Zerys for Agencies Blog

Convincing Your Clients to Adopt an Inbound Marketing Strategy

Posted by Laura Holton

shutterstock_253604854If your clients have always used outbound marketing techniques, and if these have worked reasonably well, they may be resistant to a big change, like incorporating inbound into their strategies. Your clients know that creating an inbound marketing strategy will require plenty of effort and hard work, and they may be skeptical that the strategy will even produce results. However, you have statistics on your side that should be powerful enough to convince even the most stubborn of clients that inbound marketing is highly beneficial.

Inbound Marketing Statistics

  • Just having a blog can generate 126 percent more leads. Of all marketers, 43 percent of marketers have gained customers from their blog alone, but this number increases to 82 percent for marketers who post content every day, reports HubSpot.
  • Despite rumors that SEO is dead, SEO leads have a 14.6-percent close rate, says HubSpot. Compare this to outbound leads, including direct mail, traditional advertising, trade shows, and telemarketing, which have a close rate of just 1.7 percent.
  • Inbound leads, from sources such as social media, email marketing, blogs, and SEO, cost 61 percent less than outbound leads, according to Search Engine Journal.
  • Nearly 60 percent of companies have already adopted an inbound marketing strategy and 48 percent have completely integrated their strategies, says HubSpot. The popularity of inbound marketing is growing — and those who lag behind risk losing ever more of their clients to competitors.

Outbound Marketing Statistics

If your clients are still unconvinced, compare the above facts to these statistics about outbound marketing from Vital:

  • People in the 25 to 35 age group leave websites with excessive advertising 84 percent of the time.
  • The Do Not Call register now consists of 200 million people.
  • At 85 percent, most TV viewers are not even watching commercials.
  • The reason why few leads are acting on your direct mail CTAs could be because 45 percent of direct mail is never even opened.

How to Combine Inbound and Outbound Marketing

Clients with well-established outbound strategies may be less resistant to change if you come up with ways to combine outbound tactics with an inbound strategy. Here are a few ideas to try:

Lead Magnets

Impatient clients want to see conversions at the top or middle of the sales funnel, but this requires providing leads with an incentive. You may be able to gain prospects’ contact information by using lead magnets in your content strategy.

Tripwires

Immediately after a lead magnet, use a tripwire offer (a very inexpensive product or service) for an instant conversion.

Advertising

Paid advertising in places like search engines and social media is a great technique to complement organic search and social media integration.

It is important to stress to your clients that an inbound marketing strategy will not produce miracles overnight, although it can lead to conversions quite quickly at lower costs and higher success rates. Monitor engagement and analytics closely, particularly at the start of launching your strategy, to fine tune your efforts for the best possible results.

Enhance Your Blog's Reach and Authority with Longer Posts

Posted by Don Musacchio

shutterstock_33662173As a blogger, you are probably looking for that magic formula that will bring huge waves of traffic to your blog. You probably spend a lot of time tweaking various aspect of the site trying to attract just a little more traffic for your posts. One factor that has recently received a lot of attention is the length of your blog posts. For years, many blogging gurus have recommended short blog posts. The experts are re-thinking this approach. New data is showing that longer posts are better for ranking on search engines. If you have been aiming for shorter blog posts, you might consider trying a few of longer lengths.

The Debate
Check out marketing guru Seth Godin's blog. His posts are short and pithy. He delivers his point clearly with a bit of edge, and his blog is wildly successful. He argues that people don't really have the attention span to read long and in-depth blog posts. They want to get the basic points.

On the other side of the debate are people like Glenn Allsopp. His blog posts often have over 2,000 words. The argument for longer posts is that they offer more value to readers, have more authority, attract search engines and garner more social media shares. Data on search engine rankings seems to bear this out. Posts with over 2,000 words have higher rankings.

Why Long Posts Work

  • People are looking for valuable content. In the past, the conventional wisdom was that no one really reads posts. They just scan them for headlines and take home points. That is true as far as it goes. Most people scan posts until they decide that the post has something valuable to offer. Then, people actually read the post carefully. If your post offers unique and valuable content, then people are going to stop scanning and start reading. While it is possible to deliver valuable content in a brief post, you probably need a long post to really express something unique and valuable.

