New and established businesses can use surveys to gather crucial information for decision-making. If you’re a startup, there will be several decisions you’ll need to make about your products and services, whom you target, how you reach your ideal customers and what you will say to them. Typeform have good examples of surveys here. In this article, I will highlight five key decisions that marketing surveys can help you make.
Startup Decision #1 – Who is your customer?
You have a great idea for a business. The product is amazing! But do you really understand who your customer is and why they would buy from you and not from another business?
A survey of your market helps you create a picture of your ideal customer. We call these ‘buyer personas’. The survey can ask questions about job titles, key responsibilities, gender, income, educational background, main challenges, budget and so on. You can start by asking friends and family, then your professional network. If you require more responses, market survey platforms allow you to reach a wider audience for a fee.
Startup Decision #2 – What are your brand values?
If you are thinking about your brand values, this is great! Many startups ignore this at the beginning and do not make it a priority. However, your brand values guide your business by establishing the standards by which you operate. It also lets your market know what to expect from you.
Let’s say you know your ideal customer from a previous market survey. You also need to know what they value. If you say one of your values as a business is creativity, for instance, does your ideal customer care about creativity? In a highly competitive industry, would that customer buy a cheaper product even if it wasn’t particularly creative? Understanding the values that matter to your market helps you further define your ideal customer. Ask people what they care about. Use a survey to help respondents prioritise different values. How do you stack up?
Startup Decision #3 – Which content engages your target customer?
Startups and established businesses need to continuously engage their customers. This could be through a content marketing strategy that includes social media, blogs, videos etc. When you start creating content, monitor responses e.g. likes, comments and shares. This will give you an idea of what people engage with.
When you have built the readership of your content, ask your customers what kind of content they would like to see more of. Consider the format they prefer i.e. written guides, videos, infographics, live videos etc. Also, consider the topics they want to learn more about. Nothing beats actually asking your customers what they want and them witnessing you taking their suggestions on board.
Startup Decision #4 – How do you want your brand to be perceived?
A 2015 article by Brandwatch states,
Brand perception is owned by consumers, not brands. Regardless of your message, whatever people are thinking and saying about your brand, that is your brand.
This even truer now that it was in 2015. Surveying your customers is important for measuring how you are perceived or how you might be perceived based on elements of your branding such as your business name, logo, website design and content. If what you undercover through a survey is not how you would like to be perceived, you can take steps to influence that perception. Use social media and storytelling to create a relatable narrative around your brand and to build trust with your market.
Startup Decision #5 – How will you price your product to show value?
How you price a product could make or break its success. From the first decision about who your customers are, you might know enough about what they might be willing to pay. It is also important to know what your competitors are charging.
Pricing can be complex, including tiers and product bundling. This example of a product pricing survey:
Another approach could be to ask respondents what they would pay as a maximum. Something like this:
- Less than £100
- Between £100 and £250
- More than £250
If value-based pricing is your focus (as it is in many B2B sectors), ask your customers different questions such as which additional features they are willing to pay for (or paying for existing features to be bigger, faster or more durable) and what matters most to them when using a vendor like yours. You’ll be able to segment your market and give a price that reflects value to each segment. Each customer segment will be different.
Used well, marketing surveys are an effective way of hearing out your target market. You might not always change what you are doing because of the results but you will have information that allows you to put in place messages, content and support for anticipated customer reactions.
Have you used marketing surveys to make a decision? Tell us how it went in the comments!
Nearly half of B2B buyers read 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with any salesperson. If you are a B2B technology or computing company, for instance, around 63% of articles in your industry are found and read through Google searches. Depending purely on social media to tell your story is not sufficient as organic searches overtake social media for website referrals. One common way for your potential buyer to find and learn about your business is through content marketing. Therefore, you might consider starting a business blog.
Starting a Business Blog, Step 1: Setting Goals
Step 1: Setting Goals
Before starting a business blog, you must decide what your goals are. Goals differ from business to business so it is important you take time to:
- Establish your goals
- Identify ways to measure progress towards your goals
- Review your goals in case they need to change
Establish your goals
The ultimate goal of blogging is usually to attract new customers. But you must break down your goal into actionable chunks to allow you focus on creating content that meets specific needs. For instance, you might want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your target market. This goal makes sense if you are new on the scene and you have other competitors offering similar products or services.
