Everyone wants it, but there is no industry consensus on the best way to measure it. I’m talking about engagement in the email channel.
For example, a fashion brand might send two or three emails per week. It’s not realistic to expect that most people are going to be interested in buying a new fashion item every week or even to review offers each week.
But just because someone is not in the mood to buy or look at current offers, does that mean they are no longer engaged with a brand? Of course not, they gave permission to receive the emails, they showed engagement, ignoring a few emails does not mean a lack of engagement.
Classically campaign open and click rates are used to judge engagement. This was fine when brands sent one campaign per month. Email volumes have increased considerably in the past five years but metrics have not moved on.
A re-think is needed as the classic metrics measure campaigns not customers and as a result promote the wrong behaviour in email marketing.
It’s customers that need to be engaged, so measuring campaigns makes no sense, it’s customers that should be measured.
I’ve been working on a paper, along with my fellow DMA Email Council hub members, Dela Quist, Skip Fidura and Kath Pay. The paper goes to the core of how to measure customer engagement in the email channel and delivers a verdict, based on analysis of brand data. Find out more and download the paper.
When it comes to valuable content, case studies have the potential to punch way above their weight. Like all good content, they can inform, educate and entertain. But they go much further than that — they have the power to persuade and sell (in a very valuable way).
How do they do this?
Put yourself in your clients’ shoes
Consider this scenario. A potential client is looking for the type of service you offer. They go on your website. They find out more about who you are and what you do. But how can they be really certain that your promises will live up to their expectations?
This is the critical point at which a casual browser could be about to become a new client. So how do you ensure they pick up the phone?
Simple — make sure you have some really good case studies on your website that show what you do (not just say it).
Think about how long it can take to woo a new client. The reassurance of a case study can seriously speed up the process. It’s one of the best ways to demonstrate your credentials and bring in more business.
Here are ten ways to ensure your case studies shine:
When Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450 he precipitated the democratisation of information. Neither the reformation nor renaissance, in Europe, could have happened if the printing press had not been invented.
Since print, of course, we have had radio, cinema and television. While no one would underestimate the importance of these forms of media, they simply accelerated what had been initiated by print. In other words, they helped to make information even more accessible and widespread.
The web has also made the access to information even easier and more widespread than anything previously. Just with information access alone, it has empowered people in a way that has never happened before. However, if this is all the web had achieved, we could say it had simply completed the journey started with the invention of the printing press.
The big revolution, however, is that the web has given everyone their own channel. In other words they have a voice. No longer do people need the patronage of a major record label or publishing house to get their music heard or book read. No longer do people have to rely on a few radio talk shows, or letter columns in newspapers, to be able to express their views on the current issues of the day to a wider audience than just their friends. No longer do people only have the choice of moaning to a few colleagues when a company lets them down. Now they can post their views on sites such as Trip Advisor or express their frustrations to a wider audience on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
While every individual has a channel, so does every company. Even if a business today only has a website and a blog, these are channels that are only as good as the content that sits on them. That is, of course, without a business utilising platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn and YouTube amongst many others.
This means that every business has now become a publishing company, whether they like it or not. Today, every company is responsible for providing content for the media channels that they own. Whether they commission material from partners, suppliers and industry experts or create their own, every business requires good content.
It is obvious that a business should put content on their own real estate — whether it is their website, blog, YouTube channel or Facebook page, an organisation should use their content to ensure these media are used to engage and attract customers and prospects alike.
However, the piece of the jigsaw that is sometimes missed by a business, is where else they put their content. Today every company and organisation has the same challenge. They often own a plethora of different channels that need filling with good content but they do not have the wherewithal to create enough. Therefore, most people are willing to take good content created by others. This is on condition that it will provide value to their audience, and it is not blatantly self-promotional.
Every business should ask themselves one question. Where do my customers learn? On what forums, social media platforms, associations and websites do my customers go, in order to keep informed about subjects of interest?
If your audience are engineers, is there a LinkedIn forum that many of them use? If you target solicitors, do they refer to the Law Society website? If you target small local businesses, do they use their local chamber of commerce or business networking association for information? Wherever your customers hang out is where you want to try and have content placed.
For example, if you wanted to target airline pilots you could post adverts in the newspaper and hope one of them saw your advert and called. Alternatively, you could sit in the bar at one of the major airport hotels and strike up some interesting conversations with the patrons. I would suggest the second approach would probably be more effective.
It is no different online. Create and commission content and, of course, put it on your own channels. However, for many companies the success of content is to get it distributed in the right places. That is, the platforms that your prospects and customers use. So don’t forget to ask yourself one important question, where do my customers learn?, and then make sure you are there.
The businesses that win in the digital age are the ones that have the greatest relevance to their target audience. They are the ones that are the most focused — they absolutely understand their market and the people they serve.
