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Archive for June, 2011

What does not belong in your online content

Monday June 20, 2011

Group Questions

What do customers want to know when they’re looking for solutions to problems that you purport to solve?

Whenever we’re assigned to write clients’ Web pages we follow best practices as we do for all content.  What ‘best practices’ call for in Web content is not so different from other forms but the Web does force the writer and editor to become a little more brutal.  Actually, it’s the audience that’s the force at work.

We like to say that customers aren’t interested in your product (or service), they’re interested in their problem. Specifically, visitors to your site aren’t interested in you so much as the need they’re trying to fill or the hard facts they’re trying to gather as the basis of filling that need.  And this tells you two things:

1.  To the extent that your product or service is too much in the face of the site visitor, you increase your chances of a quicker “bounce”, or departure of this visitor.

2.  Ditto above if your content is jargon-heavy with with acronyms or industry-speak.

Except for those pages or links that are specifically tailored for existing customers, or prospects who are well down the path to a decision, you want your Web content to widen the top of the funnel.  So, you’re going to score points to the degree you show an interest and expertise in the problems they have, not the fixes you offer.  Not yet, anyway.  With this in mind, product-focused content should be avoided.  Your ‘welcoming lobby’ should be a pressure-free zone to introduce the visitor to your business, same as your social-media strategy should be at all times.  It’s where you start to build trust.

As for the language you use, choose your words carefully.  Use only those words and expressions that you are certain your prospects use.   Search engines use signals throughout social media for ranking search  results.  This means that your Web site is only incidental to the wider territory your prospects cover every day and in which they interact with other prospects online.  Be sure to use the words and phrases they are looking for, not the flavor-of-the-month terminology you think is cool.

The Web site metrics your content must drive

Tuesday June 14, 2011

Manometers For Pressure Measurement

How do you gauge your content when it comes to driving traffic to your site?

We counted five metrics described today which are amazingly similar to the ones we consider key gauges on the web-content dashboard.  Because the world in which we now market and sell demands that we do those things that are necessary to be found online, the name of the game is to enable more and more of the people you’re interested in to find you there.  And, as study after study shows, the way you do this most cost effectively is to generate a steady stream of content intended to establish your credentials as a worthy exponent of whatever it is those people are looking for or researching.

1. To create smart, hard-working content, the kind that attracts real prospects and prompts them to take the specific actions you call for, you first have to identify the content that’s hardly working.  Expecting a different result from doing the sames thing(s) repeatedly may or may not be a definition of insanity but to us the definition of smart marketing content is anything that draws the right people to your site and entices them to take the action you want.  To begin creating it, it’s important to know about a landing page’s “bounce rate”: the amount, expressed as a percentage of the visitors who did not take the action you called for, or just abandoned your site after looking at that page.  Any landing page with a comparatively high number (compared to other landing pages) will tell you what is and is not working for you — and your visitors.

2. A landing page that gets people to do the thing(s) you want, such as request a whitepaper or e-book or provide their contacts (or all three) is said to have a high “conversion rate”.   Comparing the conversion rates among your pages is another way to weed out ineffective content or a weak call to action. Importance of landing pages is hard to overstate because this is usually the first impression you make on a visitor.  It is step one in a casual visitor’s  “conversion” to hot lead — and a sale.

3. Traffic sources reveal where your visitors are coming from when they first arrive. It’s top of the funnel where you can learn where people found out about you.  It’s the metric by which you judge your SEO efforts to see if your organic search volume increasing. “If you’ve been doing good social media promotion, then you should see a lot of referral traffic from social media sites and blogs”, says the Web consultancy Hubspot. “Every business will have their own mix of organic, referral and direct traffic, so it’s important to watch over time so that you can track how your various marketing channels are driving traffic to your website”.

4. From your site’s keywords you can determine which terms people use when they go to Google or Bing or wherever, and your site shows up.  Keywords tell you what terminology people use when they find you or when they’re researching your category. They also provide insight about the things people were thinking about when they discovered you. It’s obvious why your keyword strategy is, in a word, key.  But don’t forget to see if, and how much, traffic is being generated by words other than what you’ve been optimizing for. When you uncover them, start creating content around them.

