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The Dangers of Not Emailing Your Blog Posts

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Consistent blogging just makes good business sense. It increases SEO, establishes thought leadership, moves leads through the sales funnel and helps consumers establish a connection with your brand. To make the most out of your brand’s blogging strategy, it’s crucial to email your blog posts to keep your audience engaged. If you don’t email your blog posts, you could lose your connections with eager consumers, and you may miss the perfect opportunity to establish thought leadership.

Many brands make the mistake of posting their blog posts on their website, sharing them on a onetime  social media blast, and calling the job done. However, emailing these posts is the most effective way to get eyeballs on your content and nurture those leads and clients.

At the end of the day, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities to position your brand as a thought leader if you’re not using the latest in email marketing technology. So, let’s explore why and how to ramp up your game when it comes to emailing your blog posts.

The Impact of a Blog

53% of marketers surveyed say that blogging is their top content marketing priority. This statistic tells us that blogging is key and there is plenty of room to reap the benefits of a blog. Here are just a few ways that a blog can power a brand:

  • Establishes thought leadership
  • Creates a trusting relationship with target consumers
  • Produces valuable lead-nurturing content
  • Has a dramatic impact with SEO
  • Offers engaging and entertaining material to share on social media
  • 61% of consumers have made a purchase decision based on a blog post

Email Statistics to Take Note of

Email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent, making it an extremely powerful strategy when executed correctly. In case you’re not convinced that email is right for your brand, let’s look at a few statistics:

Combining Two Powerful Forces: Blog and Email

Now that we’ve established the impact of blogs and email marketing, let’s combine these forces to power each strategy. Emailing blog posts capitalizes on the benefits of a blog and caters to how consumers want to communicate with your brand.

By emailing posts, brands can have a reason to email clients and leads and offer thought leadership material to nurture them with. Consumers really do want to hear from your brand, especially when the correspondence offers educational material and resources (as opposed to self-promotional material). Emailing these types of blog posts bridges the gap between content and email marketing.

How to Build a Powerful Email List

The first step when setting up your strategy for any email marketing campaign is to build out a list. This will be an ongoing process, and, if executed well, will snowball and collect email addresses on an exponential basis. There are plenty of ways to build this list:

  • Add current clients and leads to your email list
  • Highlight an easy to use subscribe button on your blog
  • Purchase email blasts to promote your blog posts, and ask them to opt in to receive digests of your posts
  • Create a landing page for your blog on your website with a subscribe button
  • Incorporate your blog feed on your home page with a subscribe button
  • Share your posts on social with a CTA to subscribe to your blog

How Often Should Brands Email Their Blog Posts?

61% of consumers report that they enjoy weekly emails from brands, and 38% of those say they wish for more frequent emails. So, judging by this data and our own experience, we recommend that you send out an email every time you publish a new blog post. Whether your content calendar includes weekly or daily posts, it’s a smart idea to send them all out as you post them to keep your readers engaged.

If you find that your leads are unsubscribing, you can consider a weekly digest of your posts.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Blog Digests

Whether it’s a daily or weekly wrap up of your posts, you should create emails that present your readers with a teaser of what your posts are about, and how they’ll benefit from them.

You should always accompany your teaser content with an obvious link or button to read the post.

Try experimenting with different templates in your emails. A lot of brands report that sending a text only email increases open rates. You can A/B test the formats to see what works best for your readers.

In addition to A/B testing formats, you can experiment with subject lines as well. The main takeaway here is that you need to find what appeals most to your readers so you can build off of the best results.

Tools You’ll Need

To maximize the power of your blog and integrate emailing blog posts into your strategy, you’re going to have to navigate with a few tools and sync them up properly. Here are a few tools to consider:

  • A CRM for your blog post list such as SalesForce
  • A marketing automation tool like Marketo
  • A tool to automate emails for your daily or weekly blog post emails such as FeedOtter

The combination of these types of tools can help you put your email/blog strategy on autopilot. This will make your job easier while ensuring that your readers get consistent emails for all of your posts.

Final Thoughts

Emailing blog posts is a powerful way to generate and nurture leads. Consumers want to hear from your brand in a way that educates and entertains them, as opposed to sending out blatant self-promotional material.

Now that you have a handle on such a powerful strategy, you can sync up the right tools and start emailing your blog posts today. Sit back and watch your work in action!

Do you want to put your strategy for emailing blog posts on autopilot? Check out how FeedOtter can help!

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MarTech Interview: How to Create a Data-Driven Social Media Plan for Your Business

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Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to measure everything that happens on their websites.

For some reason, however, they’re less likely to take the same approach to their social media efforts.

In this article, we’re going to give you the tools you need to create a data-driven social media plan for your business.

Taking a Strategic Approach to Social Media

We wanted an insider’s perspective on this issue, so we reached out to Jessica Stephens, Inbound Marketing Director at Oktopost, an enterprise-level social media management platform used by brands like Fujitsu and Panasonic.

OktoPost Homepage Screenshot

As Stephens puts it: “People tend to treat traditional efforts — like their blog, email marketing, or even a press release — more strategically than their social media networks.”

Stephens’ advice is to create a social media plan you’d feel comfortable bringing in front of the C-level leaders — just like you would for any other major marketing effort. 

“We should be planning and playing the same way with social media as we do other marketing channels,” Stephens said. “We’re all so comfortable with social media, it’s easy to be dismissive with it and say, ‘Oh, that’s just fun branding, not lead gen.’”

But there’s another big reason that companies don’t track and measure the effectiveness of their social media strategy.

They often lack the knowledge of how to measure the ROI of their efforts.

Three Places to Collect ROI Data for Social Media

A data-driven plan starts with collecting data, which you can find in all three of the following locations:

  • The native analytics built into social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Google Analytics
  • The analytics built into social media management platforms (example: Oktopost).

First we’ll address collecting analytics from the source. Then we’ll dive into secondary sources like Google Analytics and social media management tools.

Collecting Data From the Native Analytics Built Into Social Media Platforms

The first place to look is the social media platforms themselves, some of which have reporting tools you can use to see what’s happening.

For example, here’s what the Twitter report looks like for a business profile:

Oktopost Twitter Analytics Report

A Twitter analytics report

And this is a standard report from a Facebook company page:

Oktopost Social Media Stats Dashboard

Image source: techcrunch.com

These stats are a good start to being more data-driven, especially if you’re mostly active on one platform. 

But they only show you what’s happening on the platform. By themselves, they don’t show conversion data from social media, and they’re not enough to prove ROI or create a data-driven plan across multiple channels.

The 2 Other Ways to Track Conversion Data

The next step in building a data-driven social media plan is gathering conversion data from your website.

You need to see:

  • How many people have come to your site from social media
  • How many converted to leads or customers.

There are two primary ways to collect that data:

  1. Google Analytics
  2. A social media management tool.

Using Google Analytics to Track Conversions

Google Analytics can show you how many people come to your site from different social media platforms.

If you have goals set up, it can also show you how many people from each platform visited your site and then converted into customers or sales leads.

It does not automatically break out the performance of individual social media posts, however.

To track individual posts, you’ll need to manually create UTM campaign tags using Google’s URL Builder (or a similar tool) for every link you place on social media.

 

Campaign codes give you the results of each individual post. 

Example of Google Campaign UTM Builder

Image source: Google Analytics Demos & Tools

Campaign codes give you the results of each individual post.

