Entries from March 2014 ↓

How to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

content marketing strategy

OK, before you run off for that well-earned coffee, this isn’t just ‘another one of those content strategy blogs’.

Well, yes, it’s about content marketing strategy, but it looks at where you’re going wrong. Yup, I hate to say it, but you are probably barking up the wrong tree right now.

Ask yourself something – why are you producing the content you are producing? How are you measuring its effectiveness? How do you decide what type of content to put out?

Head spinning yet?

If you don’t have a well thought out content marketing strategy, you won’t be able to get the right content in the right format out to the right audience at the right time. It’s as simple as that.

To summarise, you’re just producing content for the sake of it.

So what should your strategy look at?

Things to consider when creating your content strategy

One thing I have noticed (and I am guilty of it too) is that most of the content produced by companies is in the written form. It’s things like blogs, articles, reports, e-newsletters etc.

Granted, writing is a great way to get your information across, but it’s also time consuming to read and, let’s face it, a bit boring.

Think about your audience and what it is that they might like. Mix it up a bit with infographics, videos, animations and even music. This kind of content is very shareable (when done well) and will help widen your reach.

Talking of widening reach, how do you measure the success of your strategy?

Most companies look at web traffic as their main metric. After all, content is there to attract readers, so surely the best measurement is the amount of extra traffic it brings.


Traffic is great, but it doesn’t mean you will automatically sell more. If you plump for traffic volume as your prime metric all you’re doing is measuring an activity not results.

Far more effective forms of measurement are:

  • Sales lead quality and quantity
  • Direct sales
  • Product awareness

These metrics give a direct correlation to the effectiveness of your content strategy and sales.

Let’s face it all the traffic in the world is useless if it doesn’t convert into sales.

The top 3 goals for any content strategy should be:

  • Lead generation
  • Customer acquisition
  • Sales

These are the only 3 things that matter.

Right, before you get back to work think about your own strategy. Make sure you are putting out a variety of content formats and measuring its impact using the goals above.

By focusing on the things that matter (i.e. the needs of your audience and tangible results) your strategy will become incredibly powerful.


Author: Sally Ormond, freelance copywriter, MD at Briar Copywriting and cycling nut.


Social Media Research You Need to Know About

Social media changes faster than a fast thing. It’s important to read up on the latest comings, goings and techniques if you want your social media strategy to continue to work well for you.

A recent post on SocialMediaExaminer looks at some surprising social media research findings that will affect your social media strategy. Below is a summary of the findings (the link above takes you to the whole article).

1. Facebook – the social login favourite

Research by eMarketer shows that the majority of people prefer to use their Facebook (51%) credentials when logging into websites.

How does that affect you?

Well, if your website requires the user to register before accessing information you could enhance your number of registrations by offering a Facebook login option.

There is a concept known as password fatigue – 92% of shoppers will abandon a website rather than go through the laborious process of recovering a lost or forgotten password. But if you offer a social login, 65% of shoppers are more likely to return.

2. Twitter is the place for social customer service

Twitter is the consumers’ preferred platform when they want to reach out to brands.

Recent research undertaken by Socialbakers shows that 59.3% of customer questions are asked on Twitter, compared to 40.7% on Facebook.

Social media means consumers are used to getting feedback quickly, so it’s important that you train your staff to be responsive to any questions that come through Twitter (or any other social media channel).

Answer their questions quickly (within the hour) and make sure you personalise each tweet with your name or Twitter handle, especially if you use your company logo as your avatar.

When you monitor mentions of your brand name be prepared to jump in and help. If they are having a problem get in tough straightaway and ask if you can help. If they are paying you a compliment, say thank you.

3. Younger audiences don’t unfriend Facebook

There’s been a suggestion recently that teenagers are turning their back on Facebook, but research by eMarketer would suggest otherwise.

Sure, there are other social sites out there that they are attracted to (such as Snapchat, Instagram and Vine), but Facebook appears to remain a firm favourite.

The truth is they are multi-platform users. There’s no need to panic, just broaden your use of social media to enhance the experience for them.

If they are cross-platform users, you become a cross-platform user. Offer them information and stories that are relevant to them and that show how other teenagers are engaging with your brand.

