Posts Tagged ‘Content Marketing’
This guest post from Kirsten Chapman was originally published on LinkedIn.
Modern marketing and business are defined by one thing: The Web.
It’s safe to say that CMOs, CEOs and CFOs are keenly aware of the huge hole when it comes to measuring the business value of web marketing. When they want to know if all the time and money they’re pouring into web marketing is working, they’re handed reports generated by campaign management systems—Hubspot, Marketo, Vocus, and even Salesforce come to mind. Invariably, the next question is: so where are the KPIs?
Good question. And the answer lies in how the Web is viewed.
Not truly understanding the dynamics of the Web is what leaves executives making strategic decisions using tactical information. Intuitively they know this is wrong, but they can’t quite put their finger on what to measure.
The Web is extraordinary. Never before have we seen anything quite like it—it’s a business, it’s a market, and it’s channel all rolled up into one enormous and complex package. And that’s what makes it a struggle to measure and manage.
The goal here is to lay out an argument—for the first time—that the Web is an economic market. It’s more than just a channel for generating leads and engaging people, it’s genuinely a market with competitive forces.
Why is this important? Because it finally opens up new ways to measure the Web’s strategic value using a standard set of web marketing key performance indicators (KPIs).
The Web is a Market
Don’t be scared off—this isn’t a treatise on microeconomics. The Web as a market isn’t a complicated concept. However, it’s an extremely powerful one for those who understand its strategic import and who want to be able to quantify the business value of web marketing beyond only lead generation and engagement.
The best way to demonstrate that the Web is a market is to analyze three key elements of a market—structure, competition, and information exchange—then examine whether or not the Web exhibits these elements.
- Structure: A market is a place where buyers and sellers come together for the purchase and sale of products and services.
>>Yes, the Web is a marketplace.
- Competition: A market has a competitive structure. There are several types of market structures, each defined by the number of buyers and sellers, barriers to entry and exit, product differentiation, and pricing power.
>>Yes, the Web has competitive forces.
- Information Flow: A market allows products and services to be evaluated and priced.
>>Yes, the Web facilitates decisions on product offerings and their prices.
The conclusion? The Web is truly a market—of the economic sort.
So, why isn’t the Web a market in the sense that it represents potential customers? Because it’s a thing (network of content), it has both buyers and sellers, and it’s not a person or group of persons to be studied, segmented and targeted.
But wait, what about web lead generation? Isn’t that about studying, segmenting and targeting people on the Web? Yes it is, which is why the Web is also a channel. But it is not a target market, which is distinguished from an economic market.
Web Marketing Performance Measurement
By viewing the Web as a market, it presents the opportunity for a much-needed standard set of KPIs that can measure market-level web performance.
There are two types of web marketing measurements:
- Channel-level metrics that measure campaigns
- Market-level KPIs that measure brand web presence
Nearly all web marketing performance is measured at the channel level—degree of engagement and number of leads are two that come to mind. But the purpose here isn’t to weigh in on channel-level measurement, so let’s get to the meat.
The web is a network of content, so web presence is the unit to be measured.
To be considered a KPI, it must:
- Measure market-level brand web presence, and
- Produce a trend that acts as a leading indicator of possible future business success.
There are three categories of web marketing indicators—Brand, Competitiveness, and Website—each category has two KPIs.
To illustrate, we’ll explore one of the KPIs in more detail: Competitive Webshare™—an indicator of a brand’s market competitiveness.
Competitive Webshare is the percentage of paid, owned, and earned web presence that a brand holds vis-à-vis a defined set of competitors. It’s a bit like market share but focuses on comparing a brand’s web footprint to its most important competitors. By isolating the competitive set, executives are able to focus on developing competitive strategies that are most impactful to the business.
Like market share, Competitive Webshare is a critical trend to track. If a brand’s percentage goes up over time, it’s a leading indicator that the prospect for sustained business growth is promising. On the other hand, if the percentage is deteriorating, the business outlook isn’t rosy.
Having a set of indicators that work together to track and measure important aspects of how a brand is faring on the Web is paramount. It helps executives understand whether their investments in web marketing are creating conditions that can help put and keep the business on a path for future success.
