Dallas Media Blog

Dallas Media Blog

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Dallas Digital Marketing Business

Dallas Digital Marketing Business

  For your business, it can be easy to try doing everything yourself because you think that it saves you money. This can be a huge mistake, especially if you lack the knowledge and experience in the field of marketing. Marketing is what brings customers into your...

Facebook Update & What It Means for Small Business

Facebook Update & What It Means for Small Business

Dallas Media Marketing Facebook Update It’s not uncommon for Facebook to make tweaks to its news feed algorithm. If you think back to what the website looked like at its launch in February of 2004, it’s completely different from what it used to be. With that...

The Importance of SEO

The Importance of SEO

The importance of SEO to businesses in today’s world   The development of Internet and technology has taken everything online. People who live in every corner of the world use Internet for most of their day to day activities. This has created a great platform for the...

30 Tips for Great Digital Marketing

30 Tips for Great Digital Marketing  It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Tara Banda – Enjoy! A man walks into a bar/restaurant/hotel/car repair shop. Chances are, he found it online. That’s because today’s consumers, 80%...

13 Ways Digital Marketing Works

13 Ways Digital Marketing Works

It is no exaggeration that you live in a digital world and from that perspective, It is imperative that your business has an impressive presence in the digital space.In essence, digital marketing is the future of marketing in the world with the added advantages...

9 Sales and Marketing Tips for Startups

9 Sales and Marketing Tips for Startups

Marketing done right can be an incredible boon for your business’s net income. Done wrong, however, it can feel like throwing money into a raging bonfire. Because small business owners have to be whatever their small business needs -- all the time -- it can be...

9 Simple eCommerce Content Marketing Tips

9 Simple eCommerce Content Marketing Tips

Tips on Content Marketing for eCommerce However, content marketing can be difficult to execute if you don’t know what you are doing. This is especially true in the eCommerce sphere. You can’t just produce lack-luster content and expect to see results. Use these nine...

How to Start a Digital Marketing Business

How to Start a Digital Marketing Business

Before starting a digital marketing business, you should have a clear idea of what makes you unique and stand out from the others.  Do you specialize in a certain style or niche? Are you going to be dealing with big businesses or independent ones? Set some goals for yourself in the beginning so you can measure how you’re going and give yourself milestones to work towards. Once you have all of that down you’ll find you have a lot more direction and focus on building your business. The first thing needed to start any business is a clear idea of what the core values are and from that designing and developing a brand. A brand is a representation of the business itself and should convey to the business’s target audience who they are and what they stand for. When a clear set of core values are decided upon its time to work on developing a logo, font, and tagline that all reflect the brand. Time and care should be put into this as it’s the first thing people will see and associate with your business, so you want it to leave an impression. Next, it’s essential if you’re going to start a digital marketing business to have a good online presence and to do this you should start with a solid website. It’s important when building your website to keep in mind ‘why is my target audience coming here? ‘and ‘what do they want?’ It’s easy to get caught up in the ascetics but you’ll find most people value functionality and easy to use websites over flashy graphically focused ones. Make sure your website caters to your target audience by testing it on a sample group. By constantly reviewing and revising your work you’re more likely to have a winning product. You also need to be able to prove yourself to new clients, to be able to show them confidently what results your company can provide. Which is why it’s essential your portfolio is up to scratch. Your portfolio should include headlines and short snippets, more in-depth result case studies, testimonials from current clients and future goals and projections for those clients. If you include the above any potential clients and partners will be able to see a clear picture of where you can take their business. If you don’t already have a portfolio a good way to build it up is to take on a couple jobs at a lower rate or even for free. The business that’ll be brought in by a strong portfolio outweighs a couple of jobs. Remember when starting up that there is a lot of competition out there and people don’t want to wade through countless businesses looking for a right fit. Make sure you know who you’re catering to and have a strong brand identity that speaks to your target audience. Clearly present what services you offer and how you stand out in an easy to use website people can engage with. Also, don’t forget to show offer your work with a strong portfolio of testimonials that let the client know what they getting.  If you have all of that sorted, then you’re off to a great start for your new digital media business.
7 Digital Marketing Strategies That Work: A Complete Guide

7 Digital Marketing Strategies That Work: A Complete Guide

7 Digital Marketing Strategies That Work: A Complete Guide

But when you’re growing a business, it seems like this ever-evolving landscape can quickly become overwhelming. There’s already enough to do — how are you also supposed to create, fine-tune, and maintain an agile digital marketing strategy?We’ve compiled a list of seven digital marketing strategies that marketers can adapt to help their teams and businesses grow, as well as a crash course on the meaning of digital strategy and marketing campaigns.

Click here to download our free guide to digital marketing fundamentals.

What is Digital Strategy?

In short: Your digital marketing strategy is the series of actions that are going to help you achieve your goal(s) using online marketing. The term ‘strategy’ might seem intimidating, but building an effective digital strategy doesn’t need to be difficult.

