Tag Archives: marketing

What do we get wrong about content marketing?

content marketing - exchange of ideas

Content marketing is a simple concept: put stuff on your site, and put stuff on your social media brand pages. Of course that seems too simplistic. In fact, it is too simplistic. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a form of marketing that involves “creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to… engage… [your] target audience.”

Note the word valuable in that definition. The scope of content that you can put up on your site and spread through social media is limitless, and the value demonstrated by one post versus another will determine the success of any content marketing campaign.

Keep in mind, value is a broad term: a laugh, for instance, is valuable, as is any connection on a human level. Despite its broadness, the value of content typically refers to its informational potency or newsworthiness for your particular target group.

Let’s better understand content marketing by looking at ways in which content marketing is misunderstood, drawing on ideas from a couple experts: Salma Jafri of Search Engine Watch and and Jay Baer of Convince & Convert.

Misunderstanding about content marketing: It’s simple.

Content marketing is about building relationships with people, and that often doesn’t happen overnight. People are reasonably skeptical around businesses because as consumers, we know the business wants something from us: our money. Creating rapport and trust with your audience is crucial, so establish clear parameters as you move forward.

Advertising campaigns are simpler because the data is obvious. Especially when you can track through web-based ads, you know exactly how successful a campaign is based on click-through’s and conversions. Content marketing is about the long haul. Because it’s not a direct sales pitch, you aren’t likely to see as many immediate actions from customers. It’s about planting seeds. Creating rapport is incredibly complicated, but a lot of it has to do with communication, which is exactly what content marketing is.

As Jafri notes, the relatively minimal scars incurred by Buffer as a result of a hacking incident are a good example of how much easier it can be to bounce back from bad news if you have a strong relationship with your users.

Misunderstanding about content marketing: It’s fast.

Every year the Content Marketing Institute releases its B2B Content Marketing Trends, a compilation of statistical data related to the field. Content marketing can of course take on all shapes and sizes and does not have to move at a snail’s pace, but one of the graphs in the 2014 CMI study makes it clear that time is always on the minds of content marketers: 69% of B2B content marketers find that their biggest challenge is not having enough time.

The reason time is such a key factor is that running a sound content marketing campaign is not just about creating content but a fourfold process:

  1. Strategic plan
  2. Development of the content itself
  3. Distribution (through social media, email, PPC, etc.)
  4. Analysis.

Misunderstanding about content marketing: It’s a machine.

Of course online there is a tendency to want to automate processes. Setting the wheels in motion without implementing enough guidelines for monitoring, or generally relying on a mechanized approach, can be a major mistake with content marketing. In fact, Jayson DeMers of Forbes believes that companies will excessively and detrimentally move in a hands-off direction with content marketing next year.

Content marketing should be alive. Humanity will generate engagement. No one likes to speak with a robot (well, except for Rosey from The Jetsons). Jafri references Scott Stratten’s Tweet that automation on social media channels is akin to “sending a mannequin to a networking event.”

Misunderstanding about content marketing: Overkill is impossible.

Jay Baer notes that with content marketing now in the mainstream, every company (to the extent they participate) is a publisher. He sees that split identity (core business vs. content management business) as the root of an overkill tendency from some parties: proliferation of vast amounts of content that do not do the company any good.

Baer’s perspective is that content marketing becomes much more focused and reliable for a company when everything is geared toward desired behavior from customers following their interactions with the content. He recommends thinking about the end goal and building the strategic plan from that point. In other words, think about the money before you think about the value. The value comes second.

That idea is sound but could also be misconstrued. Content marketing is not about straight-forward advertising on how great your company is. It’s about finding the right approaches in terms of subject matter, tone, and format; along with finding the right ways to deliver the content in directed ways. Thinking about the money can be the first step to developing your plan, but never forget that value to users is paramount.

Misunderstanding about content marketing: Its words and pictures.

