How should you write your website content in order to get more customers? It depends. The real question should be; What is your visitor looking for? And more importantly, where are they in the Prospect Battlefield? Have they heard of you yet? Are they comparing you to your competitors? Are they ready to buy? Or they might even be a customer already. (Yes, its even worth creating content with existing customers in mind.)
Lets have a look at one of the most effective pieces of content from one of our clients:
But why, “this is only a pricing page” I hear you yell through your laptop screen this Sunday morning… well the truth is, most business owners and marketers view content as information on what they’ve been up to, how good they are for the environment or other ‘bloggy’ subjects. They draw a line between content they think they should be talking about to educate the world about how many years they’ve been in business, etc. and then they treat their product pages as separate somehow. Sadly, this is the downfall of many businesses.
This pricing page for our client, Manor Farm is the perfect content for prospects already looking for the search term Lipocontrast because they are the ONLY supplier in the area. Its just enough information for the prospect to make their decision. Short and easy to consume. Minimal distractions.
Content Marketing and what your website content should be, is a subject I’m quite passionate about. We’re going to get “in deep” in this article so here’s a quick rundown of what we’ll be covering.
Its my hope that by the end of our time together here, you’ll never waste another hour producing content that has lack-lustre intangible results. Rather, every second you spend producing marketing content for your business will have a direct measurable impact on increasing sales. But it will require changing some preconceptions, so please stay with me ;)
Now, I’m not saying long form content is not important. I’m not saying that larger articles about positive points from your business shouldn’t be broadcast. But WHEN creating ANY content we should always have this in mind:
This will become more clear as we work through this article together. After looking at the different types of content and what the key ingredients are to make them successful, the parts of the puzzle should fall into place.
[EDIT] // Keep a look out at the end of the article for a cool freebie (this month only) that give a step by step implementation of the tactics outlined here. Aren’t we awesome ;)
Take a thousand foot overview of the marketing battlefield.
What we refer to as the marketing battlefield, most other marketers refer to as a funnel. For simplicities sake we will put it in visual terms as a funnel for this article though.
Why don’t we like funnels? We feel they over-simplify the process and create invisible lines that hamper marketing efforts. In reality, your prospects are always moving closer AND further away from the sale. Some tactics work great at long range like a sniper, others are more like a shotgun (high impact but utterly ineffective from far away). More on this later.
From not knowing who you are, to buying from you, right through to hopefully referring on business to you, prospects starting out as aliens of unknown ip addresses in the far reaches of the internet move through various shades of warmth before they become your avid fans. Here we’ve broken it down into four.
Seeing you for the first time - we call this the First Sight or Value Impact stage, because its critical that you show in as SHORT a time as possible that you understand their problem (alignment) and you offer a VIABLE solution.
Marketing Showdown - during this stage your prospect will have a good idea of who you are and what you can do for them. We call this stage the Marketing Showdown because, undoubtably you’re racing neck and neck with your competitors to become the prospects favourite.
The End Game - we call this the Finishing Move. Your prospect has decided that you’re the best option. You thought that defeating your competition we enough … BUT now you’ve got an even bigger assailant to overcome … INACTION. Luckily your relationship with your prospect at this point (if you’ve done the previous stages right) is such that you can use much more effective tactics. Strong direct CTA’s and Brazen Offers - your “finishing move” to make the sale.
Customer Resurrection - The customer may have recently purchased or they might be a loyal fan. Either way they’re a great option for Up-sells, Referrals AND Testimonials. Ignore any one of these and you’re leaving money on the table.
― Sun Tzu, The Art of Marketing
(although filled with his inimitable style of wisdom, many felt that Sun’s lesser-known book on Digital Marketing Techniques was too ahead of its time for the audiences of the Zhou Dynasty circa. 525BCE)
When we’re furthest away from our targets, (i.e. at the top of the traditional marketing funnel,) what we are trying to do is tell our prospects that we understand the problem, (alignment) BEFORE we offer a solution. This is important because we really want to first confirm to them “Hey, don’t worry! You’re in the right place. We get you.” Before you start saying, “How about considering this solution.” You don’t want to be like the ole’ timey snake oil salesman constantly bleating on about your miracle cure, without letting your customers know that you understand their particular ailment.
When we offer the solution, we don’t want to come off slimy or salesey. Using Hard-Sell tactics without delivering value would have a negative effect. Imagine if we were to end this article right here with a big…
TO LEARN MORE, FIX YOUR CONTENT PROBLEMS AND GET MORE CUSTOMERS…
… CALL ENERGISE NOW ON 01604 659888 AND SIGN UP TO OUR PREMIUM CONSULTANCY PACKAGE FOR 36 MONTHLY PAYMENTS OF 99,995 GBP
… just kidding,
we wouldn’t do that to you ;)
The point being that content aimed at those that have only just heard about you should be treated like you’re two people at a bar just hearing about each other for the first time. Eban Pagan does a great job of transposing the business-customer relationship into the milieu of person-person dating relationship. You shouldn’t try to rush the relationship into a sale. But you SHOULD track the visitor so you can show your RELEVANT adverts as they continue to journey the internet.
Ideally you would want to capture their email address, so you can send further beneficial content, moving them closer to the End Game where you’d make them an offer. But ideally, depending on your product price point you’d want to give a couple or more pieces of useful content before you ask for the sale. Seminal social marketer Gary Vaynerchuck describes this process as Jab Jab Jab Right Hook.
Putting out great content, sending baskets of fruit, whatever your jab is, it doesn’t entitle you to land the right hook. It just allows you to have the audacity to ask.
