Guidelines for a Content Marketing Audit

February 29, 2012

If you are already a content marketing convert and understand the importance of embracing content publishing as a core component of your marketing strategy, you may be wondering how well you are doing in comparison to other companies. The Altimeter Group has a report that can help you with that. Their recently released “Content: The New Marketing Equation” report puts together a “Content Marketing Maturity” framework to help you assess your content marketing efforts.

The Content Marketing Maturity Model

Based on their analysis, the Altimeter Group devised a content marketing maturity model comprised of the following stages:

  • Stand: you haven’t yet realized the value of content marketing as a key component of your marketing strategy.
  • Stretch: you understand the benefits of content marketing and have started to create content.
  • Walk: now with a solid foundation organizationally that supports content creation, your content strategy is more fully refined and tweaked. There is also a concerted effort to connect content development with all parts of the organization’s communication teams.
  • Jog: your company is seriously committed to content marketing and has a clear strategy.
  • Run: companies at this stage have production and creative as full, standalone business unit, and your company is creating content that is sold and licensed based on its standalone merit.

 

Content Marketing Maturity Model - Altimeter Group

The report details each stage with an accompanying case study and suggestions for moving onto the next stage. It also shows how you can perform a content marketing self-audit and score your organization based on the different elements that define content marketing maturity, namely:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Internal Resources
  • External Resources
  • Measurement
  • Education

Whether you decide to really audit your content creation efforts or not, just going through the criteria and the different case studies can give you additional insights you can use to better fine tune your own content marketing processes.

Key Content Creation Recommendations

The report ends with some final recommendations for anyone that wishes to improve their content marketing creation efforts:

  1. Build Content Around the Brand/Product/Service, Not About It
  2. Drive Organizational Change and Transformation
  3. Educate and Train
  4. Design Recombinant Content

One thing is clear, in order to achieve the higher stages of content marketing maturity, the whole organization must recognize its importance and support for content creation must come from the executive levels.

The free report is available to download directly from the Altimeter Group’s website (or click the image below).

Altimeter Group Report The Content Marketing Equation

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When Inbound Marketing Goes Wrong

February 9, 2012

The fact that Inbound Marketing is taking over traditional marketing methods is not news. It seems that every eBook, blog post, and webinar is now touting content marketing and inbound marketing as the go-to strategies for the new marketers. Marketing is evolving, there is no denying that.

But for those out there in the trenches, trying to follow all the advice and get their marketing engines running it is not that simple. Sometimes, despite your best efforts you can’t seem to move the marketing needle enough.

Why Your Inbound Program Isn’t Working

Marketo‘s new whitepaper, “Amplify Your Impact: How to Multiply the Effects of Your Inbound Marketing Program“, takes a different route from others out there. I was pleasantly surprised when they decided to attack the core of the problem by saying “It can be common for organizations that implement an inbound marketing strategy to see an early lift. However, while early results are strong, the leads can dwindle to a trickle“. That’s not your typical Inbound Marketing whitepaper!

The reasons, according to Marketo, are many:

  1. Your aim is too wide
  2. Some prospects may find you, but many don’t know you exist
  3. Others may know your exist, but don’t understand what you do
  4. You aren’t reaching the decision makers
  5. Sometimes you can’t break through the noise
  6. Sometimes there isn’t any noise
  7. Inbound marketing has a diminishing return

Content developed for inbound marketing should be more focused on your prospects’ problems and concerns than on your product or solution – Marketo

For each problem listed above, you can find good examples that might reflect exactly what you are facing at your company. In some cases, a few tweaks may get you back on track but in other cases you should re-evaluate your strategy. They also list a few things other companies are doing that you should think about, such as:

  • Have a staff dedicated to inbound programs
  • Combine inbound AND outbound programs
  • Ensure you have nurturing programs too

The Right Marketing Program Mix

“Increased output is not directly linked to a greater number of leads or customers or higher profit. You need to strategically determine where to spend your time – especially if you have a limited amount of resources”

The quote above, from Marketo, is the key for your inbound marketing troubles. The combination of the right programs based on their effectiveness for your particular situation is what will generate the best results. And, according to Marketo, outbound programs have their place in your marketing arsenal. They explain that while inbound marketing supports your newly created content by sharing it on social channels, making it faster and easier for your content to be found, outbound marketing (paid sponsorships, banner ads, etc.)can help you further spread the word about the content and multiply the number of new views you generate (and thus the number of shares, likes, etc.).

