Content marketing is a business strategy that’s rapidly becoming one of the most often used methods of promoting a brand.
Naturally, it has also spread to eCommerce businesses, and since it’s a relatively new way of handling marketing, it’s understandable why many business owners don’t know how to pick the right agency for the job.
In this article, we will clear the air a bit, and create a helpful guide for those interested in working with an agency, but unsure about how to choose one.
The Deal Breakers Associated with Choosing the Best Content Marketing Agency
First of all, let’s cover the things that a content marketing agency must have. If any of these things are missing, then it’s not even worth to consider hiring them. Not everyone takes their job seriously, and if they don’t, why should you do it for them?
1. A blog and some social media accounts are the most basic requirements
Being a content marketing agency without those is like being a taxi driver without a driver’s license.
Talent doesn’t even come into discussion at this point. No amount of talent or experience will make a blog out of thin air.
Even if the agency is at its start, they should have created the blog before talking to you.
If they don’t even have that, you should just walk away.
2. An understanding that content marketing isn’t just text
This is another important matter even though it’s not as obvious as the first. Otherwise, it would’ve been called just “content”.
Although most content is written, it can also be images or videos or audio files. I’m not saying that you’ll necessarily need those in your campaign, but it’s important to keep an open mind.
There are different strokes for different folks, and that also applies to businesses.
An agency that doesn’t know that is like a taxi driver who doesn’t know the city he’s working in.
3. Writing skills are a must
I know I just said that writing isn’t everything, but it’s still going to, most likely, be the bulk of the campaign.
There are a lot of aspiring writers out there, but you can’t bet the success of your business on an agency that has high school level writers.
An agency without good writers is like a taxi driver who doesn’t know how to drive.
4. Applied search engine optimization (SEO) knowledge is the last thing to be on the lookout for
An agency that doesn’t take care of SEO is pretty shady by today’s standards. Maybe they are in a partnership with some SEO software, but if they don’t take care of this at all, it generally means they’re unprepared.
An agency that doesn’t use SEO software is like a taxi driver without a car. He can still work, but you can’t really count on them.
This is the kind of taxi you want.
[ Image Credits: inautonews ]
4 Questions you should ask Content Marketing Agencies before you start working with them
Now that we’re past time wasters and, hopefully, taxi drivers, we can focus on ways to help you better decide which agency is best for you. When talking with them, these are a few good questions you can ask to really understand what they’re all about:
1. How much experience do they have?
This is a question that anybody should ask when thinking about hiring someone. The problem is that they might not give you a 100% sincere answer, but the question, as basic as it is, can give you a lot of insight.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t hire an agency that’s just starting out. What I’m trying to say is that the agency should have a satisfying answer to such an easy and predictable answer.
2. How have they helped other clients?
This question is similar to the first one, so I won’t get into too much detail. The idea is that experience doesn’t necessarily mean success.
If they’re serious, they should be able to prove their competence and show the results they’ve had in the past.
You should ask to see some case studies.
3. How will they nurture leads?
The goal of marketing is to bring in more clients. Find out how they’ll do that. This question is great because you find out two important things.
The first is if they understand your business well enough to produce content for it.
The second is if they have a clear and structured strategy for bringing in leads.
In my opinion, if the answer to any of these two points is “No”, then you should move on. Don’t expect every agency to be on point with what your business needs.
4. How will they promote the content?
Producing content is only half the battle. Promoting it is the other half.
Make sure that they can get people to see the content they make. Then, they also must have strong calls to action to bring people to you.
If the agency can’t do that, then it can’t help you either. Make sure that they are competent when it comes to promoting content, and that they work out a plan that would be effective for your business.
Getting a feel of what’s important
You want to work with an agency because they should know how to handle the job. That means that they shouldn’t be afraid to tell you when the ideas you propose aren’t good.
If the agency you’re working with just goes with everything you say and does exactly what you tell them to do, they’re probably just trying to please you rather than getting the results you need. They are the experts, so let them tell you what their vision is for your marketing strategy.
A glaring issue with very many eCommerce businesses is that they don’t think about anything other than offering products.
If you know that you’re not the only one who can provide that kind of product or service, you have to find a way to stand out.
