BLOG

EditorialPR Musings
Content Marketing Blog

Keep up to date with the latest content marketing tips and news.

03/Jun/2019
shutterstock_1077878828.jpg

The ongoing struggle to align content and marketing with business-wide strategies and objectives has been highlighted again in a new study released last week by Skout, which shows a clear disconnect in how enterprises are managing core processes on a day-to-day basis.

Just 40% of the 100 professionals in senior B2B marketing roles said their marketing plans dovetail with key company targets, but even fewer (27%) have actually managed to do it successfully during the last 12 months. There also appears to be a lack of knowledge about the power of content in the workplace.

Just over half of those surveyed said their sales team does not appreciate or value the content they create or publish, which is undermining efforts for closer collaboration and alignment of objectives from the get-go. It also shows content is not being used to push B2B buyers along the sales cycle or close deals with clients.

However, some marketers say they are getting along better with sales teams than they have previously. A majority (54%) of B2B leaders say they now have a better relationship, and 28% believe sales actively want them to roll out more content campaigns to drive positive business returns.

While a growing number of sales and marketing relationships are thawing, 27% of the latter admit the former probably do not fully comprehend the finer details of marketing and how it can impact the business.

Skout commissioned the research to get to the bottom of the challenges and issues senior marketing decision makers are facing in 2019. The company’s managing director, Rob Skinner, said it was “imperative” for marketing and sales to work together, as they are both responsible for attracting new leads and generating businessand that they are effectively both sides of the same coin.

“In today’s competitive marketplace, the onus is on marketing to work with sales to better understand customer challenges and purchasing decision making behaviours,” Skinner said. “The growing trend of Account Based Marketing (ABM), where B2B marketing activity is focused specifically on the needs and behaviours of individual target customers, makes this relationship even more critical.”

However, a potential disconnect with sales is not the only topic on the minds of marketers this year. More than a third also said attempting to understand the complexities of digital ad channels and best-use cases is an ongoing challenge, while a similar number said the same for executing strategies and campaigns effectively on a limited budget.

Skinner concluded that content should be used to drive lead generation and better return on investment and that the close alignment of sales and marketing increases its power.

He added: “Buyers are hungry for content that helps them make informed decisions about whether a product or solution is right for their business. Prospects begin their research into the products or services they want to purchase early in buying cycle. It is therefore essential that marketing content, whether digital or physical, is an integral part of that sales journey.”


27/May/2019
Depositphotos_79668958_s-2019.jpg

Brands capable of delivering engaging content experiences on mobile could drive substantial returns and “make billions”, according to a new study released this week by Mobile Posse.

The tech innovator published The Appnostic Journey: How Changing Behaviour is Creating New Opportunities on Tuesday, and the findings suggest brands have a “massive” opportunity to tap into the fervent demand from audiences to consume content regularly on smartphones.

Mobile Posse noted that behaviours are evolving quickly. This is largely due to the central role smartphones are playing in day-to-day life. The data found that consumers are unlocking their mobiles a staggering 70 times each day on average, but just one in ten say they have a specific app, web page or destination in mind when they do so.

The vacuum in smartphone usage and stated intentions represents an excellent opportunity for content creators to serve up experiences to educate and entertain end users when they swipe up and begin using their smartphones. Mobile Posse said that the frequent unlocking of phones without a known destination is more commonly known as “appnostic” behaviour.

This behaviour is grounded in the belief that every unlock of a phone is actually the start of a single journey, which offers brands and advertisers a chance to interact and engage with offers, app benefits, videos and other forms of content. However, the study also found that push notifications are the least popular content discovery experience, so there is a need to be more creative.

About 88% of people who use smartphones on a regular basis now show some form of appnostic behaviour, but just 11% have a predetermined destination most of the time when they open their mobiles. This trend has strengthened in recent years, with the study showing a 32% increase in unlocking without an experience in mind since 2016.

