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In the first part of our content marketing series, we discussed the what and how of content marketing. In this article, we’ll bring you through 5 easy steps to build a personalised content marketing strategy that works for your brand.  

By now, you already know that content marketing is essential to take your business to new heights. 

This method of attracting and nurturing leads has been proven to be one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways of establishing brand awareness, build trust with your target audience and even acquiring new customers.

When planned and executed strategically, content marketing can boost web traffic to your business site, increase social following and establish yourself as an industry leader.

An effective content marketing plan is strategic in both its production and delivery. Without a well-developed execution plan, your content would lose all its meaning. 

The difference between content marketing and having a content strategy

Content marketingContent marketing strategy
Content marketing is all about using relevant and valuable content to attract and retain visitors, eventually turning them into paying customers.Content marketing strategy is an overview plan you have for every piece of content related to your business. In other words,  it is the blueprint that maps out the production and delivery of content for your brand.

If you’re unsure of how you can start your content marketing strategy, look no further. In this guide, we will walk you through 5 simple steps that will help you develop a content marketing strategy that’ll drive results and grow your business.

5 Essential Steps to Help you Develop an Effective Content Marketing Strategy:

Step 1. Set Your Goals Strategically

Step 2. Understand Your Audience

Step 3. Streamline Content Process

Step 4. Distribute Content Effectively

Step 5. Optimize Content for SEO

1.     Set Your Goals Strategically

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible to the visible.” This inspirational quote from Tony Robbins, an American author and public speaker is what you need to remember when you kick-start your content plan.

To know what content pieces work for your brand, you need to first map out an overview of your strategy (setting clear and defined objectives), establish ROI targets and outline a clear direction for your business’ growth.

Here are some goals to help you get started:

  • Increase website traffic
  • Attract new prospects
  • Convert leads to customers
  • Gain influence and authority
  • Increase visibility in search engines

These are measurable and quantifiable goals which will help you measure the effectiveness of your content strategy in the long run.

Using tools such as Google Analytics will help you measure key metrics such as web traffic and top viewed pages. With these data, you’ll know what content works and what doesn’t. This will help you make informed revisions to improve your strategy progressively.

2.   Understand Your Audience

After setting your goals, the next crucial step would be to identify and understand your target audience.

This is important because a customer’s purchase decision is highly dependent on whether they find your content valuable and helpful. Therefore, content marketers have to keep in mind their target audience in order to create content that sells. Otherwise, you might fail at creating content that your customers care about.

If your content resonates well with your customers or you helped them understand what to buy, they’re likely to purchase from you.

Using data to segment your target audience

One way to can create the right content that reaches your customers is by collecting demographic data. Web analytics and social media sites are a reliable source of audience data. They often provide customer insights such as audience demographics, interests, education, income, and so on.

Here’s an example of how you can use Google Analytics to collect audience data to plan topics and create content that suits their interests.

To obtain these sets of data, go to Audience » Interests » Overview. In that page, you will see the market segments of your site visitors. Under overview, take note of the affinity categories (that are grouped by interest) with a greater reach (higher percentage). These are topic categories that most of your audience are interested in and topics that you should be creating.

Google Analytics can help you identify your audiences’ interests

Social networks also offer similar data. For example, you can get demographic information on your Facebook fans via Facebook Page Insights.

Facebook insights allows you to understand the
demographic of your audience such as age and gender

From these data, you can move on to categorise your audience into broader categories and create customer personas. Customer personas are extremely useful to help you identify the needs and wants of your customer. Knowing who your customer is will also will help you craft the right message that speaks to them directly, thus humanizing your marketing communication.

3.     Streamline Content Process

Once you’re done with the first two steps, you may begin planning your content production. This is where you will streamline your content marketing efforts to produce fast and efficient content.

Start your plan by defining the buyer’s journey. In most cases, you can base your strategy around these funnels: top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.

