Small Business Marketing

Reinvent Your Pinterest Board With Steptap And Reach More Customers

Reinvent your Pinterest.Reinvent your Pinterest board in 2015 with product how-tos worthy of your phenomenal designs.

If you use your Pinterest board to sell DIY projects, this article is for you. Selling on Pinterest is all about inspiring and teaching your customers how to make that amazing thing for themselves. Unfortunately, customers often get stuck in the middle of the process, give up and look elsewhere for something easier. Why? Inadequate, confusing, or nonexistent project instructions.

If you want to attract and retain DIY customers – show them how! Give them project tutorials that ensure that they can complete and enjoy the masterpiece you designed. Your “easy way” is Steptap at https://steptap.com/.

At Steptap, we have created a powerful platform for quickly creating how-tos that are as visually striking as your Pinterest board, online store, and business Facebook page.

Got two minutes? Check this out: https://steptap.com/How-To-Make-A-Diamond-Fold-Card. This is a how-to for a fancy greeting card. (We call these how-tos “steplists”.) You can see the required items at the top. Push the BEGIN button directly under the required items. Now you can see each step in order or reverse if you missed something. Imaging your gorgeous Pinterest images dressing up your tutorials. You can also post segments of YouTube videos to play with the associated step.

To create a steplist of your own, go to https://steptap.com/ and create a free account. Once you’ve logged in, you will be greeted with a page of how-to titles. Click the CREATE button at the top right. This will open the self-explanatory steplist template. Go ahead, make a short how-to just to try it out. Maybe something like “How To Tie A Bow.”

You can make this steplist private for now by selecting it from the dropdown on the top right. When you have entered some steps, hit PUBLISH at the bottom. Because it’s marked private, this won’t be published, but I want you to see the cool sharing page. With one click, you can post your craft tutorial to your social media sites. There are URLs for embedding and even a QR code.

Now, your project how-to is not only your customer’s best friend, it is also a powerful SEO tool. If you upgrade your account, you can let your customers purchase directly from a “Required Item” by clicking the link and instantly reaching your checkout page. Or, you can give them a contact form to request more information.

By using Steptap to create project tutorials that actually work, you can create and manage all of your product instructions from one place – your Steptap account. If you update a project, edit the corresponding steplist and send the new instructions to all your online touch points in near realtime.

Here’s another handy feature built into the steplist template: You can time each step so the user can watch the tutorial hands-free. You know roughly how long each step takes, so simply enter the seconds or minutes in the boxes next to the step. When the user hits BEGIN, the steplist will advance according to your pre-determined timing. This is nice for any craft or sewing project but also works great for recipes, home repair, hair and makeup, fitness routines – anything that requires both hands.

There’s more! With an upgraded account, you can dress up your steplists to match your online store, Pinterest board, or Facebook page. Your steplists become a natural extension of your on- or offline marketing.

Reinvent your Pinterest board in 2015 with product how-tos worthy of your fantastic projects.

Steptap Nominated For Epic Ventures Hot 100 – Vote For Steptap!

Vote for Steptap

Steptap has been nominated to the Epic Ventures Hot 100, a recognition of leading Utah startups.

We Need Your Help!

For our nomination, we are competing with other companies for a place in the top of the list to be eligible for cash awards and special recognition that will go a long way towards helping us lift off.

Please visit the voting page and Vote for Steptap.

It only takes a minute, and we appreciate your support.

How to Vote? We created a steplist to help you vote. Here it is:

How To Vote For Steptap In The Epic Ventures Hot 100 Utah Startups Contest

Thank you!

8 Content Marketing Objectives That Increase Sales

8 content marketing objectives that increase salesContent Marketing and Sales

Content Marketing, like any business effort, must support sales. If it doesn’t, you are wasting valuable time and steering customers in a direction that will ultimately lead away from your core business.

Well-crafted content marketing should support sales either directly, indirectly, or by offering information that substantiates a purchase. Content marketing can increase sales by improving the customer experience and building customer trust, loyalty and social validation.

As you measure your content marketing initiatives, match them against these eight objectives from a sales perspective to determine their value to your company’s bottom line:

Build Awareness

Content marketing with awareness objectives.The earliest stage of any sales process is “awareness”, and it is the initial goal of marketing to generate awareness among customers who have yet to hear about your products. To generate awareness, your marketing content needs to appeal to the widest possible group of consumers with a general message that connects to your product with emotion.

