It’s hard to move around in the software world without hearing about G2. Recently named one of the fastest growing businesses in America by Deloitte, they’re a company that has left its mark on the industry since being launched in 2013.
The software review market is a crowded one and it can be difficult to find room for an original value proposition. Much like trying to write fire and security content, it’s easy to feel like it’s all been said and done before.
So, how did G2 manage to grow their web traffic to more than one million visitorsin the span of a year and gather so many reviews, in this context? Well, with the help of an excellent content marketing strategy.
Today, Rebecca Reynoso, formerly of G2 and currently at Salesforce, is here to give us an insider’s view into the matter. There are a lot of ways to do fire and security content marketing; from thinking about where you’re at as a business to knowing what resources you have, but instead of trying to cover all of that, we’ve decided to focus on a couple of things that you really shouldn’t do.
There are mistakes that can really nip your marketing strategy in the bud, causing it to wilt before it can bloom. So if you’ve found yourself pondering how to boost your marketing strategy, Rebecca has some tough love for you:
1. It’s all about me.
And this also includes your fire and security company. Although we don’t doubt that it’s a great company, no one likes to listen to someone else bragging about their achievements. Sure, it’s important to highlight your strengths, but not at the expense of valuable fire and security content:
“In content marketing, there’s more value when you’re reading something that is a how-to guide. Nobody is inserting their personal thoughts or feelings into it. If I’m looking to your blog or your article for advice, I want you to tell me:
‘This is what you need to do. This is how to do it.’ That’s it. […] If you ever come across one of those recipe blogs [cooking blogs with long-winded, off-topic introductions] and this is not to put down anybody writing this kind of blog – but if I’m trying to learn how to do something and how to do it correctly, I don’t want the slough. That’s something everybody who’s starting off in content marketing needs to realize: people don’t want to hear your life story.”
This will be difficult to do, at least in the beginning, because the easiest subject to write about is yourself, right? But with time, you’ll start finding topics when you least expect it and it will get easier. For example, that customer who called you in for emergency work and it turned out that he had simply unplugged a wire? It can easily turn into “3 Things You Should Check Before Calling Your Security Company”.
Rebecca agreed that it’s a hard habit to kick, but anyone trying to create more fire and security content should know that:
“People want to learn more about a topic you’re an expert in. How can you explain something to me without inserting your bias and your opinion? One thing that I struggle with when we have guest writers submit content is they’ll insert their personal thoughts and feelings and use first-person language.
So, ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’. To which I will always tell them ‘It’s not about you, it’s about your reader.’ And so that’s what you need to take into consideration first. The main tip is to think of the reader and of your audience. If you have thoughts and feelings, that’s best suited for a personal blog, not for content marketing.”
2. This article will make sense to anyone.
If you want to get better at writing for your audience, you first need to make sure you know them and speak their language. This doesn’t mean to write in English, it means to understand what they don’t know.
How do they ask questions? If you’re creating fire and security content for people who are in the industry, then feel free to use all the jargon you like. But if you’re creating for prospective customers, then keep the language plain and tailor it to whether they’re commercial or residential prospects.
Rebecca had to deal with this situation while being on the other side of the fence. After joining the G2 content team, she selected artificial intelligence as her main writing subject despite not having a technical background, because her point of view was going to be useful to others who were just starting to learn about the topic. She described her work process as follows:
“If they need information, be informative, start with keyword research but write with user intent in mind. So my process started off like this: keyword research and, if I failed in finding something suitable, if I came up empty with that, I’d go based off of user intent […] I’d think: ‘Okay, who’s this going to speak to? A scientist or a marketer?’ and I’d answer myself: ‘Definitely a marketer.’ And so I would write with this user intent, for a marketing audience. How can I help [a marketing specialist] understand what AI is and how is it relevant to their workplace?
For our collective content team, it works really well to have people with similar backgrounds, in terms of age and academic background. We all have different degrees and interests. For the most part, we all have good rapport with each another, and I think being a part of the same generation and similar backgrounds definitely helps.”
If you’re apprehensive about starting a fire and security content marketing strategy despite not being a writer or a marketer, you can always be inspired by Rebecca’s experience and determination to tackle a subject she was not an expert in. After all, everyone has to start somewhere.
3. It’s a blog therefore it must have articles, right?
Blogs are almost automatically associated with text despite the fact that the online space is more of a visual medium. But despite this misassociation, your blog can have any type of fire and security content you’re comfortable creating. For some people, it’s much easier to express themselves in text, while others are naturals in front of a camera. In Rebecca’s experience, the topic you choose can dictate the format:
“Nine times out of ten, everybody loves a how-to guide with a step-by-step depiction. Many like videos but try to find out what people want exactly then include that on your site.
This way you can make sure you have the most useful information for your customers. Adding infographics is also popular; we’ve had a couple of nice guest posts from an design company and they wrote about how to create visually engaging infographics as content.”
Rebecca believes that creating something people can download and branding it with your logo or contact can go a long way in building a relationship with people as a thought leader. All in all, while challenging, it’s best to offer a variety of formats then track which one does better, then focus on that style.
