How to Tailor Your Content Marketing to the Sales Funnel

From a content marketer’s perspective, it would be great if the typical sales funnel looked something like this:

A web user searches for tips on networking for creatives.

The user finds a blog post called “How to Master Networking as a Creative Professional” and clicks on it.

The user is awe-inspired by the tips in the article and checks the author’s bio. They see that the author is promoting a networking book she wrote, and they immediately drop $30 on a copy.

There may be some situations where the conversion process is this quick (especially for smaller purchases), but in most cases, movement through the funnel is slower. Content marketing is a long game that depends on building trust with your audience over time. To build that trust, you must be consistently useful to your audience. And to be useful, you must tailor your content marketing to the sales funnel.

For our purposes, we’re going to define the content marketing funnel as having three sections:

  • Awareness (Top-of-Funnel Content)
  • Consideration (Middle-of-Funnel Content)
  • Decision (Bottom-of-Funnel Content)

There are no strict rules about what types of content to produce for each section of the funnel. However, we do have recommendations for content types that are well-suited to each stage.

Awareness Stage Content

Your top-of-funnel content should be tailored to potential buyers who have little or no familiarity with your brand and products. At this stage, the shopper is:

  • Looking for an answer to a question
  • Trying to figure out how to solve a problem
  • Looking for a tool or resource to meet a need

Your content needs to provide the solution the web user is looking for, in an easy-to-digest format. Content types that work well at the Awareness stage include:

Blog Posts

Quora inspiration for top of funnel content

When planning blog topics, think about the problems your customers are typically trying to solve with your product or service. If you’re stuck, the question database Quora can be a good place to start. Search for key terms related to your business to find out what real people have been asking.

Once you’ve decided on a question, give a concise answer in the first paragraph of your blog post, and then use the rest of the post to elaborate. This format can increase your chances of landing in a Featured Snippet (i.e., the content box that appears at the top of many Google search results pages.

Webinars

Webinars provide an opportunity to educate and start engaging with your audience. As with blog posts, your top-of-funnel webinar content should focus on solving a problem for your potential customers rather than promoting your products or services. You may also want to build in a Q&A component where webinar viewers Tweet or message you questions to answer at the end of the webinar. This allows you to interact with your audience directly and get ideas for even more Awareness stage content.

Bite-Sized Downloads

Single-page guides, checklists, or tip sheets are great resources to attract potential buyers at the top of the content marketing funnel. They can also be powerful lead generation tools: simply make them downloadable and ask readers to enter their email to get the PDF file. We tested this at Leverage and found that we get a steady stream of leads from a downloadable list of 40 questions to ask before hiring a digital marketing agency.

Video Tutorials

video rounded corner cutout with trees and mountainVideo tutorials appeal to visual learners and can be a useful tool to walk your audience through a process that’s difficult to describe in words. Videos are also highly shareable on social media, making them a key content type for the Awareness stage.

If your company produces video tutorials for your website, you should also upload them to YouTube. YouTube is the second largest search engine and has 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users, so it can be a powerful platform for growing brand awareness.

Consideration Stage Content

Your middle-of-funnel content is for potential buyers who are starting to search for the best solution to their problem. They may already be actively comparison shopping. This is the point in the content marketing funnel when you need to convince them that you can deliver something your competitors can’t. You can do this with content types such as:

Case Studies

Case studies provide cold, hard proof that your product or service has helped real people. You should incorporate data, but your focus should be on telling a story. Each case study should reveal the problem your customer or client was facing and how your product or service helped them.

Downloadable Long-Form Content

Have you come up with a topic that’s too in-depth for a single blog post? Turn it into a whitepaper or eBook that site visitors can download when they enter their email. Focus on providing information that your audience can’t easily find elsewhere online (after all, there must be an incentive for them to share their contact info). If possible, include original research.

Product Demo Videos

Shoppers typically want to see how a product works before they buy it, especially if it’s a type of product they haven’t used before.  Product demo videos give you a chance to show your product—and your brand voice—in action. One great example of a successful product demo is Blendtec’s long-running Will It Blend? series, which has given the Total Blender a chance to pulverize everything from iPhones to glow sticks.

FAQ Page

It may not be the most glamorous piece of content on your website, but the FAQ page serves an important role. It gives you a space to publicly answer some of the questions that customers commonly ask you when they contact you. Your FAQ page can also address objections or concerns that potential buyers may have. Use your FAQs to reduce friction so that buyers can move to the decision phase of the sales funnel.

Decision Stage Content

Bottom-of-funnel content is intended to sell buyers on your product or service. At this point, the buyer has done their initial research, become familiar with your brand, and compared you to your competitors. Now you can encourage them to convert with content types like:

Comparison Charts

example of bottom of funnel content

Comparison chart example from Permaflow Gutter Protection

Make it easy for buyers to see how your product or service packages compare—or how your products stack up against competitors’. A comparison chart or table lets buyers review the pros and cons of each option without toggling between multiple pages.

Customer Testimonials

85% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Let your current customers become your salespeople by featuring reviews or testimonials on your site. If you’re a smaller B2B company, you may want to reach out to clients directly to see if you can feature them on your site. If you’re a bigger company, use social media and email surveys to encourage your customers to share their thoughts.

Email Drip Campaigns

Email series are ideal for people who have engaged with your company (think: added items to their shopping cart or downloaded an eBook) without completing a purchase. Run an email campaign with an offer your potential buyers can’t resist, like a free trial of your software or a discount on their first order.


Producing content for every stage of the content marketing sales funnel can help you nurture leads and increase conversions, but it also requires a lot of work. If you need help creating content for the entire buyer’s journey, contact Leverage Marketing. Our content marketing team is ready to help you meet your business goals.

3 Ways To Use Emotional Marketing To Reach People

While you might not immediately think of emotions when you think of marketing to your customers, they are an integral part of relating to your clientele and establishing a genuine brand connection. According to Shayna Smilovitz from Instapage, “Emotional branding then is creating an emotional connection to one company that separates it from the rest, creating brand loyalty over time.” By playing on different kinds of emotions, you can humanize your brand and show customers how your products and services solve their essential problems.