Google Analytics Campaign Tags

Image source: Marketing Land

This lets you see the performance of traffic to your site from individual posts on Twitter, for example — not just from all traffic coming from Twitter in general.

“You start to see which types of content are interesting, along with which personas are interested based on demographics and trends,” Stephens explained. 

The process is a great next step if you’re not measuring any kind of ROI from social media today.

Even so, it’s largely a manual process to set up and track links using UTM codes. If you’re publishing as often as you should be, you’ll have to build a new URL for every post. 

In addition to that, you’ll still be missing a large chunk of the prospect journey since you’ll only see the set goal metrics — often conversions. Any prospect engagement within the social platform is missed, including shares, retweets, comments, and likes.

How to Use a Social Media Management Tool to Connect Google Analytics and Marketing Automation 

Companies that track social media ROI using only Google Analytics often find they’re spending a lot of time pulling together data and setting up UTM codes.

When your company gets to that point, there are tools to help you automate the process — including the reporting of data not available using the usual measurement tools we discussed above.

Automating the Publishing of Posts

Social media management platforms will assign a UTM tag automatically to each post as you create it, relieving you of the need to track UTM codes manually.

The top social media management tools also offer data and functionality beyond what you can do using Google Analytics. 

For example, Oktopost can display the details of a social media follower that converted to become a qualified prospect or customer, including what posts they’ve clicked, what post they converted on, and any available demographic information.

Oktopost Post Details Screenshot

Octopost tracks and reports on the most engaging shared links, hashtags, and keywords, allowing users to see trends not only in engagement but also conversions.

Oktopost Top Engagement Dashboard

In addition to collecting this data, Oktopost goes a step further than other social media management platforms. 

It allows users to apply that social engagement data to an existing marketing automation journey, because Oktopost is integrated with the largest marketing automation platforms, including Marketo. 

This enables scoring, nurturing, attributing, interacting, and more within the automation platform. This in turn creates a quicker and more robust sales process while also creating a better customer and prospect experience. 

For instance, if someone likes a post about video marketing on LinkedIn, you can assign that prospect 10+ points and add them to a video marketing nurture stream in Marketo. It’s all automated. 

That’s it for collecting data from the various tools you have at your disposal.

The final step is this: using that data to create a social media plan based on the results you’ve collected.

Creating a Data-Driven Plan From the Analytics Data

Once you start tracking activity and conversions from social media, you’ll start to see what’s working in your social media efforts — and what isn’t.

From here, it’s a matter of cutting or changing the posts that don’t produce conversions and doing more of what works or shows promise.

Data from the platforms themselves will give you a starting point for tracking the activities of your social media followers. 

Google Analytics will show you what happens to these people once they reach your website, UTM campaign tags will show you the effectiveness of each individual post, and platforms such as Oktopost enable a comprehensive data-driven perspective to guide your strategy for keeping users engaged throughout their customer journey. 

The Benefits of a Comprehensive Social Media Plan

A data-driven social media plan can help you improve performance in a variety of areas in your business:

1. Increasing Current Customer Engagement and Retention

Are you keeping your current customers engaged with your brand? Tracking your customers’ engagement with social media can help you understand whether you’re posting content that appeals to them.

2. Qualifying Leads and Improving Conversions

As Stephens told us, “If the content team is producing interesting and well-written content, you may get thousands of impressions and thousands of likes, but you may not see conversions. This indicates that, while your content is great, your subject matter may be off, because you’re not resonating with your target persona.”

When your marketing team has goals of getting qualified leads to your sales team via social media, it’s important to know whether your campaigns are reaching the right people. You can dial this in with the analytics from a robust social media platform such as Oktopost.

3. Finding Better Job Candidates

For instance, your HR team can gauge whether posts on LinkedIn are appealing to viewers with specific job titles or in a certain region where you’re searching for new hires. 

“Think about the cost of the types of services you would seek out from  recruiters,” Stephens said. “If you use your social networks appropriately, have a strong employee advocacy program, and track your efforts, you could potentially save $100K annually by utilizing your team’s existing network, instead of paying a recruiter 20% per hire.”

Conclusion

Overall, Stephens explained, a detailed ROI analysis of your social media strategy will have a direct impact on how to spend your marketing budget. It can help you create and share better content that keeps customers engaged and new visitors converting, and it can make you more effective at gathering and utilizing user data.

“There are so many expensive channels in the average B2B marketing plan, and if organizations really evaluated the power of their existing social media networks, they would see the huge megaphone that isn’t likely utilized. Implementing an analytics-driven social strategy could completely change their success trajectory, and I would love to see more organizations embrace the opportunity.”

 

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8 Steps to Creating and Hosting a Webinar to Generate New Leads

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You’re in a pretty good spot. Your brand has a great product or service, loads of relevant content, and a top-notch team working with you. You are well-respected in your industry, and have great relationships with other like-minded brands. You also have a bunch of current and past customers who are happy with the work you’ve done with them. Now, if you could just find a way to use all these assets you’ve worked so hard to collect to promote your brand and generate more leads, your business could explode. It’s time to host a webinar.

Webinars give you a platform to use all of those assets, work with others, and establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. It’s not a terrifically difficult event to pull off, but you certainly need to plan carefully to optimize your success. Let’s take a look at what you need to do to make your webinar perfect.

Step 1: Pick a Date

As with any event, the time and date of your webinar is important. It needs to go live at a point where you’ll get the optimal amount of attendees and participants to join, possibly across several time zones. Be aware of holidays or popular vacation times like Spring Break, when folks are likely to be away from work. We suggest selecting a Wednesday or Thursday sometime around midday, depending on your time zone. Make sure to save the date company-wide, and start blocking off prep time for your team leading up to the event.

Step 2: Choose Your Topic

This may take some time, so be prepared for that. Think of an overarching topic that extends beyond (but still includes) your products and services, in order to get maximum participation. Consider sending an exploratory survey to other brands and potential leads to get an idea of which topics people want to know more about. Once you’ve narrowed it down to two or three topics, meet with your team and pick the one that everyone feels most confident in presenting; keep in mind that other guest presenters may need to feel comfortable with the subject matter, also. Again, you are looking to establish your brand as a thought leader in the industry, so make sure there’s ample material to educate, enlighten, and motivate attendees that tune in to your webinar.

When picking your topic, you may also think of ways your topic can include influencers in your industry. Having guests in your webinar or even a panel of experts can really take your webinar to the next level.

Step 3: Set Up Your Platform

There are several different webinar platforms to choose from, so do your research, check reviews, and set up appointments to speak with representatives about what they can offer. We love GoToWebinar for its ease of use, event management experience, and incredible customer support. They offer email support, customizable templates, interactive dashboards, and engaging polls and surveys to keep your attendees entertained and present. Whichever platform you choose, make sure it has the technical support and capacity to ensure your webinar goes off without a hitch.

Step 4: Build a Landing Page

A customized landing page will serve as the nerve center for all your pre-event processes, so treat its creation with care. You will want professional design, slick graphics, ample branding, and well-worded copy. Make the registration process simple and easy to complete; too many fields to fill out can turn a lot of potential attendees off. Consider adding a countdown clock leading up to the webinar in the corner of the page to create some anticipatory excitement, and post news and updates (like a new guest presenter) to people who are checking back in.

Be sure to hook your landing page into your marketing automation platform so that registrants get emails leading up to your webinar and so that your new leads are marked properly for your lead nurturing campaigns. After all, the point of a webinar is to establish thought leadership and generate new leads.

