Why Your Retail Business Is Failing Without Content Marketing

Content MarketingContent marketing isn’t just publishing a few blog posts a week. It’s about more than just being a company-it’s about being a brand that believes in something.

Without a content marketing strategy that embodies the vision of your company and brand, your business will lose loyal customers and advocates. If your retail business is failing to build a stickiness with your customer base, here’s why and how to fix it.

INSPIRE CUSTOMERS, DON’T TREAT THEM LIKE TRANSACTIONS

The ideal customer is one that connects with your brand, and unless you have a steady stream of messaging that speaks to your customers to reinforce why you’re the go-to for the products you sell, they’ll forget. Instead of focusing solely on sales and discounts, inspire your customers with a message that resonates with them.

Fashion retailers, for example, can put together lookbooks for what style fits “you” best. Nordstrom advertises its lookbooks to several customers based on their web behavior and purchase history:

DON’T BE JUST A VENDOR

Not adding value beyond the products you sell doesn’t differentiate you from competition. Customer loyalty is built beyond being a vendor. Show your customers that you understand their needs and why they find your products valuable.

REI launched an extremely successful content marketing campaign this year when the company told shoppers REI stores would be closed on Black Friday, urging customers to spend the day outside and share their experiences using the hashtag #optoutside on social:

This campaign shows customers that REI understands them and their use of REI’s products. The company sells outdoor gear, so why not build a campaign around that and encourage customers to spend the day doing what they love – with the products they’ve purchased from REI. The added bonus beyond great press and encouraging customer loyalty? #optoutside being shared across several social platforms.

LACK OF BRAND AWARENESS

Brand awareness is always on the radar for marketing departments, but without incorporating content marketing into your digital strategy your company is missing out on massive opportunity. Brand awareness is more than pushing your name out to new audiences, it’s about showing your audience that your company is more than a store – it’s people running a business.

Content marketing helps gives brands a personality and connect customers with the people working inside of the company. Connect with your customers outside of being a brand that sells clothing they like; be a brand that believes in something. That type of messaging encourages social sharing, new followers, and a new way of reaching customers that puts you way ahead of competition.

 

Why You are Not Better Than Your Competitors

Your CompetitorsBefore I start, I just want to let you know that this article is my own personal view about this particular question.

It’s a common sight: marketing materials that tell you how much better one company is than another.

Is it right to do that?

No.

In my mind, your marketing should always be about your customers.

That means no grand statements about how great you are, how big your premises are or how you’re the ‘best in your field’ (unless you have some concrete evidence to back up such a claim).

Everything you write must be about your customers, how you can benefit them and how their lives will be so much better if they buy from you.

I’m better than you

It’s very tempting to write something that tells your customers how crap your competition are in comparison to you.

You could shout from the rooftops about how you’re cheaper (although they could lower their prices and blow that argument out of the water), that you give better customer service than they do etc., etc.

But is that really the right way to be going?

Is that the best way to sell yourself to potential new customers?

Are you hiding something?

To my mind, when I see a company taking this path within their marketing I immediately think they’re hiding something.

If they’re so much better than their competitors, why do they need to slag them off like that?

Surely, your marketing will have more effect if it concentrates on how you can benefit your customers rather than telling them how bad your competition are?

After all, if the only angle you come up with is to denigrate your opposition what does that tell people about you?

· That you don’t have enough confidence in your own company?

· That you don’t really have anything to shout about?

Does it portray you as the type of company they’d want to do business with?

My advice to clients has always been to never, ever slag off a competitor in their marketing and to always concentrate on the benefits of their own products or services.

But the big boys are at it

That is my view and I’m going to stand by it, but I was amazed to see two ads in the ‘I’ newspaper a few days ago.

Both ads were from 3 (the mobile network) and fly in the face of everything I believe in. Rather than telling the reader about a particular benefit you get from being on their network, they opted to highlight the charging policies of EE and O2.

So what does this mean? Is it OK to shout about the shortcomings of your competition to highlight how great you are?

To my mind, this is still a lazy way of marketing yourself. It doesn’t show any imagination, or belief in 3’s own service – surely, if their solutions are that amazing they should be able to advertise them in a way that makes them stand out rather than relying on a cheap tactic like this?

What are your thoughts?

OK, I’ve had my say, now it’s your turn.

What are your thoughts about this type of marketing?

Do you think it’s acceptable to slag off your competition to highlight the benefits of your service or products?

 

Spending Your Advertising Budget Wisely

Advertising Budget WiselyA recent report by admanGo focuses on some recent Hong Kong advertising spending figures. Confirming everyone’s suspicions, the total ad spend in the city in January and February of this year was HK$6.01 billion – representing a 13 percent drop compared to the same period last year, and the first double-digit decrease since 2000.

Magazine advertising was particularly hard hit, falling by 28 percent, while Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), one of Hong Kong’s major TV channels, recorded a 9 percent drop in its ad revenue.

The main reason cited for this drop is the continuing decrease in retail sales due to fewer visitors arriving from the mainland, and that is true to an extent – we have all taken a hit from that. However, the reality is that traditional media advertising has been becoming less popular for years.

The good news is that this doesn’t mean your advertising spend has to be less effective – far from it. By choosing the proper channels and targeting the right audiences, you can still ensure that your advertising budget delivers excellent value for money.