You can establish genuine trust with customers by making them feel like they’re an important part of your brand and creating content that gives your readers something to discuss. Fifty percent of every buying decision is driven by emotion, so creating effective emotional advertising is the most effective means of gaining and retaining customers.

But how do you craft this emotional connection effectively? Do you use branding, ads, or stories to facilitate the relationship? We’ll explain how to use storytelling to engage with your audience, review several different approaches to emotional marketing, and show how utilizing this strategy can benefit you in the long run.

Using Storytelling to Connect with Customers

storytelling advertising

Ultimately, whether you’re writing the great American novel or crafting retail content, you’re trying to tell a compelling story. Emotional advertising is about developing a story that speaks to your audience by entertaining them. Even if you’re just writing a “how-to” guide or a recipe, you can make it fun and exciting, adding storytelling elements into it. Customers respond more readily when you use emotional marketing that appeals to the senses directly.

When writing or creating emotional ads, you’ll need to consider your audience. What are their wants and needs? Understanding their desires and aspirations will help you create relatable content.

When telling your story, it’s essential to use the tone of your audience. Write in the vernacular that your target customer is familiar with, with authentic words and powerful verbiage, to craft copy that directly speaks to your customers.

Different Approaches to Emotional Marketing

An excellent emotional branding campaign successfully transforms a casual customer into a brand advocate. According to the Disney Institute, emotionally engaged customers are:

  • At least three times more likely to recommend your product
  • Three times more likely to re-purchase
  • Less likely to shop around
  • Much less price sensitive

These statistics show why it’s integral to create a campaign that stimulates your customers’ emotions.

There’s more than one way to make an emotional connection with your customers. Hubspot has identified six core emotions that encourage sharing, engagement, and purchase including happiness, sadness, fright, surprise, anger, and disgust. By playing on these feelings, you can create personalized advertising suited to your customers’ needs. Emotional advertising is about understanding how to utilize these core emotions, evoke a response in your readers, and have that lead to action. That act can be a purchase, sharing, or engagement, depending on your goals.

Your Customers’ Deeper Desires

emotional advertising

Emotional marketing can also tap into certain desires of your customers, utilizing deeper feelings than the core six emotions. Developing an ad or campaign that utilizes these approaches (detailed in Entrepreneur), can be more powerful and lasting. They include:

  • Inspiration: Creates pride, like a human interest story
  • Aspirational: Taps into audience’s dreams, like a lofty goal, lifestyle, or experience
  • Expressing love: Reaches into personal and raw emotions
  • Milestone Connection: Celebrates a brand anniversary or important life events
  • Local angle: Connects to people’s passion and pride for where they live

This way of approaching emotional marketing helps create meaningful connections with your customers in a way that feels reliable and honest. If you don’t manage this authenticity, your advertising can fall flat and damage your relationship with customers. It’s essential to determine which strategy will work best for your business. The key to emotional advertising is understanding your audience and telling an authentic, believable story that will stick with them.


Are you interested in developing an emotional advertising strategy? The Leverage Marketing team specializes in creating campaigns that build lasting relationships between brands and their customers. Contact us today to learn what we can do for your company.

 

6 Online Branding Strategies Your New Business Can Use Now

When you’ve been busy getting your business off the ground, marketing may not be your biggest priority. However, it’s never too early to start branding your business, and the sooner you adopt online branding strategies, the better.

Branding your business online will help you connect with your potential customers in the digital spaces where they spend time. A good branding strategy should give your audience a strong sense of what your company is all about and why they should choose you over a similar competitor. A well-developed brand will stick with consumers. Even if they’re not ready to buy from you right now, they’ll remember you when they need your products or services.

Let’s look at some of the online branding strategies you can start implementing now, even if your budget and resources are limited.

Expand Your About Us Page

Take a look at the About Us page on your website. Does it read like a laundry list of basic facts (e.g., founder’s name, year launched, location)? Is it a short paragraph that you told yourself would serve as a placeholder until you came up with something better? If so, it’s time to invest more energy in the content on this page.

The About page is your chance to introduce customers to your brand and show them what you stand for. This page needs to answer the questions:

Why does this business exist?

What does this business do better than anybody else?

Not everyone who lands on your site will visit your About page, but those who do will gain a better sense of what drives and defines your brand. And the act of developing content for your About page will help you and your team come up with the language that best describes your business, which you’ll continue to use in both offline and online branding strategies.

Document Your Buyer Personas

buyer persona icons for online branding strategiesBefore you can get rolling with your website branding strategies, you need to understand who you’re trying to reach. 74 percent of online consumers say they get frustrated when a website’s content is irrelevant to them, so it’s important to tailor your brand content to the right buyers.

You may already have an idea about the kind of person who will love your product or service, but do you have documented buyer personas? A buyer persona is a representation of your target audience based on market research and historical data. If you’re a new business, you may not have a lot of customer data to base your personas on. That’s okay: you can start with broad personas and add details as you learn more about your audience. For example, a company that sells beard grooming products might identify two primary audiences:

  1. Men with beards
  2. Women buying gifts for their bearded partners

As their business takes off, the beard care company can begin collecting demographic information from sources like Google Analytics, customer surveys, and interviews.

Once you learn more about (and document) your target buyers’ interests, pain points, and buying process, you’ll be better prepared to connect with them through your brand messaging.

Create a Brand Style Guide

No matter what branding strategies you use in your online marketing, your brand voice and visual style need to be consistent. Consistency helps your audience quickly recognize and identify with your brand, while inconsistency can confuse your audience and cause them to see your business as unprofessional. Your new business should take the time to create a brand style guide that includes:

  • Your brand’s mission/goals
  • Your brand story (e., the reason you exist)
  • Adjectives to describe the brand, as well as adjectives to describe what the brand is not
  • A description of your audience (e., your buyer personas)
  • Notes about language to avoid
  • Your brand color palette
  • Your brand typography (e., the fonts you’ll use)
  • Approved versions of your logo and descriptions of when to use each one
  • Best practices for visual content

Is that a lot of detail? Yes, but it’s worth it. Having a brand style guide that you can share with your employees and freelancers will keep everyone aligned with your brand voice. And that kind of consistency pays off: you’re three to four times more likely to enjoy brand visibility when you consistently present your brand, leading to an average revenue increase of 23 percent.

