Tuesday, 21 May 2013

5 Tips on Content Marketing for Business

I went to an excellent talk by Jasper Martens from Simply Business this evening.

Simply Business are an insurance company, but you wouldn't know that from their content (more on that later!). Jasper was brought in to manage their social media output and revolutionised their marketing approach through clever use of shareable content such as free user guides.

Here's the top 5 tips I took away from the talk:

1) Content doesn't have to be about your product as long as it is in line with your BRAND.
Jasper found that he didn't end up creating content about insurance - customers found that a turnoff and wouldn't share it. Instead he focussed on a brand 'attribute'  which was that Simply Business wanted to be known for positivity towards small businesses. From this it was a natural step to creating guides aimed to help and advise this market.

2) Don't waste time trying to grow platforms that don't work for you.
Simply Business recognised that Facebook was not very successful for them in their B2B marketing efforts. Instead of trying to improve here they focussed on producing great content which could be shared on Facebook but did not depend on that channel for success.

3) Activities can BE content!
Similarly, Jasper found that his Google hangouts were only attracting double figure live audiences, despite telling people about them via mailouts to a six-figure email database. Not deterred, he recognised that the discussions held on the hangouts made great short videos and put them on YouTube, where they continue to reach a much wider audience.

4) Benefits of content marketing aren't easy to quantify.
A question from the audience (and a very common one at all social media talks I've been to) is how does this improve acquisitions? The answer is it is very hard to tell - difficult to track a sale back to the free download which created the initial brand awareness. At this point I thought it might be an idea to experiment with offer codes unique to the user guides, to help prove business worth, although you would have to tread carefully in order not to erode goodwill by appearing salesy.

5) The content has to be GOOD.
Easy to forget this one. 'Content for content's sake' will be without substance and won't help anyone, least of all you! Simply Business produced a Google Analytics guide of such good quality that Google linked to it from their help pages. It doesn't take an SEO expert to guess what a link from Google will do to your search rankings!

Monday, 20 May 2013

“Interesting”, you might say, “but how is this related to digital”? Well the video  may appear to be about direct marketing but it raises some very pertinent questions for digital marketers too!

In the clip above, Target has achieved every marketers’ dream – being able to predict what the consumer would like to buy and when – in fact they've done this so accurately that it has actually worked against them in this case.

Digital marketers like to do this too and they have even more powerful tools at their fingertips. When a company sends a mass email out, unlike more traditional advertising and marketing methods, the company is able to track exactly which customer responded to which offers via click-through data.

They can observe the individual’s behaviour on their website: which pages they responded to, purcased from or shared via social networks; where on the site they spent the most time; and which page they finally left the website from.

Although most companies wouldn’t do this level of granular analysis on individual behaviours, companies with large volumes of traffic can begin (at the very least) to guage which campaigns are working, what messages work for which demographics and at what point they will buy, and to adapt their campaigns accordingly.

The recently released Sitecore 6 CMS allows website owners to tailor the content that is displayed according to previous activity - a powerful tool meaning those interested in a certain topic (i.e on a page or blog post about pets) can then be shown pet offers or taken to the pet offer page. This means websites can be much more targetted (if you forgive the pun!) and we will begin to see more and more companies using amassed historical user data to promote products which are increasingly relevant to the individual viewing the site.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Moo Cards - the calling card of the Tech Professional. (Plus 10% off for Digilance readers!)

Ok so this post isn't purely about digital - more about the 'real-world' paraphernalia even we digital professionals sometimes need, and our provider of choice!

In 2008 I was working in Old Street. This was before the term 'Tech City' was coined, but it was still a hive of digital activity and tech start-ups and I'm sure I remember the phrase 'Silicon Roundabout' being bandied about. Back then I worked in a shared office with other digital types and I saw lots of funny little cards exchanging hands. These weren't the traditional size of business cards (how did those become globally standardised by the way? Who decided that? Must have been a ploy from someone who wanted to produce a business card holder...). These were small rectangles, which sort of reminded me of the space a tweet would occupy (yes, I was a Twitter addict even then!) and had the most wonderful selection of colourful images printed on them. Each one seemed to be different and personal to the techy type that proffered it.

When I enquired I was answered with great enthusiasm: "why they're mini Moo cards!", "We love Moo, great little company" and "Everyone in digital has them. In fact, I know people who won't take you seriously as a tech start-up if you have the old business cards!".

When I moved away from Old Street I didn't see many Moo cards and assumed they hadn't managed to go mainstream and move away from being a tech geek's calling card. But I did see the odd advert online which meant they must be ticking over ok...then one day recently I overheard someone in a non-digital setting comment "what cute little cards" and I knew the Moo card was back!

As I'm branching out into doing more freelance work, Moo were my fist point of call for cards. A natural choice and I'm glad to see they're doing so well. I ordered the cards pictured above (and a few other designs), and then (as Sod's Law would have it) discovered that attendees of Digital Shoreditch also get 100 free Moo cards. No problem though, I've ordered even more!

