In today’s article, based on our interview with Allison Alexander from Branue, we’ll discover how she leverages the power of digital content marketing to add more value and scale up her clients’ business growth.
Let’s take a quick look at the outline of the talk:
- Q: Can you introduce yourself and share your inspiration? What inspired you to get into digital marketing and content marketing?
- Q: What is the very first thing you do when you first work with a client for digital content marketing? What is your process for bringing the most value to clients?
- Q: How do you guide your clients to persona development?
- Q: What is your process of quality and creativity in content to become more effective?
- Q: How are you helping your clients with content planning?
- Q: How do you help your clients align their efforts between sales and marketing?
- Q: What do you think some writers miss in the process that would make their content more effective?
- Q: How do you use the content to help the sales team perform better?
- Q: What advice do you have for startups for better content marketing?
Q: Can you introduce yourself and share your inspiration? What inspired you to get into digital marketing and content marketing?
I started my direction in content marketing and then customer loyalty. I was probably about 14 or 15, and I felt passionate about customer feedback and brand. The strength of brands and recognition for brands; they need to listen to customers to survive.
I worked in big marketing departments, which fed on acquisition to retention. When you think about how important it is to nurture customers and how easy it is to sell to them, I suppose some of those metrics.
I worked in Telcos, there were many churns and loyalty, and I got into proposition development because I was passionate about digital marketing. I looked at my mobile from that early age, knowing that it would be the future.
I focused on tech, so I wanted to be brand new. It was an idea I came up with on the floor of my apartment in London about eight or nine years ago, where I always wanted to run my digital agency. I initially set the business up consulting and worked with eBay and Microsoft. I have built up this agency full of experts across digital data and design.
Q: What is the very first thing you do when you first work with a client for digital content marketing? What is your process for bringing the most value to clients?
One of the critical things that we try to do is brand storming. Our first approach is getting a complete audit of their people, processes, platforms, and performance measurements to set up a digital marketing strategy.
We get a straightforward and quick footprint of where they are today and a blue-sky vision from those audits. Then we get people to think about it from that perspective.
It depends on how sophisticated they want to go and how quickly they get to that point. So we get an excellent, neat roadmap, and we break that down by digital data, design, and platform initiatives.
We do a quick audit, and then a scatter graph, impact assessment, and prioritization; they’re involved in the process of the content marketing approach. Then we have several workstreams that kick off there with different OKRs, objectives, key results, specific goals, and typical challenges, and we’ll have clear metrics and measurements in place.
So we can go and track online content piece by piece. We’ve got a team that is building the content, framework, and building mechanics. Then we’ve also got the analysis going on behind the scenes.
So there are lots of different ways; it is digital marketing. So at the end of the day, we can customize and fit the glove to the hand. It depends on the growth question and how much they can invest in the digital marketing channels.
We have a rule of thumb for the level of investment that you would want to put in. Suppose you’re aiming to get a particular growth and so as we know that it might be 10%. So we have a lot of those financial conversations upfront too.
Q: How do you guide your clients to persona development?
It depends on how much data they have. We’re always more of a luxury if our clients have more data. Because we can then segment it and analyze or interpret it further, generally, yes, we will end up with x number of personas.
We will have a content plan for those, and we will have different metrics for the different personas. It will have the revenue a lot of the time; a figure in there like we want to drive this and increase traffic. But first, you will drive different results with different personas; it isn’t like a one-size-fits-all content marketing.
So we get into that sort of granular agreement of what we will achieve? What does success look like for this persona? So sometimes, that might be engagement or referral from that persona group.
Some of them could be just a slower ISO process of conversion. It isn’t a rapid turnaround straight away. You might be able to dial it up with ads or social media, but in terms of getting to those conversions, especially if it’s a service, it will take longer to show marketing results. That’s why businesses need to see you as a partner.
It takes a longer sales process, so you need to be in the trenches with them. But I think a lot of our strength and focus seems to be between sales and marketing and getting that harmony and the synergies working between them.
Q: What is your process of quality and creativity in content to become more effective?
Often, we work with many businesses where we’ve created their brand and the brand identity, but if we have personas and visual identity. We need to start with a visual identity for the structure and advertising on Facebook or Linkedin or whichever channel is powerful.
We work across all of these platforms and think about which one is the right platform you might need to be present on for digital content. Each of those has got a slightly dynamic about how you’re going to cut through.
We don’t need to go into the semantics here, but we have defined an apparent framework for social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram. They are more fast-paced attention economies.
Generally, we are leading with video first, but we also have a top, middle, and bottom-funnel structure with our clients. We start with those sorts of brand awareness campaigns usually.