There is also a desire for better experiences. Two-thirds of consumers say that they want better content discovery on mobiles, and this sentiment is even stronger among those aged 18 to 24, who are very eager for better solutions to their content-discovery needs.

“Mobile behavior is changing quickly and the result is a massive opportunity to make smartphones that better serve the needs of today’s on-the-go consumer,” Mobile Posse CEO, Jon Jackson, said in a statement. “The companies that solve for this opportunity can make billions by delivering mobile content discovery experiences that users want.”

Security and privacy have been in the spotlight during the last 12 months, but 68% say that they prefer to get personalised content based on articles, blogs and videos they have consumed previously and on their own search histories.

Content relevance is important, as are more bite-sized experiences. Four in ten say they crave more snackable content with a maximum run time of 30 seconds. Around a quarter prefer content experiences of 30 to 90 seconds. Better content and discovery are now considered more important for carrier subscribers in the US than other benefits, such as personalised ads or bundles, and those able to meet their needs can reap the dividends.


20/May/2019
shutterstock_490862548.jpg

Testimonials can be one of the most important weapons in the marketer’s armoury, but they can also be difficult to get right.

In a recent issue of PR Matters, the roundtable column by members of the UK International Public Relations Association (Ipra), former chair Millie Dizon was asked for advice on how to come up with inspirational testimonial campaigns that had the ability to enhance the brands being serviced.

She answered: “Testimonials are important marketing tools, and have a way of touching the hearts and minds of the public. This is because these are often viewed to be authentic and very relatable.  But you are right when you say that this is not an easy task.”

The effectiveness of a well-delivered testimonial campaign is widely recognised. A recent WebDAM survey revealed that testimonials outperformed all other forms of content marketing for their effectiveness. Nearly four-fifths (78%) of survey respondents said that they put as much trust in a review as they did recommendations from people they knew.

Interestingly, the survey also found that using both positive and negative reviews could be more effective than pushing positive feedback alone. Nearly a third (30%) of people suspected dishonesty or some sort of censorship when confronted with nothing but positive reviews, with a mixture of positive and negative being perceived as more trustworthy.

In an article on marketingprofs.com, marketing executive Ella Patenall said that testimonials can help to build trust between an organisation and its users or customers.

She added that a good testimonial “outlines key benefits, makes comparisons with other products, and backs up the claims you’ve made about your product or service.  That’s why many businesses choose to include a form of testimonial in their marketing.  But some are more effective than the others.”

According to Patenall, there are at least three important types of testimonial that marketers should consider – quotes, case studies and video testimonies.

Quotes are the simplest format and you’re all familiar with seeing customer quotes in all sorts of circumstances. “In the age of short attention spans, such quotes should be succinct and snappy to catch attention immediately,” she said.

She added that areas covered in this sort of quote would typically include information on how the customer found the process, how effective they found the service or product to be, and whether they would recommend it to others. Authenticity was particularly important for quotes, and including the person’s name, company and other corroborating information could help engender trust.

Case studies are a powerful tool for marketers as they can use them to demonstrate the positive results delivered to a previous client in a more in-depth way than brief quotes. They can also use visual elements, such as infographics and graphs.

Videos can have a great impact and be very relatable. However, they should be well-executed. Otherwise, they could look amateurish and off-putting. At the same time, authenticity is key throughout, so there’s a need to strike a balance to make sure your testimonials don’t look like they are pre-prepared or supplied lines being delivered by actors.


13/May/2019
shutterstock_378439201.jpg

Marketers are still finding it difficult to deliver personalised content marketing materials to audiences at the right time but are getting better at creating tailored messages, a new joint study by Vennli and Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has found.

The Optimise Content Marketing Performance Through Active Audience Listening study released last week aims to get to the bottom of common challenges and issues marketers are dealing with on a daily basis, including the advance of cutting-edge tech and the need for strategies and long-term content planning.

