How to improve your digital reputation with social media and content

- June 6, 2016

Building your brand takes time and resources, and in today’s connected world, the reputation that you’ve worked so hard to build can be tarnished in seconds. Your company’s information can quickly go viral, which is great – if it’s the kind of information that draws in consumers. What’s said about your company online can make or […]

Building your brand takes time and resources, and in today’s connected world, the reputation that you’ve worked so hard to build can be tarnished in seconds. Your company’s information can quickly go viral, which is great – if it’s the kind of information that draws in consumers. What’s said about your company online can make or break your success. Fortunately, utilizing social media and content can help you to improve your digital reputation.

 

Be a Social Media Maven

Marketers in the past understood the importance of networking. Heading to networking events and attending power-lunches haven’t exactly become a thing of the past, but if you aren’t networking online, it’s unlikely that you are going to get the kind of positive attention that you need to connect with your consumer base. There are several ways that you can take hold of your presence on social media and use it to improve your digital reputation.

Take Control

It’s a good idea to claim your brand’s social media profiles and monitor them closely. Having someone hijack your brand through a social media platform can do serious damage to your online reputation. Search for your company name on each of the major social media sites to ensure that nobody is stealing your brand identity.

Choose Your Platforms

Once you have control over your social media profiles, choose the right platform to invest the most time in. Some sites will be more beneficial to you than others, depending on your industry and your audience. As popular as Facebook is, it’s not the only platform you need to focus on. To keep your reputation in check, make sure your company has a presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, SlideShare and Reddit, and that all your social media profiles are linked together.

Stay Active

Post frequently if you want to maintain a healthy digital reputation, comment when appropriate and reply to other’s comments. By responding quickly and professionally to comments and requests that show up on social media sites, you demonstrate your concern for the opinion of consumers. A negative comment shouldn’t necessarily be deleted. Responding well to criticism and sharing your opinion for improvement can actually help to improve your digital reputation, if done with care. Saying thank you and offering a heartfelt apology when something catastrophic happens is just as vital in the digital world as it is in person.

Powerful Content and Thought Leadership

Another way to improve your digital reputation is through the strategic use of online content.  The more content you publish, the more likely it is that someone who is searching for you company will find the information you want them to find, rather than reputation-damaging material, like negative reviews. This doesn’t mean that you should post any old content. When you consistently publish thoughtful, professional and, most importantly, relevant, information, you have the opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. By getting the right content out there, you maintain a positive digital reputation while becoming the organization to turn to whenever a consumer wants information. A well-rounded digital content strategy will include mechanisms for regularly getting blog posts, press releases, videos and infographics.

 

Yes, Your Blog Will Get Noticed

Follow the content marketing golden rule and your blog will attract attention. Keep it relevant. Regularly publishing to a company blog will provide a steady flow of information about your brand  that will be shared with the public, using a forum that generally attracts more attention than a Website. A blog is a great reputation-builder, because it reflects the thoughts and values of your company, and lets the world know what you have to offer. A blog can also be used to optimize your rankings in the search engines, so that your company gets tied to the buzz-words that attract consumers.

The Danger of Posting and Forgetting

Blogging would be much easier if you could simply post content and move on. If you want to improve your digital reputation, however, you’ll have to follow up. The comment sections of a blog provide an opportunity for consumers to engage in thoughtful conversation, but they can also get filled with negativity, if not closely monitored. The anonymity of the digital environment encourages some to respond to even the smallest bit of dissatisfaction in a very public way. The better established and more popular your blog becomes, the more vulnerable your company will be to negative feedback. Just as with negative social media comments, less than favourable comments on a blog can serve as an opportunity to respond in a way that will reflect positively on your company.

Posting Diversity

Especially as you are building your digital reputation, getting content published outside of your blog is helpful. Once you feel comfortable, publish content and guest posts to larger, more reliable sources and industry publications. The wider your reach, the more your content will be read and shared with others, which will only improve your digital reputation. Videos usually rank well on Google, and so including this medium in your posting strategy can help boost your online reputation.

Target Your Audience with Quality Content

Content needs to speak to the audience you are trying to reach, otherwise it will do little to improve your online reputation. Making sure your content is original as well as informative as today’s consumers have a short attention-span, so it needs to hook a reader quickly. Try to incorporate attention-grabbing tools like graphics and video and contain information that is up-to-date.  When you understand the needs and preferences of your target audience, you’ll be less likely to get negative feedback that can damage your online reputation.

 

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Becoming a thought leader and developing a stellar digital reputation is not something that happens overnight, even when content and social media marketing is a top priority. Consistency, diversity and a strategic approach are all necessary components to the online strategy that will improve your digital reputation and keep it solid.

