The 4 Content Marketing Steps To Increase Sales

Content marketing is one of the most successful methods of customer engagement used by businesses for centuries. Although the buzz around content marketing is new, it’s been around way before we had the Internet or the very first website in 1991.

Content creation is probably the most challenging and time-consuming aspect of acquiring and maintaining customer engagement. Rules have changed quite a lot since Google Panda, which now favors quality, substance, and relevance over quantity.

This gives users a much better experience by providing them only the most relevant information from online searches, and, from the standpoint of online marketers, an incentive to create high quality, shareable content throughout the Internet.


Defining Your Target Audience

Content marketing revolves around the target audience, customers and clients, who are the main source of revenue for nearly all kinds of businesses.

Defining you target audience should always be the first priority before starting off with any business venture. Over time businesses may expand or evolve to include additional products or services which could also mean redefining the target audience in every stage of a company’s lifetime.

For a small brick-and-mortar business the target audience could be just the people within or around the city who might be interested with what the company has to offer. However if the brick-and-mortar business has an online component then it could include a national or even international audience.


Setting the Tone and Purpose of Your Content

When you’re absolutely certain about your target audience, the next step is to determine the purpose of creating content. Depending on which stage of the sales funnel you’re currently working on, you could also set a different purpose in creating your content. Some of these include:

•     To stimulate interest
•     To inform or educate
•     To entertain
•     To persuade

Content creation, to be most effective, should be a part of a larger system which works hand in hand with every aspect of the business instead of being a separate strategy on its own. Most sales funnels rely on a systematic approach to content creation to lead their clients from one stage to another.

During the initial stages of client acquisition, the purpose for creating content is usually to stimulate viewer’s interest.

Writing copy for landing pages is one great example of how content can be used to start a conversation with the clients. This may also include subscription to a free monthly newsletter or a quick survey for collecting relevant customer information.

Potential clients respond differently to different content. If they want to know more about the company, its products or services, your purpose should be to inform or educate the audience about the benefits and advantages of using or applying them, whether it’s in a form of free content, an informative blog post, infographic, or YouTube video.

The latter part which involves your prospects taking action requires a more persuasive form of content or writing. Content creators needs to be able to make the final push to lead conversion by conveying a sense of urgency and what they stand to lose for not taking action.

Following-up with your prospects is essential to lead conversion at this stage of the customer’s journey.

Being able to define the purpose of content creation allows businesses to accomplish their sales and marketing goals more efficiently.


Maintaining Interest

Holding viewer’s interest is the next important aspect of an effective content marketing strategy. It not only helps with lead conversion, but in the long run, it would also help increase the company’s visibility through online search or social media.

When creating content, keep the following characteristics in mind:

  • Usefulness – Viewing or reading content will use up some time from your target audience. Creating content that is useful is an incentive to spend more of their time viewing or reading them in the future.
  • Relevance – What’s in it for them? Creating content that is on point to the viewers or readers is a sure way to keep an audience. This applies to email sequences where clients receive updates based on how they respond to a given call-to-action (CTA) or data gathered from subsequent surveys.
  • Timeliness – Proper timing is also key to maintaining interest. Blog postings, for instance, should follow a certain schedule or pattern where readers could expect something new from time to time. This applies to any type of content whether it’s a YouTube v-log, new findings or research, press release, etc.


Improving Online Visibility

 Online content can be used to leverage your marketing efforts due to the fact that it can be viewed or shared across multiple channels. This is particularly true with high quality, shareable content.

Marketing experts have already developed some of the most effective ways to increase visibility through search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing, and social media.

Each method has its own ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ but for most startups with limited budgets, improving visibility can be achieved through social media and email marketing.

Some CRM services incorporate these two features to enable small businesses to communicate with their clients at very little or no expense at all. Link-building through SEO or paid inclusion in search engines through SEM, although quite effective in extending reach, could entail higher expenses.


A Better Alternative for Small Business Startups

 Having a good sales and marketing app that goes hand in hand with creating content that really speaks to your audience is by far the most reasonable, if not the only way of starting up and growing a small business.

