Developing a Content Strategy that Will Surely Help You Win Big in 2017


Developing a Content Strategy that Will Surely Help You Win Big in 2017

Content marketing was HUGE in 2016. And judging by everything that has been going on in this field in the last 12 months – it’s getting bigger! A LOT bigger. Like Bruce Banner when he gets all super angry.

Digging through various different research results these last couple of days, it became crystal clear to me that content marketing is still on the rise. It’s still growing and provoking interest in all sorts of different circles. Even those you’d least expect.

Personally, I know a couple of small time entrepreneurs who made this 2016 their most profitable year yet just by adding content marketing to their overall marketing mix.

These days, loads of people I know are actively reading up on content marketing and trying to figure out how to make it a crucial component in their 2017 marketing strategy. They have finally started seeing this marketing technique for it truly is – a perfect solution for engaging and educating your target audience.

But why now? Content marketing isn’t something new, so why is it trending now? Why is it suddenly so important for all types of brands to regularly feed their followers and leads with all sorts of webinars, blog posts, use cases, case studies, infographics, etc?

Because in order to truly interest someone in doing business with you in this day and age, it’s imperative that you constantly showcase your worth. A well thought-through, organized, and executed content strategy is one of the best ways to pump up your brand awareness and convert your leads into actual paying customers.

As a tech company that operates in a very specific market, we at AltusHost constantly find ourselves in situations where we need to create additional understanding about our services and generate new interest in our brand. That’s why content marketing has been a huge part of our business these last couple of years.

Even though it’s never easy, when done right – content marketing has the power turn even the most obscure brands into genuine industry leaders.

The Rise of Content Marketing

In this highly-competitive world, the only thing that can really sell your products and services is your skill to demonstrate their value.

Never forget that.

People aren’t really interested in classic advertisement anymore. Studies have shown that modern shoppers are far more interested in starting personal relationships/conversations with brands, instead of just reacting to generic discounts and proposals.

When you dig in deep and analyze consumer behavior (in general) on a much larger scale, you’ll easily see that people don’t really buy things anymore just because they look pretty. No. They’ve finally stopped picking up random items from the store shelves and hoping for the best. Today’s shoppers know better than that. They’re far more educated and harder to manipulate.

Modern shoppers have only one thing in mind, and that’s value.

Especially in the B2B world. After crunching their numbers, the guys behind Curata claim that by the end of 2017, 51% of all companies will have an executive in their organization who is directly responsible for developing their in-house content marketing strategy.

But that’s not all. It is also said that now around 50% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions than they did a year ago.

So, What Do These Numbers Actually Tell Us?

Well, just that the habit of making uneducated guesses is now officially dying. In this day and age, shoppers want something that’s serves some real purpose or solves a particular problem for them.

The golden age of 30 second TV commercials is long gone, my friend. A lot of brands today are building their marketing strategy around a genuine consumer collaboration model that builds buzz and get people to partake in your content creation process on their own terms.

In order to convert a certain lead into a sale in 2016 (and the upcoming 2017), you need to convince your potential shopper that your products and services are really worth his/her time and money. The only way that you can do that is by creating all sorts of amazing content that proves that you’re better/different than your direct and indirect competitors.

As you know, if you have been revisiting this site for quite some time now, content marketing is a subject that I often cover on this blog. During these last 18 months, I’ve done my best to help you understand how to create amazing content and prove its ROI.

Looking back on everything I wrote here in these last 12 months, I would say that the key takeaways from my 2016 content marketing efforts are:

1. Design multiple, precise customer personas;
2. Focus on quality, not quantity;
3. Always do your best to create “original 10x content”;
4. Make different types of content that speak to your audience in every stage of your marketing funnel;
5. Don’t just write fluff – solve problems for your reader;
6. Data is a great sidekick, but a terrible leader – use your numbers to guide your content marketing efforts, but only to a certain extent;
7. Always tell a story, don’t just list facts;
8. Always write for an audience of exactly one;
9. Find your short and long-tail keywords, but don’t just settle for what Google’s Keyword Planner has to offer you;
10. Measure your success, be patient, focus on content that offers direct, collective and second chance return of your investments;
11. Combine your SEO and content marketing efforts.

