Influencer marketing and quality content

This week on Brand Storytelling we spoke to Tim Wililams, the CEO  of Onalytica. Onalytica is an influencer marketing platform based in London. They help brands and agencies identify and connect with relevant social influencers. 

Influencer marketing delivers 2x more sales than paid advertsising. Find out why, and how it works together with great content to build growth and revenue for brands. 

The following is an excerpt from the Brand Storytelling podcast. Available on iTunes and Soundcloud

Rakhal Ebeli:    Such a big part of influencer in marketing, I imagine, is based on relationships. Is that what drives you in this part of marketing, this world that you play in?

Tim Williams:    Yes. I think it’s a fascinating space. I get bored by the status quo. I think that marketing, communications, and PR are great disciplines, but they need to evolve so fast in this day and age. I think it’s marketing gold to be able to find 20 or 30 people sometimes, that could really power your message more effectively than spending a lot of money on broadcast marketing. I think it’s a really cool concept. I think when people do it right, then they really drive efficacy and wonderful results in terms of marketing. I think it’s the future. I think it’s where everyone’s going. Media relations or marketing evolving into influencer relations. I think that it’s an exciting place to be in.

 

Rakhal Ebeli:    Influencer in marketing is clearly really big right now, in many different industries. I think some people out there are still a bit confused about what exactly it is. Can you give us the influencer marketing elevator pitch?

Tim Williams:    We provide software within the confluence of content marketing and influencer marketing. I think that these phrases have been coined, and sometimes they are quite generic. They mean different things to different people. Our definition of influencer marketing is the practice of marketing to people that have an influence over buying decisions, or potential behavioral changes in outcomes. It means different things to different people. Essentially a bunch of people that can affect change on your behalf, and really influence your target audience, whoever that is.

Rakhal Ebeli:    Got it. I guess just to back up what you’re saying, I’ve got some stats here that really go to the point. 81% of consumers trust the information they read on blogs. 91% of people trust recommendations from other people over brands themselves. 61% of consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post they have read recently. It comes down to understanding people, right. Understanding the consumer?

Tim Williams:    Exactly. I think that its all about trust. It’s about scaling influence within a marketplace. If you’re authentic, if you’ve got great content, if you’ve got a great story to tell, then it takes mass amounts of money and resources to be able to tell that one to one, or one to many. If you gauge well with influencers and they believe in what you’re doing, then suddenly you’ve got a massive third party sales force to promulgate that message to your audience.

Rakhal Ebeli:    People trust other people that they know or respect or have some kind of bond with. They’re probably more likely to take their recommendations, consume their content, follow their trends, and ultimately buy what they buy. I guess decades of misleading advertising and marketing has made people a little more skeptical about brands. What do you think?

Tim Williams:    I think that’s right. I think it’s the plethora of online commentators now. There are so many people producing content. Every brand is a commentator. Every consumer is a commentator on social media. With this multitude of conversations, it’s clearly important to cut through and I think a lot of people are still not that focused in how they’re targeting their marketing efforts. I think to be able to do some due diligence on your marketplace, identify the social influencers that really have an influence over your audience, and then be able to utilize them is critical to most brands.

Rakhal Ebeli:    A big part of the way you guys at Onalytica identify those influencers is actually through analyzing content. Tell us how that works?

Tim Williams:    We have a number of ways of identifying influencers. One of which is analyzing the key words in a brand piece of content and matching that to social influencers, signitures if you like. We create signiatures for each particular social influencer, which is basically a summary of what they’ve been saying over the last 12 months. By matching that summary against the piece of content, you can surface the most relevant influences to potentially share your content with.

Rakhal Ebeli:    Right. You would tag them in the content as a brand, in a simple way. How would you describe the way that you would engage them?