In simple terms, a strategy is just a plan of action to achieve a desired goal, or multiple goals. For example, your overarching goal might be to generate 25% more leads via your website this year than you drove last year.

Depending on the scale of your business, your digital marketing strategy might involve multiple goals and a lot of moving parts, but coming back to this simple way of thinking about strategy can help you stay focused on meeting those objectives.

Despite our simplification of the term ‘strategy’, there’s no doubt it can be difficult to get started actually building one. Let’s see what a digital marketing campaign looks like, and then, we’ll jump into those seven building blocks to help you create an effective digital marketing strategy to set up your business for online success.

What is a Digital Marketing Campaign?

It’s easy to confuse your digital strategy with your digital marketing campaigns, but here’s how to distinguish the two.

As we’ve already outlined, your digital strategy is the series of actions you take to help you achieve your overarching marketing goal. Your digital marketing campaigns are the building blocks or actions within your strategy that move you toward meeting that goal.

For example, you might decide to run a campaign sharing some of your best-performing gated content on Twitter, to generate more leads through that channel. That campaign is part of your strategy to generate more leads.

It’s important to note that even if a campaign runs over the course of a couple of years, it doesn’t make it a strategy — it’s still a tactic that sits alongside other campaigns to form your strategy.

Now that we’ve gotten to grips with the basics of digital strategy and digital marketing campaigns, let’s dig into how to build your strategy.

How to Build a Comprehensive Digital Strategy

1) Build your buyer personas.

For any marketing strategy — offline or online — you need to know who you’re marketing to. The best digital marketing strategies are built upon detailed buyer personas, and your first step is to create them. (Need help? Start here with our free buyer persona kit.)

Buyer personas represent your ideal customer(s) and can be created by researching, surveying, and interviewing your business’s target audience. It’s important to note that this information should be based upon real data wherever possible, as making assumptions about your audience can cause your marketing strategy to take the wrong direction.

To get a rounded picture of your persona, your research pool should include a mixture of customers, prospects, and people outside your contacts database who align with your target audience.

But what kind of information should you gather for your own buyer persona(s) to inform your digital marketing strategy? That depends on your businesses, and is likely to vary depending on whether you’re B2B or B2C, or whether your product is high cost or low cost. Here are some starting points, but you’ll want to fine-tune them, depending on your particular business.

Quantitative (or Demographic) Information

  • Location. You can use web analytics tools like Google Analytics to easily identify what location your website traffic is coming from.
  • Age. Depending on your business, this may or may not be relevant. It’s best to gather this data by identifying trends in your existing prospect and customer database.
  • Income. It’s best to gather sensitive information like personal income in persona research interviews, as people might be unwilling to share it via online forms.
  • Job Title. This is something you can get a rough idea of from your existing customer base, and is most relevant for B2B companies.

Qualitative (or Psychographic) Information

  • Goals. Depending on the need your product or service was created to serve, you might already have a good idea of what goals your persona is looking to achieve. However, it’s best to cement your assumptions by speaking to customers, as well as internal sales and customer service representatives.
  • Challenges. Again, speak to customers, sales and customer service representatives to get an idea of the common problems your audience faces.
  • Hobbies and interests. Speak to customers and people who align with your target audience. If you’re a fashion brand, for example, it’s helpful to know if large segments of your audience are also interested in fitness and well-being, as that can help inform your future content creation and partnerships.
  • Priorities. Speak to customers and people who align with your target audience to find out what’s most important to them in relation to your business. For example, if you’re a B2B software company, knowing that your audience values customer support over a competitive price point is very valuable information.

Take this information and create one or more rounded personas, like Marketing Molly below, and ensure they’re at the core of your digital marketing strategy.

2) Identify your goals & the digital marketing tools you’ll need.

Your marketing goals should always be tied back to the fundamental goals of the business. For example, if your business’s goal is to increase online revenue by 20%, your goal as a marketer might be to generate 50% more leads via the website than you did last year to contribute towards that success.

Whatever your overarching goal is, you need to know how to measure it, and more important, actually be able to measure it (e.g., have the right digital marketing tools in place to do so). How you measure the effectiveness of your digital strategy will be different for each business and dependent on your goal(s), but it’s vital to ensure you’re able to do so, as it’s these metrics which will help you adjust your strategy in the future.

If you’re a HubSpot customer, the Reporting add-on in your HubSpot software brings all of your marketing and sales data into one place, so you can quickly determine what works and what doesn’t.

3) Evaluate your existing digital marketing channels and assets.

When considering your available digital marketing channels or assets to incorporate into your strategy, it’s helpful to first consider the bigger picture to avoid getting overwhelmed. The owned, earned, and paid media framework helps to categorize the digital ‘vehicles’, assets, or channels that you’re already using.

Owned Media

This refers to the digital assets that your brand or company owns — whether that’s your website, social media profiles, blog content, or imagery, owned channels are the things your business has complete control over. This can include some off-site content that you own, but isn’t hosted on your website, like a blog that you publish on Medium, for example.

