10 important anniversaries in 2019 [Infographic]

How to get people’s data – with their permission

Effective digital marketing strategies depend on customer information. The more you know about your target audience, the better you can personalise your communications. This goes for the content of your message as well as how and when you deliver it. Of course, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in full effect, getting hold of data is not quite as easy as it once was.

The regulations forbid the unauthorised use of any EU citizen’s data – and penalties for non-compliance are strict. This means you have to earn permission to use your customers and prospects’ personal information in order to market your products and services to them. It’s a potentially challenging process that requires convincing people to volunteer their details. Fortunately, there are some successful ways to earn this sort of marketing currency – here are our top five.

 

Quid pro quo

Consumers are inundated with advertising and marketing information daily. The volume of irrelevant stuff that litters their inboxes and screens is making people increasingly wary of signing over their details for nothing worthwhile in return. If you want a prospect to share their information with you, then you need to give them something of value.

Relevant content is a valuable commodity in this transaction. By identifying your target audience’s most pressing needs, you can create insightful resources such as eBooks, whitepapers and special deals that provide solutions. Be clear about your offer, tell people exactly what benefits they will get and make your calls to action convincing. When people feel they are engaged in a fair exchange, they are much more willing to engage.

 

Don’t be greedy

We live in a world that seems to favour quantity over quality – and it’s easy for marketers to get caught up in this trap when in pursuit of data. The more data you have does not immediately translate into good data. In fact, gleaning irrelevant information from people can make it harder to focus your communications. Unless you’re Twinings, it’s unlikely you need to know how many cups of tea someone has every day.

Increasingly sophisticated consumers do understand the importance of data tracking, and many are willing to hand over their information – as long as it leads to a tailored shopping experience and more personalised content. However, if at any time they start to feel used and that they’ve given too much away for nothing; they will unsubscribe and move on.

 

Ask nicely

The best way to build a quality database is to go about it the hard way and entice prospects using tried and tested methods like these:

  • Add ‘Contact us’ forms on your website
  • Encourage visitors to sign up for your newsletter
  • Offer a resource like an eBook or whitepaper in exchange for details
  • Get people to enter a competition
  • Offer the opportunity to attend an event or sign up for a special deal
  • Give prospects exclusive access to ‘members only’ content
  • Ask visitors to fill out a satisfaction survey

 

Be trustworthy

Nowadays marketers are up against many consumer concerns such as privacy, security and abuse of personal information. To overcome these challenges, you need to earn your consumers and prospects’ trust. While the GDPR provides overarching protection, make it clear that your company abides closely by these regulations and respects its customers’ data.

When it comes to payment processes, highlight your verifications with logos such as ‘Verified by Visa’. You are trying to build a mutually beneficially and long-lasting relationship so make it clear that your business is trustworthy, reputable and operates in line with the law.

 

Put yourself out there too

It’s only fair that if you’re asking prospects to hand over personal information that you share details in return. At the very least, you should list your contact details so that people can put a face to the company name – and get in touch with a human if and when they need to.https://toplinecomms.com/contact

If you’d like a top-notch inbound marketing agency to help you persuade people to give you their data, then please get in touch.

Selling to HR professionals?

HR professionals can be highly elusive and knowing how to get (and retain) their attention is important.

To find out how to do just that, we surveyed over 250 UK-based HR professionals across several different industries: particularly those who choose where the departmental budget goes – and who it goes to. Our findings shed light on the ways they learn about new products, their busiest (and least busy) periods, and ultimately, the thinking that drives their buying decisions.

You can download our report – Marketing and Selling to the HR Community – for free to find out who influences this demographic, how they buy new services, which media they prefer and which professional bodies they follow.

As a B2B PR agency we know the HR community well – we’ve helped recruiters, software vendors, consultants and fintech companies get their products and services in front of HR decision makers. Get in touch if you need help with your strategy.

Who influences the HR community?

We asked over 250 UK-based HR professionals across several different industries to tell us about their professional associations.

It turns out that a large minority (43%) are members of the CIPD, with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the HR Society also well represented at 37% and 35%.

And the same organisations emerged when we asked our whole sample which organisations were most respected or followed.

“So what?” you might be asking. Well, if influencer marketing is on your agenda, and the HR community is on your hitlist, then consider this the start of your influencer list.

And if you need a little more help building out your strategy for reaching the HR community, then download our report on selling to the HR community, or look into our B2B PR agency services.

Why Blogging is Important for Your Business

A case study showing how blogging actually generates leads

Blogging is a crucial tactic in your marketing plan. When it’s done right it can attract leads to your website, improve your Google rankings, keep customers engaged, help you stand out from your competitors and drum up interest in your products or services. What’s more (just in case you’re still raising a sceptical eyebrow), good blog posts keep generating traffic long after they’ve been published.

