Category Archives: Content Marketing

Culture, Content, and Social: Five Trends to Watch This Summer

lookout for trends

Photo Credit: KaSandra and Grace. On the Lookout for Trends

I don’t know about you, but I am always on the lookout for what’s happening in marketing. I had the opportunity to attend last month’s Sirius Decision Summit. What’s Sirius about?  Sirius Decisions describes the summit as “a place where attendees can see and hear how organizations can blend the very best of art and science, and leave with ideas for how to get started on – or advance – your own initiatives.” It is a great conference for any marketer or communicator looking for frameworks and research on what happening in the market today. If you didn’t have the opportunity to go, here five trends to watch for this summer. 

Social media beyond the basics

There was a lot of discussing of using social listening to enhance competitive intelligence and beef up prospect profiles. During the breakout sessions, it was useful to see what companies can do with some third party help to bolster current prospect info. One organization appended their prospects and customers’ profiles with social data through a third party vendor to fill in missing information and provide better insights. Social media has become more than a place to post your favorite cat video, it has become a place to take data and build better, more informed customer profiles. Results of adding social data to customer profiles? A better understanding of their customers and prospects, this organization improved its open rates to 28 percent and click-through to 9 percent. How good is 9 percent? Pretty awesome given most industries see on average less than five percent.

Content still plaques teams both on creation and effectiveness.

Julie Ogilvie, ‎research director for strategic communications management service at Sirius Decisions, made a simple, but poignant point about social media “All social media problems are content problem.” I think anyone who manages social media teams can emphatically agree. Lots of nodding from the audience on this point alone. Whether you are looking to increase engagement among key audiences or leverage influencers, you need content. That’s easy, right? Not so much. Ultimately, you can’t create content absent of your audience’s needs and motivation an expect good outcomes. Simple, but B2B companies are forgetting the human in social media and not focusing on what people want to engage with.

The concept of building connections across teams

One of the best quotes I heard was the African proverb, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” How many of you know your team is doing good work, but you’re looking to make more impact within your team or get more budget? Many of the sessions discussed the power of cross-functional sharing and brainstorming with teams to maximize not only knowledge, but also sharing of information. So simple, yet many of us get caught in our own silos and workload. We fail to think about the power of sharing information to better leverage the knowledge of other teams to deliver better campaigns. One session shared how equipping community managers with more information on the onset of a campaign, such as the targeted campaign’s keywords, who are the “right” influencers in the market, and the right content from other marketing teams armed them for social media success. Genius, right? So simple, yet many of us are so caught up with real-time delivery that we forget to take a beat and think about what we are trying to accomplish.

The importance of culture in change management

Often overlooked, but crucially important. It’s not a conference without great quotes, and Sirius Decision is no different: “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You cannot ignore your culture and its importance to your success. While there was not a whole lot of discussion on the how, I can tell you communications and cross-functional involvement vastly improve your chances of getting your corporate culture to accept your next marketing or communication initiative.

The value of pilot testing

Every campaign at the conference mentioned the value in starting small and narrowing your focus. Rome was not build in a day. By focusing on a pilot and ignoring how you have traditionally done, you can break away from the norms. Do things differently. Not to say all pilots are successful, failure is okay and an opportunity to learn.

It’s only a day into the conference, but I am encouraged and energized in learning the new and innovative approach out there today. Also, there is still time to follow the conference hashtag, #SDSummit for more great information on Twitter.

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Is It Time for You To Go Native?

Metscher's Musing Native Advertising

Visual Source: Pardot

Earlier this year, I wrote an article for my friends at Brand Quarterly titled, “To Native or Not to Native, That is the Question.” The impetus for the article is based on my research over the last year on how native content (or branded content, whichever term you like to use) has exploded into media and marketing trades. There has been a lot of conversation around how ethical native is or is not. My goal of my article was not to answer whether native is the right choice for your company, but rather present that facts and let you, the audience, decide.