  • Long posts are better for SEO. The data backs this up, but why is this the case. One reason is that longer posts allow for a diversity of related keywords. Search engines have become very smart. They can recognize variations on a keyword and make sure that searcher have access to those variations even if they are not explicitly mentioned in the query. The search engine knows that the searcher is interested in the related results as well. If you use a wide variety of keywords in your post, then it will show in a wide variety of different searches. This is a good thing.

  • Long posts get more likes and shares on social media. What are you more likely to share? A post that re-hashes the same old material, or a post that offers real insight. People want to share insightful and valuable information with their connections. When you provide this, you are going to get more likes and shares.

  • Longer posts convey authority. Along with valuable content, people are looking for authoritative posts. If you are able to write an extended reflection or analysis on an issue, that conveys that you are an authority. If you do this a few times a week, then you really demonstrate your expertise. You have shown that you have something to say about the important issues of your field.

  • Longer posts win back-links. Bloggers are looking for great information to reference on their blogs. They know that by including a few authoritative links, it enhances their SEO. If you provide authoritative posts with solid arguments and substantive data, then people will start linking back to your post. These back-links are important for your search engine rankings as well.

How Long Should Your Posts Be?
It is clear that the conventional wisdom on blog post length is changing. Long posts are probably better for you if you are looking to enhance SEO and social shares. You should think carefully about your post length and how it fits into your overall blogging strategy.

  • Consider your goals. If you would like to generate comments and discussion on your blog, then shorter is better. Studies show that people respond to shorter focused posts by commenting. If you are looking for social media shares, then the magic number seems to be 1,000 words. Finally, if you are looking for back-links and enhanced SEO, you should aim for 2,000 words.

  • Consider your personal style. If you are Seth Godin, don't change a thing. Whatever you are doing is working. If you are writing short posts because that is what the experts say, but you feel like you want to say more, be free. Go ahead, and write more. That is your style. You can make it work for you. The search engines will reward it as well.

  • Consider your posting frequency. You probably cannot churn out three to five 2,000 word posts every week. If you are going to write longer posts, you may have to post less frequently. You might post short posts a few times a week and medium to long posts once or twice a week.

  • Consider your audience. Ultimately, you have to keep your audience happy. You have to make sure your content meets their needs and corresponds to their passions. If longer posts help you do that, then you should write longer posts.

Ultimately, only you can decide the ideal length for your blog posts. You have to experiment and look at your analytics to test the results. Try a few different lengths, and see what readers respond to. Finally, you have to be authentic. Your blog reflects your personality and passion for your field. Make sure that comes through whatever the length.

4 Effective Ways to Repurpose Your Content for Optimal Performance

Posted by Rachael Gerkensmeyer

shutterstock_182447729You understand how important engaging content is for your clients' website success, so you probably spend a lot of time and energy making sure that the content you create for them not only attracts readers but also gets noticed by the search engines. Luckily, you don't always have to start from scratch when producing dynamic content for specific brands, products, and services.

You can simply repurpose content that you've already produced by changing its format and focus in order to reach a variety of audiences your original content couldn't. Here are four effective ways to repurpose content for optimal performance and profits:

Whitepapers

Well designed whitepapers will help you to persuade current and prospective customers to do things like make a purchase, request a quote, or enter into a trial period for a specific service. Unlike brochures that typically include a sales pitch, whitepapers are designed to provide factual information and statistics as evidence that your products or services are superior to the competition.

You may have a published blog post that outlines consumer trends within your niche that can be fleshed out to include customer satisfaction statistics, and then turned into a whitepaper geared toward businesses thinking about promoting your products or services.

Podcasts

For those who prefer listening to content as opposed to reading it, why not create podcasts out of your already published pieces? Podcasts can be listened to in the car during a commute when reading isn't possible. They're also easily digestible during a workout or while on a plane so the possibility for exposure is virtually limitless. Having your blog posts read and recorded is one easy and effective method of repurposing content.

eBooks

By taking the time to repurpose content into eBooks, you have a great opportunity to compile a variety of different pieces you've previously published to create an in depth perspective, guide, or review that readers can learn something new from. Not only does this repurposing technique make it easy for your audience to access a variety of content on their favorite topics all in one place, but it provides you with ample space to promote your products and services without interfering with the eBook's overall message.

