How to implement and optimise dynamic content

Intro

Dynamic content is a tool often overlooked or under-utilised by marketers. The capabilities of dynamic content are extensive and need to be included. With features such as specific content blocks, countdown timers and customer specific information how can you not want to use it?

 

But with only 23% of marketers having the capability to provide, we can see why you might find it hard to get into and understand.

 

Well, we can help.

 

How it works

Let’s start with how it works; dynamic content is applied through variables and conditions that go and ask questions within your data. For example, if you set a condition of cat owner or dog owner the question will be asked of your customer data, then the result returned and only the cat owners will be able to see the cat content and the dog owners the dog content.

 

The difference between conditions and variables, often a tricky subject for marketers! Conditions affect a whole block of content, where variables affect one specific element. For example, if you created two different banners and headers for an email, and then said one was for men and one was for women, when you sent it only the relevant parts would be visible to the men and women.

 

Variables differ, they are more basic and add personalisation to emails. Common variables are your name, title and date of birth. These are used to engage the audience and talk to them as an individual.

 

Within dynamic content, we can also do more simple aspects, such as pulling customer specific information into the email to be included in pictures or the text. Such as names, customer login sections and birthdays! Here below we can see the email in the form when you create it, then what the customer receives!

 

 

Features

Don’t worry about the codes; they soon change to this in the consumer’s mailbox!

 

 

 

 

Why would you use dynamic content?

 

 

Dynamic content takes personalisation to the next level. We’re beyond the time where putting someone’s first name is good enough, and it won’t stand out in the mailbox. Spreading content with the hope that it’ll resonate with some of your audience isn’t the strategy to employ. Creating a 1-2-1 conversation is what consumers crave, and what they need.

 

And, it makes you stand out.

 

Think about it, who do you remember more, the person who served you at the supermarket or the guy stacking the shelves? A mailbox is similar to this. There are the certain individuals you engage with and pass through to your memory, and the individuals who were stacking the shelves are the brands who you skip past, or delete.

 

Takeaway

Look at your current metrics, see how you’re getting on. Look at your open rates, click-throughs and how many times your call to action is being taken. This gives you a solid indication on how your consumers are reacting, and the opportunity to build.

 

Concentrate on the relevance of your email, reduce the size of each segment if necessary and split into more targeted emails. Not only will your metrics rise for the original segments, but the people who would’ve been missed are now being reached.

 

Conclusion

A message that speaks to the consumer as an individual is the correct message, and dynamic content does all the hard work. It applies all the features you want, without you having to do it manually for each consumer.

Make the most of your Black Friday marketing

Intro

Well, black Friday and cyber Monday ey? 2 dates fixed in the minds of consumers on the run-up to the big one… Christmas! You’ll see adverts of slashing prices, and companies saying they’re barely making a profit. But what can you do to maximise your profits? Putting a sale on is necessary, after all, that’s what the consumers expect! But you only need a big discount when you’re marketing isn’t up to scratch.

 

Common Strategies

Most companies will employ the basics, a countdown on the website and a sale section, but there’s so much more you can do. Black Friday gives us the opportunity to flex our mysterious muscles, now’s the time to drive up a sense of intrigue that ultimately ends with the consumer on our website on the big day. Give them teasers through email campaigns and look to tie this in with your social media or content strategy, ensure that it’s clear something is going to happen.

 

Think about starting early, slowly build up to the event throughout November and don’t reveal what it is you’re going to be offering. Make that intrigue, get people thinking and imprint yourself in their mind ahead of the big day, and I can guarantee you’ll be one of the first stops on the day.

 

What many retailers will do at this event, is to try to create a sense of urgency, make you believe that if you don’t act now you’ll miss out forever. Great examples of this are ‘deal of the hour’ or Amazon’s infamous missed section, where the deals you’ve already missed out on are on display. The success of this comes from the ability to affect consumer behaviour, by showing what others have got it creates an ‘in’ group that looks admirable from the outside, whereas in reality, it’s just someone showing off that their marketing is working.

