Archive for the ‘Content Marketing’ Category

Growing Your Subscriber List

Posted by Mallory Green on November 19th, 2015

List BuildingIn the ever-growing digital world, marketers spend a significant amount of time developing strategies to drive traffic to their organization’s website with hopes to build their audience and increase brand loyalty. Those who visit an organization’s website on a regular basis to consume content are extremely important for growth. While websites will certainly receive new visitors from organic search, the main goal is to have them opt-in to receive future updates, therefore keeping your products and services top-of-mind and relevant.

But how do we get them there? Ultimately, it comes down to a few easy-to-implement strategies to help grow your subscriber list and enhance loyalty:

1. Use data and analytics

With a plethora of data platforms at our fingertips, incorporating metrics into your marketing strategies should be a no-brainer. Utilizing data analytics enables marketers to get a better picture of the types of content that are being consumed on a regular basis.

Furthermore, you also want to notice if certain call-to-actions work better than others. Do you need to switch up content placement or utilize different text? Does one situation cause visitors to click more than another?

Using these metrics can help you create a template layout for your landing pages that offer you the best chance at success. It’s very easy to develop and implement A/B testing to decide what works best. Once you’ve reached a conclusion, you can incorporate that same line of thinking in other locations.

2. Create a well-researched content strategy

Here’s another situation where data can help you. Using metrics, you can begin to understand the types of content that mean the most to your subscribers. Using this information, you can create white papers, infographics, blog posts, etc. that will resonate with your current readers.

It’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily about having something to say about everything. You will experience more success by using the numbers to develop a clear understanding of what is working instead of just shooting fish in a barrel and putting out random content.

3. Know what the competition is doing

Developing a strong content strategy is at the top of many marketers’ lists. Countless research studies have been conducted supporting the importance of providing targeted, informative and relevant content to your readers. So, you might be hard-pressed to find a topic that hasn’t been covered. It can be extremely difficult to come up with a brand new idea that no one has ever talked about, especially to gain some sort of competitive advantage, but the key is to offer something different and interesting even if the subject has been covered elsewhere. This is a good place to use internal research, like a benchmark report or a data purge, to gain insight into what your customers are doing.

4. Know your niche

It’s important to understand that people subscribe to your content because they like what you have to say. If you are working off a focused content strategy, you are creating content that lives in a specific niche. While it’s okay to do something different every once in awhile, especially for a vessel like a blog, make sure you don’t take it too far. You don’t want your subscribers to feel like you have no focus and your information holds no value.

5. Be a thought leader

As stated previously, it’s hard to constantly come up with refreshing content, but you don’t want to let too much time pass before providing readers with something new. You want the content you offer to leave readers satisfied, whether they turned to you for answers to specific questions or just wanted to consume something insightful and intriguing. Regardless, the content you created needs to provide a level of value and leave your readers wanting more.

Use all the tools you have in your arsenal to create the right pieces of content for your specific audience. By taking the time to really get to know who your readers are and what they want to learn, you are giving yourself the best opportunity to build your subscriber list and increase brand loyalty.


Help Meet Customer Needs With Brand Communities

Posted by Kavita Jaswal on October 20th, 2015

social conversationIn a previous blog post, I talked about user generated content and the role it plays in a marketing program. Using customer opinions, interests and feedback continues to be a large part of a targeted marketing plan. Taking it one step further, organizations can create a space where customers and potential clients share their impressions, offer feedback and speak with other members about products and services. Building a brand community enables organizations to understand consumer wants, answer any questions they may have and continually collect relevant feedback. This type of business strategy builds awareness, offers brand support and, in turn, meets consumer needs.

When consumers are engaged with a company, brand, product or service, they may want to share and learn information from others who have similar interests. Having a platform where they can speak freely on their likes and dislikes, carry on conversations about particular products and offer feedback on how to improve those products, gives organizations insight into consumer needs. This information enables companies to improve products in the planning, development and sales stages.

A brand community gives organizations the ability to speak to consumers in a conversational way rather than having to rely only on marketing communications to get their message across. Using a platform to answer questions customers may have gives companies a competitive advantage, because they are receiving feedback in real-time thus helping enhance customer satisfaction.

By continuously collecting consumer feedback, whether on an offered incentive, a new product release or an existing product on the market, organizations can use consumer comments and reactions to improve their offerings and strengthen brand advocates.
By listening to what the consumer is saying about the product directly as well as monitoring conversations that multiple people may be having about the company, marketers can develop relationships and create messaging centered around targeted brand enhancements.

Building a brand community gives organizations the opportunity to engage with current and potential customers and connect in a way that can enhance communications. Through direct conversations with these consumers, companies have the ability to understand what their audience is looking for, which helps improve the type of content being offered. These open forums are a useful way for businesses to learn more about their customers making targeting messaging attainable and improving the chances of future success.


