Tagged: content marketing
- by Alyson Shane
Whether you're a small business looking to expand your online presence or a seasoned marketer looking for a new level of success, the answer lies in a well-crafted content strategy.
As businesses grow and expand, scaling up content marketing efforts can be challenging.
Scaling up your content marketing efforts requires careful planning, strategic thinking, and the right tools and resources. It involves increasing the quantity and quality of your content while maintaining consistency and relevance to your audience. Let's break down the essential components of content marketing and content strategy.
The Importance of a Well-Defined Content Strategy
When you have a clear strategy in place, companies can effectively reach their target audience and drive engagement.
It helps businesses understand their needs, interests, and pain points. With this understanding, companies can create content that resonates with their audience, establishing a connection and building trust.
A solid content strategy allows businesses to plan their messaging across various channels and platforms consistently. This consistency enhances brand recognition and strengthens brand identity.
A well-defined content strategy enables organizations to measure their efforts' success accurately. Businesses can track engagement metrics like website traffic, social media interactions, and conversions by setting clear goals and key performance indicators. This data provides valuable insights into what works best for their target audience, allowing for continuous improvement and optimization.
Step 1: Developing Systems and Workflows for Efficient Content Creation and Management
If you know anything about the Starling team, you know that our owner loves good, trackable, and efficient systems.
These systems optimize content creation efforts, enhance collaboration among team members, and guarantee a seamless workflow from ideation to publication.
One tool that the Starling team leverages for content creation and collaboration is Google Docs. With its real-time editing capabilities and cloud-based storage, teams can work together on documents simultaneously, eliminating the need for time-consuming back-and-forth exchanges. This allows for efficient feedback loops and ensures everyone is on the same page throughout content creation.
Another valuable resource for developing clear workflows (that our team also loves) is Trello. This project management platform enables teams to organize tasks, track progress, and set deadlines in an easy — and visually appealing — interface. By creating boards with lists and cards representing different stages of the content creation process, teams can easily manage assignments, prioritize tasks, and monitor overall productivity.
Embracing these tools saves time and fosters a more productive work environment where creativity thrives alongside effective project management practices.
Step 2: Understanding the Role of SEO in Your Content Strategy
Search Engine Optimization makes your content irresistible to search engines. It's all about finding the right keywords and optimizing your content to rank higher in search results.
a) Who to Target with Your SEO Efforts?
Before you start, get to know your audience inside out. Create buyer personas first. Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, complete with demographics, interests, pain points, and behaviours. This helps you think about what your audience is searching for, and tailor your content to their needs.
Next, dig deep into user intent keywords. People type these key phrases into search engines when seeking answers or solutions. Rather than just focusing on generic keywords, consider your audience's specific questions and problems. What are they searching for, and why?
Imagine your audience's journey and thought process.
- What challenges do they face?
- How can your content address those pain points?
By aligning your content with their needs, you attract more visitors and build trust and credibility.
b) What to Focus on When It Comes to SEO?
Pay attention to technical SEO factors like site speed and mobile-friendliness. Google loves websites that load quickly and look great on smartphones. Also, focus on creating high-quality content that's relevant and valuable to your readers.
c) Why Is SEO Essential for Successful Content Strategy?
SEO isn't just a buzzword; it's the key to building organic growth. When you rank higher on search engines, you attract more visitors. And guess what? Those visitors are more likely to convert into customers.
d) Where to Incorporate Keywords Within Your Content?
Sprinkle your keywords strategically throughout your content. Use them in your title tags, meta descriptions, headings, subheadings, body text, image alt tags, URLs, and even within your internal linking structure. Just remember, don't overdo it; keep it natural.
Step 3: Effective Distribution Channels for Amplifying Your Content Reach
Creating engaging content is only half the battle. You also need to make sure it reaches the right audience. Enter distribution channels.
Social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, X.com, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. are your megaphones. Share your content there, engage with your audience, and watch your reach grow. Don't forget the power of email marketing campaigns. We could go on about that, but for time’s sake, here’s another blog about writing a killer newsletter.
Consider guest blogging or podcast opportunities and influencer partnerships. Collaborating with others can introduce your brand to a whole new audience.
Step 4: Crafting Your Content
Now that you've laid the groundwork for your content strategy, it's time to craft your content. Don’t put out a social media post for the sake of putting out a social media post! Make sure your content is helping you reach one of your goals.
If your post doesn’t fit into these boxes, should you really be posting it?
Relevance: Always keep your target audience in mind. Craft content that directly addresses their needs, interests, and pain points. Your content should be a solution to their problems.
Quality: Research thoroughly, fact-check rigorously, and provide valuable insights. High-quality content establishes your authority and builds trust with your audience.
Consistency: Maintain consistency in your posting schedule, brand voice, style, and messaging. This consistency creates a reliable and recognizable content identity your audience can trust.
Timeliness: Keep your content up-to-date and relevant to current trends and industry developments. Being on top of the latest news and updates positions you as an industry thought leader.
Education: Offer valuable insights, tips, and actionable advice. Providing educational content positions your brand as a valuable resource in your niche.
Entertainment: Incorporate storytelling, humour, and engaging visuals to make your content enjoyable. Entertaining content is more likely to be shared and can increase your content's reach and impact.
As you craft your content, consider how these pillars can be integrated into your pieces.
The Power of a Well-Thought-Out Content Strategy
We’re lucky to have an incredible team at Starling who truly cares about the success of each client. These tools are the gears that keep the engine running, but the true power lies in the well-thought-out content strategy. It ensures that every piece we create serves a purpose, resonates with our audience, and contributes to our overall success.
We don't just advocate for these tools; we rely on them to help execute our content strategy.
Google Docs: Google Docs is where we create drafts and collaborate seamlessly. This makes crafting a strategy that aligns with your overall content goals easier.
Trello: Trello helps us break down our content strategy into actionable steps, ensuring that each piece aligns with our overarching goals.
Buffer: Buffer helps execute a carefully designed distribution plan. It ensures our content reaches the right audience at the right time. Other tools like Later and Hootsuite accomplish the same goals and may be the right choice for your biz.