Much of today’s confusion about how to measure web marketing performance is attributable to not fully understanding that the Web is not just a channel for generating leads and engaging audiences but is also a market in its own right. Viewing the Web as a market with competitive forces introduces new ways to measure its strategic value.
Through the use of market-level web marketing KPIs in the areas of Brand, Competitiveness and Website, CMOs, CEOs, and CFOs are finally able to gauge how effectively their investment in the Web is paying off.
Kirsten Chapman is a 30-year veteran of technology b2b marketing and PR, co-founder of MeasureMyBrand—where she pioneered the development of four of the industry’s first standard web marketing KPIs—and principle of b2b marketing and PR agency KC Associates.
Guest post by Jack Dawson.
There are a lot of resources online that can help you move from newsjacking – “stealing” potentially viral news items before they become viral – to creating potentially viral news yourself. The most important technique to date is through people-based marketing.
What this means for marketers is that it is no longer necessary to research and pitch thousands of publications, hoping and praying that some of them stick and make news. By creating your own news, you gain an opportunity to earn greater PR for your organization as well as win over higher traffic and more inbound links.
Pay-per-click marketing provides an important platform through which content promotion and other social PR efforts can be successfully driven, and just a minimal investment can lead to huge returns for your business. This article describes just how to do this.
Introduction to people-based marketing
Also called identity targeting, people-based marketing is founded in creating audience segments based on different characteristics; this allows you to actually target a certain person with a specific ad that will appeal to them. Some characteristics include location, employment status, age, income level, purchase history, interests, among others.
Essentially, PPC harnesses the power that email and social media marketers have had in their arsenal for a while now.
PPC Marketing for PR Pitching
Online marketing technological advances have enabled us to automate many time-consuming and tedious processes. PR pitching also has the potential for automation, which would be a breath of fresh air compared to the present technique:
- Create stellar content which you are ready to transmit to the world
- Identify news media and opinion influencers within your niche
- Pray that you have some kind of previous relationship, at least a few, so that they are not all cold pitches
- Find their Twitter handles, emails or other contact info
- Draft a personalized form letter which can still be considered impersonal, or spend hours personalizing all pitches you send out
- Pitch and pray and pitch and pray some more, until you catch someone’s interest before you’ve annoyed them so much they block your contact
As an alternative, you can take the same stellar content from about and share it on all your social media profiles. In Twitter, for instance, you can create a customized list of your influencers using Twitter Ads.
On Facebook, you can do even better. Facebook allows you to get more granular by creating different layers according to demographic information. For instance, you can target people within your contact list that have a specific interest, or job title.
Within a few minutes, you have placed your content within the reach of industry experts, journalists, or influencers with huge social followings. Your content will show up on their activity streams/newsfeeds, where it’s difficult to miss. They can then click, read through and share within their networks and voila! Job done!
Value of Virality through PPC
Using the scheme presented above can get your publicity within a few hours, and all for less than 10% of the effort you use on old-fashioned pitches. You can earn hundreds of mentions on media, not forgetting backlinks to the post and your site in the process, all of which improve your search engine optimization strategy.
All you need to do is have newsworthy content, and have it picked up by just one journalist. Soon, others will flock in on it to stay ahead of the curve before it blows up, and then all you need to do is sit back and watch traffic, links and mentions come in by the truckloads. They may not all be potential consumers, but it is a more effective way of content marketing and raising brand awareness.
Guest post by Jack Dawson.
Everyone implementing SEO usually has the same question – how long before I rank first for my keywords? This question does not have a simple answer, mostly because it’s not in itself a legitimate question. It comes from misunderstanding the current nature of SEO and it is stuck in the rudiments of what SEO used to be.
Old vs. new SEO
In the past, SEO was about identifying the best keywords for businesses. These are relevant words with little competition and high organic traffic. You had to pick out 5-10 of those “golden keywords” which would help you capture the majority of your online traffic. If you’re still telling your SEO professionals that you want first rank for this keyword or that, then you’re stuck in the old paradigm.
Today, there isn’t a single keyword, or keyword group that can solely drive most of your traffic, especially when long-tail search is considered. If your focus is on a group of keywords, you’re missing out on the majority of users looking for you.
