stryde-ladies

What The Stryde Ladies Can Tell You About Their Content Marketing Tools

By | Our Process, Tools | One Comment

At Stryde, content creation, distribution, and promotion is just another way of life. It’s our everyday bread and butter, our mental workout routine, and the juice that gets us going each day.

We three Stryde ladies know that there’s a lot that goes into implementing these marketing tactics from start to finish and using the proper tools isn’t just a big help, it’s a necessity!

For each of our specialists in the areas of social media, content creation, and outreach, there are a variety of resources that we use and love. Here’s what goes into our toolboxes:

Emily Burkhart, Social Media Manager, knows how to promote! She amplifies client’s content to tailored audiences on the daily and optimizes it with creative images, always while keeping up with industry trends. She relies on a few tools to stay on top of it it all.

“I live in Hootsuite. It’s the tool I utilize every single day without fail. Whether I’m scheduling shares for the week or putting reports together, Hootsuite really gives you all that you could ask for in a social management platform. I’ve tried other platforms, but even the most beautifully designed pale in comparison to Hootsuite.
When it comes to content amplification, getting your hashtags right is paramount! For that, I love Hashtagify.me. It shows a hashtags popularity and related keywords, all with one simple search.
Now, when it comes to images, I cannot live without Canva! I don’t have a formal education in graphic design, but Canva makes it so easy to make the image in your head a reality. If you find yourself fumbling with Photoshop and InDesign, or just want to add some fun images to your current blogging efforts, you have to check out Canva.”

@realemilylouisa
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Kirsten Metcalf, Content Strategist, writes on anything from witty dating advice, to cloud computing, to more sensitive topics each day; changing the subject matter and keeping her tone on point! She can draft up an intelligent, entertaining content piece in nothing flat, using a few tools to help spark her creativity.

“I like organization. If my house and workplace aren’t organized, I can’t get anything done. This is exactly why my No. 1 tool to keep me, my topic ideas, client content pieces, and my weekly to-do list organized is Evernote. Everything I need to see and be reminded of is right there in one place, and it easily syncs with all my devices so I can add and check stuff in the office or on the go. I’m cheap and just use the free version, which makes this tool even more fantastic that it keeps me focused and on task, and helps turn my content ideas into completed works of art at no cost.
As a writer, I’ve experienced writer’s block my fair share of times. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with an amazing content topic. This is where Quora comes in handy. I just recently got a Quora account, and so far I like this Q&A site. I selected topics that interest me and that are relevant to Stryde’s clients, and now when I log in I can follow and search for popular questions being asked and answered within those topics. I can also ask my own questions and answer other users’ questions. It’s a great way to see what questions users in Stryde’s industry and our clients’ industries are asking and topics they’re talking about, which helps me discover new ideas when trying to brainstorm relevant content topics.”

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Emily Christopher, PR & Outreach Strategist, understands the organic way of promoting content. When it comes to building relationships, quality and authenticity are key. She uses a few tools to get content under the noses of the right influencers and out to the eyes of the right audiences.

“In running an outreach campaign, I can’t stress organization enough. I use Buzzstream to build lists that live under assigned tags and can track my email threads and add notes. The Buzzmarker is also a newer feature that lets me save contacts directly from the page that I’m on. That’s really helped to speed things up for me. Buzz also makes it super easy to set up email outreach templates, while still giving me the option to customize a message before sending and giving it a more personal touch.
When I’m looking to reach out to more niche audiences, a great tool I’ve been using more recently is Citation Lab’s Link Prospector. It allows me to build contact lists and easily label them by campaign. You can select the type of report you want to run for your campaign; I often use “guest posting” and “links pages”, and then plug in my search phrases. It automatically pulls a customized list of contacts that’s right in line with what I’m searching for. It’s pretty awesome.”

@emily_C27
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Implementing these tools daily does not only make our jobs much easier, but it also expedites processes and helps to propel our client work to the next level. A big thanks to all of the tools we’ve listed and we’re excited to discover many more! What are some of your favorite content marketing tools?

OUTREACH & LINK DEVELOPMENT

Why Outreach & Link Development MUST Be Included In Your Content Marketing Efforts

By | Link Building | No Comments

A holistic approach to content marketing is required for success. Every aspect of your presence online, from your website to your remarketing efforts need to be aligned perfectly. Too often, individuals will focus solely on creating killer content that they overlook how that content will reach consumers.

Planning the distribution and promotion of your content is essential not only after the content is created, but before and during as well. To quote the knowledgeable Larry Kim, “If your content doesn’t show up in users social media timelines or email inbox, was it even created?” You should constantly be active in online communities and touching base with recipients of your email list. With the shrinking world of organic reach via social media platforms, you’re well aware of the “pay to play” nature of the space.

But, there’s another aspect of content promotion that is vital to success in distribution. You need a tactic that better increases your chances of showing up the ever-important user social media timeline or email inbox.

Content Outreach & Link Development

Algorithm changes by Google as far back as 2013 began to target low quality links and put emphasis on high quality, natural linking strategies. While this did translate into a higher quality user experience, generating quality links takes a lot of manual work on the part of the marketer. The process involves prospecting, building relationships, creating valuable content, and then ultimately securing the link.

A Look At The Statistics

When your outreach involves building relationships with influencers in your industry, you set your content up for maximum growth potential. The experts in synthesizing and making sense of millions of pieces at content, BuzzSumo’s team found the following when it comes to influencer impact on content visibility.

