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Content marketing: five ways to deliver customer engagement

Content marketing: five ways to deliver customer engagement

Marketing today is almost completely data-driven, meaning that when it comes to content marketing, measurement of open rates, click-through statistics and website page visits data is seen as critical to marketing performance indicators.

These statistical indicators are key to delivering marketing success, but can however also create distractions, moving the focal point away from your original marketing message and emotional prospect and customer engagement to one of pure data analysis.

And while we at Novacom live for data-driven performance statistics – we’re even ISO 9001 certified and only one of a small handful of EU agencies holding ISO 27001 – we believe strategic content marketing is what engages and builds loyalty in customers, not data.

So, here are five basic strategic elements for content marketing that will help deliver customer attention, engagement and long-term loyalty.

Research and differentiation

Effective marketing is about taking care of the basics. And the start-point has to be knowing your target marketplace, understanding buyer personas and positioning and differentiating your products or services in a way that makes them visible.

Within this, and through focused market research, you will know what your target buyer is looking for and if, using this information, you start to reflect and communicate this in your marketing content across appropriate channels, you will begin to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Value proposition and increased visibility

This differentiation will increase your visibility, but this visibility needs to be backed by a solid value proposition, meaning using your market research and analysing buyer personas and their needs, you can channel content on multiple and highly specific customer demands.

Continually communicating these multiple and known value propositions and targeting these strategically across appropriate communications channels will build a growing prospect and customer awareness of your proposition, ensuring engagement as the sales journey progresses.

Engagement and the sales journey

Careful and detailed data analysis will help you and your digital marketing agency to stay on track in optimising engagement as you will know how your marketing content is impacting on prospect and customer behaviour.

At this point in the marketing journey, the research done initially, your close understanding of your prospect and customer behaviour and your continued drive for engagement will now have created clear target audience interactivity.

This interactivity will be as close to a human conversation as it is possible to get in the digital space.

Conversion and building on success

If your analytical data has been properly managed throughout the journey, it will have been pretty clear for you to see who among your prospects and existing customers was likely to buy from you as the journey progressed.

This ability to (albeit causally) predict these outcomes will be a clear indication of the quality of your initial work in research, buyer persona development, and the resultant communications strategy driving the campaign.

This means that on an intuitive level you had the communications right. However, the quality of this work will also be informed by the conversion rate performance which tells you that the overall strategy was also right.

Loyalty building

But this is not the end of the road. These customers are valuable assets, and as such should be nurtured for subsequent sales, building brand loyalty by feeding them intelligent and useful information between sales events.

Modern marketing is all about relationship building through the thoughtful delivery of helpful information – content – designed to guide prospects and customers in your sphere of interest.

If you do this, you are creating emotional, loyal bonds with your audience, rather than treating them as cold, hard targets. And while statistical data is key in measuring marketing performance, it is only an analytical tool, not an end in itself: it’s content that delivers customers.

And while we at Novacom live for data-driven performance statistics – we’re even ISO 9001 certified and only one of a small handful of EU agencies holding ISO 27001

Strategic market planning for optimum mROI in 2016

Strategic market planning for optimum mROI in 2016

Strategically, the time-honoured magic questions – who, what and why – are critical to any digital marketing strategy. Whatever marketing platforms you intend to use in 2016, and whichever channels you plan to employ, these fundamental questions remain central.

That is because your target audience is human, so applied psychology will be key to every part of your strategic planning, as resonance and engagement will need to be precursors to your strategic marketing plan if you are to be successful next year.

The three precepts of digital strategy

While some client-side marketers become perplexed when considering the spectrum of marketing platforms and array of communication delivery channels available, the reality is what really matters is addressing fundamental questions and setting primary market targets.

These questions are completely logical and, if approached with a coherent methodology, will provide a great foundation on which to develop your plan. Who are we targeting? What do they want? Why should they care?

We can use these three questions to develop an outline strategy:

Who are we targeting?

Demographics are an absolutely key part of the initial planning and targeting process as this forms the basis of everything that follows. You cannot develop a strategic marketing plan without a very clear vision of exactly who you are talking to.

This plan will be borne – at least initially – from your original data, and can encompass such information within your target business sector as job title, business size, role and responsibilities and geographic location. Whatever data you have; this can be segmented to categorise prospects.

But this is just the starting point, as when you get your plan rolled out, you will be developing strong interactive relationships and dialogue with your prospects and will be continually asking for more detailed information from them.

And there is good reasoning around this continual request for information: we no longer live in the age of push marketing, so today this received information is used to help prospects through their buying journey. Information helps you guide your prospects to a purchase.