Five stats for social media savvy businesses

- May 31, 2016

We can be fairly certain most of us have a social media presence nowadays. Regardless of your age or what you do, the social sphere is so much more than viral videos and #hashtags; it’s a communication tool. Just as the newspaper was once the revolutionary, go-to source for the happenings of the world around […]

We can be fairly certain most of us have a social media presence nowadays. Regardless of your age or what you do, the social sphere is so much more than viral videos and #hashtags; it’s a communication tool. Just as the newspaper was once the revolutionary, go-to source for the happenings of the world around you, the online social media arena has made the world that much smaller.

 

Think about it: there are approx. 320 million Twitter users right now; 400 million on Instagram; and a whopping 1.59 billion on Facebook. At any given moment, you can communicate your message to the masses. Likewise, you can listen to what the masses are saying. It’s pretty powerful stuff. And with this, comes responsibility. Wielding your social media prowess is not to be trifled with – especially if you’re getting more social on behalf of your business brand!

 

Here are five “Stats for Social Media Savvy Businesses.

 

 

Always, under any circumstance, know what you’re getting into! Your Tweets, Instagrams, Pins or page updates are going to take a little more thought than the posts of your average social media Joe Bloggs. As a brand, the only way you’re going to conquer your social game is by being strategic, precise and instinctive. #businessgoals

 

So let’s see how these stats could up your social game.

 

 

Since the beginning of time retailers have been honing and perfecting their sales strategies. Brick and mortars in particular have faced the challenge head on in today’s digital era and have adapted accordingly. A stunning 91% proves this. They’ve gone digital.

 

The lesson: retail brands have followed their audience. Rather than fighting it, they’ve evolved. Knowing how, where and when your target market is in the digital land will help immensely in your own customer research. Don’t be among the less than 10% who snub the social sphere. You could be missing out on getting to know your audience.

 

 

Our c-level leaders, believe it or not, are also consumers themselves. They’re most likely getting their social on and listening to the brands they like on the web just as much as us normal folk.

 

For instance, before your CEO makes reservations at that latest 5-star restaurant, maybe she gets her Executive Assistant to hold the limo and check up on the restaurant’s customer rating on Yelp first. Or perhaps your boss checks his flight status on Twitter before checking into his first-class seat.

 

No matter what your leadership is doing – and obviously, they’re not all typically this hoity-toity – the point is that they’re likely to be social listeners themselves! So if ever you have difficulty convincing them that your brand needs to boost your social media strategy, ask them to evaluate how often they leverage it as a consumer.

 

 

Please refer to the first sentence of this blog post.

 

There is an incredible amount of people on major social media channels at any given time.

 

Look up at the person sitting across from you right now. #butdontstare. Let’s say he’s looking at his smartphone. For all you know, he’s Tweeting about the sandwich he just ate from the deli around the corner. Or maybe he’s checking out reviews for a movie he wants to take his girlfriend to see this weekend. Perhaps he’s writing his own customer testimonial for the juicer he bought online.

 

Whatever he’s doing, the point is people are online getting social all the time. It’s convenient, fast and easy. To ignore the goings-on in the digital space would be a big mistake by your sales team.

 

 

Talk about socially awkward! #amirite

 

If you were the owner of a restaurant and – heaven forbid – your customer found something untoward in the salad you just served her, what would you do? Turn around, ignore her and move on to the next victim customer? Or would you apologize profusely and offer her a a replacement meal free of charge in the hopes that she tells her friends about the great service at your fine establishment?

 

Hopefully you chose the latter. Because THAT is how you treat an unhappy customer. You try to make it right.

 

The same goes for the social media realm. You listen to the good, the bad and the ugly. Even if it hurts. And then you respond and adjust accordingly. It’s growth.

 

Never be the company who ignores the faulty salad. No one wants that.

 

 

Customer retention is that all-coveted, glorious prize that all businesses aim to achieve. There’s nothing better than customer loyalty.

 

A key way to get here though, is to leverage social media the right way. Using social media to engage your customers is going to be your best way to humanize your brand while building authority in your specific industry. In other words, you’re building trust. Slowly, but surely, this is a strategy that will keep them coming to you for your goods and services.

 

Five ways to master online reputation management

- May 20, 2016

A reputation is built, little by little, over a long period of time. The more effort you put into cultivating your reputation, the stronger it will be.   And It’s the same way in business. As consumers, we often decide to deal with brands we trust (because they have a good reputation). In the workplace, […]

A reputation is built, little by little, over a long period of time. The more effort you put into cultivating your reputation, the stronger it will be.

 

And It’s the same way in business. As consumers, we often decide to deal with brands we trust (because they have a good reputation). In the workplace, we partner with companies that have an established presence within an industry. We do this to feel safe and comfortable with our decisions.

 

Reputations in the the digital space, however, are a different animal. There are so many more people online that each interaction is that much more impactful – for better or for worse. In the digital realm, you always need to influence your reputation, and remain aware of the external perception of your reputation so you can manage it when necessary.

 

The digital world can sometimes be tough to navigate, so our latest digital marketing video is entitled How to Master Online Reputation Management:

Step 1: Listen to Your Customers

The people who have had direct interactions with your brand – in other words, your customers – are the best bets to amplify your reputation. But you better ensure your reputation is positive in the mind of your current customers or else there’s no use in having them spread it.