Tim Williams:    In terms of engaging the influencers, then I think it does depend on the influence of groups that come back. Some of our clients break down the influencers into journalists, analysts, sometimes mums, obviously they’re very influential in consumer situations and consumer household spending. They could be academics or health care professionals. Brands choose their own messages to the different influencer groups, and that preambles how they will engage with them. Sometimes it’s technical content, sometimes its more cool content that they want the audience to share. It really does depend on upon the brand and teh audience.

Rakhal Ebeli:    Sure. What about the seeding function of Onalytica. Is that basically just another means for brands to distribute their content? How does that work between the brand, the platform, the influences, and ultimately the audience?

Tim Williams:    In our enterprise software, what we do is we run programs for sometimes up to 2,000 influencers. The whole point of what we’re trying to enable brands to do is within 15-20 minutes per day, identify the key content sharing opportunities, by looking at what influences a posting and being able to drive contextual communications. For example, if you’re a brand like Microsoft and someone’s talking about potentially laptops, or mobile phones, or devices, then you can jump into the conversation at the relevant time.

Rakhal Ebeli:    You’re actually jumping into trends and conversations that are relevant to what you’re doing. That takes me to my next point. What do you make of the trend to start paying influencers on social platforms. Do you think that really does sully the industry of influence of marketing.

Tim Williams:    I think that’s a very good question. We believe in organic social outreach and that’s at the heart of what we do. We do think there is a place for pain. When looking at the most successful practitioners in our industry, I think they use a combination of both. When using the Twitter for Business application,  you can identify the top 500 social influencers. You can promote tweets within the top 500 names. I think that does have it’s place when you don’t have too many resources to outreach I think it’s also about creating those authentic relationships and getting the relationship to go from online to offline as soon as possible. Social media is very affective.
Identifying the influences and knowing when to contact them. Inviting them to a fence, and really building those relationships, I think works really well for those brands.

Rakhal Ebeli:    Right. It’s an organic and a genuine relationship. As opposed to perhaps, we need 20 tweets put out by influencers on the latest campaign and we’ll pay you $1000 to distribute that messaging. Which I think it can be a challenge if social media is set up as a transparent platform for communication. I don’t think too many fans of influencers are going to be wanted to be bombarded with paid messaging. Is that something you would agree with or do you have a fear that that might degrade that market?

Tim Williams:    I think that is one of fears. I think we are aware of the fact that consumers wouldn’t want that to continue. We are also mindful that brands don’t have unlimited resource. I think that it’s just something that’s going to happen, unless people increase their budgets, and resources in the influencer the marketing area. I would hope that in the next few years, that more budgets will be associated with influencer marketing. More resource would be over utilizing this particular way of leveraging social influence. I think that would improve matters. Equally on the other side it is getting more complex to know which influencers are paid or which influences would be better to leverage in an organic place. I think it becomes a bit more of a challenge for marketers in general.

Rakhal Ebeli:    All right. We’ll get into that in just a moment. You have some pretty impressive clients and in a minute we’ll also start talking about one of them is a case study and really flesh out this whole influence of marketing things for everyone who’s still unsure….

 

Content marketing in 2016 – with Joe Pulizzi

 

Welcome to the all new Brand Storytelling podcast! We have a fresh format and fresh content planned – and are very happy to kick off with special guest, Joe Pulizzi. Joe is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute and a revered marketing expert. 

In this episode, Joe gives his insights into what the year ahead may bring for CMOs and content producers. Get his tips on content strategy, keeping it simple, distributing your content, and goal setting. 

Listen to the podcast to catch full discussion – and learn why Joe Pulizzi loves LEGO and Star Wars (hint: it is do to with great storytelling and content!) 

The following is an excerpt from the Brand Storytelling podcast. Available on  iTunes and Soundcloud.

Transcript

Rakhal:    Just on a really simple campaign, I’d love to talk about one campaign or one company that’s done content really well and we’ve mentioned in the past a bank out of Denmark, do you want to just tell our listeners a little bit about their work and what really impressed you about it in 2015 as the stand up piece of content marketing?