My favorite example here is the car commercial: auto manufacturers know that they only have 30 seconds to connect, and the best way is with emotion; few details and lots of value proposition. Auto makers will invariably feature a flashy red car doing rooster-tails in an interesting landscape to hard-pounding music. The more they can get you thinking “Wow; I gotta have one of those!,” the more they know you will remember their name when it comes time to kick some tires. Content aimed at creating Awareness doesn’t need to focus on features or detail.

Generating awareness is most often considered “push” marketing, because you are delivering a message that consumers haven’t necessarily asked for. However, don’t discount the opportunity to use “pull” marketing to generate awareness…

You can generate awareness effectively by providing answers to general consumer questions and inquiry. This new content marketing tactic allows you to get in front of customers who are trying to solve a problem, but who don’t know that your product provides the solution. This method is emerging as a primary content marketing strategy for forward-thinking companies who see opportunity in a market where 87 percent of consumers are turning to the Internet to solve a problem, or research products, before they buy.

Customers can’t purchase your products unless they are aware of them, so content marketing for awareness is a critical component of your content marketing plan.

Inform

Informative content marketing for sales.Information content is your chance to get technical with your prospects. There are two places where content marketing designed to inform prospects will help increase your sales. The first is when a prospect has a problem and wants to know how to solve it. The second is when a prospect knows parts of a solution; but may not know the whole solution.

When customers have a problem to solve, they are compelled to learn more about it. 55 percent of customers report that they spend more time researching products than they did in the past, primarily because the Internet provides a convenient opportunity to look around. Customers want to make informed decisions, and marketing with informative content is your chance to share details and expand their understanding of the problem. It’s a great opportunity to provide detail to a prospect, build credibility for your solution and establish yourself as an authority.

Informative content is also a good opportunity to break your solution into finer components to capture web search traffic. Customers with a problem will most often use keywords containing “How to,” and “How do I.”  They know what their problem is but may not know the entire solution. For example, customers who purchase a Scentsy wax warmer may only be searching for “how to make a room smell nice,” or  “how do make my room smell good without using a scented candle,” but ultimately purchase a ceramic lamp and a supply of scented waxes as the solution to their problem.

In either case, informing your customers will reinforce your leadership in your market and establish you as a respected source for the solution. 70 percent of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads.

Compare

Comparative content marketing.Customers with a complex problem to solve will compare two or more solutions before they purchase. Owning this critical phase of the purchase cycle requires that you market with content that shows feature-based comparisons that favor your product. The more robust you can make the comparisons that you publish, the more likely you are to win over a customer, even if there are areas where your competitor outperforms you.

Customers are not always looking for a complete win, and will often favor a specific set of features. I recently purchased a specialized hub and compared the two leading contenders. The only difference was a trade off between an HDMI port on one, and a Firewire port on the other. My decision was solely based on my unique requirements where all else was equal; it came down to one specific feature.

When offering comparative content, be careful to represent your competitors honestly, and include explanations that highlight the features you feel make your product particularly outstanding. 78 percent of customers who search on the Web believe the publishers of informative  content are interested in building good relationships, and good relationships convert to sales.

Educate

Content marketing with How-to information.There are two scenarios when you can use educational content to increase sales; before a sale, when you are introducing a product to a new market category, and after a sale when you need to hold your customer’s hand through a complicated set up or usage application. In the first you are helping prospects become comfortable with your new product, and in the latter you are working to improve the usage experience for your existing customers.

With a new product, you are providing content that teaches a prospect why they might need it to solve a problem they might not even know they have. Effective ways to deliver educational content include advertorial content; stories that teach with an embedded solution to a new problem, and how-to content that gives step-by-step instructions. Educate your customers in clear and concise articles that get right to the point and solve a specific problem.

Bellroy wallets is a great example of a company who is using educational content to teach prospects how their product, a slimmer wallet, can help them solve a problem; organize better and reduce bulk. Each of their wallets is featured in a short video that describes the features and unique usage of each style.

70 percent of consumers say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company, which is an important segment of your customers considering that most of them are getting to know you through the instructions you provide. Customers who have a good experience using a product are more likely to develop brand loyalty, and to share word-of-mouth endorsements with new prospects.

