Monthly Archives

June 2019

storytelling in digital marketing strategy

Why to Focus on Storytelling in Digital Marketing Strategy

By | Marketing Strategy

Once upon a time, a Midwest girl had a dream to up-end the marketing world by cultivating the kinds of meaningful conversations we have in real life, but on digital platforms.

She wanted people to feel seen and heard. And through her work, she began to see the benefits of approaching digital marketing with a different lens. She saw that it was truly possible for personable, human-centered digital marketing to support thriving, sustainable small businesses.

Even her own.

Today, Wayward Kind is its own thriving small business with a team of 5 amazing people, serving a diverse client base. And it all started with that spark of connection.

It may be just a snippet of our story, but understanding where we came from and where we want to go is a valuable part of our digital marketing strategy. And it’s a valuable part of your strategy, too.

We may sound like a broken record over here, but we really do love a good story. Especially good storytelling in digital marketing strategy.

But we don’t just love stories because they’re awesome. The effectiveness of storytelling is scientific. Stories make you feel connected, seen, and heard. They help us remember things. And it’s all because of the sweet release of oxytocin that accompanies hearing a good story.

If you’ve been crunching the numbers and presenting a lot of data, waiting for the connections to happen, this is the post for you. Let’s learn more about why you need to start telling the story of your small business!

Be Relatable

One of the keys to telling a good story is making yourself, or your business, relatable to your audience. Consider our brief story above—have you ever felt a spark of inspiration and wanted to run with it? Or felt the challenge of growing a business? Then you can relate to Wayward Kind’s story.

It’s a core part of our belief that people buy from people, not brands. So, being human in your storytelling can help to cultivate that relatability.

That’s not to mean that you don’t have to develop elements of your brand voice and style. But your story should be an integral part of that, not an afterthought.

So, how do you bring relatability to storytelling in your digital marketing strategy?

Know Who You Are

You can’t expect to tell a good story about your business if you know your own narrative. And that’s not just what you sell. Consider some of these questions:

  • What are your values and why?
  • Why did you start your business?
  • What are you passionate about and why?
  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Why do you love what you do?
  • What obstacles have you overcome to get to where you are?

Knowing these answers, and even taking the time to write them down and ponder them, can really help you communicate clearly about your business. And these are the things people want to know—they want to see the struggle, and the triumph. They want to know the why behind what you do.

Know Your Audience

There’s tons of details and segmentation that can happen on the strategy side of this. But, for simplicity, who are you talking to? Who do you want to attract to your business? What do they need?

Consider what they’re feeling when they’re starting a search query. Are they hopeful, desperate, anxious, excited? Remember, it’s not just about their demographics, but about getting inside the minds of your potential clients.

Be Honest

You won’t be relatable if you’re not authentic. Storytelling in digital marketing strategy will only work if the story is real. Jules really is from the midwest. She really does value connection. That doesn’t mean that you don’t use great copy and content to enhance your story. But, whatever your story is, make sure it’s yours.

Slow Your Roll on the Data

One of the challenges for storytelling in digital marketing strategy is how to balance numbers and figures with the emotional appeals. You need both, but too much at the wrong time, or you could alienate your audience.

It’s possible to tell some kind of story in numbers, but it can be pretty complicated and dry. Unless you’re speaking to a highly-educated group of scientists doing research, you can probably air on the side of less data. And even then, make it interesting.

That doesn’t mean you never use data. Those figures are important logical evidence of what you do. They build credibility. But, tell a story with that data. Spice it up with how your company’s values contributed to those numbers, or how you helped your client achieve a big goal, or discuss the pain points in your industry. Give your audience something they can relate to in the numbers.

If you’re not sure about how much data to include, ask yourself: “Would I want to read this or listen to this?” If your answer is no, then that’s probably your audience’s answer, too. You are a pretty good bellwether for what your audience wants to hear—trust that inner voice.

All of this boils down to some pretty simple principles: be in touch with the heart of your business and the heart of your audience. The more you know, and the more connected you feel, the more likely it is for the inner storyteller to emerge as a digital marketing force!

