As a child I struggled to breathe.
For days I would lie in bed and fight for every inch of breath. I almost thought of it as normal. Waking up and trying to drag air into my lungs for hours.
Nights were long with no end in sight.
Asthma wasn’t considered such a big deal back then and drugs were minimal and for the most part ineffective. Going to hospital wasn’t a consideration. For years the doctors were not much help. One suggestion was burning an oily lamp with some strange concoction next to my bed.
Only stained bed clothes and sheets when the device was struck by flailing arms in the middle of the night.
Finally… at a doctor’s appointment, I was told that maybe exercise was one way of possible relief. Some new research had shown some promise
By then I was old enough to take some initiative.
I was tired and fed up with the pain. The next day I struggled out of bed in the gloom of the early morning. The fresh smell of dew promised a new day. The sound of the gravel driveway under my feet was deafening in the silence of the dawn as I walked past my parents bedroom and opened our creaking gate.
The orange street lamps beckoned.
I started pounding around the park next to the family home. The first event was 4 laps and I was done. The next day I thought it would be good to have my younger brothers join in. So I coaxed them to put on their running shoes and share my pain of struggling out of bed at the crack of dawn. The next day they just groaned…rolled over and went back to sleep.
No encouragement there.
It’s up to you
I was on my own.
But I had something they didn’t have. I was seeking a solution to escape pain. It’s a big stick.
The days became weeks and that turned into months and my persistence didn’t diminish but increased. I exchanged the pain of fighting for breath from asthma to fighting for breath as I exercised. My determination to escape pain drove me to such frenzied activity that sometimes I threw up from the sheer exertion.
I had also discovered a new natural high. It was a drug called endorphins. As my fitness grew, I felt I could run forever. Maybe I was the original Forest Gump.
Within a year, I could run for hours. I disappeared into the surrounding hills. I loved my freedom, enjoyed my own company and I learned that sizeable, insurmountable obstacles can be overcome. If you’re willing to push through the pain and take the next step.
This motivated escape had become a passion and my asthma had now become just a small sideshow.
I joined the high school long distance running team and discovered that persistence and practice had a reward. I qualified for regional and state championships and started winning races.
That was my first lesson on the power of pain.
One step at a time
Stephen King was asked ‘how do you write these 120,000 word novels and he said ‘one word at a time…’
The path to success is just one step at a time.
Going for a run every now and then is good. But the only way to achieve peak fitness requires persistence. Succeeding in this digital world…whether it’s blogging, content marketing, digital marketing or re-inventing your company or re-inventing yourself is sometimes not apparent.
It requires shedding comfort for growth inducing discomfort.
Your attitude to pain is key
You’re going to feel a lot of pain in life…because the reality is the world has changed and will never stop changing. So you can bravely embrace the digital opportunities and understand that you have the power to build your own brand online without seeking permission or paying for it.
Then the riches of the world are yours…you can go from local to global in the click of button.
The new reality
You can build your own global audience one word…one tweet at a time…without having to pay for it.
Are you going to embrace your pain and reinvent, or are you just going to wallow. Settling for comfort is never going to lead anywhere. Feeling some pain means you are pushing your boundaries. And that is the event horizon where growth happens.
You have the choice.
You’ve been working hard to produce great content for your audience….
You’re getting your name out there on social media and traffic to your website is growing steadily.
But no one is buying your stuff.
Content is pointless if you’re not converting leads and sales. If you can’t do this, all the traffic in the world won’t help you.
If you want to create content that converts like crazy, you need to use a little marketing psychology.
Know the mind of your audience, truly engage them with your content, and they’ll be eager to click that button.
Know your audience
All successful businesses are based upon their ability to meet the needs of their audience. If you can do this, you will succeed. If you can’t, it’s going to be a struggle.
Any business strategy must start and end with your audience. Content marketing is no different. If you want to boost your conversions you need to know who you’re trying to convert.
Many marketers make the mistake of creating content for their peers. For example, as a freelance writer I could create content on the art of writing. However this would not win me any new clients. My clients are not interested in learning how to write better. But they would be interested in how to use content marketing to grow their business.
Create content for your audience not your peers.
But how well do you know your audience?
Get to know everything you can about your audience:
- Their demographics
- Where they hang out
- What their needs are
- What their values are
- What words and phrases they like to use
- What makes them happy
- What makes them frustrated
You can find out what you need to know using the following methods.
- Go to forums relevant to your niche
- Search under your keywords in Quora and Yahoo Answers
- Search under your keywords on social media
- Invite visitors to your website to fill in a survey
- Study the blogs and magazines they read
- Meet them in real life by attending relevant events
Choose a topic which is relevant and useful
The secret of effective content marketing lies in creating content which is relevant and useful to your audience.
