12 Quick Content Marketing Tips and Trends

The frigid cold along Route 128 the other morning didn’t keep a standing-room-only crowd from Schwartz Communications’ Breakfast Roundtable on content marketing (using information shared on the Web to drive sales.) Featured speakers were Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at online marketing site MarketingProfs, and Brian Halligan, CEO of inbound marketing software vendor HubSpot.

Among the ideas and tips they tossed out for making the most of your blogs, Tweets, emails, videos, etc.: 

1) The title of your blog post is more important than the content, both to draw readers and to optimize its search engine ranking. Including hot key words and being snarky (i.e., edgy) helps.

 2)  The higher up the org chart you’re selling (like to CEOs and CFOs, the fewer words and the more pictures the better.

 3) Speaking of which, blog posts with photos or illustrations get more readership than those without them.

 4) Along with that photo, add a discrete “call to action” at the end of every post. (“For more information…”)

 5) Video is fading as the hot medium to “go viral” and be passed around the Web. What works now: Easy-to-read charts, especially those showing usable data from your original research.

 6) Mix up your posts up with something light and/or personal every now and then to keep readers’ awake and to build a relationship with them. Hey, did I tell you my knee is acting up again?

 7) While HubSpot uses both channels to promote itself, it gets a lot more paying customers from LinkedIn than from Twitter.

 8) Both long and short blog posts can work, but about one page (screen) of content seems to draw the most readers.

 9) For whatever reason, ebooks draw up to double the downloads of white papers. Maybe it’s because CEOs are looking at all the pictures.

 10) Email marketing is getting less effective every year, while social media marketing is getting more effective.

 11) Seven out of ten emails are read on mobile devices, so make sure yours read well on them.

 12)  f you can’t think of anything else to write, do a “Top Tips” list.

Official call to action: My specialty is writing marketing material that gets the attention of IT buyers based on where they are in the sales cycle. Email or call at (781) 599 3262 to learn more.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Some of the more forward-looking PR firms I work with are looking to supplement traditional PR offerings with demand generation services, using marketing automation software such as Marketo and HubSpot to track prospect’s actions to “nurture” them with additional content towards a sale.

I’ve long had a gut feeling that this is a good way to go, and my belief has been confirmed my recent survey results cited by the DemandGen Report. They show that the use of marketing automation software is indeed taking off, but not as quickly as some had hoped.

Why? Turns out that, just as with so many other IT initiatives, that having the right people and processes is as important as having the right software. These include not having the right or sufficient number of people (52% of those polled) and not having the right processes (43% of those polled.) Lack of good content was cited by 32%, but that’s such blatant self-promotion I shouldn’t mention it. Except I just did.

The types of services customers need are well suited to what PR can provide. PR firms already have deep relationships with clients, and understand – and in some cases helped create – their branding messages. They’re also skilled at creating content for different audiences, either using their own employees or outside help. As for having the right processes to put marketing automation to work, that’s something we’re all learning in real time – and those who get it right first will have a competitive edge.

With fewer and fewer pubs to pitch to – and less bang for the buck in pitching bloggers who may or may not have influence – it seems like showing they can generate valuable leads for a client is a good move for PR firms. Or is it too far outside their core compentency?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Selling Your Weaknesses in B2B Content Marketing

I’ve long argued that admitting your product or service isn’t the right hammer for every nail is an effective way to sell. The folks at marketing automation software vendor HubSpot seem to agree, judging from a recent blog post on “Seven Reasons Social Media is Bad for Marketing.”

 

Since social media (the use of content-sharing sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote a product or service) is one of the main uses for HubSpot’s software  you would expect HubSpot to be a leader in sharing lots of tips about how to use social media and why it’s good. Which they are. But in this post HubSpot admits “we have under-reported on the negative aspects” of social media and lists seven hidden downsides.

 

Did HubSpot shoot itself in the foot? No. Rather than trash the basic idea of social media (as the headline implies) the post actually focuses on what happens when you do social media wrong and describes how to do it right. That transforms what seems like an exercise in humility into an opportunity to educate and engage customers and prospects. For example:

 

Reason Two, that social media causes companies to “Focus on the Wrong Metrics.” The post goes on to suggest “Reach, leads and sales should be some of the tangible metrics that are measured as part of social media marketing strategies.”

