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Ethical Marketing, One Step At The Time

2020 has been a year of profound changes. Due to these changes, many of us have been moved to make an in-depth evaluation of how we live our lives, which are our priorities, and which tools we use to reach them. The big question is: are we living our lives in the best possible way?

As a digital marketer, I am interested in how people in my industry handle this question. And some of their conclusions resonate strongly with me. This year’s work-from-home and isolation requirements have resulted in many people taking to social media and spending more time online than ever before. We have also seen an increase in digital interactions for business purposes, replacing in-person meetings, conferences, networking events, etc.

But has this been to our benefit? In our October post, we discussed the social media dilemma and the implications it has for anyone who works in digital marketing. In these difficult times, people flock to social media platforms to feel connected to others, but togetherness is not necessarily a priority for these businesses. These platforms are corporate-owned and built to make money out of our data.

RELATED: Social Media Is Dead, Long Live The Membership Community

The Social Dilemma

The social media dilemma has an ethical side that we simply cannot ignore. As a content marketer myself, I have come to question the role I play in supporting the corporate goals of social networks, whether directly or indirectly. On the one hand, I encourage clients to develop a robust online presence, and social media is a crucial component of this. But on the other hand, I can’t help but wonder how fair is it to promote practices that may jeopardise my clients’ privacy and integrity. So is what I am doing 100% beneficial to my clients?

As things stand right now, I cannot say it is. This realisation has direct implications for my line of work, and I am sure many other marketers will be in the same boat. The main implication is that my old business model is no longer viable if I want to truly serve my clients’ best interests – and only theirs.

After giving this matter some serious thought, I have decided to transform my business one step at the time. I hope to document the process and the challenges I find along the way in an upcoming series of blog posts. The transformation starts by no longer offering social media as a marketing tool. My key focus lies on strategy and data-based content marketing respecting every aspect of GDPR privacy regulation. At the same time, I started developing different ethical marketing solutions.

The Case For Ethical Marketing

The concept of ethical marketing is not new; in fact, it was being discussed even before the famous documentary “The Social Dilemma” raised the question in mainstream circles.

Society changes, and so does technology. This change means we must be prepared to ask and answer honest questions about to which extent we should accept the interference of technology into our private or business lives. This is especially pertinent to social media marketing, as the nature of the data collected via these platforms raises serious ethical questions.

But we reach another crossroads: social media marketing (and to some degree most digital marketing nowadays) is effective precisely because of the vast amounts of personal data we now have access to. This allows for higher personalisation, which can be more satisfactory to the user and financially rewarding for businesses. So if we take this away from the equation, are we setting ourselves up for disaster? In other words, can an ethical marketing business succeed?

RELATED: Authentic Communication In Times Of Crisis

Towards Ethical Content Marketing

I believe that there will always be a market for companies who genuinely care for their clients. The expectation is already there, for example, in late 2019 a research piece found that brands perceived as “ethical” get more committed, loyal, and satisfied customers, among other competitive advantages.

As marketers, we need to promote brands and services and help clients find the perfect match between their offerings and what their users need. But in the new context, the marketer’s role has to take an educational or informational perspective. People cannot demand what they don’t know about.

Content marketing is a big win here because offering valuable content for free, instead of using it to track or collect data, is the best move. Ethical content marketing informs and empowers through content, prioritises freedom and privacy by promoting individual choice, responsibility, and well-being.

I have started to outline a few guiding principles that will help me evaluate marketing strategies against an ethical benchmark. This list is work in progress, but I believe it sets me in the right path:

  • Stay clear of spammy practices.
  • The ultimate goal is to build genuine connections, not getting more clicks.
  • Content should deliver value and uphold values.
  • Content should empower clients through knowledge, so they implement ethical practices in their online interactions.

But I also accept that I have my limitations. It is impossible to change the way algorithms work or to influence the privacy and data use policies of the big players. But that does not mean my hands are tied: there are things I can do to limit the influence of unethical practices in my day-to-day life and also in my business.

One of these things is re-learning to use the Internet and other digital products by focusing on how to do so safely. Privacy issues surrounding the online world are a top priority in ethical content marketing, so I’ve been experimenting with the best way to transform my habits first, before recommending them to clients.

These thoughts marked the beginning of my personal (but also professional) transformation towards an ethical online presence. The time has come to critically evaluate what digital marketers have to offer in today’s changing landscape – I hope you will accompany me in my exploration!

