We are living in a world where people are constantly bombarded with information. To be heard, marketers must create compelling content that captures the attention of their audience. One strategy for capturing attention is building awareness and credibility through the top of funnel marketing.
This article will discuss what top-of-funnel marketing is and how you can use it to build your brand awareness and generate more leads for your business.
What is the top of the funnel strategy, and why should you be using it?
The top of the funnel strategy is a marketing term that refers to activities such as branding, brand awareness building and lead generation.
These types of campaigns are focused on “widening” your potential customer base by getting people interested in what you’re selling before they actually need it or realize they want it.
While many digital marketers have started focusing their attention on bottom-of-the-funnel strategies like conversion optimization and upselling (i.e., purchase intent), there are still plenty of opportunities for businesses at the top of the funnel.
Where do free trials fit in your campaign?
For example, think about all those brands that offer free trials. This type of campaign allows customers to experience firsthand how great something might be without investing any money upfront into buying anything yet.
Getting people acquainted with your brand in this way is a perfect strategy for building awareness and reaching new potential customers.
A few more examples of top-of-the-funnel strategies are co-marketing campaigns, social media engagement (i.e., retweets, likes), blogging/vlogging to create content that will be interesting to wider audiences outside of the people who already know about you.
The point is – it’s not yet time to worry about converting prospects into customers. The bottom layer is all about that – optimizing their experience on the site once they’re there. In the beginning, it’s a great time to start thinking about widening your audience through outreach and branding via channels like these.
How to create a content marketing plan for your business
Prior to any marketing or branding activities, you need a plan. Since content marketing is one of the best ways of getting your brand recognizable, credible, and interesting, it’s a good point to start.
Step One: Determine what you want to accomplish.
I’d recommend starting with a content marketing mission statement that defines your goals and values at the heart of your brand strategy.
This is important because it will help guide which type of content to create, how much budget should be allotted for each piece, who should have input in creating the message, etc. It’s also worth noting – this plan can’t exist without knowing where you’re headed.
It might sound basic, but many people get caught up on “what” they need to share instead of “why.” For example: if your goal is simply to increase awareness, then sharing tips isn’t going to cut it. By contrast, if branding or lead generation is more relevant objectives than just plain awareness, then you’ll need to think about how you can create content that will accomplish these goals.
Step Two: Know where you want to go.
Now that we know the key objectives for your strategy, it’s time to think about how you’ll get there.
Know what will work best in terms of channels (website, social media, email marketing) and tools (blogging software, video hosting).
Once you’ve established these things, then move on to defining KPIs. This is all about measuring success, so a good place to start would be tracking engagement metrics like shares or likes.
Step Three: Design Your Content Strategy & Marketing Plan
This stage involves three main components: content creation, distribution channel analysis, KPI mapping and optimization.
Start by creating an editorial calendar identifying which days/weeks will have new posts and what will be written on them.
Next, map out your content plan by identifying the types of posts you’ll write (e.g., how-to articles, product reviews). Looking at your competition can help you get a feel for what types of posts are popular on social media and how often they’re shared.
In fact, tapping into your competitors is the best way of gathering information. While simple mimicking of their strategy won’t really do you any good, looking into their activities can give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Top 8 tips for brand awareness building
Work with your customers: Reach out to satisfied customers and ask them if they would be willing to write reviews about you or share/like content that is posted on social media. You could also offer discounts in exchange for customer feedback.
Improve your SEO to rank better
First of all, your website will need content. At times, if the industry is not too fierce, this is all you need.
I know people who managed to rank in the top 3 with nothing but well-optimized content and a properly executed internal linking strategy.
The best way to have great SEO is to build topically relevant silos of content. To clarify, this means that, for each “money page,” you should have at least a dozen of other pages that reinforce this one by supplying link juice.
It’s imperative not to have the pages cannibalize one another, too. This means that you should have one dedicated keyword of large volume for these traffic and conversion generating pages.