Respond

responsive-content-marketingMany companies fail to consider “responding” as part of their content marketing strategy. Regardless, the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report indicates that adopting an inbound strategy doubles the average website conversion rate, from 6 percent to 12 percent. That’s a significant sales advantage.

Inbound traffic is all about asking questions, and your ability to respond with concise and appropriate content is key to converting new prospects who are looking for answers and favoring corporate responders who are quick to the point. Responding is your first opportunity to build trust with your prospects and let them know that you are a relationship company.

Responding to customer inquiries is best done in a format that provides a succinct answer to a specific question, anticipates follow-on questions, and allows for easy reference and social sharing.

Convert

Convert with Content MarketingConversion is the ultimate objective of your content marketing, and represents the most direct relationship to your sales initiative. Content specifically designed to convert requires a key element that is often left out: the call-to-action.

The conversion process encompasses one of two sub-objectives; you are either converting your prospect to the next phase of your sales funnel, or converting them to the ultimate sale or adoption of your product. Both are measurable, and measuring your conversion rates is essential to continuously fine-tune or test your ability to maximize whichever type of conversion you are hoping to achieve.

When converting your customers to the next phase of the sales funnel, you are delivering a 1-2 combination of assessment and challenge; qualify your prospect for the next phase with a question, and then challenge them with a call-to-action.

If you are converting to a purchase, be direct and assume they are ready; go directly to the challenge and deliver a compelling call-to-action that implies urgency.

Validate

Validate with Content MarketingPurchase validation is another key element of content marketing that is often left out of the mix, but that can have a lasting effect on sales in the long run. Once your customer buys your product, the ball is rolling and you have the ability to turn your customer into a raving fan, or let them go as a one-time affair.

Content designed to validate your customers’ purchase is written to support their choice with reinforcement of your value proposition. Validation content is usually in the form of customer testimonials, usage examples and lifestyle evidence that makes your customer feel good about their purchase.

Red Bull does an excellent job of creating content that continuously validates the value proposition of their product with short films and documentaries featuring their product in amazing adventures. You may not base jump off Fatima’s Hand in the sub-Sahara plains of Africa,  but you will probably feel like you hang with people who do when you buy your next energy drink.

Validation inoculates against “buyer’s remorse,” and turns first-time customers into repeat customers who are not just happy they bought your product, but excited to come back again for another round.

Evangelize

Evangelize with Content MarketingEvangelizing was once the darling of content marketing, and although the term has lost some clout, the principle is still alive and well in the form of social media marketing.

Evangelizing content is the scaffolding of word-of-mouth marketing. In today’s terms it can be summed up as “viral marketing” or social sharing; it is the feel good discussion about your product or service that gets passed along because it is interesting, engaging, and builds social acceptance; it turns your customers into “fans.”

Evangelizing content is written to convince your prospects that your company or products are socially favorable. This can be accomplished with a wide range of content types including testimonials, lifestyle positioning, and discussions about your value proposition. Evangelizing is highly emotional, so stay away from the details and focus on “acceptance.”

Apple has been recognized as one of the world’s leading brands for the last decade or so, due in large part to their evangelistic approach to marketing and the tendency of their users to be enthusiastic fans. Microsoft discovered the strength of evangelistic entrenchment when they launched their Zune digital media player to compete with the iPod. Zune was every bit as capable as the iPod, but Apple had entrenched with hip ads and celebrity endorsements that created an evangelistic ripple through the entire marketplace. Zune never generated an evangelistic breakthrough and quietly disappeared.

Content marketing with SteptapAre you responsible for your company’s content marketing strategy? Would you like help in creating content for your customers that can meet these sales objectives and increase your bottom line? Steptap is a content marketing platform designed to help you communicate your solutions to new prospects and build lasting relationships with existing customers.

Contact us today for a brief demo of the Steptap content marketing platform and a brief introduction to our effective content marketing service. Complete the form below and we will get right back to you:

Wait! I have already received your first couple of notes. Give me a little more time to respond and we can discuss your questions.

I'll give you a call as soon as I can; I apologize for any delay.

-Cary Snowden, CEO, Steptap

 

Reduce Product Returns With Steptap Product Instructions

Steptap saves customer timeYour Customers Don’t Have Twenty Minutes

In 2006, consumer researcher Elke den Ouden conducted a study which analyzed, among other things, product returns. The study concluded that the average U.S. buyer spends just 20 minutes trying to make a product work before sending it back to the manufacturer or store.

