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11 Digital Marketing Insights for Small Businesses in 2017

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Disclaimer: As I said in my article for 2016, I like to create mostly evergreen content to ensure I can be helpful for years to come as the DPA team adapts and responds to changes in the marketing and business world.

With that said, digital marketing is (always) shifting and I feel the necessity for this post as an update for small business owners in 2017.

It’s important to address these shifting trends so you have an idea of what’s going to work moving forward.

Let’s get it.

Here are 11 digital marketing insights for small businesses in 2017:

1. Content Marketing Needs to be a Large Investment

I want to speak to two types of people here: 1) those of you who know you should be executing TRUE content marketing and haven't yet started for whatever reason and 2) those of you who have buckled down and executed in content marketing but you aren't seeing the results you know you SHOULD be seeing. – For the first group…every single day that you let pass where your voice isn't heard, you are slowly suffocating your potential to grow your brand online. You can not rely on direct response marketing or advertising. That's just a part of the puzzle, but without consistent value in the market, you're just another player. – You know what happens to players? They can easily be replaced because it's all just about numbers. If you're just another product on the shelf or service in an area, or whatever you are, then the ONLY thing you can use as a value proposition is a better price. – But if you have an ecosystem of value, then you immediately start gaining the mindshare of a market. It's a slow process, but a necessary one. – For the second group of people…do not fool yourself. Your intentions are great, but intentions don't build great businesses. Audit how you are positioning your value in the market. Either you THINK you're providing value and you're not, or your distribution strategy isn't strategic enough. Therefor the right people aren't seeing the content. – The truth is in the stats. The proof is in the pudding. Get it done.

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When small businesses refuse to consistently produce elite content, they’re denying themselves the core of their inbound marketing.

Heavily relying on outbound marketing strategies— word of mouth, referrals, traditional advertising —can only sustain so much growth for small businesses. These methods simply don’t provide the opportunity for long-term growth in the ways that inbound marketing can.

With content marketing still costing 62% less than traditional marketing, it’s really a no-brainer business decision to be putting your money into creating content.

Those small businesses that out-stride their competition in growth are the ones investing into content marketing.

2. You’ve Got to Be Thinking Local

It’s tough to compete with the big dogs in a market that’s already pretty saturated, and getting found online can be a challenge for any business on a budget. – This is why search engine optimization is important for content marketers. – According to Search Engine Watch, 50% of all mobile searches are conducted in hope of finding local results, and 61% of those searches result in a purchase. The odds are ever in your favor. – The numbers are clear: potential local leads are searching for local options. – Don’t you want to be the business that pops up in those results? Of course you do! Optimizing your site is the very first step. – SEO is crucial when it comes to hooking those local searchers. – You’ve got to have the right keywords and phrases or all your SEO work is basically for taught. One great way to do this is to start developing content around topics that directly affect the local consumers. – This could be a blog post about a local festival or a a type of clothing item that works well in your current climate—there are lots of possibilities! Trying to localize your content isn’t an excuse for publishing junk, though. – If you can’t smartly fit news about the upcoming local festival into the editorial in a smart, relevant way, then cut your losses and move on to the next topic. – With a little bit of research and some tactical writing, you can produce blog posts that do more than just rank; you can produce blog content that entices, intrigues, and beckons the community to share with others. – You couldn’t ask for more, and all it takes is some creative content.

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It’s tough to compete with the big dogs of business when you’re a small business, but if you can take hold of the surge in contextual search queries, it will be much easier for you to pop up in search results.

With “near me” interest searches multiplying 34x, this absolutely means small businesses should be making more efforts to target people locally.

But what if your business doesn’t really have a location? Does this still apply to you?

Yes, it very much does still apply.

According to Search Engine Watch, 50% of all mobile searches are conducted in hopes of finding local results, and 61% of those searches result in a purchase.

Google is always updating its algorithm to match the values with the needs of its users. With some research and tactical writing, you can create content that appeals to local crowds. This could be a blog post about a local festival or a type of clothing item that works well in your current climate.

When a client of ours from Ohio started a real estate business, he had zero clients and needed to make himself known locally. But he wasn’t sure how to without an office space.

I told him the best way to do this was by creating Facebook ads with branded images, including photos of things people would recognize in Akron, Ohio.

He positioned himself locally in this way, and really drove home the value when he started to Snapchat potential buyers rooms of a house so they didn’t have to take the time out of their busy lives to come to him.

The guy still doesn’t have an office and he’s crushing it.

Localizing your content can go a long way for your search rankings AND your community building.