- Gary Vaynerchuck
The device we use to build massive value and establish a relationship of trust is called The Icebreaker. This is where we look at the best process of identifying the new lead as best we can, and showing them that we can solve a part of their problem. Not just whetting their appetite but by delivering ACTUAL VALUE, something they can use & get benefit from. As we are offering this for free and at the very top of the “funnel” you can think of the Icebreaker like a sniper. Its the move you use from furthest away.
To then move the customer ever closer to the sale, you will aim content at them appropriate to their range. The Marketing Showdown will include reasons why you are better than your competitors. But it may also include a way of trying out your services at a one-time offer level. We call this an Opening Gambit. The exchange might not even be money, but a commitment from them in terms of time, like a consultation. (You wouldn’t want to offer a consultation to someone unless you knew they had significant interest in you, so you’d need some way to qualify the lead further before offering up an hour or more of your time for free. We use an exhaustive online questionnaire but you could just have a call service reach out over the phone & ask your prospect a few questions.)
Once you’re sure you’re in the End Game with your customer, you can change tack a little toward the more forward approach. By all means ask for the sale here. But be sure to do it with a little twinkle in your proverbial eye. The product or service your selling here should be your main “what you hang your hat on” good value, excellent product, at a reasonable margin. Set a good price and be confident in that price for service / product offering. Don’t allow yourself to be haggled-down. If price point becomes a consistent objection to sale, then consider creating down-sell options.
You may find that otherwise pushy tactics like offering a final price reduction if they make the sale there and then will drive up conversions. This is called a “place and time” offer. Whatever your finishing move may be, don’t make it such that its available beyond your restrictions. That would damage your credibility. So think about whether the offer really is going to “disappear” for ever. We offer sporadic monthly discounts / freebies because we find that those that can afford, don’t mind paying full price for the “having it now” convenience vs. those that wait and mop up all our periodic sales / freebies, typically turn into avid fans and promote our brand. So its win - win, but think about what would work best for your brand and customer base. If you make a HIGHLY PUBLIC & long-lasting offer, you don’t want to have to then go and offer a load of “good-will” discounts to appease customers that recently bought at full price.
Then Finally when considering content to go out to customers that have already purchased, (what other type of customers are there??) Think of how you would word things differently. These guys already know you, (and one would assume by and large) like you and trust you. Think of the sort of body copy that already goes into your after sales emails, thanking them (you do do that right!?) This can be championed and made public. Creating content that thanks your existing customers, promotes community, and incentivises referrals. And testimonials can be echoed here. But also, should it be seen by prospects further up the funnel, this promotes brand assurance. Seeing positive interaction with previous real customers creates trust. Got a good google review?.. whether its one guy or ten thousand five-stars, create some content saying thanks and what it means to your brand. If people have taken the time out to review and you thank them for it you’re continuing that positive relationship, stoking the fire. Remember, in reality its a Marketing Battleground… not some abstract funnel that entities just plop out the bottom of, never to be remembered. Keeping people on your side is a must.
So to summarise;
First Sight - At the Top of the Funnel - Show that you understand the problem. Lightly present the solution. Offer help / advice if you can.
Marketing Showdown - Outlay the like for like argument - are they comparing apples to oranges? Offer some way of getting a taste of what it would be like to be your customer.
End Game - Think about your Finishing Move. How will you help your prospect take the leap of faith WITH you.
Customer Resurrection - Now they’re happy (and what customer of yours wouldn’t be) … Capitalise on it. Ask for the Up-sell / Referral / Testimonial
I know I’ve gone on a while here and digressed a little, but I’m hoping this is starting to fall into place for you.
What most people think of as “content” is all stuck at the “First Sight” very top of the funnel. And often the articles are constructed with no clear idea of what next-step to lead their reader on to next. Hopefully now you’re getting a new found appreciation of constructing leads into content further down this funnel. And maybe creating a few landing pages geared around the Marketing Showdown, (where you would bid on keywords like [MY PRODUCT vs. COMPETITOR]). Also consider creating some End Game content. We showed you the pricing option page at the beginning of the article. This is a variant of what is traditionally known is sales terminology as the “either or close”. That is to say, we’re not asking IF you’d like it, but we’re asking WHICH one you’d like. Couple that with a “Place and Time” offer on one of the price option variants and you’ll find you’ve got a pretty deadly “finishing move”!
You want the movement of the prospect to be as fluid as possible. Excellent quality Marketing Showdown & End Game Content are absolutely essential. So to outline our simplified version of the Marketing Battlefield in legacy funnel format, here’s a graphic for you;
Behold, The Marketing Battlefield.
So just to recap quickly. First Sight Content Marketing might be more freely accessible. What do we mean by this? Like if you’re offering something, it should be for free. You can ask fo an email, but bear in mind more often than not, you’re going to get a junk email address that they only check once in a blue moon. (Good practice is to take them off your list if they are not clicking links in, or at least opening your first few emails, because YOUR sender reputation will go down. More on this in our Email Marketing guide.) Typically though, a pixel adding them to a Facebook audience or a tracking tag enabling re-marketing via. google ads or youtube is enough at this “first date”.
And just like you would on a first date, try to romance them, entertain, inspire and educate them. To start out just post information rich content to your website, and either link social posts to it directly, or offer cut-down versions on your social media. What ever you do, a good long term SEO goal is to always add incentive for the audience to “get the full article” on your main website. Google will notice your inbound traffic and rank your article pages up accordingly.
