Staying Focused in These Uncertain Times
By Amanda Benedetto, Director
Welcome to our first newsletter in 2020. It's hard to deny these are fraught times, especially for small business owners. As our country faces economic hardships, job losses, at-home learning, and so much uncertainty, it's challenging to focus on any one thing. Let's hope this change of season brings us global renewal and healing.
If you're keeping up with the retail industry, predictions showed by 2020, global eCommerce sales would reach $4.2 billion and make up 16% of total retail sales. Unfortunately, the picture is now less certain because consumer buying patterns have unexpectedly changed. According to Forbes, online shopping categories more prone to increase during social distancing are health and beauty, grocery, and consumer packaged goods, like cleaning products. However, discretionary spending on fashion and luxury goods may decline.
As we settle into 2020, we here at NFICA thought it would be a good idea to dig into some of the content marketing trends we see this year. This time around, we feature articles devoted to the latest content marketing trends in video, digital, and written content, and how you can apply them to your business.
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What’s the “Write” Kind
of Content for 2020?
Written content such as blog and social media posts is by far the easiest to create, especially for small business owners and direct sales contractors who have small teams or no teams at all. It costs almost nothing and requires no special tools.
This year, rather than pumping out shorter continuous written content at a neck-breaking pace, the focus on longer, thoughtful writing is re-emerging.
High-quality, long-form content reigns supreme
According to Hubspot, articles with word counts between 2,250 and 2,500 earn the most organic traffic because Google tends to reward long-form content. This is due to new algorithms and tools like Google’s Knowledge Graph that have changed the way search optimization is contrived. Now Google is more selective about the content it promotes, boosting well-written, long-form content to the top of search results.
But what constitutes long-form versus short-form writing?
Short-form writing typically has a word-range of around 1,200 words or less. It gets essential information to you in a scannable, concise manner. Short blog posts, social media posts, and email are the best uses for short-form writing. An example of this is Mary Kay blogs, which features posts about the company and the cosmetics industry, generally in 500 words or less.
Long-form written content, on the other hand, is usually more than 2,000 words and is for longer blog posts, ebooks, tutorials, and how-to guides. It provides a broader scope of information for the reader to support the main points of the piece. This can include data, statistics, and analysis. Or it can be a newsletter, just like this one, that delves further into industry insights.
Increase your blog traffic
Regardless of the length of your content, getting your written material seen by more people requires useful, thought-out pieces providing information that isn’t found anywhere else. They can also position you as an expert in your field and give you more credibility. Make sure when writing your content to include links to trustworthy sources to back up your points (the way journalists do for newspapers).
By far, blog posts are the most commonly-created form of written content. To make sure your blog posts stand out, enlist these helpful tips:
- Use images - Blog posts with images gain 94% more views
than posts with no visuals.
- Create stunning infographics - Speaking of images, to engage your audience quickly, create infographics that reinforce the data in your blog post. By the way, posts featuring infographics were viewed 72% more than articles without.
- Write punchy headlines - Thirty-six percent of readers prefer list-based headlines, while 17% of readers are drawn to “how-to” headlines. Use this headline analyzer to create memorable headlines.
Readers want to be engaged
This is nothing new. But in the past, readability was sacrificed in the name of keyword ranking and SEO. But now, high-quality content is making a comeback in a big way. Which means your content needs to be people-centric. It’s not about you or your brand or about keyword ranking anymore. It’s all about what your readers can get out of your content.
This is called customer-focused content, and it addresses the needs of your audience before anything else, connecting with them in a way that delivers value to their lives.
For example, if you sell vegetable-and fruit-based smoothies, your customers are likely interested in leading a healthier lifestyle. Your written content can focus on other ways to stay healthy, like exercise routine suggestions and stress reduction practices to complement their healthy eating habits.
Diversify and repurpose your written content
While only writing blog posts is far easier and less time-intensive for small businesses or direct selling contractors to sustain, you’re severely limiting your sales potential because you’re only reaching a portion of your intended audience.
Because online users consume content differently, you’ve got to create multiple ways to reach them by implementing various media types in combination with your written blog posts, such as video, infographics, photos, podcasts, among others.
Over the last five years, audio and visual content created by content marketers have increased by 70%.
If you haven’t taken this approach, it’s time to start. It may mean broadening your skillset and require more time at first, but the upside is that you won’t have to think up new topics.
Typically, you can take the content you’ve used in one medium and modify it to use in another. If you’ve got a written blog post on a topic that got high readership, make a short live video of you talking about that same topic, and post it to social media. You’re merely taking an older idea and making it new again.
Another example is if you have an old blog post featuring a tasty recipe, create a live video of you cooking that recipe for YouTube. Then take that longer video and edit it down into shorter video highlights to post on Tik-Tok. Then feature that same recipe in a colorful infographic as a quick reference for users.
