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Why Content is Key to your Digital Marketing Strategy

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According to Hubspot, 47% of buyers engage with 3-5 pieces of content before directly engaging with a company. What does this mean? It means that content is key to any digital marketing strategy. By having a clear approach to all aspects of your content creation, your business will be in a much stronger position when it comes to engaging and converting leads to customers.

Content can be used to engage with your prospects at every step of the buying process, which can be categorised as the following:

1. The awareness stage: when a buyer identifies that they have a problem they need help solving
2. The consideration stage: when a buyer conducts research to solve the problem they are facing
3. The decision stage: when a buyer choosing the right solution for them

Here are different types of content you should be including in your digital marketing strategy in order to engage with buyers at every step of the buying process.

Keyword researched blogs

Blogs are an important tool when it comes to generating awareness-stage content. This audience may not be ready to buy from you yet, but when they are you will be front of mind.

Understand your audience’s pain points and then conduct some keyword research to identify what terms they are searching for online. The key is to create topics and generate content around searcher intent. For example, we recently produced a blog on the business benefits of PR because we identified that our target market (CEOs and c level execs of SMEs) were frequently searching for content helping them understand what the benefits of PR were. Think about the challenges facing your own target market and come up with blog topics based on what they are searching for online.

Yes the content then needs to include your target keywords, but don’t forget it also needs to be useful to the reader and better than anything else out there. Create a piece of engaging content that your audience will remember you for, not just Google.

Gated content

If you’re looking to drive leads, then gated content is something to consider. It can be useful when it comes to generating for top of funnel leads, those buyers at the awareness and consideration stage of the buyers’ journey.
Gated content can take any number of forms, including eBooks, whitepapers or explainer videos.

When it comes to good gated content, it needs to be:

• Persona driven – target your content to a specific audience you want to reach, and has need for your service
• Focused on one pain point – the more focused your content, the better-quality download you will get
• Beautifully designed – a piece of gated content needs to be user friendly and appealing

Whatever you choose, make sure it is helpful to your audience, answers the question and also highlights your area of expertise.

Engaging video

If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a video speaks a thousand more. Video is by far the most engaging content a business or brand can take advantage of.

Video can be used at all stages of the buying process. At the awareness stage, videos on social media can be a great way of attracting attention. When it comes to consideration, explainer videos can offer potential customers further insight into what you do while answering a pain point for them. When a customer is ready to make a decision consider using case study videos as these will demonstrate exactly what you do and what your customers are saying about you.

Remember your video content should be one of 4 things (sometimes all of them!) – insightful, memorable, engaging or shareable. Think about who your audience is, how they are consuming their content and what you want them to take away.

Linkbuilding

Content doesn’t just extend to content that sits on your own website and social channels. Targeted digital PR activity can help raise awareness of your business among your target customers, give you more content to share on social, and crucially, generate backlinks that support your SEO.

This is where PR becomes a vital component of your digital marketing strategy. The ability to secure a link in online publications (that have a nice high domain authority) will help boost your search visibility.

By drafting an engaging piece of content, you can secure these all-important follow links while also building the profile of your business or brand online.

Good content should be at the heart of any digital marketing strategy. Consider all the elements carefully – including who your target audience is, what they care about, which channels they consume their information on and then make informed decision about which content to produce.

By Judith O’Leary, managing director at Represent

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Australian competition watchdog cracks down on Facebook and Google

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Google and Facebook will face greater regulation in Australia following a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The preliminary report by the nation’s competition watchdog raised concerns about the market power of the two media and technology giants including the companies impact on Australian businesses, particularly, their ability to monetise content. It also outlined concerns about the extent that consumers data is collected and used by companies to target advertising.

To address these concerns the report proposes a number of recommendations including a “new or existing regulatory authority be given the task of investigating, monitoring and reporting on how large digital platforms rank and display advertisements and news content”.

The report also proposes preventing Google’s Chrome browser from being installed as a default browser on mobile, tablet and computer devices. It also includes recommendations to strengthen merger laws, deal with copyright, and take-down orders, and the review of existing, disparate media regulations.

