tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/content-management Latest Content management content from Econsultancy 2016-07-21T10:57:05+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68074 2016-07-21T10:57:05+01:00 2016-07-21T10:57:05+01:00 Is content really the solution to lacklustre conversion rates? Steve Borges <p dir="ltr">Those who know me will be well aware of my belief in testing and analysis as the basis for targeted investment in improved retail performance – and the content question should, I believe, get the same treatment.</p> <p dir="ltr">So, I’ve taken a look behind the scenes and dug into the data from some of the UK’s biggest high-street fashion and lifestyle brands – essentially to answer the question:  “Does content really improve conversion?”</p> <p dir="ltr">The answer, as it turns out is “Yes and no”.  But before I expand on that, some context...</p> <h3 dir="ltr">It’s undeniably true that the shift to mobile has hit conversion for most brands.</h3> <p dir="ltr">That is driven by three inter-related trends that are right there in the data.</p> <p dir="ltr">First, there has been a dramatic shift to mobile over the last few years – the data tells us that tablet and mobile use (combined) moved from 40% of all sessions in 2013 to 68% in 2015.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: Biglight benchmark data (aggregated 2013 - 2015)</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7096/sessions_by_device-blog-flyer.png" alt="sessions by device" width="470" height="276"> </p> <p dir="ltr">But what’s interesting here is the lack of any real session growth.  Quite simply, people aren’t shopping more because of mobile; they are shopping differently.</p> <p dir="ltr">Then there is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67174-five-best-practice-tips-to-boost-mobile-conversions/">the issue of mobile conversion</a>. In general, conversion on tablet is lower than desktop for most brands and conversion on mobile falls to between 14% and 64% of that achieved on desktop.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: Biglight benchmark data, based on UK sales (anonymous retailers 2015)</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7099/conversion_by_device-blog-flyer.png" alt="conversion by device type" width="470" height="236"></p> <p dir="ltr">Once again, the data reveals the impact of those trends.</p> <p dir="ltr">Conversion rates were hit hard in 2014, before recovering in 2015, largely due to the implementation of mobile and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66081-responsive-web-design-15-of-the-best-sites-from-2014/">responsive sites</a> and subsequent optimisation efforts.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: Biglight benchmark data, based on UK sales (anonymous retailers 2013-15)</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7100/conversion_over_time-blog-flyer.png" alt="conversion over time" width="470" height="242"> </p> <p dir="ltr">As this relentless shift to mobile continues though, retailers will face an uphill struggle to improve conversion – no surprise then, that <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/conversion-rate-optimization-report/">conversion rate optimisation</a> (and on mobile in particular) has become a high priority for most brands.</p> <p dir="ltr">So there’s the context; but what does the data tell us about the role of content in that conversion optimisation struggle?</p> <h3>The good news is, there is a positive correlation between content and conversion</h3> <p dir="ltr">Back in 2014, L2 published research that sought to demonstrate a correlation between content quality and conversion.</p> <p dir="ltr">For them, content quality as a measure went beyond <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65656-how-nike-s-merchandising-strategy-can-help-retailers-of-all-types/">merchandising</a> and product presentation to include blogs and microsites, videos and tutorials, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67994-10-ecommerce-ux-treats-on-the-new-oasis-website">user generated content</a> and guided selling tools.</p> <p dir="ltr">I’ll refer to this as “rich content” for ease.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: L2 Inc - Content and Commerce, 2014.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7093/l2_research-blog-flyer.png" alt="L2 research" width="470" height="298"> </p> <p dir="ltr">L2 concluded that improvements in rich content were responsible for 50% of retailers’ conversion improvements and, for every five point increase in content score, conversion increased by 1%. You can read the full report <a href="https://www.l2inc.com/research/content-and-commerce-2014">here</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Looking at my data, I’ve also been able to demonstrate a correlation between engagement and conversion - <em>Note: We did check that session durations correlated with page-views to rule out site performance /checkout issues.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: Biglight benchmark data, based on UK sites (anonymous retailers 2015)</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7101/session_duration_vs_conversion-blog-flyer.png" alt="session duration vs conversion" width="470" height="233"></p> <p dir="ltr">What’s more, we’ve run a series of A/B tests to really understand the impact of rich content on conversion and AOV. In our most significant test to date, we found that:</p> <ul> <li>Users who interacted with rich-content were 20% more likely to purchase than those who didn’t.</li> <li>AOV was 22% higher for those who interacted with rich content before proceeding to purchase.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Clearly, these are very encouraging results, on closer inspection, they must carry two very important caveats:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Rich content was presented to customers during their journey and within the same session, so it was highly <strong>visible</strong>.</li> <li>It related to the items being purchased, so it was highly <strong>relevant</strong>.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">So the question is how can both of these objectives be achieved on a typical ecommerce website?</p> <p dir="ltr">To understand that we must look at how effective the use of content is currently; crucially, whether it passes the visibility and relevance test – and, in all too many cases, the answer is ‘no’.</p> <p dir="ltr">The truth is traditional content destinations simply do not engage users. For instance, only 25-35% of users see the homepage during their ecommerce journeys, so rich content featured or merchandised here is invisible to the majority of users.</p> <p dir="ltr">In fact, we’ve found that engagement with rich content when it’s featured on the homepage (and category landing pages) is generally very low – conversion rates are actually improved if rich content is relegated or removed from these pages (but the brand people don't like it).</p> <p dir="ltr">But what about blogs, the historical home of rich content on ecommerce sites? Back in 2014 the L2 Research compared blog traffic volumes to that of the sites they support and found that engagement with them is poor.</p> <p dir="ltr">We’ve found that traffic to blogs is significantly lower that to other areas of the site that should be comparable and they suffer from exit rates that are up to three times the site average, even where blogs feature in the main navigation and are merchandised on the homepage.</p> <p dir="ltr">That’s not exactly what we are all trying to achieve and not popular with trading teams.</p> <p dir="ltr">So, if we know that making relevant content visible to users during their journeys to drive engagement and conversion and we can pretty much rule out the homepage, key landing pages and the blog, where should we be looking?</p> <p dir="ltr">Well the answer is in the data; 50% of users now start their ecommerce journeys on a product listings page or product details page - that’s where the opportunities lie.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: Biglight benchmark data (aggregated 2015)</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7091/landing_page_breakdown-blog-flyer.png" alt="landing page breakdown" width="470" height="301"></p> <h3>This all has some fairly big implications for site design and content optimisation</h3> <p dir="ltr">The headline here is that content <strong>can</strong> positively affect conversion and AOV - but blindly throwing money at content without really understanding where it is best used is to trust to luck.