April 16, 2024

The Twinkie – Content Marketing Lessons

Twinkies and Content MarketingTwinkies

Content Marketing Lessons from the Twinkie

As we approached this up-coming Thanksgiving Holiday I wanted to write a blog post about how your content marketing needs to be like your holiday dinner. Then, a news event caused me to change course and I decided to write about how your content marketing and Twinkies.

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Web Content – Consider an eBook

Market and Brand your Business with an eBookWeb Content – Consider an eBook

Build Your Brand (and Establish Your Expertise)

If you hang out with me or if your have taken one of my classes then you know I am a big advocate of web content. I always push to get clients to create content that delights their visitors.

I also push to get clients to create great depth and variety of content.

So how about taking a big step up and creating a very worthy eBook.

An eBook on your topic demonstrates your expertise and your willingness and ability to make a contribution on your topic.

Do you have a special product or service that needs some explaining to help make a sale? Do you need images and graphics to get your point across when explaining your product or service to a prospect? Do you need to be able to send something to a potential client to help them solve their problem?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you can consider writing an eBook to help your clients and potential clients and help establish and enhance your expertise as well.


Create an e-book to educate and

keep customers engaged with your brand.


A New Twist on Traditional Brand-Building

An eBook can be significant in helping you to close a deal with customers interested in buying online, since it increases their comfort level and trust in your product, service or business. An eBook can be an important part of your strategy to educate and sell directly to a consumer.

According to the Book Industry Study Group, one in four Americans reads eBooks, and small businesses are starting to take advantage of this trend as a supplement and enhancement of the traditional brand-building activities.

As with all marketing efforts, however, execution is everything. With content-based items such as white papers and e-books for free and for purchase being presented on websites that sell Ant Farm kits to SEO and Landing Page services (that’s me!) it’s very important for a small business to think carefully about why and how to add eBooks and other forms of online content to its web content marketing mix.

Start by considering whether your target audience will be served better by a white paper or an informational eBook. A white paper has traditionally been a short document of between 5 to 10 pages. It defines aproblem and the parameters that define the boundaries of the solution and then defines the solution. It is more than an article and significantly more than a brochure but has elements found in both an article and a brochure. A white paper often is persuasive and attempts to lead the reader towards a solution based on the author’s product or service. It is an informational and specific sales pitch.

An informational eBook can be used to help promote a brand and the expertise of the business and will provide more how-to information rather than what was done as in a White Paper. An eBook can show and tell the what, why and how of a problem. It can put the reader in the picture as the who and when as it gives the reader the information to solve a problem and the reasder can decide (once they have donwloaded the eBook) as to when they will implement the solution.

An eBook can (should) have great informational graphics to help explain the materials. Graphs, charts and examples are the hallmark of a good eBook.

An eBook is also longer than a white paper and often will be 20 pages or more. I have read some eBooks that have been 80 pages or even longer.

If a small business can package content a customer or potential customer will find valuable in a PDF file — the most commonly-used e-book format — then it has value as a brand-building tool.

Aaron Warner of Good News Training - eBook and BrandingHere is an example. I know a Personal Trainer that works here in the Upper Valley. He owns and operates the well established Personal Trainer Business called Good News Training. This summer he created an initiative. He wanted to establish himself with local schools and athletic coaches and decided to offer Speed and Agility Training Clinics to this special audience. First, however, he decided to write an eBook.

Writing this eBook did a number of worthy things:

  1. Aaron needed to think clearly about his Speed & Agility Program.
  2. He needed to create and present his materials in a logical and thoughtful manner.

These first two items helped him to be better and set the foundation for him and these clinics. He also accomplished something else of significance.

  1. He created a nice complimentary item for his clients that take the clinic as the eBook is now part of the clinic package.
  2. He established his expertise and authority with this audience (and others).

These second two items help him establish his brand. Brand building is an important part of business building. Aaron has risen above the local competition by creating this Speed & Agility Training eBook.

This eBook adds value to the community Aaron wishes to serve. Aaron has done more than what is typical and this enables him to stand out from the crowd within his marketplace.

The value of an eBook can be enormous. However, it is slow going getting most small businesses to understand the significance of it.

An eBook creates immediate credibility and can be an important part of how you can help convert someone who is “thinking about it” to a paying and happy customer.

If you are thinking about new forms of content to present your ideas, your products and your services (translation = your solutions) then consider how an eBook can factor into the mix.

The skills required to build a successful small business are often the opposite of those required to succeed in a big organization. Giant corporations regularly reward predictable, risk-averse behavior. Small businesses, however, often succeed or fail based upon their ability to stand out in a crowd. Aaron Warner of Good News Training has taken the risk that must be taken to be successful.

Producing an eBook that breaks the mold and takes risks can be provocative and be exactly what is needed to get a business noticed. It gives a small business such as Aaron’s the chance to craft an exciting, value-added effective message and to establish itself as an unbeatable source of expertise.

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A/B Testing – What to Test

A/B Testing - Web DesignA/B Testing

What to A/B Test?

Your choice of what to test in an A/B Test will be dependant on your objectives.

Define your objectives and then define factors that have impact on achieving them.