Influencers and content shares

Image Courtesy of BuzzSumo

From the above graph, you can clearly see the near exponential impact that influencers have on content shares.

Tools Of The Trade

To perform content outreach and link development, you need to flex both your technical and interpersonal skill set. Specifically, you need the right tools and the right approach to fostering relationships.

The Best Link Development & Prospecting Tool

It’s worth restating that the process of link development is intensive. But, there are tools available to make the job much more efficient. My favorite tool for performing link prospecting and outreach is BuzzStream. With BuzzStream, you can keep track of prospects, link building, and outreach all in one place.

The tool offers capabilities to prospect links and efficiently perform outreach. You can find an excellent video tutorial that walks through using BuzzStream for link prospecting on YouTube. There’s also a great comprehensive walk-through of using BuzzStream for outreach on the Point Blank SEO blog. But just as with holistic content promotion, there’s more to outreach than simply using a tool. 

The Best Way To Foster Natural Outreach

When you really get down to the heart of the matter, if you solely rely on the processes you have in place or the tools you have to help you develop prospect lists and manage email outreach, those relationships simply aren’t reaching their potential. You need to go beyond the screen and connect with bloggers, journalists, and people in general in a meaningful way.

The goal in building these relationships should be rooted in a genuine desire to connect with like-minded individuals and individuals whom you admire. Then, the auxiliary benefit of these relationships is the potential to leverage them to increase linking root domains and ultimately increase search engine rankings.

Adopt A Holistic Approach

In order to effectively carry out your content marketing efforts, you must include outreach and link development alongside your existing promotion strategies. Have these approaches helped you reach your content marketing goals? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Google Algorithm Update Mobile 2015

Google Announces Two Important Ranking Signal Changes

By | Industry News | No Comments

Yesterday, February 26, 2015, Google announced two changes to “help users discover more mobile-friendly content.” Recognizing shifting user habits, Google is adjusting the ranking signals to mobile-friendly pages and app indexing.

In the update posted yesterday to Google Webmaster Central, Takaki Makino, Chaesang Jung, and Doantam Phan outlined the changes to the algorithm and when these changes will go into effect.

On more mobile-friendly websites in search results:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

What does this mean for your website? It means that your site better be mobile-friendly! Google has given website owners plenty of time, almost two full months, to make the necessary adjustments to their sites. If you need help getting started, head over to Google Developer Mobile-Friendly Websites guide.

The second change impacts how app content is shown within search results:

Starting today, we will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search.

If you have an app, you need to implement App Indexing as soon as possible. With App Indexing, users can go directly from relevant search results to your app, as long as it’s already installed on their phone.

It seems that all of the 2015 predictions that rolled out last month are already coming to fruition: mobile is indeed the focus of the year! We think this will serve as a great benefit to user experience, and website owners should make the necessary changes to better serve consumers. What do you think about the announcement?

Read the original update from Google on Finding more mobile-friendly search results here.

'gramming branding

‘Gramming Branding: Instagram for Business Do’s and Don’ts

By | Social Media | No Comments

With Facebook’s organic reach continuing to plummet, businesses are on the hunt for better ways to reach consumers through social media platforms.

Enter Instagram.

Instagram has enjoyed astronomical growth over the past several years. In fact, the mobile app’s year-over-year growth from 2013 to 2014 comes in at a staggering 66%. Furthermore, Instagram’s average engagement rate is 15 times higher than that of Facebook! Users are 58 times more likely to engage with a brand’s post on Instagram than engaging with the same content through Facebook. Instagram is truly an engagement incubator.

Salesfoce Canada recently released an awesome infographic on Instagram’s basics. Check it out below and start to realize how brands can start telling their own stories and increase awareness through the platform.

Click To Enlarge

Say Cheese: Perfecting Your Instagram Strategy

Via Salesforce

As we alluded to before the graphic, brands need to understand the landscape of the platform and elements of a successful strategy before they begin to represent themselves via Instagram.

Here are our favorite takeaways from the infographic.

Businesses & Instagram Do’s

Make Your Brand Instantly Recognizable

  • Your brand should be clear and identifiable.
  • When posts don’t include your products, make sure they include your logo.
  • Link to your company’s website from your profile page.

Post Quality Photos, Regularly

  • Decide on a flexible, but consistent, posting schedule.
  • Mix up fun images with real images from your business.
  • Use the platform to give users sneak peeks at upcoming events and product launches.

Take Advantage of Descriptions

  • Descriptions below photo posts should be clear, engaging, and reinforce your brands image.
  • Remember, here it’s not all about the links! Instagram isn’t for directing users off-site.

Use Hashtags!

  • Create firm-specific hashtags so you can collect branded photos.
  • Encourage followers to include your firm’s hashtags in their relevant posts.
  • Utilize trending hashtags, where appropriate, to gain more eyeballs.

Engage with Followers

  • Follow back your relevant followers!
  • Repost user-generated content.
  • Add personal comments to relevant posts by others.
  • Reward your followers with discounts codes and promotions.

Businesses & Instagram Don’ts

Post Irrelevant Photos

  • Only post photos that are relevant to your firm.

Overpost

  • There is no industry-wide acceptable posting schedule through Instagram.
  • Post regularly, but avoid filling your followers’ feeds with an influx of content.
  • Stick to your schedule!

