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Archive for September, 2012

One of the great rewards of being a marketer today is that we can measure so much of what we attempt and accomplish.

But all the potential and promise of measurement can quickly become a pain if we struggle to make sense of the myriad metrics.

Maybe that’s why it was standing room only this week inside a convention center conference room in Columbus, OH. The overflow crowd was furiously scribbling and typing notes based on a presentation by Jay Baer, CEO of Convince & Convert, a social media and content consultancy.

Despite the hyperbolic (or more likely, tongue-in-cheek) title of his presentation, “The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing Metrics,” @jaybaer delivered one of the more takeaway-filled seminars during Content Marketing World 2012. Apparently BtoB magazine agreed, having led one of its daily e-newsletter dispatches from #cmworld with a synopsis of Baer’s remarks.

See if this handful of takeaways helps bring clarity and focus to how your organization approaches content measurement:

Mind your business. While it’s great to “think like a publisher” in order to get yourself in a content marketing mode and mindset, “You’re not really in the publishing business,” Baer cautioned. “You’re in the action business.” In other words, you’re looking to generate meaningful results for your business and brand.

Focus on a quartet of categories. Baer suggests organizing content measurement around four metrics categories. Category labels and broad definitions he suggests include:

  • Consumption. How many people viewed, downloaded or listened to your content assets? Consumption is a top-of-the-sales-funnel metrics category. So if you’re looking to expand and fill the pipeline, ungate your content. “Forms are the enemy of spread,” Baer said.
  • Sharing. How resonant is this content, and how often is it shared with others? Here’s where you’re tracking likes, tweets, retweets, and don’t forget e-mail forwards. Key to growing sharing metrics? First and foremost, said Baer, create great content. Beyond that, make sure sharing buttons are readily available in and around your online content.
  • Lead generation and nurturing. Now you’re moving deeper in the funnel, getting into registrations for gated content assets. Opt-in e-mail subscriptions. Blog subscriptions. Even blog and social media comments can be “soft leads,” Baer said. Here’s where conversion rates start to become meaningful: The ratio between consumption metrics and leads generated.
  • Sales. The end game. For e-commerce firms, it’s about online transactions. For companies with a more complex and largely offline sales cycle, you’ll need a process to capture offline sales activity and outcomes in order to truly measure success.

Don’t quit at consumption. B2B published this quote from Baer: “Consumption alone doesn’t matter. You want to look at whether prospects engage in other, more desirable behaviors as a result of your content, such as returning to your site in greater ratios than others. If you don’t know these things, you are lying to yourself about content effectiveness.”

Don’t forget: Do something trackable. Closing by returning to his original point, Bear reminded attendees to embed content with plenty of opportunities and offers to take action, in order to have something by which to measure content effectiveness.
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This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.

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The world got a little less zany yesterday with the death of Phyllis Diller at age 95.

If you’re old enough to have grown up watching the “Queen of Comedy” on TV, in movies or on stage, you’re probably of one of two minds: She was either great or grating. Hers was that sort of polarizing style and talent.

Perhaps because of that, she made an enduring impact on the entertainment business and is credited with paving a path for later generations of female comedians. She also became a uniquely memorable character to audiences she reached and touched, whether while entertaining troops overseas in USO shows, or making one of her frequent appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. 

In reading news reports and media tributes, I was struck by a few themes that defined Diller’s comedic persona. It dawned on me that there are hallmarks to her career that can serve as lessons and inspiration for us marketers, as we strive to create memorable impact and differentiated positioning in a crowded, noisy marketplace.

Here are a few of my takeaways. Perhaps you’ve got some of your own. If so, please share them in a comment.


Short and punchy works — but also takes work. 
Especially with the rise of social media and community management, balancing long-form, value-adding content with plenty of concise, well-crafted, information-rich tweets, comments, updates and replies is a critical ingredient in today’s marketing mix.

What bears noting is that these short-form snippets deserve as much strategic thought and professional care as your e-books, webinars, white papers and infographics.  

Skim through these Phyllis Diller quotes assembled into a slide show by the Huffington Post. Diller clearly had a knack for the punchy, high-impact, 140-character comment long before Twitter.

Now picture that behind each line was (I’m assuming) a team of talented, professional comedy thinkers and writers, evaluating every word and polishing every phrase until the result crackled and sparkled. You get the sense Diller wouldn’t have entrusted her Twitter stream or Facebook updates to the new intern. This is the work of subject-matter experts. Communications pros.


Dare to stand out
Simply by virtue of her gender, Diller was different for her time, and therefore bound to stand apart from her male comedy contemporaries. But she elected to go one step (OK, several steps) further to appear distinctive and attract attention. From her cackling laugh to the platinum-colored wigs and cigarette holder, you know when she walked through a curtain or delivered a punch line that this was Phyllis Diller.  

Which isn’t to say your content should be packaged and presented in a way that is garish. But, ideally, you have a vision for a design look-and-feel, and an editorial voice, that are reflective of a differentiated brand image and personality you want to establish in the marketplace. And you’re adhering to that visual identity and editorial voice consistently with the content you create. 


