content strategy

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The Six Business Cases for Real-Time Marketing

As digital channels operate increasingly in the ‘now,’ all marketing organizations must consider to what degree they will function in real-time, and even define what real-time is relative to their operations and marketing organization.

The payoff? That digital marketing ideal: the right message to the right person at the right time. The right instant, even.

Real-time marketing (RTM) can add tremendous value to customer interactions; making brands appear relevant, with-it, informed, dynamic and buzzworthy. The movement toward RTM is also driven by consumer expectations as immediacy, relevance and access increase with technology.

Our new research report, Real-Time Marketing: The Agility to Leverage ‘Now,’ identifies six business use cases for real-time marketing that fall into a quadrant of planned/unplanned and reactive vs. proactive interactions. In numerous interviews with agency and brand-side practitioners, we found all successful RTM requires enormous strategic and tactical preparation, beginning with a strong , clear and well-defined content strategy.

real-time marketing use case quadrant

RTM Use Case #1: Brand Events
Brand events include product launches, conferences, media and customer-facing events where content strategy, pre-approvals, media plans, hashtags, creative, editorial calendars, etc. can be prepared in advance. During events, staff are available to push out content and react to posts in social media.

RTM Use Case #2. Anticipated Event
A growing number of organizations are preparing for real-time events that are anticipated in advance. Business goals, strategies, teams, and approvals are ready, content is locked and loaded.

RTM Use Case #3: Location/object-based
A small but promising use case of RTM taps into location and object-based triggers. Hand-crafted examples of this type of RTM include local food trucks publicizing specials and current locations. Increasingly sophisticated technology, such as iBeacon, target a consumer’s location down to the store-shelf level and push a promotion to that person’s phone in the moment. That’s literally targeting the right person at the right time and the right place.

RTM Use Case #4. Predictive Analytics-based
Another relatively small but growing area of triggered RTM is based on predictive analytics. Amazon has long used predictive data to display recommendations to customers based on browsing and purchase history. This trend will gain momentum as data solutions become more accessible and simpler to implement.

RTM Use Case #5. Customer Interaction
Customer interactions take many forms: CRM, customer service, handling complaints, and community interactions being primary examples. While many organizations handle such interactions to customer service, the very public, visible and occasionally even viral nature of these interactions in social channels means they are increasingly becoming a marketing function. This holds particularly true now that customers have come to expect brands to respond to their digital queries and complaints in near-real time.

RTM Use Case #6. Breaking News
The most reactive form of RTM is responding in a legitimate, relevant manner to unanticipated breaking news. This can also be the riskiest, most spontaneous, and difficult type of RTM. Advance preparation is all but impossible. Breaking news isn’t always good news, so an acute degree of sensitivity is called for. Often, this also requires following a story as it unfolds. The opportunity is hitting it over the fence by appropriately leveraging the event in a way that is relevant, both to the event and to the brand.

As with all Altimeter Group research, Real-Time Marketing: The Agility to Leverage ‘Now’ is available at no cost under Creative Commons.  Help yourself!  And please let us know your reactions, as well as how your organization is functioning in real-time.

[slideshare id=29152561&doc=reportreal-timemarketing-theagilitytoleveragenowrebeccaliebjessicagroopman-131212115620-phpapp02&type=d]

Cross-posted from the Altimeter Group blog

Rebecca Lieb's picture

How to Conduct a Content Audit

You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. You might think you know where you are, but without a thorough website content audit, it’s likely you don’t.

Why perform a content audit (which admittedly is a painstaking and exacting exercise)? Lots of reasons. It helps determine if digital content is relevant, both to customer needs and to the goals of the organization. Is content accurate and consistent? Does it speak in the voice of the organization? Is it optimized for search? And are technical frameworks, such as the content management system (CMS), up to the task of handling it? Finally, an audit helps assess needs: teams, workflow, management, and identifying gaps. It will also shape content governance and help determine the feasibility of future projects.

A content audit is a cornerstone of content strategy, which governs content marketing. The aim is to perform a qualitative analysis of all the content on a website (or in some cases, a network of sites and/or social media presences — any content for which your organization is responsible). A content audit is often performed in tandem with a content inventory, the process of creating a quantitative analysis of content.

