6 Tips for Coming Up With Your Next Great Blog Post

Are you a B2B marketer struggling to develop new and interesting blog ideas? Coming up with relevant topics for blog content can be difficult over time. Though a content calendar can prove helpful in mapping out topic ideas, a fresh perspective is important in keeping your blog active and readers interested. In this post, we’ll share with you time-tested approaches and new techniques to arm any B2B firm with loads of great ideas.

Time to Start Fresh with Blog Posts

No matter your level of experience as a content writer, it’ll only be a matter of time before you run short of ideas for great blog posts if you rely solely on what you know. For many, generating new blog ideas can be a grueling, time-consuming process, and feel like an exercise in futility.

Seeking out fresh blog post ideas frequently is important

Maintaining an innovative, updated blog that shares valuable content will position you as a thought leader and help you be more competitive in your niche. A frequently refreshed blog is a key piece of a B2B company’s marketing strategy.  In today’s digital era, diminishing attention spans mean that you can easily lose your following if you don’t keep them engaged with fresh content ideas that add more value to their lives. Although techniques involving recycling old ideas do work sometimes, they cannot fully serve the need for fresh, original content.

The great thing about living in this digital age is that marketers now have access to new ways of discovering blog ideas on a regular basis. In this blog, we outline 6 timeless and low-effort methods B2B firms can use to create blog post topics.

6 Strategies for Developing Brilliant Blog Posts

a) Brainstorm with mind maps:

This one comes straight out of an academic textbook. Mind maps are a popular means of brainstorming in the academic world, so most of us are already familiar with them. Mind maps are visual representations of a central idea and its associated ideas, where the former is laid in the middle and the latter placed radially around it.

For instance, if you’re seeking out post ideas for a blog belonging to a law firm, you can start out with personal injury as your chief idea encircled in the middle of a paper or an open canvas of graphics software. By doing some brainstorming about sub-ideas and variables that can be woven into this central idea, you can capture some insightful issues on personal injury, for instance, “to hold the individual or his/her employer responsible for the damages”, “the importance of a medical examination in your claims” “the key differences between various types of injury claims”, etc.

The sub-ideas might branch out into other lower-level ideas of note, and you can synthesize many of these lower-level ideas to generate new valuable ideas.

b) Take inspiration from others:

Another excellent strategy for overcoming a shortage of blog post ideas is to take cues from what your competitors and thought leaders in your industry are doing. Using this method, you can tap into the success of your competitors.

Try using a feed reader like Feedly to follow leading blogs and their social media accounts to gain inspiration for your next amazing post. Compare your list of blog posts to theirs to see the popular topics that they’ve covered and you haven’t. An online tool like Buzzsumo can help you easily trace your competitor’s most popular blog posts.

You should also look into posts that are popular based on the number of times they’ve been linked to posts on other sites. The Open Site Explorer, an excellent online link analysis tool, has a ‘Top Page’ function which gives you express access to statistics on the number of times posts on any site in the world have been linked to posts on other sites.

Here’s a blog we did a while ago on leveraging LinkedIn groups – they can be a wealth of information, and when groups are active, it’s easy to solicit opinions and find trends.

You can choose to give these hot topics more in-depth coverage, drill down on a particular aspect, or choose a different angle to cover altogether. You might also want to consult your marketing agency for new ideas or collaborate with a B2B consulting partner. The right partner will have a variety of clients and be skilled in helping with your go-to-marketing strategy.

c) Turn to your audience:

This is another tried and true approach to get blog post ideas moving. The basis of this strategy is to elicit your reader’s pain points from their own perspective, finding out which topics stir the most interest. This method requires you to look closely at user-generated content like comments on blog posts, LinkedIn posts, @replies on Twitter, etc.

You can also check out sites where users generate content themselves, like answerthepublic.com, Quora, Reddit, or Yahooanswers.com. Most of these user-generated items are expressions of the genuine opinions and pain points of your audience, so they are great clues pointing to topics that strike their interest.

You can also do keyword research to find out what your audiences are searching for online most frequently. It’s always a good idea to collaborate with other departments who have regular insight into what clients struggle with. For example, your business development team can probably point to trends that come up regularly in meetings. This is also a great way to come up with new ways to generate B2B leads!

d) Piggyback on your previous posts:

There are many ways you can capitalize on your previous content to unlock new ideas for your blog posts. Try:

  • Updating old posts: You can rewrite some of the time-sensitive posts you’ve already published to reflect the latest developments. For instance, you can rewrite a 2019 version of the post on “Top 10 accounting apps for 2018”.
  • at an industry conference that you already covered. Many of our clients decide to take on a unique perspective of something they learned from our own blog, for example.
  • Developing a fresh perspective: In the example above, once you’ve covered the conference and completed a follow up on the marketing tactics you tried, consider writing about your favorite presenter at the conference.
  • Creating mini-guides to your blog posts: Sometimes, you can make something quite engaging using a brief synopsis of some of your most popular posts. You can write a mini-guide that teases your audience to go through some of your better-performing blog posts. Many bloggers create “Best of” lists at the end of the year, for example.

e) Ride a trend wave:

Another surefire way to generate excellent ideas for new blog posts is to look out for news and trends in your space. To do this, you need to put together a list of reliable sources for news and updates that apply to your space. You can use a tool like Feedly to compile and manage sources of local, national, and international news, and sources of content that keep you informed of industry trends. Our favorite tools for helping with this are:

  • Google Trends informs you about what people are currently searching for the most online
  • A Twitter search reveals what people are tweeting about the most
  • Reddit search reveals the content of people’s news streams

There are several ways you can capitalize on what you find to create remarkable blog posts. You can choose to publish an opinion piece on updates, or a predictive piece about events that will most likely trail the news, or a piece sharing how new reports will affect your industry.

f) Source inspiration from those in the know – colleagues or industry experts:

This is another highly reliable way to gather blog post ideas. You can talk to your coworkers and business partners to learn more about certain issues affecting your industry. They might not provide you with a topic to write on directly, but an interview with them can help you frame certain things about your business or specialties in a way you’ve never thought of before. Asking them directly for a blog post idea might also yield brilliant ideas.

Need More? 3 Hacks to Supercharge these Strategies

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the strategies we just covered.

Create a file for ideas

Great ideas can pop into your mind at any point in time – and be forgotten just as quickly.  Since you can hardly create a perfect time to sit down and generate inspiring ideas, you need to have an easily accessible “ideas” file (a text document or a spreadsheet) where you can quickly note any idea that you want to remember. Even if they don’t merit publishing at that time, reviewing the file might help with new ideas down the road.

Flex your creative muscles regularly

Your ability to recognize patterns and relationships in elements of content is very valuable for generating new blog posts. There’s no better way to develop this knowledge than through consistent practice.

Just keep on posting

Don’t stop posting consistently, even if you’re short on ideas that you really like. You never know what potential an unpublished blog post holds until you push it out onto the web. You need to publish as frequently as possible in order to test ideas and learn which ones work best.

With these strategies in your back pocket, you can say goodbye to writer’s block for good. These strategies are systematic ways to push through inertia and establish yourself as a leading purveyor of fresh, actionable blog content. Still curious about more reliable ways to create compelling blog post content? Reach out to us today!

Can Your Audience Identify You Through Your Brand Voice and Tone?

Creating a memorable brand voice and tone isn’t always easy and though the proliferation of digital marketing channels has reduced the gap between large professional service firms and small ones, it has also made it more difficult for anyone brand to set itself apart. In the quest for differentiation and consistency across different channels, many professional service firms often mix up their brand voice and tone.

