When you are running an online business of any kind – be it a blog, an ecommerce store or just a marketing campaign for a tangible, offline company – you have multiple sources of content distribution at your disposal.
YouTube, blog platforms, Twitter, Facebook… social media has become the way of the future in online business. Failing to properly utilize such a resource will severely damage your online visibility, which is crucial in today’s world. Social media is changing the way we are doing keyword research, produce and market content.
Identifying Weak Areas
When trying to analyze the effectiveness of your content strategy on the web, you should take some time to review and understand what it is you are currently doing right. This will also show you where you need to improve. You can do this through a content audit, which is essentially putting together spreadsheets of all social media campaigns to find where you are lacking.
Once you have taken a fair look at what you have been doing, start looking at how much you are really posting, and the relevance of the content. For example, are you meeting your desired quota for blog posts per week? Are they generating the right response? Are tweets being replied to or retweeted? Have you been communicating with your Facebook fans on a personal level? Are you published a good balance of links, original updates and comments or replies to readers?
If you are clear about what you have and have not been providing, you can improve your social media marketing and so your overall content strategy. These three apps can further help you along the way:
An editorial calendar is a must have item for anyone who is posting online but especially for those who are want to run a multimedia campaign using social sites and methods. It is just too easy to lose track of what you are going to post without one… Not to mention it lessens the quality of your content to fail to plan ahead.
Technically, a spreadsheet works fine to plan posts. But if you want to really take advantage, an app like DivvyHQ can be what you need. It is a scheduling application that allows multiple users, reviewers and help in better targeting your posts.
They have plans from $25 to $195 a month, as well as custom pricing for larger companies of more than 20 people and a 30-day free trial. They even have in-person or online training for implementing social media strategies.
This platform works by putting together a report on what your audience is searching, reading and otherwise showing interest in at every stage of the content creation process. This allows you to better target your own campaign and post writing, as well as provides a direction for links and status updates.
Skyword works by making sure your SEO, usability and content quality guidelines are being taken serious.
What makes it different from a basic SEO app is that it actually was created to factor the data into the writing process itself. Currently, it is in the beta stage and so asking only for feedback from those that choose to use it. It is free to create an account.
A simplification app for content creators and managers, this works by creating a “site map” that involves all media content you have to get done. You set in the parameters and turn it into single page collections that can be shared and edited by invited parties.
The platform costs $66 minimum and for that you can maintain 10 active projects and add an unlimited number of users.
Working out a way to increase the efficiency and workability of a content strategy takes time, effort and a bit of know how. These apps will help you to get it done much more quickly, and without the stress.
Add in the fact that two of them are free and the other more affordable than any similar service I have personally found, and you have every reason to try them out.
Communication skills, including writing, speaking and listening to and with customers, supply chain members, employees and other stakeholders, are the most important factors in building brand equity.
Brand equity is the premium value that buyers assign to a known brand name, above and beyond the generic features and benefits it offers.
All brand managers strive to achieve brand equity by going beyond necessary levels of customer service, value, reliability or some other attribute that simply ensures parity in a competitive marketplace.
Brands build equity by becoming memorable and readily distinguishable and by developing unique personalities. Marketing campaigns, including mass media and online content creation, can facilitate the creation of brand equity.
Brand equity translates to growing profitability, strong repeat sales and increasing market share. In addition, brand equity also offers the intrinsic characteristic of brand leverage, meaning that consumers assign positive aspects of the brand image to other products carrying the brand name.
The following eight components are needed to develop strong brand equity. Each component relies on the availability and use of strategic thinking and strong communication skills.
A brand must have clearly defined objectives and tactics to achieve its strategy. The branding strategy defines the business a brand conducts, as well as how the brand will enter the market, gain market share and maintain a competitive position among its target market.
All brands have a life cycle that includes an introduction, growth, maturity and decline stages. However, the duration and lifetime of a brand is influenced by the strength of its strategy.
The longevity of a brand rests on its ability to communicate accurately and professionally; behave ethically; collaborate with employees, intermediaries and final customers; deliver valued differentiation; and create an emotional connection, while capitalizing on the turbulence of the marketing environment.
The soundest brand strategies operate as communication tools that integrate and direct the components of the marketing mix, including questions related to product, place, price, and promotion. Therefore, branding strategies must be simple and easy to understand and communicate.
Walk into any business and you find workers creating e-mail messages, making presentations, reading trade journals, writing reports and talking on phones. A brand’s success depends on people communicating and working together to accomplish shared objectives.