Step 1: Create a content inventory

Create a content inventory by recording all the content on the site into a spreadsheet or a text document by page title or by URL. Organize this information in outline form (i.e., section heading, followed by sub-sections and pages). If it’s an e-commerce site, these headings and sub-headings might be something like Shoes > Women’s Shoes > Casual Shoes > Sandals > Dr. Scholl’s. A company website’s headings would align more closely with X Corporation > About Us > Management > John Doe.

Content strategist Kristina Halvorson recommends assigning a unique number to each section, sub-section, and page (e.g., 1.0, 1.1., 1.1.1, and so on). This can help tremendously in assigning particular pieces of content to the appropriate site section. Some content strategists also color-code different sections on spreadsheets. It gets down to a matter of personal preference, as well as the size and scale of the audit in question.

It’s also highly recommended that each section, sub-section, or page contain an annotation regarding who owns each piece of content, as well as the type of content: text, image, video, PDF, press release, product page, etc. Was the content created in-house? Who created it? Was it outsourced (e.g., third-party content, RSS feeds, blog entries, articles from periodicals)? Who’s responsible for creating, approving, and publishing each piece?

The resulting document is a content inventory. Now, it’s time to dig into the quality of the content — the content audit. For each of the following steps, it’s helpful to assign a grade or ranking to every page (e.g., a scale of one to five, with one being “pretty crappy” and five being “rockstar fantastic”).

Some practitioners say you can shortcut through certain site pages or sections, arguing that certain pieces of content are evergreen. While that can certainly be the case, a thorough perusal of every piece of content on every page just might surprise you. Elements that you thought were set in stone, or changed site-wide, have a nasty habit of coming up and biting you in the behind. For example, the page displaying the address of the office your company moved out of five years ago, or the “contact” email address pointing to a long since departed employee.

So long as you’re taking the time to audit the content, it pays to audit all the content.

Step 2: What’s it about?

What subjects and topics does the content address? Are page and section titles, headlines, and sub-heads promising what’s actually delivered in the on-page copy? Is there a good balance of content addressing products, services, customer service, and “about us” information?

Step 3: Is it accurate and up-to-date?

In a word, is the content topical? Are there outdated products, hyperlinks, or outdated and/or inaccurate information lurking in nooks and crannies of the site? As mentioned above, localities, employees, pricing, industry data and statistics, and other information change over time. In addition to checking for factual accuracy, content that is outdated should be identified as “update/revise” or “remove.”

Step 4: Does it support both user and business goals?

Many constituencies feed into a company’s digital presence: senior management, sales, marketing and PR, and customer service, to name but a few. Different divisions could be trying to achieve varying goals in “their” section of a site or blog, but fundamentally all content must very gracefully serve two masters: the needs of the business and the needs of the customer. This means, for example, that calls-to-action must be clear, but not so overwhelming that they get in the way of the user experience. The content audit grades content on its ability to achieve both of these goals while staying in balance.

Please read the rest of this post on iMedia, where it originally published

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Real Time Marketing: How Brands Can Prepare And Succeed

Oreo. Starbucks. American Express. Dell. These are brands that come to mind when the topic of real-time marketing (RTM) arises — as it does with increasing frequency these days.

Big DataReal-time is gaining traction for all kinds of reasons. Arecent study by GolinHarris demonstrates real-time can raise literally all desirable marketing metrics.

Eighty-three percent of marketers say they plan to begin to use, or to increase their use of, real-time data in marketing campaigns this year, according to Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Yesmail Interactive (pdf). The movement toward RTM is undeniable.

Real-Time Marketing

As a research analyst, I’m currently digging into this topic (expect a report on the subject in early December). We’ve identified five real-time marketing use case scenarios. All of them support varying business goals; all require real-time capabilities (the advantages and challenges of which our report will address); yet, all require a different balance of strategy, tactics and preparation.

1. Breaking News

The most reactive form of real-time marketing is responding in a legitimate, relevant manner to unanticipated breaking news. This is often the most spontaneous, challenging and difficult type of RTM that a brand can face.

Advance preparation is all but impossible, and very frequently, breaking news isn’t good news, so an acute degree of sensitivity is called for. The requirement is often not just getting a polished message out in a short period of time in reaction to a news event, but also following the arc of a story as it unfolds. “Real time” can last many hours, days, or even weeks or months.

Examples: The BP Gulf oil spill; airlines reacting to the Icelandic volcano eruption; Boston Marathon bombing, etc.