The more relevant and useful your content is, the more engaged your audience is and the more they will trust you.
To optimize your conversions you should pick interesting topics that address your audience’s pain points and allow you to demonstrate your expertise.
This is where your knowledge of your audience comes in. After doing your research, you should have a clear idea of what their needs are.
Which of those needs can you fulfil? Those would make great topics for your content.
It’s often effective to be highly targeted with your content. For example, an article about social media strategies will have a broad appeal, but the topic is too general to really engage people. Now an article about social media strategies for solo entrepreneurs might turn off a section of readers, but the ones to whom it applies will be highly engaged.
Remember, engagement leads to conversions.
Write a captivating headline
In content marketing, the headline is king. No matter how amazing your content is, now one is going to read it if they’re not immediately captivated by your headline.
According to Peter Koechley of Upworthy, switching from a bad headline to a good headline can produce as much as a 500% increase in traffic.
Headline writing is as much a science as it is an art. The attention grabbing headlines you see on the covers of Cosmopolitan Magazine or Buzzfeed are based on established formulas. These formulas were thought up by old school copywriting legends like Eugene Schwartz and David Ogilvy. They have proven their worth time and time again for more than 50 years.
Remember, your headline has one purpose: to capture your reader’s attention so that they want to read your content.
So how can you get your reader hooked?
Simple. Promise them a benefit.
“The headlines which work best are those that promise the reader a benefit.”
— David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising
Now going back to Buzzfeed. This website lives or dies by its headlines. So why not use it for inspiration.
Now let’s say you run a website that offers social media marketing services. Can you repurpose some of these Buzzfeed headlines to write an attention grabbing headline that promises a benefit?
You certainly can.
“8 Brilliant Ideas for Throwing An Autumn Barbecue” becomes “8 Brilliant Ideas for Social Media Marketing”.
“21 Hilarious Tweets That Perfectly Capture Your Feelings About Dating” becomes “21 Inspirational Tweets That Perfectly Capture How You Should be Using Twitter”.
“24 Secrets River Island Staff Will Never Tell You” becomes “24 Secrets Social Media Experts Will Never Tell You”.
Hook them with your opening
Ok, you’ve captured your reader’s attention with your headline. You’re not home and dry yet. Not by a long shot.
People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. According to scientists, our average attention span is now 8 seconds. For goldfish, it’s 9 seconds.
What does that mean to you?
It means you need to hook your reader from your first sentence. You need to make them interested in what you have to say. If you don’t they’ll just wander off and watch some videos of skateboarding dogs. Or something.
Here are some great ways of starting your blog posts with a bang;
- Ask a question. If you ask a question, you’ll get your reader thinking. Thinking means engagement. That’s a good thing.
- Drop a shocking statistic. Don’t use a statistic that your audience will be familiar with. Hit them from left field. Make them go “Wow, I didn’t know that!”
- Describe a problem. Go straight into the problem your content will be addressing. Don’t just define the problem. Go deep. Lay out the pain that the problem is causing. More about this later.
Build a Connection
Content marketing is about relationship building. You produce content to build a connection with your audience, which in time leads to a sale.
To build a relationship, you must establish rapport. Now if you’ve done your homework from the “know your audience” section you should have some idea of the values and interests of your audience. Your content should be congruent with those values and interests.
For example if your target audience is solo entrepreneurs, they may prioritize saving money over saving time. For an audience of marketing executives, saving time may be more important than saving money.
Another key factor is the language that you use. Study the words and phrases that your audience uses when discussing topics related to your business. Use the same words and phrases in your content. You can go further. If your audience demographic is interested in certain aspects of popular culture, you can refer to these to spice up your content.
Once you show your audience that you understand how they think, and how they feel, they will start to trust you. And this is so important in business.
Be genuinely helpful
Building rapport is great. But you need to show you can provide value to your audience. If you can’t, why should they buy your products and services? That’s why your content must be helpful. If a reader finds your content to be helpful, they will be confident that purchasing your products or services will benefit them so much more.
Your content can be helpful in the following ways:
- Solve a problem. You provide a solution to a common problem your audience is facing. To give the most value, you should provide actionable steps that your audience can take. When they act on your advice and it works, they’ll be eager for more. However, you don’t have to tell them everything they need to know. You can hold something back which will be revealed in your paid products and services.
- Educate your readers. As experts in your niche, you’re in a position to teach your audience about niche topics. If you establish a teacher-student relationship with your audience, you’ll be in a position of authority and trust. But remember to use their language. Never use jargon that they won’t understand. And be humble. No one likes arrogance.
