8 Must-Have Content Marketing Skills!

Content marketing skills are powerful, but only if done right.

It’s researching what your specific audience wants to know. It’s talking to them as a friend, in your own unique way and voice. It’s keeping up with current trends, so you can create valuable content that resonates with your audience. 

Follow along this blog and learn 8 skills to master and lift you to success in no time.

1. Research Your Audience

No matter how compelling your content is, you won’t convert anyone if you don’t know exactly who you’re speaking to.

For instance, look at this content from Pond King’s email campaign.

The email holds enticing promise to readers who want to purchase in the near future. But what makes it compelling isn’t fancy wording or clever phrases. It’s simply that we knew his audience’s pain and need before writing it.

When we are identifying our target customer’s pain we use these five powerful methods to dig up clues about our audience so we can find them a solution. Here are a 5 powerful ways to put on your detective’s cap and dig up clues about your audience:

  • Use Google Analytics to find out who’s visiting your website. Analytics gives you information like the names, ages, and genders of your site visitors.
  • Go on Answer The Public and research topics around your niche. What are people saying? What are their fears/desires/dreams? Reading what they talk about will help you understand them on a deeper level.
  • Take note of how users respond to your content. With a tool like Moz , you can learn how people are reacting to what you write. Analyze your top engaged posts and discover what made them appealing to your audience.
  • Ask your users through surveys (with incentives like free downloads – an e-book).
  • Engage with people in the comment section of your blog and social media. Listen to what they’re saying and respond personally and directly.

Remember, speaking to your audience should be like conversing with a friend. The better you know this friend, the more personal and appealing your message will be.

2. Become an Expert Interviewer

To write amazing content, you need to be an expert on your topic. When you master the art of conducting subject matter interviews, you can produce authority content even if you are not an expert in the niche you write in.

But you can’t just jump into an interview with an expert and ask any question that comes to your mind. Remember, the value of the information you get depends on the quality of your questions.

Here are 5 tips to make your interviews seamless.

  1. Be prepared. You don’t want to come to an interview with absolutely no idea on the topic. Rather, you want the interview to be a deep dive into the topic. So, before you start the interview, do as much research as you can. From your research, make a list of questions you can’t find the answers for online.
  2. Skip open-ended questions. You want your interviewee to gush over the topic. You want them to feel excited. To do that, intrigue them with unusual questions. For instance, instead of asking, “Is your product great?” you can ask, “Can you give me some facts most people don’t know about your product?”
  3. Bring your content outline with you when you interview. Asking a bunch of random, unrelated questions wastes time. To avoid this, base your questions on the outline you prepare for your content. This will help you ask specific, driven questions you can use in your writing. 
  4. Record your conversation. Later on, you’ll want to go back over the exact words your interviewee said during the interview. Then you can write notes later without disrupting the interview process.  If your interview is through zoom we love using Otter. It takes notes for you so you can save them for later and spend more time focusing on your content outlines.  
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If there’s something you don’t understand during the interview, ask! This can open doors for an even deeper dive into the topic.

When you approach interviews with a genuine passion for your topic, there’s nothing you can’t dig up from the experts’ knowledge banks.

3. Fine Tune Your Keywords

So, how do you choose keywords to use in your content? Keywords don’t only help you rank higher on Google, they act as the spine of your content. Keywords direct what you say and allow you to stay relevant with what people want to read.

  • Go for long-tail keywords. For example, instead of choosing “dress,” go for “Walt Disney princess dresses for kids.” Keywords like this help direct quality traffic to your site.
  • Choose low competition keywords. If you go for a keyword like “shoes,” you’ll find yourself up against content from huge brands like Adidas and Nike. As a rule of thumb, go for keywords with a score below 50.
  • It’s OK to select a keyword with low search volume. As long as there are people searching for this keyword, creating content around it will get you results.

To help you find the best keywords for your content, you can use tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush.

Did you know?

76% of marketers use organic traffic as a measure of content success

4. Planning and Time Management

So, how do you choose keywords to use in your content? Keywords don’t only help you rank higher on Google, they act as the spine of your content. Keywords direct what you say and allow you to stay relevant with what people want to read.

You don’t want to wake up one morning panicking because you have to produce content but have no idea what to write. To avoid this, create a content calendar.

With a content calendar, you’ll avoid problems like repetitive content and stay up-to-date with events like holidays and special occasions.

Always remember, to leave room for spontaneity. For example, if a relevant question from one of your followers suddenly pops up on your social feed, why not address it at length in a blog?

After you’ve solidified your idea and did your research next comes your outline. 

5. Creating Strategic Outlines

An outline is your roadmap to the content you create. It not only helps you with your work but also shows the client what to expect. Put as much detail into your outline as possible. Take a look at our example outline below. 