Top 10 Benefits of Content Marketing

In the past, people would swarm their websites with advertisements to attract new clients. However, ‘salesy’ content no longer appeals to customers, and any forward-thinking marketer has to embrace a long term content marketing strategy. If you have not incorporated content marketing into your business, you are missing out on many benefits. Read on to know more about content marketing and its benefits to your business.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing uses engaging pieces of content to attract customers instead of pitching products or services. The approach focuses on creating valuable content consistently to retain a clearly defined audience while driving them into action.

Traditional advertising methods may be useful, but they capture the audience’s attention for a short period. Besides, they do provide less value, and customers do not have a reason to stick around. Blog posts give customers informative and engaging content so that they can stick around for more. By the time the user decides, you will be their go-to site for information and products.

What Are the Benefits of Content Marketing?

Many businesses are wary about splurging money on content marketing because they do not understand its benefits. Getting people to think highly of your brand sounds exciting, but what other benefits of content do you get?

1. Increasing Site Traffic and SEO

In the past, most websites used keyword stuffing to improve their rankings on SERPs. However, with search engines improving their algorithms frequently, a website cannot thrive with low-quality content. Content marketing provides high-quality content that will enhance your rankings. Statistics show that businesses that combine great content with intelligent marketing strategies improve their search rankings. For instance, top blogs get 66.47% traffic from search engines due to high-quality content. With consistency in publishing valuable and relevant content, customers are likely to find your website. Repeat visitors will also share your content through their social platforms and drive traffic to your website.

2. Strong Brand Visibility

In digital marketing, businesses have to earn their customers’ respect and trust to make sales. Valuable content introduces you to potential customers and increases your online visibility. A strong brand personality will shine through your content, and you will carve out a market segment for your products. You can inject your personality through eccentric content like videos, infographics and strong calls to action.

3. Helping Customers With Purchasing Decisions

Customers go through a purchase funnel before buying your products. The decision to buy an item begins with searching for information on search engines or seeking referrals. Therefore, if you have high-quality content that provides relevant information, prospective buyers will land on your site. An excellent content marketing strategy will speed up the buyers’ journey, and they are likely to buy from you. Another way of influencing your customers’ purchase decisions is through the sales funnel. However, the process is slow, and the conversion will take a long time. Highly targeted content will help your potential customers to make up their minds faster.

4. Positioning Your Site as an Authority and Thought Leader

Digital marketing is levelling the playing field between giant companies and small start-ups in the same niche. Small businesses can compete with others by creating valuable content. However, if you want to increase your products’ visibility, you need to establish a footprint in your niche. You can use different types of content to engage and educate your audience. People will be more receptive to your products if they have contact with your brand through content. Besides, brand authority builds trust, and you can increase sales by converting readers to buyers and repeat customers.

5. Increased Sales

Nowadays, people are blocking ads that pop up on their browsers. Therefore, businesses need to find additional ways to generate sales. Creating a blog for publishing content is a great way to create new leads. High-quality articles will invite your target audience to engage with your products. This engagement allows you to convert readers with minimal effort. You can also use content to increase subscription to your mailing list, where you can provide personalised marketing and improve your sales.

6. Improving the Relationship With Your Audience

Content marketing allows you to focus on a specific segment of your audience. You can use your targeted content to guide new prospects through the buying cycle and lead them towards conversion. As you engage your audience, your bond will become stronger. If you nurture the relationship, your audience will be repeat customers and advocates for your brand through social shares and referrals.

7. Fuelling Your Online Marketing Channel

There are many popular types of content marketing media, including blog posts, videos, infographics and press releases. These pieces of content can fuel various marketing channels in your business. For instance, a single blog post can attract social shares, and you can feature it in your weekly newsletter. You can also use the post as gated content, where readers fill out a form to capture leads and collect data.

8. Improving Your Social Following

Referrals are any online business’s dream since 82% of customers seek recommendations from a friend before purchasing a product. Therefore, you can improve your website’s online presence by providing useful information that customers can share on their social media platforms. If you have a sizeable following, but you are not converting sales, you should also use content marketing to gain traction on social media. Ensure you maximise the value of your content through campaigns and tracking its performance.

9. Generating Leads

You can use your content marketing campaign to generate leads through calls-to-action that encourage customers to make informed decisions. For instance, you can guide customers to your landing page or another article that could provide additional information. If your customers enjoy your content, they will likely click the CTAs and proceed to make purchases.

10. Improving Your Conversion Rate

Sometimes you generate many new leads through your sales funnel, but your conversion rate is low. That can be detrimental to your marketing efforts. While various factors affect conversion rates, you can leverage the benefits of content marketing to improve conversion. Use high-quality content to answer questions about your products, improve your brand’s personality and highlight the benefits of choosing your brand.