One of our favorite things to do is tell the story of businesses. We’re passionate about getting to know everyone of our clients so that they can have all the digital marketing tools they need to tell their story. If you need a little help defining your own story, contact Wayward Kind. Let’s get the next chapter of your story written!

how to use images in content marketing strategy

Looks Matter: Using Images in Content Marketing Strategy

By | Marketing Strategy

Before we wade into the pool of using images in content marketing strategy, let’s first chat about what content is. Basically, content is everything that shows up on your digital platforms. That includes images, copy, reviews, comments, testimonials videos and more. It’s the stuff that fills your pages and feeds—and it’s super important.

Now that we have that brief, and oh so scientific definition out of the way, we’ll get to the good stuff: Images.

The way things look on your website, social, and elsewhere matters. They are a visual representation of your brand, just as copy is the written representation of your brand.

So, why should you care so much about how things look? We’ll tell you why…

How to Use Images in Content Marketing Strategy

People are Visual

There’s no way around it—we humans are visual. Even the writerly types. The success of Instagram is a testament to the power of images and creating user engagement. And these days, video is leading the charge of visual branding.

This is why just writing a bunch of copy won’t do the job. Yes, information is good, but you have to get people hooked first.

Images in a content marketing strategy are the hook.

They not only give people something to look at, they’re like signposts that help direct users where they need to go. Whether it’s a transition in a blog, or a scroll of images on social media—images give direction.

They also induce action.

Consider a business, or nonprofit, like ASPCA. Of course, we’re all familiar with the infamous commercial where Sarah McLachlin sings her heart wrenching song, “Angel.” But, do you know why that commercial was so impactful? Those images.

The dogs, the cats, the big eyes, the cages. Ack. Gonna tear up just thinking about it. But, the images work. They appeal to our emotions and we can’t look away. We must do something for the animals, right?

Furthermore, images induce memory. We associate those puppy-dog eyes with ASPCA. When we think of donating to a because or adopting a pet, we remember that ad. And maybe even head on over to the ASPCA website to take a look. Because we are visual.

Consistency = Credibility

When it comes to building your brand and marketing, consistency is key. The more consistent you are with images in your content marketing strategy, the more credible you seem. Those images also help to establish a tone for your brand, which helps your audience feel like they know you better.

They want that connection—they want to identify with something that seems cool, or important, or fun, depending on your brand’s vibe.

Here a few ways to establish consistency:
  • Decide what emotions you want to evoke: excited, playful, joyous, serious, professional?
  • What makes you different than competitors? Highlight that in the visuals.
  • Use the same font. Whether on social, website, or email, what font do you want associated with your business?
  • Choose a color palette/filter. Once you know your brand colors/filters, you can apply them across all digital platforms to make your brand more cohesive. Basically, it looks like you care.

how to use images in content marketing

(Image courtesy of Canva)

One way to gather all this important information for images in your content marketing strategy is to create a brand style guide. A style guide will tell anyone working on your marketing how to use your brand elements, from wording to images. That way, consistency remains and your brand is identified the way you want it to be. Here’s a great example of branded imagery from our friends at Four Fin Creative:

make waves

Tell a Story

Ultimately, your images should tell the story of your brand. That doesn’t mean that every photo has to have the exact same color or content. But they should contain elements that point back to your brand’s core values and services.

If you own an accounting business, money will obviously be a topic of conversation, and probably show up in images in your content marketing strategy. But you don’t need every photo to have dollar signs and papers in it.

Consider what you love about your business, what makes you different, what your brand voice is, and what your value. If you’re marketing to other small businesses, perhaps include images that somehow represent that. Or, if integrity is a core value, use images that communicate honesty and trust.

Remember, this is just as much about connecting with your audience as it is about developing and nurturing leads. Try shifting your perspective from just selling, to telling. People are far more interested in hearing and seeing who you are before they commit to your service or product.

star

Your brand deserves a good visual story. And we’d love to tell it. If you need a little help getting your brand image in line with your voice, contact Wayward Kind and we’ll get you on track!

