Category: Content marketing

I love GDPR

Why I love GDPR

It’s June. We have passed the GDPR enforcement deadline and are slowly adjusting to what life is like now. So… what’s changed?

“GDPR is a pain in the ****”

Since its announcement, I have lost count of the number marketers I’ve heard complain about how the GDPR is making their job harder and how their business will suffer financially for having to adhere to these stricter regulations.

Now, of course, I don’t mean to minimise the pain of change. Adapting is often difficult. However, I do believe that many marketing professionals are completely missing the point of why GDPR is crucial – not just for the protection of individuals’ rights, but for the survival of marketing as a concept.

Time to restore the balance

Let’s be real here: These regulations were not invented to create a data nightmare for the sales and marketing community, but rather to help restore the balance between buyer and seller and reinstate some of the trust that has been abused by players who show little or no respect for the actual human beings behind the database.

As long as we all receive mountains of salesy spam emails on a daily basis and our personal details are being swept around the world like dust-bunnies in the wind, we need change.

Adopting a new mindset

While we’ve all been busy deep-diving into privacy statements and erasure policies and opt-in forms, the biggest shift has happened on a different level. Thanks to the GDPR, we have effectively been forced to adopt the mindset of the customer. The customer’s rights as well as their behaviour are now being formally recognised in organisations through policies, disclaimers and information.

We’re starting to see the whole process of data management and marketing communications from the perspective of the buyer rather than that of the vendor – and that is a gargantuan leap forward.

Things desperately needed to change, and the GDPR changes gave us a much needed shake-up.

The sentiment behind the GDPR regulatory framework is that the control over customer data should be put back into the hands of the customer. It argues that the end user should have the freedom to choose how companies can use their details, rather than be at the mercy of forces which have little or no regard for their integrity or their user experience, as long money is being made.

What’s next?

It will take some time before the new ways of doing things become a natural part of life. But in generations to come, our grandchildren will look back at our old spam-ridden email practices and shake their heads in disbelief.

Now we just need to get past the stage of over-zealous privacy policy announcements, and start really exploring the ways GDPR will make the world of marketing a much better one – through the use of adaptive content and tailored user experiences, for example.

ideal buyer personas

How well do you really know your buyer persona?

I often work with organisations that have a long history of selling products and services into specific industries and niches; yet cannot paint me a detailed portrait of what their ideal buyer looks like.

Their sales and marketing teams are unable to confidently answer the following questions about the buyer:

  • How much does he/she earn?
  • What’s their favourite social media channel?
  • What time do they get to the office in the morning?
  • Are they married/single?
  • What’s their main career ambition?

Questions like these may seem completely irrelevant at a first glance, but the more you dig down into them, the more you realise that each answer holds a clue to a successful marketing strategy. They provide you with behavioural cues, motivations and drivers that will help you position your offerings and communicate them in a way that becomes irresistible.

Knowledge is profitable

When it comes to clients and prospects, knowledge means not only power but also financial profit. How? Well, if you know exactly where to reach your audience, you won’t waste money advertising on the wrong platforms. If you know their main challenges, you won’t alienate them with irrelevant value statements. If you know what is important to them, you will be able to influence their impulse to buy.

Now – this doesn’t mean that you need to put a stakeout car outside your clients’ house or enrol in a psychology course. But you will need to do these four things:

1. Ask questions

When it comes to asking questions, there are of course various online survey tools you can use. However, the best way to get useful, accurate information is through conversation. Talk to people, face to face or over the phone, asking what they think about your product or service, and about what is important to them.

Take the opportunity to chat with people at tradeshows, in user groups, and in online forums. Most people will be helpful and forthcoming if you explain that you will be able to create even better products and services as a result of their input.

2. Follow the snail trail

As a business, you should make an effort to always find out how your customers found you to begin with. It’s also worth using analytics and tracking software to monitor how, when and where people access your online content on a regular basis. Over time, this will create a detailed picture of how your audience discovers your information and engages with it.

3. Listen and learn

Your sales team will be able to give you very useful input on their active leads. Take time to review these together regularly. Learn from their interactions with prospects and clients; this is a great source for discovering buyer behaviour.

4. Capture data

Contact forms are great tools for getting snippets of information from your leads. Use them to ask for a piece of key information like company size, age, gender – whatever is relevant to help differentiate your messaging to different personas.

However, be careful not to ask too much or use questions that seem too intrusive. If at all possible, use dynamic forms that only ask for one additional item of information every time the user downloads something, building up the lead profile over time.

Get to know your ideal buyer persona

Once you have created a clear image of your buyer persona – you may even have several – it will become a great deal easier to improve your return on marketing investment. You will be able to make strategic decisions quicker, choose better tools and plan more efficient campaigns.

It’s also a really fun and interesting process! Why not get started today?