Small Business Dream goes beyond by offering client acquisition tools through its survey creator and landing pages along with sales and marketing automation features. Find out how at

The Importance of Follow-up in Converting Leads to Sales

I just wanted to share some thoughts I had the other day about the importance of follow-up as I was going through Small Business Dream and doing all my follow up calls for my software company. I started to think about follow-up and how important it is. I had a customer come on board that has been on my drip follow-up for 12 years!

He bought every other kind of solution he could, while avoiding the main thing we sell. He had every excuse in the book to not be ready every time I called. That’s right. I called and called without any judgement; I just called if he came up on my call list in Small Business Dream. In addition, my email autoresponders kept dripping on him with high quality information about his software problems and how we could help.

I reached out probably twice a year because my Small Business Dream told me to and I talked to him by voice. Yep, you got it — BY VOICE! I helped him with his issues. I counselled him.

When he finally bought, he said, “Dennis, I wouldn’t even consider looking at anyone else because you’ve been there for 12 years giving me free information, helping me along my way and never getting the sale. Well, now you got the sale. If you’re that good before you got money, I can’t even imagine how great it’s going to be to work with you.”

Twelve years of follow-up got me a sale. It wasn’t hard, I simply let Small Business Dream remind me when to call or drip out pre-written helpful content. Eighty percent was purely educational while 20% was more about my software company and how we can help.

I started to wonder how many people follow-up for 12 years. How many people have a system that allows them to know, when they get a new customer, the first contact was made 12 years ago? This is the kind of thing Small Business Dream can do for anybody.

If you have everything working together seamlessly — email autoresponders, semi-automated follow-up through social media, phone call logs — you can become a follow-up pro and significantly increase your productivity.

I waited 12 years. But this was a $30,000 sale. Was it worth waiting 12 years? Hey, I would have loved if it only took 2, but on the other hand, 12 years later, there’s a $30,000 sale because Small Business Dream kept me on top of my follow-up and I didn’t pre-judge and I didn’t say, “Oh he’s never gonna buy, I’m going to stop following up.”

I doubt if I’d spent 1 hour of time per year following up by phone call for 12 years. I probably spent 4 hours in the first year, so a total of 15 hours of work? If a salesperson had made this sale for me, just how happy would they be… 12% commission on $30,000 = $3600. Divide that by 15 hours… $240/hour. Hmmmm. Not bad… Annualize that… $499,200/year. Nice!

I just followed the process until he either bought or said no. He always told me, you know maybe someday… we’re just not ready… maybe someday… we’re just not ready… we’re gonna try this… we’re gonna try that… I don’t think we’re ready… I don’t think we’re ready… He never said, no I’m not interested. I kept following up because my system reminded me. I did it without much thought, without any kind of hesitation or reservation. I don’t prejudge and made $30,000.

Anybody can do this with Small Business Dream. All it takes is following the system and trusting that it works.

Marketing Opportunities to Help You Stay Ahead

Every time a company misses out on a marketing opportunity, competitors will try their best to seize the initiative. In order to win in a fiercely competitive environment, businesses must learn to look out for missed opportunities and seal the gaps in their marketing strategies.

Some of the most common missed opportunities are surprisingly simple but can have a huge impact in promoting businesses. It also shows that with a little bit of creativity and by being sensitive to our customers’ needs, we can create meaningful connections and make our products and services closer to them.

How Businesses Are Taking Advantage of Customer Data

 Businesses that’s been around for quite some time have the advantage of being able to track customer activity and see the whole picture of what’s really going on with their sales and marketing strategy. This enables them to map out their next strategy based on current trends and make some slight adjustments for future customer engagements.

Customer data allows businesses to identify their weak spots, i.e. missed opportunities, and use that information to gain the advantage in the marketplace. Most of these marketing opportunities are fairly common but has the potential of improving sales significantly.

Startup companies can also take advantage of big data from another source such as Google Analytics and Adwords along with other free data tracking tools. But to really understand and appreciate customer data for marketing solutions, a good CRM service or application should be in place.

Practical Marketing Solutions

 Missed marketing opportunities are essentially like blind spots; they’ve been there all along but we can’t see them through our peripheral vision. Marketers can get too overwhelmed with the numbers that they often overlook even the most basic, yet very effective marketing strategies that stood the test of time.

These marketing opportunities include:

Although not generally regarded as a primary marketing tool, it could still contribute to your overall marketing efforts as much as 20 percent.

