Times, they are a-changin’ … which means you need to change with them. Once upon a time, building your brand meant a radio, TV and print PR campaign (à la Mad Men). Your reach could be in the millions, but then so could the cost. Today’s definition of ‘cost-effective’ does not bode well for the old formula – as we said at the start, the game has changed.
The rise of Social Marketing has gone hand-in-hand with the rise in consumer selectiveness. Brand, product and service awareness has increased tenfold thanks to the crowdsourced nature of the internet, from peer reviews on Google and Amazon to YouTubers and Bloggers who own something you do not: authenticity. In order to touch these virtual influence points, marketers and brand managers need to build their brand in ways that appeal to modern internet communities.
It is not enough to own, write or publish a good story. It needs to be ‘amplified’. Words like reach, engagement and value start to take on a new significance. When we put a story or message online we take the following three questions into account: What is our reach (will it be seen)? How engaging is our content (will it be read)? How valuable is it to our audience (will it be shared)?
Effective Digital Marketing makes sure your content will be seen, read and shared by the exact audience you want to reach. More than if you stick to traditional PR channels alone (which on the plus side can help you discover new audiences and is great at generating buzz). The two working together is an unstoppable combination.
Here’s what you need to know…
No more working in silos: align your PR and Marketing efforts to find common ground
“Can you send out this press release we just wrote, and talk to some bloggers this afternoon?” is a question many Digital Marketers are unfortunately all too used to being asked. Getting Digital Marketing and PR together early means not only being able to identify what’s actually promotable from a media relations perspective, but also the potential reach of its message and performance in accordance with the overall goals of the business.
We know from bitter experience that a good digital marketing strategy is hard to find – turning the art into science is about making things measurable, and having realistic objectives. At my Digital Agency, Aquare, we work with clients and partners to create strategies that focus on tangible, measurable goals and return on the investment.
Early stage planning increases the effectiveness of both Digital Marketing and PR. Getting both departments to work together in your organisation is a win-win for both sides. Some of the activities which benefit from shared contribution are:
- Content planning
- Content placement
- Story and messaging
- Coordinated Social and Media Relations with amplification
- Social listening (for buying signals)
- Optimising messaging based on marketing data
In our experience, building PR activities into your Digital Marketing strategy from the beginning is crucial to achieving maximum reach, engagement and value. Digital marketers are held accountable to metrics like website traffic, lead generation and conversion, which go hand in hand with revenue related objectives like order volume, frequency and profitability. Success is achieved by proper planning and implementation.
Content is still king – it’s what you do with it that counts
One of the most fundamental things to remember is that we’re all in the content business.
PR and Comms are tasked to create content that can be optimised, socialised and publicised. For example: blog posts, press releases, case studies, social media posts, newsletters, contributed articles, white papers, events.
Digital Marketing takes content and uses it to create demand and develop leads. Tactics include blogs, landing pages, social media posts, advertising, webinars, email and all media formats from images to video and audio.
The final goal is the same in both cases: brand awareness, and ultimately, customer acquisition.
How to create a content amplification strategy that actually works
- Boost the best, don’t waste the rest
Creating content can be a gruelling, torturous journey. Most of what you produce will be solidly in the middle of the road. Once in a while, however, you’ll produce something that truly stands out. Here’s what you need to learn though: that’s OK. It’s like hunting a unicorn – if unicorns were popping up all over the place, then we’d have to find another equally elusive and charismatic mythological beast after which to chase.
Content amplification is about (a) selecting your unicorn and (b) spending some money on it. Paying to promote your content is extraordinarily cost effective if you promote the right content. In other words, only pay to promote the best content you have.
If you can break a story early, or you have exclusive access to something, or if you know it’s going to be huge, then don’t be afraid to spend. I’ve worked for clients who’ve spent as little as $100 and netted a huge boost in shares, retweets and referral traffic. Those numbers can reach as high as thousands in social engagement and websites visitors/potential buyers. How’s that for ROI?
- Show Paid Social some love
Building a social media presence is of course, vital to any successful business promoting itself online. I know, I’ve done it for hundreds of clients. However, organic growth on earned media (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram etc.) is only part of the answer. Simply put, paying for promotion on social media is the next piece of the puzzle: a cost-effective and efficient way of getting your message in front of the people you really want to see it.
The advantage of social media when it comes to paid advertising and promotion is the advanced demographic targeting available. On Facebook, for example, you can literally target all 20-30 year olds in Southern France with an interest in swimming.
Clever copy and a good call-to-action will not only get customers to your website, it will also encourage engagement. Which leads to likes, comments and shares. If you have good content, paying to promote it will milk it for every drop its worth. I would never recommend a strategy that didn’t include Paid Social.
- You’ve tried remarketing. Now try “Hyper-Segmented remarketing”.
Hyper-Segmented remarketing is essentially highly granular, even more targeted ‘remarketing’ (advertising to people who have visited your site or bought your service/product).
By narrowing the segment of your own audience you are targeting, based on users who share similar characteristics (almost exclusively) to your ideal customer, you are only marketing to people who have an influence in the purchasing process.
This may seem counter-intuitive (and shouldn’t be applied to your initial PPC/paid campaigns) but it ensures that in short you are putting the right offer in front of the right people at the right time, which is what my agency specialises in on a daily basis
- Acquire a new superpower – influencer marketing
So you know your content needs to be outstanding. You know you should only be amplifying your unicorns. So here’s the next big question: who should be reading – and sharing – it? The answer is digital influencers.
Digital influencers are notoriously elusive. Everyone will be looking to leverage their networks and they know it. Often it’s a case of right time, right place…in other words, there’s a bit of luck involved in getting them to notice, and listen to you. Don’t be afraid of rejection (or being ignored) – be patient. It’s about building a relationship and demonstrating synergy.
Here’s a few tips to increase the odds of getting them to work with you:
- Get involved in their conversations
Influencers will be active on social media. You want to build a relationship with them by engaging: tweeting, commenting, sharing. This takes time, but the key is to be authentic – don’t simply promote yourself or ‘sell’ to them. Be genuine, human, witty if possible. If they feel like you’re a fan, then you’re half way there. Try to find as much synergy between their values and yours (or your brand’s). That’s where the conversation starts. After a while, a link to your product or a “saw this and thought of you” may pay dividends.
- Email like you’re going for a job
You have one chance. Maybe two. If you keep emailing, you’ll get blocked. That first email needs to be as genuine and human as the tips for social, above. Don’t oversell – keep it short, sweet, and personal. Again, authenticity is key: let them know you really believe in what you’re doing, because they really believe in what they’re doing. And let them know why you want them to help you, focusing once again on the synergy between them and you.
- Create content that resonates with them – then show them
This is often called ‘social selling’ – especially when you take their own content as a starting point. The ‘selling’ aspect comes in when you send them the “saw this and thought of you” message. What you are trying to do here is demonstrate value. How is what you are doing of value, or interest, to the influencer? Is it relevant to a topic they are constantly discussing?
Create a content strategy which focuses on content amplification – you need to be best friends with the words: engagement, reach and value.
Start with content, end with content – do not silo PR and Digital Marketing: approach your content strategy with both departments on board, fully cooperating.
Only amplify your very best content – don’t beat yourself up because all your stories aren’t Pulitzer prize-winning: cherish your unicorns.
Do not neglect Paid Social – set some budget aside for a targeted campaign promoting your best social content across different channels.
Leverage influencers – identify, get to know, and regularly engage with the people who can potentially take your brand to the next level.
Use “Hyper-Segmented Remarketing” – remarketing should be a fundamental piece of your strategy: make it even more effective with highly targeted “Hyper-Segmented Remarketing”.