A follow-on goal could be to build an email list of people who are interested in your services. Remember people read many things you have written before signing up for anything. Therefore, showcasing your knowledge through thought leadership is the place to start.
Measure your progress
How will you know whether you’re achieving your goal? If you are building your personal brand as a thought leader, you could measure how many followers you have each month. While it is great to see your follower count increase, don’t get fixated on it. It is more about the quality of your network. Invest in your online relationships by creating content that starts conversations. Get involved in those conversations and reach out via email if appropriate. Other measurements might include webpage traffic, number of likes, number of downloads and shares.
Review your goals
Starting a business blog with specific goals in mind is a great way to focus your efforts. However, things change. If you find that your business has changed or the feedback you receive from customers is not quite what you expected, it’s reasonable to review what you are doing. A Tel Aviv-based B2B marketing agency had to review their content marketing strategy after they discovered that they were being investigated for spam. They started tracking and evaluating everything they were doing including:
- Links in their content
- Which piece of their content linked to
- Groups where they posted content
- Who’s the buyer persona we’re addressing
- Actual post copy
- Which buyer personas each content addressed
- Feedback from their target buyer personas
They looked at a few other things but the above shows a thorough review, which led to positive changes in their goals and strategy.
Starting a Business Blog, Step 2: Identify Whom
Step 2: Identify Whom
Identifying why you are writing is great but it is arguably more important to know who you are writing for. Developing buyer personas will help you to create focused and relevant content. If your buyer is an Operations Manager with an objective to maintain staff morale while cutting costs, you can start creating articles that will resonate with that buyer. Every buyer has a different set of challenges so you must segment your content accordingly. Consider using categories and tags to do this. For instance, you might have content about time management hacks, improving staff retention and a separate category for the most effective team collaboration apps. When identifying who you are writing for, consider:
- Job responsibility
- Greatest challenges
When developing your buyer’s persona, you must understand what your target buyer is responsible for and what he is accountable for. Write a rough outline of what his or her job description is likely to be. Note key responsibilities. For example:
- Can he/she make buying decisions?
- Do he/she have a budget?
- How big is that budget?
- Is there a team reporting to him/her?
These sort of questions allow you to better understand the motivations and likely goals of your target buyer. There are several great buyer persona templates on the web like this one on the Alexa Blog.
Every job has challenges. To catch your target buyer’s attention, you should offer solutions to their greatest challenges. Now that you understand their job role, you can stand in their shoes and identify the likely challenges that they face. One way to do this is to make a list of all the tasks that are involved in their role. Then against each task, add a measure of performance. Ask yourself: What obstacles would stand in the way of performing well on this measure. You might need to speak to current or previous customers to develop a comprehensive list.
For instance, a Marketing Manager could be tasked with increasing brand awareness for his or her employer. How will the employer know that brand awareness has improved? Perhaps they measure web traffic, time on a web page and the number of followers they have on Twitter. What is likely to make it difficult to achieve good quality web traffic? Poor content, no content or misleading content. Now you can start to provide potential solutions…
Starting a Business Blog, Step 3: Be Practical
Step 3: Be Practical
The most valuable content is always practical and actionable. Valuable content leaves you with at least one thing you can do straight away. Therefore, your readers will be more inclined to tell others about your article. Some ways to create highly valuable content is to:
- Answer burning questions
- Share interesting/alarming stats about your industry
- Create a guide for a beginner or an ultimate guide with more in-depth content for advanced learners
Answer burning questions
There are some great places on the web to find questions that people want answers to. Check out Reddit, Quora.com and AnswerThePublic.com, for instance. Your customers are also a good source of questions. Also, talk to your customer service team to create a list of frequently asked questions that you can address through your blog posts.
Another approach is to follow popular comment threads in your industry to see what people are saying. This will give you an idea of what is topical. It gives you an opportunity to write content that showcases your knowledge and answers today’s burning questions.
