Getting consistently on-brand content for clients can be a challenge for a number of reasons. This definitive guide for content managers takes the pain out of planning, coordinating and managing content writers so that there’s a high quality and consistent result for the clients.

The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers
Don’t squash or squander their creativity, incorporate it and encourage it!

1. Get the right client brief

The client should be clear about their content requirements with you, so that you can then translate this for your freelance content writers. If the client is unclear themselves about what they need then put your strategy hat on and provide insights and recommendations for them about content types, relevant channels, content strategy, timelines and what sort of content and platforms will get the best results.

2. Work out the strategy

If you and the client are going down the blogging route, then develop a third party blogging strategy that encompasses the needs of the client and a series of credible, interesting and enjoyable blogging topics. These blog posts will need to read as authentic, interesting and from an SEO point of view, a good way to provide backlinks to your client’s website.

3. Ideation of topics around thought leadership

The content strategy should emphasise that the client is an authority in a particular area. Be it teaching languages or selling lawnmowers. So the posts created by the content writers should demonstrate this expertise by offering helpful, practical advice that can be a real resource to readers.

4. Communicate with your content writers

Once you have liaised with the client extensively and worked out a content strategy, then at this point its a good time to involve your content writers in the content creation process. You can ask them to consider your topic idea and investigate into the topic extensively. Ask your writers to write while considering whether or not they would actually enjoy reading the article themselves. Would they find the article useful or enjoyable to read. If not, then there is still work to be done on the post before it goes live.

The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers
Communication is critical with your team to get the best result in terms of writing

5. Headlines are vital

Get your writers to consider the strength of the title. Headlines/titles are a key part of blogging. People don’t spend ages reading everything online; they read what stands out and catches their attention. The headline is a writer’s chance to grab the attention of the audience and the post itself is the chance to maintain attention in a sustained way. Content writers can do this in a number of ways, including:

  • Surprising the audience.
  • Creating a sense of mystery
  • Making the audience empathise with something
  • Talking about a trigger (such as a celebrity, news story or seasonal event) they may be interested in.

Headline formats: 

  • Top 10 tips
  • How to…
  • 6 of the best…
  • 8 ways to…
  • 7 reasons why…
  • Dos and don’ts
  • The secret of…
  • The lazy way to…
  • 10 things we can learn from…
  • Early warning signs of…
  • The big question (one people can empathise with!)
  • Do you make these common mistakes?
The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers
Push your headlines to go off with a bang, not a whimper

6. Blog post essentials

In order to make sure your content writers are making web-friendly content, instruct them on including the following blog post essentials into their posts. These make posts more scannable and useful.

  • Great sub-heading
  • Bullet-point lists
  • Specific recommendations:
    • Places, events, etc
    • Physical addresses and contact phone numbers.
    • Website URLs and information
    • Maps
  • Images
  • Embed codes for Google Maps
  • Embed codes for YouTube clips

7. Branding considerations

There are certain commonsense things no client will want to talk about in articles such as crime, drug abuse, etc. Many of these topics will be obvious and won’t require any explanation.

Although ensure that you liaise with your clients for any touchy subjects or off-brand subjects that should not appear in content. Instruct your content writers to bear in mind that they should think about the client’s desired projected image and branding when they are writing. Instruct them to cut anything they are unsure about.

Also remember that the focus of an article should never be a service offered by a client’s rival. Services offered by the client must never be referred to in a negative way. If they’re compared with something, they should be represented as the better choice.

The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers
Writing for brands can be risky, especially when you need to explore difficult subjects

8. Accuracy, grammar and punctuation

Although as the content manager you should be vigilant for various grammar and punctuation issues in the final copy, the overall responsibility to ensure factual accuracy and quality control should also be the purview of the content writers themselves.

However for them to do their job properly, you should provide them with clear guidance on this. For example if they have to read a sentence more than once, they should rephrase it. Ask for concise, plain and punchy language. Use the active voice, not the passive voice. Break up sentences longer than 2 clauses.Paragraphs should only be 2-4 lines long – if they’re longer, ask the content writer to break them up. Subheadings and bullet-point lists should be used where possible to make content easier to scan and speed-read.

