I've seen a few different approaches. Some companies simply have their blog buried somewhere on their website. Some start an industry-wide standalone publication that's more like a magazine/newspaper. Some build a standalone blog just for their company Some build some kind of a content hub, kind of like Hubspot that seems to mix a bit of everything. How should I choose where and how to structure my content? Where should I be directing my energy to efficiently generate leads? Does separating your blog/publication from your company website reduce the visitor's exposure to your brand too much? Does the increase in visibility of the blog/publication as well as amount of outside content offset the reduced exposure to your brand thanks to greater quantity of visitors?
You've asked a lot of questions here. And I can say that these approaches are all valid.
> companies that bury their blog are often tentative about it. Someone in the company has decided that it doesn't warrant attention - perhaps it's not ready for prime time.
> Industry-wide stand-alone publications work for some niches, but if you're talking about paper, they are old-school and dying. Digital magazines are one option I've used.
> Stand-alone blogs exist, but from an SEO point of view are usually a bad idea because your domain name equity gets spread across two sites, diluting it. For most, it's best to utilize the main domain name for all content, with subfolders for industry verticals.
> Hubspot like sites are curation oriented, and if you have the manpower to develop curation to your industry, they can pay off because you save people time and energy by focusing the news. Most, sadly, are horribly done.
> Content structure is hard to answer, but I recommend that you not stray too far from the path of blog convention - people are used to a certain approach - categories, tags, subscriptions, etc.
> Content itself is where most people DIE in blogging. Simply stated, they are publishing *crap* and you must avoid it. I've done a lot of thinking about this, and the slog of content marketing. Rather than repeat a bunch of advice here, I invite you to see these URLs where I've given it some proper thinking:
The most leads come where marketing promotion and content are set up so the visitor flows naturally from one to the other.
They start investigating or discovering free content, then from links in the content or below/around the sidebars or a popup lightbox they click through to other material. And then an explicit sales message is put in front of them that they activate.
The way to plan and structure your content is to first plan your product sales hierarchy (what they buy first, second etc) and then align the content which will persuade a visitor to buy each to work in concert stepping them up naturally from a browse to a first purchase, return for a second purchase etc.
I suggest you start with a planning session to map out your business products and the content you've already got. Then put these into a process so new content, new social sites and new products can be added over time using the same structure.
If this sounds a bit confusing, give me a call and let's help you out.
Most of the times stand alone publications are made up of biased stuff put together to boost the awesomeness of publisher's products, I believe these cannot bring in a lot of leads.
A blog on the other hand can cover a diverse range of topics, you may put references to your publication and your products inside your blog.
That way, your blog will become more authentic. You can also get others talking about your blog which will eventually bring people to your product catalogue.
Good observations - there are many options out there with pros and cons to each depending on your type of business. Having helped hundreds of companies through that process, here are a few general rules of thumb:
* If you've got content TRULY unique to an industry, AND you've got the wherewithal to support getting in front of the right people (advertising dollars, elbow grease, etc.), launching a standalone publication can be a viable route.
* Given that I'm typically working with time and/or budget constrained companies, finding a way to work within existing systems is often more practical. Example: Starting an industry forum in LinkedIn (if you happen to be in a niche that doesn't have one already).
* Generally, a blog that is part of a company website (blog.company.com or company.com/blog) is a good route to go. That way blog traffic contributes to the overall traffic to your website, creating the sort of "Google Juice" that helps to improve your ranking in search engines over time.
The application that you use to build the blog/publication is really a separate question. The two most common platforms are WordPress and HubSpot. If your goal is ultimately lead generation, then there's no question in my mind that it's worth it for you to take a really close look at HubSpot. HubSpot is a much more comprehensive tool for managing a lead generation process. It's best in class, hands down - nothing else comes close.
Hope that helps you in the right general direction. Happy to answer any further questions you have about the pros/cons of WordPress vs. HubSpot and how to generate leads online, just give me a call. Good luck!
