Three Reasons Google Analytics is Worthless for Small Business written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing
If you own a small business that has a website, you probably want to know how many people are visiting your site. In fact, you probably want to know a lot more than that. You want to know how they got to your site, how much time they spend on your site once they get there, how many pages they look at, and lots of other things.
The go-to tool for tracking all of this information is Google Analytics. It’s free to use, tracks just about everything you could possibly want to know about traffic to your website, and seamlessly integrates with other services like Adwords.
Of course, being the savvy business owner that you are, you either installed the Google Analytics tracking code on your website yourself or had your webmaster do it for you so that you could have access to all the data it provides. Now, you can log in to your analytics dashboard and see, at a glance, all the information you need to know to judge the effectiveness of your on-line marketing efforts….right?
Wrong. The fact is that if the previous statement describes you, the data you see in your analytics account is probably complete garbage. Here’re three reasons why.
#1: You Probably Didn’t Exclude Traffic from Known Bots and Spiders
In 2014, Google made a change that allowed Analytics users to easily exclude traffic from “known bots and spiders” from the data that you see in your account. Now, all you have to do is check an obscure box buried somewhere in the bowels of the settings page of your Analytics account, and it will automatically filter out traffic that comes from any site on the IAB “International Bots & Spiders” list.
I’m guessing you didn’t check that box.
After all, you’re not an internet marketing expert, you’re a local business owner. Chances are you didn’t even know that over half of all internet traffic isn’t even humans, much less know that you had to do something to filter it out.
I’m also guessing that the person or company who designed and launched your website prior to 2014 and installed the Google Analytics tracking code for you (who you probably haven’t talked to in a year) didn’t go back and check the box for you, either.
In fact, there’s a decent chance that even if your website was designed and launched by a professional after 2014, and that person or company set up Google Analytics for you, they didn’t check the box to automatically exclude traffic from known bots and spiders. They probably either didn’t know about the box themselves, or they just didn’t bother to take the time to do it.
The result is that right off the bat, the numbers you see in your Analytics dashboard probably include quite a bit of traffic from non-humans, which of course is not doing you any good.
Here’s a question I’d love to ask Google: Why the heck don’t you exclude traffic from known bots and spiders by default, and make people check an obscure box to include it, instead of the other way around?
At the very least, why didn’t you create a big flashing message at the top of the Analytics dashboard that asks people “would you like to exclude traffic from known bots and spiders?”
Perhaps you were trying to give thousands of internet marketing bloggers something to write about. Hey Google, here’s a news flash for you: if thousands of people are writing instructions about what the average user of your Analytics service needs to do in order to properly use your product, it means you’re failing.
#2: You didn’t do all this other stuff either
Perhaps you are slightly more savvy than the average small business owner, or perhaps your webmaster is a little more on top of things than most, and the secret box in your Google Analytics account has been checked. You might be thinking that in that case, the data provided by your Analytics account would be more useful to you.
If that’s the case, you’d probably be wrong…because checking that box only filters out some non-human traffic.
In order to even begin to get accurate data from your Analytics, in addition to checking the secret box, you’ll also have to do the following:
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you haven’t done all of that.
I’m also going to guess that if you’re paying someone to help you with your online marketing or search engine optimization, they probably haven’t done that either….meaning any reports they provide you probably don’t mean much.
In fact, in Google’s Analytics Academy, which is the learning center designed by Google to teach people how to use Analytics, there aren’t any lessons on how to filter out spam and bot traffic. Perhaps that’s because if Google added lessons about that topic, it would be a tacit acknowledgment of the massive flaws in their tool.
#3: There are numerous other problems with the data that you have no control over
Let’s pretend for a second that you have way more time on your hand than the average small business owner, and also an above-average level of technical ability, and you actually took the time to do everything listed in above.
Alternatively, perhaps you have a larger budget for webmaster services than most small businesses, and you were able to hire a webmaster who actually understood how to do everything I listed and could afford to pay them to take care of it.
