Content Marketing Show 2012 Round Up 2: Approaching Content Strategy
This post is part 2 of the coverage from the Content Marketing Show that took place on the 20th of November 2012 in Conway Hall, central London. As I said in part 1 of the roundup of the day, the conference was a fresh and exciting take on an content marketing, an area that has been growing in SEOs vocabulary across the last 6-12 months (if not before). It joined together people from a variety of industries and different backgrounds and also covered some thoroughly interesting and actionable points which, I know, will have left most attendees feeling far more filled in on content marketing, as well as having plenty of actionable takeaways too!
While part 1 of my round up of the Content Marketing show dealt with those presentation that I felt covered the importance and ‘power of culture and influence in content marketing’, this post will focus on those presentations that I felt were focused on the importance of content strategy for content marketing. Below are my summary of some of the great presentations, including all key points and takeaways of the day:
Lauren began the presentation by introducing her history which was refreshing to hear that, she comes completely from a content-facing background, having worked at USwitch for a number of years before joining Business Juice. All of her roles have been geared towards her target market; the business energy sector. Being a content focussed digital native, it appears that, atUSwitch she was a classic example of an internal champion that knew a huge amount about her field and, through an understanding and appreciation of digital, was able to apply this to a content marketing perspective.
Lauren talked through the process of launching Energy Forecaster, and related the experience and the need for having to create ‘agile content’. This, she said, is similar to the process most associated with software development. However, this wasn’t without it’s flaws, like many of us can appreciate Lauren was aware of the objectives at hand: “the problem that Energy Forecaster has is that, out of all things that businesses consider, how much they’re paying for their overheads is often very low down on their list….” This is a tough objective to overcome, but through the creation of quality content, Lauren said her and her team aimed to do just that.
The strategy for Energy Forecaster was outlined as fairly simple; the content came first, then the website second. The problem with this was there was too much content, too soon. The stakeholders wanted multiple blogs, a newsroom, an ‘engagement area’ and a ‘press area’, amongst other things; without fully having an idea of why they wanted these assets. This meant that Lauren was in a unique position where she had to control this process, no only managing the creation of content (and specifying what content was most important), but also approaching the project with a very low budget, ‘how did she go about this?’, here’s how:
Ask ‘why?’, not ‘what?’
- Put yourself in your user’s position and answer the following questions:
- As a …
- I want to …
- In order to …
- These questions should always be answered as a user, or even better if you have personas then use these. These won’t engineer a solution, however it just helps you to understand a problem that needs to be solved, and enables you to recognise a need that you must meet in order to understand whether you’re going to meet the project objectives.
- If you’re running a project that is tight on resources, you must be harsh. But… be wary of stifling creativity.
Don’t Wait, Iterate
- The beauty of digital is that you can change content on the fly; you can modify existing content to position it so that it can be ‘evergreen’.
- Consider iterating content based on feedback – have you written on a subject that, from audience reaction is it worthwhile? Or, should you invest more time in it moving forward…?
- When reviewing a campaign, consider bringing actions to the table that could be a better way of approaching a problem, rather than criticising very specific points (personal attacks), or coming prepared with negativity.
- Break your analysis down. Using analytics data you can group by keyword to analyse the performance of each area of content you should focus on. This approach will allow you to revise and optimise the way that you are approaching content creation, to ensure that you are doing this in the most efficient manner (both in terms of quality and cost).
- Story that scale aren’t about scaling ‘really big stories’, scaling your ability to tell stories, to listen to customers and use that to communicate and get back to your customers, not about dehumanising it.
- It’s about have one-to-one conversations that scale.
- It’s not about small data-driven bullshit content.
What we’re guilty of in SEO is pushing content out to get that little bit of extra coverage or reach, the problem with this is that maybe the opportunity isn’t big enough, maybe we should take more time to create great content with a longer lifespan. Consider joining up your data, the data that influences your customers and collecting this from various means.
Using the American election as an example, we can see that intelligently using data to ‘tell stories’ was what won it. The use of clever little social media nudges, helped influence individuals get out to vote (and get their peers out to vote) on a grassroots level. Databases were created to build insights, such as intelligent media buying surrounding placements where the swing voters were engaging; these were essentially a ‘side door’ and were far more effective at spending the vast advertising revenue intelligently. Neil Perkin wrote about this in his blog post ‘the real marketing lesson we’ve all just learned‘.
Consider where your content team resides, try having your creative / editorial and data analysts on the same team. The Guardian and the Telegraph are great examples of this.
