I’m one of these strange people that actually enjoy hearing about the latest marketing theories, reading up on best practice, researching the most recent thoughts on marketing strategy and tactics and all those articles on how to maximise your results. It’s great to know about the theory and hear what the greatest marketing gurus in the land think you should be doing.
But as a consultant, too often I see businesses attempting the most advanced marketing techniques, trying out the sexy, cutting edge ideas, refining some small area of their marketing plan to the nth degree, while at the same time neglecting the very basic elements of marketing. It’s as if they were building a house and working on the first floor, without making sure the foundations were solid.
After all, there really is no point refining your SEO keywords if a prospect can’t find your contact details on the first page of your website.
Every marketer, B2B or otherwise, should take time to review their marketing at least once a year for the basics. I’ve lost count of the simple, easy-to-fix, slip-ups on websites and in marketing content that I’ve seen over the years.
Now many of you will be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all this stuff, it’s basic, it’s so boring.” But that’s precisely why it gets missed and no-one pays attention to it. And if you don’t have the basics, then your marketing house is built on sand.
Here are a few of the essential basic elements to remember. Think of this as a checklist if you like, something to run through every six months and review.
Why & How?
Let’s get the most basic question out of the way first. It’s really important to remind yourself why any marketing item or campaign exists. What is its purpose? What is it you are trying to achieve and how are you going to do it? Keeping the fundamental brief for your marketing content in your mind at all times will ensure your marketing is always effective and as targeted as possible.
Always review your audience on a regular basis. Things change, products change, services change and strategies change. So, who you want to target with your marketing may change.
But equally, your prospects and customers change too. They may be getting older, or younger for example.
For many B2B content marketing plans, you will be working with Buyer Personas – make sure you have a schedule to review these.
When a prospect or customer first comes across any marketing content you produce, they should perceive a benefit to engaging with it. With limited time, your audience needs to know that spending time with your content will be beneficial to them. Review your content – does it imply or communicate a benefit within seconds of viewing?
Once they’ve engaged with your content and made the decision to invest their time on it – does it actually benefit them? Is it useful and relevant to them in their current situation?
Without a clearly understood benefit, they are unlikely to take action and may even ignore future content offerings.
Most pieces of marketing content have a job to do. They have a story to tell, whether that be information, education or persuasion. Make sure the proposition – the story – is clear.
One way to do this is to take someone with no previous experience of the content and ask them if they understand the gist of the content. They may not be the right audience, so they may not see a benefit or understand it entirely, but that’s not important here – what you are trying to establish is whether the idea of the content is clear.
Remember that you may be too close to the subject matter and the content itself to see it with fresh eyes.
Most people come across content through searches or links. Because no SEO setup is perfect and searchers don’t necessarily type in a precise and correct query anyway, it is highly likely that when they hit your content it’s not quite what they are looking for. So make sure it is obvious and easy to search further within your website or content. Provide plenty of links to related material and also to the main content topics.
Never assume that a prospect always ends up on exactly the right page of your website.
Your content should always have a Call To Action (CTA) somewhere within, whether that be at the end or above the fold – placement generally depends on the complexity of the proposition. Make sure it is clear and relevant, and it’s obvious what the benefit will be to someone who responds. Get it right and you will have a high-converting call to action.
Never bombard the visitor with a CTA when they first hit your content. That’s like a sales assistant pouncing on a customer as soon as they enter the shop – it’s annoying and would most likely make you leave the website instantly. Visitors are still trying to make sense of the site and the content, trying to work out whether they are in the right place, whether the content will be helpful and maybe trying to find a link to the right content (see the last section). Interrupting them with a CTA is both unhelpful and detrimental to your marketing.
Make any form brief and simple. Ensure it is easy to fill in and you are collecting the very minimum of information you need. And do I really need to remind you any landing pages need to be fully GDPR compliant?
This is definitely a personal bugbear of mine – so many times I’ve been interested in a product or service and had to root around the website for a contact number or email.
Always, let me repeat that; ALWAYS, have contact details on every page of your website or easily visible/reachable in other content. Why waste time producing great marketing content and then make it difficult for prospects to respond?
You could argue, that the CTA performs that purpose, but not every CTA will appeal to every prospect. Supplying contact details means they can ask a question. And some visitors may even come to your site simply to find those contact details – maybe they want to place an order?
Which leads to…
Always ensure you respond – and fast. This again may seem obvious and unnecessary to explicitly state here, but so many businesses do all the hard work creating and promoting content, but then take what seems to be a casual attitude to responding.
Take phone calls for instance, by far the best way to engage with any prospect or customer is on a personal level. It’s the most effective way to communicate – the most effective way to sell. So why on earth would you be reluctant to talk on the phone? Why would you place automated, soulless, dumb systems between you and that opportunity?
If a client or prospect is unable to speak to a real person when they are ready to talk, you are losing all that marketing momentum you have created up until that moment, it’s criminal!
When you do respond, make sure it is with something useful, not just a zombie follow-up sales call. Try and find something relevant to that person, something that will help them.
Grandmothers and eggs
Getting the marketing basics right is still the most important thing you can do to ensure success. It might be boring, it might seem simple – but it is absolutely essential that you revisit these building blocks and ensure they are sound.