If you use different voices, your clients would be confused about what your brand represents and may not recognize it from one interaction to the next. Also, if you do not adjust your brand tone occasionally, you run the risk of being irrelevant at best or at worst offensive.

In order to create a unique and competitive brand identity, you must define a brand voice in your b2b marketing plan and be consistent.

Where Will People Hear Your Brand Voice and Tone?

Once you have personified your brand voice, the next step is to identify every single place where people will hear your voice. Since consistency is so important, you need to think of every single channel through which people might encounter you. Here are some ideas to get you brainstorming.

Video Content

Your brand voice is naturally communicated through the words you use in video content. Video content includes videos you post to YouTube or other video sites and webinars. Also, when appearing on the videos of others, you should be using your unique brand voice.

Live Interactions 

Be on-brand whenever you encounter members of the public in a live situation. This includes one-on-one interactions with clients, interviews, presentations, and booths at trade shows or events. This is where having an established elevator speech or training on brand voice will come in handy.

Print Materials

You should consider your brand voice and tone for all print materials. This includes not only promotional materials such as flyers and brochures but also packaging paperwork and packing slips.

Packaging

Your packaging and the words on them should reflect the core values of your company. This is especially important if you’re a “green” company. Try to consider how your packing looks and reads to your clients and whether or not it is consistent with your overall tone.

Employees

Create guidelines for your employees in terms of brand voice when they communicate online or off with clients. B2B companies need to present a more formal image that engenders trust and positions them as a thought leader.

Communications with Other Businesses

You should also keep the tone in mind when communicating with other businesses. Your tone should be consistent with business associates as well as clients.

The Power of Storytelling in Your Brand Voice and Tone

Your B2B marketing strategies should include stories. Storytelling can bring to life the voice and tone of your brand. Stories are great for conveying your values and creating a personal experience that builds credibility and develops a strong connection.

The types of stories you can use include:

Personal Stories – How you created your company or overcame some difficulty

Service Development Stories – The history of your offered service and how it solves a problem

Client Stories – How clients have improved their business or solved their problems by utilizing your services

Employee Stories – A story that takes the reader “behind the scenes” to see the human face of your organization

Case Studies – More involved and detailed stories that explain your services in light of a client’s experience with your company

Storytelling can be used in all of the above areas of your marketing. You can tell a story on your website or social media. Your print materials can feature stories about employees or the founding of the company. Stories are especially useful for videos. A story can really spice up your regular promotional copy.

Stories don’t have to be long. A story can simply be an anecdote in a speech or a bit of humor in a blog post. The point is that they humanize the people in your firm. People don’t buy services – they buy people.

Most importantly, the stories you pick and the words you use to tell it should reinforce the voice and tone of your brand.

To determine whether your brand voice and tone is clear and concise, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s your brand’s backstory?
  • What makes your brand persona unique?
  • Why is your brand so passionate about what it does?

Answering these questions provides you a solid foundation to continue building upon.

Staying consistent with your unique brand voice is good, but know that different media require different writing styles and messaging approaches.

The way you write a LinkedIn post should be different from the way you write a tweet, which should be different from the way you write a press release, and so on. However, knowing how to apply your brand voice for different media channels without going off track requires great skill, patience, and experience. In this regard, seek help from experts.

For more ideas, subscribe to our newsletter and get more useful information on how to generate a brand voice and tone.

Why Professional Service Firms Need a Brand Voice

Most of the time people judge a book by its cover or brand voice. If the cover does not capture someone’s attention immediately, then whatever is inside the book – no matter how intriguing – becomes irrelevant because of their initial perceptions.

Your firm’s brand is the cover page of your company’s “book”. It’s where the connection between your client and service begins.

Unfortunately, many professional service firms spend more of their online marketing resources and time on the visual aspects of their brand and pay little or no attention to their voice and tone.

If you continue to market across different channels without a well-developed brand voice and tone, you will confuse your clients and followers each time they see your messages. Also, your target audience may lose interest – and that’s not easy to get back.

Having a strong and unique brand voice is one of the most important elements in building a successful online business.

Your “brand voice” is how you, as a professional service marketer, express your business personality in your writing style, language, and tone. It is the distinct persona or identity of your company that shines through in the words and phrases you use, which allows you to stand out from other firms. If your brand voice is distinct enough, your followers should be able to recognize you in your writing even if there is no name or logo on messaging.

In other words, the voice of your brand is determined largely by the words you use and the sentences that you write. Your words create a consistent persona in the minds of your audience. This is true whether or not you consciously take control of this tone and purposefully decide what it will be – so make sure you create a brand voice that is beneficial to your professional service company. In other words, everyone who sees your messaging will form an opinion of your firm – it’s up to you to craft the narrative.

The Benefits of Creating and Maintaining a Brand Voice

Consistent experience

First, a brand voice offers a consistent experience across all of your business touchpoints with the client. This is absolutely necessary when creating a brand image. It lets your audience know who you are and instills trust. Consistency is what builds your brand personality. It is the element that creates the image in the minds of your audience; whether it’s very formal, sophisticated, casual, fun, highly technical, or even humorous.

Brand recognition 

Your brand voice should enable clients to subconsciously connect certain words or phrases, ideas, and emotions with your brand. Changes in brand voice might cause confusion about your brand’s identity, preventing your clients from ever making that emotional connection. Whereas, a consistent brand voice and tone makes a firm more memorable, sticking in the minds of clients until they’re ready to choose your services.

A competitive edge 

Digitization has leveled the playing field but businesses face ever more competition for client attention, interaction, and loyalty. Your brand voice provides an opportunity to quickly and persuasively tell current and prospective clients why your offerings are different or better than every other brand in your niche.

Customer loyalty 

When a brand voice changes frequently, it loses the opportunity to prove to clients that they can trust the company to understand their pain points and reliably deliver solutions. Your brand voice needs to be consistent to convince clients that the brand is living up to the firm’s mission and following through on its promises to its clients.

Company confidence

Having an authentic and dependable brand voice can inspire employees to fully commit to the firm’s culture and vision. In addition, maintaining a clear and consistent brand will give your b2b marketing team more guidance and confidence in your brand strategy over time and across channels.

While it’s important that a brand should have a clear self-image and convey consistent ideas about its values and what it has to offer, it’s acceptable to change or adapt your brand’s tone to be appropriate to the situation. In fact, it’s often necessary to be flexible with your tone, depending on platforms and channels (for some examples, check out our other blog in this series).

Varying your brand tone from one media channel to another can keep your content on point without appearing to be on the verge of an identity crisis.

There is certainly a strategy behind crafting a strong and effective brand voice, along with other elements that build your overall brand. Learn how to personify your brand voice by subscribing to our newsletter for free.

5 Tactics You Cannot Ignore if You Want to Become a Thought Leader

Thought leadership is essential to making a professional service or technology business successful. In fact, 75% of professional services and technology firms see thought leadership as their greatest source of differentiation.

That’s because, in professional service firms and technology companies, the knowledge you possess and the guidance you can share are your products. We are operating in a hyper-competitive environment where you need to stand out in a sea of competitors. Establishing credibility and subject matter expertise is the best marketing strategy you can implement. Potential clients are looking for an expert to guide them through their business challenges – your goal is to show them that you’re that resource. According to a Hinge Marketing report, experts within high-growth firms are viewed as being highly skilled at speaking, writing, and networking. Potential clients want to work with subject matter experts, and by reading content that your experts contribute to, your firm is viewed as offering more expertise.

Perhaps you haven’t focused on this area in the past. That doesn’t change the fact that you need to appear as a thought leader and trusted advisor in your space. How can you do so if this was not your focus in the past, or if you want to improve your position in the marketplace?

Through our research and work with clients over the past two decades, we’ve found 5 key tactics that help companies position themselves as an expert.

