Tag 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.

Advertisements

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.

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.

Marketing Biggest Challenge in 2014: Relevance

After writing about the content marketing ugly truths last week for the Oracle/Eloqua blog,It’s All About Revenue, I began to think about what are some of the other challenges that face marketers today. Much has changed in marketing since I began my career in the late 1990s.

content marketing strategyAs many folks know, your marketplace has become uber crowded with a lot of content. Many companies are producing tons of content. Some of that content is branded content from companies, other content is from enthusiast, and the rest is a hybrid of the two. Most of your clients are already conducting their own research. Fifty-seven percent of consumers are researching your products and services BEFORE contact you according to CEB. According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth, the average person digests at least 10 pieces of online information before making a purchasing decision.

Other industries also grapple with the issue of relevancy in a crowded marketplace.

If you had not read the New York Times Innovation Report, definitely read it. The battle for your customer’s mind-share and inbox is not just a challenge B2B marketers, but also publications. P.S. If you don’t have the time or the energy to read the 97 page report, check out Scott Monty’s awesome recap.

While the challenge is to create marketing that can compete in a crowded marketplace, the real challenge is relevance.

It is not about only the creative idea, but also it is about how that idea is relevant to the market.

The relevancy is the biggest challenge in marketing for 2014.

I ponder this concept especially as I read the New York Times report. One of the striking quotes in the report was from the Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, Janine Gibson, on audience “The hardest part for me has been the realization that you don’t get an audience.”

Some marketers forget this often. Don’t assume your content has an audience unless you have developed it with them in mind. Over the years, I have seen many organization create content without the end user in mind, but what they want to promote. These activities are also short term and yield poor results.

More importantly, the content you create to support your marketing should Solve for the Customer (S.F. T. C.) need or challenge. What your organization creates satisfies the clients’ needs not your ego.

You can’t create interesting marketing unless it is relevant to your market.

Clay Shirky, writer and TED Talk speaker summarizes why relevancy is key in your marketing, “You can’t fake interestingness.”

 

Rachel DiCaro Metscher is responsible helping her clients create content that adds value, maximizes results, and contributes to the conversation as the director of content marketing at ICF International. A champion of clear and concise communications, she has worked for The Princeton Review, Fannie Mae, and other B2B software companies to build successful marketing programs. You can hear about her musings on PR, social media, and content marketing on her blog, Metscher’s Musings.

Four More Ugly Truths About Content Marketing

Earlier this week I published my full seven ugly truth about content marketing on Oracles|Eloqua blog, It All About Revenue.

I outline some of the experiences I have seen recently, but also would add the concept of content marketing is not new. In 2006, when I worked in financial service, we were creating “thought leadership” pieces for clients in our monthly newsletter. Those pieces were mainly about the “customer experience.” At the time the banking industry, specifically personal banking, was going through somewhat of a revolution. Consumers wanted more from their bank. Banks both large and small were grappling how to offer value adds in a commodity marketplace.

Rachel Metscher Content Marketing Stands for Change

Image from Compendium

The same holds true then as it does today, create content that your market needs. More importantly, create content that teaches your customers something new and they will thank you. Your customers will thank you with their business.

 

Three Ugly Truths about Content Marketing

In a recent content marketing report, 93 percent of B2B marketers say they are using content marketing this year in their efforts. The plethora of online content is astounding on the topic; more than 1 billion search results appear.

That’s right 1 billion results.

But, among the 1 billion search results, I haven’t found much in marketers sharing the growing pains.  While content marketing might be the shiny new penny, there are seven ugly truths about content marketing.

Ugly Truth #1: Everyone wants to create content, but no one wants to discuss promotion and distribution

Perhaps you have been in meetings where content creators focus most of their time on creating, and no time on distribution and promotion.  In today’s crowded digital world, assigning no distribution or promotion plan is a fool proof way to make sure your content will not be viewed. The old model of “one and done” is over.

I had an amazing, but stunning conversation recently with one of my internal clients that illustrate the lack of understanding promotion. I shared that I was looking to budget some marketing dollars to paid and native advertising, among other things. His response, “why would we do that? We could use that money for a conference.”

Disheartening, yes.  However, I had a clever response. “While the conference might be worth wild, you may only reach maybe 50-75 people at one time for an hour. Online, I can reach 5X to 10X more people, twenty-four hours a day. While you are sleeping, your content can be seen in other parts of the world that far exceed the face-to-face conference.”

Paid search and native advertising (sponsored content) gets the shaft because simply your executives and experts don’t realize they have used it in their off time. More importantly they don’t understand the language or what it means.

Ugly Truth #2: Many folks in your organization already create content without a strategy

content marketing strategy

What is driving your content marketing strategy?

Fun fact: 70 percent of marketers say they lack a consistent or integrated content strategy, despite the fact that 82 percent of content marketers see positive ROI for their inbound marketing.

One of the most interesting parts of my role is wrangling all content creators together so we can “pull on the same string.” There are multiple people in your organization creating content: HR for internal campaigns, product management to communicate with clients, marketing to connect with prospects. Unifying your strategy is important not only for content marketing sake, but also for all the areas your content will be distributed: website, campaigns, annual conferences, social media, and public relations effort.