The first one is the awareness stage, where people seek answers to their questions through research. The middle funnel is known as the evaluation stage, where people conduct extensive research on whether your product or service is a perfect fit for them. Lastly, the bottom funnel or purchase stage is where people figure out what it would take to become your customer.

You should take these funnels into account when creating content. There should be content pieces (i.e. product guides, blogs, social posts, research studies, etc.) specifically designed for each stage of the funnel.

Next, you must plan an editorial calendar. Brainstorm content topics with your team and assign writing and editorial tasks to your key team members.

It’s ideal to keep all your content ideas in a spreadsheet. However, spreadsheets have their downside. They lack automation and commenting functionality. If you want to see everything in place and avoid missing deadlines, you can opt for content calendar tools such as Google Calendar, Kanban Flow, Trello, Contently, and more.

4.     Distribute Content Effectively

Content marketing isn’t only about developing high-quality content for your target audience. It also deals with the process of promoting and distributing your content through different channels.

If you fail to distribute your content effectively, it would be impossible to reach the widest audience possible. You’re also likely to fail your ROI targets such as driving traffic to your website, attracting new prospects and customers, gain authority, and more.

2 Common ways to distribute content.

1. Building an email list.

It’s important to have a mailing list because reaching out to people via email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.

But how do you build an email list? Here are a few tips on how to encourage visitors to subscribe to your email list:

  • Include CTA buttons on every landing page on your website
  • Add pop-up images or slider on all your landing pages
  • Send out pop-up surveys while visitors are browsing
  • Add email captures at the end of your blog posts
  • Re-engage contacts inactive subscribers

To learn more about creating a mailing list for your business, click here.

Once you created your email list, you may proceed with content distribution. You can create a paid subscription model for premium content, send weekly newsletters and exclusive content (i.e. How-to videos, invitation, etc.), offer exclusive coupons or discounts, and more.

This will help you engage and connect with potential and existing customers at a lower cost (compared to paid ads to boost sales). Due to its greater outreach, conversion rates are also likely to improve.

2. Social media is another powerful platform for distributing content.

Globally, around 3.8 billion people use social networks including Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This means you should establish your presence on at least some of these channels in order to attract a greater pool of customers.

Here are some tips to curate content for your social media accounts:

  • Repurpose and curate your own content
  • Be consistent with your updates
  • Share your blog articles and other content on social media
  • Post engaging visual content such as videos, infographics, slide presentations, and more
  • Create content based on the latest trends or news and share it across your social networks (increasing “shareability”)
  • Create dynamic content or dynamic paid social media ads

5.     Optimise Content for SEO

Content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) are intertwined. The two might be different in concept but they are an essential combination for content marketing to generate results.

While the former focuses on creating and distributing content for a targeted audience, the latter helps to make your content visible in search engines. This combination is also known as SEO optimised content which will result in 2 main benefits for your business.

First, it will help your site rank higher on Google.

Quality content is what engages your target audience. As more readers pick up your content and shares it with their network, it creates greater engagement and traffic to your site.

With more engagement and clicks on your content, Google recognises your site to be relevant and valuable to users. That is because Google thinks online users are searching and liking your content, therefore prioritizing your page over others. Consequently, Google rewards your page with a higher position in their search results page (SERP).

After building a strong web presence with a higher site ranking, you will start to attract more targeted traffic and increase your customer base.

Over time, your brand can establish a strong brand presence online and become a reputable source of information when users search for content you posted about.

Secondly, SEO-optimised content like landing pages can prompt higher conversions.

SEO optimization is important to decrease loading speed of a page in order to provide a pleasant user experience for your audience.

When your webpages load fast, are easy to navigate, and optimized for desktop and mobile, site visitors may stay for a while and continue browsing for a longer time. In this case, you have a better chance of holding their attention and turning them into paying customers.

Optimizing content for SEO requires both the technical and content writing skills to ensure you enhance the effectiveness of your content for the search engines.