How can you serve your market and customers best? What answers are your customers trying to solve? What resources do they use? These questions can be answered by some research you can conduct. The outcome will help you decide the right topics and formats.
Hope this will help you.
It's always a good idea to start with your own website before creating a separate branded blog somewhere else, especially if resources are limited.
The added benefit to this is all of that good karma and link authority that comes from your blog, backlinks, social shares, comments etc. is right on your own company website, helping with SEO for your landing pages, instead of splitting it across several domains.
When planning your content strategy, always start with your audience and potential buyer. Who are they and what are they most interested in? Whatever content you write doesn't necessarily have to correspond directly with your product/service, it simply has to be something you know your audience cares about, is searching for and sharing on various social channels.
I'm available if you want to book a chat.
If you have a product you want to share with the world, then you must attract buyers. Now, the traditional approach to marketing mainly focuses on advertising-but, these days, people are all buried under an avalanche of ads. This makes it hard for advertisers to stand out. Today’s customer is drawn to creative content, not advertising. The Content Council is a global non-profit organization focused on content marketing. Their studies show that 61% of people are more likely to buy company’s products when company provides content that is uniquely tailored to specific audience. These statistics are supported by marketing hub, Content+, percent of consumers prefer becoming familiar with company through articles and content rather than advertisements.
While this shift from advertising to creative content is a significant change from traditional marketing practices, it is great news for small business owners and start-ups. Back in the day, if a company wanted to reach millions of people, they would have to run costly advertising campaign. But today, even the smallest companies have access to the technology and platforms needed to create and use the kind of content that can build a large and loyal customer base.
These methods also afford you the opportunity to get a competitive advantage by better understanding by better understanding your customers’ need. Unlike traditional advertising, content offers important and immediate insight into what your potential customers connect with. By paying attention to how potential customers engage and respond to your content by, for instance, reading the comments they leave a tracking how they share it. This can be done even during production phase of your product. By creating content and keeping an eye on what your potential customers are most excited about, you can focus on those aspects. This will help ensure its success when it goes to the market.
Thus, by now you can frame an abstract mental image of content marketing. Let us look deeper into content marketing and find out more about it. The best way to do so, is comparison of Old rules with New rules.
Old Rules of Marketing:
The old paradigm of marketing was focused on delivering a one-way message from the organization to the potential customer. The idea was that the more creative the message and marketing campaign, the more likely the customer would be to respond by purchasing the product or service. Other characteristics of the old marketing rules include:
a. Advertising was key
b. Advertisements were meant to appeal to the public
c. Advertising campaigns ran for a specific period
d. Awards were pursued for advertising campaigns
e. Audience may have felt interrupted by advertising messages
f. Public Relations (PR) was a separate function from advertising
PR had its own set of rules that companies would follow. The main goal of the public relations department was to generate a press release that would grab the attention of members of the press and then use that attention to show that the audience was getting the message. Some other aspects of the old public relations format:
i. All effort was focused on getting the message out to the public
ii. The press release was the most important tool
iii. All effort was focused on getting the message out to the public
iv. The press release was the most important tool
New Rules of Marketing:
Since the advent of the Internet, information is everywhere and available to everyone. Instead of getting the attention of the press to be successful, marketing and public relations now require that a company get the attention of the individuals surfing the Internet. The most successful marketing and PR campaigns are the ones that get the organization ‘found’ on the Internet. Some of the new rules include:
i. People are well informed and expect the truth rather than ‘spin’
ii. Interruptions will not be well tolerated in the age of DVRs and email filters for SPAM
iii. People demand value for their time and money and will use the Internet to get it
iv. Marketing and PR are designed to appeal to niche audiences
v. Marketing and PR employ multiple techniques to reach those audiences
vi. Content stays online permanently so there is no end to a campaign
Marketing and PR can now also take advantage of the new tools available. Media is no longer limited to just articles, direct mail, TV, radio, newspapers, telephone, and press releases – it is multifaceted and requires multiple methods of approaching the customer to be effective. The new marketing paradigm requires that the company deliver quality content via a few the tools available today such as:
a. Web sites and pages
c. Social media sites
d. Articles in directories
e. Videos and video blogs
With all these tools available, companies must be able to adapt their marketing and PR tactics to reach their customers in the ways that they are now available to be reached. You must be where the customers are if you want them to hear the message or messages that you are trying to deliver. How you will do so is what you will determine with your Content Marketing strategy. From the new rules of marketing, we have a well-founded basis for why content is so important nowadays. With this in mind, we can start to discuss what exactly content marketing is. Content marketing also goes by other names, including custom publishing, custom media, customer media, customer publishing, member media, private media, branded content, corporate media, corporate publishing, corporate journalism, and branded media. And these are only a few of the many names. We will, of course, stick only to the term content marketing. Simply put, content marketing is a way of publishing content on the Internet that empowers, engages, educates, and connects readers. In a marketing context, your readers are your consumers, always the crutch of any marketing strategy. In addition to what it does for your consumers, content marketing also makes you as a business more visible and sellable.
