8 Steps to a Foolproof Digital Marketing Strategy

How’s your digital marketing working? Not very well, you say. Well, how well are you executing your digital marketing strategy? You don’t really have one? Now we’re getting somewhere.

Don’t feel too badly. The lack of a well-thought-out strategy may be the most common reason business don’t achieve good, measurable results from their digital marketing. It’s an interesting phenomenon that companies who have no problem creating a detailed sales strategy falter when it comes to doing the same for digital marketing.

We’re here to help. Here are eight key touchpoints to hit on your way to creating and implementing an effective digital marketing strategy.

1. Who Do You Want to Reach?

It’s hard to target effective messaging to someone you don’t know. Impossible, actually. That leads us directly to the critical first step in the digital marketing process—creating buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, created from a combination of market research and real data about your existing customers. These personas help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better. This makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, product development and services to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.

define your personas

To generate these pseudo people, incorporate all the information you can gather on your ideal customer’s age, income, location, interests, wants and needs etc. In short, create the ideal buyer for your goods or service.

2. Organizational Goals

When setting goals, start big and work your way to specific. For example, what’s your organizational mission? That’s the biggest goal. Next, lay out how your digital marketing strategy will help you carry out that mission.

Then, determine more precise targets. These should be measurable and have a time element. For example, “We want to increase lead generation by 60% in the next 12 months.”

Finally, you’ll need to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine if your content and advertising strategies are working. Cost per lead and unique website visits are two examples of possible KPIs, depending on your digital marketing goals.

3. What Do You Have?

The next step is to take stock of the digital assets you already have that can be optimized to help you reach your goal. Specific assets might include your website, blog posts, images and infographics.

Assess how these assets are currently working together. For example, are you making use of content and images you’ve created for your website in blogs. Is your messaging pointing in the same direction across all platforms, or is it inconsistent or unrelated to your primary marketing goals. Chances are good you already have valuable assets that can be used more effectively.

document your digital marketing goals

4. What Do You Need?

Just as important as your inventory of resources are the gaps in your marketing toolbox. Identify the tools you need, prioritize them and determine when you will add them. Often times, an editorial calendar can be beneficial in helping you create and manage new content.

5. Crank Up Your Content

Perhaps the most important step in the process, and certainly the one that most often differentiates a successful digital marketer from marginal performers. Effective, compelling content is essential in guiding potential customers through the buyer’s journey. Hubspot’s definition of the buyer’s journey is, “The active research process a buyer goes through leading up to a purchase.”

You should be creating content that leads the buyer through three stages of the buyer’s journey.

  • Awareness: In this stage, the buyer is just becoming aware of their problem/need. Your content goal may be to position yourself as an expert in this particular area, establishing your knowledge of the topic with the understanding that increasing numbers of potential customers will be looking to find information.
  • Interest: In the interest stage, the buyer is aware of their problem/need and just beginning to look for solutions. Now established as an expert, at this stage you provide potential solutions to the problem.
  • Consideration: By this point, buyers have decided what they need to do but aren’t certain about who can best take care of their problem or meet their need. This is where you seal the deal, making a strong case for your product or service as the best solution. Drive it home with testimonials whenever possible.

6. Ad It Up

Are you using paid advertising to increase traffic and make the most of your great content? If you’re not you should be. Here are key considerations to boost advertising effectiveness:

  • Use those personas again: Advertising written for everyone impacts no one. Know your targets and create your advertising to address them. Learn their language, find their pain points and learn the channels they use most often.
  • Retarget: After you target, retarget. Simply put, retargeting is just marketing to those who have already visited your website, and so already have a relationship with you. Retargeting is one of the most effective paid advertising campaigns, so your strategy should include ways to drive visitors to your site so you can retarget them.
  • Give content a kick: Consider increasing the reach of your best content by promoting it with Facebook ads or even LinkedIn. Social platforms have stepped up their game in online advertising and are often times a great way to target key audiences by using the insights their users provide them by using their platform.

advertise online

7. What’s Up with Your Website?

Is your website designed to provide information, or to help turn visitors into customers? Remember the Buyer’s Journey? An effective website provides value to potential customers at each stage of the journey.