Search engine optimization typically involves the following procedures:

  • Perform keyword research
  • Write content based on keywords
  • Optimize content for main keywords
  • Build backlinks
  • Update links and keywords
  • Analyse rankings and traffic

To bring in more traffic to your website and achieve better results, hire a competent SEO specialist or SEO agency. SEO experts can help you to facilitate web results and monitor your campaigns.

The Takeaway

It will require some time before your content marketing strategy takes effect.

Nevertheless, you should still make your content marketing strategy the heart of your marketing initiatives. It’s crucial for building your brand identity and winning the confidence of your target audience.

Whether you’re new to building a content marketing strategy or you’ve been using the same approach for a while, it’s important to constantly revise your strategy to ensure it stays up-to-date, innovative, and engaging for your customers.

Make use of our 5 steps guide we’ve provided, and you’ll be able to develop a strategic approach to drive online visibility and growth for your business.

If you’d prefer an agency to help you manage your company’s content marketing, feel free to contact us.

What is a quality score?

Have you wondered what affects the cost of your paid ads? Are you frustrated to be paying more than you intended for your ads? Well, it is time to understand what a quality score is and how it affects the performance and cost of your ads.

Similar to how websites are ranked on a Google results page, Google paid ads are ranked as well and quality score is an important factor that affects an ad rank.

Quality score is an estimate of how relevant your ads are to the person viewing it. It is calculated on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best-performing score.

Google then uses the quality score to determine the importance of your ad to a consumer. Scoring higher on the scale means Google deems your ad and landing pages highly relevant and useful to someone looking at your ad.

How is the quality score of your ads determined?

The quality score of an ad relies on many factors but the 3 most important and critical factors are as follow:

  • Expected Click Through Rate (CTR): A predicted ratio, indicating how often your ad is noticed and clicked by a consumer
  • Landing Page Experience: Measured by how fast the page loads, how easy it is to navigate as well as the overall relevance of the site to the consumer
  • Ad Relevance: The level at which your advertisement matches a user’s search query and intention (otherwise known as keyword match)

Why is Google quality score important?

A high-quality score improves your ad rank in the ad auction

Advertisers care a lot about their quality score because it is one of 3 deciding criteria for an ad rank in the ad auction.

Advertisers with the highest CPC bid will not necessarily be on the top of search results. An ad rank depends on the combination of the rating scores of your CPC, quality score and expected impact from your ad extensions.

Only when the combined score is high, will an advertiser attain a higher ad rank, leading to lower CPC and better ad positions.

Watch the video below to have a better understanding of how an ad auction works to determine ad ranks, ad positions and bid cost. 

How an Ad Auction works

A good quality score allows you to maximize ROI at a lower cost 

Too often, Google Ads can become a money pit with cost per click (CPC) as businesses go into the auction thinking a higher CPC bid will guarantee them better ad rank and ad positions.  However, the best way to improve your ad position is through your Google Ads Quality Score.

Securing a high-quality score is a crucial step to attain a higher ad rank, which will in turn promise a better ad position. You may even end up paying a CPC amount lower than what you bid for initially, but still attain better ad ranks and ad positions than your competitors at the end.

With a better ad position, your business’ ads would have greater visibility on a Google search results page. The increased visibility increases your chances of getting higher CTRs. Your ad ends up performing better, leading to more conversions, while saving you a lot on advertising cost.

Wrapping Up

Google checks back on websites regularly which may change your quality score. Companies may think their ads are doing well when really, their score is susceptible to changes that will affect the performance of the ads. Only by monitoring your keywords, scores, and Google’s algorithm changes, will you have a better chance of staying on top of things.

So, it is important to maintain your quality score. Google also looks at the history of your score over time. The performance of your past ad campaigns will also affect the score of your future ads. Even if you rank high now, you’ve got to maintain that score once you achieve it.

If you want to improve the quality score of your ads or unsure how to measure the performance of your campaigns, we are here for you. Simply contact us and we will be in touch with you shortly. 