Joe:    What I love about that is it actually it took a lot of guts to do this, so this is Jyske Bank. It’s one of the largest banks in Denmark. Basically, they were doing sponsorships and promotions just like every other bank would do and they were spending quite a few millions of dollar on sponsorship. They would sponsor soccer tournaments and whatnot. You’d see Jyske Bank on the side of the wall and they’re spending a ton of money. Marketing people said, “Are we getting our money’s worth here? Are we getting our $3 million plus worth here?” They all got together and said, “What if we actually develop our own audience? What if did that? What if we talk directly to our customers?” They said, “Well, let’s do something crazy. Let’s create a television station.”

    They did, they created JyskeBank.tv and they actually have a tagline that says, we’re the only media company with its own bank. Which I absolutely love and I love this model and I was able to meet a lot of the key people that put this together. They spoke at Content Marketing World before, and we found and presented the case studies in our documentary called the Story of Content. I just love this because they started with a very simple model, as you know, it’s this video programming, 24/7. They took the money that they were spending on sponsorship, they put it into hiring some amazing journalists going out and getting good talent and doing this on a regular basis. Over two years, I mean, it took them awhile, it took them commitment and over a couple years they were able to build a pretty significant audience.

    What was so funny about this is those organisations that used to charge them millions of dollars for sponsorship of these soccer tournaments and whatnot, were coming to them saying, basically saying, “Hey, would you be a media partner? We’ll give you all the same benefits you had before but we want you to cover our event.” Isn’t that amazing? They basically were paying for something before but now that audience was so valuable, other organizations wanted to go and actually reach that audience and that’s when you know you’ve built an asset. There’s lots of wonderful content marketing examples we could talk about but I love it for the fact that this is a bank, it doesn’t happen very often in financial, you had somebody take a risk and say, “What do we need to do to communicate directly with our audience?” It’s something like you could use bank TV and it’s worked out really well for them.

Rakhal:    I love what you said – what my key take out there is that it was one content type, one platform to live it consistently over a period of time, going back to the simplicity of that. It’s a huge project, of course, granted. It’s still just focusing on one thing not trying to do everything all at once, right?

Joe:    It’s amazing that so you said that. In my latest book Content Inc. I think I talked about that, it’s the third step back so he’s building the base. It’s one content type, one platform consistently delivered over time. What I love about that model, first of all, it’s simplistic. We don’t have to do it. We think we should do is basically throw up our content in every platform on the planet. What we do is that model right there, that’s been used by every major media platform that has grown from nothing to something over the last hundred plus years. This is not new. It’s like we think because we’ve got all these new social platforms that we have to do all this different, we’ve got to be everywhere across. No you don’t. One content type is an audio, a video or a textual.

    One platform, is it iTunes, is it YouTube, is it your own blog or website? Consistently delivered. Is it every day, is it every other day, is it every week, over time. It takes time to build a loyal audience. That’s where if I go and I talk to small businesses or large businesses, wherever they are in the world. I tell them, “Look. Maybe you should simplify your model. Maybe you should be the leading educational player in your industry and that you need to focus on it and do it this way.” Sudden appointment with your audience on that consistent delivery and that’s why I love the Jyske Bank case study because if you were to say, “Look, go out and build a media company today.” That’s exactly how you would do it and I think a lot of businesses, and you know this -they just get lost – they feel they have to do everything.

    You don’t have to do everything, you have to do something, and do it really well. If your content is for everybody, it’s for nobody, so let’s focus on one audience and really be exceptional at that particular continent and that’s what you’re targeting.

Rakhal:    I think that that viewpoint, that real life focus goes to something that I’ve noticed about you, Joe. You’re a real goal setter, aren’t you?

Joe:    It’s funny. If you said, Joe, what was the turning point in your life outside of the fact that I’m meeting my, now, wife my having my kids, all that personal stuff. If you said business related, what changed in your life? It would be that I wrote down my goals and I review them every day like it’s a very simple thing. It’s not rocket science but if you look at some of the most … Basically, I read quite a few books, I’ve read Think and Grow Rich from the Napoleon Hill. I read The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone. A couple of other books, Seven Habits Book. A lot of different. When I put this together and I said, “Okay, what are the successful people have in common? They have goals. They write them down like really write them down and they review them regularly.”