Videos

Videos are extremely popular among consumers because people tend to be visual creatures. They want to learn how to use a product by watching someone else do it in front of them, and they're interested in seeing a face behind the person reviewing a product instead of just reading about it. Just about any type of content can be turned into a video, even if you don't use live voices or people to create them. For example you can turn articles and blog posts into infographics, or use a nifty program to create a cartoon story about a product review your blog has recently featured.

By implementing these marketing techniques into your overall content repurposing strategy, you'll save yourself plenty of time, money, and manpower that can be used to take on more clients. 

How to Justify the Cost of Content Creation

Posted by Don Musacchio

shutterstock_88400668When times are lean, businesses are looking to cut costs. The danger is that if you cut costs too much, you may actually hurt valuable assets that drive profitability for your business. Website content is one of the areas where this is true. If it is viewed as a cost, then it is tempting to cut it from the marketing budget. This is a mistake because the content on your website attracts new leads, continues to nurture then through the buying process and keeps present customers coming back. Cutting back on web content means damaging the value of this asset. So when the cost cutters come knocking at your door, you need to justify the cost of your content. You need to show them it is an asset.

Book Value and Market Value
Cost cutters look at your marketing budget and see expenses that could be cut. You have to get them to change their perspective. These same cost cutters would not sell off factory equipment. This equipment shows up on the ledger sheet as an asset. The book value of the company is determined in part by the value of these assets.

The problem is that not all assets are tangible assets like machines. There are intangible assets. These things do not show up on the business ledger, but do add value. Web content is one intangible asset. It may not show up in the book value of the business, but it will in the market value.

Imagine two dentists who want to sell their practices. Dentist A and Dentist B both have identical equipment, offices and number of patients. The book value of the two practices will be the same. However, Dentist A has a strong web presence that generates 20 leads a month for teeth whiting. Dentist B has not updated his site since 1999. Whose practice are you going to buy? You are going to pay more for Dentist A's practice because it has an active lead-generating website.

Estimating Value
Continuing with the Dentist A, imagine that on average 2 leads a month become patients and get their whitened at a profit of $2000 each. That is $4,000 per month and $48,000 a year of profit based on the lead generating website. Dentist A would be a fool to cut web content creation from his marketing budget. It is more than paying for itself with the leads that it creates. You could perform a similar analysis for your own business based on the average value of a customer for a year and the number of customers that your website generates. This will remind the cost cutters that downsizing content will also downsize customers and profits.

Measuring Results
John Wanamaker, early 20th Century proponent of advertising, once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” A century later, marketers can say with much more confidence that they know how effective their marketing efforts are. This is especially true of online marketing where every click can be tracked.

As you develop analytics to show how effective your content is at attracting web traffic, creating engagement and converting visitors to the next step in the purchasing process, then your marketing budget can be justified by this data. There are lots of great tools to help you to measure the effectiveness of your website. You want to use a few different tools to make sure you are getting a complete picture of your website activity.

The Importance of Strategy
This is why having a focused content strategy is so important for your business. If you are just creating content because it is fashionable or someone told you it was important, you are not going to get the results that justify the cost. With a clear strategy, your content will attract the right kinds of visitors and guide them through a marketing funnel until they are ready to buy. When this is happening, your web content will become a valuable asset to your business, and you will have the data to prove it to anyone who suggests trimming the content budget.

When your business implements a proven content strategy, your website becomes a valuable asset that generates new leads and customers. It is not just a cost that can be cut, but a digital asset that needs to be protected and enhanced. Don't let those cost cutters near it if you want to maintain its value.

Revolutionize the Way You View Your Content

Posted by Ronald Neef

shutterstock_231340918If you're in marketing, you already know how important content is. While traditional advertising remains an integral part of any comprehensive marketing strategy, it is no longer the only component, nor is it even the primary one. Simply put, in today's marketing environment, content is king.