Consumers are going digital in a big way and businesses need to follow suit. If your company is not yet online, you are likely missing out on a majority of consumers looking for you. A solid digital marketing strategy is an essential piece for building a successful online presence.

A strategy provides your business with a digital direction and goal. It may even reveal opportunities to expand your reach. In fact, companies with a clear digital marketing plan see a 60% faster growth than those without any plan. So how can you kick start your own digital marketing strategy?

Kickstart Your Digital Marketing Strategy

The key to successful online marketing is to build a dedicated strategy that results in a strong return on investment (ROI). Marketing is iterative so it is good to keep your strategy simple. You can always reference and refine it as you go along.

The marketing strategy we recommend is a 3-step process.

You can define and structure your digital strategy in an effective way by breaking down your online marketing plan into this 3-step process.

1.  Business strategy

The first step to an online marketing strategy is to understand your own business, and the market surrounding it. You begin with a review of your company’s strengths and competitive advantage. These are distinct values that differentiate you from your competitors.

This exercise also illuminates areas you should focus on to market your business. So what makes up the business strategy?

a.   Mission statement

Start with your mission statement. It should be a one-sentence summary that defines what your company does.

b.   Objectives

Objectives refer to organizational objectives that are necessary to keep the business running and to maintain your brand identity.

c.   Value proposition

Value proposition is about your company’s unique selling point or the competitive advantage that you have over your competitors.

d.   Elevator pitch

An elevator pitch would be a short summary of your brand’s value proposition. It will be a short sentence that concisely expresses your brand’s value proposition. 

Here is a sample of a business strategy worksheet filled in for a fictitious brand called “H+ Sports”.

After you create your business strategy, you should have a fundamental understanding of your business. The next step is to identify your customers and determine where you find them online.

2.  Customer Strategy

A customer strategy helps you identify who and where your customers are. This makes it easier for you to develop marketing messages specific to each group of customers. Tailoring your marketing message for each customer group results in quality leads and conversions.

The key, once again, is to keep it simple. Here is the sample customer strategy worksheet for H+ Sports.

a.   Target Audience

One marketing message may not answer the needs of all customers. You should categorize your customers into groups based on a common criterion. For H+ Sports, the target audience is split into 3 groups based on gender and interest. This will make it easier for their business to create specific marketing messages for each group.

a.   Audience Goals

Identify the specific targeted audience’s goals. Find out what they are looking to accomplish. Figure out their needs. It is your job to ensure you can fulfill these needs, otherwise, customers have no reason to purchase from you.

b.   Audience technology  

Finally, with audience technology, you want to identify what channels your audience is using so that you can work on reaching out to them there.

Now that you have identified your targeted customer groups and the potential marketing channels, it is time to develop marketing strategies for each of the channels.

3.  Marketing Strategy

The last of the 3-step strategy process is to create a marketing strategy. This will be your guide as you explore different marketing channels. At this stage, you will develop individual marketing plans tailored to the goals of each audience segment.

a.   Goal

Your goal needs to be specific to the results you want to achieve from your marketing efforts. For H+ Sports, their goal is to sell H+ nutritional supplements. Hence, the marketing messages for each channel should follow this goal.

b.   Channel

Continuing with our example of H+ Sports, let us focus on one of the target groups. Let us females aged 18-35 who are interested in fitness. Here we look at the channels where this group is likely to be found, and hence where we should focus our marketing on. From there, develop a marketing idea for each of the media available: paid, earned and owned

c.   Types of Media

Paid media is essentially you paying to promote content. For earned media, it is usually a combined result of strong organic rankings on the Search Engines, and content distributed by the brand. Owned media is any web property that you can control.

It is up to you to decide the type of content you want to publish on each channel. Remember to push out content that will help you engage the audience best on each channel. Once you are done crafting the marketing content for each channel, you are good to go. At this stage, you would have created a cohesive digital strategy that will work for you.