Develop a Customer Reward Plan

customer reward conceptBranding your business online isn’t just about attracting new customers—it’s about building brand loyalty.

One great way to improve your customer retention is to reward customers for every purchase. For example, you could:

  • include a personalized thank-you note whenever you ship an online purchase
  • send customers a discount code after they buy something or subscribe to your newsletter
  • let customers earn store credit every time they make a purchase.

Adopting a reward plan will help you become known as a company that truly cares about its customers. Additionally, if your company offers a type of reward plan that none of your competitors have, you can use it as a unique selling proposition. For example, the shoe company TOMS markets the fact that they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need every time a customer makes a purchase.

Encourage and Share User-Generated Content

One of the main goals of branding is to engage with potential customers so that they’ll choose to buy from your business. And one of the beauties of online branding is that you can directly connect with your audience on the digital platforms where they’re already spending their time.

Once you start building an audience online, encourage your followers to share brand content on your website and social media. User-generated content, which can be anything from product reviews to unboxing videos, builds your brand’s authenticity and provides social proof. When potential customers see real people using and enjoying your product, their confidence in your brand will increase.

So, how do you get your online followers to create and share content with your brand? Give them an incentive. For example, you could run a photo contest with a gift card prize or pledge to donate $1 to a charity every time followers post an Instagram photo using your branded hashtag.

Build an Influencer Network

influencer network concept of online branding strategiesA discussion of online branding strategies wouldn’t be complete without mentioning influencer marketing. Influencer marketing involves working with someone who has a dedicated base of online followers so that their followers can get to know your brand. This might include writing a branded guest post on an influencer’s blog, having an influencer share a photo of your product on Instagram, or teaming up with an influencer to host a webinar, just to name a few examples.

As a new business, you might not feel like you have the clout to work with an influential blogger or social media personality, but influencer marketing campaigns can work for companies of all sizes, as long as you’re willing to invest some time and effort.

The first step you’ll need to take is to identify online influencers who closely align with your brand and your customers’ interests. You can do this manually by performing Google searches for blogs that are relevant to your industry, or you can streamline the process by using an influencer database tool like Buzzsumo or Upfluence.

Once you’ve identified influencers you’d like to partner with, you’ll need to take the time to build a professional relationship. Subscribe to the influencer’s newsletter, comment on their blog, share their content on social media, and familiarize yourself with their brand. Influencers will be much more open to working with your brand if you’ve done your research and shown an interest in their content than if you abruptly ask them for a favor.


Need help implementing any of the online branding strategies above? The Leverage Marketing team specializes in building brands through digital channels, and we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for your brand.

Unicorn Marketing and Your Business

If you work in the digital marketing industry, unicorn marketing has been an it-phrase for the last few months. Popularized by Larry Kim and his Content Marketing Moneyball webinar, a content unicorn is a key piece of content that’s been:

  • successfully shared
  • engaged with
  • ranks high on Google
  • meets important metrics like high CTR, ROI, and conversion

Unicorn content marketing is about throwing away everything you think you know about content marketing and dealing with the data. Instead of attempting to meet arbitrary quality guidelines, the theory of unicorn marketing posits that your best performing content is your quality content and that you should reuse it and repurpose it.

With a successful unicorn marketing strategy, you and your content team can take advantage of high-performing content, learn how to spot a unicorn, and think long-term about your content strategy. Utilizing unicorn marketing services can lead to viral articles that drive traffic to your site, have high click-through rates, and ultimately drive leads.

graphs

What is Unicorn Content?

Unicorn content is that blog post, webinar, video, or another piece of content everyone is talking about. It’s a piece of content that performs in the top 1-3% of your site and usually delivers most of your traffic. Unicorns are not only traffic drivers; they’re the best-performing content pieces in many ways. They usually have higher social engagement, clickthrough rates (CTR), and conversion rates than your donkeys (the rest of your content). The top 10% of your content will, on average, have a That’s why finding and cultivating your unicorns is so important.

In content marketing, we’ve tried to define quality content by many unrelated metrics: length, spelling and grammar, readability scores, expertise, and even more obtuse values. But unicorns are quality content. Quantity begets quality. You’ll find your unicorns in a hill of donkeys by producing hundreds of pieces of content and finding what works well. There aren’t boxes to check off to create quality content, and most of your blogs and videos won’t perform well. It’s all about finding your unicorn content and capitalizing on it.

What Do You Once You’ve Found a Unicorn?

Once you’ve found unicorn content, it’s time to use it. When you find high-quality, top-performing content on your site, you’ll “want to sound the unicorn alarm,” as Larry Kim says. Promote the content through your social media channels, and repurpose it into different forms, such infographics, videos, and SlideShare decks. If it’s something temporary, like a Webinar or Facebook Live video, you can always use it again for a different audience. While it’s not possible to predict what will succeed, you can reuse what does perform well in a new context to increase its chance of exploding.

One common trait found in unicorn content is the use of stories that evoke emotion. Use happiness, surprise, affirmation, and fear to craft your unicorn content marketing. With a consistent publishing strategy, careful data analysis, and valuable information for your readers, you can produce more unicorns.

unicorn marketing

What Does This Mean for My Content Strategy?

Overall, content marketing goals for your business should remain the same. Even while using a unicorn content marketing strategy, consistency is key. Keep writing, learn from your metrics, and invest in your high-performing content. Look at your data after several months and find what’s working—use your statistics. It’s not always possible to predict what will be popular, just try to create the spark that will help any piece of content succeed, whether it turns out to be a donkey or a unicorn.


Are you having trouble writing high-performing content that maximizes ROI? Leverage Marketing’s content team knows how to turn a herd of donkeys into a blessing of unicorns. Contact us today to start your journey to better content.  

Debunking Myths About Writing and Blogging for SEO

“Blogging” sometimes earns an eye roll from business owners. This is probably at least partially because a lot of business blogs have a reputation for being:

  • Woefully neglected
  • Run by a cadre of proofreading-averse interns
  • Run by someone who has read about the importance of blogging for your business, but who doesn’t know quite how to execute for maximum effect

The reason that a lot of company blogs are unloved often has something to do with the fact that businesses don’t have the time or knowledge to execute a great blog strategy, and without a great strategy, blogging doesn’t always demonstrate a lot of value. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Blogging is just as much about building your site’s SEO value as it is about engaging your customers. Blogging and SEO are a match that is meant to be, and neither is quite as good without the other involved. If you’re pursuing some SEO tactics on your site but not blogging, you’re missing a huge opportunity to expand your SEO work, and if you’re blogging without an eye to SEO, you’re not getting all the value out of your blog that you could be.