Earned Media

Quite simply, earned media refers to the exposure you’ve earned through word-of-mouth. Whether that’s content you’ve distributed on other websites (e.g., guest posts), PR work you’ve been doing, or the customer experience you’ve delivered, earned media is the recognition you receive as a result. You can earn media by getting press mentions, positive reviews, and by other people sharing your content on social media, for instance.

Paid Media

Paid media is a bit self-explanatory in what its name suggests — and refers to any vehicle or channel that you spend money on to catch the attention of your buyer personas. This includes things like Google AdWords, paid social media posts, native advertising (like sponsored posts on other websites), and any other medium for which you directly pay in exchange for visibility.

Gather what you have, and categorize each vehicle or asset in a spreadsheet, so you have a clear picture of your existing owned, earned, and paid media.

Your digital marketing strategy might incorporate elements of all three channels, all working together to help you reach your goal. For example, you might have an owned piece of content on a landing page on your website that’s been created to help you generate leads. To amplify the number of leads that content generates, you might have made a real effort to make it shareable, meaning others are distributing it via their personal social media profiles, increasing traffic to the landing page. That’s the earned media component. To support the content’s success, you might have posted about the content to your Facebook page and have paid to have it seen by more people in your target audience.

That’s exactly how the three can work together to help you meet your goal. Of course, it’s not compulsory to use all three. If your owned and earned media are both successful, you might not need to invest in paid. It’s all about evaluating the best solution to meet your goal, and then incorporating the channels that work best for your business into your digital marketing strategy.

Now you know what’s already being used, you can start to think about what to keep and what to cut.

4) Audit and plan your owned media.

At the heart of digital marketing is your owned media, which pretty much always takes the form of content. Every message your brand broadcasts can generally be classified as content, whether it’s your ‘About Us’ page, your product descriptions, blog posts, ebooks, infographics, or social media posts. Content helps convert your website visitors into leads and customers, and helps to raise your brand’s profile online — and when it’s optimized, it can also boost any efforts you have around search/organic traffic. Whatever your goal, you’re going to need to use owned content to form your digital marketing strategy.

To build your digital marketing strategy, you need to decide what content is going to help you reach your goals. If your goal is to generate 50% more leads via the website than you did last year, it’s unlikely that your ‘About Us’ page is going to be included in your strategy — unless that page has somehow been a lead generation machine in the past.

It might more likely that an ebook gated by a form on your website drives far more leads, and as a result, that might be something you want to do more of. Here’s a brief process to follow to work out what ownedcontent you need to meet your digital marketing goals:

Audit your existing content

Make a list of your existing owned content, and rank each item according to what has previously performed best in relation to your current goals. If your goal is lead generation, for example, rank them according to which generated the most leads in the last year. That might be a particular blog post, an ebook, or even a specific page on your website that’s converting well.

The idea here is to figure out what’s currently working, and what’s not, so that you can set yourself up for success when planning future content.

Identify gaps in your existing content

Based on your buyer personas, identify any gaps in the content you have. If you’re a math tutoring company and have discovered in your audience research that one of your persona’s biggest challenges is finding interesting ways to study, but you don’t have any content that speaks to that concern, then you might look to create some.

By looking at your content audit, you might discover that ebooks hosted on a certain type of landing page convert really well for you (much better than webinars, for example). In the case of this math tutoring company, you might make the decision to add an ebook about ‘how to make studying more interesting’ to your content creation plans.

Create a content creation plan

Based on your findings and the gaps you’ve identified, make a content creation plan outlining the content that’s necessary to help you hit your goals. This should include:

  • Title
  • Format
  • Goal
  • Promotional channels
  • Why you’re creating it (e.g., “Marketing Molly struggles to find time to plan her blog content, so we’re creating a template editorial calendar”)
  • Priority level (to help you decide what’s going to give you the most “bang for your buck”)

This can be a simple spreadsheet, and should also include budget information if you’re planning to outsource the content creation, or a time estimate if you’re producing it yourself.

5) Audit and plan your earned media.

Evaluating your previous earned media against your current goals can help you get an idea of where to focus your time. Look at where your traffic and leads are coming from (if that’s your goal) and rank each earned media source from most effective to least effective.

You can get this information from tools like Google Analytics, or the  Sources Reports in your HubSpot software.

You might find that a particular article you contributed to the industry press drove a lot of qualified traffic to your website, which in turn converted really well. Or, you might discover that LinkedIn is where you see most people sharing your content, which in turn drives a lot of traffic. The idea here is to build up a picture of what earned media will help you reach your goals, and what won’t, based on historical data. However, if there’s something new you want to try, don’t rule that out just because it’s not yet tried and tested.

6) Audit and plan your paid media.

This process involves much of the same process: You need to evaluate your existing paid media across each platform (e.g., Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to figure out what’s likely to help you meet your current goals.