Get your own guide to creating a buyer persona

If you want some more information and a free template to creating an ideal buyer persona, you can download your own PDF guide HERE.

Email marketing podcast

How to Generate Leads with Email – PODCAST

In this episode of the Awesome Marketing Podcast I’m interviewing conversion copywriter Sarah Anderson, who has an impressive track record of generating huge uplifts in open rates and revenue generation for clients. She shares some of her best tips for setting up a successful email marketing strategy, managing contacts, choosing email platforms and measuring results.



If you need some more specific advice on how to make email marketing work for your business, send me a message.

…and while you’re here, don’t forget to check out our Facebook community for more regular tips and guidance on how to become better at what you do.

Newsletters

“Should we be doing newsletters?”

The question of newsletters came up recently in conversation with a company I work with.

“We want to re-engage our audience, and we thought we could use a newsletter as the method. What do you think?”

Before answering, I wanted to try to understand what the real drivers were behind the idea. What were they actually trying to achieve?

As it turns out, they wanted to do two things:

  1. Get their existing email contacts to actively ‘opt in’ to future communications (to comply with GDPR).
  2. Put the brand back on people’s radar by telling them all the great new things they’re doing.

Personally, I thought the idea of doing a re-engagement campaign that also shared some insight about them as a business was a good idea. And for that to then lead into regular newsletters – why not? Great stuff.

But then I saw the content.

For their first newsletter, they wanted to include six different topics, all centred around them as a business: ‘This is our latest service’, ‘We’ve done a restructure’, ‘We’ve been nominated for an award’… you get the picture.

First of all, let’s be clear – what’s news to you, is often completely irrelevant to your audience. For example, hiring a couple of new directors is not necessarily something your customers care about. They’ll read it and go “So what?”

If it doesn’t add value to them, there’s no need to push it onto their desk. Which brings me to the true merit of newsletters: Adding value. We’ve all got busy inboxes and have to stave off the stacks of irrelevant updates we get on a daily basis. Do we really want to add to that noise? Of course we don’t. We want to create engagement, build relationships, and establish trust. And the best way to do that by email is to provide content that is helpful to the recipient in doing their job.

So what happened next?

I ended up shaving their suggested content down to a clear message of ‘We want to continue engaging with you – and here’s why.’ I reduced the number of topics from six down to three short sections, each highlighting a how-to-guide or educational content they can read and learn from. The call to action was a simple ‘YES – sign me up’ to keep receiving useful updates.

Now, the next challenge was to do with the frequency of these newsletters. How often should they be sent out? As they’re a small team with limited resource, weekly was out of the question. I suggested that monthly would be a more manageable rate, and would allow them to work on curating suitable content over the course of four weeks. (They already publish at least one blog post per month, so that would be a useful place to start in terms of re-purposing existing content.)

“Monthly is too much of a commitment. Let’s start by doing newsletters quarterly,” was the Managing Director’s view. I felt my heart sink.

OK – so what’s the problem with doing a quarterly newsletter? Well, here are the three main reasons:

  1. You ‘lose touch’. Once you get people to actively opt in to your emails, you want to make the most of that permission. If they only get an email every three months, you risk becoming one of those newsletters that people forget that they actually signed up for.
  2. People move on. We’re living in a more fluid workplace than ever. People move jobs, change positions, work on limited-time contracts. In the three months between emails, an address can become invalid – which means you’ll be getting a higher percentage of bounces next time you send something. And email systems don’t like bounces.
  3. It’s not a priority. When you know your newsletter isn’t due for another eight or ten weeks, it’s easy to put it on the shelf and ignore it until it becomes an urgent task. The last few days before sending it, you’ll be scrambling around for topics and ideas for what to include. (I’m speaking from personal experience here!)

A monthly newsletter doesn’t have to be taxing at all. Once you know that people want to hear from you (and you have learnt to identify content that’s jam-packed with value and helpful information) you will soon get into a flow of creating regular newsletters that make your readers – and your Managing Director – happy.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens next…

 

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Content Marketing - not Selling

How to sell without “selling”

This week I had an interesting question from a business owner.
She runs a highly successful tailored recruitment service, and had now been given the opportunity to introduce herself to a friend’s private network – packed full of prospective clients.

“I want to really show off my strengths – but I don’t want to come across as blunt and ‘salesy’. How do I do it?”

This is a question I hear from time to time, both from marketers and entrepreneurs. And it’s a valid one. Because let’s face it, everyone’s pretty clued up when it comes to sales messages these days! Your prospects can smell a pitch a mile away. And if they’re not ready to listen – they immediately switch off.

But how do we get around this?

How do we sell without selling?

Breaking through the ad noise

We live in an age of advertising fatigue. We choose on-demand TV and fast-forward through adverts, we disable ad pop-ups and we chuck direct mail straight in the recycling bin.

