Written by Colin MacInnis. Published on June 19, 2018.
Major Shift Coming to Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is on the verge of a major shift. We had the rise of Facebook Groups in 2016 and Facebook “Ad Funnels” in 2017. In early 2018, we faced the disruption of Facebook and email marketing as scandals emerged (Cambridge Analytica scandal) and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into effect on May 25, 2018. The result of such events led to a large movement to Instagram and a floodgate of emails with updates to privacy policies. All the while, the mass market of Do-It-Yourself people increases exponentially as more resourceful millennials enter the workplace. In all, the bag of tricks is running low.
The original premise of inbound marketing was to build awareness, authority, trust, and community around a brand. The brand would leverage their trustworthy position to intercept leads and offer products and services to them. This is still the case, but marketers agree, the results have decreased over time. Content Marketing has now been around for more than a decade and our methods for driving brand awareness and leads are becoming ineffective. It’s time to challenge the status quo and explore new areas for brand building and sales enablement.
The Traditional Approach to Content Marketing
Traditional content marketing strategies involved writing blogs and encouraging people to subscribe to notifications about new articles and content offers. Blogging helped companies establish themselves as industry experts while helping them grow a list of contacts they could speak to.
Over time, brands would combine several blog posts together and create an ebook about a specific topic. Visitors would be asked to submit their email in order to receive the ebook. After collecting their email, the company would send additional emails to the subscriber which introduced new value-adding products and services; marketers call this process “lead nurturing”.
In the past, the action of downloading an ebook served as an indicator that someone needed help solving a problem; this made them attractive as a target. Marketers began intercepting these people with emails containing promotions and coupons. However today, the number of people to convert on such emails is decreasing. The email marketing landscape has become a very crowded space and people have learned the in’s and out’s of sales enablement. Additionally, ebook downloads are no longer an indicator that someone is in-market for products/services related to ebook topics. Instead, people are leveraging ebooks as a means to solve their problems on their own. This makes sense since the DIY market has never been stronger. Information is readily available and people are resourceful at collecting information.
What To Do About It
Due to the changes and challenges mentioned above, we need to adjust our current perspective of marketing and the future of where lead generation is heading. After researching several methodologies for marketing in the future, we’ve identified 5 best practices you can engrain into your marketing culture to ensure you survive the unknown future ahead.
Here are the 5 practices that will shape the success of your marketing campaigns over the next decade:
1. Keeping Your Data Clean
There are many kinds of relationships a person can have with a company. They can be a Subscriber, a Lead, a Prospect, an Investor, etc. It’s important that your website forms and automated processes update a person’s Contact Type as they enter your database or CRM. This is especially true for the new regulations about data protection. You cannot email blog subscribers your newsletter (they’re not the same type of subscription). You cannot email your ebook downloaders your newest newsletter. Each person’s contact record should have selectors for Subscriptions (blog, newsletter, product updates, investor updates), Interests (ebooks and lead generation items they’ve downloaded), Programs (beta program, mentorship program), and Campaigns.
By segmenting your contacts and enriching their records, you will gain extremely valuable insights about your contacts and relationships. You can leverage the data you know about people to serve highly customized products, services, and recommendations.
For example, if I see someone is highly engaged with my content, but has not submitted any sales-related forms, it would be best to invite that person to opt into your Newsletter rather than unleashing your sales team on them.
2. Planning Effective Marketing Campaigns, Their Rollout, & Their Follow-up
There are 2 types of marketing campaigns: (1) Brand Awareness, and (2) Lead Generation. When planning your marketing campaigns, determine if your intention is to increase brand awareness, or to generate leads. You shouldn’t try to do both in one campaign.
Once you determine the Campaign Type, it’s time to prepare your rollout strategy. Use several marketing tactics to increase the reach of a campaign and the amount of interactions people will have with your brand. Introduce the campaign, remind people of the campaign, conclude the campaign, and to re-engage advocates of the campaign. Lastly, identify active members that participated in your campaign. Those people will be ideal to acquire testimonials.
