If you do a Google search of current blogging statistics, the numbers overwhelmingly support the need for both B2B and B2C companies to have blog content. 85% of people prefer to use content in blogs to help them decide over even testimonials.
There are some best practices to maximize your return on the investment of time and or money outsourcing what can be time-intensive work.
I worked in the spa niche for well over two decades. I traveled, enjoyed experiences and visited lots of spas and resorts.
In the UK, I have my own private native guide, my husband, to take me on discovery trips. In big cities, people are more cautious, guarded. Get away from them and people tend to be more friendly.
UK roads are unique. M-roads are freeways. A-roads are mostly divided highways. B-roads are narrow 2-way roads. However, one lane may disappear unexpectedly. The only way to pass is the tiniest of pull-outs. Driving a road no wider than your car with little visibility on either side is quite an experience.
You never know where you will end up.
A tiny thatched-roof village where the main activity is the village pub that dates back hundreds of years. If you’re adventurous enough to find them, they’re happy to regale you with history as you listen to the locals’ gossip.
The top of the Welch hills with a view for miles…clear to the sea. This while you stand among neolithic burial stones whose only company is a neighboring pasture of cows.
A 5-star spa, Manor House or Castle with experiences as diverse as their locations.
It was natural to share experiences.
I’ve been writing blogs for years. What start out as journal notes, become invites to leave home, experience something different, and renew.
If your blog is shared on a dedicated Facebook page, you’ve tapped into the power of social media and a place people like to relax and read.
Marketing blogs for myself. Content blogs for my clients. Experiences, information, success stories. All designed to help someone.
What many don’t know
Blogs are not static.They have changed and are evolving. Most used to be 500-900 words. Now those with 2250-2500 words show the highest engagement and readership. While you can create a short blog in 1-2 hours. Long blogs can take six hours or more.
Longer blogs have caused frequency to drop. Where bloggers used to put out multiple blogs a week. The longer formats, take more research and writing time. They may only be published semi-monthly.
3 Best Blog Practices
Blogs can be a stand-alone website. They can also be a column or featured tab on your business website. For the most readership, blog content should tie into the purpose of your business.
Take time to think about topics that make sense to include based on your offer. Health, alternative health, fitness, nutrition, wellness, relationships, kids, life events like retirement, or getting married.
Whatever your website’s purpose is, include topics that support it. Your goal is to become their information resource. Reliable, relevant, knowledgeable…and trustworthy.
Diversity in your niche
Within your niche, have a little fun and offer diversity. If you’re offer supplements, nutrition or fitness, consider adding helpful recipes. If your selling supplements for kids, offer simple parenting tips.
Share things that will make readers’ lives easier/better.
Offer the latest findings. A major part of my fitness routine is walking. I just had to replace my shoes and the first thing I noticed they weren’t as sleek. Rather broader and boxier. Fortunately, I had a sharp associate helping me. He educated me on the changes in shoe structure to better protect ergonomics and reduce the risk of plantar fasciitis.
Look for changes or innovations that relate to what you offer. A new ingredient. A new method of formulation that works better. Problem-solution specific. Every reader has a different goal, yet most will read to be better informed.
Keep blogs casual
Blogs are conversations with a friend. Keep them informal. If you have scientific articles on your site, your blog may be the ideal place to convert that to reader-friendly information.
If a topic is complex, your blog is the spot to break it into easily scannable, digestible chunks.
Most of your readers are going to skim-read. Help them out with a friendly style where there is plenty of white space and subheadings.
Make sure the reading level is in the 7-8 range or lower. The higher the reading level, the more mental energy is required and the more quickly readers leave.
Relevant, diverse and casual will keep your readers coming back for more. Mix up short blogs like recipes or quick content with longer reads.
Judith Culp Pearson is a wellness relationship marketer. She puts those skills to work helping businesses increase client retention with web content and strategies. Blog content is always something she recommends to clients. If they don’t have the time or desire to do it, she handles it for them.
There is one sure-fire way to a successful business…giving customers something they want and more, in essence, over-deliver.