2. Brand Events

Product launches, corporate conferences, media and customer-facing events, offers, and sales all are breaking news events, but of a very different sort. While they unfold in real time, this type of RTM requires a high degree of anticipatory preparation in addition to on-the-spot reactive work.

Content strategy, pre-approvals, media and channel plans, hashtags, creative elements, editorial calendars, etc., can all be prepared and approved in advance. On-the-ground “street teams” are often needed, but the environment is more controlled and guardrails are in place.

Examples: Pepsi’s introduction of a skinny can during Fashion Week; American Express Small Business Saturday; Pizza Hut/Foursquare/Super Bowl check-in promo, etc.

3. Customer Interaction

Customers have come to expect brands to respond to their digital queries and complaints in near-real time, a reality that has compelled more than one enterprise to adopt RTM. Real-time marketing related to customer interactions requires a combination of both reactive and anticipatory work: triage, determining what types of messaging will be responded to and in which channels (public or private), empowering staff to address complaints, having a breaking news communications plan ready for crises, etc.

Examples: CRM, customer service, crisis management, handling complaints, community management, etc.

4. Preparatory/Anticipatory

A growing number of organizations have become mature enough to prepare for real-time events in advance. By having business goals, strategies, teams, approvals, and content at the ready ahead of time, these businesses position themselves to make the most out of such opportunities. This “ducks in a row” approach is deployed by advertisers, sponsors, and consumer brands in advance of major events.

Examples: Oreo’s fully staffed Super Bowl “war room”; HBO preparing content for the Emmys that addressed all categories for which their programming was nominated so appropriate posts could be made for each win or lose scenario; Starbucks preparing assets for a warming beverage that’s deployed locally when snow falls, etc.

Please read the rest of this post on MarketingLand, where it originally published.

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Why Content Matters

Ten years ago, the extra magic ingredient was search. For the past five years or so, social media has been the de rigeur term to describe product and services offerings. Suddenly, all that’s changing again. It’s not cutting edge digital unless it’s connected to the word “content.”

This is both good news and bad news for those of us who have been preaching the content gospel for years (even before — and during — the whole search thing). Suddenly (suddenly?), content matters. It’s taking center stage. It’s noticed, acknowledged, and important. That’s the good part.

What’s the bad? With attention and a bit of notoriety comes backlash. It’s inevitable. It’s human nature. It happens with celebrities, health fads, diets, fashion, and whatever is cutting edge in digital marketing and technology.

Even a recent New York Times op-ed decried the term:

“The first time I ever heard the word ‘content’ used in its current context, I understood that all my artist friends and I — henceforth, ‘content providers’ — were essentially extinct. This contemptuous coinage is predicated on the assumption that it’s the delivery system that matters, relegating what used to be called ‘art’ — writing, music, film, photography, illustration — to the status of filler, stuff to stick between banner ads.”

Hate the word if you want to, but it’s still easier to say “content” than to say “writing and music and film and photography and illustration,” not to mention “video and charts and audio and other media.”

Rachel Lovinger at Razorfish blogged a very apt response:

“Hating on the word ‘content’ is like a chef saying ‘I don’t make food. Food is what people get at McDonald’s.’ Well, there probably are chefs who feel that way, but it’s based on a fallacy. At the same time, I would never, ever refer to my favorite chef as a ‘food maker.’ The word ‘content’ isn’t perfect, but I don’t want to see it vilified. We need words to be able to talk about these principles and practices.”

Honestly, I don’t care if you call it content or not (let me know if you come up with something better). But what matters is…why it matters. Here is why content matters:

Content is the atomic particle of all digital marketing. Everything. There’s no owned media without content. There’s no social media without content. And there’s no paid media without content. And there’s certainly no media-media, as in actual digital publications, without content. Pushing back even earlier, when you search, you’re searching for content. Even email marketing, once the darling of the digital arsenal, now relegated to wallpaper status (but still critically important), is a container for…you guessed it: content.

Please read the rest of this post on iMedia, where it originally published.

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Content: Why Influence Matters

Do name-brand journalists still require the backing of name-brand media outlets?