The good news is that documented strategies are now helping to lay the foundation for strong creative distribution. Six in ten marketers say they have one, which is a healthy 17% increase over the number reported in the 2018 whitepaper. However, while marketers are putting down strategies on paper, acting on them is proving to be difficult.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they are still forced to adopt a “project-focused” mindset where they must react to internal requests and changing conditions rather than being proactive. This is making the task of aligning content output with a planned strategy more troublesome than it otherwise would be and is having a negative knock-on effect in other areas.

For example, just 22% said they are building content based on buyer personas, which are essential for serving up more targeted articles, videos and messages to end users. Furthermore, a mere 15% said they can currently align content with a customer’s journey.

“It’s clear that companies know what message they want to convey to their target audiences,” Vennli CEO, Marty Muse, said. “However, what they want to say versus what their customers want to hear doesn’t always match. Incorporating solutions, like content intelligence, can confirm the right messages at the right time at the right place so that marketing teams no longer have to guess.”

All these issues are holding companies back in their efforts to deliver content at the right time to the right customer. More than half (51%) said they disagree or remain neutral with the notion that they can deliver timely content through the right channels to engage with the audiences that matter to them. Just one in ten had a strong feeling that they could do this effectively.

“What the research revealed is that today’s marketers are too busy managing content to manage content well,” CMI’s chief strategy officer, Robert Rose, said. He added that many brands still have a blind spot in terms of knowing exactly what their audiences need and want to hear, primarily due to a failure to implement listening strategies. To address these issues, marketers could outsource all or part of their content efforts to a third party to free up time and resources to implement core strategies effectively, leverage new technology (including AI and automation) to improve the quality of repetitive tasks, and move away from a culture where internal requests from different parts of the business take precedence over a unified strategy.


06/May/2019
shutterstock_566888527.jpg

Most marketing leaders are hoping to “advance” their artificial intelligence (AI) and personalisation capabilities next year, while four in ten view the technology as an “immediate priority”, according to a new study by Arm Treasure Data and Forbes.

Personalisation has been a major trend in content marketing during the last 12 months, but the focus has largely been on serving up more relevant and targeted materials rather than attempting to use AI at scale to support efforts. The Clear Path or Personalization report suggests the latter will become a key goal during the next 12 months.

Brands still must make large strides in their use of cutting-edge technology, as just 21% believe their personalisation efforts have been “highly successful.” That may be due to a failure to divert more investment into the area, as personalisation currently accounts for around 10% of marketing budgets.

However, personalisation “leaders” are seeing huge benefits from leveraging it, as 54% in this esteemed group have been able to surpass sales goals and objectives during the last year. However, six in ten still believe they are at least 12 months away from giving personalisation the attention required to make the most from it.

L’Oréal is among the big brands that have already been using personalisation to deliver more customised digital experiences and content to customers. It recently entered a partnership with Biome to create a test that analyzes a customer’s skin condition using a cheek swab, providing L’Oréal with the basis to make content and product recommendations tailored to a customer’s wants and needs.

While personalisation is a considerable undertaking initially due to the need for digital transformation and strategy overhauls, marketers believe AI will eventually save them both time and money. This is one of the reasons why many are aiming to use this technology to develop customised digital content this year.

The survey of 200 marketing leaders found that 46% are still not in a place they deem acceptable in terms of delivering on the potential of personalisation. Some of the executives also said a dearth of high-quality data is a stumbling block, as is the presence of silos that inhibit more rapid adoption across the business.

While these issues are likely to persist this year, marketers have good reasons to persist and overcome issues, as 40% of the leaders say personalisation has already had a direct, positive impact on their sales and ability to drive profits in B2C channels.

In a separate study released this week, IAB found that brands are ready to spend 25% more on video content as it becomes a key battleground in various markets. They will centre almost a quarter of that investment on social media, while mobile-optimised experiences will take precedence. “This year’s report clearly points out that buyers are looking for more unified approaches to planning, executing, and measuring video campaigns across platforms,” IAB Digital Video Centre of Excellence deputy director, Eric John, said. “The more the industry pivots to make good on the promise of ‘video everywhere,’ the more we can expect digital video budgets to increase.”