- Give an informed opinion. In many niches there’s an abundance of advice, many of it conflicting. Your audience is likely confused as to which option to take. They might be spending hours on the internet trying to find an answer. What WordPress SEO plugin is the best? Is cardio or strength training better for weight loss? Clear up your audience’s confusion and demonstrate your expertise. You’ll win a few new fans in the process.
No matter how rational your audience is, their emotions still exert a huge influence over their decision-making process. Analysis of data from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising revealed that adverts with emotional content performed almost twice as well as those with purely rational content (31% effectiveness vs 16% effectiveness).
For our purposes emotions can be broadly divided into two categories:
- Positive emotions. Joy, happiness, satisfaction.
- Negative emotions. Fear, frustration, anxiety.
In general, evoking positive emotions is going to reap the greatest rewards in content marketing. As Psychology Today reports, studies show that positive emotions regarding a brand have far greater effect on consumer loyalty than any other factor.
You can evoke positive emotions by:
- Using a lively, optimistic writing voice.
- Encouraging your audience to achieve their goals.
- Sharing inspirational success stories.
Now this is not to say that evoking negative emotions is necessarily bad. You just need to be strategic about it. Copywriters have long harnessed negative emotions to sell using the Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) formula.
It works like this:
- Problem. Identify your audience’s pain point. For example, say your audience wants more traffic to their website.
- Agitate. Rub it in a bit. So your audience has low traffic to their website. Describe their feelings of frustration. Describe their anxiety that they’re never going to succeed.
- Solve. Now you’ve really amped up your audience’s desire to find a solution to their problem. At this point, you reveal that you’re going to share your special marketing strategies that will skyrocket their traffic.
Make a compelling offer
Through using the tactics we’ve outlined, you’ve built a connection with your audience, helped them with their problem, and even got them a little bit emotional.
You have an audience which is highly engaged with your content.
Now it’s time for you to convert them into sales leads.
To do this, make them an offer. This could be:
- Subscribe to your newsletter.
- Download your ebook.
- Sign up to your webinar.
- Purchase your products or services.
The copy that introduces your offer is the call to action. Your call to action should be placed at one or more prominent positions on your website:
- On your home page.
- At the top of your sidebar.
- At the end of your blog posts.
- On pop-ups.
To make your offer truly compelling, you should try and incorporate the following:
- Outline benefits. Clearly state the benefits your audience will gain from your offer.
- Emphasise uniqueness. Are you offering something that your competitors aren’t? This could be the nature of your product, or it could be your unique approach.
- Inspire confidence. Use social proof by citing testimonials from satisfied customers.
- Use figures. Figures lend credibility. It could be the number of subscribers you have, or statistics that demonstrate the effectiveness of your methods.
It’s all about the journey
Content marketing is all about taking your audience on a journey. You attract their attention, hook them, build a connection, and make your offer.
At every stage in the journey, you should be increasing the audience’s engagement with your brand.
So when you finally make your offer, how can they possibly resist?
Extra bonus: I’ve created a handy “Create Content that Converts Like Crazy Checklist” specially for Jeff Bullas readers. To download it now, click here.
Guest author: Clement Lim is a freelance copywriter and content marketer specialising in B2B and legal niches. When he’s not creating thrilling content he enjoys drinking green tea and doing handstand pushups. Find out how he can help your business grow at limwriter.com.
In theory, more followers means more eyes on your content…
But savvy marketers know that doesn’t always work out. To be effective, you need engaged followers, people who are so interested in your content they will read it, comment, and share with their audience.
In other words:
It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean.
To get your boat a’rockin, you need to build an engaged audience. Fortunately, people on social media self-identify, and you can harness that.
Finding your audience
Each social media channel has tools and methods you can use to identify interested people. If you follow them, and they are interested, chances are pretty good they will follow you back.
Here are some tools and tactics to speed up the discovery process by social media channel.
You can follow 1000 people per day, but how? Twitter has its own search tool that I never found particularly useful, so I turn to online tools.
One easy and effective answer is Socedo.com. I used the Socedo app to run an experiment for a post I wrote here on Jeff’s blog.
On Monday morning, I set up an autoDM response, chose keywords that identify my ideal audience, and approved the 250 recommendations generated by the app. It took less than 5 minutes. The result was 40 extra new followers in one day.
Even more interesting was the response to the autoDM.
[First_Name], just wanted to say hi and thanks for connecting. If you’re interested in content marketing, here’s one of my recent posts, “7 Tactics to Write Quality Content Your Audience Will Love”
I chose that post because it’s been up for a while and not getting a lot of attention.
Here are screenshots from Monday morning and Tuesday morning.