3. Personalization Keeps on Coming Up


Personalization is becoming more and more important as the digital world gets noisier.

According to a study by Monetate, 94% of marketers know how valuable personalization is, but 95% of them don’t know how to put their data into action.

Having a personable experience with a brand’s content based on your interests and intent as well as how you came into contact with the company is a way to crush it when it comes to standing out amidst the digital noise.

Small businesses that focus on creating personalized elements in their digital marketing yield more conversions than those that don’t.

What do we mean exactly by personalization?

It’s simply becoming more human online.

It’s about having as relevant and genuine of a relationship with each customer rather than a one-size-fits-all customer experience.

Don’t just scroll past this insight because what I’m saying here is crucial: Personalization can go deep. There are so many ways to individualize customer experience. But here are just a few to get you thinking:

  • Creating personalization profiles (think Netflix’s multiple profiles on a singular account)
  • Segmenting or categorizing email lists in order to send more personalized messages
  • Writing content for specific personas rather than just for general audiences
  • Creating retargeting campaigns that leverage previous site searches

Take actionable steps to make your small business more noticeable, it will make a huge difference.

4. Understand your Buyer Journey

“You can’t sell to a buyer persona you don’t understand and you can’t sell to an industry you’re not involved in.”

You may know how to create value for buyers, but until you learn how to identify your sales funnel and offer value all the way through that funnel, you aren’t creating scalable lifetime value of your customers.

If you’re like one of the 68% of B2B marketers who hasn’t identified their sales funnel, you are missing out on a whole lot of revenue by only connecting with buyers only at a portion of their journey with your brand.

You must consider your buyer journey (awareness, consideration, decision) to know how to offer real value at each stage.

It’s not just about creating touch points, but to take a user from initial brand contact, all the way through the buyer journey and out the other end as a brand advocate.

This is something small businesses can and should be doing from the beginning.

5. SEO Should No Longer Be Top Priority

The truth is, for small businesses, it’s incredibly hard to rank in search results.

Small businesses have a hard time competing with the big dogs out there who have established voices in their industries.

While SEO work does eventually play an important role in digital marketing for small businesses, if you haven’t yet proven your content is worth being seen by the users you’re already putting it in front of, then why spend resources trying to rank that content?

It doesn’t make sense.

To be honest, we at The Modern Marketer don’t even pay much attention to SEO.

We have analytics and webmasters set up, so we’re following along, but we aren’t really worried where traffic is going to come from.

Why?

Because we’ve built 30,000 people around our brand who truly care about what we teach and the value we provide.

We control the ecosystem, not Google (to a certain extent). Your brand should be positioned in the same way.

Amazing advice from our Director of Digital Media, Shauna. Her insight into how to position your voice and your content is second to none. – We really have to get over this whole SEO, ranking, Google, algorithmic CRAZE that we've all been secretly desiring for the past decade. – Get over it. Elevate your objectives and your goals. – There will come a time where pursuing authority backlinks, and other high level SEO work will come into play. But when you haven't even proven that your content is worth being seen by the users you're already putting your content in front of, then why try to rank that content? Doesn't make sense. – If you watch our IG stories or show up to our daily IG live sessions, you've probably seen the social and organic traffic analytics for us and our clients. It's insane. Organic is BLOWING up. – But, we don't really pay attention to SEO if we are being honest. On-page SEO is just second nature at this point, so that's taken care of. We have analytics and webmasters set up. We are following along, but we aren't worried about where traffic is going to come from. – Why? Because we've built 30k people around our brand who truly care about what we teach and the value we provide. We control the ecosystem, not Google (to a certain extent.) And you should position your brand the same way.

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Community building should be THE number one priority over SEO for small businesses. Position yourself now and worry about ranking later when you have more of an established relevance.

6. ROI on Social is on the Rise

I feel like this is something Obama would have said. "America is about the people…." hahaha. Anyways, on a serious note. – This 100% is the mantra for The Modern Marketer. If you think I am BS'ing, join us on a live stream every day at 2:30pm EST. This community is NO JOKE. There are real people making real differences in their lives and businesses by executing marketing that actually works. – We are strong because since day 1 we focused on our people…one by one by one by one. – So, if you're new to the community, you will find out quickly who we are and why we are so strong. Because we aren't here to sell you a bunch of bullcrap. We are here to provide value and value only. – If you want social media to work. Stop automating, stop setting and forgetting, and go out there and make new friends. This isn't elementary, we shouldn't have to say it…but we will.