Surely, now you can begin trusting that your Analytics data is accurate, and start using it to make important decisions about your online marketing, right?
Not so fast. Unfortunately, even assuming that your Analytics data is only reflecting human visitors to your website (which it almost certainly isn’t), there are still numerous problems with the data. Here’s just a few:
- Traffic listed as “direct” in Analytics can actually come from many possible sources, most of which can’t easily be tracked.
- Google doesn’t provide the search terms used by people who came to your site via their search engine if they were signed into their account at the time.
- The average visit duration reported by your analytics is probably on the low side, due to the way this number is tracked.
There are actually many more ways that the data in Google Analytics is either fundamentally flawed or less than completely accurate, and that’s assuming that you have the tracking code properly installed on every page of your website.
These problems have been widely reported on many marketing blogs, so anyone who is “in the know” when it comes to online marketing shouldn’t be surprised by that statement.
The problem is that most small business owners, and most self-proclaimed “digital marketing experts” who work with small business owners, are not very well-informed about this subject.
They either aren’t aware of how unreliable the raw data is, or don’t have the technical expertise to sort through all of the issues listed above. That’s why Google Analytics is just about worthless for the typical local small business.
Imagine if there were so many flaws in the popular small business accounting software Quickbooks that even most CPAs didn’t understand how to get good data out of it. Would anyone actually pay money for Quickbooks if that was the case? The answer, of course, is that they would only use it if there wasn’t any better option…and that’s exactly why people continue to use Google Analytics.
Kevin Jordan is a member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network and the owner of Redpoint Marketing Consultants, a small business marketing agency in Christiansburg, VA. He’s also co-author of the award-winning book The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Local Lead Generation and the host of the top-rated video podcast The Small Business Marketing Minute Show. You can connect with Kevin on Twitter @RMCVirginia.
Build a Solid and Truly Useful Customer Survey System written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing
Customer surveys are the most direct way of understanding your clients’ needs and preferences. The success of your business rests in their hands. If they are not satisfied, there’s very little you can do to make your business grow. A well-designed customer survey system can provide you with the tools necessary to predict future trends, and stay ahead of the curve.
How to Encourage Feedback
The basic building block of any customer survey system is the survey itself. Often, the biggest obstacles companies face when it comes to getting direct feedback from their clients is the lack of enthusiasm when it comes to filling in questionnaires. So, when deciding to survey your customers, you need to factor this in, when you think about the number of people you have to send it to. However, there are ways you can encourage your clients to respond to your questions.
- State the purpose of your survey. If the participants know what the ultimate goal of a survey is, they’re more likely to take the time to fill in the answers. Many customers are reluctant to participate in surveys because they don’t know exactly what to expect. Of course, you can keep the subject of your questionnaire somewhat vague, so you don’t influence your participants.
- Describe the survey before your customers decide to take it. Without being too specific, you should give your customers an idea of what to expect from the survey. Give them a broad description of the types of questions you’re going to ask them, what they need in order to participate, and a rough estimate of how much time it’s going to take. If your customers know these things beforehand, they’re going to be much more willing to start the process.
- Questions should be concise. Long, sprawling sentences might make them difficult to understand, and the answers will inevitably be less accurate. Short questions, that are to the point are much more likely to yield useful data.
- Avoid unclear phrasing. If the questions are too vague, or your customer is unsure about what you’re asking them, this might make them feel frustrated, and just give up. You may end up with a lot of information that is practically useless, or you might stop getting feedback altogether.
- Keep It Short. Even if you do have a lot of questions to ask, try to keep your questionnaire short, with no more than 30 questions. It’s better to split up a long list of questions into several surveys, then to try to fit them all on into single, long one. When it comes to likely participants are likely to give feedback versus how much time it takes to complete the survey per se, studies seem to indicate that the shorter a questionnaire is, the more probable it is the participants are going to respond to it.
Avoiding Biased Answers
The information you gather through these surveys is useful only if it paints an accurate picture of your customers’ preferences. There are many factors which can affect the way in which your clients answer a questionnaire. There are a few things you can do ensure that the data you receive truly reflects your customers’ needs.
