James White
17th February 2020 - 6 mins read
S

ounds great, doesn’t it?

But the reality is, it is simplistic, outdated, rigid and even wrong and that’s why I think it is time to take a hammer to the funnel.

The big problem with the funnel is it doesn’t reflect the modern consumer’s experience or the way they interact with brands. And it is also prescriptive about where different content formats sit in the process, whereas it should be the content within each format that is the decisive factor – not the delivery method.

Just because someone is at the start of a process to buy a product doesn’t mean they need the same form of marketing content to take them further along that journey.

Everyone is different. When I have gone out to buy software, like Communigator, I have tended to go on YouTube and looked at ‘how to’ videos. I wanted to find out more about how you import data and how you create dashboards.

Most marketeers would argue that is the back end of the funnel, where you are really deciding what you are going to buy, but I used it right at the top.

The top of the funnel for me is about peer review and word of mouth. I am more likely to talk to people and ask how they do things.  Yet this doesn’t get a look-in in marketing funnels.

The other top of the funnel – the awareness piece - for me is people picking up the phone and calling me or going to a conference and seeing a good speaker.

And, I’m sure I’m not alone – different types of content appeal to different people at different times.

You simply cannot afford to put everyone in the same pot and say that just because they are at a particular stage of the process, they need that type of content, delivered in a particular type of way.

Let’s take podcasts as an example. These are typically placed in the ‘awareness’ section at the top of the funnel. But why do they need to sit there? Surely, they could also play a role in other stages, such as research and comparison.

You could have a podcast talking about the different types of automated marketing software and that would sit in the comparison section. Or you could have a podcast talking about pricing or ROI which could sit in the ‘purchase’ section of the funnel.

As I say, it is the content within each format that decides where it should be used in the process, not the delivery method.

So, if you are not going to base your marketing on the funnel, what should you do?

Well, you still need a process in place that gives thought to where different parts of content should be. And you still need a method or process for identifying buying intent.

Ultimately it is all about having good quality content that engages, convinces and compels your audience, regardless of whether they come to it at the start of the buying process or when they are about to make a buying decision.

You need to offer them something that adds value; that showcases your expertise and highlights what makes your brand different.

That is why at Thirty Seven, and our sister company Media First, we put journalistic principles at the heart of every bit of content we produce.

And that means we aim to tell the TRUTH.

By that I mean our content is:

 

T topical, of the moment, and something people are talking about

R relevant to a specific audience

U unusual. Not what people already know or expect

T trouble. Show how you are solving a problem. Or, if your story is not strong enough, a journalist will look for their own trouble angle

H human interest. What is in it for people? What impact will it have on your customers and the journalist’s audience?

 

The aim is for the content to include at least four of the five elements of TRUTH to create something meaningful.

But the human aspect is crucial.

The most common phrase you will hear in a newsroom is ‘so what?’ Journalists will look at a potential news item and ask ‘so what does this mean for my audience?’

At the very least they will want to know who the people are behind the story. Take a look at any newspaper, news website or news programme and you will find all the stories have a human angle.

The reason is simple – people are fascinated by stories about people, not policies, procedures initiatives and protocols.

As well as telling the TRUTH you need to say AMEN (no, this blog hasn’t taken a strange turn towards religious preaching). This means you need to ensure the content you produce is suitable for the target ‘Audience’; that you are clear on the ‘Message’ you want to get across to that audience; that you have ‘Examples’ (ideally human ones) to support and explain that message; and that you have considered any potential ‘Negatives’ that could be raised.

Unless you are working for a company with a huge marketing budget, and lots of people producing the content, the ‘topical’ element of what makes quality content is tricky.

The key is to balance timely content with content that is evergreen (not time-sensitive) and that can also be sliced and diced in different ways. At Media First, we have recently taken a number of blogs and used them as the basis of downloadable eBooks aimed at specific sectors.

Similarly, there is no reason why videos can’t be turned in to podcasts or why parts of a Whitepaper can’t be turned into an Infographic. Not only does this ensure your carefully crafted content is working harder, but you are also providing more ways for consumers to access content in the ways they are most comfortable.

The other key journalistic principle you need to use in your content is proof reading. You should ensure that your content is seen by three sets of eyes before it leaves your office. This helps to ensure your content meets its aims and objective and that those typos and errors that can undermine content are eradicated.

I mentioned earlier the importance of still having a process behind your content once you have moved away from the funnel.

That process needs to be flexible and it also needs to be something you are prepared to interrupt. At Media First, we would normally see someone downloading our content as a sign of a hot lead.

But recently we decided to interrupt that and call people before they reached that stage.  We called 135 people – identified by the pages they had visited on the website. 90 people got dropped, two were not the right contact and one was international, but we generated 34 proposals and eight hot leads – that is a ridiculous conversion rate for new business development.

 

It’s time to take a hammer to the funnel – or at least throw it out. There is a better way, and quality content lies at its core.

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is a podcast or email marketing.

Marketing

Social media trends

Aimee Hudson 3rd October 2017 — 6 mins read
A

nd with constant growth – 30 per cent of all time spent online is now allocated to social media interaction – the pace of that change is going to increase.

The good news is that the Thirty Seven crystal ball has been put to good effect and helped us identify the things you can expect to see much more of.