“But wait, there’s more”
Back in the late 1970s-early 80s, Ginsu knives made a fortune on their perfectly crafted television infomercials. It uses the get a lot for a little formula.
They demonstrate their knife-wielding skills showcasing how fabulous their knives are. As the demonstration draws to a close, they open their offer with “Now how much would you pay? Don’t answer!”
Then they reduced the price or sweetened the deal with add on bonuses. More and more and more.
They urged viewers to “Call now! Operators are standing by!” Even then they added more bonuses to the offer.
They created the tagline which is still used today, “But wait! There’s more!”
The value was so high compared to the price, people couldn’t resist.
It was so successful, they used the exact same formula, and spokespeople, to market a number of other equally successful household items.
Exceeding expectations works
In my practice, I’ve always tried to exceed people’s expectations, but I never thought of it as over-delivering. I just wanted customers that were so happy they’d return and refer me to their friends.
Over-delivering is a term I learned from a master copywriter, Brian Kurtz. He is one of the most successful marketers out there and has over 40 years of experience behind him. Over-delivering is his specialty.
I’ve found Brian’s insights accurate and useful in my work with clients and in marketing. If you want to dive deeper, his book Overdeliver is available on Amazon.
One thing most people don’t realize
A customer’s lifetime value is directly related to the depth of the relationship. Lists and contacts are inanimate. They are for transactions. Human interaction is based on relationships. Every way your buyers encounter you, websites, social media, emails, chatbots need to be relationship-focused. Giving more than expected is a key way to build those relationships.
In today’s world, where more buying happens online than in a store, this is even more critical. It’s also what people are looking for. They want to understand you, your business, and what you stand for.
The more transparent you are the better they feel about you. If they can’t even find out where a company is located, or get in touch with them, it rather feels like something is being hidden.
3 ways to over-deliver
There are three types of people out there, givers, takers, and matchers. Takers have their hands out ready to receive. Takers love it when people offer to help them, but seldom give anything in return. Matchers are tit for tat people. If given something, they respond by giving back the exact same value.
Givers share with no strings attached. No expectations. They give to help others.
Be the giver. They share information, appreciate the person they interact with, treat them with respect, reward them. Givers are relationship builders.
Businesses that follow this pattern have the greatest success.
Every interaction a relationship event
Look for ways to make every interaction a relationship event. Give information, help, and support freely. Let customers and prospects know you appreciate them.
Make emails personalized not automated generic. Nurture them, answer questions…even ones they haven’t thought of yet. Thank them, reward them.
Talk to them as person to person. Be conversational, invite a response. Social media is especially good to get conversations going. Monitor what triggers get responses and use them again.
Give them what they want
Many businesses have an idea and create a product. Then they reach out to find people who they think need it. Too often, it misses the mark. What the customer wants doesn’t match with the solutions they are offered.
When a product is still in the concept stage that’s the ideal time to make sure it is a clear match. Ask them, research it, follow forums. How can you tweak it to have a 100% match?
It might be the right product but the wrong packaging, formulation, or value.
Maybe they need more information to understand your product/service or how to use it. Free guides or how-tos can be invaluable.
Convert transactions to relationships with over-delivery
Often fulfillment and customer support are treated as transactions. Instead, treat them as part of your marketing.
I once received an order and inside the product was nicely tissue wrapped with a small envelope on top. Inside was a brief inspirational message and a piece of a cinnamon stick. It was totally unexpected. A gift, a bonus, and I can still tell you exactly who that item came from.
If you’re doing a subscription offer, thank them for renewing. If you shipped them a product, ask if they have any questions on how to use it. Targeted nurturing emails, segmented by product or interest, following a purchase are an excellent technique to bond.
Be reachable and responsive. I’ve noticed that almost every business I interact with has a message to expect delays. It’s true of phone messages, web notices, and email responses.
Sometimes you get the message and then an immediate contact. Other times, you may wait for days, even weeks.
After all this time, we need to figure out a way to be more responsive. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. How long would You realistically want to wait? Figure out a way to make that happen.
