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Which marketing channels are right for your business? Digital content explored

Which marketing channels are right for your business? Digital content explored
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Which marketing channels are right for your business? Digital content explored
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Digital content may sound scary – the sort of thing that’s the mother tongue of digital natives, but a foreign language for anyone old enough to remember life before mobile phones.  But it’s a key part of your marketing matrix that you can’t afford to ignore, as our marketing expert, Siobhan Stirling of Sharp Minds Communications, explains.

If you’re not sure what digital content is, the answer is simple: it’s any content that is published online.  It’s often defined as including your social media; if you’re not sure which social media outlets your business should be on, have a look at our separate guide to social media.  To keep things manageable, in this blog we’re going to look at the other elements of digital content, excluding social media.  

WEBSITES           

Websites are the most obvious example of digital content; for most businesses these days, they are your shop window.  Even if someone receives a glowing recommendation about you, you can guarantee the first thing they’ll do is to check out your website.  You do occasionally come across a business that doesn’t have a website (normally organisations who rely solely on word-of-mouth recommendations), but for most companies a website is a must-have.  As a business essential, it pays to invest in the website you need to pitch effectively to your ideal clients.  If you’re just starting out, building your own website from cheap DIY templates is better than having no web presence at all, but as soon as you have some cash flowing in, you should budget for a website that is going to communicate the right messages to your target audience/s.  This normally means investing in design and build, professional content and ongoing search engine optimisation to make sure you rank highly in relevant online searches – after all, there’s no point having a brilliant shop window if you’re stuck in an alley way where no-one can see it.

BLOGS

Search engine optimisation (SEO) brings us nicely onto blogs.  Unfortunately, to do well with SEO, it’s not enough just to make sure you have all the right labels and descriptions on your web pages.  The matrices used by the search engines to rank websites are complex and fiercely guarded, but it is well known that the algorithms value fresh, original content; it’s a sign that your website isn’t dormant site.  If you’re a big e-commerce site, such as Amazon or e-Bay, you have hundreds of new items being listed each day, so publishing fresh content isn’t a challenge.  But most organisations don’t have an inherent business need to publish fresh content.  This is where blogs come into their own: each blog counts as a new page, so publishing regular blogs becomes another marketing must for most organisations. 

As well as boosting SEO, blogs also:

  • Help you position your business as a leader in its field
  • Create a valuable platform through which to engage your targets
  • Provide material to give you something original to comment about/promote in your social media

If you’ve no idea how to get blogging, have a look at our series on how to make your blogs work for your business; this covers everything from what to write about, how often to publish and how to get the best returns from your business blog.

IMAGES

Images that are published online also count as digital content.  If you have a visual offering – for example if you’re a florist, photographer, interior designer, builder or a hairdresser – publishing regular pictures of your latest creations is a great way to lead the field and stimulate interest among potential customers.  If you’re publishing on your website, make sure the images are correctly labelled to maximise SEO.  You should also promote your images on the appropriate social media channels.  And, if you haven’t taken or commissioned the photos yourself, make sure that you have copyright to publish them.

VIDEOS

Videos that are available online similarly count as digital content.  Videos are fabulous for SEO (especially because Google owns YouTube, so it ranks highly if you publish on there), plus they are a great way of creating engagement with your targets.  It’s arguable that video is becoming as much of a business must-have as websites and blogs.  If you don’t currently have a budget for videos, it’s probably something to put into your forecasting.  Have a look at what your competitors are doing and look at examples from your sector and others to get an idea as to what works well and creates high engagement.  It’s also worth talking to a few production companies to get an idea of fees and different outputs.  Videos no longer have to be expensive; the cost of kit keeps coming down, and as long as you keep the production simple, you may be surprised at what you can get for your bucks – and the results video can deliver for you.

WEBINARS

These online seminars enable those watching to interact, no matter where they are.  You can also make webinars available for people to download after the event; although they won’t be able to interact, they can benefit from the content, and you have an additional channel through which to create engagement with your targets.  Webinars can be a powerful tool for showcasing your expertise, establishing direct communication with your targets and creating data-capture opportunities.  However, as with all presentations and seminars, they need to be well planned and presented, with great material to show that you know your stuff and to keep the audience interested.  And you need to market them prior to the event.

PODCASTS, VLOGS AND AUDIO BLOGS

These are basically blogs that are delivered in audio or video format.  As with written blogs, it’s best to have a planned schedule of content.  You also need to be confident in delivering them, and you need to keep them going – as with most forms of marketing, petering out is one of the biggest mistakes.  Podcasts, vlogs and audio blogs can be powerful for many different sectors, but vlogs have been used most successfully by consumer-facing companies, especially lifestyle ones.  For example, if you run an online make-up store, make-up tutorials or product testing vlogs – done well – would be a powerful addition to your marketing arsenal. 

Digital content is an essential part of any modern marketing plan.  A website and blogs are givens for almost every business, but which other forms of content you should consider within your marketing activities will depend upon your sector and the ideal customers you are trying to reach.

To find out how Capital Space business premises could benefit your growing business,  call 0800 107 3667

MEET THE EXPERT

Siobhan Stirling is the director of Sharp Minds Communications, which provides strategic marketing communications for small- and medium-sized business across Kent, Sussex, Surrey and London.  A published author, former BBC presenter, reporter and producer and writer for national newspapers and magazines, Siobhan has a background in public relations.