Make A Plan

31 Day Countdown – Tip #31: Make A Plan

Of all the things you do online (your website, blogging, newsletters, social media posts, etc.) to promote your business and engage with your customers, one of the most important things you need to do is plan! Having a strategic plan around your content marketing is the only way you will not only be prepared (and make your life easier) but also be able to measure your results to see if all the work paid off!

Researching what your customers are reading and searching for online that is related to your business or industry is the first step. See what they are saying and what they want (complaints, discussion forums, social media posts, etc.) Ask your customers what they look for when making a purchasing decision. Know what other knowledge or resources may help your customers as it relates to your expertise and business product/services.

Once you know what to talk about, plan for it! Decide which platforms make sense to you and for your audience; blogging, newsletter, social media, vlogging, white papers, case studies, etc. This decision is critical as it will dictate your time commitment to writing, publishing and tracking results.

Once your are ready to deliver your content, be sure you have a process to measure your results. This could be how many more followers/likes you get on social media, how often your content is shared or commented on, what readers are saying about your content, how much your website traffic changes, etc. There is a good deal of metrics to consider, it depends on what content your are sharing.

Being preparing with a content marketing plan will allow you to easily identify what needs to be adjusted early on before you put your efforts into something that may not be showing results. Results do not happen overnight, so be prepared to give your content marketing changes to show the results. There is no “magic number” of days/months it may take to show improvements (this all depends on business sales cycles in your industry, platforms you are using, frequency of your content sharing, time of the year if you are a seasonal business, etc.) but it is safe to say that any changes should allow for at least three months of monitoring at a minimum before making any significant changes.

For more about this series read our 31 Day Countdown to Your Success post.

Listen to your customers

31 Day Countdown – Tip #30: Listen, Listen, Listen

One of the biggest mistakes a business makes with their online content (social media posts, blogs, etc.) is that they make it all about them (the business, product and/or service.)

There are definitely appropriate times to focus on your business (telling your story, sharing success stories, etc.) but what your online content should do is provide information that will be interesting and helpful to your target audience. If you are a pet food supplier, then your audience is probably online looking for pet-related articles and information (training your pet, best chew toys, how to travel with your pet, etc.), or if you are a CPA, then your audience may search for the best deals in travel, how to reduce home maintenance costs, or better options for business expense management.

They key is to listen, listen, listen. Listen to what your customers are saying. Read related online forums on topics that may interest them and see what they are discussing. Look at comments on sites such as Yelp for related businesses to yours to see what is being discussed. Follow topics and businesses on social media to see what topics other businesses are posting about and discussing with people.

You will find a wealth of topics your audience is interested in that you may have expertise in or you can have a guest blogger/interview with to provide the information most discussed online. Your customers (and potential customers) will be a lot more likely to follow you and visit your site if you give them something they didn’t expect… ideas, inspiration and solutions that may not even relate directly to your product or services.

For more about this series read our 31 Day Countdown to Your Success post.

Blogs, Vlogs, Podcasts

31 Day Countdown – Tip #29: Blogs, Vlogs, and Pods, Oh My!

To blog is human, to vlog is divine! Delivering short and personality-filled content to your customers and prospects means figuring out the best format to use.

Blogging is a short article with your personality. It could be the personality as the owner of the company or a company personality. This depends on your industry and customers. Blogs offer a short-form (200-500 words) way to share your knowledge, news and insights about your industry.

Vlogging is just a video format of a blog, but offers a more personalized (and engaging) way to share your knowledge, news and insights. With the advancement of smartphone technology, all you need is a good video recording phone (and good lighting) to record your vlog. There are many free or low-cost video editing software to quickly and easily edit your videos into professional vlogs to share on your YouTube channel, Vimeo platform, or directly on your website. Vlogging increasing your engagement on social media as these video marketing statistics show:

  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text. (Wirebuzz) – Sourced from Biteable
  • Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined. (Wordstream) – Sourced from Biteable
  • Facebook videos receive 135% more organic reach on average than a Facebook photo. (Socialbakers) – Sourced from Biteable
  • 64% of consumers say that watching a marketing video on Facebook has influenced a purchasing decision. (Socially Sorted)
  • Of those that aren’t using video, 73% have bought a product after watching a video. (2017 Sate of Video Marketing)
  • 97% of businesses using explainer videos say it helps users understand their business better. (2017 Sate of Video Marketing)
  • Among those surveyed, 81% saw an increase in sales and 53% said support calls were reduced. (2017 Sate of Video Marketing)

Podcasting is another quick and personalized way to engage and share your knowledge with your audience. Even easier than video, all you need is a voice recording software (there are tons available in your smartphone app store) and a little audio editing magic (I recommend Audacity) to produce shareable podcast content.

