The chronology of any effective marketing campaign is branding, engagement and conversion otherwise known as “the sales funnel”. While there are various version of the funnel, building awareness with branding is always the place to start. Digital branding generates recognition of your logo, name, colors, and your industry or specifically, the products or services your sell. Your brand can come into play at every touch point a customer has with your business online including your digital banner ads, social media presence, website and blog. Effective branding is consistent between digital channels and the message and images you put out create a feeling or personality about your company that begins to connect with prospective clients. While banner advertising is the most widespread tool for digital brand building, social media and blogging can be effective as well.
Social media is an excellent place for brand building due to the more engaged and open state of mind people are in when surfing their social channels. Messages that appear in social news feeds are consumed with more focus and attention than banner ads. While many companies are getting smart to brand building, engagement and direct response advertising on the social networks, many fewer are utilizing blogging. While the brand-building benefits of blogging is more subtle than social media or banner advertising, you may think of it as a “step two” in branding. With awareness created, visits to your blog from social accounts can be a great way to educate prospective clients about your company and affirm your expertise and leadership in your industry. Many clients we speak to avoid blogging due to the additional time required in writing a piece every week or month, but doing so can help to keep you thinking about and up to date on industry trends, competitive pressures, new technologies and other things that may be important to your prospects. Don’t worry about educating your competitors via your blog because the benefits of educating your prospects and competitors outweighs the cons of educating neither.
A side benefit of blogging is it helps your organic rank in the search engines. Google rewards frequent, relevant content updates on your website and inbound traffic to your blog from popular relevant sites and is an effective SEO strategy. If you’re struggling to come up with topics for your blog, start with your customers point of view. What do they care about most? What problem can you or your product/service help them solve? What insights do you have about about your industry that isn’t common knowledge? Answering these questions illustrates value to your clients and builds you up as an expert in your field. Take a bike shop for example. While it may be tempting to write just about new bikes that are coming out for sales purposes, think a bit deeper about why your customers may be buying a bike and what they care about. People may want a bike for fun, adventure, exercise or camaraderie. Talk about these things in your blog to connect with your prospects in a more personal way. Creating a virtual personal relationship with prospects is a great way to de-commoditize the bike industry and create preference for your brand, regardless of price. For example, you can write about biking club trips you’ve taken, personal biking adventures you’ve been on, cool places you’ve been with your bike, and fellow bikers you’ve met on the way. Your customers are people first, who connect with great stories and great content, so make that your goal whenever you write a blog post.
Social Media is another digital channel where brand building can be extremely effective, and the opportunity to build brands on the social networks has grown substantially in the last few years. In addition to stories, you can use photos, illustrations and now, video. Take a look at the social media pages of some of the most successful brands like Go-Pro, Mercedes, American Express and Adidas. Notice that they all focus on personal customer experiences that create excitement about their brand. Go-pro shows us the best athletes in the world with amazing footage created wearing their cameras. Mercedes builds brand by showcasing the amazing interiors of their cars from a customer’s perspective in various driving settings. American Express tells success stories of all the businesses that use their services, and Adidas showcases their brand by posting about the athletes that love their products and perform better (apparently) because of them. No matter what industry your business is in, the focus of any social branding campaign is most effective when illustrated through customer experiences. Since blogging and social media branding doesn’t cost anything but time, even small businesses with some spare time or budget to hire a digital marketing firm can get involved.
If you’d like to get some ideas about how to build an effective sales funnel for your business or which channels of brand building will be most effective for your company, give us a call at 203-682-4585 or shoot us a note at [email protected] For regular monthly tips on best practices in digital marketing, sign up for our monthly newsletter.