As soon as possible, try to get SOME kind of video content up, both on your website and on social media, (facebook and OBVIOUSLY YouTube.) Having ANY kind of video marketing presence, (even if it is initially a bit cringeworthy,) pays dividends in terms of internet presence.
As shown in the graphic an effective gaumont of media types for “First Sight” include;
- Information Articles (blog, research, cool handouts)
- Video Content (Business / Product Overview, vlog)
- Social media (posts / updates)
- Graphics (photos, infographics)
- Audio content (podcasts / mixcloud radioshow)
- Physical media (printed leaflet / press release)
But this is by no means an exhaustive list. As long as you keep in mind that we are really at the “getting to know you” phase here. And be sure if you’re buying search traffic (and everyone should be buying a little, thanks Google you can slip me that fiver later in the pub,) be sure to link your “First Sight” keywords like “how do I get better at… [YOUR BUSINESS OFFERS SERVICE]” or product search keywords “best type of…[YOUR BUSINESS OFFERS PRODUCT]” … link these “getting to know you” keywords, with your “first sight content” landing pages. Have a clear next desired action for your audience to take. And Make sure there is some strong CTA (call to action) on the page compelling them to do so. We favour bold colour graphics with bright DOWNLOAD NOW buttons or some-such.
Does your “First Sight” Landing Page make your audience realise you are aware of their problem and understand their frustrations? Double Check!!
Here’s an example I liked from Rip Curl. As a semi-professional sea-water swallower and Mediterranean Big Wave Kahuna, I immediately liked this surf-brand’s approach to identifying and aligning with “The Search” as being that constant thirst in every surfer’s soul to travel insurmountable distances and endure logistical hardships in finding that one perfect ‘break’. I totally identified with Rip Curl’s description of Hawaii’s Oahu, Pipeline the deadliest wave in the world. Incredibly powerful waves break mere yards from the shore over a jagged coral reef, having not been a stranger to some pretty arduous surfing experiences myself… I once had to endure a fifteen minute wait for boogie board hire at Newquay beach, in what could only be described as tepid water. What can I say, I like to live life on the edge.
The point here being that Rip Curl does a great job of getting your “best” email address as it offers up premium content on the movers and shakers in the surfing world, as you are invited to “join the search”. By building the hub of a community centred on surfing news around their brand, they are able to take their audience fluidly from cold prospect, through customer, to avid fan.
Now Rip Curl may have a pretty tidy follow up sequence, and a very compelling reason to leave your “best” email address in the first place. But the sad fact is that most companies’ content isn’t as “plugged-in” as this. A lot of content marketing efforts begin and end with “lets put up a new blog piece saying what we’ve been up to”. Not necessarily a bad idea, but thought HAS to go into;
- Who is going to read it
- How are they going to find it
- What is it going to tell them (does it indicate understanding of their problem)
- What do you want them to do next (and the answer can’t be “buy my stuff” …yet!!)
So here’s what we do to fix that disconnected top section of the funnel. We segue these prospects from “first sight” knowing that you can solve their problem (and that you care), down the funnel into Qualified Leads. Say you had ran Google Search Ads to cold traffic for people searching for the phrase “Best Wedding Photographer Rouen” and they came to your “First Sight” article entitled “What To Look For When Hiring A Wedding Photographer” that explained the common pitfalls about requested style, image delivery, organising group photography and so on. Now on this page you had a fantastic Icebreaker for “PDF list of the photos you want covered on your special day - Just tick the boxes and hand to your photographer” - all the page visitor had to do was enter their email address… But they didn’t, did they? # Quelle surprise!! HOWEVER being the savvy sophisticated marketer that you are, you used re-marketing tracking codes on your landing page. Great!!
Now every so often when this same prospect visits other websites, arranging flowers, place settings, booking vehicles and so on for their wedding, among the advertisements they see, they see your same Icebreaker. Same eye catching block colour graphic. Familiar from the nice experience they had on you website before. Later on when they’re not so pressed for time and they’ve broken the back of sorting out the wedding logistics, they’re casually browsing around the web looking at funny cats videos or some-such, when they see your ad for a 3rd time. This time they’ve got time to stop and reflect, and they think to themselves, “y’know what, whether i use this particular photographer or not, it would be gosh darned handy to have a pre-ticked list i can just hand to my photographer, without all the fuss. He seems familiar and trustworthy”. Clicks on the Ad. Lands on the squeeze page for the Icebreaker. She enters her email address - and boom, now she is a qualified lead.
What do we mean by squeeze page? Well, the Squeeze Page is so called, because it literally “squeezes” a decision from the page visitor. By nature in the wild, we’re quite click-happy creatures. We like to browse around, meander here and there, then get distracted and end up off on some other website, doing something else. I’m afraid its just a fact of nature. HOWEVER when confronted with a squeeze page, the otherwise click-happy critter is forced to either
- Leave an email address (and get the downloadable goodie sent to them)
- Leave the page (literally close the window, there should be no navigation to other pages)
Here is an example from Pay Pal.
Super simple. Nice graphic. Handsome, cheerful, musclebound, winsome chap, fresh cup of coffee and strong consistent branding. Whats not to like? There’s three clear listed benefits. After downloading this widget I’ll then be able to;
Convert all to my particular brand of religion.
Become an artist of promotion-peddle-ment.
Manifest cash money from the void.