1. Perform better than your peers

Outperforming your peers is an incontestable way to prove you’re the expert to be heard. Remember that it’s not just outperforming them once, but over and over again. Clients want to become educated by the best there is and if you can prove you exceed your competition, you’ll be seen as a thought leader. This will help you earn repeat business, as well as referrals.

2. Produce successful results

If you consistently strive to do point number one, this tactic will come naturally. For each engagement, you have with a customer, document clear goals and then the various ways you met those goals. Build upon this step to move onto the next tactic, where you’ll define measurable results that you’re proud to show off. Measurable means quantifiable – use real numbers wherever possible.

3. Define and showcase measurable results

One way that you can “prove” your success is by writing case studies.  Ask key clients for testimonials, and be sure to include quantifiable results whenever possible. Your goal is to share authentic, measurable, and legitimate client results. Institutionalize the process of creating a case study as soon as you complete your work for your clients.

Consider where potential clients will look for information on your company, and highlight results there. Mostly, that will be in digital sources like online but also keep in mind word-of-mouth, events, or professional directories. It’s worth noting that your results needn’t be perfect for you to showcase them. In fact, if you have a 10 out of 10 client satisfaction score, that can come across as inauthentic.

 4. Create unique, relevant content

Generate eBooks, white papers, marketing strategy checklists, POVs, and any other professional content that is fundamental to educating your target audience. To develop a trusting relationship between you and your customers, start with topics your clients believe you are already an expert on to reinforce your role as a trusted advisor. Create a professional persona online while remembering what’s important to the business and what your ‘why’ is. Keep to marketing strategy by continually reminding yourself and those you employ of the ‘why’. In a recent article on Forbes.com, Bruce Rogers, Chief Insight Officer, shared that companies who consistently create thought leadership content “become the go-to providers for their expertise. They make it dramatically easier for clients and centers of influence to refer new qualified prospects to them.

5. Make it personal

When you create content about yourself, include a biography, write in the third person, emphasize your experience history and do so for the rest of your team. Blog content should consistently highlight the credibility of the authors, while also positioning them as relatable people. Help prospective clients to see the real individuals behind the face of your company – the actual team who will roll up their sleeves and solve their biggest business hurdles.

You built a business. That means you have the talent and mastery to position your firm for success. It can be hard to promote that expertise to clients without a laundry list of past success stories – but these 5 top tactics are a great start.

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How Professional Service Firms Can Use Social Media For Maximum Impact And Value

Does my professional service firm need a social media presence? Is an active social media presence even possible? And is it worth the effort? These are some of the questions that you may be grappling with as you come to terms with developing a social media strategy.

The dramatic increase in marketing of services through social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter has rapidly changed client expectations. They increasingly expect firms to communicate with them via these platforms. At the same time, they expect engagement to be timely and relevant and have high standards for how well professional service firms effectuate their digital strategy. As a result, marketing success and profitability in the B2B sector often demand much more. It requires a bit of science – the science of developing a solid social media strategy. This primer details the critical attributes of social media, and provides tips on how you can make the most of the social media channels that will ensure you generate more leads and drive growth in the ever-changing digital marketplace

Introducing Social Media for Professional Service Firms

According to data from Statista, 70 percent of the U.S. population has at least one social media profile. The same study estimates that the number of worldwide social media users currently stands at 2.5 billion. If you knew that members of your target client segments spent time in a particular place, wouldn’t it make sense to post a blog, article, or advert there? That’s what social media brings to professional service firms but in a whole new and improved way. Unlike traditional marketing channels, which are usually targeted in a general way, social media creates a meaningful conversation with a particular and broad audience but in a personalized manner.

Let’s now describe an ideal plan for a professional service firm spanning the what, why, and how of a solid social media strategy.

Create value for your clients

A solid social media strategy is all about creating a dialogue with your clients, listening to them carefully, and understanding their challenges and needs. That calls for transparency, authenticity, and honesty when communicating with both clients and prospects. Assess the impact and opportunity that social media can bring to your business model, understand how your clients and potential clients are using the various social channels and map out how you could use social media to build relationships. If your firm’s messages are not clear enough to allow an authentic conversation with your clients and you don’t create value for them, chances are you will be ignored.

The emphasis here is you shouldn’t treat social media as just another platform to post your sales messages. Instead, you should use social media to offer personalized, one-to-one interactions with your clients. Through these interactions, you can quickly tell if your services are meeting client needs or expectations and also be able to integrate customer input into your service development and delivery cycle. To make sure you provide value, adopt the following tips:

  1. Maintain relevancy– to achieve this you need to frequently update your social media platforms with the latest industry trends, breaking news, content offers and features (think infographics, blog posts, white papers, e-books, etc.) as this will ensure you maintain client interest and a steady supply of repeat visits. If you can, establish a social media team to manage social communications and content and make sure the team posts new messages & content frequently and answers clients’ feedback and queries in a prompt manner. Data from Twitter, for instance, indicate that B2B audiences are much more likely to engage on Twitter after repeat exposure to messaging. That is, a prospect who has seen a firm’s message four times is 335 percent more likely to click on a link in a Tweet by that firm than a prospect who has only been exposed to the message once.
  2. Choose your hashtags correctly– as you add hashtags to your social media content, using too many similar hashtags will only get you in front of the same audience. Broaden the range of topics your hashtags cover to get in front of new audiences. Add those that reference your industry, the features of the product you’re promoting, and the audience you’re trying to reach.
  3. Enhance sharing– to achieve this you can organize discussion forums, chats, newsletters, and Q&A sections on your clients’ social channels to make it easy for them to share their views and provide feedback about your services.
  4. Ensure accuracy and keep it exciting– Professional service buyers expect relevant and accurate information about the firm in which they are interested. Develop a social media policy that will ensure you keep the information posted about your firm’s services, activities, and promotions accurate and up-to-date. To attract clients, you also need to make your social media channels exciting. According to HubSpot, visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content, and that’s why a majority of B2B marketers (51%) prioritize creating visual assets as part of their content marketing strategy. Use images, videos, and live streams to provide interesting facts about your services and tips on using Leverage competitions, games, and blog posts to get potential buyers interacting with your social media platforms.
  5. Know when to postStudies suggest posting at noon, so you increase your chances of catching business professionals on their lunch break. But early evening between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. is also regarded as a good time because users are winding down their workday.  The worst time is between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. since this is typically the dead time in the business universe.
  • Re-structure your organization and examine your internal culture

Social media works by creating conversations with clients that cut across service lines, sales, and marketing boundaries.  That means professional service firms need to move beyond their functional silos. They need to embed their social media strategy across the entire organization for it to take root. On a similar note, professional service firms need to examine their internal cultures to achieve maximum impact and value from social media. Many firms are not comfortable with the level of empowerment social media gives to their workforce. If employees are communicating with your clients directly, say via Twitter, a level of trust and confidence is required that many professional service firms are not comfortable with. However, this should not be the case as adopting social media presents opportunities for internal knowledge sharing, productivity growth, and collaboration.

  • Leverage the best channels and optimize for each social network

You are probably using a range of social networks, which is not a wrong move. However, common mistakes professional service firms make is to replicate updates and re-share them on different social networks. That is not a good strategy as audiences on various social networks are unique, and the content they expect is exclusive too. We will discuss three social platforms- LinkedIn, Twitter, and SlideShare- that we believe will ensure maximum impact and thus bring more value. We’ve also provided tips on how you can optimize for each of the three social networks.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has more than 562 million users in more than 200 countries around the world and is the world’s premier B2B social network. Statistics show that an estimated 80% of all business-to-business (B2B) sales leads come from LinkedIn.  Here’s how you can make the most of LinkedIn.

