Tag Archives: content strategy

Think like a Journalist to Become an Excellent Content Marketing Strategist

Why can’t marketers think more like journalists? Like myself, Kristine Kelley, Head of Editorial and Content Strategy at Grant Thornton, wants content marketing strategists to start thinking like journalists. Your organization should ask itself: Who is our audience? What do we want them to do with our content? And, how are we going to reach them?

hrh media: Content strategists face a market that is saturated with touch points – from websites to mobile devices to social media. How does a company elevate their content marketing into a content strategy in an effort to gain more consumer attention?

We really shouldn’t talk about content marketing until we have high-quality content – and a process to generate it – to market. Companies must start with the absolute basics: who is our audience, what do we want them to do with our content, and how are we going to reach them?  A solid mission statement is a solid start. Then, mapping our content to a basic sales cycle helps ensure that our content strategy is mapped to our business strategy. A successful content strategy also combines brand with solid writing best practices, to ensure what’s put out there sounds and looks like our company, and is naturally optimized. Finally, companies need to ensure they have a content org in place. Agencies are great, but depending on the volume of content generated (B2Bs generate a LOT of content), we need a team of people who understands how to speak to our audiences, and how to curate content in various channels over the entire life cycle.

hrh media:  What argument can be made to upper management that the time investment involved in implementing and initiating a content strategy is worth the gain?

Content appropriately mapped to the business strategy and corresponding sales cycle ensures that what we’re creating isn’t just stuff being generated and thrown out to see if it sticks. An actual content strategy is just that.

a.    Where do you start to develop a new content strategy, including a framework to keep it going?

In addition to the above, I like following the traditional magazine publishing model to develop a content-savvy org, which can then be executed against our strategy.

hrh media:  Marketing is still, at its roots, about building relationships and trust and evoking positive emotions to its customers. Could you name a company whose content strategy has achieved this and note some of the factors that attributed to that success?

Most big publishing companies have figured out how to execute their original content strategy in a multi-channel world. A few big brands, such as Ford and GE, are doing a great job of keeping their brands relevant and in the conversation. And a few big B2B groups, such as McKinsey, are keeping their markets reasonably satisfied but not completely inundated with solid “thought leadership.”

hrh media: Could you name a few tools you are particularly fond of that help you achieve your content strategy goals?

My tools are tools for writers: inverted pyramid, Strunk & White’s “On Writing Well,” AP Style, our company’s style guide, our company’s brand voice and our marketers’ marketing goals.

If You Build Remarkable Content, the Readers Will Come

This is the first installment of a two-part interview with content strategy extraordinaire, Rebecca Lieb.

Content is not necessarily a build it and they will come proposition. Content has to be very good for them to come.

It may seem like a basic principle, but according to Rebecca Lieb, many companies still just don’t get it. Rebecca is an author, columnist, journalist and digital advertising and media analyst at Altimeter Group. In this interview she answers some important questions regarding content marketing strategies, going beyond how your organization should create content and into how it should be published and on what channels.

hrh media: Before we dive in, would you mind sharing with us a little bit about your content marketing journey and how you became interested in the industry?

I think you encapsulated it very well when you enumerated some of the positions that I’ve held prior to my current role as an analyst. I’ve effectively only done two things in my life. On the one hand I’ve worked as a marketer, always for media companies; and on the other hand I’ve worked as a journalist, as a content creator. So when you combine content creation, editorial acumen, running a newsroom (which I’ve also done) with marketing, I think content marketing and strategy is a very logical outcome of those two skill sets.

hrh media: Could you define what content marketing is, and furthermore what differentiates content marketing from public relations and even advertising?

I’m so glad you asked that. I’ll even take it a step further and differentiate content marketing from content strategy; first and foremost, because I think those terms get conflated very often. Content marketing is the art and science of marketing with media that a Brand owns; as opposed to advertising that you buy. That’s almost the definition of advertising, there’s a media buy associated with an ad. Content can be created in all sorts of ways, shapes or forms – on a blog, on websites, and certainly in offline channels if you publish newspapers, magazines, etc. What the digital revolution has really enabled is for any brand or any marketer to become a publisher and to become a content provider. You no longer need to buy media when it’s so easy and so accessible to create media yourself.