Timing is key here. On average, it would only take three to five hours for a status update or post to reach peak activity, followed by a steady decline in viewer’s interest. Peak hours will differ from country to country and marketers will have to experiment different posting times.

The old practice of buying ‘likes’, ‘fans’, and ‘followers’ had already lost its popularity, and social media marketers are now re-focusing their efforts in sharing timely and relevant information, upcoming events, contests, collecting data from fans and followers, and extending their reach through multi-channel marketing.

  • Cross-selling & Upselling 

This strategy is usually practiced during the final stages of the buyer’s journey in the sales pipeline or during follow-ups with regular customers. This allows you to get an additional 10 to 30 percent increase in revenue.

It opens up more options for buyers and potential customers, especially those related to their purchase which they have missed or left out unintentionally.

For instance, you’re running a carpet business and your clients have shown interest in buying one of your carpets. You may suggest buying a carpet cleaner along with the carpets to save more money on carpet cleaning services (cross-selling).

Another example is when doing B2B like providing office supplies to a certain company. You can suggest personalizing some items (pens, notepads, etc.) with their company logo or brand name at just a fraction of the cost (upselling).

  • Maintaining Customer Loyalty

Customer retention allows your company to save 5 to 10 times in marketing expenses than having to look for new customers every now and then. In fact, existing customers account for 65 percent of the company’s income.

Businesses are now stepping up on improving customer retention and are starting to cut down on advertising expenses and promotional ventures. More emphasis is now given to customer loyalty since they are less expensive to maintain and has the potential of producing leveraged income through customer referrals.

To achieve this, they also need to increase their marketing capabilities through marketing automation to cope up with the growing number of customers.

  • Mobile Marketing

Recent statistics reveals that as of 2016, mobile users have grown to 4.61 billion. That’s more than half of the world’s total population. Missing out on this one meant giving away a large portion of potential customers to your competitors.

Mobile marketing has already been employed by a lot of companies successfully to promote their brand, collect customer information, and maintain customer relationship.

One great example is through their use of free mobile applications on mobile platforms such as Google Play and iTunes which allows companies to collect important relevant information about the mobile users.

Businesses can also employ this strategy for mobile CRMs to link up with their customers and prospects on the go. Another advantage of mobile marketing is that it gives them the ability to send push messages and notifications which is a common feature in most modern mobile devices.

  • Improving the Company’s Visibility

Aside from improving a website’s visibility, some of the ‘old-school’ marketing strategies are still as effective as today’s modern marketing approach.

This is especially true with brand awareness. However, instead of spending hundreds of dollars on posters, print ads, and billboards, you can give little items with your personalized logo, brand name, or website as giveaways to your loyal customers and on-site visitors.

Things like pens, golf pencils, umbrellas, wristbands, caps, t-shirts, and other memorabilia are inexpensive yet effective marketing tools which can be used to promote your business. It doesn’t cost too much, but you’ll be surprised how even simple things like these can help endear your customers to your business.

Other ideas include coasters and tent cards if you’re into local restaurant business, or perhaps giving a mint or two with your personalized packaging as a way of saying ‘Thank you,’ to your valued customers.

It only takes a little bit of creativity and keeping your eyes open on the most recent marketing ideas and tools to stay ahead of the competition. The key is to never stop looking for more opportunities, because if you do, your competitors will do their best to catch up on you.

It pays to remember one important rule in life as it is with business: “In life there is no security; there’s only opportunity.”


Simple Ways to Integrate Permission Marketing Into Marketing Automation

 Marketing automation is at the core of almost every online business today, and should also be a key strategy in more traditional businesses as well.

As a cost-effective way to reach out potential customers, this strategy has proved time and again that anyone – with sufficient knowledge, tools, and skill sets – can have a fair chance to compete with other businesses worldwide.

However, even the most innovative online strategy has a downside. For years, marketing automation has become the subject of misuse among online marketers who pitched automation as a way of turning businesses into online ‘cash machines’ without ever spending time and effort with potential customers. It made marketing automation synonymous to spamming.

Faced with more stringent rules regarding customer engagement and increased customer awareness, online marketers are back to the drawing board on how they could use automation to deliver the same results back in its heyday, or even better.