 

 

The percentages and timers used here on Amazon look to incite the consumer to take an action, and give them a choice to make. Do they purchase now while there’s some still left? Or do they risk it and wait until later after they’ve deliberated? With the latter, the doubt is instilled in their mind that it might not be available, so the whole process is accelerated and effectively it drives the consumer to act on impulse.

 

The channels that are most effective are digital as the ability to personalise and add moving, animated features are more prevalent. These features allow a better user experience and at a time of heightened activity, help you to stand out.

 

Takeaway

Look at what plans you have in place, what content you have scheduled and think, what does that elicit from the consumer. When there is a period of heightened marketing activity, creating an emotional response from the consumer, dual-encodes the memory in their long-term memory and increases the chances of you being recalled in future.

 

Conclusion

The opportunities with Black Friday are vast, but making sure you’re the one who capitalises is a tricky task. It takes planning, strategy and solid implementation to achieve any sort of results.

People buy from people

Intro

People buy from people. Quality takes a backseat, even if someone made the best headphones for a reasonable price, you wouldn’t buy them if the brand were seen to support views that oppose you would you? Every brand is a person; they have values, attitudes and a sense of self. And this is the key driver in a consumers purchase decision. But how can we affect how we are perceived? What can we do to affect our ‘person’?

 

We are people

Brands are people, represented by the staff they employ and messages they give out and ultimately defined by the company’s culture. These drive how consumers interact with our brands, whether we can elicit positive emotions or we distance ourselves from them.

 

Much like people, brands have attitudes and beliefs instilled within them often driven by the company culture. For example, we as people believe in certain things and display these; Toms are the same. They are a company founded with the mission to help those in need, for every product you buy they send one to someone in need. This is an admirable trait and helps instil their personality into the brand, and give themselves a sense of person. And who doesn’t want to be mates with the guy changing the world? I sure do.

 

On the other side, many brands fail because they lack a unique selling point, and a bit of attitude. Like Toms weren’t the best quality, I remember going through a few pairs myself! But what kept us going back was the feeling of helping those in need. Where many brands who I can’t recall the name of, ultimately fail because of this, they fail to stick in the consumers’ mind. An effective way to insert yourself into a thought process, is to stand out because of your views. Think about it, think back to school, who can you remember and why do you remember them? Because they stuck in your mind.

 

The quality of the product doesn’t matter, again personified by Toms, who originally created simple but effective daps for people to wear, while knowing they were helping someone who didn’t previously have any. They’ve used their sense of person, as their unique selling point and as their key marketing tool. This develops their personality and personifies them as an admirable person, much like Gandhi, who become revered and essentially successful.

 

Customer facing

To have a strategic plan and a culture envisaged is all good, but to effectively instil this into external stakeholders, the customer-facing staff play the key role.

 

The role of the customer-facing staff, such as support or sales staff, is integral in the development of an attractive ‘person’. These are the individuals who have direct contact with the outside world; they display the characteristics of the company. Here the consumers interact and gauge whether what they have previously learnt about the company is true, or just a façade, and essentially can either enhance or wipe out all marketing activity prior to this event.

 

Keeping these employees motivated and happy within their roles ensures that the outside world believe what you’re doing and that your ‘person’ is genuine, oh and let’s not forget marketing. Marketing works as the instigator for all company-customer relations. It’s often the main driver in the first opinion, and as we all know the first opinion is the most important. In a job interview, if you mess up and say that you think Arsenal is a real title contender, you’ve lost all credibility. Marketing is this first impression.

 

These are the most important cogs in the wheel, how the consumer is treated.

 

Takeaway

After this, I want you to think about your own brand, and what you stand for. And once you have that established think about how to integrate this message into your marketing activity, as this is what the brand is trying to achieve. Everything should be tailored to achieving that one goal, for example, Google are trying to create a universal flow of all information, and I’d say they’re doing a pretty good job. Think about what you want to do within the world, then go out and smash it.