Ignore Followers

  • Interacting with your followers is the best way to grow your account.

Is your company active on Instagram? Share your successes and lessons with us in the comments!

content for every b2b sales cycle stage

The Best Content Types for Each Stage of the B2B Sales Cycle

By | Business, Content Marketing | No Comments

As content marketing moves from an industry-specific jargon to a widely-accepted business tactic, we’re privileged and excited to be on the forefront of a new frontier. More firms dipping their toes into the content marketing pool means even more brilliant minds taking stock of the landscape.

One firm doing just that is Eccolo Media. Eccolo recently published results from an extensive survey among technology buyers. The firm surveyed over 100 individuals who influence or make technology buying decisions.

Respondents ran the gamut from engineers to C-level executives. Here’s a breakdown of the respondents demographics:

B2B Content Survey Respondent Demographics

Eccolo’s survey sample size is minimal, but the breadth of job roles and industries gives an excellent snapshot of what business-to-business buyers are looking for when it comes to content consumption.

Eccolo Media’s 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey Report Findings

The goal of Eccolo’s survey was to determine what content is most helpful in each of the four sales cycle phases: pre-sales, initial sales, mid-sales, and final sales.

Here is the Eccolo Media 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey Report, Eccolo Media Inc. infographic. After the infographic, we’ll really dig into the survey findings and what they mean for your firm.

eccolo_buying_cycle_infographic-FINAL

Digging into the Infographic

Creating content is a common content marketing stumbling block for organizations. The best way to overcome it is to totally understand your consumers buying journey. After you understand their journey and questions that guide the search, you can create content based on the Content Marketing Pyramid.

The buyer’s core questions along her journey create the crux of the sales process. These questions then help to form what content customers crave and consume at each stage.

Now, let’s really dig into Eccolo’s findings on content types for each stage of the B2B sales cycle.

Phase One – Unaware of the Problem

Before the consumer enters the buying process, she is understandably unaware of the problem at hand. The most effective way to spark a problem recognition is through visually-focused and succinct methods of communication.

E-newsletters – Email is an essential content type in your overall content marketing strategy. Through an email newsletter, consumers are able to quickly identify a problem they’re facing. With short copy and a clear call-to-action, consumers can easily identify the gaps they need filled.

Blogs – As with email, blogs provide a perfect stage to communicate a concise message. Unless consumers are subscribers to your blog, they will most likely end up at your blog through social channels or search results. This is the perfect place to herd customers into your funnel, since these channels are built for first-touch interactions.

Brochures/Data Sheets – Again, the common theme with stage one content consumption is visually appealing and succinct. Brochures and data sheets are the perfect way to quickly communicate an overview of a problem to consumers.

Phase Two – Understand the Problem

In the second phase of the buying process, the customer is full-on understanding mode. Here, she’s trying to collect and synthesize as much information on her specific problem as possible. Not surprisingly, consumers crave content that is very detailed and descriptive in this stage.

White Paper – White papers are a great content choice in the second stage of the sales process because they are lengthy, detailed, unbiased, and informative. White papers provide objective and thorough information that customers love to read at this phase.

Case Studies – Similarly to white papers, case studies are detailed and informative. The customer here is looking for similarities between firms you have already served, and the subsequent successes in that interaction. Remember, at this phase, consumers WANT lengthy and detailed content.

Phase Three – Identify Solutions, Consider Vendors

Now that the consumer fully understands every element of her problem, she will begin to consider solutions and vendors that provide those solutions. Here is where your firm should shift from complete objectivity to really showcasing what sets your firm’s solution apart from your competitors.

Detailed Tech Guides – Technical guides go much more in-depth into problem-solution scenarios than white papers or case studies. With tech guides, the problem and solution are described in meticulous detail. This is precisely what consumers crave here, so give it to them!

Videos – We all know that images are processed faster than text. In fact, 50% of our brain is dedicated to visual functions. Cater to your consumers preferences here by describing more complicated solutions through a video. Videos provide a great opportunity to speak directly to your customers and explain more complicated concepts through voice rather than text.

Webinars – Webinars provide a one-two punch to customers in the third phase of the sales process. Not only can you provide crazy-detailed information, but you provide it in a visually appealing manner. What’s also great about webinars is that they allow you to communicate in real-time with your consumers and answer questions directly.

Phase Four – Finalizing vendor, purchasing solution

As the infographic points out, fewer consumers digest content in the final phase of the sales cycle. Nearly 50% of consumers utilized content in the second and third stage, but by the fourth stage that drops to just under 20%. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create content for that 20%. Quite the opposite, actually. By providing useful content at the final stage, you could greatly increase your firm’s chances of being selected.

EBooks – B2B consumers utilize eBooks in the final phase of purchasing. Quite separate from white papers, eBooks are conversational, highly visual, and easy-to-read. EBooks highlight what kind of firm is providing the solution, and how the firm itself views the solution options.

The Sales Cycle, The Buying Process, & Your Firm’s Content

What we loved most about Eccolo’s survey findings was that it reinforced the concept of consumer-driven content at each stage of the sales cycle. For B2B companies, it can be easy to dismiss content creation as a strictly B2C endeavor.

But, that could not be further from the truth! Whether you’re B2B or B2C, you’re always talking to people.