As an example, let’s review a typical rollout process for an ebook. First, configure your advertising platforms to integrate the ebook into a remarketing campaign (targeting recent visitors of your website). Next, create 3-5 social media posts that announce, remind, and conclude the ebook. Additionally, use a similar strategy to announce, remind, and conclude the ebook to members of your email list. You can include the ebook as part of a newsletter, notify blog subscribers, or pass the ebook to contacts being worked through the sales process.
These are just a few tactics you can use to rollout an ebook. The important part is to engage readers who loved your ebook. You can identify fans by reviewing indicators of positive engagement such as viewing the ebook 5+ times, or sharing the sign-up page on their social media accounts. The goal is to acquire social-proof that your resource adds value to readers. You can leverage these testimonials on your website, landing pages, and more.
3. Combine Several Marketing Channels for a Unique Customer Journey
Use multiple marketing channels to create a unique customer journey. Don’t cut your marketing short because you think your billboard isn’t generating any business. Each channel is another opportunity to earn impressions with your audiences. It could be that the combination of a billboard, sponsored event, digital advertisement, and ebook unlock new leads for your business. Do not discount the outstanding value impressions provide for your business. Instead, leverage your knowledge of multi-channel attribution to create unique and memorable experiences for your audiences, community, leads, and customers.
If you’re interested in books about building unique customer journeys, I highly recommend “Be Our Guest” by Disney University. If there’s any company in the world that delivers unique customer experiences, it’s Walt Disney World.
4. Run Programs that Nurture, Educate, & Engage Participants
Programs are a type of marketing activity that are ongoing and more engaging than other campaigns. The best known example is a Beta Program. It is ongoing, involves product updates, access to new features, etc. By listening and analyzing your subscribers interaction with your brand, you will be able to identify opportunities for programs that bridge the gap towards brand loyalty, new customers, or brand advocate.
For example, Salesforce has a program called Trailblazer. Trailblazer is a free online educational center that helps participants earn badges and certificates in fields related to their platform (sales, marketing, service, security, automation, etc). Their program is designed to help train people who use their platform, plus yield new brand advocates. For organizations using Salesforce, these certified individuals can leverage their alignment and certifications to earn higher paying jobs. Underneath Salesforce’s cost of maintaining such an expensive educational center, they earn the longevity of champion-users and coach buyers as those people suggest their employer to purchase Salesforce.
5. Experiment with Creative Lead Generation Ideas
In the midst of content marketing, many organizations default to creating ebooks before assessing other viable content offers. In my research online, I found a very useful resource by OptinMonster that identifies Content Offer Types. In my own assessment of their suggestions, I saw opportunities for lead generation offers that were actually quite unique. For your convenience, here is summary of those content offer types with some examples. If you’d like more context on each item, I highly recommend you visit OptinMonster’s blog post where they’ve included examples and images of each lead generation activity.
5 Types of Content Offers for Lead Generation
- Useful Content Offers
- Cheat Sheets
- Swipe Files (copy/paste things)
- Web App
- Resource List
- Inspiration File
- Calculators (security risk)
- Generator (policy builder)
- Spreadsheet templates
- Educational Content Offers
- Gated Content
- Educational Video
- Educational Audio
- Event Tickets
- Email Course
- Free Book + Shipping
- Sample Chapter
- Sample Video
- Sample Audio
- Free Coaching Session
- PDF Version of Popular Content
- Transcript File of Media for Repurposing
- Audio Version of Popular Content
- Summary / Cliff Notes Version of in-depth guides.
- State of the Industry
- Mind Map (explaining a complex topic in a visual way)
- Recording/Replay Webinars
- Audio books
- SlideShare Presentations
- PDF of Tips & Techniques from other experts in industry
- Entertaining Content Offers
- Manifesto (declaration of values)
- Comic Strip
- Desktop Wallpaper
- Mobile App/Game
- Community-Based Content Offers
- Membership Sites
- Facebook Groups
- Slack Group
- Bottom-of-Funnel Content Offers
- Free Trial
- Case Studies
- Waiting List
- Early Bird Discount
- Free Shipping
- Free Consultation
- Free Quote
- Product/Service Catalog
Marketing will always evolve. It’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture of what drives engagement, leads, awareness, and how the market responds to new methods. The lifecycle of “what works” will change in the future, but the underlying principles of why thing work will remain. The key is to listen carefully.
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