5. Finally, there are the visitors, the actual number of unique individuals who have been to your site. An important read-out, yes, but not of primary importance. It is not a reflection of your site’s intrinsic strength of content.  Which is what you need most. You want your site to draw traffic on its own, by virtue of its content.  Some of your visitors may have influenced by off-line promotion or off-site campaigns.  Good, but not cost-effective. You want your web site to self-sustain. And this is exactly what great content enables.

How to make your marketing material (and all your other content) end up on your customer’s office walls

Monday June 6, 2011

Various Groups Of Collaboration

The most powerful marketing content today, the content you should be striving to create, is the stuff that creates the right discussions in the right context among the right people.

If your content is all about your company, your brand and your products, you’re missing the point of what makes today’s marketing content more effective and memorable.  In other words, you’re not getting what you’re paying for.  If your outreach is basically driven by cultivating a few opinion leaders and staying in control of your message, you’re not making the most of the new landscape and the new tools available to you.  Worse, you’re likely losing ground to competitors who are.

To Bob Duffy, senior social-media strategist at Intel, it’s not about controlling the message so much as providing the context in which information is exchanged and interpreted.

Duffy told Social Media Explorer that brands, not unlike Intel, are doing a lot of what the traditional media (and industry analysts) have always done: publishing what they learn from developers, for example, revealing best practices and creating connections between different tech players. Like his counterparts at other technology brands today, Duffy is creating the context for important discussions in the industry that will ultimately pay off down the road for his employer.

The takeaway for today’s marketing pros? Reach out to anyone who could be part of your community and jump-start the discussions you want to be part of.  Discussions to which you can add value and build your reputation as somebody who’s worth engaging on a long-term basis.  Just keep in mind that you have to stick to the subject matter of the discussion and not be a shill for your brand.  Your community is street-wise.  It is more than capable of connecting the dots. Do as Duffy does: “We don’t try to control the conversation or message, we just want to provide the context.”

What are you doing as a marketer to instigate industry discussions and engage your communities?  What are you learning from, and sharing with, the people who matter to your brand?  What kinds of connections are you creating among them?  How are you measuring it?

 

 

Change your content to fit the changing mindset of buyers

Thursday June 2, 2011

Buying New Car

Tom Pisello’s thoughts on content marketing and the “buyer’s journey” reminds us, again, that great customer knowledge is the cornerstone of great content for customers. Great content marketing, in other words.

There’s a specific category of content for suspects and prospects that call for careful sorting of the content to present to each at various points along their decision path.  It may not necessarily accelerate the buyer’s journey from kicking the tires to writing the check, but it ensures a better ROI for each individual piece of content. What you make available to each group can effectively nudge them along their way.

In a world where skepticism and frugality reign supreme, knowing which stage your prospect is in will determine whether your carefully crafted content is useful or irrelevant. It can make the difference between material the prospect considers valuable or useless.  As with most things in life, timing is everything.  Note that there is always overlap in groups such as those described below, but Pisello’s rule-of-thumb still applies:

1. Think of the first stage of the journey as the discovery period.  Here, buyers are in fact-gathering mode.  They may have made the decision to purchase something, but not necessarily your thing.  This is the group to which white papers, webcasts, events and diagnostic assessment tools are most useful.

2. In the consideration stage, the buyer is looking to justify the purchase.  This is the decision-making time when specific vendors are put on a short list and their offerings more closely scrutinized and screened.  In this phase the prospect (no longer a “suspect”) may be particularly influenced by your solution case studies, video testimonials and white papers that are less theoretical and more solution-minded.

3. Finally, it’s decision time when the buyer will be most influenced by content that demonstrates the rightness of your value proposition.  They want a compelling answer to the question, “Why is this the right decision for me?”  Any content that reveals ROI will be most appropriate at this stage: interactive business-case tools, feature-function comparisons, value-oriented white papers and total-cost-of-ownership comparison tools.

There are horses for courses.  And there is specific content for specific mindsets.  Do you have compelling marketing content that fits each phase of the buyer’s decision process?  How are you measuring its ROI?