Content marketing is all about creativity. Our series of comics about the hosting industry, not always considered the most humorous topic, is one example of an interesting format to give you and your customers a new angle on your chosen topics.

By Moazzam Adnan

What is Content Curation?

What is Content Curation museum

We all know how valuable content is for driving traffic on the web. It’s not just crucial for your site but for your social media efforts as well. You may have heard of the concept of content curation. Whether we know it or not (assuming we all have social sharing accounts), we all curate content by picking it out and posting it to others.

We also may have created our own content for our sites, and we have probably written our own short posts (whether announcements or thoughts) on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. It’s not always easy, though, to come up with great original content on our own. For that reason, we turn to the idea of content curation, with perspectives from two web content experts, Michiel Gaasterland and Beth Kanter.

What is content curation?

Curating content is the process of seeking out the highest quality content you can find to share with your online connections and business audience. Gaasterland references a definition presented by another marketing professional, Rohit Bhargava, that points out the heavy organizational aspect of content curation; also, typically a professional in the field focuses on one specific topic.

Kanter emphasizes that content curation is not a matter of amassing links and blasting them out one after another. Instead, it’s a similar task to that performed by a museum curator. A person who excels in content curation has the ability to frame content within a specific theme and find the best individual elements of content that fit the theme.

How content curation is valuable for business

As we all know, many of the businesses and individuals who succeed online do so because they are providing real value upfront to users. Beyond other users feeling like you’ve given them something beneficial, Gaasterland remarks that conveying high-quality content can help define you as a credible expert.

Curation is helpful to people connected to your social media feed, email newsletter, and site because going online is often an experience of information overload: it’s hard to find the flowers because there are so many weeds.

To provide a sense of the sheer amount of content that we have at our disposal, Kanter references Facebook. In 2011, users were generating 72 billion separate instances of content every month. Obviously a curator isn’t working through every random Facebook status update, but that statistic reminds us how easy it is to produce content these days. We are no longer in the era of the printing press. Increased public access means more filtration.

Major challenges of content curation

Beth Kanter provides a couple of challenges that tend to arise when a person starts the process of content curation:

Timing – A great deal of the information that floats to the top on Google is outdated, especially when you are looking for specific answers to an issue in a rapidly changing field. Figuring out what is currently relevant and what is not is a skill that a content curator must develop. Plus, Kanter points out that the actual process of learning what’s up-to-the-minute and what’s not keeps the curator educated and informed.

Overload – Content curation, as stated above, is intended to get beyond the information overload of the web. However, curators are not immune to feeling overwhelmed by the massive amount of material out there. It’s impossible to stay abreast of everything. Content curators must breathe and remember there are abundant possibilities; not all paths will be followed.

3 best practices for content curation

Here are three best practices provided by Michiel Gaasterland, to better focus your efforts:

  1. Zone in – Success on the Internet is determined, to a large extent, by one’s ability to target a particular niche. Specificity is well-known to help with search keywords (such as longtail ones), but it works with people’s perception of you as well. The Twitter feed of an amateur tends to be all over the place. The Twitter feed of an expert narrows in on one subject, shaping and branding the authority.
  2. Quality – Remember that it is not a race to see how many posts you can put out in a day. You want to only provide the best. Once your followers realize that your quality control is high, they will pay much more attention to your comments and activity. Remember that people are dealing with the same vast pool of information you are, so don’t inundate them.
  3. Consistency – Although you don’t want to be posting content without maintaining high-quality, you do want to post often. Every time someone goes to any one of your social pages, they will ideally see something recent. You essentially want your social presence to feel alive.

Technological know-how

Gaasterland recommends three tools to assist with content curation: Flipboard, Alltop, and StumbleUpon. Note that tools such as these are abundant, and good content can be found just about anywhere: newsletters, Google+ communities, etc. The possibilities are endless. Getting familiar with as many tools as possible will boost your aptitude as a marketer by providing a broader array of options.