  1. LinkedIn gives you three areas to include websites, so if you have more than one site, include up to three of them in this section. If you only have one website, you can still take advantage of all three. For example, you may set one to go to your homepage, another to a service page, or perhaps to a landing page for a download you are offering. That will encourage people to visit the specific pages where you can provide more information about your business offerings.
  2. Know what content length performs best. According to findings from a study by Noah Kagan of OkDork.com on viral LinkedIn posts, aiming for long-form but not too long-form can prove to be a game-changer. His results showed 1900 word articles got the most shares, so aiming for between 1700 & 2100 words should give your content a boost.  The findings also note that how-to posts get almost 2x as many views as question posts. So when you’re creating content with LinkedIn views in mind, you should focus on how-to posts and list style posts and steer clear of question posts.
  3. Having a compelling LinkedIn profile is essential, but make sure it includes a CTA that answers one question: What do you want the reader to do next? Without this one small detail, most people will leave your profile, not taking action. CTAs can come in different forms and with different purposes. You can create a CTA to invite your readers to download a free resource, subscribe to a newsletter, schedule a consultation, email, or call you, and so on. Add a CTA to your LinkedIn profile to help you get leads and facilitate further engagement between you and your potential clients. Make it easy for potential prospects to know what to do next by telling them precisely what you want them to do with your CTA.

Twitter

According to data from a study by Content Marketing Institute on B2B firms, Twitter is the second most used social media platform for content marketing purposes, coming in the right behind LinkedIn. 67% of B2B marketers view Twitter as one of the three most effective social channels when it comes to helping their organizations achieve specific objectives. Here’s how to get the best from Twitter.

  1. When someone replies to or re-tweets your content on Twitter, take the time to send them a short and sweet thank you reply. If they comment on your content with their thoughts and opinions, continue the conversation. Use tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite to optimize the process.
  2. When someone re-tweets your content, you can respond using Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards to prompt them to sign up immediately. These users are already primed for your content and show interest in your writing, so they’re highly likely to want more of what you’re giving. By providing a personalized thank you and a frictionless one-click sign-up, you can drive more leads/email sign-ups for your blog.
  3. The love your users give you on social media is a secure form of social proof; you can take advantage of this to grow your business. You can embed Tweets from happy users on your site as a way to show new visitors why everyone loves your products. It’s an easy and effective customer testimonial that increases trust and credibility.
  4. Whenever someone Tweets at you, use services like TweetFull to automatically favorite their Tweets. By doing so, you’re encouraging users to Tweet about you more often, resulting in more engagement for your social media presence. Be careful to filter out any NSFW (not safe for work) Tweets.
  5. Leverage Calls To Action (CTAs)- Click to Tweet is a call-to-action (CTA) in which you prepopulate a box with a key quote or idea from one of your posts that users can then tweet out at the click of a button. Prompting your readers with a quick and easy way to share the main message from your post is a simple way for users to share your content and spread awareness of your brand among people who are more likely to engage with it.
  6. How many tweets should you send in a day, and what is the best time to tweet? According to data from Track Social, the optimum value is between 4 and 15 tweets per day for businesses that cater to multiple time zones, and about four times a day for local companies.  Research shows that the most popular time to tweet is between noon and 1 p.m., while the least popular time is between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. So tweeting during the lunch hour may provide you with a broad audience.

SlideShare

SlideShare has 70 million unique visitors a month; in fact, the site is now among the top 100 most visited websites in the world. This social media platform allows users to upload videos, documents, infographics, and presentations in various formats. Here’s how you can get the best from SlideShare.

  1. Design compelling title slides that can be seen at a small size. Consider using Buzzsumo to help determine the topic of the presentation.
  2. Utilize CTA slides. Inserting CTA slides at the end of a SlideShare presentation will help direct the traffic you get from SlideShare. That can be particularly useful for B2B leads: “SlideShare has up to 5 times more traffic from business owners than Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and even LinkedIn!”
  3. Put your keywords to better use. Using your keyword as a filename can be a good move. For instance, to upload your presentation to SlideShare, you have to save it as a PDF. When you save the PDF, use your keyword as the filename. You can also include your keyword or phrase in the title and description of your presentation, as well as the tags. Make your keyword the first tag for the presentation, and then choose carefully related tags to follow.
  4. Anytime you post a presentation on LinkedIn, share it as a status update in both your profile and company page. You can also add your SlideShare content to your LinkedIn profile’s Summary page. Just click ´Edit´ on your profile, then click the box with a plus sign beside it and add a link to your slides. Once you add the link to your presentation, you have an attractive way to stand out from other profiles and encourage people to click through for your content. Share within your blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages and also make clickable buttons back to your website home page.
  • Understand the power of Social Analytics

It is now possible for professional service firms to capture social “noise” and distill it into meaningful and specific client insights. By using social analytics (think Twitter Analytics, LinkedIn analytics, etc.), your firm will become more efficient and agile in today’s evolving marketplace as you will be able to design services that are predictably relevant to your clients and hence generate significant value for your business. In essence, with social analytics, you will be able to achieve the following:

  1. Make more informed and better decisions– Social analytics will allow you to test different advertising, pricing, and social scenarios; as a result, you will be in a position to make fact-based business decisions related to marketing campaigns, sales forecasting, and pricing-and to adjust your decisions in real-time.
  2. Know your clients better– If social media is a forum for professional service’ buyers to share their views, then social analytics is a way for professional service firms to listen. Prospective clients use social media channels to tell brands what services they want and how to market and sell those services to them effectively. By using social analytics, you will get a 360-degree view of your potential clients and thus understand them better.
  3. Ensure a positive return-on-investment (ROI)- By utilizing social analytics, your professional service firms will be able to target marketing campaigns more effectively and hence, make better use of your marketing budget. Additionally, social analytics can help you determine the real ROI for different marketing categories (think television, digital channels, and out-of-home), so you know which ones are worth the investment.

The Bottom Line

There is no arguing that social media marketing has increased, and that’s why professional service firms must reinvent their traditional marketing approaches. According to a study by Talkwalker, McKinsey, for instance, is an example of a professional service firm that is making the most of social media platforms. The firm was one of the top performers on Twitter, using insightful infographics to draw in their audience. It also placed a strong focus on gender equality in the workplace and utilized Twitter to promote its research on this subject. The result was remarkable as the firm received 78 retweets per post, the most engagement per tweet of any of the companies examined. By leveraging the above mentioned social media strategies, you will be able to extend the reach of the marketing and sales department, and, by extension, the reach of your brand and its value proposition. You will achieve greater collaboration, increased productivity, and better client engagement.

Is your social media marketing strategy not bringing in the desired return-on-investment? Let the experts at COMPANY EXPERT help you with marketing through social media.

9 Tips for Developing Effective Email Campaigns for Professional Service Firms

Professional service firms need to work harder than ever to reinvent the way they reach their prospective clients through email campaigns. The marketing environment is much different and complicated in the information age than it was even a few years ago. Client expectations have rapidly changed thanks to the proliferation of new services through digital channels, which have created seismic shifts across communication mediums.

The buyers of professional services are more connected, more informed, and increasingly vocal about their brand choices and opinions. They have fingertip access to rich market data from independent sources, and thus no longer rely solely on what organizations choose to communicate to them. They initiate and dictate marketing discussions and expect one-size-fits-one attention.

Through this primer, we have defined nine key influences that professional service firms should consider when developing email campaigns and how to reach prospective clients more effectively.

Developing Effective Email Campaigns

According to numbers from a survey by Forrester, a staggering 82 percent of businesses claim that email is the most commonly used marketing channel. It tops social media and web channels, which are used significantly less often, at 69 percent and 68 percent, respectively, according to the same survey.