Wrapping Up

Developing a marketing strategy is an iterative process, not a plan set in stone. As your customer behavior continues to change, your business will have to adapt the strategies it adopts.

You can stay ahead of the competition with continued research of your market and customers. Always compare your business relative to your competitors. Gain an advantage by being the first to reach customers and stay relevant to the marketing channels available to you. This will ensure your business maximizes all opportunities to gain the best return of investment (ROI).

What are you waiting for? Get started with your digital strategy now!

In today’s digital age, it’s interesting that some business owners still pose questions such as “Why do I need a business website” and “Do I need a website”. These questions explicate why many are still on the fence about creating a website for their business.

According to Clutch, 38% of small businesses choose not to invest in a professional website. The B2B research firm surveyed small business owners and found that cost, irrelevance to industry, and social media are the key reasons behind their decision.

In contrast, 64% of them built a website with the primary purpose of establishing brand identity and growing a wide customer base online.

These varying research findings show that not everyone realizes the pivotal role that websites play for business success and are missing out on the opportunities that a business website offers them.

How about you? Which category of business owner do you fall under? If you’re not convinced for the need of a website, read on to learn the 6 rewards that you can reap from a well-designed website.

1. Your Website Helps Build Credibility

Most customers look for information online to be informed about their purchasing decisions. They usually research a company on the web before deciding to buy a product or acquire services.

In fact, a Verisign 2015 research reported that 84% of consumers find a business with a website more credible than those with only a social media page. That means people are more likely to make purchasing decisions through a company’s website, not social media.

However, a professional website can only increase your chances of building credibility if you make use of that digital space wisely. That’s why your website, while focused on content such as your certifications and award-winning products or services to build trust, should also be modern, aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly.

People are visually wired; they focus on elements such as colours, fonts and images. If your website uses visuals effectively, it would be easier to establish trust with visitors.

Also, your business website needs to be user-friendly. There are several factors of a user-friendly website—mobile compatibility, ease of navigation, loading time, information architecture and so on.

For example, visitors should be able to navigate your website via their mobile phones and PCs and have a similar, if not the same, user experience. This intuitive and comfortable overall experience will make your website more appealing for potential customers, thus boosting your online credibility.

2. Your Website Saves You Time and Money

Save Time and Money With Your Website - 2Stallions

Many business owners tend to take the “penny wise, pound foolish” approach when it comes to setting up a website. While a business website builder can be an option, it’s better to hire the services of web design and development company.

This lets you focus on your business growth while leaving your website creation to professionals. Of course, your content and branding direction will ensure that your ideal customers are still able to find the right information about your business, products, and services and resonate with your brand. Your investment will pay for itself as you start generating new leads or sales through your website.

Once your professional website is up and running, it will promote your business 24/7, with the potential to reach a global audience. You can also edit information on your website immediately. Contrast this with traditional flyers and brochures, which you mostly distribute locally and where a product update means re-printing material to contain the latest information. Over time, a business website leads to monetary savings.

Additionally, your business website can also save you time by answering repeated questions via an FAQ (‘Frequently Asked Questions’) section on your website. By directing customers and visitors to your FAQ to find answers, you free yourself to tasks that help your business grow.

Finally, your website can also facilitate instant customer feedback. A contact form or chatbox allows your prospects or customers to engage you—whether it’s a complaint, compliment or just general feedback – allowing you a quick avenue to correct issues, thereby saving you lost revenue and time.

3. Your Website is an Incredible Marketing Tool 

TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and billboards are expensive traditional marketing options to promote your business. Today’s digital age provides new channels to spread the word about your brand at a fraction of the cost!

Your website should be central to your digital marketing efforts. Whether you engage in social media advertising, search ads, email marketing or generating organic search traffic, your audience should eventually end up on your website to look at your product information or to leave you their details or to make a purchase.

For example, if your website content is optimized for SEO, your business can become more visible on search engines, allowing potential customers looking for products or services you offer to find you.