 

A great way to make sure you always know what your customers are thinking is to design a feedback system. Whether it’s a survey by email, a quick phone call or simply asking them in person, giving your customers an easy way to tell you what they’re thinking – and then listening to them – is extremely valuable to your business.

Step 2: Target Relevant Review Websites

88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

 

After seeing this stat, there’s only one thing you should be thinking: how to get more digital reviews.

 

Reviews are not only important for generally building up your reputation, they’re also a really powerful sales tool. Potential customers will buy from you simply based on the fact that other people – other strangers – have said buying from you is a good idea. If you can find out what channels and sites your customers use to review your business, you can then send potential customers there by featuring prominent links to the positive reviews.

Step 3: Gather Customer Feedback

For whatever reason, if you can’t seem to get your customers to leave reviews on relevant sites and they don’t fill out the surveys you send them, you might have to take a more direct approach. A real, human interaction might be the best time to gather customer feedback, so whether it’s asking during a one-to-one transaction, or taking a client out for lunch, being direct is the best way to generate honest feedback.

 

And if you don’t like what you hear? Ask customers how you can improve and then promise them you’ll work on it. Negative feedback in the form of constructive criticism is just as powerful as positive feedback.

Step 4: Share Your Customer Feedback

Whenever you receive praise from customers, don’t keep it a secret. Let the world know when a customer praises you. Whether it’s through a written testimonial displayed on your site or a photo or video shared on social media, use every channel at your disposal to spread the word about your overjoyed customers. Leveraging a positive reputation is a sure-fire way to generate new business.

Step 5: Learn and Improve

Negative feedback can be a positive thing. Don’t get defensive, embrace the negative feedback of your clients and promise them you’ll learn and improve from the experience. And be sure you actually go out and make those improvements. Striving to continually make your product or service offering better can never be a bad thing.

Social Media: sales and marketing

- May 18, 2016

Despite what some naysayers thought three or four years ago it’s become clear that social media is now a core element of digital marketing. Whether it’s simply maintaining a brand presence, creating brand awareness, using a social media platform for reputation management or simply to show off your product it’s undeniable that social media provides […]

Despite what some naysayers thought three or four years ago it’s become clear that social media is now a core element of digital marketing. Whether it’s simply maintaining a brand presence, creating brand awareness, using a social media platform for reputation management or simply to show off your product it’s undeniable that social media provides a whole host of advantages.

 

 

Simply ‘doing social media’ isn’t quite as simple as just setting up a Facebook Page or Twitter Profile for your business and posting about your products. There’s so much more that can be done and there are a few things that you really should avoid.

 

One of the first things to consider is fishing in the right pond. Depending on your buyer persona you should be targeting different social networks. Find out where your ideal customers are and focus on these social channels. Try not to get drawn in buy what someone else says is best practice for a certain kind of product or customer, and keep in mind that you should always come back to your personas.

 

‘Advice might be to focus heavily on Pinterest if you are creating an ‘arty’ product. However, if your buyer persona is a 65 year old woman who only really uses Facebook you might be wasting time and effort on Pinterest. But if another of your personas is a 25 year old woman who has Pinterest then you might consider segmenting your channels to capture as much interest as possible. 

 

You can help inform your buyer personas and conduct general customer research by ‘social listening.’ And twitter is a great tool for this. By using a third-party app such as HootSuite you can monitor certain words, phrases or hashtags. See what people are saying about your brand, your competitor or even a certain hobby. Use this information to inform your marketing or products, giving the people what they want is always better than giving them what you think they want!

Value Over Viral, Quality Over Quantity

When you think social media it’s easy to think of viral content. There are so many compilations out there of the social media accounts of big companies getting a sarcastic comment or cute video just right and receiving millions of views for it. That’s not a realistic goal. Even with a lot of research going into the subject lately you still can’t guarantee viral content and there are plenty of examples of failures that could hurt your brand.

 

Social media is for providing your fans and people who aren’t yet your fans with quality content on a regular basis. If all you ever do is plug your product or share funny videos of animals you’re not adding any value to your brand and you’re not setting yourself up as a trusted source of information. 25,000 followers are meaningless if none of them engage with your content. Engagement is the key in modern social media marketing, every ‘like’ ‘share’ and ‘retweet’ expands your reach exponentially. The average Facebook used has over 200 friends who might now see your content if you can engage your fan enough to comment on or share your post.

 

Social media isn’t just a B2C tool, and networking with the right professionals in your industry or target industries can be invaluable. From simply being a recognized name when you send your first email or make your first call to actually getting target leads engage you first because you’re already seen as a source of value in your area of expertise. It’s key to remember that even in this day and age, even more so in the digital age, people still like to deal with people.

 

If you look in your inbox today and see ‘Special Offer Today Only!’ from ‘NoReply@Company.com’is it likely you’ll open it?

What about?

