Google has been busy lately making a significant number of improvements to their Google My Business platform – the dashboard for businesses to add and update listing information on Search and Maps. Over the past year, Google has added features that enable users to interact with business owners, allow businesses to post promotional information directly to search engine result pages (SERPs) and make it possible to create websites within the Google My Business platform.
It looks like Google is keeping the momentum going in 2018, as the search giant has already made several improvements to the Google My Business platform.
The Google My Business team started the year off with a bang by adding the ability for merchants to upload videos about their business. The dashboard currently supports videos up to 30 seconds in length.
This update could be huge as digital video continues to play a bigger role in digital media consumption. In 2018, adults in the U.S. will spend almost an hour and a half with digital video every day – taking up almost a quarter of all time spent with digital media.
Average time spent per day with digital video by U.S. adults
Source: eMarketer, August 2017
From Google, here’s how the new video feature will work:
Videos will appear in the overview tab of the Google My Business Dashboard.
Customer uploaded videos can be found in the ‘customer’ tab.
Merchant uploaded videos can be found in the ‘by owner’ tab.
All videos can be viewed together in the ‘videos’ tab.
After upload, it could take up to 24 hours for the videos to appear. Once live, they will display where local photos do.
Google announced another update early this year that’s sure to make the restaurant industry happy. Restaurant owners can now edit menu listings through the Google My Business dashboard. In the past, this was only available through an API or third-party menu services. Now, restaurant owners can log into their Google My Business account, navigate to the info tab on their listing(s) and add a structured menu.
Restaurant owners and managers can use the new menu editor “to add menu items including title, description and price, as well as to create multiple sections of the menu” (e.g., appetizers, entrees, and desserts).
Google has integrated GoDaddy’s site builder to automate the process of setting up and verifying a Google My Business profile. GoDaddy, who hosts more than 10 million websites, said that a majority of eligible small businesses (service area businesses or those with a physical location) have not claimed their Google My Business listings. This integration should remove some of the friction to claiming listings by reducing the verification process from weeks to days.
The integration will also allow GoDaddy to provide reporting on consumers actions from Google listings – including profile views, calls, direction requests and visits to the website. According to Search Engine Land, GoDaddy reported more than 1,500 local businesses participated in the beta test of the integration. These businesses received more than a million profile views, 7,000 phone calls and 11,000 requests for directions from their Google My Business listings.
We already know that Millennials are on social media. A lot. In a recent study from Qualtrics, 42 percent of Millennial respondents said they couldn’t go five hours without checking their social media feeds. These stats may change as the group ages and has less recreational time on their hands, but for now, they can be found on social media sites regularly, and marketers would be remiss to ignore that.
What are they doing while they’re online? They’re sharing far more information than other generations. Beyond the social media basics like their name and location, they’re willing to share profile data just to find out which snack food they are. Yes, really. “Which Snackfood Are You?” is an online quiz you can take to find out what popular snack food you are, based on 10 random questions that have nothing to do with food. (I’m potato chips, apparently.)
On a more serious note, according to Bank of America’s “Trends in Consumer Mobility Report,” when compared with the average smartphone user, Millennials are 73 percent more likely to share their spending data, 19 percent more likely to share their location and 53 percent more likely to share their schedule.
Retailers and businesses can, and should, take advantage of this. Millennials are willing to share their personal information with you as a business, or with other sites and media, that can help you better target this group. They’re basically telling us what they find interesting, where they are, and how they like to shop. This is a marketer’s dream come true.
Brand marketers looking for the best ways to reach target audiences, increase leads and guide prospects towards a purchase. Whether you’re new to Content Marketing or just looking for ways to improve your current efforts, this guide will give you the information you need to create effective content pieces.
What you’ll learn from this guide?
1. What is Content Marketing
Defining the practice and explaining the difference between Content Marketing and basic content creation.
2. Why your brand needs Content Marketing
Explaining the benefits of Content Marketing and how it can help your brand connect with target audiences.
3. How to launch Content Marketing campaigns
Detailing the steps your brand needs to take before launching effective Content Marketing campaigns.
As a practice, Content Marketing is constantly evolving, so the definition has to evolve as well. Here’s a widely accepted definition from the Content Marketing Institute that’s been updated to reflect how the practice has changed:
“Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
A lot of brands create content and some might even consider what they’re doing to be Content Marketing. But, there’s a big difference between content creation and Content Marketing.
Want to learn more? Check out our Content Marketing 101 series. And while you’re there, subscribe to Mindstream Media Group’s blog for regular updates.
