Saturday, 3 February 2018

A Fresh Roundup of the Latest Facts, Figures and Stats

It’s the moment you have all been waiting for – our latest list of interesting and perhaps even useful statistics from the world of digital marketing.

65% of consumers are fed up with irrelevant communication

First up, it seems you aren’t the only one who’s well and truly fed up with pointless messages. A recent study found that a full 87% of younger consumers said they’d be encouraged to shop with a company that personalises its special offers and discounts. At the other end of the scale, 65% of shoppers said they’ve had enough of retailers and businesses in general sending them generic and useless messages.

46% of consumers have used social media to ‘call out’ brands

Naming and shaming companies in the face of a negative encounter is apparently becoming more popular than ever. A recent study by a Sprout Social found that a whopping 56% of millennial audiences have taken to social media to publicly vent their frustrations about businesses they’ve dealt with. On the whole, 46% of consumers have done exactly the same.

Consumers are switching to ethical utility brands

Environmentally friendly attitudes and policies are apparently winning over more consumers than ever before. Along with 16% of shoppers saying they’d abandon a utility service provider if it was involved in some kind of scandal, 10% said they would definitely switch providers if a competitor proved to be more ethical in general.

Email click-through rates fell last year

Though it may be too much of a general statistic to hold any real value, a new report from the DMA found that email click-through rates last year experienced a notable decline. Compared to the year before, click-through rates fell from 1.8% to 1.6%. Nevertheless, the overall open-rate remained at around the same 14.2%.

Two out of three luxury shoppers prefer to use mobile

Anyone involved in high-end ecommerce should probably take note of the fact that the majority of luxury shoppers apparently prefer to shop via mobile devices. A full two out of three luxury shoppers preferring mobile, according to Content Square.

Brands can benefit by avoiding or condemning Trump

Last but not least, analysis of brand sentiment scores before and after political statements and messages would seem to suggest that negative sentiments towards President Donald Trump can be beneficial in a business sense. Both Intel and Under Armour have recently seen significant jumps in their respective brand sentiment scores – both occurring almost immediately after the company’s publicly took a strong stance in one way or another against the Trump administration.

Since Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank revealed that he is to leave Donald Trump’s manufacturing council, the brand’s sentiment score has stood at a positive 89.4%.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Content Marketing: Why Is It So Effective?

By this stage in time, you don’t need us or anyone else to tell you how important content marketing is. You may or may not be using it to its full potential, but still…chances are you know it’s a big deal.

But have you ever stopped to ask the big question: why is content marketing so effective?

With so many other approaches to digital marketing out there, why does content marketing top the table?

Two very important questions, for which there are thousands of deep and unnecessarily convoluted answers. In truth, the explanation as to why content marketing is so effective can be summed up in just two words:

Value and influence.

Content of Value

The basic principle of content marketing is one that focuses on value. Whatever kind of content you produce and regardless of who you are reaching out to, you need to provide them with something of value. This is the only way they will look beyond your content to the brand behind it, slowly but surely building a sense of trust. And they build a sense of trust because content of value has influence.

Which in turn means that effective content marketing increases influence, which is just about the single most important thing a business can have plenty of.

When you think about it, the most successful businesses the world over are built on influence. Overtime, they increase their influence to such an extent that their target audience members practically eat out of their hands. The greater their authority and influence in their niche, the more power they have to grow, evolve and vastly extend their customer base.

You really only have to think of two brands to get the idea. One being a household name, the other being some random name you read on the packaging of an equally random product that you had never heard of. Which of the two would you be most likely to trust? Which would you be more likely to become a regular customer of? Or for that matter, give their product a try in the first place? More importantly, which would you recommend to your friends, family and colleagues?

The answer is almost always the same – the company or brand with the greatest influence.

Influence Through Value

There is a direct correlation between creation of value and greater influence. That being, the more value you provide, the more your influence grows as a result. Once again, it’s a case of thinking about which brands and even individuals in your life have the greatest influence over you. The brand you are loyal to instinctively, the people you look up to and so on. Chances are, the reason these companies and individuals have so much influence over you and the decisions you make is because you value them.

You may value what they do, what they stand for, the products they provide you with or anything else at all. Value breeds influence, which in turn breeds loyalty, which in turn breeds even greater influence.

So to answer the question once again, content marketing works because it is just about the only approach to contemporary digital marketing that focuses on value above and beyond everything else.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Using Brand Stories To Connect With Your Customers

How can you ensure that the brand story you tell is one your customers will respond positively to?
The answer…well, there are of course enormous differences from one organisation to the next. Nevertheless, there are a few key strategic guidelines to follow, which can help in all instances.

In fact, proceed in accordance with the following five steps and you may find it difficult to go wrong:

1.  Show your customers, don’t just tell them
First of all, it is not simply enough to tell your customers X, Y and Z about your business. After all, you could just be saying it for the sake of winning them over. Instead, you need to think of appropriate ways and means by which you can show them, rather than tell them. Or in other words, demonstrate what your brand represents, how you do what you say you do and what it is that makes you different. These days, evidence speaks louder than all the words in the world.