‘I Saw Your Comment On My LinkedIn Post’ from ‘James.Davies@Company.com’

 

Whether you’re a sales person, a marketing manager, an MD or CEO there’s a reason you ought to be using social media. In the business world reputation is key. Social media allows a way for you to consistently prove social value, to provide reference for your reputation and to become a name/face that people recognize, even if they don’t know where from. Undertaking a few hours worth of social media work can give you a permanent business card at a 24/7 networking event.

Five ways to gain an advantage in content marketing

- April 29, 2016

We all know a bit about content marketing. You may have even heard of content shock, too. So which is it? Is content marketing a necessary part of digital marketing success? Or is there too much content already out there for anything new to be worthwhile?   For brands and businesses, the answer is a […]

We all know a bit about content marketing. You may have even heard of content shock, too. So which is it? Is content marketing a necessary part of digital marketing success? Or is there too much content already out there for anything new to be worthwhile?

 

For brands and businesses, the answer is a bit of both. Content is, and always will be, the lifeblood of digital marketing. Whether it’s blog posts or videos, content plays an integral role in the building of a digital reputation. And make no mistake: brands need to be active in the digital space to achieve in 2016 and beyond.

 

The digital realm is overrun with content.  And the more content there is out there, the harder it is to find something valuable and relevant. Which is why brands get confused about the best way to approach content marketing!

 

So we have come up with some very useful stats and trends that shed light on How to Gain a Content Marketing Advantage:

 

 

The components of the best examples of content marketing are forever changing. What worked best in 2012 wouldn’t necessarily work in 2014. And last year’s prime content certainly won’t work this year.

 

But fear not. If you want to create content that helps you get ahead of your competitors, there are ways. It won’t be easy and you may struggle to do it the  first time, but it’s possible.

 

 

As Aristotle said, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” While he may not have been directly addressing the digital marketing needs, the man certainly had a point. Content marketing is more than taking pen to paper (or keyboard to screen in our case). It takes dedication. Those 60% of marketers who create content daily, recognize that content isn’t just about talking the talk; they’re walking the walk.

 

Its worth remembering that good content creation is more than just talking or writing about how great you are; it’s about proving it. Every. Single. Day. Producing regular and consistent content doesn’t just showcase your industry prowess, it also reflects the same characteristics within your brand, like authority and reliability.

 

 

Looking at web data might not be the most inspiring of activities. But the numbers are valuable. Those stats, uncover anything and everything you need to know in order to produce the best kinds of content for precisely the right audience in the perfect online channels.

 

So if you’re one of the 43% of marketers who doesn’t consider online metrics a top priority, take note: ignoring the plethora of numbers at your disposal means you might as well be operating in the dark. Those numbers are your gateway to gaining an edge on your local competitors. There’s no time like the present to start measuring, and unearth new opportunities that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

 

 

For several years now, marketers across the globe have recognized that content is king. So its surprising to find out that just 44% of content marketers actually document their content strategies!

 

A documented plan of action proves you mean business. Your content strategy should be methodical. It’s meant to produce the highest ROI as possible. A content strategy document equips your entire team with decisive steps and goals needed to keep you on track while also staying accountable to your customers.

 

Meaning, until it’s documented, it’s not a strategy. It’s just a great idea that you may or may not be focusing on.

 

 

When people think of content, blog posts are usually the first format that comes to mind. And admittedly blogs and articles are the content types that made content marketing the darling of the digital world.

 

But there are many forms of content, and each year, more seem to pop up.

 

Visual content, like infographics and videos, are probably the current go-to formats for most content marketers. With apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine, social media content has gained steam as well. Technology has created many new content forms, and marketers are so skilled it doesn’t take them long to master these new apps and platforms.

 

But what if we said the biggest areas of opportunity in content marketing were the ones you had to dig for? Like speaking at a conference, for example? Yes, giving a talk or a presentation is definitely content marketing!

 

And since 74% of people suffer from a fear of public speaking, the vast majority of businesses are completely ignoring this format. To content marketers who are worried about content shock, or are just looking for guaranteed ways to get their content noticed, speaking in public is the perfect opportunity.

 

 

If you’re worried about content shock, here’s a stat to think about. Unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers.

 

If you could produce content that garnered 8 times more traffic than the content of your competitors, well then you’d be able to laugh at any mention of content shock. And yet that’s exactly what “content marketing leaders” are doing.

 

So what’s a content marketing leader? In a nutshell, it’s a content marketer who is cutting their own way through the digital marketing jungle. There’s an existing path through the jungle, but the content marketing leader wants adventure. And for this adventure they are often greatly rewarded.

Five great ways to adapt your content marketing strategy in 2016

- April 27, 2016

If you’ve ever been involved in marketing a brand, you’ve probably dabbled in content marketing. Most marketers use content to reach out to consumers, but not all of them are successful. As technology has advanced, and the concept of content marketing has become mainstream, developing an effective content marketing strategy is now a must.     […]

If you’ve ever been involved in marketing a brand, you’ve probably dabbled in content marketing. Most marketers use content to reach out to consumers, but not all of them are successful. As technology has advanced, and the concept of content marketing has become mainstream, developing an effective content marketing strategy is now a must.