Step 5: Promote and Invite

While these are two distinct tasks, you need to take a moment and determine the preparation and order of how you proceed. Timing matters, so we suggest starting the invitation process two to three weeks away from the live webinar. Thoughtful branding should make an appearance here in the form of hashtags, logos, and the language you’ll use in the invitations and social media blasts.

Start writing content for promotional purposes by way of blog posts, email campaigns, and social media posts. Make sure it is exciting and buzzworthy copy, but keep it concise and to the point. If you’ve seen that folks have viewed your invitation but haven’t responded, consider sending them a quick and friendly reminder as a follow up. Keep tabs on how your hashtag is performing on your social media channels, and stay flexible if it isn’t trending like you want it to.

Step 6: Create the Right Content

Now’s the time to get all your content in order. You’ll want to get a wide variety of presentations to keep momentum going throughout the event: spoken word, PowerPoint slideshows, and interactive surveys keep things interesting. If you are inviting guests to contribute, make sure you give them plenty of time and a reachable deadline, along with some friendly reminders to those who are cutting it close. You’ll also want to organize the themes and topics to make sure there’s no duplicate presentations or off-topic content. Again, you want to create a feeling of thought leadership and offer selfless resources for the benefit of all, all while motivating potential leads to sign up with your brand.

Step 7: Dress Rehearsal

As the webinar approaches, you need to make a few dry runs to ensure that all of your technical and logistical parts are working well. Keep your contact at your hosting platform on speed dial to be able to answer any last minute questions, and be certain that the entire webinar will be recorded for future viewings. Make sure all of your presenters have a firm schedule and start time, and be certain they don’t have any questions or technical issues. Send out a reminder email to everyone that’s signed up, and encourage them to share a link to the webinar with anyone they can think of. Get plenty of rest…you’ve got a big day coming up!

Step 8: Showtime!

It’s the day of the big event. Wherever you need to be to host this, make sure you’re there early, and have firm communication with the hosting platform. Make sure you have plenty of water, snacks, and other necessities nearby…it’s going to be a long haul. Having a spare microphone, webcam, or headset available is a good idea, also; you never know when life can throw you a curveball. Keep an eye on any chats, and try to personally greet as many guests as you can as they join. Most of all, be present. Avoid distractions like checking your cellphone or email inbox, as you want to be on top of all presentations or questions. When it’s all over, make sure to thank everyone involved, and double check that the recording went well. The next day, send a follow up email with more thanks and a survey on how they liked it. Carefully read through any feedback you get…after all, if this webinar was a success, you’ll likely want to do it again!

Webinars are a great way to spread your messaging, network with other industry leaders, and grab a bunch of potential leads for your sales team. So, do your research, get all of your preparations in place, and put on an amazing show!

Do you have any webinar tips? We’d love to hear them on Twitter @Feed_Otter

 

 

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How to Create a Powerful Guest Blogging Strategy 10 Steps

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Ready to promote your brand through thought leadership and increase the visits your get to your website? If so, you should implement a guest blogging strategy for your brand and this post will tell you exactly how to do it.

Guest allows brands to authentically promote their name and divert traffic back to their website and content assets. When brands publish thought leadership guest posts, readers establish trust and credibility with the brand which leads to high conversion rates.

A well running guest blogging campaign can bring in three times the amount of leads than paid advertising. So, we are here to make sure you have all the assets and steps in place so that you can see these results from your brand’s own guest blogging strategy.

Step 1: Identify the Right Sites

The first thing you need to do is hone in on the sites that your target consumers follow or visit frequently. You can do this by googling for blogs that focus on a certain topic or use an identification software like GroupHigh or BuzzSumo. One mistake brands make is thinking that there aren’t many blogs that coincide with their brand, but, we are here to assure you that there is a blog about any topic under the sun!

Creating buyer personas can help you determine which blogs to reach out to and here is a great free template to build out the personas for your brand. Identifying blogs that align with your buyer persona’s interests and pain points will ensure that your guest blogging strategy stays on track.

Step 2: Engage

After you identify the blogs you want to post on, it may be tempting to email them right away. But, you’ll get higher response rates if you establish brand familiarity first. This can be anything from leaving comments in the blog posts or sharing their posts on social media. You can even link to the brand in your brand’s blog posts. These engagement tactics can shed a positive light on your brand and lead to great response rates from bloggers.

Step 3: Finesse Your Pitch

Once you’ve established awareness about your brand with the bloggers, it’s time to send out your pitch. You want it to be personalized and outline your expertise as a thought leader. Here are some things to include in your pitch:

  • A catchy subject line
  • Why you want to write for their blog
  • Examples of your past work
  • Praise their blog and the work they do
  • Reference a post they’ve written to showcase the fact that you’ve done your research
  • Let them know the topic you want to write about
  • Assure them that you will share your post that you write for them on your own channels and in email

Step 4: Create Your Guest Blogging Hub

Organization is key to a successful guest blogging campaign. So, you want to create a spreadsheet or blogging hub consisting of the blogs you reach out to and what their response is. You should also list the topics you’ll write about for each blog to make sure that your posts are not repetitive. This spreadsheet is key to having a well-oiled guest blogging campaign.

Step 5: Come Up with Thought Leadership Topics

Through your guest posts, you want to exemplify your opinions and/or experience as it relates to different topics that align with your brand. The goal is to come up with thought leadership posts as opposed to posts about your brand. So, in your spreadsheet, you want to brainstorm a bunch of thought leadership posts for each blog that you write for.

If you need a little inspiration, look to posts the bloggers have written before. This can help you come up with ideas that will resonate with their audience.

Step 6: Write the Post

When it comes to getting your posts written, the first thing you need to do is decide if you, someone on your team or hired help are going to write the post. If you don’t trust yourself as a writer, it’s a good idea to hire a writer who is comfortable with ghost writing. You can look on LinkedIn, Pro Blogger, UpWork or any other sites that connect talent with brands. Be sure to vet their work and ensure that they’re comfortable with writing for your industry.

If you’re writing the post yourself, be sure to allocate 3 hours per post and give the bloggers an accurate timeline of when you can deliver the posts.

If you’re new to writing blog posts here is what the structure should look like:

  • Intro that explains what the post is going to be about
  • Headers for each topic to create a clear outline
  • Short and to the point sentences
  • A conclusion with key takeaways
  • Hyperlinks to any sources or references that you mention

When you’re writing your post, be mindful about link backs. You don’t want to come across as self-promotional so keep the buyer’s journey in mind and steer your readers to resources on your website like blog posts or case studies instead of linking directly to your brand. The direct link should be in your bio.

Step 7: Compose Your Bio

Your bio is important to give you and your brand credibility for your great posts. Rule of thumb is that your bio should be 2-3 sentences and highlight your expertise and your brand. Many bloggers don’t allo guest bloggers to link to their brand in the body of the post but rather in their bio so this is important for you to get your link back. We also recommend that one of your sentences talks about you as a person and your hobbies and/or interests to add a human element for your readers to connect with. Don’t forget to include a headshot for the blogger to add in your bio section.

Step 8: Share on Social and Email

To make the most out of your guest posts, it’s important to share them on your brand’s social channels and in any email newsletters or content digests that you send out. You want your guest post to benefit the blogger who is allowing you this generous opportunity so getting their blog in front of your brand’s own audience is key.

