One method; two branches. This is how to win business in 2015.
If you’re a content marketing cynic, eat your words
The sheer velocity at which content marketing took off in 2014 resulted in 92%1 of marketers employing the approach within their brand awareness and lead generation strategies. This year, there’s very little doubt that all marketing departments and agencies will publish some form of content marketing.
The term may have been ridiculed as a flighty buzzword amongst sceptical, conventional marketers, but as a concept, content marketing dates back as far as 4200 B.C2 when custom publishing was carved into cave paintings. Roughly translated, the earliest piece focused on ‘6 ways a spear can save you from wild boar’. Vital reading.
Online, content marketing has, and continues to, completely transform the way in which brands sell. Long gone are the days of paying to run a garish banner ad and hoping for the best – each brand now has to focus on producing high quality content in order to position themself as a leader within their field, and it’s this earned authority that eventually enables a business to nurture potential customers through targeted education, exposure and engagement.
And Google loves it.
Search engines rely on their users returning in order to survive. After all, without a bulging, active audience, why would an advertiser part with their cash for a listing? Oh, and in case you’ve never Googled it: 1.17 billion3 people use Google.
Google likes content marketing because articles are keyword-rich, link-heavy, and with social sharing buttons featured on most, reader enjoyment is more measurable than ever before.
In 2015, Google plans to progress its semantic search capabilities even further, which means your in-house or outsourced SEO executives need to learn new skills – extremely quickly.
Keyword research and implementation as we know it won’t be valid, and the most desirable ranking positions will be awarded to those who have considered what a user really wants to know through intelligently associating a search term’s supporting contexts, synonyms and modifiers.
Bidding on traffic searching for a ‘beach body diet’? Few people diet just to attend the beach, so think about the real motivations behind this search. Perhaps it’s a person who wants to find love, or has taken up a sedentary new job that has led to weight gain, or even somebody who simply wants to wear the latest fashion statement but doesn’t quite have the confidence to do so.
An expert content marketer would work on creating features or videos that answer these concerns and then promote this content via paid-for, organic, or recommended methods. Once a user has clicked on your link without bouncing, Google is then much more likely to show your future content to that reader, allowing you to develop long-term relationships with your readers and secure repeat business.
To do this effectively, it’s likely that a shake-up amongst your marketing team will be necessary, whether that involves sending existing employees on specialised training or taking new hires on board.
Ultimately, you need people that have the ability to think like journalists whilst achieving the results of marketers – this is the reason we’re seeing the most successful agencies boasting teams of ‘brand journalists’ this year.
Be sociable or go home
Over the past couple of years, social media has irrefutably proved us all wrong – it’s not just a fad for the kids to revel in – the reality is that 65%4 of those aged 50-64 are logging in, alongside 49% of the over 65s.
Pair that with the fact that almost 9 in every 10 younger adults are locked in to their social media accounts, and you’re severely missing a trick if you don’t at the very least have a solid content strategy in place for Facebook and Twitter, no matter what type of business you’re in.
Be under no illusion that selling your product or services via social media will be easy though.
As of January 2015, Facebook has started implementing further restrictions on the amount of promotional posts that can be displayed on a user’s timeline – so don’t expect to get far organically this year. Paid targeted advertising is still up for grabs, but as your bank balance has probably already indicated, it’s competitive and expensive.
Nevertheless, your Facebook Page will still play an imperative role in acquiring and maintaining business in 2015, but the majority of your activity will need to focus on nurturing relationships with your clients and partners rather than promoting yourself.
Nandos demonstrate an excellent example of social media engagement done well. The fast food chain doesn’t rely on costly television or radio advertising, preferring to use its Twitter account to manage customer relations instead. Just take a look at the interactions below, in which reactive social media experts have taken the time to respond to tweets that other companies would have perhaps ignored.
Every month, around a billion5 people visit Facebook Pages alone and it’s common for curious potential customers to stop by a business’s social media feed in order to suss them out before making direct contact or committing to a purchase, particularly if they are considering dealing with a relatively unknown SME.
So this January, make sure you put a job ad out to get a social media manager on board to help your business build a competitive profile. They’ll need to work hand-in-hand with your content marketing team, and they may even sit within it, but it is a full time role that will require dedication, foresight in to upcoming trends and a reactive instinct to deal with your audience’s worldwide, 24-hour interactions with the industry you’re in.
1 Content Marketing Institute, 2014. 2014 Content Marketing Trends. [Online] Available at: http://i0.wp.com/mktcdn.uberflip.com/final%20-%202014-trends-infographic-alternate-colours2.png.
2 Content Marketing Institute, 2012. The History of Content Marketing. [Online Available at: http://i0.wp.com/contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/CMI_CM_History_Large2.jpg.
3 Statista, 2013. 1.17 Billion People Use Google Search. [Online] Available at: http://www.statista.com/chart/899/unique-users-of-search-engines-in-december-2012/.
4 Pew Research Internet Project, 2012. [Online] Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/data-trend/social-media/social-media-use-by-age-group/.
5 Facebook, 2014. An Update to News Feed: What it Means for Businesses. [Online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/update-to-facebook-news-feed.