WTBWY Bites – I’m Doing Content Marketing Measurement All Wrong. Are You?

content marketing measurement

Do you need one of these?. Photo courtesy of Internet Archive Book Images(CC No Copyright)

As much as it pains me to say this, I’ve been doing the whole metrics thing all wrong and I’ll bet you have too. 

Don’t get too down on yourself just yet, it’s not totally your fault. After all, if you’ve been at this content marketing gig for a while now, like I have, you’re probably just entrenched in habits that worked perfectly well way the heck back in 2012. But it’s been well over 500 days since then, and in Internet-time, that’s practically a geologic epoch. 

Fortunately for you and me, there are plenty of smart people out there willing and able to kick us in our collective butts and put us in the know:

The Freelance Strategist’s “7 Content Marketing Measurements You’re Probably Undervaluing” 

This excellent article by the experts at Contently is part of their highly informative Contently Labs series. In this case, they managed to pull together a ton of compelling research from sources like Upworthy, Medium, ChartBeat, Alchemy Worx, Eloqua, and Microsoft Research, to determine why most of the standard metrics you and I have been using for so long are no longer providing the insights we need to succeed.

Personally, I’m comfortable with monitoring my pageviews, visit duration, bounce rate, and other standard fare. But maybe I need to branch out: 

“Pageviews and visits are easy to understand and, until recently, it was hard to track the other behaviors of website visitors. But if your brand is like most, and your endgame is truly to increase awareness and build deeper relationships with your audience, shouldn’t you be using metrics that tell you whether you’re achieving your goal?”

Key Take-aways:

Those other metrics are a bit tougher to nail down, but the technology exists and a savvy content marketer needs to make an effort to so sooner rather than later: 

  1. Brand Lift – What’s the prevailing sentiment around your brand? Is it getting progressively better as your audience grows and matures? 
  2. Engaged Time – How much time are your audience members spending on each piece of content? Are they skimming and scramming? 
  3. Average Finish – Instead of just counting every warm body that arrives on your content page, why not count the ones who actually care enough to finish it? 
  4. Return Readers – It’s one thing to count return visitors compared to new, but you can dive a lot deeper into what generates returning readers and how to engage them even more effectively. 
  5. Visitor Loyalty – How soon and how often do people return? It leads to a “snowball effect” you’re going to want to experience. 
  6. Longevity - How long does your content stay productive? Can you tweak it or repurpose it to extend this figure? 
  7. eMail Engagement – Do you know if that “open” you celebrated lasted 2 seconds or 20 minutes? Wouldn’t it make a difference? 

 All great content marketing measurement suggestions I know I’ll be working into my weekly analytics review. How about you?

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WTBWY Bites – Getting Buy-in for Content Marketing From Above

Buy-in for content marketing

You need buy-in from this guy???. Photo courtesy of _sarchi(CC Attribution)

Whether you’re a freelancer or consultant looking to convince a company to start or expand a content marketing strategy, or you’re a marketing professional trying to convince your boss(es) to do the same, you’ve likely run into some common walls.

Here are a few I’ve been seeing recently:

  • “We’re on Facebook. That’s enough.”
  • “We’ve got that covered.  I wrote a blog post just last quarter.”
  • “My son’s interning in IT and he takes care of that.”
These are examples of stupid dressed up as smart.  Some others I’ve heard recently, which are a bit scarier:
  • “No one wants to hear about what we do.”
  • “This business is boring. There’s no story here.”
  • “Our target audience are seniors.  They’re not online.”
Of course, these are just broad examples, but the theme is pretty consistent.  Plenty of otherwise very intelligent businesspeople are lying to themselves about the need for a content strategy, the potential success they can expect to achieve because of it, and the qualifications of the people they entrust it to.
What’s more, this level of disconnection from reality makes it nearly impossible for those of us who know better to reason with them, especially when money enters the picture.
It’s a matter of buy-in.  Generally, the decision-makers are either 110% behind a business decision or it just doesn’t fly.  There’s not much chance of a success story in the in-between.