Now, a simple definition of content marketing does not give content marketing its due credit. There are a few tenants to content marketing that more clearly define the concept and explore it much further. They are known as the Five Pillars of Content Marketing, and they define content marketing as:
a. Editorial Based – Otherwise known as long-form, it is content that tells both a relevant and valuable story. The point of editorial content is to be informative, educational, and/or entertaining.
b. Marketing-backed – Businesses have marketing and sales objectives that they seek to accomplish, and this is no different when it comes to content. Businesses online have an underlying goal with the content they publish.
c. Behaviour Driven – Content seeks to maintain or alter a reader’s/consumer’s behaviour. Having relevant and valuable content accomplishes this.
d. Multi-Platform – This means that content comes in a variety of media, including print, digital, audio, video, events, etc. It can, but does not necessarily have to be, connected across all platforms.
e. Targeted – Like all good marketing, knowing your audience is key to having a successful strategy. Know your audience down to the particulars.
One unique thing about content marketing is that your content is not necessarily going to be made entirely by you. Online, consumers are much more vocal, and content about a product or service is also vastly more visible than the pre-Internet era. What this means is that content on your product or service might be advertised by others through channels like reviews, tweets, or blogs. Of course, this can be a double-edged sword for any online business. If your product or service is sub-par or does not meet the expectations of consumers, word about your product/service and the business will be severely hurt. When it comes down to it, there are two entities that create your content. They are:
i. The Users
ii. The Company
The User Content: Users have changed the game in marketing, especially on the Internet. Users trust other users with valuable information, more so than the business that sells the product/service. The benefits of having users create content about your products/services is that it costs nothing, and it keeps your business in check by receiving feedback. If the content is positive, you know you are moving in the right direction. If the content is negative, you can take the information into consideration and implement needed change the best you can.
Company Content: Of course, the company also publishes content on a variety of online media. The difference, however, is that users are going to be more sceptical of your content. The reason for this is probably dates to the old rules of marketing, when a “spin” was put on advertised goods. To this day, consumers feel as if they might still be getting that spin, and in some cases, they do get that. That is why taking customer feedback into consideration is essential to consumer relationships. If the content you publish substantiates what your product does (or how well it does it), you will eventually be more trustworthy, and your content will eventually become far more valuable.
The Benefits of Content Marketing:
i. Old content can be repurposed – What this means is that content from other media can be rewritten or even incorporated into new media, especially online. This is especially useful if your business is just starting to get into the online community. If being overworked was a fear, then you should no longer have anything to be afraid of. Additionally, this means that you do not have to spend much time creating new content. If the old content is relevant to the online tool, it is still valuable.
ii. Content exists online and offline – Even with commerce shifting heavily to the online medium, you should never forget to create content to be used both online and offline. Additionally, your entire marketing strategy should not be limited to the Internet and should include offline media.
