Words of Wisdom from Bristol Content Marketers: Part 2
Building on the first part of our ‘Words of Wisdom’ series, here’s what the next five members of the Bristol content marketing community had to say when we reached out to ask for their thoughts on the most import aspect of content creation.
From video to SEO and CRO, here’s what Bristol’s best content creators had to say:
Top Tips from Bristol’s Best Marketeers
Jon Mowat, MD
Top Tip: Get emotional
Modern marketing theory continues to shout about the benefits of emotional messages, going as far as saying it’s the most significant driver of behavioural change that we have. But very often B2B telecoms marketers say:
“Sure, emotion is great, but this just doesn’t work for B2B products.”
But to put it bluntly, this just is not true. Emotion works for all brands, and in fact it’s an essential part of any comms strategy. Harnessing emotion, even for B2B, can be boiled down into a few simple steps.
Understand the power of emotional video
We can think of the human brain as being split into two different systems: System 1, based on emotions and low effort, fast decision making. And System 2 which is much more deliberate and logical. As we can be a little lazy as a species, we prefer go with the easy System 1 option. For more on this read up on Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
As marketers we can achieve real results by avoiding the deep thinking System 2 mind by firing emotional content at our audience, hitting the System 1 brain and motivating them to act. The logical side of the brain can be used for a short-term sales uplift, and to back up the emotional decision, but it’s the emotional connection that really works to deliver brand growth.
Understand your audience
Developing personas can be an effective solution to help you decide what emotions can be leveraged around your product or service. Much has been written on personas and it is an essential part of the process. Even though you’re focused on B2B marketing, give your persona a fictional name, as a reminder that you are talking to another human, not a faceless corporation.
What are the emotional drivers?
With personas planned out you can pinpoint relevant emotional drivers. Write down 5-10 drivers of your audience. For instance, maybe they want to save money or maybe they really want to look good in front of their boss.
Bring your content to life
The creative and format of content will very much depend on your goals. Do you need a brand film to raise awareness? Both of these would be achieved in differing ways. Whatever your aims, you’ll achieve more if you focus on what the product means for the audience (remembering the persona and drivers) rather than going into too much detail about features.
Test it, make it even better
Whatever marketing campaign you’re running, it is vital to set up those SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, Time-based) at the beginning, and analyse your stats throughout. Examine views, drop off, engagement rates, social sharing, and then refine your film based on the analytics. You can also A/B test your campaign by trialing two different versions of your video; for instance, create different captions, or calls to action.
Lisa Williams, MD
Atom Content Marketing
Top Tip: Authenticity is key
My advice on how to create a successful content marketing strategy? Be guided by your brand values, because authenticity is crucial. Try to be something you’re not with your content choices or simply jump on the latest bandwagon and it will show. Your content won’t resonate with your existing audience or create the right perception in the minds of others, which means you won’t achieve your objectives.
Knowing exactly what you’re trying to achieve, who you need to reach and how is essential when developing a successful content marketing strategy. The content you put out there must be relevant to your target audience. It should engage them and provide genuine value. It needs to be in the right format or mix, while topic, tone, length, timing and frequency are all critical to your success.
There’s so much content out there these days that you really need to set yours apart. Quality should never be compromised if you want to protect your brand. Closely monitor your content marketing as you go along. Learn from your successes and failures – use that knowledge to get better.
Ben Hollom – Managing Director
Top Tip: Don’t be scared to mix things up
Content marketing goes through phases where certain types of content are flavour of the moment. One minute we’re being told long format is dead, the next it’s alive and well.
But in reality it’s all about your audience. Match the format to the audience and what you want the piece of content to achieve. The information that needs to be presented, time of day you’re posting, device it’s likely to be viewed on etc., all should be considered.
Our top tip: Don’t be scared to mix it up.
Of course your brand will guide what types of content are suitable and feel credible. If your business is funeral services, then over-use of humour may not feel appropriate – but where possible introduce some variety. If you’re getting bored producing the same old thing all the time, the chances are your audience is getting bored of it as well.
Mix up long format with short posts, graphic and video with editorial, educational and serious with fun and light-hearted. To illustrate the opposite ends of the spectrum, here’s some of our best performing content this year:
- Content and social media lessons from Love Island (Short blog)
- Is Barry from Eastenders a personal branding genius? (Short blog)
- 15 ways to approach a single topic (Infographic)
- The quest for sustainability in content marketing (Long format guide)
Gareth Beck, Head of SEO
Bray Leino Yucca
Top Tip: Write content to suit personas
From an SEO perspective in 2017, Google has ramped up the importance of semantic signals to the point where using personas and mapping to a buying process is now essential to a good SEO strategy.
Understanding your audience isn’t new and is something that, I think, traditionally offline has tended to do better than online (although with lookalike audiences, online profiling is more sophisticated and detailed than offline has ever been).
Having said that, taking the personas you used for your UX and establishing tone for those audiences ensures that your content works better for them.
From a search perspective it means that you are aligned with the right keywords and your on-page optimisations reflect vocabulary that your audience is using. Both of which will help with click-through.
Mapping to a buying process
Understanding your customer’s buying process (Kotler is a good place to start if you need a model to work with) is a great way to expand your content plan in a way that means you are producing the right content at the right time.
If you know the questions that people are asking, understanding whether they are at an information stage or evaluation stage helps with surfacing the next piece of content they are likely to want.
This also means that throughout the buying process (from initial searches to detailed product searches) your content is visible. From a semantic perspective this reflects the way that Google understands search queries, and better aligns your content (Google call this process ‘Micro Moments’, and it’s worth reading through to understand Google’s thinking on this).
So those are my tips: expand your content plan to reflect personas and map to a buying process. We’ve written up a longer piece on this on the Bray Leino Blog
Luke Aikman, Managing Director
Top Tip: Fill the well before sending prospects for water
Most online marketing campaigns forget that the most critical piece of the funnel is the conversion rate of the landing page or website. You can increase customer acquisition and reduce media spend extremely quickly by optimising the conversion rates on your site. After all, you wouldn’t buy off a crappy salesman; the web is no different. If your landing page is a crappy salesman it doesn’t matter how hard you worked getting people into the store.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is a mixture of analytics and user experience design. If you have a reasonable amount of web traffic it’s likely to have the best ROI of anything you can do, and will improve your results in all other online channels.
Variety is certainly the spice of life, with both Lisa and Ben advocating mixing up your content marketing plan. “Learn from your successes and failures,” says Lisa, with Ben adding, “mix up long format with short posts, graphic and video with editorial, educational and serious with fun and light-hearted.”
Jon notes the importance of provoking an emotional response to inspire action – “Write down 5-10 drivers of your audience. For instance, maybe they want to save money or maybe they really want to look good in front of their boss.”
Gareth points out that nailing your customer personas helps with SEO – “it means that you are aligned with the right keywords and your on-page optimisations reflect vocabulary that your audience is using.” Luke makes a great point about testing and refining your landing pages to ensure they work harder for you – “If your landing page is a crappy salesman it doesn’t matter how hard you worked getting people into the store.”
Thank you to all contributors for their top tips. You can read our guide to creating a content marketing strategy here, and do get in touch if you have further advice you can share as part of our next ‘Words of Wisdom’ article. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas and we’ll happily look for ways to collaborate.