Sun Tzu on Preparation
content marketing, ecommerce, Strategy

Meet your audience where they are at!

These days even the most face to face, person to person sales deals can be assisted through social media, a website or maybe a cunning piece of content marketing. The battle for the sale can be won or lost before it is even fought.


Marketing online and building out an ongoing content marketing strategy is all about meeting your audience where they are at. We build out a set of answers to the problems our clients and their company are facing. But we must serve and reserve this at the right moments, feeding it to our clients as they discover more about our brand and gain confidence that we have the solution they are after.

Understanding the problems you clients have and where they are at in their understanding of both, powers the growth of your content strategy. Hitting the main problems and then developing answers to all their problems is a great way to develop an online reputation as a trusted consultant.

For those new to content marketing, MOZ.com have developed an online archive that easily places them as one of the best, if not THE most trusted consultants in the SEO space. You’ll see they have answered almost every question there is regarding SEO, and they have content for novices and experts alike. The experts keep following their blog and “Whiteboard Fridays” where topical updates are shared and in-depth reports discussed on Video, with an accompanying whiteboard diagram. They are truly

They are true ‘thought leaders’ and seen as trusted consultants.

MOZ even discuss the use of AdWords and other paid advertising online to support your SEO and content marketing efforts. Something that all companies should consider, to support the discovery of their content marketing and to get it in front of new and existing audiences. Layer over this Remarketing to get your audience to return and move further through your sales cycle and you have a  relatively robust online marketing channel that brings your audience to where you are at. Hopefully, by the time your client is ready to discuss or make a purchase they have significant confidence in your product or service through the work you have shown online.

Qualify leads at various stages through the sales cycle can ensure that the content experience meets them where they are at.

Knowing this, the last paragraphs above are useless unless you get the basics of your SEO and content marketing right. Much like talking at an advanced level about the specifics of your product and technical elements to someone who is just discovering it. For most B2B salespeople, qualifying leads is an art and intuition they develop.

Customer feedback is essential here in discovering exactly how your content is resonating.his is not just your website or corporate channels but the way your sales team define themselves as thought leaders too. How do they “show their work”? What evidence is there of thought leadership online? How easy is it to see that they know their stuff and should be your trusted advisor?

This is not just your website or corporate channels but the way your sales team define themselves as thought leaders too. How do they “show their work”? What evidence is there of thought leadership online? How easy is it to see that they know their stuff and should be your trusted advisor?

As an owner, employee, CEO, CMO, maketer or consultant how hard is it to find proof that you’re a thought leader online?


 

Have a look through my Content Marketing archive for further thoughts on this and Thought Leadership. Hopefully, it prompts you, or gives you some ideas as to how to ‘show your work’.

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agilemarketing, content marketing, ecommerce, social media

eCommerce, advertising and messaging to the phase your buyer is in

When it comes to shopping and buying – be it online or offline – there’s are distinct modes or phases in which we operate.

  1. Researching – what do I want?
  2. Searching – where can I get it?
  3. Purchasing – how do I get it now?

Much like taking the wrong bus or missing the express, being driven to the wrong part of your website or shown the wrong message can really ruin a user’s experience. So creating distinct or at least relevant experiences for each of the three phases is key.

Traffic coming in from search engines to your website – and the keyword terms used – can give a very strong signal of the intent a customer has to purchase. It can in some cases tell us exactly which mode a buyer is in. So lets look at the various phases.

Educate your potential customers with Content Marketing

When people are arriving at your website from broad search terms they are in the first of our phases as a buyer – discovering what’s on offer and what potential solutions there are to my needs.

It is here that through content marketing you can educate clients of the benefits of your products, help solve their problems, and make them aware of your brand and your solutions.

You should be answering any questions clients have around benefits of our products. You could help out by comparing products through a comparison infographic or article. This should all be created with the intention of easily sharing on Facebook and Social Media.

