A Content-First Approach.
Enterprise-level website redesigns are exciting but can be overwhelming. There are countless variables to consider – from appeasing stakeholders and business units, to ensuring an intuitive customer-first user experience that aligns with company-defined website goals and KPIs. One of the most important considerations to think about before embarking on a large-scale website redesign is content. A beautiful, new design is worthless without good content. Users want (and expect) to get value from every website they visit, and that value comes from the content. But at the enterprise level, understanding and applying a smart content strategy can be a daunting and difficult task. Luckily, the content marketing experts at Bluetext are here to help.
6 Key Content Strategy Steps to Take Before Design:
1. Conduct a Content Audit
Before investing in a big website redesign, there needs to be a thorough discovery phase that involves conducting a ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial) analysis to understand the current state of content, identify legacy content that should be removed, any gaps in the content, and ultimately understand if the current content aligns with the redesign goals. Bluetext has industry-leading crawling and scraping tools, such as Screaming Frog, to automate and provide this data. Competitive analysis and market research are also critical steps to gaining insight into how other players in the industry are applying content strategy. Some specific aspects to take note of include:
- Page structure and content flow
- Calls to actions
- Relevance to the user
- Language/tone of voice
- Multi-media usage
2. Establish Website Goals & KPIs
Out with the old and in with the new! In order to create a successful new website, you need to identify the current weaknesses and where improvements can be made. Like any major business venture, it must begin with setting realistic goals. Be sure to benchmark against tactics and KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure the success of those goals. A flashy new website might look nice, but ultimately your stakeholders want to see quantifiable success. It’s important to audit what content is working and has high conversions. Leverage Google Analytics to see what the most trafficked pages are and what users are searching for. Setting up click tracking and heat mapping on your site provides data to help understand user behavior and guide decisions. An example of a website redesign goal mapped to tactics and KPIs may look like this:
- Goal: Streamline Product Page Content
- Onsite Tactics: Design product template based on journey-oriented content strategy. Reduce content to highlight the most important and relevant selling points/CTAs.
- X% decrease in bounce rate on product pages
- X% increase on time on product pages
- X% increase on product page conversion rates
- Goal: Streamline Product Page Content
3. Build out Website Personas for Journey Mapping
Understanding the different personas using your website is pivotal because these users and their unique goals should inform the content requirements. For example, a large software company’s website will have multiple personas. One persona might be a new, less-informed user who is seeking a solution for a specific problem they have. Another persona may be a returning customer and therefore more educated. This informed user might be looking for product support or to try a free download of a new product.
These two users have very different needs for the website and therefore the way they navigate the site will be different, and the website content and design need to account for that. Understanding the goals of the various personas and the likely journey or path in how they use the site to achieve that goal directly impacts the content and the content hierarchy they should see.
4. Create Data-Driven Navigation
An intuitive site structure (displayed via the navigation) is integral to a great website. The navigation informs the user how the site is structured, and when done well, helps guide the user to the content they need to see. According to Sweor, “88% of online customers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.” Considering many customers rely on either search or the navigation to guide them, having an intuitive navigation that ensures every persona has a clear path to their destination is key. Think of your sitemap as a personal GPS through the sales funnel. It should route a user from a unique “Current Location” to the end goal of conversion. Analyze user-behavior data to better understand how different customers are using the navigation currently. Is there a significant difference between new and returning user behavior? Also, see if there are other ways customers are using the site that aren’t accounted for in the navigation that should be. Once a proposed sitemap/navigation is created, conduct usability testing to validate the new structure.
The goal of a good navigation system should be to get the user to the most relevant content as quickly and easily as possible. Much of this comes from smart design, but content plays a big role here, too. Use skimmable, digestible words that customers understand, not lengthy, internal company jargon. Users are quick to click, so using copy that resonates fast and leads the user to the right path will provide a better experience for them. This applies to content across all pages as well as navigation content. “Most of the time we don’t choose the best option—we choose the first reasonable option.” Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug.
There are only a few chances to convince the user that they can get to the content they need before they get frustrated, bounce, and look elsewhere at another site. As such, every piece of content needs to be thoughtful and intuitive.