Digital brings targeted results and better returns
In Hong Kong, today’s typical consumer takes in brand information through a range of different channels. With digital becoming increasingly more dominant, particularly mobile channels, brands that apply multi-channel, multi-platform advertising are experiencing outstanding results. They are deepening engagement and increasing their interaction with their target audiences, and doing so at a reduced cost.

For years, experts have been saying that digital platforms are the future. That future has now arrived. With the incredible power and portability of today’s technology, digital advertising – especially mobile and social media ads – can send finely-tuned messages to highly-specific audiences at a very reasonable cost.

Digital can activate engagements across different touchpoints in both the digital and physical worlds, and soft selling via games, social media, or app-based promotions is helping to boost two-way communication and making messaging more personal. All this is driving customer behaviour and taking advertising in bold new directions.

Apps, with their relatively low cost and potentially huge reach, are becoming the preferred method of mobile engagement for companies. Apps using augmented reality can provide useful services like directions to preferred restaurants and instantaneous translation, or they can bring embedded digital content in static ads to life via QR codes. The best part is that when done well, these apps do not even seem like advertising.

Real-time location-based mobile ads are now becoming mainstream, allowing audiences who opt in to receive product news, deals, and discounts that are targeted specifically to them when they are nearby a particular store or branch. By filtering promotions based on location, demographics, and other available user information, this method of advertising allows companies to create highly specific promotions for precise audience segments at comparatively low cost.

Social media also provides ‘low cost, high reach’ exposure. Success stories of posts and videos ‘going viral’ on Facebook abound, while today some campaigns are run exclusively on Twitter and Instagram. Take the “1600 Pandas World Tour in Hong Kong: Creativity Meets Conservation” event as an example. The campaign brought 1,600 irresistible papier-mâché pandas to Hong Kong to raise awareness of the importance of panda conservation work.

Before the exhibition began, these small but loveable pandas began appearing at various landmarks like Victoria Park, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, and on trams, with citizens and celebrities alike taking photos and selfies with the pandas and sharing them on Facebook. The campaign generated many shares and likes, creating a lot of excitement and awareness for comparatively little investment.

Aside from these new methods of ad delivery, we are also seeing incredible advances on the measurement side as well. Big data technology is allowing us to measure the effectiveness of ads in ways that were impossible even a few years ago.

Thanks to the proliferation of addressable media, including targeted online ads and traceable social media activity, we can now measure the return on investment of discrete digital marketing channels. We can also get a full picture of the effectiveness of a digital marketing campaign in real time, allowing for timely adjustments to an on-going campaign and recalibration for future campaigns.

Consistency is paramount
This is a pivotal development. Traditional media advertising delivered a one-way message. Today, social media ads are fully two-way – engaging with customers on a small-scale level, sometimes even one-to-one. The aim of traditional advertising campaigns was usually quite linear, designed to convert targets into customers and get them to purchase products.

Today, a campaign can have multiple aims, moving from online to offline and back again. Ads can be designed to drive traffic to a website, or attract people into physical or digital stores, or simply to get them to ‘like’ a particular social media page.

In this fast-moving and complex digital environment, it is vital that the brand promise and any associated messaging is clear, consistent, and rock solid. With ads running on multiple platforms and channels, every element, platform, and channel must be aligned with a single brand promise, and all messaging must be working in the service of that promise.

To spend your advertising budget sensibly, you must frequently review your strategy and make sure that it is relevant. Despite the downturn in the retail market, companies that embrace digital and follow a holistic, integrated strategy will continue to be successful and enjoy handsome returns on their advertising spend.

 

Grow Your Email List With These Quick Tips

Grow Your Email List With These Quick TipsYou started an email newsletter. Congrats! Now you need people to send it to, right? To grow your subscriber list you’ll have to encourage sign-ups in all aspects of your branding, marketing, social, and content.

HERE ARE A FEW WAYS TO ATTRACT NEW SUBSCRIBERS.

This may be the most obvious one but the first thing you should do is add a sign-up box to your site and/or blog. How can people sign-up for your newsletter if they don’t know you have one? Also make sure you highlight your opt-in form across your site. You may want to consider having a pop-up for new visitors to encourage sign-ups instead of hiding a little sign-up box in the corner.

Make sure to promote your newsletter across your blogs and social channels. Add a subscribe call to action on blog posts at the end of each blog post, in your YouTube videos, or any other piece of content. Be sure to include share buttons in all of your emails. You can even encourage your existing list to share with their networks by adding social sharing buttons and a “share with a friend” button. Include a Subscribe link at the bottom of your emails so if someone has an email forwarded to them it’s easy for them to subscribe.

Also, let your potential subscribers know what they’re signing up for. Will they get weekly emails from you of your latest posts and what you’re working on? Do you need to alert subscribers of sales, new products, or invites to exclusive events? Consider giving a sneak peek or samples of what they’ll get. Offer a sample newsletter or a screenshot of a typical email you send to subscribers so they can see if your emails will be relevant to them. You may want to consider giving your audience options by creating different sign-up types. This may include the type of email such as Daily Deals, Sales, Events, type of product and also how frequently they’d like to receive them.

Another way to grow your subscribers is to host a special promotion or giveaway that requires their email address to be entered. This should be something they can’t get anywhere else. A first look at your new eBook or new online course? Send that email. Exclusive discounts, behind-the-scenes content, or a giveaway all work too. You should only ask for must-have information. If your sign-up form asks for a lot of information, cut it down to only what is essential.

Most importantly, include your anti-spam policy. Let your subscribers know you’ll only send them relevant content they’ve opted in to receive and assure them you will never sell or share their personal data.