I really divide content marketing into three different categories: there’s content that is entertainment—this is your typical viral video. It makes people laugh, cry, or pass along. There’s content that’s entirely informative—this is used a lot in high consideration purchases such as a mainframe computers, another piece of technology, or a car that you have to do a lot of studying up on before you’re comfortable buying. The third form of content I’d like to call utility content. It’s things like mobile apps that help you deposit a check into the bank without visiting the bank—you take a picture and you zap it. It’s a vertical search engine that helps you find nearby restaurants or choose the right wine to order. So those are the forms of content marketing and effectively what it is.

The underpinning of content marketing is content strategy. Content strategy is planning for content marketing. Not just how you’re going to do it, how you’re going to create it and who’s going to create it; but how you’re going to publish it, in what channels, and what’s all the rules, processes, technologies and procedures are around the governance of that content. Just like the New York Times has a staff and that staff is specialized at doing different things, and the staff has an editorial calendar that says we publish this sort of stuff on Monday, this sort of stuff on Tuesday, this at the end of the year, this around the holidays, so too is content marketing very calendared, very seasonal. Without a plan you’re just looking at the proverbial white sheet of paper and you’re not going to know what to do next, so I’m very much looking forward to hearing new thinking around content strategies at the conference this spring.

If You Build Remarkable Content, the Readers Will Come – Part II

This is the second installment of a two-part interview with content strategy extraordinaire, Rebecca Lieb.

Content is not necessarily a build it and they will come proposition. Content has to be very good for them to come.

It may seem like a basic principle, but according to Rebecca Lieb, many companies still just don’t get it. Rebecca is an author, columnist, journalist and digital advertising and media analyst at Altimeter Group. In this interview she answers some important questions regarding content marketing strategies, going beyond how your organization should create content and into how it should be published and on what channels.

hrh media: So, it can be said that currently there is a content deficiency among companies and brands, especially the kind of content that speaks to and engages prospects and customers. How can this be addressed easily, especially for smaller to mid-sized businesses?

You know, I think that’s almost a chicken and egg question. Is there a content deficiency or is there a good content deficiency. On the one hand, marketers who really haven’t worked enough on creating a strong content strategy do have that sort of panicked, “I haven’t studied for the test, I haven’t thought about what we’re going to publish today on Facebook, on Twitter, on our YouTube channel, on our blog.”

Planning can take away a lot of that anxiety. Planning, along with analytics and listening, can help you determine how to make content that’s good, that resonates, and that’s shared and passed along. Remember, when you’re advertising and making that media buy, you’re guaranteed a certain number of eyeballs or a certain amount of attention. It might not be good attention, it might not even be effective, but you’re out there.

Content is not necessarily a build it and they will come proposition. Content has to be very good for them to come. You know that in a multi-channel universe you’re really only watching one channel at a time on your television set. You’re only reading one book at a time, so the job of the content marketer as well as the content strategist is to make sure that content stands out, is attractive, is professional, is well presented, is compelling and is appropriate to the medium. These are all skills that publishers are very well versed in and require a lot of publisher and/or producer acumen.

hrh media: So one of the top reasons why business leaders shy away from content marketing or content strategy is a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of its return on investment or ROI. How would you address this?

In a research report that I published earlier this year called content, the new marketing equation, which by the way you can download at no cost from the Altimeter Group’s website, we developed a content marketing maturity framework, and one of the earlier stages in content marketing maturity is learning how to measure content and learning how to attribute return on investment to content so that you can actually gauge its effectiveness and know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing that’s not so effective.

My favorite hero story of that is a company called Eloqua that had a recently departed head of content marketing, a man by the name of Joe Chernov, and Joe enabled a way to trace all of the downloads of the white papers and free e-books his company made available to prospects. Because you had to fill out a form before you could download this free content, he was able to capture everybody’s title who downloaded the content. His goal was to get content downloaded by Vice President and above titles, and he could demonstrate that that’s who was downloading the content and he could also trace those names and those downloads through a very long sales cycle until he got to the point that he could attribute $3 million dollars in sales that the company made directly to that content that he had produced.