CMI’s “How to Pitch the Power of Content Marketing to Your Boss

I was thrilled to see this article on the Content Marketing Institute blog not long ago, because it does a nice job of providing simple but powerful methods for overcoming this deadly disconnect.
Some key takeaways:
  • Shoot for buy-in on an initial pilot program before pitching a bigger initiative.
  • Personalize your recommendations to the individual decision maker you need to convince.
  • Educate the boss about content marketing without insulting his/her intelligence.
  • Speak to the company’s goals (don’t make it personal!)
  • Prepare to diffuse common objections calmly and professionally.
  • Don’t forget to ask for the buy-in!

Buy-in for content marketing

When you’re done, your boss will be boss.. Photo courtesy of HeyItsWilliam(CC No Derivatives)

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How Do I Do Content Marketing?

How do I do content marketing?

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It’s actually super simple.  

See, first you start out by being just a little bit out there.  Awkwardly so, perhaps.  Like this alpaca. (Or is it a llama?  I always get those two confused.)

How do I do content marketing?

Photo courtesy of upyernoz(CC Attribution)

Then, you take some quiet time to meditatively… meditate on the subject you plan to discuss.  This can be a long process for many content marketers because their lives are full of distractions.

How do I do content marketing?

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Many, including myself, find that setting up a comforting routine – such as a selection of relaxing music or a stimulating beverage – can ease them down the road of creativity and productivity.

How do I do content marketing?

Photo courtesy of Robert S. Donovan(CC Attribution)

Once you start down that pathway, your work is more than half done!

Creating content is as simple as 1-2-3!  Which is to say, it sounds really simple in English, but if you don’t speak the language, it’s complete gibberish.  And even if you understand the basics of counting in English, it’s seeming simplicity masks the fact that there are such things as negative numbers, and fractions, dividing by zero, and imaginary numbers too!

But, you can do it.  Trust me.

How do I do content marketing?

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And once you do, the beauty and harmony of the words, images, call-to-action, persona-reaching copywriting wordsmithing and psychographic soul-rending prose you created will be an amazing thing to behold.  

Now just send it out there into the world and let it fly!  

I guarantee you’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams!

How Do I Do Content Marketing – The Truth

How do I do content marketing?

Photo courtesy of Hamed Saber(CC Attribution)

Ok, so maybe all of the above is a bunch of B.S.

But the fact is, “doing” content marketing really is a simple process.  Not easy, mind you, but simple.

You find that one person – we’ll call them “Joe Target-Market” – and you find out who they are.  What they like, what they hate, what keeps them up at night, what makes them throw the remote down in frustration… and what makes them buy.

Then, you speak to them.  

And you explain, as one human being to another, why they should give you their money.

And you do it over and over again, forever.

How do I do content marketing?  Here’s how.

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Content Strategy – Delivering Stories People Want to Hear

Content Strategy Delivering Stories People Want to Hear

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There’s a fine line between keeping up with the Joneses and looking exactly like the Joneses.

One usually makes good business sense, the other just makes you look silly.

When it comes to your content strategy, there’s going to inevitably be some “keeping up with the Joneses” involved.  For instance, if your biggest competitor is currently snagging 60% of their leads off Twitter, you’d be a fool not to put some emphasis on creating Twitter-friendly content and working to attract the attention of some of those leads.

But if that’s all you’re doing: “me too” content with no soul or unique voice, then you’re missing the point, brother.

The Key to Effective Content Strategy: Delivering Stories People Want to Hear

To avoid this all-too-common trap, the first thing you need to do is determine what your target audience really wants to hear.

Remember, this is what they want to hear, not what you want them to hear or what you think they want to hear.  

So how do you figure this out?

It involves listening with an open mind to what’s being discussed elsewhere online, and giving your audience every opportunity to offer feedback to you directly.  Can you include a brief survey at various touchpoints in the buyer’s journey?  Encourage and respond to blog comments?  Inspire conversation on social media and dedicate the time and effort necessary to keep the conversation going?

By doing this consistently, you should be able to get a solid handle on what your audience truly wants to know about.  You’ll be able to tell what questions they have in mind that may be keeping them from purchasing from you, or what intimidates them about your product or service.  You’ll be able to determine if there’s something about your messaging that confuses them, or sends them down the wrong path.

Once you’ve identified these items, you simply need to create content that simply and powerfully provides exactly what the audience has identified for you.  Answer their questions, calm their fears, respond to their objections, solve their problems.