    It’s not rocket science it’s just. That’s the way it is. I started doing that probably about when I started the business, probably about 7 or 8 years ago. That has just changed my life because the greatest thing it does is when I review those goals in the morning. That whole day I’m focused and I figured, “You know what? Don’t get called in an e-mail. Don’t go do that thing. Focus on what’s what’s going to help you accomplish thos
e goals.” It’s really changed everything. By the way, it’s not just career goals, I have a career goals in there, financial goals, I have family goals, spiritual goals, philanthropic goals. Those are all in there and I focus on those every day. It’s really kept me grounded.

Rakhal:  Here we are in a fresh new year, it’s 2016. What are the biggest challenges or issues to come out of last year and where does that leave us in terms of the state of content marketing right now in the cast of what is a very exciting new year ahead?

Joe:    It’s interesting. What’s great about what’s going on in enterprise, in small and large, is the fact that everyone knows –  sort of knows – what content marketing is and they’re making decisions about whether they want to invest on that approach or not. It’s a lot easier than it was 7 years, 7 or 8 years ago where we were just educating. Now people know. They have an idea of what to do. What I think we’re going to see in 2016 is a real flight to quality and getting off of the more is better. I think that that’s been a better real. Google is responsible for this in some respects where there was a time in 2008, 2009 and even in social media as it was starting to grow up that more content was better. That’s not the case anymore. More mediocre content does not help you in any way at all.

    Actually, I always use this quote from Robert Rose and I love it and it’s basically, we actually don’t want more content. We actually want to create less content with more impact. That’s what we want. There’s no company out there that says, “We should be creating more content.” Nobody wants to create more content. We want to create the right content that’s going to focus on solving our goals and our challenges and whatnot and then really build long-term relationships with customers. I think what you’re going to see as a trend is more companies saying, “Look, maybe we don’t need to be in these 6 social channels, maybe we’re going to be great in 3.” Maybe we don’t need to do a blog, a video, a podcast, all this other stuff.

    Maybe we’re going to do this podcast or this blog really well and be the leading informational expert in that. I like seeing that. I think we’re still a ways away from it but the more companies we work with at Content Marketing Institute, the more we’re talking to them and saying, “Look, they understand that quality wins out. There are things we have to do to get that message out there, no doubt about it but just cluttering up the blogosphere or the web or the Internet or whatever you want to call it, with more content is just detrimental to the brand and you’re not rewarded in the long run so let’s take all our resources and focus on really making a positive impact on the world and your customer by telling stories the right way.”

Rakhal:    I love that. What does that tell us about the year ahead? Do you think that they’ll be my more focus on strategy? What’s the really big take out from that?

Joe:    I can only say, God I hope so, because what we’ve found from the research, whether you’re looking at the Asia Pacific research we’ve done or whether it’s the North American research, most companies out there don’t have documented content marketing strategies. They’re literally just saying, “Let’s go do a blog. We should be blogging. We should be doing podcast. We should be doing whatever. Let’s get on social media.”

Rakhal:    Just to jump into that, I think you are referring to that data that you guys found that around 37% of marketers say they have a documented content marketing strategy. In essence, two-thirds of all content marketers, all CMOs in essence don’t have any kind of strategy when it comes to content marketing for our listeners.

Joe:    That’s exactly right. Of course, I mean, we talked about my goal setting before. If you have a no goals, what are you doing? Here’s the thing is, if you’d go out and let’s even say your blog was somewhat successful, I don’t know how you know it but that’s the key. It’s like if you’re creating all this content, how do you know? How do you know what is successful if you don’t have a plan and what is the goal? Is your goal is to generate sales, to save costs, to create happier customers, like what are you doing? I’m not for the, we need a 10-page documented strategy. I don’t care if it’s on a cocktail napkin but just have an understanding.