These are just some of the major takeaways from 2016.

Even though I shared a lot of value here and tried my best to teach our audience such things as: the [Persona] + [Use Case] Formula, proper storytelling, how to use data to supercharge your content marketing efforts, etc – the truth is, I never really discussed strategy with you.

So, having this in mind, I’ve decided to make the rest of this post all about content strategy:

The 2017 Content Strategy

In this upcoming year, in order to make content marketing worth your while, you’ll need to build your strategy around an idea that actually stimulates people to communicate with your brand and recognize your content as something more than that just another text or image online.

Every 2017 content marketing strategy should be built around that. You want to create content that provokes people to act and react on what you share online. In 2016, one thing was clear – dynamic storytelling is king! Every brand that decided to think beyond traditional media formats and really focus on interaction has won big in this department.

In order to grow your business online, you need to do a lot more than just create content. You need to get people to really read it, understand it, and in the end – amplify it. That’s why your content needs to be more about your customers, than your products.

The guys at Coca-Cola have a great understanding of that. They call this strategy “liquid content”. Why? – Well, because, its prime objective is to easily and freely flow from one consumer to another. That type of content basically begs to be shared. It’s irresistible and so contagious that it cannot be controlled. It immediately sparks a lot of interest from its targeted audience.

Liquid content is important for brands because it:

1. Often (if done right) outgrows your expectations and helps you learn a lot of new things about your audience;
2. Positions your company as an expert in its field;
3. Builds up brand awareness through entertainment;
4. Spikes up customer interests in your company, services, and products;
5. Creates loyal raving fans and followers that money cannot buy.

Adopt the 70-20-10 Rule

Even though liquid content should be a huge part of your 2017 content marketing strategy, that still doesn’t really mean that you should kill everything that has been going great for you so far in this department.

Sure, in this day and age, a lot of people are interested far more in interactive content than anything else, but there’s still a huge demand out there for case studies, white papers, webinars, and all sorts of videos and blog posts that educate users about your products and services.

Traditional content formats aren’t dying, they’re just transforming into something far more powerful.

Regardless how many blog posts and case studies get published every single day online – this type of content will never go away. I truly believe that. Creating how-to content around relevant short and long tail queries is still every content marketer’s bread and butter, now and forever.

But, you cannot stop there. You need to mix it up a bit if you want to rise above your competitors and become a top player in your niche. That’s why I suggest the 70-20-10 investment principal for everyone who plans to see significant ROI from his/her content marketing efforts in this upcoming year.

In case you’re not familiar with this strategy, allow me to explain it to you:

A 70-20-10 rule is a content marketing principle in which certain brand invests 70% of its resources into creating low-risk content, 20% into new trending formats, and 10% into risky ventures that could become tomorrow’s 70% or 20% content.

By following this blueprint, regardless how you do in these last two stages, you’ll instantly turn your business into something more than it already is. Innovation is a big part of content marketing. Apart from chasing old KPIs in this field, you should always try your best to change the game and bring something new to the table. Even though if you first don’t succeed, it’s only a matter of time when you’ll be rewarded for your efforts and bravery.

Goran Mirkovic.

 

3 Backup Strategies for Keeping Your Business’ Data Safe and Secure

Picture this scenario:

You’re a CEO and Founder of a hot new app that’s generating loads of new customers every single day.

Naturally, you’re feeling good about yourself. And why shouldn’t you? Your business is booming, everything seems to be going fine, you’re enjoying the fruits of your labor and watching people spread good words about your brand all over the Web, until one day – a certain bug shows its ugly face in your code, causing data loss in certain versions of the company’s Mac application. It starts deleting images and other attachments under specific conditions.

The horror, right?

You try everything, but regardless of much money and effort you invest in recovering your data, sooner or later you’ll have to face the facts and accept that your data is lost forever.

Even though this scenario basically brings your worst nightmares to life, it still sounds quite unlikely, doesn’t it? It still feels like something that could never actually happen to an actual business?

Well, you’re wrong – this exact scenario happened to Evernote, forcing the company to contact its top users and explain to them why, for example, a crucial part of their PhD thesis is now lost forever.

Not a pretty picture, is it?

