We talk a lot about content on here: Managing it, promoting it, and most importantly, creating it. It has to come from somewhere right?
For a company looking to start a blog, move to an inbound marketing strategy or just beef up its website, who creates the content and how they are convinced to do so is often a major struggle. Yes there are writers out there who can learn your market and create content for you, but for an ongoing outlet such as a blog that constantly needs fresh material, it can be most beneficial to have internal experts share their expert knowledge as it evolves.
How do you make that happen?
Creating a company culture, or changing a company culture, to one that values content creation, takes time and internal champions. Here are my few pieces of advice:
Open it up to anyone
Creating content shouldn't be just for the marketing team. Yes, we are smart, but especially in the technology sector, there are thought leaders throughout the company that should be heard.
However, some of these folks don't write for a living so setting some guidelines and making sure that content goes through an editing process before going live is crucial. At this stage you can not only edit the content so it's grammatically correct and easier to read but make sure it's on message for the company and follows appropriate style guidelines.
Encourage different formats
Long-form written content is great for a number of reasons but not everyone is comfortable writing a whitepaper or a dissertation. Give folks options to write shorter articles or create videos, infographics, podcasts, etc. There are easy-to-use (and sometimes inexpensive technologies) available that can facilitate all of these things.
Extending an offer to help new writers or providing training sessions/writing workshops to help get content creation started can work wonders. Often, people have a lot to say but are held back by thinking they are poor writers. Helping folks, especially in tech, develop this skill not only can help further their career but can help you get the content you know exists in their head onto “paper”.
Lead by example
In my opinion, this is the number one thing a company's leadership can do to instill a culture of content creation. We all know the adage "don't do what I do, do what I say" - well, actions speak louder than words in this case. If a company wants to instill content creation into its employees’ behavior it has to start at the top. If the executive team is making the time to prioritize content creation for themselves, the rest of the company will take note. In fact, all aspects of company culture happen this way - from the top down. Employees will model executives’ behavior and will also realize what is not a priority for them.
Show workers how it benefits them
Creating smart content and linking your name to it increases an individual's personal brand ten fold. It's great to point to during reviews and to use as a venue to showcase knowledge on a particular subject - not just to the boss but to customers as well. The marketing team knows all this but the rest of the company might not.
Make it a competition
People are naturally competitive. Or, maybe that just us here at SpeakerBox. But, creating a game out of content creation is a great way to get people into it.
We used to have a competition to get the most views per month on our blog posts. Jonathan dominated it. But, we all still tried every month to beat him and it was a real celebration when we did.
Our competition was very broad and simply counted general views. But the focus could be narrowed to: who brings in the most leads, the most views on a particular topic, or who gets republished or recognition elsewhere.
Reward, reward, reward
Who wouldn't make sure writing a blog post got on their monthly to-do-list if they knew there was a reward coming for them? Adding an incentive, especially in the beginning of this effort, is a great way to get workers excited about getting their content created.
There are many ways you can structure the reward system. It can be cash or prizes for the most prolific writers, the ones who contribute within set time guidelines, the ones who garner the most views, the ones who are most "on topic", etc. Whatever matters most to you, or is causing the most headaches, create an incentive to change the behavior. Oh, and make sure you award the prizes publicly, so everyone else gets the hint!
Highlight the results for the company
Here at SpeakerBox we do this often. We use software that keeps an eye on folks coming to our website and we can see if a new client originally came to us by reading our blog. It makes the entire staff feel good to know that we contribute to bringing in new business even if we aren't directly involved with the business development process.
Earlier this month, MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute issued their annual Content Marketing Report, which shows the significant impact this type of marketing is having on businesses. In particular, B2B marketers are continuing to embrace content marketing (about 93% of marketers make use of this tactic) and are growing more sophisticated in its execution. In fact, 42% of B2B marketers claim to be effective at content marketing (up 17% from 36% last year).
As sophistication grows, significant resources are being dedicated to content marketing. On average:
- 42% of marketers have a documented content strategy
- 73% have a person who is primarily responsible for content marketing
- Marketers use 13 different content tactics and spend about 30% of their overall budget on content marketing
The output is increasing as well. More than 70% of marketers claim to be producing more content this year than last (with 32% producing significantly more content). Not surprisingly, those with a documented strategy are seeing the biggest change in terms of content volume.