iii. Reach out to potential customers – Your website is the main location of all your content. It is also where many of your sales will take place and where actions will be performed. Unfortunately, users are not always going to come directly to your site, for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons, though, is that potential consumers simply are not aware that your business exists. That is why a strong emphasis is put on utilizing multiple Internet tools. Using these in the first place is a good start. Making relevant, valuable content to put within those tools is the second, and most important step.
iv. Inbound traffic is a must – Like we said in the earlier point, the website is where many of your sales and actions will take place. Providing customers with a variety of Internet tools to direct them to your site will help get them to your home base.
v. Provide ease of access between Internet tools – One person may like Twitter, and another may prefer reading blogs off WordPress. Whatever the case may be, having multiple Internet tools is also beneficial because you are able to please a wider variety of customers. The difference may seem subtle, but it does have an impact on potential customers if you have one Internet tool but not another.
vi. Provide consistency between tools – Going off the previous point, it is a good idea to make sure you have consistent updates and content across the spectrum of Internet tools. Since you are pleasing more people with more Internet tools, you need to keep all of your customers on the same page by bringing all of them the same updates at the same time.
vii. Know your audience – While this may seem obvious, many companies fail in not understanding the needs of their users. Being out of sync with users will drive customers away, while knowing what they want and executing it will keep customers coming.
From the smallest blurbs on a user forum to a YouTube channel full of a company’s videos on their products or services, content exists. Whatever form the content takes shape as, the content has a message to convey to a reader or viewer and does at least one of the following things:
Content exists to convince the consumer that whatever the business is selling to them is worth his time and/or their money. Your content should do one of these things for it to be effective. Otherwise, it is useless and does little more than exist on web space.
Now once it is clear what a content is meant to do, we will look into who is the most lead generator. Let us start assessing one after the other.
1. Blogs: Blogs are an especially engaging part of content marketing because content is what makes up a blog. Blogs can range from any kind of genre, including:
a. News Updates
d. Opinion Pieces
e. Product Announcements
Blogs are also a multimedia platform that can deliver the same content in several different ways. Blogs do not necessarily have to be composed solely of text. You can also include audio or video to complement the text, or simply stand alone. Of course, no matter what medium you use, you will have to create engaging, valuable, and credible content. Blogs can be shared across the Internet, so if you want your Digg or tweet buttons to be pushed, the content you create must be valuable to the user and relevant to his interests. Making the content into different medium forms also ensures that you appeal to more people, increasing the likelihood that your content will get shared.
2. Content Hub: A content hub is a destination where website visitors can find branded, curated, social media, user-generated, or any type of content related to a topic.
Let us examine the benefits:
Online buyers put their trust in authorities. Consistently publishing trustworthy content is a proven route to building thought leadership and is amongst the most important benefits of hosting a stellar content hub.
2. Visibility and traffic: Succeeding with search, the largest source of traffic on the web, calls for having great content. Search engines index billions of pages and are incredibly good at determining the quality of content on them. If you want traffic, you need your content hub to be a collection of attractive pages.
3. Engagement: Your website could be ultra-magnetic, but not all that successful. Great sites do more than generate traffic; they inspire engagement. Content hubs foster engagement (as in reading, sharing, signing-up, trying, buying, attending, and so on) more than sales pages ever could—or can.
4. Control: Social networks are ever-changing, and the changes do not always benefit members who rely on them for content distribution. Traffic on your content hub is far more meaningful because you control the experience. You tailor the experience. Your objectives come first.
5. Leads: Content hubs enable you to generate leads and sales. When visitors find value in the information you offer, they will invest more time there. You’ll create opportunities to “feed the funnel” with tactics such as lead capture, progressive
profiling, and contextual calls-to-action (CTAs).
6. Marketing insights: Your content hub will give your company detailed analytics reports. The metrics you will gather inform your content creation team as to what does and does not excite readers. With more insights into what users deem valuable, you will become a more effective publisher.