Welcome to Part 4 of our Content Marketing series. As we covered in Part 1, Content Marketing is a lot more than just writing copy; it’s a comprehensive process focused on creating content pieces for specific audiences to drive consumer action and achieve business goals. It’s a process that requires a lot of effort behind-the-scenes before any content is ever created.
To give you an idea of what goes into developing a Content Marketing strategy, we’ve summarized the process into an easy-to-follow to do list below. But, unlike most listicle blog posts this to do list comes with no promises that executing the steps will be effortless or quick. Creating effective content isn’t always easy, but when done right, it’s a proven way for your brand to connect with consumers.
To do list – 10 steps you need to complete before launching Content Marketing campaigns
No. 1: Align campaigns with your business goals
At the onset of any marketing initiative, it’s important to make sure campaign objectives align with the overall goals of your organization. Before launching Content Marketing efforts, determine the goals that are most important to your brand and consider the role your marketing team plays to support these goals.
Is your marketing team charged with increasing brand awareness, guiding prospective customers through the buying journey, empowering prospects by providing them the information they need to become customers? Chances are, it’s a combination of these objectives and more. Making a list of your brand’s overall goals and understanding what your team can do to support each one is an essential step to developing content that reaches the right audiences at the right times.
No. 2: Identify your target audience
Reaching the right audiences – people who are most likely to buy your brand’s products and services – requires a deep understanding of those consumers. Building out buyer personas is an effective way to get know these audiences. Buyer personas are semi-fictional profiles of your ideal consumers that outline their needs and wants, media habits and the types of messaging that resonates best with them.
If your brand hasn’t built out buyer personas, this template can help get you started.
No. 3: Map out your customers’ buying journeys
Now it’s time to determine what information your target audiences need at specific times in their path to purchase. By mapping out your personas’ buying journeys, you’ll get a better understanding of how consumers make relevant purchase decisions and what types of content are most effective at each stage.
This step is crucial because buying journeys are constantly changing. The internet has enabled consumers to conduct in-depth research for any buying decision. When people have a question about a purchase, they can just turn to their phones to find the products and services that best fit their needs.
According to Think with Google, mobile searches for “best” have grown by more than 80 percent in the past two years. And, this trend isn’t specific to high consideration purchases. In fact, searches for “best” are growing even faster among low-consideration products.
The information consumers need varies from person to person, which means these searches are also becoming much more personalized. Think with Google uses shoes for an example. Today’s consumers don’t just search for “best shoes.” They search for the shoes that are best for them.
Here are some resources to help you find out how consumers are searching for your products and services.
Google Trends – discover top search trends for topics related to your brand.
Buzzsumo – analyze what content performs best for any topic on social media.
Quora – find top questions related to your brand’s products and services.
No. 4: Identify your brand’s story
Guiding consumers through the buying journey requires messages that resonate with target audiences. Content Marketing can help you do this by sharing your brand’s story in a way that focuses on the needs and wants of the customer rather than the features and benefits of your products and services.
The best way to keep the resolution focused on your target audience is to figure out your brands Golden Circle – a three-question exercise to help you nail down the “why,” “how” and “what” of your brand.
The key is to focus on your brand’s “why” and “how.” This keeps the story focused on what your products do for the consumer, rather than just what your products do.
No. 5: Set objectives for your Content Marketing campaigns
Remember, Content Marketing is about creating content with a strategic purpose to achieve business goals. Using your overall business goals from the first step, set clearly defined objectives specific to your Content Marketing strategy. This will keep you accountable and help you make optimizations based on performance.
Use the SMART framework to define effective Content Marketing goals:
No. 6: Establish editorial rules
Before creating any content, it’s important to determine your brand’s editorial style, voice and mission. This step makes sure the content your produce:
Focuses on the needs and wants of your target audiences.
Aligns with your overall business goals.
Uses consistent style rules.
Is free of spelling errors and poor grammar.
Establishing editorial rules has two main components:
Brand editorial guidelines – the rules that will dictate your content’s style (e.g., AP Style, Chicago Style, etc.), voice (e.g., authoritative, conversational, witty, etc.) and publishing frequency.
Editorial mission statement – a guiding principle for creating future content that encompasses your brand’s story, unique value, business goals and buyer personas.
No. 7: Build your content team
If you decide to implement Content Marketing campaigns in-house, you’ll need to determine your team and assign members responsibilities. It’s likely that team members will take on more than one of these roles, but allowing members to focus on and own specific processes will lead to better content in the long run.