One big change in this year’s report is the growing use of infographics; more than half of all marketers surveyed are using infographics as part of their marketing mix (up 34% to 51% in 2014). However, infographics have not yet broken into the top five most popular tactics, which are:
- Social media (not including blogs): 87%
- Website articles: 81%
- E-newsletters: 80%
- Blogs: 76%
- In person events: 76%
However, there seems to be some disagreement as to what the most effective tactic might be. For the fourth year in a row, many marketers say that in-person events are by far the most effective tactic. But, many best-in-class marketers disagree, putting their money on blogs as their most effective tactic.
Though many marketers question the effectiveness of social media, they continue to invest time and money into this tactic. In many cases, marketers are adding social media platforms to their mix. This year, Google +, SlideShare and Instagram saw big gains.
In any case, marketers across the board are counting on content marketing to fill the top of the sales funnel, and are paying close attention to analytics to help them gauge the effectiveness of their efforts. According to the report, the most popular content metrics are increased Web traffic and lead quality.
Still, despite the increased attention and budget allocated to content marketing, marketers still list some significant challenges that are causing them pain points, including:
- Lack of time (69%)
- Ability to produce enough content (55%)
- Ability to produce engaging content (47%)
And while we’re on the subject of content marketing, take a look at our brand new starter guide to “Do It Yourself Media Relations.” If you have limited resources, but are interested in promoting your company’s expertise, this is the guide for you.
- Katie Hanusik
We talk a lot in this space about the great things PR agencies do for their technology clients.
But what if you can't afford an agency yet? Or what if you're considering an agency, but you haven't yet pulled the trigger?
Does that mean you can ignore the media -- or worse, fumble your way onto the blacklists of your industry's top reporters and influencers?
Obviously not. Every tech company needs a media relations strategy. And if you can't turn to an agency for this, you can always turn here:
Is your company flying blindly into a tech media hailstorm? Or maybe you just want to get a whole lot smarter about media relations in less than ten minutes.
Either way, this guide is an incredibly useful, practical first step. And it's completely FREE for our loyal blog subscribers.
Curious? Download it instantly right now.
By now, you have surely heard it over and over – content is king. In a world where very few trust advertising, content is a necessity for sharing your message with prospective customers and actually gaining their interest.
Through compelling content that your audience wants to read, you can reach your customers without directly selling. The strategy here is that if businesses deliver consistent and valuable information to buyers, ultimately those buyers will reward the company with their business.
In a recent study, Wishpond found that content marketing is continuing to gain strength among marketers – and a significant portion of marketing budgets will be dedicated to creating content this year. Additionally, the study found that 78% of CMOs believe that custom content is the future of marketing.
Need an easy way to get started? Create a company blog. According to the study, companies who blog generate 67% more leads per month, and blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages. It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, but rather a group effort among company thought leaders to share their knowledge on interesting topics. By generating a few posts per month, it will open up your company to new customers.
Beyond that, try a webinar – the study also found that 61% of B2B marketers rate webinars as the most effective content marketing tactic. Want to learn more about content marketing? Check out SpeakerBox’s very own webinar.
These shows aren't optional, you cavalier bastards!
Old stories never die; they just fade away into obscurity. Or maybe it's more like that infamous NBC ad campaign promoting Must-See TV re-runs in the 90s. ("If you haven't seen it, it's new to you!" -- remember that?)
Typewriters: If you never bought one, its a new product.
Anyway here's an old story from March that I'd been meaning to blog about for a while now, but I just kept getting caught up in work, and sports, and -- let's be honest -- unwatched re-runs of The Single Guy...
Your eyes do not deceive you: That is, in fact, the late Ernest Borgnine.
The premise of the story is this: In the New York Times Sunday Review, Dominique Brossard and Dietram A. Scheufele reported on a study from the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.
(And can I just say: Who amongst us hasn't seen their communications better mediated by computers -- mostly, for me, to the tune of pretending to listen to things while I play on my iPhone.)
To the Grey Lady:
"We asked 1,183 participants to carefully read a news post on a fictitious blog, explaining the potential risks and benefits of a new technology product called nanosilver."
Sidebar: Already want one. Okay back to the study...