Rakhal:    You’d probably prefer it on a cocktail napkin. That’s the best. As long as there’s a cocktail with the napkin.

Joe:    Maybe that’s the best way. Anybody that doesn’t have a documented strategy, just get a cocktail napkin, of course it comes with a cocktail. Then, we’re going to write out the strategy. That’s the thing is. I guess for 2016 anyone listening to this, that’s what I would hope is that you’re very strategic about why you’re doing this. We’re not just doing it. I get it, right? This was something that was new couple years ago. Now, we’re past that point. This is a muscle we’re starting to use. It’s really start exercising the right way and start with a plan. Then, if you start with a plan, what I love about a plan is, somebody asked me this today and they said, “Why should I create the plan?” I said, of course you want it because of the goals and that how you’re going to execute that and what are you going to measure.

    That’s all important but the most important thing about a documented a content marketing strategy is you now know when to say no.” You can say no to things that don’t make sense because if you don’t have a plan every idea could be something you consider. You’ve got to get yourself focused because we go into some of these big companies and they create so much content and most of it, it goes unused. They’re not even using it. If it is used and they’re sending it out, it’s not getting any traction, nobody is seeing it. I’m like, “What a waste.” Let’s focus on actually like doing something and making the needle move a little bit and starting that, with means you have to do a documented strategy in some way.

Rakhal:    I want to jump into the foreseeable challenges. Do you see other than the, I guess, internal inabilities or failures to really document or strategize or be focused on one quality piece of content throughout 2016? Are there external factors from within the marketing industry as a whole, the advertising industry, new technology? Are there challenges that are coming at CMOs and other businesses around the world that add an additional layer of challenges for 2016, do you think?

Joe:    I think if you’re talking specifically about content marketing, the biggest challenge is that this is different and anything different means you have to have a cultural change. If you see the greatest example, for the most part, outside, take your red bulls out of there, take your Mary outside of there but for the most part, the examples that you see that are really gaining strength and are really the ones we start using out there are from startups. They’re from newer companies that had no preconceived notions as to how we should market. They went and they started a blog, they started this amazing podcast, this amazing video series, and they were able to monetize that in multiple ways because they built an audience that was valuable. That happened with the most part and that’s why you talk about it in Content Inc. Most of these are startups and entrepreneurs with no budget at all.

Rakhal:    I think that limitation, I’m sorry to jump in there, Joe but that limitation around budget can actually work in a positive way because they’re actually
not able to do everything so they have to, they’re forced to focus on doing, maybe something simple but doing it really well.

Joe:    They don’t have like, “Oh, my God. We’ve got to talk about these 8 product lines and we’ve got all these political issues and we’ve got to make sure we apiece this engine or this product market,” or whatever the case.

Rakhal:    It’s not campaign based necessarily.

Joe:    Yeah. All these startups were doing was they’re saying, “How do we build an audience and how do I get something out there that’s amazing?” That’s why there was a big company there, they’re saying, “We don’t have the budget.” I just laughed at them. I’m like, “Here. Here’s my book. There’s 50 case studies in here of the most amazing examples on the planet and none of them started with any money so don’t tell me that it’s budget.” It’s not budget at all and – it’s focus and you can’t get that focus without changing some things culturally. What’s the remedy to that? The remedy is you should really start this. This is like a pilot program in an organisation.

    You say, “Okay. We’re going to do this. We’ve got our resources. Here is the goals. Let’s create the plan. It’s different than what we’re normally doing but we’re going to do this as a pilot.” The reason why you say pilot is because that way the CMO of the organisation doesn’t feel like, “Oh, my God. We have to go all in with content marketing.” You don’t have to. You’re still going to advertise, you still going to do PR, you’re still going to do the stuff you’re doing before but you’re going to communicate a little bit differently with your audience this way. I like that starting off with a pilot. There’s not so much pressure on the organisation.