If you’ve been spending a lot of money on AdWords and haven’t seen the results you’d hoped for, maybe it’s time to refine your approach, or scrap it altogether and focus on another platform that seems to be yielding better results. (Check out this free AdWords guide for more on how to leverage it for business.)

By the end of the process, you should have a clear idea of which paid media platforms you want to continue using, and which (if any) you’d like to remove from your strategy.

7) Bring it all together.

You’ve done the planning and the research, and you now have a solid vision of the elements that are going to make up your digital marketing strategy. Here’s what you should have so far:

  1. Clear profile(s) of your buyer persona(s)
  2. One or more marketing-specific goals
  3. An inventory of your existing owned, earned, and paid media
  4. An audit of your existing owned, earned, and paid media
  5. An owned content creation plan or wish list

Now, it’s time to bring all of it together to form a cohesive strategy document. Let’s revisit what digital strategy means: the series of actions that are going to help you achieve your goal(s) using online marketing.

By that definition, your strategy document should map out the series of actions you’re going to take to achieve your goals, based on your research to this point. A spreadsheet is an efficient format — and for the sake of consistency, you might find it easiest to map out according to the owned, earned, and paid media framework we’ve used so far.

You’ll also need to plan your strategy for a longer-term period — typically, something like 12 months is a good starting point, depending on how your business is set up. That way, you can overlay when you’ll be executing each action. For example:

  • In January, you might start a blog which will be continually updated once a week, for the entire year.
  • In March, you might launch a new ebook, accompanied by paid promotion.
  • In July, you might be preparing for your biggest business month — what do you hope to have observed at this point that will influence the content you produce to support it?
  • In September, you might plan to focus on earned media in the form of PR to drive additional traffic during the run-up.

By taking this approach, you’re also creating a structured timeline for your activity, which will help communicate your plans to your colleagues — not to mention, maybe even help keep you sane.

Your Path to Digital Marketing Strategy Success

Your strategy document will be very individual to your business, which is why it’s almost impossible for us to create a one-size-fits-all digital marketing strategy template. Remember, the purpose of your strategy document is to map out the actions you’re going to take to achieve your goal over a period of time — as long as it communicates that, then you’ve nailed the basics of creating a digital strategy.

If you’re eager to learn more about this realm, and how you can build a truly effective strategy to help grow your business, check out our simple guide to digital marketing strategy.

 

4 Small Business Marketing Tips for a Successful 2017 Holiday Season

4 Small Business Marketing Tips for a Successful 2017 Holiday Season

By Kalin Kassabov

For many businesses, the holiday season is the most profitable time of year. This is nothing new. However, many aspects of holiday marketing have changed quite dramatically in recent years. If you’re using outdated tactics, it will be difficult to keep up with the competition. Let’s look at some of the most significant changes in holiday marketing that you need to know about if you want to make the most out of the season in 2017. 

Get an Early Start

It seems as though the holiday season starts earlier every year. The days when it all started on Black Friday are long gone. In fact, the signs of the season begin by November now. If you count Halloween, you could even say that holiday marketing starts by Labor Day! The point is, you really need to prepare for the season by the end of summer at the latest. If you sell physical items, stock up on popular products. Make sure you’re well-staffed for the season. If necessary, advertise for holiday help.

Target Separate Events of the Season

While we talk about “the holiday season” as if it’s one long stretch, it’s actually divided into many parts. Halloween is now a huge event that you can tie into your marketing, even if it’s just to hold a spooky sale with scary discounts. Other specific holiday and seasonal events you can use in your marketing include:

  • End of the fall
  • Start of winter
  • Kwanzaa
  • Hanukkah
  • Christmas
  • The New Year
  • Holiday break for students (from young kids all the way up to college students)

Depending on your customer base, you can emphasize these or other points in the holiday season. If many of your customers are families with kids, for example, think not only of holiday presents, but activities during the holiday break. Even for adults without children, the week between Christmas and New Years is a good excuse to offer coupons, specials and other enticements.

Incorporate Mobile Marketing

As mobile devices become ever more present in our daily functions, you can’t overlook ways to use mobile marketing as part of your holiday marketing strategy. As my own company is involved with helping businesses reach their customers using SMS or text message marketing, I’m always looking for ways to get the most out of mobile marketing.

  • Target your messages. Rather than sending out generic messages about your products, target messages based on your customers’ particular interests and preferences. To do this, you need to incorporate segmenting into your mobile strategy before the holidays. This is a strategy that yields benefits throughout the year, but it can be especially profitable during the holiday season.
  • Send push notifications, coupons and promotions at strategic times. You can also take advantage of geolocation abilities by notifying people of special deals when they’re in close proximity to your business. This is a good way to get people to make spur-of-the-moment purchases.
  • Create mobile-friendly gift guides. Make sure it’s easy for mobile customers to see all of your holiday offerings. If you sell physical products, curate collections by category. If you provide services, you can offer various gift certificates that appeal to different types of customers.
  • Attract new customers. The holiday season isn’t only a strategic time to reach out to existing customers; it can also be lucrative for attracting new ones. Offer people a holiday coupon for signing up for your text alerts or downloading your app.