Americans are an impatient lot – we gripe if we have to wait five minutes at the post office. Furthermore, product designers and marketers can do little to control this aspect of human behavior. They can, however, make it easier to order, assemble, set up, or otherwise use and enjoy their products.

Reduce Your Product Return Rate With Better Product How-Tos

Does your company have a high return rate? Have you evaluated your product instructions lately? Asking a non-employee to use the company-issued how-tos to set up your products can be enlightening. You may uncover answers that will help you save money on returns and boost your customer retention rate.

An Epidemic of Lousy How-Tos

Make instructions importantWhy do so many products come with awful instructions? The problems include complex language, poor translations, inaccuracies, missing steps, low-quality pictures, copious legalese, non-waterproof paper for wet projects, and difficulty in saving and re-accessing.

Many users get the general drift of overall set-up and just need to know how to do one simple process. If a user’s manual is poorly organized and hard to navigate, the user can’t find the one thing they are looking for.

Here are some excerpts from actual product instructions:

“Please do not put the one embarrassed because it gets wet under the air conditioner.” (This one in particular won Berkley’s 4th Annual Worst Manual Contest.)

This is for a Penholder and Clock set-up:

“The beginning accounts the hour: At position number that show the “DATA” from 00 change into 59 circulations are gradually decrease, current a minute for setting up the number gradually decrease open to start, the same a number for setting up gradually decrease also start.”  (This one from a commenter on Techlore.)

Have you looked at the comments accompanying your product returns? They contain valuable information that can be used far beyond the customer service department.

Where Can High-Quality How-Tos Have an Impact?

Customers return products for a variety of reasons, some of which cannot be effectively improved in manufacturing processes or marketing campaigns.

  • Buyer ordered the wrong product
  • The company shipped the wrong product
  • The customer decided they didn’t need the product
  • The item didn’t match the image/description provided on a website or in a catalog
  • The product malfunctioned or was defective
  • The buyer was unable to assemble or set up the item (even though the product was not defective)

Reduce the Return Rate for Non-Defective Products

Improving QC is an ongoing effort for most manufacturers, but I believe the best opportunity for reducing the rate of returns lies with the last reason in the list above – the buyer can’t get a non-defective product up and running. This is especially true with electronic and computer-related products.

Content Strategy Consultant Sharon Burton is an authority on consumer behavior. Last February, Ms. Burton presented a webinar entitled, “Product instructions: The missing piece of the customer experience.”

In a poll she conducted, Ms. Burton found that “About 90% are angry or regret the purchase when they can’t use the instructions.”

If They Think It’s Broken, It Might as Well Be

Are your instructions broken when your product is not?A 2008 PCWorld.com article titled Most Returned Products Work Fine by Yardena Arar highlighted key findings of a study conducted by the technology consulting firm Accenture:

“Only 5 percent of consumer electronics products returned to retailers are malfunctioning – yet many people who return working products think they are broken. The cost of consumer electronics returns in 2007 was $13.8 billion in the United States alone, with return rates ranging from 11 percent to 20 percent, depending on the type of product. Accenture estimates that 68 percent of returns are products that work properly but do not meet customers’ expectations for some reason.”

Why So Many Customer-Produced Videos on YouTube?

Have you ever perused YouTube for product instructions? Customer “how-to” videos abound. They range from homemade, amateur pieces to fairly professional productions. I would venture to say that many of these DIY videographers know more about the product than the company’s marketing team.

It surprises me that there are so many product how-to videos for mainstream products sold by billion-dollar international companies. Some of these videos have thousands of views and dozens of comments from grateful watchers – a fact that reinforces the argument that many companies, even those with deep pockets, fail to address this critical component of the customer experience.

If vendors created professional, useable instructions and delivered them with the product (or made them easily accessible online) there would be less demand for homemade how-to videos and third-party product forums.

Defective How-Tos, Not Defective Products

A quick internet search for poor instruction experiences turned up the following customer comments:

  • “The ‘instructions’ were hidden away…”
  • “The product came with absolutely no directions at all and I had never heard of this product before, so we had no idea how to use it.”
  • “Misplacing product instruction manuals can be such a headache.”

