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

23/Apr/2018
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Many businesses and online marketers have been using Facebook quite successfully to market their products and services through Facebook posts and target advertising. However, with the revelation that the data of millions of users was handed over to Cambridge Analytica – a political consultancy group that managed US President Donald Trump’s successful bid to the White House in 2016 – data privacy has once again come to the forefront.

Now Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has acknowledged that the company tracks people irrespective of whether they have an account with Facebook, and this has deepened the issue surrounding data privacy.

During a Congressional hearing, Zuckerberg said that Facebook collects data of even those who do not have an account with the social media networking site. He said that this was done for security reasons.

Lawmakers and privacy supporters protested this practice by Facebook. Many said that Facebook had to come up with a system that allowed people without an account to find out the details that the social media networking site had about them.

US Representative Ben Lujan asked Mark Zuckerberg to fix this problem during the hearing. It is unsure how this disclosure will affect Facebook’s ability to offer advertisers targeted ads. In fact, Zuckerberg did not respond to Representative Lujan, and two days after the statement, Facebook announced that it had no plans to build a tool to let non-users know the extent of data the company holds on them.

Mark Zuckerberg has his share of critics, who have said that he has not disclosed sufficient details about how much data Facebook collects and to what extent it is used.

Chris Calabrese, Vice President for Policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), an advocacy group based in Washington, pointed out that it was unclear what the social media site was doing with the vast volume of data.

Facebook attains data of people who do not have an account with the site when they upload email IDs of their friends, who do have a presence on Facebook. It also gets information via cookies, which are stored on a person’s browser to track their internet usage. Usually, this is done to send targeted ads to people.

In a statement, Facebook expressed that the kind of data collection it carried out was in alignment with the way the internet works. When questioned whether people could opt out of giving Facebook access to their data, the company stated people had the option of deleting cookies from their browser and device settings.

Cookies are installed on users’ browsers when they visit websites that have Facebook’s Like and Share buttons. This happens even if the person does not click on the buttons. According to Facebook, the data is used to create analytics reports – not for targeted advertisements.

In the UK and Europe, Facebook will meet its first regulatory challenge when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect. The new regulation requires companies that collect data to get consent from the public and let them know what their data will be used for.

Woodrow Hartzog, Professor of Law and Computer Science at Northeastern University, said that Facebook would have to find ways to give non-users the right notice. However, Facebook has said in a statement that it complies with applicable laws, including GDPR.

 


16/Apr/2018
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Culture may have a more profound impact on the way people consume content than previously thought. A new study found that ads, articles and videos tailored to an audience’s language and social beliefs have a much greater chance of resonating with said audience and driving positive customer actions.

Digital Lives 2018: World of Digital ‘Everything’ through a Cultural Lens is a new study published by the Culture Marketing Council: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing (CMC). It aims to uncover exactly how culture affects the behaviour of users in the digital realm, with a sharp focus on content sharing and consumptions, as well as the types of platforms used.

The CMC studied 3,500 respondents between the ages of 13 and 49, with an equal number of Hispanics, Hispanic African Americans and non-Hispanic whites taking part. The main takeaway is that brands can increase the power of their messages by advertising and publishing organic content in a person’s “cultural space”. This is true for all ages, languages and segments.

Almost three-quarters of non-Hispanic African Americans said they are more likely to make a purchase from a specific brand if they try to advertise in cultural spaces, while around two-thirds of Hispanics said the same. It is perhaps no surprise that Spanish language content drives more engagement with Hispanics. This highlights the importance of transcreation and translation when creating content campaigns.

“Demography and digitalization are the two most transformative and disruptive forces in our society today,” CMC Research Chair Nancy Tellet said. “The growth and influence of the Hispanic consumer, coupled with the pop culture and political clout of African Americans, is transforming the American cultural landscape. At the same time, digital platforms are emerging and evolving, giving consumers more control over the on-demand content they crave.”

While the study is focused on the Americas, it also offers a general insight into how content tailored to different cultures can amplify the power of brand messages. Authentically diverse content appears to be a positive factor across the board, as it increases engagement with the majority of multicultural audiences and also a portion of millennial non-Hispanic whites.