Share interesting/alarming stats
Much like how I started this blog post, stating stats is a powerful way of drawing people in to read your content. Depending on your industry, there are likely to be a worth of resources for trends, stats and case studies that you could use. I often use MarketingCharts.com and WordStream.com. Articles in Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com tend to include stats. You can follow the links to those stats and find the original report.
Create a guide
I love it when I’m looking for advice on how to do something and I find not just a blog post, but a GUIDE. It’s like, “Wow! All my prayers are answered!” A guide is not just about blogging, it’s about creating lead magnets. Lead magnets are content that your readers are willing to give their email address in exchange for access. They are usually more than a 500-word blog and include more detailed information. Popular guides are how-tos, checklists and cheat sheets. You can also create a guide from a series of blog posts. For instance, if you’ve written a few blogs on start-ups hiring their first employees, you could create a kind of compendium for start-up founders. Designrr is a great tool for turning blogs into e-book guides.
Starting a Business Blog, Step 4: Share Online
Step 4: Share Online
The distribution side of blogging is often forgotten. If you write a blog post on your website, it is not automatically found and read. You will start to get organic readership through online searches but that will take time. A new blog needs lots of exposure and that’s where sharing comes in. Here are some channels to consider before starting a business blog:
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Online groups and forums
Let’s briefly go through each of these.
Part of setting goals and identifying your audience includes knowing which social media platforms are relevant to engagement. Don’t try to be everywhere. If you are just starting a business blog, pick 1-2 social media platforms and build an audience there. Follow influencers and engage in conversations.
When people start to sign up to hear from you, that’s a big deal! Email marketing allows you to make direct contact with someone who you already know is interested in what you do. You may build this list from online sign-up forms or from your own list of contacts if you’re starting from scratch. Start somewhere by emailing your blog posts to your contacts. And remember to ask them to share.
This type of marketing focuses on influencers rather a target customer. To use influencer marketing, you must identify people that might have an influence over your potential customers. These people usually have a passion for sharing content. Direct your content to them and get them to share your content. Influencer marketing platforms such as Mavrck and Social Bakers are good places to get started.
Online groups and forums
If you create content for a niche audience, online forums are your best friend. You can answer questions with your content and explore the real challenges for people in your industry. Over time, you will be known as a thought leader in your area of choice. This is a great way to build an audience for not just your business blog but for your personal brand too.
Have you recently started a business blog? What is working for you? What isn’t going quite as you thought it would?
We’d like to welcome Mike Alawi to our team. He joined us last month as Marketing Project Executive. Here is a blog that he put together for you. Who else wants to be a more successful business? We know we do!
1. Provide outstanding customer service
To excel in customer service, you and your staff need to know the ins and outs of your product or service. You should know common questions that your customers ask and how to respond competently and effectively. Staff training in this area is important. Listen and be responsive. Ask for feedback, ensuring that you use feedback positively. Identify areas for improvement and make specific changes in your business. Let your customers know that you implemented their suggestions and/or acted on feedback. I recently read an article about a Starbucks customer that called into the company’s corporate offices after a mix up with a branch. Instead of simply giving him a refund, the customer service representative told Jason that they needed to “make him whole and give him an experience nothing short of fantastic.” They then filled his rewards card with $50 of store credit. Way to go Starbucks!
2. Help your customers do their jobs better
Content marketing provides B2B customers with handy information which can assist in their organisation’s day to day tasks. Companies that write regularly have seen up to 3X more website traffic and 4.5X more sales leads. There is increased brand reach that creates long-term business relationships, which could generate more sales leads for your company. The more consistently high quality content you offer your audience, the more likely they are to return to your site as a trusted source. Ericsson, a multinational networking and telecommunications company, provided 5 life hacks for working in the corporate world on the blog section of their website.
3. Create more than one price point
It’s a good idea to test different pricing brackets. Let’s say you offer three prices for different levels of a product or service. One priced low, another with all the bells and whistles, and a mid-market price. This range widens the reach of your audience and opens a gateway to new customers, or a premium price on the other end of the scale for those who want the full package. Amazon nailed this strategy with their shipping options. They offer express next day delivery for £4.49, standard 3-day delivery for £1.99 or free no rush delivery in 3-5 days. Each price is aimed at customers with different requirements, expectations and budgets.
