Content 2012 for small businesses


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Slides supporting a section of my website on Digital marketing:
These slides present a view of content and content strategy relevant for small businesses as opposed to major brands. The literature is dominated by advice for companies with large budgets. In contrast this looks at what may be achievable for small businesses. It attempts to explain the basis rather than use the jargon

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Content 2012 for small businesses

  1. 1. Content 2012 for Small Businesses Richard Masters Richard Masters1 10/01/2013
  2. 2. Contents  Content marketing: the theory  The major content types 1. Blogs 2. Product Information 3. News Releases 4. Articles, White Papers, EBooks 5. Slideshows 6. References/Case Studies /Reviews 7. Other Content Types  How to develop content Richard Masters2 10/01/2013
  3. 3. Content Marketing: The Theory Before dropping down into the detail of content types and uses, it is useful to reflect on the growing importance of “Content” in digital marketing. Richard Masters3 10/01/2013
  4. 4. Where does Content fit? Digital Media is a subset of all content and separate from traditional media It includes Web Pages, Social Networks and other Digital Content Digital Content is separate from web pages and social networks but overlaps with them. Richard Masters4 10/01/2013
  5. 5. Four reasons why content is important 1. Vital factor in search 2. Key to customer engagement 3. Drives customer commitment 4. Part of overall digital marketing ecosystem. Look at each of these in turn below: Richard Masters5 10/01/2013
  6. 6. 1. Importance in Search •Excerpts from  “Would you trust the information the 2011 presented in this article? Google  Is this article written by an expert or “Quality enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is Guidelines” it more shallow in nature?  Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original •Clearly shows research, or original analysis? that high quality,  Does the page provide substantial value fresh and when compared to other pages in search original content results? is vital to  Does this article provide a complete or ranking well in comprehensive description of the topic? search.  Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond Richard Masters obvious”6 10/01/2013
  7. 7. 2. Customer Engagement Ultimately it is content drives customer engagement. It delivers value to customers so they stay and return to websites. As it is valuable it is also shareable, and people share it with their contacts on social media, Richard Masters7 10/01/2013 increasing its
  8. 8. 3. Customer Commitment It drives customer commitment. Different content types can be used to increase commitment and move customers through the buying cycle Types of content Richard Masters8 are covered in 10/01/2013 more detail later
  9. 9. 4.Key Part of the wider Digital Marketing Ecosystem Content is one of the key components in the digital marketing ecosystem It works with, and supports, the other elements of the ecosystem:  Social media posts signpost valuable content wherever it is most easily accessed  Search Engines refer searchers to sites they perceive as having value to them i.e. appropriate content Richard Masters9 10/01/2013
  10. 10. Importance of Content is increasing.  Content marketing is in the ascendancy and is regarded as the pre-eminent driving force in Digital Marketing.  Google‟s recent algorithm updates (Panda & Penguin) and recent Quality Guidelines make it clear that content is also now the key to ranking well in searches.  There is an increasingly recognition that people are seeking information of value online and this is most easily provided by a variety of original and fresh content types. Richard Masters10 10/01/2013
  11. 11. Content Types for Small Businesses There are a lot of content type it is possible to include in a Digital Marketing Strategy. In reality a large number of them are really only appropriate for larger businesses or brands. Some of the more feasible content types for small businesses are outlined below, Richard Masters11 10/01/2013
  12. 12. Content Types  There are potentially a large number of different content types available. A recent article has identified 42 types.  They represent different combinations media types, delivery methods, subject matter, ownership and purposes.  This section looks at a subset of the most popular content types on the grounds that these are ones most likely to applicable to small businesses. Richard Masters12 10/01/2013
  13. 13. Classification of Content Types There are a number of different ways of classifying content. Some of the main one are: 1. Ownership: Owned, Paid for or Curated 2. Media type: Text, Video, audio, Images 3. Longevity: Short term news to long term studies 4. Content type: Ideas, Opinions, Advertising, Academic 5. Point in sales cycle: Interest generation Richard Masters13 10/01/2013 generating long term relationships through to