The ACCC is also considering a further recommendation for a specific code of practice for digital platforms’ data collection to better inform consumers about how platforms collect and use their information as well as changes to the Privacy Act to enable consumers to make informed decisions.

Rod Sims, chair of ACCC, said, “Digital platforms have significantly transformed our lives, the way we communicate with each other and access news and information. We appreciate that many of these changes have been positive for consumers in relation to the way they access news and information and how they interact with each other and with businesses.

“But digital platforms are also unavoidable business partners for many Australian businesses. Google and Facebook perform a critical role in enabling businesses, including online news media businesses, to reach consumers. However, the operation of these platforms’ key algorithms, in determining the order in which content appears, is not at all clear.”

Sims continued, “Organisations like Google and Facebook are more than mere distributors or pure intermediaries in the supply of news in Australia; they increasingly perform similar functions as media businesses like selecting, curating and ranking content. Yet, digital platforms face less regulation than many media businesses.

“The ACCC considers that the strong market position of digital platforms like Google and Facebook justifies a greater level of regulatory oversight.

“Australian law does not prohibit a business from possessing significant market power or using its efficiencies or skills to ‘out compete’ its rivals. But when their dominant position is at risk of creating competitive or consumer harm, governments should stay ahead of the game and act to protect consumers and businesses through regulation.”

The ACCC is currently investing five incidences of breaches to competition or consumer laws by digital platforms as a result of this inquiry.

The ACCC will take submissions regarding its recommendations with the final report to be delivered to the Government by June 2019.

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10 questions with…. MediaLad

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In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to the most anonymous of industry commentators – MediaLad

What was your first job?

Baker.

Why did you get into advertising?

I’ve always had a business or economic brain and marketing was the most attractive area for me given the psychology and quantitative aspects of it.

What’s the worst buzzword in the industry?

Transparency, leverage, gap – take your pick.

Leverage – makes it sound like you’re using someone or something to get around a problem not solve it.

Gap – basically means someone isn’t doing their job.

Transparency – no one knows what transparency actually is until they try to do it and fail miserably at it.

If you could improve Twitter – how would you go about it?

Tweetups with people near you or a gaming element to it a la HQ.

Which industry event do you have to attend every year?

The IAA Xmas ball – The biggest celebration of media in the calendar year.

What’s the most surprising thing you have learned about the ad industry since working within it?

The most surprising thing is how little the so-called knowledgeable industry experts get to grips with both sides of the buy or sell side. The fact that they don’t know that not all third-party data can be bought on premium publications (even before GDPR). The fact that some technology does not interact with others in the most fluid way, yet expect a “transparency” that just will not be there unless there is a drastic change. The fact no one even talks about that astounds me. The fact they’re so focused on the buzzwords and chasing followers or awards, and not actually fixing the problems pisses me off.

Who is the one person in advertising whose advice everyone should listen to – other than yourself?

The guys at Avocet for digital buying, namely Ezra Pierce and Simon Critchley.

Who or what did you have posters of on your wall while growing up?

Eric Cantona, and House Record Labels.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

There’s a couple. From a life perspective, it’s about how much is in your control. 70% of your life is outside of your control. Stuff that happens to others in your life like your partner, parents, and loved ones. The stuff they do to annoy or delight you. 20% is what you’re in control of including life choices and what you do for fun, work, spare time etc. The rest is just pure luck and chance. For that reason only take time on the 20% as you really don’t have a lot of say on the rest.

What do you think ‘Media Lad’ means to the industry and what has being him meant to yourself?

I mean it started as a joke for the company I used to work for. I handed my notice in and had a bit of time, Twitter was new to me and I used it as a bit of a platform to promote jokes in my career that turned out to be common problems faced by everyone. It’s turned into this mad Banksy type character that (most) people enjoy, and want to unmask. I am honestly so humbled by that. Others hate it, for calling out their shit, but you know what… it’s not about who I am but it’s about what should be the “right” way to do media or your job. Bring perspective and enthusiasm to a job that really doesn’t save any lives or do anything meaningful in the world apart from raise awareness for certain companies/products. I try not to raise my own profile as (believe it or not) I’m not that type of guy that wants a headache to appear on stage. I’m busy working for my clients and that’s what motivates me.