- Move the questions around. if the participants start noticing a pattern in your questions, they might end up answering based on that pattern, rather than really thinking about the questions. You should try to keep your questions as varied as possible, and maybe even add some that are not directly related to the ultimate goal of your survey.
- Change phrasing. Words and phrasing can affect the way in which a person answers a question. Certain terms may have a negative, or positive connotation that isn’t strictly related to what you’re interested in, but can change the way your participant understands the question. To make sure you get a relatively objective answer, ask the same question in more than one way. Use different terms, or change the focus of the sentence.
Planning Out Your Surveys
To keep the information you gather from your clients relevant, it’s best if you conduct surveys at regular intervals. How often you question your customers regarding your business depends on a lot on the method you are going to employ.
Telephone calls are a good way to ensure you get feedback, however, they tend to feel very invasive, so you should only do phone surveys once a year.
Online surveys are more flexible. Ideally, you’ll want to send your customers a questionnaire once every 3 to 6 months for more in-depth surveys. You can always keep a customer satisfaction questionnaire on your company’s web page at all times, so your customers are always able to give feedback when they want to.
If you are interested to know how a specific product or service is doing, you can offer your clients a chance to state their opinion immediately after purchasing the product or service. These surveys should be very short, no more than a few, straightforward questions. If you get too aggressive with your surveying, your clients might be put off.
When planning out your surveys, you should be prepared for negative feedback. While it may be difficult to confront criticism, there’s a lot you can learn from it. Negative feedback can be much more valuable when it comes to satisfying your customers, and improving your business.
Maintain a Dialogue
Customer surveys are not just means of gathering information from your clients once in a while. They are a tool that can be used to generate, and maintain customer loyalty. Make sure you take the time to show your appreciation for the fact that they took the time to answer your questions.
If you do implement changes based on your customers’ feedback, inform them about it. Explain what measures you took to address their complaints, or how you developed an idea based on the things they appreciated. This will let them know that you are truly committed to their satisfaction and that their opinions are genuinely taken into consideration. It might even encourage others to take your surveys in the future as well. You and your clients need to be in a constant dialogue for your business to succeed.
Amanda Wilks is a Boston University graduate and a Digital Marketing Strategist. She has a great interest in everything related to content marketing, online marketing and corporate and personal branding.
If you want your m-commerce project to deliver the results you’re expecting, context should be front and centre of your design.
Across all industries, mobile traffic is eating into PC web traffic in a big way, even in economies which have a large installed base of consumer PCs.
But ecommerce sites aren’t seeing mobile web visitors, particularly those who use smartphones, converting to mobile shoppers with the same success as PC shoppers.
As Andy Favell writes in ClickZ Intelligence’s new report, ‘The DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2: The 12 Pillars of Mobile Design‘:
“It is fair to conclude that conversions would be higher if the m-commerce experience on the web was better designed with smartphone users in mind. M-commerce sites that crack this will sell more.”
One of the most consistent mistakes made with mobile site design is a failure to take into account the differing circumstances, needs and intentions of smartphone users; in other words, their unique context.
The difference between smartphone and PC users isn’t just a smaller screen size – it’s a whole new set of variables.
Google’s guidelines for its search quality evaluators emphasise the importance of taking context into account for mobile users.
So how does context impact the way you cater for m-commerce customers, and what can you do to tailor your design to their needs?
Why design for context?
A customer using a PC to access your website is likely to be doing so in a limited number of settings. Most often they’ll be at home or at work, possibly in an internet café, or using a laptop somewhere like an airport or coffee shop.
Even if you imagine that they might be out and about, there are still relatively few plausible scenarios in which they could be logging in, and they don’t differ from one another that wildly.
But with mobile, and particularly smartphones, the number of possible scenarios suddenly increases exponentially. Your customer could be travelling, working, moving around the house and multi-tasking, walking to your location, walking to a rival‘s location…
In each case, the context drastically alters the way in which this customer might be approaching and interacting with your site.