Let these people dictate what they do and do not want to see at each step in their buying process, and adjust your sales cycle around that. By simply putting yourself in the shoes of your consumer and answering each question that could arise along her journey, you’ll effectively create content for every stage of the sales cycle.

Into the Funnel.

Driving Quality Leads From Your Blog Content

By | Blogging | No Comments

As a content marketer, one of your main focuses when creating content needs to be on lead generation. When deciding what the goals of your content marketing strategy are, lead generation should be toward the top of your list. Your blog content should be generating quality leads into your marketing funnel, as well as building trust with your customers, increasing brand awareness and driving engagement to your site.

Content should be the foundation of your lead generation efforts. Content is what fuels all your marketing campaigns, from email to social and everything in between. But according to a recent IDG study, 61% of marketers claimed generating leads was a problem for their company. A big reason behind this is that companies generate leads, but they’re generating leads that aren’t ready to purchase and they end up losing those leads. To prevent your leads from being lost, you must invest in lead nurturing and other middle of the funnel methods to help build strong relationships and trust.

But first, you must grab and keep the attention of potential leads at the top of the marketing funnel with your blog content. Companies that blog produce about 67% more leads per month than companies that don’t. Capturing a reader’s attention during the awareness stage provides you with a great opportunity to turn this reader into a quality lead who you can better engage with later on.

Below are ways you can effectively drive quality leads from your blog content.

Select Your Content Topics

Confused about what blog topics you should write about? Don’t make it so hard. Write about topics your customers are interested in! It’s as simple as that. To better know what topics to cover:

  • Ask you customers what they want to know.
  • Check your web analytics to see what past topics have been successful.
  • Keep up to date with your industry’s news so you know what and when things are happening.
  • Follow other industry experts on social media to learn what they’re writing about.

When it boils down to it, write useful, informative and unique content. This type of content allows you to build credibility and trust with your customers over time.

To stay organized and on track with your blog’s mission, have a handful of categories you write about so your blog content stays structured within your blog and so your reads know what topics you typically cover. When your readers know what content they can expect from you, it helps you get more interaction between them and your content, which also means they learn more about your business.

Connect Your Prime Content With Your Blog Content

Your blog posts are uploaded as a method of engagement for those at the top of the marketing funnel, as well as a way to reengage your current audience. For the most part, these readers are in the awareness stage, which means your content needs to secure them as a business lead so you then can start building a richer, more meaningful relationship with them through your other various channels.

The way to do that is adding a call-to-action (CTA) somewhere in your post that encourages readers to view a more prime piece of content you’ve created, i.e. whitepaper, infographic, video, etc. But before a reader can view this content, have them provide their name and email address — which you collect and save — so you are able to reach out to them in the near future.

Construct An Email List Using Forms And Pop-Ups

Prime content is a great way to produce email subscribers, as well as one of the lead generation forms of your business. To continue to grow and get more people on your email subscriber list, include an email form on your site that’s easy for visitors to find and quick and easy for them to fill out. There are two simple things this form can ask visitors to do:

  • Fill out their basic information, i.e. name and email address.
  • Ask them to subscribe by RSS.

When determining where to place this form on your site, you not only want to make it easy to find, but you also want to make sure it doesn’t seem out of place or disrupt the flow of content on your site.

You may think we’re crazy for saying to use pop-ups since most readers, probably including yourself, find pop-ups quite annoying. But when pop-ups are used correctly, they can work very much in your favor and lead to sign ups.

The first thing to remember is not being aggressive with your pop-ups. Program them so they appear in a noninvasive way when a visitor is about to leave your site or a certain page on your site, depending on how long they’ve been active. You must also remember that the point of a pop-up isn’t to disrupt what a site visitor is doing just to attain their attention. Think about it. When you’re browsing a site or reading a blog post and out of nowhere a giant, flashing pop-up appears, basically yelling in your face, you have zero desire to read it. You immediately close the pop-up and/or leave the site.

So when you use pop-ups on your site, provide a compelling offer to obtain a visitor’s email address, encourage them to view or download another helpful resource of yours or simply remind them just how valuable and informative your blog always is. And don’t be annoying about it.

Nurture Your Leads Through Strategic Email Drip Campaigns

Email is a quick and direct way to reach customers. There were 3.9 billion email accounts worldwide in 2013, a number expected to rise to 4.9 billion by 2017, and approximately 182.9 billion emails were sent and receive each day throughout the world during that same year. But emails aren’t just a way for you to talk to leads. They’re your way to nurture them and give them a reason and opportunity to respond. And nurtured leads are the kind of leads you want. When compared to non-nurtured leads, nurtured leads make roughly 47% larger purchases and produce about a 20% increase in sales opportunities.

Ever heard of the “batch and blast” campaigns? Well, don’t use those if you have! No one wants to be blasted. Today’s consumers want to receive personalized and relevant communications from businesses.

In order for you to provide that kind of communication through your email drip campaigns, you need to know:

  • How to talk to your customers as individuals, not as a group.
  • How to tailor each email to the customers you’re sending them to.
  • How to make your emails conversational, not sales pitchy.
  • How to make each email engaging, relevant and informational.
  • What’s going to make readers trust you through these emails.
  • How to coordinate them with your other channels.

Emails in this campaign should be geared toward answering your leads’ questions and fulfilling their needs through informative content that educates and entices them and moves them closer to spending their money with your business. Don’t forget to include CTAs and links in your emails that send your leads to your blog, pages on your site, etc., to get them interacting more with your brand.