5. Define Goals for Each Page-Type/Template
At the enterprise level with hundreds of products and solutions spanning multiple business units, it becomes extremely difficult to give all the content the time and nurturing it needs. It becomes tempting to simply include everything as a “catch-all”, but this is a fast-track to overwhelming and losing user interest.
As mentioned previously, different personas require different content. Defining goals for each page-type/template helps focus the content to achieve that goal. Is the call to action driving a conversion for that goal? Are the proper users being driven to this page to achieve that goal? Do these page-specific goals align with the previously set redesign goals, tactics, and KPIs? Once goals are well-defined for each page-type/template, then the content requirements and hierarchy should be thought out accordingly.
6. Determine Content Requirements and Hierarchy
Now that page goals are defined, it’s time to determine content requirements and content flow. The content should be aligned with the goals of that page and when done right, will improve conversions. The order of the content displayed is important, as users skim and expect to see the most relevant content at the top. The perfect marriage of content and design always refers back to the goals and on-site tactics. Ensure the content drives the user to perform the goal of that page (whether it’s downloading a free trial, contacting sales, submitting a form, etc.). Once content requirements and hierarchy are well defined, then it’s finally time for design!
Understanding and planning out content needs early-on makes the design process more efficient and effective. That being said, the biggest ROI for smart content strategy will be proven after launch when those previously defined KPIs improve.
Looking to get started on your next big website redesign? The experts at Bluetext are ready to help!
It’s rare for a business to offer its services for free. The phrase “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” reigns true in most industries and all business decisions. Originating with early-century saloon owners marketing free, salty lunches as a way to entice beer drinking, even the etymology of the #TNSTAAFL phrase foreshadows the destiny of commerce itself – it’s impossible to get something for nothing.
So, what does a free ham sandwich in 1891 have to do with 2020 content marketers and gated thought leadership? Imagine your business is the bar and that hungry and thirsty passerby out front is the CMO searching for a way to convince their boss on more paid media dollars, or a CTO who needs a VPN alternative. You have something they could want – a delicious, frothy piece of premium content to quench their industry-specific questions. Post that “Free Lunch” sign, give them some snacks, and then charge them for the beer to wash it all down. You’ll have a bar full of returning customers every time.
You Want to Be a Thought Leader?
Let’s break it down. Businesses that are trying to establish themselves as thought leaders in their space usually have two types of content: Blogs and premium content. Typically, you want to spend your time on the premium content first and then chop it up into free digestible portions, which become your blogs. Since the blogs are free and busting at the seams with the same SEO juice that you prioritized in your premium content, both should come up as a result when someone is looking online for an industry-question you have the answer to.
Think about the last time you were researching B2B tactics. You wouldn’t hand over your email address to just anyone at the beginning of your research. You browsed around to see who knows what they’re talking about. Once you found a credible thought leader, then you actually started paying attention to what they were talking about.
Economy vs. Premium Content
According to content marketing agencies, balance is key. The trick is to walk the line between having free ungated blogs that are enticing and helpful to draw traffic but not too helpful and giving away a company’s expertise without gaining any leads. Save the premium advice and info for the premium content. Ask yourself, “Would someone reasonably pay for this service?”
Make it exclusive, insightful, and urgent. Typically, premium content are eBooks, courses, webinars, checklists, and sometimes videos. Those resources take a lot of effort to create, so you want to put them to work for you and your marketing team. This premium content comes with a price or a gate. The key to the gate and unlocking the juicy stuff is usually as harmless as an email.
As a top content marketing agency, Bluetext breaks down some do’s and don’ts behind gating the premium content.
Do Design Gated Content Conversions Using Ungated Content UX/UI
Make sure your tip top-funnel blogs feed into your top funnel gated content. A UX design company will engineer an ungated content user interface to drive invested leads to gated content. Dangle the carrot and then drive them down a rabbit hole of insights. If your resource page template’s layout has a related topic listing, you can get someone reading one blog to jump to the next, especially when you have click-worthy resource titles.
Create a clear, focused path to follow. Put an enticing CTA at every step of your ungated posts to draw them to the gated content. Theoretically, the user lands on a first blog post via Google search, they peruse 2-3 of your other blogs, and then they are a bit invested by the time they get to gated content. Long story short, using the Free Lunch scenario, clean up your bar so it looks inviting enough to have them buy a drink.