Stats Highlights:

  • According to a 2014 eMarketer report, spending on native ads on social sites alone is expected to increase from $3.1 billion to $5 billion by 2017.  As a percentage of total social ad spending, it projected that native would rise from 38.8 percent in 2014 to 42.4 percent in 2017.
  • HubShout, a online marketing firm, conducted a surveylast year that found 72.8 percent of internet users who have read sponsored content believe it has equal or greater value as non-sponsored content on the same website. (For those interested in the full report on native advertising full impact from HubShout, you can download now. Note: This is gated information so you will need to share your dets.)

Here is the link to Brand Quarterly titled, “To Native or Not to Native, That is the Question.” 

Happy Reading!

Rachel DiCaro Metscher has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review.  She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

Seven Tips to Jump-start Your Content Marketing in 2015

Happy New Year! Most of us are already in high-gear executing campaigns. But, some of you may be challenged with how to best jump-start your content marketing initiative in 2015. Here are seven tips to help you out:

The Devil is in the Details.

The most important aspect ensuring content marketing success is documenting what you want to do in 2015. Sounds simple, but most marketers don’t. Content Marketing Institute reported that 44 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy.

Set Expectations Early

Most executives see content marketing activity as a short term project. Pack your patience friends because this is a long-term game. Producing content is only part of the equation. Be prepared to have some realistic and pragmatic conversations on what to expect early on. The model of “build it and they will come” is over. Set expectations on what is needed to make a content marketing plan work. Come prepared with current metrics if you have them.

Know what Success Looks Like for your Organization

Every group is different. One group may focus on earned media, another may focus on forms completed. Whatever your organization deems successful, document it. It will help you when it comes time to evaluate and measure. You would be surprised how many folks forget the end game soon after the campaign is over.

Expect Timelines to Adjust

Murphy’s law plays a huge role in content marketing. If it can be derailed it will. Plan for hiccups on your timeline. I always build in an extra week just in case.

Know your Content Producers Well

Last fall I attended a Content Marketing Institute workshop where this stat was shared: It takes more than six weeks to finish one content marketing piece. Six weeks people. That’s a very long time. Make sure whoever you involved in your content marketing initiatives is in it to win it. Priorities will always shift.You need people to be on board to complete their tasks on time. If you have issues with content producers, especially internal resources, budget for writers to help. Freelancers are a great resource that can interview your subject matter experts and then write the piece, and they are incentivized to get projects out on time.

Showing Results Wins Budgets

No seriously, showing results wins budgets. I wrote about how I used paid promotion to help promote past content marketing campaigns. This small campaign delivered big and helped me secure more funding for the next year. Speaking of promotion…

Have a Plan for Distribution and Promotion

In content marketing, the campaign doesn’t finish when the content is created, but when it’s ready to be distributed and promoted. I wrote extensively on the importance of distribution and paid promotion in my previous post on the Seven Ugly Truths about Content Marketing. Promotion is key now more than ever. The Internet has made your customers more savvy. On average consumers are reading 10.4 pieces of content before making a purchase.

Here are some additional thoughts I presented at Gilbane Conference in Boston, Massachusetts in December.

Rachel DiCaro Metscher, a champion of clear and concise communications, has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, The Princeton Review, and B2B software companies She is a conference speaker and writer on social media and content marketing, and has written for American Marketing Association Marketing News, Social Media Today, and MarketingProfs.

She currently works in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

Native Advertising: Beech-Nut Shows its Funnier Side to Moms

If you have wondered if native advertising fits within your promotional content mix, here is a great case study on Beech-Nut baby food products.

Beech-Nut Nutrition Company is a leading food manufacturer in the U.S. known for its innovative approach to baby food. Baby food brands have seen sales decline since 2005 because of lower birth rates; however, there is another trend troubling brands. More millennial moms are taking an active role in preparing homemade baby food for their little one. Moms spend on average three hours out of their week or an hour out of their day to make their own baby food. In April, Beech-Nut changed its approach on how it made baby food that is winning over millennial moms, but it needed a new way to reach its target audience.

Beech-Nut Using Humor to Highlight the ‘Joys of Motherhood’

Beech-Nut worked with Someecards to create co-branded cards that discussed the tough realities of being a new mom. Someecards parodies the sentiments found in the Hallmark greeting card by using humor that is sometimes considered sarcastic or borderline offensive. The co-branded e-cards highlight the joys of motherhood with cards that read, “The only chance I got to sit down today was on the toilet,” or “I want my baby’s food to be as natural as I tell everyone my childbirth was.”  The campaign comprised of five e-cards that are hosted on Someecards’ site earlier this month. So far, the e-cards have more than 15,000 shares on the site and amplified through its social channels.

native-advertising-marketing- metscher

Photo Credit from Marketing Tech Blog via StumbleUpon

Target Audience: Millennial Moms

There are 90 million millennials in the U.S. and a quarter of those are parents with spending power of $200 billion. Katie Sobel, senior director of marketing at Plum Organics summarized millennial moms’ purchasing power, “Millennial moms are more connected, more influential, and have more access to research and information than any generation prior. They also expect complete transparency and connectivity from the brands they do select. Moms have the luxury of being discerning.”

Why Native Advertising?

Beech-Nut relies on its small, but mighty mom ambassadors to share its content across social media channels. While Beech-Nut has a strong community on its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels, it needed to amplify its message and reach new moms looking for ‘real’ baby food. Native advertising sees higher engagement than banner ads, 52 percent of people who click on native ads have purchase intent compared to 34 percent for banner ads. Most competitors in this space have relied on traditional media to reach moms. In order to cut through the noise, Beech-Nut decided to take a different approach to reach moms with humorous native advertising.

Sharing the Joys of Motherhood

Someecards goes for humor and raw honesty, which help build its audience of roughly 10 million unique visitors a month, according to comScore. While it may seem peculiar for a baby food provider to partner with Someecards, reviewing past social posts shows the brand uses humor often to connect with its moms. For Beech-Nut, sharing a bit of humor helps create community with its audience that will share its content with other friends. In addition to this campaign, Beech-Nut also works actively to cultivate community through its mommy blogger outreach program and free samples. Beech-Nut has used Someecards as the primary platform for this campaign distribution with its Facebook page as a secondary channel. The brand’s current Facebook page is relatively active with social shares, daily posts, and has more than 380,000 likes.

Does Humor Sell?

The Beech-Nut native advertising campaign was consistent with the brand’s honest and transparent brand values. While humor is not actively used in Beech-Nut’s advertising, it is often used on its social media channels. As one marketing expert wrote, “Make people laugh and they will not only share an ad with their friends and family, but with humor the second best emotion at driving brand recall, they will most likely remember the brand for years to come.” Overall, the campaign was funny and consistently used the company’s visual identity so moms who saw it would remember Beech-Nut.

Coupling humorous native ads with social media amplification was a large investment for Beech-Nut; however, the success of the campaign will continue to grow. Weber Shandwick reported last year that millennial moms spend 17 hours each week on social networks and are better sharers of information and recommendations for areas such as food, baby products, and retail. Working with Someecards provided Beech-Nut with a wider distribution network that is much larger than its current owned channels and the opportunity to reach new moms in the market for baby food. Overall, The co-branded cards were well received within its community. Beech-Nut has not only innovated its baby food products, but also found a new way to connect with millennial moms that cuts through the noise and provides a laugh.

Rachel DiCaro Metscher has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review.  She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

 

How to Use Paid Promotion in Your Next Marketing Campaign

Like most corporate marketers, I am always looking for ways to promote my company’s content on different channels. With limited resources and pressure to capture your audience attention, marketers need to be vigilant on how to cut through the noise.  Paid, earned, owned, and shared media may sound foreign to some marketers, but smart marketers are using these channels to their advantage.  Based on my past experience with paid promotion,  I like to share how you can promote your next campaign using paid media.

In content marketing, the campaign in my mind doesn’t finish when the content is created, but when it’s ready to distribute and promote. I wrote extensively on the importance of distribution and paid in my previous post on the Seven Ugly Truths about Content Marketing. Promotion is key now more than ever. The Internet has made your customers more savvy. On average consumers are reading 10.4 pieces of content before making a purchase. How to you make sure they find your content?