This may seem like a huge challenge for marketing, but it’s actually a brilliant opportunity to go beyond the traditional one-way-street messaging. You have the chance to create influence and engagement and win long-term trust. All you have to do is give people what they are actually looking for and interested in.

The 5 principles of influence

In this blog post I will outline some ways to get started with influencer marketing and how it can improve your lead generation.

  1. Ditch the scattergun. Get to know who your client is, what their challenges are and what they need. Visualise one specific ideal client and keep them in mind when you create your message. You will need to demonstrate that you are aware of their issues, and that you understand the frustration they feel. They need to know that you care.
  2. Ask: How can I help? Be clear not only on the challenges your prospects face, but how you can help them overcome those challenges. You must be able to show a clear connection between their ‘pain’ and your ‘remedy’. Sometimes the prospect isn’t even aware of their own problem, but they can begin to understand their limitations when they see how you are able to help.
  3. Show, don’t tell. Everyone can say how great they are and how amazing their product or service is. But most of the time, nobody else cares! We need to show our audience how our amazingness can be applied and what difference it makes. Let customer quotes, statistics and tangible benefits shine through in your message.
  4. Go where you’re wanted. While adverts and sponsorships do still play a part in the promotions mix, there are plenty of ways to introduce your brand in places where people already come to search for services or products like yours. Become a trusted advisor to those searching for help by answering questions and offering advice.
  5. Create high-value content. Rather than spending money on glossy videos telling the world how great your brand is, start creating content that actually helps your prospect achieve something. Teach them best practice, offer free high-level guidance, and share your knowledge. While this may sound like you’re giving away your skills for free, you are actually helping yourself by pre-qualifying your prospects. Those who turn to you after reading your content will already have ‘bought in’ to you and have an established interest in your offering.

Applying the principles

In a conversation with the business owner, we loosely walked through these principles. We both agreed on the first three, and the fourth one was already sorted out in this instance as she had a specific network to address.

This left the final principle: The content. What content should she create to influence this audience?

With limited timescales, I suggested that a targeted blog-style article would fit well. It would be an opportunity to address the wider issues and challenges of recruitment and to showcase how well she understands the prospects’ pain points. She could then guide the reader through the various checkpoints they should consider when choosing a recruitment partner – all built on her decade-long business legacy and insight.

Content creates influence

Content marketing is a powerful tool for creating influence. By using helpful, relevant and non-invasive content strategies we can build up engagement with our audience without being dismissed as sales noise. There are so many interesting ways you can promote your business through content, there’s no need to worry about running out of ideas.

So the next time you’re reaching for your pen to draft that promotional letter, email or sales page – have a think about these five principles and how you can make them work for your business!

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Get your social media organised with ContentDJ

Get your social media organised

We all know it. We SHOULD be so much better at getting our social media organised. But too often, it’s just a source of stress and frustration. Identifying the right topics, finding the right messages to share, writing unique content –and then publishing it at the right time…

If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone in your frustration.

Stop the tailchase

The first hurdle to overcome is the easiest one: Automation.

If you’re not already using a scheduling tool, now is the time to start.

Every social media marketer worth their salt will automate a large part of their social media activities. This will take away the stress of having to log into your platforms several times a week to post your updates. Instead, you just pre-populate your message calendar with content and links.

Smarter scheduling

There are of course many basic tools available, such as HootSuite and Buffer. While these systems are fine for simply publishing updates, I have found that it makes a lot more sense to have a system that combines your own scheduling functionality with a clever way of finding and sharing (i.e. curating) relevant content from other sources.

My absolute favourite social media scheduling tool is ContentDJ. But why? I hear you ask. Well, let me share a few reasons why I love this system.

  • Filtered calendars
    It’s a great resource for single marketers or distributed teams, as it allows you to build out a complete calendar for publishing content on all your platforms – filtered on campaigns, team members or content type.
  • Fast, easy curation
    The one thing that really sets ContentDJ apart is how it makes it easy to curate relevant content from other sources. By setting just a few keywords, the system lists hundreds of trending articles to share from.
  • Editorial tools
    Rather than just publishing, ContentDJ allows for team members to log in and start drafting content ideas in the ‘editorial room’. These can then be reviewed and approved through your own custom workflow stages.
Social media organised with ContentDJ

Screenshot of ContentDJ user view

Get your social media organised in 2018

If you are ready to make a serious impact on your social channels this coming year, why not start out with a great toolbox? Check out ContentDJ today and try their free trial where you can test some awesome scheduling, editorial and curation functionality.

Do you want tips like these to your inbox? Over the next few weeks I will continue to share suggested systems and processes that will make your life easier. Sign up to the Hunting with Tigers bulletin and stay updated with hands-on marketing advice.

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