Another study by McKinsey found out that email is a much more effective way to acquire clients than social media- nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined. Data from the study also shows that 91 percent of U.S. consumers use email daily, and the channel is far more effective than social media in terms of conversions and order value.

These stats highlight the fact that email is one of the best marketing channels, and professional service firms need to develop an effective email campaign strategy that will bring in more potential clients while delighting existing clients. Here are nine ways you can use an email marketing strategy to achieve this.

  • Provide Value

A successful email campaign is all about giving your prospective clients something that provides value to them and makes them want more. Relevant content will make them choose your business over your competitors, whether that’s educational information about your industry, operational messages about your service, or marketing messages about the products/services you offer. Here you can do the following:

  • Send new leads a series of customized messages after they sign up for your newsletter to remind them that they opted in. Each message should include useful content to reward readers and serve as a guideline for what they can expect out of your newsletter. Include information on the timing of email messages, regularity, and content plans.
  • Send an email or series of emails to win back prospects who haven’t purchased your services within a specific timeframe. Offer discounts, promotions, or exclusive services to draw them back to your site. Use this to increase lifetime value (LTV) by getting more clients to make repeat purchases.
  • Send an email with a testimonial from one of your clients to remind them how useful your services are. You’d be surprised how little of your user-base is even aware of all of your service capabilities or use cases. These types of emails can open up a whole new world of functionality for them and therefore improve retention rates.

 

  • Rethink your Subject Lines

After the email greeting, the subject line of each email you produce is of the utmost importance. While it may be surprising to learn, the content of the subject line takes a back seat to the length of the subject line in question. Experts now believe that the overall length of a given subject line runs in direct correlation to the odds that the email will be opened. Subject lines that are ten characters or less are opened more than 50 percent of the time, while those that are 70 characters or higher have an open rate of 120 percent less than those with suitably short subject lines.

That is, the higher the number of characters that an email subject line has, the lower the number of click-throughs the email will receive, while subject lines that are short on characters are more likely to be read. With this in mind, you will then be able to tweak the system of labeling to ensure that it naturally attracts as many different potential users as possible.

Also, research by MailChimp confirms that specific keywords in the subject line increase open email rates by 57%. The impact you’ll see in the public email rate when you use one of these words in the subject line is as follows- Positive Urgent: + 79% Thank you: + 57%. Conversely, specific keywords can have the opposite effect – Negative Cancelled: -40% Helping: -12% Last chance: -45%.

  • Personalization

Professional service firms need to understand that in email marketing campaigns, personalization is becoming the prime source of competitive differentiation. Broad awareness email campaigns do not drive sales as they once did – these campaigns are often out of sync with the pulse of changing client needs. Too many times, these campaigns target the wrong prospective clients, creating unwelcome marketing messages that can damage a firms’ reputation. personalization

You can achieve personalization by knowing your clients, understanding their pain points and needs, and then offering them tailored experiences. Look at the natural segments in your email list or client database. If you have taken the time to collect data on your clients, then it is time to start putting that data to use by personalizing your content for various segments of the population.

According to stats from MailChimp’s latest segmented-list user data, open rates were a robust 14.31 percent higher, and clicks were a whopping 100.95 percent higher than non-segmented campaigns. Specifically targeting segments of your target audience can convert them into loyal followers who are then much more likely to spread the words of your authority to their colleagues and friends who are also interested in finding a solution to their pain point. Here are some recommendations that you can implement to help personalize your messages:

  1. Personalize your email subject lines based on user data. Studies indicate that personalized subject lines result in a 22.0 percent increase in open rates compared to emails without customized subject lines. Many professional service firms choose not to collect any personal data with email addresses to keep their sign up forms as frictionless as possible. If you want to send emails with personalized subject lines while keeping your sign up types simple, you should at least collect first names with email addresses.
  2. Personalize referral codes and landing pages- Airbnb, for instance, created personalized referral codes and landing pages with a photo of the inviter. As a result, referrals increased bookings by over 25% in some markets.

 

  • Time of Day Matters

The time of day that you choose to send out your email can have a dramatic impact on both click-through and open rates. The most productive time to send an email is during the very early hours of the day so that it will be seen during the period that most people dedicate to catching up on what has happened while they have been asleep. If you wait until a later point in the day to send out your email, then it is going to naturally have much more competition, not just with other emails your subscribers might have to deal with but also with the stressors of the day as well. That equates to roughly a 20 percent increase in open and click-through rates if done correctly. Along similar lines, the day of the week that you choose to send out your email is going to impact your metrics as well.

Studies show that emails sent on Friday evening after 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday all have a statistically higher chance of being opened, with emails sent on Saturdays after 8 pm gaining the biggest boost of an additional 25 percent chance of being opened and 30 percent in click-through rates simply because people have less to do on Sunday mornings than at any other point during the week.

Note – not everyone on your email list has the same daily routine, nor do they all live in the same time zone. You need to test for your market the ideal time to send out your newsletters and emails.

  • Leverage an Email Marketing Platform and Social Channels

The best marketing platforms have tools to help you develop effective email campaigns. Some of the features to look for include:

  • Easy Campaign creation and automation, including templates and workflows.
  • Integration capabilities with software (such as a CRM) that you already use.
  • Audience segmentation capabilities.
  • In-depth analytics on email campaign performance.

Numbers from the Litmus’ State of Email Survey showed that successful email programs are 108.5% more likely to generate at least half of the company’s email marketing revenue from automated and transactional emails. There are various email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp and Zoho, which you can leverage.

Besides leveraging an email marketing platform, it is also essential to utilizing social media platforms (think Twitter and LinkedIn) to test out Subject Lines and Calls-to-Action.

social media

Share your content on social media channels using different copy before you send your email and see which performs best in terms of clicks and shares. Identify who’s looking and how many have engaged. Are you attracting the right target audience? Are you getting the attention of those who would buy?

  • Your Calls-to-Action

In the B2B industry, once you have designed and developed your email content, make sure that you use the right Calls-to-Action. Most professional service firms’ emails have an objective of driving traffic to landing pages that often offer free tools, checklists, or white papers. But to convert this traffic, you must ensure that the email content itself is relevant and useful to prospective clients. Why should prospects invest more time? What is behind the link?  The point here is that consumers get multiple emails per day- why should they care about yours?

  • Focus on a Multi-Tiered Approach

Outside of your first email newsletter, you are also going to want to create several generalized emails that can trigger follow on content at specific points in your relationship with each subscriber.  That will ensure they feel as connected to you as possible. That should include things like a personalized welcome email when they first join and periodic follow-up emails designed to show that you care about their user experience. Remember, you don’t want to send out so many emails that they start to feel like spam, but you also don’t want to lose track of members of your target audience once you have successfully engaged them.

  • Optimize for Mobile

Professional service buyers prefer an experience that is tailored for mobile devices because it adds a wherever/whenever dimension to every aspect of their buying journey. Interesting to note is that a study by Return Path, which analyzed over 27 billion email opens, found out that 55% of users opened their emails via mobile devices.

Successful professional service firms utilize device detection and pay extra attention to their header text. They use button CTAs more than link-based CTAs as buttons are more effective compared to links, especially – when a reader is scanning through a newsletter quickly. The point here is that you should add at least one in your emails. Remember to choose the right design according to your theme and use the proper size with contrasting colors.

  • A/B Test

Images and videos help engage the reader when integrated into your email content. Continually test the effectiveness of your campaign by sending two sets of emails: one email with an image/video embedded in it and another one without (just plain text) and see which one works best.  Another alternative is to send text-only emails but with different formats. For instance, as the CEO, you can send a more personal email-introducing yourself to clients, and this can make a significant impact on the firm.