The mixing of both Inbound and Outbound Marketing programs helps with:

  • Brand recognition
  • Making prospects speak your language
  • Capture your target

The last part of the paper touts the benefits of marketing automation (expected, since Marketo is one of the players in this space) to help with your nurturing campaigns. As Marketo puts it:

“The leads you’ve generated via inbound marketing are often still conducting research and evaluating their solution options. That’s where lead nurturing comes in — you need to invest in the process of building relationships with qualified prospects, with the goal of earning their business when they are ready to buy. Marketing automation helps you deliver relevant information over time to keep leads interested, engaged, and educated until they’ve made that decision”

Besides, marketing automation also helps to:

  • Raise open and click rates
  • Enables A/B testing beyond landing pages
  • Creates new landing pages easily
  • Shorten sales cycle
  • Lets sale show when their prospects are engaging online
  • Automates repetitive tasks
  • Delivers sophisticated reporting and analytics

The free whitepaper is worth a read. The part where they talk about inbound marketing campaigns gone wrong can give you some interesting food for thought and help you rethink how your own campaigns are being setup.

 


6 Ways to Spice Up Boring Email Marketing Campaigns

February 7, 2012

Spice Up Your Email CampaignNote: This is a guest post by Lior Levin. See Lior’s bio at the end of the article.

For a marketer, email is possibly the most powerful medium ever created. In addition to be instantaneous and simple, it’s a personal medium that can be tailored to every person, it’s opt-in, meaning that you’re reaching an already-engaged audience and, best of all, the cost of sending each email is effectively zero.

However, the problem with email marketing is that it’s very much like a relationship, difficult to keep the excitement and enthusiasm up for a long period of time. This is true for both the marketer and the recipient.

So how can you help keep that spark alive when sending email after email? A lot of it comes down to simple creativity. However, there are several things you can do to revitalize a dull campaign and re-engage both yourself and your audience with your email marketing.

Here are just a few that you can consider:

1. Take a Survey

If an email campaign is a relationship, then every great relationship starts with communication. You need to take a moment and listen to your subscribers.

Take time out from your regular email campaign to have your readers fill out a short survey and learn what they want out of your emails. You might learn that there are whole directions you haven’t explored or that there are topics of interest you haven’t talked about yet.

Aside from that, getting your readers engaged and making them feel as they have a voice in the newsletter makes them more likely to stay and more likely to pay attention to what you send out.

2. Hold a Contest

People love contests and they get excited about the prospect of winning something. Whether it’s a contest for a large prize, a coupon to a certain percentage of subscribers or something else altogether, contests are a great way to generate buzz and interest in your email campaign.

Contests work especially well if you couple them with promotion elsewhere, offline and on, and can be even more effective if you reward your readers for attracting new subscribers.

But even if you can’t do anything grandiose, a simple contest is a great way to renew subscriber interest and improve your metrics. Just be careful to follow all relevant laws.

3. Reward Your Subscribers

Sometimes reviving a dull relationship is as simple as saying “Thank you”.

Offer a special deal to your readers just for being on your list. Give them something that makes them feel important and like they are your most valuable customers just because they are on the list.

This reward doesn’t have to be something large, just something unique that is only available to subscribers. Whether it’s a small percentage off, early access to new merchandise or a free download, anything that makes your subscribers feel as if you’re catering to just them will help keep their interest and their loyalty.

4. Segment Your Audience

Ideally, the more information you have about your audience the better. In addition to their name, email and other contact info, you ideally should know at least some about their interests, especially if you’re in a business that has a variety of products catering to many different types of customers.

However, even if you don’t have that information, you can still target your subscribers by publishing themed emails aimed at one or two specific segments. The idea is to talk directly to a part of your audience and engage them deeply. Though your other subscribers will likely ignore the email, you will come back and reach out to them another day.

All in all, segmenting your audience and reaching out to them is a great way to make your emails more relevant, interesting and useful.

5. Revamp Your Template

Revamping your site’s template is a long, difficult process that involves changing out multiple parts and, possibly, confusing a much larger audience. With your mailing list, you can make changes a great deal easier and, with the smaller audience and lack of search engine visibility, the risks are less.

So, if your campaign seems stale, it may be time to revamp your email template. Not only is this a chance to add new visual appeal, but you can also add new features such as a fast fact, a relevant quote or a promotion.

In short, if you’ve been using your old email template for a while and would like the chance to bring in some new content, a new template might be just what you need.

6. Test, Test and Re-Test

Of course, if you’re going to do any of the above changes, you want to test them as thoroughly as possible.

Most email service providers offer an easy way to split A/B testing where you send out slightly different emails to various groups and see which are the most effective. This allows you test one variable at a time, such as a new subject line or a tweak in the template.

However, even if you can’t do A/B testing, you can achieve the same result by changing the emails you send out between mailings. Basically, by making small changes every mailing and closely tracking results, you can hone in on things that improve your response.

In the end, the only thing that is required to keep the interest and spark in your email campaigns is a willingness to try new things and to engage with your audience. If you can do those two things, there likely won’t be a single boring week for your newsletter.

It does mean, however, that you have to be vigilant with your campaign and, even if things seem to be going well, you have to be willing to take a risk.

With email, if your campaign isn’t moving forward, it’s stagnating and a stagnating campaign is a dying one.

About the Author:

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a company that offers a to do list application for businesses and individuals, and who also consults for a company that convert psd to html format.


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