I found the following example at NextAvenue.org from a buyer of a weed trimmer who simply wanted to know how to reload the string:

“Nowhere in the manual does it explain the weight (thickness) of nylon string to use when reloading the trimmer, nor does it explain how to install the string into the double-threaded spool so that it feeds correctly. Reloading string is the third most common function a user will need to do, after starting/stopping and refueling. After multiple hair-tearing sessions with incorrectly feeding string, I finally took the trimmer into the dealer, where I got a free lesson on string replacement.”

QC for Product Instructions

At Steptap, we have created a powerful platform for creating effective product and process how-tos. You can open a basic account for free and create your own how-tos or hire our team of writers. We specialize in creating product instructions that can help reduce your rate of product returns and lighten the load for your customer service department.

Steptap allows you to break down complex processes into steps. These self-contained “steplists” appeal to busy customers who don’t have time to read the entire manual, search YouTube, or trial-and-error it until it’s working.

Here is a steplist for GMetrix, a company that provides a web-based administration system that allows instructors to easily manage the distribution and tracking of their tech certification students.

This steplist allows users to complete the desired task quickly.  It can be saved in their own Steptap account or found on the company’s website. It can be easily shared and re-accessed. As a searchable, Google-indexed page, a steplist is an SEO tool. It can be embedded in the company blog or posted to social media sites. It has SEO tags, search engine keywords, and “Buy Now” links to online stores.

See steptap.com to learn more.

The Steptap Guide To Product How-Tos That Rock

People Really Do Read Product Instructions

Steptap isntructionsHave you ever bought an item that required assembly and found the product instructions woefully inadequate? Perhaps they consisted of a small paper sheet folded eighteen times and hidden in the packaging only to be discovered when you started looking for help after the project went wrong.

Maybe the how-tos contained indecipherable drawings or diagrams that appeared to have been created by someone who had never actually seen the product. Poor translations are notorious for complicating matters. (Though they can provide comic relief in the heat of a difficult project when emotions are running high.)

Does Your Company Overlook How-Tos?

How-tos for assembly, installation, operation, upgrades, compatibility issues, rebates, trade-in promotions, and return procedures often seem to be an afterthought. In some cases, they are absent altogether or buried five links deep in a website. Many large companies spend millions on impressive cross-channel marketing but don’t provide useful product how-tos. Why the disconnect? The attitude, “Nobody reads the instructions, anyway,” is simply not true.

This post contains online comments made by customers who were not happy with furniture assembly product how-tos. Poor instructions, however, are not limited to the ready-to-assemble furniture category. They can be found in all types of markets and industries.

It is not my intention to disparage any product or company, so I have changed or removed the names. These comments were found at apartmenttherapy.com

Instructions Are Part of the Product

Here is a comment from a frustrated customer that clearly defines the primary issue with bad instructions; the instructions are expected as part of the product, and are an essential element of the customer experience:

“Part of a product is its instructions. The fancy packaging clearly denotes this as a DIY-oriented product. Therefore, the instructions should be appropriate for DIY types like me who have never done this before.”

Poor How-Tos Are No Better Than None At All

“My first impression was that the desk’s directions were seemingly missing steps, and were written in some ancient alchemical code.”

“Thanks to instruction defects on (Company Name)’s 6′ Dishwasher Connector, the installation was significantly lengthened.”

Consumers tie their product and company experience to the assembly and set-up of your products. Many times we focus on the usage of the product after it is assembled. Poor instructions can color a customer’s experience right from the start, thwarting any positive momentum you might have achieved.

Bad Instructions Create Bad Customer Experiences

steptap-assembly-instructions2“I think the most difficult time I’ve had with something was a barbeque. It took over 6 hours! That one was the instructions’ fault.”

“I also spent about TWO! WEEKS! struggling to figure out how to put together a metal vanity rack that goes around your toilet. The instructions reversed where the long and short screws were to go, AND it was impossible to put together even with revised instructions.”

“Recently my front door knob just came loose and the whole thing fell apart. The instructions were useless! …basically just pictures of putting the knob on the door. It didn’t say what to do with all the little springs and all the other little pieces that went on the handle. I spent hours working on it and went to bed without it.”

What is the chance that these customers will return? Not likely. Worse, however, is that these negative experiences have become part of the discussion on the web regarding these products. Customers are 3 times more likely to share a negative customer experience, emphasizing the importance of good instructions.