2.  Focus on long-term stories
It’s also a good idea to ensure that the brand story you tell is long-term or on-going in nature. The reason being that if it is only relevant and/or convincing for the time being, it may not have little value for your business. As with most marketing, the focus should be on the long-term benefits for your business, as opposed to quick-fixes. What’s more, you should tell the type of story that you can and will continue to tell and update along the way. Think of the kinds of evergreen qualities that sell and the kinds of stories your customers will want to keep up to date with.

3.  Be authentic
Or in other words, don’t think you can get away with faking it. Whatever type of story you decide to tell or persona you choose to assume, it needs to be authentic.  Which is for two reasons – first of which being that most consumers can spot fakes miles away. But even if they don’t, you cannot expect to keep up a voice, attitude and fa├žade that go against who you really are and what you really do. Sooner or later, the whole thing will come crashing down - hence it isn’t worth bothering with in the first place.

4. Grab their attention
You cannot expect your customers to delve too deeply into your story if there isn’t something to hook their attention early on. Attention spans these days are minimal at the best of times. Which means that no matter how deep and compelling your story is, you need to ensure you grab their attention as early on as possible. First get them hooked, then move on to the details.

5. Study their habits
Last but not least, the better you come to understand what makes your customers tick, the easier it will be to create compelling stories. Study their habits, get involved via social media and discover the kinds of subjects, voices and anything else that engages them. Not to mention, the kinds of things that generate discussion, or perhaps send them in entirely the wrong direction. This way, you will have nothing less than a blueprint for the creation of not only a great brand story, but the rest of the content you publish across the board.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

4 Ways to Avoid E-Commerce Annihilation

Nowadays, it’s often said that in order to be able to survive as a retailer, you need to get involved in the ecommerce revolution. But at the same time, it is hardly difficult to notice how the ecommerce field is already utterly and completely dominated by a few leading brands. Put simply, no matter what you want or need, chances are you’ll be able to easily pick it up from a leading name online.

All of which seems to leave little space for smaller online brands, considering the David and Goliath struggle they usually face. But as far as the professionals are concerned, not all hope is lost. Quite to the contrary, as there are some ways and means by which focusing on what matters can assist any online store avoid complete annihilation by the ecommerce giants.

1. Don’t Count on Low Prices Alone

It is worth bearing in mind that most consumers value other elements of the service package above low prices. Amazing customer service, extremely reliable delivery times or just a brand with a story and ethos they can connect with. Surviving as a small ecommerce business means focusing on what it is that makes your brand both different and awesome from rivals.

2. Be a Service Provider, Not Just a Vending Machine

What this basically means is the way some online stores seem to exist like glorified vending machines, while others are exceptionally rich in engaging and useful content. The difference is that the large majority of web consumers respond significantly better to the latter. Therefore, it is crucial to make all efforts to build your business and brand around so much more than products alone. You have to become an all-round service provider and an online authority your clients turn to for more than purchases alone.

3. Get to Know Your Clients

Loyalty schemes are both effective and important, with eMarketer recently revealing that next to 55% of web consumers admit that their spending habits are influenced by such programs. Nonetheless, it is once again crucial to go beyond the norm in order to be as competitive as possible. Provide regular e-mail updates, carry out surveys, request thoughts, reviews and opinions, find out what their priorities are.

4. Stay Social

Last up, you need to use every scrap of information you come across regarding your customers in terms of the content you create and your effort to maintain relationships. One of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle is that of staying social – making the most use of your social media channels and building one comprehensive online presence. It is not like the CEO of Amazon has the inclination or the time to get directly involved with customers via Twitter or Facebook. As a much more personal and small business, it’s very much something that you can do and hence should be doing.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Google and Bing Unite to Take Down Piracy Sites

Though it is entirely against the law, piracy is nevertheless big business these days. The majority of people that participate in P2P file sharing aren’t out to make money, but simply to allow others to access their music, movies and so on in a way that infringes copyright law. At the same time, there are always those who make quite a bit of money from building and operating huge P2P file databases that are often making a killing in advertising revenues.

Suffice to say, it is a problem many artists, businesses and authorities all over the world are attempting to tackle. The only issue being that as it’s as simple as firing up your computer and accessing the website in question, that is precisely what millions are doing every day.
Nonetheless, this can all be set to change in the very near future as both Google and Bing have signed up to a new code of practice, after discussions with the UK government and representatives of the entertainment industry. Put simply, the two major search engines will start a process of demoting websites involved in piracy, in order to reduce the exposure of such websites.

The agreement was reached with the music and film industry in talks organised by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The initiative also received the support of UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom, which is constantly looking for projects and programmes that can actively prevent users from accessing piracy websites.

One of the biggest issues having always been the way the websites themselves plead innocent, given the way they don’t in fact share or host any files directly. This simply makes it easy for users to share their own files illegally.

The project will be watched closely by the minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, Jo Johnson, who underscored the importance of collaboration in order to crack down the escalating piracy problem.