6.Writing Value-rich Content

When you write, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Ask yourself, would I read this? Did I learn from what I just read? Was it a user friendly experience? The content you write is the solution to your audience’s pain point.

74.2% of companies saying that content marketing is increasing their marketing teams’ lead quality and quantity.

If you want to improve your content here are 4 simple steps to follow: 

Step 1: Understand what data-rich content entails.

When writing a data-rich blog post, every key point that you make should be backed by a credible data source. The more legitimate your source is, the more authoritative your content will be.

Step 2: Firm up your content marketing strategy. 

Firming up your content marketing strategy and what you want to accomplish with your content, most specifically, will allow you to cut out the guesswork and get consistent results.

Each content you write needs to have a clear purpose. Understand who your audience is and the information that they want to gain from reading your blog post.

Step 3: Come up with engaging headlines.

While most people will read your headlines, few will commit to actually reading the blog post. You have less than 3 seconds to grab your reader’s attention, and a data-driven headline will leave your audience wanting more.

Step 4: Develop data-driven outlines.

Do you create outlines for your blog posts? Whether you’re writing a data-driven post or sharing your unique perspective about a relevant topic, developing an outline will speed up the blog writing process and keep you organized and on track.

7. Editing

Engaging content can be powerful enough to persuade hesitant prospects to buy. And, on the flip side, messy, error-prone writing could cause the end-user to abandon your site entirely.

In short, the ability to edit is the difference between mediocre writing and compelling, engaging, high-converting content.

We love using grammarly.com, it helps whip your content in shape and checks for things like:

  • Proofreading
  • Revising
  • Drafting
  • Spelling
  • Structure
  • Style
  • Punctuation
  • Strong Vocabulary
  • Using the Rhetorical Triangle
  • Devise Structure
  • Establish Tone
  • Forming a Thesis

8. Measuring Your Content’s Success

Analyzing data is the key to knowing if your content performed well and if you need to make changes. Attaching metrics to your content will help you determine whether the content is successful or needs improvement. Here are three great ways to measure content success:

  • Email click-through rate. If people are clicking the links in your email campaigns, take note of what makes this email different from others.
  • Bounce rate. Do people leave your site without clicking through to other pages? The rate at which they do so is your bounce rate. If people click away more than 70% of the time, you need to improve your content.
  • Scroll depth. Do people read your intro and then leave the page? Or do they scroll all the way to the bottom? At what point do they stop reading? When you analyze what’s working and what’s not, you’ll be able to improve your content.

Marketers need to constantly learn new skills and adapt to online changes. As online behavior and algorithms shift, so do marketing tactics – and therefore marketing best practices. Marketers that thrive on this change and are eager to learn new techniques will succeed. 

Once you hone in on these skills it’s only up from here. Your content will improve and so will you as a professional. 


3 Unique Ways We Utilize Personalized Content with Examples

In content marketing it is getting harder than ever to grab your audience’s attention utilizing generic material. By personalizing your content, you are more likely to engage your targeted customers. In this blog, we’ll break down 5 ways we have utilized personalized content with examples:

What is personalized content?

You will know if they are a man or woman, their age, location, and even their interests. Which helps you better connect with your customers and drives engagement.The numbers don’t lie — personalization is what shoppers want.

 Around 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with companies that present them with personalized offers and recommendations. And around 74% of online shoppers are frustrated when web content doesn’t target their interests.

In order to be successful, every brand needs a strategy that delivers targeted personalized content and relevant information to consumers to increase their likelihood of engaging with your company.

You can do this by looking at the available data about each visitor to your website or social media page. The information available ranges from their keyword searches and buying history to information they might provide, such as location, age, and gender. When pulled together, this data helps paint a picture of each customer’s interests and needs, so you can share content that speaks to them. The result is higher sales and increased engagement.

About half of the retailers that personalize their marketing content see a 300% ROI over the course of their relationship with a consumer. Other industries have seen an increased ROI due to content personalization, as well.

Segment Your Audiences

There are different ways you might segment your audience when creating personalized content. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have made it easier than ever to mine information about your customers and web visitors. Then, based on where they fall within the lists you’ve created, you can optimize their content to address their personal interests and buying habits.

Here are a few common demographic factors used to segment audiences:

Location

Using location-based marketing, you can target customers who live in specific areas. For instance, if you have noticed your customers are primarily from the east coast, you can target web visitors in major cities such as the New York metropolitan area.

Insider tip: A shopper’s location also provides additional information about them, such as the weather or season they are currently experiencing.

Age

Knowing your visitor’s age gives you additional insight into who they are as a consumer. For example, millennials, Gen Zers, and younger generations are more likely to shop online, so you should drive them to make their purchases through your social sites or directly to your website.

Gender

Marketing based on a consumer’s gender can also help drive sales. Be careful, though, as this can be tricky. The interests of men and women tend to overlap more these days.