4. Your Website Exposes You to a Global Audience

Go Global Digitally - 2Stallions

Retail businesses do quirky things to drive foot traffic to their physical store. Brick-and-mortar store owners put out unique window displays, decorate window walls, and use prominent or vibrant decors to increase walk-ins and attract in-store sales.

With the booming trend for online shopping, these strategies no longer guarantee retail stores results. Customers shop online for various reasons including convenience, competitive prices and more variety, amongst others.

According to a 2018 Statista research, there’s an estimate of 1.8 billion people worldwide who purchased goods online. This highlights that consumers have experienced a dramatic shift from visiting stores physically to visiting them digitally.

The smartphone has enabled people to research products online, send product inquiries, and make purchases without getting off their couch.

Nearly 90% of shoppers begin their hunt in digital channels and 57% of online shoppers have made a purchase from an overseas retailer. These statistics suggest that if your business has an online presence, especially a website, you will have higher chances of getting new customers from across the globe, only limited by your ability to deliver to them.

Put simply, a professional website opens up the entire world to your business. It helps you to reach users and be found by anyone looking for products or services that you offer through a simple search.

6. A Website Lets You Measure Results

Your marketing doesn’t end once your campaign is launched. Analytics installed on your business website can give you micro insights into how your campaign is performing, and what sort of results it is driving.

We’re not just talking about online results either. There are ways to measure results from traditional marketing channels such as flyer distribution by tracking visitors who scan a QR code from your flyer to visit your website.

Of course, if you use digital marketing channels, you can see the performance of these via your analytics and tweak your campaigns accordingly. Proper analytics set up on your website lets you measure your return on investment (ROI). You can start out with Google Analytics, a free tool that is the most widely adopted analytics tool around the world.

You can measure and get insights into social and visitor behavior data, amongst others, through analytics.

Social insights

Visitor behavior insights

6. A Website is Your Extended Business Card

A business website is an excellent networking tool that helps broaden your client base regardless of the time of day.

These days, an immediate reaction when sifting through business cards you collect is to look up the person and company online to see if there is a potential synergy to work together.

A business card fits only basic details (i.e. phone number, email, website address etc.) on it. Your website then becomes the source of the additional information – product data, customer stories, testimonials – that is needed to bring a conversation further.

A satisfied customer may share your website when recommending your services to family, friend or colleague.

If the reasons shared have you convinced, then carry on reading, otherwise let us know your doubts in the comments section.

How to Create a Professional Website 

As discussed, having a business website offers several advantages. However, you can’t expect to achieve all of them if you fail at making your website work for your brand.

Here’s a quick guide to creating a professional website:

  • Determine your goals. You can’t start with web creation without a fundamental goal. Be sure to set goals that are SMART— specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Devise a branding strategy. Identify your target market (the individuals whom you want to reach and turn into paying customers). Then, research your competitors to get a feel for what the competition is doing. You also need to define your brand identity, which includes a logo, brand colours, style and writing tone.
  • Plan web design and pages. Use your branding elements consistently on your site. Decide on how you want your website to look and how many pages will your website have.
  • Prioritize user experience. Your website should provide a positive user experience. Ensure visitors to keep browsing by looking into these factors: navigation flow, website layout, content readability, and mobile-friendly design.
  • Optimize for search engines. Build your website with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. Perform keyword research, write every content piece following SEO practices, and pay attention to other elements such as meta tags, and alt text.
  • Test website before launch. Test your website on all major browsers before it goes live. Run compatibility testing to ensure plugins work well, double-check if all the URLs are correct, proofread the content, and check for any tiny errors.

All of the above are areas that a good web development agency would help you with, so if you’re looking for one, reach out to us. Visit our web and development page to learn more about our services and development process.

The Takeaway

The increasingly digital business landscape means you cannot ignore establishing a solid online presence for your brand. You must give your business every chance to be successful and your digital presence begins with building a professional website.

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