Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Valentine’s Day is Tuesday
Why is content marketing so hard?
Welcome to the week before Valentine’s Day! As it happens, it’s connection and engagement week at Copyblogger — and the content this week is all about how you can create a more profound bond with your audience.
On Monday we had a fun day, because we got to finally let you know about something cool we’ve been working on behind the scenes — StudioPress Sites. This new product was conceived and shaped based on our in-depth conversations with customers, and we’re super proud of it. If you’re looking to launch a new site with all the flexibility of WordPress — and without the irritating parts — check it out.
On Tuesday, Brian gave us an in-depth post about how to create content that deeply engages your audience. This is a meaty post, so plan on giving it your full attention and spending some time with it (and your caffeinated beverage of choice, if you choose).
And on Wednesday, Jerod talked about cognitive biases — how your brain is wired to work, whether or not you’re aware of it. He explained ethical ways we can use these biases to shape content to work with our natural tendencies, instead of against them.
Finally, a little earlier today we announced our Content Excellence Challenge prompts for February. These are community challenges we do together every month. This month, I’m giving away five copies of Jonah Sachs’s fascinating book Winning the Story Wars, which is stuffed with ideas about how to connect more closely with your audience … and persuade them to take action.
You can learn more about Winning the Story Wars on the Copyblogger FM podcast this week.
Hope your weekend is an excellent one, and I’ll catch you next week!
— Sonia Simone
Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital
Catch up on this week’s content
by Brian Clark
by Brian Clark
by Jerod Morris
by Sonia Simone
by Sonia Simone
by Brian Clark
by Kelton Reid
by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor
Leave a comment with your entry for this month’s content challenge. You’ll have the chance to win a really good book!
Hey, it’s February! And that means we have two new prompts for our 2017 Content Excellence Challenge.
This month, we’re going to send a copy of Jonah Sachs’s book Winning the Story Wars to five randomly selected commenters. (See the details below for more about who we will and will not be able to send books to.)
Remember, you have two weeks before comments on the post close, so don’t dawdle. Give the creative prompt a try and show off how it turned out.
February’s Creative Prompt: Speak to one person
This is one of my all-time favorite ways to make your writing much better, instantly.
The prompt is:
Craft your writing to speak to one, and only one, person. As you write, imagine you’re sitting down with this person over a nice beverage.
Keep in mind that this may take some courage. The political climate at the moment is so charged that even rather innocuous statements can take on a political meaning.
But fortune favors the bold. The courageous voice will always win out over wimpy, dull, “safe” content.
Why it works
When you write for a crowd, you start to pontificate. That verb comes from the word pontiff, and it means to speak to an audience as if you were the Pope delivering a speech from a balcony at the Vatican.
That works great for the Pope, but it won’t work for you.
In your content, imagine one perfect human who’s the exact right match for your business. (Re-read this post if you need better clarification on who that might be: How to Attract Your Ideal Customer with Perfectly Positioned Content.)
I like to visualize this person in great detail. Not just gender, age, or other raw demographic information, but the kinds of details a novelist notices.
- What kind of drink are you sharing? A beer? A coffee? Kombucha?
- Do they have freckles?
- Are they tall or short?
- What are they wearing?
- Where are you meeting?
- What color eyes do they have?
This mental exercise is just to let you imagine a real, warm, flesh-and-blood human across the table from you.
Now, with your next piece of content, write individually to that person. Choose your words, your tone, your metaphors, the stories you tell, and the points you make all with that human being as your audience of one.
If you’re going to play along in our contest this month, leave a short paragraph in the comments showing us how it looked. No more than five lines — just enough to give us a flavor of the tone and voice.
February’s Productivity Prompt: The pivotal technique
This month’s prompt for productivity is one I’ve used for many years, detailed at some length in my post on The Complete Flake’s Guide to Getting Things Done.
It comes from Robert Fritz’s Path of Least Resistance, and in a nutshell, the technique is:
- Visualize where you want to go. In other words, what will the world around you look like when you’ve achieved what you want? Get extremely clear on this.
- Notice where you are now. What does the world look like as it is today? Get extremely clear on this.
- Without a lot of drama or self-flagellation, notice the specific differences.
The point here is not to beat yourself up about all the ways in which you don’t live up to your dreams. The point is simply to get very clear on where you are, and where you want to be.
The next step is just to figure out … what the next step is. What action, large or small, would move you in the right direction?
You can keep cycling through these steps — today, tomorrow, or quite literally for the rest of your life. Each cycle “pivots” you in a small way in the right direction. Over time, small pivots, with forward movement, add up to major changes.
Notes on the contest
A few caveats and clarifications for the free books:
- We’ll choose five folks at random from those who leave a comment with a brief (five lines or fewer) example of how they used this month’s creative prompt.
- You’ll need to be in the U.K., U.S., or Canada, so we can get a copy to you without a lot of delivery stress. If you’re somewhere else and there’s an easy way to get a book to you, we’ll consider it.