For example, if your goal is to increase the number of sign-ups, then you might test the following: 

  • Length of the sign-up form
  • Types of fields in the form
  • Display of (or not) your privacy policy
  • Displaying (or not) “social proof
  • Bullet list of reasons to sign up versus paragraph wording
  • Image and what image

The goal of A/B Testing in this case is to figure out what enhances visitors to this page to sign up. Is the form’s length intimidating? Are visitors concerned about privacy? Or does the website page do a bad job of convincing visitors to sign up? Does one image help and another hurt? All of these questions can be answered by testing these elements of the webpage design. Even though every A/B test is unique, certain elements of the web page design are usually tested:

  • The call to action’s (i.e. the button’s) wording, size, color and placement
  • Headline or product description
  • Form’s length and types of fields
  • Layout and style of web page
  • Product pricing and promotional offers
  • Images on landing and product pages A
  • Amount of text on the page (short vs. long)

If you have a worthy product or service then it makes a great deal of sense to test which version of your website page delivers the information and offer for this product or service the best. This is the essence of A/B Testing.

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Market Segmentation – Know Your Market

Market SegmentationKnow Your Market

Everything that you do with your website, your web copy, your offer and call to action will work better if you construct a message and an offer to your specific markets. To define your markets properly is one of the most fundamental concepts in marketing and your choice of which approach to use needs to be considered in terms of the specific market segment you want to reach. This is fundamental for your business and needs to be reflected in your website.

Market segmentation is about understanding the needs of your customers and how they decide between one offer and another. This insight is used to form groups of customers who share the same or very similar value criteria. A company needs to determine which groups of customers it is best suited to serve and which product and service offers will both meet the needs of its selected segments and also outperform the offers of the competition.

The primary objective of market segmentation needs to be focused on how to win and retain the customers you want to serve.

As a business you need create a great match between benefits sought by customers and those offered by your business. You need to obtain a marketplace advantage within the market segment. To create differentiation consider the appropriate mix of product features, price, promotion and ease of use to do business with you. For the customer, this enables them to understand benefits, cost (or value), perceived value to doing business with you and convenience; in other words, a customer value proposition.

A customer’s view of market segmentation simply means — meet my needs!

When choosing between competing products and services, customers select the proposition that meets their needs better than any other. To win a customer and market share a business must ensure that their offer meet these needs better than any other at a price they perceive as providing superior value for money (which does not necessarily mean it has to be the cheapest).

Know your markets . . . know your customers . . . this will provide you with invaluable insights into how to win a customer’s business and how to reach them. This is crucial. By really understanding your customer’s situation your will gain insights into their motivations. You will know what language to use, what offer to make and will close more business and have more fun doing it.


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A/B Testing – and Your High School Science Class

A/B Testing - Web DesignA/B Testing

and Your High School Science Class

At its core, A/B Testing is exactly what it sounds like – it is an experiment. You have two versions of an item (A and B) and a metric that you define that defines success of the experiment. To determine which version is better, you subject both versions to experimentation simultaneously. You measure which version was more successful versus your success metric and select the better version for real-world use. You can do this with pages on your website. You can even push this concept further and apply it to an entire contact path.

This is similar to the experiments you did in your high school science classes. You may remember the experiments in which you tested various substances to see which supports plant growth and which suppresses it. At different intervals, you measured the growth of plants as they were subjected to different conditions. You measured and tallied the height of the different plants which were subjected to the variations in conditions. Your success metric was height but it could have been another metric (color, number of leaves, seed production, etc.). You defined a metric and then measured against it. The results told you which conditions were optimal for performance versus your success metric.

In the case of a website page, you define a goal metric (a sale, a booking, a new subscriber . . .) and then measure how well the A version of the page performs versus the B version. You let the data define the best performance.

Consider how A/B Testing can help the performance of your website pages.

A/B Testing – What to Test

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Lead Capture

Lead CaptureLead Capture & E-Mail & Testing

Make OPT-IN to Your Subscriber List a Great Option

The enduring value of opt-in email lists to eCommerce efforts is one of the longest Running success stories in digital marketing. Email is still going strong as a channel for delivering traffic and sales, even as other channels continue to emerge, such as social media, SMS, and mobile apps.

The implication is clear: You should acquire a name and an email addresses whenever you can.

Presenting an email signup box for visitors who are not yet on your list is a best practice that can pay dividends for years. Also, email lists are one of the assets by which companies are valued these days.

There are numerous ways of presenting an email signup box that are both effective and inoffensive. You can use some form of light box and you might include some sort of incentive (like a discount coupon or one-time reduced shipping charge).

Deciding on the best approach for a specific website calls for testing. Whenever you test options make sure that your decision metrics include other important conversion events such as product purchase. A well planned series of A/B tests can help you quickly achieve the right balance.

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SEO & Market Segments

SEO Market SegmentsSEO Market Segments

How well do you know and your best clients and potential client market segments? 

Many targeting and personalization best practices are based on three simple truths:


  • Different visitors respond to your website in different ways.
  • Visitors with shared characteristics constitute segments.
  • Matching content and features to segments pays dividends.

You need to define and then understand the differences in your websites visitors. If you are a B&B and near an international border does your website have a way to appeal to people from both countries? If you are a company based in the United States your product could appeal to visitors from the UK and you can see that people from the UK visit your site then it is wise to match your web copy to this market segment.

Consider what happens when you open an online store on the World Wide Web. Even if your marketing focus is domestic potential customers from around the world will eventually visit your site and, depending upon what your site is selling, they may want to buy  from you. This is an international segment and it may be more lucrative than you think.

To find out how lucrative, first check your site metrics to see how much international traffic you have and how it is converting. If this segment is converting below average, consider targeting some of your site content to the top 1 or 2 countries in the international segment.

For example, let visitors from the UK know that your business is happy to sell and ship to the UK. It could be a simple as that to boost conversion.

International traffic is but one example of visitor segmentation. Do you know your markets? Have you considered how to speak to your segmented markets and how adding certain customizations could help key segments convert? Give this some serious thought and increase your conversion rate.

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