Remember, tools are only as effective as the strategy behind them. Craft your strategy with care, and adapt it as needed.
Or, if you are ready to focus on big-picture items and leave your marketing to the professionals, contact us here to book a consultation.
- by Alyson Shane
If you’ve ever seen a Japanese ad or commercial, you’ve probably watched it and said, “wtf is this” — and you’re not alone.
Having just spent a month in Japan, I was struck by the stark difference between Japanese and North American advertising. Their ads often feature people in costumes, anthropomorphic items and animals, and characters making silly or exaggerated faces and sounds.
Aka, it's the complete opposite of most of the marketing campaigns I've seen here in North America.
As someone obsessed with marketing and storytelling, I loved being immersed in a different culture and seeing how Japanese brands market their products and services.
In this post, I’ll explore how North American companies can find more engaging and memorable ways to connect with their audiences by embracing silliness and being weird the way Japanese brands do.
Let’s start by comparing some ads:
Cup Noodle Japan
Predictably, Cup Noodle is a brand of instant noodles popular in Japan. I saw ads for these on subway trains all over the country, and they often involved people in weird situations interacting with a life-size cup of noodles.
Let’s start with a Japanese Cup Noodle commercial:
Now let’s take a look at an ad for instant noodles from another Japanese company that’s targeted at North Americans, Ottogi America Inc.:
Night and day, right? While some aspects of the Japanese commercial might not necessarily land with a North American audience (the grandpa being held by a Cup Noodle angel at the end is a weird vibe), the ad is fast-paced and unpredictable and basically the opposite of what you’d expect from a company selling cups of noodles.
God of War: Ragnarok
I didn’t actually see it while I was in Japan, but I wanted to include it because it does a great job of showcasing the contrast between how North Americans market something and how they do it in Japan. Check it out:
I read the Google Translate description of the video, and I’m still not 100% sure what’s going on here.
Now let’s compare it against the American trailer:
I actually love both versions of these ads, but the contrast is pretty stark: the North American version relies on celebrities. It comes across as more satirical (and tame) than the Japanese version.
It also portrays playing the game and dressing like Kronos as the men are trying to be better dads to their kids — framing GoW, Kronos’ beefy physique, dressing like a Viking, and playing a violent videogame as “masculine.”
The Japanese version, by comparison, contrasts what arguably sounds like a children’s song against a violent, pretty macho video game.
SoftBank’s “White Family”
I don’t remember where or how I discovered this series of ads back in the early 2000s, but these weird, quirky commercials stole my heart and probably set me up for the love of Japanese marketing that I still hold today.
The long-running campaign, which focused on the (Shirato) White Family headed by Otousan (“Father”), who is a white dog, was one of the most successful and long-running ad campaigns in the country’s history.
As of 2012, the campaign had reached 133 “episodes,” but here are a few to give you a sense of what they’re like:
(Also, don’t sleep on the Tommy Lee Jones cameos!)
As you can see, very few of these commercials actually talk in detail about the phone company or the plans themselves. Mostly they’re little vignettes about the family and the things they’re doing.
The commercials are weird, but they’re also charming and memorable.
Now let’s look at a North American ad that also features a talking animal:
Did you notice that Geico’s ad followed a lot of the same tropes that the SoftBank ads did?
By featuring an unusual animal who talks (and who is kind of abrasive to the humans around it, just like Otousan), they can create a quirky, memorable ad that promotes their offerings without being too heavy-handed about it.
Differences Between Japanese and North American Ads
Now that we’ve looked at a few examples, let’s break down the key differences between ad styles according to research:
- Japanese commercials are less informative than American commercials.
- Japanese commercials emphasize product packaging and availability, while American ads emphasize price, quality, and performance.
- Japanese commercials use a soft-sell approach with short messages, songs, celebrities, female voice-overs, and still graphics.
- American commercials use a hard-sell approach with long messages, animation, male spokespeople, and humour.
- Japan is a ‘high-context society’ whose communication needs are answered through familiar symbols and icons rather than logical recommendations.
- The US is a ‘low-context culture’ requiring Western rhetoric and logical tradition to communicate thoughts and actions.
What Can North American Brands Learn?
As you may have noticed, a key element of Japanese advertising is being silly and weird.
Japanese ads often feature bizarre imagery (see below for an example), unusual characters, and unexpected scenarios. By embracing the unexpected and breaking away from traditional advertising tropes, companies can create more memorable and engaging ads. Weirdness can also help companies stand out in a crowded advertising landscape.
Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to lean into weird, memorable characters or make them a bit annoying or unlikeable for the sake of the joke.
Why is that pistachio so smarmy?!)
Use a “Soft Sell” Approach
Japanese commercials often use a soft-sell approach with short messages, songs, celebrities, female voice-overs, and still graphics.
This approach can be more subtle and less aggressive, which can be more appealing to some audiences.
Key takeaway: Avoid being too heavy-handed. Tell a story that resonates or excites your audience where the product you’re promoting comes second to a memorable ad.
Use (and Create!) Familiar Symbols and Icons
As we saw in the SoftBank ads, Otousan became something of a cultural icon in Japan. By incorporating or creating characters who can become cultural symbols (think the polar bears for Coca-Cola), campaigns become more easily recognizable and familiar to audiences.
Experiment with Pattern Interrupts and Pacing
As we saw with the Cup Noodle commercial and how a few SoftBank commercials cut between scenes, the Japanese aren’t afraid to jump around.
Cutting frequently between scenes is called a “pattern interrupt” and is an effective tool (also employed by YouTubers) to keep the audience’s attention focused on whatever they’re watching.
Many Japanese ads also end abruptly or in weird and unexpected ways. Not knowing where the plot is going is another way of keeping viewers engaged right until the very end.
Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid of experimenting with pacing and surprising your audience with a twist at the end of your ads.
Play With Satire
Although both the God of War: Ragnarok examples played with satire, the North American one played it safe by linking the GoW series to “manliness” and easily identifiable gender norms.
The Japanese ad, on the other hand, threw gender norms right out the window and went with an ad that could have easily been mistaken for a kid’s commercial.