Diversifying your online content will enrich your engagement with customer and prospects and provide you a more effective and dynamic way to tell your story and share your expertise.

For more about this series read our 31 Day Countdown to Your Success post.

Content Marketing Holiday Opportunities

31 Day Countdown – Tip #28: Holiday Opportunities

The holiday season is a fun opportunity to engage with your customer and prospects. Dependent upon the type of company and industry you are in, you can be as whimsical or professional as you want for the holidays.

  • Creating a spooky theme day for your customer-facing office.
  • Sending valued clients a holiday card or eCard.
  • Hosting a holiday event for clients (and potential clients).
  • Honoring holidays such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
  • Celebrating cultural holidays with social media posts.
  • Creating a holiday theme for your customer newsletter.
  • Facilitating a donation drive for a non-profit.
  • Organizing a volunteer event for your employees and/or clients.

Explore what other companies do in your industry during the holidays for ideas and ask your employees and customers for ideas!

For more about this series read our 31 Day Countdown to Your Success post.

Case Studies Exhibit Expertise

31 Day Countdown – Tip #27: Case Studies Exhibit Expertise

Using case studies as a platform to feature your product/service at work with real customer results is the best way to go deep and detailed with how you successfully work with your clients.

A case study is 2-3 pages long and has some graphic elements (images, icons, etc.) to provide ease of reading and professionalism. Case studies are helpful for business-to-business (B2B) companies that have complex or high-priced items (e.g. forklifts, software, networking systems, etc.) that require a longer research and buying cycle for the potential clients.

Case studies provide proof of expertise and great sales collateral for your company that can be provided on your website, through email, or in print distribution for trade shows and client meetings.

For more about this series read our 31 Day Countdown to Your Success post.

Join the Conversation on Social Media

31 Day Countdown – Tip #26: Join The Conversation

BONUS MATERIAL: Social Media Statistics inside this article!

Being active on social media is more than posting articles, sharing links and providing interesting images… it’s about “being social!” You need to consider how you will engage with your followers on any social media platform you are using for your business.

Customers (and potential customers) make comments to engage with the business… and more importantly, the people that run the business. Consider how you will monitor and respond to comments to your posts (both the positive and negative ones) as people enjoy being recognized for their contributions on social media. A simple “thanks for your support” and other personalized messages to individuals help connect your business (and brand) to the people and add authenticity to your engagement.

Take the time (daily or weekly) to review comments made about your posts and respond accordingly. You need not engage with everyone or have lengthy responses, just make it personal and relevant.

You can use the social media platform as a conversation forum to uncover ways to improve your product/service, source customer testimonials, identify key customer service issues/concerns, and find out what more your customer may want from your product/service.

And in case you are still nervous about using social media as part of your marketing and customer engagement plan, here are just a handful of recent statistics to consider:

  • 47% of marketers agreed Twitter was the best social media channel for customer engagement. (Source)
  • Instagram drives the most engagement per post compared to any social network–84 times more than Twitter, 54 times more than Pinterest and 10 times more than Facebook. (Source)
  • Almost 90% of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75% say they’ve increased traffic. (Source)
  • 94% B2B organizations rely on LinkedIn for content marketing and distribution. (Source)
  • LinkedIn drives more than half of all social traffic to B2B blogs and sites. (Source)
  • Online adults aged 18-34 are most likely follow a brand via social networking (95%). (Source)
  • 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour. (Source)
  • 59% of Americans with social media accounts think that customer service through social media has made it easier to get questions answered and issues resolved. (Source)
  • 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan or make purchases. (Source)
  • Over 56% of online adults use more than one social media platform. (Source)
  • On LinkedIn, 98% of posts with images receive more comments and posts with links have a 200% higher engagement rate. (Source)
  • Within 10 hours of an Instagram post, users receive 50% of their total comments. (Source)

For more about this series read our 31 Day Countdown to Your Success post.