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While SEO has less of an impact on the digital marketing efforts of small businesses, social, on the other hand, has a much greater significance for ROI in 2017.

In fact, more than half of marketers who have been using social media for at least two years report it helped them improve sales. (Social Media Examiner, 2015).

The motto at The Modern Marketer is value over everything. We built this community by focusing on our people… one by one by one.

Building solid relationships with your people is key to getting a remarkable ROI on social.

Automating, setting and forgetting… it just isn’t going to get you that golden return.

You have to get out there and interact, make new friends, to get something truly gold out of it.

7. Instagram Marketing is on the Rise

When we started The Modern Marketer brand in 2015, Instagram used to look like the picture in the graphic above. – Since then, it's been a game of providing daily value. Relentless value. Never stopping. – 95 million is a huge number. Think about the reality of that. We live in a digital age where our attention is given to micro news outlets. That's essentially what it is. Instead of these huge media publications, we give our attention to Jane, Nancy, Chuck and Dave. – Other humans. People. And a few select brands, organizations and communities we choose to be a part of. – Breaking through the noise isn't easy. But we've done it, a few of our followers have done it, a ton of our clients have done it. It's not impossible. – Do not let the phrase "over saturated" slip out of your mouth. Ever. – This world is over saturated. Because…it…is…the…world. In other words, how the heck would any mainstream platform NOT be saturated. Isn't that the point of the platform. – Instead of justifying why your business doesn't have the attention it should on social media, step up your game.j

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We live in an age where our attention is given to micro news outlets. Instead of these huge media publications, we choose to give our attention to other humans.

People.

95 million is a huge number, and visuals are still incredibly underutilized. Small businesses need to get in on the visual game now, and Instagram is a great place to do that.

Think about it.

We’re all about content marketing, and blog articles can provide enormous value.

But if pictures are worth 1,000 words, how much more value could you be putting out there if you started adding visuals to your digital marketing strategy?

8. Holding ALL of Your Marketing Strategies Accountable is Key to Success

According to HubSpot, 60% of small businesses owners are not able to track ROI from their social media activities.

In 2017, all small businesses need to be able to prove their ROI through all digital marketing channels.

It makes no sense to be pouring your efforts into a marketing method when you can’t justify it with results.

If you’re on social media or doing email marketing because you’ve heard it’s important, that’s not enough of a good reason to be doing it.

Don’t kid yourself.

You need to be holding all of your digital marketing efforts accountable.

I encourage you to work on building your social platforms so that you can have a better of understanding of what your social efforts are doing for you.

9. Podcast is Still the Bandwagon to Jump On

“Weekly podcast listeners consume five shows per week on average.”

That “podcast listener” is a human that is influenced.

If on average, a listener consumes 5 shows per week, that means there are 5 times per week to influence that type of persona.

When someone purchases something from you, or downloads your ebook, that transaction is .00001% of their time during the week.

Why can’t your brand be one of the voices or influencers that has touch points with those people throughout the week?

Give your people a reason to show up even when they’re not buying. Aim to influence them more by showing up with value.

10. Interactive Content is the Next Big Thing

You guys know by now that I am not a huge "curator" of content. I think out of 1,500 posts I can count on both of my hands how many times I've curated content. But read this excerpt from the Convince and Convert blog by @jaybaer and his team. – From C&C: "In recent years, videos and infographics have become increasingly popular. It seems they are much more effective than writing at driving customer engagement. They are also much more shareable and entertaining. Writing still tends to be everyone’s favorite medium, however. – Having varied and engaging content can be a struggle, as we’ve seen, and it seems the answer is interactive content and gamification. – Currently, 53 percent of businesses have used some form of interactive content, and 45 percent claim it can be highly effective. As it is still an untapped niche, it’s very likely we aren’t even close to seeing its full potential. – Because it is still a relatively new medium, there’s a lot of room for creating novel and engaging content that’s sure to attract customers, even if it’s just out of sheer curiosity." Wow. – I know it doesn't seem like he said much, but this is what I talk about in many of my conversations with associates and clients. Where is your interactive content strategy right now? How will you execute over the next 12-24 months? Because it's still new. It's still fresh. – New mediums and distribution channels are emerging all the time that support and encourage interactive media. Your brand needs to respond, and quickly.

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“Interactive content is the next big thing”

Interactive content and gamification is on the rise. It’s still an untapped niche for the most part.

According to Convince and Convert, currently 53% of businesses have used some form of interactive content, and 45% claim it can be highly effective.

New media and distribution channels are emerging all the time that support and encourage interactive content.