While the North American ad is fine (I liked it, personally), the Japanese sing-song ad stands out more because it almost feels like it’s making fun of the ultra-macho GoW series instead of leaning into a predictable masculine theme.
Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to lean into satire and juxtapose different elements of an ad against the product you’re promoting.
Get Inspired for Your Next Ad Campaign
Japanese advertising offers a refreshing alternative to traditional advertising, and North American companies can look to these types of ads for inspiration.
So, the next time you’re creating an ad campaign, consider adding a little bit of silliness, embracing the unexpected, and making fun of yourself and your product. Who knows, you might create an ad that people will remember for years to come.
- by Rose Regier
This guest post was written by Rose Regier.
So you’re sitting down to create some content for your digital marketing channels. You’re doing this a month ahead of time because you read this and you get why posting on the fly is a) not strategic and b) not the best use of your time.
Your first thought might be, “What’s new in our business that we can talk about? What haven’t we talked about yet? Hmmmm, do we have any nice photos to share? Should we jump on a TikTok trend? Maybe show our support for an issue everyone is talking about?”
You draft some content and are about to put it into your queue - here’s where we’re going to stop you.
Before you’re done, you need to make sure every piece of content you just drafted answers this one question:
“What’s in it for my customer?”
Running each piece of your content through your own internal “What’s in it for them” filter might be the single most important way to make sure your digital marketing is strategic.
Every person (whether they’re aware of it or not) is walking around the world trying to find what’s in it for them—as they scroll, as they shop, as they eat, and as they binge a show. They’re looking for a payoff.
We’re Wired for Connection
It might seem selfish, but actually it’s just human nature. We’re driven to connect what’s out there to our personal experience.
Brené Brown is a researcher who’s spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Here’s what she found:
“Connection is why we're here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”
Understanding this fundamental drive will change the way you relate to your customer and also deepen your relationship with them.
This is also why getting to know your ideal customer is so important. You can’t relate to everyone, so you need to understand the specific people with whom you’re trying to connect, to know what they want from you.
Part of the client onboarding process at Starling Social is creating your ideal customer personas. The exercise itself is often very clarifying for our clients, and from there we can use these personas as a reference when we’re crafting your content, so we can act as an extension of your brand.
All this talk about connection and meaning might sound a little deep for a digital marketing strategy, but this doesn’t mean your content has to be serious. You don’t have to strike at the heart of your customers’ desires and pain points every time. It could be that sometimes your customer is looking for a little escape, for beauty, for some entertainment, or for a laugh.
In addition to considering what your customer wants from you, how you connect also depends on your brand. If you’re not sure what your brand is, start with our post on brand questions by Chelsée Curé.
Finding Your Content Sweet Spot
Your brand + what’s in it for your customer = your content sweet spot
The more you hit that content sweet spot, the more likely it is that your customers will want to engage with your stuff.
Some companies focus inward too much and only consider their offerings when creating content. They forget that your blog and your social media channels are a conversation.
It’s kind of like going on a first date and the person you’re meeting with talks nonstop. It only takes a few minutes of this before you’re eyeing the door, and getting out of an in person conversation is a lot harder than a simple unfollow.
Asking what’s in it for your customer will ensure you don’t get tunnel vision so they keep coming back for more.
Have we convinced you? Ok great, now let’s put it into practice.
What’s In It for You: Examples
Have you seen the acronym TL;DR in our weekly newsletter? It stands for “Too long; didn’t read” and we use it to give you a quick summary of something we read so you don’t have to.
What’s in it for you? You get all the juicy info without having to read a long (and possibly boring) article, but we always include a link in case you want to dive in.
What’s in it for you? Craving doughnuts? You can take a quick peek at Oh Doughnuts' IG to pick your flavour before you head to the shop. This post also lets you know that you can have doughnuts delivered to your house, which means you don’t have to get sweaty to get doughnuts.
This Expedia commercial with Ewen McGregor acknowledges—and pokes fun at— our obsession with accumulating stuff, and then ends with him walking onto a white sand beach. You hear the waves crashing and see a family with two kids running into the water.
What’s in it for you? Spending your money on experiences instead of stuff will make you happier, and Expedia will help you save more on those experiences.
Its especially inspirational because most of us have spent the better part of two years stuck at home with online shopping or home renovations filling the void left by lack of travel. We’re ready to have experiences again.
This Facebook Ad for an article by The New York Times is geared toward parents of young children. The copy and image are a great example of a company understanding its customers and where they are at right now.
What’s in it for you? Validation. Knowing you’re not alone and you’re not abnormal for feeling burnt out is a relief, plus the article offers a way out.
What Do Your Customers Want?
What do each of these examples have in common? Yes, they all make it clear what’s in it for you, but what’s in it for you in each case is a feeling rather than a product—ease, happiness, validation.
These examples hit on another fundamental truth when it comes to marketing: what your customers want isn’t just a product/service, they want the feeling that accompanies it.
Curious about how else we can help you be more strategic with your digital marketing? Get in touch! We’d be happy to answer your questions.
- by Lauren Wagn
By: Lauren Wagn, Social Media Manager
We’ve all heard the phrase “content is king”, and while this is true, some kings reign longer than others.
Content is a prime tool in your business’ toolbox to drive online traffic to your website. This can increase brand awareness, brand loyalty, and sales. However, not all content is created equally. Some content will create a flash-in-the-pan of interest while others will organically build traffic over time.
This is the difference between content and evergreen content.
Evergreen content can also go hand-in-hand with SEO techniques for even more return-on-investment (ROI).
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to make content that keeps on giving.
What is evergreen content?
When you hear the term “evergreen” you probably think of lush pine trees lining a snow-covered street; A tree that is thriving all year long.
That’s exactly what evergreen content is!
It’s content that no matter the time of year, or what year it is for that matter, it’ is always relevant. Evergreen content is not time-sensitive, even in a world where trends move in a blink of an eye.
The difference between evergreen content and regular content is like the difference between Wikipedia and TikTok. Wikipedia is steady and consistent, while TikTok is fast-paced and ever-changing.
Examples of evergreen content
Evergreen content can come in a variety of formats including how-to guides, testimonials, case studies, and listicles.