3. Industrial Publications: Serial or occasional publication that focuses on a specific industry or industry segment. Since they are limited to a industry, e.g. mining industry, coal industry, steel industry etc their engagement is extremely limited, and therefore their control is limited too. The traffic here is limited too since it only deals with people of a particular industry and nothing more than that. It keeps industry members abreast of new developments in a particular industry. In this role, it functions similarly to how academic journals or scientific journals serve their audiences.
4. Learning Platform: A learning platform is an integrated set of interactive online services that provide teachers, learners, parents, and others involved in education with information, tools, and resources to support and enhance educational delivery and management. A learning platform is a framework of tools that work seamlessly together to deliver a student centric learning experience by unifying educational theory & practice, technology, and content. Learning platforms can be described as the next generation of Virtual Learning Environments or Learning Management Systems used by educational institutions. The major difference is that a VLE and LMS is an application, whereas the Learning Platform share characteristics with an Operating System (or Course Park Platform) where different educational web-based applications can be run on the platform.
Benefits of Learning Platforms:
1. Saving time and money: The use of LMS or learning platforms to create, manage and carry out educational and training programs saves businesses hours of time when compared to traditional methods. LMS allow the organisation, level of automisation and programming in line with the needs of the learners and employees. The use of online classrooms reduces costs most of all in businesses where on many occasions’ employees have needed to travel for training sessions and stay in hotels etc.
2. Efficient management: Learning platforms allow effective complete overall control of administration, automisation, communication with users, teachers, and trainers, and of course content management. They allow efficient management of registrations/sign ups, and creation of groups and courses. The roles of tutors, students, supervisors, and administrators can all be managed on the LMS, and notifications, reminders and messages to users can be administered easily. It can used as a powerful tool which allows the creation and management of content and subjects in a simple and intuitive way. Students can upload and share content and work or projects with their teachers and fellow learners, which in turn is stored in a database.
3. Easy access to information: All the information is structured in an organised way in the same place, making it accessible to all users. Courses, calendars, multimedia content, archives and evaluations are accessible in just one click. All learners have access to learning content and materials at any time and from any place where they have internet access.
4. Personalisation: Learning platforms also allow each institution or organisation complete personalisation. The corporate image and brand can be incorporated into the platform and different elements and features can be tailored to the company or organisation’s taste. They can be multi language platforms, or monolingual. What is more is different portals and user IDs can be created without the need for additional installations and can function simultaneously with web access. The possibilities are endless and could also include systems for the evaluation of learners or exams/testing.
5. Up to date and immediate content: Learning Management Systems allow administrators instant access to update the content of courses, or to add materials and resources for students for immediate access.
6. Advanced reporting: These innovative management systems allow the creation, personalisation and download of detailed reports outlining the progress of the learners, groups, completion of work, time taken etc which allows easy evaluation of their progress either as a group or individually.
7. Multimedia learning: The systems allow businesses and educational institutions to create multimedia learning content which is comprehensive and practical, using video, images, audio, and text which all serve as great tools in learning new skills or information. Learners can also communicate with their trainers or teachers and their classmates via chat platforms and online forums, creating a more collaborative, interactive, attractive, and personal learning environment.
8. Improved communication: LMS facilitate communication and collaboration between people, whether it be students and teachers or administrators and employees, or between all users of a platform with a permanently open channel of communication. They facilitate the overall management of communication: global or individual emails, messages, forums, and agenda. An environment where the user can find all the important or vital information in just one screen.
9. Sales and commercialisation: Finally, LMS can generate profit for businesses and institutions thanks to the sales of online courses via e-commerce, which can be managed and automated on the platform and paid for by credit card or bank transfer. Students can sign up to a course and pay easily online. There is no limit to the number of courses a student can sign up to, and no limit to the growth in student numbers and courses provided.
I can thus conclude that more lead generation is possible blogs and content hubs rather than industry publication and Learning platforms, but there is one more thing that you must keep in mind. Even though these platforms may not generate enough leads, but it all depends on the content, because CONTENT IS THE KING.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath