Content Marketing vs Social Media Marketing: Which One to Choose

Content marketing vs SMM blog

Content Marketing vs Social Media Marketing: Which One to Choose

Have you ever asked yourself which marketing strategy will work best for your company? With so much noise and robust competition in the industry, you may feel pressured to choose one. But you should try asking yourself, which marketing strategies will elevate my brand and ultimately make my company the best?

In this blog, we’ll go over two marketing strategies and how they can strategically be used simultaneously to ensure your brand is well-represented on all fronts.

Understanding the importance of digital marketing and its core components, including the difference between content marketing vs social media marketing can be confusing. However, you should consider their differences and similarities before setting your marketing strategy in stone.

Let’s jump right into dissecting the differences between content marketing vs social media marketing, and how you can leverage their power to your advantage.

What is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content as:

A form of marketing that focuses on creating and distributing valuable, applicable, and uniform content that is meant to attract and obtain a target audience – with the goal of driving profitable consumer action.

What is content marketing?

Essentially, content marketing is a tool of attraction. By publishing original, engaging content, whether in the form of blogs, articles, infographics, etc., you’re boosting your chance of attracting new prospects. The content should ideally be something that people will want to share with their own network.

Ever heard of Spotify?

Someone on their marketing team got it totally right when they came up with Spotify Wrapped. This viral content marketing strategy took users’ listening data at the end of the year and made a trendy statistics list for every Spotify user. The list showcases listening habits along with top artists and genres.

Spotify content marketing

The genius part about the campaign is that Spotify made something so personal for its users that people shared their Wrapped lists willingly, eagerly even! The influence-driven content marketing campaign increased sales by 21% in December 2020.

This is just a glimpse of the power that content marketing holds.

Now that we’ve covered content marketing, you’re probably still wondering, what’s the difference between content marketing vs social media marketing. Before we get to their differences, let’s first understand what social media marketing entails.

What is social media marketing?

According to Investopedia,

Social media marketing (SMM) is the use of social media platforms and websites to create a company’s brand, promote a product or service, thereby increasing sales, and drive web traffic. SMM provides companies a means of engaging with existing clients while giving them a way to reach prospective clients on social platforms. Additionally, social media marketing has purpose-built data analytics designed to allow marketing experts to track the success of their existing campaigns while finding new methods to maximize engagement on social platforms.

What is social media marketing?

The goal of SMM is to generate leads, and ultimately, to drive sales through insightful and relevant content. The content can later be advertised to a highly targeted audience to maximize exposure, and accordingly, drive even more sales.The use of targeting tools in SMM makes it possible to do exactly that – to zero in on curated prospects.

Take this example from Guinness:

Even the pioneering Irish beer company isn’t above promoted advertisements. They’ve taken advantage of the customization and targeting features (in this case, on Twitter) to ensure their non-alcoholic beer ad is met by the right consumers.

Social media advertising is a huge part of the social media marketing process, giving brands access to social media users all over the world.

Now that you know what each individual tactic entails, let’s take a look at the differences between them.

What is the difference between content marketing and social media marketing?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how to make sense of all this music and (non) beer talk. So let’s get to it – content marketing vs social media marketing.

The key difference between content marketing and digital marketing is that content marketing is focused on engagement, while SMM is sales-oriented.

Content marketing focuses on generating brand awareness and stimulating customer interest.

Oftentimes, a company’s content marketing strategy is free, meaning they’re not running ads. They’re putting out engaging content to stimulate the attention of prospects. By doing so, content marketing builds deep relationships between a company and its community while simultaneously feeding to the social platform algorithms, and being rewarded with organic growth.

differences between content marketing vs social media marketing

Think of Spotify’s Wrapped – people see their yearly stats as social clout, making the feature a valuable resource to its users. This takes consumer loyalty and engagement through the roof.

Now think of Guinness’s promoted ad. Guinness used a social media channel to target prospective customers and make a sale. A key consideration is that the ad had a link to their website, upping web traffic and, in turn, maximizing conversions.

So, when comparing content marketing vs sales marketing, think of Spotify and Guinness.

Spotify generated brand awareness by giving its existing community shareable content. It’s focused on business for the future – nurturing a community, building loyalty, and eventually turning prospects into loyal customers. Think of a bell curve.

Guinness, on the other hand, used a targeted ad to encourage sales. SMM is focused on “now” business – target an ad, land a prospect, turn them into a customer. Think linear.

How are content marketing and SMM similar?

So we’ve laid out the foundation for the battle between content vs digital marketing. But, it’s really not much of a battle, considering both of these marketing strategies aim to eventually generate growth.

Both marketing methods aim to reach audiences, and both methods, whether long-term or instantaneous, aim to generate sales.

One does so over time and with trust, while the other uses market data and research to reach a calculated audience.

similarities between content marketing vs social media marketing

The similarities between content marketing vs social media marketing are not only in sales but internally as well. Both marketing styles ultimately come from your business objectives.

Having a well-developed marketing strategy is critical to your company’s success, and utilizing a content marketing strategy along with SMM will become a huge part of your overarching business plan.

Content Marketing vs Social Media Marketing Infographic

If the differences between content marketing vs social media marketing are still fuzzy, check out this infographic.

It outlines the key distinctions between content marketing vs social media marketing with a mutual center. Kind of like a Venn diagram, but not really. Just take a look!

Content marketing vs SMM infographic

Final Thoughts

Turns out, the more marketing, the merrier! You can use content marketing vs digital marketing side-by-side for maximum lead generation, sales, engagement, and growth.

We hope this blog has helped you distinguish content marketing vs social media marketing. In spite of the differences between the two, using these marketing strategies together is crucial for your business. If you’d like to talk to specialists in either or both of these areas, feel free to reach out!

Oh, and P.S., if you’re wondering about content writing vs copywriting, stay tuned to read about the differences. Turns out, the world of marketing isn’t so black and white.

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The 80/20 Rule for Instagram Marketing: How to Go For It

the 80/20 rule instagram

The 80/20 Rule for Instagram Marketing: How to Go For It

Simply put, the 80/20 rule states that 80% of the content you publish should be valuable to your audience – meaning it’s entertaining, educational, or brings some sort of significance into the lives of your followers – while only 20% of your content should be promotional.

Like many other content ratios, marketers use the 80/20 rule to enhance their content generation process while also delivering top-notch value to their followers.

If you’re new to content creation, content ratios, and the 80/20 rule for Instagram, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive into the 80/20 rule and how it can boost your Instagram engagement.

What is a content ratio?

When social media experts refer to a content ratio, they’re just categorizing the types of content they publish and how often they do it. A content ratio determines how frequently you post different types of content.

Even if you haven’t heard of a “content ratio,” chances are, you’re subconsciously utilizing some sort of content ratio method. For example, if you’re running an e-commerce business and you post sales and promotions every Saturday, and repost your customers’ tagged photos on Wednesdays, that’s a content ratio!

What is a content ratio?

People in the marketing industry use content ratios to help make content creation easier by getting into a habitual social media routine. Plus, it helps create consistency – when you use a ratio, your messaging maintains a uniformity, which in turn establishes credibility and builds trust.

The 80/20 rule of Instagram is just a more structured content ratio. It’s a guideline that determines when and what you’ll publish, and it’s a pretty successful one.

What is the 80/20 rule of engagement?

For social media, the 80/20 rule states that the majority of your content should be non-promotional. People won’t follow your brand if there’s nothing in it for them.. According to a survey from USF, people use social media to learn new things, develop their interests, and be entertained.

What is the 80/20 rule of engagement?

In utilizing the 80/20 rule for Instagram, the goal is that people will stop their scroll to look at your content. The 80% is what’s going to turn your audience into active members of your Instagram community, and soon after, converted clients!

Essentially, if you’re posting 10 times a month, 8 of the posts should be entertaining, and only 2 of the posts can be promotional. Sounds easy enough, right?

Here are a few content tips for following the 80/20 Instagram rule:

The 80%

  • Memes – it’s 2022, and people are still meme-ing. No matter what products or services you’re pushing, there’s always potential for a meme moment. It’s fun to poke at your own brand or industry, and people will appreciate the humor.
  • Tips – posting useful industry tips is a great way to boost your engagement and build a community that people can rely on for support and guidance.
  • Inspirational content – share something encouraging for your followers. They may even want to share it with their own community!
  • Educational – people learn so much on social media! When you post something truly exceptional, your followers will associate it with your brand and have you to thank.
  • Subtle product placements – while your entertaining and useful posts shouldn’t focus on your product, nobody said that you can’t subtly mention it. For example, if you’re running a grocery store, you can post great recipes on your socials, then mention your products as the required ingredients!
  • About the team – another hit in the e-commerce industry. Similar to how people want to know the story, they also want to know the people. These two concepts go hand in hand.
  • Questions (FAQ) – spark dialogue within your community. It’s a great way to boost engagement while gaining some more insight about your audience.
  • Repost from your favorite accounts – not all content needs to be original. In fact, posting content from other platforms is a great way to engage your audience. Not everyone is on every platform! Don’t be afraid to share a Tweet on Instagram

The 20%

  • Product posts – finally, this is your time to showcase your products! Outright promotional, but that’s why you follow the 80/20 rule!
    CTA – since your promotional content is limited by the 80/20 rule for Instagram, you need to have a convincing call to action. Every post in the 20% should have a loud and clear CTA that has a direct link to your brand!
  • Testimonials/Reviews – let your customers convince your prospects. If your product is truly what you market it to be, then show your audience through reviews and testimonials.
  • Branding – show your followers who you are, what you do, and why you’re better.

Benefits of the 80/20 rule for Instagram

We get that there may be some hesitation about limiting your self-promotional posts by following the 80/20 Instagram rule. After all, that’s why you’re using the platform. But this is one of those times where you’ll need to trust the process – letting your brand fade into the background isn’t such a bad thing, and we’ll show you why.

Benefits of the 80/20 Rule for Instagram

The algorithm will reward you

Following the 80/20 rule for Instagram will do amazing things for your Instagram SEO. Instagram SEO means optimizing your content to be discovered in search results and on the discover page.

The algorithm will reward you - 80/20 rule Instagram benefit

If you’re not following the Instagram 80/20 rule and you’re posting mainly self-promotional content, the algorithm will start hiding your posts from the fatigue of the constant push. Platform algorithms have the ability to identify this and reduce your visibility considerably as a result.

If you are using the 80/20 rule for Instagram, you can trust that the algorithm will be on your side. By posting mainly entertaining and educational content, you’re giving social media users a reason to follow your brand. And for that, the algorithm will reward you by optimizing the likelihood that your content makes it onto people’s discover page.

We go more in depth about the why on our content rules blog, but to sum it up, the best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. Know and act on this, and the algorithm will reward you.

You’re growing and nurturing a community

The 80/20 Instagram rule ensures that you’re successful in growing a community of users rather than a sales platform. You want to build a meaningful relationship with your audience so that eventually, you’ll increase engagement, convert more customers, and maybe even turn your traffic into loyal brand advocates.

You're growing a community - 80/20 rule Instagram benefit

The 80/20 Instagram rule allows you to give more value to your followers than you take from them, and that’s the kind of community social media users value most.

Drives more revenue

The 80/20 rule for Instagram states that the majority of your results are generated from a smaller percentage of your activities. For example, 80% of the world’s wealth is generated by 20% of the people, or 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers.

Now, in terms of percentages and marketing, 80% of your achievements/results are generated by only 20% of your marketing activities.

Understanding and applying the 80/20 rule will help you improve productivity, maximize profits, and produce higher ROIs on your time invested in the company.

Helpful tip: A key difference to note between the 80% and 20% is self-promotion vs direct promotion. Sure, 80% isn’t a direct promotion of your brand, but it is promoting your platform. Any type of promotion is likely to drive more revenue.

What other campaign strategies are there?

The 80/20 rule for Instagram is just one of the few campaign strategies out there. While they’re all beneficial in different ways, the important thing is that you find a marketing plan that works for your brand and stay consistent with it.

What other campaign strategies are there?

If you’re interested in learning more about content ratios like the 4-1-1 or 90/10 rule for social media, check this out!

Wrapping up

We hope we’ve shown you how to make the very best of the 80/20 rule for Instagram. If you’d like to learn more about how to curate posts to fit into the 80/20 rule of Instagram, feel free to reach out to us at +374 098-33-23-30 or

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Competitor SWOT Analysis: How & Why You Should Do It

Competitor SWOT analysis: How and why you should do it

Competitor SWOT Analysis: How & Why You Should Do It

If you’ve been in the business world for a while, you already know that research is the first step in virtually everything. A competitor SWOT analysis helps you assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your business, preparing you for any challenges or chances that come your way.

Tackling your market is no easy task, especially if your competitors are sharks in the industry. In order to compete and get ahead of the game, you’ll need to know your industry inside out. A huge part of this study includes competitor research. But where do you start?

Competitor SWOT analysis is an amazing tool for competitor research. It gives you an almost-360-degree view of all the players in your industry, including your business as well.

How so?

It’s no secret that you and your competitors have similar businesses. If you identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you will also know yours. This way, you can cross-reference your knowledge to fight the strengths of competitors and identify your own touch points for success.

If you want to know how and why you need to perform a competitor SWOT analysis, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive right in and answer all your burning questions.

What is a competitor SWOT analysis used for?

What is a competitor SWOT analysis used for?

The SWOT analysis has been around since the 1960s, and it’s still in practice for a good reason. Ultimately, it provides an audit of your performance and gives direction for future growth. More explicitly, here’s what you get:

  • Knowing your strengths helps you leverage them to your advantage.
  • Knowing your weaknesses helps you tackle and overcome them.
  • Knowing your opportunities helps you grow and fulfill your vision.
  • Knowing your threats helps you be at the top of your game

How to do a competitor SWOT analysis: 4 steps

Now that you know why it’s important to perform a competitor SWOT analysis, let’s tackle the actual process.

How to do a competitor SWOT analysis - 4 Steps

How to do a competitor SWOT analysis? We’ve divided the process into 4 small steps to make your job easier. Simply go over each action, and you’ll be good to go!

Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

1. Identify the threats of competitors in business

Begin with an intriguing topic – the threats of competitors in business. Are there supply chain issues going their way? Are they under threat of losing talent or being outcompeted due to competitive pricing? These are among the many threats that your competitors might be facing.

If your competitors’ products are similar to yours, chances are that your threats might be similar as well.

Identify the threats of competitors in business - competitor SWOT analysis (Step 1)

Threats can be both internal and external. For example, market issues are external factors, but a merger with another company that might lead to a change of leadership is an internal challenge. Some of your competitors’ threats will not affect you, but other external factors can impact your business as well.

Some threats of competitors in business can be used as cheat codes for the future. If the reactions of your rivals are predictable, you’ll have exclusive insights into their next move. This puts the ball in your court and allows you to leverage your knowledge to grab some market share.

Now that you’ve identified your competitors’ threats, let’s move on to their strengths.

2. Conduct competitive strength assessment

Next up, it’ll be time to conduct analysis regarding your competitors’ strengths. What are their biggest advantages? What do they do the best in the industry? Can their strengths pose a threat to you? These are just some of the questions you’ll need to answer when running a competitor SWOT analysis.

Conduct competitive strength assessment - competitor SWOT analysis (step 2)

If you’re new to the market, you’ll have to deal with some established sharks in the business. You don’t necessarily have to do everything better than them. Instead, you can try to differentiate.

Assessing the strengths of your rivals can also help you identify the things you should focus on. Some customer needs are evident, so you’ll need to cover the basics before you can tackle the beasts of your industry.

Also Read: 10 Benefits of Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency Over an In-House Team

3. Take note of competitors' weaknesses

Whether your competitors are bigger or smaller than you, you need to know their weak spots as well. What is something their customers complain about? What are they doing wrong? You’ll need to look at these issues from all angles, including both internal and external processes.

You’ll need to conduct a digital marketing competitor analysis to answer questions like: Do they have good SEO practices in place, and are they active on social media?

Take note of competitors' weaknesses - competitor SWOT analysis (Step 3)

Listen in on what their employees say about the company. Are they working in a toxic environment? Do they have an unreasonably high turnover rate?

If you play on your competitors’ weaknesses, you can map out a strategy to beating them at their own game.

4. Detect and leverage competitor opportunities

Last but not least, you have to gauge the opportunities of your competitors. What do they mean for your business, and why should you care?

In reality, opportunities are more vague than strengths and weaknesses per se. They might come along, and they might not. They also depend on various factors, both internal and external.

Detect and leverage competitor opportunities - competitor SWOT analysis (step 3)

Pinpointing opportunities is tough, but if you hit the bullseye, it’ll definitely pay off. Once you know the forces that are coming at your competitor, you’ll be able to proactively stay ahead of the game, predict their next move, and ultimately outcompete your rivals.

You may also look at this point from the angle of opportunities for you. Has your competitor made a move that you can capitalize on? Read the market, and it will pave the way for you.

Wrapping up

We’ve finally reached the end of our step-by-step competitor SWOT analysis tutorial. With just 4 simple steps, you can gauge the competition in your industry and leverage your insights to leap forward.

As an amazing research tool, the competitor SWOT analysis can help you outcompete your rivals.

In this blog, we’ve taught you why and how to do a SWOT analysis on a competitor. So, get to identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of competitors to help polish your market takeover strategy!

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7 Branding Elements of Powerhouse Brands: Unlocking the Secrets

7 Branding elements of successful brands

7 Branding Elements of Powerhouse Brands: Unlocking the Secrets

Giving your brand a vision and a personality makes your company approachable to consumers. That is all made possible through the branding elements featured in this blog.

If you already have a logo, you still have a long way to go. Creating a brand is more than just that – it is a process of building a unique entity that can be relatable and memorable.

Today we’re going to talk about the seven branding elements that have the potential to affect the purchasing power of your customers.

We don’t want to keep you waiting, so let’s jump right in!

What are branding elements?

Branding elements are visual and conceptual aids that help define your brand in a user-oriented way – no confusing market data, no fuss, just a glimpse into the heart of your brand.

Think of these elements as a really fascinating album cover. When they’ve all come together – the imagery, the album’s description, the musician’s blurb – they’re going to tell your prospects that you have a really great record, and they’ll eventually be so curious that they’ll want to listen to the whole thing, from beginning to end!

what are branding elements?

In digital marketing, branding elements come together to create a perception of your brand. They’re the line between prospects and conversions. Branding elements make up the identity of your company.

So, what are the elements of a brand? Today we’ll talk about your brand’s name, logo, color palette, tone of voice, slogan, fonts, and graphics & imagery. These are the seven branding elements that have the power to increase your reach and turn profits, but most of all – make customers fall in love with your company.

The 7 branding elements your brand needs

Perfecting these seven branding elements is what’s going to ensure that you stand out against your competition. Staying consistent and creative with your branding elements gives buyers a reason to choose you.

Let’s get started with your brand name!

1. Brand Name

While seemingly one of the most obvious branding elements, there’s a lot that goes into crafting the perfect brand name. It identifies you as a company, and most importantly, it differentiates you from everyone else.

Also, social perception aside, this is the name that’s officially registered with patent and trademark entities. It’s a property of sorts.

While there isn’t some magic formula to picking out a company name, there are some guidelines that can help ensure consumers have a positive reaction when they come across your brand. Your brand name should be:

  • Meaningful: It conveys the essence of your brand, evokes an image, and fosters a positive emotional connection
  • Unique: It’s distinctive, unforgettable, and stands out against your competitors.
  • Accessible: People can easily interpret your brand name. They can say it, spell it, search and find it.
  • Protectable: You can get the domain, and you can trademark it. It’s essential to have ownership of your brand name, both legally and in the general consciousness, i.e., people associate you with your company’s name.
  • Timeless: The name is future-proof, which allows it to grow with the company. It maintains relevance throughout the years and has potential for brand extensions.

Take some time to find the right brand name for your company. It won’t happen overnight, but the wait is worth it. If you’re feeling stuck, feel free to reach out! Brainstorming is part of the Cloud 9 process.

2. Logo

First, it’s important to note that your name and logo aren’t your brand.

The experience you provide people, the perception, and the reputation of your brand; these are what ultimately cultivate your brand.

However, that being said, this particular branding element creates that first impression. It’s the first thing people associate your brand with, often before your company name! It’s one of the most powerful elements of a personal brand.

Branding element 2 - logo

You’re probably wondering, what makes a good logo?

A good logo is one that is memorable to your audience. It cultivates brand loyalty because it has meaning. Of course, it needs to be creative, bold, and unique. But more than that, it needs to be technically functional. Let’s take a look at two different logos for some context.

bad logo example

Boring is one thing, but the alignment issues on this logo are unacceptable. The weird pointy beveled thing is totally off-center, and “Hilton” and “Worldwide” aren’t even aligned. Next!

good logo examples

​​We might be biased, but this logo hits all of the marks. We know that the brand is Cloud9, and we know that Cloud9 (that’s us, hi!) is a marketing agency. Everything is centered and well-aligned. The colors are bold and modern but still give the logo character.

A fun perk is that the emblem’s “9” is a functional design element that shapes the cloud! This is a play on the traditional letter mark design – a logo that contains an abbreviation or a symbol/letter.

3. Color palette

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, if you see the colors green and black grouped together, you’re likely to think of Spotify. Or when you see blue and white, you’re thinking of iMessage, Zoom, Facebook, and Cloud9, to name a few.

Brand colors are one of the most important elements of a brand. After all, it’s going to show up in places beyond just your logo, socials, and website. Think visit CADS, banners, videos, ads, branded items such as pens, notebooks, t-shirts — literally everywhere!

You want your brand’s color palette to be so unique and quintessential to your brand that it actually triggers recognition.

color palette instagram example

Beyond recognition, this is one of the branding elements that has the power to shape your visual identity. 

Take a look at how our Instagram feed maintains a uniform color palette. The consistency comes from color; having a trusty color scheme can actually help guide how you post and present your brand online!

4. Tone of voice

Having a convincing brand tone that’s expressed primarily through written media (i.e., in your copy, content, and text posts) helps contextualize all of your brand’s media. That’s why your tone of voice is one of the most defining branding elements.

Your tone should align with your industry and audience. Let’s take a look at two different cosmetic companies and how they communicate with their followers:

instagram post example
instagram post example

Loreal takes a more professional approach – they’ve stuck with a “matter of fact” tone, which, when you look at their community, is totally within reason. They’re an established cosmetic company that’s been around for decades. Plus, the majority of their audience is older than Glossier’s.

Glossier is a trending New York-founded cosmetics company that’s beloved by the younger generations. Their copy tends to be more playful with the use of emojis and TikTok lingo.

branding element #4 - tone of voice

Now that you see what a difference your tone of voice can make, have we convinced you that it’s one of the most important branding elements?