On social media you can support the discovery of your brand by sharing answers to their question. But given that at this stage many may not be aware that your brand has answers to their problems (and that we don’t go to Facebook to shop – we go to be entertained and informed) your social media posts should also create brand awareness. Videos around successful customers, or posts about your brand can help to create an affinity with the WHY of your organisation.

LEGO, Johnnie Walker and Apple are notoriously good at tapping into deeper underlying needs that we surface as needs for their products or at least to connect with their brand. Check out their brand videos on YouTube for ideas.

When they’re searching – make sure they know the great range of products you have – right now!

If a customer is in the searching mode, providing a faceted search of your full range of products is key. eCommerce experts and successful eCommerce platforms are such because they have mastered the art of displaying products in a way that is easy to navigate, search and refine. Even so, as buyers we can often find the breadth of products on offer too much or too hard for us to decide, so as customers we have methods that we use to simplify difficult decision making (Heuristics).

There’s two Heuristics here that can play to your advantage – abundance or availability and scarcity.

Abundance

You need to ensure that a potential customer can see you have a broad range of products, and that in shopping with us they’re not missing out on options elsewhere. This could be through displaying the number of results on a page, the number sold today, the number of similar items and the social proof of likes or shares of an item on Facebook. These would indicate a wide range, and that others have purchased here before.

Scarcity

Conversely, scarcity can be used here to push a customer through to purchase. Maybe with a count beside each of the number left in stock (be it real or fabricated as I’m sure many websites do).

Some companies ensure exclusivity from suppliers of a certain colour, team logo or model that will appeal to audiences. Limited editions like Jordans, the Sebastian Vettel Lexus FX50, or Jamie Oliver cookware.

While in this mode shoppers know some things they might be after – but you also have to support those who as Henry Ford is misquoted as saying – might not know they need your product.

“If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse”
– Not said by Henry Ford.

If a customer is purchasing – stay out of their way!

A customer that uses the phase “iPhone 6 white 64GB” has a strong intent to purchase that item and already knows the model, colour and memory size she is after. She also knows that memory is a distinct feature of iPhones.

If you are supporting the organic or natural ranking of your web pages on Google with paid advertising, an advert for this phrase should point directly to your eCommerce shop and to the page of the White iPhone 6 with 64GB of memory. The landing page should have a clear call to action to add to cart and purchase. Even better you could pre-populate a guest cart with the phone already added.

A large image of the phone should confirm you’ve got what they’re after. As this is a filtered results page of your own product search, there should be the ability to X out some of the filtered items – like the colour or memory – BUT DON’T let this get in the way of the main call to action.

BUY NOW

So remember to address your buyers just like a good bricks and mortar shop would do.

  1. Have a display for those just window browsing who may not even know they need your product
  2. carefully lay out your store in sections for easy browsing and searching
  3. and get your express self checkout isle humming for those that just want to buy.


Image courtesy of St3f4n

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Western Architecture Principles
content marketing, ecommerce, social media, Strategy, user experience

Three pillars to a great online presence

Yesterday I visited New Zealand’s first 6 Green Star Office – Geyser, in Auckland.

Geyser is created as 6 separate parts with courtyards to let natural light into each area. It has a thermal chimney façade that heats and cools the building. It does this by circulating fresh air through an outer layer that can open and close in response to the ambient temperature. It has a rainwater collection system and an automated “stacker” car park that make use of the limited space underneath the building. In all an impressive building and in my eyes – it looks wonderful.

The building and its architect think of a wider audience than just tenants, addressing how it fits and improves the lives of the community around it.

What does this have to do with digital and online marketing – or social networks for that matter?

Last night I watched the architect Andrew Patterson talk a little bit more about the project as part of his TEDx presentation. He talked of the origins of Western Architecture Principles and how his buildings embody them.

These principles form a tripod that supports great architecture and I would argue serve well as points for a good online presence.
Western Architecture Principles

Attitude – Utilitas – fit for purpose

Use the right tools for the right job.

