If you’re already focused on content but not generating responsive or consistent feedback in terms of page views, average session duration, bounce rate, and feedback, there’s a good chance that you’re either a) Not marketing your blog as optimally as you could or b) Not focusing on what readers find relevant. Think twice before you blame your industry for its complicated jargon or general lack of excitement or appeal. The more niche, complex, or focused on a skilled trade your business is, the higher your chances of writing interesting, engaging content that’s pertinent to people’s lives.
Where most businesses go wrong in content marketing is their failure to treat the content as a campaign in itself that requires careful planning and execution. Writing a blog for the purposes of checking “content” off your list doesn’t count—except when it comes to taking a chunk of your time or money. Rather than rushing to get “something” posted, devote a sizeable portion of your content marketing campaign to brainstorming relevant content. Collaborate with your team and ask what your clients would actually want to hear MOST about your products or services; these will likely include tips, how-to’s, client testimonials, a breakdown of your process(es)/what to expect, employee spotlights, new product or favorite “picks” that explain in layman’s terms why you use or endorse a certain line of products, etc.
Finally, don’t forget to use your content marketing as a way to highlight how your business is different from your competitors. Think about atmosphere, conveniences, staff knowledge, level of service, variety of products/services, reward programs, and beyond. Even small details that you might not think of such as convenient parking, short waiting times, free WiFi in your waiting room, drinks and food you might offer, etc. can add up and entice prospects to use your services, even if it means driving a few miles extra to get to you versus a competitor. While they don’t necessarily have to take the spotlight, be sure to highlight these perks frequently in your content.
Relevant content doesn’t always have to be tied directly to your business. In fact, any great content that will capture your prospects’ attention and keep existing clients coming back to you rather than falling for enticing “new client” coupons and freebies from your competitors is a good thing…and highly recommended. What makes awesomely irresistible content? Recipes. Health trends. Home maintenance how-to’s. Money-saving tips. Interesting new research and statistics.
You might be thinking, “What financial planner gives his/her customers and prospects recipes? Or shares tips on self-enrichment? They’ll think I’m CRAZY. Wrong. They’ll think you’re refreshingly distinct. Interesting. Caring. Compassionate. Stand-out. The type of company they want to give their business to and tell their friends about. “Call ____________. They’re very thorough…and they care! I cannot recommend these people enough. Heck, they even share 30-minute meals and health tips!!”
We’ve all heard again and again that it’s not what you know…it’s who you know. Why is networking so powerful? Because it involves getting to know people on a more personal, friendly level that creates both goodwill and trust. While you can’t possibly network in person with all of your clients and prospects, you can certainly reach out in a friendly, conversational way via general interest content marketing.
Even if you’re already crafting reader-responsive content that speaks to your clients and prospects’ interests and establishes the level of know-how, friendliness, and trust they crave from businesses, there’s a big barrier and it’s called exposure. Great content marketing is gold— When it gets seen, that is. How exactly are you ensuring that your content gets delivered and to the right people? Here are the top three ways business typically market their content:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Social Media Posts
The problem is, all three of these wildly popular marketing channels are 1) oversaturated 2) limited, and 3) ineffective.
Let’s start with SEO. Anticipating the perfect combo of successful search terms is often either cryptic or so overdone by competitors that you’re in a for an epic battle of keyword competition, where only few businesses win. Think about it: do you honestly think your competitors haven’t also thought to use the same terms, such as your city, your industry, and the words: “best”, “most”, “top”, etc.? Sticking to SEO as your main content marketing strategy gives you about as much chance of landing at the top of page one (or even at the bottom) as winning more than $5 on a lottery scratch-off. Remember, everybody is doing this. And when everybody is focused on the SEO game, the chances of making it to the very top of page 1 (where 30% of people will automatically click on the first organic link) with your blogs or killer content is pretty slim. And those paid ads that typically hang out on the top of the search page? They earn exactly as much attention as do links on page 2: 10% or less (Source: Search Engine Watch, 2012).
Depending on your industry and the clever mind of whomever writes your subject lines, only 10-25% of your recipients will even open your email and about 3-4% of that number will actually click on your linked content. A stronger teaser might increase these numbers, but you’ll still be hard-pressed to get more than a quarter of your readers at best to read your email content…and this of course is limited to subscribed recipients, not prospects.