Don’t Forget to Design the Landing Page UX/UI for Conversion
At least make the gated content page template easy to use and worthy of personal info. Best practices for gated content landing page design include showcasing the product, talking about the benefits and insights they can learn, highlighting a quote from the piece, and ideally some social proofing or testimonials. A website design agency will be your best bet to formatting these nuggets of information in a clean, digestible fashion. Like any other business transaction, sell it with foreshadowing what they are about to invest in.
Do Add SEO Excerpt from Gated Content on the Landing Page
The Google Algorithm crawls ungated content, but while you will be losing out on SEO potential by putting keywords behind the gate, you can still put some of those keywords directly on the landing page. Think of it like a teaser, or a sample sip of the beer you want them to buy.
Don’t Miss Out on Capturing User Journey Clues Via CTA Pixel
If the user has followed the intended path laid out above, they have digested other information on the website before converting on the gated content. A digital marketing and analytics expert will implement Google Analytics or UTM parameters to track where users come from and behavioral trends. This is a critical insight that can help your sales and marketing team follow up and understand the lead without asking them. In fact, don’t ask them anything else besides their email (coming up next!).
Trusting a digital marketing and analytics agency to configure the UI/UX back end of your CMS to gather clues (via UTM or Google Analytics) will ensure these tools talk to your CRM when it passes over the lead. Your CRM can then organize to segment those leads into audience pools with the user journey info and UTM parameters. Did they arrive via Facebook or LinkedIn? Did they read about technology or marketing thought leadership? Did they visit SMB or Enterprise blogs before? Depending on what you want to do with the leads gathered from the gated content, a digital marketing agency can follow up with retargeting campaigns. By taking out the guesswork, digital marketing campaigns are then geared toward the topics and categories you know a specific user is interested in.
Don’t Over-Gate with Nosey Forms
Sometimes businesses want more defining characteristics of the user to help their follow up marketing to have some foundational info. Asking for an email is the easiest marketable piece of info you can gather – but should you want more, make sure the form is at least easy to use. For instance, free type is ok, but dropdown select from offers convenience. Ideally, if you need to ask for more info, triage that asks by making some questions optional so you don’t scare anyone away. Remember – you want them more than they want you at this point. You might be the third tab they have open in their research, so think twice if knowing their position is worth losing them to a competitor’s simpler gated content.
Do Gate Content. Don’t Gate Content.
We wish it were black and white, but the answer to the infamous To Gate or Not to Gate question comes down to the following:
- How exclusive is your offer?
- How easy is your form to fill out?
- How SEO friendly is your LP?
- How actionable is your CTA?
If you have your thought leadership on fleek from a UX/UI, SEO, and CMS perspective than you’re ready to start offering free lunches to any potential lead that comes into your digital business.
In a world where we are flooded with advertisements and sponsored content every moment of every day, how can you make your ad stand out from the rest? What is going to make a consumer buy your product vs. your competitor’s product if they have the same features and are selling for the same price? Sure, vibrant colors, strong call-to-actions and unique imagery can help, but in order to get the right users to engage with your content and actually convert, you have to go a step – or a few steps – further. The key to marketing success in 2020 is personalization.
In many ways, marketers already know the benefits of personalized ads. For example, we know that digital retargeting ads drive more conversions and have a stronger conversion rate than prospecting ads, merely because retargeting ads are tailored to reach users who have already visited your site. Retargeting ads are more personalized than prospecting ads in nature – we know someone visited the site and expressed interest but didn’t convert, so we use that information to create a new ad with different messaging and a stronger CTA to entice that user to convert. That’s personalized marketing, in its simplest form.
In 2020, personalization is not only growing, but if you don’t take advantage of personalized marketing, your digital ad campaign might fail. Studies show that people are 80 percent more likely to buy something when a brand makes the experience personal. With access to sophisticated technologies such as AI machine learning at our fingertips, marketers are equipped with the tools necessary to tailor ads to personal attributes and behaviors, at scale.