</p> <p dir="ltr">Chance dictates that some content will be in the right place, but those fortunate retailers will not know why and will still be wasting time and money on content that barely anyone sees.</p> <p dir="ltr">The solution is two fold.</p> <p dir="ltr">First, retailers need to move away from rich content destinations and content merchandising to create content elements that are featured or “threaded” through the pages that make up the user journey - principally the product listings pages, but also the product details pages.</p> <p dir="ltr">Second, they must test, test and test again with real users and A/B testing tools – then let the data tell them what works, and do more of it. That means looking at every type of content to understand its impact in different contexts:</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1.</strong> Brand heritage content that’s true for ever</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2.</strong> Seasonal content that drives core merchandising messages</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3.</strong> Short term “now” content that creates relevance</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4.</strong> Social validation content - user-curation, ratings and review</p> <p dir="ltr">In short then, content really can be at least part of the solution to lacklustre conversion rates – but only content that is delivered with purpose and focus; content that is both visible and relevant and whose performance is understood and optimised through exhaustive testing.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68031 2016-07-19T12:14:01+01:00 2016-07-19T12:14:01+01:00 Answering the key question of content auditing: Where do I start? Michael Hewitt <h3>Existing content</h3> <p>When it comes to investment in content marketing, it isn’t a huge surprise that much of it goes on producing new content, new material and new campaigns.</p> <p>Plenty of marketers will talk at length about how much content they are producing, how packed their <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64587-eight-free-content-calendar-templates-to-help-plan-your-output/">editorial calendars </a>are and how they are preparing to launch their “next big campaign”, but what about the content that they already have?</p> <p>Content marketers are focused so heavily on producing new content that meets the evolving needs of both their audiences and the expectations of search engines, that they are neglecting to ensure that their existing content does likewise. </p> <h3>A daunting prospect</h3> <p>The phrase “content audit” conjures up many feelings, and few of them positive. </p> <p>For many, it is a laborious process that involves hours upon hours, days upon days or even weeks upon weeks of manual review, fiddling around in analytics, and identifying gaps in coverage. It’s not, for many, the most enthralling responsibility in the job description.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6721/content-audit.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="300"></p> <p>Even if you do manage to conduct a thorough audit, it can often be difficult to force through changes on key brand pages due to the influence of various stakeholders, compliance issues and various other obstacles.</p> <p>Many also find the results and impact of a content audit difficult to measure, and so decide to focus their efforts elsewhere.</p> <p>But content auditing is something that needs to be a prominent and regular part of not only your content marketing strategy, but your wider digital marketing strategy.</p> <p>Just think about how many search algorithm updates that there may have been, how many new devices have been launched and how many new media platforms have emerged since you last reviewed your content – that could be quite a sobering realisation. </p> <h3>The case for a content audit</h3> <p>The ultimate purpose of any content audit is to understand how your content is performing, how it is delivering for your customers and what value it is providing. </p> <p>There are plenty of both tangible and intangible measurements for successful content, but this doesn’t necessarily confirm that content is useful, relevant or could be considered ‘quality’ by most reasonable measures.</p> <p>You could, for instance, use social shares as a measurement of quality content but, in doing so, it’s likely that you’ll reach conclusions that, whilst they may drive engagement, don’t necessarily drive a commercial return. Providing content that your audiences will engage with is undoubtedly a starting point but, and I hate to break this to you, human beings may not always be the best judges of quality.</p> <p>What your content audit is ultimately about is ensuring that every piece of content on your site is making some form of contribution to improving conversion rates, search visibility, user experience, and relevance.</p> <p>Get it right and you could even start stealing that prized <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66672-semantic-search-the-future-of-search-marketing">Google Knowledge Graph</a> real estate. </p> <h3>The manual approach</h3> <p>If you’re in a position where you are managing a relatively small site with a handful of pages, then manual content auditing might not be such a hardship.</p> <p>Starting with your URL and keywords, you can start to build a picture of where your brand ranks for these key terms, which pages consistently rank for those key terms, and how your competitors perform. </p> <p>It is then down to you to make a human assessment of each of these pages, and you can look at multiple factors to judge <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66971-a-content-manager-s-practical-guide-to-doing-just-enough-seo/">how well optimised your pages are for search</a>, and how they contribute to the user journey. These factors could include URL optimisation, title tags, meta description, ‘H-tag’ optimisation and hierarchy, keyword coverage and word count.</p> <p>You can then add layers of insight from Google Analytics, social monitoring tools and start to understand how these pages contribute to the customer search journey.</p> <p>Are there pages that are haemorrhaging traffic through unusually high exit rates? If so, this page might not adequately serve the customer search query. </p> <p>With only this very top-level and basic approach to content, you can already start to understand just how much time that you're going to have to spend with your head in an Excel spreadsheet, and why many marketers are reluctant to run a manual content audit at any sort of scale.</p> <h3>A scientific approach</h3> <p>But content auditing doesn’t have to be such a daunting prospect, and it is possible to take a more scientific, algorithmic approach to content auditing.</p> <p>At Stickyeyes we use SCOT (<a href="http://www.stickyeyes.com/content-optimisation-tool/">Stickyeyes Content Optimisation Tool</a>), to look at content in the same way that a search engine may look at it, and identify key areas of success and areas for improvement. In short, addressing that critical first hurdle – where to start.</p> <p>The factors we consider include technical elements, such as keyword coverage, meta data and the use of header tags, as well as engagement factors for which there is evidence of a correlation with higher search rankings – factors such as bounce rate, time on page, social engagement and brand awareness for example.</p> <p>For those with sizable websites, this kind of process can be invaluable in understanding just where to focus effort and resource. Here is just one example of a typical output for a printing brand that we ran through the tool. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6722/graph1.jpg" alt="" width="668" height="276"></p> <p>What we can see clearly is that whilst the brand in this example does have some strong content optimisation scores, in excess of 85%, there are a number of revenue-driving keywords for which the domain scores poorly – notably “cheap leaflet printing”, “cheap flyers”, and “cheap flyer printing”.</p> <p>Evidently, this brand has struggled to provide content for search terms with a “cheap” prefix and this therefore provides some direction for their content review.</p> <p>Of course, it may be that the brand sees itself as a quality brand and therefore may not want to specifically target search terms such as “cheap” and “low cost”, but the level of insight provided allows the brand to make that decision.