Infographics Work Wonders

31 Day Countdown – Tip #25: Infographics Work Wonders

You have seen them everywhere from social media to websites to flyers to billboards. Infographics are the most dynamic and engaging for of information today. In fact:

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. (Source)
  • Infographics are 30x more likely to be read than text articles. (Source)
  • Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3x more than any other type of content. (Source)
  • Infographics can increase web traffic by up to 12%. (Source)
  • People following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations. (Source)
  • When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (Source)

It’s incredible how much information you can put into an infographic. You can use infographics to explain a sales process, product use instructions, timelines for your company or delivery process, explaining complex issues or topics, share statistics, and much more!

The flexibility to share on multiple social media platforms is also another great advantage of using infographics. There are many free or low-cost resources to help you create your own infographics. Here are two lists to consider:

For more about this series read our 31 Day Countdown to Your Success post.

Clock Is Ticking

31 Day Countdown – Tip #24: Clock Is Ticking

If you want someone to act now, you need to create a sense of urgency. When offering a product or service, one of the best ways to get a better initial lift in response is to offer a bonus or discount… but for a limited time. Offer X% off if they book their trip or purchase the product before a determined date (or even within the next few hours.) It all depends on the online channel you are using to make the offer.

  • If emailing an offer, give a specific date to respond… and be sure to send a follow-up email to those who have not responded before the expiration date of offer.
  • If posting on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) then offering an even shorter window (days or even hours) could be successful, dependent upon your volume of followers/subscribers.
  • If using a blog post and/or website for an offer, then rather than an expiration date, provide volume discounts and/or discounts for the first “X” number of buyers.

Creating a sense of time urgency is a very effective way to increase motivation in your clients and potential clients.

For more about this series read our 31 Day Countdown to Your Success post.

Video Star

31 Day Countdown – Tip #23: Video Star

It’s more than a snap and post. It’s actual video that is all the rage for social media success.

Adding video content to your social media plan creates a better rapport with your target customers and provides you with greater flexibility of content and information you can share, such as:

  • Customer testimonials
  • How to videos (using your product, etc.)
  • Telling your company story (history, achievements, etc.)
  • Sharing company/customer success stories
  • Providing expertise (I.e. Financial advice, travel recommendations, etc.)
  • Fun events and activities (I.e. Sponsored events, customer appreciation, etc.)

The list goes on and on. Current technology (smartphones) and free/low-cost video editing software makes it easy and affordable to create and share video content for your company.

Look at what other companies in your industry are sharing and get inspired to share your videos!

For more about this series read our 31 Day Countdown to Your Success post.

Can You Scan?

31 Day Countdown – Tip #22: Can You Scan?

Social media (in association with the internet as a whole) has accomplished an amazing feat! It has turned us into scanning junkies! We scan everything we view online. If the title or image doesn’t catch our attention, we scroll right passed it. Whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, Google search, or in your email. We all scan… and this is where you can take advantage of scanners!

When writing your online articles (or emails to customers or prospects) always consider how “scannable” it is. From the title to the images you include to the format of the body of the message, it all needs to be scannable.

To be scannable, it needs to:

  • Have unique headlines (titles)
  • Have an engaging lead (first sentence or paragraph of article) that make the want to keep reading
  • Have sub-headers to break up the text and guide the readers to each subject within the article
  • Include bullets and lists where appropriate (like this list you are reading)
  • Consider using infographics (timelines, processes, product features, etc.) – these are a great way to summarize complicated or complex topics into a visual asset to include in your article.
  • Have a “call to action” at the end that is clear and easy to find – can be as simple as asking them to visit your site for more articles, or to call for an appointment.

If your blog article becomes too lengthy (more than 750 words on average) then consider breaking it up into an article series (if possible.) Even when you incorporate all the suggestions above to make it scannable, if an article gets to be over 1,000 words, you may lose interest so consider what’s important in the article or expanding the content into a series.

For more about this series read our 31 Day Countdown to Your Success post.