Target Millennials with the Right Financial Content

Posted by Mallory Green on October 8th, 2015

Financial ContentSince the Great Recession, financial institutions have experienced difficulty targeting the next generation of people entering the work force…Millennials. These young men and women have helped financial institutions see that the tides are changing from previous generations. For example, Millennials know less about investing and more about money sharing websites like PayPal™. Furthermore, studies have shown that Millennials struggle to prioritize their money outside of paying for necessities like rent. An article in the Wall Street Journal found that Millennials have a savings rate of -2.0 percent, meaning they are spending more than they are saving,1 which might attribute to the fact that financial institutions struggle to get Millennials through their doors.

In order to combat this growing trend, financial institutions are looking for ways to engage Millennials in hopes to build long lasting relationships. With the youngest of the Millennial generation just graduating college and the oldest in their early 30s, financial institutions hope that as these adults begin to accrue assets, they will turn to the financial institution with whom they built the strongest relationship.

A report published by Redshift Research stated that, “55 percent of Millennials would trust a financial institution more if they received helpful, unbiased content.”2 Make your financial institution a reliable resource for this group by providing them with helpful information based on common pain points, such as an inability to save money or a struggle with credit card debt. They might not be ready to make any solid decisions right away, but the more educated and well informed they feel, the faster and more willing they become to do business with you. The key is to plan ahead and create a content calendar that is filled with fresh, seasonal and topical content.

Fill your calendar by:

  1. Playing to your strengths: In a study conducted by Viacom Media Networks, 53 percent of Millennials don’t believe there is a difference from one financial institution to the next.3 Make it a point to show key differentiators, whether it be the financial planning services you offer, customer service, online banking, etc. Prove why your financial institution is equipped to meet the needs of this generation.
  2. Exuding confidence in your areas of expertise: Millennials want to be fully informed before they make any kind of decision. Use your content pieces to make it perfectly clear that you know what you’re talking about and have the tools to help each current and potential account holder meet his/her goals. For example, use case studies and testimonials to show success and take the opportunity to fully explain the steps you took to get your account holders where they wanted to be.
  3. Highlighting the benefits of financial literacy: Managing money is stressful on anyone regardless of your age or generation, but feeling uninformed can cause new levels of anxiety. In an article from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, only 24 percent of surveyed Millennials could answer 4 out of 5 questions correctly on a financial literacy assessment.4 Provide Millennials with the tools they need to better manage their money and combat common issues felt by many in this age group, such as debt management, credit, borrowing, etc. This is a great chance to offer them tips on how to improve their financial health and highlight the benefits of using products and services from your financial institution.

Millennials have proven to be a difficult age bracket to tackle. As they reach adulthood and the cusp of making financial decisions, some not only feel skeptical about committing to one financial institution, but also lack some basic financial knowledge to make smart and realistic choices. It’s important to create a content strategy that appeals to their needs and offer information they actually care about. This will help build a solid relationship putting your financial institution in this generation’s consideration set when he/she is ready to get serious with his/her money.




For the People, By the People

Posted by Kavita Jaswal on September 24th, 2015

Brand AdvocacyContent marketing has made a major impact on marketers within the last few years, as it’s become an integral part of any successful marketing program. The thought process behind content marketing hinges on creating relevant messages for customers and potential clients. When consumers’ interests are in mind, there is a greater likelihood that content will be downloaded, shared, viewed or liked. But, are there other ways to keep up with consumer interests and continue to promote targeted, relevant content? Enter user-generated content.

User generated content (UGC) is defined as, “Any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasting, pins, digital images, video and audio files, advertisements and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available by social media websites.”1 So, how can brands use UGC to improve the awareness of their products and services?

Brands can use personalization to build awareness and then use social media to promote that piece of content. That piece of content can then be retweeted, reposted or go viral creating the time of positive publicity brands crave. For example, a popular brand used personalization on its product by creating a campaign where people could “their name.” Those people could then upload a photo of him/herself drinking “their name,” which not only advertised that drink brand, but it also prompted others to do the same.

Companies are also setting up contests for individuals to share their creative ideas or artwork for a particular product on social media. Allowing that type of consumer involvement gives the organization the ability to show that it not only wants input from its customers and potential clients, but also it will use that input and feedback to build its brand and increase awareness.

Finally, organizations are building campaigns that include customer video testimonials. Once uploaded to social media, these videos are shared and give consumers the ability to watch learn more from people just like them. Customer perceptions are important for others to see and hear especially when they are making purchasing decisions. Positive reinforcement from people who have used and experienced an organization’s product is sometimes the deciding factor when potential buyers are contemplating whether to or not to make a purchase.

Creating relevant content has become a big factor when determining the success of a marketing program. Trust is crucial for every consumer and generating content based on what consumers believe and understand is an impactful way to target consumers.




8 Tips To Improve Your Writing

Posted by Dave McCue on April 8th, 2015

Writing TipsIf you don’t start strong, readers have a reason to leave. If you don’t finish strong, they have a reason to forget. I’ve had the opportunity to produce a great deal of content at various stops on my professional journey, but I’ve tried to never lose sight of this “bookend” focus whether writing articles, scripting video voiceovers, producing white papers, constructing presentations, and so on.