- What happens when you have your CRM data next to your sales data, next to the data from where your customers are communicating online….?
- Understand the customer decision journey, replace your sales funnel with it – this shows us that we need to consider the process far beyond the actual sale (both before and after the event).
- Using these varying data points you can create customer centric planning and model your content marketing strategy based on your customers.
- Your owned content hub[s] (Facebook, Website, Twitter channel… etc) should be at the centre, this can then influence you advertising channels.
Big data + content + customer experience = The magic formula for scaling content. There’s a great white paper from the guys at Brilliant Noise on this based on their experience working with Nokia, check it out to learn more about how joining multiple data points to scale your content marketing can be effective in the wild.
Tales from a Content Marketing Rookie - (Mila McLean Homburg, SiteVisibility)
- Go back to the old school with traditional marketing – Think about your positioning, segmentation, where your brand exists in the market and where to start producing content.
- Market research is all important - Think about macro-industry factors like ‘where the sector is going’
- Establish whether you have some sort of project management structure in place
- Know your audience, who are you targeting, how do you reach them, who does your client understand their market to be (how does this relate to the market research you’ve conducted?). Get an idea of where your content needs to go to help guide that within your strategy.
- When you do content, do your content properly. Remember that good content isn’t cheap, nor quick. Chose team members or suppliers that you can trust from the beginning, and have a plan in place to use the content to its full potential.
- Use your team - Build a strong team, consider bringing in someone from another department if you fell that their skills will bring great ideas to the process. Don’t be afraid to speak to your social or development team, or even those that are particularly invested in the brief (maybe it’s one of their hobbies?); if you’re keen on involving them on the process then do that.
- Be Proactive - Find out what else you can do, don’t be afraid of trying something new…
- Think big! – Is there any other ideas that you have that can cut through the noise, speak to your client – do they have partners? Invest in their community.
- Think about things that will integrate your ideas with things that they already do, it will make it easier to pitch it.
- Understand the strategy (and have one in the first place!) - Be realistic when doing this too.
- If you only have one piece of research then think not only how you can repurpose that, but what will be a successful way of repurposing that.
- Have standards - Ensure you (and your client!) is happy with everything that you do Invest in spending time with your client to understand what their expectation are and what will make them love you; once it’s online then it will be there forever. Do a really good job and you’ll see the results.
5 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Journalists but were afraid to ask – (Désiré Athow, ITProPortal)
- With little experience with SEO, conversion rate experts, or other disciplines that the other attendees of the conference worked in; the presentation was introduced as being focused entirely on PR.
- One of the things we can miss when approaching the content marketing process, is actually introducing yourselves to influencers (Desire demonstrated this by getting everyone in the room to shake hands and introduce themselves to the person sat next to them)
- The reason why a lot of people are here, and that content marketing has boomed over the last 12-18 months, is because of Google Panda. ITProPortal were one of thee top 20 sites hit by Panda, however since Panda hit it was claimed that their site traffic has gone up 300%!
- Why to journalists dislike PR/outreach? We need to work together, journalists and PR live in a symbiotic relationship but it’s likely to have it’s ups and downs.
- Journalists very often only go for exclusives, as PRs (and SEOs!) we should be aware of this. You can approach this by by repackaging the story/data, much like in content marketing and offering multiple forms of this to different journalists…
Q: How to journalists function?
A: We are all humans
- Remember that pageviews determine money, if they don’t get pageviews, the journalists don’t get money.
- Journalists spend a huge amount of their time online, they are very time starved and they receive a huge amount of emails everyday.
- Know your audience when approaching journalists - there’s only so many journalists that will really matter to you. It’s a bit like stalking, but think about following them on Twitter, retweeting their tweets or striking up conversation with them; it’s a good way to think of it like developing a rapport with clients.
Q: What drives journalists?
- Journalists are often very passionate about their subject, use this to your advantage!
Q: What makes them iffy?
A: Just do good work
- Think about your approach and personalise it as much as possible, work on your phone calls to them (and also use the phone!)
Q: How to get the best out of journalists?
A: If there’s no one answer, then give them hints!
- Network. Identify events within your category and attend those as much as possible.
- Try to encourage face-to-face meetings and help build a relationship.
- Explain to them what you’re trying to achieve - you might find that your objectives are aligned and that you have a lot more in common than you’d think.
Evergreen Content: The Art of Recycling Resources – (Chelsea Blacker, BlueGlass UK)
- “There is an art to getting as much legwork out of your content”
- You’ll hear “But, I don’t have anything interesting to say”, “and even if I did, nobody cares!” a lot!