"Then we had participants read comments on the post... Half of our sample was exposed to civil reader comments and the other half to rude ones."
Now this next part is key (my emphasis):
"The actual content, length and intensity of the comments, which varied from being supportive of the new technology to being wary of the risks, were consistent across both groups. The only difference was that the rude ones contained epithets or curse words. The results were both surprising and disturbing. Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself."
Couple of thoughts on this:
1. How great are block quotes? I mean they really beef up a blog post, don't they?
2. So let me get this straight... I'm measurably less persuasive if I say, "The Purge was awesome," than if I say, "The Purge was awesome, you stupid moron."
I guess this explains why I kept losing all those arguments on the playground in 1st grade, and also the enduring power of JFK's immortal words: "Ask not what your country can do for you... you stupid moron."
How scary is this though, and what does it say about our psychological susceptibility? I guess it explains the influence of conservative talk radio... and maybe all talk radio -- especially that bully Lynne Rosetto Kasper.
My real point, of course, is that this proves once and for all how corrosive and unhelpful reader comments on blogs have become.
Seriously, has there ever been an Internet discussion that didn't eventually devolve into:
Guy 1: "I'm gonna come to your house and kill you!"
Guy 2: "Oh yeah. Here's the address. I'll be waiting for you, cause you don't have the guts to show up."
(And that was just an argument about fabric softener!)
But what's the answer? Turn off comments altogether like some fascist, Snowden-harboring South American police state? Or maybe we should have the schools teach young people to add more personal invective into their key arguments -- 'cuz ya gotta learn 'em young!
Pivoting slightly, please leave your comments below, the more personally insulting and outlandish the better. Pummel me enough, and I might just start to agree with you. It's called science -- and it's super depressing.
It’s no surprise that incorporating inbound marketing tactics is on the rise for small and large businesses alike. For what some would consider minimal effort, or more like a change in thinking, these companies are seeing huge results. Instead of looking at marketing as an interruptive way to get your messaging in front of possible customers, these companies have shifted focus to look at what potential customers are actually interested in and then create content that connects with their targets and engages with them in a manner they prefer and trust. This is done in a number of ways and through a number of channels – it all depends really on where your potential customers live online.
According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing 2013, 60 percent of companies have adopted some element of the inbound marketing methodology into their overall strategy. 60 percent. That is HUGE.
While this doesn’t mean that all of them are taking on full-scale inbound marketing programs it shows that marketers see potential here and are dipping their toes into the water.
How are they doing this?
- 62 percent of marketers surveyed will blog in 2013. (82 percent of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57 percent of marketers who blog monthly.)
- 18 percent of marketers confirmed that developing quality content was their top priority in 2013. (10 percent of companies have a dedicated team member for marketing content creation.)
- SEO delivered 14 percent of marketers’ total lead sources and 13 percent of all customers in 2013. (SEO is the top channel for sales conversions, with 15 percent of marketers reporting it produced above average conversion rates in 2013.)
- Social media accounts for 14 percent of marketers’ total lead pipeline this year. (The 16 percent of marketers who dedicate their time to social media in 2013 will also deliver the highest proportion of leads, at 14 percent.)
- Email marketing as a channel was the third overall lead generation source for marketers in 2013, producing 13 percent of all leads. (Of the marketers who bought an email list in 2013, just 9 percent said it was very effective.)
How are they not doing it?
- Pay per click accounted for just 6 percent of all leads for marketers in 2013.
- Trade shows and direct mail each provide just 8 percent of all leads for the 2013 marketing funnel.
- Traditional marketing contributes 6 percent of all leads for marketers in 2013.
If you’re interested in more info on what types of companies are getting into the game and how check out the full State of Inbound Marketing 2013 report. It gives stats on the early adopters, what kind of success they are seeing and how their programs fit into the broader marketing strategy. It’s interesting reading if you’re thinking about inbound marketing or have already dipped your toes into the water.
Also, you can hear our CEO, Elizabeth Shea with guests DP Venkatesh of mPortal and Matt Howard of ZoomSafer talk about how to implement a program of your own in our on-demand webinar here:
If you missed today’s webinar “The Convergence of PR and SEO: Harnessing the Power of Content, Social and Search,” here are a few of the key points and highlights that you should know about. Led by Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO of Search Mojo and SpeakerBox’s own Elizabeth Shea, the webinar focused on how marketing and communications professionals can improve their PR, content marketing and SEO programs and how these elements should be coordinated.
