Why Your Building Product Content Needs Social Media (and Vice Versa)

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Building product content and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Having your building product social media and content strategy efforts work in tandem will support business objectives, engage audiences and produce more meaningful results. 

According to Content Marketing Institute’s latest research, business marketers are working on an average of 13 content marketing initiatives and 69% are producing more engaging content. It seems there’s no slowing down the content marketing train anytime soon!

In a recent webinar I attended, How to Integrate Social Media and Content Strategy, moderator Jay Baer posed the question, “Which comes first, content or social media strategy?” As content production continues to increase, more and more marketers struggle with this question.

Content is fire, social media is the gasoline. –Jay Baer

When working together, content marketing and social media are a powerful duo. With an understanding of how and where to share information, content can be distributed strategically to drive action. Also, content created with an understanding of the strengths of specific social networks gives you the ability to drive conversations around relevant topics.

Social media needs content strategy. 

Social media is a prolific medium that moves–and fades–fast. It happens quickly whether it’s organic content or a paid media promotion.

Content strategy needs social media. 

Content needs social media in order to validate the strategy, tie it back to objectives, establish meaningful connections and produce desired outcomes.

Use social media to promote great content first and company selling messages second. The social medium was never intended to be the world’s shortest press release. Think value and customer-centric content over hype. Understand what your building product audience needs from you and deliver it.

Addressing your building product customers’ needs and pain points will pay off in content quality, site performance, social engagement and conversions. 

To answer Jay’s question: you can’t succeed in social media if you don’t have something interesting to say. Social media needs content strategy.

View the entire Content Marketing Institute survey: New B2B Content Marketing Research: Focus on Documenting Your Strategy

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/54740306@N08/10058843203

6 Steps to Kick Start Your Building Product Content Marketing

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Smart building product marketers understand that rather than using outdated methods of outbound marketing, content marketing builds trust with and attracts buyers. 

Buyers have virtually shut off the traditional world of marketing and chosen messaging that makes them stop, think and behave differently. And with content marketing now a cornerstone of inbound marketing efforts in building product marketing, what do you need to get started? A carefully planned strategy and well-coordinated implementation.

In content efforts we manage for clients, we’ve discovered six steps that will kick your content plan into high gear.

Define your audience. If your plan is to talk to everyone, think again. That net is much too wide. Who is your target audience? Defining it is a key first step to take before one piece of content is created.

Build personas. This task is fairly simple. Identify the attributes needed for someone to be your buyer. The goal is to describe who you will attempt to write for or who might already be reading your content. This exercise will help personalize your writing, identify ways to connect with your buyer and create more practical content with their needs in mind.

Determine digital footprint. How will you distribute your building product content? Even before you create it, decide where it will be hosted and published. A website or microsite is one of the more common platforms because your content can be disseminated through a blog, webinars, photo gallery, videos, podcasts, Tweet Chats, etc. Let social media play the role of distributor, as it can extend the reach of your content and foster authentic conversations with your buyers.

Do your homework on keywords. Knowing what words users type when they are searching for building product information is of the utmost importance. Do the research and choose words with the highest number of monthly searches and the lowest competition.

Think like a building product publisher. Publishers use editorial calendars to monitor dates, track specifics of content ideas and keep content consistent and relevant. These tools also allow you to see connections within your content and identify ways to repurpose it.

Report, analyze and adjust. One of inbound marketing’s biggest benefits is the ability to track and measure the progress you are making to see what is and isn’t working. Then you can adapt to optimize results.

Photo credit: Flickr

Think Your Building Product Content Is Being Read? Think Again

Sept 3 think_your_contentWriting less and styling text so it’s easy to read are two ways to attract and hold the attention of your building product customers and prospects. 

Thanks to Jakob Nielson and his web usability studies, we’ve known for a long time that web users scan content rather than read it. We also know, thanks to real-time analytics, that there’s a pretty good chance you won’t finish this article. As a matter of fact, for every 161 people who landed on this page, 61 of you are already gone. In web traffic jargon, you “bounced” and spent no time engaging with this page.

