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The Most Important Content Marketing Lesson I Learned at Digital East
In addition to discovering that Tysons Corner traffic is truly as bad as they say, I learned an incredibly important lesson at the 2014 Digital East conference. Are you ready? It is this: When it comes to content marketing, your audience is always one. No, that’s not a riddle—it’s a ridiculously simple maxim that will change the way you think about content marketing, your customers, and your business.
The concept was shared by Matt Byrd of Litmus during his Digital East talk on email marketing. How can you use this concept to reach your audience/target market/customer?
That’s the most critical question in this age of constant marketing. When advertising is the wallpaper all around us, how do you reach people? And once you reach them, how do you truly engage them? And from there, how can you convert? I’m going to take a look at how we can reach that audience of one through three mediums: web, social, and email.
Small Business Websites and Blogs—Know Your Audience
During a jam-packed conference like Digital East, the best speakers know to distill ideas into smart little sound bites. Every speaker I heard acknowledged that Marketing Has Changed And We Have To Do Things Differently Now. But one speaker—David Almacy of Edelman Digital presented a smart counterpoint to that: the one thing that hasn’t changed is that time and attention are finite.
No matter what you’re doing, your content needs to reach people who are busy, overwhelmed, and tired. How can you apply the “audience of one” concept to your small business website content?
- Develop customer personas and create content that will appeal to them. It may sound odd, but it’s incredibly useful—figure out who your typical customer types are, give them names and personalities, and write content directed to them.
- Hold a customer panel to learn what moves your clients to action. Why do people choose to do business with you? Get some past clients together and asked them what they love about your business and how they reacted to your marketing.
- Dedicate content to specific customer profiles. Similar to persona marketing, this approach creates separate campaigns for different segments of your potential client base. You know how Subway markets itself to people trying to eat healthy, but also does catchy ads promoting cheap, giant, meat-cheese-and-dressing-filled sandwiches? Two different messages, two different customer profiles.
Social Media: Where’s Your Fan Base?
Despite social media’s ubiquitous presence, brands (businesses large and small, global and local, as well as organizations and movements) are still figuring out how to use it effectively. Amidst all the strategies, tips, and tricks, one thing is certain: companies are experiencing a loss of control over their social media platforms. Leigh George of Ogilvy & Mather gave an illuminating talk about this at Digital East, where she pointed out that organic reach on social is coming to an end.
If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that your posts reach a fraction of the users that “like” your page. That’s a problem—and paying for sponsored posts doesn’t solve it. “Advertising is interruptive,” George explained. She likened social media to a cocktail party. “You don’t just walk in and start talking about yourself.”
So you can’t control who is seeing your posts, and you don’t want to interrupt. What can you do? Again, target that audience of one. Use these strategies:
- “Engage, educate, and entertain.” So says Marc Hausman of Strategic Communications Group, who suggests collaborating with your sales team to find out what prospects are asking and what their needs and objections are.
- Engage across platforms. Many successful marketing campaigns aim to engage audiences wherever they are—print, social, blogs—and then encourage them to visit another brand space. “Put a lily pad at the end of your content,” says Mel Carson of Majestic SEO, “to send users to another platform so they spend more time with your brand.” In other words, include a call to action that invites your reader to follow your company.
- “Make your content attractive, not tolerated.” This tip from Leigh George sums it all up. In the social space “you are competing with every other brand,” she says, not just those in your industry or your service area. Your content needs to be enticing enough to compete for attention with all the other brands jumping up and down and throwing confetti on Facebook. This is why it is crucial to know your audience—what they need, what they dream about, what they connect with, and what moves them to action.
When developing your customer-centric website content, remember this from George: “Consumers don’t want to be our friends. They want valuable content that enriches their lives.”
Email Marketing – How to Make it Work When Everybody Hates It
Marketing email—most of us hate it, even when we subscribe to it. I can’t think of one email newsletter or update I’ve subscribed to that I didn’t unsubscribe from at some point. Either the companies or organizations were sending me way too many emails, constantly asking me for money, or sending me content that was completely useless.
Don’t do this to your subscribers! Remember that if a marketing email doesn’t engage right away, it gets deleted or ignored. And there’s more to an email’s first impression than its subject line. Matt Byrd says the key is meeting subscribers where they are. Here are some smart ways to do it:
- Responsive design is a must. Which subscribers are looking at your emails on their phones? (If you don’t know, Blue Corona can find out for you!) How do your emails look on mobile devices? Make sure your email is responsive—that means the content appears differently depending on screen size. If they look bad, Byrd says, 80 percent of your subscribers will delete them. That’s a lot of eyes to lose.
- Push personalization beyond first names. Have you ever gotten an email addressed “Hi,” or “We’ve missed you, Firstname$$”? Auto-personalization screws up a lot, and it does not impress anyone anymore. Byrd says that personalization should be “seamless and subtle.” He suggests crafting email experiences unique to dynamic segments of subscribers.
- Send behavioral emails. When someone completes an action on your site, send them an email thanking them. Make it specific to their action. And make it timely. Byrd recommends testing which timing works best—12, 24, or 48 hours.
Build Relationships with Targeted Content
It may seem difficult when you first try to apply the “audience of one” concept to your content marketing. But as the world gets bigger—and more crowded with messaging from everywhere and everyone—it’s more important than ever to cultivate those one-on-one relationships with customers no matter where they are. It’s what ultimately builds engagement and turns a like into love!
At Blue Corona, we are constantly learning new ways to help you grow your business. Get in touch with us to discover what else we know.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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