Liability: Actual Injuries Associated With Poor How-To Documentation

While gathering examples for this article, I discovered that poor product instructions can cause more harm than customer frustration. Hopefully, these instances are extremely rare, nevertheless, they should serve as a warning. Legal departments take note: here are descriptions of injuries linked to product assembly nightmares:

“I am trying to type this with one hand and a broken hand as a result of my most frustrated recent effort at assembling a piece of furniture.”

“I ended up crushing my foot and having to go to the emergency room. The nurse laughed when I told her it was an (Company Name) injury. She said she’d seen quite a few of those in her time!”

Product How-Tos and Overall Content Strategy

Companies who fail to deliver adequate product how-tos are missing a key marketing opportunity. Well thought-out product instructions help achieve many important marketing objectives:

Create positive customer experiences
Encourage repeat sales
Conserve customer service resources
Reinforce brand identity
Strengthen customer loyalty

How-Tos Used Before The Sale

Thus far, this post has discussed the role of product how-tos after the sale – but why limit their application? Savvy marketers use product how-tos before the sale, as well. Steptap allows companies to capture “How to…” and “How do I…” searches performed by prospects who have not yet purchased the product but are looking for the solution it provides.

The self-serve generation seeks product and company information on their own terms. Product how-tos are a simple, yet powerful tool to secure and convert prospects at the critical time when they are ready to engage.

The Soft Sell and the Upsell

steptap-assembly-instructions3Well-crafted product how-tos highlight and explain product features naturally, without the hard sell that turns off many prospects. What about upselling? When a buyer is reading your product how-tos, they are golden – a captive audience giving your product their full attention. By featuring compatible or related items from your product line, product how-tos drive upsells. There is never a better time to introduce them to all the other cool stuff you carry.

Create Exceptional Product How-Tos With Steptap

Steptap is a platform for creating product how-tos that transcend the historically humble content niche. Steptap product how-tos meet the key criteria:

  1. Easy to find
  2. Accurate
  3. Break long processes into manageable steps
  4. Written at a level that can be easily understood by all of your customers. (If you sell to a highly-educated customer, you should still err on the side of simplification)
  5. Can be downloaded, printed or accessed electronically
  6. Available in multiple places: your online store, resellers’ websites, packaging, social media sites, brick-and-mortar store shelves
  7. Are updated to reflect product changes
  8. Can be saved and quickly re-accessed
  9. Are translated accurately
  10. Can be easily shared or re-posted by the customer
  11. Can be viewed on a mobile device
  12. If necessary, can be used hands-free

Extend the Reach of Your Existing Documentation

Your company probably has a body of product documentation. PDFs, user manuals, customer updates, white papers, live chat transcripts, FAQs, and employee training docs are a rich source of content that can be used to create product how-tos thereby extending the ROI and reach.

See How Product How-Tos Have Evolved at Steptap

To learn how to create product instructions that rock, visit steptap.com. Set up a free account with just a couple clicks and create your first product how-to in minutes. Add images and video for how-tos that create a hassle-free experience for your customers.

Steptap how-tos, (called steplists) can be posted to your online store, embedded in your blog, featured on your company Facebook page, shared on Pinterest, added to your YouTube channel, or downloaded from a self-generated QR code.

Each steplist is a Google-indexed searchable page that links directly to your website (or anywhere you want). If you use the nifty timing feature, customers can play the steplist on their smart phone or iPad and set up your product hands-free. The steps, complete with pictures, diagrams or video, will advance automatically as your customer completes each step in the process.

Instructions Worthy of Your Product

At steptap.com, you can build your own instructions or hire our team of how-to experts to create compelling step-based directions that complement and blend seamlessly with your existing marketing content.

Check out this Steptap how-to for changing your oil How To Change Your Oil. Hover over the product name under the Required Items section at the beginning of the how-to to see how a prospect can  purchase the product or receive more information. Press Begin under the steplist to see how it advances through the steps.

You can manage your library of product instructions on our site and update each as needed due to changes in product specs, promotions, return procedures, or regulations.

Where Is Your Next Customer?

Human Resources And CrmYour next customer is looking for a solution to a problem right now. Steptap is the way you can show that customer how to solve their problem, with your product.

Your Customers are Searching Right Now

In the vast reaches of cyber world, there is a significant number of people who need your product or service this very second. (Unless, of course, you are Chevron or Starbucks in which case there are probably millions.)

How can you capture this golden slice of the pie? Let’s start with their search bar query. It probably contains the phrases “how do I,” or “how to.”