That’s 2,955 tweets on Monday, and 2,979 tweets just 24 hours later.
Mock autoDMs all you want (we all hate them), but that’s a nice spike on a post that’s two months old… 24 tweets from 40 new followers is better than a 50% conversion rate!
Another really simple way to find and engage new followers is through Twitter chats. Active participation in industry-related hashtags not only allows you to communicate directly with people who might not otherwise respond to you (influencers with large followings), but you can also observe who responds to others. The people who retweet and respond to industry influencers are your people.
Don’t be shy. Show your expertise and avoid cliches. Then followup the next day with a clever comment, and join the chat again next week. Don’t worry if you seem to be talking to yourself at first, they’ll warm up if you join conversations.
Be sure to keep an eye on your Twitter Analytics. You can learn all kinds of cool stuff about who your most engaged followers are and what your most popular tweets include.
Scaling it back
To keep up your follow count, you have to keep up on your ratio. There are many tools online to help you manage your followers. I use Crowdfireapp.com to weed out inactive accounts and unfollow people who don’t follow me back (after a proper grace period).
Facebook has advanced search tools built into its program. Enter a keyword in the search field and you’ll get a wide range of results: People with your keyword in their profile descriptions, professional and business pages, groups, events, and even videos and photos about the subject.
Promoting your business on Facebook is tricky. While you can connect directly via a personal page, you’re limited to enticing people to follow a business/professional page. Depending on your industry, one good way to build an audience is to let your people be the face of the business. Paid promotions can help you get noticed, but nothing beats personal engagement.
You can really uber target ads and boosted posts, though. Get local by specifying country, state/province, city, and language, then specify age, sex, and interests.
Target got my attention recently by featuring items I’d left in an abandoned shopping cart. Brilliant!
And also effective; I went back and finished my order.
To analyze and optimize your page impact, Facebook offers Insights, a collection of reports that shows you such things as who your followers are, where they are located, and what they respond to.
Linkedin is the go-to social site for B2B, and just like the other sites, the key is engagement.
In 50 Ways To Get More Linkedin Page Followers, Jayson DeMers says “Growing your LinkedIn presence all comes down to two main strategies: promoting your page and producing engaging content that drives shares and increases your visibility.”
The same advice holds true for all social media sites. Even if you’re writing a simple tweet, make it a good one. Find ways to promote your content without repeating the same post over and over – choose bullet points from the post or report, ask a question, use a different graphic.
Ground floor video opportunities
The live-streaming trend is blazing hot right now, and it’s still early enough to grab a big share of the audience. Pick your poison: Meerkat, Periscope, and Blab are all gaining traction. Just remember, trends come and go, and audiences are fickle. Don’t get too invested in any one social site that may not last. When was the last time someone mentioned Vine?
Got the hang of if? Good.
By this point, you have figured out that you can’t just build it and they will come. You have to search for your followers, reach out, and give them a reason to follow you. No matter what social media site you’re targeting, your content has to be on point, your bio has to be interesting, and you have to interact quickly and cleverly.
Tips on improving your social media strategies
Beef up your bio
Consider your profile bio a personal ad for social media sites. It helps people find you and influences them to follow you. Use searchable keywords and make it interesting. It doesn’t have to be a dry list of qualifications. Include some personal details and make it personable. You can fit a surprising amount of information in a short paragraph.
In order: @morgancarrie, @MarcGuberti, @MrRyanConnors, @HillaryClinton
Show some love
Here’s the part a lot of businesses don’t seem to get. The more you spread the love, the more you get in return. It’s a little bit thrilling when a big name or a brand with a ton of followers responds or retweets an ordinary person.
Brands that really engage in conversations and reshares tend to be talked about and written about. My current favorite social media account is @Applebees, and not just because they tweet mouthwatering bacon cheeseburger pictures at me. Their social media team is clever, responsive, and funny.
Lure targeted followers (AKA inbound marketing)
Targeting people on social media isn’t always about finding them. It can be about helping them find you. The same tactics used for linkbuilding can be effective for audience building. I do a lot of blogging on high traffic sites (like this one, for example), and each one has a bio with my contact information.
It’s a win-win. I write about what I know best – writing, social media, marketing, and all things associated. People who read it and like what I have to say connect with me… and that grows my audience.
It has other perks as well. You build authority by sharing your knowledge, make friends in the blogging world who are likely to help spread your fame and put your name in front of a targeted group of dedicated readers. All very worthy goals.
Deliver the goodness
Building a targeted audience becomes easier over time. The more exposure you have, the more people find you, it’s a natural progression. That doesn’t mean you get to relax. Instead, you should turn up the heat. Your goal is not only to find a new targeted audience, it’s to provide the content that keeps them interested.