If you want success from the content you share on the web you’ll need a laser focus on your clients or customers and their particular needs. The way to get results is to specialise — stick your stake in the sand and target your content marketing efforts at a particular niche.
“Customers buy when they find that you are in their bull’s eye — i.e. exactly what they are looking for. But the more bland and boring your marketing message, the more you become one of many in the outer rings of the target. When you have a niche — either by who you serve or by what you do — then you stand out as a specialist.”
Paul Simister, Differentiate Your Business.
If you truly specialise you’ll know more about your area of focus than most firms and you’ll have something more relevant, unique and interesting to say. Your expertise becomes so much deeper. The better you know your audience, the better you’ll become at writing content they’re likely to read and respond to, and the more success you’ll get from your marketing.
For a small firm with limited resources, the niche question can mean some hard decisions — which market will you choose to serve? The subject of niche specialisation is a contentious one for many smaller companies. The fear is that if you focus too narrowly you’ll miss out on opportunities: seeking general appeal in large markets is seen as the safer option. But if you fail to specialise, you run the risk of trying to be everything to everybody and failing to be remembered — your messages effectively disappear between the cracks.
The more precisely you can describe your customers, address their issues and deepen your knowledge, the more relevant and valuable your content will be and the more success you will get.
The web design company Newfangled is a great example. Web development is an overcrowded marketplace but Newfangled most certainly set their business apart. They differentiate themselves by focusing on a niche market — website development for advertising agencies and marketing firms. The quality and focus of their content gives them stellar status in their field.
Having a niche makes your story so much easier to tell with your content, so much easier for people to understand and retell. I will leave you with some sound advice from Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of the Start:
“Put one niche in your basket, hatch it, put another niche in your basket, hatch it … and soon you’ll have a whole bunch of niches that add up to market domination.”
How about your business? Generalist or niche? What works best for you?
Have you ever heard the phrase the “busy fool”? For many business owners, this is their reality. They work all hours of the day servicing their one-to-one clients, often into the evenings. Time off is few and far between.
Those whose only revenue comes from selling their one-to-one time will always be limited by how much they can physically and mentally deliver in a day, week or month. They will never be able to break through that ceiling, unless they can charge significantly more for their time.
For me, the move to online coaching literally transformed my business overnight as one of my first product promotions resulted in $24,000 of sales, the majority of which were a passive revenue stream for me.
I am not alone in my experiences either. There are many people out there making impressive revenues by selling their services online. The great thing about it is that it applies to any type of coaching or training, not just the traditional personal or professional development coaching.
I know a personal fitness instructor who made thousands from selling an online fitness bootcamp, containing content she had created years before, but had never found a way to use properly. What I love about that particular story is that she created additional revenue from what she already had in place and it was a totally new market that opened up for her — clients that were not on her doorstep.
If you are wondering if this will work for you, I would encourage you to ask yourself one simple question. Are you limiting yourself by not thinking outside of the box and exploring new routes to market and new customer bases? Are there ways of attracting new business that you haven’t even thought of yet and if you did, what impact could they make?
It does take some thought to work out how to package up what you do into products your clients actually want to buy, but once you’ve made that first online sale, you can do it over and over again.
I still love my one-to-one coaching — it brings me great fulfilment and helps to keep me challenged to develop my skills and experience, but having more than one route to market and multiple revenue streams means I get to live life the way I want to and that is absolutely priceless.
Nicola Bird is the creator of JigsawBox, an online coaching tool for coaches, trainers and consultants.
There’s no doubt about it, the business world has woken up to marketing with valuable content as a way of attracting leads and boosting sales. But while everyone is talking about it, not everyone is getting it right.
Here are five ways I’ve seen businesses missing the content marketing bus:
Producing content left, right and centre might produce a lot of noise, but unless the content has a purpose it won’t get you very far. Businesses who win with content marketing have clear aims and objectives — new pieces of content build a library that tells a story and demonstrates expertise in a niche. Scattergun content is a waste of time and effort.
Creating content in a vacuum, without listening to clients and customers, won’t get you out of the bus terminal. Content that answers your clients’ specific questions will get found and appreciated. If they’re not looking for it, how will they find it?
Quality matters. The bar has been raised and just good enough isn’t good enough any more. Quality means content must be well-designed, well-produced and well-written. It should be easy on the eye and a joy to consume.
If you want to grab attention your content can’t be dull. Brilliant content will lurk undiscovered beneath snoozesome headlines, the most amazing articles in the world might never be read if presented in unremitting slabs of web-unfriendly fonts. And if you want to guarantee no one will ever read your blog, illustrate it with that jigsaw pieces image you’ve seen a thousand times before.
If all your content is written, you’re in danger of getting left out in the cold. Only write blogs? You’ve got to give video a go. Or podcasting. Or infographics. Or Slide Share. If you want your content to get picked up and shared, make it easy to consume in a variety of ways across a range of devices. If a sizeable chunk of your content is not mobile-friendly, it will miss the bus.