Drive Quality Leads From Previous Posts

As you’re writing a blog post, include links to other relevant posts that have been published on your company’s blog. Readers know to click on links within a post they’re reading to receive more information about a certain topic, additional resources, industry news relating to the topic, etc. Adding additional links also makes readers see you as more of an expert who’s really done his or her research with this topic.

Relevant links to other posts on your site get visitors reading and interacting more with your blog and other site pages, which means they spend more time on your site. When you encourage more interaction within your site, your amount of leads from your blog increases, or at least it will if you have amazing, useful content.

Include A Free Sample Or Trial Of Your Product

If you can, incorporate a CTA that offers your readers a sample of your product or even a free trial of it. One, people love free stuff, and two, being able to review your product for free instead of having to review more and more content gets a reader moving more swiftly through the sales funnel.

Be sure to choose whichever option works bests with your business and what you’re selling or offering. These options can sometimes get a tad expensive for businesses, but if you can afford it, do it. It’s a good way to drive leads straight from your blog content.

Implement Social Media

Last but certainly not least, use social media. Several, if not all, consumers research various channels online, including most often social media, to find educational resources that help them make purchasing decisions.

What does this mean for you? It means you need to share your blog content on social media platforms to generate more leads. You want and need to be where you customers and prospects are, creating trust, informing them and providing useful content, all of which can be done when you’re on and continuously involved with social media.

A great social media site for B2B companies is LinkedIn. LinkedIn generates more leads for companies than Facebook and Twitter, but only about 47% of B2B marketers actively use this platform. So to stay on top of the game and drive the amount of leads you want, get and stay actively involved with the major social media sites.

In closing, follow these do’s of effective lead generation to drive the quality leads you desire:

  • DO develop content for the different stages of the buying process.
  • DO use a blog and create great, unique content that provides the information your leads are looking for.
  • DO take advantage of direct marketing, i.e. email drip campaigns.
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So, You Want A Bigger Content Marketing Budget?

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

You’re not alone. According to a survey of 600 marketers performed last year, 65% of marketers believe that more resources equate to higher ROI and “brand lift.” More specifically, nearly 35% of marketers surveyed estimated they would see two to five times more brand lift with a bigger budget. While nearly 30% of those surveyed said that more resources would lead to two to five times the return on investment.

Done deal, right? Throw more money into the content marketing machine and watch the results pour out like you just hit the jackpot on a slot machine.

A Dash of Cognitive Dissonance

In that very same survey, marketers were asked if their key content metrics are effective in measuring business results. A whopping 90% said they were uncertain about the efficacy of their chosen metrics.

That’s right. The very same pool of marketers whose majority was certain that a budget increase would yield higher ROI and brand lift, don’t even know if they’re measuring their efforts correctly. Talk about conflicting ideas.

How can you drive two to five times more brand lift and ROI with an increased budget if you don’t even know if your current measurement metrics are valid? Furthermore, why on earth should the powers-that-be approve any budget increase if that is the case?

“Measure Twice, Cut Once”

In Junior High, we had to take wood shop. Now they didn’t call it “woodshop,” it was “applied practical arts.” A rose by any other name, right? Anyway, I digress. It was in this class that the concept of “measure twice, cut once” was hammered into my head.

The same concept continued to appear throughout the rest of my schooling into the University years. When synthesizing droves of data became paramount, and misinterpreting that data held the consequence of passing or failing.

In the business world, there is no omnipresent authority that will grade the key metrics you’ve found. If you incorrectly interpret the data from a content marketing campaign, it isn’t a letter grade that suffers, it’s your firm or your client. Making the concept of measuring and re-measuring before “cutting” your content marketing campaigns even more important.

Before You Demand More, Know What You Have

A large portion of the content marketers that aren’t sure if their content marketing metrics are an accurate reflection of results, may simply be impatient. Remember, there’s no such thing as a short-term content marketing campaign. If you believe your metrics aren’t effective because they’re low, you may just need to wait a few more weeks, or even months, to see the full results.

Rarely does a single metric tell you the entire story. With content marketing it’s no different. Many marketers focus solely on consumption. While that’s important, it’s not the end-goal of your content marketing efforts. Content marketing requires a measurement of how the customer is consuming your content, and a quantification of how that content consumer customer impacts sales. Ultimately, it’s a combination of measuring the customer sentiment as well as the cents that customer ends up spending.

Some of the brightest minds in content marketing, Jay Baer and Content Marketing Institute, reached a consensus on the four essential buckets of metrics you should be tracking. Two of these buckets are meant to convey your consumer’s sentiment towards the content. The other two buckets involve cold, hard cash.

Measuring Sentiment

Consumption Metrics
Consumption metrics are things like page views, downloads, and similar measurements. Essentially, with consumption metrics you’re trying to figure out how many people actually read or viewed your content.

Sharing Metrics
Sharing metrics are quite easy to find and aggregate. In this bucket you’ll find shares via every social network and content syndication platform. With this metric, you’re showing how many, and how much, your consumers are sharing your content with their networks.

Measuring Cents

Lead Generation Metrics
Several lead generation metrics require work to be done before you even launch a campaign. This is quite different than the sentiment metrics that all occur post-campaign. Whether that’s setting a cookie or specific campaign URL, you need a way to see if those consuming your content are transforming into leads. Post-campaign, you can look at consumers’ paths in Google Analytics to determine if a lead form was filled out after interacting with a piece of content.