“The results of this new study re-emphasize the strategic imperative of placing culture at the center of your campaigns and valuing culture specialists as key advisors,” said CMC Chair Isaac Mizrahi, who is also co-president and COO of Alna. “We hope this study can help marketers maximize success with in-culture, multicultural segmented efforts and avoid costly cultural gaffes in their mainstream marketing.”

A few tips for successful content transcreation include creating an audience profile covering preferences, lifestyle, language and goals to build a persona for creatives to tailor content towards. The profile also helps the audience grasp the keywords they are searching for by considering localised keyword behaviour. It is important that cultural content is topically and stylistically relevant to audiences. Beyond transcreation, more basic translation can also work if the content can engage with audiences in a positive way. Either way, culture is set to play a big part in content creation in 2018.


09/Apr/2018
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Personalisation and brand values are two trends that content experts have trumpeted regularly during the last 12 months, but new research published by mobile location data company, Blis, suggests they are not valued greatly by the public.

The survey of 2,000 consumers in the US highlights just how difficult it is for marketers and brands to strike exactly the right tone and message with their content to engage with audiences and drive positive actions. There appears to be a very fine line between content being well received by consumers and ads, videos and articles that annoy them.

The good news is that most respondents said they were more loyal to brands now compared to 2013, so there is a great opportunity for marketers to strengthen these bonds with engaging written content and infographics in the coming months.

However, for those eager to add a political edge to their content campaigns, there was a stark warning, as consumers currently place “brand morals” last in the “Consumer Hierarchy of Brand Needs.” It is perhaps no surprise that product quality is the most important factor, ahead of price and ease of obtaining products and availability.

Brand safety has been an issue in the industry during the last 18 months, and there is solace for those that have been affected, as many consumers forgive mistakes if they already “liked the brand.” However, women are less brand loyal than men by a significant margin. Consumers also believe over-personalisation is a turn-off, as it can imply that a brand is keeping too close tabs on audiences’ whereabouts in the digital realm.

Therefore, brands must attempt to walk the fine line between personalisation and tailored content without it coming off as “too intrusive.” While this is arguably an easier concept for organic formats, such as articles and videos, creating ads that do so is more challenging and should be a focus for marketers in 2018 as they look to retain the trust of consumers amid growing concerns about access to personal information.

Moving to the need for better organic results, social media analytics company, Socialbakers, has revealed that Instagram Stories may be a better channel for driving engagement than Facebook after the latter recently made changes to its algorithm that makes it harder for brands to get its articles on user’s news feeds.

Jordan Julian, the social media analyst for the company, said focusing on Instagram Stories can really make a difference in terms of reach and impressions. She concluded that it is becoming increasingly difficult for brands to achieve organic reach on social media, and marketers will usually need to pursue more creative content ideas to ensure it gets seen.

Finally, a study by ANA earlier this year found that three-quarters of marketers are now using influencers, but many are still not sure whether they are truly effective. However, in an age where competition is so fierce, these social media personalities and celebrities can have a positive impact on brand perception while driving purchase intention.


26/Mar/2018
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According to a new joint study published by LinkedIn and CMI, content marketing can play a major role in bringing marketing and sales teams together to drive better brand recognition and benefit a business.

The report, titled “Content Marketing: Unlocking Sales and Marketing Performance,” reveals how quality articles, blogs, news releases, videos and a documented strategy that links marketing to sales can enable “true success and revenue growth.” The two departments are often at loggerheads in modern businesses, as the marketing department often claims that the sales department doesn’t follow-up on leads while the sales department claims that the leads generated by the marketing department are weak.

A previous LinkedIn study found that 60% of sales and marketing professionals said a failure to align sales and marketing can be disadvantageous for the business and negatively affect financial performance. It is obviously in the best interests of brands to reduce silos and bring the two departments closer together, but putting that plan into action has traditionally been difficult.