All I have to do is provide some rudimentary firmographic data and my full name and email address. There’s even some below the fold content that you can scroll down to, although the styling of the page is such that there’s absolutely no indication that the page continues when loaded at regular desktop / tablet resolutions. BUT if you click the CTA link (regular text link at the very bottom) guess what happens… it just scrolls you smoothly back up to the top of the page. Pretty clear… opt-in or OPT-OFF!! Nicely done PayPal, the archetype squeeze page in all its glory
So a sample list of typical Marketing Showdown type content would run as follows;
- Squeeze Page (Simple, Minimal Choice & Standalone)
- In Depth Resource (eBook, Whitepaper)
- Video (Infomercial, Infotainment, Free Course)
- Evaluation Offer (software demo, machine rental)
- Interactive (Survey, Quiz, Poll)
- Event (webinar / seminar / demonstration)
Now these are all well and good. And in truth, in the process of a well executed Marketing Showdown, you will have probably acquired the “best” email address for your prospect. They will now be on “your list”. And despite the old marketing adage “The Money Is In The List”. I’m afraid to say it isn’t that simple. It would be more accurate to say “The Money Is In the list providing the list is sufficiently warm to the idea of the list owners company providing the solution at the price both prospect and said company expect, and that there is a compelling reason to make the purchase in a timely fashion” … but that doesn’t roll off the tongue so nicely.
So in order to convert email addresses (or some other consensually gathered data) into cash money at a reasonable rate of return, we need to sharpen our “End Game” skills.
The End Game Marketing Techniques
Here comes the crunch. This is where you are going to get your prospects to make that final buying decision. Or to put it in other, more colourful terms, “Poo or get off the pot!”. You may be asking, “What kind of content works best here.” Without knowing your industry or specific product, its hard to make a recommendation of a, “one size fits all” content marketing strategy. However the good news is that this close to the sale, i.e. close-range battlefield targets at the bottom of our proverbial funnel are best converted with minimal information. Provided they’re aware of your brand and you’ve made the necessary Marketing Showdown, comparison arguments, all your prospect needs at this stage is a compelling reason NOT to procrastinate. Strong CTAs (Calls to Action) like “Buy Now” or “Sign Up Today” speak to this end goal.
As for format of content, you may want to get them on a free trial if they start today, (but capture their CC details so you can segue straight into billing with fluidity.) You may want to use an emotive customer story. But at this stage try to use AVOID language to clinch the sale. E.g. “Say goodbye to that double chin, Book your Lipocontrast session today.” Although we are saturated by positive marketing talking about features or better still benefits… by far the most effective language for finally banking that customer cash is to lean more towards avoiding negative effects through inaction. Even leaning a little on fear like, “Hurry while Stocks Last” is an oldie-but-goldie.
You can still use comparison and product specification pages, but try to make the comparison between your OWN product lines at this stage. Remember if someone is searching for keyword “[YOUR BRAND] + best price” or “[YOUR BRAND] + deals” without mention of your competitor, you do NOT want to remind them there’s another game in town. Close range Marketing Battlefield tactics always assume you are the logical choice. We have to assume they will be buying from you, the goal here is to get them to buy TODAY.
Webinars are another form of content you can use at close range also. The change of tack here is that the webinar modality is still focused around the assumption they will buy from you at some point, so start using product ownership language. Refer to them as if they’re already on board with you. If this seems cringeworthy to you, then you’re probably using this technique from too far away. Remember our funnel visualisation, we’re expecting that the Webinar attendee for your End Game Marketing content already knows about you and has considered you preferable to your competitors. If you’re offreing a “big-ticket” product or expecting someone to make an annual commitment, you may want to spread out two or three webinars into an online course. Be sure to make a “One Time Offer” at the end of the webinar to maximise conversions.
So in order of popularity I’d say you should consider creating or optimising an existing…
- Free Trial Page / Book Product Demonstration Page
- Customer Success Stories Page / Case Study Page (with strong CTA)
- Pricing Options Page / Product Comparison Page
- Webinar with OTO (One Time Offer) / Multi Part Course, (finishing with Sales Video)
Here’s some examples from a couple of technology brands we use; Cisco and Rackspace. Neither is the cheapest in their field… however bottom line is not our main concern regarding digital sales engines. Saving a buck on monthly hosting is not preferable to secure, stable hosting with excellent service. Both these companies do a great job of building “Brand Assurance” with their customer success stories sections. By going with Rackspace for example, we feel we are part of the “premium professional tech community” alongside recognised brands such as Metro Bank, Vue Cinemas and then brands we’d recognise specific to OUR industry space like Sagittarius Agency, even the furniture giant DFS uses their infrastructure and technologies.
Rather than just un-clickable brand badges, each one of these recognised brands is backed up by a case-study page outlining which areas of their services that particular brand used. We read these when making a decision on who we wanted to partner with. For sure we could have saved a small amount by going with a service like Amazons AWS Cloud services (favoured my many startups for speed to market & cost) but when you look at the downside any savvy business owner who is in it for the long term is going to make an informed business purchase decision based on the complete picture. Customer success stories provide this complete picture.
What would I have done differently? Strong CTA linked direct to product options page. Large block colour “click me” button. And another one for the “Talk to us” link. Yes they already have a regular link in here, but stylistically speaking, its not placed as what I would call the logical expected next move for the page visitor. Making it clear what action you want the visitor to take next … (as long as you’re following the Marketing Battlefield rules) … is not pushy sales tactics, its actually also good UI /UX. I wanted to spin up a cloud server right after reading one of their customer stories, but I had a job navigating back to the right page and it took a while to actually figure out where and how I need to create an account.