Sales Metrics
Measuring sales metrics from content campaigns is arguably the most daunting part of all. However, if you’re utilizing a customer or prospect database, it becomes infinitely easier. Note the specific pieces of content that each customer has consumed, and attribute their spending across those particular pieces.

Still Want That Big Budget?

If you aren’t a member of the 90% of marketers that question their content marketing metrics, by all means, ask for that budget increase. But, if you are one of the 90%, you need to evaluate your measurements first.

Examine your past campaigns using each of the metrics above. What are typical results in the industry? Do your results fall below or exceed those averages? And most importantly, did the amount a customer provide a positive return on investment for the amount you spent creating and promoting the content? Only then can you determine if more budget will impact your efforts, or if you need to adjust your approach.

We’re conditioned for our entire lives to measure incessantly and then form concrete, powerful conclusions. Just like success in content marketing, the ability to measure twice and cut once does not appear overnight. It takes constant flexing of your analytical muscles to transform it into a habit.

The bottom line: make sure you’re measuring your content accurately BEFORE you throw more money into a campaign.

Short-Term Content Marketing Does Not Exist Header

Why Short Term Content Marketing Campaigns Are A Horrible Idea

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

It’s human nature to relish instant gratification. Our most basic instinctual drives rely on the carnal urge to quickly alleviate displeasure and expedite enjoyment. Moreover, we live in the age of up-to-the-minute newsfeeds, abhorrently fast Internet access, and same-day drone deliveries.

In short, humans face no scarcity of opportunities for immediate satisfaction. As content marketers in this consumer-driven world, we must give the people what they want, right? That means having answers to every question, upon request, at consumers’ fingertips.

Here’s where that process gets remarkably tricky. Even though we fancy ourselves as objective marketers, we’re still under the same influence of human nature as our consumers. One of the ways our instant gratification tendencies manifests itself is a run-and-gun approach to content marketing execution and examination.

I’ll spare you further cliché colloquialisms of good things taking time and running marathons not sprints. I will, however, explain why short-term content marketing campaigns are not only a horrible idea, but really shouldn’t even exist in the industry. To do so, we’ll look at content marketing’s definition and objectives, the definition of “short-term,” as well as real-world examples of the content marketing process.

Content Marketing Definition

The first step in understanding the ineptitude of short-term content marketing campaigns is to look at the definition of content marketing.

“Content marketing is an online marketing strategy that focuses on providing valuable content to current and potential clients and customers.”

The crux of content marketing’s definition is “providing valuable content.” Obvious? Good. Content that your audience finds valuable is mandatory, regardless of your stance on the efficacy of short-term campaigns.

Sometimes to fully understand what something is, it helps to know what it’s not. If there was any uncertainty, a content marketing campaign is NOT an advertising campaign. Simply because both are followed by “campaign” does not make them one in the same. In actuality, no one should understand this better than marketers. We should be the most aware of the many facets of marketing. The folks working in the areas of product, price, and place can attest to that notion.

Content marketing is not advertising

Let’s examine an academic definition for advertising to see why there’s no excuse for homogenizing the two categories.

“Advertising is paid, impersonal, one-way marketing of persuasive information from an identified sponsor disseminated through channels of mass communication to promote the adoption of goods, services or ideas.”

Did you spot the key word of difference from content marketing’s definition? For one, there’s the clear difference that content marketing provides value for current customers as well as to prospects. But, there is a type of advertising which focuses on informing current users, too.

There is a more decisive point of difference. The element of persuasion is by definition absent from content marketing. While by definition, persuasion is at the very core of advertising. Content marketing is about building a network of long-term brand advocates, not an immediate jump in sales or leads.

Content Marketing Objectives

The critical point of difference in the definitions of advertising and content marketing is also the root of the discrepancies in their ultimate objectives. Take a look at some of the most common goals of each type of campaign.

Content Campaign Objectives

Advertising Campaign Objectives

Brand Awareness

Persuade

Brand Loyalty

Remind
Customer Education

Inform

Customer Engagement

Stimulate Immediate Demand

Talent Recruitment

Increase Profit

To speak broadly, the main goal of all content marketing campaigns is to create brand advocates. In turn, these advocates provide your brand with search, referral, social, and word of mouth traffic for years. Which then translates into long-term, sustainable profits.

In advertising, the overarching goal is to instantly impact sales and/or leads. Immediate, measureable, and profitable results are expected here and they should be. Ad campaigns completely satisfy our desire for instant gratification.

Content marketing versus advertising

Both content marketing campaigns and advertising campaigns have a place in all firms. Your mission, objectives, and goals will determine when and where you utilize each campaign type. It’s up to you to decide when it’s necessary to push a product, but providing long-term value to consumers is an ongoing effort.

Everyone running a content marketing campaign must learn to quiet the desire for instant gratification, while simultaneously providing it to each and every consumer.

Defining “Short-Term”

All areas of business utilize short- and long-term projections, goals, and projects. It is often the case that short-term goals are used as means-to-an-end for long-term goals. In investment and accounting, short-term typically indicates a duration of less than a year.

Think back to our discussion on the definitions. In advertising, the core goal was to spark immediate action. Now, that short-term goal is often used in conjunction with a long-term advertising plan or direction. However, advertising is still better measured and assessed in the short-term.

