February 9, 2017 Michael Bickerton
Our team has been recommending content programs for quite some time and yet we find that many clients are hesitant to invest in these programs for a variety of reasons. In our experience, we see clients focus on the costs associated with content, yet rarely do they look at the benefits of content programs.
We see clients with regularity engage tentatively into the social sphere, they build pages, they do some minor posting, often assigning an employee to “manage” the social media and using social as a touch point. Unlike all other tactics where investment is required to build and develop, these channels are often second or third tier considerations and ultimately left off the budget.
Coming across an eMarketer article “Original Research Moves the Needle for B2B Content Marketers”, it struck me that these are the very same issues impacting B2C marketers. The reason content programs are low priority when reviewing marketing tactics is that marketers assume (or hope) that the consumer will understand the brand instead of investing the time and money in a strong brand building program.
In my research for this post, I came across “The Brand Report Card” by Kevin Lane Keller in the January – February 2000 Issue. I’ve taken the highlights to share with you and encourage you to read the full article, notable is that the more things change, the more they stay the same and in spite of the exploding of both internet and social media use, the same factors apply. There are rewards to creating and supporting brand equity.
Ten things to consider when supporting your Brand:
1) Build & deliver the benefits that customers desire
2) Keep the brand current & relevant
3) Provide a value proposition
4) Position and build customer perceptions
5) Be consistent with messaging
6) Establish brand and product hierarchy
7) Expand marketing outreach
8) Focus on consumer beliefs, attitude and behaviours
9) Increase depth and breadth of brand messaging
10) Ongoing measurement and monitoring
There are a variety of types of content that can be created. The eMarketer article as mentioned above provides insight into both the types of content created and what is perceived as the most effective according to marketers.
It’s clear that these tactics all have value and will provide brand reinforcement. Research reports work for some, infographics are effective at messaging yet harder to build your brand around. Product reviews by customers or leading experts in your field help and video is also strong.
I wanted to direct your attention to Blog Posts. Blogging is the most overlooked as far as tactics go and the reasoning is largely due to the commitment of both time and money as it impacts the marketing budget.
Clearly most marketers believe that Blog posts are fairly easy to produce as compared to a number of other tactics and blogs are extremely effective. You likely know that my team has been blogging and providing content and opinion on a variety of issues impacting advertising and marketing from a digital perspective. If you haven’t taken a look I welcome you to view our Blog, there are over 500 posts since 2010.
Since I’m on the subject, I can also recommend our Video channel with well over 200 selections, some are very entertaining, others very informative.
The take away here is that content is critical to your marketing initiatives for a number of reasons. Blog posts are fairly easy to produce, they are very effective as they provide you the opportunity to build and support your brand. Blog content is current, it assists with consumers’ understanding and with embracing your key message. Blogging also allows you to educate your consumers, provide insight, it aids in distinguishing your key messaging with the intersection of how your product delivers on a value proposition.
Just to reinforce why your firm should be blogging, here is an article by Jayson DeMers from May of 2015 “The Top 10 Benefits of Blogging On Your Website”.
The benefits are as listed below:
1) Increases search engine traffic
2) Humanizes your brand (gives it a voice)
3) Supports your social media (gives you something to post)
4) Builds authority and reputation
5) Improves conversion rates (and optins)
6) Assists in generating inbound links (note that I’ve linked to additional content in this post)
7) Long tail search ranking (i.e. much about niche & educated search)
8) Increase leads
9) Facilitates discussion and interaction
10) Keeps your website fresh
Lastly, assuming I’ve kept your attention to this point, I think it’s important to leverage your blog post. There are a variety of tactics that will allow you to drive traffic to your blog and although some will suggest there are five, or seven, or fifteen tactics (realistically there are well over 50 ways to drive traffic), it’s recommended we stick to the basics. Once you’ve mastered these you can start to look for others depending on where you see engagement.
Bick’s Top FIVE ways to drive blog traffic and build an audience:
1) Email marketing – let your customers know directly
2) Social media – share your post via social (using your strongest platforms and create a posting schedule – but don’t be afraid to recycle your posts).
3) Google search and display ads – it’s a great way to find prospects searching for your product or service.
4) Influencer relationships – make friends with influencers in your industry and let them know of your post(s) in advance of release, and possibly allow them the first release (more to come on this)
5) SEO (search engine optimization) – ensure you leverage your search terms and keywords into the article, headlines, the URL as well as in the backend. This allows your blog posts to be found through organic search.
If you want to know more about promoting your blog, check out “36 Tried-and-True Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts”, a great infographic provided by hubspot.
If you are not leveraging a blog, you should be. B2B or B2C, it really doesn’t matter, blogs provide so much value for so little, it’s hard to appreciate why every marketer is not using this tactic as a primary out reach. You can try to do this yourself, or use a staff member with some creative flair.
If this seems like too much of an undertaking, for as little as at $1,200 a month, you can hire a professional who will assist you in determining a strategy for a year, provide professional writing services, post on your website, provide outreach marketing tactics such as deploying outbound email marketing, leverage social media, Google search, provide SEO for inbound traffic (and build your post with SEO in mind) and lastly, assist you in identifying and engaging influencers. “Don’t do this at home” may be a more prudent approach when building a content program, as in most cases it’s best to hire an expert.
A blog will keep your brand fresh, build authority and provide a resource for your prospects and customers, there’s no better way to build your brand and stay in the mix. Content programs provide short term and longer-term benefits, as Bick says, “Get your Content On, Get your Blog On!”