Currently, natural language searches drive SEO, i.e., users are searching in much the same way they would ask a normal question, instead of inserting a keyword or two. Google in fact offers voice search options, so that people can speak out their questions. This allows people conveniently to carry out more detailed searches that will provide them with better results.
The result is long-tail keywords, which are less competitive and therefore easier to rank on. They are also more relevant and hence lead to higher conversion rates. Therefore, you should base your ranking objective on a larger group of natural language queries, which is constantly shifting.
Rankings are important, but not quite
There are more important metrics you should focus on rather than just ranking. If you stay focused on getting top rankings, you will have a skewed view of the really important things. It’s not just about getting top rankings. Your rank is worthless if it does not come with leads, conversions and revenue increases, which are the real outcomes.
The right question
Rank is a mere output, your SEO firm/professional should be focused on these more than just getting you higher ranking. As you search for the right SEO partner, your question shouldn’t be how long it will take for you to get the top rank but rather how long before efforts culminate in leads, conversions and sales.
How long SEO takes to work
The real answer to this question is highly subjective. A lot of factors come into play to make SEO efforts effective, or not. A few of those include:
- How long the website has existed
- How much and what SEO techniques had been applied in the past
- The layout and general shape of the website
- How much content is uploaded on the site
- The website’s link profile, among many others
Even when there are two businesses in the same field competing for the same target market, SEO won’t work the same for both of them because of the above differences. However, here is a brief outline of the kind of results to expect from a valid SEO strategy over time:
Website audit, discovery and research, keyword strategy building and general planning. If you get through the research fast, you can start to make technical changes by the first month of operation. For larger or more complicated sites, the research and discovery phase can spill over longer than a month.
Implementation of major technical SEO techniques. Basing on results of the audit, you will make modifications to the site. Sometimes, the site requires a complete overhaul, a process that can take several months. Other SEO techniques include building one’s link profile and content marketing, which you can carry out along with technical changes.
During this phase, and especially if a complete overhaul is in progress, you’re likely to see little or no results for SEO efforts. You must complete the changes before seeing any real impact.
Major focus on improvement of content and content marketing. These include whitepapers, FAQ section updates, blogging, expanding product descriptions and company information. Where the budget is not a severely limiting factor, you can do this simultaneously with the technical overhaul phase; otherwise technical changes come first.
You may see some ranking improvements towards the end of the month. This may or may not lead to conversion and sales improvement yet, but if they’re not there quite yet that’s okay.
Involves a continuation of content creation, technical optimization and link profile building, including link audits to clean out bad/low quality links. This month should produce a notable rise in rankings, traffic as well as lead generation. It won’t be as big as what you’d see after a year, but enough to show that efforts are paying off.
By now, social media management and marketing is also part of the SEO strategy to increase direct traffic and promote content created. This simultaneously builds up healthy natural links. Content creation goes on, coupled with PR and other media outreach techniques (collectively, these techniques encompass a web presence optimization strategy). You’ll see more traffic by now, and your leads and conversions should also be increasing.
If you have traffic of 5,000 visitors monthly and higher, you can begin to direct SEO efforts towards conversion rate improvement. This converts the traffic coming in to leads and eventually sales. After this, your strategy revolves around content creation and promotion. Any other specific techniques will differ depending on the nature of your business, your website and your business goals.
The majority of SEO professionals and firms tell clients that results are visible in 4-6 months. This is an accurate description, but clients must remember that results only start to show within this time, growing as the time passes. By the time your hit one year, your results should be significantly better than what you saw at the sixth month.
Also, you may notice a tapering in results after a certain point, after which SEO efforts will be directed at maintaining the results as opposed to improving them. The key is not to stop just because there aren’t any results in the first 2-3 months. The minimum budget time for SEO should be 6-12 months, because SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. Plan properly and invest knowing you’re in for the long haul.
Author bio: Jack Dawson is a web developer and UI/UX specialist at BigDropInc.com. He works at a design, branding and marketing firm, having founded the same firm 9 years ago. He likes to share knowledge and points of view with other developers and consumers on platforms.
It’s blogging for business week on Webbiquity. Along the lines of the content marketing week series presented here previously, starting tomorrow and running through next Tuesday, a series of posts will cover business blogging strategies, tactics, tools and resources.