</p> <h3>Identifying the quick wins</h3> <p>Of course, any content appraisal and audit needs to have a degree of human intervention, but what this algorithmic approach does is allow us to automate large parts of the process and using this insight, content managers can start to make some key decisions and prioritise their actions. </p> <p>There are, in this example, a number of pages that score highly and, with a few minor tweaks, can potentially drive further value. These are what we would classify as “quick wins”. </p> <p>Of course, it isn’t simply enough to throw a few keyword-heavy paragraphs into the page in the hope that Google will deem that to be more relevant, but we can now start considering how we can enhance the user experience for these pages and these terms.</p> <p>It may be that we create specific content for these terms, we may change the site structure to make our existing pages more prominent, or we may actually decide to remove certain pages to focus traffic on more valuable pages.</p> <p>What we are essentially trying to do is enhance the user journey rather than hinder it; and there are different ways to do that depending on the circumstances. </p> <p>This process makes it easier to run audits on a more regular basis, allowing you to monitor the success of any changes that you do make, understand the contribution that your new content is making and identify the next key actions for your optimisation strategy. If something appears to be having an adverse effect, this can be identified and rectified very quickly. </p> <h3>The impact on search</h3> <p>We have been using this approach for a number of brands and what we have found is that as we continually work on improving our content scores within SCOT, we have experienced increased visibility within organic search. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6723/graph2.jpg" alt="" width="814" height="336"></p> <p>Of course, what we can’t do is isolate the impact of these content amendments from the various other elements of activity that may have been undertaken to improve search performance, but there is evidence of a strong correlation between the quality of on-page content and search rankings. </p> <p>And it is important to stress that whilst we may be looking to introduce an algorithmic approach to content auditing, this shouldn’t be mistaken as an algorithmic approach towards content creation.</p> <p>What we are trying to do here is to ensure that our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67605-why-content-marketing-isn-t-seo-and-why-seo-isn-t-just-content/">content strategies plug key gaps</a> in what our audiences are looking for, but this shouldn’t turn content creation and optimisation into little more than a box ticking exercise. </p> <p>What matters above all else is that your brand is still providing value to the end user and delivering the best possible experience. Adding a layer of technical competence helps to deliver that user experience, but is also valued by search engines as they look to deliver the most relevant results. </p> <p><a href="http://www.stickyeyes.com/content-optimisation-tool%20">Try the latest version</a> of SCOT for free.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67925 2016-06-22T15:12:00+01:00 2016-06-22T15:12:00+01:00 Social media image guide for brands: June 2016 Andrew Chrysostom <p>It’s always useful to have a reminder, so please use this handy guide to ensure your brand looks spick and span when it comes to posting images.</p> <p>Here are the exact image sizes required by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and, just for laughs, Google+. The sizes are accurate as of June 2016.</p> <p><a href="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6131/size_guide.jpg"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6131/size_guide.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="4996"></a></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67969 2016-06-22T10:39:00+01:00 2016-06-22T10:39:00+01:00 Five ways Emerald Street is delivering irresistible email content Nikki Gilliland <p>But I recently realised that since signing up to Emerald Street, Stylist’s free daily subscription, I have more or less read every single one. </p> <p>For me, it is a welcome distraction on any given day. Here are the reasons why.</p> <h3>Unobtrusive style</h3> <p>Email <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64878-45-words-to-avoid-in-your-email-marketing-subject-lines/">subject lines</a> are often deliberately inflammatory, designed to entice the reader to click at all costs.</p> <p>One thing I like about Emerald Street is that it doesn’t feel the need to use clickbait. </p> <p>More often than not, the subject lines are related to just one feature from the email. Sometimes, they’re incredibly short. Others pose questions or include intriguing quotes – but they’re never outlandish or misleading.</p> <p>Editor Anna Fielding once said that the best thing about her job was that “every day, we get to make 70,000 women stop to take five minutes for themselves. I know how rare that is in modern offices.” - Now with 150,000 subscribers, women are clearly spreading the word.</p> <p>As well as piquing interest in an understated way, Emerald Street succeeds in offering something reliable – a characteristic that is far more valuable than clickbait in the long run. </p> <p>With emails arriving at the same time each day, it also encourages the reader to form a habit.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6214/Emerald_Street_subject_line.PNG" alt="" width="509" height="34"></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6220/Emerald_Street_subject_line_2.PNG" alt="" width="509" height="32"></p> <h3>Honest attitude</h3> <p>Emerald Street has built on Stylist’s reputation as a trusted and intelligent voice for women.</p> <p>In line with this, every email includes the ‘Emerald Street promise’ – a section of copy succinctly summing up the company’s attitude towards advertising.  </p> <p>By promising not to promote anything for the sake of it, Emerald Street offers readers trust and authenticity. </p> <p>In today’s market, where it’s common behaviour for <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67923-influencer-marketing-is-becoming-a-joke-what-can-brands-do-about-it/">brands to pay influencers</a> and sponsor editorial content, Emerald Street’s promise of transparency is a breath of fresh air. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6215/Emerald_Street_promise.PNG" alt="" width="537" height="227"></p> <h3>Uncluttered design</h3> <p>With one main editorial feature and around four or five other sections, Emerald Street maintains a fairly standard and consistent formula.</p> <p>The email itself is not particularly ground-breaking in terms of design. In fact, it’s quite basic, mainly focusing on the copy and a select few high-quality images.</p> <p>Of course, advertising is included, but with just one or two ads placed on the right-hand side of the template, it is hardly distracting.</p> <p>With visible social buttons and handy ‘forward to a friend’ features, the email also encourages sharing as well as promotes other social media channels.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6224/Email_design.PNG" alt="" width="750" height="636"></p> <h3>Relatable tone</h3> <p>One reason I enjoy reading Emerald Street is that it reflects how real women actually speak to each other.</p> <p>Many women’s magazines can be patronising, clichéd or just plain annoying – focusing on shallow topics or subjects that are far removed from the reality of daily life. </p> <p>Instead, Emerald Street focuses on the subjects that women actually care about.</p> <p>Sure, it can be light - about lipsticks or where to go for lunch – but it can also be in-depth, with a lot of content related to important and timely issues.</p> <p>Another feature I often use is 'today's talk' - a selection of links to other interesting online news and content.</p> <p>By also making references to the people who work at the publication itself, Emerald Street demonstrates how a personal and relatable tone is often the most engaging.  </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6221/Emerald_street_recommendation.PNG" alt="" width="470" height="320"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6222/Recommendation_2.PNG" alt="" width="324" height="386"></p> <h3>Valuable content</h3> <p>As well as enjoying its conversational <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65198-a-simple-tip-for-improving-your-brand-tone-of-voice-guidelines/">tone of voice</a>, I often find myself going back to Emerald Street because it is downright useful.</p> <p>One of my favourite features is ‘Cocktails and Cappuccinos’ – recommendations of places to eat and drink in London.</p> <p>With a comprehensive map that lists all the places ever featured on Emerald Street, it also shows that email content does not have to be disposable. </p> <p>Its recommendations about fashion, food and art are highly accessible and easy to relate to.</p> <p>With Stylist readers lapping up the reviews section, Emerald Street originally began with the intent of producing content that helps people plan their lives.</p> <p>This insight into what the audience wants has undoubtedly played a part in its success.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6218/Cocktails_and_cappucinos.PNG" alt="" width="750" height="573"></p> <p>By providing links along with recommendations, whether for a place to go for dinner or a new book, it encourages the reader to act.</p> <p>As a result, Emerald Street ensures that it will be remembered as the source, in turn giving the reader a reason to click 'read' the next time its email arrives.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6223/Emerald_Street_map.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="404"></p> <p>A shining example of how to do editorial-style emails - there's a lot to learn from Emerald Street.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67777 2016-04-26T14:29:00+01:00 2016-04-26T14:29:00+01:00 10 things marketers should know about Medium's new publishing platform Ben Davis <h3>1. It might kill the website</h3> <p>Before you tut at my hyperbole, let me qualify it.</p> <p>Medium itself lists one of the main virtues of using its platform as the ability to operate without a tech team.</p> <p>Think of the ease of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65372-the-complete-guide-to-setting-up-and-running-a-wordpress-site/">WordPress</a> but amplified - no need to host anything, no need to tinker with plug-ins - the ease of use of a social network but for longer form publishing.</p> <p>To this end, Medium is integrating support for <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67544-facebook-to-open-up-instant-articles-what-publishers-need-to-know/">Facebook </a><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67544-facebook-to-open-up-instant-articles-what-publishers-need-to-know/">Instant Articles</a> and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67567-four-things-you-need-to-know-about-google-accelerated-mobile-pages-amp/">Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages</a>.</p> <p><em>Pacific Standard has moved to Medium.</em></p> <p><a href="https://psmag.com/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4298/Screen_Shot_2016-04-26_at_10.16.11.png" alt="pacific standard" width="615" height="342"></a> </p> <h3>2. It offers discoverability..</h3> <p>It's not just elegance of set-up that makes Medium an improvement on the website for small- and medium-scale publishing.</p> <p>Firstly, Medium's development of greater social context in late 2015 gives publishers a better chance at being discovered.</p> <p>Mentions are used to notify Medium users cited in stories, and a recommendation feature surfaces posts based on who you follow.</p> <p>This level of context augments an already strong integration (<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_Williams_(Internet_entrepreneur)">for obvious reasons</a>) with Twitter.</p> <p>As Ev Williams puts it</p> <blockquote> <p>...there’s no doubt that something published on Medium has a higher likelihood to find an audience than the same thing published on an untrafficked island on the web.</p> </blockquote> <h3>3. ..and an escape from banner ads</h3> <p>One of the reasons that smaller websites are struggling at the moment, outside of discoverability, is poor UX.</p> <p>The <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67271-is-there-a-future-for-publishers-and-display-ads/">display ad model</a> is bringing in too little revenue for many whilst also disrupting the reading experience.</p> <p>Medium will offer to ability to develop partnerships with advertisers, without a single banner ad.</p> <h3>4. It looks consistently great</h3> <p>Websites on Medium look great, if a little too consistent.</p> <p>Personally, having looked at a lot of blogs in my time, I don't find the current <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67408-web-design-convergence-what-why-and-does-it-matter/">lack of diversity in design</a> that distressing.</p> <p>All articles have that crisp and readable Medium typography, and home- and category pages are very clear with a simple header menu.</p> <p>Of course, many publishers will bemoan that they can't add more of their personality (i.e. annoying pop-ups) but looking at the sites that have already gone live (there's a list further down this piece), there are many differences in tile layout and of course palette.</p> <p><em>Those People has moved to Medium.</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4304/Screen_Shot_2016-04-26_at_10.18.08.png" alt="those people" width="615" height="342"></p> <h3>5. It's a sensible choice for a corporate blog or nonprofit site</h3> <p>Ev Williams <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthof/2015/09/09/mediums-evan-williams-to-publishers-your-website-is-toast/#43cdc0c83830">told Forbes</a> that the "most popular use of the publications feature is a corporate blog or nonprofit site."</p> <p>At the moment, some mid-sized publishers may not feel they know enough about Medium to make the leap.</p> <p>But many corporates with struggling blogs on microsites may feel now is the time to unburden themselves onto a platform, much as Nestle did with Tumblr.</p> <p><a href="https://publishers.medium.com/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4290/Screen_Shot_2016-04-26_at_08.31.54.png" alt="medium for publishers" width="615" height="334"></a></p> <h3>6. But remember, it's not open source</h3> <p>Of course, Medium is a platform, a walled garden. It's not a WordPress.</p> <p>This excerpt from an <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthof/2015/09/09/mediums-evan-williams-to-publishers-your-website-is-toast/#48a9f4ea3830">Ev Williams interview</a> with Forbes shows exactly what that means:</p> <p><strong>Battelle:</strong> "I’m building a new publication now (Newco). What happens when I work with Medium and I’m working with P&amp;G and they want to show a big picture (ad). Is that cool or not cool?"</p> <p><strong>Williams:</strong> "That’s fine. You can do this today."</p> <p><strong>Battelle:</strong> "Then P&amp;G because they’re really big... they want to put a little bit of tracking code behind that picture so they can avoid showing the ad to someone on Facebook who’s already seen it. And so on... Are you going to say no?"</p> <p><strong>Williams:</strong> "<a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=TBD">TBD</a>. Definitely today you cannot put that on. But we understand the dilemma of you and P&amp;G."</p> <p>This isn't conclusive. Medium will undoubtedly work to help publishers attribute revenue to their Medium sites, but it has ultimate control over how this happens and will no doubt productise its own solutions.</p> <p>We've all been warned of the dangers of a walled garden, but if Medium offers eyeballs, reduced overheads and revenue opportunities, the benefits for many well outweigh the risks.</p> <p><em>Signal vs. Noise has moved to Medium.</em></p> <p><a href="https://m.signalvnoise.com/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4299/Screen_Shot_2016-04-26_at_10.17.43.png" alt="signal vs noise" width="615" height="304"></a> </p> <h3>7. The Medium ad model is native</h3> <p><a href="https://help.medium.com/hc/en-us/articles/218475847">Promoted Stories</a> will be the norm for publications on Medium that want to make ad revenue.</p> <p>These are essentially contextual articles written by brand partners (currently Bose, SoFi, Nest, Intel, and Volpi Foods) that will appear amongst publisher posts.</p> <p>Sponsored content will appear, too. For example, <a href="https://medium.com/newco">NewCo Story</a> is currently presented by Adobe.</p> <p><em>A Promoted Story</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4303/Screen_Shot_2016-04-26_at_11.01.41.png" alt="promoted story" width="500"> </p> <h3>8. Paywalls can be implemented</h3> <p>This is in beta and is described as 'member-supported publishing'.