Every single content marketing initiative requires you to take the long-term approach. John Hall, Forbes contributor and CEO of Influence & Co, says the following on content marketing initiatives, “Any solid initiative needs at least six months to yield impact.” Any content marketing campaign that hasn’t been in place for AT LEAST half a year will not give you results, or at least not the results for which you’re hoping.

It all boils down to consistency. A term not included in the definition of content marketing, but probably should be added. Posting a few blog posts here and there does not constitute a content marketing campaign.

Authority and consistency

Consistency equals authority. When consistency is absent or overlooked, the consumer has no reason to look at you as anything more than an occasional commentator. Occasional commentators do not develop a posse of passionate brand advocates. And that’s when content marketing pays dividends.

Proof That It’s A Process

As with the law of gravity and the influence of instincts, no one is excused from the incapability of short-term content marketing campaigns. Take a look at Neil Patel, co-founder of Quick Sprout, Crazy Egg, and KISSmetrics. Everyone from The Wall Street Journal to the POTUS have honored Patel as a top influencer on the Internet and a top entrepreneur.

The online presence that Patel’s blogs enjoy in the business and marketing space was not built overnight, or even in six months. Quick Sprout took five years to see 100,000 monthly visits. Need more proof of the efficacy of consistency? KISSmetrics took two years and five posts a week to hit 500,000 monthly visitors.

Short-Term Content Marketing Does Not Exist

Here and now, let’s declare an end to short-term content marketing campaigns.

When you strip away all of the preconceived notions and marketing jargon, short-term content marketing reveals itself as an oxymoron. “Short-term” and “content marketing” are complete opposites. Put it on the list next to jumbo shrimp and sweet sorrow.

content marketing demands nurturing

Quieting your instincts to desire immediate gratification is no easy feat. But, understanding what content marketing is at its core is a crucial step. It’s not about waiting anxiously for results, it’s about nurturing a relationship. Content marketing is about being a consistent source of value in a persons’ life. Doesn’t everyone deserve that?

winning content team

How To Structure A Content Marketing Team

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

Creating and promoting useful, unique content is something everyone is doing, and in this case, your mother would tell you it’s OK to follow the crowd with this one. And so do we.

Approximately 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers implement content marketing, and if you’re not already a part of one of those percentages, you need to be. Why? Well for starters, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and produces nearly 3 times as many leads.

In order for your content marketing efforts to be successful, you need to structure a content marketing team. Your content marketing team provides numerous benefits for your brand, including:

  • Driving awareness
  • Educating prospects
  • Building credibility and earning trust with potential clients
  • Generating leads
  • Nurturing leads
  • Increasing direct sales

Now you know what your content marketing team’s responsibilities are and why this team is needed, it’s time to learn what team members are necessary and how you’re going to structure your team.

Content Marketing Team Players

Most content marketing teams are smaller. Roughly 41% are only made up of 2-5 people. But the size of your team all depends on how big your company is and how big your budget is. You also should sit down and set goals and strategies before you start hiring people. This helps you create a framework for your content marketing team, and once that framework is set, you can move on to compiling your team players together.

Team Lead

Every team needs a captain, a team leader. He or she is the person leading your content marketing strategy. All content and processes should flow through the team lead, who needs to be involved with the steps and every team member. According to Joe Pulizzi, who holds this role at CMI, the responsibilities of the team lead — or chief storyteller as he titles them — involve:

  • Managing content
  • Approving designs
  • Getting web, print and event resources
  • Budgeting projects
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Developing audiences
  • Researching and measuring content results

The team lead should do all he or she can to ensure the content marketing team’s goals are executed.

Managing Editor

Next in line is the managing editor. Your team’s manager is second in command and plays a crucial role within the team. This role oversees the editorial calendar, scheduling, assigning the content creators tasks, making sure content is captivating and consistent and maintaining your brand’s voice. A managing editor needs to know the mechanics of publishing content online, how to manage all the content and sometimes must add images to written content pieces. You should hire someone who has a strong background in journalism or English.

Content Creators

Content creators are exactly what their name says they are. They’re the ones actually creating the content that gets sent to the managing editor for review. A content creator could be a writer, a designer or a videographer. They could even be all three. Depending on size, budget, workload and types of content you wish to create, you may only need one content creator, or you may need three or four or more. Many companies have in-house content creators, but some also outsource to freelancers. There are pros and cons to each, so just make sure you choose whatever option works best with your brand and its goals.

Client Communicator

Buyer personas might already be in place, and the content marketing team thinks they know all there is to know about your brand’s audience. But to really be successful and produce content that hits home with your audience every time, it takes more than reading a description about your buyers. You want someone on the team who interacts almost daily with customers — someone who knows their problems, who knows what their needs and wants. This person will be so in tune with your customers that they can judge whether or not a specific content topic, style or channel is going to align with your customers. The client communicator role doesn’t need to be full time. It can be a consulting role to your team.

Stakeholders

Lastly are stakeholders. They aren’t always seen or remembered as players on your team. But they’re the approvers. They’re people you want on your side because they’re needed to help your content marketing efforts succeed. Not taking their input is a surefire way for your efforts to fail. Don’t look at stakeholders as the bad guys, as people you don’t want to deal with until the end of the process who then can ruin your content projects by disapproving of them after all your hard work. Educate these people on what your content marketing goals and initiatives are from the get-go. Involving stakeholders from the beginning of your content voyage makes them team players, your friends, not your enemies.