The same goes for internal linking. While topically similar keywords are totally fine to rank other pages for, make sure that you’re not diluting the power of one page between a couple of other ones.
Email marketing, Facebook ads, blogging, etc., can all help keep the top of the funnel fresh by keeping potential client’s attention. This will cost money, but it can make a big difference over time.
Content curation sites like Triberr are great at finding relevant blog posts, which means less work spent building out a campaign strategy from scratch.
Encourage your existing clients to refer their friends and family. This may seem obvious, but many people don’t do it as much as they could.
To start a referral program, you may want to introduce an incentive in the form of a discount for both the referrer and the referred.
Paid advertising is a great way to get the word out. Such ads can be targeted in most instances based on location, age group or profession.
Networking doesn’t always have to happen online. The more social interactions you have with people who are interested in what your company does, the better chance they’ll remember it later on when considering products or services that might interest them.
Since the pandemic is nearing an end, this can prove to be a great strategy. People are tired of isolation and they crave human contact now more than ever.
Diversify marketing channels
Don’t rely too heavily on just one form of marketing.
Try using multiple methods of marketing so potential clients don’t feel like someone’s harping at them. Combine email campaigns, guest posting, Facebook Ads and paid promotions for the best results.
It also helps keep things fresh. Using well-established, industry-specific marketplaces with social media integrations can be a great way of providing your customers with yet another possibility of reaching you.
Build relationships with other brands and companies that share your values. This will help to broaden the reach of your company’s message, which can lead to bigger success in the future.
Focus on Brand Awareness
You need to be focusing on brand awareness before you even start thinking about sales or profit margins.
A company’s brand is what makes them memorable. With the pandemic on its way out, people will need to find new ways of getting their fix of innovation. If you don’t have a strong branding strategy in place before then, your business could quickly be forgotten among all the competition.
As soon as you have an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), start building your brand.
Nowadays, the competition is quite fierce, and unless to win over customers with an innovative product, branding should come first. The thing is, 90% of startups fail — these are the statistics. There are multiple reasons for their failure, such as low budget or the lack of a business plan, but one of the most prominent ones is a poor branding and marketing strategy.
As soon as your product starts gaining traction, executing word-of-mouth marketing strategies and sales funnel building are the next steps. You need to become at least somewhat recognizable.
Mind you, that recognisability should not be associated with a bad product, but with a good one. In this case, contrary to some others, bad publicity is not good.
Benefits of branding over doing direct-response ads only
The benefits of branding over just direct-response ads only become apparent when the product truly is worth talking about. And it’s not enough for your audience to hear you. You need people to actually care what you have to say. You need to understand that your message has value for them too.
The value can happen through building a strong brand that communicates who you are as an organization or person. Also, this can answer the question of why somebody should buy from you rather than somebody else.
Building this strong brand takes time. Don’t expect overnight success with this approach. Still, if done well, it will last long into the future as demand grows for more of your goods or skills.
All in all, there are many different strategies one could adopt depending on the industry, market characteristics, and the mission of the brand.
Branding should come first, marketing second. The top of the funnel strategy is to build brand awareness. The top of the funnel approach takes time but will last long into the future.
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How to Choose the Right Business Continuity Test for You – ReadWrite
Today’s businesses need to be prepared for unforeseen impacts on their work. A Business Continuity Plan is an excellent way to do this; it consolidates everything you need to do when an outside event disrupts your business. But, of course, any Business Continuity Plan also needs regular testing to ensure it’s fit for purpose.
We’ll be taking a look at an explanation of what a Business Continuity Plan is, what testing looks like, and how often you should be testing it.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
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A Business Continuity Plan explores how a business works after a disastrous event. It offers procedures in the face of fires, natural disasters, mass disease outbreaks, or data breaches.
A key concern of today’s plans is data backups. Since many industries (like content marketing for saas) require extensive planning, we need to know our protected data. Other critical components of the plan include comprehensive contact details for staff and maintaining productivity on a short-term or long-term basis.