Stage in the Sales Funnel

Our goals seven main stages in a customer’s sales process when it comes to digital marketing:

The overall goal of each stage is to move the consumer toward the bottom of the funnel, where they make a purchase, and, hopefully, start a long-term relationship with your brand.

Our 3 Types of Personalized Content:

  1. Interactive Surveys and Quizzes  
    a. Everyone loves interactive surveys on social media and your website, making them an excellent content marketing tool. The interactive nature of these surveys lets users personalize the content presented to them.
    b. These surveys have different features, functions, and content, based on the curated data pertaining to the specific consumer.
    c. Our example: An Interactive Quiz- Chronic Wasting Disease Quiz | Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (trcp.org) engages the end-user and helps evaluate your audience. 
  2. Retargeting ads on Social Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook make it easier than ever to deliver personalized content to your target audience. Curated campaigns are beneficial to your brand. They create awareness, boost traffic to your site and increase sales. We recommend targeting specific audiences based on various demographics, including age, gender, location, and specific interests.
    a. You can also retarget current customers or audiences that have visited your site before. Facebook states, “If your business is using retargeting to find people who have visited your physical store, or if you have collected customer contact information through a CRM, you can create a list to reach these people with ads.”
    b. Retargeting is a great way to get a second chance at selling to recent visitors.
    c. We helped understand Pond King’s audience in their buyer’s journey through targeted ads. See their success here.
  3. Personalized Emails Today email marketing is less about promoting your offers and products/services and more about giving the subscribers a personalized experience that serves their needs. When the emails speak about what the subscriber desires, they are more likely to engage with them
    a. We recommend segmenting your audience so you can target your subscribers with specific email campaigns. Personalized content is more likely to resonate with your audience, which drives consumers to your website so they can make a sale. Or better yet, they share their customer experience on social and tell their friends/followers about your quality brand.
    b. For example, Spotify sends users a personalized Discover Weekly playlist based on what they have been listening to, their likes, and dislikes. This email re-engages users and gets them to sign into their app again.
    c. Personalization increases the likelihood of your recipient opening an email from you, and it is something anyone can benefit from, as well. For instance, when sending an email to those on your specific list, you can add a personal touch by pulling the recipient’s first name into the subject line.
    d. After creating personalized messages for Leupold’s email campaigns we saw an increase in their open rates and sales doubled.
    e. After understanding who Pond King’s audience is and what they care about we were able to send them personalized, targeted emails about products and services they want to learn about. This resulted in higher opens and click-throughs on all their emails.

How We Personalize the Customer Journey and Map It

Want to drive more traffic to your site and social accounts? Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Customers are on a journey. From the moment they first learned about you to their first purchase, every step leads to a curated path. As a digital marketer, it’s your responsibility to drive them to your desired conversion path – the customer journey.

Personalizing your brand’s customer journey leads to a great customer experience. Which is why all your created content, ‘everything you send them’ needs to be relevant to their specific needs. 

Do this and you’ll see results. Being higher website traffic, better performing emails, and of course more sales with returning customers. 

In fact, 96% of organizations believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance.  And the open rate for emails with a personalized message was 18.8%, as compared to 13.1% without any personalization.

What is customer engagement?

According to Google,

This kind of interaction takes place on multiple channels, not just at the point of sale. For example, companies can engage with customers through the following platform.

It’s important to track the customer journey, for this process to be a success.

Here’s our example of a customer journey. 

Creating a customer journey ensures that brands are available at the necessary touchpoints where a customer may need to be engaged.

It also helps brands understand who their target audience is and what they need to do to extend one sale into multiple opportunities.

What are the components of a customer journey map?

Next we need to look at what’s happening at each stage. Here’s the framework we like to use:

  • Customer personas: A buyer persona is a representation of your target customer based on detailed market research. It includes demographics such as age, gender, job title, etc. Each buyer persona has separate buying behavior. This is why you need to create a different customer journey map for each persona. The persona information you’ve already collected helps you map out a customized journey for that particular buyer persona.
  • Funnels: Before mapping out the customer journey you need to figure out the stages your customer goes through to come into contact with your brand. Better known as the marketing funnel which consists of – awareness, consideration, decision, and retention.
  • Understanding your customer: You need to understand the goal your customers are trying to achieve at each stage. Collect data through surveys on the website and through emails. Then you can align the information with the customer journey touchpoints.
  • Identify touchpoints: Touchpoints are the interactions the customer has with your brand at each customer stage on specific web pages or ads. For example, awareness stage touchpoints are likely to include short-form landing pages, testimonials, your blog, etc. 
  • Consider your customer’s emotion: The client’s journey is told from the customer’s perspective. So, keeping into consideration which emotion (whether delight or frustration) your customer is likely to feel helps you ensure they will move from one stage to the other.