As Martech Advisor states, “AI personalization refers to the categorization of different customer data sets and extracting valuable insights from them. These insights are fed into an automation engine that can take action without human intervention.” In other words, AI machine learning scans a user’s online behavior to understand what type of messaging would resonate best with that end-user. Have you ever visited your Amazon Prime home page to discover several new products that Amazon is recommending for you, that you’ve never seen before? This is AI-based personalization. Amazon’s AI scanned your past user and purchase behavior and introduced you to new products, customizing your home page to match your personal attributes. You’ve likely experienced something similar on music streaming apps – Spotify recommends a playlist for you based on the songs you’re listening to at that point in time.
So – how can you take advantage of personalized marketing? Here are 3 ways you can start to leverage consumer data to customize (& personalize!) your advertising:
- Dynamic Ads – Perhaps the most daunting reason why marketers don’t take advantage of personalized advertising is the assumption that ad creative and targeting processes are manual; however, AI has completely changed the game. Through AI, digital ads can now be dynamically created based on user behavior. We touched on retargeting earlier, but with AI learnings, retargeting efforts have become far more sophisticated. If a user visits a specific white paper or product on your site but does not download or buy, AI can generate an ad for that specific white paper or product and place it in front of that user with tailored messaging. Best of all? This entire process is automated. Gone are the days where your creative team is buried in producing 50 ads in 7 different ad sizes.
- Invest in AI tools for your website – Tools such as AI-powered chatbots or AI engines can shed light on how you can personalize ad campaigns. Chatbots allow users to share data that might not be readily available through other form submissions on the site. The information users provide in a chat is then scanned through AI, producing key insights for marketers to use when forming ad campaigns. For example, if the same pain points or topics continue to surface through chatbots, you might have an idea for your next personalized go-to-market campaign.
- Tailor your campaigns based on audience segments – This sounds simple enough, but more times than not, marketers target all audiences segments under one campaign, rather than breaking up campaigns based on audience segments. For example, you want to target users who play basketball, soccer, football and tennis. You place all of these audience segments under one campaign and serve the same ad and ad copy to each user. Sure, these are similar audience segments in that they are all sports-related; however, a user who plays basketball will likely ‘look’ different than a user who plays tennis. Instead of serving the same ad and ad copy to all users, why not tailor your messaging to each specific audience segment? The more personalized you can get the ad and ad copy level, the more likely your ad will resonate with the end-user and lead to a conversion. Of course, a campaign structure like this that used to be manual has become nearly automated through DSPs and Paid Social platforms that provide ways to streamline this process, freeing up your time and eliminating human error.
In 2020, we challenge marketers to take a step back from the generic go-to-market campaigns and to get personal! How will you use AI-based personalization and machine learning to enhance your digital ad campaigns? Learn how Bluetext has used personalized marketing for our clients’ campaigns, effectively reaching the right audience with tailored, custom creative, via our website.
Content marketing is a consistently invaluable tool to increase conversions by educating your leads and customers. As we welcome a new year as well as a new decade, it’s important to understand the emerging content marketing trends that will dominate 2020. How should you change your digital content marketing strategy to keep pace with the ever-evolving nature of content marketing?
In this blog post, we take a look at 5 content marketing trends that will keep you ahead of the curve in 2020 and beyond.
How are you, as a brand, determining what content is useful and relevant for your audience? That’s where data comes in. By harnessing the lessons of previously successful content marketing initiatives, companies are able to reverse engineer the data and identify KPIs that preceded the success. Once those KPI’s have been established, it is easier to create content in that same strain and capitalize on the proven success. A DC-based digital branding agency like Bluetext can assist you in determining successful KPI’s and creating the rich content your audience wants to read.
Smart Device-Centric Content
Although smart devices have been a key consideration in B2C content marketing for quite some time, this year, more focus will be placed on specific functions of smart devices such as voice search. Voice search is becoming such an integral mobile tool, 48% of consumers are using voice for “general web searches.” Companies looking to stay ahead of the curve should look to optimize their content specifically for voice search purposes. Understanding how users search via their voice will help you tailor your existing content for voice-SEO and create more effective headlines for future content initiatives. A DC digital web design agency like Bluetext can help by conducting an analysis of your audience’s voice searches and recommend changes to your existing content and future content to maximize the return on your investment.