Why a Change of Strategy is Necessary

When marketing automation was at its peak, many believed that as long as you were able to make tons of content and send a relentless barrage of emails to practically any person on earth that has an email address, sooner or later people would respond to your call and generate income for your business.

The idea comes from the analogy of shooting as many arrows as you can, hoping that one or two will eventually land on their target out of mere chance (known as the ‘spray and pray’ method). Although some businesses use this method effectively, it usually comes at a price.

For one thing, marketers who rely heavily on conventional marketing automation are putting their businesses at risk by sending unsolicited emails to people whose contact information were sourced from a third-party data supplier.

This method obviously won’t work, since most emails have already built defenses against spamming. CAN-SPAM Act will also make these marketers think twice about ever using this method again.

Aside from bordering unlawful marketing practices, it tends to yield diminishing returns over time as contacts starts falling off and fewer people become available to them. It usually guarantees a one-time success with little or no regard for ongoing customer relationship and repeat purchases.

Staying relevant with the customers is almost impossible to attain with conventional marketing automation. Usually, what happens is that companies will send every content that they have on a particular niche to people in their massive list of contacts, hoping to strike a chord with just one or two articles sent to them in rapid succession. It’s essentially a ‘hit-or-miss’ strategy.

As customer engagement comes close to non-existent, they would eventually lose their ship, and no amount of automation can save it from sinking to the bottom.

The question now is whether marketing automation can still be a viable option to speed up the process and boost sales despite its shortcomings in customer engagement.

A Step towards Permission Marketing

Permission marketing was coined by marketing expert Seth Godin to denote marketing strategies that rely on customer feedback, i.e., permission, to initiate ongoing customer relationship and interaction which allows them to receive updates and follow-ups on demand.

Unlike traditional outbound marketing, which he appropriately calls ‘interruption marketing’, permission marketing spares people the trouble of going through the ordeal of being constantly bombarded with marketing pitches. It gives them more freedom and control over the situation and encourages them to either share more about their interests and other key information about themselves, or turn into buying customers.

Others tend to view permission marketing as the antithesis of marketing automation because it’s more involved and requires frequent human interaction. The fact is, permission marketing needs a starting point, and that involves automation.

Sign-up forms via landing pages, which may also include opt-in to newsletters or social media posts, are just a few classic examples on how to initiate permission marketing.

Still others believe that permission marketing is a little too slow compared to marketing automation aside from the fact that it gives too much freedom to potential customers to take action whenever they want to. They aim for quick, albeit short-lived gains, instead of nurturing previous and current customers for long-term, sustainable income.

In the final analysis, those who relied on one-time customer engagements end up losing more money looking for new prospects while those who took their time watering and growing their customer base could increase revenue exponentially through updates, follow-ups, customer referrals, crossing-selling, up-selling, and repeat purchases.

The Smart Way to Automate

Marketing automation platforms can only do so well when it comes to tasks which could be reasonably accomplished through automation. Some aspects of marketing are best performed through human interaction which cannot be copied or supplanted by automated means.

Read: Digital and Physical Customer Engagement, and Why You Need Both

Keep these in mind when using marketing automation to attract and maintain customers for your business:

  • Open up multiple channels to collect customer information.

Inbound marketing has proven its effectiveness over outbound marketing by emphasizing customer awareness.

Opening up multiple channels of customer engagement maximizes your chances of getting in touch with them. This includes setting up a blog, website, landing page, and social media account, to name a few.

Your marketing automation platform can be seamlessly integrated to all these channels to collect, store, and analyze customer information for you after signing up to your mailing list or subscribe for a free newsletter. Marketing automation shines best at this stage of customer engagement.

  • Dissect your sales pipeline to see which approach works best in every stage. In case you haven’t noticed this part has been alluded to in the previous item.

The first stage, which involves data collection and storage, is best accomplished with marketing automation.

Following up, which is the next stage, involves a combination of both permission marketing and marketing automation.

When trying to learn more about your leads, you can revert back to automation to, once again, collect relevant information about them and analyze whether or not they could be qualified as potential customers. The marketing team would then assign the lead scores, start with the sales process, and close the deal.

  • Use email segmentation and the buyer persona to guide your marketing effort. These marketing strategies allow you to narrow down your target audience and zero them in with pinpoint accuracy. It takes time and effort creating relevant content based on different segments and customer behavior.