Step 9: Measure Your Success

As is the case with other content marketing strategies, you’re going to want to measure your guest blogging campaign to determine success. Some metrics to consider are:

  • Social shares of your posts
  • Traffic back to your website
  • New leads generated
  • New clients landed
  • Comments on the blog post
  • Number of pieces of content generated
  • An increase in SEO

We mentioned creating a campaign hub in a spreadsheet and this sheet is a great place to record your campaign metrics and links to the posts you create.

Step 10: Repeat What Works

Once you’ve measured and determined how your campaign is going, it’s time to repeat the strategies that are working for you. By analyzing which post topics are performing the best and which blogs are bringing in the most traffic, you can write more posts that are similar to the posts performing the best and ask the blogs if you can post on their blog again. If you’re sharing your posts on social and in email, the blogger is going to be more likely to let you post on their blog again.

Key Takeaways

If executed well, a guest blog post campaign can generate a lot of new traffic and leads for your brand. To condense all the steps we outlined, here is a check list that you can print out and hang on your wall!

  • Identify the right blogs
  • Engage with the bloggers before reaching out
  • Send your pitch email
  • Create a spreadsheet for all of your guest blogging opportunities and post topics
  • Brainstorm thought leadership topics
  • Write your post and stick to a timeline
  • Compose your bio
  • Share your post on social and in emails
  • Measure your campaign
  • Repeat what works the best

Remember, the goal of your campaign is to establish thought leadership and brand familiarity to gain new visitors and convert those visitors into sales. Good luck!

Do you have any tips for brands who are wanting to execute a guest blogging campaign? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter @Feed_Otter!

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How to Create Content with Customers to Generate Leads

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Everything you do at your job is for your customers, right? They’re the reason you open the doors every day, and you couldn’t do it without their support. Yet, at some point, you have to turn forward and try to acquire new customers to keep everything moving along, while continuing to satisfy your current clients. While your sales and marketing teams are strategizing on how to pull down new conversions, you should remind them of one of the greatest assets you have: your past and current customers. Elevating and celebrating your happy clients can generate converting content, new leads, convince those in the critical decision phase, and raise your retention rates. Well-placed content can boost your bottom line. Here’s how.

Positive Vibes

If you’re about to make a purchase, large or small, it’s likely you’ll check at least a few reviews and ratings before you buy. In fact, a full 86% of potential consumers do, according to this report. We all do it, mostly because we’d rather get the perspective of an everyday person rather than the puffed-up sales pitch from the brand’s website. We trust these voices to give us the real deal, good or bad, and this theory applies to corporate decision makers as well. Showcasing comprehensive testimonials provides ample social proof and can even explain all the positive steps and personal attention that they received along the way. Most satisfied customers are happy to provide a testimonial with a little nudge. And, like any social obligation, it’s always a good idea to reciprocate with a personal thank you or a gift (more about that later).

You Just Gotta Ask

Look, you should already know how your customers feel about your company and the experience they had while working with you. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on some valuable feedback that could help you out in all aspects of your business. There should be some degree of recording customer feedback, either from customer service or your regular client-facing personnel, like your sales team or account managers. To start compiling internal data, you might want to try surveys that focus on the customer experience, either via email or as part of a regular “exit interview”. Make sure to include plenty of open-ended questions with spaces for clients to put their thoughts into their own words, like these:

  • What surprised you about this product/service?
  • Which feature did you find particularly useful?
  • Would you recommend this product/service to friends/family/colleagues?
  • Anything else you’d like to add?

You may also want to include rating systems that you’ll be able to pull quantifiable data from (i.e. “92% rated their service as very good”). When you are able to comb through these responses, you can identify those customers who might be top candidates for testimonials, and you can even include a question that asks them directly if they’d be willing to volunteer their thoughts for a testimonial.

Make sure that you get the client’s full name, company position, and head shot when publishing text or video testimonials. Proper endorsement absolutely needs qualified identification…you don’t want Joe T. from Ithaca singing your praises, as it’s likely anonymous testimonials just won’t be taken seriously. Professionally shot video clips may have the most impact, as you can see and hear the sincerity and emotion from the happy customer.

Celebrate Your Customers

There’s lots of room to integrate your customers into your overall sales and marketing plans simply by showering them with praise. Developing and writing a detailed case study about the challenges, plan, and success you eventually had while working with them accomplishes quite a bit. It gives potential customers a good look at the end result, yes, but it also highlights the experience and the journey that you and your team went through to provide those solutions. Keep all the statements in the case study positive (i.e. avoid phrases like “They were in a lot of trouble before we stepped in”), and be effusive in your praise about how great it was to work with them and how happy you are with their success. This is valuable content that you can have on your website, include in your email newsletter, and post on social sites like LinkedIn for maximum exposure. Here’s a few case studies to look over for inspiration.

Also, be sure to publicly congratulate your past customers on their recent milestones and successes, such as anniversaries, new expansions, or big hires. Privately, of course, you can send gifts and cards to their office. Point is, having a positive relationship with past clients (and showing that to others) is great publicity and social proof that you’re a great brand to work with.

The Two Forgotten Phases in the Sales Funnel

Your sales team is probably well acquainted with the sales funnel model, and strategizes with those phases in mind. The first three phases – awareness, consideration, and decision – have their own individual pathways with regards to lead generation, email campaigns, and other sales and marketing tactics. The case studies and testimonials that we already talked about certainly have their place in these first three stages, but they can also feature prominently in the last two phases, which are retaining your customers and getting them to become advocates for new potential customers. When you consider these last two phases, the funnel actually becomes a circle with the kinetic energy to keep each phase aiding the others. Retention and advocacy are steps where testimonials and positivity are particularly helpful. This is also a good time to drop a few incentives; a discount to returning customers (retention) or a referral program (advocacy) would help keep that energy up.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your customers over the moon with your products and services is great, but adding good doses of flattery, well-deserved praise, and recommendations will assure that anyone who considers doing business with you is walking into a beneficial situation. Through working with customers to create content assets such as case studies and testimonials, there are plenty of opportunities to earn new content that generates leads and turn leads into customers. A company who treats its customers well should naturally be recognized as such, so go ahead and tell the world how great your customers are!

Do you have any tips to promote customer advocacy to appeal to new clients? We’d love to hear all about it on Twitter @Feed_Otter!

 

 

 

 

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How to Find An RSS Feed URL for Any Website

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Finding a website’s RSS feed is useful for a variety of reasons such as staying up-to-date on everything that website publishes or promoting your content via social and emails channels using tools like Hootsuite or FeedOtter respectively.

While website RSS feeds are incredibly useful they can sometimes be hard to find. So we created this helpful post to show you where they hide on some of the most popular website CMS platforms such as WordPress, Drupal, and Expression engine.  Even if you aren’t sure what CMS technology a website is using these tips will surely help you better understand the world of RSS feeds and syndication.

1. Find the RSS feed of a WordPress website

The WordPress CMS powers more than 30% of the Internet, so if you’re trying to find the RSS feed of a website your best bet is to assume the site is WordPress and try the following options:

Add “/feed/” to the end of the website URL.