Look Ahead to the New Year

While the holiday season officially ends on New Year’s Day, savvy businesses can connect their holiday marketing with customers’ needs during the post-holiday season. For one thing, consumers have come to expect extra savings at the beginning of the year. While many businesses simply sell off unsold stock at deep discounts, if you plan ahead, you can offer more strategic deals and target the bargain-hunting consumers seeking post-holiday sales.

Depending on the type of business you have, you may be able to profit from various aspects of the post-holiday period. Think of kids returning to school, people anxious to make good on New Year’s resolutions (fitness, healthy meals, self-improvement), winter sports and other ways to address your customers’ post-holiday, mid-winter needs. This can help you continue your holiday season momentum and avoid an extreme drop-off in sales that businesses fear at the start of a new year.

These are some ways to make the most out of the holiday season. Naturally, you should make the most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, it’s equally important to leverage your marketing strategy to encompass the entire, ever-longer holiday season as well as the period immediately following the holidays.

Kalin Kassabov is a founder and CEO of ProTexting.com, a fast-growing enterprise level text message suite of services.

9 Sales and Marketing Tips for Startups

9 Sales and Marketing Tips for Startups

9 Sales and Marketing Tips for Startups

By Mike Kappel Contributor / Serial Entrepreneur, Patriot Software Company CEO

Marketing done right can be an incredible boon for your business’s net income. Done wrong, however, it can feel like throwing money into a raging bonfire. Because small business owners have to be whatever their small business needs — all the time — it can be difficult to master all the nuances that go into sales or marketing. If you’re not a natural salesperson, it can be even more difficult. Fear not, the following nine marketing tips for startups can help you make more sales, market better and waste less money.

Related: The 5 Stages Startups Must Go Through to Make That First $1 Million

1. Sell the benefit, not a comparison.

How you market yourself is all about highlighting what makes you different. There are three major ways to do that.

  • Cost (you know how to price a product better than the competition)
  • Quality (you’re better)
  • A combination thereof (you offer the better value)

But how you sell yourself is different than how you market yourself. You can tell someone that you provide a product or service that is cheaper or more effective than that of another business, but that doesn’t say how much better you are going to make the customer’s life.

Selling is about the benefit. A comparison may highlight the features you offer, but you are always selling benefit.

2. Listen to your customer.

Sam Walton, WalMart’s famed mass retail titan, started his empire in rural America. This was despite the prevailing business logic saying a mass retailer anywhere but in a city with a concentrated population would fail. The logic was, if you wanted to move mass quantities of goods, you needed mass quantities of people.

But Walton knew his customers because he would frequently listen to them firsthand. He was aware that people who lived in rural and suburban areas often bought in larger quantities because they had larger families or needed more goods to keep their own small businesses stocked and running. Walton listened to his customers, and the result is the largest, most powerful brick and mortar retailer in the world. The customer may at times defy logic, but they are always right. Listen to them.

3. Market your product before it’s ready.

Some businesses wait until their product is perfect before they do any marketing or awareness campaigning. That can be a costly mistake. Many businesses expect to sell their product as soon as it’s ready. But if no one knows about it, then demand will start at zero until you undergo a marketing campaign to build brand awareness for potential customers.

It’s better to do preemptive awareness campaigning, even if it’s minimal, to let potential customers know your product is coming. You can sell the benefit before the product has arrived. This way, when the product is ready, so are customers!

4. Think outside the box.

The marketing landscape has dramatically changed since I started my first business more than 30 years ago. Back then, there were no search engines or social media platforms. There was no internet as we know it. Now, startups can utilize a bevy of free, online marketing techniques that are both creative and effective. For example, you can use online video marketing, social media, blog influencers, crowdsourcing, competitions, content marketing, thought leadership and more.

Related: 5 Social Media Studies That Will Boost Your Marketing Skills

5. Test fast. Fail fast.

Marketing that you can’t measure is failed marketing. Sure, you may spend money to do some advertisement, and you may even see an uptick in sales around the same time you ran the ads. But how can you be sure what you spent on ads correlates with sales? Maybe it was something else altogether. Maybe there is a natural, seasonal uptick for what you sell that will go away in a month.

If you’re going to commit time and money to a marketing campaign, make sure you can measure the results. Set up ways to track conversions that stem from each marketing campaign. Also, run multiple types of marketing campaigns in distinct, small batches. This will allow you to compare marketing channels and see which perform best. Toss out the ones that don’t work and keep those that do.

6.  Advertise from multiple angles.

As mentioned above, it’s good to test multiple marketing channels and ideas to see what works best. Often, it’s not any one thing but a combination of all of the above. When your customer hears you on the radio, sees you in a search engine result, and then finds you mentioned in a blog they like (content marketing), they start to accept your brand as a solid, dependable, known entity. They may not have the need for your product or service immediately, but when they do, it will be your name that comes to mind instead of a competitor’s.