  14. 14. Most Popular content types for small businesses The most popular content types for small businesses are described subsequently: 1. Blogs 2. Product Information 3. News Releases 4. Articles, White Papers, EBooks 5. Slideshows 6. References/Case Studies /Reviews 7. Other Content Types Web pages and Social media are covered elsewhere. The relative popularity of the types are shown next Richard Masters14 10/01/2013
  15. 15. Leading Content Types : The State of SEO & Internet Marketing in 2012 : The-State-of-SEO-Internet-Marketing-in-2012-New- Data.aspx#ixzz2DLFzzFFM Richard Masters15 10/01/2013
  16. 16. 1. Blogs Blogs are the most popular content types at present, but their popularity may now have peeked due the sheer numbers and the effort involved in creating them. Richard Masters16 10/01/2013
  17. 17. Blogs (1): What? WeBLOGs are a very common form of business content. Independent journals containing opinions and comment. Not regarded as promotion, but as authentic content Regular and consistent and build up a readership. Sign post other content for further Richard Masters17 engagement.. 10/01/2013
  18. 18. Blogs(2) Why? Very easy way to add fresh content to a website They are indexed by search engines and appear in listings They are very good for website rankings and drive search traffic. They also attract significant extra numbers of visitors to websites! Richard Masters18 10/01/2013
  19. 19. Blogs (3): Basic Set-up 1. Select your blogging Platform ( ideally linked to your website domain). Main ones shown across:->> 2. These come with tools to create your own customised Blog. 3. Select a distribution channel: Email and RSS feeds are the most common methods. Tools exist to do this (e.g. Feedburner or Feedblitz). 4. Generate content! 5. Promote your blog to develop a readership 6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 on a regular basis! Richard Masters19 10/01/2013
  20. 20. Blogs (4): Right for your business?  Blogging is a big commitment of time and effort but can bring lots of website traffic and establish authority and trust  Works best if your target customer personas follow blogs!  If you, your business, generates ideas and views and this can be re-purposed then this is a good basis to build upon.  If competitors produce Blogs, start by following these before committing.  Not a decision to be entered into lightly. See Richard Masters20 resources paper for more details. 10/01/2013
  21. 21. 2. Product Information A good starting point for content creation is to use the information on your own products generated by your business. Richard Masters21 10/01/2013
  22. 22. Product Information(1): Why  Main Web Pages should contain product/service customer benefits information only!  Most businesses have lots of additional information on their offerings.  In content terms this is Low hanging fruit!  This information is potentially very beneficial because it allows customers to fully evaluate your offerings  It also presents valuable content that helps for search purposes Richard Masters how best to present it to greatest  Key is:22 10/01/2013 effect!
  23. 23. Product Information (2): What  Product/service  Customer descriptions discussion Forums  Online catalogues  FAQ‟s  Product guides  Help/Advice Desks  Brochures and Online advisors  Manuals  Useful industry  „How to‟ information guides/videos  Product exploitation guides, tutorials, hints and tips. Richard Masters23 10/01/2013
  24. 24. Product Information:(3)How?  The key is to select the most effective media and presentation type. This depends on the nature of the content and the preferences of the target audience.  Approach should generally be multi media if at all possible.  Text is fine for basic information  Images are essential if products are intrinsically visual.  Video can be tremendously effective where things are best explained using words and pictures24  Preferably stored on your own domain, but can Richard Masters 10/01/2013 be embedded where external services are being
  25. 25. 3. News Releases News releases, formerly known as Press Releases, are an easy, and good way, of generating content. Richard Masters25 10/01/2013
  26. 26. News Releases (1): Why  Buyers now read press releases directly so they are now called news releases.  Search engines index them and rank them highly. They will therefore drive traffic to your website.  Your audience is everyone who has an internet connection and uses a search engine!  Promote you as an authority in a subject area  They add fresh, regular and topical content to your website  If journalists use them - that is an added26 bonus! Richard Masters 10/01/2013
  27. 27. News Releases (2): Importance  Often appear ahead of home pages in search as they are often topical By linking to web pages they promote other content on the site Journalists may regard you as authoritative and publish or link to your site. Richard Masters27 10/01/2013
