•You miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take’.
•If you have been holding back on publishing content on your business because it isn’t perfect yet, publish it today.
"Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing." - Werner von Braun
It’s 2021 and creating online content for your business has become a necessity, regardless of industry. Research has also shown that ‘81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying’. The overwhelming majority of retail consumers start their journey with online research (Source: GE Capital Retail Bank). Therefore, producing content online has become a must-have when growing your business.
When I first joined the digital content industry years ago, I didn’t appreciate how much went into the creation, curation, and distribution of the content we consume online and its impact on business growth. I know different now. As a member of the content industry, over the years, it’s been a steep learning curve on the dos and don’ts when using content to grow your business via online channels. If you’re new to or growing in producing content for your business, here are some useful tips I have gathered over the years.
How To Start - 3 key lessons about building your online presence through content
1) Quality! Quality! Quality! - It is extremely important to ensure that the type of content you create to share on your website or social media page to represent your business is of the highest quality. You are the expert at what you do and the content you create to share with your potential customers should communicate the same online in the absence of in-person sales pitch conversations.
Important Tips: Ensure the pictures you publish online are high resolution images - invest in quality pictures of your products; use word editors to ensure the content is easy to read, understand and ensure the flow of content created is easy to follow. Explore content creation tools like headline analyzers to create great titles for your website content in the cases of blog articles. These are all applicable across product or service descriptions.
2) Freshness - Do you ever get frustrated when you read something and it is not up to date? Especially if any pricing is related to it? It is important to frequently review how up-to-date the information you provide to your customers is on your online channel. Depending on the type of content you create, you can determine how often to refresh it for relevance. For example, if listicles (articles written in list form) on the services you provide are common on your website, you can revise the article annually highlighting any pricing updates. If you run an e-commerce website for the products you sell, ensure the pricing, related images, product descriptions, and availability of stock is always up to date.
Important Tips: On your social media pages, for example on Instagram, ensure the links you share through the #linkinbio are up to date to prevent link errors; always test the links to ensure that they are working. For the e-commerce site, on the home page, update the new arrival items as they come in and highlight items that are back in stock. If you run a website that posts articles frequently or is an e-commerce store, it is worth investing in SEO (defined as the process of taking steps to help a website or piece of content rank higher on Google) to improve the organic discoverability and quality of your content. The SEO process takes time and requires patience but it does pay off in the long run once you get the hang of it. It will save you advertising spend as well.
3) Accessibility - it is very helpful to ensure that a customer can have access to your products or services across your preferred channels and easily complete their transactions. Ensure that your contact information is clear and easy to find in case of any questions. Facilitate training for your customer representatives or sales team on how to respond to customer inquiries promptly and where customers are interested in learning more, easily link to the related content created on your website or preferred channel of choice.
Important Tips: Maintain clear and easy-to-access contact information formats for your business if you have an online presence in multiple channels to allow customers to easily reach out to you. For example, on images shared on social media about the product or services you are selling, ensure that within the image, they include the contact information on how to reach you in case of inquiries or if they would like to place an order. Also, enable the possibility to complete an order on the customer's channel of choice for ease of conversions instead of redirecting them to complete the purchase elsewhere.
Once you have created and refined the content you would like to publish about your business, the next immediate step is to increase the reach and awareness of its existence. For content to serve your business well, it must be seen by your target audience.
How To Grow Awareness - 2 key learnings on increasing your online visibility
1) Organic vs. Paid reach - organic reach represents visibility of your content through unpaid means (For example, SEO or organic posts shared on social media) whereas paid reach represents visibility gained through paid campaigns (For example, Facebook/Instagram and Google Ads). Fortunately, there are online training tools and certifications available for these awareness options. Take time to explore, learn and test the skills needed to use these tools to grow your knowledge on content and how to use it to grow your business.
Tips: In the initial stages of content distribution, begin with organic reach to gauge interest and engagement from your audience. Once you notice well-performing content, run a paid advertisement against that content to provide additional awareness of your content. Ensure you monitor the paid campaigns every other day to confirm that you are getting value for your money. Make use of the analytical tools provided by the preferred channels and always analyze the paid campaigns data to gather learnings on how to improve your advertisements.
2) Email and Broadcast Message Marketing - this is the use of a mix of text, images, and videos with related links to inform your customers of the latest information about the products or
services up for sale. Email marketing involves building a database of users on an email list to share information with them periodically about your business. Broadcast messaging includes SMS or WhatsApp message marketing that allows for shorter form, impactful information shared to a select group of people that fit your target customer base. To discover whether this method applies to your business, test, and iterate where needed to determine if it is a good fit. Do not hesitate to drop any of these methods if it doesn’t work for your business after you run your tests.
Tips: These lists that fit your target customer profile take time to build and hence require patience and a refining process to find the right balance.
Caution: if you share product or service information without a customer opt-in option into your email or SMS list, there is a risk of being marked as spam or being black-listed. Ensure to provide an opt-in option for customers to be added to your marketing lists. Test and iterate on the best timing to send marketing messages. Collect customer feedback on their preferences and find a common ground to reduce cases of spamming reports against your business. Also, explore working with experts in this field that have done it before for your industry to save you time and money.
Key Mistakes To Avoid
- Burning Money Avoid paid advertising or paid for tools just for the sake of it. Always test, track, adjust and retest. Review the data to gain insights on how to improve.
- Stale Content Set time to refresh your content, images, videos and valid link checks to reduce errors and maintain freshness. This will prevent link errors, irrelevant content and allow for updates of what’s new in your business.
- Ignoring Customer Feedback Always check in with your customers on the content you push out to ensure it’s relevant, helpful and useful as they decide on whether to make a purchase or not. Put in place regular intervals to collect customer feedback or review customer data on their interaction with your content through the tools available.
Bonus tip: ‘You miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take’. If you have been holding back on publishing content on your business because it isn’t perfect yet, publish it today. Then ask your customers for feedback if needed to refine and get it right. It is helpful to build a pool of loyal customers with different profiles to share feedback on content created. This will help your business publish useful content over time.
Millicent Muigai, the CEO of Mumsvillage has this to say as a parting short: I have learned from the book The 4 Disciplines Of Execution that we sometimes get lost in the lag measures (final result) and forget to work on the lead measures (the activities that will help you get your results). As James Clear said in his book 'Atomic Habits', would say, "You do not rise to the level of your goals (your desired outcome). You fall to the level of your systems." As you grow your business, spend less time focusing on outcomes and more time focusing on the habits that precede the results." If you would like to have a chat or coffee to talk all things Digital Media, Content or even Spiritual Growth (I know, quite the range of topics), you can reach out to me via LinkedIn or email me via [email protected].