29/Apr/2019
shutterstock_433886758.jpg

Content marketers are overwhelmed by the sheer scale of technology platforms and services available to them and largely get by via the use of outdated brute force methods, according to a study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

The 2019 Content Management and Strategy Survey show that marketers have never had it better in terms of the options available to them, but the near-limitless avenues to success are making it difficult to create and optimize a seamless pipeline for creativity and distribution. More than three-quarters admit that manual work still takes precedence despite having systems in place and having the appropriate technology, such as automation, available.

The good news is that businesses now recognize the critical importance of content marketing and have made the effort to adopt a strategic approach during the last 12 months. About 59% of those surveyed said they now have a documented strategy for content in place, and more than three-quarters are strategic in at least some part of their efforts.

When drafting strategies, aligning content with business goals and objectives is a high priority for marketers, as 94% include these elements. Other popular aspects of strategy include defined roles and responsibilities (79%), measurements and KPIs (76%), desired outcomes (72%) and workflows (71%).

However, a failure to identify the right tools for the job is undermining efforts to achieve many of these plans. Just 16% say they are using the right technology and maximizing its potential, while 42% believe they can leverage the correct technology but are not making the most of it.

The mish-mash of technology and platforms is making it very challenging for enterprises to scale their content marketing campaigns, with one in ten even admitting they are still doing things ad-hoc. Again, only a mere 13% say they have a “completely systemic approach” capable of supporting their production, management and distribution channels effectively.

“This year’s research suggests that while many organizations have a handle on the physical management of content assets with nearly 70% having undertaken content inventories and audits, there is a great need for optimizing the use of technology to make content flow more quickly and seamlessly throughout the enterprise—and to get that content in front of the right audiences at optimal times,” CMI chief strategy advisor, Robert Rose said.

Putting audience wants and needs above all else has been a key trend for content marketers during the last 12 months, but the majority are still struggling to serve up experiences that are tailored for each subset of a target audience. Six in ten admit that knowing what is most important to focus on for an audience is an ongoing challenge.

Content marketers also continue to operate in a silo, often away from IT, sales and wider marketing departments. Respondents said they are aware that improving communication between each of these teams will probably be the single biggest strategic challenge during the remainder of 2019. Those that can increase cooperation and collaboration stand the best chance of driving the best returns from content marketing.


22/Apr/2019
shutterstock_1317695693.jpg

Restaurants brands may be missing out if they fail to leverage the power of content marketing on social media platforms, according to a new report by MGH, which found almost half of the diners in the US go to a new eatery after reading or watching a post published by a brand online.

While restaurants are traditionally centred around offline experiences and interactions, supporting standard marketing efforts, such as local ads with digital content, can help to attract new diners, improve brand image and increase customer loyalty and retention. MGH, a full-service restaurant marketing agency, said social content can have a “great influence.”

The power of content may have been overlooked in the food industry, as 42% of diners have now interacted with a restaurant in some form via a social media platform, and two-thirds say these positive experiences make them more likely to order more food from the restaurant and visit in the future.

Restaurant-to-consumer engagement is beneficial in several ways, including enabling brands to tap into new audiences and reach more people. About 45% said they ventured to a restaurant because of an article, blog or video, while 22% said that type of content has enticed them to return.

“For restaurant marketers, it’s clear that high-quality social media content, along with active engagement practices, still has great relevance to consumers,” MGH Social Media Marketing Director and Executive Vice President, Ryan Goff, said. “When done right, social content marketing can have great influence over where diners choose to spend their hard-earned money.”

Brands that regularly post content online have a better chance of accruing more followers and friends, which, in turn, increases engagement and the potential for consumers to spend more on food. Three-quarters of respondents who actively follow a restaurant brand on social platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook, say this relationship makes them more likely to visit.