Answer: You need to have a paid strategy for your content.

So what is paid promotion? Jeremiah Owyang from the Altimeter Group, wrote about the concept of paid media in the report, The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned & Earned Media .

Owned-Earned-Paid-Media-Initiative

Awesome graphic explaining the difference of earned, paid, and own media. Source Credit: Webrunnermedia.com

CliffsNotes version on Paid: paid promotion is when you pay to promote your content. You can read more examples on paid such as native adverting, here.

Why don’t more organizations use paid? Lack of understanding and reliance on their own channels.

It’s been in my experience that most organizations understand, perhaps a bit too well, that posting content on their website is essential. But what happens when posting on your site is not enough? Recently, I ran two experiments with paid promotion to promote our monthly webinar series. I choose webinars because

1) it is consistent

2) timely

3) what the market needs

4) more importantly wants to know about.

Promote webinars on our site is  a given. We promote our webinars on our social media channels and through our newsletter. Check and Check. But, attendance was stagnant. It was time to turn up the dial.

Through research, I found publishers in our industry that were trusted and great pubs where our customers go for information. We worked with the publisher on two experiments, one where we just use their promotion channel and the other where the publishers work with our expert to host a webinar.

Sounds simple, right? A couple of recommendations before jumping into paid content:

  • Research publications. I knew we needed to promote our content, but I wasn’t sure what publishers we should partner with. I asked our experts, I did my own research, and I monitored on social media what folks where sharing online on their own channels.
  • Experience the publisher’s outreach program. I opted-in to publisher’s newsletters, alerts, and promotional emails to check out frequency and content. I think this is a crucial step. You need to know how your prospect will receive and consume content. You don’t want to partner with a publisher who over-sends promotional email or alerts.
  • Attend webinars and/or download whitepapers. Again this is to experience the journey just like your target audience. I like to know how folks are consuming content and how easy/hard it is.to access information.

The results from paid were encouraging:

  • We quadrupled the number of attendees who attended our webinars
  • We deepen our reach within organization we already worked with or had worked with in the past
  • Most important we added new prospects

Remember the paid promotion around the hosted webinar I mentioned earlier? The results around this are still coming in, but we have been able to exceed the success of our first campaign.

Paid promotion, like any other tactic, needs planning. Before getting started be smart and have the following information handy:

  • Know your audience
  • Know how and where they consume information
  • Research publishers or organizations to partner with
  • Complement your paid promotion with social media
  • Add e-mail marketing to the mix
  • Make sure to have executive support.
  • Measure your results and report.

What would you add to the paid promotion best practices?

 

Rachel DiCaro Metscher has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

Seven “Wicked” Content Marketing Ideas

While “Wicked” has been running for more than ten years, it is still dazzling crowds worldwide. I had the chance to see the show while in London last week. If you have not seen this play, immediately find it in your city and go! While watching the show, I couldn’t help thinking how the cast, setting, and story had striking similarities with what folks are trying to achieve in content marketing. Here are my seven tips on how to create “wicked” content for your audience to delight and dazzle.

 Set the Stage

One of the most striking aspects of this show is the stage set. While the story itself explains how the characters are connected, the stage curtain had a map of Oz for context how all the “lands” related. This context is what content marketers should strive to provide. Many times we dive into the creating the article or whitepaper, but don’t provide proper setting for the reader. Setting the stage helps level-set the reader in case the knowledge base isn’t there. And for the most part, most folks are reading your article or whitepaper to learn more so help them out by taking the time to set the stage.

Photo Credit: Flickr RubyGoes

Photo Credit: Flickr RubyGoes

Cast the right actors

 Like any good story, you need the right actors to bring the story to life. What contributes to “Wicked” worldwide success is that the actors who portray the characters bring their passion and skill to the stage. The cast in London was no exception. Content marketers need think like casting directors. Be decisive when selecting your content marketing cast. Be choosey who writes and what cast you bring to the table. It will make the world of difference in your final product.

 Create drama

I will not spoil it for you, but there is a lot of drama between multiple cast members throughout the play. This drama is what makes the story compelling. You may be thinking how can you really create drama in a technical thought leadership piece? I would challenge you to help your experts tell compelling stories by using the elements of storytelling in the outlining. I think one tool that can help create the drama is working with experts to outline their piece so you can weave the drama. I found this helpful especially when experts are too focused on the details and not enough how to connect all the ideas together. My role as the content marketer is not only to help get the content creates, but also make sure it is enjoyable to read.

Don’t over explain

What I found most intriguing about the play was that some characters from the original “Wizard of Oz” were barely seen. Take for instance, the cowardly lion. The author and stage designers did an amazing job creating the “image” of the lion without giving too much away. 

I find that technical experts sometimes over explain concepts in whitepapers and articles that leave little to the reader’s imagination. While there is a delicate balance between comprehensive and overdone, content marketers need to temper their experts into detailing too much in their pieces. Give enough to paint a picture, not write a technical manual. This is very difficult for subject matter experts since they are very versed in their craft, but forget that the audience is looking for. Don’t get in the weeds.

 Pay attention to the fine details

Besides the incredible singing and dancing, the set design and costumes help tell the story of “Wicked.” The costumes were dazzling. Every detail and sequin was placed to complement the set, but also help convey mood and feeling. This balance of showing and telling is important as you work with your content contributors to create your final masterpiece. Plan every detail: the font, the graphics, the layout, and other elements needed for your piece. These pieces are as important as the content, may be even more important. It helps tell the overall story and can make or break the success of the content. I like to tell my clients that the creating the content is important, but the images and the overall aesthetics can make or break whether people will read it. Make the time to plan out distribution and promotion otherwise your content may never “see” the light of day with your audience.

 Be in sync

While watching the actors dance across the stage, I was mesmerized how in sync they were throughout the play. This cadence is important in telling the story in your content. Make sure everything flows together from the images to content itself. While it seems simple, sometimes contributors overlook flow because they know the content too well. Help organize by thinking how the audience will consume it.

Have extensions to the story

Hello merchandising. This show has everything you can imagine in order for the audience member to take a little piece of the show back how. The retail store is painstakingly well thought out and planned. The same should be said for your distribution and promotion plan of your marketing piece. Think about how you will distribute on social media or use paid promotion to drive traffic. Think about the overall extension of how you will use different mediums to tell the story of the play. Have this content read to draw readers in. The promotion and distribute is as important as the content itself.

What are your “wicked” content ideas? 

Rachel DiCaro Metscher has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

Too Much of a Good Thing: The Challenge in Content Marketing

This week Forrester Research released a study on the maturity of content marketing. Naturally, I was super eager to read it and see what gems I could learn. The report, “Compare Your B2B Content Marketing Maturity,” found more than half (51 percent) of respondents said their content marketing efforts were somewhat effective, while 27 percent said their strategy was “neutral” and 6 percent said it was somewhat ineffective at delivering value.

Turns out that content creation is not the issue, but content development. Anyone in marketing who has worked with subject matter experts or executives knows this process is challenging. However, BMA Chairman Steve Liguori, is spot on in his statement of the challenge,

“Our survey results show that the majority of B2B content practices focus too narrowly on early-stage buyer acquisition—which fails to engage buyers throughout their lifetime. To create content that attracts and builds customer relationships throughout the customer life cycle, B2B marketers must make a fundamental shift from writing about features and benefits to delivering valuable information that drives business results.”

A long, but well-crafted statement, but there are two important points:

1) Content should NOT be about features and benefits of your products and services. It should be about information that helps the customer make a decision or learn something new. Jay Baer writes extensively on this subject and wrote a book about it that is so worth the read.

2) Content needs to cover the entire buying cycle.

Marketers face a real challenge of quantity versus quality in an age where everyone is a publisher. Again, in my mind, the purpose of content is to communicate with your prospects in a meaningful way. It’s about creating content that your customer needs, not what you want to produce. There is a huge difference.

Organizations need to rethink their content creation in terms of value and relevancy. Without value and relevancy the content can not deliver business results.