As you can see, Content Marketing is a very involved process and there’s a lot of different roles for your team to take on. That’s why a lot of brands choose to turn to outside agency partners to help them implement and manage Content Marketing campaigns.
No. 8: Establish a system for managing content
Whether it’s via Excel Spreadsheets, Google Sheets or task management software, you’ll want to create a system to manage the process of creating, publishing and promoting your content.
Here are three helpful tools you can set up to help you track your content marketing efforts. You can access free templates for each tool using the links below.
Content Compass – a worksheet to plan out major Content Marketing campaigns.
Creating effective content can be very time-consuming. Make sure you get the most value out of every piece of content by setting up a repurposing plan.
Here are just a few ways you can repurpose content:
Create blog posts by breaking up long-form content pieces.
Write a long-form content piece like an e-book by using a series of related blog posts.
Republish content on other websites.
No. 10: Determine your plan to track and measure results
Implementing a Content Marketing strategy requires a lot of effort, don’t let all that work go to waste by not monitoring the performance of your content.
Start by determining which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you want to track. Review your goals from Step 5 and select KPIs that help you determine if your content efforts have been successful at achieving them. For example, let’s say one of your goals was to increase leads coming from your website. Obviously, you’ll want to track the number of users and visits to the site. But, a visit isn’t necessarily a qualified lead. Instead, make sure to set up tracking for site visitors who completed an action indicating they’re interested in buying – like filling a form to download a piece of content or adding an item to a shopping cart without checking out.
There’s a lot of different tools you can use to track performance. Make sure to select the tools that are best for measuring your KPIs.
Website analytics – tracks and reports your website traffic.
Webmaster tools – monitors your site’s performance in search results.
Keyword rankers – tracks the ranking of your site for relevant search terms.
Social analytics – gathers traffic and engagement data from your social platforms.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software – manages your brand’s relationships with prospects and customers.
Marketing automation – tracks leads through your sales pipeline.
These 10 steps are just the beginning of the journey, a critical rite of passage to help set you up for success. But once they’re completed, you get to move on to the fun part – creating content.
Having trouble getting started or need help improving your current content efforts? Contact Mindstream Media Group to learn how our Content Marketing solution reaches the right audiences at the right times.
Download our guide to learn everything you need to know to launch effective Content Marketing campaigns.
Marketers talk a lot about the consumer buying journey – i.e., the process customers go through to make a purchase. But despite all the fanfare, it’s still kind of an opaque concept that varies based on the consumer and what they’re buying. Some purchases are so basic it’s a stretch to call them journeys (“buying jaunts” doesn’t have the same ring to it though), while other purchases require exhaustive research and planning (think of buying a candy bar vs. a new car).
So, the buying journey is more of a flexible sequence of touchpoints organized into four stages, rather than a rigid progression. Still, for most purchases, each of these touchpoints represents an opportunity for advertisers to connect with consumers and encourage them to choose their brand.
While Content Marketing is often thought of as a top-of-the-funnel initiative, there are a lot of ways brands can use content to guide consumers to a purchase. For Part 3 of our Content Marketing 101 series, we’ve outlined some ways Content Marketing campaigns can benefit your brand throughout the journey.
Top 10 Benefits of Content Marketing – By Stage in Buying Journey
Increases website traffic
One of the goals of Content Marketing is to increase the quality and quantity of a brand’s website content, which increases website traffic for a couple of reasons. First, an ample amount of quality content gives consumers a reason to visit the site. Second, quality content makes it easier for consumers to find your site. The more content you publish, the higher you’ll rank in search engine results. And, higher search engine rankings mean more visitors (and more leads).
That doesn’t mean longer content equals quality content, it’s just that search engines prefer longer pieces. But, quality should always trump quantity. Here’s how Senior Google Webmaster Trend Analyst, John Mueller sums it up:
“In most cases, quality is better than quantity. Our algorithms explicitly try to find and recommend websites that provide content that’s of high quality, unique and compelling to users.”
Grows your social media audience
Growing a social media following requires staying active across platforms. While the ideal post-frequency varies by platform, typically accounts that post more often have more followers, especially on Twitter.
Content Marketing gives your brand a steady flow of high-quality original material to share so you can limit the amount of content your re-post from other brands.
Builds up your email list
Content Marketing helps build your brand’s email and prospect lists by producing strategic content pieces designed to promote profitable consumer action like filling out a form to download content or subscribing to your brand’s email newsletter. These actions (i.e., conversions) often require consumers to enter contact information like their email.