Through effective communication, groups of people interact clearly and professionally with suppliers, retailers, government agencies and customers to achieve a common goal. Therefore, a brand must consist of competent writers, speakers and listeners who can facilitate the transition from concept to production, distribution and sales.
Marketing demands that brands be successful communicators that generate compelling content in a language the market understands. Branding also requires the development of a consistent image and style. A brand’s image consists of its logo, color palette, typeface, tagline and common layout.
Whether you undertake branding in a small business or a global conglomerate with thousands of employees, multilingual writing and speaking skills will help you find investors, promote your product, and manage your employees. Strong communication is so critical in branding that it influences each of the remaining factors.
A brand may offer exceptional features and benefits, but unless the marketplace is aware of them, the brand will never generate sales. Awareness relies on strong content marketing strategy to build brand awareness.
It begins by identifying the best online channels for promoting a brand message, establishing engagement goals, developing engaging promotional materials, and measuring the success of the promotional efforts.
A brand’s reputation can be built or destroyed online, in person or in print.
When a customer has a negative experience, the situation may be aggravated when that customer writes an online review and the company mishandles the situation with a savage rebuke.
Reputation can also be tarnished when someone representing a brand either by telephone or in person displays disturbing or unprofessional body language or verbal transgressions. Finally, reputation can be harmed through the use of offensive language, incorrect terminology or poor writing skills.
Prior to the Internet, developing a brand reputation, trust and credibility was much more difficult. Today’s world of social media and online business reviews can bring instant fandom or wreak destruction overnight.
When someone types your business’s name into a search engine, your company website should be the first listing they see. Good online reputation management ensures that your brand dominates the first page results with listings you control.
These should include your website, social profiles, entries for Google Places, and news stories. A Wikipedia page and review sites should also be listed in first page results. Monitor the review sites closely to ensure your data is correct.
Brand reputation is directly influenced by the quality of your professional communication and relationship management. Your ability to represent your brand positively and handle negative feedback is essential to a positive brand image.
Legal and Ethical Decision-making
Business ethics has become an increasing concern among business leaders. Today ethical awareness and training is widespread. Many businesses have amended their mission statements to include ethical behavior.
With harsher punishments being handed down to businesses, employees recognize that they cannot lie, make false claims, stretch the truth or make half-truth claims. Ethics is such an important subject that rules for ethical behavior must be upheld in communication.
Success relies on collaborating in cross-functional work teams. Many writing projects require collaboration among engineers, marketers, sales representatives, compliance officials and external stakeholders.
Common types of collaboration projects include sales proposals, employee manuals, training handbooks, websites, and marketing collateral and financial reports that require input from multiple departments and disciplines.
Since the increasing complexity of the workplace makes it impossible for one person to have the time and expertise to create detailed documents, business communicators require skills in teamwork.
Value can be thought of as the customer’s desire and utility for a particular product or brand. Powerful brands develop strategic advantages by positively articulating significant points of differentiation in their value proposition.
By differentiating the marketing mix to do a better job meeting customers’ needs, the firm builds a competitive advantage.
When this happens, target customers view the firm’s position in the market as uniquely suited to their preferences and needs. Because everyone in the firm is clear about the position it wants to achieve with customers, the product, promotion, and other marketing mix decisions can be blended better to achieve the desired objectives.
In a purely competitive marketplace, a considerable level of parity exists when competing products offer similar levels of reliability, customer service, innovation and price.
Even as brands adopt new features, competitors are quick to adopt them. However, brand success often rests on softer features other than rational comparisons; thus purchase decisions become emotional choices.
The strongest brands have established emotional capital that integrates into their marketing strategies. Emotional capital is built when people choose brands for personal reasons, such as association, sense of belonging or self-expression. Strong brands induce passion, strong sensations and exhilaration. Furthermore, strong brands are trusted and consumers are faithful to them.
Infograpgic source: http://www.24hourtranslation.com/strategies-building-strong-brand-equity.html
I was sitting in a hookah bar one day, enjoying my sheesha when a woman walked over to my table and asked if I could give her two minutes.
After a quick greeting, she started asking some general questions like how I earned a living, what my typical day looked like, whether or not I smoked cigarettes, how much I spent on smoking each month and a few others.
I immediately understood that she was working for some upcoming cigarette brand and was researching personas.
I liked how they had chosen hookah bars for this purpose as people who smoke hookahs are easier to convert to a specific brand of cigarettes, compared to those who are already addicted to a certain brand of cigarette.
The incident made me realize, once more, that regardless of the size of a business, or whether it’s an established one or a startup, businesses always need buyer persona research to better understand their target audience to create marketing strategies that are highly-effective and engaging.