As you get to know your audience, you can better understand what makes them tick. What content they are most likely to read and share, what they want to know from you, and where to find them.
Targeting your social media audience is all about answering their needs, sparking their interest, and being a resource they can count on. When you engage enthusiastic followers, they are all too happy to help you spread the word – and your fame.
Guest Author: Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, FL, currently suffering the burbs of Orlando. She’s a science geek, a business and marketing writer, and an unapologetic fan of all things bacon. Connect with Sherry on Twitter@sherisaid or on Linkedin.
If the music industry can survive free streaming and downloads, then the advertising industry can overcome ad blocking.
Since Apple announced in June that users will easily be able to install ad blockers on phones that support iOS 9, there has been a frenzy of articles predicting the demise of online advertising. What’s more, PageFair and Adobe reported that in the past year the number of people downloading ad blocking software has grown 41% globally and 48% in the United States.
Why do users block ads?
In addition to privacy concerns, it’s mostly to stop those blinking banner ads and pesky pop-ups that make it more difficult for users to access content. Meaning, if ad blocking is the weapon of choice in the public’s battle for less intrusive ads, then it’s time publishers make their way to the negotiation table and appease the public’s demands.
How to do it?
Well, the best way is to enhance the user experience by implementing native, engaging, and interactive ads that complement the context of the web page.
Let’s take a deeper look.
Interactive online quizzes are the #1 way to draw users in
If you don’t know which pop star should be your best friend, or which 2000′s rapper you are, then you’re somehow the only person who’s been able to evade these addictive personality quizzes.
If publishers were able to harness the interactivity of online quizzes, think of the advantages it would bring to advertising. It’s an incredible way to engage users and keep their attention focused on your ad, especially if you can tailor the advertisement to match the content of the site (which I’ll get to in a bit).
I can’t tell you how easy it is to get distracted by a quiz titled “What Did Celebs Do Before Fame?” on the bottom of an article about Kim Kardashian’s most recent stunt. Suddenly, you look up from your computer and realize you spent 15 minutes contemplating Kim’s childhood. (We both know this has happened to you too, but don’t worry, your secret Kardashian obsession is safe with me.)
Here are 4 reasons why online quizzes are your answer to digital ad blockers.
1. They’re not just for millennials
In 2013, the New York Times reported that their most visited piece of content that year was the interactive quiz “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk.” And, it was published on December 21, with just a week left until the end of year! Meaning, online quizzes are not just directed towards and consumed by millennials – there’s an increasing fascination with online quizzes in all generations.
2. The brain is wired to love them
There’s a whole psychology behind the addictiveness of online quizzes. Not only is it an easy way to distract yourself from reality, but it also brings out two inherent characteristics in all of us: narcissism and competition.
Essentially, it gives us a chance to prove to ourselves how great we are, how smart we are, or how much we know about a specific topic of interest. If you’ve taken a psychology class in college, you’d know that this is simply a part of the human condition. It’s not saying that we’re especially narcissistic, but everyone needs a bit of self-validation – and online quizzes provide a harmless way to relieve this desire.
In addition to feeding our inner narcissism and competitiveness, people continue to engage with interactive advertisements because the brain thrives on learning new things. Whether you realize it or not, each new tidbit you learn gives you a rush of motivation to learn more. This is because it makes you anticipate a reward.
It’s similar to starting a new level on a video game and continuing on in the hopes of gaining more points or unlocking some other achievement. In fact, there’s a whole region of our brain dedicated to novelty and new things!
3. Clicks come from context
The success is in the numbers. For example, Carwow, a website that helps people choose their perfect car, created “The World’s Hardest Car Quiz.”
It’s been taken more than 215,000 times and of course drove insane traffic to the site.
The takeaway: context is key.
This is because Carwow, knowing their target audience, was able to tap into the internet’s car-enthusiast community and successfully engage them.
Now, imagine if this quiz were an advertisement. Because it’s extremely relevant, it’d receive an incredible amount of clicks and create tons of revenue for both the publisher and the advertiser.
4. They’re never ending
The great thing about tapping into human addiction, is that once you’ve got them, they’re hooked. Unlike still advertisements that don’t offer anything else besides a redirection to a destination site, interactive advertisements can go on repeat forever.
Once you’ve finished one quiz, publishers are ready to serve you three more based on the interests you’ve already shared with them. The idea, of course, is to focus your attention on their interactive ad and keep you coming back for more, hoping to keep you on the site as long as possible. The chance of you interacting and engaging with them is higher than it ever would be than with a blinking advertisement you frustratingly scroll past.