8. Go Robotic

Finally, are you utilizing marketing automation? With the advance of technology, so many aspects of digital marketing—email, social media, website actions and more—can be performed automatically. The benefits? Improved overall inbound marketing, lead generation and time savings.


Obviously, there is much more to be said on each of these eight steps. Our digital marketing experts can help answer questions, assess your digital marketing strategy, and help you take the next steps.

Contact us today

Post Source Here: 8 Steps to a Foolproof Digital Marketing Strategy

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4 Surprising Content Marketing Lessons from a Grain Guy

The news wasn’t encouraging. As I was sitting in a grain marketing seminar in western Iowa recently, the speaker noted that corn is in a sideways market and soybeans are in a downward market, with little relief in sight.

In times like this, the ability to make a decision is key, the speaker said. “Sounds a lot like the kind of business marketing advice I give VistaComm clients,” I thought.

The grain marketer encouraged us to think of developing a marketing plan like building a wall. “It happens one brick at a time,” he said. “Marketing is about doing the next right thing, one brick at a time. Without a plan, how do you know what the next right thing is?”

Top 4 tips for success, brick by brick

I couldn’t agree more. As that speaker offered his top tips for grain marketing success, I took the brick-by-brick approach and adapted them for content marketing success:

1. Lay the strong foundation.

Building a solid foundation for a marketing plan reflects a variety of factors, from the economy to the weather. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all these variables, though. Instead of suffering paralysis by analysis, work with a marketing advisor you trust, the speaker advised. The same is true in business marketing. At VistaComm, we look at the big picture to determine practical solutions for your needs, plus we place a high priority on keeping things simple for you.

2. Focus on consistency.

No one knows where the grain markets are headed. Instead of worrying about hitting the market highs, focus on consistent profitability, the speaker emphasized. Consistency is also key when marketing your business. Instead of pursuing random acts of marketing, develop a workable content marketing plan, brick by brick. VistaComm’s team of professionals is ready to help you develop a flexible marketing plan that can be tweaked, as needed, to help meet your business’s unique goals.

3. Emphasize discipline.

A willingness to not only make a marketing plan, but execute the plan, is key. Without adding some serious discipline to the process, you’ll fall victim to emotionally-driven decisions, which are often poor decisions, the grain marketing expert stressed. I couldn’t agree more. Having the discipline to follow a plan consistently removes the guesswork from content marketing and helps you achieve more consistent results, from building stronger relationships with existing clients to positioning you as an industry expert.

4. Realize perfection is unachievable.

This paradigm shift is often difficult for farmers to grasp at first. “Get perfection out of your mind,” the grain marketing speaker emphasized. “Make marketing a process, not an event.” The same is true in content marketing. There are no perfect, one-size-fits-all answers.

Since VistaComm has been serving clients just like you for 20 years, we have plenty of tools in the toolbox to help you meet your specific marketing needs. Count on us to deliver greater peace of mind at every step of the process, brick by brick.

Contact us today

Post Source Here: 4 Surprising Content Marketing Lessons from a Grain Guy

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5 Reasons Active Website Content Is Critical to Growing Your Business

Editor’s note: This article was originally posted n 8/18/16 and has been updated with the latest trends and statistics from this year’s B2C survey results. 

There’s no denying—content marketing is here to stay! A recent update to the annual survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs generated 480 responses from B2C marketers from multiple industries around the globe. Of these respondents, only 40% said they have a documented content marketing strategy.

 

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These marketers know their audience and what will get them to read online content—blogs, web pages, social messages, etc., all optimized for search engines using key words that trigger the search. Their ultimate goal? To generate new business by creating content the reader actually wants to consume when he wants to consume it, as opposed to interrupting the consumer as ads, emails or cold-calling often do.

They are attracting readers with interesting articles, helpful tools and relevant information. The result? Readers are “following” them online. Soon after, they become leads. And ultimately, new customers. This steady traffic makes fresh, active content on their websites not only good, but critical.

Active content speaks for itself. It’s new stuff—recently added, changed, fresh. And why is this so important to the success of your business? If you keep your audience coming back to your website for more educational and inspiring content, they can learn more about you and what you offer.