4. Be the first to inform your customers of new trends
Everyone wants to be kept in the loop with latest trends. Being first to inform your customers of new trends will increase your credibility as a source of relevant, up-to-date information. It attracts more potential customers to your online and offline channels and results in a positive impression of your brand. People will then regularly look to you for new content making you stand out from the crowd as a successful business.
5. Give your brand a human face by having conversations
Giving your brand a personality that people can relate to allows you to reach more people effectively. Talk about your products, talk about your industry and latest trends. People appreciate content that engages with their interests and makes them feel at ease with a brand. Grüum, a company that specialises in custom shaving kits tell their brand story well. They write about how four friends from Manchester decide to quit their jobs, invest their savings and take on a multi-billion dollar industry. When you buy from Grüum, your first purchase comes with a small note from the founders themselves thanking you for your purchase.
6. Develop multiple ways to get in touch with you
In addition to picking up the phone, maximise the use of multiple channels such as social media, chatbots and events to provide potential customers with more touchpoints with your business. You will also reach a wider audience. Use your website as a hub but engage with your target audience on relevant social media platforms, through networking and selected events.
7. Focus on being the best at the ONE thing that really matters to your target market
Whatever you specialise in, ensure that you can be the best at it so that your stand out from your competitors. It could be your customer service, your cutting edge technology, your flexible pricing or the great events that you host. It might even be your deliberate and continued support for your local community. Being fantastic is one aspect of your service gives you a distinct competitive advantage that becomes difficult for others to copy. These are just some of the ways that you could build a better, more successful business that you can be proud of.
You’ve probably figured out that I’m crazy about great content. I believe in the importance of content. That’s why I’m always looking for ways to support start-ups and SMEs in writing more and better content. So, when I came across a recent WIRED.CO.UK article on the hottest start-ups in London, I got curious about what their “content life”. I’ve been busy curating content and blog post ideas for you.
Start-ups like Monzo, Digital Shadows, Ravelin and mum-tech, Let’s Mush did not fail me. They have been doing their content homework – yay! The result is these 12 blog post ideas from London’s hottest start-ups. I hope you’ll try one each month of 2018.
Monzo is a Fintech company that prides itself on building a bank for the business community. Its website has a strong identity, in addition to blogging a couple of times a week.
Blog post idea 1: Give a Rundown of Your To-do List
On Monzo’s blog, it has a rundown of the company’s to-do list. This includes what they want to achieve for their customers and creates anticipation for new features, events and technology.
Nested is a Property technology company. It has made the property sector fresh and fun, calling themselves: “The estate agents with a difference”.
Blog post idea 2: Publish Customer Stories & Reviews
A whole section of their website is dedicated to customer stories. They get pictures and data from the customer and put together the story. Data includes how long it takes to receive an offer for their house and the % valuation that they eventually get on the sale.
Digital Shadows – As a leader in digital risk and cybersecurity, this start-up uses content to show credibility and build trust with target customers. They have a well-established blog with around 250 blog posts written so far and a resource centre with several whitepapers and data-backed reports.
Blog post idea 3: Deep dive into Your Expertise
Digital Shadows oozes credibility through their web content. They go deep into trending topics such as GDPR and cybersecurity. Their detailed reports are easy to download and do not require you to provide an email address. But they leave you wanting to give it to them anyway!
Let’s Mush is an app that helps mums make local mum friends, like a Tinder for mums. It is in a group of apps sometimes referred to as “mum-tech” or “parent-tech”. The app has a growing community in the US, Canada and Australia.
Blog post idea 4: Address a Common Pain Point
There are a number of useful and humorous articles on the Let’s Mush blog. The writers have a nice way of tackling everyday challenges of being a mother. As a mother myself, I totally relate to these posts. Addressing common pains is a great way to engage with an audience on a deeper level.
Starship Technology is a company building a network of robots. Its founders are the co-founders of Skype, Janus Friis and Ahti Heinla. They are well-funded and they have already run several tests all over the world.