 

Conclusion

When assessing your brand strategy, knowing the ‘person’ you’re trying to develop is the centre of the wheel, everything else is just the spokes, everything must revolve around the centre.

How to stand out in the mailbox

Intro

Email is the most used marketing channel, with 269 billion sent and received every single day. This demonstrates how competitive the channel is. But it’s still worth the effort, for every £1 you invest yields on average £28, representing a return on investment that no other channel can compete with. But to reach those lofty heights, we must ensure the content is relevant for the audience.

 

Subject Line

Your subject line is the proverbial first impression, are you the hot guy walking down the street with swagger or the guy eating his bogeys on the loser? This is how you set your stall out, make that first impression.

 

Creativity is the key to an engaging subject line, but you must keep within restrictions. For example, make sure you’re not over elaborating on what it is you’re offering, no one enjoys feeling like they’ve been tricked into opening. Here’s a short checklist to use as a guideline:

  • Short and catchy
  • Relevant to the content of the email
  • Easily understandable
  • In line with brand values

 

One factor that has been shown to drastically improve email open rates is personalisation within the subject line. After introducing personalisation here, marketers have seen a rise of 50% in open rates. Consumers want to feel like you’ve taken a personal interest in them, and feel valued.

 

Email Frequency

The frequency of the emails you send is defined by the objective of the campaign or customer journey. As long as the content remains relevant and appropriate the audience engagement will increase through each interaction. This could happen with 2 emails in a week, or conversely, 10 emails in a day.

 

I myself receive hundreds of emails each day and don’t have time to open them all. I tend to prioritise the ones from brands I know and respect. So for a new company entering my mailbox, a welcome email after I’ve just signed up is imperative, along with regular communication, to retain the context and keep them top of mind.

 

Research supports this where it has been found that consumers want companies to speak to them on a weekly frequency. Keeping that regular flow of communication maintains and fosters the relationship. Device compatibility is pivotal, if your target segment view their emails on both mobile and desktop devices, ensuring the email uses responsive design and has support for varied email clients should be top of the list.

 

Key Metrics

To improve the future, we must evaluate the past. Seeing what was successful and what wasn’t gives us the necessary insight to evolve our campaigns, and cherry-pick the elements we want to keep and discard the ones we don’t. This must be done both quantitatively and qualitatively.

 

Quantitively, open and click-through rates are our core metrics; this identifies the traffic and engagement of the messages and ultimately shows whether the campaign has achieved the desired objective. These percentages offer us a strong basis on which we can evaluate the core elements of the email but don’t give us the full picture. That is where qualitative evaluation comes into play. What thoughts and feelings an email provokes are important to understand, or whether it’s just too bland. But this isn’t as hard to conduct as you may think. A simple test of the campaign in-house, is more than adequate to find major holes or problems.

 

Conclusion

Email maintains its position as the most used marketing channel, and that’s for a good reason, it’s the most effective. But with the extremely high volumes and levels of competition comes it’s difficulty. It always has been, and always will be, about sending the right message to the right person at the right time. But this just drives us to be better marketers, which is what we want right?

How to maximise Halloween marketing

Intro

With Halloween comes a multitude of dodgy puns, brands jumping on the holiday bandwagon and those pesky egg-throwing teenagers. Halloween provides a great marketing opportunity, but needs smart implementation to ensure you stand out from the crowd. We’ve listed the common pitfalls of Halloween marketing, and a checklist to make sure you’re optimising the holiday.

 

Crowded Space

So, our first concern is the biggest; crowded space. Everyone is trying to take advantage. It is a safe bet that if you’ve decided to leverage the holiday, your competitors are as well. This elevates the level of competition, not only operating within the same industry, but having concurrent marketing efforts following the same theme. Without doing something different, there’s every chance your campaigns will be too vanilla and just disappear in the noise.

 

The need to be innovative and unique is even greater, evaluate last years campaign, retain the elements that were effective and evolve. But most importantly, don’t be afraid to try something new! Put yourself out there, if you make enough noise, you’ll not only have successful marketing, you’ll also crush your competitors and sit top of the pile.