Data from research by HubSpot proves that emails sent by a real person are more likely to be clicked on compared to emails sent from a company name. HubSpot A/B tested emails with two different senders: one from “HubSpot” and another from “Maggie Georgieva, HubSpot.” The first generated a 0.73% CTR and the second got a 0.96% CTR.A B test

Other types of A/B testing include:

  1. Use variable welcome emails. Udemy found that revenue generated in the first week correlated with an increased customer lifetime value when they ran the welcome email A/B testing: The control email welcomed new users with 50% off any course. The variable email leveraged behavioural data to serve up a direction in which the user had already expressed interest. They included that course in the email header, along with the same 50% off coupon. Results: The variable email generated +150% more revenue.
  2. You can also A/B test the way you communicate your value proposition for a given product to ensure the best results. For example, Airbnb ran one interesting A/B testing by communicating very different value propositions for the same product. In one email, they emphasized that you can earn $25 for inviting a friend (self-interested). In the other email, they noted that you are sharing $25 with your friend (kind). Result: The altruistic email performed better globally.

There is no sure way for a successful email campaign, and that’s why it is essential to leverage A/B testing as it allows you to try different approaches to see which work best. But remember to test small changes in a controlled manner. Don’t change too much at once, or you won’t know which change had a positive or negative effect. It is also crucial to test against what is essential – your primary campaign objective.

Last but not least, don’t forget to measure your email campaign success rates. You can leverage metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates, and spam rates to know if your email campaign is succeeding.

Closing Thoughts

Professional service firms that do not adapt to the changing marketing landscape will find it hard to attract modern-day buyers. Today’s professional service buyers are increasingly self-directed when it comes to choosing a brand. Service information is now ubiquitous, mainly due to information abundance coupled with improved search and digital channels.

That means that professional service firms must understand that commercial success lies in the strength of the relationships it creates with clients.  As a result, they have to reinvent their approaches in the design and execution of their email campaigns. The nine strategies outlined above can help your firm establish a differentiated approach to email campaigns and hence, maintain a competitive advantage.

We understand that your business is more than just numbers, and we have the experience, tools, and techniques to guide you and your company to success. Get a Free Consultation today!

5 Tools to Get a 10 Fold Increase in Viewers of Your Content

The advent of digitization and inbound marketing techniques has led professional service firms to realize the transformative power of content.

To earn the trust of both existing and prospective clients, they have recognized the need to first establish their organizations as a credible provider of exciting and relevant content.

They understand that professional service buyers increasingly want more information instantly than ever before. And they want to be engaged at all stages of the sales funnel.

However, while there is an increased appreciation of content when it comes to marketing, many professional service firms are struggling to reach a broader audience. They spend a tremendous amount of time and resources on content creation, but no one sees it because they either don’t promote it or don’t promote it in the right places.

Through this primer, we want to provide you with several tips on how to improve your content strategy and also discuss five marketing automation tools that you can use to get a tenfold increase in viewers of your content.

Creating a Solid Content Strategy

Content is critical as it allows professional service firms to promote their services, develop brand awareness, lend credibility to their expertise, and engage prospects and clients. To put this into perspective, consider the following statistics:

  • Nearly 50 percent of B2B marketers expect to increase their content marketing budget in 2019.
  • Professional service buyers are 131 percent more likely to buy from the business immediately after reading content from that business.
  • 78% of professional service buyers found an organization “helpful,” and 64 percent found it “trustworthy” immediately after reading content from that brand- and these numbers skyrocketed by 8-9 percent one week later.

Here is a detailed look at how professional service firms can plan, create, curate, and promote their content in a more comprehensive way across services to broaden their audience and help to develop better relationships with clients and prospects throughout the buyer’s journey.

content strategy

Have a Documented Strategy

Research shows that 81 percent of companies believe that the ability to align teams around common mission/goals and being able to determine which types of content to develop, are the two most significant benefits of having a documented content strategy.

Before creating content, professional service firms need to have a documented content strategy. The strategy needs to factor in the following:

  • Sales and marketing channels have changed

B2B sales and marketing channels have evolved, compared to twenty years ago, where B2B companies used a direct channel (either face-to-face sales force or via phone through a call center). Multichannel touchpoints characterize today’s B2B environment.

Regardless of the segment, today’s buyers expect to engage with professional service firms using the channel of their choice throughout the different stages of the buying process.

They seek to form their own opinion of the services company’s offer. In most cases, they usually choose to use user communities and social media networks (think LinkedIn and Twitter) to gather external opinions.

  • B2B Journeys are different 

A recent survey of B2B marketers conducted by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) shows that blog posts/articles, white papers, and case studies are the most effective types of content for the early, middle, and late stages of the buyer’s journey, respectively.

However, before creating content, professional service firms need to dig deeper and get a full picture of what a B2B buyer’s journey looks like versus that of a B2C trip.

A B2B buyer’s journey typically has the following characteristics:

  • Deeper relationships- Unlike in the B2C sector, where products are often bought on a transactional basis, in many professional service industries, relations are long-term, with recurring sales.
  • Custom made products/services- Professional service firms adapt both their products/services and their processes to accommodate specific client needs.
  • B2B journeys are more complicated- A typical professional service buyer’s journey is more complex, takes longer, and involves more stakeholders and decision-makers.

In the engineering sector, for instance, it’s common to see multiple engineers evaluate and later certify a product/service, often adopting a design or process.  Besides, the sale would also include customer-service and logistics departments who typically don’t get involved until prices, volumes, delivery terms, and other points are negotiated.

The entire process can involve decisions by 15 to 20 stakeholders before the transaction closes.

Therefore, understanding the nature of B2B sales & marketing channels and B2B journeys will enable your professional service firm to create a solid content strategy and, thus, adequately address the pain points and needs of each buyer segment.

Promote Your Content

As earlier mentioned, professional service firms spend a lot of time and resources on content development, but no one sees it because they do not promote it.

While common in the world of B2C marketing, marketing automation is a discipline that was slow to gain traction in the B2B world. However, marketing automation is now mainstream as the technology and expertise get adapted to the B2B world.  This technology is now widely available, and professional service firms must start using it to promote their content.content ideas

We’ve provided you with an outline of 5 marketing automation tools that you can use to increase the viewership of your content.

  • Triberr

Founded in 2011, Triberr is a marketing automation suite that professional service firms can use to amplify the reach of their content, build online communities, and promote content all in one place.

Just like the name suggests, this platform is based on various “tribes” or communities of interest. By joining or creating a particular tribe, you will be able to share the content of fellow tribemates with your social media followers and vice versa.quality content

Most of Triberr’s features are free for everyone, but if you need more capabilities, you can choose a plan that suits your needs.

In essence, this particular marketing automation tool can help a professional service firm to:

  • Multiply its audience and reach organically,
  • Create relationships with other content creators
  • Promote content in a cost-effective manner
  • Grow its social following and readership quickly
  • Improve search engine optimization (SEO).

So the idea is the more tribes you join or create, the more people will see and share your content.

  • Quuu Promote

Just like HootSuite, Quuu Promote is a marketing tool that can help professional service firms to promote their content to influencers. As a result, this enables real people to share their content (think blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc.) on social media.

With this platform, you can enter a few of your audiences’ interests, choose the frequency of posting, and decide whether you want the tool to post automatically or after manual approval.promote content strategy

The pricing comes with three different plans that allow you to get various categories, that is- Small ($40 per month), Medium ($70 per month), and Large ($150 per month).