- If we choose your comment, we’ll contact you via the email address you leave in the comment form.
- We won’t share any of your info or use it for something weird, because that would be really dodgy. We’ll just send you your book.
- Comments that look spammy will get deleted. The editorial team, as always, has the final word on what looks spammy. If you want more specific advice, check out my podcast episode on Leaving Much Better Comments.
Let’s hear those one-to-one voices! Drop your entry in a comment below …
The post 2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The February Prompts appeared first on Copyblogger.
When it comes to online advertising, no one is disputing that demographics are important. After all, they’re what powers your media buying and customer personas. The data you collect is meaningless without demographics to help you properly filter and segment it.
But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find something much more important than demographics powering actual conversions. And using it effectively could make a huge difference in your sales. Let’s take a closer look at what it is, and how you can leverage it to the fullest.
The Dismal State of Online Retail Conversion Rates
According to a report just released by Monetate in November, online retailers continue to struggle with e-commerce sales. A meager 3% conversion rate is something these retailers get excited about. But I’m of the opinion that this number could be much higher, and it has nothing to do with demographics.
Let’s use the just-passed holiday shopping season as a perfect example. Let’s say I’m in the market for a technology gadget of some kind. I’m already not in the target demographics for this market, which tends to lean heavily toward the 20-something male segment. I go to a website where I find the gadget, and proceed to buy it, but the shipping is a bit too high for my tastes, so I abandon my cart and go back to my search.
If you, as the online retailer, carried the same gadget at a better price or value, wouldn’t you want the opportunity to earn my business? Of course you would – which is why demographics go right to the back burner when it comes to enticing me to do business with you instead.
This is known as customer intent.
“So what?” I can hear you saying. “That was for a gift, and it was a one-off purchase, so it doesn’t count.”
But when you consider that 56% of mobile searches for sporting goods are made by women, and 68% of influencers for skincare and beauty were male, you can see how targeting by demographics alone goes right out the window.
How Do You Measure What You Can’t See?
Currently, there is no “one size fits all” tool to measure something like customer intent. It’s far too complex. We can, however, measure the things that lead up to intent. You do it right now without even realizing it. Cookie-based ads, remarketing, email automation — all of these things have been used successfully for years to help target ads relevant to the customer’s search.
But it’s not enough. Until now, marketers have relied on their existing automation systems, their CRM cata and other traditional sources (known as first party data) to better understand their customer base. More and more, however, a new type of data known as third-party data, is coming into play. Third party data is often captured through things like IP tracking, shared cookies or user opt-ins.
Let’s say a user comes to your site through a link on social media. They find an article funny or entertaining and decide to continue reading other, similar articles on other sites. Maybe they even leave a comment or two.
All of these actions leave a sort of “breadcrumb trail” for publishers to follow and glean insights from. Maybe the article you read had to do with funny images of babies, and perhaps your comment was a story about your own little one. From these few points alone, advertisers can deduce that you’re probably a mother of an infant or toddler, and that information, combined with other sites you visit, could paint quite a picture of you without ever being personally identifiable.
It’s questionable from a privacy perspective, but welcomed by marketers, as it gives them little tidbits of information about a prospect — just enough, perhaps, to measure their intent on buying.
So the question then becomes, how do we attract the kinds of people that are intent on buying?
Crafting Content for an Intent-Centric World
Just as all these first party and third party data snippets come together like pieces of a puzzle, so to must marketers and content creators do a little detective work to determine what kinds of content best resonate with that audience. One of the most well-known companies to leverage this kind of information in a meaningful way that boosts their own sales is the Home Depot.
A couple of years ago, they discovered that their do-it-yourself customers were browsing YouTube on their mobile phones to determine how to do different home improvement tasks, ranging from painting a room to building a fire pit. So Home Depot made several YouTube videos walking customers through the process of the most popular types of DIY projects:
Currently, the Home Depot’s YouTube channel has hundreds of how-to videos, all of which have received a remarkable 48 million views combined. There are lots of different ways you can leverage this strategy yourself, including:
- How to clean/repair/care for the products you sell
- Reviews of the products or their ingredients
- Recommended accessories or add-ons for the products
There are plenty of analytics tools available – including Kissmetrics – which can help you ascertain customer intent and then harness that intent to the fullest with helpful content, reviews and recommendations.
And although it may be a bit of a stretch to say that intent is more important than demographics, it nevertheless fills an important role that all marketers should be aware of when planning campaigns both now and in the future.
Which Do You Think is More Important? Demographics or Intent?
Do you weigh demographics more heavily than customer intent? Or is intent simply too cumbersome to measure? Do you think both deserve a place in your marketing plan? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversions through content marketing and SEO copywriting. Get your free printable conversion checklist and web copy tune-up at iElectrify.com or follow @sherice on Twitter.