 

Consumer Spending

It’s not all doom and gloom though, holidays bring an increase in consumer spending! Now it’s just about getting them to spend with you, and how can we do this? Nurturing! Drip-feeding relevant and contextual content implants you into the consumers thought process. This is preferable to poorly targeted email blasts of promotional content and discounts that can wind people up to the point of unsubscription.

 

Start your campaign early and slow, start dropping yourself into the space, start creating themed content and reminding people that Halloween is just around the corner, and think about your products! It’s amazing how many companies email me on Halloween trying to get me to order a costume, on the actual day! Even if I hadn’t already sorted a costume, it wouldn’t arrive until at least the day after! Make sure you understand your product portfolio, and when customers would be looking to purchase.

 

Checklist

  • Start early
  • Plan ahead
  • Schedule content
  • Adapt the holiday to suit your customers
  • Run a nurturing campaign
  • Innovate

 

Conclusion

Factor Halloween into your Q4 marketing activity, and plan well in advance what marketing collateral you’ll need, then load all your messaging into some good automation software and watch the results flow in!

Negative emotions produce positive outcomes

Intro

How do brands align themselves with consumers and create loyalty? And how does this affect their emotion towards brands they favour and brands they don’t think of positively, and how does that affect their perception of individuals associated with these brands? These are all issues that marketers need to understand before positioning themselves in the market.

 

In/Out Group Mentality

Some brands operate with a certain level of prestige associated with them, and it’s not just your elitist brands. All your high street brands will be doing the same. Take celebrities for example; they’ve developed themselves as a brand, and exhibit this better than anyone. Justin Bieber has his ‘Beliebers’, Beyonce has the BeeHive and Katy Perry has the Katy Cats. This offers the fans a distinct, recognisable tag and aligns them with their favourite celebrity, making them feel connected. This then positions them as a firm member of their in-group, making them more receptive of material and products surrounding the celebrity and less receptive of rival groups material.

 

Companies want this exact same thing, they want you to feel an affinity with them and connected. This is why they talk in the first person and as if they are your friend, they want a human, personal relationship with you. They’ll often say you’re part of the family or their success, attempting to build a connection. This all makes you part of the in-group, and once you’re in, you’re much more valuable to the brand.

 

That’s why tactics such as personalisation or enhanced targeting have become common practice within the marketing industry, they all want to make you feel a positive emotion for them, and this is how to elicit it. Knowing the complete picture and utilising features such as dynamic content allow marketers to make it seem as if they’ve handwritten each and every email, building that affinity.

 

To put this into perspective, in your friendship groups you’ll know a fair bit about each other, and your conversations will flow easily, you’ll ask them about their new job or the house they’re looking at buying, and they’ll like that, but if someone talks blankly at you you’ll become disengaged and perceptions of that individual might change. This then leads to that individual not being as ‘in’ as your friends, who take an interest in an open conversation. This is the holy grail for personalisation, developing an in-group, and an open conversation.

 

Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude relates to seeing the joy in another’s misfortune. So for companies, this relates to them directly and also for every stakeholder. This links to the in/out-group mentality, individuals will derive joy from seeing a mishap happen to someone sporting a brand they view as the out-group. A good example of this is First Direct Bank, they recently won the award for best service, and created an advert based upon this. Here they’ve seen the joy of their competitors not succeeding and looked to leverage it to improve their position in the market. I’ve added the advert below:

 

Schadenfreude can create brand loyalty, or alienate customers altogether. Brands can gain loyalty from their own advocates and supporters by targeting misfortunes within other brands, but while doing this it can push those advocates of the brand suffering misfortune farther away, and not gaining market share from them. But if it is exhibited effectively, the rewards can be massive, harming a competitor while improving your own position.

 

Also if schadenfreude is displayed too often by companies, a brand can be labelled as combative and gain a reputation, which can transfer negative implications onto the brand and make them less attractive. This affects the perception from existing and potential customers, affecting their ability to both retain and increase their customer base. Think about it, would you carry on buying your favourite chocolate bars if the brand continually attacked the quality of it’s competitors?