 

 

In the early days of content marketing, some online exposure could go a long way. But things have changed over the last several years. These days consumers are overwhelmed by the amount of content directed toward them, and tend to spend less time on websites. Putting content out there and hoping for the best doesn’t work anymore. Your business needs to have a solid content marketing strategy and if it’s been a while since it’s been updated, you should probably adapt your plan for 2016. Here are 5 ways you can do that:

1. Incorporate Updates to Your Business Model

If your brand is evolving, your content marketing strategy should be too. Your reasons for focusing on content marketing should be communicated with every stakeholders within your organization. You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan, and you shouldn’t start content marketing without the same sort of framework in place.

 

Incorporate any revised business goals into your content marketing strategy. Anticipate the opportunities and challenges that you will face as you bring your plan to life. Make sure you determine the characteristics of your ideal consumer. Your content strategy should be focused on reaching this base with the content that they want to read, in the locations that they frequent. Content marketing is an ideal way to share your brand story, so as your brand develops, so should your content.

2. Review Your Channel Plan

With the digital world being full of platforms you can share your story. And where you post is as important as what you post, and what works well on one platform might not on another. Anytime new content is developed, consider the context in which it will be viewed. Content often needs some revision in order to grab attention on certain platforms. Someone who is reading a blog is not expecting the same sort of content as a person checking in on their social media account. Following channel trends can help you to determine what kind of content will work in that medium.

3. Stop Focusing on Volume and Start Focusing on Value

Many organizations rushing into the world of content marketing, push a large amount of information into the digital space, and with so much content available, it can be hard to attract, and retain, an audience. Competition is fierce, and capturing someone’s undivided attention is challenging. Sticking to what’s worked in the past might not be a viable solution when there’s so much information to choose from. Marketers need to focus on being innovative and create content that provides value to the consumer if they want to stand out in the crowd.

4. Don’t Leave Out Visual and Video Elements

Internet users attention span is rapidly decreasing. A typical reader will leave a site within 20 seconds, so marketers have very little time to reach out to their audience. Our brains are wired to retain information when paired with images. Utilizing engaging content is a strategy that works, and it makes content more likely to be shared. Incorporating video content is also becoming a common practice, and for good reason. Video captures and retains attention. Simply using the word “video” in an email subject line increases the likelihood that it will opened by 19%. Photos, infographics and videos should be a focal point of any content marketing strategy in 2016.

5. Consider Advances in Technology

Today’s consumers are growing accustomed to receiving custom content. Technology has opened doors, but it has also made it difficult to keep up. As more brands discover the key to getting noticed, targeting your audience becomes more difficult. Fortunately, technology companies are developing solutions for digital marketers. Software is now helping marketers to identify topics and trends, and break through complicated social media algorithms, so marketers can develop fresh content that speaks to their audience.

 

Technology is also affecting the type of content that’s being produced. The widespread use of smart phones and tablets means that digital content that’s not optimized for mobile viewing is getting lost. A high number of consumers are relying on mobile viewing to digest a majority of their content, so ensuring that information can be viewed on multiple devices should be a key aspect of your content marketing strategy. As technology continues to advance, content marketing via virtual reality and 360 video could be an option.

 

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If the strategy that you are using to get your content out there is not producing results, it may be time for an update. By keeping up with trends and revising your plan, you can increase your online exposure and grab the attention of consumers who will stick with your brand for the long haul.

 

Like many things in life, success often comes when you keep your momentum moving forward. Content marketing has its challenges and often requires the ability to see beyond the here and now. The tendency to stick with what worked two years ago or even in 2015 is strong, but it’s not always the right move. Taking your 2016 content marketing strategy outside of your comfort zone may be the best thing you can do for your business.

How to create a content marketing mix that will save you time and money

- April 25, 2016

Creating content is one of the most time-consuming aspects of digital marketing. In the past, Internet marketers would have to guess the type of content that we need to create for our businesses, but this type of strategy can lead to a hit-and-miss approach and it leads to business owners creating a lot of content […]

Creating content is one of the most time-consuming aspects of digital marketing. In the past, Internet marketers would have to guess the type of content that we need to create for our businesses, but this type of strategy can lead to a hit-and-miss approach and it leads to business owners creating a lot of content that only gets read by a few people.

 

In order to add value, you need to speak directly to the challenges that your ideal customer faces. Then you need to create unique, engaging content on a limited marketing budget. A marketing mix can help you achieve this without breaking the bank.

 

What Your Content Marketing Mix Should Look Like

According to the experts, a best-in-class marketing mix should consist of:

65% Self-Generated Content (Created By Your Business)

Original content is the content that you create yourself – it’s the content that takes a dedicated amounot of time to produce. This is done by your staff members, getting them to write blog posts, film videos, repurpose brochures into long-format press releases or write case studies of the projects you completed.