Rakhal:    What about getting your content out there in 2016? Do you see any new platforms, technologies or methods that our listeners could engage?

Joe:    I think that the core, yes. I mean, there’s by the way, I’m not against paid at all. I mean, if you’re asking me about like social channels, like Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook, they’re great for paid. It’s a great way to get your content out there. I mean, I think the days of thinking that social platforms organic reach is free. I think that’s over. I think we are seeing as brands, we know that we have to pay to play. You know what? Facebook, they do a pretty darn good job of it. What I want to do is I want to think about, “Look, I don’t want to build my audiences on those platforms. I want to leverage those audience because ultimately what I want to do is I want to build my own audience.” What does that mean? That means I want to build e-mail subscribers. That’s really what my focus is because that’s where I have the most control.

    Any, if I build my audience on Facebook or YouTube or Twitter or whatever, they have the control. They control those connections. I don’t have any say over how they change. They’re going to change their model every day because they need to make money and that’s fine and they can do that. I want to use them for how I can, distribute that content where I can but I want to leverage every opportunity I can to get those people back to something where they can sign up and they give me the permission. This is amazing because this is the same thing we were looking at 1990. This is like Seth Godin’s permission based marketing all over again where it’s really what we’re focusing on. We’re going to use all these amazing social channels to distribute.

    Now, the new stuff that you’re asking about like if you’re going to do things. I know a lot of my buddies are doing Periscope and they’re doing Blab which is like live streaming stuff and some of them are getting on Snapchat which I’ve stayed away from as long as I can which is somebody is going to force me on there at some point. I think the point is if you’re going to do that, set it up just like a media company would. Set it up consistently. Use that platform consistently deliver over time. I see a lot of people out there like, hey, we’re this and that. This is spontaneous feed. That doesn’t work very well. It can work for big movie stars but for regular people, it doesn’t work very well so make sure if you leverage those platforms to distribute your content, you set a time consistently just like this podcast will be released at a particular time. Our podcast released at a particular time. I think that’s a winning formula.

 

Rakhal:    You will be at Content Marketing World… What do you think will be the big trends? What are the big talking points at these events for 2016?

Joe:    I know what mine are.

Rakhal:    Good enough. You are the godfather.

Joe:    It’s funny when I go to events and I see other speakers, I tend to disagree with a lot of them are out there that’s like, “Oh, my God. You’ve got to get active in this platform.” I’m like, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to do content marketing. I just think it’s a really good way to market. You don’t have to do that but I’m really into this whole year of 2016. We talked about this before. It’s all about simplicity to me. It’s all about not being everywhere and not taking our resources and spreading them thin and being okay in a lot of different things. I want to be great at one or two. That’s what I really want to focus on. You don’t have to say, “We’ve got to do the e-book and the blog and the newsletter and the print magazine and all this other …” No, you don’t.

    The average company according to that research we were talking about before, the average company distributes 13 different content types. Thirteen. That’s the  average company. Some of them do 20. That’s just a mess of stuff and I’m starting to question on whether that’s right or not. I don’t think it is. If you look at the North America, New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, ESPN, they were very consistent and focused for a long time until they built their audience to a certain point and then they diversified. I think we’ve just got to get down to saying, “Look, how have the greatest companies on the planet done this from content creation?” They’ve done it in a very simple model over time and then that’s what I’m really talking about in 2016.

Why everybody should care for content strategy

There are thousands of content-focused sites on the web that are telling stories to audiences on a daily basis – people are liking, sharing and discussing all sorts of content. How do these content houses succeed in pulling in such loyal eyeballs?

Content strategy is the key to success

The success of content is often debated by industry experts but the answer is quite simple: successful content publishers can thank a well thought-out content strategy.

When content goes viral it doesn’t just happen because Lady Luck crossed her fingers – the creation, ideation and execution of the content was planned to fit the time and place of publication.

Without a defined content strategy, it is extremely difficult to truly connect with your audience because one week you might publish something that resonates and the next you’ve frustrated them.