Otherwise, your website is just another seller instead of the witty, unique and insightful vendor you can be.
Original content doesn’t go just on blogs and in social media posts.
If you’re selling the same thing as the competition, the difference will be decided by which one presents it better. Dry and boring nine-word descriptions just won’t cut it.
Content marketing agencies can help you spice it up.
I’ll be more specific.
If you’re selling jewelry, for example, have someone write an original description for it, not what everyone else is saying. If you provide clowns for parties, maybe have a bio for each. Pokey the Balloonmancer sounds much better than Clown #5.
At the end of the day, remember that the agency has to feel right for you. If you think that they’re the right fit, I say go for it. Also, remember that the content you want to provide is meant to be interesting and enjoyable. Don’t turn away a good pun just to seem more professional.
I hope that you now feel more prepared to choose an agency and that the taxi driver comparisons weren’t too unbearable. To find out what Squirrly, bring to the table, take a look here.
When coming up with ideas for the business marketing strategy, social media ads are always brought into the discussion. From a far distance, it seems natural.
They are a simple straightforward way of letting the target audience know about you.
There has to be a bump in the number of clients when you advertise discounts on social media. But are the orders constantly growing after a few campaigns? Or maybe it’s just a short-lasting success.
[ Image Credits ]
Let’s explore the 6 main reasons why Social Media ads can turn the sweet success of your business into a bitter waste of time:
1. Understand How Social Media Ads Work for Businesses
When the subject comes up, you talk about it unknowingly. Unfortunately, in many business meetings you come to decide whether to use one platform or another based on the information you already have.
“I’ve never heard of LinkedIn. Let’s not waste time on that platform.” Sounds Familiar?
But the sad truth is that a big part of the general population has not heard of many of those platforms and that shouldn’t be a concern for you.
Research and find out on which platforms you’ll find your target audience. They might not be part of those 7% of Americans that haven’t heard of Facebook or those 41% that had no clue LinkedIn existed.
The people that will buy your products might already know the platforms better than you think.
If your Social Media ads don’t respect the needs of the users of this platforms, your business might not understand how to use these channels to achieve success.
Keep in mind that people won’t buy your product if they have their life invaded by messages from your company that constantly tell them they need to make a purchase. Don’t forget that when you plan your campaigns.
2. Ads Are Seen by Fake Audiences
As proven by a recent study from the Association of National Advertisers, most online ads are mostly seen by malware software.
As the article states: “Eleven percent of display ads and almost a quarter of video ads were ‘viewed’ by software, not people.”
How does this all work? Quite simple. Your company pays for ads on different sites. The main idea is for those ads to reach the target audience when they need your product.
Then the companies that own the sites your ads appear on pay other companies to boost their traffic.
Some pay people who are not particularly interested in that subject to watch videos or visit websites, but others just use bot software to prove that they have more traffic.
This pretty much proves, for a good part, that the “audience” that sees your ads is not targeted or human.
3. Fading into the Overflow of Content and How to Overcome It
The attention span people have on the Internet is getting more scattered each minute. You check out a website and after 5 minutes you forget why you are there.
Sponsored ads want to get you to buy some products. Pops change your screen to let you find out about the latest updates on the platform and then the native content of the platform catches your attention.
In the end, the Social Media ads you created are lost on the page. Or they are simply disruptive information that people can’t wait to skip over.
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But you have other options. Create inbound content that will make the audience be interested in what you have to share, thus making them come on their own to visit your website.
Some types of eye-catching content you can create today are:
- Articles that solve the audience’s problems with the products you offer.
- Videos that show people how to use the product to get the best out of it.
- Infographics that present the steps your clients have taken in their own success story with your service.
- Interviews about the main subject in the fields you work in.
Your audience wants to be informed and they need to know they are making the best decision when buying.
4. Creating Consistency so Your Social Media Ads Will Achieve Marketing Success
When you decided to start the Social Media ads campaign, make sure that what your profiles and website represent a clear connection with what the ads say.
Let the design of the home page help them find the campaign as well. Also, make sure that the landing page the ads takes them to refers to the same campaign mentioned in the ads.
