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Posts tagged "Content Marketing"

I’m not an SEO expert, and I never will be. Since we just published a new feature on DemandGen Report, however, dealing with how B2B marketers are using Pinterest, there’s an interesting SEO-related angle to this story that’s worth mentioning here.
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Is blogging over the hill as a content marketing tool? You might think so, judging from this University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth study.

For the past five years, the study has tracked how enterprises are using social media. Two groups are included: The Inc. 500, which compiles the fastest-growing private U.S. companies; and the Fortune 500, which is based on revenue.

The banner finding: “Blogging is declining for the first time since 2007 among the Inc. 500 companies,” according to a press release from the university’s Center for Marketing Research. Instead, it seems, these companies are increasingly turning to Facebook and Twitter as their go-to social media platforms.

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Maybe it’s because I’m looking harder these days, but I’m more impressed than ever with the quality of the content I see on many marketing-related blogs. Case in point: Jessica Malnik’s excellent post on “The Five Reasons Why Most Facebook Brand Pages Aren’t True Communities.”

The numbers, Jessica explains, tell the story. Only 1% of the “fans” on the biggest brand pages ever engage with the brand at all. Marketers, for their part, often allow their brands’ Facebook pages to echo with the sound of crickets — more than 80% of these pages are updated less than five times a month.

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by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

Contributing guest posts to other blogs can be a great way to bootstrap your own B2B blogging strategy. It gives you a great chance to build an audience by getting exposure on blogs that already have a strong following.

The idea is simple: When readers love your guest post, they’ll want more. When they want more, they’ll go looking for your web site and your original content. And when they find it, at least some of them will turn into repeat visitors – and prospects.

Since guest contributors give the host blog access to a rich and varied pool of original content, it’s a win-win situation. In fact, many of the biggest and most successful blogs, including those with a B2B focus, regularly feature guest contributors.

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by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

Last week, I had a chance to hear Forrester Analyst Lori Wizdo speak at an online seminar: “Integrating Social in the Lead-to-Revenue Process.” She offered lots of great statistics about social media and B2B buyers, and quite a few useful tips.

When I listen to these things, however, there are always one or two points that stand out from the rest. Lori’s presentation was no exception.

This time, it was research that detailed what B2B buyers find most compelling when they engage with an online social community. Nearly half said they most valued the expertise that other participants offered; many others cited the quality of the discussion and topics as their biggest draws.

Here’s the shocker: Only 12% said “volume of activity” mattered to them, only 7% said the size of the community mattered, and a paltry 6% said they cared about how long the community has been around.

Now, let’s connect the dots with two more interesting numbers: 55% of B2B buyers cite online communities or forums as influencers on their buying decisions, and a whopping 86% say they engage on social channels while they’re working.

The bad news here is that B2B marketers who want to engage – really engage – with high-quality communities have their work cut out for them. After all, the easiest way to decide where to focus one’s efforts is to seek out the biggest or most active communities.

It’s a lot harder to figure out where the most influential people hang out or where people post the most insightful comments. When you trade quantity for quality, it takes more research and a studied eye to make the right decisions.

The good news is that putting in the work will pay off in the long run. B2B buyers seek out these communities specifically to research their options; they play a critical role in moving buyers from being merely curious to purchase-ready prospects.

So, where do you get started with a community-driven engagement strategy? Our advice is to begin with LinkedIn, where you can find B2B discussions on virtually every topic – and where the quality-over-quantity approach is often on prominent display. Hang out, pay attention, get a feel for how these groups work, and when you engage, engage carefully.

Remember that you’re a participant in a community, not a salesperson hunting for prospects. B2B buyers can spot the difference a mile away, and nothing will kill a community faster than a hard-sell attitude.

by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

Content marketers often gate their content. But they almost never sell it. The very idea seems crazy.

Yet it’s possible that one very popular distribution platform doesn’t just allow marketers to sell their content – it practically demands selling content.