Recent headlines strongly indicate that the byline is being rapidly decoupled from the masthead. Glenn Greenwald left The Guardian to start his own media venture, backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Technology veteran Walt Mossberg, together with the redoubtable Kara Swisher, are walking out of the Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal door, taking the AllThingsD team with them. David Pogue abandoned the venerable New York Times for (of all possible media properties) Yahoo. And, most recently, Rick Berke is to leave the New York Times for Politico.

The quality these journalists have in common is a degree of brand value so high that it can be decoupled from the media property that launched and/or fostered it (and leveraged to support other endeavors). These are journalists who have become true influencers.

Influencers are influential individuals with an above-average impact on (some niche within) society. An influencer can be anyone from an international pop celebrity like Justin Bieber to a niche industry celebrity like Danny Sullivan.

Leveraging Niche Industry Influencers

A prime example of a niche industry influencer is Duncan Epping, a VMware engineer and blogger who’s mobbed by autograph seekers whenever he appears at an event. You’ve likely never heard of Epping, and you’re not alone — I hadn’t either, until I learned about him from John Troyer, VMware’s social media evangelist.

Troyer heads up the company’s vExpert program, which he describes as such:

Basically, [it’s] our content army. The vExperts are not all bloggers, but we do pull their posts together here. My goal is to have the first two pages on Google filled with their content when you search for VMware. But it can’t be all about us — it’s also about what’s in it for them. We give them free licenses for our software. We just granted 35 free tickets for our conference in Barcelona. We hire them to work on a freelance basis for us and for our agencies.

VMware’s investment in the vExperts program has paid off handsomely in terms of content marketing. The company has built an invaluable resource — a respected community of experts producing excellent content — that keeps on growing. This year, VMware anointed 581 vExperts to the five-year-old program. (Each year, there’s a formal application process; applicants get in based on their knowledge and contributions to the community.)

Influencers: Turning Owned Media To Earned Media

Leveraging influencers — be they journalists, bloggers, or subject-matter experts – can be an essential cornerstone of content strategy. Content is owned media which, by my definition, does not entail a media buy (i.e., it’s not advertising). However, just because you build it doesn’t necessarily mean they will come — at least, not without some degree of traction. Influencers can, in this regard, be a solid replacement for a media buy.

Consider this case study from an enterprise technology company. Twenty-four influencers were commissioned to create content around themes related to the brand’s products and initiatives. In total, 128 blog posts, infographics, videos and images were produced and shared on the influencers’ channels and promoted (with disclosure) across their social networks.

Please read the rest of this post on MarketingLand, where it originally published.

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Four Epic Native Advertising Fails

As a research analyst, I just completed a study of native advertising. The report, based on months of research and dozens of interviews, contains eight critical recommendations for successful native advertising campaigns.

We help our clients incorporate these recommendations in their native advertising strategies. What happens when best practices and tried-and-true practices are disregarded or ignored? That’s what iMedia’s editors asked me to share in this article. Not for the sake of schadenfreude really, but as a set of object lessons. So let’s take a look at a handful of native advertising fails and also map them to the whys of their shortcomings.

Best practices matter in native advertising a lot, and soon they’ll matter even more. Recently, 73 percent of Online Publishers Association members said they offer some form of digital advertising, a number that is swelling daily. Spending in the sector is expected to swell to $4.57 billion by 2017, though that’s a figure that bears some scrutiny, given “native advertising” does not yet bear the distinction of a formal, much less universally-agreed upon, definition.

Nonetheless, if we can agree that native advertising is a form of converged media (regardless of whether it appears on a publisher site or a social platform) that combines paid media (i.e., an ad) with owned media (i.e., content that isn’t “advertising-y” in nature), best practices and success elements do begin to emerge.

Trust and transparency

The Atlantic-Scientology debacle is the poster child of native advertising gone horribly — no, hideously — wrong. Under a small-ish “Sponsor Content” box, the site published a sunny and upbeat piece about the extremely controversial leader of the Church of Scientology: “David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year.” An uproar ensued, causing the piece to be taken down in short order, and an apology was issued. In short order The Onion followed up with “SPONSORED: The Taliban Is A Vibrant And Thriving Political Movement.”

In a further apology issued the following day, The Atlantic stated, “We now realize that as we explored new forms of digital advertising, we failed to update the policies that must govern the decisions we make along the way.”