So https://www.feedotter.com becomes https://www.feedotter.com/feed/

and when we enter this in a browser shows us an RSS feed -which by the way looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><rss version="2.0"
	xmlns:content="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/content/"
	xmlns:wfw="http://wellformedweb.org/CommentAPI/"
	xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/"
	xmlns:atom="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom"
	xmlns:sy="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/syndication/"
	xmlns:slash="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/slash/"
	>

<channel>
	<title>FeedOtter</title>
	<atom:link href="https://www.feedotter.com/feed/" rel="self" type="application/rss+xml" />
	<link>https://www.feedotter.com</link>
	<description></description>
	<lastBuildDate>Wed, 15 May 2019 18:21:56 +0000</lastBuildDate>
	<language>en-US</language>
	<sy:updatePeriod>hourly</sy:updatePeriod>
	<sy:updateFrequency>1</sy:updateFrequency>
	
	<item>
		<title>Is Your Lead Nurturing Strategy Doing More Harm Than Good? 5 Common Mistakes You May Be Making</title>
		<link>https://www.feedotter.com/blog/is-your-lead-nurturing-strategy-doing-more-harm-than-good-5-common-mistakes-you-may-be-making/</link>
		<pubDate>Fri, 10 May 2019 19:06:03 +0000</pubDate>
		<dc:creator><![CDATA[Kristen Matthews]]></dc:creator>
				<category><![CDATA[B2B Resources]]></category>
		<category><![CDATA[best practices]]></category>
		<category><![CDATA[company blog]]></category>
		<category><![CDATA[content marketing]]></category>
		<category><![CDATA[email marketing]]></category>
		<category><![CDATA[marketing automation]]></category>

		<guid isPermaLink="false">https://www.feedotter.com/?p=20084</guid>
		<description><![CDATA[Are you having trouble turning leads into sales? This could be because you’re not maximizing your lead nurturing strategy. Or maybe your lead nurturing strategy is doing more harm than good. Don’t fret, because this post is here to help you identify mistakes you may be making in your lead nurturing strategy and once these […]]]></description>
				<content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Are you having trouble turning leads into sales? This could be because you’re not maximizing your lead nurturing strategy. Or maybe your lead nurturing strategy is doing more harm than good. Don’t fret, because this post is here to help you identify mistakes you may be making in your <a href="https://www.feedotter.com/blog/how-to-create-content-that-converts-leads-into-sales/">lead nurturing strategy</a> and once these mistakes are identified, you’ll start turning more leads into sales.</p>
<p>A lead nurturing strategy is
RSS feed from feedotter.com/feed/

Add “/rss/” to the end of the website URL.

While not as common as “feed” some sites will cough up the RSS feed URL when you append “rss” to the end of the url as well.  If the first option doesn’t work this is a good 2nd tactic to try.

Find an RSS feed URL for a particular category or tag of content

WordPress by default will create RSS feeds for EVERYTHING so you can also find RSS feeds for various categories and tags of content.  Here is an example of how to find category and tag content on a WordPress site.

To find an RSS feed URL that contains only content from a specific category the URL would look like:

https://www.rubicly.com/category/content-creation/feed/

In this example the category is ‘content-creation’ and the standard WordPress trick applies of “adding /feed/ to the end of things” gives you an RSS feed URL.

It is exactly the same for a WordPress tag RSS feed:

https://www.rubicly.com/tag/b2b-content-marketing/feed/

2. Find an RSS feed via website source code

Looking at the HTML source code of a web page is another great way to quickly find the RSS feed.

Let’s navigate to the Pardot blog at https://www.pardot.com/blog/

Right click on the website’s page, and choose Page Source. In the new window that appears, use the “find” feature (Ctrl + F on a PC or Command + F on a Mac), and type in RSS.  In this case the correct RSS feed is https://www.pardot.com/feed/

Note:
It is very common for websites to offer a second RSS feed full of blog comments.  These are typically not useful so be careful to skip any feed URLs that have the word ‘comments’ in their tag.

Pardot Blog RSS Feed

3. Finding an RSS feed URL for a Joomla, Drupal, and Magento websites

While WordPress powers much of the web there are several other CMS systems that are less RSS-friendly.

A quick look at the market share of most used CMS platforms reveals that Joomla, and Magento all power significant parts of the web.

Market Share of Top CMS Systems

Unfortunately these CMS systems don’t enable RSS by default which means the site operator must explicitly create or enable an RSS feed that displays some or all of the site’s content.  If you know your website is running Joomla, Drupal, or Magento your best bet is to examine the source code of key pages (homepage, blog page, newsroom) and search for “rss”.

If you are reading this and working on your own website you may need to ask your website developer to enable and/or create an RSS feed for you.  I’ve put together several steps to help you create custom RSS feeds should this be your objective.

How to Create an RSS feed URL for your Drupal 8 website

I recommend watching this great video walkthrough of how to create RSS feeds in Drupal it’s up-to-date(2019) and illustrates how to turn any bit of Drupal content into a custom RSS feed.

Create an RSS feed URL for your Joomla website

For Joomla I would recommend installing an RSS plugin such as gsRSSFeed.  This plugin will make setting up an RSS feed in Joomla as simple as possible.

  • Step 1: Go to the RSS Feeds section on Joomla.org.
  • Step 2: Download gsRSSFeed of another plugin of your choosing
  • Step 3: Install gsRSSFeed via the Joomla installer.
  • Step 4: Go to Components >> gsRSSFeed and click “New”
  • Step 5: Fill in the information requested. Most of these fields are self-explanatory. You can happily just give your feed a name and click save.

Create an RSS feed URL for your Magento website:

Magento is an online storefront CMS used to sell things online.  Magento has some great RSS functionality built in and excellent documentation on how to create custom RSS feeds so I recommend:

Setting Up RSS Feeds for Magento Version 1

Settings up RSS Feeds for Magento Verson 2

eCommerce RSS feeds are super useful and can be used to tell customers about new products, specials, or even automate product-filled newsletters using a tool like FeedOtter.

4. Find an RSS feed for Expression Engine websites

While not holding a significant percent of market share the CMS expression engine is one of the most popular among business websites.  If you are looking for the RSS feed from a company blog or newsroom the following tips may be helpful.

These resources will help you set up RSS for ExpressionEngine:

 

In Conclusion

While most sites on the web have an RSS feed to help promote and syndicate their content its not always the case.  Hopefully this guide provided some insight into where RSS feeds most commonly reside and how to set them up if you’re working on your own website.

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Is Your Lead Nurturing Strategy Doing More Harm Than Good? 5 Common Mistakes You May Be Making

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Are you having trouble turning leads into sales? This could be because you’re not maximizing your lead nurturing strategy. Or maybe your lead nurturing strategy is doing more harm than good. Don’t fret, because this post is here to help you identify mistakes you may be making in your lead nurturing strategy and once these mistakes are identified, you’ll start turning more leads into sales.

A lead nurturing strategy is just as important as your strategy to generate leads. If you’re generating a ton of leads but aren’t nurturing them correctly, you might as well not be generating them in the first place.

The following 5 mistakes are common content marketing mistakes when it comes to any lead nurturing strategy. If you recognize any of these as mistakes that you’re making, there is plenty of time and strategies to fix the problem!

Mistake #1 Skipping the Research Phase

Researching buyer personas and the type of content that resonates with your audience is a crucial part of the initial phase when implementing a lead nurturing strategy.

Identifying pain points that your target buyers experience helps you develop the type of content to drip them.

Also understanding the customers journey as it is unique to your brand is an important part of the research phase. The journey makes you aware of what to drip your leads and when to drip it to them.

How to fix it: Carve out time in your schedule and spend time creating your buyer personas, this template from HubSpot is a great resource to use. After you’ve created your buyer personas, map out your consumer’s journey on a piece of paper. Note the questions and pain points they will encounter and make a plan to solve these pain points with the right content.