As long as your chosen tone accommodates your audience and you stay consistent with it, then your content and copy will do their job in securing prospects!

5. Slogan

Get a slogan that’s so finger lickin’ good, that your audience will feel like they’re at the happiest place on earth. Just do it!

Okay, slogan overload, but you couldn’t help but think of KFC, Disneyland, and Nike, right? This is to prove just how powerful this branding element is.

A slogan is one of those branding elements that shape your reputation; it should invoke the essence of your brand and who you are.

branding element #5 - slogan

With just a few words to capture your audience’s attention, this branding element has the power of association.

When enough prospects associate your slogan with your product, you become a viable competitor, causing your lead, traffic, and conversion rates to skyrocket.

Plus, your slogan is a powerful driver of word-of-mouth marketing! If you’re creative with it, you can be stuck in people’s minds for days.

6. Fonts

branding element 6 - fonts and typography

Your choice of font is one of those elements of branding that has the power to transform your tone of voice. Let’s take a look at an example from Cloud9’s Instagram.

good vs bad fonts

The stark difference between the two fonts gives off totally different messages. With this visual, you can begin to understand that even typefaces elicit feelings and emotions.

Many elements of your overall typography can affect how a potential buyer interprets and interacts with your brand.

This photo illustrates different font families and the psychology of the message they send.

the psychology of fonts

Is your e-commerce store traditional? Are you selling wholesale medical supplies? You might want to stick with something similar to “tradition” or “stability.”

Is your brand aimed at selling to young pet owners? “Friendly” sounds more like it!

This branding element can go a long way – finding the perfect font for your marketing can help contribute to the tone of your content – including your copy and visuals.

7. Graphics and imagery

We process images within seconds. Literally, with the blink of an eye, an image has the power to communicate an entire message, emotion, or feeling. That’s why the seventh and final branding element we think you should pay special attention to is your brand’s graphics and imagery.

The graphics you choose to represent your brand will definitely make an impression on your audience. It will indicate your brand’s professionalism while still communicating a sub-tone – whether you market your brand as playful, friendly, trendy, official, etc., professionalism should still be at the very core of every one of those moods.

branding element 7 - graphics and imagery

So, how do you pay your brand homage through graphics and imagery? Your brand’s imagery comes from your identity. You want these things to go hand in hand – first and foremost, for consistency, but also for the sake of your brand’s perception.

Having a great graphic designer by your side will help you feel more confident in your graphics and imagery. Lucky for you, design is one of our specialties! If you’re in search of some inspiration, let’s chat.

Final Thoughts

Surviving today’s business landscape is tough, but even tougher when your branding elements aren’t first-rate. As a brand owner, it’s important to keep in mind the impact your content has on your audience. Understanding how they will interpret your brand is key to succeeding.

We hope you’ve finished this blog feeling extra confident in your branding elements! As always, don’t forget to check out our other expert industry blogs and get in touch to learn more about our branding element expertise.

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What is a Sales Funnel: 6 Sales Funnel Challenges to Avoid

Sales Funnel Challenges: 6 Mistakes to Avoid

What is a Sales Funnel: 6 Sales Funnel Challenges to Avoid

The sales funnel is a timeless cornerstone of marketing. But what is a sales funnel exactly? What does it do? And why should you care about it? 

This article will cover all of that and more. Here, we address what a sales funnel is, how it works, its 5 stages, and the top 6 sales funnel challenges in modern marketing. Understanding these challenges is a key step in generating sales and growing your business. 

Let’s get right into it.

What is a sales funnel and how does it work?

A sales funnel is a marketing model that refers to the journey prospective clients go through that will hopefully and ultimately lead to a final sale. The sales funnel represents each step that a person has to take in order to become your customer. 

The components of a sales funnel can seem abstract, so let’s take a look at a brick-and-mortar sales funnel example.

The people at the top of the funnel are the ones who walk by your store. Maybe some are just passing by or even window-shopping. When a person decides to enter your store, they pass into the next stage of your marketing and sales funnel.

A customer is browsing and stops at a “New Collection” shelf to peruse the products. Now, they’re at the next step of the funnel. When the customer takes those products to the check-out counter and makes a final purchase, they reach the bottom of your sales funnel. 

The main purpose of a sales funnel is to guide your potential customers through a journey that optimizes their chances of converting into a customer.

Sales funnel stages

This diagram demonstrates the many benefits of a sales funnel. Understanding the flow of consumers is important in understanding how your marketing team can make use of different types of funnels. 

What are the components of a sales funnel?

Any marketing channel can be a part of your sales funnel. The different types of funnels can be spread across various channels such as:

  • Retail stores
  • Client consultations 
  • Websites
  • Social media 
  • Email 
Components of a sales funnel - the AIDA model

5 stages of sales funnels

The various sales funnel stages may differ depending on which channel you are using it for. But if used correctly, the benefits of a sales funnel marketing strategy are universal across all boards. 

In marketing, the main components of a sales funnel are easily described by the acronym AIEDA. So, let us show you what are the 5 stages of sales funnels.


Awareness is the stage of using your marketing channels to target key audiences. This usually involves studying your audience and learning how to attract them. How can you widely market your products or services to make them well-known? What is your outreach strategy? 


Interest is gained by anticipating the needs and wants of your target audience. This stage of the funnel is among the most common sales funnel challenges. It takes a great marketing plan to gain interest, and lucky for you, Cloud9 has a guide for that! 


Evaluation is the stage where your prospects are considering your offer and comparing it with different alternative options. More specifically, they’re looking at features, pricing, reviews, and testimonials. This is where your value proposition will convince them to choose your product over others.


The goal of this stage of the sales funnel is to convert your audience into prospective clients. The desire part of the funnel transforms their disposition of “I know about this product” to “I need this service.” 