Then put yourself in their shoes…
Actions:
What is the customer doing at each stage? What actions are they taking to move themselves on to the next stage?
Motivations: Why is the customer motivated to keep going to the next stage? What emotions are they feeling? Why do they care?
Questions: What are the uncertainties or other issues preventing the customer from moving to the next stage?
Barriers: What structural, process, cost, implementation, or other barriers stand in the way of moving on to the next stage?

5 tips to be on track for personalizing your content:

1. Take into consideration a customer’s past experience

One effective way to know what your customers want is by checking their history. Look at their previous interactions and transactions with you to find patterns.

For example, you can set up triggers in your email marketing software for customers who frequent a certain product page. Their returns indicate intent to buy, and they may only need a little push to make a purchase. Create a funnel that triggers a personalized email containing offers on the products they visited. It will be automatically sent to them after their, for example, the fifth visit.

Insider tip: If you want to upsell, review their past purchases so that you would have an idea of which related offers are most likely to appeal to them.

2. Extract as much psychographic data as you can

We utilize psychographic data to find a deeper understanding of the customer. Our curated survey extracts information about a person’s values, attitudes, interests, and personality traits that are used to build a profile of how an individual views the world, the things that interest them, and what triggers motivate them to action.

To gain more insight on Heaven’s Trail (a high-end line of tree stand, tools, and installation processes) audience we asked for curated content pertaining to their pain points. For example:

How would you describe your last tree stand installation?
– It was easy.
– It was difficult.
– I leave my stands in the tree so I never have to install them again.

Collecting valuable customer data should start as early as when customers sign up for your emails or follow you on social. Apart from the name and email address, ask for information that will help you know more about them such as location, birthday, interests, industry, and more. Be sure that the amount of information you ask for in your sign-up form must be reasonable. Keep it short and sweet because sign-up can turn off customers.

For existing customers, you can send a survey email or create a survey landing page that aims to extract more information about them. You can motivate them to send a response with incentives such as special offers and discounts. 

Insider Tip: Your customer’s IP address can also help you determine location so that you can send location-based offers.

3. Send a personalized note on holidays and their birthday

Customers feel valued when they are remembered on holidays or special occasions like birthdays. Take this as an opportunity to make your bond stronger.

In your email marketing sends, you can automate a birthday message to customers on their special day. Make it more special with a birthday gift such as exclusive discounts they can utilize on their day. Holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day are a great way to personalize your content for any type of campaign. Your options are limitless. Just to give them a reason to celebrate.

Insider tip: Make your emails even more personalized by adding their first name in your subject line. 

4. Create funnels based on customer behavior

Now the customer knows who you are and what solution you have to offer. However, they are still considering whether you are the right choice. 

The online behavior of customers tells us whether they are ready to buy or are still weighing their options. With advanced marketing software today, it’s now possible for brands to set up triggers to send personalized emails that match their website journey. It also allows you to automatically add customers to a workflow based on how they interact with you so that you can nurture them further.

A common triggered email for eCommerce sites is shopping cart abandonment email. Here, customers get a promotional email containing discounts on the items they abandoned.

For customers who click on your CTA, you can automatically add them to a workflow designed for those who are ready for conversion. On the other hand, lapsed customers who have been disengaged for months can be automatically sent with a series of re-engagement emails.

At the consideration and decision phase, you need to separate yourself from the competition. Make it clear to customers why you have the winning edge over the competition and why they should make a decision in your favor.

5. Testimonials from customers are KEY to knowing what worked

Once the customer passes through the conversion stage, the retention phase begins.

The retention stage is an on-going phase and lasts till the customer decides they no longer wish to remain your ‘customer’. The primary touchpoints used in the retention stage are your support landing page, product page, email and blog. Reaching out to customers to ask how they are doing is part of their journey. Customers feel that their voice matters when you take time to listen.

Using survey landing pages and emails, ask how their experience was with you. Use this opportunity to know which aspect of your brand needs improvement. You can also ask them if they find your business recommendable to their friends and colleagues. Keeping an open relationship with your customers is healthy for your brand and for their journey.

There is no single right way to create a customer journey, and your own brand will need to find what works best for your particular situation.The framework and tips provided above should give you a good head-start at better understanding the journey that your customers travel through as they engage with your brand, products, and people.

With the right amount and usage of customer data combined with targeted strategies, you can pull it off like a digital marketing pro.


LinkedIn Ads Are Not As Expensive As You Might Think

LinkedIn ads are becoming more and more popular and setting up a campaign can be hard to understand. You may end up spending far more than you expected to try and get some kind of return on investment and be left at the end of it all with nothing to show for it. Here are a few ways you can optimize your spending on LinkedIn ads.