“Content has been one of the most important reasons we have traffic to our website. Our content works hard for us, thanks to VistaComm.”

Richard Stinson, Communications & Media Manager
ProAg®
Amarillo, TX

Active website content is critical to your business because:

1. It helps drive traffic to your website.

Every time you post something new, it’s one more cue to search engines like Google that your site is active. In addition, the SHARE option grows your audience and traffic, too.

Fact: 53% of US companies surveyed by HubSpot listed blog content creation as one of their top priorities for growing their inbound marketing efforts.

2. It helps you generate more leads for your business.

A reader finds your site through a great blog you’ve posted. You propose more help or expertise through a free offer. They click, fill out a form, send it and receive a free gift. Now YOU have their contact information! Once you have that information make sure you are engaging with them through a mix of marketing channels to stay top of mind when they are ready for a purchase.

Interesting: 89% of B2C marketers use Facebook to distribute content which is tied with email for the top spot (Content Marketing Institute).

Channels B2C Marketers Use to Distribute Content

3.You will be considered an expert authority.

Many customers will search online before coming into a store. If they’re finding answers to their questions, they’ll think of you first. They’ve come to know and trust you online. According to Google 81% of shoppers conduct online research prior to a purchase. And when a sales opportunity arises, you’ve have laid the groundwork for great opening conversation.

Good to know: Usage of visual infographics as a tactic is on the increase: 51% in 2014 to 67% in 2016 (Content Marketing Institute).

4. Your content has a long-term effect.

You post a blog or a new piece of informational material one day and it lives—in fact, it builds, gathering more and more potential customers for you. According to HubSpot 1 in 10 blog posts are compounding, meaning organic search increases their traffic over time.  What’s more, when you write something, you own it and can repurpose it in several ways for your own use accross multiple marketing channels.

Food for thought: For print ads and billboards, you’re merely renting the space. 

5.You can post product releases and event information.

Once you’ve built up traffic to your site, post product announcements, valuable promotions and event information, too. After all, this constitutes new information and it stands a far better chance of getting seen where the traffic is. If you have been capturing customer information along the way, this allows you to target specific customer groups with products and promotions that are most relevant to them.

Who knew: Americans are launching social apps an average of 17 times a day—or at least once every waking hour.

You know why you need to keep your website content current. Now, where do you turn to get the content? One great resource might be already-written information from your print or e-newsletter publication. Simply post these articles to your website’s blog or news section as new and relevant content. Here are some great topic ideas that not only work for newsletters, but your website, as well. If you still find yourself stuck or in need of help request a consultation, from one of our marketing experts to get you started!

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By the Book: Darcy’s 5 Recipes for Making Your Messages Irresistible

A Culinary History of Iowa“Wow, you’re legit now.” It’s a curious comment I’ve heard more than once since I’ve published several non-fiction books of Iowa history focused on farming, small-town life and food. In a lot of people’s minds, a book makes a writer authentic, I guess.

One thing I know for sure: The techniques I applied to write my books (“Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More,”) include five basics I use when writing newsletters and magazines for all my VistaComm clients’ projects. These recipes for writing success are:

  1. Focus on the audience first. Any message that revolves around you, rather than your audience, will fall flat. Learn to speak your audience’s language and show how you can meet their needs, whether that’s educating them, entertaining them or solving a problem they face.
  2. Ask the right questions. Writing that works starts with asking targeted questions. Posing the right questions during interviews and background research helps uncover the most compelling information that will resonate with your audience.
  3. Apply effective storytelling techniques. No one likes to be sold, but everyone likes a good story. Storytelling is an art and a skill that takes time to develop. VistaComm’s experienced team knows how to bring your best stories to life.
  4. Add compelling photography. Don’t underestimate the power of intriguing images. Photos and other graphics offer a powerful way to attract your audience’s attention.
  5. Mix in a little marketing flair. Whether it’s a newsletter, online content, magazine articles, advertisements or other communication tools, storytelling combined with an effective marketing message can help you build stronger relationships with clients and prospects and ultimately drives sales.