7.  It’s always time for PR.

When you do traditional advertising, it’s your marketing material selling your product. When you do PR, or have a member of the press or a media house that covers your industry talk about you, it’s brand building and endorsement.

Some people call it landing-page flair or credibility building, but, if your company is featured in Mashable or The Wall Street Journal, you’d be silly not to put that paper’s name on the front of your company’s website. Even if your company was only mentioned by way of a quote from your CEO, you are still “as mentioned in The Wall Street Journal.” When customers see that publication’s name next to your company’s name, it builds credibility.

Even little PR wins, like local news or blogs, add up. And, unlike most traditional marketing, PR endures far beyond the dates of the advertising campaign. Good PR can do a lot for your credibility and brand awareness.

8. Give customers a place to talk to/about you.

Good or bad, you want to know what your customers are saying. If you don’t provide your customers with a place to complain or praise you, it makes it look like their thoughts and opinions don’t matter. Remember, even if a customer comes to you and is furious, that’s a great opportunity for you to publicly show how willing you are to right a wrong, or make a customer feel valued — which is PR gold.

Related: 6 Tools to Turbocharge Your Content Marketing in 2017

By providing a place on your site for this kind of exchange to happen, you can address the issue and control a portion of that narrative. The alternative is that your customer goes to a third-party site and complains where you can’t address the issue nor tailor an edited response.

9. We look forward to seeing you again.

Reward loyalty or interest. I tell my employees at Patriot Software, my online accounting and payroll company, that our customers are our sales department. Word-of-mouth testimonials and customers who are brand advocates are better than any sales team you could put together. So, I continuously reward customers with competitive pricing, incredible customer support and automatic updates to enhance the software.

9 Simple eCommerce Content Marketing Tips

9 Simple eCommerce Content Marketing Tips

9 Simple eCommerce Content Marketing Tips You Can Start Using Today

by Ronald Dod
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Tips on Content Marketing for eCommerce

However, content marketing can be difficult to execute if you don’t know what you are doing. This is especially true in the eCommerce sphere. You can’t just produce lack-luster content and expect to see results. Use these nine simple tips to help boost your content marketing today

Create Buyer Personas

One simple way to increase your content marketing is first to understand your customers better. A great way that you can do this is through creating buyer personas. These are detailed descriptions of your specific target customers. If you don’t have a deep understanding of who they are and what they want, how are you supposed to tailor your message and make them interested in your content?

There’s a pretty good chance, by now, that you already have an idea of who your target customers are. But just having an idea isn’t enough. You need to know everything about them — their age, their location, their income, their needs — everything. It doesn’t have to be 100 percent accurate for every single person who buys from you, but it should represent your ideal customer.

In order to create your buyer personas, first you need to identify your target customer groups. You might have two, you might have five, you might have 20, or you might just have one. Maybe you sell men’s and women’s clothing — one target customer group would be centered around men and one would be centered around women. If you do have many target customer groups, don’t think you have to create a detailed persona for each of them. Start with your top three and then add as you go along.

Once you have your customer groups identified, start researching about those groups in order to get more details for your personas. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself about your ideal customers:

  • What are the customers’ ages?
  • Where do the customers live? In urban areas, rural areas?
  • What are the customers’ relationship statuses?
  • Who do the customers live with?
  • What are the customers’ genders?
  • What education levels do the customers have?
  • Which schools did they attend?
  • What did they study in school?
  • What types of jobs do the customers have?
  • What are the customers’ annual household incomes?
  • Do the customers have children?
  • What are the customers’ job titles?
  • Do the customers own homes or do they rent?
  • What does a typical day look like for the customers?
  • How much time do the customers spend at work vs. home?
  • What types of vehicles do they drive?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • What types of mobile devices do they own?
  • How tech-savvy are your customers?
  • How do they spend their days?
  • What are the customers’ biggest fears?
  • What are the customers’ goals?
  • How do the customers prefer to communicate?
  • Which social media platforms are the customers on?

These are just sample questions — a great place for you to get started, but some questions will be more specific to your industry and your company.

There are other ways that you can gather data on your customers as well. If you have the money to do so, you can always conduct a focus group to get more information. You could also send out questionnaires or surveys to your customer base. Mine your social media analytics to see more about the customers who are already interacting with you.

After you gather all of your information, you need to put your personas together. You can always create your own file and your own structure to the personas. That is up to you. Or you can use a standard template to help you out. You can find a persona template from Hubspot here, or another one from the Buyer Personas Institute here.

Reverse Engineer Your Competitors

Reverse engineering is the process of using various tools and services to analyze, or spy, on your competition to see their content and figure out where their backlinks are coming from. This is a great way for you to get a better understanding of not only your direct competitors but also the industry and market.