Your business needs to respond, and quickly. How will you execute this over the next 12-24 months?

I suggest you go deeper with your content. Your goal in mind when getting into interactive content should always be to form better connections with people.

Whether it’s video marketing, trivia, polls, surveys, or something else, use your interactive content to go deeper.

11. Respond and Adapt

I’m going to be honest with you, I cringe a little bit when people say they plan on creating something that’s going to go viral. There are two inherent problems with a strategy that includes going viral. – 1) If you’re putting all your effort into something you think is going to explode on the web, you likely aren’t putting the effort in to make sure that it’s valuable for your prospect. – 2) Your idea of what will gain a lot of traction is probably not on point with what the general public will go crazy over. – It’s really easy to get in our heads and produce things we THINK people want instead of what they’re telling us they want. – Lastly, I think everyone should make Facebook ads a part of their strategy. You’d be surprised how far you can get with a few dollars a day and strict attention to your retargeting. – We always say, “You have to create your audience. You can’t wait around for people to come to you.”

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“It’s really easy to get in our heads and produce things we THINK people want instead of what they’re telling us they want.”

You must move with the market.

People are out here telling us what they want, you just have to listen. When your community speaks, your content should shift with the people who are responding.

You start out writing for a buyer persona, but you should shift it to match the people who are responding.

Worry less about your processes and systems, because those are subject to change. We live on a world where things are done for us. SAASs, CRMs, social media platforms, email service providers, marketing platforms, etc.

Instead, worry about what your community has to say.

The systems are already in place, our job is to get our message out there and sell.

Content Marketing

How to Jack Attention from News & Trends

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the dos and donts of newsjacking

What is newsjacking?

Newsjacking is the process of following the topics and trends that are happening in industries relative to your business so that you can tap into audiences that are already interested in something that’s happening now.

One of the things we talk a lot about as marketers is “keywords.”

We all want to know what people are typing into that search bar on Google so that we can connect them first.

That’s what SEO and SEM is all about.

But what we don’t talk about as much are the topics and trends that are happening so fast that Google, SEMrush, BuzzSumo, Alexa, or whatever keyword tracking tool you may be using isn’t tracking on it.

They’ve already missed it.

That’s where newsjacking comes into play.

If you’re paying attention to what’s happening on the news—or trending on Google, Twitter and Facebook—there’s an opportunity here to grab attention that a keyword tracker won’t be quick enough to show you.

If your brand has a relevant stance or positioning on a specific topic or trend that’s happening right now and you can provide legit content around that topic, then you can tap into new audiences.

Audiences that would never find you if you hadn’t showed up in their search query about that topic or trend.

Newsjacking, or trendjacking as some call it, is a lot like influencer marketing.

The only difference is there’s not a third party involved.

The topic itself is the influencer.

The topic has that attention.

What you’re really doing is attention jacking.

But here’s the thing about newsjacking: It can work really great for bringing traffic to your business, but it can also go horribly wrong if you’re not careful.

There’s a lot of factors at play when you’re hopping on a trend, so you have to be wary of your timing, your message, and your context. There’s a fine line you have to walk for newsjacking to work for you.

I’m going to break this down for you with some do’s and don’t’s of newsjacking so you can understand where that line is.

Let’s get it.

DO Your Research

You have to keep in mind that trending topics, particularly ones in the news cycle, are always developing stories.

So when a story first breaks, that’s only a part of it.

Most of the time, it’s better to wait a bit until there’s more information out there before you write about a news topic.

do your research

Otherwise, if you’re too quick to publish, you could miss out on some critical information that drops later—information that could have been even more useful for your content had you known it before publishing.

Avoid “more later…as it develops” type of talk.

You really want to get as much information as possible before writing. In this day and age where everyone’s wary of fake news, it’s important to get your facts straight and to be as accurate as possible. Or else you risk losing credibility with your audience.

So spend some time browsing the news sites, the comments sections, and talk to other people about the topic. Sometimes people in your immediate circles have some insight on the topic you may not have thought about before.

DON’T Write Without Providing Context

If a topic isn’t relative to your industry and you write about it anyway, it’s really not going to make sense. Maybe you’re passionate about that topic and you have thoughts about it, but it’s not going to do you any favors within the context of your business.

Sorry, but your audience doesn’t care about news topics unless it affects them.

On the other side of the coin, you always have to keep in mind who you’re writing for (or speaking to, if it’s on video or audio). A topic you’re covering could be relevant to your industry, but if it’s not filtered into a context that makes sense for who you’re trying to sell to, it doesn’t make sense for your business.