If you sell digital scrapbooking software, your next customer is probably typing something like: “how do I turn my pictures into a photo book,” or “how to make a digital scrapbook.” These are folks that have never heard of you. They are not yet loyal to a digital scrapbooking provider or scrapbooking product.

If you are an estate planning attorney, your next client may be typing: “how do I write a living will” or “how do I get a healthcare power of attorney.” They aren’t looking for you, necessarily – they just want to solve a problem or fill a need.

You Can Be the Solution

At this moment, the solution is their number one priority. If not, they would be doing something else. The only way a searcher can become your next customer is if you solve their problem. This is most easily done with Steptap.

Steptap creates concise, search engined optimized step-based instructions that can be published everywhere with just a couple clicks. Steptap is a social content marketing platform that helps you present your products as the solution that people are looking for, even when they don’t know who you are.

Here is an example of a steplist that shows how to create an entire nail makeover from a single sample from a Jamberry party – very handy for DIY nail artists:

This is the type of how-to any Pinterest user would be proud to pin and post to all their key sites. We have seen remarkable interest from Pinterest users wanting to add how-to content to their pins so that customers have a better way to create wonderful projects from the images they see on Pinterest.

Steptap helps you create and embed engaging how-to content that shows your prospects how to use your products for a solution they need right now.
Visit http://steptap.com right now to create your own free account.

Content Marketing For Business In Three Parts

Content Torn Paper ConceptBusiness content marketing is reaching the upper limits of buzz these days. Everyone is talking about it with the sudden realization that while content is king, it needs to have a purpose within a business marketing strategy or it really isn’t much more than a waste of time.

CMOs, in particular, are beginning to look at content with renewed scrutiny; costs are increasing but ROI is diminishing. The promise of “post it and they will come” is losing ground to the need for Customer Engagement; the art of connecting to customers with content they are proactively looking for.

SEO, once the darling of web-based marketing, is taking a hit from search engine updates like Penguin, and “experts” are scrambling while businesses crumble.

A well-crafted content marketing strategy focuses on attracting new customers, converting their interest into a sale, and validating their decision with positive reinforcement. These are the basics that break down into an avalanche of options that require careful consideration when assembling the right mix of content for your specific kind of business.

An Introduction to Effective Content Marketing

This is the introduction to a three-part analysis on building an effective content marketing strategy.

I will cover three key areas of content marketing:

  1. Content Marketing Objectives: The areas you need to know that content marketing can affect, and how.
  2. Content Marketing Categories: The primary categories of online marketing content and why you should cover all three.
  3. Content Marketing Types: A comprehensive list of the types of content you can choose from to round out your content marketing campaign complete with a few tips on how to make them more effective.

Content marketing is a critical business facet; there is no question about it. 90% of businesses use content marketing, but the question is whether they are using it effectively to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message. It gets complicated, quick.

Understanding the basics will give you a leg up in your strategy building efforts, and will help you improve your bottom line with tangible benefits that can be included in your next quarterly review.

Steptap creates engaging how-to content that shows prospects how to use your products for a solution they want to solve right now.
Visit http://steptap.com to create your own free account right now.

Top Ten Reasons To Publish Product How-Tos

Are You Using Product How-Tos to Increase Sales?

Hello visitors! Today’s post is short and to-the-point, just like Steptap product how-tos. I have listed the most compelling reasons for using product instructions as part of your overall content marketing strategy.

steptap-blog-tiny-steplist

1. Prospects seeking product instructions are further up the purchase funnel
2. How-tos are an inexpensive way to market online
3. It shows customers that your product solves a problem
4. People love to share and re-post useful how-tos
5. It improves your search rankings
6. It provides additional entry points to your online store
7. It allows you to leverage your existing educational content
8. It tells prospects that you care about their needs
9. How-tos attract unexpected customers
10. Steptap can create and publish search engine optimized product how-tos to multiple platforms

I could write an entire post on each of these – and will do so eventually. If you have successfully used product how-tos in your marketing, please comment on this post and tell me about it.

If You Don’t Teach Them, Your Competitors Will

steptap-blog-nomadWho is teaching your customers?

Check out “The Marketer’s Challenge: How To Teach Customers New Behaviours” from Ian Gordon of the Ivey Business Journal.

New products are proliferating, and research shows that the most successful among them have clearly benefited from customers’ ease in learning the benefits and applications of those products quickly, in finding out how the devices actually work, and in sharing their knowledge with friends.”