With all this confusion about how blogging and SEO are actually related, a lot of myths about blogging for SEO have begun floating around in business’s collective consciousness—hence the spread of intern-run company blogs. Don’t fall prey to these myths: get the full scoop on how blogging does actually help SEO.

Myth #1: Blogging for SEO reasons is a waste of resources – search engines don’t care about my business’s blog.

Contrary to what you may think, search engines care a lot about what you’re blogging about or if you’re not even blogging at all.

Search engines are a lot like your customers—they’re more likely to trust information from sources that look authoritative. Think about it; if you were shopping for something, would you rather buy a product from a site with no product description, or would you rather shop at the well-organized site with lots of helpful information?

Search engines would rather serve up a site that’s full of useful info for searchers. This is a simplified explanation of a concept known as “authority”, and it’s one reason why blogging is important to the long-term prosperity of your site. Blogging is a straightforward method of building up your site’s stock of useful info, which helps make your site look like an industry authority, no matter what your industry is.

Blogging also helps SEO by building up the amount of information on your site that other sites could link to. This is one of the ways that search engines determine which sites should rank highest in search results. If there are lots of different relevant and trustworthy links pointing back to your site, Google is going to see you as an authority and will grant you higher rankings in the results pages because of it.

creative blog conceptMyth #2: Blogging is only for companies with “fun” offerings – nobody’s going to read our blog, ever.

People have questions about pretty much everything, even boring stuff. I don’t get really excited about filing my taxes, but I still have questions about it that I turn to Google to answer—which a lot of big companies know, and why they spend time and money writing blog content that targets confused taxpayers like me who are looking for answers. I can almost guarantee that your product or service isn’t more boring than taxes, and even if it is, that probably just means there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding it.

This is where blogging, SEO, and content marketing all need to work together to achieve results. Even if you answer tons of relevant questions and impart lots of relevant info in your blog, your content is still going to be hard for people to find without a great SEO-focused keyword and content promotion plan. That’s a big and multi-faceted topic that doesn’t quite fit into this post, but we write a lot about this kind of stuff on our blog.  We can also just do all this hard work for you, because we know you have plenty of other things to do besides trying to learn how to write the perfect blog post for a business.

Myth #3: Blogging isn’t necessary if you’re doing other SEO stuff.

Run your business however you want, but if you focus solely on product and service pages, you’re missing the benefits of an SEO-focused blogging effort. Why? Well, like trying to scratch an itch on the middle of your back, there are just some search queries you can’t target with your top-level site content.

For example, pretend you have a website for your llama rescue ranch. Obviously, your homepage, “About Us” page, and other key pages on your site will target search queries such as “llama ranch” and “llama rescue”. But think about a long question query like “what do llamas eat”.  This search query gets 500+ searches a month, not a lot of other sites are trying really hard to rank highly for it, and it’s relevant to your industry. You can’t really target that query on your homepage without sounding awkward, but you shouldn’t just give up on those 500 searchers a month that could be learning about your ranch, either. Why not write a blog post for your business that targets this query?

Sure, maybe those searchers aren’t actually looking to visit a llama rescue ranch today—but maybe they’re really into learning about llamas, and they didn’t even know your llama rescue ranch existed until they read your blog post. That’s a future visitor you just ensnared with the power of blogging for SEO.

Myth #4: We should use every single blog post to directly promote our offerings.

Promotional blogging for SE) mythThis is a myth best busted by putting yourself into a non-digital scenario. Say you want to buy a car but have very little idea what you’re looking for, which model or features you want, or even what your budget is. You’re just kind of scoping out the market—you’re not even sure you’re going to get a new car. Then you head to a used car dealership to just walk around and look at the selection of cars for a bit, and the salesman pops out and says, “I CAN SELL YOU THIS CAR FOR $5,000 LESS IF YOU BUY THIS CAR RIGHT NOW, NO QUESTIONS ASKED!”

That’s essentially what you’re doing to potential customers when you try to make every blog post into a big promotional sales pitch. It’s a version of a bait-and-switch technique, in that you’re working to draw in a reader who is likely just seeking information or tips, and then you try to close a sale with someone who isn’t even close to ready to buy. By doing this, you’re practically asking visitors to bounce from your site.

Let the main product or service pages on your site be the sales pitches. If you want to use your blogging for long-term SEO impact, spend your time more wisely by giving readers answers and information and a call to action that will either keep them on your site, or will stick your brand name in their mind or in their browser’s bookmarks bar. That way, when they’re actually ready to buy something, they’ll know and trust your site, and they’ll come to you first.

Myth #5: Blogs don’t ever convert readers into customers.

There’s a nugget of truth to this SEO blogging myth: blogs aren’t good at converting customers right on the spot. If you are expecting your blog to immediately turn casual readers into paying customers, you are going to be disappointed, no matter how good your call to action is.

Most people aren’t going to enter your site for the first time through a blog post and slide right into the checkout process or lead form fill, and it’s a little unfair to expect them to. Think about it – how many times have YOU done that? We’re willing to bet it’s not many.

We get it: you want to pursue marketing activities that deliver immediate ROI and boost results sooner rather than later. But blogging for SEO benefit is a long game—and there are a LOT of perks to running a long game. While a reader may not make a purchase or submit your full form after reading one blog post, think about what DOES happen when someone hops onto your site for the first time via a blog post.

  1. They see your brand name.
  2. They get a sense of what your site offers, and associate your brand name with that offering.
  3. They may feel some level of affinity for your brand for answering their question, providing them with information, or offering a solution to their problem.
  4. They could sign up for your newsletter, download your eBook, or perform another action that allows you to keep their contact information and convert them down the line.
  5. They could share the post with other people, extending your reach and repeating the cycle.