The webinar kicked off with a focus on content – because after all, content is king. Unlike a few years back, PR efforts including authored articles and the like are now considered another form of content and utilized as such. And written content is not the only way to increase SEO either. If possible, incorporate webinars, images and videos on your Website. Videos in particular rank very high in Google search results.
Creating great content does not have to involve recreating the wheel each time either. In fact, content should be repurposed up to 5 times to gain maximum value. Have a great case study? Turn it into a press release. They key however, is to make sure the content varies enough to avoid duplicating. Google’s recent Panda update changed the algorithm of search results to reduce the amount of duplicate content. If you want all of your great content to continue to show up in search results – be sure not to reuse without rewording, to make sure it is substantially different.
Another key for increasing SEO value is ensuring content has links back to your site. These links act as votes of popularity for Google and help you to be known as an authority on a topic. So where do the best links come from? That is where PR can come in – as the best links are often from reputable news sites and blogs. If you have an article placed or comment in one, try following up with editors and authors asking for links back. Keep in mind, quality is more important then quantity, as a link from CNN is likely much more beneficial than 100 links from other sites.
New, but potentially highly impactful in the world of SEO includes Google Authorship. Google Authorship ensures you are getting the right ownership over your content. It provides a “rich snippet” in search results, helping your content to stand out amongst the other results and be more prominent on the page. While this may not seem like much, according to one study, the number of clicks increased by 150% once a rich snippet was added. You will need a Google+ profile to set up the authorship – so the first step is to make sure you have one set up. Check out the full webinar (the recording will live on our resources page) for details around how to set up Google Authorship for your blog and content. Google Authorship will also likely have an effect on PR, as the SEO value of a reporter may come into play when offering exclusives.
Janet and Elizabeth also discussed the use of social media when it comes to SEO. One of the key ways to use social to help with SEO is spreading links. By being social and sharing information, inbound links to your site will spread, showing Google that your company is talked about.
If there was one main takeaway from the webinar on how you can get your company primed for increased SEO – it would be to set up Google Authorship. It will help immensely in search results, putting your company right where you want to be – at the top of the page.
This is just a snippet of the discussion on today’s webinar. If you missed it, fear not, the full archived version is available here.
I hope you’ll join us on May 9 at 2:00 pm for our upcoming Webinar on “The Convergence of PR and SEO: Harnessing the Power of Content, Social and Search.”
The panelists will include SpeakerBox’s own Elizabeth Shea and Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO of Search Mojo.
If you’re a marketing or communications professional interested in improving your PR, content marketing and SEO programs and gaining a better understanding of how these three elements should be coordinated, this is the program for you.
Key topics will include:
- The 3 most important components of SEO and how they converge to drive successful search and PR campaigns
- What is Google authorship and why it’s important for SEO, content and PR
- Targeting and measuring your PR and content marketing efforts for maximum SEO benefit
- Why you should join Google+ and how you should maximize the social network
Please take a minute to register for this informative Webinar. I promise it will be time well-spent.
- Katie Hanusik
In reading though my Feedly the other day (yes, I’m trying that one out now). I came across this post from Hubspot outlining 20 “pearls of wisdom” from marketing experts.
These 20 tid-bits were pulled from a larger pool of 54 that you can download from Hubspot here.
I’ve pulled out my top five and expanded on them just a bit:
"Learn to love data and, for heaven's sake, write well." - Ian Lurie, Portent
This one really resonates with me, personally, since I love looking at our data. But, it also rings true – the truth is in the numbers. You can tell what’s working, what’s not, what you should continue to write about, how well different channels work for your company and more, just from analyzing the data.
"Think of it more as publishing instead of marketing. Be authentic as a publisher and create content that helps you connect to everyone else ... because they're already connected." - Mitch Joel, Twist Image
This is a great piece of advice when it comes to creating content. It should be more about putting out content that your customer base is interested in than telling them what you offer. If you can showcase your expertise on a topic they will search out your offerings on their own. Be a resource, not a mouthpiece.