We do a lot of video UBC, so it depends on whether it’s a b2b or b2c. We give it a different mix and a different flow, but we have this framework that we’ve developed through content marketing strategy.
Q: How are you helping your clients with content planning?
We do a lot of analysis into SEO and keywords. We are constantly living on a search console, and it’s a part of our process to continue to check that and ensure it feeds into the content marketing strategy.
We have focus group research. We do the surveys, and we could be doing the voice of customer programs that depend on how much data and how many customers these businesses have.
We have the marketing, CRM, sales, and service sides. So we’re covering the whole buyer’s journey and trying to amass all of the different signals and the insight and feedback from customers to make our content marketing strategies successful.
We work on content programs and weekly rhythm; we’re infusing that with what we see now from an SEO perspective. What pages are getting the clicks, and what digital content is performing best?
Which ads or which creative is performing best? What type of media marketing is working? Where are the results coming from digital channels? And that’s continuously going back into a bi-weekly rhythm.
Q: How do you help your clients align their efforts between sales and marketing?
When we talk about cx customer experience, we look at a complemented cx model and how you measure your customers across the buyer’s journey. You’ve also got your employees, and if you want to be an employer of choice, you need to be engaging and nurture your employees with a cx-ex mentality.
So there are a lot of linkages there, but I think from an organizational point of view, what you have to do is have these very high-level shared customer goals and turn your business into a customer-centric organization so that people remove that siloed vision.
Many businesses have recognized the silos that don’t benefit anyone because we should be working towards a shared and common customer success goal. But at the same time, there is always that challenge between sales and marketing who’s bringing in the customer.
That’s where I guess attribution and models like that can come into play, but generally, we use objectives and key results.
It is about engaging your stakeholders and getting that conversation on the table. Marketing is every touchpoint that a customer may or may not see and every referral that may or may not come to that person.
It’s sometimes refreshing to look at other businesses, and if you were to compare yourself to another company that doesn’t invest in digital content marketing, you could quickly see why they are failing. If they don’t invest in marketing and sales, they will not be busy. If marketing weren’t doing a great job, customers would not find out about you and choose you as a brand effectively.
Q: What do you think some writers miss in the process that would make their content more effective?
My sense with writers is that it’s a specialism, and I’m not sure if it is entirely fluid expertise because a writer could write. I think they have to be a subject matter expert in your field.
So, therefore, I think it’s always tricky to find someone you know will have enough experience to write on the subject and pick up the brand story. I do think it’s a very specialist skill.
We’ve worked with internal writers, and I’ve always been delighted with them. We’ve been fortunate to this point, but we’ve always had a great team of people. They are word spits. They can sit down and create some amazing, compelling content.
Q: How do you use the content to help the sales team perform better?
With the sales team, we would set up some automation where a few messages are going out first and foremost, and we’d also use specific digital marketing tools that would warm up the email provider so that it will manage to come more coherently.
We would do quarterly training to know what else you are learning. We look back through some of their CRM and see what other questions they’re picking up.
On the marketing side, though, we’re constantly looking at personas and then re-asking ourselves the question, is this content getting through? Are these journeys creating an impact?
Because we have many marketing automation running, we have the first touch of the next start to the subsequent touch. We will see how this is performing? Are these messages still landing? We’re just constantly having to change it again because we’re like, “Okay, now that needs to improve or that visuals are wrong or that creative needs to lift.”
So there’s always that kind of rhythm going on that we’re constantly changing, learning, and tweaking.
Q: What advice do you have for startups for better content marketing?
It’s first and foremost getting a strong brand and story together and shaping it. People nowadays want to know about the vision and who is behind the brand. So I think the founder tends to have to come to the front in content marketing works.
Start with your target audiences, then create a multi-touch, prosperous multi-channel campaign. But I think LinkedIn works hugely and is powerful for b2b. If it’s a tech startup, youtube will support that beautifully. It’s like live streaming, where you pre-record it and create these discussional topics.
Just in conversation, so much like peer-to-peer content, would end up with a nice, deep, and multi-touch digital content strategy. Initially starting with the brand awareness, trickling that out maybe with some inbound message conversations saying, “oh, we’ve got a new tech product, would you like to give us feedback on it?”
Then we’d try to build it up with a little more awareness; we can be doing some streaming, some content out through LinkedIn, Youtube, or maybe on Facebook just to have the presence there.
Because you can use one click, and it goes to all, we’d start to do some of the sponsored content. We’ve built up that sponsored content about the tips, webinars, or some of the UX.
We began to share some of that, and then we probably target the CTOs or whoever we want to speak to. We probably set up some marketing automation behind that; it’s plugging into the CRM, and a lot of that can run in the background.