 

From the consumers perspective, when they display schadenfreude, it demonstrates a level of connection, how disconnected they are from one brand and how connected they are to another. This can provide valuable information for brands, by being able to explicitly see who supports and challenges you gives you the ability to analyse your brand advocates. Once this is has been analysed, you then have a true reflection of who your brand resonates with. From here, you can more effectively plan your marketing activities with tailored retention content and adapted acquisition messaging.

 

Conclusion

Many different factors affect the consumer mindset, and marketers must be wary of these. What we think of as erroneous information might enrage someone, or what we think is an acquisition campaign might be better suited to our existing base. Being able to understand these elements of the consumer mindset greatly increases the chance of hitting them with the right message, at the right time.

 

It’s not just about knowing Who to talk to, about What and When, it’s equally important to know How to talk to them.

Using RFM modelling to generate successful customer segments

RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) analysis is a proven marketing model for behaviour-based customer segmentation. It groups customers based on their transaction history – how recently and how often they bought, and how much they spent.

It enables the marketer to divide customers into various categories or clusters who are more likely to respond to promotions or future personalisation services.

RFM has its roots in Direct Marketing

Bult and Wansbeek originally introduced the concept of RFM in 1995. It was used effectively by catalogue marketers to minimise their printing and shipping costs while maximising returns.

The advent of computers made it even easier to perform RFM studies because customer and purchase records were digitised, the logical progression was to take these catalogues online to become websites. An extensive study by Blattberg et al. in 2008 proved RFM’s effectiveness when applied to marketing databases. Numerous other academic studies have also validated the use of RFM in reducing marketing costs and increasing returns.

The power of three

We all know that valuing customers based on a single parameter is flawed. The biggest value customer may have only purchased once two years ago, or the most frequent purchaser may have a value so low that it is almost not profitable to service them.

One parameter will never give you an accurate view of your customer base, and you’ll ignore customer lifetime value.

Calculate the RFM score by attributing a numerical value for each of the criteria. The customer gets more points if they bought in the recent past, bought many times or if the purchase value is larger. Combine these three values to create the RFM score.

This RFM score can then be used to segment your customer data platform (CDP).

Customer Segments using RFM Modelling

Analysis of the customer RFM values will create some standard segments, a table of suggested segments is listed below.

Think about what percentage of your existing customers would be in each of these segments. And evaluate how effective the recommended marketing action can be for your business.

This RFM segmentation will readily answer key questions for your business:

·       Who are my best customers?

·       Which customers are at the verge of churning?

·       Who has the potential to be converted in more profitable customers?

·       Who can you view as lost customers?

·       Which customers must you retain?

·       Who are your loyal customers?

·       Which group of customers is most likely to respond to your current campaign?

RFM Score Calculations Simplified

RFM values – to calculate the RFM score you will first need to identify each customer’s RFM values.

Recency (R) – period since last purchase.

Frequency (F) – number of transactions.

Monetary (M) – total money spent, often called Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

A example customer may then have a R-value of 1 week, F-value of 5 transactions and an M-value of £2,567 (CLV).

Applying RFM score formula

Once you’ve identified and assigned the RFM values from the purchase history, you can calculate a score for recency, frequency and monetary values individually for each customer.

There are two common options for ranking the RFM values on the scale of 1 to 5:

OPTION 1: SIMPLE FIXED RANGES

Example: If a customer purchased within last 24 hours, assign them 5. In last 3 days, score them 4. Assign 3 if they bought within the current month, 2 for the last six months and 1 for everyone else.

Therefore, the range for each score has been pre-defined. Range thresholds are based on the nature of the business. You would then define ranges for frequency and monetary values in the same way.

You should choose criteria that are relevant to the purchase cycle and product value, e.g. an M-value of £2,500 might seem high, but if you sell holidays at a minimum purchase value of £2,500 it’s not out of the ordinary.

This scoring method depends on the individual businesses – since they decide what ranges they consider relevant and appropriate.

