Learn about digital marketing essentials

To manage content changes on your website, consider using a content management system (CMS).

A content management system is a software that provides a user-friendly interface that allows you to create, edit and publish content on your website.

These days, a good CMS will automatically adjust your content to work well on a mobile device, or give you the ability to do so. This is important as more and more people use their mobile phone or tablet as their primary way of connecting to the internet.

Why should I update my content?

People visiting your website expect it to be responsive, engaging and easy to navigate. They want to see all the information they're looking for. Gone are the days when websites could be static like a sales brochure, only designed to be viewed on a desktop screen.

Make sure you keep all information on your products/services updated. Write accurate descriptions of any new products or services. Using a CMS makes it easier to create relevant blog entries and upload news articles. New content provides a reason for visitors to return to your site. You can use it for marketing campaigns via email and social media.

Updating your own website using a CMS can save you time and money as you won't need to engage a web designer or developer to do it for you. You can also do it when you want, not according to an agency's work schedule.

Where do I start?

Not all content management systems are created equal. Before deciding on a CMS, it’s a good idea to review a few options so you can choose one that best fits your website goals, and your technical and design ability. Some examples include:

Content marketing delivers value to potential customers in a way that traditional marketing doesn't.

Traditional marketing channels are no longer very effective. We fast-forward through TV advertisements. We surf the web in such a way we absorb the information we're interested in, while filtering the ads on web pages.

That’s why many businesses are turning to content marketing.

What is content marketing?

It's about providing relevant and useful information to customers. This builds trust, relationships, sales and loyalty. Content marketing can position a business as a market leader or authority.

Social media is now the most common channel for content marketing. It's flexible and immediate.

Create a plan

Improve your chances of success by developing a content marketing plan and schedule. This would support an overarching marketing strategy.

Content marketing and social media planning often go hand-in-hand. So you'll find different names for the plan, such as:

  • content marketing plan
  • content plan
  • social media plan
  • social media strategy
  • content strategy

Regardless, a good plan should include the following:

  • Your content marketing objectives
  • Your target audiences: Who you are trying to reach?
  • The type of content that is best for each of your target audiences
  • The best format for content. Consider the following:
    • tutorials
    • guides
    • interviews
    • infographics
    • videos
    • curated content
  • Who will be responsible for creating the content
  • What extra resources you might need
  • A list of the promotional channels you will use to publish each piece of content. Consider:
    • email lists
    • social media
    • relationships with trusted sources
  • A timeline for drafting and publishing each piece of content
  • How you will measure the success or failure of each campaign

When thinking of a plan, do you think of lengthy documents that take months to create? (And then sit on a shelf gathering dust?) The memory alone is enough to put you off. But you don’t need an extensive, formal plan. Just think through your objectives and write them down.

Video is a great way to inform and entertain customers – and to promote your business.

Why have video content on your website?

Online video is becoming a key way for people to satisfy their need for information and entertainment. If small businesses don’t include it as part of their content marketing plans then they risk losing business.

Consider how popular video is already. YouTube has over 1 billion unique visitors each month. When done well, video is engaging, provides information in an easily digestible way.

Video content can be created to suit a range of budgets. Some options include engaging a video production company to produce content for you, or using an online tool to produce your own.

With the progress of technology, and the ability to record video is common to almost all smart phones, production costs can now be created to suit a range of budgets, making it an accessible medium for the smallest business.

Incorporating multimedia elements into your content enriches the quality of your website. Besides, including video increases the amount of time visitors spend on web pages and social sharing.

Ideas for video content

When planning video content you need to consider your audience and ensure your video will be relevant to them. Here are some examples of video content that might be useful for businesses:

  • Product demos: These are great when you have just released a new product or added a new feature. You could show your product in use, or how to maintain a product.
  • Detailed explanations: Sometimes it can be a challenge to communicate complex concepts in a short space. In these cases, a short video is preferred to a five-page document.
  • Training tutorials: Videos can convey instructions, such as assembling a product or using it. Think of following a recipe versus watching someone bake a cake – which conveys more information? Which is most likely to give a better result?
  • Personalise your business: People often trust what they can see. If they see that you're a real person, they may be more likely to trust your business. You can convey your business’s personality. Establish yourself as an expert in your industry by answering questions or providing tips and tricks. You could even interview industry experts. Customer testimonials can mean so much more when the endorser talks about a product or service, rather than just seeing quotes on a page. You could even do a meet-the-team video or a virtual tour of your physical site.
  • Vlog it: Consider making a regular video blog to give customers useful information. This can be a good way to get customers revisiting your site and keep your brand on their minds.

