Last Thursday we attended ‘Evolve’; the first event hosted by PicStash in the Sugar Club in Dublin which focused on the ever-changing dynamics of the digital marketing industry.

As the event was free to attend (kudos to the organisers!) in a central location in Dublin, the venue quickly filled up with knowledge-hungry digital marketers from across the city. The host for the evening was Niall Harbison (PicStash), with the speakers consisting of Kieran Flanagan (Hubspot), Aileen Power (Wolfgang Digital) and Geoff Scully (Littlewoods Ireland) who shared their insights on how we as marketers need to be smarter with the types of content we create in order to build the audiences of our businesses. Below, we’ve summarised some of the key takeaways and actionable tips from each speaker. Enjoy!

Kieran Flanagan

Kieran Flanagan - Hubspot

Kieran’s talk started strongly with a home truth about digital marketing. At the moment, a lot of companies are struggling to identify the best channels to spend their marketing budget on, with many choosing to focus the largest proportion of their budget on interrupting people online (PPC, display advertising etc.) However, the problem with this is you’re not building an audience for your business; you’re simply renting the attention of people who may have not otherwise have found you. If we as marketers get caught up in the race for grabbing the attention of consumers, the winner of the fight will come down to who has the biggest marketing budget to spend on these tactics.

Inbound marketers take a different approach as they think about the audience they create by identifying and creating valuable resources which will both grab their attention of consumers and hold onto it throughout the buying cycle. Kieran provided the example of how 20,000 – 30,000 of leads generated each month by Hubspot’s blog are from older content that is still being found and consumed by their audience. In HubSpot they have 3 personas to cover small, medium and corporate sized businesses which remain the core focus throughout their content creation process. At the moment the company produces 6-10 blog posts per day which has resulted in a month on month growth in leads and traffic by focusing on adding value with each piece of content that is created.

If you’re struggling to create new content, Kieran offered some actionable takeaways:

Interview specialists in your company – If you’re lacking in resources to create content for your audience, talk to the people you already have around you each day.

Create content that solves a pain point –  Do you know what’s troubling your audience? Create content that helps them to solve this problem and that adds value.

Think about what your audience would pay for – Ensure that there’s a fair value exchange if people are giving up their personal information in exchange for an eBook, whitepaper, template or report.

Experiment with content types – Mix it up a little bit by creating different types of content and know how to measure each one e.g. curated content, thought leadership articles, how-to guides, news jacking pieces, list type posts.

Experiment with content frequency – More is not always better. You need to identify whether or not reducing volume and improving quality of content is better for your brand. SERPIQ study found that the average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 search results is 2,000 words.

Identify what’s already working – Use Social Crawlytics or BuzzSumo to find what type of content is resonating with your target audience and do something better than this. On average 2,700,000 pieces of content are shared each day so you need to figure out what you need to do to stand out from the crowd.

Guest blogging isn’t dead – Ignore the misconception that guest blogging is dead as it’s still great tactic if you’re focused on the audience for your content rather than simply building links.

Aileen Power

Aileen Power - Wolfgang Digital

Even though Aileen was feeling a little bit under the weather on the evening, she still delivered an entertaining and informative presentation which started off with a light hearted reminder of Wolfgang Digital’s successful online sex shop venture. As a testing and training platform for new recruits to the agency, it gained media coverage earlier this year when The Guardian published the article ‘Why every digital marketing agency should try running their own sex shop’.

The core focus of Aileen’s presentation was on how visual content when used effectively can have significant benefits for improving the visibility of your business. Have you heard of Dollar Shave Club? Two years ago the American company was relatively unknown until it created a video in February 2012 about their razor blades which went viral across social media.

In November 2012, the company received a $8.9 million investment and then a further $12 million in October 2013 after the continued success of their video. While it’s difficult to just make content that goes viral, Aileen touched upon the fact that viral content is partially driven by physiological emption as people respond to both the positive and negative side of the spectrum of emotions with content.

Within her role in Wolfgang Digital, Aileen worked with Daft.ie on the most recent Daft Report to help make it more beautiful and easier to understand.  After publication, the report was advertised through Twitter’s paid advertising platform and Facebook News Feed ads in order to increase the reach of the content. The redesigned report and increased focus on content distribution meant that Daft.ie experienced the busiest day of traffic in its history. Quite impressive, right? While the company has released an updated Daft Report each quarter, the importance of ensuring that the information is both easy to digest and available in the places where the target audience lived meant that this was the most successful report to date for the company.