  28. 28. News Releases (3): What? Find good reasons to send news Releases on a regular basis. See Meerman-Scott‟s advice- >> Write for your potential customers not just journalists Structure and index your releases for search engines!(see resources Applications/dp/1118026985/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=13 54021259&sr=8-2 paper). Richard Masters28 Link copiously your 10/01/2013
  29. 29. News releases (4): How?  Consider establishing a press section(newsroom) on your site. Include background company and industry information.  Provide an index of News Releases and make them downloadable.  Send them directly to relevant Journalists and consider using a press release distribution service (see resources paper)  Post links to Social Networking and Sharing sites and include sharing links on the releases themselves. Richard Masters29  Send them to your customers and prospects. 10/01/2013 They
  30. 30. 4.Articles/White Papers and EBooks Collectively these content types can be loosely defined as containing “independent” or “academic” content as opposed to content clearly related to your products and services. Richard Masters30 10/01/2013
  31. 31. Benefits of Academic Content Richard Masters31 10/01/2013
  32. 32. Articles  Designed to be published elsewhere: Journals/specialist websites  High quality content of value ( Academic standard)  Primary aim to develop your authority/reputation  Can have links back to your website, other content and your products and services  Should not feature overt CTA‟s/links to landing pages  Takes effort/dedication to market them yourself  Marketing software and distribution agencies exist Richard Masters32 10/01/2013
  33. 33. White Papers  Highly focussed on single customer problems  Aimed at providing solutions and demonstrating expertise  Typically longer than a blog 3-12 pages  Multimedia best approach  Can address a small number of inter-related issues  Can be used to obtain newsletter sign-ups, Facebook page “likes”, or build an email list  Promote them through all available channels: Website, Direct and Social  Repurpose them into blogs and webinars to Richard Masters33 extend longevity. 10/01/2013
  34. 34. EBooks  Main purpose tends to be to establish reputation but can be revenue earning  Tend to be longer and can range from 20 pages to several hundred.  Concept rather than customer problem focussed  Highly structured and designed for skimmers  Contain book artefacts: Covers, content lists, references etc.  Usually PDF‟s for download but can be published  Tools exist to create and publish books (see resources guide)  Promotion: Direct, social media or via publishers. Richard Masters34 10/01/2013
  35. 35. 5. Slideshows Slideshows are a very powerful way of presenting content and can be used across a variety of platforms. They can also rank highly in searches in their own right. Richard Masters35 10/01/2013
  36. 36. Slideshows-What?  Slideshows have been traditionally associated with PowerPoint presentations.  They are much more than this and can include visual content of all forms (graphs, images, screenshots, video, audio etc).  They are very easy to put together and take less effort than articles and white papers  They can be freestanding or embedded in Blogs, Websites (for example this presentation) and Social sites.  Can be made available in the cloud and are downloadable and shared easily36  Regarded as authoritative content and not 10/01/2013 Richard Masters promotion.
  37. 37. Slideshows: Why?  Good at presenting information that lends itself to the narrative from.  Easy and quick to produce- lots of tools and templates  Can be used with a presenter or without. Works 24/7!  Can be easily accessed anywhere and shared  Can be easily repurposed into webinars etc or embedded into websites  Can be indexed and found by search engines- often appear high in SERPs Richard Masters37 10/01/2013
  38. 38. Slideshows: how?  Slideshows have two elements.  A creation system  A sharing platform  Creation system. The most common one is PowerPoint. Lots of templates exist to support this. It is equally possible to use other systems such as Google Docs.  Sharing Platforms. These are cloud based systems that allow presentations to be accessed and shared. By far the most common is Slideshare but Scribd, Docstac, boxnet and38 Dropbox etc also allow this. Richard Masters 10/01/2013
  39. 39. Slideshare  This is the overwhelming market leader in sharing platforms and is now owned by LinkedIn.  More than just slides, but most visual content, can included e.g. PDF‟s and Video etc  It indexes and submits all presentations to the major search engines for inclusion in searches.  Because it is the global top 150 of all websites it imparts significant search authority to items it indexes. These often outrank the same content presented in Blogs or on Websites.  It is a social system in its own right and allows content libraries to be built which establish and39 enhance reputation. Richard Masters 10/01/2013
  40. 40. Slideshare section for this site. Richard Masters40 10/01/2013