Hey Rackspace if you’re reading this, just follow the link at the bottom of this page and we can get you squared away with some higher performing pages ;) Plus second piece of advice, Google’s search suggestion algorithm is hinting that there’s a ton of traffic to be had under a direct product comparison between Rackpace and AWS …
… rather than letting Cloudberry and Comentum mop up all this Marketing Showdown Search Traffic with their price-centric articles. C’mon Rackspace, you know your customer base and you trade on reputation & service… this is an easy win for you. These are mid-range Marketing Battlefield prospects where the majority of the hard work is done. They are product and brand aware. And they are in an ‘evaluation’ mindset. Begin the Marketing Showdown. This example leads us quite nicely into the next section…
With our Quick Win Content Construction, For a Sales Mechanism that Never Sleeps Workflow you get effective step-by-step tactics to immediately deploy in your business. We will teach you the elements to look for in creating successful content. How to “plug it in” to your marketing funnel. And how to set up ACCURATE measure and testing so you can see if its actually working for you. Free this month. Download Yours today!
Consider the Mindset of your Website Traffic.
Google considers this to be “Intent Signals” or moments in a search engine users, errr… use of the search engine, I guess. The four that you need to know about, (in order to be thinking as Google’s algorithm does,) are as follows;
- I want to know
- I want to go
- I want to do
- I want to buy
In this video we talk about each of these, but briefly; if the user says “I want to know” Google wants to show them more information about a product. Ideally they want to show an answer box right at the top of the results page. Tables a a great way of getting your content there. For an excellent way to generate table content fast, check out our Icebreaker on Jedi MarkDown Moves.
Further to that, if the searcher wants to go, Google wants to show them a physical address. See our Icebreaker on Google Local Business Mastery to check you’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. If the searcher wants to do, Google wants to show them a YouTube How To video showing them the correct way to prepare a fish for the grill, in the hopes that they will make some advertising revenue from the company with the video advert you have to skip before the main content, selling fish sauce & marinades. However if you’ve got a great page with clear metadata with your own hosted how to video on gutting fish the right way, Google will still rank you high, providing people are staying on your page indicating they got the answer to their query. NOT going back to the results page and clicking the next result down in the list (a.k.a pogo-sticking… Google considers this to be an extremely negative ranking signal.)
And lastly, if the user wants to buy, guess where google wants to send them?.. that’s right, your new, freshly optimised, lean, mean, effective product page. If you have a physical product, consider registering with Google Merchant in order to appear in their “shopping results” along with an awesome image of your product and the price. You will only pay if they click on your result.
Yes this is a tad more expensive PER CLICK than Longer Range Marketing Battlefield tactics like offering content on most fashionable glasses frames of 2020, but think about how much more qualified the traffic is. They have seen the glasses frame style, and they are considering your brand & the price as acceptable, (otherwise why are they clicking on the link??) So THIS visitor is automatically straight into The End Game. Use a beautifully shot, large 360 degree rotate-able product image, so they can drag their finger across their smartphone screen to see the glasses from every angle. This makes the product feel more 3D like its already in their hands. An important part of buyer psychology is to make the product feel closer to already being in the customer’s possession. Couple this with some short sharp, ownership-led copywriting in the product description. So what I would have done differently from the examples shown, is used copywriting more along the lines of …
“You’ll almost feel bad for your friends as you notice that flash of envy, when they see you rocking these bold, eclectic, and yet tasteful frames. The signature detailing on these Gucci eyeglass frames gives a subtle hint, showing others that you understand quality and aren’t afraid to treat yourself. Go on, you deserve it.”
Notice the subtle but disarming Call to Action at the end. Yes it may feel a bit forward, but going back to what we were saying earlier about marketing being like dating, remember it was always the cocky guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer that ended up getting the date. In any case, with split testing, its very easy to identify which product page is the better performer, so if you aren’t sure, send an evenly split random selection of traffic to each product page and see which one ends up in taking more sales. If there’s no significant improvement in the page with the larger image and the minified ownership-led copywriting then I’ll eat my hat. Also large block colour on the Buy Now / Add to Basket button please. CoolFrames does this well, FashionEyewear does not. Customers are like magpies. No point having a stylish looking E-Commerce Website if it doesn’t convert as well. As stupid as it sounds, I bet FashionEyewear would boost their sales by as much as five percent just by having the colour selector field pre select & display the most popular colour, and a larger golden material design “buy now” button. As customers in the end game we are always teetering on the fence of that, “should I, shouldn’t I” mindset. Speak to that mindset with a soft CTA (e.g. “Why not treat yourself today”) and REMOVE and obstacles by making it as few click as possible to make the sale. There’s a reason why Amazon offer such heavy discount when you enable “one click purchasing” on your account.
Tactics Update for the Service Industries (no physical product)
Now if you’re in the service industry and don’t have a physical product… I’m afraid you can’t appear on Google’s Merchant’s shopping results. In fact look how personal trainers in this search have to compete with Personal Training Books (physical product) even though the search phrase never mentioned books;
BUT add a couple of words to that search to make the intention specific to the Marketing Showdown / End Game sections of the Marketing Battlefield and notice how Pure Gym now dominate the above the fold SERP content (SERP = Search Engine Results Page, above the fold meaning visible on screen without having to scroll) by snagging that Google answers box, and on mobile the dominance was even more apparent as a searcher would have to thumb scroll through three pages height to get to the next competitor…
I ran the search a couple of times and Bark came up with a localised, star-rated search advert using price extensions showing group sessions at 25 GBP per hour. But their landing page was just an internal search listing for “personal trainer” on bark.com. Pretty typical for a service industry professional directory…
… Outranking this on Google Ads with some wholesome, fleshed-out, high-quality End Game content would cost an individual trainer a lot less per click then Bark would be paying, because google wants to show informative content, not just lists of more results. So if you’re offering a service, consider what comes up when you search for [your service] plus the word price, cost, cost per hour, rates or so on. Is there a content gap here that you can fill? FAQ’s (Frequently asked questions) are a great place to start if you’re not sure what to generate content around. Try to prioritise creation of content around questions being asked by closer-range prospects on the Marketing Battlefield. If i’m asking, “When is the most effective time of the day to book a personal training session?” then I’m obviously a much closer range prospect than someone asking “Should I use a personal trainer?”