Good content comes at a price, however. Owners of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in particular, question the value of devoting a great deal of time, effort, and/or money to not only developing content but refreshing it on a regular basis. The initial cost often puts people off and they end up creating content for their websites and/or social networking sites on the cheap. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

What about your website's content?  Do you feel good about how it represents your company? Do you have a business Facebook page? Does it convey the personality your brand? Is blogging a part of how your enterprise communicates with consumers? Perhaps it's time to take a critical look at your current content and assess whether it's performing as well as it should.

Content marketing, whether it be via a website, social media, or blogging, is intended to accomplish one very simple thing: Convert consumers into customers. Effective content marketing does so by connecting with the consumer, communicating information the consumer finds to be valuable (engaging), and then by calling the consumer to action in a meaningful way, all of which can cause the conversion you want.

In order to be effective, your content marketing should address the following items:

  • Who are you? How does management perceive the company and is that perception consistent with how the company is viewed by the consumer? One way to check if there is a disconnect is to survey existing customers to find out how they see the organization. Perception is, of course, reality. The question is: Whose perception and whose reality? Once that's answered, then developing the desired online persona can proceed.
  • Who are you talking to? In other words, who is your target audience? Which consumers do you want to reach? Resolving this particular issue will also impact what message is ultimately conveyed.
  • How does the target market access information online? Are the consumers you are trying to reach more likely to visit your website, Instagram account, Facebook page, or perhaps even stumble upon your blog? Again, your choice of medium most likely to reach the intended audience will influence the type of content required.
  • What resources is the enterprise willing to devote to the development and management of content? A business might opt to have someone in-house handle all social media and website content or it may find that an independent writer is more appropriate given the time and money required.
  • Wash, rinse, repeat. Many SMBs take the steps necessary to create some pretty compelling new content but then make the mistake of considering the job done. New content doesn't stay new. It becomes stale, at which point it essentially becomes content without any content, so to speak. Effective content management requires that it be refreshed on a regular (if not frequent) basis.
    • Consumers are hungry for information and updating your online content gives them a reason to keep coming back to your social network or website. The more traffic your various web-based modalities can generate, the more exposure your brand receives and the more opportunities you have to connect with consumers and convert them into your customers.
    • Put another way, vibrant content generates traffic which generates buzz which generates more traffic
    • Effective content involves good storytelling and good storytelling evokes emotions that cause a reader to become more interested, more engaged, and more invested in the story and the brand it represents. If strong enough, a consumer's emotions can even outweigh logical and practical considerations in buying decisions.  Emotional attachment can create a sense of loyalty that is often communicated to friends and relatives who may, in turn visit your website or social media sites.  More traffic, more possible conversion targets.

One final suggestion: Content inventory should be taken as objectively as possible. The exercise is no time to defend the work that was done or justify why certain decisions were made. Those factors are irrelevant to the task at hand: Creating the most compelling, engaging, informative and useful content possible so that consumers want to become your customers.

Throw the Content Rules Out the Window!

Posted by Jennifer Gemmell-Adams

shutterstock_203013697Content marketing is the process of using content to answer a question, solve a problem, meet a need, or fulfill a want that your intended audience may have.  Even if you are writing a dry product description, you are still providing answers and information.  While the world of content creation and marketing may seem a bit convoluted and complex, it actually isn't, and one of the first things you need to do is throw your content rules out the window.

Content rules exist in proliferation.  You are given advice and guidance on how to write, what to say, how to phrase it, who to write it for, and what style or format to use when you write.  While those "rules" can help those who are looking for in-the-ballpark information on creating content and using it for marketing purposes, those content rules should not be considered written in stone or inviolate.

When it comes to content creation and doing so successfully, there is really only one hard-and-fast rule you need to live by: create content for your audience, not for yourself.