Always keep your buyer persona in mind. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering a news topic or trend to cover:

  • Is this relevant to my industry?
  • Could my buyer persona connect to this topic?
  • Can I bridge this topic directly to value that my business can provide?

DO Provide Value

Here’s the thing about trending topics: a lot of people have something to say about them.

That’s why they’re trending.

Your objective in newsjacking is finding a way to offer some new thoughts on the given topic. Something unique.

provide something unique

It can be difficult, particularly if there are already a flood of thoughts out there on the matter. But it comes easiest if a topic comes up that you find yourself passionate about. Chances are if you’re passionate about it, you have some value to offer on that topic.

You know we’re all about value over everything.

With newsjacking, it’s no different.

When you’re writing or speaking about a topic, your goal first and foremost needs to be to provide some sort of value.

DON’T Newsjack Just to be Heard

Look, consistency in producing content is important. And newsjacking may look like a shining opportunity to add to your growing archive of content, but if you’re just doing it to check off a box you’re not going to get the results you want.

Just like with any content you produce, it has to provide value. If your newsjacking just adds to the noise out there, you’re wasting your time and effort.

Plenty of people produce content to get attention. But nobody will be interested in your content if it’s lacking of substance. Give people a reason to read or watch or listen to your newsjacked content.

Ask yourself: Why would people want to read this as opposed to any other thoughts on this trend? What does it offer that other content doesn’t?

DO Captivate People

Some people are reluctant when it comes to newsjacking, particularly if there’s a political element to the given topic. But a lot of times, controversial topics are the ones that really grab people’s attention.

And you want that attention. You want to engage people and get them going. You want that discussion. And sometimes, a little controversy can be good.

You can go to far

As long as you can engage people in a relevant way that makes sense for your brand, that’s good attention.

However, be warned: You can go too far…

DON’T Be So Controversial that you Divide your Audience

Yes, engagement and discussion and attention are all good things.

But if you’re not careful about what you’re writing or saying, you can end up dividing your audience and losing attention.

With political topics especially, you have to be aware that people in your audience have hard set opinions. And if you challenge these opinions too much, your newsjacking efforts will backfire.

Be careful when you’re taking a stance on a certain topic. The more context you provide, the more viewpoints you can write or speak about in relation to the topic, the better your chance of not dividing people.

Or, don’t bring in any viewpoints and just use the topic as a jumping off point to talk about something more relevant to your brand.

So represent as many perspectives as possible, or represent none of them.

Don’t speak to divide, speak to unite around your brand value.

DO Make it Evergreen, If you Can

We talk a lot about evergreen content, and producing value that is useful months or even years into the future—not just right now. That can be difficult with newsjacked content since it’s specifically about a topic or trend that’s happening right now.

But if you can take that topic and create value around it that outlasts the relevancy of that topic, that content will still be useful after everyone’s forgot about the topic.
make evergreen content

That’s a powerful thing—being able to immortalize a topic by providing a context of evergreen value around it.

It’s not an easy thing to do by any means. You can still provide value with newsjacked content without making it evergreen, but it’s far more valuable if you do.

DON’T Wait Too Long to Publish your Content

Trends can be here today and gone tomorrow.

If you’re sitting on some content that you wrote on a particular trending topic and you’re waiting to see if any new information will come out about it, you could lose your window of relevancy.

It’s a tricky thing.

You don’t want to publish too soon and risk your credibility, but you also don’t want to publish too late and miss the relevancy of the trend altogether. That’s the point of newsjacking after all— to ride a brief but strong wave of relevancy.

So how do you know when the time is right to publish? When you feel like the trending topic has developed and you have enough information to provide some real contextual value, it’s time to publish.

The value comes from your brand, not from the topic. So publish it once you can provide real value from your brand!

DO Atomize, Break it Down, and Promote It

You want to get as many eyes on your content as possible while the newsjacked topic is still relevant. So like with any content, you have to optimize it for all your platforms.

If you write an article, you can take a quote from it and put it on top of an image for an Instagram post. You can also tweet that quote.

You can make a video about that article and just talk it out. Or if you do a video first, take notes from your video and turn it into an article.

promote your content while it's still relevant

There are tons of ways to break down your content and make it work for any given platform. But whatever you do, make sure you promote it while it’s still relevant. This is a good opportunity to justify some Facebook ad dollars!

DON’T Just Publish the Content and Move On

You may think after you’ve published your content, atomized it, and promoted it, that you’ve done all you can and it’s time to move onto the next piece of content.