5. The Wrong Infrastructure for Interdepartmental Communication
One big internal issue regarding how long-lasting success connects with social media ads is that not all departments know how to relate to it.
Most of the times, marketing takes care of it and, for them, it’s clearly connected to some ongoing campaign. However, that isn’t enough.
That way, each department knows the purpose of the campaign and knows how to relate to it. Social media is a communication channel like any other. Paid ads can generate tasks for sales, PR and other departments that need to have a fast way to respond.
6. Small Technical Issues That Can Cause Big Problems
Beyond the ads, you need to make it easy for your audience to find you. Small tasks like a Content Marketing Strategy for your profile can cause a major problem in converting leads.
You might lose lots of possible clients who click your ads just because they don’t manage to use your website, since various errors keep them from doing it.
How do you make sure that you are still winning after 6 months?
Social Media ads might be the best channel you have right now to get clients. But make sure that this is the solution that will help your business constantly grow.
To ensure that your company is not investing money on non-human content, make sure that the approach you are taking creates incentives for the audience.
Here are a few tips you can use:
- Consider Platforms based on your Target Audience, not your Team’s Experience.
- Always take into account why people are using Social Media.
- Make sure that your Profiles and Website send the same messages as the campaign.
- Remember that all departments need to understand the purpose of Social Media Ads.
- Check that all the relevant pages work properly.
This presentation can make you see how ads can be a great idea, but how they also need to be backed up by content in order to bring long-lasting success.
Blogging has become highly competitive in today’s market. It’s not enough to just have one. Modern companies need a blog with high quality content to attract readers and improve sales.
How Blogging Will Improve Your Sales
Content marketing enables you to attract readers, inform prospective buyers, demonstrate the value of your products/services and gain trust so that you’ll stand out amidst competitors.
According to statistics, 9 out of 10 organizations market with content. Blogging is the vessel you can use to improve your sales. Here’s how you can do it.
Photo Credits: Yann Ropars’ Flickr
Establish Your Business As An Authority
The main reason you want authority is because authority automatically brings trust.
When potential customers have an issue or a problem, if you’ve provided them with valuable information in a previous post, they will automatically think of you first before any of your competitors.
Statistics estimate that 50% of the time consumers spend online is spent reading content.
This also involves being active in communities which prospective customers frequent and helping them when they need it.
Comment, encourage and humbly share your experiences. This shows your interest and knowledge and leads them to trust you.
Also, combining your experiences with real life situations that potential clients truly relate to builds credibility.
If you provide content that leaves the reader wanting more from you, you’re prompting their willingness to enter into your sales funnel. It’s lead generation in disguise and it’s half the battle of converting a reader into a customer.
There’s two parts to this aspect.
i). The first part involves producing quality content on topics that are up-to-date and relevant.
When you create a copy, make sure you incorporate keywords that are commonly looked up on the web and include them in your headlines, subheads and weave them into your paragraphs.
ii). The second part involves sharing the content on social media outlets.
If you’ve created high quality content, your articles will be memorable. The advantage of memorable content is twofold.
Readers will be more likely to share and comment on your posts and your products/services will be the first they think of when they need help or advice.
Lead Readers To Your Sales Funnel
Because the evolution of the Internet emulates a ‘do it yourself’ type of learning/shopping experience, prospective customers respond well when they can read about your products/services and reach their own conclusions.
High quality content leaves its readers feeling like your business is the answer and makes them want more. This is the perfect time to convert them from readers to customers and lead them right into your sales funnel.
A carefully crafted call to action that’s placed into a highly informative, engaging post is highly effective.
However, its power lies in direct correlation to the content. The content must fit the aforementioned aspect before a call to action is introduced.
If you’ve related to your reader, provided a solution to a problem and been authentic about what your products/services provide, you will easily improve your sales using this method.
How many times have you set out to implement specific business goals and objectives and solemnly sworn you’d accomplish them? You start out really strong and then end up losing all your motivation quickly.
Pretty soon your aspirations fade away before any results are experienced. Have you ever asked yourself why this happens?