Above all, make sure everything you do is mobile friendly.

4. Instagram is rapidly growing

TechCrunch announced in January that Instagram was the platform to watch, doubling its active users in 12 months (180 million in January 2014).

Why do people love it so much? Well, images are creative, interesting and instantly shareable.

You could share your followers’ photos and make them instant stars, create videos that capture the ethos of your brand and ask your fans about their lifestyle likes and dislikes.

Generally, all these platforms allow you to interact with your customers and fans instantly and in an ‘intimate’ way.

You can get instant answers to questions helping you plan future campaigns, provide excellent customer service and generally create a ‘family’ atmosphere that will endear your brand to them.

Hopefully, these stats and survey results will give you some fresh ideas about how to refine your social media strategy.

Over to you

What’s the biggest takeaway for you?

Will you now be changing your social media marketing strategy?

Leave a comment below or share this with someone you think may find it useful.

Author: Sally Ormond, freelance copywriter and MD of Briar Copywriting – once cycled 300 miles in 24 hours for charity.

When Is A Link An Unnatural Link?

link building

You’ve probably heard a lot about unnatural links. Google is getting pretty hot these days at penalising sites that use them, so what exactly are they?

In basic terms, an unnatural link is one that exists purely to manipulate the page rank or search engine results of your website. Plus, any links that are placed on a website without the site owner’s permission.

Example of an unnatural link

If you’re still unsure, this illustration should help.

You’ve just been to a health spa and had a fantastic time. You decide you want to tell other people about your experience and write a blog about linking to the health spa, that’s OK. But if you wrote about it because they were offering you a free weekend or set of treatments, that would be classed as unnatural (unless you mark the link as a nofollow).

So the best way of looking at it is so long as you’re not being financially motivated to use the link, you should be OK.

It’s not all amount money

Having said that, there are other motivations that can cause people to use links unnaturally.

When your website needs an SEO boost, it’s very tempting to hunt out websites to link to that will give your search results a much needed lift.

This is equally bad as the scenario outlined above.

That means that if you are linking to another website purely to improve your search results you could be on shaky ground.

Before you link ask yourself whether you would still want to recommend the company or blog if the search engines didn’t exist. That will help you decide on what your true motivations are.

A level playing field

The whole point behind Google’s linking policy is to create a world where everyone is equal.

If it didn’t exist, the only websites that would feature highly in the search results would be the ones that could afford to buy the best links and that’s not good for the consumer.

But what about Google Adwords?

Good point.

But as it is Google’s accepted form of selling links it’s likely to remain. The main distinction between this and other forms of buying links is that it is open, above board and involves an invoice. Plus, because the links are segregated from the organic listings in the search results, it is obvious to all that the companies involved have paid for their link.

Link building will always remain a contentious issue if people try to fiddle the system. The guidelines are very clear, so what’s the point in trying to pull a fast one? Sooner or later Google will find you and penalise you.

Don’t be tempted to flout the system. Link build with dignity.

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter at Briar Copywriting and cycling enthusiast.

Why Conversion is More Important Than Traffic

My office faces one of the busiest roads in Suffolk. Traffic constantly roars back and forth as people make their way between Suffolk and Norfolk. SEO and copywriting

Drinking my coffee this morning, wracking my brain for an idea to write about, it suddenly struck me. Traffic.

You, and every other online business, is obsessed by traffic.

Religiously, day in day out, you’re checking your analytics to see how many visitors your website is getting and where they are coming from.

You smile smugly as you see your visitor numbers increase; you are invincible because you are brining in 10 times the traffic of your competitors.

So what?

If you’re that amazing, why are your competitors making more money than you?

What’s happening to your traffic?

Running a business is tough. There’s so much to think about and only a finite amount of money to reinvest.

You probably started out with an ‘OK’ website that you got cheap and filled with content yourself. With a bit of help from your SEO guy (or girl) you’ve got traffic heading your way in droves, but something strange is happening.

When you look at your sales (i.e. conversions), they aren’t reflective of the number of visitors you’re getting.


Because your website and its content isn’t up to scratch.