What do they want?

Well, if you’ve read the above, you will know that continually gaining further information on what your prospects think will guide you to knowing exactly what they are looking for, and in turn help you guide them to that specific need or aspiration and a successful purchase.

But to ensure success in this continual phentermine progression, it needs to be a dynamic process and, as the marketing year continues, prospect data will require evolution and development into fully formed buyer personas which can be used to model your prospect communications.

This is known as progressive profiling.

Why should they care?

If diligent research and categorisation was carried out in the initial strategic marketing planning stage, and that information was used to interact and learn through progressive profiling, you will have created a level of prospect engagement that means at this stage they really do care.

It also means that these engaged prospects will be either very close to or actually buying from you now, so a level of mROI will be apparent in your enterprises’ revenue stream. How much mROI and how to further optimise it is another critical question.

How do you measure success?

The fact is that if you have addressed the three questions above, and fulfilled the tasks they inform, then your marketing strategy should be generating mROI.

But how much in relation to your financial projections, how much further it can be optimised under current marketing plans and how long these revenue streams will continue needs to be understood.

To measure this data and to fully understand where you are now and where you need to go to continually optimise your strategy requires detailed data analysis.

Your digital agency partner should have the analytical expertise to provide highly detailed and valuable insight into prospect and customer behaviour and in doing so, help you in your planning for further success in 2017.

While some client-side marketers become perplexed when considering the spectrum of marketing platforms and array of communication delivery channels available, the reality is what really matters is addressing fundamental questions and setting primary market targets.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Five tips on digital marketing agency search and selection

Five tips on digital marketing agency search and selection

Digital communications (the transmission of marketing communications by digital means) covers a wide range of marketing platforms and a spectrum of channels and for client-side marketers, deciding on what is the best-fit for your enterprise is a complex equation.

And to compound this best-fit identification issue, actually seeing beyond the hot technology offers or the hype and such claims as ‘we’re the largest’ or the ‘only EU’ and so on, and to get a solid understanding of actual agency capabilities is a tough assignment for any marketer.

Platform or channel: what’s the difference?

Today, many digital marketing agencies will offer information on expertise such as marketing automation (MA) platform capabilities. Others will offer expertise in social media (SM) or pay-per-click (PPC) or online display advertising.

But while agency promotion of these platforms or channels is useful, what it is not telling you is what specific expertise they have in delivering marketing prospects or sales leads – the very thing you need to build your sales, profitability and long-term customer loyalty.

So, where does this leave you?

End-to-end approach

As can be seen, many of these communications elements are either delivery platforms or communications channels and while critical for targeted communication, they are certainly not the strategic marketing message in themselves.

So, cutting to the chase, working through all the platform and channel offers, to discriminate between pure platform or channel provision and those who offer platform or channel provision with truly solid strategic communication skill and associated marketing communication capabilities is a critical starting point in your search.

Conspicuous by its absence

Most of these digital marketing agencies will aim to provide content marketing as a part of their offer. This is key, but the quality of this content, its power to engage with your prospects and ability to deliver marketing qualified sales leads that actually buy from you is the ultimate criteria.

Remember, marketing platform and channel experience are key, but to achieve sustained growth and loyal customer acquisition, you critically need focused content marketing that drives these platforms and channels to success. Here are five points to consider in order of relevance.

Research and strategic market planning

Any long-term and sustainable marketing campaign will require careful strategic planning. This not only helps to optimise prospect engagement, but also to ensure that brand visibility is gained and maintained throughout the campaign.

Always explore a prospective agency’s strategic market planning capabilities when you open discussions. A good way for the prospect agency to demonstrate strategic planning capabilities is through the provision of current client case studies.

Integrated multi-channel digital communication specialisms

To develop successful digital marketing strategies, your agency will need to provide a multi-channel communications strategy, and this will require a number of integrated communications platforms, delivering communications across several marketing channels simultaneously.

This means you need to satisfy yourself that any potential agency has not only proven expertise in all required platforms and the marketing channels through which they will deliver, but can fully demonstrate how this will work in line with initial – pre-proposal – strategic plans.

Sector-specific marketing experience

Again, as with the points above, in order to identify precisely which marketing communications platform or channel is appropriate at which particular point in the marketing journey and at which point a channel will need to close the sale requires critical expertise.

To optimise communications performance in this marketing-to-sale journey, it is vitally important that the proposed agency has a deep understanding of your marketplace, target prospect behaviours and how to engage with them. In short, sector experience counts.