Adopting this tool can help professional service firms:

  • Promote their content to real people
  • Engage with relevant audiences on social media, and this helps drive more traffic to your content
  • Rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs) since social signals for sites like Twitter and LinkedIn mean higher rankings in search engines

 

  • Growth Hackers

Growth Hackers is a marketing program that can help professional service firms facilitate sustainable growth using the cross-functional, value-based approach. Also, the platform can help firms rethink and reinvent their path to growth.

So what does it mean when it comes to content promotion?

Growth Hackers are based on an upvote system.

That means once you create an account, you write a short description with a link to your article and publish it on your member account.

The more upvotes you receive, the more views your article will get. So when you have about 8-10 upvotes within the first 6-12 hours of publishing, your post could trend on the front page of Growth Hackers.

That means you will be able to increase the number of viewers of your content and, thus, bring more relevant traffic to your website.

In terms of pricing, the platform offers subscriptions on a free trial basis (“Free Trial”) for a specified period.

  • Mix

Mix is a marketing tool that can help professional service firms curate and share their content.content distribution

Since this platform is used to discover new websites, articles, and other types of content, you can use it to promote any content.

Make sure you are providing value to readers by only adding the best possible content.

Put extra effort when crafting your headlines and include relevant keywords within your content to make it easy for users to find it in searches. Don’t forget to integrate images that can help attract more viewers.

And last but not least, be strategic when submitting content to Mix platform; and avoid self-promotional and spammy content.

 

  • Growthhub

 

Growthhub is another marketing platform that professional service firms can utilize to promote their content.

Just like Growth Hackers, Growthhub can serve as a platform that educates and enable professional service firms through curated content, personal profiles, and much more. Anyone with a Twitter account can create an account on Growthhub.

You can use the platform in three different ways:

  • Share an article
  • Ask a question
  • Start a discussion

As long as your content provides value to fellow members, then you will be able to increase the number of viewers of your content. So the idea is to avoid promotional material. content growth

Continuously Measure ROI 

Studies show that a majority of the most successful B2B content marketers (72 percent) say their organization measures content marketing return on investment (ROI).

You need to measure and analyze the results of your content strategy by tracking a broad portfolio of metrics across a blended scorecard, as this will help you identify what’s working and where you need to improve. Some of the parameters professional service firms can use include:

  • Web traffic/Visits
  • Views/downloads
  • Lead quantity
  • Lead quality
  • Social media shares

Your goals for a robust content strategy should revolve around increased brand awareness, lead generation, client acquisition, client retention, cost reduction, and qualitative measures of content success (think perception change, interaction quality, or content quality).

You can leverage various content marketing measuring tools such as Google Analytics, Buffer, Followerwonk, etc. to track and measure every piece you write and publish.

The emphasis here is you need to define and create the measurement framework that includes assessing your content marketing’s impact both on the long term client-centric goals of your programs and the short-term KPIs that are indicators of increased engagement.

The Takeaway

No doubt about it: Content should be the foundation of your sales and marketing efforts – it drives prospective clients down the funnel towards conversion.

However, professional service buyers have access to more information than ever before. They receive and consume so many messages every day, it’s difficult for firms to reach potential prospects and clients. Professional services firms must use marketing automation to help separate themselves from the pack and drive the ROI of their marketing efforts higher.

Is your content marketing strategy not bringing in the desired return-on-investment? Let the experts at COMPANY EXPERT help you develop a solid content marketing strategy.

3 Marketing Channels You Can’t Ignore

Does my professional service firm need a social media presence? Is an active social media presence even possible? And is it worth the effort? These are some of the questions that you may be grappling with as you come to terms with developing a social media strategy.

The dramatic increase in marketing of services through social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter has rapidly changed client expectations. They increasingly expect firms to communicate with them via these platforms. At the same time, they expect engagement to be timely and relevant and have high standards for how well professional service firms effectuate their digital strategy.

As a result, marketing success and profitability in the B2B sector often demand much more. It requires a bit of science – the science of developing a solid social media strategy. This primer details the critical attributes of social media, and provides tips on how you can make the most of the social media channels that will ensure you generate more leads and drive growth in the ever-changing digital marketplace.

Introducing Social Media for Professional Service Firms

According to data from Statista, 70 percent of the U.S. population has at least one social media profile. The same study estimates that the number of worldwide social media users currently stands at 2.5 billion. If you knew that members of your target client segments spent time in a particular place, wouldn’t it make sense to post a blog, article, or advert there? That’s what social media brings to professional service firms but in a whole new and improved way. Unlike traditional marketing channels, who we target in a general way, social media creates a meaningful conversation with a particular and broad audience but in a personalized manner.

Let’s now describe an ideal plan for a professional service firm spanning the what, why, and how of a solid social media strategy.

Create Value for Your Clients

A solid social media strategy is all about creating a dialogue with your clients, listening to them carefully, and understanding their challenges and needs. That calls for transparency, authenticity, and honesty when communicating with both clients and prospects. Assess the impact and opportunity that social media can bring to your business model, understand how your clients and potential clients are using the various social channels and map out how you could use social media to build relationships.

If your firm’s messages are not clear enough to allow an authentic conversation with your clients, and you don’t create value for them, chances are you will not get the right answer.

The emphasis here is you shouldn’t treat social media as just another platform to post your sales messages. Instead, you should use social media to offer personalized, one-to-one interactions with your clients. Through these interactions, you can quickly tell if your services are meeting client needs or expectations and also be able to integrate customer input into your service development and delivery cycle. To make sure you provide value, adopt the following tips:

  • Maintain relevancy to achieve this, you will need to frequently update your social media channels with the latest industry trends, breaking news, content offers and features (think infographics, blog posts, white papers, e-books, etc.) as this will ensure you maintain client interest and a steady supply of repeat visits. If you can, establish a social media team to manage social communications and content and make sure the team posts new messages & content frequently and answers clients’ feedback and queries in a prompt manner.
    • Data from Twitter, for instance, indicate that B2B audiences are much more likely to engage on Twitter after repeat exposure to messaging. That is, a prospect who has seen a firm’s message four times is 335 percent more likely to click on a link in a Tweet by that firm than a prospect who has only been exposed to the message once.

Choose your hashtags correctly as you add hashtags to your social media content, using too many of the similar hashtags will only get you in front of the same audience. Broaden the range of topics your hashtags cover to get in front of new audiences. Add those that reference your industry, the features of the product you’re promoting, and the audience you’re trying to reach.

  • Enhance sharing You can organize discussion forums, chats, newsletters, and Q&A sections on your clients’ social channels to make it easy for them to share their views and provide feedback about your services.
  • Ensure accuracy and keep it exciting Professional service’ buyers expect relevant and accurate information about the firm in which they are interested. Develop a social media policy that will ensure you keep the information posted about your firm’s services, activities, and promotions accurate and up-to-date. To attract clients, you also need to make your social media channels exciting.
    • According to HubSpot, visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content, and that’s why a majority of B2B marketers (51%) prioritize creating visual assets as part of their content marketing strategy. Use images, videos, and live streams to provide interesting facts about your services and tips on using leverage competitions, games, and blog posts to get potential buyers interacting with your social media channels.
  • Know when to post Studies suggest posting at noon, so you increase your chances of catching business professionals on their lunch break. But early evening between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. is also regarded as a good time because users are winding down their workday.  The worst time is between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. since this is typically the dead time in the business universe.

Re-structure Your Organization and Examine Your Internal Culture

Social media works by creating conversations with clients that cut across service lines, sales, and marketing boundaries.  That means professional service firms need to move beyond their functional silos. They need to embed their social media strategy across the entire organization for it to take root. On a similar note, professional service firms need to examine their internal cultures to achieve maximum impact and value from social media.