How I approach this
When I work with a new client, I look at the touchpoints from the viewpoint of their buyer. How does it “feel”. It may work fine, but feel impersonal. I look for transactionality and ways to replace it with over-delivery and relationship building.
In a recent article, I shared the importance of customer relationships for 2021. We’re in a world where the competition is fierce. You probably have competitors who have offers similar to yours. Your key differentiator is likely how you bond with customers. How you take care of them. It’s core to your survival.
If you’re fence-sitting on the necessity of investing in your customer experience, the facts are available. I found an article that shared 50 stats proving the value of customer relationships. Here are my key takeaways.
Companies focused on customers outperform their competition by nearly 80%.
In 2010 only 36% of companies focused on CX. Today 66% use it as a competitive edge.
96% of customers say customer service is key to their loyalty.
Superior customer service can bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors without it.
Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than business-centric.
Customers switching due to poor service costs US companies $1.6 trillion.
Happy customers are 5 times more likely to purchase again.
Negative experiences reduce spending by 140%
Take care of your customer relationships. They will reward you with loyalty and profitability.
Video, because it’s visual, connects deeper emotionally, increases sales, and builds trust in your brand. It adds a dimension beyond what an image can generate. It can be the “face” of your business. People don’t connect with brands as deeply as they do faces…people.
Blind men and the elephant
There’s an old parable about a group of blind men who heard a strange new creature had been brought to the town. They had never heard of one before and decide to go check it out using their only tool…touch. Here’s the story from Wikipedia
Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable”.
So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it.
The first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, “This being is like a thick snake”.
For another one whose hand reached its ear, “this thing seems like a kind of fan.”
A third person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, “the elephant is a pillar-like a tree-trunk”.
The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said, “The elephant, is a wall”.
Another who felt its tail, “no, this animal is like a rope.”
The last felt its tusk, This elephant is hard, smooth, and like a spear.”
The men didn’t trust what the others told them…
There are many versions of what happens next. In several, the men disagree and think the others are lying. Depending on the version of the story, they come to blows of varying severity.
In another, a sighted man comes by. One of the group asks him, “Sir, how do you describe this creature?”
The sighted man walks slowly around the elephant and describes the various aspects of the huge beast. I can imagine him saying, “The creature is huge, taller than a boy standing on his father’s shoulders. He is five long strides from his front to his back.
“His nose is long, flexible and he uses it to pick up food and feed himself. It is thick like a giant snake. On each side of his nose, is a long tapered tusk that is hard, smooth, and of a beautiful cream color. And at the top of his head are two huge triangular ears, one on each side that resemble a fan.
“His four legs are each the thickness of a giant tree trunk to support his huge dense body. At his rear is a tail, longer than a man’s arm and as thick as a rope.”
The blind men learned that each was partly right and each partly wrong.
Sometimes seeing things gives you a more complete picture.
Like many people, I did well on the radio, phone, or in person, but found cameras intimidating. Yet when I overcame this, I found it much easier to build relationships and connect more strongly with customers and clients.
We are hard-wired to respond to faces. So when we connect in person, or virtually with the camera on, we connect at a different depth than we do only in text or by phone.
Visual connections help build a more authentic relationship.
In today’s world where we are social distancing and many aspects of life have gone virtual, the video component becomes more important.
One thing to remember
It’s not about you. Get out of your own way. The person you’re trying to connect with is there to meet you and hear what you have to share. We tend to be focused on our own perceived weaknesses. Things others barely notice, if at all.
I have a colleague who was starting a video podcast channel with the first episode in a month. A live show where he would be conducting interviews.
Then he got the news from his dentist, he needed braces. He seriously thought about delaying the launch for the six months the dentist said he would need to get him adjusted.
He decided it wasn’t about him and moved ahead with the launch. No one ever noticed the tooth-toned braces.
Embrace that videos tend to be more business casual. You don’t need the equivalent of a suit and tie. Be yourself, be approachable, be conversational.
3 techniques to maximize videos
Use recorded video content in multiple ways.
You can create a Youtube brand channel and share your videos there to engage with clients and bring them to your website.