</p> <p>Effectively readers will be encouraged to pay a monthly fee and will get some form of exclusive content. The implication is that hard paywalls aren't currently in consideration.</p> <h3>9. Total time reading (TTR) is an important metric</h3> <p>Medium used to talk about this metric as the only one that mattered. In the past months, it has moved away from this stance slightly, as it becomes less of a publisher and more of a platform.</p> <p>However, Medium's advertising info still mentions TTR as a metric that will influence revenue share for publishers:</p> <blockquote> <p>Medium shares Promoted Stories revenue with publishers based on total time reading</p> </blockquote> <p><em>Electric Literature has moved to Medium.</em></p> <p><a href="https://medium.com/electric-literature"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4300/Screen_Shot_2016-04-26_at_10.16.58.png" alt="electric lit" width="615" height="341"></a></p> <h3>10. These sites are live</h3> <p>Since April 5th, 10+ publications have made the switch.</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://medium.com/electric-literature">Electric Lit</a></li> <li><a href="https://psmag.com/">Pacific Standard</a></li> <li><a href="https://thebolditalic.com/">The Bold Italic</a></li> <li><a href="https://thebillfold.com/">The Billfold</a></li> <li><a href="https://medium.com/newco">NewCo Shift</a></li> <li><a href="https://blog.twitch.tv/">The Twitch Blog</a></li> <li><a href="https://m.signalvnoise.com/">Signal vs. Noise</a></li> <li><a href="https://thsppl.com/">Those People</a></li> <li><a href="https://features.wearemel.com/">Mel</a></li> <li><a href="https://mondaynote.com/">Monday Note</a></li> <li><a href="https://blog.blcklst.com/">The Black List</a></li> <li> <a href="https://medium.com/film-school-rejects">Film School Rejects</a> </li> </ul> <p>New offshoots of Time Inc. magazines Money and Fortune, The Ringer and many others are following.</p> <p>Sites can be migrated from <a href="https://help.medium.com/hc/en-us/articles/218572107">WordPress to Medium</a> already. </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67709 2016-04-07T14:14:50+01:00 2016-04-07T14:14:50+01:00 Three ways to use LinkedIn to support your content marketing strategy David Reilly <p>In this post I'll examine how LinkedIn provides a formidable commercial opportunity for content marketing via three solutions.</p> <p>This information is taken from Econsultancy’s new <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/guide-to-linkedin-marketing-solutions/">Guide to LinkedIn Marketing Solutions</a>.</p> <h3>1. Pulse content platform</h3> <p>Pulse is LinkedIn's self-publishing platform which brands can use to post content for their subscribers.</p> <p>This is a valuable platform for publishing long-form content on expert opinion and insights based on your own area of expertise.</p> <p>Content written in Pulse can easily be distributed to other communities such as relevant Groups or your own Company page to maximise distribution and viewers.</p> <p>To find inspiration for content ideas, in the top left-hand corner of Pulse you'll see a tab labelled "Top Posts."</p> <p>This feature prioritises the most popular posts written within your chosen category such as “marketing and advertising” </p> <p>It is also important when you publish a post on Pulse that you label your post at the bottom of the Pulse editor using the appropriate categories such as "SEO" or “digital marketing."</p> <p>These category tags will make it easier for people to find your post.</p> <h3>2. Slideshare</h3> <p>SlideShare was purchased and integrated into LinkedIn’s architecture in 2012 and has made strong progress toward LinkedIn’s goal of making it the largest repository of professional knowledge on the internet.</p> <p>Slideshare users can upload files from PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote or OpenDocument presentations, and slide decks can then be viewed on the site itself.</p> <p>Presentations are one of the main ways in which professionals can capture and demonstrate their knowledge and expertise, which in turn helps shape their professional identity.</p> <p>There are two key ways Slideshare can be used to support your content marketing on Linkedin</p> <p><strong>1. Adding presentations to individual profile pages</strong></p> <p><em>SlideShare presentations added to Ashley Friedlein’s page</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3724/linkedin_proofile_page.png" alt="" width="816" height="606"></p> <p><strong>2. Creating your own company page on SlideShare</strong></p> <p><em>Econsultancy's company page on SlideShare</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3726/linkedin_slideshare.png" alt="" width="825" height="605"></p> <p>As with other social networks, content on Slideshare can be 'liked' and shared, allowing the collective ratings to act as marketing collateral for brands and their content. </p> <h3>3. Company Pages</h3> <p>One of the best content marketing opportunities on LinkedIn for your business is setting up your own Company Page. This service is free and relatively easy to use.</p> <p>Through a Company Page you can market your business to the LinkedIn network, telling your own company’s story and giving customers and potential customers a forum to learn about your business, employees and brand(s).</p> <p>LinkedIn’s own research has shown that its users are 50% more likely to purchase from a company which they like and engage with.</p> <p>Company pages are not just the preserve of larger brands, they can be easily resourced by smaller businesses provided there is a consistent content output.</p> <p>This image lays out the key components of a LinkedIn company page. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3730/Screen_Shot_2016-04-07_at_11.06.33.png" alt="" width="700"></p> <p>For marketing purposes, a LinkedIn ‘Company Page’ is an opportunity for you to: </p> <ul> <li>Display your brand vision and mission statement/purpose.</li> <li>Engage with new advocates and followers and update them on relevant activities such as events and digital training. </li> <li>Drive word of mouth at scale. </li> <li>Enable followers to join debates regarding relevant industry news. </li> <li>Use the ‘showcase page’ function to highlight products or services to a specific demographic market. </li> <li>Segment company services into differing local geo-demographic regions. </li> </ul> <p>You can find more best practice tips for successful content marketong on LinkedIn in Econsultancy’s new <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/guide-to-linkedin-marketing-solutions/">Guide to LinkedIn Marketing Solutions</a>.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67602 2016-03-09T15:53:00+00:00 2016-03-09T15:53:00+00:00 How do the most popular brands manage blog comment sections? Tamara Littleton <p>In this post I'll look at the different ways that brands curate comments on their blogs.</p> <h3>Free-for-all</h3> <p>Some brands allow anyone to post comments. It can be a great way to welcome new commenters.</p> <p>Many people don’t take the time to leave comments; making them have to jump through hoops to leave a comment does little to encourage these people to contribute.</p> <p>Yet comment sections that allow anyone to post content can suffer from a low quality discourse (especially if no one from the brand takes the time to respond to comments) which again can drive contributors away. </p> <p>Hangtime, the blog of The NBA, allows anyone with an email address to comment on its blogs.</p> <p><strong><em>NBA blog comments</em></strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2802/NBA_comments.png" alt="" width="615" height="388"></p> <p>While some posts attract <a href="http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2016/02/15/morning-shootaround-feb-15-2/#comments">high quality comments</a> – such as discussion about player transfers - others – like its <a href="http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2016/02/07/nba-watches-the-super-bowl/#comments">post-Super Bowl blog</a> – attract more abstract comments, which seem to be more about making noise (like those ubiquitous YouTube “First!” comments) than contributing to a discussion.</p> <p>For brands that want to use their blogs to develop a community of readers, allowing anyone on the internet to swing by and leave a comment probably isn’t the way to go.</p> <p>Where are the mainstays? How does the brand recognise those who consistently post high-quality content? </p> <h3>Keeping it in the family</h3> <p><a href="https://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/alphago-machine-learning-game-go.html#gpluscomments">Google</a> and <a href="http://youtube-global.