Mistake #2 Doing a Sales Pitch Too Soon

A lot of marketers make the mistake of doing a sales pitch too soon. Leads need a healthy amount of thought leadership and educational content so that you can establish brand credibility and brand trust before you make the sales pitch.

The sales pitch can also happen too soon if you’re marketing goals aren’t aligned with your sales team. Sales teams can sometimes jump in and do the sales pitch before you’ve had the chance to nurture the lead. So, it’s crucial that sales and marketing goals are aligned.

How to fix it: Set up an email drip campaign that drips leads 5 emails/pieces of content before you lay your sales pitch on them. Make sure sales is aligned with this goal so that they don’t reach out to leads until they’re “hot.”

Mistake #3 Ignoring Campaign Data

Your lead nurturing program churns out a lot of data. Are you analyzing this data? From open rates to conversions, there are a lot of clues in your campaign data when it comes to your lead nurturing strategy. Some things to examine are:

  • What subject lines had the highest open rate?
  • What pieces of content convert a lead into a sale?
  • Which messages cause a lead to unsubscribe from your emails?
  • What time of day and which days of week do your emails get opened more?

After examining this data, you will be able to make tweaks that will convert more leads into sales.

How to fix it: Monitor your data once a week and refine your lead nurturing program on a continuous basis. Each week, you should start to see better and better results. When you identify which pieces of content have the highest conversion rates, be sure to make more of that type of content.

Mistake #4 Forgetting to Update Your Drip with Fresh Content

Because you are putting out fresh content every week, you’re going to want to continuously update your lead nurturing drip. Many marketers make the mistake of creating a drip program and leaving it alone for too long. This content can become out of date and your leads can feel like they’re not getting new information from your brand.

One thing to note, though, is that your drip should keep a balance of being filled with your new content and with your best content. Things like ebooks and case studies have a longer shelf life and can stay a crucial piece of your drip campaigns for a while. Blog posts, however, should be updated every few weeks so that your leads feel like they’re getting the latest information.

How to fix it: When it comes to blog posts in your drip campaign, refresh them once a month. When it comes to ebooks and case studies, refresh them every 6 months.

Mistake #5 Not Utilizing the Right Converting Content

There are a lot of things to consider when uncovering the content that converts. First, mapping out your buyer’s journey can clue you into what types of content will convert a lead into a sale. Second, monitoring campaign data will clue you into what types of content will convert a lead into a sale. Between these two things, you should have a pretty good understanding of what types of content turn leads to sales for your brand.

How to fix it: Common forms of converting content are white papers and case studies so be sure to use these types of content at the end of your email drip sequence.

Final Thoughts

The lead nurturing mistakes that we’ve outlined occur commonly in both big and small brands so if you are making any of these mistakes, you’re not alone! Hopefully we gave you some easy fixes for these mistakes so that your lead nurturing program will start converting more leads into sales.

A commonality in these mistakes is time so make sure that you budget enough of your time each week to analyze your campaign and continue to refine it. Although feeling like you already don’t have enough time in your day may be the reason you make these mistakes in the first place, it’s important to allocate time to analyzing and tweaking your strategy each week.

Do you make any of these lead nurturing mistakes? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter @Feed_Otter

 

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How DivvyHQ Became an Essential Content Marketing Platform

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DivvyHQ is a content planning and workflow tool used by heavy hitting content producers like Aflac, Red Bull, Mercedes-Benz, the National Geographic Channel, and many others.

We talked to DivvyHQ co-founder Brody Dorland about how the content marketing platform company got started and how a company lines up high-value customers like the ones listed above.

Brody Dorland, co-founder of DivvyHQ

As you’ll read, DivvyHQ’s success has a lot to do with the co-founders’ strategic networking tactics. (Spoiler: Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi played a big role in the launch of the platform).

Specifically, Dorland and co-founder Brock Stechman were super smart about finding allies, building relationships with influencers, and understanding customers from the perspective of an agency and product developer.

Here’s the DivvyHQ story, including what you can do to put yourself in similar positions.

Part 1: Finding Allies

Ten years ago, digital marketing was still a relatively new concept. For many companies, it was a wholesale shift in how they marketed themselves, and the process changes proved difficult to manage.

As Dorland explained, “Email platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact were making email marketing really easy to do, websites and blogs were getting easier to deploy through platforms like WordPress, and all of the social networks were starting to explode. Companies were trying to come to grips with all these new marketing technologies. They recognized the power of leveraging all these new channels to engage customers, but these new channels required a regular flow of good content.

Dorland and his partners created their own proprietary marketing strategy process, a big part of why his own marketing consultancy took off around 2008. He had a knack for seeing how all of those new moving parts he spoke of — email marketing, blogging, SEO, social media channels, etc. — should work together.

One of the primary deliverables for new clients going through their strategy process was a starter editorial calendar which covered the first three to six months of content.

“It was all of the web, email, and social content — the actual individual topics we’re going to cover, who was responsible for them, who the audience was going to be — everything we needed to execute the new strategy we had just developed for them,” Dorland said.

However, executing those strategies was always a challenge. “It got to the point where, as the projects continued to grow in scope and scale, my hoard of freelancers got harder and harder to manage on individual projects,” Dorland explained.

Enter Brock Stechman, whose agency, Brockton Creative Group, already had a full service team — including designers, writers, photographers, and website developers — ready to execute Dorland’s marketing strategies.

Dorland and Stechman — both from Kansas City — decided to team up.

“We essentially merged behind the scenes,” Dorland told us. “Any time anything came through the Brockton Creative Group front door, they would bring me on to do the upfront strategy engagements. For anything that came through my front door, I would have Stechman’s team do all the execution. And we started doing that for every project.”

The DivvyHQ team

The partnership was a huge success, and it was the beginning of a long-term arrangement.

Part 2: Building Relationships With Influencers

In 2011, content marketing was gaining traction as a driver of strategic business growth. Not coincidentally, 2011 was also the year the Content Marketing Institute was founded and the first Content Marketing World conference was held.

(That will become important in a bit.)

Dorland, along with co-host Jayme Thomason, launched a podcast called Content Marketing and Merlot to discuss content marketing tactics and build connections around this important new facet of online marketing.

The show’s not available online anymore, or we’d link an episode for you. We did find a few old landing pages from previous episodes (even though the audio didn’t work).

“The podcast was integral in gaining some of those early relationships,” Dorland told us. “Even today, there’s still a certain amount of novelty to being asked to be a guest on a podcast. It opened some major doors to people like Joe Pulizzi and Jason Falls.”

The team usually recorded the podcast in the atmospheric cellar of a wine retail store near their office. After work, they’d buy a bottle of wine, set up their audio equipment, and discuss both the wine and content marketing concepts.

Doing a podcast about a new concept (content marketing) in a novel way (while enjoying wine) was a winning combination.

Dorland explained the content marketing part further: “We would dedicate an episode to something like the importance of proper persona development, because we were literally doing that as part of our day-to-day process and digging into what that entails.”

The podcast also helped potential clients understand the value behind what they offered. “It could be its own marketing machine by itself,” Dorland said.

Part 3: Taking Advantage of Opportunities

Developing relationships is a lot like placing bets.

You never know which one will hit, but the more bets you make (or, the more relationships you develop), the more likely one or more of them will pay off — sometimes in ways you’d never dreamed were possible.

Stechman and Dorland were developing their skills and their network — all around the topic of content marketing.

Their biggest issue was scale.

When Dorland created those starter editorial calendars to map out six months of deliverables for each client, he did it using an Excel spreadsheet.

