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4 Trends That Will Shape (or Continue to Shape) Content Marketing in 2018

4 Trends That Will Shape (or Continue to Shape) Content Marketing in 2018

Content marketing is constantly evolving. Just as it did in previous years, content marketing can be expected to remain a key strategy to increase brand awareness and acquire new customers.

And this makes sense because, compared to 2016, more businesses in 2017 have had success with content marketing. The key to continued success in this effort is your ability to anticipate upcoming trends and embrace change as quickly as possible.

In that context, here are several trends that will shape content marketing in 2018.

Content production

Content marketing is known to be a small business’s best method for acquiring customers since it doesn’t require a huge budget. However, according to various reports, big brands like Apple, Facebook and Google are also investing significant dollars in original content. So, consistent and original content is apparently all the rage — for all types of business.

In 2018, brands can be expected to spend more budget dollars for content marketing, making it more competitive with other types of marketing.

So, if your business is determined to keep producing high-quality, relevant content on a consistent basis, you might consider recruiting help by hiring a content team.

You can start with a documented content strategy and plan an editorial calendar to streamline the entire content marketing process. Clearly define team roles to keep everyone on the same page. Then, analyze your progress on a consistent basis and refine your strategy as you go forward.

Video marketing

Video is the future of content marketing. Cisco estimates that video will make up 80 percent of all internet traffic by 2019. Additionally, 64 percent of marketers agree that video will soon dominate their content marketing strategies.

By incorporating video into your sales process, you can provide your customers a self-serve, on-demand user experience. This way, you can provide them information at the right time without having to make salespeople always available.

Live-streaming is another emerging trend that’s been rapidly becoming the norm across industries. Brands are finding innovative ways to use the new platforms available for this trend.

Overall, live video marketing works because of its transparency. People love brands that are real, and live videos reveal what’s happening behind the scenes, allowing customers to get to know more about your brand.

Content personalization

Gartner has reported that brands that have invested in different sorts of personalization by 2018 will outsell those that haven’t — by an impressive 20 percent. In short, the effectiveness of content personalization strategy is resoundingly high for those who have adopted it.

Of course, content personalization is a challenging task, requiring a long-term, involved effort from your content team. So, start by creating an onsite targeting campaign through modal popups and dynamic content blocks. Use email automation to inform your customers by offering the right information at the right time.

Also: Use retargeting banners to reach your potential customers in different phases of the buyer journey.

User-generated content

Brands are investing in user-generated campaigns that encourage their loyal customers to become brand advocates and share their positive experience with friends on social media.

User-generated content (UGC) on social networks works as social proof because humans have a tendency to trust and follow the actions and choices of other people. In fact, people trust content made by others more than they trust brands’ own content.

By running a user-generated content campaign, you could build a positive perception among your potential audience members and build your authority overall in your industry.

UGC is particularly prevalent on Instagram, where brands can easily use popular hashtags and create interesting stories. It also increases your user engagement and visibility, factors which ultimately increase brand awareness.

Like any marketing discipline, content marketing changes over time. Just as you’d do in response to any other trends out there, it’s imperative that you get out ahead of those in your industry before those trends become old news.

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Susan Gunelius

 

Make the Luck You Need to Succeed in Business

Make the Luck You Need to Succeed in Business

“You’re so lucky.”

It’s the worse thing you can say to me. And if you notice, it’s always said with a frown.

“You’re so lucky,” means that you didn’t really work for it; it was handed to you.

“You’re so lucky,” means you were just in the right place at the right time; it could have been anyone.

“You’re so lucky,” means “it should have been me.”

Meanwhile, most of the time it’s just the opposite of any of those things. You did really work for it…you put yourself in the right place at the right time…and it could have been anyone else if they had worked as hard to get it.

It’s not about being lucky; it’s about making yourself lucky.

As my father always says, “it takes a lot of hard work to be lucky.”

I was the kind of kid who always knew I wanted to go into marketing, although admittedly I’m not sure I knew what that meant back in the day. Regardless, I set my sights on what it would take to become a marketer: a good college education, solid work experience, an MBA, a real summer internship, and eventually the killer job in classic brand management…from one of the big guys.

So after graduating from college and getting a sales job at Carnation, I enrolled in the MBA program at Columbia, got a summer internship at Johnson & Johnson, and then started full time as an Assistant Product Director on Johnson’s baby products.

And all I heard was “you’re so lucky.”

As if.

Luck had nothing to do with it.

I worked hard to figure out what I needed to succeed and I went out to get it. I placed myself at the right place at the right time, so when job interviews were posted I was selected based on my very specific and purposeful background. And sure, there were others, many others, going after the same thing, but truth be told we all succeeded. Because we all worked for it. Those who didn’t make the cut looked at us as just being “lucky.”

“It takes a lot of hard work to be lucky.”