Many firms are not comfortable with the level of empowerment social media gives to their workforce. If employees are communicating with your clients directly, say via Twitter, a level of trust and confidence required that many professional service firms are not comfortable. However, this should not be the case as adopting social media presents opportunities for internal knowledge sharing, productivity growth, and collaboration.

Leverage the Best Channels and Optimize for Each Social Network

You are probably using a range of social networks, which is not a wrong move. However, common mistakes professional service firms make is to replicate updates and re-share them on different social networks. That is not a good strategy as audiences on various social networks are unique, and the content they expect is exclusive too. We will discuss three social platforms- LinkedIn, Twitter, and SlideShare- that we believe will ensure maximum impact and thus bring more value. We’ve also provided tips on how you can optimize for each of the three social networks.

1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn has more than 562 million users in more than 200 countries around the world and is the world’s premier B2B social network. Statistics show that an estimated 80% of all business-to-business (B2B) sales leads come from LinkedIn.

Here’s how you can make the most of LinkedIn.

  • LinkedIn gives you three areas to include websites, so if you have more than one site, include up to three of them in this section. If you only have one website, you can still take advantage of all three. For example, you may set one to go to your homepage, another to a service page, or perhaps to a landing page for a download you are offering. That will encourage people to visit the specific pages where you can provide more information about your business offerings.
  • Know what content length performs best. According to findings from a study by Noah Kagan of OkDork.com on viral LinkedIn posts, aiming for long-form but not too long-form can prove to be a game-changer. His results showed 1900 word articles got the most shares, so designing for between 1700 & 2100 words should give your content a boost.

The findings also note that how-to posts get almost 2x as many views as question posts. So when you’re creating content with LinkedIn views in mind, you should focus on how-to posts and list style posts and steer clear of question posts.

  • Having a compelling LinkedIn profile is essential, but make sure it includes a CTA that answers one question: What do you want the reader to do next? Without this one small detail, most people will leave your profile, not taking action. CTAs can come in different forms and with different purposes.

You can create a CTA to invite your readers to download a free resource, subscribe to a newsletter, schedule a consultation, email, or call you, and so on. Add a CTA to your LinkedIn profile to help you get leads and facilitate further engagement between you and your potential clients. Make it easy for potential prospects to know what to do next by telling them precisely what you want them to do with your CTA.

2. Twitter

According to data from a study by Content Marketing Institute on B2B firms, Twitter is the second most used social media platform for content marketing purposes, coming in the right behind LinkedIn. 67% of B2B marketers view Twitter as one of the three most effective social channels when it comes to helping their organizations achieve specific objectives.

Here’s how to get the best from Twitter.

  • When someone replies to or re-tweets your content on Twitter, take the time to send them a short and sweet thank you reply. If they comment on your content with their thoughts and opinions, continue the conversation. Use tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite to optimize the process.
  • When someone re-tweets your content, you can respond using Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards to prompt them to sign up immediately. These users are already primed for your content and show interest in your writing, so they’re highly likely to want more of what you’re giving. By providing a personalized thank you and a frictionless one-click sign-up, you can drive more leads/email sign-ups for your blog.
  • The love your users give you on social media is a stable form of social proof; you can take advantage of this to grow your business. You can embed Tweets from happy users on your site as a way to show new visitors why everyone loves your products. It’s an easy and effective customer testimonial that increases trust and credibility.
  • Whenever someone Tweets at you, use services like TweetFull to automatically favorite their Tweets. By doing so, you’re encouraging users to Tweet about you more often, resulting in more engagement for your social media presence. Be careful to filter out any NSFW (not safe for work) Tweets.
  • Leverage Calls To Action (CTAs)- Click to Tweet is a call-to-action (CTA) in which you prepopulate a box with a key quote or idea from one of your posts that users can then tweet out at the click of a button. Prompting your readers with a quick and easy way to share the main message from your post is a simple way for users to share your content and spread awareness of your brand among people who are more likely to engage with it.
  • How many tweets should you send in a day, and what is the best time to tweet? According to data from Track Social, the optimum value is between 4 and 15 tweets per day for businesses that cater to multiple time zones, and about four times a day for local companies.  Research shows that the most popular time to tweet is between noon and 1 p.m., while the least popular time is between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. So tweeting during the lunch hour may provide you with a broad audience.

3. SlideShare

SlideShare has 70 million unique visitors a month; in fact, the site is now among the top 100 most visited websites in the world. This social media platform allows users to upload videos, documents, infographics, and presentations in various formats. Here’s how you can get the best from SlideShare.

  • Design a compelling title slide that people can also see at a small size. Consider using Buzzsumo to help determine the topic of the presentation.
  • Utilize CTA slides. Inserting CTA slides at the end of a SlideShare presentation will help direct the traffic you get from SlideShare. That can be particularly useful for B2B leads: “SlideShare has up to 5 times more traffic from business owners than Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and even LinkedIn!”
    • Put your keywords to better use. Using your keyword as a filename can be a good move. For instance, to upload your presentation to SlideShare, you have to save it as a PDF. When you save the PDF, use your keyword as the filename. You can also include your keyword or phrase in the title and description of your presentation, as well as the tags. Make your keyword the first tag for the display, and then choose carefully related tags to follow.
  • Anytime you post a presentation on LinkedIn, share it as a status update in both your profile and company page. You can also add your SlideShare content to your LinkedIn profile’s Summary page. Just click ´Edit´ on your profile, then click the box with a plus sign beside it and add a link to your slides.

Once you add the link to your presentation, you have an attractive way to stand out from other profiles and encourage people to click through for your content. Share within your blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages and also make clickable buttons back to your website home page.

Understand the Power of Social Analytics

It is now possible for professional service firms to capture social “noise” and distill it into meaningful and specific client insights. By using social analytics (think Twitter Analytics, LinkedIn analytics, etc.), your firm will become more efficient and agile in today’s evolving marketplace as you will be able to design services that are predictably relevant to your clients and hence generate significant value for your business.

In essence, with social analytics, you will be able to achieve the following:

  • Make more informed and better decisions Social analytics will allow you to test different advertising, pricing, and social scenarios; as a result, you will be in a position to make fact-based business decisions related to marketing campaigns, sales forecasting, and pricing-and to adjust your decisions in real-time.
  • Know your clients better If social media is a forum for professional service’ buyers to share their views, then social analytics is a way for professional service firms to listen. Prospective clients use social media channels to tell brands what services they want and how to market and sell those services to them effectively. By using social analytics, you will get a 360-degree view of your potential clients and thus understand them better.
  • Ensure a positive return-on-investment (ROI)- By utilizing social analytics, your professional service firms will be able to target marketing campaigns more effectively and hence, make better use of your marketing budget. Additionally, social analytics can help you determine the real ROI for different marketing categories (think television, digital channels, and out-of-home), so you know which ones are worth the investment.

The Bottom Line

There is no arguing that social media marketing has increased, and that’s why professional service firms must reinvent their traditional marketing approaches. According to a study by Talkwalker, McKinsey, for instance, is an example of a professional service firm that is making the most of social media platforms. The firm was one of the top performers on Twitter, using insightful infographics to draw in their audience. It also placed a strong focus on gender equality in the workplace and utilized Twitter to promote their research on this subject. The result was remarkable as the firm received 78 retweets per post, the most engagement per tweet of any of the companies examined.

By leveraging the above mentioned social media strategies, you will be able to extend the reach of the marketing and sales department, and, by extension, the reach of your brand and its value proposition. You will achieve greater collaboration, increased productivity, and better client engagement.

Is your social media marketing strategy not bringing in the desired return-on-investment? Let the experts at COMPANY EXPERT help you with marketing through social media.