Most likely, it’s because you set your business goals and objectives based on how others view you instead of your own beliefs. In the online marketing world, if you’re not authentic, your objectives won’t be attainable. Especially if you’re basing your goals upon pleasing society instead of on who you really are.
You set a goal and immediately take action toward that goal, never giving a second thought to what your subconscious believes.
You’ll go through the motions of the steps that are needed to accomplish that goal for quite a while. Pretty soon, because of these forced actions, people start seeing you differently.
From there, you base your identity on what people believe. This isn’t the real you and eventually, because your true beliefs don’t match the actions you’re forcing yourself to take, you’re going to slack off.
So when you set your goals and objectives, set them based on your identity…the identity that YOU feel best represents yourself. This is how goals actually come to fruition. They have to be born from identity-based habits.
Photo Credits: herlitz_pbs‘s Flickr
How to Reach Business Goals and Objectives
Successful entrepreneurs set business goals and objectives centered around identity-based habits. Identity-based habits and goals are set based on the type of person you believe you truly are on the inside and outside.
As a result, people view you based on your beliefs and your actions. When you set up habits based on your inner beliefs, you’re able to reach your business goals and objectives successfully.
1) Set Your Goal: To spend time marketing on social media outlets every single day.
2) Establish Your Belief: I’m the type of marketer who spends at least 45 minutes a day on social media marketing.
3) Make a step by step process for social media marketing.
4) Designate a specific time to do it every single day.
But What If I Don’t Believe I Can Do It?
If you spend your energy not believing you can meet your business goals and objectives, you won’t. This is why you establish the beliefs that help you attain them.
Telling yourself repeatedly that ‘you’re the type of person who…’ stimulates the subconscious into action.
You begin developing habits that support this ‘established’ belief. Each day, when your actions back up this ‘established’ belief, your subconscious gradually begins to believe that you really are this type of person.
One of the most difficult business objectives to reach is producing powerful and consistent content.
Working from home opportunities have flourished in the past few decades. Many small businesses are run from private homes. How do they do it?
There are a few secrets that lead to having a successful home based business. If you know them, your business will experience greater success in a smaller amount of time.
Photo Credits: Lea Latumahina‘s Flickr
Home Based Mental Preparations
Professional Workspace – It’s important to be able to create a professional work environment for yourself. Set aside a completely separate space in the home where you’ll work.
This way, when you sit down to work, your subconscious is automatically programmed to transition into work mode.
Mental Skills – Have a healthy grasp of the skills you need to work as productively as possible. The very foundation of every successful startup is hinged upon positive core beliefs.
You must truly believe in yourself, your products and your mission in order to be successful. A home based business is no different.
From your core beliefs you’ll be able to set and achieve clearly defined goals. Knowing what these are and what steps to take in order to attain them is paramount.
In addition, make sure you establish step by step procedures and routines that are focused on your goals.
Isolation – Running a home based business generally means that you’re isolated from groups of people for copious amounts of time. Even if you’re an introvert and thoroughly enjoy being alone, sometimes being isolated can have negative effects.
When this happens, it can cause you to become far less productive or focused and eventually lead to depression.As in everything, you need moderation. Make sure you spend enough time being social in some way.
Depending upon your personality this could mean simply spending time responding to family and friends on Facebook or some other social media outlet.
Keep this balanced so that you don’t suddenly find yourself lonely or depressed.
Home Based Success Preparations
Photo Credits: Maegan Tintari‘s Flickr
Juggling Responsibilities – As CEO of your home based business, you’re responsible for research and development, product sales/delivery, profit and loss, accounts receivable/payable, marketing, strategy, quality assurance, growth and expansion. This means you’ll be spread very thin.
The secret is to keep track of everything, especially in the beginning. If you follow the guidelines set forth in ‘mental preparations,’ you’ll have specific goals and step by step procedures already in place that will save you time and maintain your sanity.
Delegation – Face it, at some point, you’re going to have to outsource or build a team in-house. In order to delegate effectively you need to have a clear understanding of your weaknesses. As you grow, you should be aware of your financials, so you’ll know what you can afford.
Find experts who can bring more to the table than you do so that you can realign your focus on the aspects that you’re especially skilled at.
Team Building – Your team can consist of in-house members or those whom you subcontract work out to. Either way, you want to structure your team so that every single aspect of your business is adequately covered.
For example, if you outsource social media marketing, make sure you find someone who does it better than you.
Home Based Branding
Content creation and distribution is of vital importance to companies because they’re not as exposed as a traditional ‘brick and mortar’ business.
Social media has been and continues to be a vortex of constant changes. Because of that, it can be quite hard to come up with an effective marketing strategy that targets the right networks. Thus, eCommerce strategies often end up getting changed.
Still, the amount of leads that come from Social Networking platforms is too good to pass up. That’s why eCommerce websites have to stay in the loop and react to new trends accordingly.
One of the main ways to promote a company on social media is through ads. However, this is actually a pretty bad marketing strategy in the long run. If you want to know why, read our article on the subject.
Without further ado, let’s see why eCommerce Strategies need to put a lot of emphasis on social media networks.
Social media is a great place to get leads
I think it’s important to understand what a positive influence social media can have on your business. It’s the best place to connect with possible clients and raise brand awareness. You’re achieving success, one post at a time.
Besides the huge number of people who use it, it’s also important to mention that people tend to share links very often on social media. That means that if you promote yourself in a unique and approachable way, you can expect it to snowball by itself because of people sharing your content.
Another interesting and fairly new thing is the shift that consumers are currently going through. They know all too well that companies make great efforts to provide useful information on social media networks.
We can see in this infographic that more and more people started searching for products directly on social media instead of using search engines.
Social networking websites are constantly making changes and adding new features in order to help companies with their promotion strategy.
For example, Facebook has introduced a feature called “Instant Articles” that helps establish a connection between the companies that publish articles and their readers.
Basically, social media is becoming more and more welcoming for companies that want to do their marketing there. Both the users and the networks themselves are changing in order to create better brand promotion strategies.
The competition is fierce, but the possibilities are worth the hassle
Since social media networks are constantly changing and new features that help sales keep popping up, there are a lot of opportunities for companies that want to make it big.
That also means that your competition will be bringing their A-game.
After all, with such a high chance of a new “big thing” appearing out of nowhere, you can bet that a lot of people, both companies and consumers, will be ready to jump on the bandwagon. If you’re not there in time, you stand to lose a lot of possible buyers, and I really doubt you’d like that.
I’ll give you an example.
A lot of companies are investing in new virtual reality technologies. When that tech becomes available to the general public, we’ll most likely see a whole new way of doing marketing. Maybe you could make your eCommerce website 3D to give people a real-life shopping experience. That sounds really awesome.
I expect big corporations to already be working on promoting themselves in this new medium, but you can be sure that a lot of smaller companies will also get a great deal of success by riding this wave.
It can turn into such an important thing that companies that don’t adopt new ways of promoting themselves will be left in the dust.
Well-researched eCommerce strategies help you understand what to sell and who to sell to
Social media is also the best place to keep your ear to the ground.
A strong presence on social media can be the key to attracting leads. Furthermore, if you have the time, you can actively search for them yourself.
News about what’s popular right now usually first spreads on social media, so it’s also a great place to help you choose new products or services that you could provide.
If, for example, a lot of people are talking about some new line of clothing, eCommerce websites that sell clothes will make a lot more money by including those trends in their eCommerce strategies, especially if they place a huge emphasis on the content creation process.
Being active on social media and interacting with your audience is a sure-fire way of knowing what you’re doing right and what you can improve. If you listen to people when they give you feedback, you can be sure that they’ll also listen to you when you give them news and information about your business.
Don’t think it will be a walk in the park though. I’m talking about real interactions, as in your customers say something on your page or about you, and you respond. Don’t think that your clientele will feel particularly connected to you if you take more than a week to answer someone.
As a closing statement, I’d like to say that you should try to stay up-to-date when it comes to any kind of marketing trends, not just the ones related to social media.
If some relatively unknown or completely new tactic becomes popular overnight, you can be sure that it happened because it works well.
I’m not saying that you should chase every trend out there, but I’m sure that from time to time, something will come that you’ll really like and want to try. It would be a shame to overlook it or find out about it too late. Knowledge is power, right?