More entries from 10 Questions With… can be found here.

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Online advertising has alienated our most valuable asset – the consumer

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It’s an understatement to say things have changed since I started my career in publishing 34 years ago, and mostly for the right reasons. The industry has moved on and some of those less palatable institutional barriers have been broken down. Yet there are certain industry behaviours that are having a real impact on original content creators, and they are so often borne from preventable consequences.

In many instances, these could be negated through the reapplication of ‘guiding principles’ that have perhaps been lost along the way.

It’s time we took a look back to make sense of what’s in front

The media industry has always been a sum of its parts, with different skills and disciplines working, mostly, in partnership. There was a sense you belonged to something special, and you knew you were directed by principles honed from many years of evolving media and advertising practices.

But it’s time to face the truth: today, consumers lack trust in digital advertising. In a quest for infinite online inventory, the crucial relationship between brand and consumer – that was built on shared values and respect – has become commoditised and jeopardised, quelling any desire for users to engage with ad campaigns. How have we got to a place where advertising that lives in the online world has all but alienated its most valuable asset – the consumer?

And no matter how many smart and inspiring examples of diversification and new monetisation models we see emerging, for original content creators, a base level of advertising remains essential.

There needs to be a change in behaviour

Many promises have been made to re-evaluate advertising practices and there’s an acknowledgement that quality and context matters. However, very little seems to have moved on and there remains limited evidence to suggest any measurable change in behaviour.

I’m not here to knock the technology that has enabled so much in modern life or the dominance of social media in which many users choose to consume news. Yet there is an obnoxious disparity around ‘standards’, accountability, and responsibility, and the right to compete fairly for advertiser funds that enable and sustain the creators of original quality journalism and content.

Despite all efforts to collaborate and support the industry’s wider call for greater parity, media owners with a long-established code of conduct and complete accountability for every single item present on their site continue to be at a disadvantage. Media organisations have always been defined by their transparent policies. So how is that an organisation like Facebook – that has such an impact and influence on the industry – is able to prosper and have a significant amount of revenue derived from online advertising, without being defined as a media business, and therefore does not need to adhere to any of the policies or codes of practice that is required by others?

As long as these organisations continue to be the principle benefactors from a type of advertising purchase behaviour, they have no motivation to change. It is only when we see a promised change in the advertisers’ behaviour, that the technology businesses themselves will be forced to re-examine their practices – meanwhile they will continue to enjoy all the spoils while residing outside of the union of all other media practitioners.

Driving better standards, and meaningful returns

As media owners, we continue to value the long-established trading partnerships centred on mutually defined policy and protocol, and relationships built on trust. These values matter.

This is a call to advertisers to check this current commodity driven behaviour, to take a moment to reflect, and work with publishers, as partners. But we also need to be sure that in striving for this goal we aren’t diluting standards, and the desire to improve accountability doesn’t just find us looking to provide a definition around practices that would otherwise be deemed as sub-standard.

Within the industry, we have in place numerous compliance guidelines. The IAB has been tireless in its efforts to bring the industry together to agree on a variety of advertising technology compliance standards. But what use are these if there is no accountability and seemingly no process to enforce compliance? While other established media channels have flight checkers in place – for both creative compliance and copy integrity – with all this wonderful technology, why does it not exist online?

And what about the extent of these standards? Premium publishers operate to much higher standards than laid out by these bodies, and always have done. They are self-regulated and they are accountable. And while I strongly support the adoption of universal standards for the good of the industry, it doesn’t change the fact they represent something that is significantly less than what we can actually provide.

At AOP, we’re committed to surfacing these challenges and we are striving to find practical answers, recommendations, and examples of best practice to help cement the future of advertising and publishing. But we must all commit to win back the trust of the consumer and return to a place of integrity – and continue to succeed as an industry I have always been proud to be part of.

Richard Reeves is managing director at AOP

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