Conversational Marketing is King
In the digital era which champions online shopping, consumers are looking to establish trust and connection through more personalized, authentic shopping experiences. Conversational marketing can aid your company in engaging with your audience in a more genuine way. By engaging in a conversation, your company gains access to more personalized data about your consumers such as their specific needs and future goals. Investing in tools such as chatbots or real human-to-human experiences can make all the difference in your competitive industry. As we progress through 2020, chatbots and other AI tools will continue to improve and positively impact lead generation.
2020: The Year of the Snippet
As we know, Google dominates the search engine market share worldwide, with a resounding 92.71% of the market. When considering a user’s search intent, Google will display what they call a “snippet” at the top of the page, which provides consumers with key points within a piece of content, allowing them to receive the information they’re looking for faster. As such, it’s becoming more commonplace for consumers to enter a longtail keyword into Google, knowing that they will receive the information they’re looking for via a snippet, without clicking any page links whatsoever.
In order to win that highly coveted snippet spot, companies should look to hire an interactive web agency such as Bluetext. Bluetext’s SEO analysts can conduct an audit of your current content and pinpoint exactly where changes need to be made in order to signify to Google crawlers that your content is important. Optimizing your content for snippets will greatly enhance user experience, as users will be able to find the information they are searching for concisely and quickly. Not only will an interactive web agency audit and enhance current site content, but they will also create a content strategy and editorial calendar so your brand can continually publish content your users are searching for.
The Popularity of Podcasts
According to a recent study, 51% of the entire US population has listened to a podcast in 2019. That figure is up by 7% from the previous year. As we look ahead to 2020, podcasts will continue to dominate, as that number is expected to keep rising. Although it may seem like everyone has a podcast these days, there are still opportunities for brands to get ahead of the curve and start their own podcasts.
That being said, if you see a clear demand for audio content within your market, ensure that you create a podcast the right way. Podcasts should have clearly defined KPI’s, a regular posting schedule, and content your audience will actually care to listen to. A Virginia internet & inbound marketing agency like Bluetext can partner with your company to assess the need for a podcast in your industry and among your competitors, help you create valuable content and even develop a paid advertisement plan to spread awareness via other podcasts your audience is listening to.
2020 is already well underway and in order to achieve success, companies need to get ahead of this year’s trends with a thorough and achievable marketing strategy and plan of action. A DC digital branding agency such as Bluetext can audit your current digital content marketing strategy and suggest recommendations to help improve your current trajectory. To learn more about Bluetext and how we can help you, check out our work here.
Transitioning a company that specializes in a product or service from working in the private sector to one that wins government contracts is no easy task. Negotiations can take months as organizations have to jump through a plethora of hoops to get contracts and budgets approved. Governments also favor companies with whom they’ve worked before or who have had experience operating as a government contractor in the past.
This begs the question — how does a company, perhaps one who doesn’t have as much experience working in the public sector, catch their attention and earn a place at the table? The answer is Content Marketing. You, as a government contractor, can offset your inexperience in the government contract realm via content production. This content can range from blogs to white papers; from videos to infographics; anything and everything that demonstrates your expertise in a given subject and gives you the upper hand over your competition. Most contracting officers, when looking for the right company to reward a contract to, will conduct research, looking at different options with three main criteria in mind: risk mitigation, brand reputation, and visibility.
Getting noticed by contracting officers doesn’t happen overnight, however. Building brand awareness and gaining reputation takes time and effort, and the content you produce must be created with the contracting officer in mind. Knowing who those specific agencies are that you’re targeting and specializing your content for them can set you on the right path from the outset and get you closer to winning those highly coveted government contracts.
When a government agency decides to partner with a new government contractor, the biggest concern they have is mitigating the risk of working with a new partner. Their main goal is to get their contract fulfilled promptly without going over budget. Risk is usually mitigated by choosing to work with a partner they’ve previously worked with, or by working with someone who has a reputation for doing good work on government contracts. If you don’t necessarily have the experience of working in the public sector, you can mitigate as much risk as possible by proving to the client, through content that you produce and they are exposed to, that you have the expertise to handle the work and that you’re able to fulfill the contract and meet the government agency’s demands.
