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TACTIC – 6 steps to great engineering marketing content

This post authored by John Hayes originally appeared in the Digital Marketing for Engineers blog.

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nkedin.com/groups/Digital-Marketing-Engineers-2780148?gid=2780148&trk=hb_side_g” target=”_blank”>LinkedIn group “Digital Marketing for Engineers” came up with “TACTIC” a catchy acronym for the 6 steps to creating great content. Without his help we would have been stuck with TAWIME, PATSEM or AGAKME.

Here are 6 steps to creating great marketing content for engineers:

1. T – Target. Identify your target audience for this particular piece of content. You may have lots of prospects within your target companies, but to make a good piece of content, you will have to decide exactly who to speak to.

2. A- Action. Decide what action you want people to take after they consume this content. Do you want people to download your software, request a quote, visit a web page, share your stories?

3. C – Care. Name a few things that your target audience cares about other than your product. What does their work demand of them? You might have to ask.

4. T – Twist. Find a way to twist what your target audience Cares about (Step 3) together with the Action (Step 2) you want them to take. This is the hard part, but if you can do it, you win.

 5. I – Instrument. Decide on which media instruments you will use. Often your decision in step 4 will mandate that the content be delivered a certain way, such as through a video or a white paper. Other times you’ll have the freedom to match the way your audience is easiest to reach.

6. C – Catchy. Add some entertainment. Catchiness can come in the form of humor, drama, or engaging presenters. You won’t debase your brand by being interesting.

If you have any other acronym ideas, please post them in the comments. Retweets and shares are most appreciated.

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Conversion Aversion

This post was originally published by Jon DiPietro on his inbound marketing blog, Domesticating IT.
Dead end road slowly being reclaimed by nature

I’ve performed a bunch of free inbound marketing evaluations for businesses large and small. There are two mistakes I see companies making far more than any other. I covered the first mistake by describing why companies fail at social media. But there is another mistake that is even more common.

It seems that a majority of companies have conversion aversion.

This mistake is even more pervasive and costly. If you’re creating well-optimized, remarkable content and doing a bang-up job promoting that content via social media, what’s the point if you’re just sending them down a dead-end road? Converting those hard-earned visitors into leads is the final step in inbound marketing. And, frankly, it’s the only one that truly matters at the end of the day.

con-ver-sion a-ver-sion [kuhn-vur-zhuhn uh-vur-zhuhn]

noun
1. opposition to and/or apathy toward providing website visitors with strong calls to action
2. failure to describe the problem being solved or solution being offered
3. implementation of high-friction process for obtaining goods/content

Landing Pages to the Rescue

The first step in curing conversion aversion is the creation of landing pages. These pages are highly specialized and single-minded in their mission to achieve their goal. Each page’s goal must be clear and action-oriented (e.g. buy, download, join, etc…). What exactly is a landing page?

Landing page screen shot

Ideally, a landing page contains a strong call to action, clear value proposition, and a low-friction conversion form. You’ll notice from the screen shot above that these are the only things on this page. The widgets have been removed in order to remove distractions. You don’t want to give visitors any extra shiny objects to take their attention away from the task at hand.

Crafting the Message

Create pages with compelling headlines.

It all starts with the headline. Along with the sub-heading, this is the main message that must communicate exactly what is being offered (Free Inbound Marketing Evaluation) and the problem that is solves (How well does your site compare? How can you improve it?). Focus on creating a vision for the audience that allows them to see how much better off they will be after taking the action you want them to take. Be sure to include one of the seven fascination triggers in your headline (lust, vice, alarm, power, prestige, mystique or trust).

Connect with the audience.

Build off of your headline by showing the audience that you can identify and empathize with their plight. People want to buy from people who are more like themselves.

Clearly define your offer.

Tell the customer exactly what they will get in exchange for their lead information (preferably no more than an email). Don’t get cute here – be extremely concise with your language and don’t hide anything.

Provide testimonials.

