Volume Nine shared insights for developing a content strategy that engages your target audience and moves them along their path to purchase. Use your brand’s story and unique differentiators to build awareness and grow your online sales.
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Hello, my name is Chuck Aikens, and I’m the founder of Volume Nine. Volume Nine is a digital marketing agency in Denver, Colorado and we help brands connect with their target audience using content, whether it’s content marketing or content on their website. We optimize for SEO, or perhaps you need more creative that goes on social media for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. We basically are trying to connect a brand and an audience together using the content.
So, what are we going to talk about today? Well, what it really boils down to is finding the right person and getting them the right message at the right time. To build towards that, we’re going to talk a little bit about why content marketing, starting with personas and audiences, should help you think about a content calendar and your contribution to the internet. Then, we’ll step back a little bit and think through the full funnel. We’ll show you how to actually do it across multiple channels before diving into a real-world example using a client that is going full-funnel on Facebook and Instagram.
What are the Benefits of Content Marketing?
Content is what brings people to your brand, through storytelling and differentiators, and connects those with your audience using a specific persona. What happens in between that is that your messaging and information about the audience shows up in more traffic and ultimately more sales. By thinking about content marketing and having a strategy, and then thinking across the funnel and multichannel, you’re going to be able to connect with your audience and drive more sales. I mentioned that we’re going to be showing a real-world example at the end, and we’re actually going to do this throughout the process.
The client we’d like to introduce is To Table, which is a site, a company, a brand that brings hard-to-find, premium ingredients and high-quality fresh foods to folks who want to create a unique experience typically in their home because they are either a professional chef or they’re a cooking enthusiast. They’re really going for superior foods and creating a dining experience either for a small group, or maybe a larger group. To Table has partnered with chefs all over the world to create unique recipes, to find these hard-to-find, premium ingredients and high-quality foods, so the sourcing of these things in the recipes are available online and also can be scaled if needed. You’ll see more examples of this as we go through the presentation. We mentioned that when we think about content marketing, it really should start with the personas.
Personas are your end consumer. They represent your target audience. In this particular example, we have an upper-income foodie. That’s one example persona, our target audience for To Table. This person wants to just pursue their interest and maybe even passion for food using the highest quality, and there’s probably a lot of disposable income for this person, and they kind of enjoy the finer things in life.
The passionate home cook, this is the person that is known by all their friends as throwing the best dinner parties, and may even have some industrial appliances in their home. Like this is a very passionate home cook. It’s one of the main things that they do. Then, maybe dive deeper into one, I’ll show you the professional home chef and how To Table thinks about Stefan, and we get asked a lot about different formats. This is one.
We could share others as well, but basically, you want to start to personify who this target audience is. What is their occupation? What things do they value? As a professional home chef, he’s always looking for recipes to maybe inspire new menu items, and he wants to know that this recipe he can find the ingredients for, and what To table can do is make sure that the ingredients and the fresh food can be delivered right to his home, and that it’s extremely high-quality, and that the sourcing can scale, so that if he needs a lot of it or more than normal, he’s able to get a hold of it.
Then, from that To Table, was able to talk about what is the brand promise? “Lovely fresh ingredients, unique entrees that just aren’t available locally, plus the convenience of the at-home shopping and delivery so that you don’t waste a lot of time,” trying to figure out how to create this recipe perhaps over and over.
So that’s an example of a persona, and it’s about just really spending some time getting to think about what each persona or each target audience is really looking for, and then what you as a brand or as a company can deliver. Because now we’re going to take this down to content, and the type of content that you might develop to connect with this audience. When you’re thinking about content, we like to think about content that is planned out, and so we work with clients to develop a content calendar. We usually do this in a spreadsheet. We ideate different ideas and then, as we get an idea, we start to develop it into an abstract, and eventually put energy and effort into developing the content, whether it be in written form, some type of creative asset, perhaps even video. When you’re doing this, it’s really important that you take an external approach and say, “This persona, this end consumer, this audience, what might they be interested in?”
“What can I uniquely contribute to the internet for this person? What can I put on my website? What can I publish on social media that will resonate, be relevant, be interesting to that end consumer?” As you make that plan, what’s really important is that you stick to the plan and work it so that you can get the results because some things will work, other things may not work as well, and from those findings, you can then iterate into future content calendars. Most of the time, we approach content calendars on a monthly basis.