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-youtube-adblitz-champion-of-2016-is.html#gpluscomments">YouTube</a> use a Google+ plugin for those who want to comment on their blogs. Meanwhile <a href="http://blog.instagram.com/post/139426739882/160216-thedogist#notes">Instagram</a> uses the Tumblr system of reblogs and notes on its official blog.</p> <p>These systems not only help identify who is commenting, but also track sharing across the network, helping to create a sense of community amongst commenters.</p> <p>Obviously not every company has their own plugin to rely on, but for those with multiple brands it is worth considering a universal sign up so that people can comment across all brands they are interested in.</p> <h3>Comment management plug-ins</h3> <p><a href="http://www.bmwblog.com/2016/02/06/daytona-violet-bmw-f80m-m3-european-delivery/#comments">BMW</a> and <a href="http://your.asda.com/news-and-blogs/asda-s-phenomenal-wonky-veg-coming-to-a-store-near-you">ASDA</a> are two of the brands that use hosting service <a>Disqus</a> for their blog comments.</p> <p>Anyone wishing to comment on the brand’s blog has to have a Disqus account – ensuring that they have some sort of online profile (although, it doesn’t guarantee that their comments will be better, or even that they will not choose to use a pseudonym).</p> <p><em><strong>BMW comments using Disqus</strong></em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2804/BMW_comments_with_Disqus.png" alt="" width="839" height="538"></p> <p>It’s worth noting that Disqus has found comments posted under pseudonyms tend to be of <a href="https://disqus.com/research/pseudonyms/">higher quality</a> than comments posted anonymously or even comments posted under the person’s real name.  </p> <p>Third-party comment systems can be a great way for the brand to balance the needs of the blog and its readers and commenters.</p> <p>For people who have online pseudonyms that they’ve used for years, the ability to contribute to discussions using their pseudonym is vital, but brands may also wish to have the added control that a comment system like Disqus provides.</p> <h3>Social media plug-ins </h3> <p><a href="http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2016/02/14/romantic-disney-valentines-day-playlist/">Disney</a> uses Facebook to allow comments on its blog. Theoretically, this means that those who comment are over the age of 13 (although there’s no guarantee of this of course). It also allows the brand to see who the person is.</p> <p>The downside is, it excludes those who would rather not use their real names when posting (the plug-in may also list the school or employer that the reader attends – which would be a privacy issue). </p> <h3>Community only</h3> <p>Some brands, like <a href="http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2016/02/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-paragon-a-ps4-moba-with-a-difference/">PlayStation</a>, restrict comments to community members only. However, there needs to be a pretty compelling reason for people to take that extra step and login to comment.</p> <p>Brands like PlayStation have existing communities, and people may stay logged into the site for other reasons.</p> <p><strong><em>PlayStation blog comments</em></strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2803/Playstation_comments.png" alt="" width="800"></p> <p>For brands just getting into blogging, requiring readers to sign-up or login to comment may not go down well.</p> <p>It is about knowing your readership and what you want to achieve with the community.</p> <h3>No comments allowed</h3> <p>Of course, brands don’t have to allow readers to comment on their blogs, but it gives a forum for people to respond to them, and helps the blog feel more like a community than just a platform for the brand to push out content.</p> <p><a href="http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/02/05/underwater-data-computer-science-for-all-and-the-nfl-of-the-future-weekend-reading-feb-5-edition/">Microsoft</a>, <a href="http://www.nikeblog.com/2016/02/18/nike-roshe-daybreak-pine-green/">Nike</a> and <a href="https://blog.twitter.com/2016/buckle-up-its-time-to-go-racing-with-nascar">Twitter</a> don’t allow comments on their official blogs. While this doesn’t detract from the content posted, it doesn’t give the impression that the brands are particularly interested in dialogue and discussion.</p> <p>For global organisations like these it doesn’t really impact the view of them by consumers, but for smaller brands, the inability to interact and provide commentary could.</p> <p>Of course, allowing comments raises the possibility that people will use the comment section for complaints, questions and – in the case of Twitter – campaigning on issues.</p> <p>If they feel they won’t be able to manage the comment section, they may consider it more prudent to avoid it completely.</p> <h3>Does a brand’s blog need a comment section? </h3> <p>It depends on the brand and what it wants its image to be.</p> <p>A brand can follow a rigorous <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/digital-content-strategy-best-practice-guide/">content plan</a>, posting regular content that adheres to its marketing strategy, but if readers scroll down to see a comment section full of abuse or comments that don’t really pertain to the content, it can detract from their experience of the blog. </p> <p>Comment sections are a great way for brands to include its blog readers. It can result in interesting discussions between readers and it can help brands gain insight into the minds of its audience.</p> <p>But, comment sections require management and moderation. Brands need to ensure that they have the tools, people and processes in place to manage comments before they take the plunge.</p> <p>Brands that do decide to allow comments from readers need to ensure that they choose a system that balances the interests of readers with the need to create a safe space for discussion (for example, the site could allow commenters to use pseudonyms while still needing to log in to comment, therefore being identifiable to the website.</p> <p>Comments need to be moderated and managed to entice people to read below the fold.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67565 2016-02-24T11:42:50+00:00 2016-02-24T11:42:50+00:00 A day in the life of... Head of Editorial at Government Digital Service Ben Davis <h3><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/2245/carrie-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="Carrie Barclay, GDS" width="300"></h3> <h3>Please describe your job! What does a Head of Editorial in UK Government do?</h3> <p>I’m responsible for the overarching editorial strategy for our blogs platform - which is home to over 80 government blogs. </p> <p>I work with colleagues across government to encourage and support blogging as an important communication tool.</p> <p>I’m also responsible for the content on the Government Digital Service (GDS) blog - my role is similar to an Editor-in-Chief; I plan and commission content, edit posts, as well as working with other GDS teams to make sure their content is reaching the right audiences, and that they’re receiving the right level of support.</p> <p><a href="https://www.blog.gov.uk/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2264/Screen_Shot_2016-02-23_at_15.22.29.png" alt="government blogs" width="615"></a></p> <h3>Whereabouts do you sit within the… government? Who do you report to?</h3> <p>GDS is technically part of Cabinet Office, and day to day my work feeds into the strategy and development of the Head of Digital Engagement and Design.</p> <h3>What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?</h3> <p>You need to be really organised, and pretty ballsy; but you also need to balance that with a patient, supportive nature.</p> <p>You need to have a deep understanding of the workings of central government, and be confident enough to be a leading advocate for the platform and its processes.</p> <p>It’s my responsibility to make sure that teams and individuals across government have the skills and support they need to blog successfully, and autonomously.</p> <p>You need to be a strong communicator, and have a really strong, developed editorial approach.</p> <h3>Tell us about a typical working day…</h3> <p>I check emails first thing and deal with anything urgent. I’m a parent, so I make sure my daughter gets off to school before either heading into Holborn or to my home office if I’m working remotely. </p> <p>Before anything else I’ll have a coffee and a catch up with my Assistant Editor - she’ll fill me in on anything that I’ve missed, and we’ll go through my diary to see what the day holds.