There are limitations with this option, as the business grows score ranges may need frequent adjustments. What you thought was a high frequency or monetary value in 2017 may be quite different in 2018 once you analyse the data. This may cause problems with how you deal with your previously high-value customers if they are relatively no longer as valuable as they once were. They may now be incorrectly in the top tier of your loyalty programme.

OPTION 2: QUINTILES – MAKE FIVE EQUAL PARTS BASED ON AVAILABLE VALUES

Quintiles are like percentiles, but instead of dividing the data in 100 parts, you divide it in 5 equal parts. Quintiles work with any industry since the data itself defines the ranges; they distribute customers evenly.

Ultimately, you will want to end up with 5 bands for each of the R, F and M-values, this can be reduced to bands of 3 if the variation of your data values is narrow.

The larger the score for each value the better it is. A final RFM score is calculated simply by combining individual RFM score numbers. There are two ways to do this:

1.     Addition – this is achieved by simply adding the three scores together, e.g. Mr Jones has a Recency score of 4, a Frequency score of 2 and a Monetary score of 5. His RFM score would then be 4+2+5=11. By using this methodology, the maximum value would be 15 and the minimum being 3.

2.     Concatenation – this is achieved by linking the three scores together, e.g. Mr Jones has a Recency score of 4, a Frequency score of 2 and a Monetary score of 5. His RFM score would then be 425. By using this methodology, the maximum value would be 555 and the minimum being 111.

The Hive Marketing Cloud Customer Data Platform allows the user to choose either option to grade the RFM values using either fixed or dynamic decoding of the data.

Utilising the RFM Data

There are many different permutations of the R,F & M scores, 125 in total, which is too many to deal with on an individual basis and many will require similar marketing responses. The solution is to segment using the standard 11 personas we suggested earlier.

Each customer is placed into their corresponding segment based on their scores. Frequency and Monetary value are combined to reduce the possible options from 125 to 50. It is logical to combine these as they both relate to how much the customer is buying. Recency is more about the customer re-engagement levels.

The table below shows the destination segments along with the target ranges for Recency and combined Frequency/Monetary scores.

Applying RFM Segmentation to your business

In the brave new world of the Customer Data Platform and email marketing automation, it is possible for a business to use the above segmentation to create automated journeys that nurture customers with relevant and contextual messages that help grow their Lifetime Value and Brand Engagement.

RFM analysis helps your business optimise its marketing operations: better email marketing, higher customer lifetime value, successful new product launches, outstanding user engagement and loyalty, lower churn rate, better ROI on marketing campaigns, success in remarketing, a better understanding of your business, overall higher profits and lower costs.

Summary

RFM analysis was first created to optimise spend for direct marketing so that expensive catalogues were not sent to customers who would not convert, and this can now be leveraged in today’s omnichannel marketing.

Knowing who is most likely to respond to certain messages allows efficient assigning of budget and identification of the next best action required to optimise Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

The Hive Marketing Cloud includes out-of-the-box RFM analysis for your business so you can hit the ground running if you want leverage your segmentation to grow customer engagement and value.

Consumer behaviour, how to manipulate through reinforcement and perception

Intro

Consumer behaviour has been hot topic within the marketing industry for a long time now. Knowing the drivers and motivators behind behaviour, gives marketers the insights into how to position themselves, and who to target. People influence people, we know that, but how does it affect a purchase decision?

 

Social Influence

Why do people spend 100s of pounds on clothes when you can find the same thing down the road in Primark for a fiver? Because of the image we want. It’s a show of wealth. It displays an individuals personality, their likes and dislikes and their standing in society. This is why companies market their products in a certain light, they’re trying to put a meaning to their products, and who’s the best at this? It’s arguably Beats by Dr. Dre. They took an average pair of headphones and turned it into a billion pound company.

 

Their first marketing activity was sending their headphones to LeBron James, a friend of the co-founder Jimmy Iovine. LeBron James loved them so much, he asked for 15 pairs and handed them out to the 2008 USA Olympic basketball team, what a way to launch ey’. The first images of them arriving at the Olympic games, they all disembarked from the coach sporting the headphones.