Recipe Marketing Strategy
Sometimes it’s quarterly, but we at least think about them on a monthly basis. Let’s first think about, let’s use To Table here and think about what they decided to make their contribution to the internet. This isn’t an exclusive strategy for content marketing. It’s one component of it, but one of the things that To Table put into play as baseline content marketing is recipes. How that shows up is both on their sites, they have a recipe blog, because again, whether it’s the high-income foodie, the passionate home cook, or the professional chef, a recipe is a way to communicate with them, that this is unique entree with high-quality products that don’t exist locally.
Then, on Pinterest, they also were able to execute this recipe strategy on Pinterest, not only with their own recipes but by curating different boards and painting different recipes. They’re able to extend their brand out into Pinterest in a way that’s not just self-serving, but also gathering and curating the recipes. This is their contribution. It was their strategy to participate in the recipe space with both their own recipes, as well as curating other people’s recipes on Pinterest. Now, when they’re thinking about their own recipes, you tend to do this, as I mentioned in a monthly calendar, and you need to think about when you’re going to publish and what kind of formats that you use.
This is a product called HeyOrca. It’s actually organizing the Facebook and Instagram post once the recipes go live. However, I do want to point out that what’s happening here is that there are different days and times that things are being tested. There’s also, and we’ll show you this a bit later, there’s different formats. You could maybe sometimes use a carousel or put a little video in.
You could just do different things in your content calendar to mix it up and try different things. The key is that you need to know when you’re going to publish this well in advance so that everybody can have the photography, the video assets, the copy. Like all this can just be planned well in advance so that you’re not rushing content out one day before it’s ready to go. Then, when you’re producing this, you also have to think about, “What am I putting on Pinterest in this case?”, but it’s important that when you publish something on your site, that you reach new audiences in social media by promoting that content. Don’t just publish it, but make sure that you’re applying a small budget to amplify it on Facebook and Instagram to your existing new audiences, and then watch the data.
Watch what happens. Sometimes you may decide that you want to promote a little bit more. Maybe you really love the swordfish recipe and want to get it in front of more people. Maybe you’ve been building an audience, and we’ll show you how to do that later, and you want to make sure that this recipe gets in front of a very specific audience, or maybe somebody, maybe there’s a little bit more engagement on this one. Maybe it’s getting picked up and shared a little bit, and so you want to give it a little extra juice, if you will, but always amplify it with a similar budget for most content.
Watch what happens, and then just, as things progress over the days and weeks afterward, go ahead and apply more budget if you need, but you don’t need large amplification budgets. The other thing to bring up here is that we want to be sure that you have the Facebook Pixel installed. Actually, you also want to be, for remarketing, you also want to be doing the same thing for Google AdWords using Google Analytics. There’s a little bit of technicality to get both of these setups, but once you have them set up, you can track and “cookie” people who are coming to your website from Facebook, or just visiting maybe your recipes in general so that you can create audiences you can retarget. This way, you can understand and try ways to convert them and push them down the funnel, which is what we’re going to be talking about next. Just realize that you can do this on social media and using AdWords, so you have two ways to kind of pull them back to your site, either on a subsequent Facebook or Instagram visit or when they’re out on the internet using display ads.
Let’s step back for a second though, before we dive into how to have a more sophisticated content marketing funnel on social media, and just kind of talk about the fundamentals of a funnel. Let’s do it for a second as it relates to you and your brand. When someone first comes across your brand and they become aware of it for the first time, you should be telling a story of some type, not just throwing your logo out there or hoping that they can ascertain from your social media profiles what’s happening. There’s an art of storytelling or even just telling a story. It doesn’t have to always be about your brand, but it needs to be relevant to what’s going on in the world or some other story that you kind of develop because people love stories.
It’s a great way to get introduced to a brand such that they remember it just a little bit, so that as they’re getting deeper in the funnel and learning more about why you’re a little unique or your product offering is a little unique or your service is different, they become even more interested. They kind of move further down the funnel where they truly have not only awareness and consideration for your product, but they’re starting to move towards maybe even making a decision when you promote something or put an offer out there. With that said, now let’s look at it from a consumer standpoint. You become aware of something, you’re introduced to it, then you learn more about it, and then you either decide to not care or to go ahead and buy that thing or try it out. The things going on in your head when you first are aware of the brand, you’ve got to trust it, like, “Hey, am I buying it? Am I buying the story?”