</p> <p>During the day it’s usually a mixture of meetings and planning, commissioning, and publishing posts.</p> <p>I also spend quite a lot of time away from the office around government working with colleagues either to talk about prospective blogs, working through issues, or just catching up and offering support. </p> <p>My role is very autonomous so I’m free to plan my days the best way I see fit. Some days are very admin-heavy, others are dedicated to strategy and planning.</p> <p>Whether I’m working in the office or remotely, I’m in constant contact with my team online or on the phone to make sure we’re all up to speed with each others workloads and priorities.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gov.uk/guidance/content-design/blogging"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2266/Screen_Shot_2016-02-23_at_15.25.50.png" alt="gds blog guide" width="615"></a></p> <h3>What do you love about your job? What sucks?</h3> <p>I love the autonomy and flexibility; I’m able to work from home when I need to, and go where I’m needed across government.</p> <p>Fundamentally, I love being part of such a high-profile project that directly affect citizens around the country.</p> <p>What sucks? <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66973-how-to-ensure-a-pain-free-sign-off-process/">Sign off process</a>. Government is a very busy and complex place to work, so sometimes getting a post signed off by all the interested parties can mean delays and missed deadlines. </p> <p>But, it’s a completely necessary evil. When you’re working with words that represent the UK government, you can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to sign off.</p> <p>It can be frustrating, but the reality of publishing misleading or false information is much worse.</p> <h3>What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?</h3> <p>We use a blend of analytics and social media monitoring to keep an eye on things.</p> <p>I’m not massively interested in high numbers of visitors - some of our blogs are quite niche - I’m more concerned with consistency and engagement.</p> <p>Our comments facility is important, but these days many more conversations happen on social platforms, so that’s where we focus our attention.</p> <h3>What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?</h3> <p>Well, the platform itself is pretty important - we use <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65372-the-complete-guide-to-setting-up-and-running-a-wordpress-site/">Wordpress</a>. For my work day to day I use <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67489-slack-yammer-facebook-who-ll-win-the-collaboration-battle">Slack</a> and Google Hangouts to engage with colleagues and Google Drive for reports, presentations, documents, and images.</p> <p>I also use <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66187-17-fantastically-useful-tools-for-content-writers-and-bloggers">Hemingwayapp</a> (to check readability); Flickr (for creative commons images); Basecamp (to organise our communities); Brandwatch (social media management); and Trello (to manage workflow).</p> <p><em><strong>Hemingwayapp</strong></em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2275/Screen_Shot_2016-02-23_at_15.37.17.png" alt="hemingwayapp" width="615"></p> <h3>How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?</h3> <p>I started out as a digital journalist about 12 years ago, and ended up as a spa reviewer and beauty journalist. I began blogging alongside my job in 2010, running three blogs: one lifestyle, one food, and one interiors.</p> <p>By 2012 I’d quit my day job and was blogging, writing, and consulting through my editorial agency, Digital Bungalow, full-time. I joined GDS in 2013.</p> <p>Although I have no plans to move on at the moment, I imagine that my next steps could be taking my central government blogging expertise to another part of government, or another public sector or charity organisation.</p> <p>That said, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider a step back into the private sector, or even back into digital journalism again, if the right opportunity presented itself.</p> <h3>Which brands do you think are doing digital well?</h3> <p>My favourites at the moment are: </p> <ul> <li> <strong>ASOS</strong>: they’re really committed to content across blogging, social, and apps and understand their audience incredibly well.</li> <li> <strong>Toblerone</strong>: these guys are the kings of strong real-time marketing.</li> <li> <strong>Nike</strong>: now one of the best brands on Instagram - they’re always creating communication from the perspective of the user.</li> </ul> <h3>Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?</h3> <p>You have to have curiosity; things change so quickly that you have to have a curious spirit to maintain the energy needed to stay on top of everything.</p> <p>You need to be confident and friendly, but also be willing to stick your head above the parapet and fight for what you believe in. Oh, and don’t be a dick.</p> <p>-----</p> <p><em>If you're looking for a new challenge in digital, see the <a href="https://jobs.econsultancy.com/">Econsultancy jobs board</a> or benchmark your own digital knowledge using our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-skills-index-lite/">Digital Skills Index</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Alternatively, if you already work in the digital industry and would like a Day In The Life profile, you can email us via press@econsultancy.com.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67457 2016-01-28T14:16:00+00:00 2016-01-28T14:16:00+00:00 Five questions every content marketer needs to answer Jack Simpson <p>If you’re currently planning or re-evaluating your content efforts, you could save yourself a lot of wasted time and effort by answering these five questions first.</p> <h3>1. Why are you doing it?</h3> <p>In marketing or any other fast-moving industry there is a tendency for fear to trump logic. The idea being that if your competitors are doing something then you ought to be too. </p> <p>Nobody wants to be like those poor brands who saw the value in social media five years too late. </p> <p>But content marketing requires an enormous amount of investment – time, effort, money, resource – to do well.</p> <p>So rather than saying brands shouldn’t do it at all I’m simply suggesting it needs to be for the right reasons, i.e. not a vanity project but something your customers actually want or need. </p> <p>But this question is about more than that. What are you actually hoping to achieve as a business by investing in content marketing? </p> <p>We all know the standard answers: brand awareness, building credibility, generating leads, and so on. </p> <p>Those reasons are fine, but you need to work out what you want your specific business to achieve through content marketing because that will ultimately help you determine whether it’s right for your company and, if it is, what your <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/digital-content-strategy/">content strategy</a> should look like.</p> <p>The vast majority (88%) of B2B marketers <a href="http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2015/09/b2b-content-marketing-research/">currently use content marketing</a>, yet only 32% have a documented strategy.  </p> <p>Similarly, <a href="http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2015/10/b2c-content-marketing-research/">76% of B2C marketers report using content marketing</a>, yet only 37% say their strategy is effective.  </p> <p>These stats suggest to me that most brands have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to content marketing, yet they’re ploughing on regardless. </p> <h3>2. Who are your customers?</h3> <p>I’m not talking about their age, location, occupation, etc. If you don’t know that then content is the least of your worries. </p> <p>What makes them tick? Which publications do they subscribe to? What specific articles are they reading? What problems do they face on a day-to-day basis ad which brands are already helping them solve those problems?</p> <p>There are a number of tools you can use to find this kind of information. Here are a few to get you started:  </p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://buzzsumo.com/">Buzzsumo</a> – analyse a competitor’s best-performing content and see trends around specific keywords for all websites in your industry.