Startups are exciting, bewildering and hugely risky things to be a part of. There’s the constant worry of the whole thing imploding under the weight of your multi-pronged business ideas. There’s the fear of being chewed up and spit out by larger competitors with deeper pockets. There’s also the need to attract the fickle online customer and retain their loyalties for as long as you possibly can.
In this race against time and resources, every smart e-commerce startup could do with some tools that make their lives just a tad bit easier. Here are my top four picks. (more…)
Have you ever wondered how a particular brand knows so much about you that they keep sending relevant discount offers, including at times when you need them the most? It is not magic, nor is it luck. These offers are a result of the brand being able to obtain some solid customer insights that have helped it create a timely marketing message that is extremely relevant to your needs.
While there are plenty of traditional data collection techniques, like web analytics and monitoring a particular customer’s purchase behavior, there is another wealth of consumer data that is just waiting to be tapped and this data is sitting on a consumer’s social profile across different networks, like Facebook and Twitter. The question is – how do you get access to this rich social data that is essentially the most credible first party data that you can get ahold of?
Consider this: how exactly do you behave when you are at a baseball game compared to your presence at a luncheon with state heads (if ever you had such an opportunity)? In the former setting, you’d ideally be yourself. You’d cheer out loud, you’d even swear, wouldn’t you? However, you’d do no such thing at the aforesaid luncheon, board meetings, or the like.
That’s context and your behavior is a function of such context. We go through these motions every day of our lives.
Content marketing is hard. It requires your business to take up the role of a publisher. Now, that’s not something businesses or brands are used to doing traditionally. Most of the marketing now focuses on the “inbound marketing” phenomenon and that requires patience, extreme focus on generosity, establishing trust, and providing value. It also calls for the need for thought leadership and an ever-demanding presence over the web (including blogs and social media).
All of that is hard work.
Is there a way this can be made easy for you as a business owner? They say technology is a savior, so do tools exist that help to pump up your content marketing efforts?
Here are some web-based tools you can use to accelerate, streamline, and organize your content marketing efforts:
Content Aggregator Tools
To develop content, you’ll need an influx of incoming content. You’d basically need to read a lot to write as much as you ought to. How do you practically crawl over the web to consume so much information that’s spewed out everyday? You get smart and use an aggregator tool!
You can start with LinkedIn’s Pulse, move on to Flipboard for your mobile, TrapIt (claimed to be the world’s most advanced content curation app), set up good sources through Feedly (an alternative for Google’s now-dead RSS reader), and finally wade through Reddit manually.
By working with these tools, you make content available to you at all times. Read, repurpose, develop content on your own string of ideas, or gather information from other content on the web to make your own brand of valuable content. Curation is a pill for content creation and aggregator tools help you do just that.
Content Creation, Organization and Management
Organized efforts are a must for content marketing and there are plenty of tools starting from project management to content organization. Google Drive is ubiquitous and plugs well into the workflows that most small businesses have. You might also want to check out Trello, Asana and Basecamp for organizing projects, content, and teams. To actually create content, you could use tools such as one of the ubiquitous meme generators, Visual.ly, Issuu or UberFlip.
If you are a business owner, you can use Evernote in a million different ways. Note ideas as you get them or jot down facts you can later repurpose as full-blown resource pages or social media updates. You might also use the web-clipper for content curation.
If you work with a team of social media managers and content developers or freelancers, you could bring your team aboard using Evernote for business and collaborate on ideas, content planning, blog posts, and a host of other things.
Plugging into a Hot Spot
Most of the popular publications now have tons of content already as “pillar content” or “resource pages.” You could visit Social Media Today for syndicated posts and resources. HootSuite has a special section with tons of resources too.
In addition to that, many other websites provide on-site tools for helping you to create even more content.
Further, you could literally create an endless flow of content based on ideas from comments, reviews and user-generated posts on communities, forums or rating sites. If you have anything to do with food and restaurants, for instance, you could use reviews from Yelp for first-hand information and then turn it into list blog posts. For technical niches such as hosting solutions or servers, you could make use of information from comparison engines such as Who Is Hosting This and cite them as sources for your blog posts.
Content from Social Media
Social media is big and it’s a huge resource by itself. Using a tool like Storify, for instance, you can create stories using social media data. Use Swayy to get some of the best content to share with your audience based on their interests and engagement behavior. You might also want to consider a tool such as Curata that can help you find trustworthy content quickly and curate this content to fuel your content marketing efforts.
Even without any of these tools, you can still use the dripping content off social media updates and quickly whip up posts relevant to your business niche or industry. It’s quick, it can be credited, and it works for you in multiple ways. Don’t just create content for social media; make your content attract attention off social media too.
Tools for Other Types of Content
While writing posts and creating content based on text is easier, it’s not the end of the road. There are videos, slide decks, podcasts, magazines, and tons of other forms of content that you should create. There are tools for you to develop this kind of content too. Animoto or GoAnimator are ideal for creating short videos. Using Jing or Camtasia, you can create screen casts to show off your products or provide courses.
While it could be a daunting task to create so many forms of content and pump up your content marketing efforts, you also have a mind-boggling and never-ending list of tools to help you create content. Most of the tools are affordable and you can also pick the tools that fit your purpose or budget.
The question is: the tools exist and the list will continue to grow. How are you going to use them? If you are in business, which of these tools are you using currently? Which of these could turn you into a full-fledged business content publisher?