Harnessing the benefits of content marketing will help you improve your brand’s visibility and increase your ROI. Your website will be authoritative and a valuable source of information in your field. You also have an opportunity to expand your reputation and invoke loyalty among your audience.

Generate Pre-Event Hype With Content Marketing

As most event planners know, the ability to build momentum is a crucial factor in any event’s success. Events, conventions, trade shows or conferences, they all begin well before the opening session, so generating anticipation requires a coordinated marketing effort over months or even years. Content marketing has emerged as a strategic tool to build excitement around events. Still, event planners don’t always have the time or the know-how to develop a content marketing campaign and thus may end up missing out on the benefits of this marketing strategy. In this post, you can learn why pre-event content marketing works and find tips on how to implement it.

Related: Digital Transformation in the Meetings and Events Industry

Why Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves the creation of materials that provide information and/or entertainment to a targeted audience. This content can include anything from e-papers to video to blog posts to infographics and including social media, podcasts, etc. 

Content marketing is different from advertising or traditional marketing in that it focuses on value. Offering free, relevant, and useful information makes a positive impression on the audience and can influence the decisions, as confirmed by recent statistics: more than 70% of marketers say content marketing has increased engagement and leads. Moreover, content marketing involves lower costs than traditional advertising but has better conversion rates.

This strategy suits the events industry, which is becoming people and experience-centric increasingly. And since delivering value is also the key concept here, pre-event marketing is a natural match that can increase your chances of reaching your target audience. For instance, you can reach potential attendees who don’t know about the event. A content marketing strategy can position your event online, making it easy to find in search engines or social media feeds. Remember that a staggering 96% of event attendees do an online search before attending an event, so this is a golden opportunity to present your event as something that cannot be missed – FOMO itself can be a powerful took motivating people to attend!

Related: Tips For Encouraging User-Generated Content At Your Conference

Pre-conference content marketing can also reach those who have already registered and build excitement in the lead up to the conference or event. Some attend because their employees send them and not necessarily because they have a strong desire to be there. But if they see the value and relevance of the business event, they’re more likely to spread the word, and word of mouth is powerful marketing. Lastly, content marketing can reach those who are undecided, and a timely piece of content marketing may be just what moves them to take action.

Pre-Event Content Marketing Ideas

Curiosity is an important motivator, and teaser campaigns keep the audience guessing and keep your event top of mind. Here it’s essential to create anticipation without creating unrealistic expectations, so always get the input from a professional with experience in the marketing world applied to events. 

Content marketing and social media marketing go hand in hand. You should create a calendar of posts leading up to the event in a variety of formats. Visual content and in particular videos are a must, as new research shows that people remember visual content up to 6 times more than written content. Short-format sneak peek or behind-the-scenes videos do particularly well and reveal a more personal or candid side of the organiser. The videos can feature mini-interviews with keynote speakers too – don’t forget that a well-known speaker is THE reason why many people attend a live event.

Posts promoting your event shouldn’t read like a monologue but should be all about interaction with the audience. Ask questions, request feedback, run polls (there’s a dedicated feature on Instagram Stories) – in short, keep the conversation going. You can also create a LinkedIn group, which works well to promote conferences and other professional events and allow speakers and attendees to interact before the event.

Related: Three Ways In Which Social Media Are Becoming Increasingly Event-Centric

Pre-event content marketing lends itself well to gamification, which can boost engagement since it’s proven to tap into psychological mechanisms like motivation, self-confidence, and purpose. You can achieve this by encouraging potential attendees to share event hashtags and offer them a fitting reward for inviting others to register for the event or conference.

In any case, it’s essential to create a branded and coherent pre-conference content marketing strategy that specifically addresses the interests and needs of your audience. Remember that the scope of those needs and interest may go beyond the actual event, so don’t forget to offer value by publishing content with useful information about the destination, what to do near the venue, transportation tips, etc.

Conclusion

Pre-event content marketing can generate awareness, build loyalty, drive up attendance, and ultimately boost ROI. Inbound marketing one of the most valuable marketing strategies for conference and event planners wanting to reach and engage as broad an audience as possible. If you’d like to learn how a tailor-made pre-event strategy can benefit you, get in touch today. As an expert creating content that generates pre-event hype, I’ll be happy to explore effective content creation ideas for your conference or event.

