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

15/Jul/2019
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An insights-driven approach to marketing can transform the quality of campaigns. However, the majority are still struggling to overcome several problems, including data silos and inflexible budgets, to implement analytics successfully, according to a new report released by 4C and Forrester Consulting.

The Mature Your Video Marketing to Drive Business Value study addresses the growing importance of video as it becomes a primary tool for engaging with specific subsets of audiences across a plethora of connected platforms. More than 500 marketing decision-makers in the US and the UK took part in the study earlier this year.

It found that 75% of the respondents believe that video has evolved from a medium designed mainly to reach people en masse to one that can meet customer demands for personalisation and hyper-targeting. More than three-quarters said that content is a cornerstone of their content targeting efforts, while 70% believe it can drive better performance when used effectively.

The business case for video usage is strong, but marketers are finding it difficult to fulfil the potential the medium offers due to a variety of challenges. Six in ten say they struggle to leverage data due to it being stuck in outdated silos, and two-thirds believe they are unable to scale their creative efforts or budgets to optimise campaigns based on the insights they uncover.

The absence of a documented strategy from the top down is also a problem, as 65% admit to not having access to centralised technology that would enable them to deploy and manage campaigns across several different channels. Therefore, it is no surprise that the majority say better cross-channel attribution and better self-service technology should be the focus for investment this year.

Those that can achieve these objectives are enjoying better performance and ROI, as the study noted that “mature” video marketers see higher conversion rates and brand advocacy compared to less-sophisticated counterparts.

4C believes marketers need to evolve and overhaul their approaches to marketing by taking a step back and analysing their current state before setting out a clear plan based on how their target audiences consume content. 4C also recommended that marketers should benchmark their budgets.

“Success for brands is dependent on the ability to understand customers across every touchpoint and immediately activate insights through holistic marketing and targeted media,” 4C Chief Marketing Officer, Aaron Goldman said in a press release for the study.

He added: “We think this research shows that there are challenges that need to be addressed for marketers to be more insights driven, which can be alleviated through deeper investments in self-service, cross-channel video advertising platforms.”

The annual Salary Guide released by Hays last week also highlights the importance of data and measurements. It revealed that the most sought-after employees are now content specialists and digital marketing managers who can use data and present evidence to support decision making across the business. Nine in ten employers said that they expect to pay marketing staff more in 2019 and 2020 due to their importance.


08/Jul/2019
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Content marketing, SEO and paid search need to work in unison to be effective, according to Saf Chowdhury and Mez Homayunfard from Online Marketing Gurus (OMG). The duo spoke about the ever-growing importance of web copy, articles and videos at the recent Mumbrella360 event.

Homayunfard, who is OMG’s co-founder, believes that organic content now takes on a greater role in the general marketing mix as the costs of paid media have skyrocketed during the last five years. He said that content is the best means for generating organic traffic and that, when supplemented by SEO, it is a hugely powerful tool for brands to leverage.

Speaking at the event on 30 June, Homayunfard used a case study involving a popular fashion retailer to highlight how search performance can collapse entirely during web migrations and without a carefully managed strategy. The drop-off forced the company to turn to OMG to rebuild its online presence.

Homayunfard noted: “This client had seen a very sharp drop in rankings – the business lost 86% of its visibility. Fashion is also a fragmented and splintered space and we were competing against a lot of pure-play online retailers. It was not a fun place to start a project.”

Content marketing was one of three activities, along with SEO and PPC, that enabled the company to recover lost ground, and it did so within just a few months. In the medium term, it drove $2m in incremental growth and campaigns centred on content to give it a platform to thrive in the long term without worries about a repeat performance slump.

A combination of content marketing and SEO are now preferable for Homayunfard and Chowdhury due to the rising costs of paid media, which make it difficult to sustain and use consistently as part of marketing and advertising strategies. The pair revealed that paid media now requires 35% more investment compared to three years ago.

As content marketing has matured, brands have turned to the practice to support cost-effective, agile and scalable campaigns. Homayunfard adds: “When we started the business six or seven years ago there was a heavy focus on paid search because SEO was a bit of a sort of Pandora’s Box. There wasn’t much transparency.”

Chowdhury believes content is now “super important” and advised businesses to double down on shorter, sharper and snappier forms of content rather than overlong pieces, though he admitted there is still a wide range of views in the industry about what is the right length of content for each situation.

“No one really wants to be shopping for dresses and then read an essay on the same page,” he said. “You need to look at content differently. You should think of reviews, and frequently asked questions.”

The two gurus finished their speech by saying that their client has been able to rank at the top of SERPS and enjoy significant revenue growth on a monthly basis and with the knowledge that it is a “repeatable process” that will continue to pay dividends.