Click Through Rate

This is one of the most important metrics for any ad campaign. You want the ad you built, curated, tested, and implemented to grab your user’s attention and engage them with your product or service offering. Taking the time from the start to create unique and engaging ads to stand out from the crowd will improve your positioning in the feed and lower your cost-per-conversion. The contrary can also take place should you have poor ads running. You can shape both a picture and a description to execute the messaging you are looking to convey.

Keep Your Bids Low

Constantly monitoring and tweaking your campaigns can keep money from bleeding out of the bottom of the strategy. While LinkedIn provides a range and suggested budgets, you can set your bid to the lowest possible to see how they perform in the limited traffic they receive. You can then audit the return numbers on the day to determine cost-effectiveness and continue iterating through your strategy.

Create Your Audience with Intention

Intentionally creating your audience size and groups within can help your ads perform much better. If you have over targeted, you run the risk of limiting your campaign too much, in turn leaving money on the table and lowering your click-through rate. Lower click-through rates directly correlate to an increased cost per click in the LinkedIn system. Your audience should sit at about 50k or more, depending on who you’re trying to reach. Building out audience groups can be just as important. Grouping specific ads into their own campaigns gives you more detailed data to work off of into the future. For instance, instead of having a “products” campaign for a fly fishing company, it would make sense to have several campaigns including “rods”, “reels”, and “waders” groupings. This lets you see which campaigns are performing better than others.

Have an Enticing Offer

Your offer in the ad is the item that captures their information or interest in some way. Building a story for your viewers to follow in the short amount of information in front of them can increase your click-through rate and lower your cost per click. Supporting information is important content, but the key is to get them to commit to your offer or at least capture their information. Gating your content behind an email submission form can ensure you are getting some type of return for most of the clicks you receive.

LinkedIn can be highly beneficial for lead generation as most of your audience members will be in a business mindset as they browse through their feeds. We are proud of the PPC campaigns we have built. Contact us today if you’d like to start the discussion.


3 Reasons Your Paid Ads May Not Be Seeing Success

Developing paid advertisements can start off looking like a foreign language and end up looking like your college English class; you feel like you should understand the subject but just can’t get the grades in. There was a point where it was all gibberish to us as well. Through the years we have taken the time to understand which paid ads work and what doesn’t in the outdoor industry. Here are 3 reasons your paid advertisements may not be seeing the success you expected.

Image of New York City Skyline filled with Paid Advertisements
Image of New York City Skyline filled with paid advertisements

Content

Content may not seem like a high ticket item for you on a paid ad campaign. Your landing page has very little words and is “designed to convert” and your ad copy is only a few words total. Surely that can’t be the problem, right? Well, actually, quite the opposite. Content can be the lifeblood of a proper campaign or the downfall of an underproductive one.

Clickability has to be a 21st century word if we’ve ever read one, but it means a lot to your paid media strategy and shouldn’t be treated as industry jargon. Creating clickable ads is what leads to success overall, but what does clickability really mean? Clickability is the desire as a user to click on your ad and learn a little more about what you’re selling.

This all falls down to the content that the user is displayed. And the engagement they may have with it. The first step we usually carry out is a general look at what other market movers are doing. Who has the top of page bid? How are their ads setup? Do we need to make adjustments so that it fits our strategy? These are questions you will soon answer as you progress through the campaign configuration and beyond.

Paid ad content aren’t just about the words. There are various types of ad content such as video ads or display ads for retargeting. Each type of ad has its own set of customizable features and potential headaches. Finding the right partner to build a productive strategy for paid ads keeps your brand and business in front of eyes and on the minds of your potential users.

Targeting

Targeting the right people is the bread and butter of a productive paid media campaign. If you can drill down the types of customers based on buyer personas your paid ads will see success. There are many options when it comes to refining your target audience:

  • Demographics
  • Keywords
  • Content
  • Placement
  • Intent
  • Similar Audiences
  • Retargeting

However, each of the options above comes with it’s own unique problems. Establishing proper targets can be tricky. You don’t want to be too refined in your targeting because you’ll alienate a large population of your customers. But at the same time you don’t want to be too broad either. This balance requires constant monitoring and measurement to ensure the proper strategy is deployed.

Budget & Bidding

Budgeting the right amount and more importantly bidding the right amount can be the determining factor in the success of your paid media campaign. If you are not bidding optimally, you could be throwing money down the drain. Handing valuable leads over to your competition who has an automated custom bidding & budget strategy.

Once your content and targeting is honed in, it is time to put some focus on optimizing your campaign(s). Things like campaign budget, CPC vs. conversion bids and ad quality score are important metrics to track. We sometimes factor in time of day, day of the week, and part of the month into our bidding strategies too.

Therefore, taking a hard look at tweaking, testing, and retesting some settings in your bidding strategy, whether it be Google, Facebook or Instagram can help you see success much more quickly. If you are stepping back to take a look at lacking performance, it may be time to switch to a manual route and drill down exactly what you are looking for. Such as acquisition costs and customer lifetime value.