A Quick Guide To Integrating Social Media Into Your Event Communication Plan

A Quick Guide To Integrating Social Media Into Your Event’s Communication Plan. Compelling and engaging communication is an essential aspect of conference marketing, as it plays a crucial role in driving genuine engagement. Since social media marketing is a powerful tool used to achieve the same objectives, it makes sense to incorporate it into your event’s communication strategy. In this post, we show you how to leverage social marketing tools to boost communications and make your event stand out.

The Facts

Modern events must include social marketing to some extent or another, as this strategy has proven to help organisers build event and brand awareness and create an information channel that delivers what attendees expect in engaging ways. According to this infographic, approximately 40% of businesses know that integrating social media marketing into their event planning and promotion is the way to go forward.

Related: Developing Social Media Strategies for Conferences & Events

Conferences and events are now primarily social, with the most popular platforms used being Facebook (78%), Twitter (56%), LinkedIn (49%), and YouTube (42%). The effectiveness of these tools is so evident that in a recent study, more than 80% of event organisers said there were planning to increase their online marketing activities.

Why It Works

Social marketing works because it is highly versatile. In addition to increasing event and brand awareness, it can boost loyalty, generate leads, increase overall revenue, and reduce marketing expenditure. Because content is so crucial in today’s digital environment, every action you take to produce and distribute event-related content online has an impact on your event’s ranking and reputation.

Another reason to include social platforms and tool into your event’s digital marketing strategy, social marketing makes it easy to gather feedback, which is mainly valuable in real time environments (such as events), when immediate solutions and agile problem-solving are expected. Moreover, social media tools can also be used to handle customer support using a personal approach, to measure performance and engagement, and to generate valuable insights that can be used for future research and reputation management.

Moreover, a diverse online marketing strategy can extend the event’s impact beyond its actual date, add an interactive element, and provide resources that can be accessed anytime and anywhere.

How To Integrate Social Media Into Your Event Marketing And Communication Plan

When integrating marketing plans with event communications, you should follow the principles of any marketing plan: research your audience and offer an experience beyond their expectations by using a variety of channels and formats.

Related: Social Media Marketing for the MICE Industry

First of all, your event marketing and communications plan should be split into three stages: pre-event, event, and post-event. Start with creating a content production calendar and match it to the organiser’s communication goals, ensuring that it also has a solution-focused component. Think about what problems or questions attendees are likely to have: anything from the agenda to accommodation, travelling to the venue, things to do in the area, registering, buying tickets, etc. Before and during the event, your key priorities should be:

  • Considering that nearly 80% attendees use a smartphone to find info about events, communicate using mobile-friendly content and formats.
  • Make content shareable and interactive: Some ideas include Twitter chats, unique hashtags, LinkedIn invitations or showcase pages, event guides, video testimonials from previous year’s attendees, sneak peeks or behind-the-scenes footage. Ensure that content is released at the right time and familiarise yourself with the best time to post on each social platform.
  • Focus on creating opportunities for content generation during sessions and also during breaks. The objective is to build relationships and keep the conversation going using real-time tools like live streaming or social walls in the break room with live feeds or quotes from speakers. Gamification is another technique that lends itself well to conference marketing, for example creating contests where attendees can submit their own content. Doing this shifts the focus of where content and value originate from organiser to participant.
  • Monitoring is a crucial aspect of digital marketing for events. Apps can make this task much more straightforward and insightful, as long as you use them on a daily basis and use social media management tools to integrate multiple networks. And since we have mentioned apps, mobile apps for attendees should always be considered. If you choose to do this, make sure apps offer something attendees can’t do elsewhere. For example, use an app to boost the event’s social and networking component by letting attendees find matches based on interests, job title, or other relevant factors, and allowing them to book their seats next to each other.

Once the event is over, remember that content creation must be followed up with content curation. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, consider capitalising on any visual content generated during an event, such as videos, blog posts summarising the event’s highlights, SlideShare presentations, Pinterest boards, or by offering virtual access to most important sessions. And of course, always end on a positive note by sending personalised thank yous via email or social network mentions.

Conclusion

Integrating social media strategy into your event marketing and communication plan will help create a unique voice for the event and provide a seamless and wide-reaching experience that communicates value. To bring communication and engagement together, use the tips outlined in this article and don’t hesitate to draw on the know-how of digital marketing experts like fmwaechter.com who specialise in promoting events using social business models.

The post A Quick Guide To Integrating Social Media Into Your Event Communication Plan was first published on fmwaechter.com. Author Frank M. Waechter.

Frank M. Waechter | fmwaechter.com
Content Marketing, Peformance Marketing, Community Building
Carrer del Mestre Joan Corrales 107-109 08950 Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 691 328 572

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