Why your business needs a content marketing strategy?

Content marketing is a phenomenon that isn’t going away. If you’re a business to business marketer, using content marketing is a great way of rethinking and re-tasking some of press and sales support material in a way that stimulates inbound inquiry.

Need five reasons why your business needs a content marketing strategy? Here you go.

1. Quality regular content builds trust. There are undeniable SEO benefits of persistently talking about the same topics. But it’s at the human interaction level, rather than technical level, where the benefits of content marketing are most interesting. Talking frequently and in  detail about particular topics creates credibility which leads to you being trusted. Trust is the first step on the path to transaction.

2. Companies need to use people to tell stories that resonate. People do business with people they trust and like. Shared and personal experiences can underpin relationships and can be effectively used to build engagement. Advertising in the 1960’s looked to profile particular people and sell them solutions to their problems and this has largely remained the same in marketing today.

3. Broadcast PR is dead. All communication needs to be two-way. It’s not enough to tell all the time, you need to listen, react and respond. Social has spread right through all facets of modern business and modern marketing. In CRM, companies like Salesforce.com have bought into social media with outfits like Radian6, whilst the latest version of Google throws back recommendations from your contacts in amongst your search results.

4. The web finds liars out, quickly. Social media has balanced the playing field and created an outlet for disaffected customers. Whilst great viral commentary can make a business, one bad experience can destroy it as let-down customers realise they are not alone. Best to be open and transparent from the start.

5. Content converts. Most business to business products and services are conceived to solve a problem for a particular type of customer. Addressing the problems and offering ways to solve them, minimise their impact and disruption and actually remove them from the equation is a powerful way to drive trust and transaction. In B2B, there isn’t a transaction as such, but white papers, downloadable content and subscriptions emails are great ways to obtain data which can be followed up later.

 

Links worth a click #16

Some informed reading to kickstart your week. Better late than never!

First up, a beginners guide to setting goals in Google Analytics.

If you’re in the client service game, getting to know your client is critical to long term business success. Here are ten useful tips.

Are you working with your social media super influencers?

If like me you’re writing a blog, here are some tips  on building a blog that might be bought for big money in the future. 

Is Google+ credible competition for Facebook? The numbers speak for themselves.

Finally, 17 great examples of content visualisation in action (that’s infographics to the layman).

Links worth a click #15

A week with some great online content, tips and tricks.

PowerPoint as content: PowerPoint gets a hard press, in and out of meetings. But, used correctly, it can be turned into social media gold. Have a quick read of this blog post and see what ideas it sparks for you and your customers.

Business blogging: Here’s a piece for those amongst you managing or considering blogs, a list of ten great things to include in your thinking.

Some useful advice next on designing paid search (pay per click) campaigns that deliver.

Apparently, it’s no longer six degrees of separation when it comes to human relationships. According to Facebook, its 800m users give you access to anyone in the world (if they are on Facebook) in only 4 hops.

Using video? You should be. And it should be optimised. Here are some tips on how to optimise online video, with a natural focus on YouTube.

More next week. Happy Thanksgiving, Black Friday shopping weekend!

In b2b marketing, the only way is content

Amy put her shirt on the only way being Essex and lost

It’s amazing just how few B2B companies really understand the significance of inbound, content marketing. Culturally, it seems absurd to not only give away your best ideas and approaches for free but also potentially to your competition too.

Yet smart B2B marketers appreciate that there is no other way. If you want to be seen as an expert, an authority, someone to be trusted, it goes without saying that spamming everyone with interruption based advertising and direct mail is no longer going to achieve those goals.

The web is awash with advice and best practice on how to stimulate engagement. Engagement is the buzzword, the future of all relationships in the next generation. Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook are very different businesses, operating different models but with the same engagement strategy at their core. Engaging audiences at a time when attention span is at an all-time low partly because of technological advancement is a challenge with a lucrative prize.

But isn’t engagement actually the result of a process that looks to disseminate (transmit) useful information to target audiences (touch) which over time encourages them to believe you can help (trust) before then taking the obvious, and critical, step of taking an action which will lead to a single, or preferably multiple, purchase (transaction)?