If you are paying $300 for 300 clicks but they are not turning into customers, I’m sure you would be much more willing to pay $300 for 20 clicks that ALL turned into customers.

As you can see, there is a considerable amount that goes into a paid media campaign and we’ve only covered the top 3! Pair this list with our guide to creating an effective call to action, and you’ve got yourself a fine-tuned paid media campaign.

LEARN ABOUT PAID MEDIA

Social Media Is Not Free

Businesses view social outreach as a revolutionary tool that allows them to expand their marketing efforts. To reach your audiences at no cost posting to the social sphere is a quick solution. However, social media channels are now inundated with content of varying quality. Making it nearly impossible to tell what is legitimate and what is not.

The value of social media used to be found in its incredible accessibility and widespread reach for free consumption. Now the value lies in meticulously designed paid ads.

Our goal here is not to convince you that organic social media is dead or useless. Far from it. Companies should circulate content organically on social media channels because it offers a direct connection to customers. While also helping you achieve your marketing campaign goals. But it’s time to face the music: for social media content distribution to be truly effective, it demands the investment.

Facebook for Business

Did you know Facebook is used by more than 1.6 billion people every day? For marketers with a B2C focus paid ads are the best option for selling merchandise.

First determine who your audiences are, where these audiences are, and what you want to say to them. With this framework, decide which strategies will best reach your target audiences.

Image of the Facebook Ad Budget & Scheduler Tool
Image of the Facebook Ad Budget & Scheduler Tool

Reach your target audience with an ad created from a post on your company page. Then strategize how you want your post to be consumed across your digital medium. You have the option to position an ad directly in the News Feed, on the sidebar or on the popular platform, Instagram. You can also customize each ad’s target audience based on characteristics. Such as location, interests, online behaviors, and even offline behaviors.

Facebook ads are easily actionable as they allow for purchases to happen directly on Facebook. You no longer need a fancy digital storefront to showcase your products.

The Ads Reporting feature allows you to manage each campaign and measure audience engagement, offering real-time performance metrics.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn has over 260 million monthly people engaged on its site and continues to grow. As the go-to networking platform for professionals all over the world, LinkedIn is a fantastic resource for marketers to reach a wider audience. LinkedIn provides you with three methods for reaching your audience via paid ads: boosted posts, sponsored InMail and pay-per-click text ads.

It’s common knowledge that boosted posts are best for supporting general awareness goals. Allowing you to feature one of your selected posts in the target audience news feeds’. For more conversion-based campaigns, consider sending sponsored InMail. This approach allows you to send personalized messages with prominent call-to-actions to your targeted audience.  

Image example of a LinkedIn Sponsored Ad

LinkedIn offers a pay-per-click ad placed either in the sidebar or news feed of users’ home pages. For instance, LinkedIn is geared towards reaching business professionals. The platform is much more personalized. Allowing you to filter by job title, industry, company size, and membership within specific LinkedIn Groups.

Similar to Facebook, measure the value of your self-service sponsored content within the Campaign Manager tool. Although a bit more costly than Facebook, LinkedIn’s sponsored content is still affordable, allowing you to set a maximum budget at a minimum of $10 daily per campaign.

Are You Prepared For 2020?

Let’s face it, but social media’s paid ads are still the cheapest way to reach the best audience possible. Contact Sage Lion Media to learn more about how to take advantage of our paid media strategies and how that the cost is worth it in the end.

VIEW OUR PAID MEDIA SERVICES

Mapping Content to the Buyer’s Journey

As potential customers consider a purchase or service, they likely research the various market options. They’ll make an informed decision based on quality, price and other factors. In most circumstances, they don’t make a spur-of-the-moment decision without evaluation. Instead, a potential buyer – regardless of product – goes through something called the buyer’s journey.

This consists of different steps prior to making a purchase. These steps could include visiting your website, reading your blog, subscribing to your email list and speaking to a salesperson.

Using content marketing to deliver specific content to potential buyers based their inbound marketing journey can be a valuable tool for businesses. But not understanding your potential customers and delivering content that doesn’t relate to them could result in losing a sale.

Whether you do the writing yourself or outsource the job, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Think about their potential pain points and deliver some potential solutions.

Avoid complex or sales language and try to connect with the audience. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, inbound marketing is largely about P2P: person-to-person.

Before you start writing, let’s break down the buyer’s journey and how to approach the content development process.

Stages of the Buyer’s Journey

The Buyer’s Journey can be broken down into three stages: Awareness, Evaluation and Intent. Each stage requires a specific type of content to help move the customer to the next stage.

During the awareness stage, potential customers are seeking answers to a problem. They’re looking for resources, education and data to help with the solution. Next, in the evaluation stage, potential customers examine whether or not a particular product or service is right for them. And finally, during the Purchase stage, they take steps toward becoming a customer.