Ensuring that your company’s brand is being communicated to your desired audience in the way that you want is crucial when looking to attract government contracts. Although you should not aim to win every contract that comes along, you can set yourself up to showcase your abilities in the shop window using content on your website to prove your worth and show that you do have what it takes to work with government agencies and provide them with the products or services they require. Believe in yourself, your company, and your brand to get the job done, and make it known that you are the go-to company in your field. Create content that showcases your work in the commercial industry and educates readers on how that same success can translate to the public sector.
To prove your reputation, you must be visible to your potential clients. You may have the best product or service in the business, but if you don’t have an active presence online, and you’re not showcasing your expertise, it’s not going to get you anywhere. Creating content on your site and sharing it through your social media channels can have a remarkable effect on your brand’s visibility. Sharing news and blog posts to your email subscribers build your brand awareness and attract potential new clients. Do everything and anything to increase the visibility of your brand and drive contracting officers to your site and to the content that you’ve created to show off your products and services.
Bluetext: your leading government contractor branding agency
That’s where Bluetext comes in. With years of experience working with government contractors, Bluetext is your one-stop-shop branding agency for content production. When NetApp, a cloud data services and data management company, had grown its offerings within the market, they turned to Bluetext to partner with and help inform public sector decision makers of the capabilities of their new solutions. Bluetext helped NetApp develop news stories, authored by NetApp experts, to key publications that both educate readers and inform decisions. Through our combined work, we helped position NetApp as a recognized thought leader within the government space.
Content production for experienced government contractors
Bluetext also has a background of working with large, experienced, well-known government contractors. Take our work with ManTech, for example. ManTech is a multibillion dollar public company that provides subcontracted technological services to the government. We partnered with them to produce a series of branded videos for their new website, highlighting their capabilities in one cohesive and powerful story.
Showcasing your abilities to government agencies
Cisco turned to Bluetext when they were looking for help showcasing how their solutions directly address the global networking requirements for the U.S. Federal Government’s integrated intelligence and operations functions. We worked with them to develop a visually appealing storygraphic, which included an interactive wheel to demonstrate the integration and impact of Cisco’s solutions across air, land, and sea to help the government achieve end-to-end mission success.
From veteran-owned SMB to big-time government contractor
One of our more recent projects involved Invictus, a cyber and national security firm, who turned to Bluetext to embark on their next mission: grow from a veteran-owned small business to full-service government contractor. Not only did we update their logo, reimagine their corporate visual identity, and design a modern website, we also created a corporate video that showed their clients exactly who they are, what they stand for, and what they can do for them.
Proving expertise through content
Showing potential end-users proof that your company possesses the grit, determination, and expertise to successfully execute contracts is vital for any company that wants to win government contracts. Expertise is often shown through experience; however, experience can be supplemented with relevant and actionable content on your website. If you can prove that you know the subject matter, agencies will treat you like a veteran government contractor and have faith in you to carry out their contracts. Partnering with a branding firm like Bluetext, who has the experience and expertise in working with government contractors both large and small, can help you achieve your goal of getting your company’s name on the shortlist for that government contract.
To view more of our work with government contractors and how we can partner with you, visit our website today.
Leading digital marketing agencies like Bluetext work in social media everyday for both our clients, and we see firsthand the social media trends that impact the market. The reality is that social media evolves more quickly than any brand could realistically keep pace with.
It wasn’t that long ago that Twitter, for example, was the hottest property in the market and enjoyed the fruits of a successful IPO. Two years later, its share price has plummeted because marketers haven’t been able to figure out how to use it to drive brand awareness, loyalty and revenue. As it has become the pulpit of choice for politicians, sports figures and entertainers, brands have struggled with the character and video limitations and are moving on to other platforms to build engagement with their target audiences.
This is a long way of showing that understanding social media trends is important to an effective and successful social media program. Here, then, are five trends to watch in 2017 to keep your social media campaign on track:
- Fads can make for great content, but you need to move fast. Remember Planking? Hard to believe that was nearly three years ago. More recently, the current fad was the Mannequin Challenge. The shelf live of both of these was a matter of two or three months. If you think a fad will provide good social media fodder for your brand, by all means go for it. Just do it asap, because the it won’t be popular for long.
- The value of Social Media to marketers is continuing to expand, if done right. It’s no longer just about building a brand, but is now being used not only for customer engagement, but for brand recognition, customer service, and driving sales. We leverage tools like boosted posts and retargeting as a key element in lead generation.