“Do I want to engage a little bit to see what it looks and feels like? Am I going to click around their website, or maybe even ask a friend?” I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m engaging somehow, and eventually, I get my wallet out and I make that first purchase or somehow try the product out. A bunch of stuff’s going on, like I mentioned. As I see a brand on Instagram or visit a website, watch a video on Facebook, I’m becoming aware of something.
Path To Purchase
Whether I didn’t get a follow up email or I’m retargeted on Facebook or Google, I’m becoming more educated, more engaged about what this brand is doing and their touch points with me, and eventually maybe, I research for them or I click on an ad, or somehow I make myself back to the website so that I make a purchase, and I go through these different phases and these different activities probably in a very irregular way. I might just stumble into the website and sign up for email, and then do a Google search, and visit the website. I might go straight from Instagram, and I’ve done this personally, right to the website and purchase.
You don’t know what the path to purchase is going to be, but as a marketer and as a content marketer, you should think about this so that you’re able to kind of provide touch points along the way. You don’t have to do them all perfectly, but you ought to be thoughtful about, “Hey, how can I ensure that I’m putting as many touch points out there as possible as someone’s moving towards their path to purchase?”
Funnel & Path Combined
Now, we’ll show you the real-world example of how you can storytell, differentiate, promote. The consumer is becoming aware, kind of deciding what they want to do, and they’re making a decision — so two different things are going on and we have to be aware of both of them so that you’re delivering that. Remember the right message at the right time to the right person. Back to To Table. What I really like about this example is one, I like to grill and eat meat. I did try vegetarian for a little phase of my life, but what I really like about this client example is their first run at it.
Back to To Table
This wasn’t something that we did after many years and with a huge budget. This is what it would look like the first time that you try to execute a social content funnel on Facebook and Instagram, with perhaps a limited budget. What we’re going to do is we’re going to show you how to create an audience, and then we’re going to walk you through content that first, at the top of the funnel, is pushed into the audience. Then, once we have established this audience, we’re going to kind of engage and do more education against our content strategy. Then, we’re going to start informing them of specials and offers, and then we’re going to go hard with a targeted campaign.
We’re going to show you examples of all this and how you would execute the Top Of Funnel, The Brand Introduction. As the summer started this year, we worked with To Table to develop a video that grilling season is here, so we’re introducing the brand and we’re doing it against the concept of grilling and the best grilling foods for summer barbecues. The audience that we created, pretty broad to begin with, which is pretty much anyone over 28, with an interest in barbecue grilling and meat, excluding vegetarians. We thought it might work best for us if we actually sell meat to people that eat it. Then, if you’ll notice here, we also went for high-income households because high-quality source food, recipes developed by the top chefs in the world, this is something that’s targeted to an affluent audience.
Top of Funnel
Let’s make sure that right from the beginning, let’s start in higher-income households so that we can get this product in front of an audience with a lot of disposable income. Not only did we do one video, we actually did a series of videos. All short form. The longest one was 20 seconds, and we target things generically like just grilling season and the weekend barbecue, down to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. These videos ran to this audience, and what we were really looking for was engagement.
We wanted to see if people would watch the video, and the engagement in the video told us they probably looked at it, they might have read it, and they stuck with it for some amount of time, and later, we’re going to use three seconds, although Facebook and Instagram does have a 10-second also. How’d it turn out? Well, we were able to put these videos via promotions in front of just over 70,000 people, and we got engagement on the post with around 40, so we had what I feel is a really high-engagement rate, and we’re able to get almost 40,000 views. Now, in addition to the 40,000 video views, we also got a lot of clicks to the website. We got two different metrics if I use the entire spend.
First, we got someone to watch the video and self-identify themselves as an interested To Table audience member for about three and a half cents a video view. On the flip side, we actually were able to get someone to the site for right around 55 cents a click. By themselves, neither one of those are too bad. Together, we think we had a successful top of funnel campaign. Now, we’re not measuring this by sales.
Literally, what we wanted to do was build an audience so that we can move them down the funnel, and then be able to market them later because now they’ve identified themselves as being in an affluent zip code, interested in grilling, and they’ve experienced a To Table brand before. Then, what do we do?
