In my last post “Everyone Can Win,” I talked about the important role your internal partners should play in defining your website strategy: What have they learned in working with customers? What are the key differentiators they’ve used to help make company successful? Now it’s time to look at the other side of the coin – your external stakeholders, aka, your customers.

Customers are fickle. So how much weight should you really give them when crafting your site’s content strategy?

What Do You People WANT?!

In the smallest of nutshells, your company needs to solve a problem for your customers – fill a void, close a loop, etc. But chances are you’re not the only company offering your particular service(s), so what makes you the right choice?

You can say you know what your customers want, but unless you’ve actually spoken with them, you’re just making dangerous assumptions. As part of your user research, you need to actually speak with customers to find out what motivates them.

Start with a content audit, interviewing customers about your current website – what resonates with them, what doesn’t, and their opinions on finding information on your site. This will help you identify your site’s strengths and weaknesses, and information holes and overflows.

Next, expand the conversation to learn what drives your customers in their decision-making processes. Once you learn these motivators, you can more accurately determine how your company can address them.

Factor in as many opinions as possible: hold a few phone interviews, cast a wide net and distribute a survey, even host a focus group or two. You don’t need to talk to your entire customer base, but you do want to ensure that you have enough data to be representative. If you can connect with prospects or lost leads, even better!

Yes, This Really Is Possible

In short, talking to your internal partners can help you discern why customers should choose you.
Talking to your customers can help you identify why they would choose you.

It may seem like that’s just a matter of semantics, but the key is to take what you learn from your internal stakeholders and apply it to your customers’ drivers.

But one final caveat: Don’t be disingenuous. Speak to your customers, but don’t try to sell your organization as something it’s not. Be true to your mission, and use what makes your company unique to illustrate why you are the only choice for your customers.

Still having trouble striking the right balance? No problem – that just means it’s time to enlist the help of a content strategist. Luckily, at Flying Cork, we’re ready to handle just such a request. Contact us to find out how we can help you make your website work for all of your customers – internal and external.

Times are changing faster and faster, nowadays. Founder of Delco Electric, Charles Kettering once said, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” Don’t worry; I’m not going to get all deep and philosophical. I make this point simply because this philosophy has always proved true in the world of digital advertising and online lead generation, and I always stress this to our clients. It’s important to understand what’s changing and how to adapt to the new climate.

Ads, Ads Everywhere

In its infancy, quite a few advertisers saw the internet as a giant billboard; buying up all the ad space they could afford on the most popular websites, and this worked, but only for a while. Since that time, consumers have been inundated with ads everywhere online, and site owners have developed platforms and strategies to squeeze ads into every possible ounce of real estate on their sites and monetize whatever they can. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of these ads starts to fall off, drastically.

“Ad Immunity”

This type of advertising has saturated the web for so long that many consumers are practically immune to any messaging delivered in this manner Here’s an example: : You’re in the market for the new iPhone, so you decide to do some research online. You find a great article on a reputable site that has some helpful information on the device, but about a paragraph into reading the article: BAM! Pop-up ad! Apparently, “Tom’s Electronic Expo” is having a 20% off sale. At least that’s what you thought the ad said. You’re not sure because you didn’t really read it anyway, before clicking that big red ‘X’. Annoying, right? You’re not alone. . If you’re the advertiser in that pop-up, you’ve just wasted money serving that ad to someone who didn’t even give it a chance. On top of that, you may have even given your brand a negative connotation because you’ve actually impacted the user experience.

A Solid Lead Gen Strategy Can Help

Now, I can’t claim that all of these types of sites are ineffective for everyone. There are a few ways to make this type of advertising work for advertisers, especially if you’re looking for branding, exclusively. If you’re trying to tie these types of efforts to a CPL however, your dollars would be better spent in paid search or other lead generation channels.
If you’re in the dark about how to best develop your online lead generation efforts, ask your agency to come up with a strategy. Demand things like clear calls-to-action, and an outline of possible lead channels. Make sure they can provide demographic information on anything they recommend testing, and ensure it matches your own. Finding effective lead channels can require a testing period, but the right agency should be able to point you down the right path.

What was once thought of as only a number symbol, the pound sign has since evolved into what we know today as the ever-popular “hashtag.”

Facebook, Google +, Instagram, Twitter, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s “Hashtag Skit”, these are just a few examples that show just how powerful hashtags are in this day and age.