4. Who knows (or cares) what the competition is up to?
If the last time you were on a competitor’s channel was more than 6 months ago (and that was only to leave a snarky comment), then you’re making more than one mistake. Being snarky to your competition is bad enough, but not keeping an analytical eye on what they do is worse.
Content marketing in general, and fire and security content in particular, is a big trend these days and more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Before you start, make sure to take Rebecca’s expert advice into consideration:
“Somebody who comes and installs alarms on a daily basis, a fire and security company, should ask: ‘What would be the most valuable information I can offer my customers?’. Search if there are other fire and security companies who have blogs and, if so, what are they writing about? Does it look like people are engaging with it? A lot of websites have comment sections, what are readers saying?”
Use the same principle you apply to your day-to-day work: whatever the competition does, make sure you do it better. So if they have a “Guide to Alarm Maintenance”, should you publish an “Ultimate Guide to Alarm Maintenance”? Well, sort of. The idea is to offer more value to your reader than your competitors, but try to do more than simply parrot what they’re saying and stick another paragraph at the end. That’s just plagiarism.
5. Guest posts are not welcome.
You’re definitely an expert in everything fire and security, of course, so you don’t need anyone else to tell you how to do things. But are you a construction expert? Or an electrician? There might be some exceptionally talented and experienced individuals out there but they’re few and far in between. This is why guest posts are so effective for your fire and security content marketing strategy.
Think of what would complement your content then try to find experts that can provide you with the insight. More often than not, people will be happy to write for you, as content partnerships are mutually beneficial. After all, double the knowledge, double the exposure. Since Rebecca oversees many partnerships, she’s developed a process to make sure every guest post is up to G2’s publishing standards:
“In terms of the guest post network, […] I edit at least 75 to 80% of all incoming content. I’ve written up a document that guests have to follow very strictly for best practices and this ensures that we have uniformity across.
We need it because we have a global audience and global writers. […] Even though they can and should maintain their unique voice, there still needs to be a certain uniformity in how we present it on our platform.”
6. Ignore touchpoints.
It’s pretty obvious, but fire and security content is not something tangible, unlike winning a big commercial client or finishing a tricky installation. Therefore it’s not always easy for employees to derive intrinsic motivation.
Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, and it can get tedious at times. This is why tracking touchpoints is important, not only as a key performance indicator, but also to have solid proof that your team’s efforts are worthwhile.
At first, it was other departments that were sceptical of how much dollar value content marketing actually had, but the G2 team came up with a great solution:
“A lot of people don’t understand. It’s like, yes, you can see there are articles being published, but you’re not making a product, you’re not closing a sale, you’re not doing anything tangible. […] So we started tracking the impact our content had on revenue.
If our content served as a touchpoint for somebody in the buying process, if they were a prospective customer and considered G2 thanks to our content being a touchpoint, then our work has had an influence on revenue. It’s really useful for people to think about it in plain dollars, at times.”
7. Peer reviews are a waste of time.
Whenever an individual produces a piece of content, it’s normal to either think it’s great from the get-go or fear constructive criticism but both of these attitudes can lead to issues. Sometimes, they’re as small as a typo that your eyes glazed over; other times it can be an outright mistake that can damage your status as a trustworthy expert.
An experienced writer like Rebecca will always know that a review strategy is vital if you want high-quality fire and security content:
“We have a process where somebody from our team peer reviews the content. We use Slack a lot and we have a channel called ‘Peer Review’. When you finish an article, it has to go through Peer Review in order to get published.”
This being said, Rebecca went on to highlight extensively how people who specialize in different topics get a chance to look at her work, and, while it’s useful to have someone who knows the same things as you proofreading, sometimes it’s even better if their speciality is different. It will be easier for them to notice if there are parts of your article where you’re not offering beginners a context. Not to mention that “having a fresh set of eyes is always going to improve your content and, that way, ensure it is error free.”
8. What’s taking so long for my fire and security content to rank?
“There was definitely some confusion in other departments about the reason why our team got to scale so fast. And this was when we had a small content team. At first, we’d write these really, really long-form articles. And I don’t mean ‘long-form’ as in 2000 words. I mean 10,000-word articles that went in-depth on high-level topics. […]
Something like that won’t gain traffic right away, but once everybody else started adding content, eight months later, everyone was amazed at how traffic really grew.”
These are the growing pains many companies go through when fleshing out their content strategy. Following up from a previous point, it’s hard to show the actual value of content, especially as it can take a few months for it to truly show. But in Rebecca’s case, the G2 website saw astronomical growth in traffic after investing in their content department and enacting a strategy.
Increased traffic automatically translated into a larger number of leads (and thanks to targeted content, better qualified) which then led to more customers with a longer lifetime. And, yet, managers and business owners continue making the mistake of expecting instant results, when long-term, sustainable growth is much more valuable.
All in all, any manager can take heed of Rebecca’s advice and use her experience as a lesson. In avoiding these mistakes, you can make the most out of your team and their work. If communication is on your mind now, check out the toolkit below and get started engaging your customers the right way!
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