While the format of evergreen content can be diverse, it’s the topic that is the real distinguishing feature.
Here are some examples of evergreen content:
- The Top 3 Social Media Metrics You Need to Be Tracking. Social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. While the topic is niche, it will not lose its relevancy.
- How to Bake a Cake. Originally posted in 2010, this evergreen article has been updated to maintain its freshness.
- Evergreen Trees: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know. Evergreens grow all year round and are relevant all year round.
- The article you’re reading right now! Informational articles about industry-specific concepts make great evergreen content.
What these topics have in common is that none of them are tied to current events, news cycles, or trends. This allows them to sustain growth over long periods of time.
Evergreen content is built to last. News posts, announcements, statistics, and seasonal content will all age rather quickly. While there is a time and place for this type of content, evergreen content can build a strong foundation for your business’ online presence.
To compare, here are the Google Trends results for an evergreen topic next to a trendy topic.
Here are the results for “How to bake a cake”:
Versus the results for “Brangelina”:
“How to bake a cake”, while having some spikes, is generally consistent. “Brangelina”, however, was a hot topic following their break-up then flatlines into relative obscurity. This illustrates the life expectancy of these two types of content.
Why evergreen content matters
So now you know what evergreen content is, but why should you be interested?
1.) It consistently brings potential customers to your website
As evergreen content is always relevant, people will always be searching for this information. This creates a steady stream of viewers that may have never found your website before.
2.) It can drive traffic through different parts of your website
Once the evergreen content has brought the lead to the page, internal links can help boost time spent on your website. The more time they spend engaged with your content, the more likely they are to convert.
3.) It conveys information to your audience that will solidify you as an authority in their eyes
By using your content to address your audience’s problems and solve them, you can begin to build a relationship of trust with them.
How to make evergreen content with SEO in mind
When creating evergreen content, strategy and quality are equally important.
Evergreen content relies heavily on the topic it is based on. This will be different depending on what industry your business is in. We suggest picking something that you can position yourself as an authority in. What does your business know best?
When considering what topics to write about, look at frequently asked questions about your business or information that beginners may want to know.
Once you’ve determined an overarching theme, research what keywords may help your content find the right audience. Choosing a popular and heavily used keyword may lead to too much competition. Through your keyword research, you can begin to narrow down the scope of your content to form a concept that your audience will want to read.
These keywords can be used in various places in your content, such as:
- Title of the page
- Meta tags
- Image file paths
- Anchor text
This will help optimize your content and help it land on search engine result pages (SERPs).
With the topic fully fleshed out, it’s time to research the competition. Put your keywords into Google and see what comes up. This is what you’ll be competing with when people are looking for information on your chosen topic.
Pay attention to the headlines, format, and depth of information in these high-ranking results.
To rank well, you’ll want to produce content that is as good, and ideally better, than what is already out there. Use your competition as a benchmark for your content.
Not only is the quality of the content valuable to the reader, but it is also valuable for SEO. By building authority and creating high-calibre content, your page can attract backlinks, which is when another website “links back” to your post.
Having other websites link you as a resource not only drives traffic from their site to yours, it also factors heavily into Google's ranking algorithm.
At this point, you can begin to outline and draft your evergreen content
Need help developing an evergreen content strategy for your business' blog? Click here to get in touch!
How to keep your evergreen content alive
Researching and creating your evergreen content makes up the bulk of the work, but maintenance of your content is still important! Just like pruning a tree, evergreen content will need to be checked on and updated periodically.
While the majority of your copy may not need any tweaks, smaller aspects may need to be adjusted. Click on any links to make sure that they are still working correctly or review any statistics that may have changed. It is also worthwhile to check the effectiveness of your keywords and edit as needed.
This maintenance will keep your content fresh, useful, and accessible to your audience.
Evergreen content tips
When creating evergreen content, here are some extra tips to keep in mind:
- Write for your audience. If you’re speaking to beginners, don’t go too heavy on industry jargon so it is accessible to everyone.
- Break it up into “smaller” pieces of content. Use your evergreen content to create smaller, bite-sized social media posts that can drive traffic back to the original content.
- Use enticing headlines to catch people’s attention.
- Don’t rely exclusively on evergreen content. Use timely content to capitalize on trends and increased searches on certain keywords too.
Conclusion: start writing evergreen content today!
Evergreen content can be an effective way to get your business on SERPs, drive traffic, connect with your audience and convert leads. It’s also a great ROI as the returns just keep on coming.
When using evergreen content, just remember to thoroughly research your topics, keywords, and competition before writing so you can create the best possible content for your audience. This will ensure that your content has the desired outcome.
Ready to create evergreen content and don’t have the resources to do it the way you want it done? Reach out and let’s talk about how we can help you create content that’s right for your audience.
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- by Alicia Kurz
This post was written by our Account Manager Alicia Kurz.
Are you wondering how to write a great technical blog post for your clients?
Chances are, when you think about writing a technical blog post, your first feelings are a sense of dread, followed by being bored before you even start. If you aren’t an expert in whatever complex subject you are about to embark on, starting can be discouraging.
Luckily, these steps will help you develop a process to create useful, interesting technical content and take the guesswork out of publishing great technical posts. Let’s dive right in:
Where do you even begin?
The good news is, the thought of writing a technical blog post is more challenging than actually doing the work. The key is finding the points in the topic that interest you and focus on highlighting those points. When you’re more interested in a topic, you’ll be more enthusiastic about writing the post and finding the correct information. The better the post, the easier it is for the audience to connect with the topic.
Technical blogs are a great way to reach a lot of people and give people information that’s easy to consume. After writing many technical blogs, here’s the workflow that makes things easy to focus on content instead of logistics. Let’s start spreading some good ideas!
1. Define your audience and key messages
Who are you writing for? If your target is moms between 25-40, your writing is going to sound much different than writing for 30-50-year-old engineers in the forestry industry — am I right, ladies?
Audience personas can be quite helpful when you’re thinking about the tone and structure of your piece. A wine blog for beginners can likely be more light-hearted than a post about the environmental impacts of dust on a local community, for example.