But that’s okay. Losing 38 percent of you is the nature of the online beast. Good riddance, I say, because now we have a friendly, intimate crowd–just me and those of you who want to be here. I still have to accept the fact though, that you would rather scan web pages than read them in detail.

Therefore, there are some things I learned in English composition class I need to forget in order to keep my building product marketing readers tuned in.  I also like to incorporate some easy design techniques that make my content more reader-friendly.

Break up copy. 

To cover complex topics, I like to break up the subject matter into a series of posts. It’s a good way to keep your readers coming back and they’ll find it easier to digest your content if it’s in smaller, snackable pieces.

Write compelling subheads. 

Strong headlines get readers attention. Solid subheads keep readers engaged and help move them through the rest of your content. Compose subheads that are intriguing and informative.

Use bullets. 

Bullet lists provide an easy, scannable way to present multiple points in your content. I recommend using them as much as possible due to the fact it provides a break for the reader’s eye.

Format strategically. 

Emphasize important concepts in your web copy by bolding them. You want your reader to be able to scan and take away the most important points at a glance. Highlight only the main points so your reader can quickly pick them out.

Use odd numbered lists. 

Numbers are an effective way to capture attention and keep your reader interested. Large chunks of information broken up into odd-numbered facts, as research shows, helps the brain process information in manageable pieces.

While content is important, if it isn’t commanding attention, your building product prospects won’t stick around to hear what you have to say.  Incorporate these tips into your writing to attract and hold attention.

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn via flickr

Tips for Winning Big in Building Product Search Engine Marketing

Win-Win SituationSearch engines play a dominant role in the research phase of a building product buyers purchase cycle and leveraged properly, can increase online visibility and drive sales. 

Search engines play a leading role in making purchase decisions. Studies show that more than 90% of business buyers lookup information online prior to making a decision. Since buyers rely so heavily in the early and mid research stages of their buying cycle, shouldn’t your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) plan be primed and optimized?

The goal of SEM is to increase your website’s visibility on Google and other search engines. SEM can include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management)
  • PPC Advertising (Pay-Per-Click Advertising)

The most popular pay-per-click (PPC) program is Google AdWords, as it accounts for about 90% of PPC ad dollars. PPC advertising is a form of inbound marketing and offers the ability to capture leads fast and efficiently. Building product buyers who type in search keywords in Google or Bing are essentially raising their hands to say they’re interested in your building products.

But AdWords is becoming more competitive and costly, which reduces the return on every dollar you invest in it. Below, I’ll touch on tips that will help ensure you are maximizing your SEM efforts to achieve success.

Tip #1: Be specific. Due to the character limitations, there’s no room for fluffy marketing copy in your AdWords ad copy, so you’ll want to get right to the point. Don’t write generic ad copy. Be as specific as possible so that your ad delivers the right message to your buyers. You will want to create multiple ad groups for your different sets of keywords so that you can write specific copy for each ad group.

Tip #2: Use keywords. Traditional advertising copy is clever and creative, but when it comes to PPC, too much creativity can hurt you. Due to the nature of PPC ads, you need to grab a searcher’s attention right at the beginning. When you write ad copy for your building products, be sure to include your main keywords in your headline and description. Having your keyword in the ad copy also makes your ad more relevant and will give you a better quality score.

Tip #3: Feature your UVP. What makes your building products different from your competitors? When you write ad copy, you should include your differentiator.

Tip #4: Include a call-to-action. ALWAYS include a good call-to-action in order to increase your click-through-rates and your campaign’s effectiveness. Searchers need to know what’s in it for them if they click on the ad. Be sure your ad copy matches the landing page your searcher will be directed to when they click on your ads.

Tip #5: Stand out. Don’t believe the myth that by copying the ads of your competitors, you can make your PPC campaign successful. It confuses searchers when they see the same kind of ads lined up in a column. They will go for the one that stands out and is different than the rest of the group.