Imagine that you are looking for information on the Internet and you come across a blog or website with information on a moderately technical subject about which you are interested.  You open the page and begin to read, only to discover that most of the information either doesn't apply to your particular situation or is filled with so much technical jargon that you'd need a dictionary to decipher it.  People encounter this dilemma every day when they are looking for something online, and they do so because those who create the content don't really know how to do so.  Why don't they know how to do so?  Because they are following the wrong content rules!

Part of the content development process is to identify your audience.  Who are they, what do they want, how do they make decisions, and what will move them to enter your sales funnel?  If you don't know these things, you simply cannot create content that will entice them to look further into whatever it is you are offering.

You can follow all the content rules that exist today and if you aren't making your audience the most important part of your content development process, you've already lost your marketing battle.  The rules no longer apply, which is why you were supposed to throw them out the window when you started reading this.

Know your audience.  Intimately.  After you get to know them, then you can create content that they'll find engaging, appealing, informative, and - most of all - valuable.  That's the only rule you really need to know.

How to Create Branded Content That Your Audience Will Read

Posted by Laura Holton

shutterstock 236672323One of the first pieces of advice that you will come across when learning how to create content for a business is to avoid purely self-promotional pieces and focus instead on information that is useful and interesting to your audience. However, content also needs to lead to conversions, which means getting your brand message across, and the best way to achieve this is through branded content. This is not a contradiction: it is possible to create branded content without constantly advertising your company and its products or services.

1. Find Inspiration from Your Audience

Go beyond simply answering questions that your followers pose on your social media pages and find what they are consuming online overall. Use your knowledge of their passions and interests to create content that links aspects of this culture to your brand — and try to start a conversation flowing instead of simply selling yourself.

2. Tell Stories

People are addicted to stories, particularly ones that include characters to which they can relate. By telling stories that feature the personas of your target audience, you increase the likelihood that readers will become customers. If you are stuck for ideas, HubSpot has a number of examples of how major corporations have used stories for their branded content.

3. Be Unique

Everything you create for your content marketing strategy should be unique, but this is extra important for branded content. The style and context of your posts should mean that it would be impossible for any other company to use them; for instance, your content may reference your core values or relate directly to your niche market.

4. Use the Right Tone

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make when creating branded content is to write posts as if they were sales pitch. Instead, use a conversational tone of voice and directly address your readers — never write from the point of view of a corporation pushing a sale on customer. Aim to pique your readers’ interest in a topic rather than force information upon them.

5. Learn from Your Successes and Failures

Even the most experienced marketers struggle to know how successful branded content will be before testing it with consumers. Carefully monitor pieces for engagement to create more in a style that your audience likes and avoid wasting your time with content that will probably fall flat.

Oftentimes, emphasizing the opinions and personality of your company is sufficient for creating branded content. By providing your readers plenty of posts filled with information that they want or need, you set yourself up as a source of trust. Later, you can begin to include more heavily-branded pieces that directly market your products or services but will still receive plenty of engagement.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock 

Tags: branded content

Developing Content for Clients: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Posted by Ronald Neef

shutterstock 149611889If you are reading this, you don't need to be told about the significance of content marketing. You know how important it is. You also know that not all content is created equal. Some of it is great. Some of it is, quite frankly, not so much. Writing interesting, effective content is more of an art than a science; there really is no template, so to speak, for success. Even having excellent writing skills is not, in and of itself, sufficient to guarantee that your content will be compelling and call your readers to action which is, after all, the reason for writing the content in the first place.

Concerned that the content you're developing for clients should or could be better? Questioning your effectiveness? If so, here's something for you to consider: Are you asking the right questions? When you meet with clients or accept an assignment to write content, are you sufficiently focused on what the point of the assignment is, or are you too caught up in demonstrating how well you write? If your content falls flat at times, then perhaps it's time to go back to the drawing board before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keys.