Andy Favell explained in a recent article for ClickZ, ‘When will responsive websites respond to user context?‘ why cross-platform homogeneity – taking the same approach to design across differing platforms – doesn’t make sense.
“Cross platform homogeneity forgets two massive things:
- The requirements of the desktop and mobile user are often different
- The requirements of the same mobile user (more importantly) vary depending on whether they are at home, at work, commuting, on route to the location, on site, in a rival’s location and so on.
And that’s just the start of it. Now consider:
- How context varies by time of day, day of week, time of year.
- What about the trigger that causes the visit to the site e.g. something on TV, snapping QR code in a print ad, tapping through from an email, social media etc.?”
Taking a user’s context into account is considered to be a no-brainer for targeted advertising, and the conversions it delivers prove that targeting works.
Facebook has achieved great success from advertising thanks to its ability to fine-tune its adverts according to who a user is and what they might be doing.
Image by Bablu bit, available via CC BY-SA 4.0
Google is increasingly using the data it collects on users and their search histories to contextualise the results it provides them and make them more relevant. And programmatic advertising is currently making waves with the promise of being able to determine at high speed who to target based on digital cues received about the user.
The online world is increasingly trending towards high levels of personalisation as our ability to gather and interpret data about users improves. And for m-commerce, this also seems like the logical next step.
As Favell writes in ‘The DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2’:
“If adtech has the ability to target ads on mobile websites at visitors, surely m-commerce sites should use the same types of technology and listen to the same digital signals in order to prioritise the most appropriate content, offers and services, and make the user journey as easy and frictionless as possible?”
How to design for context in m-commerce
In part two of the ‘DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site’ report, Andy Favell gives a series of tips on how to personalise your mobile offering to users whilst not over-targeting to the point that users find it irritating. He advises:
- Prioritising content, rather than selecting which content to show to the exclusion of others
- Suggesting entries in search or form fields, such as postcode or ZIP code in a search box
- If your website defaults to departments based on previous behaviour – for example, ASOS will open the men’s or women’s store homepage based on what the user has browsed previously – make sure it is clear how to return to the general homepage
- Facilitating the buying process with options to save for later, save a favourite address, save a favourite meal
- Encouraging a trust relationship by explaining how personalisation works and how it benefits the user
- Making it easy to opt in or out of personalisation
The epitome of a personalised m-commerce experience is a site that adapts fully to user context, based on signals such as who a person is, where they are, what device they are using, what they like and what they are doing.
While there are very few examples of websites who are doing this well at the moment, the concept isn’t too far-fetched.
A handful of retailers in the US have already invested in developing native apps which deliver a different experience to the user when they are away from a store versus when they are in-store.
The most innovative of these will switch to “Store mode” as the shopper enters a store location, activated by geotechnologies like bluetooth beacons.
A number of US retailers have personalised their m-commerce offerings with a dedicated “store mode”, which includes features such as scanning products to check pricing and availability | Image by Intel Free Press, available via CC BY-SA 2.0
DMI’s 2015 ‘In-store Mobile Experiences’ report sets out why a properly personalised in-store mobile experience can be so beneficial to retailers.
According to the report, 82% of high-income shoppers said that an improved mobile in-store experience would make the shopping experience better. And 74% of young people aged 18-35 said that they would spend more money at a store that provided an improved in-store mobile experience.
Standout performers in the US – which included Walgreens, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Walmart, Target and American Eagle among other brands – offered in-store features such as scanning products to unlock information on pricing and product availability; integrating loyalty programs into the in-store experience; in-store mapping; product recommendations; and reserving a dressing room.
These are all location-dependent personalisation features, but there are other mobile signals you can use to divine information about your user’s context and tailor your m-commerce site to them in subtle ways.
In ‘The DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2’, Ronan Cremin, CTO of DeviceAtlas, writes:
“Apart from the really obvious one (location) there are other possibilities like detecting if a user is literally on the move or not (accelerometer), is the battery low etc. etc.