Tip #6: Format correctly. It is absolutely imperative that you format your ads properly, with correct casing, spelling and character count. The format for AdWords looks like this:

Headline: 25 characters

Description line 1: 25 characters

Description line 2: 25 characters

Display URL: 35 characters

Per Google’s advertising policies:

  • The display URL field can’t be used as another line of ad text
  • Your ad text can’t appear cut off or incomplete
  • The description lines can’t lead into the display URL [e.g. the second description line can’t say, “Learn more at…”]

For a step-by-step video on how to create an AdWords campaign, click here

If you violate these formatting rules, you risk having your ads disapproved, which means they won’t run until the violation is corrected and the ad is approved, or worse, your domain could be disabled until the problem is fixed.

Tip #7: Test. Then test again. Lastly, and most importantly, test your copy, landing pages and offers to see which will produce better results. You should have a couple of ads setup for each ad group and then let them run to see how they perform.

PHOTO CREDIT: garryknight via flickr

What’s the One Key Ingredient Your Building Product Content Marketing Needs?

3227380581_de390eedc8_zIn today’s content-driven world, smart building product marketers use search insights to create content that is spot on, engages their audience and is never boring. 

All content is not created equal. 

How are you determining what content is relevant to your audience? If you are basing it on hunches, or what you think your audience wants, then you may be under delivering. The days of just having content on your website to suffice are long gone.

Relevant content placed along your customer’s journey lets you demonstrate your expertise on a topic, drive leads and convert leads into customers. 

To ensure you are developing content that speaks directly to your building product customers, you need to understand the digital consumer. In fact, understanding your audience’s online behavior is the first thing you should do before starting content efforts.

Using free tools such as Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner and Trends, YouTube’s keyword suggestion or premium providers such as Quantcast or comScore will provide data that can tell you:

  • Most used keyword phrases
  • Where users go and what results they click on
  • When and where they search
  • Devices they use to search

In order to make search insights work for your building product content marketing effort, it’s important to understand how you can make them work for your organization.

  1. Know your best keyword phrases, don’t think you know them. Many times building product marketers use corporate jargon instead of using language people actually use. If you want a shot at engaging your audience, then you need to use the search phrases they are actually using. Google AdWords Keyword Planner will help you determine search volumes for particular keyword phrases.
  1. Determine what your audience cares about. Search insights can help you hone your content by revealing the intent of keyword phrases and showing the types of content users are seeking.
  1. Find out what format your audience prefers. Should you create a white paper, an eBook or a video? Base these types of decisions on data, not a hunch, by examining search insights for the types of content users are viewing.
  1. Understand the nuances of regional search behavior. Search behavior can vary depending upon the part of the country from which they are searching. Google Trends can help you determine the differences and the search volume from a regional perspective.

PHOTO CREDIT: Travis Swicegood on flickr

Two Simple, But Critical, Types of Website Content in Building Product Marketing

medium_2807150797Building product marketers need to make sure even the simplest website content is accessible because it can play a huge role in whether buyers move forward with your company. 

In a recently released web usability report, B2B buyers were asked what factors would cause them to leave a website. Respondents reported across the board that a lack of contact information was so annoying, it caused them to leave a website.

  • 55% answered that “no contact information/phone number” reduces the company’s credibility
  • 37% said a lack of contact information wastes their time

With statistics like these, be sure you’re making it easy for your prospective customers to contact you. Don’t bury your contact information and make them hunt for it, because most won’t go to those lengths to find it.

68 percent of survey respondents say that they consider “Company Address and Contact Information” to be “Critically Important” with regard to moving forward with a vendor.

Another mistake many companies make is leaving off their physical address. As research shows, not having complete contact information will lower your credibility in the eyes of your buyers. Avoid having your website visitors thinking you are hiding something or that you may be operating out of a garage.

More than likely, your buyers are sourcing their vendors online. If you are on the short list of suppliers, they’ll send your name to a purchasing agent, or will send an RFQ. If your information isn’t readily available to include in the RFQ, then you are out of the running. Building product buyers use website content they find to pre-qualify vendors and suppliers.

Lastly, make sure the “About” page on your website is being fully  utilized by featuring your company history, team bios, press rooms, etc. “About” pages are one of the first interactions a website visitor makes when visiting a website, after viewing “Products and Services” pages.

View the entire Web Usability Report here.