However, there are many sceptics out there who believe that blogging is simply a waste time: lots of hard work for little reward. The truth is, it often is. Most companies publish terrible blogs that don’t do anything for them – except tick a box. In this sort of environment, blogging becomes an irritation rather than a legitimate business marketing tool.

If we can do it, so can you

TopLine is an inbound marketing agency that understands the power of ‘show and tell’. In other words, let us show you how blogging has bumped up traffic for our business. And then we’ll say a bit more about how we did it.

Looking at our own Google Analytics, our blog has attracted 45,863 visitors over the last 24 months. In terms of lead generation, 371 of those visitors who landed on our blog, ended up visiting our key services pages. This resulted in 325 new leads and 13 new customers in the last two years.

Our blog has enhanced our online presence. This means that we now attract around 2,000 organic visits to our website every month.

We don’t just use our blog for external engagement. Our employees and industry peers are important audiences too and we use our blog to keep them updated on our goings on. We’ve attracted good speaking opportunities and great staff thanks to this approach.

Ok, so I know why blogging is important – but how do you get it right?

This is where we start talking about content with a purpose. No bland blah-blah-blah that waxes lyrical about various products or services. Nor do we just write blogs about random stuff that takes our fancy. Every blog we write has a purpose – be that an internal or external purpose, and needs to deliver a message that is in line with our business objectives. Here are three examples of what we mean.

In this blog we discuss the importance of YouTube marketing and offer readers some smart tips for doing it right. We’ve basically created a useful business resource while simultaneously showcasing our very own YouTube expertise.

Video production is something we take very seriously and do very well. However, there are cheaper production houses out there and we sometimes get asked why we charge more. So, we decided to write a blog that explained why good videos aren’t cheap (and vice versa), and reinforced our top-notch show-reel.

Cryptocurrency is taking the world by storm and we are doing a lot of work in this sector. All our new knowledge and experience is valuable marketing content. We put together an educational blog that provides some simple yet interesting information to help readers understand this complex topic a bit more. And it positions us as experts which is great.

As the above examples show, purposeful content offers solutions. But to do that, you first need to know who your target audience is and what problems they face. Here are six steps to help you blog better and generate more leads.

  1. Create buyer personas

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on actual data and a little speculative information. Draw on your target audience’s buying patterns, challenges, goals and motivations to bring these personas to life. The better you know them and what moves them, the more able you are to reach them.

By creating buyer personas, you are essentially putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and walking the buyer journey with them. This makes the sales process much easier. Prospects do a lot of online research and reading before choosing a specific product or service. You want your company’s blog posts to provide the answers and solutions they’re looking for. That way, when prospects do get in touch with a salesperson, they’re already very informed and ready to buy.

  1. Plan your blog content

Once you’ve identified who you are writing for, you need to source topics and subjects that will grab their attention. It’s critical to remember that your blogs are not standalone pieces; they need to fit in with your overall marketing strategy and be on-message. What your blogs look like is just as important as how they read. Make sure you develop a template that is in line with your company’s look and feel and meets your branding guidelines. Also consider looking at your Google Analytics when planning content. Analyse the demographic and interests data you collect on your converting, high-value website users – after all you’ll probably want to attract a similar audience in future so produce content they’re interested in. More on that here.

  1. Write well

What constitutes a well-written blog? Well, it needs to be interesting and engaging, an altogether memorable read that inspires further action. Before you start writing, have a clear purpose in mind. What do you want this blog to communicate and how do you want you reader to react? Be conversational and personable. Avoid hard-selling (remember blog content typically serves the top of the sales funnel) and keep your reader – and their needs – front of mind. This will help guide your words and deliver an effective and shareable blog.

  1. Optimise your blogs

Every blog you write and post is a new indexed page of your website. Optimise your blogs with relevant search terms and key phrases that are in line with your content marketing strategy. Search engine optimisation is crucial to boosting your site’s online presence and pushing you up the search engine results page. Also, don’t forget to use them to promote the other content you create. Ideally content that will move the reader slightly further down the sales funnel – a relevant ebook for example or ROI calculator relevant to the blog topic.

  1. Distribute strategically

A great piece of writing is great – but now what? You need to push your content out on relevant platforms. If your target audience is not reading your blogs, then double check that you are posting content in the right places online. An unread blog, or a blog that doesn’t generate any response, is a waste of time – no matter how well-written it is.

  1. Track the results

The only way you can determine how effective your blogs are, is by tracking audience engagement. Measure the number of views, shares and likes each blog post gets, and, critically, whether they generate leads. This way you’ll see which topics are popular, which platforms are responsive and how prospects and customers are engaging with the content. If you’re not hitting your desired targets and KPIs, identify what’s not working and focus on what is.

Planning, writing, designing, optimising and promoting a good blog involves a lot of individual skills. It’s not really something you can task the marketing intern with. It’s a team effort that when done well, can deliver incredible lead-gen results for your business.

The TopLine team knows why blogging is important. If you’d like some help boosting traffic and converting leads with great content, then get in touch!