One important point about all of these contextual cues is to use them as hints rather than hard deciding factors because the cost of getting things wrong based on an incorrect assumption is high.
It’s really dangerous to make assumptions about what a user wants, so I think that the best thing to do is make prioritization decisions over ordering of features rather than adding/removing features entirely.”
Subtle cues about a user’s state like battery level can be used to personalise your m-commerce site | Image by Martin Abegglen, available via CC BY-SA 2.0
As both Favell and Cremin point out, it’s important not to go overboard with personalisation, as too much can risk alienating the user, especially if wrong assumptions are made.
But don’t let this put you off trying altogether. Context is everything in mobile design, and even small adjustments can go a long way towards creating a frictionless user experience and improving your m-commerce sales and conversions.
You can read the full ClickZ Intelligence reports here:
- DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 1: Planning
- DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2: The 12 Pillars of Mobile Design
This article has been adapted from a post originally published on our sister website ClickZ: Why context is king in m-commerce.
Emojis have taken over a significant part of online communication, with people using them in order to express a feeling, a taste or an interest without using a long written description.
The term ’emoji’ has become so popular that it was named by Oxford Dictionaries as Word of the Year for 2015, which means that we were not surprised when we noticed an increase of branded messages including emojis.
It’s common for brands to attempt to be part of a trend, and some of them excel in it, but there’s always the risk of trying too hard and in no relevant context.
The rise of emojis in branded messages
According to Socialbakers and its analysis of the top 500 brands, 59% of them included emojis in their tweets in 2015, while also 40% of them included them in their Facebook posts.
Image source: eMarketer
Appboy analysed the brands using its service and saw an increase of 777% on the use of emojis in branded campaigns from 2015 to 2016.
Meanwhile, 92% of the online population has used emojis at least once, which proves how the small symbols turned into the new internet slang.
Image source: Emogi
It’s interesting to observe the reasons that people use emojis and it seems that it’s not just about being fun and casual. In fact, people may use an emoji in order to improve online communication, to be understood, to add a sentiment, or simply to express themselves as fast as possible in the most appropriate way.
This becomes important for brands, as it may help them understand the motives behind the emoji use for their target audience and whether they should start adding them to their marketing messages.
Image source: Emogi
Should your brand use emojis?
Emojis may help a brand add a personal element to its marketing messages and create an additional appeal to its audience, but this doesn’t mean that every case is similar.
Before you jump on the excessive use of emojis as a way to increase your relevance, you may need to consider:
- How does my target audience interact online?
- Would emojis enhance the branded message?
- Which emojis could be more relevant for my brand?
- Do I really know the meaning of the emojis I’m going to use?
- How often should I use them?
Thus, the use of emojis depends on:
- target audience
and it may be adjusted depending on the set content strategy, or a particular campaign.
Moreover, there’s also the case of using emojis in an email marketing campaign, which leads to further debate on whether they are adding value to your message.
Once your brand is ready to include emojis in its next campaign, you might need some inspiration on the best possible uses to do so. Or else, you may need to learn from other brands’ mistakes on what to avoid.
Brands already doing excellent emoji work
Domino’s has created one of the most popular emoji-related campaigns when it asked for customers to order pizza by tweeting the relevant emoji. People had to sign up through the site to enable the option of ordering through Twitter and from that point, a simple tweet featuring the pizza emoji led to an instant order, which was confirmed through a direct message.
Thus, a simple symbol was easily incorporated in their sales funnel and the audience turned into customers in the most creative way.
<img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/72×72/1f355.png" alt="
Have you become bored in your current position, are considering starting your own business or maybe you’re ready for a career change? With every plateau, there’s a pivot. And your next move is essential in determining your success.
My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jenny Blake, business strategist, international speaker and former Career Development Program Manager at Google. She is also the author of Life After College and the forthcoming book Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One. Jenny and I discuss the major pivot points in life, career development and strategic growth.
Jenny knows all about pivots. Terrified by the prospect of failure, Jenny left Google and the corporate life all-together in 2011 to start her own business. Pulling from her personal fears and life experiences, she now helps growth-oriented individuals figure out what’s next and how to get there.