This leaves us with social media posts. Unless you’re happy with your 3-4% click-thru rates, cost-per-clicks, conversation rates, and all the other analytics you’re required to track to ascertain the effectiveness of your boosted content posts or ads, this is likely the least effective of your three content marketing channels. If only you could send your content to clients and prospects of your choosing in a delivery method that’s guaranteed to get noticed. But wait. You can. It’s one of the forgotten and little-used marketing methods that’s highly effective for the businesses who’ve returned to its prowess. Direct Mail Marketing. At Integrated Concepts Group, your content isn’t just printed and sent to your target audience—it’s written, designed, and packaged for you too.
Even if it meant saving a few bucks, you probably wouldn’t hire your trusted plumber to rewire your electric system or ask your mechanic for landscape design tips. So why entrust your content marketing to your sales rep, office manager, or receptionist?
From brainstorming and drafting to selecting just the right words—and let’s not forget proper grammar—most content marketing such as blogging and newsletters requires a certain finesse best left to the writing pros. After all, why spend countless hours and money struggling through the writing process, only to discover that your clients and prospects have little interest in reading what you or a staff writer have pieced together?
We get it: whether you invest your personal time to take photos or you purchase royalty-free images from an online photography provider, images aren’t exactly cheap—though when you consider the mountain of marketing research that highlights the effectiveness of images in your content marketing, photos and illustrations are an essential component of any flourishing marketing strategy. Think about your own reading habits. Unless it’s a well-written industry report or novel, when’s the last time you found yourself absorbed in a blog, online article, or magazine that omitted images? If you’re like most people, you probably can’t answer that question because of your brain’s natural affinity for images and graphics. Perhaps that’s why recent studies show that online content with images gets 94% more views than content without images—practically doubling the numer of views. This same research applies across the marketing spectrum, whether you’re focused on online content, print marketing, or both.
We can’t think of anything worse than awesome or even potentially great content getting overlooked, spammed, deleted, or in many cases never seen. And yet, this is the norm for digital marketing, including social media posts and digital ads. It’s a shame to invest so much effort, time, and money into so-called “strategies” that just don’t consistently reach people. That’s why our newsletter clients have relied on direct-mail newsletter marketing for decades. In addition to counting on us to write, design, and manage their content, our clients have the added reassurance that their most precious marketing investment is delivered right to their clients’ and prospects’ hands on a consistent basis. And the feedback and business they receive because of these mailed newsletters are living proof that people love receiving something valuable in their mailbox.
Printed newsletters are a solid foundational component of your content marketing campaign that serves as a fail-proof channel for reaching out to existing clients and new prospects on a consistent basis, while keeping them informed, engaged, and most of all, interested in connecting with your specific business when the need arises. But if you find you have more in-depth information to share than what a print newsletter can provide, remember that your newsletter can still be a lucrative marketing vehicle to get readers excited about a case study you’re involved in, an eBook you’ve written, or even a 3-10-page downloadable report that further engages their interest. Include a call to action in your front-page lead article with a link or QR code where interested readers can sign up to receive your study, report, or eBook. Because your recipients have already expressed interest in receiving your emailed report, you’ll have much higher open rates, especially if you use personalized subject lines that advertise what you’re sending (i.e. Recipient’s Name, here’s the free eBook you requested).
Vested clients will naturally want to hear more from you. While you can capture their attention in your monthly printed newsletters and keep the line of communication open, if you’re finding you have a lot more to say than you can squeeze into or convey in your printed newsletter, but you’re more of a talker than a case study or report writer, that’s okay! In fact, we encourage you to mix it up and keep your customers engaged with podcasts and videos. Your printed newsletter is a perfect channel for letting readers know that you’re continuing the conversation via Facebook Live, a VLOG, or a podcast that they can download from your website. While videos and podcasts can be difficult to market on their own, because your printed newsletters serve as a fail-proof communication vehicle, you’ll have a much more reliable way to spread the word about your video content.
It’s a shame so few businesses realize that client feedback is one of the most valuable forms of content marketing there is. In fact, some research shows that client testimonials have the highest content marketing effectiveness rating out there (Social Fresh, 2014). But beyond scoring consistent and multiple 5-star reviews, even the most amazing client testimonials can be difficult to market to new prospects who may not be seeing your website and reviews due to lackluster digital marketing results. Instead, consider asking one of your reviewers who happens to be a happy and longstanding client or patient about participating in a client spotlight article. This not only makes a great cover-story idea for your monthly printed newsletter but drives direct attention to your reserve of thrilled clients.