Middle of Funnel
Now, we want to engage, so we tried some things. We took the regular content that we’re producing, and we also put it in front of the target audience, and we thought one idea might be, “Hey, let’s keep giving them more grilling tips.” Another idea we had was, “Let’s mix it up and maybe put some non-meat things in here,” like vegetables, or in this case, in this post, Colorado peaches.
What we found out is that, and it was interesting, is that the grilling people that engaged with the grilling video didn’t engage as much with the grilling tip. Now, it might just be the content that, like the tip is fully in the post, both in the copy and in the creative, but we still didn’t get a ton of likes and shares and all of that. I think they just kind of read it, which that’s not bad, but because they weren’t engaging, we also didn’t get the reach, so the Facebook algorithm kind of said, “Eh, it’s just taking up space.”
Now, on the flip side, when we introduced the peaches, we didn’t get that many likes and shares, we got a lot of clicks, like the audience was very interested more about Colorado peaches, and we reached two or 3,000 people in the audience, so this is where you want to test a lot of different things. I mean, it seems like a safe assumption that if I started with a grilling video with tips, that I could then follow it up with more tips, but the audience really resonated with this Colorado peaches, and why not?
At this point, we’re engaging people, and we’re in the middle of the funnel. You just want to keep informing and engaging. Then, you want to start thinking about the bottom of the funnel a little bit, like this is somewhat differentiation, but also the introduction of offers.
This is a beautifully photographed porterhouse steak that will make my barbecue a hit. I mean, that’s going to feed everybody for sure. Then, over here, I have a grilling package that could make a wonderful Father’s Day gift. Again, I’m introducing the product and just saying, “Hey, you want to buy something,” and these worked. Here we are on the video. We got a lot of views.
We got a high-engagement rate again. People liked it. They were engaging with it, and we got 50 clicks over the website. Not bad.
Working the Funnel
Again, we weren’t measuring it for the bottom of the funnel. Like we’d love it if we got a purchase, but we haven’t quite gone for it. Here’s our first bottom of the funnel promotion, where for the pork here, we made a strong offer with free shipping, a strong creative like this is, “Come buy now.” We saw some success with this, but again, we’re still, we’re working the funnel, and we can do that every month over and over again. Just build people at the top, bring people in, educate and inform, run product offers in between, and just watch your mix there between what you’re doing it and how much you’re doing.
We have some ratios that we’d like to use, probably something along the lines of 50 to 60 at the top to build awareness, 20 to 30 in the middle, and really, when you go to that bottom, make sure you don’t overdo it, but make sure it’s probably no more than 10 to 20%. Hopefully that all adds up to 100. We’re working the funnel, and we’ve built this audience. They’ve been introduced to the brand, we’ve educated them and informed them.
Bottom of Funnel
We’ve even run a couple of offers at them. We’re 30 to 45 days in. We’re ready to really have our first monetization event, and what we decided to do was build a campaign around grilling packages. It’s great that we kind of built this funnel is that I could take the offer to a cold audience, and we might make some sales, but we really wanted to see is all the extra effort of building the audience. What if we take it to a warm audience, do our chances for sale increase? In this case, we only ran it to the warm audience.
It would be a nice A/B test to run it towards both, and we’ll do something like that in the future. But the argument here is that for a $500 purchase, let’s take it to people who are familiar with To Table, familiar with the product, who maybe have seen the recipes, who understand the story. So we built an audience that either had viewed the videos and engaged, or had visited To Table and the recipe pages as we promoted them. Then, what we did is we’ve spent a little bit more time in the creative by using carousels and a lot of high-quality photography to really show these grilling packages and beef bundles in their best light. Here’s how it turned out. We got almost 1,500 people to click over to the website.
Targeted Campaign Results
Not bad for the spend. We had a lot of interest for people added to cart, and maybe some of them initiated checkout, but we were able to get eight people through the purchase transaction, which was a cost per purchase of $110. Now, for a first run, that’s not too bad, and again, because we have the audience built now, we can run against it again and again. What we find is over time, as we learn more about the audience and the content, we get them more and more engaged. While this had a five X return on ad spend, later, we’ve seen brands and clients get up into double digits on return on ad spend using the same strategy.
Thank you for your time. I hope that you found this presentation interesting and relevant to what you may be trying to do. If you go ahead and try your hand at a social media full content strategy, good luck. I hope it goes well!