Look at it this way, if you have a High Street store with a stunning window display, potential customers will flock through your doors. When they get inside, if your products are haphazardly strewn here and there and your sales team are loitering in corners discussing what they’re going to be doing at the weekend, ignoring them, the chances are they’ll turn round and find a different shop that’s more welcoming.

Well, that’s what’s going on with your website.

Your SEO guy/girl has done an amazing job luring people to your website, but because you’ve got a dreary site with awful content, they’re leaving straightaway.

Yes, SEO is important to get people to your website, but it’s the design and, more importantly, the content that will get them to stay and buy.

Convincing people to stay and buy

Your website copywriting must:

  • Address the reader directly
  • Sell the benefits of your products and services
  • Convince them to buy

One of the most common mistakes is to write about your company. This comes across as very inward facing and ignores the needs of your customers.

When they reach your website they want to instantly see what it is you offer, how it will help them and why they should buy it.

If you write in the second person (i.e. using ‘you’ instead of ‘we’ – just like this blog post) you are instantly creating a relationship with the reader. It’s as if you are talking to them – it’s the written equivalent of eye contact.

Using this technique, show them the benefits of your product. That doesn’t mean the colour, size, technical spec etc., all that comes later in the product description. They will want to know how it will make their life easier.

SEO and content go hand in hand

If you want to succeed online, you must invest in good search engine optimisation and great web content.

Find a copywriter who really understands the concept of search marketing and who can create content that fulfils the needs of both Google and your customers. It’s a fine line to tread, but one that will bring incredible results when done well.

A good SEO and copywriter is a dream team – when you find yours hold on to them and don’t let them go.


Author: Sally Ormond – Briar Copywriting Ltd

How to Find Your Writing Voice

writing voice

How do you write?

That’s not a trick question.

The way you write will have a big effect on how well your marketing is received by your audience.

Some people find writing with personality a breeze, others find it more of a challenge, but that’s not really surprising. All through school, college and university you are taught to write in a bland, academic way. This forces out any trace of your personality as everyone strives to churn out the same old stuff.

Writing great marketing means you have to forget everything you have been taught up to now and start writing in a way that naturally reflects your personality.

The problem is when something is so engrained within you, it’s very difficult to break free from it and just be yourself.

Hopefully, the following 5 tips will help you find your inner voice and allow your personality to run free.

1. What do you like?

Reading around the subject is something you spend most of your school and college life doing. Well it doesn’t stop there. If you are creating marketing copywriting you must read lots and lots of stuff for inspiration.

It will also help you develop your own distinctive voice.

Read stuff that you enjoy. It can be anything from fiction to magazines, just so long as you like it and it makes you want to read it. When reading your favourite blogs take note of how they start their articles, the language they use and what it is about it that keeps you hooked. Although you shouldn’t try to emulate their exact style, it will give you some clues as to how you can improve your own writing.

2. Forget business

One of the best ways to develop your own voice and style is by freewriting. All you have to do is open a Word document and start writing about a favourite topic that’s unrelated to work. Let your imagination and creativity run and write as if you were talking to someone. Allowing this free, conversational style to develop will help you create a distinctive voice for your marketing.

3. Stay focused

If you lose the focus of your message your writing will start to ramble and lose it’s impact.

Concentrate on one key message and make sure everything you write is focused on that. If necessary, write it on a post it note and stick it to your monitor so it’s constantly in your eye line.

4. Thesaurus

Using a thesaurus will help you come up with new and interesting ways of saying things, but use it with caution. Most people have the tendency to believe that marketing copy must contain complex words; it doesn’t. In fact the best writing uses a simple vocabulary.

5. Out loud

How often do you read your content out loud?

Probably not very often, but you should.

Reading out loud will give you a much better feel for what you’ve written (as well as highlighting mistakes). It will show whether it’s easy to follow, if you’ve repeated yourself (or words) and whether the rhythm flows.

It’s well worth practising these techniques and developing your own unique style. If you want people to read your marketing, articles and blogs you’ve got to somehow connect with them and the best way to that is by letting your personality shine through.

It may take time so persevere; it’ll be worth it in the end.

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd and avid reader.