If you employ a manual QA tester, you can understand a business continuity plan isn’t static. They require regular testing to ensure that they do what they’re supposed to. Testing also helps to spot any blind spots or areas for improvement.
Do I Need a Business Continuity Plan?
If the last few years have proved anything, it’s that nobody can really predict the future. As a result, unexpected events can completely upend our daily lives, and businesses can be severely compromised or go out of business altogether.
Invenio IT reported that in 2020, 51% of businesses worldwide didn’t have a business continuity plan. Given how dramatically the world of work has changed, that’s an oversight we literally can’t afford to make. As a result, 90% of businesses fail within a year if they can’t recover quickly from a disastrous event.
A business’s inability to keep working in the face of adversity is a threat to customer acquisition. Even if you have a detailed customer onboarding template, customers will likely reject you if your business isn’t reliable.
Business Continuity Plans demand significant investments of both time and resources. But they can be the difference between a business’s survival and its collapse.
How Do I Test My Plan?
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Today’s businesses can approach business continuity plan testing in several different ways. It’s important to understand that different test types share the same fundamental tasks—understanding your plan, putting it into practice, and identifying potential improvements. The difference lies in how closely you look at your plan and the resources you can commit.
You might want to take some inspiration from the quality assurance process of software testing. First, have a clear idea of what you want to look at or improve. Then, involve everyone who needs to be involved, and has a dedicated team of people assigned to the task.
Business Continuity Plan Review
A Business Continuity Plan review is the most straightforward approach to plan testing. It acts as a basic audit of your plan with key personnel—the main BCP (Business Continuity Plan) team, department heads, and some management staff. During the review, participants simply read through the plan and see if there are any obvious flaws.
The rise of cloud services means it’s relatively easy to preserve modern-day business data. For example, if we’re calculating CSAT, we might use a cloud-based graph to track our progress. Although, don’t treat these as a silver bullet; make backups and keep a record of what cloud services you use.
This kind of test is easy to arrange and helps introduce your plan to new BCP team members. However, this test is also very lightweight. As a result, it lacks an in-depth assessment of a plan’s effectiveness and doesn’t communicate procedures (or benefits) to the broader workforce.
Also known as a structured walkthrough, tabletop testing is a simple roleplay scenario. A business’s key stakeholders come together to simulate a risk to the business, and see if they understand how to respond. A continuity plan needs human eyes on it; the more hands-on you can be, the better.
Tabletop testing usually looks at a few different scenarios; participants review response procedures, outline responsibilities more clearly and see if they can improve the overall plan. If you’re just starting out, begin with something relatively simple like hacker attacks; these are both commonplace and relatively easy to thwart.
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This testing type is a great way to bring employees up to speed on what’s required of them. It takes an in-depth approach to the plan and usually brings together multiple departments. This makes understanding and amending the project much more straightforward.
At the same time, tabletop testing has significant requirements. It takes a long time to do properly, and it needs thorough documentation for it to be of any use at all. It’s also not as hands-on as other testing types; in many cases, you’re more talking about the plan rather than putting it into practice.
This is the most ambitious form of continuity plan testing. Participants in a walkthrough carry out recovery actions (such as restoring backups and testing redundant systems), and anything else a business thinks is relevant. This involves the plan’s critical personnel and any relevant employees.
It might also require traveling out of the office (for example, external data storage locations). Just as localization testing examines an app or website in different places, a walkthrough ensures all the components of your plan function wherever they’re located.
This hands-on approach to testing gives you the most precise idea of how effective your recovery plan is. That said, it’s also the most resource-intensive. For example, carrying out a walkthrough demands a lot of investment from a business. It can also be quite challenging to arrange if you need several different colleagues to participate.
How Often Should I Test My Plan?
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Testing frequency depends on your business’ needs and the resources you have to work with. As you can see, detailed plan testing isn’t something you can do every day. Even at a basic level, it requires several people from several departments to be genuinely effective.