As you can imagine, those type of conversations weren’t that easy to handle. They brought a lot of stress and dissatisfaction to the table, forcing more than a few Evernote users to instantly delete their account and move their notes to a whole new place.

The Evernote case is just one of many. There are literally thousands of examples concerning data loss that can be found online. Even though losing your information at first seems like something that only affects careless businesses, the sad truth is – it could happen to everyone. Yes, even major companies like Google.

I remember like it was yesterday – Back in August 2015, Google reported it’s lost some of their cloud customers’ data. After the local power grid got struck by lightning 4 times (yes, you read it correctly – 4 times), the discs at some of Google’s data centers in St. Ghislain (Belgium) got instantly fried and wiped clean.

Heck, just a couple of days ago, Yahoo disclosed that 1 billion of their user accounts have been compromised.

Yes, you read it right. One billion.


So, what can we learn from these examples?

Well, among other things, that data loss can happen for any number of reasons.

Buggy software, natural disaster, higher forces, awful coincidences, hardware failure, data corruption, frequent hacker attacks – these are just some of the events that could rob you of your precious company and customer information.

The Loss Of Your Data Will Most Likely Destroy Your Business

If you’re someone who makes his/her bread and butter from what you do or sell online – then your data is everything to you. It’s the lifeblood of your company.

Let’s get back to Google and Evernote for a second. Knowing how these two brands operate, you could say that user data is basically everything to them. People use Evernote to store and organize their files in an always accessible place.

That being said, if Evernote loses its user data, it’s only a matter of time when the guys behind this band will be forced to close-up shop. I know this seems harsh – but, believe it or not, research has shown that 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster.

That being said, you cannot really afford to expose your information to any risk.

So, having all this in mind, how does one protect himself/herself from data loss?

Easily, by applying one of these backup strategies to your business.

Remote Backups

This is the best of the best. For those who are not familiar with the term, “remote backup” refers to a method of data storage in which files, folders, and basically all types of information, are being stored on a safe remote server.

Even though most people understand that having copies of your files locked safely away safe in a secure and secluded place is the right thing to do – most of them never really take the time to actually create their backups.

They also have “something better to do”, which is ironic, when you understand what’s the heart and soul of their business.

Like I wrote before, most of them feel like this sort of thing will never happen to them, and that’s why, sooner or later, their business suffers huge losses that have extremely negative effects on their overall reputation and financial situation.

Unlike most of them, I just don’t really feel comfortable exposing myself to unnecessary risk, especially when I know that this kind of horror can be easily avoided just by investing in Offsite Backups.

We at AltusHost truly understand the importance of data.

That’s why we offer Offsite Backup services on our powerful Storage Servers, located in Amsterdam, Netherlands. All backed up data is encrypted for an additional layer of protection. It doesn’t really get any better than that.

Leave your backups to professionals and you won’t have to worry about a thing.

3-2-1 Backup Strategy

Second best, but still effective. In a nutshell, this strategy is all about creating 3 copies of your data, 2 of which are created on different mediums, and 1 on an additional external hard drive. I know this seems a little too complicated and paranoid, but believe me – you can never be too careful. Especially when the future of your business is on the line.

Even though a lot of people feel like having an onsite backup is enough, we AltusHost know that better. We know this particular type of copy is also susceptible to data loss. Especially if your copy is close to the original, and there’s even a slightest of chance that both of your copies can be affected by the same disaster.

As I already wrote about above – your data is your company’s lifeblood, which means that you need to do everything in your power in order to make sure that you never lose it. That’s why we advise you to always have multiple backups of various different mediums.

Private Cloud Storage

Private cloud storage offers scalable, easy-manageable and provisioned storage to all types of users who are in need of a digital place for keeping their private data intact.

I know, after hearing about those celebrity data scandals, on one really trusts the cloud. These days, people don’t really feel comfortable placing their data in the hands of third-party public cloud vendors.

Why? – Well, for various different reasons. First and foremost of all, because cloud services are often threatened by cyber criminals. They know that most people store their data online. However, if you know where exactly your data is being stored and your vendor allows your to have full visibility of the cloud – this could do the trick.

You need to know what data is being shared, as well as how a third-party vendor plans to deal with potential data breaches. Researching cloud vendors before starting a business relationship with them is of utmost importance.

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