Questions I ask Jenny Blake:
- Do people typically have a pivot moment or event where they say “I have to change”?
- If I’m unhappy and know I’m meant for something else, how do I break down the hypothesis of what to do next?
- What are some things that people do to sabotage their ability to pivot?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- Why pivot is the new normal and how constant change can help you achieve even greater levels of success
- How to identify the warning signs that a pivot is coming and strategies on how to embrace change
- What “career piloting” is and how it can help you get unstuck
Earlier this year, a report from Consumer Intelligence Research partners (CIRP) pegged the sales of Amazon’s Echo at more than 3 million units.
Echo of course uses Amazon’s cloud based AI “Alexa” to answer questions, play music/games, control smart devices including home automation systems and of course re-order products off Amazon.
More importantly, awareness of this device and others like it continues to accelerate.
In fact, according to CIRP, awareness of Echo more than doubled though the course of last year from 20% in March 2015 to more than 50% by year’s end.
While an aggressive and memorable ad effort featuring Alec Baldwin, Dan Marino, and Missy Elliot may have contributed to Echo’s increasing awareness and popularity, its value proposition, robust and growing functionality and perceived promise are ushering in a new era – the AI, Machine Learning and voice UI era.
Here are a few trends and predictions to look for as we prepare for this exciting wave which will most certainly become ever more present in our everyday lives and tasks.
Trends in intelligent assistants
Listening to Amazon’s Charles Kindel at the Eniac M1 Summit confirms, Amazon has big plans for its cloud based omnipresent AI technology.
Those plans include how this intelligent assistant can be integrated into and can interact with other IOT devices and services be it your smart phone/watch/home, gaming/music systems and even cars, as is the case with Ford SYNC.
Clearly Amazon believes Echo and “Alexa” is so much more than just a product, it’s a framework and platform that will be open to a growing number of outside developers.
Expect tens of thousands of developers to jump on the bandwagon in the coming years as they look to integrate Alexa into their own products as this technology moves quickly into the mainstream.
But don’t be fooled, Amazon won’t be alone and it’s not the only game in town.
Both Apple with its Siri, Microsoft with its Cortana and Google with the Google Assistant and Google Home offering will compete aggressively here, particularly given their dominance on the mobile/smartphone OS front.
Given that advantage and footprint, it will be particularly interesting to see how Amazon will explore ways in which Alexa can be more deeply integrated into Apple, Google and Microsoft powered smartphones.
It should also not come as a big surprise if Amazon looks to both acquire and build solutions to support the continued adoption of its intelligent assistant Alexa.
The company’s strong track record to continually experiment and innovate remains part of its culture. Bigger and bigger successes, such as AWS and Echo/Alexa, will only fuel bigger bets and experiments, and rest assured, Alexa-related investments and innovations are forthcoming.
Finally, because these voice UI’s and intelligent assistants continually listen for key words and are collecting more and more info about its users to be helpful, privacy concerns have arisen.
Hopes and fears
While each company has assured users the data is not stored or shared, the always listening and learning capabilities can be unsettling.
Look for greater notice, data access and controls to be integrated into all solutions as our intelligent assistants become an increasing part of our lives.
We are on the threshold of a new era lead by AI, NL and machine learning and the emergence of the voice UI somewhat depicted in the Spike Jonze movie HER is yet another step closer to reality.
via Work with Marvin
There is an increasing demand for content among marketers, but how can you ensure that your content marketing strategy is effective?
It’s impressive that 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing this year, but only 30% of them rate their efforts as effective.
How do you bridge such a big gap then between the planning and the implementation and what makes your content marketing successful?
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has created a six-step guide on how to develop, create, and measure a B2B content marketing strategy that actually works, in order to help marketers improve their skills.
Analysing a B2B content marketing strategy in six steps:
1) Develop your strategy
The first step to a successful content marketing plan is to develop a strategy and write down your goals even before you start creating the content.
As every stage of content marketing has different objectives, there should also be a clear distinction of the goals and the expectations.