Photo credit: Chelsea Gomez on flickr

Five Digital Aha’s for Marketing Building Products in 2014

AhaKeeping up-to-date with digital trends and strategies from thought leaders and veteran marketers will help you hone your current marketing skills and fill your sales pipeline with viable leads. 

Online Marketing Institute recently hosted a series of webinars featuring seven leading experts in the B2B digital marketing sphere. Tips, tactics and strategies were presented from thought leaders in the areas of social media, marketing automation, content marketing, big data and mobility. If you missed it, I’ve provided five aha’s from the all day event:

1. Content marketing has changed B2B forever. Traditional B2B marketing efforts like basic brand advertising and trade show participation aren’t working as well anymore. Content marketing is dominating as the marketing vehicle for building product marketers.

2. Content marketing should satisfy three stages of the buyer’s journey. Content creation and marketing should be more informational and less advertorial in nature. To be sure you aren’t spinning your content creation wheels and getting nowhere, build your content strategy around your goals:

  • Lead generation: focus on content that prompts registration or email downloads such as whitepapers and ebooks
  • Establishing your company as a thought leader: produce regular blog posts and create reports that will establish your business as a trusted resource
  • Increase brand awareness: produce engaging content such as guides, infographics and videos that are informational to your prospect and include your company’s branding

3. Content can mold leads into brand advocates. Customers who get it are worth a lot more than those who don’t. This is why it is critical to move a prospect from unaware to aware with your content. A customer who is loyal to your building product brand is less likely to shop the competition and more likely to refer you to others.

4. Find success with content, reach and paid advertising. The crucial combination of producing quality content, optimizing for organic reach and spending on promotions is necessary to see results with your social efforts. 

5. Don’t be corporate, be human. One of the toughest challenges building product marketers face is being human with your audience. B2B marketing messages tend to be indifferent, dull and over-promotional. Take note from marketers in the B2C space who more effectively resonate on an emotional level.

Online Marketing Institute’s B2B Digital Marketing Essentials for 2014

Photo credit: Tetsumo via flickr.com

Content Marketing Leads to the Purchase of Building Products

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Publishing and sharing useful content related to building products can help move your buyers down the sales channel more quickly.

In fact, 58% of B2B decision makers say that content plays a role in purchasing decisions. Another 38% say content that introduces fresh thought leadership around business challenges affect what they buy for their company, according to CMO Council survey of B2B decision-makers.

In the B2B environment, in-depth content that aligns with what your customer wants to know will prove more valuable to your audience. Ideally, you will have a customer-centric content plan in place that targets what your customer needs or wants to know at each stage in the decision process.

What type of content are we talking about? In addition to Interviews, lists and comparisons, other types include:

  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • How-to guides
  • Video
  • Surveys

Once you have digital assets, the most important part of any content marketing strategy is to make it sharable and push it across all of your media channels.

The following four tips below will ensure a good start:

  1. Target the right audience. The more engaging your content is to your target audience, the more sharable it will become and the more links it will acquire, which will help in search engine optimization efforts.
  2. Correctly publish your content. Including social functionality on the content page, hyperlinking your website as the source and pushing it out to your blog are all ways to increase social shares and link backs to your site.
  3. Promote through your social media channels. Use the obvious channels such as Google +, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to start a dialogue or debate that relates to your content.
  4. Reach out to key influencers and ask them to share. Leverage established online communities by identifying who the influencers are, whether it’s an individual or a website, and asking them to share your content in order to reach a much wider audience.

Lastly, one other issue to consider is how to format digital content. Therefore, keep in mind how the target audience will access the material. Referring back to the CMO Council survey, the office desktop computer is the more popular device, but 41% of respondents consume content using smartphones and 30% use tablets.

photo credit: Zane Selvans via photopin cc

7 Content Marketing Tips to Generate Leads for Building Products

Spend any time online conducting competitive research and you’ll realize that content marketing is becoming an increasingly effective strategy for lead generation even for B2B companies.