The easiest way to fail in any kind of marketing strategy is to use the same cut-and-dried content across all contacts and send them out at a robotic pace, one email after another.

You need to customize your content according to the different segments in your email list and provide an option for a follow-up or additional information about the topic.

When deciding for the most appropriate product or service for a certain group of customers, you can refer to your buyer persona as your guide.

  •  Choose a marketing automation platform that works for you. A good marketing automation platform often comes at a price.

However, most companies offer different versions of their product ranging from the most basic ones at no cost, to premium offerings with a complete suite of tools at about a hundred to two hundred dollars per month.

Marketing automation can still be as powerful as any marketing strategy if you can put other elements into the mix such as permission marketing to interact with your potential customers and collect your data about your target market.

Creating a Detailed Buyer Persona to Guide Your Marketing Efforts

Businesses are always upgrading their strategies to increase ROI. The buyer persona epitomizes their constant efforts to stay relevant with their customers by creating an idealized customer to guide their marketing efforts.

The shift from generalized, stereotypical advertising to individualized customer engagement is one the most important milestones that changed the way companies and businesses market themselves to world.


Buyer Persona vs. Stereotype

Buyer persona is coined from the word ‘persona’, often associated with psychology and literature. When applied to business, it means an ideal customer with the most desirable traits suitable for marketing.

This ‘model customer’ serves as the basis for the company’s design, production, and marketing efforts from which they can generate income. Different industries can have several buyer personas, each having unique, individual characteristics that mirror their real-life equivalents.

A common misconception about the buyer persona is the old practice of stereotyping customers popular among traditional businesses. They would try to fit every customer into a category based on assumptions and generalizations.

The fundamental difference between a buyer persona and a stereotype is the understanding of the circumstances that revolve around the customer – his work, lifestyle, education, hobbies, expertise, expectations, buying habits, etc.

A stereotype barely scratches the surface and provides an incomplete picture of your target market, while a buyer persona goes deeper by creating a life-like representation of your ideal customers based on facts and research.


The Buyer Persona’s Role in Business

Marketing efforts gravitate on the customer’s ever-changing needs embodied by the buyer persona. Without a proper understanding of the customers, all efforts from production, marketing, and sales are irrelevant.

A well-researched buyer persona protects their investments by guiding them on what products or services – with their many variants and slight nuances – to provide their customers and how they can successfully market them across different channels.


Creating a Buyer Persona

The first step in creating an all-inclusive buyer persona is to collect every available information from customers through research, surveys and interviews .

Sources include demographic information of a particular area, CRM data, emails, social media, and Google Analytics. These data will serve as the building blocks of the ideal customer’s ‘DNA’.

Coming up with an accurate representation of the ideal costumer takes time. In some instances, it is necessary to create two or more personas if data points to more than just one type of customer.


What to Include

Business firms compile different information from various sources and creates a unified picture of their imaginary customer. The following information will help you throughout the process.

Demographic information
•   Age bracket
•   Gender
•   Country/Nationality
•   Language

Personal information
•    Educational attainment
•    Profession/Occupation
•    Civil Status
•    Income Level

Customer information
•   Buying History
•   Buying Motivation
•   Buying Preference
•   Average Spending

Specific Skills and Interests

Acquiring firsthand information can take time because it involves actual conversation with people and encouraging them to participate in surveys.

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter is a treasure trove when it comes to personal information, skills, and interests about your customers. Some companies collect information about their fans and followers as part of their marketing strategy.

If your company doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account, consider social media marketing as a way of gathering relevant information about your target market.

You can also learn about their specific interests through your landing pages and opt-in subscriptions to your weekly or monthly newsletters. These data can be acquired more easily using ‘call to action’ (CTA) links or buttons within the page or email.

When it comes to customer records of previous and current customers, nothing comes close to CRM customer data because it allows businesses to stay up-to-date with its constant supply of data from day to day transactions.


Look for the Right CRM Service to Guide You

Small Business Dream offers a suite of tools which include customer acquisition, sales funnel, and sales and marketing automation for small business owners like you.

Learn more on how Small Business Dream can help you with your marketing efforts by visiting our website at