Advertising agencies are literally paid thousands of dollars just to get companies’ brand names in the consumer’s mind. A good SEO-driven blogging strategy accomplishes this, and you don’t have to pay for an ad on a billboard or stick your logo on the rear end of a bus. Sure, following a bunch of SEO blogging tips and strategies is going to take some of your time and resources, but the reason why blogging is important for your business is because it is a sustainable method of building your site’s authority and bringing in first-time visitors. Show me a bus sticker that does that.


Still not convinced blogging for SEO is worth your time? We get that you don’t want to put money into something that doesn’t give back. That’s why our team has become experts at squeezing every drop of SEO value out of your blog. Get in touch with the Leverage Marketing team today and let us do the lifting with your blog for a while.

11 Essential Influencer Marketing Facts and Statistics

Influencer marketing is a phenomenon of modern marketing that places expert consumers in the role of consultants for buyers looking to make informed purchase decisions – and the power of influencers is growing every day.

Influencer marketing is the management of exchange relationships between service and product providers and trusted consumers with authority over a target audience.

Social media, one of the main mediums for influencers to flex their marketing muscle, has a white-knuckle grip on the youth of the early 2000s. Over the past 10 years, social media has built an entire digital world in which millennials socialize, create, and consume. The majority of their interactions and decisions happen online, and now they are reaching the age at which they are making and selling products and services. The wise marketer should pay attention to the growth rate of influencer marketing and track the statistics that can help craft a successful influencer marketing strategy and campaign.

To get you started and thinking about influencer campaigns and research, we’ve dug up some surprising influencer marketing statistics:

influencer marketing facts and statistics infographic

74% of people trust social networks to guide them to purchase decisions

Three out of every four customers trust the opinions on social media, including friends, family, and influencers, to help them make the right decision about a product or service. If you’re not working with influencers, you could be losing those customers to your competition.

49% of people rely on influencer recommendations

That’s nearly half of all potential customers. Influencers build trust by creating a memorable brand and creating useful and relevant content. When consumers feel safe with influencer recommendations, they follow them and purchase those products.

In 2016, influencer marketing surpassed print marketing

According to Google Trends, the following three marketing channels deserve your attention:

  • Video marketing is still the most promising marketing channel
  • Influencer marketing is moving in on video marketing
  • Print marketing is falling behind in effectiveness

“Influencer marketing was rated as the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, beating organic search, paid search and email marketing.” – Tomoson

Customers are blocking ads

47% of customers have reported that they use ad-blocking technology when browsing. Only 14% of people can remember when they last saw an ad and what it promoted. The power is shifting to the influencers – real people with real opinions.

75% of marketers claim to have allocated money for influencer marketing

Unless you’re already actively enticing influencers to try your product or service, your competition has you beat. Marketers know that influencer marketing is a top contender for marketing channels – it’s time to hop on board with social networks and influencers.

Businesses make, on average, $6.50 for every $1.00 spent

Tomoson found data that backs a huge return-on-investment for marketers and companies who use influencer marketing. At an average of $6.50 in revenue for every single dollar spent, the risk is, at least for now, well worth the reward.

Marketers spent $25,000 – $50,000 per influencer marketing program in 2016

Linquia’s deeper research found that spending on influencers has increased, as well. Most budgets for influencer marketing fall within the $25,000 – $50,000 range, which matches the external marketing budgets of small-medium sized companies.

Instagram has 700 million users

And a majority of those users are in the 16-24 year age range. Connecting with youth through social media outlets like Instagram enables access to a wealth of consumers, most of whom are endlessly hungry for consumer goods.

40% of Twitter users made a purchase based on a tweet

At least one purchase based on a tweet at such a high percentage means influencers do, indeed, have the ability to affect the decision-making process for customers. Engagement with influencers over Twitter has the potential to drive sales for goods that have previously been unavailable.

64% of brands are on Snapchat

Plus, they are reaching 301 million active users per month. Though Snapchat requires more creative marketing than most social channels because of the nature of the application, it also yields instant influence in the hands of powerful influencers who market across channels.

67% of marketers promote content with the help of influencers

That 67% goes beyond the 75% of marketers who have just set aside a budget. 67% of marketers are actively engaging with influencers and striking deals to promote products and services using their hard-built trust.

If you haven’t started looking into influencer marketing, take the time to get familiar by logging into your social accounts and exploring the accounts of users with large followings. Observe their words, actions, and photos, then start imagining how they can use those tools to promote your or your client’s products and services.

It’s not too late to get on board and start an influencer marketing campaign. Develop a strategy that includes some of your industry’s top influencers, and show them how useful and valuable your product or service is. If you have questions, talk to the masters of marketing at Leverage Marketing, and check out our Guide to Planning Your Digital Marketing Budget eBook to make sure you’ve got room in your budget to sway those influencers today.

5 Content Marketing Lessons from Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us this week, and everyone’s heads are swimming with thoughts of turkey, stuffing, and cranberries. But beyond being a time for a holiday feast or shopping blitz, Thanksgiving provides marketers with valuable lessons. So, while you are home with family—look to our tips for what to get out of the holiday.

Let’s take some of the lessons you need to pull off a successful Thanksgiving and apply them to an effective content marketing campaign. Make sure your Turkey Day is fruitful in more ways than eating cranberries—learn how to be a better marketer.

thanksgiving marketing words

Start Your Planning Early

For Thanksgiving, it can take weeks of planning to pull off a successful meal and please everyone at the holiday table. You need to start finding recipes, buying groceries, and organizing where family members are going to stay far in advance. Without the proper precautions and planning, a well-organized Thanksgiving can turn into a screaming WWE match between grandma and your Uncle Carl–with mashed potatoes ending up on the ceiling.

On the other hand, when you successfully have your recipes planned, cook dishes in advance, and figure out how to separate contentious family members, your Thanksgiving will be peaceful and harmonious (minus an occasional political argument). This goal is achievable, but it takes hard work to get there.

Content marketing works the same way. Plan your company’s content on a monthly or quarterly basis, but leave time for the unexpected (like Aunt Myrtle bringing her five cats), and you’ll reach your goals. With a combination of detailed planning and the ability to adapt to changes on the fly, your content marketing will be more successful.