 

Not only did this get them in the press, but it transferred the prestige and standing of the athletes, including LeBron, to the products. People who idolised them or the sport were able to get closer to them, make themselves feel like they’re LeBron by owning these headphones. This is influencer marketing at its finest.

 

Operant Conditioning

What’s better than someone complimenting you? Not much. We all like a little boost from time to time, your colleague telling you they like your shoes or the bus driver saying your shirt is nice, we love it. Factors like this influence how we think. If the bus driver and your colleague said they wouldn’t wear those shoes, you’d maybe question it next time.

 

Giving and receiving feedback is a necessity for all members of society, people rarely make a decision on their own. Have you spoken to your partner, friend or even the shop assistant you’re buying with? They’ve all affected your opinion of a product, and I can guarantee someone would have commented or given you some body language which lets you know what they think. This either reinforces your previously held values and opinions or it challenges them, and then you have a decision to make.

 

From the reverse perspective, if you see someone you like the look of wearing or using something, you transfer your positive perception of them onto the product. Conversely, if you saw someone who you don’t rate positively using something, your opinion of that item may negatively suffer from your bias. To learn more about how ‘Influencers’ affect our decision to buy products, click here.

 

Conclusion

People within society affect each other in many different ways, and marketers need to understand and be able to manipulate this to the greatest effect for their brand. One correct move can win you over an entire industry.

Content marketing 101.

Intro

Content marketing is on the rise, every marketer sees the value and wants to hop on the bandwagon. Many start writing without a plan, only to see limited reach and an even smaller amount that actually illicit any action. In this developing space, you need to know what you’re trying to achieve.

 

Content marketing is often used as the driver behind the core marketing strategy. It works as the awareness piece, that drives attention and traffic to the organisation. Often used as the precursor of an account based marketing strategy, content marketing is the gateway for moving people into your customer journeys, which can be automated.

 

What do you want readers to do after they’ve finished with the article? Are you looking to sell a certain product? Are you looking to raise the awareness of something? A clear plan of where they start and finish is critical.

 

Attention-grabbing headline

It doesn’t matter how good the article is, if no-one clicks on it. An attention-grabbing headline is pivotal in getting people in. But don’t lie, or use clickbait. If a reader feels like they’ve been conned into reading the article, their perception of your brand will be tarnished. A title that sums up the theme of the article and projects this in an interesting tone will attract them. For example, if this article was called “Best paint to watch dry” would you still have read it?

 

Relevance

This might be a given, but content must be relevant to the readers. Talking about concepts that are alien to them, is a quick way to turn them off and send them to your competitors. Make sure it’s a topic that they are either concerned about, or could be interested in. But their interest must still be aligned with your business, for example, there’s no point in talking about the best baker on The Great British Bake Off if you’re selling insurance, you might get people reading, but if they don’t buy anything what have you gained? Also, ensure there is something for them to take away with them. People read for entertainment, but also like to have something to show for their reading. With this, they are also more likely to talk about what they’ve taken away with someone else, and possibly cite you as the source. Make sure the point you’re trying to convey sticks with them and isn’t lost.

 

When looking for actionable results from employing a content marketing strategy, your personal agenda needs to be put to one side. Your views and style might not be the preference of your readers, just because you like it, doesn’t mean they will. Simple A/B testing will be able to show you what is resonating with your customers.

 

Talk to your audience, not at them

If someone is choosing to read your article in their own time, they don’t want to feel like they are being lectured. A sense of conversation engages customers, answering potential questions and adding personality. Talking about situations they can relate to, and putting complex situations into layman’s terms allows a lower level of cognitive processing to be required, making it an easier read.

 

Persuasion theory

In any consumer-facing material, understanding how it will be processed by the reader is important. Knowing your target market allows you to understand how to target them, with the way you put your message across. The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) has received a lot of recognition for it’s application to content marketing. For more information on persuasion theory, click here.