Essentially, if publishers were to capitalize on advertisements that enhance user experience and play to the psychology of the brain, they’d be able to successfully tackle this impending ad blocking problem the internet is facing. Like I mentioned previously, it’s time for publishers to wake up and realize that shoving intrusive advertisements down users’ throats is no longer feasible in today’s culture. If publishers want to gain users’ trust again, they need to make advertisements entertaining, engaging, and less intrusive.
Of course, online quizzes aren’t the only type of interactive advertisements that can successfully engage users. There’s also quotes, biographies, facts, polls, and tons of other examples. And these types of advertisements can be just as engaging and addictive as online quizzes and provide similar amounts of traffic and revenue for publishers.
I’m not sure about you, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this ad blocking story unfolds.
Guest Author: Rony Donio is Head of Content at Carambola, an interactive content platform that boosts engagement and generates new revenue streams for premium publishers.
Marketing today is a new game.
The “Mad Men” of the Madison avenue era of wine, whisky and women as inspiration, are now a distant but fond memory. But as much as the new dawn of digital and the rise of the social web have changed the landscape, some things have stayed the same.
Memorable and congruent branding, creative content creation and knowing and understanding your target audience are still marketing 101. The hard nosed conversion tactics and principles of the direct mail experts from the 20th century are also a skill set worth embracing and polishing.
The social web marketing tactics, new media and digital marketing automation are all new skills, concepts and technologies that we need to understand and learn. I know that hurts. And you thought when you left college or university those exams and learning were all over.
But staying in your comfort zone is not an option in a digital world.
As marketers we need to be reinventing ourselves. It is a revolution, not an evolution and ignorance is not bliss but a road to extinction. Who thought a mobile app (Uber) would destroy the taxi industry. Or a computer company (Apple) would disrupt the music business.
We need to be nimble, agile and dedicated to a lifetime of learning and innovation. Much of the past we have to leave behind.
Why I wish I had a Neuralyzer
In the Men in Black movies, Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent Jay (Will Smith) are the guardians of all things alien. One of the tools at their disposal is the Neuralyzer. It is one of the signature tools. It is a device about the size of an average cigar tube that gives a bright flash which erases the memories of the past.
For many traditional marketers and business people there is a lot of unlearning to do. Erasing bad old habits is essential.
But for many, the old habits die hard and mass media marketing that was so effective in the past is losing its traction as the new connected generation switches off the remote and junks the letterbox contents.
They aren’t watching TV, but YouTube. No more sitting down to watch the weekly shows, but scanning Facebook on their smart phone. It is the new way to kill time!
John Maynard Keynes insight many years ago, which summed up the challenge for businesses in the 20th century, is more relevant today than when it was first uttered.
“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones“
It’s time to get rid of the old marketing practices that no longer work and step into the new world.
It’s time to use the Neuralyzer.
The challenges for marketers
Once you step into the digital marketing maelstrom, you will be confronted with terms and words like SEO, long tail, inbound links, list building, optimization, CRO, conversion, retargeting… and the list goes on.
You will not only need to know the “what” but the “how” for all these new marketing tactics.
But there are some other challenges. Here are 8 as ranked by Hubspot in its latest “State of Inbound Marketing 2015”
Technology is ranked as the third biggest challenge. But you will also need to integrate technology into your digital marketing manager skill set. To cap it all off you need to find someone who understands and has the capabilities.
Some more questions
So you know what is needed but now you need to find the resources that you can trust. These are some of the questions that burn in many marketers minds.
- Who can I use that understands and executes paid Facebook advertising without wasting my limited budget.
- Who is an SEO expert I can trust?
- Where can I find a switched on “data scientist” that will improve my landing page conversion rate.
It used to be easy before when you just handed your marketing dollars over to the advertising agency.
Digital marketing is not just about challenges but opportunities. In fact, the opportunities are staggering… should you roll up your sleeves and go for it. In traditional industries the upside is huge as they are the most ripe to be disrupted by someone who “gets” digital.
So what are the advantages digital marketing can provide?
- The ability to reach a much bigger market by moving from local thinking to global.
- Scaling and amplifying your efforts with technology
- Measurable results from data that reveals what works and what doesn’t
- Free crowd sourced social media brand content that amplifies your marketing for free
These are just some of the opportunities that the mobile and the social web allow.
Some digital marketing facts
Digital marketing is many moving parts and here are some facts worth contemplating.
- Budgets are doubling for social
- Email with sharing buttons increases click through rates by 158%
- Today 50% of companies have content marketing strategies
The digital marketing trends
So what are the digital marketing trends that could destroy your business if you don’t start now? You can be sure that your savvy competitors will be getting in on the digital action! So it’s time to beat them to the punch.