Create a Mix of (Content) Dishes

Just like the variety needed for your Thanksgiving menu, you need a mix of content to engage your audience. You can’t only serve a turkey and potatoes for Thanksgiving; you need multiple sides and a delicious dessert. So, too, with marketing: create e-books, videos, podcasts, blogs, and other content pieces that are right for your company and audience.

Remember that serving the same thing to your guests (or your audience) isn’t going to keep them coming back. Variety is the spice of life. Different content types and exciting new side dishes are what keep your buyers and family coming back to the table.

You Can’t Do It Alone

Thanksgiving is a lot of work. Between all the cooking, cleaning, and keeping the family at peace, it can be exhausting. But part of the fun of Thanksgiving is getting the whole family together, having interesting conversations, and learning about everyone’s lives. Take advantage of family and friends coming to your Turkey Day Dinner to delegate. Have other people bring sides, do the dishes, or even help you with the turkey.

Content marketing is similar in certain respects. It’s stressful to try to do everything by yourself. Source articles on specific content from colleagues in those fields and use your resources wisely. By delegating correctly, you’ll put less stress on yourself and put out better products in the long run. Working together, much like with the Pilgrims and Native Americans, results in a better outcome. Just treat your co-workers (and Thanksgiving guests) better than the colonists treated their new friends.

Be Grateful and Keep Giving

At the Thanksgiving table, it can be difficult to remember the spirit of the holiday when there’s a food fight or political argument taking place. Do your best to make everyone feel comfortable, even if it means satisfying someone you don’t agree with, or fixing up food for vegetarians or vegans. Thanksgiving is about giving to everyone, even those you wouldn’t usually tolerate.

In content marketing, it’s important to remember that you’re targeting your content to your specific audience, or your buyer personas. It’s easy to think, “me, me, me” and talk about your company solely–when you need to focus on the target audience’s concerns. They don’t want to know how amazing Cousin Gracie’s mashed potatoes are; they want to see the recipe for mashed potatoes—and eventually eat them.

Create content that your audience can use to further their goals, and you will guide them along a path to purchase your product—give them what they want, and maybe they’ll give back by buying what you sell. Just like your unappreciative relatives.

Ignore the Negative and Push Forward

thanksgiving marketing fight

Thanksgiving can be a difficult time to be around family. They can be callous, insensitive, and just plain rude. Perhaps you don’t have the job they wanted you to have. Maybe you’re single, or your relationship is taboo. Don’t sweat it. Many families love to criticize, and for some, it’s just a way of expressing love.

Their opinions matter, but you shouldn’t let their disapproval goad you into doing something you don’t want to or changing your path. No matter what actions you take, someone will dislike it.

With content marketing, you will also face negativity. You might get emails saying your articles are garbage and your product is far inferior to your competitor. There’s no way to make everyone like your brand or product. Even the biggest companies in the world have a niche—even if it’s close to 2 billion people (e.g., Facebook). Write content the same way you live your life—with authenticity. By bringing your voice and personality to your brand and content, you’ll attract a broader audience that cares deeply about what you sell.

Get Ready for Thanksgiving Marketing

Now that you have some tips on how to improve your Thanksgiving marketing strategy, it’s time to get started. Make sure you’re prepared for your family and the upcoming holiday season with more ideas from Leverage Marketing.


Leverage Marketing’s content marketing team knows how to talk turkey. We’ll work with you to develop a content strategy that you’ll be thankful for!

How to Use Visual Content in Your Marketing

In the world of digital marketing, visual content is:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Charts & Graphs

You use visual content in marketing by selecting and designing it to enhance the communication of your message – and we know how critical that message can be to the success of your enterprise.

Using visual content and imagery in marketing should be a practice in helping every possible customer or client understand what your business offers, how it can help him or her, and how he or she can get it.

concept image of logos of companies teaming up for profit Learn how to maximize the effectiveness of your imagery with our visual content marketing strategies.

Don’t Fear Images

Our brains process visual content and text in two contrasting ways. Though it may not seem like it, parsing the meaning of language is a work-heavy procedure, especially when compared to the brain power necessary to find meaning in an image.

We figure out images an impressive 600,000 times faster than we figure out text. They also evoke stronger emotional responses and elicit action more often than pure text. We tend to only read about 20% of the text on a webpage – but with the help of images, we can understand large concepts and remember them more easily than we would by reading about them.

Imagine the concept of the Leverage Marketing team giving you the gift of free marketing knowledge. We’ve wrapped it up in a blog and we’re handing it to you, here and now, obligation-free and with the hope that you’ll use it to better your business. How would you represent that concept?

Mouse-over below to see our version of the concept.

hands holding purple gift box for free marketing knowledge concept

The way to engage with images is by assigning a purpose to each image. Every photo or illustration you choose to use should be able to drive home a point and leave a lasting impression. Creating custom images is the best way to ensure that there is meaning behind each image, but if you don’t have the resources to do so, then don’t be afraid to invest the time necessary to search for and acquire only the most relevant images.

There are four common types of images we use in visual content marketing:

Standard Images

purple fruit watermelon representing standard images

These are the images you see pasted into pages and blogs to enhance the consumer experience. They can range from memes to photographs and tell a part of the story that can’t be communicated through text alone.

Icons

female testimonial icon

Icons are miniaturized, simplified versions of full-sized images. An icon is a representative or symbol of something. In much the same way that an image represents an idea from text, an icon represents an idea from an image.

Screenshots

green leverage computer with facebook screenshot

To make it easier to describe complex computer issues or processes, smart marketers use screenshots. These are still grabs from your computer screen that share with the viewer everything viewable to you on your monitor – or, with a little editing, the parts that you want the viewer to see.

Infographics

leverage infographic kit example

Infographics are the capstones of images. They combine the features and storytelling power of different types of images to create a fully-realized graphics and marketing experience. Often, they also include text to ensure that viewers have access to the complete body of information.

Tips for Using Images and Graphics in Your Visual Content Marketing Strategy

There’s more to beginning to use images than just including them in your next content piece. Try these tips to make sure your images are helping you reach your marketing goals:

  • Don’t treat images like filler content – If you start adding non-relevant images just for fun, you’ll quickly raise your page’s load time too high with content that doesn’t contribute to your message… and probably confuses your viewer.
  • Be careful of file size – 200 kilobytes should be your absolute maximum, with few exceptions, but you should aim to keep almost all of your images 100 kilobytes or below to keep load times rock-bottom.
  • Tie in image appearance – A rowdy mix of illustration styles and random photos, with and without borders, and with wildly varying color schemes and value ranges is a heavy burden on your professional credibility. Use your brand’s colors as a base for your images. Pick a category, such as photos or illustrations, along with a consistent style, such as flat design or matte painting, for reliable results.