And there you have it – all 5 sales funnel stages explained.

To get more of your audience to the “Desire” stage of the funnel, it’s important that you push out interactive and trustworthy content. 

Prospects will start to engage with your brand and see that it’s something worth investing in. Publishing testimonials is a best practice when it comes to helping more prospects advance into this stage of your sales funnel. 


You’re so close to sealing the deal! This final “action” stage is the final nudge that’ll get your prospects from appreciating your product or service from afar to becoming a loving user. 

You’ve already done tremendous amounts of work in the marketing stage, and now it’s time for a call to action (CTA). Different types of funnels require different CTA’s; you may benefit from sending out an email, making a phone call, or even prompting your audience to schedule a consultation. 

Further down the funnel, especially funnels concerning e-commerce, consider offering discounts or free shipping to seal the deal. Use a CTA technique that is consistent with your previously determined marketing plan. 

How to create a sales funnel

Learning the theory behind a sales funnel is one thing, but creating a funnel for your own business is a different story. So, now that you know what is a sales funnel, let us show you a step-by-step process of how to create a sales funnel.


  1. Define your target audience
  2. Define your goals
  3. Understand your user’s journey
  4. Create and publish relevant content for each stage of their journey
  5. Start creating awareness about your business
  6. Capture leads by publishing relevant content
  7. Nurture your leads down your sales funnel with an email marketing campaign
  8. Close the deal through effective sales strategies
  9. Retain your customers through nurturing and try to upsell
  10. Analyze the data and iterate again

Sales funnel management

Once you have your sales funnel in place, you’ll need to constantly measure its effectiveness and optimize. Here are some aspects of a sales funnel that you’ll need to manage and how:

  • Tracking results

To fully understand what is a sales funnel, you also need to understand its ins and outs. A huge factor here is tracking the results you get with it. So, you should use Google Analytics, Search Console, and other analytics tools. This way, you’ll be able to see what’s working and what isn’t.

  • Lead scoring and segmentation

Understanding which of your leads are more likely to convert is crucial. It’ll help you figure out when they’re ready to move on to the next stage and adjust your strategy accordingly.

  • Optimizing your sales process

The last step of understanding what is a sales funnel is optimization. After all, you can’t set it and forget it. 

From all the analytics and results, you’ll be able to determine what modifications you need to make in order to optimize your sales process. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with new sales strategies.

Different types of funnels present different challenges, but understanding these top sales funnel challenges will help influence how users navigate through the funnel and whether they convert. 

After understanding what is a sales funnel, it’ll be time to understand its benefits and challenges.

Sales funnel challenges

The most prominent sales funnel challenges will prevent your prospects from becoming clients. That’s why we’ve outlined 6 of the biggest sales funnel challenges and how to tackle them. 

So, what are the biggest sales funnel challenges? Let’s dive right in and uncover the 6 biggest difficulties people face when developing and using a sales funnel.

  1. Generating enough leads and traffic

A lead generation funnel is one of the few different types of funnels. Generating enough leads and traffic using this method is among one of the most common sales funnel challenges.

Sales funnel challenge #1 - Generating enough leads and traffic

Although your sales funnel may be efficient in converting leads, you may have difficulties bringing enough people into your funnel, aka generating enough traffic.

The first step to generating prospects and traffic is to understand your prospective client’s journey. You can do so by utilizing Google Analytics to pull data on users who have interacted with your brand. But don’t forget, it’s not always about the numbers. 

With the next step, you have to create relevant content that entices your audience. Be original, be tactful, and be intentional.

Drive content using an SEO strategy, splurge on paid ads, take advantage of your socials. Do what it takes to drive traffic. 

You’ll learn more about what is a sales funnel during the process of actually using it and generating prospects.

2. Keeping your sales funnel short but sweet 

Keeping your sales funnel short is one of the most common sales funnel challenges. The process of getting prospects to successfully progress through your sales funnel system can be lengthy. If that process is too long, people will drop out of the funnel, leading to the loss of sales.

Sales funnel challenge #2 - Keeping your sales funnel short but sweet

Here are Cloud9’s tips to keep your sales funnel short but sweet! (And effective) 

  • Simplify your campaigns
  • Send prospects content related to their needs
  • Find out which platforms your prospects are frequenting 
  • Publish testimonials and success stories

3. Standing out amongst the competition 

The third challenge that comes along with learning what is a sales funnel is differentiation. The truth of the sales industry is that you have an immeasurable amount of competitors. Even if your product or service really is the best out there, you’ll probably still strike out to a competitor at one point or another.

Standing out against the competition starts as early as the “Awareness” and “Interest” stages of the funnel. Utilize a strong marketing plan to ensure a wider reach. And when you do reach your target audience, your content better be stellar! 

4. Creating content that actually sells 

Creating content that sells will help you tackle the sales funnel challenges that are preventing prospects from turning into clients, and you’ll ultimately master your understanding of what is a sales funnel. 

Sales funnel challenge #4 - Creating content that actually sells

The aim of your content is to win people over; convert people to your brand; show them your personality, your creativity, and your goodness.  

If you’re selling a service rather than a product, you can instead utilize the Instagram guide feature. Posting SEO related guides, for example, is genuinely helpful content that will be appreciated by your fellow SMM audience. Appreciation leads to loyalty, and in turn, sales. 

5. Optimizing your customer journey

So you finally have the greatest content you’ve ever put out there. You’re generating traffic and leads, and even more sales than you’ve ever seen. 


Your customer service isn’t hitting the mark. 

Sales funnel challenge #5 - Optimizing your customer journey

Long response times, rude customer support, late deliveries, sketchy/laggy websites, unreasonable return/exchange policies. These are all things that will completely delegitimize all of the hard work you’ve put in prior to making the sale. 