The Buyer's Journey Inbound Stages
Stages of a Buyer’s Journey

Based on your particular business or industry, your targets may require more engagement. This is particularly true for companies whose products require significant investment and tend to have a longer sales cycles.

But what content should you produce for each stage and what should it look like? Let’s take a closer look.

Mapping Content for the Awareness Stage

Developing content for potential customers in the awareness stage should focus on education. This content could include blog posts, social media posts and ebooks. The content you develop shouldn’t necessarily speak to brand-specific benefits, but instead introduce why a product or service like yours could offer a solution. The payoff is readers who find your content useful could move down the buyer’s journey to the next stage.

As a writer, strive to ensure the awareness stage content is accessible. In fact, the blog posts you write for in the awareness stage could introduce buyer’s to a problem they don’t even know they have. It’s easy to get caught up in technical language, especially in the outdoor space, but try as much as you can to generate content that connects with readers on a personal level. Once you convert the user, using a form, they can now move into the next stage of their journey. 

Mapping Content for the Evaluation Stage

If you’ve successfully moved a potential customer to the evaluation stage, it means your awareness content was suitably informative and captured the reader’s attention. You’ve now begun to accomplish the steps of what we call: Building A Story for your brand.

During the evaluation stage, you can discuss what potential solutions exist for the customer’s problem, and carefully start to introduce why your particular product or service offers the right solution for a potential customer. Now is a great opportunity to emphasize your expertise in your industry with content like expert guides, webinars and whitepapers.

It can be beneficial for writers to bring in subject-matter experts at every stage of the content development process but especially during the evaluation stage. The content delivered here can gain value from direct involvement from those closest to the subject. It can make your job as a writer much easier.

Mapping Content for the Intent Stage

The purchase stage is the time to clearly outline and offer the benefits of your product or service. You’ve likely seen multiple offers online for demos and trials but without the previous two stages, these offers don’t provide much value. However, if you’ve successfully educated the potential customers in the other stages, these offers are more likely to result in a sale.

In addition to trials and demos, other potential forms of content include case studies and product descriptions. Case studies can provide particular value, proving your solution in a real-life scenario.

When writing case studies, it can be easy to get caught up in the numbers. While showing how revenue increased by X% after implementing a certain solution is important, try to tell the story of how efficiencies were created or how an organization can give more time to their customers or their employees by implementing it.

While content can offer tremendous value to your business, it needs to be delivered as part of a comprehensive inbound and content marketing strategy. If you’d like to learn more about how the right content for the right person, at the right time can help your business, we’re here to help.

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Basting Your Content

We have discussed content strategies and the need for regular optimized content quite a bit lately. So what better time to include some festive comparisons as we approach the holiday season. For the purposes of this blog, let’s consider your content as a turkey. 

When you are cooking a turkey, you can set it in the oven at 375 for a few hours. You’ll get something out the other end that is edible, but certainly not as good as it can be. This is where the time and attention come into play if you’d like to produce something truly incredible on turkey day.

Sure you can form fit a package of 10 blogs posted about monthly for the foreseeable future, but is the product on the other end as good as it can be? In most cases, the answer is no.

Give attention to building out a content strategy. Over time you’ll begin to attract regular and new readers because you took the time to research what they want.

We often encounter businesses that have produced a wealth of content, but things have dropped off in recent years. Rather than coming up with completely new ideas for blog production, why not take a few of these previous blogs and update them to include new information. Maybe you did an outdoor product market analysis piece in 2016. Something like this would be perfect to repurpose into new information.

This is much of what we are referring to when we say to “baste” your content. Taking the previous fat and seasonings from the bottom of the pan and bringing it back up to coat the top can leave you with a succulent and delicious piece of meat. In the same regard, rebuilding old blogs to include new information can contain a wealth of potential content for you to repurpose into something updated.

One of the main areas this strategy can help you is time-consumption. Each article you write or publish has taken a measurable amount of time to produce.

If you are able to turn old blogs into guides, white papers, and other forms of digital assets, you establish yourself as an open resource and start to gain that trust with your client or customer quickly. This is especially important for content strategies in the outdoor industry as trust is a major determining factor.

Imagine yourself with a checklist of 13 different avenues to post your new piece of content. If you are posting 2-3 blogs per month, this can be 26-39 instances of basting your content, a pretty good grab overall if you ask us. While there are many sources to publish and republish content on the web, here are a few of our favorites:

Using these tools, you are sure to save some time and resources. Maybe this time when you’re finishing off the turkey, you’ll think of your content strategy and a few items you may be able to “baste”. Have a wonderful holiday season!