What’s a best practice in this area? Disclosure, transparency, and trust are non-negotiable. Period. And come on, we’ve danced this dance more than once: With search engine advertising, paid blogging, and word-of-mouth marketing. Do we really even need to have this conversation? Disclose to readers that it’s a paid placement. Link to the relevant editorial policy. Create a channel for inquiry.

There. That wasn’t so bad now, was it?

Strange bedfellows

The Economist teamed up with Buzzfeed to create a promotional listicle entitled “Dare2GoDeep,” the stories behind the venerable publications’ serious hard news and policy coverage. The piece, and indeed, the pairing, was widely mocked as “inane” and “cringeworthy.” It is kind of hard to draw the line between one of the world’s most respected news magazines and a website known for its lists of all things LOL and feline.

Sales-y

At the heart of native advertising is content marketing, which is soft, not hard, sell. Last holiday season, “A Gift Guide for Surviving Your Family at Home This Holiday” on Gawker Media read more shill than article. The body copy doesn’t really deliver on the headline’s promise, which feels bait-and-switch.

Collaboration and earned media

I hate to single out Buzzfeed again (the publication does so much native advertising so very well), but last August the site was involved in an imbroglio that should have been nipped in the bud rather than allowed to spiral into scandal. A conservative anti-abortion group published its own listicle bashing Planned Parenthood in Buzzfeed’s then-new community section. The post violated Buzzfeed’s community guidelines, yet it wasn’t immediately taken down, causing a media, as well as social media, fallout. The Guardian followed up: “BuzzFeed is taking trolling to a new level by pandering to right-wing nuts.”

Please read the rest of this post on iMedia, where it originally published.

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Content: The Right Tools For The Job

Digital content doesn’t just happen. Marketers require tools to get it done.

The range of software and tools serving content marketers has mushroomed in the past couple of years. As researchers and analysts at the Altimeter Group, we started looking at the space informally back in April, building a list of software vendors.

Currently, we’ve compiled a list of 75 vendors offering a range of content marketing software solutions. (It’s a list I plan to share officially in the fall, once it’s been through some winnowing.)

Content Software Landscape Research

In fact, we plan to go one better and conduct deep research into the content software marketplace, beginning next month.

Before we can begin that project in earnest, however, it’s critical to evaluate the actual content use cases marketers face in their day-to-day lives. There’s no realistic way we can evaluate the vendors in a very disparate landscape without knowing what marketers actually want and need out of content marketing solutions.

Let’s assume (and hope and pray!) the marketers in question are beginning with a content strategy. Let’s discount/disqualify related solutions such as social media management software, CMS, DAM and basic Web analytics packages.

The qualities we’re seeing across the content-specific software vendors that remain are (in no particular order) the following:

  • Targeting/Audience Identification (Segmentation/Personas): Tools to help you identify who the target audience(s) is/are, where they are online, and the types of content that would attract them.
  • Curation: Gathering, organizing and presenting existing content in a meaningful, attractive manner.
  • Aggregation: Compiling and publishing syndicated Web content — generally more automated and less specific than curation (above).
  • Workflow/Editorial Management: Tools that aid in processes associated with content strategy including creating governance documentation (style, editing and brand guidelines), content audits, production, review, approval and publishing processes, etc.
  • Editorial Calendar: Sometimes included in workflow tools, sometimes a standalone feature.
  • Discovery: Algorithmic suggestions for content readers might appreciate based on usage or social patterns.
  • Syndication/Distribution: Tools that help content publishers find audiences via, for example, suggested headlines or stories across publisher sites or social networks.
  • Recommendation: Services that use data such as usage patterns, social connections and browsing history to recommend content to users.
  • Branded Content Creation: Generally offered by agencies and publishers, custom content for brands, products and/or services.
  • Production: A wide range of increasingly complex services. As content moves into increasingly multimedia formats, as well as into new channels such as mobile, content production has moved far beyond “just blogging.”
  • Content Generation: A small but growing set of tools are being developed to help marketers generate creative ideas for content by feeding them multimedia material that is on-brand and relevant to campaign goals.
  • Collaboration Tools: Related to workflow and editorial management, these toolsets help disparate teams collaborate on different aspects of content creation, production and publishing, often from remote locations and with cloud-based assets.
  • Tracking (Content Across Web): A handful of companies have developed tools that help marketers track both images and text across the Web no matter where they appear, and to dynamically update them.
  • Analytics (Content-Specific): Independent of basic Web analytics packages, content tools often contain their own specific analytics and dashboards. These can be wide-ranging and are, of course, closely aligned with tool functionality.
  • Real-Time Capabilities: An increasingly news and social media driven world drives demand for real- and near real-time information, a capabilities being built into an increasing number of tools in varying capacities.
  • Push Notifications: You’ve got… content. Beyond email, some tools do enable alerts when new content is available.
  • Talent Sourcing & Management: Writers, designers, photographers, videographers – tools exist to find them, have them submit their work and manage their billings.
  • Templates/Layout/Design: From websites to infographics, design doesn’t just happen. There are, of course, plenty of standalone templates available. So, too, do content tool sets incorporate templates and design solutions.
  • SEO: Written word content tools, in particular, sometimes incorporate search optimization features around keywords and phrases, metadata, headline optimization, etc.
  • Predictive Analytics: Distinct from performance analytics, these tools predict how content will perform in specific channels or with certain audience segments. Currently aimed more at publishers than marketers, it will be interesting to see if this market shifts with broader adoption of content marketing.
  • Influencer Identification: Brands such as Intel have proven owned content can achieve paid media reach when spread by the right influencers in a given field. Tools that identify influencers who can help spread messages in social channels are, therefore, growing in popularity with content marketers as well as with PR practitioners.