It’s always important to think about what’s in it for your audience. People have limited time, so reading your blog better be a good use of theirs. Are the key messages of your blog in line with what your target audience is looking for? If not, you will need to make adjustments so people aren’t asking “who cares?”
2. Research your topic
Thank God for Google. Likely, you aren’t the first to write about whatever topic you are about to delve into. That’s a good thing. You have information from multiple sources — just please fact check — so it allows you to piece together the best information in the easiest to read way. Just because others have done it first, doesn’t mean they have done it best.
Often the research provided to you is written in nerd language and it’s your job to figure it out. If you’re a writer, that can be fun. It’s like fitting puzzle pieces together to make information more accessible to a larger audience.
If you have questions, other people probably do too. Your blog is where people will go to find those answers.
If you are writing this blog for a client, schedule a call where you can ask questions and make sure your key messages are clear. While you can independently find out a ton of information by yourself, it makes it a lot easier when you and your client are starting on the same page. Plus, they probably have specific information they want to be included that may not have been clear to you initially.
Make sure to record the call so you can go back and reference it. This will save you a lot of stress. It’s much easier than taking notes and trying to remember everything.
3. Create an outline
Now that you have your key messages down, you’ve researched your topic, and your client has given you an idea of what they are looking for, it’s time to create an outline.
Luckily, you have other blogs to reference and see first-hand which ones you were drawn to and which ones you pressed the back button immediately.
I said it once and I’ll say it again: always start with “what’s in it for them.” If your introduction doesn’t have a hook, your audience is gone.
Use headings and lists to make your content easy to read, and use a call to action at the end of your blog that aligns with your goals. Book a meeting, follow us on Facebook, or buy now are all great examples of how to further engage your audience after they have read your blog.
Outlines are also great to organize your thoughts and weed out excess information that will cloud your key messages.
4. Start Writing
Use your own voice to relay your messages. Whether that’s the professional version of your voice or your Saturday night version after a glass of wine version, just make sure the tone matches your content.
Use the K.I.S.S. method. In case you weren't born 60-years ago, or you just prefer to not reference rude acronyms, that means Keep It Simple, Stupid. Take out industry jargon and complicated language. You can sound smart without using words people have to Google. Your blog should be accessible to a large audience and easily consumable, not feel like more work.
5. Take a Break
Give your eyes a break once you’ve written your piece. After you stare at your computer for hours trying to write the perfect blog, you might become blind to minor errors. Maybe you typed “and” twice or used the same word in a paragraph three times. Try going on a walk, or just not looking at a screen for a couple of hours before you come back to it.
Although I prefer to save the trees, a great tip is to print your piece and edit it on paper — after you have run it through Grammarly, of course. For some reason, it’s easier to make changes that way.
Plus, it’s kind of satisfying to edit your own with a red pen… maybe that’s just me.
If you have a chance, ask someone else to read it for you. Try not to get annoyed when they give you irrelevant suggestions. They also might catch something you said twice, or ask a question about something you thought you answered, but you weren’t clear enough.
6. Add the Finishing Touches
Now it’s time to make your blog look nice. Add headings, photos, article links, and an SEO-friendly title.
The most satisfying part of writing your blog is clicking the publish button. Ensure the blog is going to the right part of your website, add tags, set a featured image, and utilize any widgets you have installed on your site to make your blog SEO-friendly.
After it’s published, check that the image that pulls works on your social platforms and that it loads correctly on both desktop and mobile feeds.
You want people to see what you’ve posted. Share your blog post in places your target audience hangs out. Ask people to share it. This gives you a chance for your network to spread your post to their network.
Use Canva to create free images that look great on social, and you don’t need to be a designer to use. You can also resize these so it fits correctly on all platforms.
If your piece is really awesome, consider doing some digital advertising for it to get the most eyes on it.
Just remember, practice makes perfect. Eventually, writing technical blogs will become more of a habit, and creating these posts will flow much easier.
If you need help writing blog posts or getting your content in front of the right people, drop us a line and let us know how we can help!
- by Alyson Shane
In a recent workshop with The Kinship Studio, we covered the importance of personalized content and how it can increase leads and sales by making your social media content more engaging.
Today we’re going to expand on some of the tips we shared with the class - let's dive right in:
What is Personalized Marketing?
Personalized marketing is the process of using data and analysis to deliver personalized content that is tailored to specific members of your target audience.
In fact, you’ve probably encountered this form of marketing before: have you ever received a “cart abandon” email encouraging you to complete a purchase? That’s personalized content.
Another form of personalized marketing is dynamic website content.
This type of personalized content will change to reflect the person’s browsing or purchasing behavior, or will change languages and stock items (for example) based on where the person is located.
What Are the Benefits of Personalized Marketing?
Some of the potential benefits of using personalization in your social media marketing include:
- Generate more customers and leads
- Create a sense of trust and familiarity with your customers
- Increased customer engagement
- Encourage content sharing
- Improve social media relevance (and lower ad costs)
- Increase brand awareness
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of personalizing your content, it’s time to dig into where we find all that customer data from in the first place:
Source 1: Review Your Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are an essential part of your marketing strategy because they help you identify specific, unique characteristics of different customer types.
They can help you understand things like:
- Age, gender, and geographic location
- Where they spend their time online
- Which devices they use (mobile, tablet, etc)
- The topics that interest them
- The influencers they follow and engage with
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of having buyer personas in an earlier post. If you’ve never created one, check out our handy guide (with free template!) to start building yours.
Source 2: Twitter Analytics
Twitter Analytics is a treasure trove of information about the people that follow you!
Check out your followers and note the following areas:
- Their interests (broad topics like comedy, weather, and technology)
- The devices they use to sign in and their wireless carrier
- Their household income status and net worth
- Their marital status
By exploring the various tabs (Overview, Demographics, Lifestyle Behaviour, Consumer Behavior, and Mobile Footprint) you can develop a deeper understanding of how your Twitter users behave.
But you’re not done yet. Next up...
Source 3: Facebook Audience Insights
Another great place to get a better understanding of your audience is Facebook Audience Insights.
Find it by opening Ads Manager, then clicking All Tools > Audience Insights.
