By Joe Jones - Meet the Team
Digital marketing is huge. When you talk about the concept of digital marketing, you are talking about everything from Pay-Per-Click banner advertisements to loyalty programs. From the top of the funnel to the bottom. From social media to secure applications, from inbound to outbound, and everything in between. When you start digital marketing, you dive into a sea of promotions and non-promotional content the likes of which the world has never seen before. And every year the sea gets bigger.
This is competition, content creation, and the constant struggle for search engine relevance. Many companies would do almost anything to land a place on the first Google results page, while others barely tried because existing customers carried them there. Swimming in the sea of digital marketing, you learn some things, and not always what you'd expect. In the tides and popular currents of ‘how-tos’ and best practices, we've picked up a few unusual tips that are worth sharing. Here are the first seven. Don't be surprised if we come back with more gems after another deep-sea dive or two into the depths.
The first piece of advice we've learned from the vast world of digital marketing is that there is not nearly enough originality out there. Time and time again, you see companies essentially cloning (and sometimes actually cloning) each other's content because they want to use 'what works'. However, when a potential customer types in something like "Road Trip Tips" and gets the same article five times over, what do you think happens? They're not impressed with any of the five companies offering clone articles.
If a conversion comes from a search full of clone answers, it's likely to be the one brand that stands out and offers some interesting, unique suggestions that are at once helpful and haven't been printed on the internet eight dozen times already.
So, the next time you're deciding what kind of content your blog needs, look at your competitors. Check out what's working for them, but don't clone it. Challenge yourself. Come up with something original, punchy, and better than what your competitors have to offer. Clones won't get you where you want to go.
Another thing we've learned out in the digital wild is that a lot of brands seem to think it's appropriate to insult their leads. Or, more to the point, their non-leads. It always goes the same way. A large colourful rectangle takes over your screen and asks if you'd like to download a whitepaper, sign up for a newsletter, or get a discount. And there are two buttons you can click. One of them says something like:
"Sign me up! I want to make more money!" or
"Yeah! I love to learn new things!"
And that's great. But what if you don't want to sign up or aren't ready to commit yet?
Unfortunately, the second option and the only way to dismiss the popup without entering an email address says something like:
"No thanks. I hate making money" or
"No way. Learning is totally lame" or
"No, my clients don't need quality service"
What kind of message are these brands sending? They're not only telling people who aren't ready to convert that they are making the wrong choice, but they are also forcing every non-converting visitor to claim that they are losers. This is not a good way to get return readers and many people who may have converted will be put off by the unexpected and quite frankly aggressive negativity.
There are much better ways to use this structure of lead qualification, like to amuse your non-leads and subtly invite them to return. You can even use it as a survey with three options like:
"Yes please! Teach me how to be an expert!"
"No thanks, I already know everything"
"Not right now, but.... I'll Be Back"
This way, you not only get a laugh from everyone who reads the options, but allows you to qualify your leads, and get some info on how many people are browsing today who might convert tomorrow.
When most people think of their brand, they think of a logo, a color scheme, an industry, and a reputation you want to build. However, your brand is about more, and your audience is going to see that. Your brand has a personality that’s made up of your company culture and the decisions you make when building your marketing campaign. It helps to look at the situation from the outside, so try thinking about the personalities of other brands you know.
Some brands are more serious than others while some have a distinct sense of humour. You can see it in the colour choice, the font used for promotional material, the tone of customer service messages and in the eyes of employee profile photos. This is true about your company as well. What personality does your brand have? Decide to work with it and play up your brand's personality or to change what you can. But whatever you do, don't accidentally build a campaign that clashes with your brand’s personality.
Have you noticed how the term-acronym "SEO" has transformed meanings in the last two years? SEO used to mean a special way you write and edit content to make it more appealing for search engine crawlers. But slowly (from a marketing perspective) it grew to mean anything you could do to improve your website's ranking in user search engine results.
Linguistically, this is only right because SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Therefore, anything you can do to optimize your search engine results is officially SEO. However, we need a new word now for SEO content writing. Currently, the best candidate is "SEO Copywriting" but not everyone uses this term yet.
The problem is that in the current half-transformed usage, you never know if someone who needs "SEO" is asking for content creation and editing, or an entire digital marketing campaign built around winning page position. Know when you want an SEO-driven digital marketing campaign and when you're specifically asking for SEO copywriting. You'll see results and every other professional caught in the transition will appreciate your clarity.
Out in the blogosphere, there are certain tried and true types of article you can write. Your 'How-Tos', '10 Tips', ‘Dos and Don’ts’, ‘10 Benefits of’ and of course your ‘Mistakes to Avoid’. This last one seems to be particularly challenging for many marketing content writers. The Mistakes to Avoid article type is an incredibly useful configuration and it tends to catch the eye of readers because it sparks their curiosity. On subjects that seem mundane on the surface, you can't help but wonder "How has someone else fouled that up?” and “Could I make that mistake by underestimating this topic?"
After inspiring both worry and curiosity, you don't want to let your readers down. So, it is your duty as a content writer to find some really interesting or forehead-slapping examples of what not to do. Here's the mistake: having your points really be things the reader should do.
Five House Hunting Mistakes to Avoid:
See the problem? Not only does this configuration have every one of your headers starting with the same word, but it also fails to put any effort into finding real mistakes people make. And at being flexible with the language. Here's how you could write the same article with a little creativity, pizazz, and rewarding lessons.
Five House Hunting Mistakes to Avoid
See the difference? In the first example, many of your viewers will quickly click away because the article is clearly just a half-inversion of a best-practices article. In the second, readers nod along because they can see themselves making these mistakes. Even though the points are exactly the same.
This is for any marketer out there who's been asked by a client to write highly in-depth industry content. It is possible with enough research and reading first-hand accounts from entrenched industry experts. But what takes you three hours to many weeks of scouring the internet becoming a vicarious expert, could be easily replaced by 10 to 30 minutes talking with your client who is the actual expert.
But of course, it's not marketers who need to know this, it's your clients. Here's the thing: your clients aren't the content creation experts, you are. But they're the experts on the content you need to create. Therefore, only by collaboration will you come out with truly top-notch content. If you're planning to write more than a few pieces for a client, and especially if you are their regular content creator, consider having lunch or a casual meeting with your client once a week. Just to get their view on things.
In order to capture their voice, brand, and the practices they will be using with customers, you also need to understand the "little" things like your client's opinions on current industry practices. Get them to open up and share their expertise, because their expertise is what you're selling.
Finally, whatever you’re celebrating, remember that your audience wants to celebrate with you! Before you brush this off as a cliché, stop and realize how powerful a marketing tool this is. If your business wins an award no one but your niche industry has heard of, announce it with joy and pride on your social media feed. If an employee gets a new puppy they won't stop talking about, post a series of pictures and feature the puppy story in your 'behind the scenes' blog series. Every trade show your business attends, every co-worker’s birthday. Keep the party rolling and (most) inbound marketing audiences will eat it up with a spoon because they love to join in on the happy moments of others.
Digital marketing is something you can start easily and for free but soon it will snowball into a task no one person can take on alone. That's why Symetric Productions is your Niagara full-service marketing agency for small to medium businesses. Working with us would mean reaping the benefits of our experienced and marketing team without pulling your own team away from what they do best: running your business. We've learned a lot about digital marketing in our years of experience, from best practices to common mistakes to avoid. Let us share that experience with you with our full-service marketing services. For more information, contact us today!