It is now possible to map how everything you do from a content perspective delivers against tangible outcome-based measures whilst supporting your mission of being the go-to provider.

So, if you’re not going to transmit, touch, build trust and encourage transaction, what are you going to do?

Links worth a click #13

In the week where the Greeks held the Euro to ransom, Google rolled out new Gmail  and Groupon raised $700 from its IPO, here are some of the other interesting digital marketing related things that caught me eye.

First up, Google – or rather your Facebook comments, with news that some comments will be indexed by the search giant.  Do you see this sort of development as Alarming or great for your visibility?

Next, an infographic on the differences between outbound and inbound marketing. Infographics can be brilliant in distilling down complex arguments, processes and statistics and is used well in this example looking at why blogs, videos and white papers are going to give you more credibility than cold calling ever will.

If you use email marketing as part of your communications mix, you might to think again after reading this piece about how decisions are made within 3, 5 and 7 seconds.

And finally, if you’re a creative type looking to do something different with your website or blog, consider using your smart phone as a catch all content-generation device. This blog post from Social Media Examiner shows the way with five tips to create audio and video content on your iPhone.

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Links worth a click #11

In the week where millions of users were left without Internet and email as BlackBerry servers in Slough suffered a serious outage (read outrage) whilst Apple secured 1 million iPhone 4S pre-orders in a week in the US alone , here are some of the other interesting digital marketing related things that caught me eye.

First up, Facebook advertising with the news that Facebook ad click-through rate has increased by 18.5%, claims TBG. I’ve been waxing lyrical about Facebook [link] as an emerging and untapped b2b marketing resource of late and think that the targeted advertising opportunities might just yield a return for those early b2b adopters. Key word = targeting.

Want to see who is sharing your tweets? TweetReach might help identify your biggest fans.

And if you’re not tweeting, why not? Maybe it’s your nervous CEO. Reviewing this 28 point list might help you see the social media world from their perspective and help gather some insight to change their mind and see the benefits.

It wouldn’t be a round up without some content from the lovely inbound marketing experts at Hubspot. This week they offered some good examples in their piece outlining 9 must-haves for the perfect landing page.

Finally, a piece exploring B2B cold calling best practices together with my comment on whether such a thing even exists in modern business?  Surely there should be no such thing as a cold call these days with all the profiling information available?

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Would you pay for content?

Question:  With so much free content online, would you really pay £1-£2 for a short white paper / ebook if it helped you in your job?

I recently conducted a quick and dirty survey poll through Linkedin exploring the topic of paid for content. Clearly, there is a huge amount of information made available for free online right now with lots of companies realising the benefits of using content to drive interest and position as expert.

The freemium model, which was for so long the mainstay of the software sector – where people accessed free but restricted software needing paid updates at a future point – has now rolled out to the information sector.

I was interested in establishing if business professionals would be prepared to put their hand in their pocket (or draw out their busincss credit card) and pay for content that looked like it might add value to their role or their business.

Thanks if you contributed. Here are the results.

 

I thought this was especially relevant given much of the advice online at the moment centres on publishing material far and wide in as many formats as possible.

Seth Godin’s recent piece for his new digital publishing initiative, The Domino Project, highlights some of the downward trends in traditional publishing and how businesses and individuals will need to adjust their strategies in the future – in order to 1/ cut through and 2/ make a meaningful return.

7 reasons you need to blog your business

Blogging is a perennial hot topic when it comes to digital marketing. And for good reason. In this era of social currency, where profiles and content positively effect your search engine visibility and your ability to go viral, blogs continue to tick a number of boxes.

And not just as a cathartic, method of outpouring your inner most thoughts and feelings. No, businesses are realising that there are tangible benefits to blogging in their business.

Millions of businesses are blogging, millions are not. There are lots of strategies which are covered in other blog posts (see below), but if you are still not convinced or need to convince a sceptical manager, use this blog post to inspire you.

1. Relevant content referenced regularly makes your site more attractive to customers. It is becoming cliched but people really are looking for useful and usable information that develops them, challenges them and benefits their role. Becoming a trusted source of information that people can come to rely on puts you in a powerful position to potentially encourage them to transact.