In my opinion creating and executing marketing strategies without the buyer’s persona is like shooting arrows in the dark. You don’t know if you’re going to hit the mark. In simple words, buyer’s persona is essential to making informed and powerful marketing decisions that save costs and bring desired results, faster.
Why is buyer’s persona important?
- Researching buyer’s persona for your company has multiple benefits, including; Your marketing campaigns are based on your target audience instead of a random study that you found online that might or might not apply to your business.
- Your customer service will be better aligned to the values and needs of your customers. Buyer’s persona will help guide you about your target audience and the kind of service they expect from your company. You can then train your customer service department accordingly.
- Your buyer’s persona will provide you with clear directions on how to create your messaging, product and service in a way that resonates strongly with each of your customers, instead of reaching out to everyone with the same line of reasoning. .
The alignment in your messaging, marketing and customer services that your buyer’s persona will afford you will naturally result in an increase in sales and better customer retention.
What is a negative persona?
The buyer’s persona discussed above helps you find out who your ideal customer is, what he does, where he works, his problems and the kind of solutions he expects from your business.
Negative (or exclusionary) personas are people who do not fall into your target audience or are generally a misfit with some or all aspects of your product or service, are too expensive to retain or are over or under-qualified for your product or service.
Let’s suppose you offer beginner or intermediate level digital marketing courses. People who have worked for six years or more in the digital marketing industry or are currently holding senior managerial positions within the industry will fall under the negative persona category for your business.
How to create buyer’s persona?
Buyer’s persona can be created via interviews, research and surveys.
In order to make up the various business personas, we have to interview existing customers, prospects and referrals.
The answers that we get from all three of these categories will provide us with valuable data, and help us learn about our own products and services, understand customer expectation, recognize areas that need improvement, and better comprehend practices that are a big hit with customers.
Here are the three types of people you can interview to create buyer personas.
Your customers are one of the best resources to help you create your buyer’s persona document. However, this is not applicable to new businesses that are still working to create a customer base.
People who have purchased from your website before are better able to explain more about how they felt, whether the product met their expectation or not and what else they want to see happening in your business.
While interviewing your existing customers, make sure you also include a few unhappy ones in the list because their feedback will shed light on those areas of your business, product or service that require improvement.
Your Business Prospects
This is the second step in developing the buyers’ persona. It’s also important to interview people who haven’t bought anything from you yet.
Understanding your prospects better will not only give them the impression that you are a responsible brand that is concerned about its customers, but the information provided by them will help you build a better and more detailed buyer’s persona document.
If you are new business, you are pretty much left to depend on referrals only as you might not have substantial number of customers or prospects.
Interviewing referrals is still important even if you have a large customer base because referrals will gives you varied buyer personas to work with.
The best way to find people via referrals is through your contacts, or you could also find your target persona on LinkedIn and then catch up with them through mutual friends.
You can try tools like UserTesting and similar services to run questions and get answers from different people. The website also allows you to run remote user testing (with some follow-up questions). You’ll have less control over sessions, but it’s a great resource for quick user testing.
When interviewing people, it’s always good to invest whenever required.
So, if you want to give away some gifts, discounts or special bonuses to your referrals or customers for their support, by all means do.
Also, remember that their time is as important as yours, so your questionnaire should be concise and to-the-point. Most importantly, do not sell. You are trying to collect the data, so stay focused.
What questions should you ask?
This one is very important. What kind of questions should you ask your interviewees to get a detailed understanding of your buyer’s persona?
You need to know the Who, What, Why and How…
Here are the few questions you should be asking;
- What do they do? (Job title, position in the company.)
- What does their typical day look like?(This will tell you more about his routine.)
- What skills are required to do their particular job? (Ask this question only if your product requires it.)
- What industry is their company part of?
- Size and revenue of the company?
- What is their biggest challenge?
- What do they read? (Both online and offline)
- Which social media platform are they most active on? (Facebook, Twitter or any other?)
- Personal and educational background? (This covers everything from name, age to location, educational background and anything else that’s relevant.)
- Preferred purchasing method and why? (Also, discuss their most recent purchase and understand the philosophy behind it)
Now that you have some substantial raw data, the next step is to sort it out, find commonalities between people, and then organize those points into different personas. It should look something like this:
Sort that data and make a list of fictional characters that explain in detail the characteristics of your current and potential target audience. If your marketing strategies will be based on your targeted persona, there will be more chances for you to increase your customer’s lifetime value
Once you have a better idea of your buyer’s persona you will know how to train your customer service team to serve your customers best, and see the changes required within the marketing and sales strategy to acquire and retain customers.
So if you don’t have a buyer’s persona document, start building one today!