While the upsides for social content are plentiful, MGH did sound a word of warning, as 13% of US diners admitted that a low-quality post has discouraged them from offering repeat business to a restaurant. The takeaway here is that content must be relevant and meet the needs of consumers to ensure they do not hold a negative view of the brand.

Social media has become nearly ubiquitous for diners in the US, as 89% have at least one active social media account. This means brands may be missing out on reaching potentially millions of customers if they do not manage content campaigns on social and across the web.

Six in ten also say they log into social media three or more times during a single day, and four in ten follow restaurants. A further 39% said they keep track of a restaurant’s social account to determine whether they want to dine in or out.

MGH conducted the latest survey of US diners in February when it asked 1,069 adults about social content and their food eating habits. Those who responded all regularly dine in, order takeaways and get food delivered.


15/Apr/2019
shutterstock_1110645284.jpg

Pharmaceutical brands need to do more to create and distribute “relevant and meaningful” content, according to a new report released last Thursday by Gartnerthat highlights the importance of improving digital strategies in the sector.

The first Gartner L2 Digital IQ Index: Pharmaceutical Rx U.S. study found that most brands in the pharmaceutical industry have not been able to pivot from a brand-centric approach to one that puts the patient at the heart of the experience and messages. Gartner noted that today’s consumers are both sceptical and savvy and that brands must, in turn, go to extra lengths to ensure that their needs are being met.

Gartner ranked 88 pharmaceutical brands in the US based on their performance in digital endeavours, and it did so by analysing more than a thousand data points across “critical dimensions”, such as social media, content marketing and site functionality. The primary takeaway is that while digital marketing efforts are meeting an adequate standard, much more can still be done.

Three-quarters of the brands were able to achieve a rank of “average” or better according to Gartner, which said the performance was impressive in part due to the “unprecedented” levels of regulation and scrutiny in the sector that can often hamper marketing campaigns.

The importance of serving up better content was highlighted by the fact that two-thirds of consumers say they use credible information that they have read or viewed to improve their own decision-making processes. Gartner said that many brand websites are still “content-poor” and that just half have up-to-date conversation guides or patient stories.

“It’s not enough to have average digital capabilities these days – pharmaceutical brands must ensure that their content is present, relevant and meaningful enough to take action on,” Gartner’s sector lead, Chris Beland, said.

He added: “Pharmaceutical brands in the U.S. face unprecedented levels of scrutiny and regulation, including strict limitations that have a profound impact on how they market to consumers. Despite these difficulties, consumers continue to look to brands’ digital channels for credible information and guidance.”

Paid search is also a key battleground for pharmaceuticals, as 68% say they regularly engage in competitive keyword bidding. Gartner noted that brands that focus their budgets on category search terms usually drive better return on investment but said these efforts must also be supported by more organic strategies.

This theory is strengthened by data in the study showing brands with effective social, mobile and email content efforts can deliver a larger portion of website traffic and general performance. Going mobile is crucial, as 83% of all traffic is now centred on mobile sites. Gartner also urged brands to incorporate prominent calls to action in content to generate better ROI.

Only three of the 88 brands analysed came away with a “genius” rating. These were Repatha, FASENRA and Humira. A further 28 are classified as “gifted”, while 37 are “average”. At the other end of the spectrum, 11 pharmaceutical brands received a “feeble” ranking.


08/Apr/2019
EPR-080419.jpg

Two-thirds of B2B manufacturing brands are performing “below average” in their digital marketing efforts, according to a new study released last week by Gartner. The report found that B2B marketers are still struggling to “get digital…right” and risk losing customers and their competitive edge if they fail to rectify the situation.

Gartner’s L2 Digital IQ Index: B2B Manufacturing U.S. 2019 report looks at the digital competence of 87 brands in the sector across the US. Despite the growing importance of digital marketing for achieving key goals and objectives, only two were able to secure a “Genius” status, while the majority were lumped into either being “Feeble” or “Challenged.”