Don’t forget to run traffic at the Marketing Showdown
In the last couple of sections we spoke mainly about generating and optimising content around End Game prospects. However I do want to stress that a more often over looked section by businesses is the Marketing Showdown. Even if they generate content around championing their USP vs. their competitors, or say they create fantastic interactive content featuring a poll whereby prospects can rate the importance of the features they offer, (we ran a great one entitled “What do you think the most important element of a squeeze page is?” suggesting the copywriting, the benefit list, the style and design and so on,) many companies feel they don’t want to route paid traffic at these content pieces because they are often Consideration based articles… and that in someway is making people feel unsure about their brand. But as long as your keywords are set up properly, you ABSOLUTELY want to be bidding on your competitors brand names with this Marketing Showdown content. These people are already Close-Range Marketing Battlefield prospects for your competitors, which means that they will already have done a good job of;
- Convincing them they have a problem
- Assuring them that a viable solution can be bought for the right price
- What they can provide is worth a close look.
… if you can provide a competitive alternative then you should be making that argument with your Marketing Showdown content, whether its centred around, price, service, speed of delivery, reliability, flexibility, philanthropy, there’s a thousand angles you should be presenting your competitor’s prospects to bring them into your mid-field of consideration, before they close their End Game. And yes, some people searching your competitors brand name will already be customers, but they might not be satisfied customers.
Look at the virulent competition in the CRM, SaaS Industry-space (Client Relationship Managment, software as a service.) I typed in the undisputed long term market leader in the small business CRM space for advanced marketing, “Infusionsoft” & all these other companies are offering software that proports to do the same thing. I felt like i’d thrown fresh meat into a bowl full of pirhanas…
… Notice how Infusionsoft's direct competitors dominate the above the fold SERP (search engine results page). Now, lets look at two of the landing pages; Fresh Works & Insightly…
While Freshworks isn't doing too bad a job, directing us to a page showing reasons to choose Freshworks OVER other CRM systems. On the other hand Insightly, while bidding on their competitor's brand name (and paying a premium for doing so...) they are not doing a very good job sheparding the traffic theyare paying for. Insightly is dropping us straight onto their homepage which is making non-targeted arguments about the general benefits of their CRM.
Now for Insightly, I’d say thats a wasted effort and a bit of a shame. They purport to be in the marketing space & they know my search term “Infusionsoft CRM”, because they’re bidding on precisely that keyword in order for Google Ads to show their search text advert. But rather than sending me to an “Insightly vs. Infusionsoft” championing why they feel they have the edge on Infusionsoft, they are just sending me to a general list of their features and letting me do the hard work of comparing like-for-like.
… Fresh Works on the other hand is doing a slightly better job, directing me to a page entitled “Why Freshsales is better than other CRMs?” which seems to be more geared around comparison. However the content on the page doesn’t have any classic / well executed Marketing Showdown materials. There’s no comparison chart, no features list, the video while well produced and stylish seems generic in nature and not geared around any specific competitive edge.
On the plus side there IS a nicely styled testimonials section, but only text and logos, no people & no links to case-studies, which felt impersonal and insubstantial to me. Plus personally I’d only heard of Open Office as the only recognised brand, so I would at least link out to their respective websites rather than making me cut and paste the text back into a search if I want to do due diligence. Finally a positive is that the styling of the large-ish bright block colour CTA button with compelling “SIGN UP FOR FREE” label both at the top and the bottom of the page was good and follows best practices.
Don’t forget to run traffic at the Customer Resurrection
Now this is something that practically no businesses are doing, but can actually yield some nice results. Run advertisements at your existing customers. NOT search ads. I agree thats pointless. They already use you & will find you on the organic search results. When they are searching they are trying to get stuff done. What are we trying to achieve?
- Keep you in mind to buy again / up-sell
- Brand Assurance, they view you as safe and ubiquitous
- Get testimonials, praise on social media, positive ratings on Google
- Incentivise them to referr other business to you
These are all worthy objectives. And who better than your raving fan, to convince others to do business with you. Automatically their advice is seen as slightly more impartial. “But I already have their email address, can’t I just ask them there.” Yes, and you should. But don’t over do it because when they are in their inbox they are ALSO trying to get stuff done.
Rather than search text ads, you track your customers and run display only ads that appear on blogs and social media EXCLUSIVELY to your existing customers, that simply ask for or somehow incentivise referrals. We think of this as mobilising your army. Also ask them to get in touch if anything can be improved. You want your customers talking to YOU about any problems, not posting a negative review.