  • Customers or clients should immediately see how your website brings them value and meets their needs. Make it all about them.
  • When creating a new website have clear goals around the user experience and what you ultimately want to accomplish. Strip out distractions and ambiguity in user journeys.
  • If you want to blog, install a blogging platform. Don’t hack your content management system (CMS) or retrofit a forum as a workaround. If you want to sell things online implement a fully fledged eCommerce platform or leverage one run by experts in that area.
  • Use a CMS that befits the scale of your website and ensure you support it with adequate hardware. WordPress is fine for blogging but not for running Amazon or eBay. End users are the main focus of a website, but a good architect and web build thinks of longevity and maintenance as well.
  • Know your audience on each social network you use. Covering live events is Twitter’s space and photography looks fantastic on Google plus for example.

Concept – Firmitas – permanency

  • Single page websites or empty websites don’t instil confidence. Show that your website is robust and in for the long haul.
  • Ensure you have depth of content, products and services on your website and a stream of future content ready for the first few months. Content that addresses as many buyer personas and stages of the purchase cycle as possible.
  • If you’re building a community consider renting a crowd or launching in beta. Yelp, before launching in a new country, hire people to rate and recommend local businesses. That way the first real users see value from day one in being part of the community.

Communication – Venustas – as beautiful as the natural world

  • The concept for a building is that it should delight more than the natural world it is taking away. This isn’t a push to Skeuomorph design, rather that your website should be a delight to use.
  • If you can purchase online it should be super simple, far less stressful than standing at a counter waiting.
  • Time spent in your networks should delight more than competing TV channels and offline experiences.
  • Your audience should be excited to see your next alert, push notification or email in their inbox because it’s providing value they don’t get elsewhere. That value may be insights or knowledge to make their lives better but could equally be entertainment.

The combination of these three pillars should always support the end goal of delighting your audiences. Be they clients, employees or the community.

https://plus.google.com/109226595670049034128/posts/arpXnqiAC74

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content marketing, ecommerce

eCommerce and Classifieds Sites – Tips for Content Marketing

Content Marketing has really taken off over the last few years. Two prime examples being

  • Redbull www.redbullmediahouse.com – powering video and media content into “extreme channels” around the world for B2C
  • American Express Open Forum www.openforum.com – a platform for business clients to discuss SME issues.

Red Bull Air show in Maldives!

But what has caught my interest this week is classified sites or search engines and their efforts in the arena. Even here we’re seeing the realisation that we are not all about being a pure sales tool.

Historically the ads or classified section was at the back, paying for the well written editorial up front in the latest edition of your local newspaper. Online, where most of the largest sites are classifieds, there’s a polar switch. But one that is slowly trending back to content.

Amazon have whispered of their efforts via Amazon studios – hoping to leverage of their connections with LoveFilm to eventually producer their own content that though big data they know will be a success.

Google have hundreds of blogs written by various facets of their business and an area if only recently discovered – their research.google.com

Other options to consider

There’s real potential here for them to not only work with the stories from the data they collect. Here are some other areas I’ve thought of to explore. Which on the lead generation side which will bolster SEO and nurture existing clients/users:

  • Client satisfaction / FAQ stories
    Tips to clients on how to use their products, and what to do before and after they use them (Amazon on kindle maintenance for example).
  • Return visit tools
    Perhaps an alert if their product has extra value second hand and an article about it. Or a similar one is arriving soon or nearby. Or articles on targeted pheripheral products – like cases for iPads, kid friendly suburbs for houses or
  • maintenance services.

  • Stories from their suppliers/listers
    Not only what differentiates their business, but also tips from them on how to use the service right, on what to do before and after purchase.

And then of course there are the mediums even for simple research you can produce:

  • Video summary
  • Press release
  • Social media sharing
  • Stats from the report on social media
  • An infographic
  • White paper
  • More social media sharing and discussion
  • Micro poll of users
  • Results from the micro poll
  • Various cuts of the data
  • Before the final (heaven forbid we forget print) glossy hard copy for the reception coffee table.

Once complete there’s quarterly updates and ongoing sharing of the content on social media channels.

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