You also need to consider what you are testing for. Today’s businesses face multiple threats, but some are likelier than others. For example, if you work in an area susceptible to flooding, you may want to focus on your business’s flood response. That said, remember to consider commonplace threats, such as data breaches, to which a security assessment is a good response.
At a minimum, it’s best to conduct one tabletop test per year for each key area of concern. This includes recovering from likely disasters, business continuity, incident response, to name but a few key areas of potential agitation. You should also aim to carry out an in-depth walkthrough every two years. Time-intensive tests like tabletop testing might need to be carried out on weekends to ensure you don’t compromise your work schedule.
What Else Should I Consider?
The essential part of any testing is documentation. Record your testing, with particular emphasis on anything actionable. You also need to follow up on these actions for the testing to be worth doing at all.
If you’ve made any significant changes to your business (like moving premises or changing the size of your workforce), make sure you increase the frequency of your testing—at least in the short term. These major shifts can have a dramatic impact on what your continuity plan looks like.
Make sure you tell your wider workforce about your plan and encourage people to take part where necessary. This could shed light on new, valuable ideas, such as wiping sensitive files from your hard drives.
By treating your Business Continuity Plan as an organic element (such as one that is open to revision and evolution), you’ll do an excellent job of keeping your business safe in the future.
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10 Strategies to Retain Employees in a Workplace – ReadWrite
A top performer just resigned out of nowhere, and you are now at a loss. What might be the reason for it? And how will this impact the rest of the employees?
With that happening, you will have to lean on your other employees, making them take on more responsibility. In the meantime, you will look for a replacement for the employee that left. It’s a big ask, specifically if they are already stretched thin. Such actions will stoke stress and uncertainty in your employees.
Given the likelihood of cascading fallout, it’s natural to think that the departure of one employee could be the tipping point of other employees feeling to leave as well. At the very least, it can affect the morale of the employees, which can undermine their work performance.
So, this is the time to make sure that your business is taking the proper steps to drive job satisfaction and retain employees.
What Prompts Employees to Leave?
To find out the reason behind your top performer’s sudden departure, do an exit interview. Exit interviews will tell you whether your employee retention tactics need improvement or not. And what needs to be done to retain employees and employee productivity.
You most likely will hear one or more of the following reasons from the departing employee:
- Inadequate benefits and salary
- Feeling overburdened with work or lack of support from the team
- Limited career advancement opportunities
- Need to maintain a balance between work and life
- Lack of appreciation and recognition
- Unhappy with the management team
- Concerned about the company’s financial health and direction
- Dissatisfied with the company culture
- The desire to make changes
Strategies that will help you Retain Employees
If you feel that your company is at risk of losing talented employees, you need to develop strategies to retain employees. Here is how you can boost employees’ job satisfaction and increase your chances of holding on to top talent in your company.
1. Orientation and Onboarding
You need to help each new hire to settle in so they can find success from the beginning of their job. Your onboarding session should include what the job entails and inform your employees about the company culture. And how they can contribute and thrive in the new atmosphere, office and culture. Don’t skim through this initial step.
The support and training you give from Day 1, whether virtually or in-person, can set the tone of their entire tenure at your company.
For instance, you are a cellphone repair shop. Your onboarding session should not only include giving training on your cellphone repair store software. Instead, it should consist of a session on your repair store’s culture and how normally the day goes about while repairing devices.
2. Mentoring Programs
Pairing a new employee with a work buddy is an essential component of the onboarding process and helps retain employees. In addition, these work buddies can welcome new employees into the company and guide them.
New employees learn the ropes from experienced employees. In return, they give the experienced ones fresh viewpoints.
Consequently, mentorship should not be limited to new employees only. You can have mentorship opportunities for existing employees as well. It will give them a sense of understanding of where they stand and what they need to improve to succeed.
3. Compensation for Employees
Companies need to give their employees competitive compensation. However, it means that the company has to evaluate and adjust salaries frequently.