And, for my lovely digilance readers - a 10% discount off all Moo orders when you order via this link. Enjoy :)

Monday, 13 May 2013

Social Media Case Study - Twitter customer service

The conversation above started when I recieved an email from the trainline about thier new 'print-your-own-ticket' system. Not entirely convinced by the practicalities, I took to Twitter to see what others thought.

As I had used @thetrainline handle out of courtesy I knew they could see my tweet, but as it was not wholly positive - or directly addressed to them as a question or complaint - they had the option not to reply. Many companies wouldn't have done, shying away from negative publicity or thinking an interaction with me wouldn't be productive. 

Trainline however saw an opportunity to try and convert me and did so in a very friendly professional manner. A great example of how social media can be used to intercept negative public sentiment and win the individual around. They cited others using the system successfully (but without coming accross as provocative) and hashtagged the word 'convenience' (the aspect I had thought would cause issues) to reaffirm just how easy it is.

They also used lots of smiley faces to show that even if they were disagreeing with me, they were being helpful not confrontational and this kept the tone personable the whole way through. Angus identifying himself at the beginning meant that a level of trust was built up as I was now tweeting with an individual rather thn a faceless entity.

It really is a good example of company tweeting and I'm sure they actually wouldn't have thought in this level of detail about the language used (once tone of voice and editorial style is established, responding on social media in this manner begins to come naturally) but I hope it is useful to dissect the elements that make it successful here. 

Let me know if you've seen (or had) any other great customer service responses on social media.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Stop. Yammer time!

What is Yammer?

Yammer is an "enterprise social network" which was acquired by Microsoft in summer 2012 and now forms part of thier Office 365 offering. It's an internal social network for businesses - similar in audience and tone to LinkedIn, as a communications platform for professionals - but with the added security of being limited solely to members of staff.

A 'company social media network' would never take off, would it?

A few years ago I wouldn't have been convinced by the need for a company social media platform. On a personal level, the social media sphere was somewhere I interacted with friends and was ocaisionally (and hopefully not intrusively) marketed to by businesses. It definitely wasn't somewhere I would interact with senior colleagues and nor did it need to be - emails and the company intranet would suffice. Companies' awkward failed attemps to set up company Facebook groups were a thing of ridicule not lauded as a great example of internal comms.

What has changed then? Well, on a personal level I think social media has become more pervasive in our lives, and the line between social networking and professional activity has become less well defined. What used to be a flat-out ban on social media usage in the workplace has in some companies become more relaxed and in others even encouraged.

Ok, how can Yammer be used by businesses?

Yammer's website claims it is used by more than 200 companies worldwide, including Shell, Xerox, CapGemini and Westfield. Employees use it for:

  • Posting what they’re working on into the social space, to see if others they don't know are working on it too, or working towards similar goals.
  • Crowd sourcing answers to problems or issues by asking questions and posting polls
  • Sharing insights they’ve come across elsewhere to act as inspiration.
  • Share successes in the hope they make work well for others.
If you still can't quite picture this, it might help to think of a practical example. Take the Food Standards Authority - they have a central organisation with many, many field inspectors, who will need to keep in touch with central management on a regular basis. It would also be beneficial to share their experiences with other field workers. Using Yammer, they could all post any difficulties they may come across in certain areas, photographs of situations and advice on how to avoid them etc. alongside recieving updates from central office on the latest regulations.

It does sound quite useful, and also fun, but then obviously I'm quite a fan of social networks. Stop me before I start to Yammer on...(sorry!).

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Could it be...a good example of a QR code? I'm as shocked as you are.

I'm normally pretty skeptical of QR codes. It's one of those digital fads which seems to have come out of nowhere, yet been embraced over-enthusiasticly by any company that wishes to appear cool and up-to-date.

The problem is, most companies don't seem to have grasped the basic requirements:

1. People need to be able to scan them with a phone
2. People will need internet access to connect to the page you are sending them to

This makes them wholly unsuitable for, say, an advert on the underground which regularly disappears behind a train, or a motorway hoarding. Some uses just seem absurd. There's no way I'm getting my phone out to scan a bananna (more of these ones on wtfqrcodes.com)!

The QR code above, however, makes a bit more sense. The bit of card which allows me to remove a tabag already has a practical use, is branded on the other side, and therefore has a small square space which would otherwise be blank. Whilst you could try to write something on there, or stick a URL or Twitter handle, I think a QR code isn't a bad call really. If making a cuppa at home, you probably have time to investigate or if you have a takeaway tea like I did from Waitrose, it's an interesting 2 minute activity while drinking it (yes I still did feel a little silly scanning my tea, but pretended I was texting and hoped no-one noticed!).

The link goes through to a page about their tea selection, which is fine, but for me it would have been more appealing if it had some sort of gamification element, such as an offer, or hidden page that only the teabag QR code took me to. Nevertheless, I think Twinings should still be applauded as a case study for a good practical use of the QR code, where so many others are failing miserably to do so.