VistaComm journalist Darcy MaulsbyTake it from a book author—let VistaComm help you put these 5 proven “recipes” to work for you, and you’ll be well on your way to creating authentic, irresistible marketing messages. Now that’s legit.


Editors’s note: Maulsby 15-year VistaComm veteran and has served ag clients across the country. Her books, including a Culinary History of Iowa, Calhoun County, and Dallas County, are available on Amazon.com.

See Full Article Here: By the Book: Darcy’s 5 Recipes for Making Your Messages Irresistible

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What is the Real Lifecycle of a Website?

Does your website have a “final” version?

It shouldn’t.

A website is like a garden: there’s always something to work on. The real lifecycle of a website requires periodic and dedicated pruning, weeding, and cultivating to make it work best. Simple practices like linking relevant articles, updating online catalogs and updating content can help not only your SEO ranking, but show users that you have a dedication to your business and your customers.

Changes shouldn’t be made at random, however. Instead, take the time and follow the simple lifecycle for a website to ensure success.

  1. Analysis – Visit your site like you’re a first-time viewer. What are you there for? Can you easily find the information you need? Does your site load quickly? How does it look? With these questions in mind, decide what updates and improvements you need to make. Create a map of what the website will look like, a list of what needs to be done and steps showing how to get it done.
  2. Content Design and Creation – Prepare your updates. News articles need writing, pictures need taking and pages need designing. If needed, there are professional content developers like VistaComm who can write relevant, industry-specific content for your site.
  3. Implementation – Post your content online, making sure all the pieces fit and support each other. Get your developer or content management system to test all your links, pages and options. Make sure your site loads quickly and your changes look great on all devices. Ensure that there are no issues for visitors to your site.
  4. Optimization –Where do you appear on search results? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking is an ongoing process, with regular changes to requirements and strategies needed to stay relevant. Is any of your content out of date? Do you have new services or products to offer? Websites should be frequently updated to keep them interesting and fresh.

The lifecycle above is just a rough framework and you’ll find yourself jumping around from step to step throughout the process until your site is ready to launch.

But the launch of a website is not the end—it’s just the end of the beginning. Once your website is up and running, the process starts all over again. Where are people going, where are they not going? What needs to be massaged along, what is doing great on its own? All these questions and more should be asked as often as possible to keep your website healthy and growing.

Contact us today

Originally Published Here: What is the Real Lifecycle of a Website?

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Things to Think About When Planning a Website

Are you planning for a new or updated website? Building a new website doesn’t have to be an impossible task. A multitude of website-building tools have made launching and updating a website easier than ever before. But, keep in mind there’s more to a website than putting a few pictures and words up on the Internet. Here’s five things to consider before investing in your digital future.

1. Who should you partner with?

We’re all familiar with the adage ‘you get what you pay for.’ While, you may save some money by hiring a freelancer or even building your site yourself, thinking of your long-term needs up front could save you money down the road. Consider all the steps involved in producing a website: from planning to content to design to development to launch to post-launch support. Do you have the talents and time within your existing staff? Will a freelancer meet your deadlines? Would you benefit from working with a full-service web design firm that can guide you through this process and support you after launch?

2. Know what you want from your users.

It’s vital to have a firm grasp of what you wish to gain from your new website. When planning a website around your users there are key questions you have to ask. Who is your audience? Why are they visiting your site? Why do they come to you? Your site should catalyze your customers to buy a product, ask a question or learn more about your business. Focus your attention on the needs of your customers.

3. Content comes first.

To match your site with an interested audience, search engines index your website content. How much thought have you given to content? How many pages do you need to have? What do your customers need to know about your business? This is about showcasing your brand personality through videos, pictures and well written words. If you don’t have the resources or expertise on staff, it might be worth having your content written professionally.

4. What platform provides the versatility you need?

There is a wide range of content management system (CMS) and hosting options available. Some are free, others require more time, knowledge and investment. For example, a proprietary CMS can only be used and supported by those who built it. These could be barriers if you later choose to move away from the platform or provider. At the same time, it may offer already-built tools that fit well with your needs. Alternatively, open source platforms like WordPress tend to have a large community with many contributors keeping them up-to-date and available to anyone. They can also be leveraged in powerful ways through custom development. Work with someone you trust to have the knowledge and understanding of your needs to develop the best solution for you

5. What’s your post-launch plan?

Launching a website is big accomplishment—but the work doesn’t stop there. A website is an ever-evolving piece of communication that continually grows with new content and tools. Not only are search engines ranking you based on current content, today’s web users expect it. Have a plan for reviewing your website analytics and publishing content regularly post-launch.