The bookend focus is one example of the type of direction I give myself when it comes to content production. Here are a few more examples you may want to add to your own bag of content generation tricks:

1. Avoid blanket statements

Literal readers would question a statement such as, “every brand now recognizes the importance of social media,” and with good reason. Unless there is a statistic to back up such a claim, it comes across as a throwaway line that is very likely to be inaccurate, neither of which are assumptions I would want associated with my work. It takes some practice, but eliminating blanket statements can not only make writing sound more considered, but more importantly, it helps avoid making claims that can’t be substantiated.

2. Be creative, not repetitive

Common articles such as “the” and “a/an” don’t offer many alternatives, but wherever possible, it pays to eliminate repeat uses of the same word in a given sentence or even paragraph.

For example, take the following sentence:

This blog post is geared toward marketers who produce content for their organization with tips that can be applied toward their own blogs, videos, or any other types of content they might be producing in support of their marketing initiatives.

It’s not the worst thing ever, but listen to how much more polished it feels by simply eliminating the repetitive words:

This article is geared toward professionals who produce content for their organization with tips that can be applied toward blog posts, videos, or any other types of materials they might be generating in support of marketing initiatives.

Not only did I use unique alternatives for words such as blog (article), marketers (professionals) and content (materials), but I also eliminated the repetition of “their” because it was clearly implied who “they” were at the beginning of the sentence.

3. If it’s obvious, it should be obvious without you actually saying it

More of a personal pet peeve, and something I’ve probably been guilty of at some point, would be the use of words like “Clearly” and “Obviously” to begin a sentence. On the one hand, the content of that sentence may not necessarily be clear or obvious to the reader, so the insinuation is that they should know more than they do. At a minimum, it begs the question, “why re-state the obvious?”

4. Make it digestible

Early in my career I was writing for a newspaper and generating thousands of words of copy each week. I enjoyed what I was doing and bristled at the idea that people didn’t have time to sit down and read an entire newspaper full of long-form articles. Fast-forward 11 years, and I can now admit how wrong I was. Long-form is becoming the exception with entire websites dedicated to a steady stream of top-10 lists and other bite-sized formats, some of which almost entirely eschew text in favor of animated GIFs and videos. That doesn’t necessarily make your next 8-page white paper a pointless endeavor, but it’s worth evaluating any content you produce to identify opportunities where it can be streamlined or if it’s worth producing multiple formats to appeal to different members of your audience.

5. Arrangement is everything

The first four tips on this list are things that can become good habits over time, but sentence arrangement is a bit different. Even very skilled writers don’t always have the perfect flow when the words first hit the page/screen, but understanding how best to re-arrange a collection of thoughts can make a world of difference. This re-arrangement can involve moving entire paragraphs, shifting sentences within a paragraph or even shifting clauses within a single sentence. When you read through something you’ve written, and it doesn’t sound quite right, don’t be so quick to highlight and delete — in many cases, you’ve got the right thoughts, they just aren’t in the right place.

6. Don’t be Dr. Frankenstein

From time to time you may find yourself in a position where you’ve received contributions from other individuals around a common topic. Put it all together and you’ve got 1,000 words of copy, which is great because your word limit for the project in question is only 500. Should be easy, right? I’ve been there plenty of times, and in my experience, the voices of each contributor are so different that everything needs to be re-written to achieve any level of consistency. This is also a very common occurrence with slide show presentations only the “voice” of contributors in that situation comes in the form of the copy, graphics and the general formatting of the slide decks. Save yourself some time (and headaches), don’t try to be Dr. Frankenstein.

7. Forget the safety net

In many professional settings, the point of origin is not the point of approval for new content. This can lead to the “safety net” mindset where the goal of producing ready-to-use content competes with the knowledge that it will  pass through several hands (and rounds of revisions) before it can ever be published. While the frustration with such processes is understandable, submitting anything less than a best effort for approvals not only slows those processes down by guaranteeing small scale changes, but also reflects poorly on the author. A good rule of thumb is to always imagine that there are no approval processes, and what you consider “final” will bear not only your company’s name, but your name as well.

8. Sometimes you need to start over

It’s a horrible feeling, but there are times when ideas just don’t go anywhere. You may start with a great introduction and soon realize the topic isn’t quite as meaty as you thought it was. Other times, you end up with several ideas that don’t mesh well enough to work as a standalone piece of content. The trick to starting over is making sure you don’t wait too long. If I feel like I’m approaching this point, I step away from the project for some period of time and focus on something else for at least 30 minutes or longer depending on the level of urgency. If I come back and still struggle to make progress, I usually go back to the drawing board. Those original ideas still have value, however, so even if you’re resigned to the fact that it’s time to start over, make sure to save a copy of the work done to that point for future reference and/or inspiration.

If content is king, as I’ve often heard in marketing circles, those of us who produce that content are in position to make a tremendous impact. Developing your own “rules to live by” when it comes to content generation can not only help you make that impact, but ensure that you’re proud of what you ultimately produce.

I’ll leave you with something a writing instructor once told me that I’ve never forgotten: The problem with the blank page is that there are an infinite number of ways to fill it poorly — don’t forget that the glass can be half full, there are an infinite number of ways to do it beautifully.