  41. 41. Prezi  Presentations are traditionally composed of slides structured in a linear manner, irrespective of which tool is used.  Prezi is a futuristic and radical alternative which presents information in a map (or spatial) format. Bit like a mind map.  In is navigated by panning and zooming rather than by the sequential progression of slides.  Can include images and video etc.  Not currently searchable therefore does not have these benefits of Slideshare. Richard Masters41 10/01/2013
  42. 42. 6.References/Case Studies/Reviews These are important for a different reason: they are there to provide external proof that you do what you say you do! Richard Masters42 10/01/2013
  43. 43. Why are they important?  This type of content is vital because it provides “proof” that you do what you say you do.  People believe what other people say about you do many times more than what you say about yourself.  Regarded as authentic  Just about the most important and powerful content you can have on your website Richard Masters43 10/01/2013
  44. 44. Case Studies  Case studies are single “problem” or “pain point” based and not product/service orientated.  They describe how a particular customer/client has overcome a particular problem using your product/services.  They are regarded as authentic proof, and not, spin by clients  Constructed using a standard STAR type methodology (Situation, Task, Actions, Results)  Be written by the customer (or for the customer) in his own words Richard Masters44 10/01/2013
  45. 45. Customer References  Customer references generally relate either individual products/services or to the overall company itself.  They represent reviews and evaluations by customers who have actually used/adopted your products /services or dealt with your company  They are typically produced by B2B companies and are a particular feature of the high technology industries.  Can be in a variety of formats from text through to videos.  Some companies have proactive programmes to45 generate them and use them as a key element of Richard Masters 10/01/2013 marketing collateral.
  46. 46. Customer Reviews: What are they? Reviews, provided directly by customers/clients, on your products/services Often hosted on third party sites but can be included on your own site  Examples: Trip Advisor, Amazon, Google Places (now Richard Masters46 G+ local), Yelp, Yell 10/01/2013
  47. 47. Customer Reviews: Why important?  70% of online purchasers say they consult online reviews before purchasing.  They are consulted at a key point in the buying cycle before buyers finally commit to buying (often called the Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT- see Resources Paper).  They are an integral part of establishing and maintaining your online reputation  They are important for Search. Reviews often appear in their own right in SERPs listings and give your products online credibility. Richard Masters47 10/01/2013
  48. 48. Customer reviews: Where?  Own Website.  Host on your own site and collect reviews as part of the sales process.  Or create an online customer forum  Local Directories  These are most likely to be important for small businesses.  The prime one is Google Places (now G+ Local).  Also Yelp, Yell, Yahoo Local and Bing Local and Foursquare.  Specialist Review Sites.  Travel: Trip Advisor. Hugely important in this area Richard Masters out : Top Table, Squaremeal, Time out etc  Eating48 10/01/2013
  49. 49. Customer Reviews: Where(2)?  Retailers:  General Retail: Amazon the leader, Argos, John Lewis etc.  Specialist retailers: tend to be product area specific e.g. Electrical, IT or Financial services etc.  Others  Specialist review/Comparison sites: Reevoo, Reviewcentre, Which  Price Comparison Sites: Tend to be financial orientated but can include other factors. Wherever third party reviews exist these represent valuable content and authentic “proof” and should be incorporated within your digital marketing ecosystem in as many places as possible. Richard Masters49 10/01/2013
  50. 50. Customer Reviews: How? 1. The first thing is to ensue you capture and record everything. Even excerpts from customer letters or verbal comments can be repurposed! 2. If “local” is important, create a G+ Local (Google places) account and similar. Treat them as another mini websites or another other social media account. 3. Decide if you want to own your own customer review data or rely on third party sites. If you want your own then set one up to capture feedback and comments. Richard Masters50 10/01/2013
  51. 51. Customer Reviews: How(2)? 4. Identify which review sites are important for your business and encourage your customers to post reviews on them. 5. Populate your website and social media accounts with the reviews posted on the various sites or link directly to the sites. 6. Monitor all online comments/ mentions, using a tool such as Google Alerts, and respond where appropriate.( this should be a basic part of customer service) 7. Always look for opportunities to develop comments into fully fledged Customer Reviews or Case Studies to build your databank of proof Richard Masters51 10/01/2013 .
