AUCKLAND, New Zealand: In this age of content marketing, how do you get more mileage from the content you create when you do business in a small country like New Zealand, which has limited channels and small audiences?
I recently conducted a survey of Kiwi digital and marketing communications managers, which revealed that creating a steady stream of content represents a considerable investment in time and money, but the shelf life and reach of that content are limited.
Creating an endless of cycle of content that slowly rides into the sunset can be frustrating and disheartening. In the next three blog posts, we will deal with some thoughts and ideas on how you can overcome that problem.
In Part 1, we discuss finding new audiences. This is the stage that is likely to consume the bulk of your financial investment.
1. Content for content sake is a wasted opportunity
Make sure that the content you create has a specific purpose within your sales funnel.
What is the purpose of the article, video or podcast? Is it to attract traffic in the awareness stage? Educate customers in the consideration phase? Convert during the buying stage? Stimulate referrals?
Try to stay away from ‘awareness’ as an objective because it can’t be properly measured, and may frustrate other members of the management team who want to see tangible results.
Having a ‘sales funnel strategy’ in place will ensure that each piece of content is created for a purpose (sniper approach versus spray and wish). Purposeful content will help you discover new, or more appropriate, channels and also maximise the impact of each piece of content.
In other words, small audiences and limited channels won’t be such an issue if your content achieves a higher percentage of engagements or conversions for the same investment.
2. Use smart targeting in your channel strategy
If your content is to attract ‘prospects’ to your sales funnel, you’re going to want to make particular use of earned and bought assets in this phase.
Content designed to attract people during the awareness stage should be written for a specific persona confronting a particular problem, need or desire. For example, “Everything you need to know before putting your spare room on Airbnb”.
Assets to consider include:
A. Your blog:
Create high quality, educational content and the audiences will come. People do subscribe to blogs in New Zealand, provided that the content adds real value.
Regular blogs posts will also improve your search engine rankings because you’re using more keywords and long tail keyword phrases on your site, but also because search engines like regularly updated websites (but you knew that already).
B. Smart targeting with social media
Good traction via paid advertising through social media channels depends on the size of your database. The size of your database depends on the ability of your sales funnel to capture email addresses from people who download the content you created for that purpose e.g. eBooks.
Facebook: Import a list email addresses of people who match your target persona. Ask Facebook to build a custom audience from that list, and pay to advertise your content on the custom audience’s timeline. Remember, actually getting the ‘click-throughs’ depends on the quality of your content, based on your understanding of the persona that you are targeting.
Twitter: Ordinary Twitter, or Twitter organic, is useful for attracting an audience, particularly if you have a presence and regularly promote good content, conversation and engagement.
Twitter advertising, however, will let you customise better, using profile information like location, hashed emails of existing customers (as in Facebook custom audiences) or subscribers (provided they haven’t ticked ‘do not track’ on their Twitter profile).
LinkedIn: The best channel for b2b in New Zealand, LinkedIn offers ‘Direct sponsored content’ opportunities. Like the other social media platforms, LinkedIn lets you filter your target audience by, for example, job title, geographic location and company size.
3. Third party endorsement using public relations
Earning media through public relations remains a viable tactic for attracting traffic, provided you have a sales conversion funnel in place so that the traffic is not wasted.
Begin with a newsworthy press release that highlights a current problem and offers four or five tips on how to overcome that problem — note; it goes without saying that the solution should not be ‘buy our stuff’.
For example, we recently wrote a press release for LoanPlan, pointing out that the banks are now taking into account spending habits when evaluating approval for a mortgage. As a result, people who can afford a mortgage but whose kids are at private schools, were declined. The article made it to Newstalk ZB, the front page of the New Zealand Herald and the Stuff website.
Email the press release to relevant media, or call a journalist/editor and pitch your article. Make sure it is newsworthy, problem-orientated and local to the audience.
The reality for b2b marketers, however, is that good business media are thin on the ground in New Zealand. Possibly because so few journalists have been in business themselves, and therefore have a limited understanding of business – one based more on perception than reality?
4. Utilise Google Adwords
Don’t limit yourself to thinking that Adwords have to be about ‘offers, discounts and sales pitches’ – that’s old fashioned marketing. You could as easily offer an eBook or ‘how to’ article, video or podcast.
Remarketing with content is a good idea. If somebody has already visited your site, the chances are high that they’re researching or ‘shopping around’. Offering them content that helps they make a better decision is going to be attractive.
5. Native advertising
In New Zealand, various marketing managers we spoke to had mixed results from native advertising products offered by the likes of NZME and Fairfax.
The problem is that mainstream media may insist on creating the piece themselves because they believe they do a better job, when in fact, they don’t. Many of these pieces appear to be advertorials renamed ‘native advertising’, while some emphasise ‘news’ instead of ‘education’.
For example, one native advertisement ran a headline to the effect that ‘mid-market companies are losing out on Government business’. That’s a news story, not a native advert because all that followed was something of a whinge about how mid-market companies were missing out.
A better article would be: ‘Three strategies mid-market companies use to attract Government business’. The creator could have used content from interviews with successful mid-market companies that have already won Government business.
Having worked as a journalist myself, I know these jobs are given to juniors and that most journalists hate them ‘because they’re not real news’.
6. Content Discovery Platforms
Outbrain is one content discovery platform that has a presence in New Zealand. Using a pay-per-click bid model, marketers can set up a budget on Outbrain and pay to have their content published on mainstream media sites like the New Zealand Herald and Stuff.
Far cheaper than native advertising, Outbrain may still be pricey for some – Outbrain recommends a minimum budget of $5k, although you can spend as little as you like.
My advice is to use Outbrain when you have a good ‘sales conversion funnel in place’ so that you can make the most of the money you’re spending.
7. Standard advertising platform
Using standard channels like print advertising, radio and digital channels such as YouTube to advertise your content is an advertisement that offers something of value to the audience – article, app or tool – not a sales pitch.
We know people don’t like sales pitches, but they still love to shop and value for free is always welcome.
Your ‘prospects’ may be reluctant to pay the ‘social cost’ of engaging on a sales level – particularly if they’re not ready to buy or are just becoming aware of the problem or need – but offering information, education or inspiration is a relatively low threat and should increase your response rate.
Again have a good sales funnel in place.
There you have seven primary channels to maximise your audience reach. The new audience phase is most likely to be your most expensive – Harvard Business Review (HBR) tells us that 95 per cent of marketing budgets are usually concentrated in the top of the funnel, but it’s all wasted if there is no funnel in place to capture and convert traffic.
Ninety-five per cent, however, is far too much expense and effort for just one part of the funnel and shows that the other parts of the conversion process – consideration, purchase, evaluation, advocacy, etc. – are too often ignored.
In the final wash-up, there’s not much we can do about small audiences, but we can be smarter about maximising our reach (e.g. email profiling) and increasing the conversion rates we achieve from the traffic that we do generate.