You can help get this first research project on the content software landscape off the ground by helping us to define what real use cases really exist. Are these accurate? What’s missing? What’s not necessary, redundant, or superfluous? What would your dream content solution do — or not do? Do you prefer working with a suite of à la carte solutions, or with a “stack” of seamlessly integrated software?

Please read the rest of this post on Marketingland, where it originally published.

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Consider Attending Our Content Marketing Workshop (Sept. 9, Milbrae CA)

Content marketing has gone from nearly zero on marketers’ radar to about a billion mph in just a few short years.  Organizations are realizing that content is effective – and cost-effective – for marketing as quickly as it becomes abundantly clear that content doesn’t just happen by itself.

We’re here to help. On September 9 in Milbrae, CA, Altimeter Group will host our first half-day content marketing workshop (as well as other Academy offerings).  Drawn from our research reports, books and other publications on the topic of content marketing, the course is designed to equip marketers with the fundamentals of content marketing and content strategy.

Why the relatively recent emphasis on content marketing?

Content marketing is nothing new. Marketers have been creating content for customers and prospects since the days of the newsletter and the filmstrip. However, digital has revolutionized both content creation and dissemination. Web sites. Twitter. Facebook. Blogs. YouTube. eBooks. White papers. Search engines. All of these channels (and many more) remove many of the hard cost barriers that were once a deterrent to creating and disseminating great content.  Yet as brands become publishers (some so successfully that they’re able to actually monetize the content they create), they face challenges.

Content may cost less to produce than advertising, but it’s heavily resource-intensive and only getting more so. Unlike campaign-based programs, content initiatives tend to be ongoing. Content is fundamental to social media, owned media channels and advertising – integrating brand, messaging and measurement between screens, workflow streams and channels is challenging. For many marketers, shifting from “push” to “pull” marketing requires learning entirely new skill sets. Finally, creating a functional content strategy — a foundation to govern and systematize content creation, dissemination, approval, measurement and maintenance —  is only just emerging as a discipline in digital marketing.

What are the two or three big ideas marketers should focus on?

Brands are media companies. Almost without exception, they’re creating content. We believe they should do so strategically and with a view toward integrating messaging across channels. Recent research we’ve published indicates content is now the primary driver of all marketing creative, including advertising. This demand changes workflow, agency and vendor relationships, and the way marketing initiatives are measured and monitored. Content is at the center of nearly all digital initiatives, and as the world becomes increasing digital, content will be the primary driver of all marketing in the very near future.

Who should attend this content marketing workshop? What should they expect, and what will they leave with?

Digital marketers, digital and social strategists, brand and product managers, as well as marketing/communications professionals should attend this workshop to learn the fundamentals of content marketing and content strategy, as well as how to apply those learnings to how their jobs and roles will change in the very near future. Participants will learn the five stages of content marketing maturity based on Altimeter Group research; the three primary types of content; the elements required to build a content strategy; as well as organizational and workflow requirements as they relate to enterprises large and small. It will be a fast-moving morning full of case studies and lean-forward participatory exercises.