Facebook will ask you to choose between studying everyone on Facebook, or just people connected to your page. Unless you have a giant following, select ‘Everyone on Facebook.’
Use the information you learned when looking through your Twitter Insights to inform your research. For example, you can look up people with this kind of criteria:
- 30-55 years old
- Located in the U.S.
- All genders
- Interested in Business
- In CEO or President positions
Once you’ve set up your search, Facebook will show you in-depth information about your audience. Here, you can find things like:
- Which Facebook pages this audience likes
- Where they live
- Which devices they use
- Their job titles
- The industry they work in
- And lots more!
Source 4: Look at Your Email List
The key to building an email list that helps you understand your audience is to offer lots of ways for people to subscribe. Some ways to do this include:
- CTA buttons or embedded text encouraging readers to subscribe
- Images that pop-up or slide-in on your landing pages
- Posts about your email newsletter on your social media channels
- Varied gated content (PDFs and resources that can be accessed in exchange for an email)
Different options help you understand people’s motivations for subscribing in more detail.
Once someone has subscribed, you can track the links in the email you sent them, see if they opened your email, and more.
Use a Social Listening Tool
A social listening tool is a must-have for the type of ongoing audience research needed to excel at personalized content.
Social listening tools typically offer multiple filtering options and in-depth analytics, and allow you to stay on top of any brand mentions online.
Some of the best tools out there (depending on your budget) are:
Brand24: 14-day free trial, Pro $49/month, Premium $99/month, Max $399/month
Buzzsumo: Pro $79/mo, Plus $139/mo, Large $239/mo, Enterprise $499/mo
Sprout Social: Standard $99/user/mo, Professional $149/user/mo, Advanced $249/user/mo
Brandwatch: Custom pricing
Hootsuite Insights: Custom pricing
Start Researching Your Personalized Content Today
There’s no better time to start understanding your audience and speaking more directly to how your company solves their problems.
Delivering personalized content to your customers will help you see a higher return on investment (ROI) in your marketing efforts, and creates a more connective experience for your audience.
- by Alyson Shane
What are you doing with your customer data these days?
If you're not regularly mining it for details on how to create content that answers their questions and moves them through your sales funnel, you're missing out!
In this post, we'll explore how to use customer data to create marketing copy and content.
How Can You Collect Customer Data?
Analytics tools like Social Report and Zoho Analytics can help you understand what your followers are doing on social media, but these options will help you collect more specific data about who your audience and customers are.
Surveys, Quizzes + Questionnaires
Surveys are a great way to learn more about your audience, and can also be a great lead gen tool! In fact, according to LeadQuizzes, the average quiz has a 31.6% lead capture rate.
You can decide to email your most engaged customers or find out more about prospective customers by creating a quiz on your website. Either way, make sure to keep your surveys and questionnaires short and clear, so your customers stay engaged.
Contests + Giveaways
Contests and surveys are great ways to engage with your community and get them excited about your brand. It's also an excellent way to gather specific data about the people who are interested in what you're giving away.
Because you can set the parameters of your contest or survey, you can get as specific with the data needed to enter as you'd like.
Free Gated Content
"Gated content" refers to content that is free, but only after the reader provides some basic information about themselves; usually their name and email.
Use the data you collect to create case studies, infographics, and info-packed PDFs that demonstrates how you solve your customers' problems, then gate that content.
How Can You Use Customer Data to Create Content?
Create Engaging Content
The most important thing to learn from analyzing this data is understanding what your customer care about. If you see that specific topics, phrases, and keywords tend to rank lower, or not at all, phase them out of your marketing copy and swap in the latest data.
Remember: people's needs change over time, so you need to be regularly generating new customer data to review and introduce into your content marketing plan.
Show How You Solve Their Problems
By understanding more about what your customer's needs and problems are, you can create content that shows them how your business helps them solve it.
For example, if you run an HVAC company, you can use customer data to find out which furnaces are most popular. Then, publish a blog post listing the Pros and Cons of each, with a call-to-action (CTA) to contact a technician for more details.
This kind of content shows you're listening to your customers. It also has the added bonus of being extra SEO-friendly, since you're optimizing to match the text your customers are typing into search engines.
Learn the Type of Content Your Customers Love
There are lots of ways that you can share information about your products and services online: through text, images, video, infographics, webinars, etc.
Make sure to pay attention to the Engagement Rate that your posts receive, and note the type of content that tends to do the best.
Learn the Best Time to Publish Your Content
You want to be publishing content when your audience is online, which means paying attention to when they're most active. Monitor your social media analytics to find out when your audience is spending the most time online, and plan your publishing to occur during those peak times.
Don't forget to make a point to be active on social media during this time to talk to your followers about the new post as well - social media isn't just a soapbox!
Create Content That's Geo-Specific
One of the easiest ways to speaks to a customer's needs is to get specific to where they live. Use your customer data to understand where your customers are coming from and create content that targets them specifically.
Even better: if you advertise through Facebook, the options to get ultra granular are almost limitless.
For example, a retirement community advertising available units would want to target 55+ seniors looking to sell their homes in suburban postal or ZIP codes with ads promoting newly-renovated suites. See? Ultra granular.
Start Using Customer Data in Your Content
When you spend the time to understand your customers, you can craft content that speaks to how you solve their problems. It's really that simple!
Remember to connect with your customers regularly: on social media, through email, on your blog, and wherever they may be online. Use the data you collect to periodically re-evaluate what your audience is saying to you.
- by Alyson Shane
Do you have a hard time figuring out what to say to your followers on social media?
Even for the most outgoing among us, joining conversations on social media in an authentic way can feel daunting for even the most seasoned digital marketer.
We also have to consider other obstacles, including:
- Ongoing changes to the algorithms on Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks that decreases organic reach.
Fierce competition for the same audience from within your industry.
Decreasing attention spans and fatigue among social media users.
In spite of these challenges, having in conversations with your followers on social media is the best way for your brand to show your audience that you're listening.
Social media users are savvy, and will unfollow you (and potential stop buying from you) if they feel like you're too busy talking at them to take the time to listen and speak to them.