Gartner measured the content output of B2B manufacturing enterprises using four primary criteria, including content marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO). While many have started the process and implementing and managing diverse digital strategies, success has not been easy to come by due to a variety of challenges.

Shifting customer buying behaviour is one of them. The wholesale change in buyer habits during the last five years has disrupted business models, and digital has been used as the bridge between the old and new. However, 51% of those surveyed said they believe the digital experience they currently offer is average at best, which is supported by Gartner’s ranking index.

One reason for the poor performance is a lack of high-quality content. More than a third of B2B brands admit to having no content guides or information on their corporate sites, which is making it difficult for them to meet growing expectations among customers. Ideally, 42% say they would like the buying experience to be quick, but they are not backing it up with the right strategies or tools.

However, the best performers can do this, as they are using data to gain a better understanding of how their customers want to engage with them and, in turn, drive engagement and conversions. Gartner notes that brands must focus on a popular trend this year – being “customer, not company, focused.”

“Marketing leaders at B2B manufacturing companies must make a commitment to building effective digital marketing strategies. As more of their buyers allocate an increasingly large portion of their time learning how to buy online, brands must follow the money and follow suit,” Gartner director, Kyle Rees, said.

B2B brands must also do more to leverage the tools they have at their disposal. Just a quarter are using auto-fill tech in site search and providing corrections to queries. Rees added that best-in-class brands are doing everything they can to create nuanced and balanced brand experiences and that B2B manufacturers should aim to use digital to advance and support new businesses rather than just using it to “fill the top of the funnel” and create short-term demand.

He concluded: “If B2B marketers can’t get digital marketing right, they could seriously jeopardize the success of their company’s future digital business strategies, or worse, fail to protect themselves against looming competitive threats.”


01/Apr/2019
EPR-010419.jpg

More than three-quarters of digital advertisers are now making SEO a priority in their marketing campaigns, according to a new report published last week by WordStream.

The Online Advertising Landscape in 2019 study provides a snapshot of the digital marketing and advertising industry and highlights some of the biggest roadblocks and favoured platforms and channels for brands around the world. The report focuses mainly on smaller enterprises with marketing teams of between one and five people.

As the focus is on SMEs, it is encouraging to see many embracing organic cost-effective marketing channels, such as SEO and content marketing, both of which have surged in popularity during the last 12 months. A sizeable 79% said they will use SEO to grow their business this year, while 60% will leverage the power of articles, blogs and other forms of content to support expansion.

While advertisers have previously zoned in on paid search since it is usually easier to derive an immediate profit, the sentiment has now shifted towards channels capable of driving long-term benefits. Content marketing has been an excellent option for micro and small businesses aiming to deliver returns without investing huge sums of money, and SMEs are now using search engine optimisation alongside it to amplify the success of digital.

“Like content marketing, SEO can be an extremely valuable long-term strategy when done effectively,” WordStream noted in its report. “Kudos to those surveyed for recognizing the importance of balancing short-term results with a long-term strategy for sustainable growth!”

Content marketing and SEO have also become the primary channels overall for small businesses, as less than a third said they would be spending money on event marketing, guerrilla marketing and affinity marketing in 2019. The only other method expected to be as popular is email marketing (66%).

In terms of goals and objectives for the next year, generating a profit is the most important by a considerable margin, but many admit time limitations are holding them back from achieving success. More than a third also admit a lack of resources is a major challenge, though limited expertise is not a problem, with only 12% citing it as an issue.

Google search ads are taking up a notable portion of budgets, as 46% are planning to invest more in this area during the next nine months. However, 44% say they will spend the same amount as they did last year. Instagram is another focus, as almost a third will target the use of more ads on the visually focused social media platform in 2019.

Finally, when asked to rank the importance of marketing strategies, paid search came out on top, which is not surprising for advertisers. However, content marketing is now ranked second ahead of paid social, again suggesting that small enterprises are now investing in content since they are confident of it paying dividends both in the short term and further down the line. Email marketing, displaying ads and shopping-cart management rounded out the top six.