Back in 2011, people weren’t widely using cloud-based documents (such as Google Sheets).

That led to all kinds of problems.

The calendar was emailed around between team members and clients, and no one was ever quite sure if they had the latest version of the calendar or not.

Projects sometimes got lost. Deadlines were sometimes unclear. It worked well enough to get by, but it could be messy.

That led the team to try several project management tools. They, at least, were cloud-based. They worked well for general projects, but nothing they tried had the features they really needed to manage a full content process.

“What if we just build something ourselves?” the team concluded out of frustration one day.

Their concept was to replace the Excel spreadsheets with something more collaborative: a project management tool specifically designed to organize content strategy, content planning, and production workflows.

 DivvyHQ’s 1.0 calendar interface

It seemed like a great idea to improve their internal efficiency, and they started to wonder if there was a market for a content marketing management tool beyond their own organization.

Dorland had established a relationship with Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, based on Pulizzi’s appearance as a guest on the Content Marketing and Merlot podcast. So they ran the idea by him.

“Joe Pulizzi was on the board of a company in Kansas City,” Dorland said. “We found out he was coming to KC for a board meeting, so we bought him dinner and said, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about building something. Is this something that would be a viable idea to roll out to this starter industry you’re working on?’ And he was like, ‘Absolutely.’”

 

It was at this moment that opportunity struck: Pulizzi made them an offer.

If Dorland and Stechman could put something together in time, Pulizzi said, they could demo their new tool at the first Content Marketing World event happening later that year (September of 2011).

So they got to work. Stechman led the effort to raise around $90K from friends and family to accelerate the process of developing the platform. They incorporated a separate company, created a prototype in two months, and launched the newly named product, DivvyHQ, at the event.

Pulizzi had been right about demand for a solution like this. There were several Fortune 500 companies in the audience for Dorland’s presentation.

“There were representatives from McDonald’s, Toyota, Dell, and Nokia at the event… And they immediately signed up for a beta because, as it turns out, we weren’t the only ones struggling with the painful process of creating content,” Dorland said. “It exploded from there. We got over 500 companies on our beta between our pitch at the show and promotion of the launch on Twitter.”

Part 4: Listening to Customers

In the years since that September 2011 presentation at Content Marketing World, Dorland and Stechman have raised $3.5 million between two rounds of VC funding.

They could have raised more, but revenue has been growing enough to meet their needs. “We’ve been able to sustain solid growth without getting additional funding,” Dorland told us.

One key to their success since launching their product has been their dedication to their customers.

When the DivvyHQ platform launched, they were still running an agency as well, and that gave them unique insights into the needs of their customers.

For instance, their agency clients helped them understand that teams within a single company may prefer to work independently on different campaigns and strategies. They built DivvyHQ around that idea.

“Customers were able to use a hub-and-spoke structure, so that at the hub, the executive team can see everything that’s going on in all of the different spokes,” Dorland said. “Meanwhile, the different spokes could also set up their development environments the way they needed to, with their own strategies and workflows.”

As their user base grew, they developed new features to support different types of clients.

For example, in the early days, one large client came close to crashing their system. They added upwards of 250 users and were trying to manage thousands of content projects from one account, a use case and scale Dorland and Stechman had not yet considered.

Once they saw the need, they made changes accordingly.

DivvyHQ: What the Content Marketing Platform Looks Like Today

DivvyHQ’s current calendar view

Eight years after its initial beta launch, DivvyHQ has grown into a robust platform that has defined a completely new category of software: content marketing management platforms.

Currently, the platform is used by thousands of marketers to oversee and execute content marketing strategies.

It’s an ideal choice for companies committed to content marketing — or that are looking to improve their content process.

It also has a free trial if you want to try it out.

The Power of Personal Connections

Throughout the DivvyHQ story, Dorland and Stechman expanded their network while gaining experience and insights by:

  • Collaborating with each other. They accomplished more together than they could have on their own.
  • Leveraging a channel (the podcast) that connected them to influencers.
  • Broadening their reach with agency work and product development.
  • Listening carefully to customers.

They didn’t know that Joe Pulizzi would be a key reason they’d be able to get in front of heavy hitters like Toyota and Nokia.

They were — however — working hard to put themselves in a position for those kinds of lucky breaks to happen.

When opportunities arose, they took advantage.

Whether you’re growing a business or just want to advance your career — that’s advice worth remembering.

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The Unavoidable Need for User Generated Content in Your Content Marketing Strategy

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User generated content (UGC) is just what it sounds like–content created by someone other than your brand. The theory behind its effectiveness is simple: it is always more trusted than content the brand puts out about itself. Consumers increasingly look to their peers for brand recommendations and advice, and UGC fulfills this for them.

UGC can encompass multiple forms of content not produced by your brand, including social media recommendations, testimonials, videos, and blog posts. You can find ample quality content as the result of an influencer campaign, and more from happy consumers who take it upon themselves to write about brands online.

If you’re not sure if you need to embrace UGC, or how to go about collecting this valuable form of content, then keep reading.

Do I Really Need User Generated Content for My Brand?

If you might need a little convincing that you need to ramp up your UGC strategy, we can look at a few statistics. 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all forms of advertising. And, word of mouth marketing generates twice the sales of paid advertising. Lastly, 64% of consumers actively seek out UGC when it’s time to make purchase decisions.

Have we convinced you yet that you should be populating the Internet full of UGC? You can assure that target consumers come across your brand through a peer’s recommendation, plus they’ll be plenty of UGC content readily available when a consumer is researching your brand. Keep reading, because this post is going to give you all the tools that you need to improve your UGC strategy.

It’s All About Authenticity

User generated content is all about current consumers sharing real-life experiences about your brand. For example, you can feature a post on LinkedIn about how your software makes their day easier, or a video testimonial talking about how a business discovered how your brand solved several major pain points for them. These brand experiences are authentic, and instantly create brand trust.

UGC helps brands tell stories in ways that the brand can’t do themselves. Whether it’s a selfie with your product, a blog post about their experience with your brand, or a tweet saying how much they love you, UGC will organically contribute to your overall storytelling strategy.

Reach New Audiences with User Generated Content

When happy consumers publish a complimentary post online about your brand, it’s goes straight to all of their followers, instantly putting your brand in front of hundreds or even thousands of new potential consumers. Their sincere experience with your brand might be enough to activate new people into leads, and (hopefully) conversions. Your happy consumers should be your brand’s greatest marketing asset, and they can offer valuable social proof with their recommendations.

How to Get Users to Create User Generated Content

Most UGC content is published organically and without any incentive. That said, there are ways to get consumers to publish their experience with your brand on their blog, their social channels or even a testimonial on your site. Let’s explore a few ways you can generate UGC for your brand:

  • Email your clients and announce a social media contest, and reward the person who creates the best post with an Amazon gift card or an iPad. The small investment in the prize will be worth all the UGC social content that you’ll get for your brand.
  • Ask clients to give you a 1-2 sentence testimonial about their experience with your brand. The small amount of time it takes them to write those sentences will make it easy for them to contribute.
  • Check with your client facing co-workers to identify happy clients. Reach out to these clients, and ask if they’d be willing to do a video case study about using your product. Consider compensating them with a free month of usage of your product.
  • Be transparent and simply ask your clients to put out social posts showcasing how they feel about your brand. You’d be surprised at how many people want to feel included and who would be happy to endorse your brand.
  • Create an email campaign where you ask your clients to leave reviews about your brand. After all, 70% of consumers look at a review before making a purchase decision. Consider incentivizing them with either a discount on your product or gift card.
  • Run an influencer campaign and sponsor posts that showcase an influencer’s experience with your product or service. Some marketers might think that influencer marketing doesn’t work for B2B brands, but we disagree!