There are several ways that you can reverse engineer your competition. There are tools out there, like SEMRush, that can also help you out here. The absolute first thing that you want to do is identify your competition. This really shouldn’t be too hard — you should have an idea of your competition. But don’t just include your direct competition. Also look into brands that are ranking in the positions that you would like to. Create a list of 10-25 keywords that you would like to rank #1 for. Then you can use a tool, or just Google it yourself, and find out who is currently ranking in those spots.

After you have identified your competition, you need to look into their content and copywriting to compare it with yours. Check to see if they are blogging — if so, how often, on what topics, how long are their posts — and take notes on what they are doing. You can also check out their landing pages. How are they structured? What type of content is on them? What type of media is used? The more information you can gather in this process, the more ideas you can take back to your own site to see how you can improve it.

Decide on Content

One easy tip to help improve your content marketing is to clearly define what type of content you want to develop. One thing that you want to keep in mind is that your content marketing isn’t about the content at all. It doesn’t matter if you are producing content if it doesn’t connect with your target audience. What’s the point? You want to make sure that the content you are developing helps to solve your customers’ problems.

Take the buyer personas you created and information you gathered through your reverse engineering and see what type of content is going to work best for your audience. There are many different types of content that you can create, such as:

Case StudiesPerforming case studies is a great way to increase your brand awareness which also showcases benefits of your product or service. You could produce a case study on many different scenarios, as long as it is proving the success of your company.

Buyer Guides: A buyer’s guide is a popular type of content that can not only help increase your organic search ranking but also help persuade readers to make a purchase decision. These should be very well-written, around 10-15 pages, and should include useful points that will help support your brand’s call to action.

Product ComparisonsProduct comparisons are pretty easy to create and can be very popular with readers. People love to compare and contrast different options, as long as the facts are presented for and against. You don’t even have to take a side. You can remain impartial as long as you present arguments for each.

InfographicsSome will tell you that infographics have been beaten into the ground, but if you do them right, they can still provide value to your content marketing strategy. Visual content is a much better way to appeal to a larger audience than just plain text. If you can promote your infographic to the right influencers, you can acquire a good number of new links.

PodcastsPodcasts can be a great way to reach an audience you might not have otherwise been able to target. You might think that podcasts require too much work for them to be beneficial to your company. But podcasts don’t have to be extensive or lengthy. They can be 10 to 15 minutes. As long as you are sharing relevant and useful information, it doesn’t have to be an hour.

Customer ReviewsCustomer reviews can provide an authentic voice to potential customers and help persuade them to buy from you. Unfortunately, these can sometimes be a bit out of your control. One way that you can help control the process is to ask your customers for reviews and testimonials. Most of your happy customers will gladly write you a review.

Create a Calendar

Once you’ve decided on what type of content you want to create, you need to create a calendar to keep everything organized. An editorial calendar is a great way to help you plan out what content you are producing and when and where it is going. It can be a tool to help you better allocate your time and resources.

You don’t want to just fly by the seat of your pants, here. You need an in-place strategy to help you get the most of your content marketing. As you start producing content and have a better understanding of what your target audience is looking for, you can adjust your calendar (and strategy) accordingly.

Here are a few things that you might want to include on your content calendar:

  • Title of content
  • Brief description of the content
  • Your buyer persona
  • Keyword(s) you are targeting
  • The topic or category of the piece
  • The content type
  • The author of the piece
  • The due date
  • Where you want to publish it
  • When it is going to be published
  • Any promotional information

Use Images and Video

Another way to boost your content marketing efforts is to use images and videos in your strategy. Studies show that the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than just plain text. Visual content also receives more engagement — tweets that include images receive 89 percent more favorites and 150 percent more retweets than tweets without images.

Luckily, in the eCommerce space images shouldn’t be that hard to come by. Your whole business is centered around products. Take pictures of them and use them in your content. Your content should be filled with pictures of the products you sell. But be creative with them. Don’t just take a picture of a pair of shoes and throw it in your blog post. Be creative and show them being used.

You can also work on incorporating video into your content marketing strategy. Video is becoming increasingly popular in today’s market — 55 percent of people report that they watch videos online daily. Also, studies report that video will make up 75 percent of all mobile traffic by 2020.

Luckily for you, video content marketing hasn’t really become the norm, and it definitely hasn’t caught up with the demand for it. This means that if you can add video to your content marketing strategy, you could be boosted way ahead of your competition and greatly increase your sales. It’s reported that a video can help to persuade 73 percent of consumers to buy from you.

Yet, these videos don’t have to be a huge production. You could simply add a product demonstration video to your product pages to give your customers more information. If you have how-to guides or definitive guides of something, you could turn those into a video to help complement the content you already have. This can be a great way to hook people in and once they learn more about your product, hopefully, they will become cutomers.

Promote Your Content

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Build it and they will come.” But that’s not the case with content marketing. There are over three million posts published on the internet every single day. How are people supposed to find your content in the midst of all that noise? Hint: they won’t.