A unified strategy helps define what your creators will produce, what your team will market and distribute, and what success will look like. While much has been written on content strategy, only 44 percent have a documented strategy according to Content Marketing Institute.

Solution: Write down your content approach and then socialize that among your internal stakeholders. This does not have to be a fancy document. Kristina Halvorson, author of Content Strategy for the Web, describes content strategy as “planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.”  I like this definition and used it as a template for my company. My documented strategy: what we plan to create that is signed off by the businesses and more importantly subject matter experts, when it is to be delivered, how we plan to use it and repurpose, and what channels will it be distributed. Success metrics are defined by the team and reported on a monthly basis.

Ugly Truth #3: Many folks create content they want to publish not what the customer needs

In my opinion this is the ugliest truth of all. In my former PR role, I had the luxury of driving what content was created because my stakeholders (editors and reporters) drove what content they want. Why? They knew what the reader wanted or what is most interesting to them.

As a content marketer working with highly specialized experts, I run into what a call “academic professor syndrome.”  Remember when you were in college and the professor would pontificate on subjects outside what you were interested in? This syndrome of sharing information only the professor is interested in rather than you reappears in marketing, especially marketing consultants’ expertise.

Solution: Unlike college, where I had to listen, I don’t have to take everything the subject expert as truth. I can validate it by research. I research the following  to guide this conversation:

  •  I review the number of Google searches it appears in. Also, I check out Google Trends to see if this is trending.
  • I do some research in trades  and national news to see how many others are discussing
  •  I perform a small number of searches on social media: Linkedin and Twitter ( these platforms, for my company, are the most used in my areas of focus)
  • I see what others are writing about on the contra of that idea

With this information in hand, I am much more equipped to discuss with the expert effectively. Otherwise this conversation will escalate. Trust me. If the topic is not discussed, I pose the question whether it is an emerging trend or just something the expert thinks is “cool.” What your expert think is “cool” maybe better position for something else (blog post on personal site?), but not much else that takes more resources and time to write. Your job to mitigate project creep and stick to the plan.

Ultimately, this is about creating and executing a plan. Without it, your content marketing efforts will be sunk.

 

What else would you add?

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.

Part Two: How to Use Storytelling in Your Content Marketing

I recently attended a Content Marketing Institute webinar on the 2014 upcoming content marketing trends. One of the key approaches to content marketing is understand who you are creating content for. It’s not about what you want to write about, it is about what your audience cares about. I thought the webinar was timely and highlighted the importance of knowing your audience.

In the second installment of how to use storytelling in your content marketing I evaluate the importance of defining your audience and keeping organized.

Step Three: Define Your Audience

Now that you have everyone on board to be storytellers, it’s time to define your audience. If you have developed personas for your marketing use those to help develop your stories. If you do not have personas, here is why you need them: Personas help define who will consume the new content you are about to create.

Personas are profiles of your customer. They are a snapshot into what motivates that customer to buy your products or services. Questions to consider when developing personas: what makes the audience engage? Why should they care? What’s in it for them? What do you want the audience to do after reading your story?

Creating personas will take time. You will need to do some interviewing of current clients as well as stakeholders who work directly with them. A great example of how to research your audience is look at job postings in your field. I am currently working in the energy space and was having trouble understanding who works in the energy space. I started looking at job postings to find out who the utilities were trying to employ and use this as the foundation for me to build my personas. It wasn’t perfect, but with the requirements I understood what was needed in their roles which in turn helped me figure out pain points and motivators. I used this as the foundation to build the personas and peppered subject matter interviews to refine the personas.

Contribution from atlanta.iabc.com

Contribution from atlanta.iabc.com

Step Four: Get Organized

Managing multiple themes and getting your story out in the market will take planning and organization. Editorial calendars will be your new favorite tool in 2014.

Editorial calendars helps organizations organize multiple themes, platforms, team members, and manage the process of creation. Pam Dyer, a Social Media Today contributor wrote that editorial calendars should be viewed as a roadmap to ensure your content is optimized to meet your business goals and targets the right audience. It will also provide assurance that your contributors, stakeholders, and distribution channels are working in concert. I love that because as marketers we sometimes neglect the planning and organizing internal resources to create content.

As the Director of Content Marketing, as see my role as the CEO of content. I help plan, but also I make sure all folks contributing understand they are accountable to delivering the content. The editorial calendar is a great tool to work with multiple stakeholders to understand where their content will be distributed and manage deadlines. I would also stress that the editorial calendar is not static, but ever evolving. I am constantly changing themes and distribution of content based on changes of my contributors or marketplace. A great example was my firm’s recent whitepaper on the polar vortex affect the U.S. energy market ability to respond to extreme weather. Based on small changes to timing we were able to capitalize on great earned media opportunities in the national press and trade publications.

Editorial calendars also help me manage the contributors and foresee holes in the plan. It can also be a great source to help you generate ideas for future contributions and repurpose opportunities. Don’t think you can use only one story at a time, you can repurpose several content pieces for different platforms such as social and off line.

Storytelling is not a new concept, but is more challenging to use in today’s noisy marketplace. Marketers who will effectively use realize this technique will take time, planning, and executive buy in. it’s not only about the planning, but also the stories themselves. Do you have a corporate story that will resonate and cut through the noise?