 

Reason Four, that social media creates another isolated marketing silo that doesn’t work effectively with other parts of the organization. If integrated into customer service and product development, the post suggests, social media could instead “be an important factor for organizational improvement.”

 

Or Reason Seven, “Lack of Change,” which accuses content marketers of using social media to distribute “the same boring and legally reviewed sound bites that people have tuned-out on TV and in print.” The implied solution? Turn out better content and social media will work better.

 

All HubSpot is admitting is that social media is not a cure-all and that its product has to be used correctly to work. By raising the potential downfalls of its product itself HubSpot educates and engages current and prospective customers.  One day after posting, 26 people had commented, of whom only two piled on to say social media is worthless. The rest thanked HubSpot for raising these problems and/or asked for help in solving them. That’s two dozen current or potential customers who will think of HubSpot next time they have a marketing problem and the budget to solve it.

 

Which, after all, is the point. 

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Real Editors Don’t Just Retweet

“Content marketing” – using material such as white papers, podcasts and videos to sell to customers – is the latest buzzword as companies try to grab market share in the recovering economy.   One common refrain I keep hearing is that marketers should “think like an editor” in deciding what information to give to customers.

 

The only problem is that some of the very smart people giving this advice have no real idea what an editor does. For example, in a recent interview, CEO Brian Halligan of marketing software vendor HubSpot was quoted as saying:

 

“So what a newspaper editor would do is he is reading blogs and newspapers all day looking for ideas…so I would spend a reasonable amount of my day looking at my RSS reader looking at different blogs, looking at different articles and when I find something interesting I would promote it by Twitter or Facebook or a LinkedIn group so other people can collaborate around it.”

 

No real editor would last a week if all he or she did was troll the competition for interesting stories and throw them on the Web for other people to (hopefully) add value.  Sure, real editors read “the other paper,” but mostly to beat up their own reporters about scoops they missed. They spend much more time talking to those reporters about what’s going on in their beats, looking for the next great story the competition hasn’t found yet.

 

As a marketer, your “reporters” are your developers, your salespeople and your product managers. Their “beats” are the technology they work with and the customers they talk to. As an editor you need to find out what they think is new and interesting, and help them turn those ideas and observations into content customers care about.

 

Yes, you need to redistribute good stuff from blogs, RSS feeds and Twitter to keep yourself visible. But to convince a customer to buy from you and not a competitor, it’s much more important to prove your value by saying something smart and original. That’s what real editors do. 

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Gotten a pitch to attend a conference or trade show lately? Did you decide to spend the money, or ditch it and stay in the office? It’s tough to get people to part with their money, or their time, to attend conferences these days. But one way to do it is to give them a sample of what they’d get if they attended.

 

A recent email from the SAP Insider trade pub for their Administrator and Infrastructure Conference  did a good job of doing exactly that. After a brief introductory paragraph or two, it provides a teaser list of six tips (each of which is actually a “best practices”) that was presented during earlier conferences. They are:

  • Tip 1 – 10-step guide to integrate SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP BusinessObjects security
  • Tip 2 – Technical prerequisites for your SAP enhancement package implementation project
  • Tip 3 – Tips for working with SAP NetWeaver variables in Crystal Reports
  • Tip 4 – 19 guidelines for avoiding common pitfalls during your next SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse upgrade project
  • Tip 5 – How to understand the difference between centralized, distributed, and autonomous data governance models, and
  • Tip 6 – 10 best practices for building Xcelsius dashboards

You don’t have to be an SAP expert to see that each tip is specific and technical enough to show the prospect the type of nitty-gritty value they’d get from the conference. By tracking which newsletter recipients click through to which tip (yes, the prospect has to give up their contact info to get the tip) SAP Insider (or a sponsor) can infer what products each prospect is using, and what challenges they’re facing. So even if you don’t get the prospect for the conference, you might have a lead for a product or service sale.

 

It’s a great example of “selling by offering value,” using valuable content that already exists from previous events. What great, usable content is sitting around your organization you could be using to attract conference attendees – or sales leads?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.