2. It gets better. Relevant content referenced regularly makes your site more attractive to the search engines. At a base level, we know search engine spiders index sites based on how they are structured, the relevance of the content on the site and the frequency of new material. So if you add new posts on your blog regularly, they’ll stop by and re-index you more often, placing you higher up the rankings.

3. It gives your company personality. Whether it is the CEO, the MD, the Marketing Director, Sue in accounts or all of them, a blog offers a critical insight into the people that make the company tick. Sure your products and services are world beaters, but people do business with people. Don’t miss the opportunity to set a tone and deliver insight by drawing on contributions from your key people. Taking a group collaboration approach also means the workload is shared.

4. It creates experts. Over time, certain contributors will build a name for themselves on certain topics. They may even roll out their blogging to industry recognised sites, write their own and access the speaking circuit. Use them and their rising profile for the good of the business.

5. Blog content offers a perfect foundation for an entire marketing plan of activity. I’ve written extensively on the topic of content marketing. Having something to say, content that people can use, and content that can be distributed widely and re-purposed for use in all marketing channels makes it a natural prerequisite  of any modern marketing plan.

6. It stimulates community. The focused and sharing nature of a blog site provides a great opportunity to bring like minded people together and can position your blog as a hub, a place for the important discussions. Community leads to greater engagement.

7. It draws prospects out and makes them more receptive to working with you. As a business, there needs to be some tangible end point to the ideas, counsel and best practice you are providing through your blog. What the blog does over time is paint the picture of a knowledgable, forward thinking, approachable business that your readers may want to do business with in the future.

Follow up blog activity with opt in emails, webinars and white papers to really hammer home your credentials, to deepen relationships and to help ease the move to business transaction.

There are many other reasons for businesses to blog? What drives you to blog your business?

Want more?

Five ways to get more readers to your blog,

Why, what and how to blog,

Image: Labour List

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Outbound vs Inbound marketing

On the face of it, this might appear to be an over-simplification, and it might fail to acknowledge the need for an integrated mix of marketing tools.

But this animation, which first appeared on Hubspot’s always informative blog, actually illustrates perfectly what can be achieved if you take a targeted approach to serving content to the right people looking for a partner like you.

I’m a fan of using your content to drive inbound enquiry but accept that other tools need to be used to. I also don’t agree that inbound marketing is cost-free. A huge amount of time is required to develop, create, host and promote good content.

But it is an interesting proposition nonetheless, especially for b2b marketers looking to position themselves as experts in what they do.

My Twitter Week (we 18 March 2011)

Here’s this week’s wrap up from the last seven days. Hope one of the links informs, entertains, challenges or inspires you.

Monday: @JezHunt put a great article about sales process management and success in my path. Despite it being two years old, ‘Why 8% of sales people get 80% of the sales’ made for compelling and relevant reading.

@Econsultancy ‘s ‘Affiliate’s guide to dominating big niches with SEO’ provided a personal account of monetizing and maximising blogs, landing pages and search . A must read if you are looking to make money online.

Tuesday, and my favourite topic, content marketing (business social media utilising PR and other material) was itself repackaged by @hubspot who created the very readable ‘8 Ways to Use Inbound (content) Marketing to Retain Customers’.

On Wednesday, @Junta42, the team behind the Content Marketing Institute and The Content Marketing Playbook tweeted their latest blog post offering ‘Tips To Make Your Blog More Reader-Centric’. I love the simple, and blindingly obvious advice to turn blog questions and comments into further new content.

Thursday, I found a little time to catch up on the excellent Social Media Examiner blog. Their latest offering on upgrading your Linkedin account made for compelling reading and has left me thinking that it might be worth the investment. I rounded off Thursday in awe of the work @BBN_B2B have put into their “B2B Lions” website which serves as a showcase of the world’s best B2B websites.

The last post of the week involved Britvic’s CEO on why it is essential to keep your employees up to date with your vision and your performance.

What have you been reading this week that is worthy of sharing?

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