- Audit your content, check Kevin Gibbon’s great post on how to conduct a content audit.
- Take a genuine interest in the champions in your clients business - you are likely to find them in the strangest places.
- Develop influential authors within your clients businesses, this is increasingly important considering the rise of the importance of authorship in Google.
- Celebrate these employees enthusiasm and show them examples of Google Authorship in example, it helps to leverage your relationship and role with them.
- Look at your clients company history to generate content, historical or ‘no-longer-available’ things are great examples of how to expand your content marketing strategy.
- It’s likely these often already have fan clubs or groups that you can tap into to engage with, use to influence your content generation and also generate links.
Some examples of types of content you can generate include:
- Proposals- Agencies are consistently doing huge amounts of research for proposals (after all, it’s how we do business!) use this content!
- Use this vast amount of information to create content, share in-depth research, conduct white-papers or even openly highlight things that companies you’ve considered can do better; you never know it could give you a new lead!
- Case studies - Write case studies on clients that you’ve done great work with as it helps to garner attention.
- Consider doing this in different formats, create a video interview with your clients MD, rather than a simple interview.
- Also, whatever you do remember to do this as a crawlable format, no PDFs please!
- Ask people who you’ve worked with, say that you’d “love to be featured on your site!” – it puts the pressure on them to say yes or no, and if you’re providing the content then it’s very hard for them to say no.
- Create calendars – There are numerous amounts of niche events/industries out there, think about creating a (Google) embeddable calendar and share this to influential authors/individuals in that niche.
- Presentations - Think about recording you practicing your presentations, audio (podcast), video (embed on site – post to YouTube), slidedeck (slideshare), think about setting up an online Q&A as a follow up to a presentation.
- Present content you’ve invested in and researched in different formats
- Blueglass did this with eConsultancy data for the state of content marketing in the UK by turning it into an infographic
- They then split this infographic into 6 and used this to populate a presentation on the same topic.
- They then posted it on eConsultancy as a follow up (this was the very information that eConsultancy collected in the first place!).
Successful Briefs – The Key to Getting Good Content – (Jochen Mebus, Textbroker)
One thing that many people can resonate with is getting bad briefs. When looking for content marketing and the production of great content, this has got to start with a good brief, otherwise it’s a classic case of failure by design – ‘shit in, shit out’.
- How to get briefing write isn’t rocket science. Ask yourself ‘how do I get what I need?’ and ‘what would I want to know if I was the author?
- Consider the goal of the text – Do you want it to inform/entertain; to optimise website?; get people to buy your product?
- Identify your target audience - Formal business audiences are very different than Gen Y….
- Describe the preferred style of writing - Personal, neutral, fact-based, colloquial, informative…
- Mention what kind of text that you’re looking for – give them the link to the site, there’s no better way of communicating the tone and style that you’re looking for than this.
- List specific question that the text is supposed to answer.
- Inform the author of the desired structure of the page – heading, sub-headings
- Specify your SEO requirements: Keywords to include, keyword density, but remember, mass keyword repetition simple creates poor content.
- Ask the author to contact you if they have questions then they’ve got to have somewhere to go.
- Be concise, otherwise the perfect author for you may not get in touch due to not bothering to read the brief.
- Ask your content provider support, Textbroker’s overall text rejection rate is less than 0.5%. It’s important that they keep you happy!
- When asking yourself how do you get the content that you need, remember that there are pros and cons of each:
Remember: Whichever way you go, you will have to brief your authors!
SMM not S&M – taking the pain out of social media monitoring – (Andy Keetch, BrandWatch)
- If you’ve got an offline marketing campaign then ask for their marketing plan, it sounds obvious but you should know this information and can use this to help influence your online marketing plan.
- Look at when the most successful time is to talk to your audience, consider hour-of-day and day-of-week. You will need data to be able to provide these insights, but once you have acquired this you can get greater insight into those engaging with your products.
- Track everything you can! There are paid ways of doing this (like BrandWatch), but there’s also a lot of great free tools out there (like SocialMention).
- Use the information that is being shared to the appropriate stakeholders in the business, it will mean that the information that you disseminate with the client resonates on a level that they understand.
- If you’re tracking then make sure you set up the parameters and constantly tweak and refine, to attain the information that you want and, perhaps more importantly, avoid the noise.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the Content Marketing Show, it was very different to the SEO events that I normally attend and it delivered some refreshing, insightful and actionable content. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the event (it sold out in 4.5 minutes!) it will most certainly be back. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone in the industry, SEOs, or those looking to expand their content marketing offering.