25% Curated Content

While curated content refers to content that was produced by someone else, there is still a level of personalization involved because real people have gone through the process of selecting it to share with your audience. The key to getting content curation right is committing to finding, organizing and sharing high quality and relevant digital content with the right target market.

10% Syndicated

This is the process of simultaneously publishing your content in a number of newspapers or other online sources.

A marketing mix consisting of different sources of content will not only help you to leverage your resources more efficiently, but it will help to engage your target audience because you’re focusing on sharing high value content with them.

Do a Content Audit to See What Type of Content Already Exists

Instead of embarking on a costly exercise of generating new content from the get-go, many marketers can make great strides by taking a step back and conducting a content audit to determine the following:

Find Out What Content Already Exists Within Your Company

There are undoubtedly presentations, proposals, brochures and action plans that can be adapted for content marketing purposes. A lot of great content will already be available within an organization and many times, all you need to do is remove sensitive client information and reword it for your target audience in order to ‘re-launch’ great content to the masses.

Take a Content Inventory and Identify Gaps to Fill

When creating an inventory of content, you will probably find that there’s a lot of information available on a number of products and services, but there are giant gaps when it comes to other products or services that a company offers. Identifying the gaps will give you a good starting point when it comes to what you need to write about.

Replace or Remove Outdated Content

Few people visit their corporate website on a daily basis and they’re usually shocked to see how outdated some of the client-facing information is. A content audit will show you where you need to remove and replace old legacy content.

Improve the Quality of Existing Content

If you’re working with content that’s more than five years old, you might find that it contains good information but the tone, style and focus is just a bit off. Improving on existing content is a good way to stretch your marketing budget (instead of getting completely new content written, you can tweak content that’s already been created in order to make it more effective).

Repurpose Your Content

Case studies can be repurposed into downloadable whitepapers, internal company news can be repurposed into blog posts, PowerPoint presentations can be repurposed into SlideShare presentations and photos from your conferences and functions can be used to populate your Pinterest account.

Find Out Who You Can Team Up With to Curate Additional Content

If your primary business isn’t becoming the “news agency” for your industry, then you can’t spend all your time creating quality content.

 

This is how a marketing mix can consist of different types of valuable content, without digital marketers spending weeks on creating content from scratch. For more information on understanding different marketing verticals and buyer personas to create a winning content strategy, read Chapter 4 of WSI’s book, Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing.

Five key ingredients for achieving success with content marketing

- April 20, 2016

Over the last several years, content marketing has won the hearts of big brands, small businesses and everything between. But like most aspects of the digital world, investing in a tactic doesn’t guarantee success. Success comes from ensuring you’re doing the right kind of content marketing.   The good news is great content marketing strategies […]

Over the last several years, content marketing has won the hearts of big brands, small businesses and everything between. But like most aspects of the digital world, investing in a tactic doesn’t guarantee success. Success comes from ensuring you’re doing the right kind of content marketing.

 

The good news is great content marketing strategies stick to the same general principles. If you follow a guide or take cues from an existing campaign with great results, you’ll have success. Our latest digital marketing video, shows how we perfected A Recipe for Content Marketing Success:

1. Identify and Understand Your Audience

In business, there’s nothing more important than understanding your customers. This includes knowing their likes and dislikes, their problems and the daily issues they may face. And the other products and services they use and enjoy. You need to gather as much information on your customers as you can.

The amount of knowledge you have about your audience will define your content marketing success. When you know what problems your customers are trying to solve and how your products and services can help them, you’ll find yourself with plenty of valuable content.

2. What, Where, How

In addition to understanding your audience, you need to know where they hang out online and what type of content they like to consume. Some audiences prefer long-form blog articles while others like quick videos. In many cases, audiences will show a preference for engaging with a few specific content types – if you can hone in on the content forms your audience prefers, the pieces you create will have a greater chance to make an impact.

3. Quality Matters Most

It’s not how much you say, it’s what you say. Don’t build your content marketing strategy around quantity; instead, let quality dictate the length and frequency of your content creation efforts. If you don’t have high quality ideas for content, wait until you have something worth saying. Remember, you won’t gain customers by simply creating content – you need valuable content that is relevant to your audience.

4. Stay Organized

Content marketing is not simple. In some situations – usually when you’re passionate about the piece you’re creating – the words come easy. But content creation is a single part in a much larger process that begins with ideation and ends many steps beyond publication. If you want your content to achieve its greatest potential, you need to nurture, promote and amplify it in the weeks following its release.

5. Review, Measure, Improve

The great thing about content marketing is that once the wheels of your strategy are in motion, there will be a whole stack of data at your fingertips. Since most companies struggle to use their analytics and take action to improve and iterate their content, there’s a huge competitive advantage to gain if you can do it. Review, measure and improve your way to content marketing success!