Nope. It’s not over. Just because you’ve put your thoughts out there on the topic or trend doesn’t mean the discussion is over. You have to keep monitoring the discussions and engage with others on the topic.

You have made yourself a part of the conversation on that topic, now you need to engage in the conversation until it dies out to get the most out of that window of relevancy.

Make the most out of your content. Engage with others about it.

Conclusion

Newsjacking can be tricky. You have to be careful, and there’s not always a clear right answer to the what, the how, and the when of newsjacking. It can be hard to decide what trends or topics are relevant to your brand, how you’ll provide value in the context of a given trend or topic, and when to publish that content.

But the good news is that the who, the where, and the why are always clear with newsjacking.

Who you’re writing for is always your buyer persona. Where you’re publishing your content is all of your channels (in the format that makes the most sense for that platform). And why you’re newsjacking should always be to provide some unique value or insight from your brand voice.

One thing is for sure: newsjacking takes practice. The more comfortable you get with it, the better you will understand how to successfully newsjack.

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Content Marketing

Growth Hacking 101: How to Make People Take Action Using ‘Context’

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Growth Hacking 101- How to Make People Take Action Using Context

Guys, it’s no secret: we put out all our best information on The Modern Marketer.

We preach Value Over Everything because we truly believe in providing value above any business agenda. People can be suspicious of that and wonder how the heck we make any money if we’re giving away our value for free.

You may even wonder yourself how creating content could possibly benefit your business or brand.

I get it, it’s different. I come from a sales background and I understand that there’s no point in doing something if it’s not going to be profitable for your business.

And that’s exactly why I’m such a huge advocate for content creation. Not because it makes profit, but because it’s a vehicle for profit. A necessary tool.

I’m about to break down why creating all this content and distributing it for free leads to profitability. It all comes down to context…

Content vs Context

So you probably understand that content carries the ideas that we as business leaders and entrepreneurs stand behind. This is the substance with which we conduct our business.

Whether you’re a service-based business or you sell products, you have to put your best information out there to establish your credibility. But here’s where the difference comes in between content and context.

Your content can be very helpful, inspirational, even game-changing. But what you can’t give away is how that content applies directly into an individual’s life.

You put your best content out there to get people to pay for the context.

You can’t just put your best context out there. It’s impossible. Because context isn’t the same for any two individuals. People want context specific to their lives, for their story. And they will pay to be able to understand how your content is relevant to them.

Your audience has problems, your content has solutions, but they want to know how your solutions will solve their specific problems.

Once you understand that, it becomes a lot easier to identify who your content is for. When you distribute that content on social platforms, the people who reach out to your for that context are your buyer persona. Knowing that buyer persona will reinforce your content strategy.

But know this: while context is what pays the bills, it all starts with content. You simply cannot have context to sell people without first providing the content. Build the credibility, build the connections, then you can sell the context.

you can sell the context

The Best Calls-to-Action = Context

Ultimately when we write content for landing pages, we want people to be persuaded to take some sort of action towards the step of buying, right?

So many marketers publish content about the best words or phrases to use, the best sales copy, the best times to post, the best types of posts— as if there’s some universal answer to creating effective calls-to-action.

But the truth is there is no universal, one-size-fits-all solution for creating effective calls-to-action.

Every single person who will come across your content is an unique individual who is inspired and motivated by different things. Sure, there will be groups of people who are called to action by similar content, but you’ll never find a singular call-to-action to motivate everybody.

So what should you do to drive people to take action?

My advice to you is to treat your calls-to-action as if they’re normal interactions. It’s so easy to forget when we’re writing our content that we’re trying to persuade actual humans to take action.

Awhile back I ran into a guy at the supermarket who asked where I got my hat from (you all know I love my hats). We started chatting right there in the supermarket and ended up deciding to have coffee sometime to talk about entrepreneurship and business.

So we made a call-to-action for each other based on the interaction we just had in the supermarket. If there wasn’t any value there, no relevance— no context —it doesn’t matter which way I would have asked to have coffee because it wouldn’t have happened.

It’s the context that drives the action, and that context is created through connection. Had the guy not connected with me in the supermarket about my hat, there would be no connection, there would be no context.

This is why there’s no singular, universal solution to creating calls-to-action. People are called to action through context, through making an unique connection to your content.

people are called to action through context

Since there’s no way to create individual connections with every single person that fits your buyer persona, you have to constantly split test and refine your landing page content. 95% of my clients have extremely high clickthrough rates and conversions because I’m always split testing and refining.

It’s a process.