At that point, were we lucky? In some ways, yes. Because even after all that planning and hard work, it doesn’t always work out. Not by a long shot.

Been there, done that.

Luck does play a part in the grand equation here, but it’s not random luck. It’s the luck that comes from planning, preparation, and a whole lot of sweat.

“It takes a lot of hard work to be lucky.”

While I’ve had more than my fair share of mishaps, I am lucky to say that things have mostly worked out.

I try my best to make myself lucky. Hope you do the same. Good luck to you.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Jim Joseph

6 Keys to Email Marketing Success

6 Keys to Email Marketing Success

Run-of-the-mill advertisers have little respect for the personal nature of email. But, smart email marketers know how to talk to their customer as individuals. Here are six ways to do just that.

1. “From” field that shows you’re a real person

Consider the different impressions these “from” lines create:

  • Bill Kastl
  • William Kastl
  • William D. Kastl, Nakatomi Corporation
  • Nakatomi Sales Department
  • Bill Kastl, Nakatomi Sales

You want your email to be warm and personal without looking like spam. The key is to say something that’s so specific to readers’ particular interests, they know no spammer would ever come up with it. Pick a “from” field that your customers will understand, and stick with it.

2. Provocative subject line

The most important thing about email is that its success or failure is all about context. Email subject lines work not because they follow standard copywriting formulas but because they tap into what specific people are interested in at a particular time.

Here are some subject lines of some successful emails I’ve sent out to my Google AdWords customer list:

  • When Google is NOT the Best Way to Get a Customer
  • Are Google Employees Spying on You?
  • Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” and All That
  • 5 Insidious Lies About Selling on the Web
  • Fistfight at the Board of Directors Meeting

These headlines don’t assault the reader with cheesy-sounding promos — they hint very strongly at a story. They provoke curiosity rather than scaring people off.

3. Everybody loves a good story

B&B Electronics sells industrial communication hardware — a “boring” geek business if there ever were one. But, when Perry Marshall writes its monthly newsletter, he turns that dull, geek image on its head and interrupts a dreary day of engineering with wry humor.

The method? Storytelling.

Subject: ZIGBEE AND THE GEEKS’ REVENGE

Leslye was the girl who made my heart go pitter-patter in junior high school.

I was always sure to take the long way to Social Studies, down the stairs to first floor, past her locker, then back up to second. Just checkin’ up.

I wasn’t the boy who made her heart go pitter-patter. She liked Sam. And she never discovered that I liked her. It was my little secret.

Now maybe you didn’t run the sound system in Junior High like I did. Maybe you ran the film projector instead. Maybe you programmed Apple II computers in BASIC and belonged to Chess Club.

Still, you and I were geeks, and the pretty girls took no notice of us.

But, now we geeks rule the world. All the pretty boys and their material girls have viruses on their computers, and they can’t function without us. They’re at our mercy.

And the latest Geek Revenge these days is . . .

ZigBee.

ZigBee is sort of like wireless instant messaging for sensors and smart devices. You drop ZigBee nodes wherever you want, no cables necessary, and the more nodes you have, the more communication paths there are and the more reliable your system is . . .

The story doesn’t surrender to the stereotype that engineers are dull, lifeless geeks who only understand ones and zeros. No. It celebrates it. It turns it into the central message.

More importantly, though, it smashes the engineer stereotype to pieces: Engineers make buying decisions on emotion no differently than the rest of us do. Storytelling works when marketing to them, no differently than people in any other profession.

4. People can’t forget you when they hear from you often

Get an autoresponder series going, and you can win the hearts of customers for life:

  • We like prime-number sequences, so three, five and seven days are good.
  • After that sequence is done, keep in touch at a slower rate, maybe every few days or every week.
  • Your unsubscribe rate should be between three to 10 percent. If it’s more than that, your message isn’t matching your market. (If it’s less, you may not be edgy enough.)
  • Want to squash refunds and returns? After people buy from you, send them a series of messages that show them how to use your product more effectively and share features they might have missed.
  • When people complain that they’ve missed a day or two from you, it’s a sign your content is good and that the spam filters are doing their job.

5. If you violate the expectation of relevance, you damage your list

Let’s say you’re a chiropractor who’s just launched a new herbal remedy that you want to tell your customers about. Should you blast your entire list with it?

Odds are, you could maximize your sales that day, but you’re going to pay a price. All the people who aren’t interested in herbal stuff are now going to be less responsive to everything else you do — even if they don’t unsubscribe. You’ve just taught them that you like to send out emails about stuff they’re not interested in.

The typical marketer will treat everyone the same. The smart marketer will not. The smart marketer will have different lists for each topic — different sublists.

So if you’re the chiropractor, you build an herbal sublist and then sell the herbal remedies just to those folks. That way, you maximize the value of every single list you have.