That's why today we're sharing our favorite conversation tactics to increase brand engagement. Let's dive right in:
There are three primary ways we can start a discussion on social media: by asking questions, by joining existing conversations, sharing topical news, and asking questions.
Join Existing Conversations
One of the easiest ways to engage with others on social media is to jump right into an existing conversation.
We especially love Twitter for this purpose because we can talk to pretty much anyone about anything, but don't be afraid to jump right into another conversation if you feel your brand has something constructive and useful to share.
Twitter chats are a great opportunity for your brand to get together with members of your audience and/or industry (we recommend doing both), especially since the question-based format a takes the guesswork out of trying to come up with something to say.
Some things you can say include:
- Great points! What do you think about XYZ?
- That's an interesting perspective - how did you arrive at your conclusion?
Ask Thought-Provoking Questions
If one of your followers re-shares your article, don't just pat yourself on the back and consider it a job well done; you're not finished yet!
This is your chance to follow up with that community member and increase brand engagement by asking them questions about the piece. By showing an interest in our community, we can help them feel interested in us.
Some things you can ask include:
- What was your biggest takeaway from the article?
- What about XYZ in the article resonated most with you?
- What are your thoughts about the future of XYZ industry?
Share Timely News and Trends
Staying up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry means you'll be able to stay ahead of the curve. It also allows you to hone in on trending conversations as they're happening.
Commonly known as "newsjacking," this tactic allows us to have conversations with our audience about breaking news.
Guiding the conversation helps us understand what our followers' thoughts are on a particular topic while also increasing brand engagement at the same time.
Even better: sharing our thoughts with breaking news allows us to show that we're experts who are tuned-into the latest goings-on in our industry. This helps community members feel like they can trust us to know what we're doing.
Some ideas to get the gears turning in your head include:
- What are your thoughts on XYZ's latest announcement?
- How do you think the change to XYZ will impact the industry?
- Do you think XYZ news will impact how you feel about XYZ topic?
Keep the Conversation Going
There are lots of easy ways to start and continue, conversations with your followers. Some examples include:
- Posting polls and surveys (Instagram Stories is excellent for this!)
- Hosting your own Twitter chat (vs. joining existing ones)
- Host Q&A or AMA sessions to help your community get to know you
Remember: the key here isn't having the best questions or the wittiest answers; it's about showing your community that you're listening and that you care about what they have to say.
For more insights into building a community around your brand, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
- by Alyson Shane
This post was written by our Copywriter & Content Strategist Hannah Clark.
Do you sell stuff, or the doing of stuff? No matter what products or services you offer, marketing your stuff is just a part of staying in business. Most businesses are, understandably, interested in the advertising efforts with the best return for their dollar. Logically, it’s an easy choice. In practice, it’s not so simple. Everyone seems to be allergic to advertising these days. So what are brands to do?
They need to be making content. A lot of them just don’t know it yet.
A while back my Mom (who is a business owner) asked me what my job title is and I told her I’m a Content Marketer. She said, “No one is going to know what that means. I don’t know what that means. You should just tell them you work in marketing.”
Well, if you don’t know what that means, this one goes out to you. This is why you (and my Mom) should be creating content, and why it works.
1. The Options Are Limitless
First of all, let’s just outline what I mean by ‘content’. When I say content, I’m really talking about multimedia. Back when the internet was taking its baby steps, we might have said ‘blogs’, ‘articles’, or ‘photos’ instead of content.
These days, we have so many more choices. We still have blogs, articles, and photos—we also have videos, e-newsletters, memes, podcasts, infographics, ebooks, quizzes, and other interesting nuggets that keep us logging in every couple of minutes. ‘Content’ is the umbrella term for, essentially, internet stuff.
The diversity of the world of content is exactly why it’s so exciting. It doesn’t matter if you sell sweaters for cockatiels, or you’re a plumber, or you’re a non-profit trying to save the rainforests. The right kind of content can help you communicate, clearly and effectively, with who you’re trying to reach.
2. Three Words: Return On Investment
Maybe you’re familiar with this old chestnut:
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”
Listen. The guy who said that, John Wanamaker, died in 1922. Shit has changed. We have the internet now, and just about anything can be measured.
We can put an article on a website or a video on YouTube and tell you exactly how many people have seen it, over any time period, and how long they stuck around. Cross-reference that data with your sales and it’s pretty obvious if something is or isn’t working.
Here’s the crazy part though; making content is possible at any price point. You can make it yourself, for free, by pointing your phone camera at yourself and talking at it. You can pay a marketing agency, like Starling, to create blog posts and email newsletters for a very reasonable rate. Or, if you want to take it all the way, you can spend a little more and get a video production company to create a knockout brand video for you. A content marketing strategy can be completely customized to your budget.
Better yet, the content you make isn’t like a typical advertising campaign that disappears (along with all your money) after the campaign ends. Unlike billboards and banner ads, content is something you own forever. You can keep content on your website indefinitely, and it only gets more valuable as it accrues traffic from Google. The more people have seen your content, the higher up it rises in Google’s search results.
3. It Sells Without Selling
Speaking of search results, here’s a question for you; what do you do when you have a passing curiosity? Do you beeline to Google? Maybe you ask Siri or Alexa?
Web search is the driving force of content marketing. Before people look for products, they’re looking for answers. Whatever you use the internet for—to learn something new, compare prices, pass the time, whatever—there’s someone on the other side of that search benefitting from your curiosity.
You don’t have to use your content to ask people to buy stuff. You just have to assume there are people out there interested in what your company is about, then make stuff for those people. Trust me, they’re out there—and if you aren’t, they’ll find your competition.
4. It Starts a Relationship...
Last year, my partner and I had just made an offer on our first home. As a first-time homeowner, I was freaking out. I was worried about stuff that probably wouldn’t happen and excited about all the possibilities of being a mortgagee.
Meanwhile, I was searching frantically for everything from home inspection, to renovation before & afters, to furniture that will be forever out of my price range. I hadn’t even closed on the place yet, but I was already forming an opinion about products, services, and brands.