Content writers sometimes have a way of losing sight of the primary goal: Providing material that attracts the target audience of consumers, engages those readers, and ultimately converts them into customers. So how do you do that? How do you ensure that your content meets the needs of your clientele? By simply asking the questions that will help you focus on the destination of your content and the direction it should take to get there.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Who are you?
    • When discussing the writing assignment with the client's representatives, ask them to describe for you who they are, what they're about, what they believe in, and how they perceive their organization and want the organization to be perceived publicly?
  • What do they do? What do they want people to know about what they do?
  • Who are they trying to reach?
    • This is critical. Is the intention to reach a broad audience or do they want the content directed at a specific demographic?
    • Ask clients to identify whether they wish to reach consumers or so-called influencers. Each requires a very different style and message.
  • Is the content to be conveyed via social media, blog, organization's website, or a combination of media?
  • Given what the company knows about it's market, do the majority of consumers access the Internet via PC/laptop, mobile devices?
    • This impacts how content is formatted. Failure to format content to be mobile friendly is very counterproductive.
  • Is the intended audience highly educated and/or technologically savvy?
    • Determines how sophisticated and technical the information can be.
  • What is the point? What is the purpose for this specific content? Is it for general information purposes, to make an announcement, or is it part of a specific marketing campaign.
    • These are all considerations for determining the tone and length of the material. In other words, is the client building a brand or simply selling a product or service?
  • Is SEO a primary consideration?
    • If the client makes extensive use of analytics, work with your contact(s) to develop keywords that can be used frequently without becoming repetitive, awkward, or both.
  • What writing style does the client want?
    • Formal
    • Very formal
    • Professional
    • Factual
    • Informal
    • Very informal
    • Conversational
    • Witty/humorous
    • Silly
    • Excited
    • High, medium, low
    • New/research/reporting style
  • What is the preferred narrative style?
    • 1st person ("We", "About us")
    • 2nd Person ("You", "your", "you're")
    • 3rd Person ("Consumers", "shoppers", "many folks")
  • Should the content refer to/compare with competitors?
    • Is the message to contain "humble bragging"?
    • Does the client want you to draw a stark comparison with clearly identified competitors?
    • Alternatively, should the content merely address distinction between your client and the industry in general?
  • What is the content's "expiration date" expected to be?
    • Content written without consideration for its useable life has a tendency to become stale. Companies often leave it posted for too long.
    • Remind your client of the importance of refreshing content. You want create a perception that it's worthwhile to visit your online presence on a regular basis because there's "always something new going on".
  • Are pictures, graphs, images, etc., desired and appropriate?
    • Infographics have become very popular because they effectively convey information in an easily digested format.

Asking the right questions will help you develop content that will help your clients build their brand. That's your job, after all.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock  

Are You Making These Common Social Media Mistakes?

Posted by Robin Kastengren

shutterstock 134112389Everyone knows that social media is the place to be to make connections with current and potential customers. Why, then, are so many companies getting it wrong? Maybe they are following bad advice or they just are not sure what to do. Maybe they do not even realize that they are even getting it wrong. If you recognize any of these mistakes, it might be time to go back to the drawing board. 

1. Doing Everything Yourself

While it is great that you have taken the initiative to keep your company's social media accounts up and running, chances are that your interactions would be much better if you worked as part of a team. For one thing, a professional writer should be helping you out with everything you post--even those itty bitty 140-character Twitter posts. At the very least, you should have a second set of eyes to scan your posts for typos, misspellings, and content that could be misunderstood. Second, coming up with fresh ideas and new things to say every day can be impossible, and you could end up on autopilot. If a few other people provide their input, your content is far more likely to be unique and engaging.

2. Failing to Focus 

Even if you have a whole team assembled to work on maintaining your company's social media accounts, you still have to make sure you are focusing on the right ones. The only thing worse than having no social presence at all is to have a thin presence on too many outlets. One sign that you have too many plates in the air is posting the same content to all your channels. While this is not always a bad idea, if that is your only plan, you need to re-prioritize.

3. You Want to Talk About You

The 80/20 Rule applies to more than just sales and business, it applies to social media, too. If you spend more than 20% of your time on social media carrying on about you, your company, or your products and services, people are going to get bored and move along. Instead, look for topics that relate to your industry, and sift through industry news outlets and blogs to find interesting stories. Don't be afraid to add something seemingly irrelevant from time to time, too. The occasional cartoon or joke might help show your human side.