If people have made it this far, a powerful testimonial can seal the deal. Social proof is a vital aspect of the buying process.

Dispel their fears.

Try to anticipate the buyers’ reservations and address them head on. For example, tell them it won’t take as much time as they may think or won’t be as risky as they may fear. Making the offer completely risk-free (e.g. money back guarantee) is another way to accomplish this.

Low Friction

Every field of data the visitor must provide lessens the chances of conversion. Don’t ask for data just because you’d like to have it; only ask for the minimum amount of data required in order to fulfill the request. In many cases, the only field really and truly required is an email address. In the example shown above, some additional data is required because the offer is a free evaluation. As a general rule, the more valuable the offer is, the more friction users will tolerate.

Optimize

Which title should you use? What color is best for the submit button? Should you include a picture of the product or a human face?

Landing pages are incredibly fickle and tricky to optimize. Fortunately, there are some free tools available to help us to exactly that. Google Website Optimizer will allow you to create multiple versions of landing pages, then rotate them randomly and measure their respective conversion rates.

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The “Big Three” of Content

This post was originally published by Jon DiPietro on his inbound marketing blog, Domesticating IT.
content #like

Inbound marketing begins and ends with content. But it can’t be any kind of content in order to be effective. In order for it to be all it can be, there are three specific traits it needs to have.

Remarkable Content

Dictionary.com defines “remarkable” as “worthy of notice or attention.” In other words, remarkable content is something that people want to, er, remark about. There are a few different ways you can create content that has that effect on readers.

  • They learn something from it.
    One of the most effective and common forms of remarkable content is informational. It’s intended to let readers know something important that they didn’t already know. But important to whom? To them, of course! By way of example, nobody would care about a blog post in which I bragged about how just landed a new client who wants to better understand how to create remarkable content. Too many companies publish “press release content” that they think is important but hardly anyone else does. Make sure it’s important to the audience.
  • They are inspired by it.
    Sometimes content can be important because it motivates us to take action on something we already knew. Maybe it’s a case study about how a company improved its conversion rates by 50% through landing page optimization. You’ve been reading about it for months and now this story finally inspires you to implement some A/B testing on your own site.
  • They need it.
    This is a wide category that covers a number of possibilities. In some cases, the information in the content is timely. For example, the first article written about the Stuxnet virus is going to be considered much more remarkable than the fifth. Another possibility is that the content is exclusive. Often, this is the case with original data from research, polling or your own customer database.
  • They’re entertained by it.
    Sometimes (most of the time, actually), we could just use a good laugh. I’m a big fan of corporate blogs letting their hair down once in a while and showing their humanity. Humor is a great way to do that and is consistently among the most shared content on the web.

Readable Content

Content confusionIf your informative, inspirational, exclusive and entertaining content is unreadable, what good is it? If an article appears in the forrest and nobody is there to read it, does it really exist? Here’s my definition of readable:

Short words, in short sentences, in short paragraphs with lots of white space, clear/compelling headlines and bullets.

Let’s talk about the first part of that definition; all the short stuff. I think there’s a common misperception (especially in the B2B world) that content writing must be erudite and formal. However, when you’re competing for attention from readers facing an infinite number of online distractions, the more quickly your content can be consumed, the better. There are some tools you can use to actually measure how complicated your writing is. One of the most common is the Flesch Reading Ease score. The higher the score, the easier something is to read. According to Wikipedia, “Reader’s Digest magazine has a readability index of about 65, Time magazine scores about 52, an average 6th grade student’s (an 11-year-old) written assignment has a readability test of 60–70 (and a reading grade level of 6–7), and the Harvard Law Review has a general readability score in the low 30s.” This article – by the way – scores a 63.

