Content – Bridging your skills gap

The principle of good marketing content has been with us for quite a few years now. We started blogging in 2008 but our first post directly mentioning Marketing Content in the title wasn’t until 5 years later, in 2013. It’s interesting how long it can take for ideas to become established – and therein lies the problem. People give up too easily!

Delivering sustained, considered content marketing may be very effective but it is also hard work. Consistently creating high quality, engaging and relevant content takes planning and application. Furthermore, with the rise of social media, the options for both creating and delivering marketing content are growing. The question of ‘which way to turn?’ is becoming ever harder to answer, yet the basic truth continues:

Sustained, relevant content is at the heart of effective marketing engagement with customers and prospects

As with so many marketing services, content marketing is too often pitched as an easy win. Take this comment from a marketing services company:

‘A blog/news section on your website is really important. It will help (if regular content is added) to improve search ranking

Those 5 words in brackets – seemingly added as an afterthought, are actually the essence of the statement. Adding a news section is easy. Delivering well thought out and crafted content month after month requires planning and persistence. This is the real challenge. If that delivery fails, the core of the marketing communication fails with it. Also is the sentiment right? Should you focus on search ranking or concentrate on engaging with real people – your customers and prospects? – In my view, active market engagement is the #1 priority though, as it happens, engaging content can boost search ranking as a spin-off benefit anyway!

The real world of content marketing in SME businesses

We decided to do a bit of real-world research. We looked at an audience of local SME businesspeople attending a B2B networking group. They were clearly taking steps to engage with other businesses as a process to market themselves. We then researched this sample to look at their online presence. Specifically, we searched for their websites and looked at how regularly they added new content. The results make interesting reading….

  1. The business has a website – 94%
  2. The site has News/Blog – 56%
    • and of the 56%….
  3. News posted within the past 2 months – 80%
  4. News posted in the past month – 42%
  5. Consistent content posted for over 12 months – 10%

These figures tell a story that is extremely common across SME marketing. Marketing gets started but it isn’t sustained. Even to start with, people aren’t posting particularly regularly and within a year, the above figures suggest that 90% of News/Blogs aren’t being updated. The danger is that a company website that looks smart, modern and up to date when it is launched, quickly starts to tell a different story. If you see a website with a news section and the most recent news article is several months old, what sort of impression does it make on you? It is only when new, engaging and relevant content is regularly added that your website as a platform to communicate with your market to ‘tell your story‘ and spread the word that content marketing can truly deliver.

So we have a dilemma. Ask most SME business owners whether they think sustained, proactive content marketing is the right approach and they will answer Yes; However, most of the marketing they do is short term. Businesses are regularly moving from one marketing approach to the next.

So is there a solution?

I believe there is – and the answer is considered commitment. This means making sure that you have a plan you believe in and commit the resources to make it happen. But in saying this, I must stress the importance of not over-committing. If you try to spend too much time or commit to too much budget, keeping your content marketing running will be difficult, if not impossible. Things will slip and the short-termism will be back. By keeping your commitment more modest (even ‘easy’) it is much more likely your content marketing will sustain and succeed.

Get some help with your content marketing…

The biggest risk to a sustained, effective marketing content process is distraction.

As I mentioned above, driving effective marketing content can be hard work, so easy to put to one side if you can find something else to be busy with! If you have someone in your business who can take on the responsibility of content delivery, this can be a great option but you will still need to manage the process to ensure content stays relevant and focussed. Sub-contracting content creation to an external specialist might also sound like a good option but it can be fraught with difficulties. Good freelance copywriters and content creators can be expensive – and it isn’t just about the writing, they also need to stay up to date with what is going on in your business and market sectors. This can double, or even triple the time they need to commit to deliver a good level of service independently.

Unless the cost of a dedicated external specialist can be justified, a better solution can be collaboration – this is certainly our preferred approach. You retain sone responsibility for marketing content but collaborate with a specialist who makes sure it happens! The content delivery process isn’t allowed to slip. You will get a regular ‘tap on the shoulder’ reminding you to put focus on marketing and think about the content you want to promote and you also get help taking your ideas and converting them to good copy. Because you retain some ownership of the process, your marketing stays in line with your wider business objectives but your collaboration ensures you have a regular flow of high-quality copy to use in your marketing communication – all at a more sustainable cost.

Content Optimisation

I can’t finish without mentioning search optimisation. There is no doubt that content marketing should be at the heart of any search strategy. Within WordPress, optimising content for search is fairly straight forward thanks to the Yoast plugin. It’s free and adds a set of tools to allow you to optimise a post for a given keyword. It is very simple to use and uses a traffic light system to indicate how well optimised the page is, plus a set of recommendations on how to improve it. implementing the recommendations will improve the search optimisation. Take a look here at a case where Yoast was used in the real world for one of our clients.