What They Want is Transparency

More often than not, as you compile the questions and concerns your audience has, you’ll find a running theme: what they’re really looking for is the inside scoop: the real story behind your company, your brand, your product, or your service.  They want to know what goes on behind the scenes and what’s going to happen after they give you their money.

More than anything else, they’re looking for some sort of human connection behind the facts and figures.  If you can put a human face on your business and turn your marketing messages into compelling conversation, you’ll be following the most effective content strategy delivering stories people want to hear. 

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The Content Marketing Package – Is It Right For You?

The Content Marketing Package

In an effort to infuse some normalcy and predictability into a notoriously unpredictable industry, content marketing professionals have recently been putting a lot of focus on the content marketing package.

I’ve done it myself, because I honestly feel it’s a worthwhile option in many cases.  

But it’s certainly not the only option – or the best one, in most cases.

If you’re not familiar with the term, the content marketing package is basically a pre-determined menu of content creation and distribution options at a set package price, which an agency or professional can offer to their clients on a retainer basis.

For example, I have three different package levels, all of which run on a set monthly retainer fee.  My packages are fairly flexible in that I still expect to fine-tune the package to each client’s unique circumstances and strategy, but I have a pretty solid time investment in mind when I’m agreeing to the flat retainer fee.

The Pros

There are pros for both the client and the content professional when using a package system on a retainer fee.

For the client, there’s the piece of mind of knowing ahead of time how much you’re going to spend each month without the worry of hidden fees caused by extra hours or unexpected edits.  This makes budgeting simpler, and makes it far easier to determine ROI on your marketing efforts.

Also, it gives the client the opportunity to learn about the content marketing process as they work with the professional with a standardized system each month, improving and fine-tuning the strategy as they go.

For the marketer, a steady monthly income is like a dream come true, as is the ability to budget and schedule time for the necessary work months in advance.  Besides that, having a pre-determined list of items to create, dispense, and track each month makes for efficient and easily structured work.  If something needs to be fixed, it’s readily apparent because everything remains uniform.

The Cons

The pros mentioned above are powerful, and unfortunately they may be pushing too many pros and their clients into a package/retainer arrangement when that’s not the best option for them.

In some cases, the best content strategy involves a lot of experimentation and adjustment.  If both sides of the equation feel locked into a particular list of content pieces because of a six-month contract, this could hinder necessary adjustments and experimentation.  Instead, they may continue churning out sub-par content on schedule, just because the agreement is already in place.

Likewise, a business with many different marketing initiatives going on at once may find themselves over spending in one area via the content marketing package, only to find that other aspects of their marketing objectives are being neglected and don’t have an adequate budget allocated.

These situations can – unfairly – turn into frustration with the content professional or agency, when in actuality it’s the agreement that’s causing the problem.

So, is the content marketing package right for you?  Or are you better off filling in your content needs on project by project basis?

The best way to find out is to speak to a content professional and allow them to help you decide what’s best in your unique circumstances.

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How I Develop Content for my Website

Written content for my website

Photo courtesy of John Althouse Cohen(CC Attribution)

If you take time to explore the Words That Begin With You website, you’ll see that there’s a wealth of content here.  (Which makes sense, considering my chosen line of work.)  

Since I’m primarily a writer, the bulk of what I create is in written form, but I’ve strayed into audio and video on occasion, made a few presentations, and noodled around with a lot of different written formats from tiny, pithy posts to complete books.

I wanted to take some time today to discuss my methodology for developing content for my website because everyone does it a little differently and some interchange of ideas could make a potentially daunting task a little easier on all of us.