Though one might think that a hashtag is nothing more than an option young adults use on their overly-filtered Instagram picture or in sassy Tweets to their friends (ex: #sorrynotsorry), hashtags can actually be powerful tools that companies can and should use to spur on engagement with consumers.

Though hashtags can be a helpful tool, there are instances on social media when people and businesses alike overuse and misuse them and essentially defeat the purpose of this social tool.

Here is a quick list of tips to keep in mind the next time you update a status or tweet for your company:

Hashtags for everyone- Contrary to popular belief, hashtags aren’t solely meant for Twitter. In fact, hashtags can and should be used on all social platforms. By using the same hashtag on all social mediums, you are creating an opportunity to broaden your reach while continuing the conversation across all platforms. For example, if a person predominately uses Facebook and doesn’t have a Twitter account, they will still have the opportunity to engage with your brand and join in the conversation.

Don’t go overboard- #Dont #Hashtag #Everything… Sometimes with hashtags, less is more. What this means is that adding hashtags to every word in a sentence doesn’t add more value; in fact, it does the exact opposite and makes your message feel too forced and market-y. So, in short, don’t have more hashtags than words.

Pay attention- Check your social media feeds to see what’s trending. But, before you choose that hashtag, make sure you know exactly what it means so that it’s not offensive or controversial in any way. The last thing you want to do is attract negative attention from your audience. Also, just because a topic is trending, doesn’t mean that you have to use that hashtag. For instance, if #BrittneySpears is trending, it wouldn’t really make sense for a civil engineering firm to use that hashtag in their social media posts. As a rule of thumb, if you have to think twice about using a hashtag, odds are you don’t want to be part of that conversation.

Spell check- Inaccurate hashtags could result in missed opportunities. Always be sure to double and triple check your hashtags to make sure that they are spelled correctly. If a tag is spelled incorrectly, people won’t be able to find your message and in turn will not be able to join the conversation.

Be Original- Tailor your hashtags to people who will be interested in what you are posting. The more specific and original you can get with a tag, the better your chances of reaching the audience you want to target. For instance, if your business doesn’t have its own hashtag already, look for one or two hashtags out there that make sense with your business and brand. Do your best to be specific and original without overdoing it. Remember, as we previously mentioned, less is more in the world of hashtags.

Hashtags can be beneficial to businesses because they allow a company to engage their audience and potentially expand their reach if used correctly. Furthermore, this social tool gives businesses the opportunity to broaden their horizons and their social scope. So, the next time that you want to post to social media, take note of our tips to point you in the right direction!

Your website is arguably your most powerful marketing tool – when someone wants to research your company, that’s likely where they’ll go first. (After they search for you, which means your search engine optimization efforts are also crucial, but that’s another post for another day.)

Because a site is so important, it’s only natural that almost everyone in the organization has an opinion about what belongs on it. But is that what your external audience (aka, your customers) really needs to see? And when it comes down to it, whose needs should drive the final decision?

In this two-part blog series, we’ll help you determine how to balance the needs of your internal and external stakeholders when it comes to something as crucial as your website.

The First Contender: Internal

Your internal partners – everyone from the C-Suite on down – know better than anyone what your company does best, and can quickly espouse all of your competitive differentiators. They also stand to gain (or lose) based on the outcome of a user’s decision. Your site needs to not hinder their ability to do their jobs, particularly if they’re in sales or another client-facing role.
You can’t launch an effective website without the buy-in of your key corporate team. They steer the proverbial ship that defines who your organization is; ignore them, and you run the risk of flying completely solo, without the team support needed to get the site off the ground and support your company’s success.

Learn What Makes Them Tick

This doesn’t mean that your website strategy should be developed around a boardroom table with a team of executives. Instead, before you begin writing copy and wireframing the structure, conduct user research – and that includes internal user’s at all organizational levels. Learn what has made your company successful to date. What is driving customers to continue working with you? Gather the information various employees have learned from their customer relationships, and what both customers and your internal partners view as your greatest strengths. Find the sweet spot where these competitive differentiators and customers’ decision points intersect, and you’ve found your unique selling proposition, the anchor of your website messaging strategy.

What about the Customers?

All this is not to say that external customers’ opinions aren’t important. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Weighing the input of all key users – both within your company and outside – will help you build a site that will resonate with your users and, subsequently, your company’s bottom line – a win-win for everyone. But more on weighing customers’ opinions in an upcoming blog post.

Don’t know where to start with research like this? That’s fine, because Flying Cork does! Contact us to find out how to avoid building a website for everybody, and focus on building it for the right somebody.