Be consistent with your overall functions and processes, even those that are unrelated to marketing. 

6. Conversion Optimization

Risk is inevitable when learning about what is a sales funnel. At every stage, you risk your prospect leaving the funnel. The flow of a sales funnel is a trial and error process. But once you start to understand how your clients interact with your brand, you can start finding the holes in your sales funnel

Sales funnel challenge #6 - conversion optimization

At what stage of the funnel do your prospects drop out? Finding your bottleneck is a critical point in adapting your technique to convert prospects into clients. If you have a lot of leads but a below-average conversion, consider these 3 points:

  1. Your industry benchmarks and averages aren’t quite adequate. If you’re in the range and not satisfied, then you probably need to get even more leads.
  2. People have interest and desire but no action. Ask yourself, what do I need to do to make them take action. Put yourself in their shoes and adjust your marketing plan accordingly. Maybe it’s something operational, your prices are too high, your delivery is too long, etc. Test, recognize, and alter.
  3. You haven’t motivated your target audience to buy. Give your prospects a sense of urgency—put a time limit. People will have the urge so they don’t miss out on an offer. Make them an offer they can’t resist! 


Understanding what is a sales funnel is a learning process. You’ll learn best through practice! So, take all the theory we’ve taught you today and get to work.

If you’ve encountered any of the sales funnel challenges we talked about, know that you’re not alone. While it can seem somewhat perplexing, the sales funnel isn’t a total enigma. 

Once you understand the filtering process of the funnel, you can identify leaky points in your own sales funnel model. Chances are, targeting and adjusting these shortcomings will lead to greater success in converting prospects into leads and, eventually, clients. 

We wish you the best of luck on your sales funneling journey! Don’t forget to bookmark this tab in case you ever find yourself in a (non-kitchen related) funnel crisis. 

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Sophia Badalyan - Author at Cloud9 Agency

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7 A’s of Marketing: Unveil the Content Marketing Mastery

7 A's of Marketing

7 A’s of Marketing: Unveil the Content Marketing Mastery

Content marketing is a tricky thing to grasp, but if you do it right, it’ll pay off more than you might think. So, how do you do it right? 

First, you need to understand what content marketing is. Next, you can learn the rules of content marketing to discover how you can get the most out of it. If you’re interested in exploring the content marketing framework, you’ve come to the right place.

In this blog, we’ll talk all about one of the best content development frameworks – the 7 A’s of marketing. This content marketing rule of 7 serves as a guide to all content marketing newcomers. Essentially, you can even use it as a checklist to get the most out of your content marketing efforts.

So, what is the rule of 7 marketing for content? Let’s dive right in and uncover the 7 pillars of a successful content marketing strategy.

What is content marketing?

If you’ve been in the marketing sphere even for a short period of time, chances are you’ve heard of content marketing. It is a more futureproof strategy for marketing that focuses on relevancy and value. 

At Cloud9, content marketing is a core service. As content geeks, we make it our mission to solely put out content that is authentic and dreamy, considers the audience’s preferences, and, most importantly, achieves goals. This is what content marketing is all about.

What is content marketing?

If you are considering using content marketing to boost your business, remember the following goals that can be achieved with it:

  • It can increase your sales
  • It boosts your brand awareness and turns customers into loyal brand advocates
  • It’s an organic and budget-friendly way to market your products 

Overall, content marketing is a marketing strategy that entails the creation and sharing of online content (including blogs, social media activity, videos, etc.) that isn’t a direct promotion of your brand. 

The main goal of content marketing is to make people interested in a product. It aims to create a preference-level shift in people’s minds. For example, if you were selling a breakfast cereal, your content marketing output would promote eating cereal in the morning or the benefits of cereal in general. You would mention your product simply as a side-note, while the main topic would be around your industry.

Now that you know what content marketing is, let’s take a look at how it’s done.

What is a content marketing framework?

First things first, let’s understand what a content marketing framework is. In short, a content marketing framework (otherwise known as a content development framework) is a planning tactic that helps you optimize your content marketing strategy to the fullest. 

What is a content marketing framework?

A comprehensive content marketing framework shows you where you are, where you’re going, and how to get there in the best way possible. To avoid pushing out content just for the sake of it and actually put thought and strategy behind it all, you can follow the 7A framework of content marketing.

The rule of seven marketing A’s covers all the essential aspects of a powerful content marketing plan, giving you direction and clarity. Without further ado, let’s talk about the 7 A’s of marketing.

What are the 7 A’s of marketing?

The 7 A’s of marketing are agility, authenticity, attention, audience, authority, action, and acceleration. If you develop your content marketing strategy around these 7 aspects, your content will have purpose and will bring results like you’ve never seen before.

Whether you’re looking to boost your sales, spread the word about your brand, or simply generate more buzz around your products, the 7 A’s of marketing will help you get there.

Grab your pen and paper, and let’s jump right into the 7 essential pillars that your content marketing strategy needs.

#1 Agility

Generating content should not be a hassle that nobody wants to take care of. If you put out content that is too difficult to produce, it’ll also be difficult for your customers to digest. So, your content marketing strategy should be based on agility.

Helpful note: One element that you can implement into your content marketing framework to make it more agile is the use of templates for social media. That way, you’ll be able to consistently produce content that is on-brand and effective.

Agility is one of the 7 A’s of marketing. Once you set up a marketing process that is based on agile principles, pushing out content will become organic and effective. 

Instead of having a set-in-stone strategy and gambling on whether your content will work or not, you have to learn from feedback and implement positive changes. If your customers aren’t responding to a specific messaging strategy, understand why that is. Being flexible is key to producing effective content.

This agile mindset will help you pinpoint the content that is attractive to your customers and will guide you toward creating a better strategy, being more flexible to any changes in the market, and, ultimately, increasing your productivity. It is a proactive strategy to continuously become better and better.