Blog post idea 5: Re-post Third-Party Press Releases
These guys skip straight to third-party articles that mention them. Wired, The Telegraph and London’s Evening Standard are just some of the places that have written about this innovative start-up. The Starship Press page publishes the first two lines of the articles and then points visitors to the full article on the original third-party website. If you don’t like to write/have time to write but you are getting a fair bit of media coverage, this is one way to go!
Seenit is a content tech startup that helps users to curate stories via their app. With clients like Unilever and Adidas, the company is revolutionizing video story-telling with a combination of community and technology.
Blog post idea 6: Showcase Customers Using Your Product
By the nature of their product, Seenit has tons of content from customers using the product. Customers submit their stories, videos and behind-the-scenes scoop. It appears that this kind of content is so popular that Seenit has separate pages for blogs and stories. There are stories from organisations such as Adidas, The Body Shop. The National Lottery and BBC Three. If you have big name clients, this could really work.
Blog post idea 7: Create a Guide
One of the many things that Seenit is good at is helping its users get the most out of the product. Its blog has a number of “Guide” posts like this one, Playlist of Guides to Story Writing and Telling, which offers more value to users and gets them really making the best use of the Seenit platform.
Smarkets is a betting exchange that allows its users to bet against each other. I was impressed with the variety of content that this start-up has curated on their blog. They come across as experts, not just in betting but in software development and data science.
Blog post idea 8: Capture What Happens Behind the Scenes
This company often publishes blogs that give you a good idea of what it would be like to work there. They also introduce new employees via blog posts. One of my favourite posts is from June this year where their Head Chef, Tony, was interviewed about a day in his life at work. Nevermind the blog post – I was like, “They’ve got a chef?! I want to work there!”
Habito is an online mortgage broker that wants to make it easier to apply for a mortgage. In January this year, the start-up raised £5.5 million in a Series A round led by Ribbit Capital.
Blog post idea 9: State a Statistic, Then Pose a Question
This blog has great content and advice for homebuyers. In particular, they state a statistic related to their industry and then ask if the reader is part of that statistic. For instance, 43% of Mortgage Holders Paid More This Week – Did You? is a blog that asks if the reader is part of a statistic and then provides 7 ways to get a better deal to avoid paying more. It’s an eye-catching title and the subsequent content is valuable for those looking for a good remortgage deal.
Ravelin is a fraud detection platform that “never stops learning”. Its clients include Deliveroo and Easy Taxi. The platform reduces fraud incidences by more than 50%.
Blog post idea 10: Start a Podcast Series
This company writes regular content. But I was particularly fascinated by their podcast series, which hails as the only podcast series that is focused on helping their customers understand the issues of fraud, chargebacks and payments. It is a well-resourced and established podcast. Experts from KPMG, Office of National Statistics and MMC Ventures are just some of the people who have featured on the podcast.
Blog post idea 11: Review New Technology in Your Industry
I got double ideas from Ravelin. Yes, that good! They reviewed Google Cloud Platform on their blog, explaining why they have embraced it at Ravelin. There is also a link to the full case study, which is on the Google Cloud Platform website. If you use third-party tools and you love it, consider collaborating on a case study. The exposure, goodwill and value is a triple whammy!
Hibob is a cloud-based HR management software with the strapline, ” Shaping the future of HR”. The online HR hub wants to change the outdated deposition of HR departments. The start-up recently raised £19.5 million in Series A funding and has expanded to the US.
Blog post idea 12: Offer Helpful Tips & Tricks
True to their mission, Hibob has a wealth of tips for HR teams and professionals. On its blog, you will find posts from a range of topics such as how to attract and retain talent, successful onboarding and scaling up company culture. Their purpose is clearly to support HR teams and they do this well through a prolific company blog.
These are the kinds of content that the hottest start-ups are producing. Every single start-up on the list had a form of dynamic, regular content on their website. Content marketing helps to increase brand awareness and credibility. It can educate, motivate, convert and support your customers.
If you have limited time and resources to regularly write on your company blog, get in touch with the team at YO! Marketing today by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our unique content writing services for businesses. We are technical and we are writers.