If you spend any time on social channels, you know that good content boosts loyalty and trust among customers. Along that line of thinking, I recently attended a MarketingProfs conference on content marketing. Here are some of my “takeaways”:

 Seven Tips on how to market our content:

  1. Determine what action you want your customer to take and define the objectives – sales, warm bodies in seats (if attendance is the objective), etc.
  2. Determine what potential buyers need to know. Stop talking and listen. Take time to identify prospects’ pain and pleasure points.
  3. Create a content plan. Create what our audience wants and deliver it based on where they are in the process of buying – even if they don’t have their wallet with them. Things we need to ask are – where are they when they are researching and how do they consume media?
  4. Put a content creation team together. In other words, we need to put our money where our media is. The obvious place to start is a blog, which is the cornerstone of a good content plan. It all comes down to writing and good writing is where you need to invest your money.
  5. Get our digital ducks in a row. Establish our digital outlets and platforms and get to know this stuff. Become familiar with the various platforms, such as WordPress and Content Management Systems, that allow us to a lot with our digital game.
  6. Promote what we publish. Word of mouth is the easiest way to do this. You don’t have to master the exhaustive list of channels so pick a few and go.
  7. Measure. To make your content marketing work, you have to know what is and isn’t working. The truth may hurt, but to achieve success, we need to monitor and constantly make adjustments along the way.

The type of content that generates leads includes:

  • How-to’s, tips
  • Production applications
  • Shortcuts
  • Secrets
  • Tutorials
  • Stories
  • Case studies
  • Comparisons
  • Demonstrations
  • Pros and cons
  • Dangers
  • Myths
  • Pitfalls
  • Mistakes
  • Lies
  • Interviews
  • Roundups
  • Q&As

We need to be sure to connect the dots for our audience. Using a mix of media will create more touch points. By linking everything to our site or blog (for more info go here, for the whole interview go here, etc.) we will help our rankings in organic search.

Here’s the video of the MarketingProfs the conference session with Barry Freedman, “Transforming Your Website into a Customer Attraction Force Field”. 

A note about MarketingProfs: It is the largest community of marketers in the world, providing the latest marketing know-how and best practices in marketing with unparalleled depth and breadth. I am an avid consumer of their content and I recommend adding this to your arsenal of marketing resources!

Building Products: Content Marketing Tactics That Won’t Break The Bank

content marketing for building products

With today’s tight marketing budgets, building product marketers should leverage content marketing to grow sales.

According to AOL & Neilson, people spend more than 50% of their time online with content and an additional 30% of their time on social media channels where content can be shared. Building product manufacturers need to be leveraging digital channels to grow our brands.

Here are some interesting content marketing statistics:

  • 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing, as opposed to 86% of B2C marketers (*eMarketer)
  • Per dollar spent, content marketing generates approximately 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing (*Demand metric)
  • Companies that blog 15+ times per month get 5x more traffic than companies that don’t blog and 92% of companies who blog multiple times a day acquire customers through their blog (*Hubspot)
  • Companies with an active blog report 97% more leads (*Content+)
  • Call to actions promoting ebooks get almost twice the click-through rate as emails promoting webinars. (HubSpot)
  • 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles over ads (*Content+)
  • 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site (*Content+)
  • Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing (*Demand metric)

Content marketing can be an efficient way to build loyalty and trust among consumers.

  • Blogs: With the number of companies using blogs as part of their online strategy, something is obviously working. A blog can give your company a voice and the ability to have a one-on-one conversation with potential customers. It also can establish your company as a thought leader in the building products industry.
  • eBooks: A great way to provide valuable knowledge to your customers and prospects. They are also a good way to generate leads because with each download you can ask for an email address and follow-up with your products.
  • Presentations: Educational content, sales and conference presentations are easy-to-read content that can be published on your website and shared on social media channels such as SlideShare, YouTube, Vimeo and others.
  • Press Releases: Press releases can be used to spread information about new products, company growth and announcements, all while boosting SEO. When a press release is posted on a newswire, you can invite journalists and bloggers to share the story. It’s a good idea to establish relationships with journalists from our industry’s trade publications so you can be included in stories about industry news. They can also be repurposed as content to be shared throughout your social media channels.

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