"Educate more people that the tools have almost nothing to do with the true power of social media. It's what's inside those tools that matters (uh, the content)." - Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute
As marketers we all need to embrace social channels for what they are, not for what we want to get out of them. It’s not about the tool itself but about the content that lives on it and the people that interact with that content, and you.
"The approach that will win the hearts and minds of customers leverages content and context to create marketing that intersects with a customer's lifestyle, needs, and interests." - Brian Halligan, HubSpot
I think this quote really speaks to how much a company needs to understand its customers. Not just forming a buyer persona, which is a step in the right direction, but truly interacting with and understanding what their lives are like, so that content created will not just speak to their needs but also reach them where they already live.
"Don't try to do it all. It's better to be awesome on one or two channels than to overextend on six." - Cameron Chapman, Author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application
We use this phrase here at SBX all the time: Don’t try to boil the ocean. While it might seem like a great idea to be writing whitepapers, posting videos, engaging on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, blogging and more – it may actually dilute your message. Pick the channels where your target base actually engage and find useful and start there, get really ingrained. Then if you want to branch out (or see a need to) go for it.
Any pearls of wisdom of your own to add?
Today we’re coming to you live from the second annual Washington, DC Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit (MAM Summit). We sponsored and supported the MAM Summit last year and are excited to be a part of the event again this year. We’ll be bringing you recaps of a few of the different sessions today and you can also keep up with the happenings over on Twitter by following @mamsummit or #MAMSUMMIT.
This morning I’m excited to sit in and bring you a recap of the B2B & Enterprise Marketing: What’s Working panel. The moderator of the panel is Limor Schafman, President, Keystone Tech Group and panelists include:
This group provided a very lively, engaging and fun session – which ironically was one of the things they wall agreed B2B marketing should be; rather than what it often ends up being, which, according to the panel, is dry, dull and boring.
A few of the highlights/main points from the session include:
- The marketing landscape is different than it was just 10 years ago and we owe this largely to social media. While social media channels serve a purpose, and if used appropriately can be useful, Ken also felt that they often play an integral role in creating disharmony and panic. With the rush to be on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. companies are losing site of their strategy and are just shouting to the masses. One way to combat this chaos is simply to Just. Take. A. Deep. Breath.
- Just because something works for a B2C company doesn’t mean it will work for B2B. Again, Ken pointed out that all you have to do is take a look around Facebook, which is now is replete with long abandoned spots of corporate sites. This could easily be chalked up to the fact that with all the developments in social media and technology it’s easy to get distracted by chasing down the latest and greatest shiny object (SQUIRREL!). It could also be attributed to B2B companies trying to replicate B2C strategies without thinking about the right way to connect with their audience.
- This leads us to probably the greatest piece of information to come from the panel, and I will say this loudly so everyone can hear, KNOW AND TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMER. Not that “spray and pray” was really ever effective but today companies have more information and insight into who their customer is and should be using this information to their advantage. As Bob London and Ken pointed out, every minute you spend focused on social media is a minute you aren’t talking to your customers and we often get so focused on social media that we forget we’re trying to have a conversation with people. Use the data you’ve captured about your audience and create content that will resonate with them. Sure, it might be a lot of work to develop different messages or content for each audience but the results are sure to speak for themselves.
- The group cautioned though that it’s a mistake to think we just need more conversation and to try to cram more through the existing channels and instead we should be focused on making sure the conversation is meaningful. Forget how you are doing on Twitter or Pinterest, it doesn’t matter. To paraphrase from Ken, what you need be doing is focusing on how to differentiate yourself in an ever-rising sea of sameness. Focus on the message and deliver your message and content in the right place at the right time. See above regarding a lot of work but good results.
- Lastly, along those lines, Bob Ragsdale also imparted his wisdom that every marketer needs to not only know, understand and connect with their audience but also be able to boil your message down to a simple 6-8 words. It’s easy these days to get caught up in chasing the shiny objects that companies/marketers can lose track of what their core messaging is. It’s necessary to have the self control to know what your audience is really asking for, know what your core differentiator is and then come hang your hat on it come hell or high water.
There is probably so much more to say and you can catch anything I forgot over on the Twitter stream. All in all it was a great session and I’m glad I was able to sit in and be a part of it. Stay tuned for more recaps from the SpeakerBox team today!