How to Leverage User Generated Content for Your Brand

There’s no point in earning all this juicy UGC if it doesn’t get you put in front of your target consumers and make it easy to find. Putting a strategy in place to leverage UGC is crucial. Let’s look at a few ways you can get maximum views on UGC to generate new leads and sales for your brand:

  • Monitor social media for consumer raves about your brand and reshare them on your own social channels.
  • Sprinkle testimonials throughout your website’s homepage. When potential consumers are researching your brand, they’ll be far easier to find.
  • Link to blog posts that speak highly of your brand in the posts that you publish on your website.
  • Use relevant UGC in your email marketing strategy, and send these to your leads to spark their interest through peer reviews of your brand.
  • Ask the creators of the UGC to share all over their social media channels
  • Use UGC in your paid social ads, instead of a self-promotional ad about your brand

Do you have any tips to add about a powerful UGC strategy? We’d love to hear all about it on Twitter @Feed_Otter

 

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How to Create Content that Converts Leads into Sales

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Content marketers have a broad variety of tasks. Creating content, promoting content, engaging with readers and running social media channels are just a few of the many things you probably have to do each day. One thing that often gets overlooked is ensuring that you’re creating content for all stages of the buyer’s journey to fill up the content marketing funnel.

Your goal as a content marketer is to promote thought leadership for your brand and bring in new leads that hopefully convert into sales. It’s a lot of work and it’s crucial to walk leads through the buyer’s journey to land more clients for your brand.

Research from Content Marketing Institute tells us that 90% of marketers are using content marketing to generate demand and fill the top of the content funnel. However, only 60% of marketers use content to persuade a lead to check out a brand’s product or service thus not helping them convert from a lead to a sale. This shows us that a lot of marketing organizations have a disconnect when it comes to using content to appeal to all stages of the buyer’s journey and fill up their content funnel.

This post is here to help you understand what types of content you can produce that will get more sales for your brand and earn gold stars from your boss for your successful content marketing approach. Let’s dive in.

Become a Content Funnel Expert

Image courtesy of SEMrush.com

Awareness: The awareness stage is how a new lead discovers your brand either through search or through a piece of content that you produce. Blog posts, social media and ebooks are all common ways that a new lead enters into the content funnel and becomes aware that your brand exists. Awareness content is usually thought leadership content and strays away from pitching your brand within the content.

Consideration: The consideration phase happens after a lead becomes aware of your brand. Usually in this stage, they are taking a deep dive to learn about your brand and compare it to your competitors. When a lead is in the consideration phase, they digest more active forms of content like product reviews, white papers, webinars and more. Consideration content has the potential to filter out leads who aren’t a good fit for the brand making the leads that progress to the next stage qualified.

Conversion: The conversion phase is when the lead decides whether or not they’re going to become a customer. While this is a crucial stage for leads, a lot of content marketing strategies fall short here, but we’ll fix that in this post.

Spend Less Time on Brand Awareness

Brand awareness spans the broadest category and marketers find it easier to create content for brand awareness. So, it’s likely your brand awareness strategy is solid and you need help creating content for the conversion phase.

Don’t get us wrong, brand awareness is key to generating leads in the first place, but, it shouldn’t make up the majority of the content that you create.

So, we propose this: how can you spend less time on brand awareness content and how can you create more content that converts leads into sales? After all, isn’t your goal and perhaps even your performance measured by how many new customers you bring to your brand through your awesome content?

Does Your Content Close the Deal?

When you tap into your marketing automation software to see what types of content leads are digesting before they convert into a sale, are you noticing any trends? Is there a particular piece of content that seems to convert?

In order to make sure your leads are getting the type of content that converts, you should have a dynamic email drip for all of the leads that enter into your content funnel and you should slowly drip them content that moves them through the buyer’s journey. After sending them 5-7 emails, they should be “sales ready” and ripe for your sales team to reach out to.

As we see in the Content Marketing Institute survey we mentioned in the beginning of this article, marketers do a great job of building brand awareness and generating leads with their content but not so much when it comes to converting a lead into a customer.

Types of Content that Converts

Succeeding with creating content for the conversion stage of your buyer’s journey requires a lot of research and well documented buyer personas. In order to create content that converts, marketers need to have a strong pulse on pain points a lead faces and the types of solutions that will appeal to them.

Treat every lead like the potential consumer that they are and implement this into your email drip campaigns. Start with awareness and thought leadership content, move to consideration content and finish with converting content before you mark that lead ready for sales or invite them to sign up for a trial of your product.

Let’s take a look at some types of content that you can publish and use to convert leads into sales:

White papers: While a white paper could also fill the top of the funnel, producing a white paper that focuses on how your brand solves certain pain points your target buyer may encounter would be perfect for the conversion stage of the funnel.

Case studies: Case studies are formal pieces of content that document success stories of your clients and emphasize how your brand is a solution. These tangible examples of how your brand can help your target consumer are one of the best ways to convert a lead into a sale.

Webinar: A webinar that showcases how your brand works and offers customer success stories is a great way to move leads into the conversion phase of the funnel. Offer viewers concrete examples of how your brand can make their lives easier.

Break Down Silos Between Marketing and Sales

In order to operate a well-functioning content marketing strategy, you need to have close communication ties with sales. Sometimes leads come to them directly and don’t go through the whole email drip process. So, sales needs to be equipped different types of content that they can share with leads while they’re trying to persuade them to become a customer.

Not only do you need to equip sales with content assets, sales is client facing and thus probably understands buyer behavior and can offer ideas for your content creation efforts.

Lastly, silos between sales and marketing need to be broken down so that you can come up with a strategic process on how to approach leads after you’ve walked them through the entire content funnel. Is sales going to reach out to the leads directly? Are you going to send leads an email to see if they want to register for a demo? You get the drift.

How to Measure Your Efforts

In the Content Marketing Institute report that we referenced at the beginning of the post, it’s clear that marketers mostly measure KPI’s at the awareness stage of the content funnel like traffic, number of leads generated and engagement. However, there are completely different metrics that need to be documented for judging the success of your content in the conversion stage of the funnel. Some metrics to consider are:

  • How many demos and/or trials did your content bring in?
  • How many leads converted to clients?
  • How many people downloaded your white paper?
  • How man views did your case studies get?

Key Takeaways

Research shows that most content marketers do a great job at filling the top of the content funnel with brand awareness content but don’t give the bottom of the funnel, the conversion phase, enough efforts. Content marketing isn’t just about generating leads, it’s also a strong way to convert leads into sales when done correctly.

Most marketers need to shift their focus from only generating brand awareness and need to implement strategic ways to move leads into consumers with the right forms of content. The best types of content to convert a lead into a sale are white papers, case studies and webinars.

Don’t forget to be sure to establish strong communication with your sales team in order to make the most out of your content program. Your sales team needs to be equipped with the awesome content that you create so that they can utilize these pieces of content when they’re trying to close details.

Lastly, to get the recognition that you deserve for your great content program, be sure to document your content marketing strategy, specifically when it comes to documenting the pieces of content that convert leads into sales by measuring things like number of demos registered for and of course, leads that became clients.

Do you have any tips on creating content that converts leads into sales? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter @Feed_Otter!