And you can’t ignore the looming reality that the new start-ups will also disrupt.
1. The focus on “Return on Investment”
The shiny new toy is just another toy.
When social media started to be recognised as not just a plaything for teenagers, the marketers started piling in. They realized that it was free marketing driven by the global online crowd. Facebook “likes” were the new gold rush. For the last 7 years the shiny new social media toy has distracted us. We have talked about trust, engagement and other fluffy metrics.
Vanity metrics blinded our common sense.
Social media is now to be treated as just another digital channel. The reality has set in and the question is being asked “What is the return on investment”. The CEO is saying “Show me the sales”.
Social media is great for traffic, brand awareness and customer engagement but as you move down the sales funnel the other digital marketing tactics are vital. Landing pages that convert and an email list that gives you control of customer contact.
No longer can you rely on Facebook to provide free traffic to your website or blog. It’s become just another paid advertising channel.
It’s time to stop chasing every new social media distraction. It’s time to get serious and focus on what matters. Moving beyond vanity metrics like traffic, likes and sharing to the sharp end of the sales funnel. Return on investment.
2. The continuing rise in the importance of digital assets
In the past advertising was just seen as an expense.
But in the new age of digital it should be seen more as an investment in the future of your online authority. It is an asset build. Advertisements that had a lifetime of 30 seconds and never to be seen again and cost hundreds of thousands are being added to and even replaced by online videos that can be viewed this year and into the future.
This new media is indexed by Google and shared on Facebook and Twitter. They are searchable now and will be found on the web in a decade. Media creation is a digital content asset that provides brand value now and will keep giving. In 10 years the content you created today will be found in a Google search.
Digital content assets
Your website is your most important digital asset. Its the one you own and have the most control over. Google, Facebook or Twitter don’t have control here. But a website should be a living, breathing and evolving honeypot that keeps bring people back to read and view. For most sites the blog is or should be the content hub.
Search engine assets
Below is one of my search assets. Ranking position one and two on a Google search for “social media facts”. This brings in about 30,000 visitors a month. But it does take time and persistence. Keep in mind that organic search rankings can bring in 300% more traffic than social.
That surprised you!
The new age marketers that win will be the ones with the greatest and best content and will also know how to make it flow across the web and optimized for discovery. They will understand the power of content “marketing”.
Social media assets
Another digital asset are your tribes on social media.
You may have the content but do you have the crowd to distribute it? That is why growing and investing in your social network following is a long term game.
I have been investing in building my Twitter tribe for years!
Investing in growing your digital assets is vital and content is the foundation.
The mantra of “think like a publisher” have been embraced by brands like Red Bull, Coca Cola and Lego. You need to be investing in your digital content assets and global distribution networks.
3. Thinking global instead of local
You competition is no longer just local.
Amazon is the global competitor for the corner book store and much more. Online stores that are owned by corporations in London are selling to your customers in New York, Los Angeles or even Sydney.
Small thinking needs to be discarded.
The world can now be reached with a tweet, an email or a blog post that is shared on social.
4. Crowd sourced brand content is essential
Coca Cola decided to re-invent and pivot its marketing philosophy from creative excellence to content marketing excellence when it discovered an essential truth about the digital world. That your customers and fans could create many more stories, content and conversations about your brand than they could ever hope to build or buy on their own.
Scaling content on your own is expensive and hard to do.
In some recent research Onalytica discovered that just on YouTube alone that brand fans were creating 99% of the content that mentioned the brand. Discover how to do that well and you are on your way to earning that free attention that companies crave.
At the annual Minecraft conferences the young fans are not provided free workshops on how to play Minecraft but on “Video Creation 101″.
What will they do when they go back home?
Create videos about Minecraft. Almost all the videos on YouTube about Minecraft were created by young passionate Minecraft fans.
Minecraft hardly spends a cent on traditional advertising. But why should they when they know how the social web works. They generate 2.4 billion video views a month on YouTube with content marketing created by their fans. All they had to do was train them on video making.
5. The rise of the robots
Marketing was just an art.
Now it is being amplified and optimized by technology and science. Human intuition and creativity is being enhanced by data. The splintering of media means that to do digital marketing at scale you need help. Digital marketing platforms provide automation tools that allow you to publish and market at scale.
- Email: Automated email sequences can be designed to run from opt-in to purchase without human intervention.
- Social: Tweets and Facebook posts that were all done by hand are now loaded, scheduled and automated.
- Paid Digital Advertising: Knowing what works and what doesn’t makes sure that we are spending our Facebook marketing dollars on the right creative, approaching the correct target audiences and identifying the calls to action that work best.