Did you notice that most of our graphics use our brand colors? That’s how you pull your imagery together!

Start Making Videos

You can’t stop video from becoming more and more relevant. Most of what you consume on social media is now either images or video – text has taken a seat way, way behind visual media.

hit play video with leverage colored treesGeneration Z youth, born between 1995 and 2012, now spend about 10 hours a day online between all of their available devices. 70% of this demographic watch over two hours of videos on YouTube alone every day.

If you want to capture their attention (and the attention of those outside the Gen Z demographic) then you have to start making and outreaching videos now. But beware – producing video is so much more than talking into a phone camera.

Record, edit, and post videos like these to start driving website visits and page views:

  • Weekly broadcasts
  • Influencer interviews
  • Testimonials
  • Customer service videos

Think of creative ways to use the videos – we’ve suggested some unique video ideas before that you might want to check out. You can:

  • Add videos to blogs
  • Post videos on your social media channels
  • Share videos with influencers
  • Use videos to enhance service & product exploration

Make and Use a YouTube Account

Google is the most widely used search engine, and they already own YouTube. It’s a win-win to create a YouTube account to host your videos, because Google has the greatest access and integration with its own service.

If you let Google-owned YouTube host your videos, you’re much more likely to rank highly for your target keywords in organic search – and that’s a smart visual content marketing strategy. Just don’t forget to embed your YouTube videos in relevant areas on your site and social media channels.

Integrate Charts & Graphs When Possible

Build ‘em in Excel, Piktochart, Canva, or Adobe Illustrator – whatever creative program you have access to, use it to create visually appealing graphs and charts.

You can embed Google Trends graphs directly into your content.

OR you can build your own Excel charts – and they actually look all right!

shopping interest excel chart in green

Seeing an astounding statistic in text is one thing, but watching bars and lines rise and fall gives you a physical sensation of the impact of statistics, a power tool in visual content marketing. In marketing, graphs and charts drive home information as well as emotion – and can sometimes call your audience to action.

Tailor Your Visual Content Marketing Strategy Directly to Your Audience

If you’re selling to millennials, push video on social media. If you’re targeting 30-50 year old professionals, employ engaging infographics and interviews with influential industry leaders. Each demographic consumes in a different way, but they all have one thing in common:

Everyone consumes visual content.

Leverage Marketing provides visual content marketing services from strategy to execution. Connect with us today and get moving on a graphics and marketing plan to increase traffic and qualified leads!

Writing Great Content for SEO: Your Questions Answered

Let’s be honest: running a business is hard work. With all the things you’re juggling, The LAST thing you want to worry about is how Google is reading your site. That’s Google’s problem, right?

Unfortunately, throwing your offerings up on the World Wide Web and crossing your fingers isn’t going to cut it, which you probably know if you’re reading this article. You’re going to have to take some specific actions to drive traffic to your site.

Adding content to your site is one of those specific actions. But how does one even begin to create content that makes sense to search engine, sells to customers, and doesn’t ruin the user experience of your site?

Luckily, our team at Leverage Marketing has helped more than a few sites build out content that boosts search engine optimization efforts and helps businesses communicate their brand voice effectively. We’ve collected some of the common questions we are asked about SEO-optimized content so you don’t have to be in the dark.

Why Do I Need Content for SEO?

The answer is simpler than you think. Basically, search engines (like customers) need to know what you’re offering – you’re not going to rank #1 on Google if Google can’t tell what you’re selling. Thanks to this little bit of reasoning, when you search for “computer monitor”, you don’t have to weed through 20 pages of lawnmowers and blenders to find a site that sells computer monitors. Seems really obvious, right? That’s why we need words on websites – Google reads words just like you and me.

Here’s a fun fact: Google has begun to understand not only the words we type into the search bar, but the context and meaning of searches as well. In other words, Google is learning what the searcher’s intent is when they type in a query. That’s a big reason why it’s important to create great content, instead of just slapping a bunch of keywords onto a page. Google is trying to understand your site in the way your customers do, and Google, like your customers, demands high-quality content.

How Much Content Do I Need Per Page for SEO?

There’s no true one-size-fits-all answer to this question. To help search engines figure out what your site is all about, you’ve got to give them something substantial to work with. That means on all the major (and sometimes minor) pages of your site, you should consider having some decent content for Google to dig its robot claws into.

There’s a good way to figure out how long your content really needs to be. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What does the reader need to gain/learn/acknowledge from this page?
  • What questions might potential readers have when getting to this page? What if this is the first page on your site they see – is there enough info for them here?
  • What unique information can you offer on this page to give your reader a richer experience?

Once you’ve told the reader what they need to know, answered their questions before they have a chance to ask them, and offered all the information that makes the user experience on your site great, that’s probably a good stopping place.

Really try to get inside your user’s head here. You may assume that everyone knows all the basics about waffle makers, and that they don’t need to be informed of the differences between non-stick and stainless steel when they visit your product category page, but that just isn’t true for every single visitor – some people are looking for info that you should be providing. And don’t forget to tell them why they should buy from your site instead of your competitors’, or what your free shipping deal is, or how they can join your loyalty club for 15% off. There is almost always a reason and a way to add valuable content to a page – and if there isn’t, you might want to consider why that page even needs to exist.

Finally, remember that you are adding content for your users, not for search engines. Sure, adding good content will help your site’s performance, but that’s because Google and the other search engines are seeking out sites that best fit searchers’ queries. If your site ranks #1 for a keyword but your users aren’t finding what they need and are bouncing back to the search results page, you can safely bet that you won’t stay in that #1 spot for long.