6. The human touch sells

Don’t hide behind your email. Use it to express more of yourself. You’re not a faceless corporation; you’re a person. Show that side of you, and people will remember you, buy from you and tell others about you.

Express a personality that people instantly recognize. This is free branding. When you introduce new products or make changes in your marketing program or message, now you can attach those to a name — your name or another person that your business is known for — and that name has even more meaning and credibility.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Perry Marshall

Why You Need to Stop Worrying About Facebook ‘Likes’ in 2018

Why You Need to Stop Worrying About Facebook ‘Likes’ in 2018

Engagement is the worst way to judge the success of your content.

This may surprise you to hear, because most people base success on the amount of traffic you get, how many “likes” a Facebook posts has and how many shares an article creates.

Look, these metrics matter to an extent. They help you judge the success of your content marketing strategy, but if this is the only way you judge it, you’re playing the game wrong.

I say this from experience because I played the game wrong for a long time. I put a lot of effort into content and advertising, and I based the success of it on likes, shares and love-hearts. For a long time, this worked (really, really well). A thousand shares did bring leads and customers and money. But, over the last two years I’ve noticed a new trend, and it surprised me a great deal.

You cannot take Facebook likes to the bank.

I’ve built more than eight businesses over the last fifteen years. Some have succeeded whereas others did not, but they all involved building an online platform in some form. As such, content marketing and online advertising have played a large role throughout my entrepreneurial career.

Over the years, I’ve spent hundreds and thousands of dollars on this, and since 2015 I’ve helped other entrepreneurs do the same through effective marketing funnels.

A few years ago, you could take likes to the bank. But, those days are over, and they are never coming back. In fact, when I looked into who bought my programs and became one-on-one clients in 2017, I realized most of them didn’t engage with my content. They didn’t “like” my posts. I didn’t notice them inside my Facebook Groups. They didn’t reply to my emails or other social media messages.

They lurked. They clearly saw what I was putting out, but they hardly ever engaged.

This stopped me in my tracks, because I realized the way I judged my content was all wrong. To this point, I made decisions based on how many likes a post would get, but I now realized likes didn’t mean money.

I didn’t feel bad though, as I noticed most of my entrepreneurial friends did the same. It comes down to simple chemistry, in fact, because likes, shares and love-hearts create a dopamine spike. You feel happy and confident, and you want more of the same. Whereas no likes or shares leaves you feeling empty and insecure.

  • Highly engaged content = good content marketing
  • Poorly engaged content = bad content marketing

This is how judged success, but here I was with the revelation that engagement didn’t lead to success, and that those who did buy from me hardly engaged at all.

I learned something important during this period:

The more sophisticated your audience, the less engagement you will get from your content marketing.

If you’re targeting insecure, vulnerable and naive people, this may not apply. Because insecure, vulnerable and naive people tend to not know what they want. These people engage with content because it creates a dopamine spike of its own. They feel productive because they have done something, even though that “something” may or may not help them.

So, if this is your audience, likes, shares and love-hearts may lead to profit.

Whereas if you target educated, secure and sophisticated people, it won’t. These people are too busy to spend their time commenting on every tweet and post. In fact, the more sophisticated your audience is, the less engagement you will see — be it email, social media or online advertising.

Again, this realization blew me away.

I created content, products and services for a sophisticated market who already had a successful business. My audience didn’t have time to always engage with what I put out, but that isn’t to say they didn’t see it or experience it.

This forced me to step back and reevaluate how I judged my content, and I realized looking at how many likes a post gets wouldn’t do the trick.

Focus on revenue, not likes, shares or love-hearts.

The only true way to judge the success of your content marketing is to measure the amount of revenue it makes.

The next time you push out content — be it email, social media, PR or video — consider how it actually makes you revenue. Forget about the likes, shares and love-hearts. Forget about the dopamine spikes and how happy a popular post makes you feel. Let go of the emotional attachment toward your content, and instead hone in on what it does to your bottom line.

How you do this depends on what you produce and sell, but the simple answer is to turn attention away from vanity metrics (likes, shares, love-hearts, hits, views, etc.), and toward more intimate measurables like messages, replies and people who contact you directly after you share a piece of content. It’s not as easy to measure, but the insight this offers you is far more profound.

Of course, even measuring this isn’t enough if it doesn’t drive people to actually take action, such as purchasing your product, arranging the sales call or filling in your application. This is the bottom line and all that matters: literally, how your content affects your bottom line.

It’s the only way to judge your content’s success in 2018. It isn’t to say likes, shares and love-hearts don’t matter. They do to an extent, and they can help you gauge success. But, they do not define your success.

Once you get on board with this, it empowers you to go out and create your best content yet, unaffected by how many dopamine spikes it does or does not give you. Instead, you create relevant content for the right people at the right time, and measure the effect it has on your bottom line, so you can scale-up and take your business to seven figures and beyond.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Scott Oldford

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