Developing Written Content for my Website

For most of my standard blog posts, the genesis of the idea comes from one of three places:

  1. A Piece of the Puzzle – These posts are not necessarily parts of longer series (although some of them are) but they follow a basic theme that runs like a bright thread through the content I write.  Generally, these posts are how-to or hypothetical with an emphasis on real-world examples where possible.  Almost all my longer content (white papers, ebooks, and a print book) are in this category.  They tend to relate in some way to the major tenets I try to get across to my clients who are hoping to succeed with content marketing: speak to people, not Google; consistency is key; have fun.
  2. A Flash of Brilliance – These posts are usually one-off rants, raves, or inspirational diatribes that struck me as too powerful to overlook.  They may or may not relate directly to anything else I write, but they generally do connect in some way to content marketing or another related discipline.   Sometimes, they’re confessional, like my popular Blogging in Obscurity post, or the story of my decade-long overnight success.  In other cases, they’re just interesting analogies that occurred to me as I listened to music, watched TV, or watched football.
  3. Riffing Off Other Peoples’ Stuff- Although I do a ton of small scale curation via my social media hubs (especially Twitter) I will occasionally pull a real gem from my reading and turn my reaction to it into a blog post.  My most recent example of this was regarding The Content Marketing Holy War, which sparked some really intriguing conversation across the industry.  I enjoy doing this, but only when I’m sure my views are in some way different from the norm and are actually adding something of value.  I get a little tired of bloggers who spend most of their energy writing long-winded reactions to what other people have created.  It feels like a cop-out to me.
Audio content for my website

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Developing Audio Content for my Website

I’m no expert on podcasting, but it’s a format I really enjoy.  I’m not sure why I haven’t done more of it, but I keep telling myself I will.

Thus far, all my podcasting experience has been based on pulling content from my written backlog that I feel is important enough and valuable enough to disseminate in other ways, and reworking it for a podcast. 

Going forward, I intend to do a lot more of this, including a complete audio-book style treatment of The Content Marketing Hurricane (exclusively for my CMH Stormwatchers) and a full audio/video e-course based on my Public Speaking University content.  Stay tuned for that!

video content for my website

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Developing Video Content for my Website

As I described above for audio content, my video content thus far has been focused on reworking written content for that format.  I will be expanding this in the future to include a series of instructional videos that follow the Content Marketing Hurricane tenets as well as the videos that will be included in the Public Speaking University course.

But in both cases – audio and video – I’d love to expand my experience and experiment more with different methods of creating and distributing content in these formats.  If you have any suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them.  Put them in the comments below!

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Why a Content Marketing Specialist Can Be Your Best Friend

Your content marketing specialist can be your company’s most powerful secret weapon!

Companies the world over are starting to realize just how powerful an in-depth knowledge of content marketing can be. 

content marketing specialist

Don’t tell anyone, but…. Photo courtesy of stevendepolo(CC Attribution)

As a matter of fact, if you take a look at current job offerings, “content marketing specialist” is one of the most common job titles you’ll see:

So where is the value in hiring a content marketing specialist?  What’s the big deal?

Well, it comes down to ROI. 

If you’re currently paying one or more associates in your marketing department to focus on old-school, outbound marketing like advertising, telemarketing, direct mail, or the like, you should really take a look at the dollars and cents involved.  Are their efforts actually paying their salary?  Are they making you any profit?

Chances are pretty good that they’re not.

Or, at least, not nearly as well as they did 15 years ago when they started.

The reason is simple: those old-school methods don’t work nearly as well as they used to.  You’re getting far less bang for your buck, and (ironically enough) the cost of using those methods has only gone up over the years!

Compare that with the guy who can lead your inbound marketing efforts: blogging, SEO, social media marketing, email nurturing campaigns… Many of these strategies are free or close to it, at least to start with.  And in 2014, they’re bringing in far more leads at just a fraction of the cost of outbound methods.

Even if you’re paying this guy MORE, you’re still making more profit from him.

That’s why a content marketing specialist – someone who knows inbound marketing and can help you create a content strategy and the content itself – is such a valuable ally to have on the team.

Words That Begin With You

I don’t mind telling you, I’m a content marketing specialist, and a pretty darn good one too.  

I’ve helped a lot of clients learn how to tell their story in a profitable and passionate way without breaking the bank.  In many cases, I’ve helped them set up a strategy, gotten them started with a supply of fresh content and optimized foundation, and they’ve taken it to run from there.

Fill in the form below to get a taste of what I offer, or contact me directly if I can help you.

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Absolutely MUST READ Post from Onboardly

I’m not going to belabor this at all.Just go here and read this important post:http://onboardly.com/content-marketing/is-originality-going-extinct-the-downside-of-replicating-success/If you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate it.  Come back here and let me know what you thought!- Justin

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