“Search engines play a vital role in helping consumers discover content online,” said Johnson. “It is essential that they are presented with links to legitimate websites and services, not provided with links to pirate sites,”

“I am very pleased that the search engines and representatives of the creative industries have agreed this code. I look forward to this valuable collaboration benefiting both the UK’s digital and creative sectors,”

Additionally, digital and culture minister Matt Hancock stated that the United Kingdom must fulfil its responsibility to set the right example and to also ensure that users and businesses are sufficiently protected.

“Pirate sites deprive artists and rights holders of hard-earned income and I’m delighted to see industry-led solutions like this landmark agreement which will be instrumental in driving change,” he said.

“As we build a more global Britain we want the UK to be the most innovative country to do business, and initiatives such as this will ensure our creative and digital economies continue to thrive.”

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Creation Vs Collation: The Value of Unique Copy

When it comes to website development, pretty much anyone can source fresh content from elsewhere and publish it on their own website. Which is, more often than not, exactly what the majority of website owners do. From news pieces to relevant articles to videos and images, you have to ask: how much of all this content did you create from scratch, on your own?

If the answer gravitates towards very little or none, don’t be too upset – you’re quite far from in the minority. Nevertheless, you can definitely do with changing this somewhat, given the way original copy is significantly more valuable than redistributing existing copy.

Naturally, the former of the two is quite trickier to come up with – especially if you’re not brimming with ideas or inspiration. However, making the effort and investing plenty of time and effort into some original copy can help deliver much more impressive results when it comes customer loyalty and engaging than simply sticking with content collation.

So, bearing this in mind, here is a short overview of a few simple guidelines for creating outstanding and entirely original content, in order to offer your website visitors something that will boost their engagement:

First up, updating your website blog regularly is one of the most efficient ways of keeping your website topped up with fresh content at all times. When it comes to actually creating blog posts, rather than just republishing article pieces and news stories, add your own voice into the mix. Or, put simply, bring relevant stories and articles to the attention of your web visitors, but do so in an editorial manner.

Another great way of providing more unique copy to your site is to invite other people to offer their stories and insights. When it comes to informative resources, blog posts and interesting news stories, adding some new voices into the mix can be extremely valuable.

Telling an interesting story is found to be one of the most effective ways of promoting a real sense of engagement with a target audience. Rather than just bombarding your readers with facts and figures, more often than not it could be more beneficial to tell them a story. Given the fact that you’re (or at least should be) 100% original and unique, this should also results in completely original and unique content.

Another great way of creating unique copy is to get into the habit of writing and publishing reviews. But instead of just rewriting the reviews of other people, carry out your personal research and share your findings, thus inviting feedback from your readers. Even if they don’t agree with your views, it’s guaranteed to bolster discussion and engagement.

Last up, if you can get into the habit of frequently posting Q&A sessions with people of relevance to your line of work, go for it! It’s usually as simple as asking a bunch of questions to a person of interest with respect to what you do, in order to be provided with the kind of solid gold copy that can work wonders for your site.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

When Can I See Content Marketing Results?

As much as you probably hate hearing “It depends” in a response to “When will I start seeing the results of my content marketing?”, the simple fact of the matter is that marketers hate saying that even more. Unfortunately, sometimes it is indeed the only true answer.

But if the questions won’t ease up until you receive at least a ballpark estimate, then the answer is more often than not six to nine months. Naturally, there will always be brands that see results before this time and others who will need to wait longer than nine months. Put simply, it depends.
In a time when we have all grown quite used to instant gratification, this answer could be a hard number to swallow. But as common sense usually dictates “Nothing worthwhile is easy.”

What Factors Impact the Time Between Execution of Content Marketing and Its Results?
Two different categories of variables will affect the timeline of content marketing – those you have control over and those you have no control over.

What CAN I Control?
The time and budget you’re willing to invest
Your Goals
Your strategy
How frequently you publish content
How you measure success and failure
How well you promote your content
The level of quality of your content

What CAN’T I Control?
The marketplace
The economy
What your competition is doing

As you could see, while there is a handful of factors you cannot govern, there are many more things that you can. To increase your chances of success and to have a more predictable timeline, you will need to establish a plan for each of these elements.

Here Is What to Do:
1. Choose your specific goals. You are certainly free to use industry standards as a starting point, but no brand is exactly like yours, which simply means that no brand will have the same precise objectives. Choose the goals that will make the most sense for your brand.
2. Evaluate your resources. Be realistic about how much money and time you are able to dedicate to content marketing. If you need to outsource, then do it. Don’t try to bite more than you can chew.
3. Determine your strategy. Again, you are free to research and study the best practices, but your strategy will need to be your own. What has worked for another brand will not necessarily work for you. Think about your specific resources and goals.
4. Consider measurement criteria. Know what defines a win and what constitutes a loss. Any vagueness will make it very difficult to optimize your campaign.
5. Set the publishing frequence. Ensure you post often enough to keep your audiences interested, but not so often that there is no way for them to keep up. Try to engage them, but don’t overwhelm them.
6. Get the word out. All of the best content in the world doesn’t mean anything if there is nobody that knows about it. Post on social media platforms, use PPC campaigns where necessary and create relationships with industry leaders who are able to promote your content to their specific audiences.