Personally, I love video marketing for two reasons:
- They quickly communicate ideas
- They make me connect on a much deeper level compared to text on a page
But don’t take my word for it. There are some incredible stats about online videos. For instance, over half a billion people watch a video on Facebook every day. Do you realise how many people that is? That is 8.3% of the people on earth!
Video marketing increases trust in your brand.
Recent stats show that 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers and over half of marketing professionals say video gives the best ROI.
- Forbes stats: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2017/09/22/top-10-video-marketing-trends-and-statistics-roundup-2017/#1faa4cd77103
- Hubspot stats: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/video-marketing-statistics
- Socialmediatoday stats: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/50-social-media-video-marketing-stats-2017-infographic
“If you’re not using video marketing as part of your marketing strategy, you are losing out big time”
For start-ups, videos are a great way of connecting with your audience with engaging content. You don’t need fancy equipment – a camera phone and some good lighting are all you need. Videos can humanise your founder/CEO, showcase new clients or promote testimonials from existing ones. You can reveal your workspace, your team and your partners. Facebook Live, Instagram Live and LinkedIn Video make on-platform videos so easy, anyone can do them – just hit live!
Stuck for content ideas? Then give us a buzz for an inspiring chat. As a final stats treat, check out this infographic from Website Builder – 127 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Video Marketing
Starting a new business is exciting and frustrating at the same time. It’s exciting because of the possibilities but you often don’t know how or whether you will succeed in building a viable business. Fortunately, there are several digital marketing tips that can support your marketing efforts.
Digital Marketing Tips: Lead Generation
You can make assumptions about who will buy from you but you never really know. One way to convert new sales is to build a website and install Google Analytics (GA) on it. GA provides information about website visits such as pages that visitors read and how they arrive there.
For instance, you might find that most of your traffic comes from Twitter or from organic searches. You might also find that your website visitors spend more time on one type of content compared to another and fill out as contact form asking for more information thereafter. This means you have converted a website visitor into your sales funnel using content on your site.
Digital Marketing Tips: Strategies
The strategy that you employ depends on what you want to achieve. Start by creating an awareness of the problem that you want to solve for your customers. Often, your target customers know that there is a problem but they are unable to define it.
Another strategy could be to retain and deepen the relationship that you have with existing customers. Your marketing activities will differ in this instance. For example, you could provide more long-term customer support, incentivize repeat business or start regular webinars that arm your customers with tips and tricks for optimising their purchase.
Digital Marketing Tips: Competitor Knowledge
Many start-ups ignore the competition or they believe that they don’t have any competition. Online access presents a vast world of information about your competition, similar products and trends. Learn from your competitors.
Find out which social media platforms that they are most engaged with and see who their followers are. What is working for them and where could they improve? Always thrive to create a distinct competitive advantage rather than just copying your competitors.
Digital Marketing Tips: Creating a Budget
Planning a budget is difficult when you are starting a business. This is because you are not sure what is going to work to grow your sales pipeline. One of the best ways to create a focused budget is by choosing a strategy and executing it.
Experiment with different ways of generating brand awareness. Pick one or two social media platforms then manage them well, and ensure that you are measuring performance against your goals. Look at the sources of your web traffic and where your qualified leads originate from. Spend more in those areas.
Digital Marketing Tips: Planning for Growth
You need to be able to calculate what it costs you to acquire a customer. This is how you can forecast sales and grow. This cost is commonly called Cost of Customer Acquisition or COCA.
Here is an example of COCA using Facebook Ads. If your goal is 100 subscribers for your online course, you must first find out how many people need to click on your Facebook Ad in order to get 100 sign ups. Say your conversion rate is 1% on average. That means you need 10,000 people to click on your ad. If your cost per click on Facebook is roughly £0.20 (this varies from industry to industry and from ad to ad), it means you will spend £2,000 to acquire 100 subscribers. Therefore, your COCA is £20.
There is also the case of customer lifetime value or LTV. And that better be larger than your COCA otherwise you will not sustain your business long term. More on that in my next post.
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