Less than half of marketers in the new study believe the two departments are “highly aligned” at their enterprise, while 54% admitted marketing and sales teams currently have “low alignment”. This is a challenge that brands will be eager to address in 2018, and the new research suggests content could be the key that unlocks a scenario where both functions work in tandem without issues.

Content collaboration drives greater alignment according to the study, as more than three-quarters of highly aligned brands have marketing and sales teams interacting with each other to build and optimise content strategies. Highly aligned companies are also much more likely to collaborate on content than to work in isolation.

To clear the initial hurdle, brands should prioritise a document strategy for content, as the most successful enterprises have written procedures, objectives and schedules to work towards. It is also important to meet at least weekly so salespeople and content marketers can actively collaborate.

To increase alignment, marketing and sales teams should also agree on shared metrics to drive better performance and leverage the right mix of technologies to “develop a single view of the customer that enables teams to act quickly and decisively to deliver more value,” CMI’s Chief Strategy Advisor, Robert Rose says.

Working on content together then puts the building blocks in place for sales and marketing teams to come together more often for other business efforts. Content can create a culture where everyone pulls together for the benefit of the business. Rose also urges brands to experiment. He adds: “Iterate often and create enthusiasm for controlled experiments that can inform process changes and investment decisions.”

When brands work with agencies for creative output, this three-way relationship between in-house sales and marketing teams and the third party must also be managed carefully. Alignment is advantageous for all, as it can then lead to bigger budgets. Six out of ten companies say they will have more to spend on content and marketing endeavours in 2018, but this drops to just 35% for those that are not aligned.


19/Mar/2018
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Content marketers are doubling down on targeting strategies that deliver the most useful news, blogs and videos to consumers at the appropriate time. However, there has been a decline in content that tailors experiences for specific points in the journey a buyer takes from discovering a product to making a purchase.

Those are the main talking points from the latest study published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), titled Technology Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends. CMI regularly releases practical data from the content industry, and the latest report draws from its eighth annual marketing survey.

While the emphasis on targeted and well-timed content is the headline trend, the study begins by examining how marketers feel about their approach to content. It found that 78% of respondents believe they are achieving either moderate or great success with their efforts, with 28% falling in the higher band.

Encouragingly, more than two-thirds believe they have become “much” or “somewhat more successful” during the last 12 months. This finding suggests that marketers’ approach to content continues to mature. Previous studies have shown that more experienced brands are reaping greater rewards from their campaigns, so the method bodes well for ROI in 2018.

Creating quality content plays a significant role in successful content marketing, as 78% of the respondents said higher quality and more efficient article and video creation had been a factor in their success during the last year. Almost three-quarters said adjusted strategies had been a key factor, while 55% said they have become better at distributing content. All these factors are aspects of marketing that a third-party agency can use to help a brand.

The report’s main takeaway is that 63% said they are now placing more focus on delivering content at the right moments, which is a big increase from the 49% who said so in last year’s study. In contrast, just 50% are frequently creating content to support buyers at different points on their purchasing journey, which is down from 60% a year ago.

“It could be a semantical difference to some degree, but rather than the ‘old-school’ development of content for the buyer’s journey, we’re seeing a focus on dynamically serving up content in the audience’s time – no matter what stage they happen to be in,” Chief Strategy Advisor for the Content Marketing Institute, Robert Rose said. “We’re also seeing a general maturing of the market and a shift to ‘other’ types of content programs like account-based marketing.”

The study also found that leadership support for content marketing initiatives is strengthening, as 66% of all marketers say they now have ample time to drive the results they need. For marketers that are performing at the highest level, 88% responded that they had enough time to achieve marketing success.

There has also been a considerable increase in support for the least successful tech marketers. Finally, two-thirds of all respondents chose to outsource at least one of their marketing activities.


12/Mar/2018
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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic in content marketing this week. A new study published by BrightEdge found that most brands will use the technology to improve creation and strategy this year.

Canadian PR agency RNMKR revealed that it had used AI to drive lead generation to the top of the sales funnel for its clients.