3 Reasons Why Your Calls To Action Are Not Converting

Have you ever read through a blog post and left because no one “told” you what to do next? You were left hanging in space, free to leave at anytime. Leaving your visitors (prospects) hanging is the first simple way to NOT generate more leads. It’s important to have calls to action in every step of the sales funnel. If one directs you to a free educational download your focus should be on your messaging. 

One essential element of any solid inbound marketing strategy includes visually-focused content that guides a visitor through the buyers journey. These important invitations to the next level are the job of a good “Call-to-Action”. Also commonly referred to as a CTA. Think of them as road signs, leading the way to the desired destination.

Here are some questions we receive for our clients:

  • “I need a button for an email that directs my leads to a secondary form on my website. Is this possible?”
  • “I’m having issues tracking the conversion rate of my new eBook offering. What am I doing wrong?”
  • “Do we need a catalog of CTA’s for each stage of the inbound sales funnel?”

But first, where are the most important places to include a CTA? A CTA is, quite literally, a hyperlinked button, that guides your reader to take a desired next step.

A CTA acts as a link between exploratory content that your prospect is interested in and premium content offers that can only be accessed by providing personal information. Think of a time where you read the summary of a blog post. If you’re interested in finding out what the article examines, you simply choose the “Read More” button at the bottom. If they don’t turn into leads now, they’re more likely to come back if they see your website as insightful. 

Here are a few ideas about why your CTAs may not be getting the responses you hoped for.

1. Target Your Buyer Persona

Tailored messaging delivered at precise moments during the buyer’s journey through clickable CTAs will resonate with your leads. The more you know about your visitors, the more segmented your content will be in the future.

Your CTA messaging should have a direct impact on someone’s willingness to click and move further down the buyer’s journey. Because your buyer personas have key identifiers attached to each step of the journey, instead of using the usual “Learn More” CTAs you can get a little more creative with your messaging such as “Check It Out.”

It would be a big mistake to send content to prospects with impromptu CTA messaging that was developed for evangelists.

Example of our inbound marketing services page.

If the content that comes ahead of your CTA is not informative or bland, even the world’s best CTA is going to have low conversions.

Leaving you with that gut-wrenching feeling of failure. If a visitor clicks your CTA, they should have a general sense of who you are, how you can help address their specific needs and what information they need to begin the sales process. The CTA reinforces the action they’re about to take towards achieving a solution to their problem.

2. Don’t Sell All The Time

Your goal as a business owner should be to provide educational information that is useful to your industry, not just flat-out selling your products and services. You do not want to overwhelm your leads or customers with forceful selling. Your calls to action should be inviting and succinct and address problems that your targeted buyer persona’s express along their buyer’s journey.

CTAs are not the place to begin a dialogue with your leads or prospects. It is however, the place for prospects to begin the buyer journey. Remember, we develop our CTAs based on buyer persona research.

However, the research you conducted should give a clear indication of how your prospects communicate and take action in their daily lives. If it doesn’t, you need to start over and re-evaluate. 

3. Let Your Calls To Action Create Urgency

Guiding your leads naturally should be your top priority. Internet researchers are very indecisive while browsing for solutions. That’s bad news, because the longer a buyer sits and analyzes, the more openings arise for your competitors to steal your leads. Your content needs to nurture the lead to act immediately or at a later date.

The internet is one big library of anything you might want. As a result, it becomes more difficult to decide if you’re finding the best solution to your problem. Be the clear answer to their challenge, and make them want to choose you.

For instance, Amazon does a great job in converting leads into die-hard customers and eventually brand evangelists. We’ve all purchased products through Amazon, and they already know that we’re not interested in receiving deals on products we never buy. Instead they send detailed newsletters of items purchased in the past, with clear calls to action attached to each call out. They go the extra mile in making the message actionable.

Phrases such as “View our product line” and the powerful “1-Click Ordering” CTA can be seen all over their site and email campaigns. Because Amazon has nailed down their target audience and how they shop, the focus has shifted from carrying influential brands to the messaging that will resonate with the lead and convert them to customers.

These principles have already been deployed in the B2B world. And they still continue to work.

Because our clients know their customers will receive the right information at the right time, in each step of the buyer’s journey. We accomplish this by using effective calls to action messaging that is developed for your buyer personas. Using general messaging might bring in a lot of leads. But it’s very concerning to find out more than 90% of those leads had a minimal impact on your sales. The right compelling messages help to eliminate that concern.

If you’re interested in learning more about Call-to-Actions and upping your inbound marketing game, take a look at the Sage Lion Media inbound marketing blog.

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Inbound Marketing is Like Air Traffic Control

When I was hired by Sage Lion Media at the beginning of the new year, I was tasked with implementing agile/scrum methodologies. Prior to joining Sage Lion Media, I worked at a few reputable digital marketing agencies located in Los Angeles, Denver & Chicago.

And before entering the world of inbound marketing I had the privilege of working at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Control Tower.

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