I’m talking about publishing for the Amazon Kindle. There’s a fascinating post over on Copyblogger about this possibility. (I won’t call it a trend – that would be a gross overstatement.) “Given the option between paying nothing and paying, let’s say, a dollar for the same product,” writes James Chartrand, “some people voluntarily choose the paid version.” In other words, when offered basically the same content for free online or for a small fee via Kindle, they’ll opt for the Kindle version.

Why would anyone pay a buck (or at least 99 cents) for content they can get for free elsewhere? Part of it is psychological: People aren’t used to paying for web content, but they are quite comfortable paying for an E-book. Part of it is the format, which is convenient and flexible.

But come on now. Can B2B marketers really get away with monetizing their content? More to the point, can they use the Kindle platform to reach a target audience and engage with prospects?

The jury is still out on this one. Chartrand offers just one example in his post, and that one doesn’t really go into details about how well it worked. And since it’s completely possible to give away content for the Kindle, I also wonder whether trying to monetize this content – even at a token price – is a smart move for B2B marketers.

What I do expect to see is more B2B marketers experimenting with free content for the Kindle and other E-book formats. It’s not so much the format itself that interests me, though, it’s the distribution channel.

If anyone can shed more light on these questions, please drop me a line or post a comment below. Is the Kindle the next frontier for B2B content marketing, or is this an idea whose time will never come?


by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

This week’s Content2Conversion event in New York City was a huge success. I’m not saying that as a DemandGen Report editor – I’m saying it as somebody who has attended a lot of events over the years. It’s insanely hard to pull off these kinds of events, and this one went off incredibly well.

Some of the best sessions focused on two very hot topics: mobile content and video. Both are critical for B2B marketers, and they know it.

Or do they? Being vaguely aware that mobile content is important is one thing. But it’s another to really get just how little time there is to adapt or die. These two facts – both presented during Christina “CK” Kerley’s conference session – prove the point:

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by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

I have been told that I’ve got a voice for print — and a face for radio. In spite of that, I sometimes get asked to host live webcasts. The fact is, webcasts are important content marketing tools; they’re great for engaging with your prospects, sharing quality information in an exciting format, and driving qualified leads.

Yet webcasts aren’t my favorite things to do. I’m one of those people who rank “public speaking” just ahead of “dying in a fire” on a list of scary things. One thing that I’ve learned, though, is that recording a podcast or webcast gets a LOT easier once you’ve done it a few times.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that before it got easier, I made my share of dumb mistakes. Here are some things I learned along the way to get more comfortable and confident hosting live webcasts.

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Social Media Examiner just issued the results of its fourth annual Social Media Marketing report. There’s a lot to digest here, but it’s well worth the effort with more than 3,800 marketers participating in the study.

Here are some of the highlights from the 2012 study:

  • Everybody is doing it. Well, almost everybody: 94% of marketers said they use social media to market their businesses.

  • But NOT everybody thinks it’s important. 83% of marketers “said that social media was important to their business,” which is actually down from 90% in 2011. On the other hand, half of the marketers strongly agreed social media was important, so those who support it tend to really support it.

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by Matt McKenzie, Contibuting Editor

The Custom Content Council just released the results of its 2012 Industry Characteristics Study. Here’s the most important takeaway: Content marketing isn’t a battle between print and digital. This isn’t a zero-sum game, and in fact the custom content landscape is more diverse than it has ever been.

Case in point: Nearly 90% of the companies surveyed still produce print content. Yet the number using Web content has gone up from 77% to 82% over the past three years. The number creating email-based content during that period increased from 66% to 71%.

Digital Content Grows – Video Content Grows Faster

Video content, however, was the biggest winner in a strong field: In 2009 just 37% of the companies surveyed were using video. Today that number has jumped to 52% — the fastest growth of any content category. More marketers than ever before are also adding virtual events and white papers to the content mix.

In fact, out of eight content marketing formats included in the study, just one – E-zines – dropped in popularity this year.

The study also asked participants whether they intended to do more or less with various non-print content formats in the future (as illustrated by the following chart from the CCC study). Once again, the big winner was video: 54% of the companies surveyed said they planned to produce more video content in the future. Virtually none of the companies said they planned to do less of any content format, although some – like white papers and e-zines – are forecast to hold steady at their current levels.