Therefore, you need to make sure that you are getting your content out there for your audience to find. You can promote your content three ways

  • You can promote it to your own audience, or owned media.
  • You can promote it to someone else’s audience, or earned media.
  • You can promote it by paying for clicks or reach, or paid media.

Your owned media consists of your audience from your blog, from your social media accounts, from your email list, etc. You want to make sure, each time you post a piece of content, that people who have already expressed interest in you hear about it.

Earned media refers to people who might be interested in your content. You can find these people by identifying your industry’s influencers. Make a list of these influencers that you want to target and start by reaching out to them. Start with something simple — following them on Twitter, sharing their content, commenting on their content, etc. Eventually, you can share your content with them and see if they will share it with their audience.

You can also promote your content through paid media. This can include social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn — as well as retargeting ads, display ads and more. The goal with paid media is to make sure you create an ad that will resonate with your target audience while not paying a fortune.

Identify Influencers to Target

As we previously mentioned, a great way to promote your content is through earned media — or your industry’s influencers. Influencers are a great way to get your content out there a lot faster and to a bigger audience. However, how do you figure out who are the influencers that you want to target? Here are a few components that you want your influencers to have:

  1. A solid blog with an engaged audience,
  2. An engaged social media presence with a good number of followers,
  3. A niche that is not in competition with you, but still has a shared and similar audience.

With those characteristics in mind, it’s time to start finding your influencers. The first thing that you want to do is start researching bloggers in your niche. You can do this with a simple Google search. Once you find this information, create a list of these bloggers and see which ones have the most influence with their followers. You also want to look into what type of content they publish on their blog, and their social presence — like the number of retweets, shares, etc.

After you have created a list of the influencers that you want to target, start working on developing a relationship with them. This isn’t something that is going to happen overnight in every situation, but the long-term goal should be to foster a mutually beneficial relationship with these thought leaders in your space.

You can start by following their blogs, following them on social media, tweeting at them, commenting on their content, etc. You can then start interacting with them and their audience, and, eventually, you can promote your own content to them when possible.

Win Backlinks

Google has repeatedly said that backlinks are one of the top three factors in Google’s search algorithm. However, these links are not just handed out. They can be difficult to earn, but they are necessary if you want a good ranking.

However, you don’t just want any links — you want high-quality backlinks. When it comes to backlinks, you want to make sure that you are going after links that are from quality sites.

When you are trying to win backlinks, it is important to understand what type of content will perform best. There are some types of content that have been proven to get you more backlinks and social shares.

Authority Guides – You want to make sure that you portray yourself as an authority on information that is relevant to your industry. This could be a “Definitive Guide to __” or the “Ultimate Guide for Amazon Domination.” These guides should be in-depth — around 5,000 to 20,000 words. This might take some time to create, but it will be worth it in the end.

Lists – People absolutely love lists, probably because they are easy to read and tend to be more fun than a long guide. This makes them extremely shareable. Lists could be on anything — from “8 Common SEO Mistakes” to “17 Things to Keep in Your Car.” This is where knowing your audience will come in handy — when trying to decide on what type of lists to create that will resonate the most with your readers.

Awards – Who doesn’t love a good award? You can create an award post that has different categories and different awards so that you can include as many different influencers as possible. You could also include some type of image or graphic that your influencers can use on their website.

Comparisons – Side by side comparisons can be a great way to capture the attention of your readers. People love articles that compare and contrast different items like Mac vs. PC,  Nike vs. Adidas, or iPhone vs. Android.

Infographics – As we’ve already stated, visual content is a great way to capture the attention of your audience. Infographics are extremely shareable types of content that tend to get a lot of engagement and traffic. However, you want to make sure that you aren’t just cramming them full of information. Set up a single fact and support it with relevant information. Make it fun, informational, and easy to read.

Experts Round Up – Round up some of the top experts in your field and ask them their opinions on a certain topic and let them create the content for you. People love information from “experts,” and “experts” love getting attention. Not only is this type of content very shareable, these experts that you have rounded up will probably also share it once it’s published, which helps get your content in front of more people.

Guest Post Regularly

Some SEO-ers out there will tell you that guest posting is no longer an effective way to promote your brand. However, I would disagree. Guest posting is still a great way to bring in high-quality links and referral traffic, and get your brand out in front of a different or bigger audience. It can also help you build yourself up as a thought leader in your niche.

However, you can’t go into the process of guest posting just focusing on building links. While you do want to build links, you have to go into it with the thought of reaching out to your target audience. It’s all about giving them the best content.

Start by identifying the top blogs in your industry and figure out how you can get in touch with them. Start by building relationships with these publications — make sure you read their content and understand what type of content they publish — and then create content to pitch to them. Make sure you add this to your content calendar and try to have a plan to publish a certain number of guest posts every month or so. How many posts you do is up to you.

 

Ronald Dod

Ronald Dod is the Founder and Owner of Visiture, an internet marketing agency that focuses on Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click management for eCommerce businesses. Ronald holds a Masters in the Science of Marketing from Florida State University and is certified in Google Adwords & Analytics.