A lot of online marketers focus on just one tool: words. Words are powerful, but they are only one part of the content stream.
Photos = Sales
A picture is worth more than a thousand words. The right picture could be worth a thousand sales. Who would buy a used car online without seeing photos? Even generic computer servers are sold with photos. Those photos need to be shared via social media such as Flickr (even the British royal family is on Flickr now), Facebook, and Twitter (via TwitPic). Look at these social networking sites as a much larger extensions of your organization’s website.
Don’t forget “fun” photos of your team in action too. This helps to put a human face on your organization. Studies show that people buy more from companies that have faces on their main website than those that don’t.
Words That Sell
Many organizations put out a printed or digital newsletter. Repurposing the newsletter as blog posts, online articles, tweets, Facebook updates, and more helps make those words sell. Unlike a printed piece of paper that eventually makes its way to the recycling bin, online content compounds over time and never expires. Use and reuse online and off-line content to get the word out.
The whole newsletter does not have to be published on a website or even in a digital newsletter. Using short introductions and subject links as teasers leading to more content on a website allows readers to go where they want.
Remember that web surfers scan rather than read most of the time. Words that sell are scannable. Use interesting links with descriptive words in each story section of a newsletter to link to a blog post, online article, press release, or page of a website.
Putting RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds on online content also sells. Creating separate RSS feeds for blogs, press releases, newsletters, and content areas of a website helps marketers help readers. RSS spoon-feeds content streams to the interested parties, making content receiving and distributing a passive and automatic act. It is a great feeling when RSS lists grow and content managers know their content not only lives online, but is also automatically sent to opt-in recipients for multitasking marketing power.
Most organizations put out press releases only when news happens. Consider press release creation as a planned part of online content marketing strategy.
When marketers create something on a website that is a new resource for your audience, repurpose it by creating an informative press release. Online words that sell often ride the coattails of current events. To capture interested readers, plan in your editorial calendar content (like blog posts and press releases) around current events such as holidays, media buzz (as it hits and relates to your industry), and regular government reports.
E-books and white papers are some of the best conversion materials you can use to sell. Even if content is given away for free (free often includes some registration), content managers can assign an artificial value to help illustrate perceived value. Many marketers call this type of content a “sample taste” (think of ice cream samples that are a free taste but make you want to eat more). The content generosity approach can help create a connection, launching a relationship that leads to sales.
Professionals are more time-crunched today than ever before. Sell with words by offering organized, helpful content that includes phrases that will be searched by potential customers and/or journalists. Well-written content that is searchable and ready for journalists to turn into stories can work wonders for online public relations. The key is making sure content is widely distributed across multiple channels. You can even become a content aggregator. If people trust your website, blog, Twitter feed, or Facebook page as a source of helpful information, they will stop scanning the web and come to you fi rst. Simply signing up for news feeds and posting them on your site can be a powerful place to start.
If you tell prospective and current customers what’s important in your topic area, even if your competition is the big news of the day, people will treat you as a trusted resource. Chances are, you already check out the headlines as part of your daily workflow. Making a small online marketing adjustment to publish helpful content (like sharing great headlines and linking to other articles) can make your online marketing strategy a serving, supporting, and selling system.
Online ads and e-mail marketing are also considered parts of a strategic online marketing content stream. Think of the content in online advertising as a cheap testing ground to try new approaches and get performance feedback. A simple text ad and a landing page’s content can say what sells. Use the power of all online marketing data to cross-support the web marketing puzzle. If online ad content is successful, you can then deploy it across content on the website, in blogs, on Twitter, in articles, in online press releases, and more.
Video: Are You Ready for Your Close-Up?
Video is one of the most important content tools to convert web users into becoming customers. A picture is worth a thousand words and video is 30 pictures per second. Do the math. Video production does not need to break the bank. All that is needed is creativity, a web camera (some are built into mobile devices or laptops), off–the-shelf video software (some is free or low cost), and a willingness to roll up your sleeves to publish the content online.
Many organizations have catapulted themselves into new marketing success territory by becoming a “weblebrity,” using the power of online video to create connections and initiate conversations.
Simple videos can include a welcome message to introduce your organization and give it a warm human face. If your founder is part of your brand, have him or her star in the video. People want to see who is behind an organization.
Pushing products or services is not the purpose of video; instead, show a bigger message like how the organization solves problems for their audience. For example, Wal-Mart’s slogan is “Save Money. Live Better.” and their television ads show people doing fun things like visiting their grandkids with the money they save at Wal-Mart. This same concept can be applied to video content created for the web. Steve Jobs is a master at showing how Apple products will make people’s lives better. These Apple videos get repurposed as content on the web, getting viewed long after the live launch date.
How video is used needs to be specific to the target market and product and/or service. Ideas for videos may include using video to demonstrate the feature(s) of a product, or providing tutorials on how to use a product in a specific circumstance.
Starting a video “magazine” can boost business. Any organization can become the 60 Minutes of their given field. Creating consistent video content that people want to view can become a great addition to marketing. Videos shouldn’t just promote a product or service. They should give viewers a handle on the big issues in your field.
If someone in your company is giving a presentation or speech, record it on video. Recording and republishing a presentation or speech can allow the content to work for you again and again. Also, a recording can be cut into short clips (quick “best of the best” videos often work best) and republished on video sites like YouTube and Vimeo.
Don’t forget to have fun with video. Compelling content needs to be enjoyable to watch. Funny is not the only form of entertainment, but humor has a strong success track record. Make music videos, faux commercials, or instructional videos in the style of Shakespeare. Let your imagination go wild, and don’t be afraid to have personality.
User-Generated Community Video Contests
You can create a video phenomenon without even picking up a camera. Sponsor a video contest where users can make videos extolling an organization’s product or service. Giving a community any needed elements like logos, visuals, audio tracks, and so on empowers it to trumpet your brand. Set basic rules, such as no obscenity (just search “video contest rules” online to get some ideas). Once videos have gone through a moderator to gauge appropriateness, then users can vote on the one they like best.
Set the submission deadline long enough in advance to give folks enough time to create quality work. Because procrastination is a popular time management technique, you’ll see submissions spiking as the deadline looms.
The final benefit of having a community video contest is that proud video producers will promote their work on their own social networks and ask all their friends to vote. (Note: Community videos can have a downside. Be aware of your market, and have a clear video management plan in place.) A video contest doesn’t take that much effort, but you have to budget time and internal resources, create guidelines, conduct an analysis to consider opportunities and threats, and have prizes (make sure the prizes are worth something to your audience so people will be committed to creating quality work). Prizes can include products, services, money, trips, and more.
Video is the largest growing content-creation medium, but marketers must not forget the value of audio. Simple sound (without images) in the form of podcasts or audio clips playing on a website can create a meaningful connection, making a bottom-line impact on marketing. Podcasts are the most common form of audio, where assigned “hosts” talk as if they were on the radio, sharing expertise, tips, and advice and interviewing a topic area’s expert. Interested audiences can listen to podcasts on their music players, on their phones, or on their computers while they do other work. Search for podcasts in your niche market to get inspired and learn best practices.
Audio tip: Many strategic marketers also offer web transcripts of podcasts to help multitask their audio effort with website text that helps boost search engine optimization. Some marketers transcribe video content into text as well to maximize impact.