Use Content Marketing to Anticipate What People Will Want To Know Next
The beauty of using paid search text adverts to drive people towards your content marketing is that you have access to all the real world data that people are actually typing into google
in order to find YOUR STUFF. Now if you find that some queries that are getting BROAD MATCHED (check out our Google Ads Icebreaker if you don’t know what we mean by Broad Match) are veering slightly into the relms of less relevance, consider creating content to satisfy THOSE queries IF you can plan out a desired next step for them to take to move them closer on the Marketing Battlefield. This is a FANTASTIC way to build content around the demand of your audience.
Knowing what your prospect actually wants and is looking for, and being available when they search for it is the key to success in next generation digital marketing vs. the old hat sales approach of having a set routine or script that you just rattle through. Modern marketing is about waiting for the prospect to voice a problem and then being there with the solution. Ideally solving the first part of the problem with information.
Fluidity on the Content Marketing Battlefield
We’ve spoken about this before in previous sections, but I feel its worthy of its own section. You must have in mind the next step your audience should take. In fact… DON’T create content UNLESS there is a clear next step you can segue your audience into, in a frictionless way.
If you’re a hairdresser and you notice a ton of traffic around beard-care and traditional shaving, you may think … “I want a piece of that traffic” and so create content around aggregating helpful content for beardcare and the benefits of traditional shaving. But trying to segue this traffic towards an offer for a regular haircut, when you don’t actually offer the specialist mens grooming products or services mentioned in your article. The intent behind the search is too disjointed from the next desired goal, and its going to be too tenious a link for your audience to make. I’m afraid this is traffic that whilst related to your industry, its diverging from your service / product offering.
The next move needs to be a fluid, logical progression from the current content piece. Can you make more than one offer? Or guide the audience with a choice of next steps? Of course!! But effective content marketing will usually have a preffered next logical step. That way you can gear the article towards tee-ing your audiance up for the next phase. The straighter the path the better. Take for example this article you’re reading now. There’s been mention of a few other Icebreakers you can grab to quickly get up to speed on MarkDown or AdWords to name two. There’s also a link to follow if you’re interested in hiring us to consult on your existing content. But in truth, we don’t expect you to hire us based on this one article. (Remember our intention for this article is Show Me How To “First Sight” Content) We expect that those of you who’ve made your minds up that we at least know some of our onions when it comes to Content Marketing will want to put this “Theory” into practice. And that’s what the
only £12 *currently free Sales Mechanism that Never Sleeps is the logical next step for anyone with a business that faces any of the challenges we’ve covered in this article.
So we have a clear desired end-goal in mind for THIS content and you should too for ANYTHING you’re spending your time on creating. It should move people closer to being one of your WHEELHOUSE customers. And it should delight them if they take you up on your proposed action. If you promise to send them a useful widget of some description… make sure its a good one. Ideally the lower the cost for desired action the better. This is not a “money making exercise” rather its the start of a closer relationship between you and your prospect. If you can make it free, even better. As an agency, we are always trading our time for money, so there’s a limit to how much work we can take on & how many clients we can serve. This is our hard-cap on profitability. (Until we hire someone new, then we have to train, etc.) However if you’re in the business of selling physical product and your business is scalable, then you may be in the lucky position of being able to provide your initial offering for free, maybe just limit to one per organisation if its a physical sample by requiring a unique postcode or some-such.
Use your content marketing to segment your audience
What do we mean by segmentation? Well as a business owner or marketer you have a pretty good idea of the reasons why your prospects buy your products or services. You know which features and benefits they are interested in. You know what their main pain points are. BUT for SPECIFIC individual customers you will find that CERTAIN points are MORE IMPORTANT to them that others.
Your list of common objections to sale might be as long as twenty recurring reasons. But if you try to shoot down each of those reasons one after the other in your end game content you will find that your sales page is ineffective. Why? Because its not focussed. Theres too much content there, (remember how we said to make your product page copy snappy and cut straight to the point?)
Well, this is where re-marketing and tracking comes in especially useful. By placing a cookie on the visitors machine you can eventually sent that visitor to a particular sales page SPECIFIC to the problem they INITIALLY came to you to get information about. Have I lost you? It goes like this;
- Prospect does Google Search on problem (your product can solve)
- Your search text advert promulgates your helpful “First Sight” content
- Prospect clicks your advert and becomes a visitor, your landing page cookies them
- Later on your Display Network Image Advertisement indicates you as the logical choice to solve said problem (maybe 3-6 times before they click)
- Prospect clicks on your Display Network Image Advertisement (eventually) and lands on a page with your Marketing Showdown Content.
- An updated cookie signifies they are now Closer on the Marketing Battlefield, so you run display ads accordingly
- When finally “End Game” Display Network Image Advertisement is clicked, the product page they land on lists first and foremost agitation your product solves is the very problem they searched for way back in step one.
Notice how during this entire sequence, no email marketing opt-in was required. When clients ask me WHY it is necessary to PAY for traffic through search advertisements vs. just focusing on organic, social, etc. I show examples of how mush more targeted you can be with this approach, because you KNOW exactly what words they searched for initially.
With organic SEO and baseline vanilla content marketing, you can still make an informed guess though. If this is your approach, try to only optimise for three or so CLOSELY RELATED problems on the landing pages of your “First Sight” content. You will of course still need a Google Ads account to perform re-targeting via. Display Adverts, but this is way cheaper than search ads. Without any form of paid traffic, you are only able to work with the few people who either leave an email address, or remember you and return to your website. So check out our content on Value Impact to increase the chances of them returning or leaving an email address.
Your Content Marketing should be ubiquitous.