Related – [Infographic]: Top 10 Reasons Why Your Brand Needs Content Marketing
Increases website engagement
We covered how content increases website traffic, but what about once consumers are on the site? Content Marketing can increase website engagement by:
Providing visitors with high-quality content they’ll want to consume.
Encouraging users to visit related pages or download relevant content.
Prompting users to contact your brand.
Drives social engagement
Building a large social following is good, but building a large social following that’s highly engaged is even better. Content Marketing fuels this engagement with content that resonates with audiences and encourages followers to interact. And the numbers back this up: blog posts with more than 1,500 words receive 57 percent more social shares than blogs with less than 400 words (again, still focus on the quality of that content, not the quantity).
In the consideration stage, differentiating your brand is essential. To do this, brands need to communicate the unique value they provide to consumers in a way that resonates with target audiences on a deeper level. A great way to do that is with a common Content Marketing tactic – storytelling.
When done right, storytelling strengthens your relationships with your customers and target audiences. For example, Dollar Shave Club built its brand on an industry-disrupting value proposition – an online subscription model that shipped affordable razors directly to customers’ homes – and content that resonated with consumers on a deeper level – by making them laugh. DSC’s first displayed their Content Marketing prowess when they exploded onto the scene in 2012 with the video below, which the company uploaded to YouTube for free.
Over the past few years, the video accumulated more than 25 million (free) views as DSC captured more and more of the razor market, gained millions of subscribers and eventually cashed in for a cool $1 billion when Unilever decided to just buy the startup rather try to compete.
Here’s how DSC’s CMO Adam Weber once explained the company’s marketing success in an interview with eMarketer: “(It’s) because we can tell stories well. We can find a resonant idea, we can deliver it in a relatable voice and connect one-to-one… The way to reach (consumers is) to have that authentic feel, is to be relatable, allow guys to put themselves in your shoes as a brand, as opposed to talking at them or talking above them.”
Delivers the information that consumers need at the right moments
On average, customers need about 4.5 online interactions with a brand before converting. That’s plenty of opportunities for your brand to deliver effective messaging to help a consumer choose your products and services. In some ways, Content Marketing can be a more effective approach than traditional advertising in this stage. High-quality content can project expertise and inspire trust by focusing on the needs and wants of consumers. Whereas advertising can come off as salesy by focusing on the features and benefits of a brand’s product and services.
Builds better retargeting audiences
This benefit of Content Marketing often flies under the radar. To better explain this, here’s a high-level overview of how retargeting works. When consumers visit a website, advertisers can place a tracking code known as a cookie in the user’s browser to identify them as they visit other sites. So, if this visitor leaves your site without converting, you can show them ads as they surf the web.
A basic retargeting strategy would be to serve a site visitor a generic brand ad after they visit a website. But this strategy ignores the visitor’s intent. A more effective strategy would be to segment users based on the content they consume on your site.
Let’s look at an example. Pretend you’re a financial services brand and a user visits your website to research retirement saving options. They visit a page about IRAs, indicating they’re interested in saving for retirement. By segmenting your retargeting audiences, you can now serve that user customized ad messaging like “Which IRA makes the most sense for you?” And, the more robust your site’s content, the more targeted you can get with this messaging.
Improves the brand-customer relationship
Publishing content on a regular basis helps brands connect with their customers. The more informative, entertaining and relevant that content is, the stronger the bond.
Bitly, the company behind a tool that shortens URLs, is a prime example of a brand who nailed this concept. To help customers understand their product better, the brand created an e-book that featured 37 unique ways real customers had used the tool and more than a dozen interviews with marketers from Bitly’s partner companies.
Increases the chance of future purchases
One of the main goals of Content Marketing is to build strong, personal and long-term relationships between brands and their consumers. This bond helps build customer trust in a brand, which leads to loyalty. And loyalty is huge for brands. Consider these stats:
It costs 500 percent more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones
Repeat buyers spend 33 percent more than new ones
Building loyalty with 5 percent more customers would lead to an increased average profit per customer of between 25 and 100 percent
And, that doesn’t even factor in the added benefit of loyal customers recommending your brand to others and raving about you online.
This is just the start, there are plenty of other benefits to implementing Content Marketing. Realizing the full benefits of Content Marketing isn’t an overnight sensation. It requires a commitment to creating content on a regular basis, the dedication to continuously promote that content and a sound strategy to guide those efforts. Contact Mindstream Media Group to learn more about implementing or improving Content Marketing efforts for your brand.
Download our guide to learn everything you need to know to launch effective Content Marketing campaigns.