Even if you are unable to increase the pay, try to provide other compensation. Such compensations can be in the form of paid time off or bonuses.
In addition to this, retirement plans and health benefits are also necessary. These valued offerings can help increase job satisfaction and ultimately will help retain employees.
Offering perks to your employees can make your work stand out to new hires and re-engage current staff. All this will also boost the morale of your employees. Remote work options, parental leave, and flexible schedules are perks that many employees value the most.
To evaluate your business and see what you offer your employees.
5. Wellness Offerings
Keeping employees healthy – physically, financially, and mentally is just good business. Even the current pandemic has urged many companies to improve and expand their wellness offerings so that their employees’ well-being feels prioritized and supported.
They have stress management programs, reimbursement for virtual fitness classes, and retirement planning services. Taking their example, start implementing these strategies to show that your employees are essential to you.
The pandemic has also enabled us to underscore the need for good workplace communication. Employees reporting to you should feel that they can come to you if they have an idea, concern, or questions at any time.
Similarly, you should promote constructive, timely, and positive communication across all departments, including remote and onsite employees. Please make sure you actively connect with every staff member daily to get a sense of their job satisfaction and workload.
7. Constant Feedback on Performance
Most company owners are abandoning annual performance reviews in support of frequent meetings with every team member. In such one-on-one sessions, discuss the short and long-term career goals of your employees.
Such activities can help them visualize their future in your company. The key takeaway here is not to make promises that you can’t keep. Instead, take them through their potential career advancement journey together. And lay down a realistic plan that can help them achieve their goals.
8. Development and Training
You can retain employees by helping them figure out their key areas for professional growth as part of your continuous feedback on performance. It can include needing to learn new skills. Getting new skills is extremely important in the current era as technology alters our work.
Substantially, when people learn new skills, they learn new tricks to keep up with the evolving business requirements. So, make sure you invest in the professional development of your employees. Make them attend virtual conferences, pay for continuing education, and provide tuition reimbursement.
In addition to this, don’t forget succession planning. It can be highly effective for advancing professional development and can help in building leadership skills.
9. Rewards and Recognition
Each employee feels the need to be appreciated for the work they do. And in the current circumstances, if you understand your employees, it’s bound to leave a considerable impact.
So, make sure you thank your employees who have gone the extra mile. And do mention how their hard work has helped the employees. Some companies even have reward systems that they use to incentivize great innovation and ideas.
Also, having a small company doesn’t mean that you can’t have an effective recognition program. You can do it even if you have a small team and a limited budget. You’ll want to arrange your recognition program in such a way that you and your employees can benefit from it.
10. Work-life balance
What kind of message is your time management giving to your employees? Do you expect your employees to be available 24/7?
You need to realize that a healthy work-life balance is essential for job satisfaction. Employees need to know that their managers understand the fact that they have lives outside of their office. Encourage your employees to set boundaries and give them vacation time. And if late sit-ins are required to end tasks, give them extra time off to compensate for that.
The ten strategies to retain employees given above are just some ways you can increase your employees’ job satisfaction. For that, you need to stay updated with market standards of benefits and salaries. And try to use the best practices to develop an attractive workplace culture.
Jotform Rebrands to Focus on the Power of its Forms – ReadWrite
When companies rebrand, they often do it with a renewed or revised focus. Sometimes the company pivots entirely, heading in a new direction to keep up with changing trends and demands from its audience.
In the case of Jotform, the company recently rebranded to better focus on what it’s done so well for 15 years: provide its audience with versatile, easy-to-create, powerful forms.
Since its launch, Jotform has undergone tremendous growth. More than 10 million users have shaped the form builder and its complementary services. The platform has grown to include payment processor integrations, state-of-the-art security measures, conditional logic, and more. It supports small businesses, large corporations, nonprofits, and everything in between.
And now, Jotform is focusing on further improving its powerful forms to continue to support its broad audience of users.
Here’s what you can expect from the newly rebranded Jotform.