Steps To Structure Your Team

Once you know the people you need to hire and after setting your content marketing team’s goals and strategies, it’s time to start building your team. Here are some steps to consider when structuring your team:

Hire the best candidates for each position. You know the positions that need to be filled, so now it’s time to interview and hire the right candidates. You can hire outside your company or select from those already in your company. We suggest starting within your company. People who have the needed skills and already know your brand make the best candidates (usually). Not to mention it’s a lot easier and shorter process to hire from within.

Align internally. Besides the team players we listed above, find individuals and other teams in your company who can become part of your extended content marketing team. These people can be valued assets to your team. Look for writers, content contributors and topic idea contributors.

Train your team. Once you’ve hired your team members, you need to train them. Training methods and how much training is necessary depends on who you’ve hired, the structure of your team and what your goals are for your content team and content marketing efforts. A way to lessen how much time is needed training, hire people of high quality who already have the skills and talents of the roles you hired them for.

Measure what’s working and what isn’t. Monitoring and tracking metrics may be more of maintaining your team instead of structuring it, but nonetheless it’s important, needs to be done and should be put in place from the beginning. All marketing strategies are measured, and content marketing is no different. You made goals, so you want to monitor and track them to see how they’re doing. Digital marketing strategist Jay Baer believes there are 4 categories of metrics worth tracking — consumption, sharing, lead generation and sales.

Well there you have it. You now know who and what it takes to structure a successful content marketing team. So what’re you waiting for? Start recruiting the right players and organize yourself a winning team right now!

10

10 Must Have Tools For Content Marketers

By | Content Marketing | One Comment

Do you consider yourself a content marketer? If you answered yes, then you better live and breathe content every day.

The marketing mindset continues to develop and change over time, and one of those more recent changes is its focus being on content. Content marketing is all the rage, and I’m not just saying that because it’s what we do. Several other marketers agree with us, with 90% of marketers using content marketing and 72% creating more content than they were a year ago.

While the stats prove marketers find content marketing an extremely important part of their overall marketing strategy, only 34% of marketers think they’re effective with their content marketing efforts. That number is way too low.

So what can we as marketers do to get that percentage up? First, we need to have confidence in our abilities and ourselves. Next, we need to have a plan in place. And lastly, we need to be using the right content marketing tools to create and get our voices and our brand’s content and storytelling out there!

This isn’t a comprehensive list (or a list ordered by importance), but it’s a list of must-have content marketing tools to help you start becoming and feeling more effective with your content marketing efforts.

  1. WordPress

WordPress is great web software used to create blogs and websites. It first started as just a blogging system but has since grown into a content management system. It allows you to create your own custom theme, add plugins, publish your content (words, images, videos), control comments made on your blog and so much more. WordPress must be an awesome tool since more than 60 million people use it, including us.

  1. Curata

With Curata, you get a tool that does a number of useful things for you. The most common way it’s used is as a content curation tool, where you can easily discover, arrange and share content that’s relevant to your brand and audience to better position yourself as a thought leader within your industry, among other things. Curata is also a good content collaboration and organization tool.

  1. Steptap

Steptap is a relatively new platform for businesses and marketers to leverage for their content initiatives. A Steptap is created to teach your prospects and your customers how to create something, build something, do something, or fix something. With a premium account (which we highly recommend) you can even get some pretty decent SEO value out of your efforts and drive traffic and sales.

  1. Visual.ly

We all know visual content grabs and keeps a reader’s attention, and with visual.ly you can create all kinds of captivating visuals for your audience. Aesthetically pleasing infographics, videos, presentations, engaging web experiences and micro-content are what you can expect from this content marketing tool. 

  1. Qzzr

Virtual quizzes are on the rise. Why? To put it simply — because quizzes are all about the person taking them. Plus they’re fun and engaging. Qzzr, another tool we use, lets you create these types of quizzes for your site or blog, and its design includes social sharing buttons so quiz takers can immediately share their results with their friends and followers, which usually leads to more people taking your quiz.

  1. SlideShare

Keeping with the visual theme we have going here, SlideShare is a tool used for uploading and sharing interesting, informative slide presentations. It also provides insight into who sees your presentations.

  1. Hootsuite 

Hootsuite is going to be a lifesaver for anyone involved with social media accounts for your brand and/or your clients (just ask our social girl). Through Hootsuite you’re able to manage several social media accounts, schedule messages and tweets to be sent out through each account, track any brand mentions and examine social media traffic.

  1. Buzzstream

Buzzstream is a content promotion tool, under the earned media category. It gives you a multitude of services to assist you with link building. Through this platform you can find influencers within your niche that might be willing to share your content, while also organizing and monitoring your outreach efforts.

  1. Outbrain

Another tool worthy of having is Outbrain. This tool falls under paid media. It’s a content discovery tool that exposes and recommends your content to people reading other quality publishers. Outbrain also offers readers a more personalized reader experience.

  1. Google Analytics

Last but not least on this list is a way to track your site analytics. We’ve found that Google Analytics is a useful monitoring tool because with it we can measure conversion rates, evaluate the impact social media and mobile have on our site’s traffic and customize reports for our company and our clients.

What content marketing tools do you currently use that you couldn’t live without? Tell us what works for you in the comments below!