It’s no secret that I am a big fan of blogging as a marketing tool. I will happily wax lyrical about the importance of generating quality content and how small businesses can make blogging central to a content marketing strategy. So I was delighted by the findings of a new survey that proves that blogging is “where it’s at”.
Published by Technorati, a leading US social media company, the 2013 Digital Influence Report presents insights into the use of social media following surveys of consumers, brand marketers and “influencers” — those people with a “greater than average reach or impact through word of mouth in a relevant marketplace”.
The report reveals that there is overwhelming evidence that consumers rely heavily on blogs for advice and recommendations when making purchasing decisions.
One of the most significant findings is that blogs are right up there with “official” websites — 56% of consumers form opinions by visiting retail sites and 34% turn to brand sites, while an impressive 31% are motivated by what they read on blogs. This compares to a mere 8% of consumers who use Twitter for the same purpose.
And why do bloggers have such clout? Because they are generally considered to give honest and sincere reviews of products and services, they are giving their opinion and will tell it as they find it — what’s more, they aren’t being paid to write favourable endorsements. In other words, they are building trust.
This is something that can come out of even quite small blog communities — when it comes to blogging, size really doesn’t matter, something that the big brands just don’t seem to understand. Popularity doesn’t necessarily equate with trust, and a more intimate experience in a smaller community is much more likely to generate positive action.
Good quality content continues to be the key to a successful blog. Focusing on providing value to your readers through advice and opinion builds that all-important element of trust and will ensure a strong and loyal community. If you want to widen your net, use social media to “advertise” your blog. So Facebook and Twitter should be seen as a valuable means to an end. In other words, it’s your online word of mouth marketing that can direct people to your blog, get them reading your latest posts and then pick up on any calls to action.
Twitter undoubtedly has its place in your marketing toolbox, but your blog is, ultimately, the most valuable tool of all. Twitter, with its short and sweet 140 characters, can only convey so much about your brand and what you do or offer.
So it is through your blog that you will most effectively engage with your audience, influence their thinking and convert them into loyal customers. And that will only happen if they trust you. And trust is built organically through an ongoing dialogue — tricky to do within a mere 140 characters, but eminently possible through regular articles of 400-500 well chosen words.
It’s the day before your big presentation. You’ve crammed as much information as you possibly can into your PowerPoint slide deck and you’re confident that you haven’t missed anything out. Yet, you can’t seem to shake that nagging doubt that it might not go as well as you had hoped…
In today’s multi-media age, generating audience excitement and engagement armed only with a slide deck is no easy task. Even if your presentation is highly polished, the chances are that your audience will remember just a fraction of the messages you’re hoping to deliver.
And unless you manage to grab their attention in the first two minutes, they could end up plummeting into the catatonic state of boredom characterised by the phrases “death by PowerPoint” and “PowerPoint hell”.
Yet, by keeping in mind a few golden rules, it is possible for presenters to get their point across — and win over even the toughest crowd.
As most of us will have witnessed, even the most confident presenter can slip into bad habits. Among the more frequent mistakes are not having a clear objective or call to action, packing in too much data, failing to excite the audience and the all-too-tempting trap of using PowerPoint as a script.
Yet by far the biggest mistake — identified by 33% of 600 UK professionals in a recent Citrix poll — is the failure to understand your audience.
To overcome this and ensure that the presentation meets or exceeds audience expectations, it is always worth finding out who is likely to attend, as well as thinking about why they are participating. Is it a learning opportunity? Are they escaping work for an hour? Or has the boss told them to come?
Another worthwhile tactic can be to address likely objections head-on by building them into the narrative. This could include, for example, acknowledging that your product or service is among the more expensive in the market and counteracting this by explaining why it makes a better choice than cheaper alternatives.
The best and most memorable presentations tend to be limited to just a handful of key talking points. This way, you’re more likely to lead with your best ideas, generate more impact and increase the likelihood that your audience will remember what you’ve told them.
With time at a premium for most professionals, it’s simply bad manners to speak for longer than the audience had anticipated. And while it might sound obvious, invariably you’re more likely to encourage a sale or achieve positive feedback if you close by reiterating your key objective and qualifying audience benefit.
We’ve all cringed at presentations that rely too heavily on distracting PowerPoint tricks. Yet, there is a good case for using subtle animation and “builds” to introduce each of your points as you’re making them to help ensure that your messages are delivered in palatable chunks.
In addition, bringing in good visuals and keeping the presentation moving at an upbeat pace can also serve to maintain audience attention — an increasingly tough task in today’s multi-media age.
I don’t know about you but I find it increasingly hard to find time to read — you know, actual books. Of course, blogs and online articles — as well as real newspapers — help to keep me informed and inspired. But holidays are when I really get a chance to catch up with my reading.
And there’s nothing like reading a game-changing book — something like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point — to really open your mind to new ideas.
I came across The Tipping Point through classic word-of-mouth. Back in 2000, I was talking to Rory Sutherland at Ogilvy and not only did he recommend it to me, he very kindly sent me a copy via Amazon — something we take for granted today but which was then still getting established in the UK.
But there are many excellent books on marketing that will broaden your business horizons. And learning from the best is an excellent way to start.