 

Checklist

To help you with writing your own content, here’s a 4 part checklist to ensure you are taking the right steps for success.

 

Checklist Completed?
Attention-grabbing headline
Relevant topic
Tone
Takeaway

 

 Conclusion

Standing out in the crowd, and keeping readers is critical. With the substantial amount of content being posted and shared on a daily basis, there is no space for anything that isn’t perfect.

Marketing, is it just the new word for persuasion?

Intro

We distribute our content, consumers see it and then they purchase. That’s what everyone thinks, but it’s nowhere near that simple, a certain level of persuasion is required. The way information is processed and accepted or rejected is a much more complex procedure. Knowing your consumers, allows you to select the correct approach to elicit the desired action.

 

Elaboration likelihood model

The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) was developed back in 1980 by Richard Petty and John Cacioppo and suggests individuals take one of two routes to processing a message; the central or peripheral. One is informational and structured, the other is a bit more fun!

 

The central route focuses on a high level of cognition where the individuals are heavily involved in the decision. For example, when making a high involvement purchase, such as a car, people are going to pay a lot more attention. This path focuses on credibility and quality of argument, so, for example, you’d be much more likely to believe Bill Gates when it comes to Windows advice than dodgy Dave from around the corner.

 

When taking this route there are a few key factors to consider. The source of the message, the credibility of the message lies heavily upon this. The integrity of the argument, is your message based on reliable statistics and information? If not, you are going to struggle on this route. This route primarily targets individuals with high intelligence.

 

The peripheral route is the opposite, instead of the credibility of the source, it values the attractiveness. David Beckham became an idol for millions of people as a footballer, and from here when he promoted products after his football career, he was deemed as an attractive individual. His relevance to the product and credibility isn’t relevant, for example what does he know about making aftershave? Not much but by putting his name on it sales go through the roof.

 

Within the peripheral route, statistical information isn’t as important, here individuals are deemed to have a much shorter attention span and must remain engaged.

 

The peripheral route of the ELM can be effectively applied to the retail industry. An attractive individual, often in the form of an influencer, is the one who broadcasts the message in a simple form often across social media, to the receptive passive audience. Each of the variables can be manipulated to differing effect, but this provides the framework the industry operates in.

 

Hypodermic Needle

The Hypodermic Needle theory relates to targeting material to those who possess the power to affect others opinions as well. Commonly used through mass media, by injecting a certain message into the audience the desired response is elicited.

 

This theory relies on a passive audience where they are open and receptive to the information that they are ingesting. An active audience provides a stumbling block, where they may challenge the message they are ingesting. Due to this, organisations supplying low purchase involvement products, potentially FMCG, would be most appropriate to use this theory.

 

This theory is often employed as an awareness piece, highlighting a significant change in the brand or to a new product.

 

Two-step flow theory

The two-step flow theory works by targeting opinion leaders who then have the power to affect those around them. To put this into perspective, this theory uses a targeted approach towards specific personas, who will then share information with other people.

 

The benefits here are you gain an extensive amount of word-of-mouth marketing, which is highly effective, and potentially brand advocates. Consumers who actively recommend a product and discuss, display a higher level of brand loyalty. However, one key constraint is the increased level of segmentation and profiling that is required. When operating with a smaller target segment size, you need to be more effective to gain the desired results.

 

This theory is effective in the travel industry. It focuses on targeting one individual who will then spread the message. So for example, Disneyland highlight or the fun that the kids will have, so the kids pass the message on to the parents who then ultimately book the holiday.

 

Another example comes in the form of valentines day. Lot’s of advertisements will look to promote the thought of treating your other half, so you buy the product then pass the message onto your partner.

 

Conclusion

After segmentation, a clear path of where they start, what they’re receptive and how to elicit the desired action is what you need to drive your marketing activity forward. Knowing who to talk and how is only half the battle though, you also need to be able to deliver the messages when the customer wants them, meaning you’ll also need good journey automation technology to ensure this personalisation is delivered!