How to engage an audience with digital marketing

Connection vs. Conversation: How to Engage an Audience with Digital Marketing

By | Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing

We talk a lot about connection and conversation at Wayward Kind. There probably isn’t a post that goes by without at least one mention of the importance of connecting with your audience and engaging in conversations with them. And we still stand 100% behind that. But, there’s also a need to clarify the difference between the two.

Connection is that first spark. Conversation is what grows from that first spark.

So many small businesses want to know how to engage an audience with digital marketing. The truth is, they need to incorporate both connection and conversation. It’s great to make that first connection, but if the conversation ends right there, so does audience engagement. And you want that conversation to keep rolling on for a long while.

Taking the First Step

Sometimes it’s really hard to take the first step in marketing. Where do you start to build your audience, get eyes on your business, and sustain growth. All great questions. But really, they boil down to one question that really matters: how to engage an audience with digital marketing.

It starts with a spark. Kind of like Marie Kondo asking if something you own sparks joy!

Ultimately, when we talk about connection, you want to spark your audience enough to challenge them to do something. It may be commenting, opting into a campaign, or simply hitting the ‘like’ button. Whatever it is, that connection, that spark, is the segue to a good conversation.

So, how do you light that spark?

This is where the good stuff is—that spark comes from understanding your audience. What do they want? What is their biggest pain point? What makes them happy? What do they love? Basically, who are the people you want to start conversations with?

Once you know more about who they are, you can tailor digital marketing to speak to those needs and desires. That way, when they scroll across your post, or your blog turns up in a search query, they immediately feel that spark of “AHA! They know what I’m talking about!”

Audience segmentation can be a useful thing to do to make the most of your connection efforts. You can break down the different personas so that you’re not just throwing things at the wall trying to connect. Rather, you’re intentionally creating content that matters to the people it needs to matter to. That way, when you’re up late wondering how to engage an audience with digital marketing, you know who the audience is first.

Let’s Chat

You’ve got the connection. You lit the spark. Now what?

It’s time to get that two-way conversation going. One of the great things about digital marketing is that it really is about a conversation. Traditional media, like a newspaper or magazine ad, is typically a bold statement about a product. It may spark connection, but rarely does it start a conversation.

With the ubiquitous use of social media, email, and blogging, small businesses have the opportunity to respond directly to people. That may be in the form of a personal response to a blog comment, or an automated email campaign. Either way, there is a response that continues the conversation.

So much of our work at Wayward Kind is about how to engage an audience with digital marketing through meaningful conversations. Here are some of our favorite ways to take that initial connection to next-level conversations:

Ask Questions

People love to talk about themselves and their experiences. It makes them feel valued. When you ask a question and respond with validation, you are sure to open the door for further conversation. It’s also a great opportunity to learn more about your audience and what they need. It’s a win-win.

Nurture Campaigns

This is a fancy way of saying to send a series of helpful emails. Have you ever signed up for a newsletter or product information and received a handful of emails? Well, that’s a nurture campaign.

The idea is that a business keeps the conversation going by nurturing the relationship through education, offers, and awareness. Sending one big email blast doesn’t typically show that a business cares about their customers. But continual check-ins that truly speak an audience’s language can lead to a dramatic increase in engagement, and eventually, action.

Respond

Relationships are a process of give and take. Question and response. That’s a conversation, right? So, if you send and email, post a photo, write a blog post, or Tweet a video, and DON’T respond to anyone, your audience will likely feel like you don’t really care.

Keeping that all important conversation going really is about putting in the effort to show you care less about self-promotion, and more about fulfilling the needs of your audience. And don’t forget to respond to reviews. People love to know that their opinions matter!

Remember, that when it comes to engaging your audience through digital marketing, it’s going to be a combination of connection and conversation. You really can’t have a conversation without a connection, and you can’t keep the connection going without a conversation.

Be sure to focus on both, but also to differentiate between when you’re trying to connect, and when you’re trying to converse. When you find the balance, you’re sure to engage your audience and create sustainable lead generation and growth!

Connection is like planting a seed. Conversation is watering it. We love to do both. Wayward Kind loves to connect and get people talking, and we want to help you! Contact us today to learn more about creating a plan to engage and nurture your audience for the long-term.