The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers
Exploring content together and proof-reading as a collaborative team is the best way to ensure accuracy

6. Including Links (external content)

Links in blog posts add legimitacy to the content and provide a high quality addition to posts. Get your content writers to include links naturally in the context of the post. By including them in an author bio they can demonstrate the client’s expertise rather than pollute the content. When links are included, ensure the content writers include them naturally in sentences – the grammar should be correct.

7. Formatting

Provide clear instructions on how content writers should format their posts before submission. How pedantic you become about this is up to you! Below are some guidelines I needed to follow to ensure that posts were consistent all of the time. With a huge workflow, this can be very time-saving in the long term.

  • Posts should be in Word with the following format:
  • Language should be set to English (UK)
  • Margins: 2.54cm all way round
  • Line spacing: 1.15
  • Font: Calibri, 11pt, black (not headings/subheadings)
  • Text alignment: justified (not headings/subheadings)
  • Main heading: centre, Calibri, 26pt, bold.
  • 1st-level subheadings: left, Calibri, 18pt, bold
  • 2nd-level subheadings: left, Calibri, 14pt, bold.
  • Keywords/links: hyperlinks should be inserted where keywords appear in the text, like this.
  • Line breaks: Please leave line breaks after headings and images and between paragraphs.

10. Submitting content

In order to avoid the confusion of a multitude of work coming in from different content writers and for different client briefs, you should give your content writers clear instructions on submission as follows:

  • Reply to the email you were sent that contains the relevant content brief, leaving the original subject line.
  • Attach the Word document with correct file name along with the relevant 2 images (all together in a zip file would be ideal).
  • Include any relevant notes within the body of the email.

Is your content working hard and producing good enough results for your business? Find out with a free content audit!

The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers

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Seven content creation tips for startups and freelancers

Seven content creation tips for startups and freelancers

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Your website is a central hub and locus where people can engage with your business. Although it can also be a benign and wasted opportunity depending on how you manage changes to the website. Although making changes to the website can be baffling if you don’t know where to start. But don’t worry! Here are seven areas where you should focus your efforts to ensure that you’re making the right changes to your site, and not just aimlessly pushing pixels around.

1. Feedback, feedback, feedback

Customer feedback is gold. Collate your feedback from focus groups, phone conversations, the CRM, salespeople, social media and the website itself. Even when the feedback is negative, it provides the nuts and bolts to become better at your product or service. Take this feedback and use this to build and improve a digital services strategy and a marketing strategy. Use this feedback to improve customer service, customer satisfaction and improving products and services..

2. Keep on top of FAQs

Likewise, you should look upon your FAQs section as a work in progress. Look at questions that your customers have asked you recently through email, telephone and in person. What are the burning questions they want to know about? Build the FAQs around these questions. Always keep them up to date with information and further queries. If repeated questions aren’t being addressed with the FAQs, then you will likely require a full-blown content strategy in order to explain the information to customers.

3. Competitor’s websites offer cautionary tales

Investigate what your competition are offering to their customers. Can you see a gap in the market where they are under-performing or under-delivering on their services or products? Use these lessons to modulate and improve your own offering. Where you see the gaps is a place to provide a superior and high value offering which may mean their clients come to your business instead.

Seven content creation tips for startups and freelancers
When it comes to content marketing and design – everything is connected

4. Your website is not finished, it’s a testing ground

The main way that you can investigate the efficacy of different products and services on your site is by analysing the traffic and conversions through Google Analytics. There is no definitive end-point where everything is hunky dory and working fine. Your site is a work in progress that requires constant analysis and then shifting the goal posts according to how people use your site. Broad changes to the design and navigation on your site should be undertaken by skilled developers and UX specialists who will know how to make the site user-friendly, and how to optimise the page elements for conversion.

5. Information should be free

Don’t withhold information from customers and ask them to pay for an ebook or webinar behind a paywall. Instead your blog and web presence should provide insider tips on how you can do things better for free. By sharing knowledge and techniques for free, you will win over your customers with your candid and honest help.

Don’t try and obfuscate or confuse users….clear and simple communication is everything

6. Case studies are gold

Provide customer case studies about how you have helped clients in the past. This will give your potential new clients an overview of your workflow, working style, and a clear roadmap about how you helped clients in the past with practical, measurable outcomes.