 

 

Struggling For Transparency in The Digital Space

- April 15, 2016

Transparency is a word many businesses have latched onto. Companies promise to run a transparent operation to present an inviting brand to stakeholders, customers and employees. The problem is, too many of these companies say one thing but do another, which is the opposite of transparency.     The notion of operating a business with […]

Transparency is a word many businesses have latched onto. Companies promise to run a transparent operation to present an inviting brand to stakeholders, customers and employees. The problem is, too many of these companies say one thing but do another, which is the opposite of transparency.

 

 

The notion of operating a business with consummate transparency isn’t a pipe dream. There are businesses that have achieved success with a candid and sincere culture, and it’s these brands that have spurred others to follow in their footsteps.

Moz, a marketing software company, has transparency built right into their core values. And Moz’s founder and former CEO, Rand Fishkin, notion of operating a business with consummate transparency isn’t a pipe dream.; look at this soul-baring post for evidence Rand doesn’t just talk about transparency – he lives it.

McDonald’s Canada’s “Our Food. Yours Questions.” microsite is another great example of a brand taking direct action to become more open and honest with its customers. Creating a forum for customers to ask questions like, “Why are your burgers so high in calories, fat and sodium if they are 100% beef?” is risking the loss of those same customers. But McDonald’s Canada answered the question honestly:

We’re proud of our food and believe it can be part of a balanced diet. We encourage moderation and are committed to helping Canadians make informed dining choices by providing nutrition information about our products. You can find full nutrition information in our restaurants and by visiting our Nutrition Calculator.  

We definitely do use 100% Canadian beef. But calories, fat and sodium can also come from the additional ingredients that make up an entire sandwich. (For example, a Big Mac comes with cheese and Big Mac Sauce.) If you’re concerned about calorie, fat and sodium intake, you can customize your burger by holding the cheese and/or sauce. Also, because we season our hamburger patties with salt and pepper after they’ve been cooked, you can ask the crew to hold the salt.

McDonald’s Canada even answered questions about that “pink slime” chicken nuggets legend (the nuggets aren’t made of pink slime but you shouldn’t eat them every day). Risky? Maybe, but it was also a risk having people continually talk about McDonald’s nuggets that are made out of pink slime, so it became necessary to address this point.

Is Transparency Optional?

When you stop and think about what McDonald’s Canada did by answering questions about their food, it makes you wonder why they deserve credit for it. If I’m going to be eating their food, don’t I have a right to know what I’m putting into my body? You’d think this would be a rule, but true transparency is so rare it feels refreshing when a big brand embraces it.   This notion is wrong: transparency shouldn’t be optional – it’s something that consumers should demand from the businesses they purchase from. And if transparency becomes the standard, then we’ll no longer be praising companies for simply telling their customers the truth.

How and Why Brands Fail at Being Honest

There are two things companies do to their customers and employees that don’t work as well as they did once upon a time. The first way companies fail at being honest is they don’t respect the intelligence of their customers. And the second way companies deceive their audience is when they “spin” anything that might be perceived as negative.   The problem here is customers are smarter than they’ve ever been, and mistakes happen. Companies try to spin their mistakes into positives, shirk the blame and responsibility when things go wrong, or tout bad news (such as price increases or extra charges) like they’re good for customers?   Here’s and example of  how brands that operate in the digital space fail to be honest and transparent with their customers.

Oh, You Didn’t Read the Small Print?

Here’s a recent experience we had with a company called Displate, an eCommerce outfit that sells prints perfect for hanging on walls. We visited the site and immediately found some prints that were ideal for an office or TV room. How can you not love this?   But after hearing that the important information you need to know is in the “terms and conditions page” We decided never to buy anything from Displate again, because they pulled the old, “Oh yeah, that consequential information you needed to know is on our terms and conditions page”.   Unbelievable that in 2016 they are saying we should’ve read the fine print. Incredible!   Here’s what happened. After adding a couple of Displates to our cart, we confirmed our total plus shipping and completed the purchase. Thinking, all the framed prints would arrive and could be hung up.   When they arrived, there was a $90 fee to accept the package from the shipping company (duty charges, they said). Displate weren’t honest about the fact that there were third party charges to accept their product. Displate blindsided us with fees that were 30% of the total price paid for the products plus the shipping.   When we contacted Displate to complain about the surprise duty charges, they directed us to theirTerms of Use page, where the relevant section reads:   The Products are delivered by courier or to a package machine indicated by the User. Any additional costs, including in particular the costs of delivery will be explicitly indicated at the time of placing an order.   The bolded section is clear, correct? No more charges. Except they then rattle of a list of 41 countries they ship to – probably in hopes you stop reading – before ending the long paragraph with a sentence that contradicts the opening statement:   Depending on the destination, there is a possibility of an additional duty fee. Its amount depends on a specific country’s regulations. Any costs related to customs duties shall be paid by the buyer.   Everybody knows what Displate is doing here: they’re covering themselves. None of the information on the Terms of Use page is present at checkout, nor is there any easy way to navigate to it. You’ll only arrive at the Terms of use page if you complain about something and Displate throws their hands up in there air and says, “But we told you!”   It’s a shame, because Displate has cool products; but they care more about selling these products than they do about being honest with their customers. Displate must be unaware that 75% of people said they would be unlikely or highly unlikely to buy from a digital retailer after a poor customer experience.