Get to know what your audience and customer base cares about and tell them everything they need to know about it: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Evoke emotion, provide insights and be a thought-leader with golden tips for everybody concerned with your world.

For example, if you’re a finance company and there’s a trending story about a country struggling economically perhaps you might write about the issue with an analytical scope. Talk the language, engage your audience and add your two cents.

If it’s stellar and strategic, they’ll be back for more.

How owned media can boost brands

Founder of the Content Marketing Institute Joe Pulizzi wrote in a LinkedIn post last year about how the likes of Nike and Under Armour missed a golden opportunity to establish themselves as content pioneers with the closure of ESPN’s Grantland.com, a long-form sports news site that attracted around 5 million visitors per month.

“…If I were Nike, Under Armour, Puma…or even the NBA or NFL…or possibly even Ford or Kia, I would be licking my chops. Why you say? The Nike’s and Under Armour’s of the world should be standing in line to purchase the rights to Grantland. Yes, you heard me…Nike should buy Grantland.com… Regardless, Nike spends about $8 million dollars per day trying to get people to buy their stuff. This generally means interrupting people with advertising while they are engaging in content they actually want to read or view (ala Grantland),” Pullizzi wrote. 

Okay, there are very few businesses with pockets as deep as Nike but there is a key sentiment to take away from Pullizzi’s suggestion: purchasing a popular site committed to strategic, long-form storytelling would have provided Nike with a proven content strategy that champions the idea of the right content at the right time. 

 

So, when LeBron James publicly told of his lifetime signing with Nike they could have had the opportunity to house it on their brand publishing platform, and be the breakers of their own news.

A nifty, strategic move like that would attract customers back to the brand without having them feel like they were cornered by advertising. It’s effective and counter-intrusive – and Pulizzi notes that these giants missed the bigger picture marketing benefits.

To find out how your business can benefit from strategic content, contact Newsmodo

What is your website saying to your customers?

Your website is one of your most valuable assets. Its purpose is to represent you and your business when you can’t speak with your customer face-to-face.

Picture yourself meeting a new person at a networking event: Do you introduce yourself with a handshake and smile? Do you invite them to share a little about themselves first? Do you offer to buy them a drink? Do you introduce them to a friend?

Most of us are good at networking in person; we’re polite, considerate and actively listen. But when it comes to communicating online we fall short. We’re slow to respond, assume intentions and social cues, and are distracted by our own objectives.

Communicating online can be tricky, especially when it comes to building a visually pleasing and easy to use website that sells who you are and what you do. The secret is to step back and think about your website as if it were a person. Ask yourself: “If I was talking to this person what would I think?”

Here are four common areas where websites often fall short. And some tips for setting them straight.

Not mobile optimised

What would you think if someone handed you their business card and it had .6 font, the logo was distorted and the email address ran off the page. You’d laugh and think this person isn’t taking their business too seriously.

So many websites look like this business card when viewed by customers on their mobile or iPad. The time has passed where customers were forgiving about brands who were slow to adapt to digital technologies. Now customers expect to be able to use and view websites on the go and across multiple devices. If they do stumble upon a poorly designed website they leave and never return. So don’t tell yourself that your customers will make do because they won’t and shouldn’t have to. Use the resources you have available to build an optimised website, and invest in your digital assets.

 

No call-to-action

You strike up a conversation with an individual and things are going great. You have another engagement and have to head off. You ask what the best way to continue the conversation is and they reply, “I’ll see you around,” before walking off. You’re left pondering over the details, unsure of what to do next.

Not including a call-to-action can give the impression you’re not interested in keeping in touch. It also puts the onus onto the customer. Be specific with what you want your customer to do, and when and how you want them to do it.

Your call-to-action should explain how you intend to solve your readers’ problems using simple, clear and practical language. While “contact us” is better than nothing it doesn’t let the customer know what they’ll get when they complete the action. Try something like this instead: “Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.”