So content really is attributable, it really is measurable, you just have to decide what legitimate key performance indicators there are to gauge the value and the work of that content and then build in a mechanism to measure them. That requires planning and that’s part of content strategy.

hrh media: Thank you for sharing that example of a great success story. On the flip side, are there some key factors or traits that you see companies consistently make that leads to an unsuccessful content marketing strategy?

The companies who aren’t measuring very often are the companies that aren’t listening. They just throw content out there and never stick around to see what’s resonating, what’s being read, what the very basic web metrics say about the use of that content, if and where it’s being shared in social networks, whether there’s discussion around that content in social channels and whether that discussion is positive or negative. If you listen to what consumers say and if you engage in their conversations you learn more about your customers and what they expect from you as a business, as a product, as a service, but also how to better serve their needs. Just like going to a dinner party, nobody likes a one-way conversation. It has to be give and take.

hrh media: In your blog you mention that media conversions or the blending of owned and earned media will continue and intensify in 2013, which you said will spark new technological solutions and skills. Would you mind explaining that idea further in depth for us?

Certainly. Again, I’ve written another research report on the convergence of paid, owned, and earned media that is also available as a download from our website at no cost, so anybody interested in diving in can help themselves. We’re noticing a trend, as our environment is increasingly multi-screened and multi-media that consumers are making very little differentiation, or much less differentiation between paid, owned, and earned media. By those terms I mean paid media is advertising, that’s media that you as a marketer pay for; earned media is what consumers, influencers and journalists are saying about you. You don’t control that, but it is listening to the chatter that’s out there. Finally, owned media is content. It’s the content that you control both in terms of its creation, its production, and the channel that it lives on. You own your Facebook page, you own your website, you own your blog, etc. We’re finding that as budgets and attention move to social media, which is largely earned, as well as owned media channels, these are becoming much more important in the marketing mix than paid media-advertising; which until very recently was the boss of everything, pretty much by the fact that it cost the most.

hrh media: Before we wrap up, is there a content medium today that is perhaps receiving less attention than it deserves, but is primed for the future?

That’s a great question. When I was conducting research earlier this year I asked close to 60 marketers, most of them at major multi-national global corporations, what content channels matter now and what channels are going to matter three to five years in the future. Over and over everybody said, “video and mobile.” Content channels that were noticeably diminishing importance were channels that were written word, so online press releases, blogs, media kits, press kits and white papers. Interestingly I interviewed all of these marketers, and not a single one mentioned e-mail, which is very definitely a content channel and very definitely something that every single company I know is doing. Only one of them mentioned search, and we all know that SEO is a very important component in content marketing, so while I’d be reluctant to single out one specific channel as being overlooked, I will accuse marketers of what I like to call bright, shiny object syndrome of looking at the newest, coolest, most gee whiz technology, perhaps at the expense of the basics and fundamentals that underpin campaigns.

We’re now finding that the creative ideas that surface in content and earned media, the conversations around those pieces of content, are forming the creative seed for advertising. So whereas advertising messages used to rule everything, they’re now, in a way, subservient to content and social chatter. That said, from a grand perspective, it’s incredibly important to unify this messaging. So as consumers slip across screens, channels and media, they can consistently recognize a brand as it appears on paid, owned and earned media. I’m certainly not suggesting advertising is ever going go away, it’s not in our lifetime, but the people who work on advertising now almost work very closely with the people who work on content, the people who work on social, the people who are handling measurement, this needs to be a much closer collaboration, because as these walls between paid, earned and owned become more porous and these media channels overlap the distinctions that exist within the organization in terms of who controls what are coming increasingly meaningless.

The Top 13 HR Metrics For 2013

Human capital is a company’s biggest asset, but it can also be its biggest liability. Businesses can be made or broken by the quality of its employees. Success, therefore, is often a matter of attracting the best new recruits while also ensuring the happiness of current employees in order to retain the strongest personnel.

Human resources professionals are placing a large emphasis on reducing administrative costs while increasing productivity and job satisfaction. Not surprisingly, retention and cost control are at the top of the list of employer objectives, according to the 7th annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends.

With fewer resources and more pressure to produce, human resources professionals are tasked with identifying what their employees are most concerned about in their work life in an effort to ensure their loyalty. Beyond salary and wages, the most important factor in employee loyalty is health, retirement and insurance benefits. Advancement opportunities and company culture also play a large part in employee loyalty, according to the survey.