Position your brand with storytelling from previous customers

7. Use your blog to position yourself as a thought leader

Definitely it’s good to share your personality and stories with your clients. But they don’t want to hear about your trip to Brisbane in March or the fact that your dog is sick on your business blog. Don’t overshare personal information with clients on your website in order to build rapport. People visiting your site will either be left baffled or indifferent to a blog with personal reflections on it.  Instead use your website to position yourself as a thought leader and feature advice, tips and support on your site which people will find useful and interesting.

Is your content working hard and producing good enough results for your business? Find out with a free content audit!

Getting on the blogging bandwagon: How to create interesting blog content

Getting on the blogging bandwagon: How to create interesting blog content

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Every business from start-up to multinational has a blog. You need to get on the blogging bandwagon, or feel its wheels rolling over the top of you! The challenge with blogging often isn’t the budget constraints, it’s coming up with engaging ideas that are going to resonate with your audience.

Everyone has a unique perspective and insights to share

The great thing about blogging is that everyone has many stories to share. Bring together a bunch of people with similar interests and challenges in life and you can build a supportive online community.

Create and Curate

No matter your blog topic – you can bet that somebody somewhere has already laid the groundwork, with an abundance of content written any topic under the sun. So take inspiration from this content, and then write your own story.

Curating lists is also a great idea. You could recommended blog posts, sites, books, podcasts or videos. This helps other people in the community and adds depth to your blog posts. People are more likely to stick around and read when the content is interesting, relevant and informative to them.

Guest Blogging

If you’ve enjoyed reading articles by certain bloggers then ask to interview them for our blog.  Most bloggers or subject matter experts will relish the opportunity for exposure. Firstly, make some editorial guidelines clear.

Don’t allow them to directly promote a specific product or service. Also, in many cases, you can avoid having to pay for a guest post, unless the blogger is enormously famous. Their pay-off comes at the end of the guest post, with an included brief about themselves, their expertise and a link to their own website.

A guest blogger’s writing can be like a breath of fresh air to a business blog. The guest blogger automatically becomes a powerful brand advocate, sharing the post all over social media. It’s a powerful way to immediately increase the reach and virality of the post.

Repurpose Your Existing Content

Use your existing collection of content to create a video tutorial, slideshare presentation, infographic, magazine article or any other type of new content. Most of the work will have already been done, it’s just a matter of tweaking the content for the new format.

Industry round-ups

Collect all of the interesting and industry-relevant research, quotes, and insights you can find from other popular blogs and websites. Then combine this with your own content that’s created in-house as well as industry research nuggets. When combined together this can be turned into long-form content for your blog.  and other little golden nuggets of information that you find elsewhere on the web. Posting this in a steady, uninterrupted flow onto social media is going to keep up the momentum of interest.

Think Telephone Not Loudspeaker

Make sure that your social media communication is like a telephone and not a loudspeaker or PA system. Social media is about engagement and getting people involved and interested in your story. People want to see you as a friend on social media, not a brand or business. So keep the content entertaining, light-hearted and amusing – as you would to your friends.  And don’t sell to your followers and fans, they will abandon you quicker than you can say ‘Sign Up Now’.

Quality content is the door, ingenuity and creativity is the key.  Speak with me today about how I can bring your blog to life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four ways to turn your social media and email marketing into a well-oiled machine

Four lessons in turning your social media and email marketing into a well-oiled machine

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Social media marketing and email marketing may seem a little redundant in the brave new world of AI and emerging technologies. However, they are still a powerful part of any marketing arsenal.  Think of social media and email marketing as the Neil and Tim Finn of the online marketing world. They just play really well together! 

Social media and email marketing are the Neil and Tim Finn of the online marketing world

Here are some key ways to seamlessly integrate your social media and email marketing efforts, then watch as new customers come within your reach.

Lesson 1. Email marketing Is not the daggy jumper you should throw away

Email marketing has somehow earned the reputation in online marketing circles as being akin to a  hand-knitted jumper with a dog motif.  But ask yourself, how many times have you checked email today or this week? According to email marketing research by UK based think tank Econsultancy, in 2017, 74% of client-side marketers rated email marketing as being either excellent or good for return on investment. 