Content marketing and search optimisation expertise

In many respects, and like the point above, long-term experience and close market sector expertise are very important in achieving optimum prospect engagement through understanding and delivering what it is potential and existing customers want from your enterprise.

This means selecting an agency that has proven experience in your market sector. That is not to say you should exclude marketers from closely related sectors, but you need to be sure they can demonstrate a very clear understanding of your target audience, and their needs.

You will know your market, so make completely sure your agency does too, because if they talk your prospect’s language they will raise your brand and campaign profile and visibility through powerful search engine optimisation (SEO).

Performance analytics and management

The final piece is for you to understand the marketing return on investment (MROI) your agency is delivering across the campaigns you will be working on together.

You will already know what your required marketing performance metrics are, and you therefore need to ask your prospective agency to formulate and demonstrate performance analytics to closely mirror these requirements.

It has to be said, agency capabilities in the area of performance analytics is variable, but a good agency with a competent analytics team should be able to offer all of what you are likely to need.

Content expertise drives success

As can be seen, technology in the form of marketing platforms or communications channels, and the expertise in utilising these is a very important element in digital marketing communications.

But what really counts when selecting a new digital marketing agency is confidence in knowing that they not only understand marketing technology, but understand what emotional and aspirational marketing content to load into it to make it work successfully.

Remember, marketing platform and channel experience are key, but to achieve sustained growth and loyal customer acquisition, you critically need focused content marketing that drives these platforms and channels to success.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

6 tips for maximising landing page conversions

6 tips for maximising landing page conversions

Landing pages are a very simple and inexpensive form of prospect or customer engagement, and when implemented and effectively optimised can deliver high prospect and customer conversion rates, generating more inbound leads for your business.

The key to effective, high performance landing pages is simplicity. Less is more, and because landing page graphic design, textual and visual content has to be minimal to be effective, all elements must be put together with one objective in mind: conversion.

So with this in mind, here are our six top tips for optimising your landing page conversion rate performance (CRO):
 

Drive relevant traffic

Make sure the ad or search result listing that you are using to drive visitors is relevant to the content on the page. This sounds simple – and it is – but it’s also vital to gaining visitor engagement. If your marketing platform also supports demographic or behavioural targeting, leverage this to further increase relevance by serving dynamic content specific to that visitor.

Remove the clutter

Look at the essential elements of your page and take out anything that you don’t need – this can even include navigation. Once you’ve done this, do it again until you have really distilled the page down to its core elements. By reducing the amount of content on the page, it will be clearer to visitors what you are asking them to do, so you are helping them to take the action you want them to take.

Search optimise your page

You may be relying on PPC search marketing, social media and/or banner ads to drive traffic to your page, and that’s fine, but this doesn’t mean you should ignore the importance of SEO. The majority of searchers have been shown to click an ‘organic’ result over a paid-for result, so optimising your landing page will help you to drive more organic traffic to your page. As noted above, if this optimised content increases the relevance of the page to the searcher, then they’re more likely to convert. Make sure you at least cover the basics of SEO: keywords in headlines, good page structure and quality supporting metadata to increase the organic visibility of your landing page.

Call-to-action: it’s not just about button colours

There are plenty of articles out there that focus on the value of the colour of your call-to-action (CTA) button, so we won’t dwell on this too much. However, be sure to have a clear call-to-action and feel free to test various layouts – and yes, even button colours – to see what works best for your page.

Only ask for what you need to know

Visitors are more likely to fill out forms with fewer fields, so carefully consider what you would like to know, and only ask for that information. This can be as simple as the recipient’s email address, but our recommendation would be to include their name, email and one other key piece of information relevant to your business. For example, if you’re selling B2B, the visitor’s company name would be useful. Don’t worry if you think this will limit your data insights, if your marketing automation platform supports progressive profiling, you can ask for other relevant information at future touch points to build a fuller picture of the lead – without having more fields per form.

Security, privacy and reputation

It’s likely you’ll be asking for contact details from visitors in exchange for your valuable downloadable content. In a world where major data breaches are happening around once per week, it is critical to ensure that your site is secure, and that this is easily understood by visitors. Make sure that it is clear what you will do with the data they provide, and that the site looks ‘reputable’, so visitors feel that their data will be handled carefully. Including certification marks, such as ISO 27001 or the SSL certificate badge, and an easy-to-understand privacy policy will help visitors recognise quickly that you are trustworthy.

Many inbound marketing campaigns rely on landing pages as the destination for many digital touchpoints; whether visitors are driven there via email, search, social or display banners, the landing page is likely the first point at which a new lead engages with your brand in a meaningful way.