Empathize

Much of Diller’s humor was grounded in empathy for issues faced by her audience, particularly women. When she talked about burying her laundry mistakes in the backyard, her inability to cook, her trials and tribulations with fictitious husband Fang, she was signalling to fans: “I know that life, relationships and raising children are full of challenges, hard work and heartaches.”

Based on that empathy, Diller could offer her audiences poignant observation and comic relief.

What you can offer with content is insight, solutions, case examples, tools, peer-to-peer community…and maybe a little humor and fun, as well. 


Embrace the “un-sexy”
With her knobby knees, crazy hair and heavy eye makeup, Phyllis Diller cut a less-than-sexy figure on stage. But that was part of what made her interesting and engaging. Someone able to make us stop and pay attention. Eager to study what she looked like, sure. But also to hear what she had to say.

Let’s face it, many B2B products and services are, purely on their own, not inherently “sexy.” But the best content marketing focuses not on the product or service itself, but on the challenges and opportunities the audience has in their professional lives and businesses. It’s in the context of diving into and exploring those often nitty-gritty, specialized, highly technical issues and objectives that your product or service can eventually emerge as looking smart, sexy and desireable. 

That’s why you’ll see companies such as Indium (which makes solder) and Miller Electric (which manufactures welding equipment) able to exert such a strongly attractive image and presence with their B2B content marketing. 

Because they understand that smart and sexy are in the eye, heart and head of the beholder.

RIP, Phyllis.

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This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.

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If you lead a marketing team, you know how challenging it can sometimes be to get contributions to your content marketing program from internal subject matter experts (SMEs).

Here’s what I often hear from corporate marketers on this subject:

You ask SMEs to contribute an occasional content asset, or even simply to brainstorm some meaty topics. Suddenly the most competent and confident engineers, consultants, scientists, technicians — experts and highly articulate in their respective disciplines — become wallflowers. Ghosts. Invisible men and women. Seemingly too busy, bothered or bewildered to contribute much (or at least as much as you’d like) to your content marketing effort.

Why is that?

For starters, most of your colleagues are busy with their day jobs. So unless content planning and creation suddenly gets added to their job description and performance objectives, it will often take a back seat to other assignments and priorities.

But there’s another reason: Like engineering, medicine, architecture, supply chain management or any discipline around which a person might have SME knowledge and insight, content planning, creation and curation is a specialty, too. It draws on remarkably diverse know-how and skills, including some mystical combination of strategic thinking, problem solving, creativity, storytelling, research, reportage, writing, editing, design, art direction, business acumen, audience empathy, and maybe dozens of other ingredients.

Sad to say, because someone is an outstanding SME, doesn’t automatically make them a prolific, skillful content creator.

Research by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs finds that the biggest challenges B2B marketers face when it comes to content marketing are generating valuable content, and generating enough content.

I’m convinced a major factor underlying those twin challenges is this: Corporate marketers who absolutely want to execute a robust, ongoing content marketing strategy, but find themselves unable to get enough SMEs to contribute on a consistent basis.
 

A Content Marketing Secret Advantage

The bad news? This post won’t help you solve the problem of getting SMEs involved and contributing. Although we’ll keep working on it, as it’s one of the problems we’re often called upon to help clients solve. Follow Content Is Marketing for future posts on and around that topic.

The good news? There’s at least one way CMOs can use content marketing, starting now, to get the right people on board and contributing effectively. It’s an advantage in this case for the same reason content marketing can be such a challenge for SMEs: Because being able to generate and execute content ideas isn’t something everyone can do, do well, and do consistently.

So, what’s the secret edge CMOs can gain from content marketing?

Use it as a screening tool when hiring.

That’s right. As you sort through candidates for that next opening — looking for something by which to separate one from the other, and on which to predict their future performance — consider giving them a homework assignment.

Challenge them to come back to you with a description of a big-idea content strategy and program, one that would set your organization apart from the competition and engage your most important audience(s) as never before.

Or, if you’ve already got a significant content strategy up and running, ask them to pitch you four or five ideas for new content assets. What would the topics be? Where would you find the subject-matter expertise on which to base the content? In what format would each asset deliver? Where would they fit in the audience’s consideration and buying continuum for your product or service?

I’m convinced one of the best ways to know whether a job candidate has the ability to understand a company’s value proposition, target audience, and the sales and marketing dynamics of your category, is whether they can imagine content that would engage your audience while complementing your brand and being a catalyst for growing your business.

Theoretically, using content marketing as hiring tool will help you build a staff that is better equipped to support you in at least three important ways:

  • Solicit, edit and manage what contributions you can get from those busy (reluctant?) internal SMEs.
  • Generate content on their own.
  • Manage external content marketing resources and partners.

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What do you think — good idea? Have you used this sort of approach to get a feel for a job candidate’s content marketing abilities and potential? If so, tell us what sort of assignment you gave them and how it turned out.

This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.

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