But there are plenty of tools out there to help you find what yields the best response from your audiences…

  • Unbounce – a landing page creation service with overlays that feature specifically targeted calls-to-action
  • Hotjar – a program that uses heat maps to visually represent users clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior, allowing you to understand what users want and care about on a page
  • Crazy Egg – similar to Hotjar, a program that uses heat maps to show user activity, and additionally shows where the users come from and what they click the most
  • ClickFunnels – a sales funnel creation service that streamlines the sales process online for users

It’s all about testing and adjusting until you can find the calls-to-action that resonate strongest with your audiences. Context is key.

Start thinking about your calls-to-action as attempts to make connections with people, rather than pushing someone to buy. Be patient with the process. Testing and refining your content takes time.

Doing Your Job AND Creating Content

So at this point you probably understand the important role that content plays in driving sales. It is a catalyst for context, an enzyme for connection.

Without content out there, you don’t have an out-stretched hand for a buyer to grab onto and make that connection. You don’t have that same opportunity to sell.

But how do you make the time to create content while doing your job? Growing your business means creating and distributing content, but how do you do that and serve your clients?

First you have to understand that creating content for content’s sake is not going to be helpful to you. You have to know why you’re creating content in the first place.

So before you begin to write, or record, or design, or edit, you have to be in the mindset of where you’re going rather than where you are. That’s an important piece of the puzzle.

There’s been many times where I’ve started to create content then stopped because I lost sight of why I was creating the content at all. It’s disheartening to get stuck like that, but it’s even more disheartening to put time and energy into creating content only for it to not be engaged with.

If you don’t know why you’re creating your content, if you don’t know the purpose behind it, your audience won’t know either.

I want to get to the point where 80% or more of my income is coming from writing and speaking. For me to do that, focusing on clients, to-do lists, working with employees and subcontractors, and expecting any result other than growing a client base is very naive.

The only way to grow your business from content creation is by intentionally scheduling time to make those things happen. There are times I will not accept new business, not have sales meetings, and not have execution time for clients, because I know I need to create content to get to where I’m going.

intentionally schedule time for content creation

The only way you’ll have time for both your job and creating content is by making the time.

But it doesn’t have to be as tedious as you might think. You don’t always have to create content from the ground up because already have content from your interactions with people.

Repurpose your interactions. As a marketer and a consultant, I’m always having interactions with people— casual conversations, email exchanges, strategizing, phone calls, etc. 95% of my posts are from interactions that I’ve had, repurposed to fit the context of the platform.

Skim through your emails. Look through your texts. Flip through your journal. You have content there already, you just need to put it all together.

Conclusion

On the surface level, creating content may seem futile. But once you begin to understand that content is the foundation on which to not only build your business but make connections with people, the benefit becomes more clear.

Always be forward-thinking with your content and remember that your content should always be evolving to produce unique contexts for each of the people it resonates with. You can put all your best information out there, because people will come to you for the context.

That context, the connection, is what will sell. Not your product, not your service, but the context you can build from connection.

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Marketing Strategy

4 Social Media Mindsets to Ditch in 2018

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4 social media mindsets to ditch in 2018

Content marketing is great. It gets your voice out there and demonstrates your authority and capacity for thought leadership in a given industry.

But the truth is that your content marketing means nothing if that content never makes an impact on people.

In this day and age, we can’t simply rely on Google to organically get our content in front of people. There are just too many players in the game for your content to be able to stand out. And at this point, even paying Google to get our content out there is highly competitive.

So what can we do?

Well, we have to get creative about distributing our content, and mechanically promoting it on social media isn’t enough. Treating social media as a means to an end is as about as useful as putting your car on cruise control but letting go of the steering wheel.

In order to get the most out of social media for your business, you must treat it as a culture to contribute to rather than a tool to get what you want out of it.

1. Social Distribution is About Native Value, Not Leveraging

Think about scrolling through your social media accounts. How often do you intentionally click on something to leave the platform you’re on and go to a completely different app or website? I bet it’s not very often.

So if you really want your target market to interact with your content, why would you try to leverage them off the platform?

According to a statistic by Social Media Today, an average person spends a total of 5 years and 4 months of their lifetime on social media— compared to only 3 years and 5 months of their lifetime eating and drinking.

Time spent on social media

If people spend more of their time on social, we marketers should be trying to capture that attention native to those social platforms rather than trying to take the attention away. People won’t go out of their way just to consume your content.

That’s why it’s imperative for you to change the way you think social media plays a role in your business, and start creating forward-facing content. In other words, you need to create content that doesn’t require any navigation away from a platform to consume.