- Social Platforms are getting sophisticated – and expensive. Social media companies have seen the green from marketers, and are building in some very sophisticated tools to take advantage of their growing audiences and the insights and information they have on them. At the same time, it’s now harder to have content go viral and to get an organic boost, due to the competition for attention and the algorithms that platforms are deploying. As a result, boosted and paid campaigns are becoming the norm.
- Video’s influence will become even stronger. Video content as a driver of social media engagement is only getting more entrenched. Don’t fight this trend. Use video as much as you can, as long as it’s content that is interesting, relevant and delivers value. If it’s clever or fun, even better.
- “Immersive” will continue to be the goal. Bringing your target audiences along for the ride is more effective than ever as a marketing and sales tool. SnapChat and Instagram are going to town on this trend with their “Stories” capabilities. Digital Briefing Centers and virtual reality will continue to be popular. Don’t just tell them, take them on the journey.
Want to learn more about how your brand can employ these 2017 social media trends to drive your marketing goals? Bluetext would be more than happy to help.
Many enterprise companies and organizations have marketing programs to talk about their products and services with their customers, and rely on those types of product marketing assets to reach their target audiences. That information is important, but it’s missing an essential element in the customer journey—developing a connection with the audience that will last beyond the one transaction.
Digital marketing firms know that building a strong customer relationship is as much about storytelling as it about the product or service. At Bluetext, we work with our clients to develop more than just a story they can tell. We want our clients to elevate that narrative to what we call a Signature Story.
What’s the difference?
A story as most of us understand it is pretty formulaic. It has a beginning, middle and end, and uses facts and anecdotes to paint a picture of the value that a brand is bringing to the market and its customers. We often recommend that our clients change up the order of the narrative, starting with a strong conclusion, placing proof points and examples in the middle, and ending by reinforcing that conclusion. But to take it up another notch and become a central ingredient for the brand, a Signature Story is needed.
Put simply, a Signature Story is a narrative that includes a strategic message and allows a company or organization to grow by enhancing its brand promise, its customer relationships, its business strategy and the strengths of its organization. It should be authentic and intriguing in order to grab attention, and tell a story that quickly and succinctly elevates the brand in the eyes of the target audience. It should be thought-provoking, interesting, entertaining if possible, and should paint a compelling picture in the eye of the customer. Finally, it must be authentic in the sense that it must ring true to brand and not be viewed simply as a marketing ploy. It doesn’t need to be entirely based on facts, but it must be in the spirit of a true story.
Signature stories are critical assets, can provide inspiration and insight both inside and outside of the organization, and can be leveraged over time. The challenge is to identify that core story, and to make it a part of the marketing mix.
A strong example of a Signature Story is the clothing retailer Nordstrom, known for its exceptional customer service and commitment to making it right by the client. As the story goes, a secret shopper in the employ of the parent company visited a Nordstrom store that had previously been on the same location as a store that also sold tires. The secret shopper appeared with a used tire and asked to return it for a refund to the now Nordstrom store. The sales clerk, after perhaps a moment of hesitation, took the tire and provided a refund. The clerk knew that Nordstrom’s reputation for service was the most important element of the brand, and out-weighed the obvious fact that the tire didn’t come from that store.
More important is that it reflects Nordstrom’s key values in a compelling and thought-provoking way, and strengthens is brand values.
Or consider L.L. Bean, the iconic outdoor equipment manufacturer in Maine with a long and colorful history. As told in an article in Brand Quarterly earlier this year, L.L. Bean could be content to portray its culture just by talking about its high-quality merchandise. But, “stating such facts is unlikely to create interest, credibility or even a connection to L.L. Bean.”
Instead, the company tells the story of its founder, Leon L. Bean, an avid outdoorsman, who returned from a hunting trip in 1912 disgruntled because of his cold, wet feet. Undaunted, he developed a new boot by stitching lightweight leather tops to waterproof rubber bottoms. He found that his new design worked so well he offered them for sale via mail order, sending out notices to lists of Maine hunting license holders.
But here’s where this tale becomes a Signature Story: After discovering that most of the first 100 pairs sold had a stitching problem and leaked, L.L. Bean refunded the customers’ money despite the fact that it almost sent him into bankruptcy. He then went about fixing the process so that future boots were indeed watertight. This story communicates the L.L. Bean brand value fare more effectively than simply talking about its quality in a vacuum.