 

See case study: Carbon Green BioEnergy

 

Whatever path you choose, remember to take your time, do your research and partner with someone who can grow with your digital needs. Reach out to our team of experts to determine if VistaComm is the best web partner for your organization.

Original Post Here: Things to Think About When Planning a Website

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Are You Missing the Most Powerful Marketing Tool?

It happens all too often. Well-meaning ag companies are excited to share updates about their grain marketing tools with their clients a­­nd prospects, but they stop with the dreaded “data dump.”

When this happens, a laundry list of every contract available is presented in a newsletter article or online update. While this is important information, it’s overwhelming. It’s often confusing. It’s like making your clients wander aimlessly through a big-box store, with no assistance in sight, when all they want is to find a package of AA batteries.

It happened to me recently when a VistaComm client wanted to share a complete list of every grain marketing contact available from this ag cooperative. I was concerned all this data would be hard for readers to wade through. The biggest risk? Readers might skip the article entirely.

I thanked the client for compiling all this information and suggested we try a slightly different approach. Instead of detailing every contract available, I encouraged the client to let me tell a story and showcase a different grain marketing contract in each quarterly newsletter.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful content marketing tools available. It’s an inviting way to inform customers and prospects about your products and services. A story is fun to read when it’s written right. An effective story positions you as the expert. Best of all, a story doesn’t sound like a sales pitch, yet it can help grow your business.

Your story told in your customers’ words

The most compelling stories are often best told through your customers’ own words. When my client decided to focus on decision rules contracts (DRCs) in its summer 2017 print newsletter, I asked the grain merchandisers which one of their clients might be willing to put in the good word about DRCs.

They loved the idea and connected me with a helpful corn and soybean grower. While I’ve changed the names for this example, here’s how I started the story:

Farmer X knows how daunting grain marketing can be. “You’ve never heard any farmer say they’ve done the best possible job with their marketing, right?” said the northwest Iowa corn and soybean grower.

Farmer X and his father had traditionally made cash sales at fall delivery and used a little forward selling. “You question your decisions, though,” Farmer X said. “You don’t know when to pull the trigger.”

Customer stories are powerful content marketing tools

That’s why Farmer X decided to attend a grain marketing seminar that the co-op offered this winter. He was intrigued by the co-op’s grain marketing tools and made an appointment with one of the co-op’s grain merchandisers to learn more. Merchandiser X helped him tailor a marketing plan for his needs, including Decision Rules Contracts (DRCs)

“He explained that DRCs aren’t a once-and-done, where you’re trying to hit a home run,” Farmer X said. “It’s like hitting a series of doubles and triples, which made a lot of sense to me.”

Instead of talking about the technicalities of bushel enrollments, floor prices, priced bushels and more, this article goes on to explain the basics of how DRCs work and how they solve farmers’ real-world marketing challenges.

The goal? Show what DRCs mean to real farmers in terms of more effective grain marketing, less stress and greater peace of mind.

More fun, less worry, better results

To me, this is the unique value the VistaComm team can offer you. Know that we’re not just order takers. We’re professional marketing consultants who offer proven solutions to help you reach your marketing goals.

We may take an approach you hadn’t thought of, like skipping the data dump and opting for a powerful, well-told story. Rest assured we’re drawing on years of experience working with ag clients just like you.

First, we listen to understand your unique marketing goals. Then we’ll work together to determine the best route to help you reach these goals. Prepare for more fun, less worry and better results as we help you uncover your stories and work with you every step of the way to share them in a way that resonates with your target audience.

Let’s talk

Ready to unleash your most powerful marketing tool? Our storytellers are here to help. Contact VistaComm today at 800-657-8070 to start the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you.

Contact us today

See Full Article Here: Are You Missing the Most Powerful Marketing Tool?

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