Your audience may have a clear front-runner in terms of the places they hang out on the internet. But that doesn’t mean you should limit your efforts to engaging with them in that area only. Maybe your community of foodies hangs out on the Wordpress.com various food blogs out there. If your brand is given to live-streaming in any way, it is currently given preference above all content in Facebook, followed by their own hosted video content, then long form written content can also be effective in the news feed. Instagram gives you the ability to showcase your products in a highly visual way. You can even use Insta-stories for a ‘behind the scenes’ style way of engaging with your prospects if your brand warrants it. Thought needs to go into the use of Hash Tags to enable your content to show up. Hash Tag stuffing can be detrimental though, so try to find the optimum number. Don’t have every piece of your content competing for the same HashTags. Remember these golden rules though;
- Some areas are harder to work with than others. Try running a FaceBook Ad straight to a product page… It won’t work.
- People are in different mindsets when on different channels.
If realtime public communication is key to your brand then Twitter is an obvius place to be present. You can use “the cocktail party / water cooler of the internet” to great effect. Youtube is obvious for groups that need video walkthroughs of how to do things. Consider making some of your once client-only privileged secrets publicly available and you may see an increase in sales. And of course Linked-in is the more professional of the channels, where people are much more of a human resources milieu of focus. Their advertising is notoriously expensive so consider if you need their degree of targeting, but for certain industries it can be the best choice. An inexpensive way of using LinkedIn is to join and be active in groups, HOWEVER be user to lead with value or you may end up doing more harm than good. Snapchat is often overlooked, so competition is low. It favours authentic, rough round the edges content skewed to a younger demographic, if Millenials are included in your target audience then it might be worth a spin.
These’s a current trend on visual channels towards posting motivational quotes with eye-catching block colour or visually interesting backgrounds. Have a strategy to get your audience off platforms like Insta and onto your preferred landing page though. (Because often direct linking is a no-go) Pinterest is the other obviously visual-centric community hang out with a bent toward the craftsy-artsy types. For the more innovative product or for products that inspire the imagination this is a great place to spend some efforts. Spreadability is the strong point of Pintrest, but in order to leverage that you need a product that is innately viral, or I’m afraid you’ll be barking up the wrong tree.
Your social efforts should always have the intermediary goal of routing through to same-themed content on your own website. Not only is it hard to make straight sales on social, but once your efforts cease so does the benefit. By directing traffic to specific high-value landing pages on your website you are also building SEO. Even if you are promoting say a Flash Sale for example on Fabe Book to fill a few timetable slots that have become available due to cancellation, consider running these at a “details page” where you can indicate the number of slots left and whether the sale is currently active. You’ll find that over time, search traffic with "[YOUR PRODUCT] deals" will start to arrive their organically, (i.e.// for free!!!) Couple that with some sort of fall-back perma-offer and you’ll have a pretty great End Game price-centric landing page added to your arsenal.
When Content Marketing, be sure to mark your targets
Here at energise we’ve got a great exercise we try to perform whenever we’re creating … well anything. Content, text-advert, display advert, Icebreaker, Opening Gambit, Wheelhouse Product Offer, Sales Page, Comparison Chart, Interactive Poll or Survey. Basically WHATEVER we are setting out to create we want to have in the forefront of our mind the PERSON that its aimed at. Frank Kern in his seminal Core Influence talk does a fantastic job of outlining JUST how important this often skipped-past stage actually is. To summarise 1h56m into just a few words;
If you can talk to a subjects Core Beliefs and align yourself with their Personality, then the effectiveness of your recommendations increases exponentially.
So what’s the secret to getting anyone to do anything? You need to Identify Your Target. That is to say, answer a list of questions that describe the person you are talking to. Effective advertising doesn’t try to be all inclusive. Effective advertising describes their ideal customer and talks to THAT individual. Remember the copywriting example for the Gucci glasses earlier. Gucci know that their customer is one that appreciates subtle understated style, and deserves to treat themselves.
Now you dont need to create just one Customer Target. If the bell-curve of your customer base includes three or so radically different Customer Targets then you should create one for each, BUT when creating your content you should have only ONE Customer Target in mind. Speak to the soul of that person and you will convert them. Different Customer Targets will respond to different offers. They will probably speak in different modalities and have different primary objections to sale. For example, disposable income is significantly higher for career-mature prospects before they start a family. As a father of three, I now have to ask permission to fill my car with petrol ;)
I’m not telling you to agree with me, but if you were to agree with me what would your answer be?
So how do I put this Content Marketing Stuff to work for my business?
Glad you asked! Because we’ve put THIS content page together with the next logical step in mind, please allow me to guide you ;) We have produced a workflow called Quick Win Content Construction, For a Sales Mechanism that Never Sleeps which contains the quick consice methods, rules and tips you need to know to be able to manifest high quality, effective content for your business and structure it in such a way that the customer is guided from stranger to the sale.
Inside this workflow we will cover;
Marketing Battlefield Recap.
- Difference between First Sights, Marketing Showdown and End Game Content
Customer Target Creation.
- We will ask and give example answers of the brief questions you need to cover to speak directly to your ideal prospect
- What brought them here, where do we send them next?
- WHAT type of assets need to go WHERE to make your page / asset effective
- Which Streams, Social Channels or Advertising Services should host what. E.g. FaceBook blog cutdown strategy
By following this no-nonsense waffle-free workflow, you will have the information, and steps you need to create effective content without the fuss. Feel free to refer back to this article to understand the strategy, but when it comes to getting award winning content created quickly by your team, you need a battleplan and the Quick Win Content Construction, For a Sales Mechanism that Never Sleeps workflow is it. Period.