As reported here previously, content marketing is nearly ubiquitous, with 93% of b2b marketers using content while 88% of business buyers say online content plays a major to moderate role in vendor selection.
Blogging is often viewed as the core of content marketing strategy, and its use continues to expand due to its compelling benefits:
- • 34% of Fortune 500 companies now maintain active blogs – the largest share since 2008. (Forbes)
- • 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing. (NewsCred)
- • 17% of marketers plan to increase blogging efforts this year. (Forbes)
- • Blogging increases web traffic by 55% for brands. (Rocket Post)
- • B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those without blogs. (Social Fresh)
Want to join in? Just write a post focused on some aspect of blogging for business, and tweet it out using the hashtag #b4bweek. That hashtag will be monitored, and the posts (subject to human limitations) shared. The best may even be bookmarked for inclusion in a future best-of post here.
Hope you enjoy (and share!) the posts here over the next week, which will feature valuable guidance from dozens of top experts.
Guest post by Tom Whatley.
Getting in front of senior decision makers is a common struggle among marketers. When it comes to C-Suite marketing, cutting through the noise and creating content that senior executives will find valuable is hard.
There is a methodology that can make this process easier. It’s a methodology that’s helped companies such as NetSuite, SAS and Ixonos to build trust with the senior decision makers in their target market and, eventually, secure seven figures in sales pipeline.
Before we dive in, there are some foundational elements you should be aware of. There are some things you need to understand about the C-Suite when marketing and selling to them.
C-Suite marketing foundations
A recent Harvard study discovered that the C-Suite spends only 2% of their time with vendors like you and I. That’s around an hour a week, so no wonder it’s so difficult to get their attention.
There are two elements to C-Suite marketing that make up this entire methodology: value and trust. By value we don’t mean how-to articles and other traditional forms of content, though they do have their place in the process.
To the C-Suite, valuable content means insight, statistics and hard facts that provide a logical argument for change. It’s okay to compliment this form of content with how-to guides, but you need to give them a reason to get involved in a discussion with you.
To do this, find out what your market is saying about a topic closely related to your value proposition. Leave all assumptions at the door and really listen to what’s already being discussed. Find a unique angle that aligns this message with your own value proposition.
Once you have their attention, you need to build trust. It gets pretty lonely at the top, and the C-Suite rarely get challenged on their decisions. Everyone reports to them, so it’s not often that their opinions are tested.
This is a huge frustration for senior decision makers, but a great advantage for the C-Suite marketer. By challenging their views, you cut through the noise and put yourself into a trusted space.
You can do this by bringing the opinions of several executives together and seeking out differences of opinion. Turn your content into a discussion and have them leaving feeling like their opinion has been challenged or confirmed with confidence.
Turning content into independence
These two principles of value and trust need to be communicated in a way that positions you away from the stance of a “seller.” Even if your content ticks the boxes above and provides incredible value, when you come from the position of the vendor the C-Suite will still have their guard up.
To get through this, and build trust quickly, try creating an independent brand to position you a trustworthy entity.
One way to do this is by creating a club platform. The club brings together C-Suite executives and decision makers from our clients’ target market and focuses on the elements above.
How NetSuite used a club platform to secure a seven-figure sales pipeline
NetSuite is a cloud business management suite. Their most challenging sales & marketing goal is targeting and getting in front of senior decision makers in their target markets.
In order to do this, The Ortus Club was created. The club platform was built in order to explore and debate upon how to increase visibility and growth within the organisations of the senior decision makers who engaged with it.
The club took on a digital format, utilising content and LinkedIn as platforms to nurture their target audience, as well as a face-to-face element – which was crucial in developing solid relationships based on trust and value – in the form of a dinner.
One of the most recent dinner and discussion events had attendees from fast growing software and online companies. These were executives that they would not have had access to previously.
It’s easy to dismiss this form of C-Suite and content marketing due to its face-to-face element, but when marketing to senior decision makers it’s an important piece of the system to include.
If you’re only creating content online, then you’re ending the journey there. Marketing to (and securing sales from) the C-Suite means getting out there and bringing them together.
This methodology I’ve just shared with you should speed that process up, as long as you remember to separate the message from your core brand and create an independent entity. This is the key to cutting through the clutter and getting their attention.