Freshen up your small business blog

Freshen Up! Why New Content is Essential for a Small Business Blog

By | Content Development

Like a warm towel right out of the dryer, you want your blog to be fresh, not stale. No one likes a mildewy towel, right?

Of course, this should be an obvious fact. You don’t want your audience to get bored with your old content, and you certainly hope to draw in new readers by giving them something interesting and useful to chew on in your small business blog.

Consistent blogging is essential for building up your content reserves. It creates more opportunities for content related to your business to be found, which means greater lead generation and conversations around your brand. It also develops connections with your audience.

And it’s not by accident. It’s all a part of an intentional digital marketing strategy that works.

Check out some of these stats about the importance of maintaining your small business blog:

You get the idea. Blogging matters. But what all these stats have in common is that they all relate to fresh content. Whether it’s the body of your blog, the headlines, the tags, or the number of blogs you publish, keeping it fresh needs to be a part of your long-term digital marketing strategy.

Let’s learn why!

A Change is Gonna Come…

Change is good. It can be uncomfortable sometimes, but it’s essential to growth, even to audience growth and engagement.

When it comes to a small business blog, change is also good. But the type of change is key. Changing a single sentence in a blog or in body text won’t make a dent in rankings. But, changing a large amount of content perks Google’s interest enough to start noticing.

It can be challenging to fill your blog with new and interesting content, but it’s not terrible to re-purpose and expand on previous topics. But it must be different enough to interest your audience.

This is where doing some good keyword research can really help you. Popular search terms are constantly changing, so if you’re using a keyword from five years ago, it may no longer be relevant. Understanding the needs and wants of your target audience TODAY can really help you create content that sparks interest and gets people talking.

Timing is Everything

As with anything else, timing is integral to your small business blog strategy. Let’s say you have a blog, but it’s been two years since you’ve updated anything on it. The chances of that content being relevant or discovered is minimal.

Furthermore, Google sees you. They know that your blog content is not fresh and may treat those old pages differently.

As we’ve said before, consistency is the rule when it comes to blogging. You’re not going to see a sudden spike in leads after one post. But after a few months of posting on a consistent basis, your readers will start to see you as a credible source of new and exciting information. You’ll become the authority on the subject! They’ll start clicking more, sharing more, and taking action.

One more thing to consider for a small business blog is the time of day you choose to post. Along with fresh content, knowing when your readers are doing the most searching can really help to plan your blogs. This is where partnering with digital marketing experts who can help you strategize your blog posts is super beneficial. Between their marketing expertise and research abilities, they’ll help you get the timing just right.

Link it Up

Using links in blog posts is SO important. Whether it’s linking back to your own website (another reason to always have fresh content!), or linking to other reputable sites, using links can help to keep your small business blog totally fresh.

When including links, though, it’s important to do a little research first. Ask the following questions:

How old is the link?

If the link is quite old, you may end up back in the stale category. What’s relevant and useful now may not have mattered 3-5 years ago. Make sure the links you use are still helpful for your readers.

Is the link to a reputable website?

It may take a little time, but checking out the website you’re linking to can be a game-changer. Check that the site being linked to is in line with your values and industry. If there’s questionable material on the site, or it lacks credibility, find a different source.

Is the link from a competitor?

This can be tough when you’re researching content for your industry. But it’s crucial to find neutral sources of information, i.e. not competitor websites. Like you, they’re probably trying to keep their content fresh, but you never want to link back to a competitor’s business. Put your own spin on the content and find reliable sources that help support your small business blog post.

Staying fresh does take work, but it’s worth it. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not just about getting more leads or ranking higher—it’s about educating and informing your audience. It’s about benefiting them. When you approach content creation from that perspective, your small business blog will come out looking and smelling totally fresh!

We like to think we’re experts at giving small business blogs that fresh-out-of-the-dryer feel. Whether it’s creating content calendars, developing blogs, or keeping your social media up-to-date, we can help. Contact the Wayward Kind team today and we’ll help you freshen up!