What Are Some SEO Content Best Practices?

key to content for SEOWhen you’re creating content for your site, keep in mind a few things that will improve both your user’s experience and your rankings:

  • Do: Add a few keywords. What does your user type into Google when looking for this page? You’ll want that phrase in your content, too.
  • Don’t: Participate in “keyword stuffing.” If your content is unreadable because it has so many keywords stuffed into it, you’re going to provoke the ire of search engines, who correctly read this practice as spam.
  • Do: Put at least some of your content near the top of the page. You want your content to be one of the first things a search engine (or a user) reads.
  • Don’t: Put ALL of your content at the top of the page. Don’t sacrifice your user experience for SEO – make sure your users can find what they’re looking for.
  • Do: Make sure your content is readable and accessible to all users. Choose easily-readable fonts and font colors, and take advantage of features such as the alt attribute for photos, so that every user can understand your site.
  • Don’t: Stick your content in places where search engines can’t get to it. Search engines often struggle to read text within images and JavaScript.

Can I Do SEO Without Content?

Sure, knock yourself out. But just know that your results aren’t going to be anywhere near as great as they’d be by implementing a supporting on-page SEO effort.

Off-page SEO tactics, such as link building (gaining links from other reputable sites on the web), are certainly very important to growing your site’s authority, visibility, and ranking over time. However, only performing link building efforts while leaving your site sparse on content is sort of like going to a Halloween party as one member of a group costume. Sure, going to the party as a salt shaker is fine, but the costume makes a lot more sense with another person going as a pepper shaker. So yeah, you might see results from link-building alone, but if you want to really get the most out of your efforts, just tell Google what you’re selling.

What About Hidden SEO Content?

Hidden content SEO bad practiceI get it – you don’t want to mess up the aesthetic of your site with a bunch of boring words. Why can’t you just make all those words the same color as your background or stick them somewhere in your code where your users don’t see them but search engines do?

Short answer: don’t even think about it. Search engines view this kind of behavior as spammy and deceptive, so it won’t give you the long-term rankings boost you’re looking for. It will probably even earn you a big demotion that buries your site on the 25th page of Google. Fun stuff!

And really? You have no way to work in content that offers a better experience for your users in any part of the page? If your site isn’t designed to incorporate content or inform users… what’s the point?


Still stuck on how to make SEO content work for your brand and your site? The Leverage Marketing team has all the savvy to help both users and search engine bots fall in love with your site. Check out our Content Marketing offerings, or just sign up for our newsletter for a regular dose of digital marketing knowledge.

8 Things to Look for in Your Content Marketing Agency

Hiring a content marketing agency requires a lot of trust. You’re partnering with marketers who are going to create content on behalf of your business, and you need to feel confident that those marketers will do your brand justice. To find a team of content specialists you trust with your brand voice, look for the following eight qualities.

Experience Across a Variety of Industries

healthcare, retail, and tech icons representing diverse industries

There are advantages to working with a content marketing agency that focuses on one industry. The agency will already be deeply familiar with the industry, and it won’t take long to bring them up to speed with your business. However, there’s also a risk that the agency will fall into a rut of producing the same type of content over and over again, never distinguishing your company from your competitors.

On the other hand, content teams that have worked with a wide variety of clients have demonstrated an ability to adapt their tone and strategy as needed. They’re more likely to bring a fresh perspective to your marketing and may present ideas you’ve never considered.

To find out if the content marketing agency you’re vetting is versatile, check their website for testimonials or case studies from other clients. Ask to see samples of their work for several different industries. If their samples include a variety of content types, such as infographics and videos, that’s even better.

A Team of Avid Researchers

The content writers you hire need to unabashedly love doing research. They may not know a lot about your industry at the beginning of the engagement, but they should work to get so familiar with your business that they’re basically an extension of your in-house team. In addition to becoming well-acquainted with your products or services, they also need to research your audience thoroughly. They should uncover audience insights to help them create content that resonates with the right people at the right time.

The Ability to Harness Your Brand Voice

microphone representing brand voiceA good content specialist will master your brand voice so that all content from your company sounds consistent. They may familiarize themselves with your brand voice by reading existing content you’ve provided and by interviewing members of your team. They should be good at asking questions that elicit insightful answers from your team and other interview subjects. Additionally, they need to be good listeners. They should be able to distill what you and your team have told them into a clear brand story.

Finely-Tuned Communication Skills

The last thing you want is a content marketing agency that drops off the map once you begin an engagement, resurfacing once a month to deliver content assets without comment. Even if you like the idea of a hands-off approach, you probably still want to know that you can reach your content team when you have an idea to share and that they’ll factor your ideas into their strategy.

When you interview content specialists, ask them how often they will meet with you and what kind of response time you can expect from them if you reach out between meetings. Find out what kind of collaboration tools they use so that you can exchange ideas.

An Enthusiasm for Teaching—and Learning

 

graduation cap and books representing content marketing educationIs your agency so enthusiastic about content marketing that they want to share what they’ve learned with the world? Look at the content they’ve produced for their own business—are they keeping up with trends in digital marketing and making sure their audience stays informed? Evidence of this might include a regularly updated blog with well-researched posts, a video library, downloadable white papers, or webinars.

Commitment to the Full Content Marketing Process

If all you’re looking for is someone to write content for your business, you could hire a freelancer or two. If, however, you want content that meaningfully contributes to your business goals, you should work with an agency that performs market research, develops a strategy, produces content that aligns with that strategy, and then promotes the content to maximize its impact. Your agency needs to understand that content marketing doesn’t just mean churning out a few blog posts and calling it a day.

Collaboration Across Departments

Content marketing shouldn’t exist in a silo. In many cases, your content strategy can be enhanced with search engine optimization, social media marketing, and paid search—and your agency should make recommendations when your business can benefit from multiple services. Ideally, your content writers should have experience with SEO and should know how to tailor their content to both readers and search engines.

Tracking and Reporting Capabilities

analytics graph representing content marketing reporting

Your agency should never produce content just for the sake of it: they must follow a strategy that aligns with your marketing goals. They need to look at more than just vanity metrics like page views; they should be able to show you how their efforts tie into downloads, purchases, lead generation, and other conversion metrics that matter to your bottom line. Your content team should also be transparent. Make sure they can walk you through how they measure results and what different metrics mean.

Are you currently vetting content marketing agencies? We’re biased, of course, but we think you should contact Leverage to learn more about our content marketing services. We’d love to talk to you about how we can grow your business with high-quality content.

Page 1 of 712345...»