Learn more and register for the content marketing workshop

Or consider workshops on Social Strategy and Social Analytics.

Image credit: Wikimedia

Cross-posted from the Altimeter Group blog

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Build an Audience for Content Marketing

If you build it, will they come?

If you’re super lucky, they will. Most marketers, however, are faced with a challenge that is familiar to publishers and broadcasters: audience development. This means connecting eyeballs with content.

One thing that publishers and broadcasters have going for them is that enterprises engaged in content marketing are only beginning to realize that audience development is an integral part of content strategy.

There are six essential components of audience development. The first four are internal and research-focused, based on figuring out who the intended audience is, what types of content serve the audience members’ needs, and where (and in what formats) content ought to be produced. When it comes to audience development, keep the classic four “w”s in mind: who, what, when, and where.

The second tier of audience development is amplification. Content marketing, by definition, lives on owned media channels (i.e., in places owned and/or controlled by the brand). Often, content needs a bit of a bump to attract attention.

Research and development

Definition Defining an audience is the first and most critical step. Rarely, if ever, is the intended audience “everyone,” even if you’re selling toothpaste and nearly everyone has teeth. Who’s the buyer? The influencer? The decider? Campaigns may be focused to one or more of these identified groups. Rule No. 1 of audience development: Know who you’re addressing with the content.

Please read the rest of this post on iMedia, where it originally published. 

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When Content Goes Rogue

Is your content going rogue?

Do you know all the sites and social media accounts controlled by your brand or company? Who can access and update them? Who knows the passwords? How frequently is the content on each property being updated, and how do those updates conform to larger communications and brand strategies?

Or has this whole content thing mushroomed out of control, quite possibly behind your back?

A current project was supposed to have been delivered last week. It’s late (I hate late!) but it can’t be helped. Scope creep doesn’t begin to describe the situation when you thought you’d be auditing a small handful of web sites and social media properties, only to find one more. And one more.  Hang on, here’s another. The tally is up to 25 web sites, a plethora of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, and one YouTube channel (the only number the client was right about). All for one non-profit organization.

Think this is unusual? Think again. In research conducted last year, my colleague Jeremiah Owyang found the average enterprise  class corporation (those with 1,000 or more employees) have an average 178 social media accounts (he didn’t look at web sites or microsite for the study).

Heck, it’s so easy to open accounts nowadays, anyone can do it. And do it they certainly do. Frequently, it’s with the best of intentions, not to mention a high degree of frustration with existing policies and procedures (“we launched it on WordPress so we wouldn’t have to wait in the IT queue for 18 months” was a refrain we heard multiple times when interviewing companies about how they organize for content marketing.

We heard this so frequently, in fact, we dubbed the trend “going rogue.” While anyone who’s ever been stuck in that IT queue can sympathize, going rogue does come with major downsides.

Inconsistency We’re all for creative license to a degree, but carefully crafted voice, tone, brand and other content governance guidelines tend to go out the window when content channels spill into unknown and unsupervised terrain. Inconsistency may, in fact, be a best-case scenario. Rogue content channels can easily result in full-on sanitation or crisis control initiatives if left unchecked.

Tactics Over Strategy Let’s launch a Facebook page! Why don’t we try using Pinterest? Enthusiasm for the latest and greatest social media channel, tempered with a healthy dose of bright shiny object syndrome leads to abrupt launches with not strategic foundation from a marketing perspective, no associated business goals, no measurement plan, editorial calendar. In short, nothing whatsoever that make a very pubic launch something that should be, at best, a sandbox experiment. New shouldn’t happen unless there’s a sound reason for it.

Digital Detritus A common result of shoot-from-the-hip tactics over strategy launch is digital detritus, the auto graveyard of the information superhighway. The Twitter account that’s been tweet-less for two years now. The site promoting the event that happens last July. The photo account with three shots on it. The Facebook page that was frequently updated the week it launched, then abandoned. Digital detritus makes organizations appear unplanned, unfocused, undedicated and uncaring. They should never, ever be your public face.

Lost Keys Julie from marketing quit last month, and now no one can get into that account she maintained. Worse, it’s prominently displaying content that’s outdated/inappropriate/inaccurate and no one can get in to fix it.

Please read the rest of this post on Marketing Land, where it originally published.

Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb is a strategic advisor, consultant, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist.

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