You can also repurpose your content by taking your blog posts and posting them on social media. We’re not talking about linking to your blog posts to promote your blog; instead, it’s taking your older content and summarizing it for use on social media. This means reformatting it to making it scannable, with bullet points, numbered lists, and shorter sentences and paragraphs. For instance, we took our 5 Reasons You Should Attend That Next Conference blog post and repurposed it for LinkedIn and Facebook.
When doing this, be sure to use a different image than the one you posted in the original blog post to help keep it fresh. You can also use different kinds of fonts and icons using tools like Font Awesome and Cool Font Text Generator.
Watch This: Video Trends in 2020
According to HubSpot, video is the No.1 form of media used in content strategy. HubSpot also cites that the most common types of videos created by marketers are promotional and brand storytelling.
That means there’s a lot of competition out there vying for your audience’s attention when it comes to video. So, how can you compete? Make sure your video content is relevant and consistent with these current trends:
Short, authentic videos are the way to go
When we say short, we mean five to 15 seconds. If you’re targeting younger shoppers, keep this in mind: Millenials have an average attention span of 12 seconds while Gen Z averages eight.
Typically, younger audiences are scrolling through videos one after another. Shorter videos fit in with their online habits, require less mobile data to be used, and are more shareable via social media.
Because this population typically scrolls quickly through their videos with the sound off, a great way to get their attention is to include subtitles. It turns out, 91% of videos that include subtitles get viewed to the end, compared to 66% of videos without subtitles.
The key here is to connect with your audience on a personal level, enhancing your customer relationship.
Instead of trying to squeeze everything you want to talk about in one video spread out your messaging into multiple videos. Tell a story using various videos. This can be challenging. Just remember to:
If you’re trying to appeal to younger adults and teens, TikTok is the way to go.
- Be clear and concise.
- Assign one point you’d like to make for each video.
- Make your viewer want more.
- Be engaging.
- Offer info that will help your viewer.
This platform is one of the fastest-growing social media outlets in the world and, as of December 2019, has more than 500,000 active users, with 1.5 billion downloads. Not bad for a company that started in late 2016.
Brands can use TikTok in three ways:
- Create your own channel, upload and share relevant videos through it.
- Work with influencers to spread your content to their audiences.
- Pay to advertise on the platform - viewers can now buy products associated with sponsored hashtags.
For some inspiration, check out these TikTok videos that went viral. Or these videos created by independent sales consultants using the hashtag #directsales.
How to Really Get
Noticed in 2020 With AR
Besides written, video, and audio content, there are other aspects of content marketing you should think about if you want to stand out from your competition online.
Augmented reality (AR) in retail is booming in 2020. Thirty-two percent of consumers now use AR.
Immerse your audience in Augmented Reality
Unlike virtual reality—which requires specialized equipment like a headset and hand-held controller—AR adds digital images, graphics, and sensations in a computer-generated layer that’s integrated into reality and delivered via smart devices and laptops.
You might be thinking to yourself, “Sure, this technology is great for large companies, but I’m just one person. How can I afford it?”
Keep in mind, AR is still a relatively new technology in the retail industry. While the fashion accessories and jewelry, furniture, and clothing industries are taking advantage of it, cosmetics is a big one too. If you’re an independent consultant in the makeup industry, this is good news. ShadeScout and YouCamMakeup-Magic Selfie Cam are apps that help customers try on hundreds of shades of makeup via their smartphones. We recommend featuring one of these in your marketing efforts to heighten the shopping experience.
Of course, depending on the direct sales company you sell for, you can find AR apps that are readily available to you. Mary Kay offers its SkinSight and MirrorMe apps, for example.
If you happen to belong to a larger direct sales company, or perhaps you’re an entrepreneur with a bit more financial clout, there are companies you can work with to set up your own AR retail experience for your customers. Modiface and Facecake are just two of the companies that you can partner with if you sell cosmetics, jewelry, and apparel.
So, how can you use AR technology to assist with marketing your own business?
We’re so glad you asked!
Here are how a couple of companies use AR technology to help elevate the customer shopping experience:
Sephora Virtual Artist
Cosmetics brand Sephora has created an app using ShadeScout as mentioned above, so users have a “virtual mirror” to see which shades of eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush look best on. It’s like having your own personal cosmetologist at your fingertips!
Click on the image below to watch the video!
Warby Parker Virtual Try-on
Direct-to-consumer eyeglass brand Warby Parker is using AR via its app and iPhone technology to include a “virtual try-on” so you can preview what a pair of glasses will look like on before you commit to buying them.
Click on the image below to watch the video!
IKEA, the undisputed champion of inexpensive, space-saving furniture, uses iPhone technology to allow customers to superimpose furniture into their own homes at scale, to see how it looks and how much space it takes up before buying.
Click below to watch the video!
As AR technology advances, more retailers will discover other exciting ways to use it to help bring the customer experience to life virtually. Be sure to keep an eye out to see how it will further impact the direct sales industry!
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Using a Paid Subscription Model
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