So, how can human resources professionals align their employer’s objectives of making and saving money with their employee’s priorities? One way is by the use of human resources metrics.

In order to streamline your company’s goals, human resources should focus on four focus areas; recruiting, retention, staffing and training, and development, according to CoreCentive, a human capital management consulting firm.

Recruiting metrics quantify new hire performance, the impact of a poor new hire as well as turnover rates and return on investment. Retention metrics quantify turnover rates in addition to average tenure and the worth of veteran workers.

Training and development metrics measure training process time and costs and how professional development processes help businesses achieve their business goals. Staffing metrics measure cost per hire, recruiting efficiency ratio and the cost to replace an employee.

Below is a list of the most important human resources metrics your company should be looking into in 2013.

The Top 13 HR Metrics for 2013

Absence Rate – Shows how many days your workers are missing, which could be an indication of their satisfaction.
The number of days absent per month / (average number of employees during a month x the number of workdays)

Benefit Cost – Determine the cost of benefits packages per employee.
(Total cost of employee benefit / total number of employees)

Benefit as a Percent of Salary – Determine the cost of benefits as the percentage of an employee’s salary.
(Annual benefits cost / Annual salary)

Cost Per Hire – How much does your organization really spend per new hire?
(Recruitment costs / (compensation cost + benefit cost)

Performance Goals – The percentage of performance goals met or exceeded
(The number of performance goals met or exceeded / Total number of performance goals)

Return on Investment – What is the organization’s ROI per employee?
(Total benefit – total costs) x 100

Revenue Per Employee – Measure how much each employee earns for the company.
(Revenue / Total number of employees)

Satisfaction – Tracking employee satisfaction is difficult, but surveys can help you gauge this metric.

Tenure – Determine the average amount of time an employee has been with the company.
(Average number of years of service at the organization across all employees)

Time to Fill – What is the cost of the time it takes to fill open positions?
(Total days taken to fill a job / Number hired)

Training Development Hours – Streamline your professional development costs.
(Sum of total training hours / total number of employees)

Turnover – Spells out how many employees depart your organization per year
(The number of employees exiting the job during a one year period / Average actual number of employees during the same period)

Turnover Costs – How much money are you losing when an employee leaves? Vacancy, new hiring and new training costs can add up.
(Total costs of separation + vacancy + replacement + training)
Source: Employer’s Resource Council, CoreCentive

The 5 Most Popular Types of B2B Content Marketing

Content marketing has elevated beyond a cottage industry and into a necessary marketing tool. As content marketing gains momentum, it’s now more important than ever to get back to the basics of developing a successful content strategy surrounding remarkable content.

Business-to-business marketers are perhaps the most fluent content marketers and content strategists. “On average, B2B marketers employ eight different content marketing tactics to achieve their marketing goals,” according to Eloqua and the Content Marketing Institute.

What are the most popular? We’ve detailed five of them below.

1.Blogs

Thinking like a publisher is huge in content marketing and blogs are the basis to this theory. “It’s where new content gets distributed, conversations are hosted, context for news is provided and personal brands are born,” according to Eloqua.

2.eNewsletters

eNewsletters are still a popular mode of distributing content and should be a part of your strategy as a whole. At the top of the list of tips for running successful eNewsletter distribution is: Do not spam. eNewsletters are “a permission-based means of recurring communication with current and prospective customers.” Always ask for permission to email participants and always offer opt-out links.

3.Whitepapers

Whitepapers have been around since the dawn of content. They are topical, lengthy reports that address technical issues or subjects that require intensive explanations. Even though they are the “grandfather” of content, they are still essential to establishing yourself as a thought leader. Just remember to send whitepapers in PDF format and consider including a lead capture form.

4.Videos

Smartphones and cheap video cameras coupled with YouTube and Vimeo help content marketers create, publish and share videos more easily than ever. Just remember to not film “talking heads.” Consider a long-term video series and not just a one-shot approach. When you do post your video, always consider posting an accompanying transcription or report, CMI suggests.

5.Infographics

CMI says infographics are a “visual storytelling told through data” and that they “rise above the noise to deliver data in a visually appealing way.” A good tip is: good data=good infographic. Once you’ve completed your infographic, develop a marketing plan around distributing it.