Still need help creating great visual content? Aileen provided some great tips to help get you started:

Have customers create content for you – Maybe you’re short on resources or time within your company, so why not get assistance from your customers by encouraging them to create content for you? ASOS, a leading online store for women’s and men’s fashion has been running a campaign on Twitter whereby customers share photos and videos of themselves unboxing their orders with the hashtag #asosunbox

Wolfgang Digital ran a similar campaign for one of its clients, online fashion retailer iClothing. iClothing encouraged customers to share photos of the clothing they’d love to own with the hashtag #iwant. As a result of the campaign the company gained an additional 527 followers to their Twitter account and experienced a 2,900% uplift in the number of retweets they would typically receive.

Don’t underestimate the humble photograph – Photographs can still be a source of great visual content if you can trigger an emotion in the person looking at them. Aileen provided the example of how Nightmares Fear Factory, a haunted house attraction located near Niagra Falls in Canada became famous after they started to add photos to Flickr every day of people that were spooked at their attraction. Initially it was Buzzfeed that came across the Flickr account and posted a story about it, but The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and television host Jay Leno soon followed with coverage which has catalysed the popularity of the tourist attraction to soar ever since.

3 platforms to rule them all – When you’re thinking about how to distribute your content, Facebook still remains popular with 62% of Irish adults over 16 using it every day. You should also consider using Pinterest as 10% of Irish adults over 16 are using it on a regular basis, with Aileen finding that Pinterest referrals to a website are 10% more likely to convert. Lastly, Thinglink is a pretty cool way of taking a normal photograph and making it interactive by adding images and videos to it to make it come alive as a richer piece of content that adds more value to the audience.

Geoff Scully

Geoff Scully - Littlewoods Ireland

The last speaker for the evening was Geoff Scully, Managing Director of Littlewoods Ireland who provided a case study on how the company has switched itself from a traditional catalogue sales business into a leading online retailer in Ireland.

Back in June 2007, Family Album and Kays (catchy name right?) rebranded to become Littlewoods Ireland, a business that is now more in tune with the customer by putting them at the heart of everything it does in terms of values, customer satisfaction, customer experience and feedback. The transformation to an online customer led business is paying off for the company with a turnover in excess of €60 million per year, but it hasn’t been an easy journey to get there.

After receiving the first proper feedback from their customers about the satisfaction of their service, the feedback was more negative than they had hoped for which resulted in the company beginning to measure every touch point they had with their customers e.g. website, delivery times, packaging, quality of the product etc. This resulted in the main problem areas being identified and led to the setup of a customer experience hub in the UK in the last 12 months which they use to get feedback from customers on a regular basis.

As well as this, the company is now only beginning to catch up with the technology used by competitors for their websites by spending the last two years working on a new platform. It’s a far departure from the business of old with the company experiencing an 80% drop in the number of catalogues they produce, 90% of their transactions now taking place online, with 50% of these being on mobile and tablet. As well as this, the pricing strategy of the company is now in-line with the industry prices and free delivery and returns are now a standard offering to all customers.

Geoff informed the audience that everything they do now is data led. Real-time analytics, attribution modelling to understand all of the touch points with their consumers up to the sale, and actionable insights to see everything that’s happening in the company are allowing them to quickly identify pain points and areas to optimise further. They’re now focusing more heavily on content marketing and engaging with customers via social media to both satisfy and increase their audience size.

So what’s next for Littlewoods Ireland? The company is building a smart decision engine at the moment to serve 3.5 million permutations of products to customers so that they can find what’s relevant to them. Personalised and relevant customer experiences are important for the company, so every decision is now being data-led to better serve the most important people at the core of their business; the customers.

We would like to thank PicStash for hosting the free event; it’s something Dublin badly needs more of and we’re hoping to do something a little bit similar when launch our series of Learn Inbound events next year. In the meantime, if you’d like to be kept updated about any marketing events in Dublin, follow us on Twitter and sign-up to our mailing list by entering your email address below.

Mark Scully

I'm Learn Inbound's co-founder, a geek and introvert at heart. When I'm not busying myself with inbound marketing, I'm relaxing with my Netflix account and a strong cup of coffee.

All articles by Mark Scully

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