Let’s break this down:

  1. Show customers product benefits – benefits speak to a customer need, and solve a problem most customers are researching when they find content that leads to a purchase.
  2. Quickly teach customers how your products work – customers are searching the Internet for solutions and need to solve them “now”. Content that takes too long to ingest or that doesn’t get to the point gets skipped over for more concise solutions.
  3. Make it easy for customers to share their knowledge with friends – helping your customers solve problems compels sharing, and when your solutions are on a sharing platform, it helps get your message out to more people who are looking for them.

The Steptap platform hits all of these key marketing factors head on. We create step-based how-tos, publish them when your product launches, and make sharing irresistible.

Don’t Leave Purchase Outcomes to Chance

“By not effectively teaching customers, manufacturers are letting them learn on their own, at their own pace and with uncertain learning – and purchase – outcomes.” -The Marketer’s Challenge: How To Teach Customers New Behaviours

Let Steptap teach prospects how to use and enjoy your products with custom instructions tailored to your customer. Start a free account right now, or upgrade to a Premium account for just a little bit more and brand your message with your own logo, colors, links and tags.

Online Marketing SEO: Your Content Still Has Legs

Man Holding A Stack Of Money And A ComputerLeverage All That Good Stuff You Already Have

CMOs: Are you using those user’s manuals, FAQs, product how-to videos, webinars, infographics, diagrams, blog posts, email campaigns, and white papers to improve your search engine rankings and drive new sales by engaging your customers with useable content?

Your Existing Custom Content Has Untapped ROI Potential

Most companies have existing content that helps customer learn how to use or enjoy the products or services they sell. This mountain of content represents an often untapped treasure trove of useful, engaging content that improves the customer experience but is often buried in the depths of lost PDFs, user manuals, and outdated customer updates.

Steptap represents an opportunity to leverage your existing content as part of your online content marketing and SEO strategy.

Business marketers can easily turn existing content into useful how-to information that satisfies consumer searches for solutions. Savvy businesses are using Steptap to produce how-to instructions in two basic formats:

Direct Instructions: if you have a product that requires instructions, Steptap is a great platform to develop, maintain, and distribute instructions that your customers need to use your product. For instance, instructions on how to program a new garage door remote.

Instructions that are created and posted in Steptap can be shared and distributed in a wide variety of social and online platforms. And while this sometimes represents a challenge for management and future edits, Steptap offers the ability of central management and control, so that no matter how far and wide your instructions have been shared, there is only one place to make updates to ensure everything is current.

Indirect Instructions: if you have a product that is used to perform a secondary task (such as using a shovel to dig a hole), describe how to “dig the hole” to help your customers learn more about how your widget can be used.  This is a great opportunity to pitch your product as the solution to a customer need: “How do I dig a hole?”

Customers are always seeking answers to project-based questions; “How do I create a podcast?”, “How do I make chocolate chip cookies?”, “How do I fix a broken sprinkler head?”

These kinds of customer questions can be answered with expert step-by-step instructions and links to the products or services that can make them possible.

How-to content is one of the most effective kinds of marketing content because it gets you in front of customers with your solution when they are looking for it. Many of the answers to customer questions are already created in your product manuals and user guides, but are locked up out of reach of your potential customers.

“Search engines love quality content, and creating it is
the most effective SEO tactic.” -ascend2.com/Benchmark Summary Report

You’ve done the heavy lifting – the content has been created.  And it probably wasn’t cheap. Take advantage of what you already have by turning into useful content in a hot new social sharing platform; Steptap.

Time and Money: Save Both

“It would be great if a repurposing strategy could help people move beyond SEO. If you’re doing a really good job on your site and online in general – if you’re answering questions that people are genuinely asking – you’re positioning yourself to stand out in search. And repurposing content into different formats to supply the answers in a way that will best engage different users just increases your chances of success.” -brafton.com/Repurposing Your Content

Steptap provides the perfect platform for businesses to create, share, and manage useful content that customers are looking for.

Starting on Steptap is free. Business users can pay just a little to upgrade to a Premium or Corporate account that enables additional branding and SEO options for each “steplist”. Steplists are posted live to the web and become available to share, index and post wherever your customers are looking.

Visit http://steptap.com today and start your free account. Have a look around and see the many ways we can help you teach customers how to use and enjoy your products.