Difficult navigation

You’ve been wowed by a product and want to learn more. So you ask, “What’s the best way to get more information?” They start by saying: “Go here, then call Bob…” After three minutes they’re still explaining and you feel like they’re wasting your time.

For many brands, their website is where they house any and all information about their business. It’s a representation of their brain – connections are built based on their knowledge and understanding.

A problem arises when what you say and do internally doesn’t match what you want your customers to do externally. Just because the same person manages ‘Corporate Partnerships’ and ‘Media’ doesn’t mean it needs to be house together on the same web page.

Don’t just add to and alter your website content and navigation randomly. Sit down and plan your website with your customer in mind. And if you’re unsure, ask your customers or use Google Analytics to track behaviour. Don’t make assumptions and waste their time.

Missing ‘About’ page

You know that person at an event (there’s always one) that walks up to you and shoves a business card in your hand. They give you their 15-second ‘my product/service will cure world hunger’ pitch before walking away leaving you wondering who the hell this person is. Do you follow up with them post event? Probably not. Their product really could change the world, but you’re not interested because they failed to take the time to connect with you.

About pages on websites are all about building one-on-one connections. Customers will read your About page to get a better understanding of who you are and what you do. And more importantly, to see if you understand their pain points and if your products can solve their problems. So don’t just dump your businesses’ chronological history onto your About page. Use the space to answer your customer’s questions instead.


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Content marketing myths that ruin businesses

Content marketing is often thought of as THE marketing solution for brands. But, marketing coach and consultant Russ Ruffino says a large percentage of content marketing won’t work.

“The single biggest challenge is that everybody is afraid to make an offer,” says Russ.

“The right way to do it is that you want to make sure that your content marketing and everything that you’re doing in the marketplace does two things: number one, it all pertains to the problem that your client has right now and the problem that you solve, and, number two, it actually makes an offer to solve that problem,” explains Ruffino.

“That probably eliminates about 90 percent of the content marketing that you see out there.”

Listen to the full episode or read on to hear about the two main myths in content marketing. 

Russ claims that a lot of the content marketing that’s being published isn’t really designed to create clients or customers, which is why he says it’s unsuccessful for businesses.

“If you want to have content that’s successful, it’s got to be built 100 percent — a very big, very painful problem that the client has — and it has to end with you making an offer to engage with your product, service, coaching or whatever it is that you have,” says Russ.

When you do this your content marketing becomes a pathway to purchase. But when is the right time to make an offer?

“If you have a product or offer or service that solves a problem, then I believe that you owe it to your clients to offer it to them right away,” says Russ. “They need your help now, not six months from now.”

Two myths preventing effective content marketing 

Myth 1: If I create content, people will consume it.

Myth 2: If people see my content, they will buy from me.

According to Russ, both of these assumptions are faulty. He says that people can spend a lot of time creating content that will never be seen nor drive those who see it to buy. That’s because the content doesn’t really offer a solution.

“You need to put energy into actually solving people’s problems,” says Russ.

Russ suggests creating one piece of content such as a Webinar to help explain how your brand can solve the problem.

He then says that he drives traffic to the Webinars through organic and paid advertising. The clickable ads should lead to a Webinar signup page. 

[In the Webinar] we create that relationship, we create that urgency, we get you focused on the problem. We show you we’ve got the solution and then we make a very low-key offer,” explains Russ.

This is the business model that Russ personally uses and he says his clients use it successfully too.

“Most of my clients are selling things anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000. They take people from browsing around on Facebook to investing with them at that price point within 24 to 48 hours,” explains Russ.

The key, however, is creating a quality piece of content that makes the consumer feel like their problem will be solved.


More About Russ Ruffino

Russ Ruffino, the founder of Clients on Demand™, helps experts build reliable marketing and sales processes that attract 5-10 new potential clients / day, scaling to six-figures / month. A proud father and true lifestyle entrepreneur, Russ enjoys traveling and helping others create the freedom they want.