  52. 52. 7. Other Content Types Above, I have selected 6 content types which appear, on the basis of popularity, to be most appropriate for small businesses. Ultimately which content type is suitable, depends on the nature of your business, its offerings, its target markets and your own skills and inclinations! For completeness, some of the other more commonly used content types are listed below. Richard Masters52 10/01/2013
  53. 53. Other Common Content Types(1) Type Characteristics Social Media •Existing feeds such as Twitter(micro Blog)feeds can updates be replicated. •Widgets exists to embed on websites Pod or Audiocasts •Downloadable or streamed audio files. •Can be listened to independently or on iPod or MP3 players etc. VideoBlogs or •As above. Vlogs •Can be played on MP4 players or streamed from You Tube etc. Webinars/Screenc •Online seminars. Can be live or available on-demand asts/Webcasts/On or as transcripts. line presentations •Can get questions in advance via social media Online •Live, multi participant events Conferences /Hangouts Richard Masters53 10/01/2013 Advertising •Advertising, especially display type advertising, can
  54. 54. Other Common Content Types(2) Type Characteristics Infographics/Images •Visual representations generally work better than / text and narrative and should be included wherever Graphs etc practical. Newsletters •Summaries of other information in brief form indexed on site. •Can be mailed out on a permission basis (so not spam) Wiki‟s/Glossaries •Definitions of useful terms etc. •People tend to link and bookmark as a resource Events •Landing pages for booking events •Providing additional information and links •Summaries of papers/attendee feedback Industry/Analyst/ •Compilations of useful independent research/views Curated information etc on the marketplace or industry Polls/Surveys Richard Masters •Purpose generated research to demonstrate 10/01/201354 authority and relevance of product/Services
  55. 55. Developing a Content Strategy The majority of the literature on developing content strategies is aimed at large brands with dedicated resources on a scale that is simply not available to small businesses. This section outlines a simple pragmatic approach suitable for small businesses. Richard Masters55 10/01/2013
  56. 56. Content Strategy: Four Key steps Content Audit- what have you got? What content should you create? Content creation plan Execute the plan and review success. Richard Masters56 10/01/2013
  57. 57. 1. Content Audit Make a list of content • Type, Topic, Date, Who aimed at you already have/generate and (personas),Success in generating note the following: business. Identify which of this is • Press information, Social media available online loosely classified into content activities, Web pages ,Industry areas: presence, Paid presence (advertising) Identify what information you • Type, nature and media, who it might currently generate is not being fully benefit, how might it be used exploited online? Richard Masters57 10/01/2013
  58. 58. 2. What content should you create? Delicate balance between Supply and Demand factors. Evaluate each type and come up with a list which are right for your business Validate against competition. Richard Masters58 10/01/2013
  59. 59. 3.Content Creation Plan (1): For Who? Which of your key personas should you be creating content for? Where in the buying cycle do you want to target it at _guide_to_marketing_content.pdf Richard Masters59 10/01/2013
  60. 60. Content Creation Plan(2) What to create? Think about what content types are available to you Assess the degree they fit what you are trying to achieve with each persona type branding-large.jpg Richard Masters60 10/01/2013
  61. 61. Content Creation Plan (3): What form? Need to check what is the best form for delivering the content Need to consider if it is feasible from your own resource perspective and whether it will really work with your target s/content-and-branding-large.jpg61 customers Richard Masters 10/01/2013
  62. 62. 4. Execute the Plan!  This is the hardest part. Need to be realistic about the resources and commitment required Outsourcing is a choice but expensive! Must be relentless and consistent Create a schedule and stick to it! Richard Masters62 10/01/2013
  63. 63. Downloadable Resources Title Download link (Boxnet) Content: General Resources Document c3sg Blogs: Resources Document utako Product/Services Information: Resources Document qf7n News Releases: Resources Document kydvq Articles, White Papers, eBooks: Resources Document 212 Slideshows: Resources Document 80jd Richard Masters63 10/01/2013 Case Studies, Reviews, References: Resource Document 9hbi
  64. 64. Further Information/Contact  Email:  Website:  LinkedIn:  G+ : s.richard  Facebook:  Twitter: Richard Masters64 10/01/2013