Industry research says that landing page conversion rates are somewhere between 2-5%, although we’ve seen 9-10% for some of our campaigns. It all depends on your audience, your offer and how you convey that offer. If you get your offer across in a simple way to the right people and capture their attention, that’s the first step to a potentially valuable relationship.

You may be relying on PPC search marketing, social media and/or banner ads to drive traffic to your page, and that’s fine, but this doesn’t mean you should ignore the importance of SEO.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Novacom revealed as one of top B2B marketing agencies in the UK

Novacom revealed as one of top B2B marketing agencies in the UK

Another good year at Novacom has seen us recognised by the industry as one of the top B2B marketing agencies in the UK. The 2015-16 B2B Marketing Magazine Agency List awards agencies that have demonstrated strong and sustained growth, and outstanding performance in the B2B marketing space.

Commenting on the award, Steve Yates, managing director said, “The B2B marketing space has changed dramatically over the last three years with digital now at the forefront of the growing B2B marketing communications sector.”

He added, “The reason for our successful and significant growth is because we have continued to develop strategic partnerships with our clients that deliver them competitive advantage”.

The B2B marketing space has changed dramatically over the last three years with digital now at the forefront of the growing B2B marketing communications sector.

Email marketing: five simple tips to get read, and loved!

Email marketing: five simple tips to get read, and loved!

The fight for attention in recipient inboxes grows ever-more ferocious, to a point where some client-side marketers are beginning to question the validity and effectiveness of email marketing.

And while others may now view email marketing as old school, it is at the very heart of all customer relationship management (CRM) programmes, including marketing automation (MA), the current new and shiny communications channel.

What’s the problem?

One issue that we have noticed in client conversations in recent times, is that some people think that CRM and MA are solutions to prospect engagement in themselves. That is to say, flicking the CRM or MA system switch does the job alone.

This is a very long way from reality, as CRM and MA systems are just that – systems. What really matters is the communication itself, how it is written and within that, how it attracts and engages recipients. While some of this is technical, much of it is people-focused.

So here are five tips on briefing your agency, and getting your emails read:

1. Make it personal

If your contact database is properly configured, your digital agency should be able to insert the recipient’s name in the subject line, or any number of other details personal to that recipient. This adds a level of intimacy and engagement with recipients that means they’re more likely to read on.

Ask your agency to use this same data configuration and start by inserting the recipient’s name into the salutation line, so that the reader feels they are in direct and personal communication with the sender.

2. Stay visible

Research indicates that readers are spending only 15-20 seconds on scanning each email they open 1, meaning in that period your email has either had a click-through or has been dumped.

This indicates the importance of clear, visible headlines, kept above the fold (the part of the email that appears to a viewer first, without scrolling or opening) and grouping any other highly relevant information, such as important links close to the headline.

Images and even infographics above the headline may distract, so ask your agency to factor immediacy into all areas of graphic work.

3. Keep it short

Given that your email message is only going to be around for 15-20 seconds, you may think this is a good reason to keep it short. And it is. But you will find that many agency-side content writers will often want to ram as much information into a single email as is possible.

But the issue is two-fold: the longer the message, the less chance there is of content being completely read, and the more content, more links and more offers there are the more dense the message, and the less likely it is that critical click-throughs will happen.

4. Analytics: know what prospects want

Rather than firing off subsequent emails into the darkness, ask your agency to provide detailed website analytics during every campaign so you can see what links in your emails recipients are using, and what they are looking at.

That way, you can start to segment these email recipients into prospects not only through their level of interest, but by specific type of product or service interest and using segmentation, work to develop a higher level of engagement with those specifics.

5. Mixed messages

As the campaign builds, your agency’s analytics will start telling you the story of each email recipient. You will know if they responded to a link, how long they viewed it for and what else interested them while on your website.

This information is critical for accurate segmentation, allowing you to categorise these recipients (this can simply be done with an Excel spreadsheet) by where they are on their buying journey, and allowing you to separate the messaging to reflect this as the campaign moves to close the sale.

Old school?

Email is still the most effective form of marketing channel: it is a primary form of communication, and is ubiquitous. In 2013, business email accounts totalled 929 million mailboxes, and this figure is expected to grow to reach over 1.1 billion by the end of 2017 2.

And while there are those both client-side and on agency teams who will tell you email is old school, there’s something much older school that is a part of this email effectiveness and success and of equal, critical importance: laser-sharp communication.

1 EmailLabs
2 The Radicati Group

Images and even infographics above the headline may distract, so ask your agency to factor immediacy into all areas of graphic work.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom