to shout about the work.

Email marketing provides a good way to round-up and tease content on the brand’s site and, of course, sharing contentacross the relevant social platforms is always a winning tactic when looking to start conversation.

Finally, don’t underestimate the value of employee advocacy. If a workforce shares its content, this shows customers that staff members have bought into the brand – and its content is credible. It also ensures a much higher reach without having to put extra budget behind it.

Write for the desired audience

A business should know its audience better than they know themselves, and create content that perfectly tailors to their needs and behaviour. This is key to content success.

Provide answers to questions asked, offer a viewpoint on topics customers are interested in, and ensure the brand is operating in a space where the target market is digitally active.

Genuinely useful, purposeful content gains more traction and is more likely to resonate in a meaningful way. Knowing – and serving – an audience is vital in content marketing. After all, the goal isn’t always to simply clinch a sale – there needs to be an effort to work hard and gain their trust, and convert them into advocates. Consistent, quality content that provides for their needs should do just that.

Ensure CTAs are simple and structured

Find subtle ways to encourage an audience to share thoughts, move through to another piece of relevant content or perform a customer action. Whether it’s to download a PDF, buy a product or simply head on to another blog within the site, the call to action (CTA) should be well-designed and strategically placed, with clear and compelling text.

Use the right words to give the CTA an obvious thrust – the user must be left in no doubt as to what’s being asked of them, and what they’ll receive if they click.

Make it timeless

The best content is evergreen – it doesn’t have an expiry date. Its information is as useful and relevant now as it will be five years down the line.

‘How to’ guides are a great example of content that doesn’t date. While there will always be a place for seasonal, topical content, it won’t have much appeal once conversation around it has subsided and an organisation is left with an initial increase in traffic that will quickly fade.

During its 20th anniversary celebrations in September 2018, Google announced a selection of new search features. Among them was the ‘Topic’ layer in the search, which aims to recommend new content to the user after analysing the web for a topic and developing a huge range of subtopics. It favours the most relevant content, namely that which has shown itself to be ‘evergreen and continually useful, as well as [being] fresh content on the topic’.

Harness the power of analytics

Insights software provides invaluable data as to how content is performing and can help to make strategic decisions.

For each piece of content created, its objectives and goals should have been set out in the content strategy at the very beginning of the process – using analytics gives specifics of whether it’s meeting them. Find out what’s working and what’s not by measuring traffic, bounce rate, dwell time and engagement, for example.

If content isn’t doing too well, an organisation will gain insight into why that is, and should make changes accordingly to avoid making the same mistake with future content.

Using an analytics tool should be routine for content marketers – do it correctly and learn what makes users tick, where they’re coming from, what type of content they favour and easily pinpoint successes, and where improvements are needed.

Apply detailed consideration to the strategy behind content as well as its aftercare and ensure it works as hard as it can for the brand.

With time, effort and consistency in the approach, content will find its place with the right audience, help raise brand perception and generate the desired results.

Carrie Webb is head of content for The Bigger Boat – a creative digital marketing specialist business based in Yorkshire.

How does the wedding industry differ online from offline?

In the last twelve months, approximately 87% of UK consumers have bought at least one product online – with online sales increasing 21.3% in the year 2016, and forecast to increase by 30% by the end of 2017.

Here, Angelic Diamonds, retailer of unique diamond engagement rings and bespoke wedding rings discuss whether it’s time for its industry to plunge into the digital world in order to survive…

This has stemmed from the fact that our lives are gradually becoming more reliant on the digital world – but organising a wedding has traditionally always been quite a physical process, with brides needing to try on their wedding gowns before they buy, grooms having several suit fittings, and of course, who would want to miss out on the opportunity to have a tasting session at your venue for your wedding breakfast?

With new technologies and social media apps, is it time for the wedding industry to make a transition into the digital world? With many companies realising the potential of going digital with their business, does the wedding industry have to grab a slice of the action to stay successful?

Can we expect a digital future?

According to The Huffington Post, around 6 out of 10 brides are actively planning their weddings through their mobile device: they research gowns (61% of brides, up from 27% in 2011) and search for wedding vendors (57% of brides, up from 22% in 2011).

This highlights that digital has already had a huge influence on the wedding industry. With social media apps such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, brides and grooms can find so much inspiration for their big day with just a few clicks. Modern couples are now using new technology when wedding planning. In fact, 42% of people use social media to plan their wedding – with 41% of brides following photographers on social media, 37% of brides following venues and 14% following florists.

Social media is widely used for wedding inspiration – the social media apps provide a platform for wedding planners, venues, florists and other wedding suppliers to showcase what they have to offer. Instagram and Pinterest, which is used by 64% of brides, have now become a couple’s go to platform for all their inspiration, a digital alternative to a wedding fair. Suppliers who have not yet invested time into creating a social media profile for their business could be missing out on free exposure. And it’s not just the planning of the wedding that social media is a part of – when asked, over a quarter of today’s modern couples (27%) said they would create a hashtag for their special day.

Is it possible to survive offline in todays’ world?

There could be light at the end of the tunnel for the wedding industry that suggests the industry can survive offline in the future. Whilst it is likely that companies will need to go digital at some stage to stay up to date with the latest technologies, and keep their head in the game, there might always be a place for them offline within the industry.

When couples organise their wedding, you’ll be aware of how much they need to see, and experience, in person – from venues and food tasting, to wedding dress and suit fittings, the industry might struggle to operate solely online, because of the need for physical processes. Wedding fairs have been around for centuries, and there is a reason for that; whilst modern couples use social media for visual inspiration, wedding fairs are still a great way for suppliers to engage face-to-face with potential customers. For most people, their wedding day is the biggest day of their lives so it’s important that they can speak face-to-face with suppliers, and physically see what they have to offer. Wedding fairs often take place at wedding venues – they are the perfect occasion for brides to start to see their wedding come together.

Now-a-days, and in the future, there is no escaping the fact that the industry will embrace digital platforms – and couples will use these platforms as a source of inspiration and to help ease the planning process. However, the industry is not yet ready to wipe out all traditional methods of wedding planning.

There’s no question that there is still a demand for the physical processes. Maybe, it’s just time for suppliers and other industry professionals to use digital as a means to extend their business and gain more exposure.

Sources

https://www.confetti.co.uk/news/wedding-report-2015

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-douglas/part-1-the-past-present-f_b_9294420.html

GUEST BLOG: Overcoming marketing isolation

Marketing has been transformed over the past two decades, evolving from a primarily creative, somewhat fringe activity to a core corporate function, defined by metrics.

Yet while the ability to demonstrate ROI may have added discipline and improved marketing’s board level credentials, there is a significant downside to the reliance upon individual, task based measures. It is not just the CMO who is frustrated by the inability to join multiple sets to diverse metrics to gain a deep understanding of the true operational impact of marketing; individual marketers operating in task basked silos are completely blind to the role they play within the full marketing and sales funnel.

For generations now raised to expect instant gratification and an ability to contribute, these data silos are damaging morale and contributing to employee churn – resulting in ever less successful marketing teams. Data may have redefined marketing and provided essential proof of value but the tide is turning.

Without a real-time view of data gathered from all aspects of the sales and marketing funnel, which underpin a relevant dialogue with sales and, critically, build a far more motivated and engaged team, the gains in reputation and corporate value could be rapidly eroded, insists Marc Ramos, Chief Marketing Officer, SplashBI

Providing the complete picture

From Pay per Click (PPC) to email campaigns, social media to content generation, every marketing role is now supported by an extraordinary depth of data, often in real-time. But how effectively is marketing working as a whole? Is marketing delivering the quality and quantity of sales leads required? Despite the proliferation of data, the vast majority of resources are siloed – from sales automation tools to Google Analytics, data may support day to day campaign management but it delivers little, if any, valuable and actionable insight to the CMO.

From the CMO’s desire to identify and remediate problems in real time, to the Sales VP’s requirements for a better dialogue with marketing and the corporate need for accountability, siloed data sources, however deep and however fast, fail to provide the complete picture. And that is unbelievably frustrating, not only for the CMO but for individual marketers. The current real-time data sets offer a marketer great insight into campaign performance; but if that insight stops the moment the leads are handed off, and the overall company objectives are not being hit, the model is clearly flawed. Isolated individuals, however well they perform within their own remit, lack the motivation and engagement that is essential to achieve long term success.

Analysing full funnel data

It is a real-time understanding of the links between each marketing element – and hence data set – that delivers new levels of accountability and visibility between marketing and sales and vice versa. What leads have been delivered to sales and how effectively have sales closed those leads? Where, what and how is this affecting the overall corporate objectives this week, month, quarter or year? With visibility all the way to the CEO, when full funnel data is pulled together, analysed and reported on properly, the entire organisation can be held accountable.

The ability to leverage a pre-built business visualisation of the complete marketing funnel is a revelation. Encompassing web traffic performance and PPC, email campaigns and social media response, a high visual, real-time view of the entire funnel changes every aspect of the CMO’s activity – from real-time campaign tweaks on the fly in response to a drop off in specific performance to the day to day management and motivation of staff.

This latter point is key: while deep, cross business insight will improve the relevance of marketing metrics and enable effective targeted response, this complete, end-to-end view can also re-centre the marketing team by overcoming task based isolation. By creating marketing goals that are inclusive of sales performance, the business can consider and understand the performance of individuals as part of the whole and vice versa: for the first time each individual can understand the value of his or her marketing role to the overall business.

Taking individuals out of their task based siloes not only makes it far easier to focus on the best leads but, more critically, it provides context to day to day activities, context that is fundamental to building engagement and motivation. For the CMO dealing with the constant challenge of staff retention and the fear of losing great talent, adding cross-organisational business insight, including sales, finance and HR data, to full funnel analytics can also be a revelation.

A pre-built visualisation can provide a better understanding of the issues created by a multi-generational workforce of baby boomers, Generation X and millennials; or identify those managers who retain and get the best value from their talent. Essentially, with the ability to rapidly explore diverse business information, the CMO has new insight to support the creation of a true marketing team, rather than a number of isolated individuals, – a team that shares the same business vision and works effectively together.