 

Ephemeral Content

This type of content is intriguing and one that can be quite hard to achieve successfully. It is where your followers see a short clip of content or an image for a matter of seconds before it disappears.

It is the format Snapchat was built upon.

However, more brands are exploring ephemeral content to provide a different side of the business for certain occasions.

For example, ephemeral content is great for giving an audience a sneak peek or a behind the scenes look of a product or event. Burberry used it to wide acclaim in 2015 to create an ad in real time.

Alternatively, it can be used for competitions and giveaways, interviews, holidays or a daily/weekly series.

The key to being successful with this form of content is to be human. It should be unpolished and light-hearted or, in other words, ‘flawed’.

 

Stories

Snapchat has, since pretty much the beginning, had a feature called ‘stories’ where users can publish snippets of what they’re doing out to everyone who follows them.

Within the last year or so Instagram and Facebook have copied this idea and interestingly, Instagram seems to have become the more popular platform for this feature with 100 million daily active viewers in 2016.

Many people and brands share snippets of their day and then add text, stickers, filters or emojis and publish it so anyone who follows their account can view it.

Since Facebook now owns Instagram it has also rolled out the feature to its own platform but with little success.

 

Live Video

There’s no doubt that live video is on the rise with more and more brands tapping into it and in 2018 it is expected to take centre stage. 

While there are many video streaming platforms – and LinkedIn is in the process of rolling out one to its users now - Facebook Live and Periscope appear to be the most popular.

Periscope, in 2016, stated that users watched 110 years of live video every day in the app and on New Year’s Eve Facebook Live reached a record-breaking number of users around the world.

Twitter and Instagram have also launched a live video platform within their apps, in Twitter’s case they now have a button to live stream via Periscope.

This feature is particularly useful to those who want to live stream an event, for example a product launch, to everyone who couldn’t be there. Q&A’s and a live video series are also opportunities to pick up on.

With new capabilities like 360-degree videos, there are new ways to engage an audience.

 

Artificial Intelligence

This is a fairly new feature for most social media brands but Snapchat has paved the way since the beginning with their variety of filters.

Powered by artificial intelligence the filters are known to be engaging and interactive. I mean have you seen how many selfies have dog ears over them now?

Due to its growing popularity, other platforms have adopted the feature in order to entice users.

Many companies are investing in artificial intelligence and creating new interesting ways to engage audiences.

It’s believed that artificial intelligence will drive social media in the coming year with some stating that it is essential for social media success. It is certainly something Apple has placed a lot of emphasis on while launching its new iPhone X.  For businesses, it’s a new way of opening doors to interact with customers, publish adverts and network.

 

Messaging Apps 

With more people spending more time online, social media companies are investing in instant messenger functionalities.

Facebook was the first to initiate this with the Facebook Messenger app. This allows people as well as brands to communicate globally for free.

Those aid customer service processes as they provide a faster and easier way for customers to get the assistance they need, compared to email or phone.

The hotel chain Hyatt utilises Facebook Messenger for 24-hour customer service so guests can make reservations or ask questions.

Many companies that don’t use social media messaging apps use similar technology which can be embedded into their websites.

 

Marketplace

E-commerce is becoming more prominent within social media platforms. With Facebook, Instagram and Twitter offering ways for users to buy products directly within their apps.

With one simple click, a user is taken to the company’s desired URL to either browse products or with the intention to buy.

The marketplace is powerful. In a recent survey, 56 per cent of consumers said they follow brands on social media to know when products are on sale and 31 per cent said they use social media to specifically look for new products to purchase.

Many people go on social media to interact with interesting content and are more likely to engage in posts that provide information to them rather than an advert e.g. gift ideas for your sister. Indirect advertising allows companies to reap more benefits.

Remarketing via adverts on social media is also known to increase sales for businesses and can be a very effective strategy when done well.

 

Mobile Advertising

If you haven’t started investing more into mobile advertising it’s about time you did. It’s wise to advertise across all social media platforms if possible and take advantage of the new features that come out.

In 2016, Facebook brought in $7 billion worth of social media ad revenues. Its algorithm ensures that a user’s friends and family’s content comes first so that the 75 per cent of brands that pay to promote adverts on Facebook will have to create appealing and engaging ads in order to capture the user’s attention first.

Twitter, on the other hand, has paid advertising features including videos, sponsored hashtag icons and stickers to provide users with a variety of ad options.

Interestingly, users said, in a recent survey, adverts on Instagram were more memorable compared to ads on Snapchat. However, Snapchat offers more appealing ad features like sponsored filters that are popular during film releases making them more likeable to users.

Overall, each platform runs a pay-to-play operation to make advertisers pay as much money as they can so they can get the results they want. For example, if you’re looking for conversions and have a budget of £50, Facebook will put this in front of only a select few people. But if your budget is £500 your ad will be placed in front of many more people who are likely to complete your desired conversion action.



Perhaps the biggest trend though, which seems set to continue, is that the four main channels continue to copy each other’s most popular features, as the ‘stories’ functionality shows. 

The social media platforms are becoming standardised with the only difference being which one your audience uses most.

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper.

Charles Abel
25th February 2020 - 6 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.