We’re now in a realm of marketing where when you want to consume something, you’re going to a place where you can consume it without being disrupted. For example, if you’re scrolling through Facebook and want to watch a video, you don’t have to leave Facebook in order to watch it. It all happens right there.

Consider how you can make your content more forward-facing and consumable. If you find yourself using the phrase “go check out my _____” to promote your content and it requires the user to leave the platform, your content is not native enough.

So how do you know where to create native content?

2. The Right Social Platforms for you are Based on your Business Objectives, Not Trends

As I mentioned in my article about the Power 120 when it comes to social media marketing you just can’t use every single platform. You can’t just spray your content across multiple platforms and expect that to work.

In order to truly harness the attention that’s on social media, you need to invest deeply into one or two platforms.

We all know that in this digital era, audio and video are the most engaging media you can use. So no matter what your business objectives are, the execution of that objective should involve engaging people with interactive media.

Therefore the ideal platforms to choose are the ones that have the ability to use the most native interactive media. There are two platforms in 2018 that do this well: Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook has more than just textual posts— it has photos, videos, live video, gifs, and now it even has Facebook stories. Instagram has all those same features with a format that’s even more dedicated to visuals. Both platforms have so much potential value to offer simply for how interactive they are.

If a platform cannot support that level of value, it’s not right for you. YouTube, for example, is great but it has major limitations— it only does video. Pinterest is cool too, but it’s only really a catalog of ideas rather than an interactive platform.

At the end of the day, you need to be intentionally offering value where the attention is and sticking with it. Period.

offer value on social media

The great thing about being consistent and going deep on a platform is that it frees up your ability to create without any expectation of leverage. Because the second you think you need to leverage a call-to-action, the second it’s going to bottleneck your ability to distribute content.

Make it your mission to master the one or two platforms you’re on first, using all of the features and really getting creative with your content. Then and only then you can reverse engineer back to leveraging calls-to-action.

3. Social Distribution is About Positioning your Content, not About Reach

Inbound marketing experts have a tendency to make social media marketing seem like a strategy for making your brand voice louder. But everyone and their mothers (literally) are on social media now— so if you’re on it just to make your voice louder, it’s going to get lost in a lot of noise.

Social distribution is not a matter of numbers. It’s not about how many people you can reach, how many likes you get, or how many views you can rack up. It’s a matter of strategy and positioning your voice where it’s actually getting consumed.  

Social platforms are the same as any other marketing platform out there. Just like the traditional platforms— TV, radio, print —you can’t just put your message up there and expect to get customers when there are thousands of other brands out there just like yours.

You have to make your brand stand out for your content to be consumed.

So get creative on how you present your content. Find ways to position it that hasn’t been done before.

The Modern Marketer has found a way to do this by essentially turning our Instagram into a digital magazine. Our profile looks like a magazine with photosets of 3, 6, 9, or sometimes 12 making up a larger image, but when you click on each individual image it offers a post with value relevant to the image in the text.

Think about how you can position your brand and your voice in a unique way on your social platform. In the end, that uniqueness is what will cause your content to have impact— not how many people you can reach.

4. Creating a Culture of Value Will Prevent You from Being Disruptive

Of course, the entire reason for using social media as a business is so that you can ultimately access more customers.

But how do you avoid being disruptive when you’re trying to promote your products or services?

There’s no perfect balance between providing value and promoting products or services. There’s not some formula that will prevent you from ever being considered disruptive on social media.

However, if you have good intentions and create a precedent for always providing some value when you finally do ask for something from your audience it’s not going to be seen as disruptive. It comes down to providing enough value that people feel nurtured enough into engaging with your calls-to-action.

One specific way of doing this is tailoring your content for specific platforms. If you have a blog post, for example, that you feel is really valuable and want to promote it on your Instagram account. Instead of posting about it and telling people to go visit the link in your bio, post an image with a quote from the article and some further explanation in the text.

Repurpose your content.

Nurturing your audience native to the platform that they’re on is what will win them over in your calls-to-action. So be sure to upcycle, atomize, and repurpose the content that you already have to make the most out of it on the platforms you use.

nurture your audience on social media

Conclusion

Social distribution may seem like a logical and analytical concept, but if your mind is on distributing content for the sake of numbers you will not find success in social media marketing. Instead, your social distribution efforts need to revolve around the platforms that you’re using.

Create native and intentional content that people don’t have to go out of their way to interact with. The more you nurture your audience with value where their attention already is, the more willing they will be to buy from you.

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