01/Jul/2019
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A new report published by the Local Search Association (LSA) and SOCi is one of two released last week highlighting the urgent need for brands to publish localised content on social media and across other digital platforms to drive engagement with audiences in regional markets and support franchise brand growth.

The Localized Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report provides compelling evidence that localised social marketing is delivering tangible returns for brands of all sizes. It found that the top ten performers are realising growth at a 300% faster rate than category peers over a five-year period.

“Localized Social Marketing is the key for multi-location businesses to compete and win in a world dominated by e-commerce and Amazon,” said Greg Sterling, LSA’s VP of Strategy and Insights.

He added: “When done effectively, it can propel brands to the top of organic search results, build and maintain a highly engaged base of loyal customers and drive increased traffic and, ultimately, sales to local businesses.”

Social media is now a key battleground for brands, as it has evolved into a primary driver of consumer behaviour. Platforms that were once mainly hubs for customer relations and keeping in touch with customers are now vital outlets for content marketing and other digital experiences.

Recent research by Social Media Today showed that more than three-quarters of purchases decisions are directly influenced content posted on social sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, while 75% of engagement comes via brands’ local pages.

LSA said that the latest findings make it clear that a localised strategy on social media is no longer a luxury but a necessity for brands and should form part of their wider marketing strategy. LSA noted that this change has occurred during the last decade and resulted from customers demanding more personalised and local level experiences.

SOCi’s Chief Marketing Officer, Monica Ho, added: “This vehicle provides brands the opportunity to personally engage with each and every consumer and create true brand advocates. To keep pace with this trend, social media platforms are providing a growing list of features and functionalities, such as reviews, social conversations, and local Business Pages that now enable what we have come to call Localized Social Marketing.”

The joint study also found that seven in ten consumers are now reading content, including reviews, before making a purchase and that this figure increases to eight in ten for younger people aged 18 to 35.

A report released by the CMO Council last week also put forward the idea that local content and experiences based on language and culture can give brands a competitive edge, although 73% of marketers believe they are not ready to meet the needs of modern, digitally savvy consumers.

The CEO of Worldwide Partners said that enterprises need to do more solve the “localisation gap” and called on them to overhaul their strategies to help them to provide “personalised, contextualised and culturally relevant experiences.” Brands that also make use of translation and transcreation services will also give themselves a better chance of achieving new customer-centric goals.


24/Jun/2019
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Almost a third of content marketing agencies now have vast experience in the industry and have spent ten or more years offering services to clients, a new study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has found.

While brands are now waking up to the true power of content, many agencies have been deploying their craft effectively for more than a decade and covering a “full scope” of services during that time. Meanwhile, just 4% of agencies have started offering content services for the first time during the last year.

A separate report released by We Are Social Media (WeRSM) and Planable last week showed agency teams are considerably better than their in-house counterparts at creating and distributing five pieces of content or more every week. The CMI study suggests the maturity and experience of agencies may be one of the differentiating factors.

Agencies are also widely embracing content, as most respondents said that content-related services now account for at least 50% of their total business. This is due, in part, to the growing demand for high-quality, engaging articles, videos, blogs, infographics and other formats.

Almost two-thirds of agencies with “full scope” content offerings are now serving more clients compared to the same time last year, while an additional 36% have been able to maintain a stable client base during the period. In contrast, just 2% say that they have recorded a decrease in clients.

CMI said that there is now an opportunity for agencies to expand their services even further to incorporate more cutting-edge mediums, such as live experiences and webinars. They also pointed to the fact that 69% of B2C marketers and a similar number of B2B marketers expect to leverage more visual content this year.

“This is the first study CMI has undertaken to learn specifically about the content marketing services agencies offer,” CMI’s Vice President of Marketing, Cathy McPhillips, said in a statement last Thursday.

She added: “The agency landscape is complex, but it’s encouraging to see so many agencies buying into content marketing and the importance of meeting their client’s content needs. However, they do face many challenges, like buy-in, lack of strategy, budget constraints, and ROI concerns when working with clients, proving there is a need for educating clients on the value of content marketing.”

The top-of-the-funnel is still the ballpark for most of the content produced by agencies, with middle-of-the-funnel close behind. However, less than two-thirds are focusing on the loyalty phase, which may be an area where both agencies and clients can work together to set themselves apart from competitors and drive positive actions.

For agencies offering full scope services, “word-of-mouth referrals” are responsible for 72% of new business, making it the most popular non-paid generation source. Agencies that regularly publish a blog or maintain a corporate website also benefit, as this leads to 55% of new business. A few other useful sources include thought leadership (31%), organic search (29%) and LinkedIn (21%).