Tips for creating great video content

Ask why

  • Why am I making this video?
  • Why would someone want to watch it and share it? If it’s hard to think of a reason, then go back to the drawing board.

Market it

  • Once you’ve made your video, don’t forget to market it
  • Promote your video across multiple channels – your website, social media, blog posts and resource centre
  • Don’t be shy about having it in several locations on your website!

Don’t make it too much like an ad

  • People watch videos because it entertains or informs, not because they want a sales pitch

Don’t stop at just one

  • A video is a bit like a blog post. On its own it’s good, but as a series it can be great.
  • What you're trying to do is create a loyal bunch of followers who keep coming back for information

Consider your content marketing plan

  • Make sure your videos complement your content strategy
  • Consider your audience: Where do they "hang out" online?
  • Ensure your video is relevant to your specific audience

Read more about content marketing plans

Make it shareable

  • Make it easy for viewers to share your video, or even make it go viral
  • Some of your videos should be "bite-sized" (under 30 seconds) so they can be shared easily on social media sites

Optimise it for search engines

  • Put keywords in your video file names, titles, descriptions and tags for SEO. Read more about SEO
  • Consider having a channel. A channel is a way of keeping all your videos together, providing a short description of your business and a link to your website. Your channel would have a web address that you can then promote on your website or in emails. Potential customers can subscribe to your channel.
  • Two of the most popular video hosting sites are YouTube and Vimeo. Read about YouTube and Vimeo

Getting started

The thought of creating a video for your business may seem daunting. Some examples of online tools that assist with video content creation include:

Top-level domains include .co, .com and .org. Second level domains include .nz and .au and often show the location of an organisation. There are also domain names that relate to specific industry sectors such as .photo or .movie.

Registering a domain name works on a first-come, first-served basis, so you may not always be able to get your first choice. Most domain registration organisations make the process quick and easy.

Why use a domain name across both website and email?

It creates a professional impression, which customers look for and trust.

While there are many domain options available, a good place to start is to consider what your customers look for. If they see you as a New Zealand business then consider getting a .nz domain name. If you want to be seen as an international business then consider .com.

Research indicates that customers trust businesses more if they're using a registered domain name in their email addresses.

Registering more than one domain

To target customers in different countries, you can register multiple domain names for a website. For example, you could register .com, .nz, .au and .uk all at once. But be aware that domain registration isn't free. You'll need to pay a fee for each domain name you register. Fees are normally charged annually. Some domain names also require a verified local contact address in a specific country for registration, such as .org.uk.

To hear why Survive-it use their domain name for both website and email, watch this video

We've all heard of email marketing. Chances are, your inbox is filled with it! Here's how to use email marketing to strengthen customer relationships.

Email marketing is when a business sends an email to a group of people using email. Email marketing can take many forms:

  • newsletters
  • advertisements
  • announcements for new products or services
  • special offers and promotions

Done well, email marketing can be a great way of staying in contact with your customers and promoting your business.

Why do I need email marketing?

Email marketing has become popular because it allows a business to reach their target markets in a more focused and less expensive way than traditional print, radio and TV marketing. It's also more effective at conversions than social media.

It can help you to stay in contact with customers who have bought from you. It can also introduce them to new products or services. Email marketing can help you strengthen your relationship with your customers, leading to loyal followers.

How do I start email marketing?

There are some pretty smart tools to help businesses with their email marketing. Some tools even allow businesses to group their customers based on information such as:

  • how long they have been a customer
  • their spending habits
  • likes and dislikes
  • demographic information

The business can then send out emails to specific groups. Customers will get personalised emails that are likely to be of interest to them.

Most email marketing tools will store email addresses in a database and provide campaign management capabilities. More sophisticated software includes customer relationship management tools like Salesforce.

The great thing for small businesses is that many of the email marketing software providers offer a free version. But before choosing the first email marketing software you come across, do your research. Consider what your business wants to achieve. Talk to friends, colleagues and other businesses about the tools they're using.

Tips for getting started

1. Grow your database

Include a sign-up form on your website and social media channels, and encourage customers to sign up to receive updates, specials and promotions. Consider running competitions or promotions to encourage your customers to sign up to your mailing list.

2. Don't overdo it

Make sure you stay in contact with your potential customers – but don't flood their inbox. If you contact them too often, they'll delete your emails without reading them. Or worse, they'll ask you to remove them from your mailing list. Once or twice a month is enough for an email.