Here are the elements of a Signature Story:
The Message Must Link to the Brand. It should speak to the customer relationship and the business strategy, and it should enhance the brand’s visibility, image, personality, relevance, and/or value proposition.
It Should be Intriguing and Provocative. Elements to consider include some combination of thought-provoking, novel, provocative, interesting, informative, newsworthy, or entertaining to the audience.
Authenticity is Essential. Key audiences cannot perceive the story to be phony, contrived, or a transparent selling effort, and there should be services and programs to back up the main message.
It Should Draw in the Audience. If the story is interesting and engaging, it is more likely to result in an emotional connection and response by the customer.
MediaPost saw the need for an event focused solely on Augmented and Virtual Reality as these new mediums have taking the marketing world by storm. The event will explore how marketers can take Virtual and Augmented Reality from the novelty phase into an opportunity to enrich branding and deepen consumer relationships.
Jason will be part of a panel discussion titled “Retailers Follow Pokémon Go”, which will examine the overwhelming success and influence of Pokémon Go, and how retailers can learn from this case study and incorporate AR or VR experiences into their marketing strategy to appeal to in-store shoppers.
Other topics the event will cover include:
- How different types of VR/AR experiences map against specific brand goals.
- Where do you start…small?
- How to distribute experiences efficiently and connect VR/AR campaigns to other marketing platforms and programs.
- Who are the players and how should marketers and agencies vet them?
- Storytelling in 360 degrees
Make sure to tune in for the conference live-stream on September 28th at 4:00pm EST here. And to learn more about Bluetext’s VR work, contact us today:
Bluetext is excited to announce that our Chief Creative Officer, Jason Siegel, has been recognized for this year’s 40 Under 40 Awards presented by DMN. The event celebrates 40 individuals under the age of 40 who not only display innovative, digital marketing techniques, but are actively reshaping the craft of the business. The DMN 40 Under 40 Awards will honor the exceptional marketing achievements of the winners on Thursday, September 29th at The Dream Downtown in New York City.
Jason is recognized for embracing the tidal shift toward technology and data-based marketing strategy that customers now demand, discovering cutting edge opportunities to reach new prospects and wow existing clients. He is acknowledged as a pioneer in web design, creative communications, and interactive strategies, continuously challenging himself and his peers to take ownership of the customer experience.
Learn more about the full list of award recipients and purchase your tickets to join the celebration here!
Designing, developing and implementing a new website can be very rewarding, especially when design and functionality work together to deliver a great experience for your audience. But it’s not always easy. Understanding the audience, how it interacts with your site, how it likes to obtain information, and what it responds best to is complicated and takes a lot of insight and experience. We know. We do it for a living.
That’s why we are proud to show off our own new website here at Bluetext. We are not the cobbler’s kids who don’t have shoes. Our website has been a key element in our success, and we keep it both cutting edge and fresh. One of our key objectives is to show off the great work we have done for our clients.
For our regular visitors, you may not notice some of the new design changes. There are additional case studies, the information is laid out in a more logical manner, and you will see new graphics and promotions. But from the back-end, it’s a significant progression for us.
The site is hyper-optimized for search engines, leveraging the latest changes in the Google search algorithms to ensure that the site gets the most organic traffic. It is closely integrated into our analytics and marketing automation platforms so we can track how people are using and interacting with the site. It’s also focused on delivering a personalized experience so that visitors can quickly get to the content they want and don’t have to revisit the home page each time. We’ve improved the load times so that everyone should have a good experience on the site. This is partly in response to Google’s rewarding good user experience, including load times for images and videos, in its search results.
We’ve also focused heavily on mobile as more content and sites are optimized for a mobile-first experience. The site is fully responsive. The creative displays are better and will provide examples of our work in more categories so that visitors can quickly find exactly what they are looking for. We’ve also enhanced the blog for greater industry insights on trends and best practices that we are seeing in the market, and have included an Ideas and Resources section on the home page.
So check it out, take it for a test drive, bang on the doors and kick the tires. Let us know what you think, and ask us how Bluetext can help you achieve greater success for your brand.