A new logo and tagline
Jotform boasts a streamlined, simplified logo that honors the original. The “f” in “Jotform” is now lowercase for easier readability, and the logo features a new and refreshing color scheme.
The logo’s pencil has been updated with multiple colors to represent the multiple products and features the business has created. The colors represent form fields, table cells, graph bars, and even the lines on a document.
Similarly, Jotform’s new tagline honors the company’s vision: “Powerful forms get it done.” This tagline demonstrates that, even as the company has grown and evolved, it has always remained true to the powerful forms at the core of its business.
A revised website
The Jotform website has some aesthetic updates, but it remains easy to use and navigate. The homepage reflects the new tagline, color scheme, and logo, and the My Forms dashboard has been rebranded with a cleaner, clearer look.
The form builder navigation has also undergone a color change. The revised colors are high contrast, and the page was designed to keep your attention on what really matters — the form.
The same pricing
Jotform may have been rebranded, but its pricing plans have remained the same. Jotform offers five plan tiers, and those tiers make it a suitable option for nonprofits as well as the largest corporations.
The Starter tier is available for free, and it includes many essential features. It supports up to five forms and 100 monthly submissions. This plan also generously includes 100 MB of space and 1,000 form views.
The Bronze plan is just $24 per month when billed annually, while the Silver plan is $29 per month and includes up to 100 forms. For $79 per month, the Gold plan includes unlimited forms to support operations with significant form creation and management demands.
The Enterprise plan is for the largest organizations, and it supports multiple users, SSO login integrations, and more.
Jotform may be changing, but its pricing hasn’t budged.
Easy online form builder
Jotform’s form builder is clean, concise, and user-friendly. It’s easy to build a form from scratch with the drag-and-drop interface or edit an existing form template. The builder features a wide variety of form field types, including signature, date picker, address, and fill-in-the-blank fields. In addition, you can make any form your own.
Jotform also offers more than 10,000 professional form templates to help you get started and save time. Choose from registration, feedback, request, membership, application, event registration forms, and more. These forms cover a wide variety of industries and needs.
When using the online form builder, you can create a form in just minutes. You can then share a link to that form, embed it on your website, include it in an email, and more.
As Jotform has evolved, the company has continued to add form integrations for enhanced performance and convenience. Jotform has established integrations with some of the most essential and popular apps:
- Google Sheets
- Adobe Sign
- Google Calendar
These integrations enhance your form’s performance and save you and your respondents time.
An array of features for even more powerful forms
As the demand for powerful, versatile forms has increased, Jotform has developed new features that give you more control and flexibility:
- HIPAA-compliant forms meet the healthcare industry’s need for forms that protect patient data.
- Smart PDF Forms can convert a PDF into a fillable online form.
- Jotform protects your privacy and security with encrypted forms, 256-bit SSL, and more.
- You can collect payments and donations, and set up recurring subscriptions with your choice of more than 30 trusted payment gateway integrations.
Jotform may have started out as a form builder, but the company expanded to encompass Jotform Tables, which allows users to collect, organize, and manage the data that’s generated by its forms. It’s also possible to import CSV or Excel files into Jotform Tables, so you can use your existing data.
These tables require no coding and work as a centralized database. There are more than 300 table templates available to help you get started. As with its other products, Jotform has kept Jotform Tables accessible and affordable, making it a practical choice for all Jotform users.
Jotform: Powerful forms for the future
Jotform’s rebranding reflects the company’s evolution but also its dedication to its root cause: to provide users with quality, powerful forms. Jotform may have changed its logo and branding, but this is evidence of the company’s growth and success.
Rather than pivoting, Jotform continues to focus on the features and developments that will take its forms to the next level. From payment processing to enhanced security, its services and features are evidence of what business owners, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, teachers, bloggers, and more need as technology evolves and those users find new and unique ways to put forms to use.
In 15 years of growth, Jotform has stayed true to its roots but continues to make its forms even more powerful. Whatever your form and data needs, powerful forms get it done.
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