While longer videos get more engagement, people also love short, fast value.
Not all demographics engage with video the same way. Television and movies taught us to watch and be entertained.
That said, for information, many people don’t have the patience to commit to a long video. They’d rather skim the text or listen to what you have to say. They may not be in a location conducive to video watching.
Once your video is recorded you can upload it. Consider extracting the audio and make that available separately. To tap into your “readers”, include a transcript posted below the video.
Share videos on multiple channels
YouTube and Facebook are currently the two top channels. Since Facebook bought Instagram, more video capabilities have been added there. There are apps out there that you can use to get your video on all available channels quickly.
Consider how your viewer will encounter them. On Facebook the newsfeed moves quickly so a video posted may not show up when your desired viewer is there. For webinar type presentations, the Facebook attendance rate is very low.
On YouTube, people can search for content. This results in more views and higher engagement. Viewers are getting the information they want. Keywords are critical to making this happen.
Consider taking the video and extracting short value nuggets. You can use each value nugget as a paid ad. It comes across as value…not an ad. Follow your ad with a retargeting message.
“Thanks for watching. Here’s a free XYZ I thought you might like.” In it share a lot of value and include your CTA. Perhaps to visit your website or for specific information on a product or service.
Keep in mind, it’s hard to over-deliver.
Follow-up by tracking analytics so you learn what works best. What lengths, what topics, what resonates with your viewers. Then you tweak and do it again.
How I work with clients
For my clients just getting started with video, I recommend creating a series of short positive messages. I find these posts are the most clicked on because they are brief…some under a minute. Others might be up to three minutes. We use these to create familiarity and grow from there as fits their brand.
In today’s world, it is important for your brand’s success to engage customers with empathy marketing. You need to employ empathy and communicate your understanding and caring about your customers, your staff, and your planet.
It’s what today’s buyers want and are increasingly coming to expect from those they do business with. Yes, back to the pillars of wellness – personal, social, and global.
Initially driven by millennials, it’s being embraced cross-generational. Less transactional, more emotional connections. It puts what the customer values over business sales.
Route.com said it well… “What empathetic marketing should always boil down to is that tried-and-true Golden Rule. Treat others how you want to be treated.”
Business Empathy in 2020
I’ve seen some great examples of this in action this year from a broad range of businesses.
In May, Twitter announced all employees would be allowed to work at home permanently if that was their preference.
They had been moving toward more remote work for some time and testing it. Now, if staff need or want to go in, they can… pandemic restrictions allowing. If they prefer to work remotely, there is no discrimination, no pay cuts, no commute.
The benefits? Staff morale boosted, and equal or better productivity. A demonstration of taking care of people.
Verizon and Fios gave customers free data so they could stay in touch with those they couldn’t physically connect with. They also provided 60 days of free resources to help parents and students with at-home learning. Demonstrating customers and staff before sales.
Statewide businesses jumped in
In Oregon, there are hundreds of boutique businesses in the hemp, beer, and distillation niches. They diverted resources to make hand-sanitizers. It kept staff working, even if the products were donated to those who needed them the most.
Larger companies, like Intel, provided medical workers with PPE and joined with others to accelerate research for treatment and cures.
Then on top of the coronavirus, Oregon was hit with the worst wildfires in the state history. Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. Some rural cities were totally wiped out. It will take years to deal with the aftermath.
Even small businesses stepped up to help out.
One very small mom and pop Chinese restaurant here in Eugene put a post on Facebook on September 10th.
“Donating food to fire relief camps for the rest of the week. We will be closed. Thanks for your patience.
“Thanks for your support,
They denied themselves income to give their resources to others. Other restaurants and caterers joined them to make sure the firefighters and relief camps had food and water.
Local people raided their personal stores of food, clothing, pet needs, and every other medical and household item you can imagine to donate them to relief centers.
It’s been a year of helping others as I’ve never seen before.
As a customer and marketer…I know it’s about the buyer’s problems
While everything has shifted online, not all businesses have adapted. I’ve seen businesses struggle because they weren’t mentally or technologically prepared. As a marketer, the solutions are clear. To thrive, businesses need a digital presence. They also need empathy marketing.