3. Plan your approach

Create a content plan. This is a schedule of your planned online activity. It identifies the following:

  • your target audience
  • topics
  • objectives
  • responsibilities
  • how you'll measure success (or failure)

Having a content plan can take the stress out of email marketing.

Get started with content marketing planning

A responsive website adapts to fit the screen size of any device. Responsive web design gives users a customised viewing experience for different browser platforms such as computers, tablets, smart phones.

Why is responsive web design important?

As smartphone use increases, it's important to accommodate the needs of your customer. Whether they're looking at your website on their phone or computer, it should work.

Recognise that mobile browsing is expected to outpace desktop browsing, consequently you should consider implementing responsive web design to remain competitive.

Here are some steps to making sure your website is responsive:

  1. Check if your website is responsive. To test its responsiveness, try Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool
  2. Chat to your website provider about available options. Most already offer responsive design.
  3. If your website provider can’t help, research other agencies and get a quote for making your website responsive.
  4. Factor the cost into your budget.
  5. Choose an agency to create your responsive website.

SEO covers a range of strategies and techniques to get higher rankings in search results. Search engines like Google analyse websites to determine search ranking.

Why use SEO?

SEO is like sending out invitations to view your website. Without the invitation, no one will know to come to your site. Users searching for a business online will often only look through the first few links on the results page. Aim to have your business pages appear in search results with relevant keywords.

How to improve your SEO

  • Include key words and phrases that people might search for when trying to find a business like yours
  • Update your website often with new content. This way, the search engine's bots will index your site more often. You can post recent customer testimonials or blog posts.

Businesses can use social media to increase engagement and help build an online following.

Is social media useful for business?

Social media platforms include tools for businesses to boost engagement. Some of the most popular platforms include:

Why use social media?

Create social profiles for your business to increase your online presence. This will give customers a choice of channels to stay in touch. Customers will appreciate having different methods with which to contact you. This can even increase sales.

Here are some points to consider:

  • If you have a website, link to your social media accounts using icons. Put these along the bottom and/or top of your home page.
  • If you've just started using social media for your business, start with one platform. Commit to checking the account once per day to answer any messages.
  • Update your social media on a regular basis. This is essential to keep your followers informed and interested. Make a calendar for creating and publishing content and stick to it.
  • Set clear goals for your social media efforts. Make it part of your overall marketing plan, not an afterthought.
  • If you stop using a social media platform, that's okay – but do remove links to that one from your website. Promoting channels that are inactive could do more harm than good for your business.
  • Do you have an e-commerce site? Add social sharing buttons to your product pages to let customers share your products. You can try a website such as add this or share this

The writing on your website can either send visitors away or invite them to explore.

Poorly written content can detract from your message. Consider the following when writing for your website:

Keep it short and concise

Grab the attention of your readers by focusing on a single message. Using short sentences also helps, since long sentences can be hard to follow. Your text should be direct and useful. Avoid using technical jargon where possible.

Make it easy to skim

The majority of readers will scan your web page or article. That is, they won't read every word. To help them, you need to make your pages easy to scan by breaking the information into chunks. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Use headings and subheadings
  • Use bulleted and numbered lists
  • Include step-by-step instructions
  • Break up text with photos, videos and pull-out quotes to support your message

Start with the most important bit

Readers may not make it all the way to the bottom of the page. So make sure you get your point across on the first screen.

Think about titles

Capture the reader's interest by using short, but exciting titles. Consider including the main benefit or solution to pique their interest. For inspiration, take a look at the type of short front page headlines used on weekly magazines and on newspapers.

Target your audience

Avoid generalising. Instead, think about who your audience is. Write just for them. Make your text personable and friendly. Appeal to emotions, especially if you are trying to sell a product or service.

Be professional

Typos, errors and run-on sentences will turn people away. One proofreading tip is to print your text and read it out loud to yourself. This can help you spot mistakes and areas for improvement.

Do your research

Make sure your content is factual and accurate. Misleading or inaccurate information on your website can undermine your credibility and reputation.

Want to know more? 

A Google search on the topic will provide a range of resources, tips and tricks. Look for e-books about digital marketing and online training courses.

How to write successfully for the web

Looking for marketing tools?

Download five essential marketing templates to help you improve your marketing. Includes personas, customer journey maps, marketing plans, digital marketing strategies and ROI calculators.