A mission statement may help you establish your goals from the stage of awareness up to the engagement.
For example, in the stage of awareness the metrics focus on brand recall, increasing reach, visits to the site, clicks on social media and emails, while as the plan moves through the stage of engagement, the focus of the metrics moves towards sales, leads, the cost per lead, the loyalty, or the number of returning visitors.
After all, a documented content strategy serves as the go-to point when you need a reminder on what your next type of content should be, helping you keep track of the right metrics at each stage.
2) Identify your buyers
A great content marketing strategy starts by taking into consideration its audience, understanding the expectations it has to meet.
It may be a good idea to answer these questions first:
- Do you know your target audience?
- What do they expect from your content?
- How should you interact with them?
- How do they interact with each other?
- What motivates them for their buying decisions?
Moreover, it may be useful to create buyer personas, a sample of your target audience that will help you personalise your content marketing strategy.
Building personas doesn’t have to be a complicated (or time consuming) process, as you can focus on the most important traits of your typical customers, while you can also consult your sales team, your social audience, or your email subscribers to get a better understanding of the audience.
3) Identify topics
It’s not always easy to come up with a consistent flow of creative ideas, but an analysis of your target audience, the success of your existing content, or a closer look at your analytics may help for numerous content ideas.
The first tip is to think like your target audience, in order to be able to produce the right content for each stage.
- What would your audience like to read?
- What topics are useful for each stage of the purchase path?
- Does your content answer the right questions?
- Are your topics aligned with your company’s wider strategy?
You may get many useful answers by asking the right questions and both your co-workers, your audience and many online tools may be extremely helpful.
4) Create content
Once you have analysed your audience and have identified the best ideas, it’s time to proceed to the actual creation of the content.
A great content is a combination of value, relevance and visual appeal, along with proper formatting and length, depending on the stage of your content marketing strategy, your audience and the expectations.
It is also important to prepare a good mix of content, including blog posts, videos, infographics, ebooks, visual quotes, GIFs, white papers, podcasts, in order to ensure that your audience maintains its interest in exploring your new content.
In fact, experimentation with new content types may lead to surprisingly good results, which may even make you reconsider your content strategy, adding new creative directions that may turn out to be more effective.
As LinkedIn suggests, make sure that every piece of content serves at least one of the following functions:
- Solves a problem
- Facilitates a purchase decision
- Adds SEO value
- Offers a fresh perspective to a popular topic
5) Amplify your content
By the time you have created your content, it’s time to spread a word about it and examine all the possible ways you can amplify it.
Promotion can be both organic and paid and it may include among others:
- Social Media
- Email marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Boosted social posts
- Paid advertising
- Targeted audience
- Employee promotion
Every type of promotion aims to help you reach a wider audience, while still maintaining the desired relevance. From basic search optimisation up to paid promotion, relevance and contextual promotion increase the chances of engagement, loyalty, purchasing and retention, helping build brand awareness and affinity in the most natural way.
6) Analyse and Optimise
A content marketing strategy should ensure that its content matures through time, always being aligned with the goals and the KPIs that are set at each stage.
Now it’s the time to measure the performance of your content marketing strategy and whether it meets the goals and the metrics that you’ve set at the first stage.
It is quite easy to forget the initial goals and the reasons you’ve set them for each stage of your strategy, but this may also be misleading for the results of your efforts.
For example, if you create an ebook to gain subscribers and generate leads, but notice that it ultimately brings a great number of social mentions, without gaining the desired leads, then your efforts cannot be considered successful, at least not in the stage that you were hoping them to be.
This may be due to:
- wrong set goals
- wrong distribution
- wrong audience
and it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy to align your expectations with the results of your content marketing efforts.
B2B content marketing is not more complicated than any other content effort, providing that it is performed by following a series of steps, in order to ensure that you follow the right path to achieve the desired results.
After all, successful content marketing is able to transform the random content creation to an effective results-driven strategy that meets your audience’s needs, leading to the desired ROI for your business.