Marketing effectiveness is also able to be measured for impressions, engagement and clicks. We now have the ability to measure almost any data point. The old marketing joke attributed to John Wanamaker over a century ago will become a relic of the past
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.“
Measurement is what the digital world excels at. But you need to know what to measure and the digital tools to do it.
6. Email is alive and kicking
Email is still a digital trend that isn’t going away.
The rise of social media and all those multiple messaging apps (Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, Viber and much more) have lead many people to question the future of email. But it will not be going away anytime soon. It is still the default business communication tool.
Stewart Butterfield, the founder of Slack – a chatroom app for teams in workplaces says this about email.
“The reason email survives – even though everyone seems to hate it – is that “email has many benefits, it’s the lowest common denominator for official communications”. To those that expect email to disappear….wait another 30 years!
For marketers, email will continue to be the key communication channel for acquiring leads and customers.
The money is indeed in the list.
7. Personalisation has arrived
Relevance is key to catching and holding attention offline and online. Delivering content that engages and sells means tagging customers interests as they discover you and subscribe to your email list.
There are now a variety of digital marketing technologies from email to marketing software that are now available that can provide personalized marketing. They are also within the resources and reach of most businesses. They will allow you to do personalisation at scale.
8. The data scientist is your next hire
In the past direct mail, print and mass media were your only option. Experience, skill and intuition were the marketers only friends to achieve optimal results. Today there is a new and vital component.
The web now provides us with the data we need to determine what works and what doesn’t. The guesswork is disappearing. A/B split testing can be automated (eg Leadpages.net allows this with their template landing pages). The new emerging media sites like Buzzfeed, Viral Nova and Upworthy’s success is not from just creative excellence but data driven decisions.
So believe the data ….not your intuition.
9. Mobile is now your first screen
Mobile was called the second screen but that has been flipped. It is now the primary screen for most.
You only have to look at where most of Facebook’s revenue comes from (over 75% is from mobile advertising) and it becomes clear that smart phones should be a big part of the marketers focus.
Mobile raises the challenge of “less is more”. You cannot do everything on mobile so you have to do what matters. So what is that?
- Capturing email leads via mobile (see image above)
- Easy to read and view content on mobile
- Calls to action that are easy to use
- Contact details that don’t require finger dancing
Keep in mind that as you move from local to global that most of the 3 billion new internet users coming online in the next 5 years will be accessing your website via a smartphone
10. Powerful digital platforms for all business
As the cost of technology drops, the access to powerful software that was only in the past accessible by the big end of town has become a reality for all.
What are those platforms?
They are customer CRM and digital marketing automation software such as Infusionsoft, Ontraport, Hubspot and Marketo and many more. Once they have been acquired by the business the next challenge is learning how to use them.
11. The rise and rise of paid social media advertising
Social media was free.
That is what attracted me and many marketers 7 years ago. But things have changed. Facebook has wound it’s organic reach for pages back to almost zero. Want to reach your Facebook fans?
Its pay to play.
All social networks are now in this game and as social media has become just another media channel that reality is not going away. You are going to need to adapt.
Facebook makes big money from this in 2015. But if you are paying you need to make sure you are measuring the results. You don’t want to be spending $100 in advertising every day and only making $50 in profit. Don’t pay for traffic until you know what it produces.
That is why advertising on the web and a data scientist are a match made in heaven.
12. Influencer marketing takes off
Nike pays Tiger Woods and many other athletes for one thing. Helping them reach the right audience.
Online influencers and niche bloggers now offer this for brands to reach targeted global audiences. They offer not only global reach but credibility and trust. Companies are now willing to pay for that attention.
A recent report from Group High reveals that influencer marketing is no longer a freebie but often requires a paid investment.
13. Virtual reality is real
It’s still early days but the rapid evolution of virtual reality and the big investment by players such as Google and Facebook with its Occulus Rift acquisition for $2 billion is setting the stage for immersive marketing.
Marketing webinars that educate while wearing a virtual reality headset will have incredible engagement capabilities.
14. Wearable technology takes its first steps
Do you wear a Apple watch? Have you been reminded to stand to reach your standing goal several times during the day as it vibrates gently on your wrist. As the web becomes noisier and more crowded the use of wearable technology by marketers will be tested.
Standing out will become even harder and marketers will need to find different ways of communicating with potential customers that work.
15. Mobile apps for all business
In the past the cost of developing an app was high.
Today the costs are plummeting as the technology has improved. The domination of the web by mobile will lead to companies realizing that an app is no longer an option but a necessity.
What about you?
What digital marketing trends have you adopted? Has it made a difference. What technology are you thinking of implementing? What do you think is the most important trend that will disrupt your industry?
Look forward to reading your insights and experiences in the comments below.
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