Monday, 8 October 2012

Building Strategy Around Your Content, Email and Social Media Marketing

Many small business owners know that they are sitting on a goldmine of customer data and product knowledge.

However, understanding how to build a strategy to maximise the potential from these valuable marketing resources isn’t always so obvious.

Marketing works at its best when it is executed using a joined-up approach across multiple, complimentary channels of communication. This needn’t be as complicated or as expensive as it sounds. Many of the tools required to build and deliver successful, connected campaigns are extremely affordable and in some cases may actually be free.

Content Marketing, Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing are three channels which not only sit well together, they all provide exceptional value for money and deliver the possibility of high returns to even the smallest of businesses. They also provide multiple opportunities for cross campaign pollination (i.e. re-using the same content) and should help make the process of building a solid multi-channel marketing strategy less cumbersome.

Content Marketing

Two of the most popular methods of Content Marketing are Blogging (using online publishing platforms such as Blogger.com, WordPress or Tumblr) and the publishing of more detailed, downloadable PDFs (often referred to as white papers or eBooks).

A blog post is normally a short (300-800 word) article, delivering quick and easily digested information about a product or service, or a particularly valuable item of news or thought leadership from your company. Because Google loves regularly updated content, a well-managed blog should rank highly in your list of marketing priorities and will certainly help your business to increase its visibility across both the major search engines and social networks. A blog can also be consumed via an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed which delivers content directly into your RSS subscribers’ email inbox ensuring a regular and highly visible touch point.

A downloadable PDF takes the delivery of content a step further and should offer a more detailed insight into the way your company conducts its business. You will not want to give such a detailed document away for “free”. A Reasonable price for a download is the provision of a name, email address and telephone number allowing you to contact the recipient with future marketing campaigns or sales calls. Promote your download via your blog and you are half-way to creating a joined-up marketing strategy. Now it’s time to turbo charge your campaigns by adding email and social media to the mix.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing is recognised as one of the most cost effective methods of maintaining contact and driving business from your existing client base and engaged list of prospects. Both blog posts and downloads provide excellent content for your email marketing campaigns and can be used alongside product offers and promotions to add value to your email marketing messages. You should only send email marketing messages to people who have given you permission to do so and have an active relationship with your business. Sending unsolicited email is Spam and is illegal – don’t do it. However, it is possible to extend the reach of your email marketing campaigns through the use of social media tools which allow recipients to share emails with their friends and followers via sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Email Marketing software (such as iContact) allows marketers to manage their list of subscribers, create visually compelling email messages and track the success of individual campaigns (showing a level of detail down to who has opened an email and clicked on an individual link). You should look to maximise the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns by carefully segmenting your list of subscribers and ensuring clients and prospects only receive email messages that are relevant to their interests. This means you should be sending more emails to smaller groups of people. The golden rule before sending an email should be: Is it relevant, is it interesting and is there a clear call to action? If you haven’t ticked all three of these boxes, it’s time to reconsider your message.

Social Media Marketing

Blogged content, downloads, email marketing newsletters and special promotions provide excellent content to distribute via the social networks. By creating your own content, you position yourself as a person of influence (thought leader) within the vertical you operate in. The short lifespan of a social media post (i.e. the time it stays of the first page of Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin), means you should make multiple posts per day – but stick to the golden rule (relevant, interesting, call to action) to avoid the appearance of spamming your friends and followers. Software is available to schedule and track social media posts – this is incredibly useful if you want to target customers outside of normal business hours or just don’t want to be tied to your computer or mobile device all day.

So how do you start?

You can get the ball rolling with just one idea. First deliver a detailed piece of content and then distill down to create new copy for your blog, email newsletter and social media campaigns. If you are struggling to come up with ideas, ask a trusted client. By understanding what makes their life difficult, you will not only be better able to serve them but also have a clearer understanding of what will make your other clients and potential clients stand up and take notice of your business.

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