7 A's of Marketing - #2 Authenticity

#2 Authenticity

The second A in the 7 A’s of marketing is authenticity. This element of differentiation in your content marketing strategy is one of your keys to success.

This might sound cliche, but the best thing you can do for your brand is simply to make it authentic. Modern consumers aren’t looking for fairytales. Instead, to be able to compete in this saturated market at all, you must be real. Tell your stories, let the customer in, and they will love you for it.

At Cloud9, this is yet another core pillar. In fact, Cloud9’s slogan is “Dreamy and Authentic Marketing.”

If your content is customized according to your brand’s tone of voice and other branding elements, it has the highest chance of being effective. If you’re looking to copy other brands and get away with it, you are likely to end up with the short end of the stick.

In this age of conscious consumerism, customers are more prone to becoming loyal brand lovers, so you must take advantage and give them what they need. In short, being you is the best strategy you can use in your content marketing efforts.


7 A's of Marketing - #3 Attention

#3 Attention

Attention is the 3rd A in the 7 A’s of marketing. If your content isn’t going to grab the attention of your audience, then your content marketing strategy won’t succeed. You have around 8 seconds to grab your audience’s attention before they switch to another website, so you have to make it count!

First impressions matter. Your visitors won’t take too long to form an opinion about your brand. You’ll need to know your audience like the back of your hand to create content that’ll woo them.

Each time you create a new piece of content, try to get feedback from someone who’s never seen it before. Putting the “wow” effect in numerical terms is tough, but you’ll need to gather as much insight as possible.

Once you’ve made sure that your content is optimized to be in the center of attention, don’t forget to check the other 7 A’s of marketing off the list. Attention is important, but so are agility, authenticity, and more.

Here are Cloud9’s tips on how to grab the attention of your audience:

  • Write a powerful or shocking headline (otherwise known as a hook), but always keep it honest.
  • Use numbers in headlines to reel readers in.
  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Know the pain points of your audience and make your content personal, make it hit home.
  • Give an urgency to act (e.g., offer 50% off only for today).
7 A's of Marketing - #4 Audience

#4 Audience

Your audience should be at the core of everything you do. After all, you’re making products for them, advertising your products to them, and hoping to get a sale from them. If you don’t consider the needs of your customers in every step of your marketing endeavors, your whole strategy might as well not exist. This is why your audience is the 4th A in the 7 A’s of marketing.

Let’s consider a scenario where you’re walking down the street, and you see a pet food store. If you don’t own a pet, virtually no type of advertisement can make you walk into that store and make a purchase. 

Similarly, if you advertise to people who are not relevant to your brand or simply target everyone for that matter, you are going to be disappointed.

Let’s consider another scenario where you’re looking for an electric bike but haven’t found your perfect one yet. If you’re scrolling down your Instagram feed and an ad pops up with a great ebike discount, chances are you’re going to tap on that ad. 

If you dive deeper and analyze what actually makes your audience tick, you’ll hit the jackpot of content marketing. Do your customers really struggle with something? Use it! Does your product give them something much more than a competitor? Tell them about it!

In short, knowing your audience is your key to success. They’re an undeniable source of knowledge that can tell you what they want, how they want it, and how you should sell it to them.

7 A's of Marketing - #5 Authority

#5 Authority

Once you’ve made sure your content marketing framework is agile, authentic, attention-grabbing, and audience-centric, it’s time to conquer the 5th A in the 7 A’s of marketing – authority. At this point, you’re thinking about coming off as the expert, making your audience feel that you know what you’re up to. The key here is to establish trust in your brand.

But, how do you establish authority, especially if you’re new to the game? Having been there, we’ve identified a couple of tips you can use:

  • Don’t complicate things. Keep it simple and relatable. 
  • Make it easy for your customers to find answers to their questions. Always think one or two steps ahead and answer questions that your audience hasn’t even asked yet.
  • Focus on retaining existing customers and rewarding loyal brand advocates.
  • Stick to your brand voice, and don’t break character.
7 A's of Marketing - #6 Action

#6 Action

Coming in at number 6, the next A in the 7 A’s of marketing is action. This is one of the more obvious pillars of a marketing strategy. It’s no secret that your content should bring some sort of result. This result is the action that your customers will take as a result of your content marketing efforts.

You are probably familiar with the term “call to action” (CTA). This CTA is the final stage of your content marketing framework, telling the customer what you want them to do next. If you succeed and your customer completes the CTA, your marketing strategy will have worked.

At Cloud9, we develop this step gradually – from smaller conversions like social media likes to larger ones like building sales funnels. If you have the previous A’s from the 7 A’s of marketing all ready to go, Action will complete your strategy and turn it into an effective way of bringing customers in.

7 A's of Marketing - #7 Acceleration

#7 Acceleration

Last but not least, the 7th A in the 7 A’s of marketing is Acceleration. With this element, you’re going to make sure that your marketing strategy can repeatedly and continuously work. It also entails the modification you make along the way to keep your audience happy.

Acceleration is also about trying out new and unique things that can take your brand viral. Once you figure out a way to put out engaging content that achieves your goals, think about implementing a strategy of keeping it relevant for a long while. 

Social media content will stay in circulation for a couple of hours, email can get you attention for a couple of days, and blogs can bring you traffic for years if you keep them up to date. We recommend implementing a strategy that focuses on taking your content as far as it can go, aka accelerating its distribution.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it – the 7 A’s of marketing! All of these aspects of marketing come together to create an unbeatable content marketing strategy. The gist of it all is – if you incorporate agility, authenticity, attention, audience, authority, action, and acceleration into your content marketing tactics, you’ll definitely see powerful results.

Every marketing strategy has its specifics, but some essential elements always need to be present. The 7 A’s of marketing are exactly those elements.

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Angel Poghosyan - Author at Cloud9

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