By Moazzam Adnan

The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist

computer network

Marketing is all about perspective. You have to be able to see the world through your customer’s eyes, but you also have to be able to get your message in front of their eyes. Both of these tasks – seeing as they see and allowing them to see what you have to say – require increasing technological sophistication every year.

More and more, the role of the CTO is becoming fused with that of the CMO, creating the need for marketers with IT prowess. The flash and charisma of Don Draper in Mad Men reminds us of an era that is quickly disappearing. Ideas are still as important as they ever were, but now “creative” cannot stand on its own. Rather, the brain-children of marketing teams require intricate technological execution.

So long, Draper. Call in the computer geeks. It’s time to run a campaign.

Striking a new balance with customers

Sheryl Pattek of Forrester Research analyzed how technology is changing the marketing game in detail, drawing on her own personal experience. Pattek mentions that when she first became an executive, technology was involved in marketing efforts; however, it was not necessary for a marketing professional to consider the specifics of the technological side. Now, having seen the light (or the glow of the screen, perhaps), Pattek gave a series of speeches this year on how her role is changing.

The reason that technology has become so central to marketing, from Pattek’s point of view, is that transitioning to the new, hyper-digital world in which we live “changed the balance of power, putting customers in charge.”

There is certainly truth in what Pattek says, at least in terms of digital media versus print or broadcast. In many ways now, the customer creates their own journey along the way. Marketers must be tech-savvy enough to think of clever ways to offer value along that journey, so that the customer will turn and give their undivided attention (well, at least closer to undivided).

What makes Pattek’s basic thesis particularly eye-opening is that she believes the move toward technology is no longer a choice for a marketer. Rather, marketers are now technologists; that shift has already completed. In order to stay on top, a marketing chief must be able to dominate that terrain, even if it feels a little uncomfortable.

Pattek also references a poll of C-level executives conducted by The Economist regarding marketing and technology, noting that 20% of CEOs place technological aptitude among the three strengths necessary to be a successful CMO. If Pattek’s assessment is correct, CEOs still may not understand how blended the two fields have become.

Finally regarding Pattek’s article, it’s important to note – as she indicates – that technology is not just about touching the customer. It’s also about gathering and understanding data. We live in an age in which performance is often directly measurable. The pool of Big Data is invaluable to rethink content and approaches.

The keys to the technological kingdom

Last week CIO looked at this same issue. The message of CIO is essentially the same as Pattek’s: climb aboard the technology train, or it’s leaving without you.

CIO references a study that was widely covered in the marketing and technology worlds because it describes a similar power shift to that described by Pattek. Pattek argued that the customer is taking the reins from business. It would seem that the gist of this article is that technology is, in a sense, taking the reins of marketing. Strangely, though, it’s the reverse.

The Gartner study, released in January 2012, found that within four years, CMOs will have more tech buying power than CIOs do. In other words, the rise of technology within the marketing field is not really about marketers glumly accepting a new responsibility. It’s about marketers (at least those marketers who have proven their technological expertise) attaining greater control over the tech side of the company.

In the article, Rona Borre, founder of Instant Technology (a consulting and placement firm), mentions that she doesn’t think the “traditional” marketer exists anymore. Concurring with Pattek, she sees the CMO position as drawing on some of the skills and expertise of the CIO – a nuance that is worth addressing.

Really, the new role of the Chief Marketing Technologist is not about a power struggle in which the CMO is gradually gobbling up the IT portion of the company. Instead, what will really make marketers strong – and companies strong on the whole – is more integrated relationships between the CTO/CIO and the CMO. The more the marketing chief can learn from the technology and information chiefs, and vice versa, the more impressively and efficiently the technological infrastructure and knowledgebase will drive ROI.

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For our part, Atlantic.Net can provide technological expertise and infrastructure as needed, whether you require cloud hosting for a mobile app or any other solution.

By Moazzam Adnan