4. You Are Too Wordy

Using too many words and not enough images is deadly on social media. People might stop to read a wordy post from time to time, but the vast majority of people will simply scroll through all those pesky words until an image catches their attention. Then they will go back and see what the associated text is all about. Never post anything to social media without an image or you are wasting your time. The exception, of course, is Twitter. You still have to refrain from being wordy, but resist posting too many pictures as people like to scroll quickly through their updates without too many interruptions.

5. You Have No Follow-Up

Posting a bunch of stuff and hoping for the best might work for your personal Facebook account, but when you are managing a business social media account, you have to follow up with the numbers. Stay on top of the number of followers and fans you have, and check in on how many people are clicking the links you are sharing. If you do not know how well your previous posts have done, it is impossible to know what to keep doing and what to improve.

Social Media is Very Forgiving

One of the most frustrating aspects of social media is the short attention spans of its users. On the other hand, this can be a great asset if you have been falling down on the job. As long as you have not committed a terribly embarrassing blunder, most people will only notice and remember what you are doing right now and will forget about anything that went wrong in the past. It is never too late to start over. If any of these mistakes apply to you, start over today and start seeing results right away.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock  

Does User Generated Content Have a Place in Your Strategy?

Posted by Laura Holton

shutterstock 196549964User generated content (UGC) refers to any content created by Internet users that links to your brand. This can be an entire blog post, podcast, or piece of fan art or something smaller, such as a comment on your social media page or a forum, a review, or a video. By combining UGC with your current marketing strategies, you can strengthen your relationship with customers and improve the likelihood that prospects will convert.

Who Can Benefit from User Generated Content?

UGC has a higher success rate in certain types of companies than others, particularly those who have a large customer base of Millennials. With Millennials, UGC is 20 percent more influential on purchasing decisions than other types of media and 35 percent more memorable than branded messages, found Crowdtap. In addition, Huffington Post reports that Millennials spend 30 percent of their media time consuming content created by their peers. With UGC, you can tap into some of that time.

How to Gain User Generated Content

In many cases, UGC for your brand already exists — you just need to find it and receive permission to use it. Here are some examples:

  • Reviews. One of the most effective types of UGC is the review. A Forrester Research study found that 70 percent of consumers use reviews and ratings to choose a product or service and 76 percent are more likely to make a purchase if they see at least 10 positive reviews or ratings. An added bonus is that reviews tend to rank highly in Google search results.
  • Images. Photos of consumers using your products demonstrate your brand’s popularity and show how products will look and work in action. If you find such a picture on a social media site, leave a comment complimenting the user and asking if you can reuse the photo. If you are lucky enough to find something on Twitter, all you need to do is retweet.
  • Emails and comments. Occasionally, you may receive emails thanking you for your service from satisfied customers. This no longer needs to be just an ego boost for your company; you can also share the content (once again, with permission) as a blog post. This can also work for short comments and private messages you receive on your social media pages. Post comments as a list of testimonials on your website and share new ones on social media. These two techniques even B2B companies can use to benefit from UGC.

If you lack readymade content, you can always ask users to create something for you through a competition or just as an opportunity for them to receive visibility. For instance, you could ask customers to share their experience with your brand and feature the best submissions on your website or blog.

Pitfalls of User Generated Content

Of course, UGC is not without its share of disadvantages. Here are a few to consider before deciding to incorporate UGC into your content strategy:

  • No SEO. As users rarely have any knowledge of SEO, content will not be optimized for high rankings in search results (with the notable exception of reviews).
  • Low credibility. Unlike the team who usually creates your content, users of your products and services are not experts and may even distribute inaccurate information or advice. It is important to think about what type of content users are qualified to create for your brand.
  • Low quality. You may struggle to find usable content, as users may lack the skills to write, photograph, or shoot videos that meet your normal quality standards. Editing, if at all possible, can be very time consuming.

User generated content can be a great tool to influence your audience and enable you to gain the trust of new leads. However, adding UGC to your content strategy is more appropriate for some companies than others. Carefully consider if UGC would be a help or hindrance and, furthermore, decide what type of content would be suitable for your brand before getting started.

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