Drayton Bird — named by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) as one of the 50 people who has shaped today’s marketing (and an expert contributor to Marketing Donut) — is a firm believer in learning from those that have already succeeded (and who themselves have learned from their failures).
In his blog on Marketing Donut — A little learning is a wonderful thing — he recommends some books that have shaped his thinking, including:
Of course, Drayton, like many of our expert contributors, has written his own seminal book on marketing. If you haven’t already read them, I’d recommend catching up with some of these over the summer:
Another fantastic book is The Jelly Effect by Andy Bounds. You can see Andy talking about the key to selling in this video on how to sell by helping your customers succeed.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve also been fortunate enough to publish regular blogs on business books by Ron Immink. Ron is the co-founder of Small Business Can and Book Buzz — the website devoted to business books.
Here are some of his recommendations:
Many of these are available on Kindle and all are well worth reading. Whatever you read — and however you read it — enjoy your summer!
Content marketing is a great way to get traffic to your site from the search engines and other websites. It’s worth doing because:
At its simplest, content marketing is creating content that relates to your brand/products and putting it on your website. That might be a guide to buying the perfect jeans, or how to install a dishwasher, it might be an opinion on an article on the solar technology of the future, or just really great product page copy.
Every piece of content you create should do at least one of these things (and usually all of them):
Most businesses have more content than they realise, so before you do anything else you need to work out what content you already have. To do this you need to do a brainstorm with key people in the business to see what content you could use and make a list of what could or should be created. Speak to the owner, buyers, marketing, customer services, merchandising and website team.
Take the answers and extrapolate them. The chances are that from the brainstorm there won’t be a vast number of stories; that’s because people are simplifying it. Each story that’s on the brainstorm can create several items of content. The mistake everyone makes it to assume one idea is one piece of content.
For most businesses, the starting point and the centre of your content strategy, is your blog. A blog can host pictures, text, audio, and video — which makes it really versatile. Plus you own it entirely, so it’s all working for you.
Now you should have a long list of story ideas, and a list of where you are going to be putting that content. So you’re ready to get creating and putting live. Don’t forget to look back after a couple of months to see what’s working and do more of that!
If you’re involved in websites, SEO, ecommerce or any other element of online business, without doubt you would have heard the drum of internationalisation beating louder and louder over the past few years.
New emerging markets are on the up as internet penetration increases. As a result, businesses are looking abroad for more customers, more sales and more exposure.
Website translation is, without doubt, top of the to do list when targeting a country, region or even the world online. However, many firms are being hoodwinked into believing a website translation is the goal — and yet it can be a complete waste of money.
Having a website translated as part of an international sales or business development drive is not the end game. It is the end game for the translation company and/or website design agency. Their focus, most of the time, is on getting that website into the languages agreed upon. Full stop.
However, businesses need to understand that a website on its own is never going to ramp up sales in China, Brazil or Germany. A website, most of the time, is the first stop on a journey. It educates the reader on what you do or sell with the intention that they then go on to buy.
Some websites have the capacity to sell online but most of the time, simply having your website translated will not be enough. It usually takes a few more steps between the education and the sale. These steps can form a canyon in terms of being able to convert enquiries into sales. This is where the gap exists; and where money is wasted.
Take this example. “Company A” sees the potential to sell their services into Germany. Convinced by the reams of data about online buying behaviour and keyword search volumes, they invest in getting their website translated into German. The brand-spanking-new website is released, complete with an SEO budget and a PPC campaign and then … traffic comes in.
When the company receives its first email in German, it can’t respond. When a potential client from Berlin calls the office, nobody can speak with them. When a business magazine contacts them about a PR piece, they lose interest when realising the company has no German presence. When Analytics illustrates people exiting the website at a certain key pages, what do they do?
All these are real life examples of the poor planning of businesses going into a new country without a) understanding the market and b) having the ability to deal with enquiries in the language.
Website translation is a waste of money if it becomes the end goal. It needs to be part of a clear sales or business development strategy with a plan of action on how to support sales. It needs to take place after careful research as well as organising back office functions to be able to handle requests, place orders or close deals.
In order to ensure your new multilingual website offers ROI, make sure everything around the website is ready to support it and the business. Here are some things to consider:
Through appreciating the limits of your website and understanding how to support it, the chances of success are dramatically increased. The result will be a more holistic approach to your website and the sales cycle.
Neil Payne is the managing director of Kwintessential.
Content marketing can be a hard-hitting and cost-effective way of building brand awareness and generating sales leads — and there are all sorts of ways marketers can promote their content — but one of the most direct ways of getting it in front of your target audience is through email.
The ultimate aims of content marketing and email marketing are fundamentally the same. ROI is based on sales leads and customer engagement. You produce content to engage the right kind of people, and using email as part of this campaign allows you to target people more specifically and drive further engagement with people who declare an interest in your content.
Email and content: the perfect partnership
In short, email and content marketing complement each other perfectly. Content marketing provides the fodder for an effective email campaign, and your email marketing increases traffic to your website and landing pages.
The success of promoting a piece of content marketing through an email campaign is as dependent on how good your emails are as much as the collateral itself. In fact, no matter how good your content is, if your email marketing doesn’t push the right buttons, prepare to be disappointed when it comes to ROI.
Here are a few ways of ensuring your email marketing achieves the results your content marketing deserves:
Tink Taylor is the managing director of dotMailer.