Lesson 1. Email Marketing Is Not the Daggy Jumper You Should Throw Away
Lesson 1. Email Marketing Is Not the Daggy Jumper You Should Throw Away

That’s a pretty good reason to continue with email marketing. Although the landscape has shifted quickly in recent years, with AI and personalisation becoming the driving force behind email marketing campaigns.

Lesson 2: Create clickable content but not Click Bait

Lesson 2: Create clickable content but not Click Bait
Lesson 2: Create clickable content but not Click Bait

If you create a compelling and informative email newsletter, that tells people something that they didn’t already know – they may be compelled to share it. 

Always Connect

Any integrated social media and email marketing campaign should be united by genuine attempts at connecting with your audience. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a monetary incentive or discount offer. The invitation to connect could be far more personal and authentic than that. It could include:

Interesting, relevant content

Interesting and constantly refreshed content that is made to be compelling, informative and enjoyable to your audience and touches on what matters to them.

Training, support and the opportunity to build genuine connections

While monetary and discount rewards are relevant for generating quick sales. This doesn’t engender long-term customer loyalty. Instead, loyalty is built by having genuine and personalised conversations with your audience. This could be through offering support, training or knowledge-based rewards to your audience that build trust. Email and social media are perfect distribution channels for this.

Lesson 3: Optimise and test your email marketing

 Lesson 3: Optimise and test your email marketing
Lesson 3: Optimise and test your email marketing

Any primate with an opposable thumb can slap an opt-in button onto an email. However, a true email marketing artisan will test as well. It’s always a good idea to run some A/B testing on your eDM and your website for various opt-ins. Test various colour combinations and combinations of text and positioning on the page to find the most effective formula. Optimise and test your eDM itself to see what resonates best with your audience. Where it’s possible, you should personalise your email marketing through CRM personalisation tools (like those available in HubSpot and MailChimp).

Lesson 4: Offer loyalty incentives

 Lesson 4: Offer loyalty incentives
Lesson 4: Offer loyalty incentives

According to the Data and Marketing Association’s latest report, many brands are missing out on the benefits of customer loyalty initiatives. Only 49% of marketers in the survey said their company offered such a scheme.

Interestingly, it wasn’t only monetary incentives that interested the consumers in the study. Consumers also wanted rewards based on location, personalised emails, and game-like challenges.

Leverage these four lessons for integrating both social media and email marketing, and you will have mastered a valuable skill for cross-promoting your products or services. Good Luck!

Do you want to integrate your social media and email marketing into one well-oiled machine? Get in touch with me below.

The Strategic Content Marketing Stack 2019

The Strategic Content Marketing Stack 2019

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I recently put together a stackable model for strategic content marketing for clients which places a heavy focus on content marketing. This allows clients to see at a glance how all of the strategic planning and execution phases of a marketing strategy work together and inform the later stages. It’s difficult when putting together proposals for clients for them to visualise how all of the pieces fit together. This content marketing stack attempts to do this.

I recently put together a stackable model for strategic content marketing for clients which places a heavy focus on content marketing.

There is an intensive focus on content marketing for good reason, because content – whether it’s paid, earned or owned is the foundation of all marketing activity.

Think of your website as a hotel you own

If we think of the marketing stack as a hotel building, the design, development, UX and maintenance of websites and apps are the concrete pillars, outer walls and structural integrity of the building. The chaos outside of the building is kept at bay by the sound management and security of our hotel.

Think of your website as a hotel you own
Think of your website as a hotel you own

The navigability through the building and way-finding through the building and attention to detail is the UX, IA and interface design. This ensures our guests find their way through the building, towards the various amenities and service offerings.

The website content is the reception desk, tourist information, customer service, sales team, marketing team, HR and general manager. It’s the heart and soul of a business – the human side. Content is the memorable experiential side which makes one business stand out from another. After all, you can have the nicest hotel in the world, but if the staff are rude or incompetent, you won’t have buckley’s chance of getting repeat guests. It’s the same with content. When it’s not performing as it should, or when the meaning and intention of your content is not clear – your users will go elsewhere.

Content is the foundational marketing principle from which everything else in a website flows…

I hope I haven’t taken this metaphor too far, and I hope you get my drift. Content is the foundational marketing principle that helps a business to grow from original concept to start-up to multi-national brand.

Register now for a free content audit of your website