During that time, I consumed thousands of pieces of content. DIY reno videos, home decor blog posts, and an embarrassing number of Pinterest pins. And that’s just the “sexy” stuff. I was also making searches like ‘how to apply foam sealant’, ‘when to replace hot water heater’, and ‘how to install wall shelving’.
Before long, I actually needed to know a lot of this stuff. When that time came, the brands that took the time to make this information available were the ones that got my business.
5. ...and Builds Loyalty
At the point that someone like me makes a decision like that, the decision is based on something more profound than price comparison. If you’ve ever checked out Simon Sinek’s massively popular TEDTalk, Start with Why, you know that an emotional connection is far more powerful in marketing than logic and reason. When you give people a reason to love you, it’s harder to leave you.
This is the point when your content marketing efforts really start paying off. Your loyal customers will start to share it.
“This workout video whipped my booty!”
“This was that article I told you about that breaks down how the stock market works.”
“This photo really inspired me to re-decorate my office.”
This, right here, is word-of-mouth in action. Content marketing helps you generate word-of-mouth by giving people something to talk about.
6. Nobody Likes Ads
This is a safe space, so let’s all admit it. We hate ads. We skip them, block them, and tune them out. We would rather have an unsightly ‘Save the Trees, No Flyers Please’ sticker on our doors than deal with the endless ads.
So let’s stop advertising to people. Let’s start talking to people. Helping people. Entertaining people.
Let’s create some friggin’ content.
Psst! Want more stuff like this delivered to your inbox each week? (Yeah, you do) Subscribe now.
- by Alyson Shane
Every business owner knows that the best thing your customers can do for you (in addition to buying your products and services, of course) is to refer people they know to your company.
After all, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know, and people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. (Source: Annex Cloud)
To this end, business owners will often spend significant amounts of their marketing budget to reach new customers and encourage organic word of mouth... but when was the last time you thought about how your existing customers can actually help you grow your customer base?
Peer-to-peer (P2P) marketing, which is when an existing customer becomes a "brand advocate" and promotes a specific product or service to their friends and colleagues, has become an important aspect of any business' marketing plan in both the B2B and B2C spaces.
Successful P2P marketing draws from your existing network of happy customers and taps them to help your business grow through referrals, social selling, and thought leadership.
Have you considered including your customers in your content marketing strategy? If not, you should, as 91% of B2B purchasers have reported that past buying decisions have been influenced by referrals from industry peers.
Not sure where to start? Below are four easy ways you can include your customers in your content marketing strategy:
1. Customer Case Studies
Case studies are one of the easiest ways to showcase the value of your products and services to prospective customers by creating a story that others in similar situations can relate to. By demonstrating a clear narrative of Problem, Solution, Result, you can show customers across a variety of industries that choosing your business will yield similar positive results.
What should a strong case study include? Make sure to write with these elements in mind:
- The challenge. The most important part of a strong case study is a challenge that your reader can relate to. For example, showcase how your business helped a nonprofit convert 3x more donors in the last quarter, or how your insurance clients generated 50% leads in the last year as a result of your services. If your company services a variety of different industries try to craft a few different case studies that tell relatable, industry-specific stories.
- The approach. Use this section to describe how your product or service resolved the issue and build credibility with your reader. This section should use specific examples like highlighting the steps your team used to achieve a specific outcome, or how choosing your service led to increased productivity and customer satisfaction. If possible, use visual examples like charts and data to illustrate the positive net benefit.
- The Result. This section should be focused on your approach solved the customer's needs and should highlight the tangible impact of your services. Use cost savings, leads generated, and other key performance indicators relevant to the target industry to secure buy-in from your reader.
2. Start a Guest Blogging Program
Does your business have a blog? If not, back up and check out this post on how to get your business' blog going, then start including your customers in it in order to share new perspectives, ideas, and grow a community around your products or services.
Identify some of your company's top customers or biggest brand advocates and ask them to write a blog post about a particular pain point they have, and how your business has helped them solve it. This is also a great opportunity for cross-promotion, so make sure to ask contributors to share the post on their own social media profiles, and their blog if they have one.
This is a unique opportunity for your customers to tell their story and enhance their own brand by positioning themselves as thought leaders while also showcasing the value of your services, so what are you waiting for? Reach out to 2-3 of your most loyal customers and see if they're interested; we guarantee they'll say yes.
3. Showcase Customers During Webinars
If your company services a variety of industries, or if you have a fully built-out product suite, customer-centric webinars are a great way for your customer to share information and challenges relevant to their industry, and to share how they've found success using your products or platform.
One of the benefits of using a webinar over a case study or a blog post to showcase your customers is that a webinar allows them to go more in-depth in their industry, show live visuals, and chat with attendees through live chat. By giving your customers a real voice as part of your content marketing strategy you can put real, human faces to your brand and build trust and connections with your customers.
4. Start Live Streaming
Have you noticed an uptick in the amount of live streaming happening on social media lately? If so, you're not alone: this emerging market is expected to be worth over $70 billion by 2021.
Need another reason to consider live streaming? How about this: 80% of customers would rather watch a live video than read a post from a business. Why? Because live streaming created a sense of urgency - people need to tune in right now - and it offers an"behind the scenes" look which builds authenticity, trust, and transparency.
Not sure how to work live streaming into your content marketing strategy in a way that features your customers? Try these ideas:
- Live events like lunch 'n learns, breakfasts, and panel discussions.
- Announcements and updates.
- Interviews and Q&As, at conferences or on-site.
Featuring your customers is an easy way to cross-promote your live streaming content. Just make sure to promote the live stream in advance so your audience has enough notice that they can tune in and participate.
Start Including Your Customers in Your Content Marketing
We've listed just a few of the ways you can start including your customers in your content marketing strategy, but there are lots of other ways you can get creative and leverage technology like live streaming and video to enhance your customer experience and showcase the value of your products and services.
Not sure how to write a case study or create a content marketing plan that highlights you customer success stories? Drop us a line.
Have a customer success story you want to share? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page.
Know a brand that's rocking the webinar game? Tweet us your favorite.
Looking for a more B2B connection? Follow us on LinkedIn.
Love eye-catching visuals? Let's connect on Instagram.
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