If you want to find out more about effective content marketing, do get in touch

Bridging the hosting technology gap

There’s more to hosting your website than you might think…

Marketing today demands a web presence and, in my opinion, that presence needs to include a website.

If you are creating a website you need to consider your hosting. Effective hosting is a key element of your business website. With this in mind, I thought it was worth putting together a quick guide to choosing the right hosting for your website:

The 4 Tiers of Hosting

Not all hosting offerings are alike. In most cases,  “You get what you pay for“.  In broad terms, I would say there are 4 main tiers of hosting service and which is the most effective hosting for you will depend on where you are up to with your business.

Tier 1 – Free hosting with your domain name

Hosting provided on this basis will be very basic and I would suggest that you should be very careful before taking this option.

If cost is a real constraint, I would recommend going down the hosted service route and build your site using one of the online site builders. Whilst use of these is a whole different post, a couple of the leading ones are:

  • Wix.com
  • WordPress.com

These options are somewhat limited in terms of functionality, however, they are inexpensive and take care of all the hosting issues. They can be a great option – particularly if you are doing everything yourself.

Tier 2 – Basic shared hosting

This is the base level if your website is key to your business and you want to have a level of control over functionality. In my view, unless you are just starting out and need to keep expenditure to an absolute minimum, this should be the base level for your business website. 

Find a good host and their services can be great value for money.

The downside of basic shared hosting can be security and performance. On a basic shared hosting platform, your site may well be sharing a server with thousands of other websites. Performance for your site can be impacted by others on the server. For most basic sites, this should not be a problem, however as you site gets more complex (for example incorporating e-commerce or is getting more traffic), it becomes even more important to your overall business. As this happens, it is ever more important to ensure effective site performance.

The BSA Option

BSA Marketing offers public shared hosting on the 20i platform. We offer full telephone support, as well as WordPress updates & regular site backups as part of our package. We take the uncertainty out of making sure your site stays secure and running.

BSA Cost – from £18+VAT per month

Tier 3 – Hosting on a VPS Private Shared Server

The next level up is to put your site on a VPS (Virtual Private Server). Whilst this is still a shared platform, all the sites will be managed by your web company giving them total control over their impact on the performance of the server. Because of this the performance levels and security for sites hosted on a VPS platform are significantly better than basic shared hosting. 

The BSA Option

BSA runs numerous VPS servers for the use of our clients. These are hosted on a totally redundant cloud system delivering high levels of performance and reliability. Being a shared platform, other sites on the server can still impact the speed and security of your site. However because all of the sites are closely monitored and managed by us the risks of this are minimised. Furthermore, we have a maximum of 30 separate sites on any one server – compared to potentially 1000s of sites on a basic shared hosting platform.

One other issue with running a VPS is that as a stand-alone system, you are responsible for the technicalities of running the server. However, for our clients, we handle all of this. We deliver the benefits of a VPS without the associated technical headaches.

BSA Cost – from £45+VAT per month

Tier 4 – Hosting on your own Private Server

The top tier of hosting is to put your site on its own server. This gives you 100% control over the environment. Also, because the server is hosting your site(s) exclusively, the performance of your website is never impacted by others.

If your website is mission-critical, and you want total confidence in its performance and security, then this is the way to go.

The BSA Option

BSA offers private servers, again hosted on a totally redundant cloud system delivering high levels of performance and reliability. However, with only your site on the server you have 100% control over the environment. As such we can set this up exactly to your specification. Because our systems are cloud-based, they are highly scalable, so should your requirements grow, your server can expand to fit, without the need to move to a new server.

Furthermore, on our private server we include advanced features as standard including:

  • Hourly snapshot backups – if there is an issue, we can always recover your site to a state no more than 60 minutes ago
  • Proactive resource monitoring – We constantly monitor server resources so if there are issues, these should be picked up and addressed before they impact the performance of your site
  • Hardware firewall – All access to the server other than public access to your website, is locked down to minimise the risk of security breaches, further optimising the performance & stability of your site

BSA Cost – from £160+VAT per month

All of our hosting options are backed up by our legendary can-do attitude and real-world, business-focused support.

Effective Hosting The BSA Way

As with everything we do, our objective in delivering effective hosting solutions is to offer a first-class technical solution in the context of your wider marketing and business needs.

Our aim is that your hosting should be invisible. ASs far as you are concerned, it just works. You should never have to think about your hosting, safe in the knowledge in that we are.

We leave you to focus on your business.

Furthermore, we aim to ensure that wherever possible, technicalities should never get in the way of your marketing objectives.

Contact us to find out more