The Struggle for Transparency is Real

The struggle for transparency is real, especially in the digital world. Displate choose not to be forthcoming with the information about duty charges as they believe customers will abandon their purchases if they know about the fees. And while some customers may balk at extra fees, Displate’s feigned ignorance of any such charges is a troubling sign for the future.   Running a company with total transparency is difficult, but we urge business owners, employees and customers to deliver open and honest experiences. There’s a great post over on the Buffer blog that outlines why the best time for transparency is when it’s the hardest – it’s worth the read if transparency is important to you. We believe an open and honest approach to business is the best way to achieve sustainable success in a world where transparency is becoming more difficult by the day.

Two Tips For Enhancing Your eCommerce Results

- April 4, 2016

eCommerce websites can benefit your business by bringing in more traffic and converting it into quality leads. Thanks to simplified eCommerce platforms and the ability to sell most products online, eCommerce is within reach for the majority of today’s businesses. In the U.S. alone, eCommerce is growing at 10% each year, and this isn’t expected […]

eCommerce websites can benefit your business by bringing in more traffic and converting it into quality leads. Thanks to simplified eCommerce platforms and the ability to sell most products online, eCommerce is within reach for the majority of today’s businesses. In the U.S. alone, eCommerce is growing at 10% each year, and this isn’t expected to slow down.

 

Benefits of eCommerce

Here are just a few of the benefits to adding eCommerce to your sales strategy:

 

  • Distribute your products to a larger geographic region.
  • Sell more products than what you could fit in your physical store.
  • Keep up with the competition.
  • Attract new customers.
  • Establish an online presence.
  • Save on operational costs.
  • Boost brand awareness.
  • Drive conversions and sales.

 

Whether you’re looking to boost your eCommerce website, or you’re going into eCommerce sales for the first time, here are some important points to keep in mind to maximize your chances for success.

 

The majority of users do not convert when they visit a website for the first time. Typically, only 2% of shoppers convert on their first visit. It’s possible that they did not find what they were looking for or they could not get in touch with the company to ask a question. Re-targeting is one way to stay after the other 98% of shoppers, but what if you could improve your conversion rates just by providing visitors with a better user experience.

 

This post focusses on two crucial factors that will help you to turn more traffic into sales: using a call centre and offering top-of-the-line product search functionality.

Call Center

The convenience of online shopping shouldn’t erase the need for attentive customer service. Shoppers are placing more importance on a positive user experience and choosing brands that offer good customer service.

 

Yes, there is a shopping cart available to make a direct purchase and maybe a live chat operator for customers to ask questions and get a quick response. But what if the customer wants to talk to a live voice? Some customers prefer to speak with someone or need a better explanation than what they can get online. The stumbling block to having phone service for many eCommerce businesses is that they don’t have the staffing to handle the calls. That is why some eCommerce websites don’t display a phone number in a prominent fashion. They want to discourage phone sales.

 

This obstacle can be removed by outsourcing to a call center that can take orders 24 hours a day seven days a week. Having a call center to take phone calls strengthens the user experience, enhances customer service and closes more sales. A quality call center will also provide reporting to enhance your ability to make sound decisions about the advertising you are doing and the products you are promoting.

Search Functionality

Taking steps to improve your website’s search functionality increases conversion rates because people can more easily find what they want. On-site search caters to prepared or “ready-to-buy” visitors. These customers know what products they are looking for, and will convert in to a buyer if they are able to find them.

 

However, many of the standard eCommerce website technologies don’t have that great of product search functionality. By enhancing the product search functionality, customers will find what they’re looking for, enjoy a better user experience and be happier shoppers overall. Plus, satisfied buyers are more likely to return to your site and recommend it to others.

 

Additional benefits of having quality product search functionality include:

 

  • Improved bounce rates, time on-site, pages viewed, and overall search revenue generated.
  • Fewer calls to customer service.
  • Lower product return rate.
  • Improving customer service because customer service representatives can more efficiently find products and relevant information on the website when speaking with customers.

 

To ensure that you’re meeting customer expectations, ask yourself these questions:

 

  • Is the search box obvious? Or does it blend in with the rest of the website? Placing words like “enter keyword” or “search” tells users what to do.
  • Does the search function allow for filterable options?
  • Can the search function handle long-tail semantic searches?
  • Are you saving shoppers time by offering an autocomplete feature?
  • Do you offer a breadcrumb trail that allows users to check, uncheck, clear and refine their results?

 

These are just some of the features that make for a well-rounded search functionality on your eCommerce site. If you don’t want to take the steps to modify your existing search functionality, there are several third party suppliers that offer this service.