The changes we have experienced aren’t going to go away anytime soon. People aren’t going to give up the convenience of online shopping. However, they also want more.
You need more than demographics, you need psychographics. I find they help me dig deeper and find the aspects of emotions and empathy best suited to prospects.
Brands need to embrace empathy marketing
It’s not enough to have an e-commerce site. With all the shysters and scammers out there, buyers are becoming more discriminating.
They are looking for things to improve their life. They want transparency to know your brand can be trusted. And they want to know how you are helping other people and the planet.
Embrace all techniques of empathy for engaged and loyal customers.
Three steps for empathy marketing
There are three key techniques you can use for empathy marketing. Start by “walking in their shoes.” Discover their emotions: problems, pains, views, beliefs, values. Then craft your communications with transparency and openness.
It’s critical to do more than try to think like your target customer. You need to be them, assume their perspective without judgment. Understand their emotions and motivations. What makes them buy? Also, discover the things that make them resist.
How are they feeling now and how do they want to feel? What do they want to be different and how can you make their life better? Do they recognize their problem or that a solution exists?
These things together will guide you in where you need to start their journey and the steps you need to include.
By knowing their views and beliefs you can smooth out your buying pathway so they don’t get derailed.
You want to connect with them on shared social and planet-friendly values.
Take salsa. There are lots of choices out there and we all have taste preferences. My go-to brand donates all the profits to charities. That made my buying decision easy.
This where we need psychographics. We also have to recognize how men and women buy differently. Men are more transactional by nature. Women are more emotion-driven in their buying decisions.
Women influence 85% of all consumer buying decisions. That makes them an obvious choice to nurture. It’s important to value them and tap into the emotions – and empathy that will make them loyal customers.
Deadlines like a limited time offer can trigger a buy. Grocery stores use this all the time with their in-store announcement of a special price for the next 10 minutes. Limited quantities are equally powerful. We don’t want to miss out and we love to feel we got bonus value.
Benevolence or altruism are also female buying stimuli. They may feel they are better off and want to help others. Or it may be part of their social values. Humanity and giving back.
Belonging is important to both men and women. We like being part of something, a tribe, a team of like-minded people.
There is also “empathy-response.” When people get positive feedback from giving or doing something it creates an empathy response.
In buying the perfect gift, women share the recipient’s joy emotionally. When her daughter squeals for joy over her birthday gift, she gets a surge of endorphins, the feel-good hormone. She gets the same feel-good hormone for problem-solving.
Men get the empathy response when they do something successfully, or the female in his life is pleased with him, or when their team quarterback scores a touchdown.
Once you have this information you can use it to craft your messages with transparency and openness to build trust in your relationship and brand. You want to make them feel heard and acknowledged.
Once women make the emotional decision, they need you to provide logical information to back it up. This validates their decision. Science, facts, and social proof. Sharing other’s success stories from problem to solution and how they have improved their life is powerful.
Use caution with success stories so they don’t come across in a pushy or sales-focused way. They need to stand on their own merits as validation of problem and solution. What their life was like before and what it is now. Share what they had tried that didn’t work, their failures. How they found your solution and their experiences on the journey to a better quality of life.
When I work with clients…
I start by learning what they are currently doing and what isn’t working. Then, taking another look at their target, I dive deeper to find a different way to connect and engage with emotions and empathy marketing. Need help? Reach out to me. email@example.com.
The more clarity you have about who your ideal customer is, the more effective your marketing will be. In tough times, this is even more critical. If you don’t know exactly who you are trying to reach, marketing ROI will suffer.
An arrow that hits the bullseye wins over half a dozen that clutter the target.
I recently watched the Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood. Set in 12th century England, it’s the backstory behind the legend of Robin Hood.
At the time, archery skills were a key factor in staying alive. Robin Longstride excels in them. The times where he employs his archery skills to take out a bad guy drive the point home.
When arrows are flying all around, Robin hits his precise target from amazing distances.