17/Jun/2019
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Six in ten content marketing teams admit to suffering delays to their campaigns and projects and just 7% are “fully satisfied” with their processes as a whole, a new joint study released last week by We are Social Media and Planable has found.

The two companies announced their intentions to collaborate on a comprehensive report in March, and after three months of analysing and dissecting insights and data, the Content Marketing: Behind the Scenes study is the result. The study presents a plethora of interesting takeaways on the success of campaigns.

Enterprises are getting better at supporting higher workloads, as 45% of marketers say they now post 11 updates on social media and publish five or more pieces of content,such as blogs and articles,over a seven-day period, although this figure drops to 33% for in-house marketing teams. However, many still grumble about how they get to that total, with a dearth of collaboration and time-wasting drawing the most ire.

Delays are a common bugbear, as 61% say they have been forced to put back completion dates due to process issues, such as excessive back-and-forth emails and problems with multitasking. The study notes that “future proofing” teams to support better workflows and habits could transform the process entirely.

“Our work grows in complexity every day and the difficulties multiply when our own marketing house isn’t in order. It’s affecting everything. From the success of the work to those lost nights and weekends,” said Miruna Dragomir, Planable Head of Marketing. “In the next phase of content marketing, the winners and the losers will be separated by how well teams work together and how scalable production processes are.”

Currently, the journey from content creation to distribution and publishing takes 5.4 days on average, with about a third of that time devoted to collaboration. However, 35% said their ability to push out work at a faster rate and be highly productive is often hampered by multitasking and email issues.

The report says that brands can truly scale their content marketing efforts by breaking down many of the barriers and outdated processes that are still in place when creating content. This is due in part to workflows not catching up with a new wave of advanced tech and the growing demand for content. However, brands will need to make changes to better manage bigger teams and more complex workflows to achieve success.

“The need for more content is not going away anytime soon. Brands have to be ready to face the continuous increase in demand for more unique and actionable content. The Internet is moving fast, and the brands that will win are those that can get their houses in order and be able to create, approve, and share great content with lightning speed,” explained Geoff Desreumaux, co-Founder and CEO of We Are Social Media.


10/Jun/2019
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Mobile-optimised content marketing is becoming less of a luxury and more of a must-have for brands,New research published by eMarketer this week shows that mobile consumption in the US has now surpassed TV for the first time ever.

The latest study predicted that people in the US will spend three hours and 43 minutes on mobile devices every day in 2019, which is a 3.7%increase above the figure from the last year and a full eight minutes ahead of the time that they will spend watching traditional channels and content on TV.

“We’ve expected that mobile would overtake TV for a while, but seeing it happen is still surprising. As recently as 2014, the average US adult watched nearly 2 hours more TV than they spent on their phones,” said eMarketer principal analyst, Yoram Wurmser.

A separate report released by Mobile Posse last month showed that 88% of mobile users do not have a predetermined destination in mind when they unlock their smartphones, which happens 70 times on average every day. This behaviour or state of mind is defined as being“appnostic”.

As mobile usage continues to soar, there is vast potential for marketers to push more messages to consumers. This is highlighted by the fact that 66% of people in the Mobile Posse report said that they crave better mobile content discovery. That study noted that brands able to “solve” this opportunity could potentially “make billions”.

Also, the rise in mobile device usage is unlikely to slow down, as the amount of time spent on smartphones has increasedsteadily during the last five years and is expected to reach almost four hours a day by 2021. In contrast, daily TV usage will continue to fall to around three hours and 22 minutes by the beginning of the next decade.

Technological advancements, including the imminent arrival of superfast 5G mobile networks and bigger, higher-resolution screens, are also likely to push more people to view and read more content on smartphones during the next five years.

Currently, video leads the way as the primary content format for American adults, as they spend 40% of their mobile time watching this type of content every day. Listening to music or other forms of digital audio and frequenting social networks are among the other popular smartphone pastimes.

Wurmser added: “Digital audio apps continue to add minutes because people are streaming more music on their phones, and podcasts have taken off in popularity in the past few years.”

Growing mobile usage has also contributed to a rise in mobile ads, which soared 40% in value to almost $70bn (£55bn) in the US in 2018 and accounted for two-thirds of all digital ad revenue.

Looking ahead to longer-term trends, screen time controls from major players, including Apple and Google, may rein in viewing times to a certain degree but smartphones will remain the primary means for content consumption. Brands that can optimise their strategies and campaigns for the new mobile-first world stand to benefit the most.


03/Jun/2019
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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.”


20/May/2019
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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
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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.


29/Apr/2019
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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.