Now, what about the white space, headings and bullets? The problem with that approach is that Internet users don’t read; they browse. Visitors will check your content first to see how long it is. Next, they will scan it to perform an instant cost/benefit analysis. “Will spending the next five minutes of my life be worth the payoff I’ll get from reading this?” White space reduces stress levels when someone is trying to scan your content and perform their risk/benefit analysis. It also makes the headings and other indicators pop out a little more. The headings are crucial. They are mini-titles that allow readers to scan quickly in order to build a quick and dirty outline of your content.

The easier you can make it for readers to scan and consume, the better your chances that it will be read.

Shareable Content

content sharingYes, I know “shareable” isn’t a real word. But I think it should be. Our entire goal with inbound marketing is to spread our ideas and attract qualified visitors. Therefore, why not make it as simple as possible for readers to share your content if they are so inclined? While the situation is improving quickly, I’m still shocked at the number of web pages and blogs I encounter that don’t have Tweet, share or like buttons!

Hopefully this article is readable enough that you’ve finished it and found it remarkable enough to share with your friends and colleagues.

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Why Companies Fail at Social Media

This post was originally published by Jon DiPietro on his inbound marketing blog, Domesticating IT.

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ads/2011/03/MixedNorms.png”>Mixed norms - economic norms and social norms

Let’s say you run a day-care center and you’re tired of parents being late to pick up their kids. What do you do? How about instituting a fine? That seems like it’s logical and could be effective. If parents had to pay extra, one would assume that they would be more likely to be on time. But one would be wrong.

In January, 2000, Uri Gneezy and Aldo Rustichini published a study titled, “A Fine is a Price.” In this study, they followed six day-care centers in Israel. They found that, on average, there were seven or eight late pickups per week across the ten centers they were monitoring. At six of these centers, they instituted a fine for late pickups and the effect was immediate and striking. The incidences of lateness steadily increased over a four week period. Eventually, the average number of late pickups peaked around twenty – almost triple the original rate. What happened? And what has this to do with social media?

Mixed Norms

Gneezy and Rustichini attributed this to something they called an “incomplete contract.” The rules that were in place were sufficiently ambiguous that customers had to figure for themselves what was appropriate behavior. In those circumstances, we tend to fall back on social norms. Social norms are a set of unwritten rules that determine what is and is not acceptable behavior in social situations. However, in the case of the day-care experiment, instituting a fine shattered the ambiguity and replaced it with an economic norm. The parents no longer feared social repercussions. They determined that the convenience of showing up whenever they wanted was worth the price.

Oil and water by andredoreto on Flickr

Oil and water courtesy of andredoreto on Flickr

This is an example of “mixed norms.” When we combine social behaviors with an economic situation or vice versa, we get unpredictable (and sometimes volatile) situations. Consider, for example, finishing a holiday dinner at your parents’ house. You compliment the cook(s) on a terrific meal and pull out your checkbook asking, “How much do I owe you?” Most people would be offended and might even throw a utensil in your direction. Dating also carries such risks.

Social media also carries such risks.

Social Media and Norms

Make no mistake. Social norms are in play in all social media channels. The main reason for this is that when it comes to social networks, the users are also the owners. This is not the case in most other media with which companies are used to dealing (e.g. television, radio, newspapers, even Google). And so their tendency is to dive into social media with their economic norm behaviors. The result is that people will automatically tune them out and unfollow/unfriend them. In a sense, the companies have placed a virtual fee on their social media presence. This fundamentally changes the relationship from a social one to an economic one. Game over, influence squandered.

And here’s the really bad news…

Mixing Norms is Irreversible

End Designated Safe Corridor road construction signBack to Gneezy and Rustichini. After five months, the day-care centers rescinded the fining policy. However, the behaviors didn’t change. It turns out that once you change the relationship from social to economic, you cannot go back. It’s altered permanently and there’s nothing you can do about it.

This should give pause to companies currently or planning to be involved in social media. You had better get it right the first time, because you won’t get a second chance. So how does a company insure it’s following social norms? Well, there’s a four letter word that spells social media success; gift. Make sure the vast majority of the content you’re creating and sharing can be considered as a gift to your audience and you should be fine.

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