One of my favorites was set in the woods where Robin and his men are fighting a group of treacherous mercenaries. The bad guys led by Godfrey elect to break off and ride away.
Robin notches an arrow in his longbow and raising it to high elevation shoots at Godfrey. The arrow arcs high and soars through the trees. Godfrey reels in his saddle. He clings to his horse as they whirl and race off into the forest.
Did he kill him? We don’t know. It was a long, seemingly impossible shot.
Later, we find out Godfrey survives. Robin’s arrow did hit its mark. Godfrey’s face now bears stitches from the corner of his mouth outward for two inches.
Know your customers and target them to accurately score success.
Having worked with targeting audiences for over 20 years, I’ve seen what happens if you don’t zero in.
It happens all the time in the spa, beauty, and wellness sectors.
You have a variety of offerings that speak to different needs. Beauty, supplements, therapies. What they vary with the products you offer.
If you send the same message to everyone. You don’t get the results that you want.
The broader and more diverse your products the more challenging the issue becomes. Some division feels neglected.
It may be time to revisit your ideal customer profile.
One secret to keep in mind
There are a lot of components when it comes to identifying a target audience. Most commonly people look at demographics. Things like age, gender, location, buying patterns, income, and interests.
You also want to take a look at psychographics. Motivations, beliefs, and priorities to start.
While you need demographics, I find psychographics can often give me a better grasp on how to emotionally connect with people and help them take action.
Three basic steps to clarify your ideal customer.
To gain clarity, you’ll need to start with data analytics. Then you can move into creating your ideal customer avatar. And then you’ll stay on top of what the marketplace is doing.
1.Look at customer data.
Start with your current customers or the people you think need your product the most. Learn all you can about them.
Discover their demographics. Something as simple as where they live can help you schedule content launches.
Discovering psychographic information will help you move them on their buying journey.
If you are just getting started follow companies who are doing something like, or similar to what you want to do. What can you learn about their audience?
If you are established, reviewing everything you know about your current customers can tell a lot.
Where do you connect with them? (emails, social media)
Are you virtual or face to face?
What do they buy and how often?
How engaged are they?
What forums, message boards, and the like to they use?
Look for interests and concerns. – (include problems and pain points)
What makes them resistant to buy?
Are they just looking or ready to buy?
Look at the six wellness segments: physical, emotional, intellectual/work, beliefs, social concerns, and environmental concerns. They will tell you a lot about how you can appeal to and market to your group.
2.Develop a buyer avatar – persona
Use all the data and analytics you gathered to help create a written description of your ideal customer.
Do you know someone who is an exact match? Use that person can make to pattern your avatar after.
You can create a written description of your own or make use of an online template. Google “customer persona template.” You will find dozens of options to help you make the job easier.
They provide you a spreadsheet with a list of the topics you don’t want to overlook. All you have to do is fill them in and you’ll have a decent reference sheet for developing your marketing.
If you have a customer service team, talk to them. They can offer invaluable insights because they have direct contact with your buyers.
You can also interview colleagues in same the industry as yours to gain their insights.
Keep in mind, you need to continue to monitor and follow your customers to learn more and discover patterns that have shifted.
3.Listen, learn, and monitor
Start with learning about your competition. Are you both doing exactly the same thing? What are you doing they are not? Is there something you do much better than they do? Are they not doing something you have thought of but not implemented?
Or is there a way to tweak what you are doing to better engage with them?
Listen to what is said/posted about your brand. It can give you many insights. Your social channels are a good place to start. Expand your listening to the other places they hang out including special interest pages, forums, Reddit, and more.
Monitor how what you’re putting out to see what kind of an impression you’re making. Use what you learn to tweak your marketing to them. Need help tracking? There are numerous online tools available to track what is being said about your brand.
When I work with clients
We start by diving into their data. What does the analytics say?
Then we review the buyer avatar to look for ways to improve it.
We look at what their competition is doing. If there is something we can offer that the competition does not, that’s an excellent place to explore.
We make our marketing adjustments and track the responses. They monitor what people are saying and we look for more ways to tweak and adjust.