The BrightEdge study featured an in-depth look at the adoption of AI technologies, which include robotic process automation and machine learning, with a view to informing brands about key trends and to see whether it will have an impact on content campaigns in 2018.

The results suggest that the AI revolution is finally here. While last year’s Future of Marketing survey revealed a reluctance among marketers to fully embrace AI despite recognising its future value, this year’s study found that a few brands are already on board. Many more are either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to use it to develop their strategies during the next 12 months.

Data and analytics are becoming more important for brands as they attempt to use the growing amount of information they collect on social and other platforms to inform content decisions. Therefore, it is no surprise that many are planning to use AI to streamline and improve these activities. Personalising content for target audiences has also been a widely discussed trend recently, and AI feeds into this objective.

“Despite some of the hype surrounding artificial intelligence, this survey shows that AI is very real, and marketers are adopting AI-first technology in search and content marketing sectors faster than most,” said BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu. “The insights that AI brings allows marketers to make smarter and faster decisions to deliver compelling customer experiences that perform.”

Gaining a better understanding of customers is more important than ever, as content must speak personally to different user groups. Approximately 31% of respondents said that AI had enabled them to deliver targeted customer experiences and get a better handle on audience desires. An additional 14.5% said it had also led to better performing content, while 8.5% claimed it had caused an increase in return on investment.

AI is quickly becoming essential for content creation according to RNMKR’s Founder and Chairman, Ari S. Goldberg, who revealed that the technology is having a profound impact on how they optimise content to convert leads into paying customers. AI can also be used to capture customer interest and help build strategies from the ground up.

“What we’ve come to realize is whether we apply those steps to luxury grooming and essentials, or to travel, or to luxury real estate, it doesn’t matter — it’s the same steps,” Goldberg said. “You’re creating content. You’re doing that based on SEO. You’re still using the same social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, whatever it might be, so that the foundation, the tactics, are the same but the vertical and the brand might change.”


02/Oct/2017
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Two-thirds of B2B content marketers are reporting more success with their campaigns compared to last year, according to a new report published by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs. The annual study of key decision makers in the industry shows a general maturing of content strategies and a growing desire to build audiences.

Last year’s report found 65% of B2B marketers deemed their content marketing programs more successful than the year before, and the figure is almost the same this time around. Just 1% of those surveyed rated their organisation’s success as “much less” successful, while 18% said it was “much more” successful.

CMI noted that there are certain aspects of a content campaign that set the top performing enterprises apart from the rest, including the presence of a documented strategy, a high level of commitment to creative, realistic ambitions, leadership focused on giving content time to produce results, and a schedule that can deliver articles, videos and other resources consistently.

One trend that has emerged during the last twelve months is a shift towards using content for building audiences and subscriber bases, either on official blogs or social media. Four out of five respondents said building audiences was their primary focus, which represents a marked increase compared to the 2017 study. This figure rises to 92% for the most successful content marketers.

“Across the board – at all levels of content marketing success – the research shows more marketers concentrating on building audiences,” Content Marketing Institute’s research director, Lisa Murton Beets said. “Among all respondents, 80% reported they are focused on this (versus 92% of the top performers), representing an 18% year-over-year increase. This is terrific news considering an audience can be one of an organization’s most valuable assets.”

While content programmes are maturing, the majority are still finding it difficult to bring together metrics and content goals to evaluate the performance of campaigns effectively. Just 19% said their ability to do this was either very good or excellent, but this increased to 54% for top performers. This is likely to be an area where marketers will look to improve during the next year.

Metrics and the science of content are crucial for success, but three-quarters of those surveyed now agree “creativity and craft” are valued within the organisation, which bodes well for the future. About 59% also believe that their leadership teams are giving them ample time to drive positive business results through content, while project management is seen as potentially a key differentiator moving forward.

MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer, Ann Handley concluded: “Where we really see a difference is in organizations that also do well with project management. For example, 70% of the top-performing content marketers rate the project management flow during their content-creation process as excellent/very good, compared with 36% of the total sample. This tells us that not only does it pay to be creative, if you truly want an edge, you also have to have good processes in place.”