</li> <li> <a href="https://socialcrawlytics.com/">Social Crawlytics</a> – another research tool that lets you analyse the most popular URLs of specific websites.</li> <li> <a href="https://adwords.google.co.uk/KeywordPlanner">Google Keyword Planner</a> – find out what people in your industry are searching for.</li> <li> <a href="https://www.google.com/trends/">Google Trends</a> – see how different keywords have performed over time.</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1856/1KFCTnK.png" alt="google trends" width="650"></p> <p>Or you could collect first-party data and build <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66976-are-your-audience-personas-really-helping-to-inform-your-content-strategy">audience personas</a> to give you a starting point from which to work. </p> <p>Personas made up of first-party data are perhaps the most accurate and effective way to find out about your customers, but also the most time/budget-consuming. </p> <h3>3. What do they want?</h3> <p>Content marketing, contrary to what some misinformed people will tell you, is not the same as advertising. </p> <p>With advertising you are directly prompting somebody to take a specific action, and you pay to put that message in front of a pre-existing audience. </p> <p>That’s not to say you shouldn’t include <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66755-10-brilliant-examples-of-calls-to-action">calls to action</a> within you content, but the theory behind content marketing is that you’re giving your target audience something of value in return for brand awareness, consumer trust, and so on, ultimately culminating in increased sales. </p> <p>Take this blog as an example. Our customers – as in the ones who actually sign up for subscriptions, download reports, buy training – are digital marketers.</p> <p>Because we’re digital marketers ourselves and we know the problems people face in this industry, we can answer those problems through posts like this. </p> <p>The best part is that if you truly understand the challenges people face in your industry and produce posts that help them overcome those challenges, there’s a good chance those posts will become <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66247-14-examples-of-evergreen-content-formats-that-work-wonders">evergreen</a> and show up in the SERPs for years to come.</p> <p>The cost of not really understanding what your customers want from content? Well, they’ll simply ignore you. </p> <h3>4. Which medium?</h3> <p>Almost half (45%) of marketers say <a href="http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/report/%20">blogging is the most important part of their content strategy</a> and 69% say they plan to increase their use of blogging in 2016. </p> <p>I’ll wager a good percentage of those are doing it because it feels like the right thing to do rather than because they’ve done their homework and discovered that’s how their specific customers want to consume content. </p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67426-why-the-brands-as-publishers-trend-is-utter-nonsense">Every brand wants to be a publisher these days</a>, and most seem to assume that automatically means editorial content. </p> <p>There are an incredible number of mediums out there now, from imagery to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67205-five-tips-for-producing-video-content-in-house">video</a> (see below) and even live-streaming.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/44cQXADHz3o?wmode=transparent" width="640" height="360"></iframe></p> <p><a href="http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/video-marketing-statistics%20">Video accounts for 50% of all online mobile traffic</a> now, 78% of people watch videos online every week and 55% every day. </p> <p>How-to guides, for example, are often best-served via video. Or at least with plenty of imagery to show visual examples. </p> <p>But what if your target audience prefers reading long-form written guides and doesn't care for visuals? What if they like text but in short, snappy soundbites they can read on the move? </p> <p>The mix of mediums you use should depend entirely on their suitability to your messages and your target audience’s preference. </p> <h3>5. How are you going to measure success?</h3> <p>The fact that content marketing success is difficult to measure is both a blessing and a curse, i.e. it’s hard to either prove or disprove that it’s contributing to the company’s revenue. </p> <p>In Econsultancy’s case we can see how many people come into the blog from Google, social, wherever, click on a link to a report or training course or something similar and make a purchase.</p> <p>So in that sense we can actually get a fairly good idea of how much revenue we’re bringing in, although in reality the path to purchase is rarely that clearly defined.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67443-eight-influencer-marketing-stats-for-fashion-beauty-brands"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1177/Eight_influencer_marketing_stats_for_fashion___beauty_brands___Econsultancy_2016-01-28_10-55-18.png" alt="link to report in blog post" width="652"></a></p> <p>But beyond financial factors there are other things you can measure, and this links back to the first question: why you’re doing it. </p> <p>If you want to grow your social media community, for example, then you might measure social follower growth and engagement over time.</p> <p>If it grows significantly after beginning your content campaign, it’s fair to assume you’ve succeeded. </p> <p>But you cannot answer the question of how to measure success until you have answered the first question in this post.</p> <p>And until you’ve answered the next three your chances of success will be slim to none anyway.  </p> <h3>To recap…</h3> <ul> <li>Why are you doing it?</li> <li>Who are your customers?</li> <li>What do they want?</li> <li>Which medium?</li> <li>How are you going to measure success?</li> </ul> <p>When you’ve answered those five questions, in that order, you’ll know whether content marketing is right for your brand and, if it is, you’ll have a much better idea of how to go about creating a content strategy that will actually produce results. </p> <p><em>If you’ve decided content marketing is right for your brand, check out <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/digital-content-strategy-best-practice-guide/">our handy guide on building a digital content strategy</a>. </em></p> <p><em>Or check out our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64539-introducing-the-periodic-table-of-content-marketing">periodic table of content marketing</a> for some inspiration.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67426 2016-01-20T11:18:38+00:00 2016-01-20T11:18:38+00:00 Why the 'brands as publishers' trend is utter nonsense Mark Higginson <p>I contend that if being seen is a measure of success then there isn't a single successful brand-run content destination out there worth the resources being invested to keep it afloat.</p> <p>While we can’t know the number of people seeing a given page without access to privately held analytics data, we can use a proxy for this: links and shares.</p> <p>It’s an undisputed fact proven by the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barab%C3%A1si%E2%80%93Albert_model">Barabási–Albert model</a> that the attention received by the strongly interlinked set of pages that form a website follows a long-tail distribution.</p> <p>A handful of very heavily visited and linked-to pages forms the head, followed by an exceptionally steep drop-off that encompasses the rest, with very little in-between.</p> <p>If a page has few links it isn’t likely to have either been popular or to become popular again as it isn’t sufficiently embedded in the topology of the web.</p> <p>Ergo the vast majority of pages that exist on the web have zero value for marketing purposes as they are never seen by large numbers of people.</p> <p>Odd then that a Google Alert for the term ‘content marketing’ turns up dozens of new posts every day exhorting the virtues of being a brand that publishes.</p> <p>Odder still that I’ve yet to find a post that demonstrates success with actual numbers; for instance the <a href="http://contentmarketinginstitute.com">Content Marketing Institute</a> relies on listicle heavy posts unsupported by verifiable evidence.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0848/content_marketing_institute.png" alt="" width="520" height="399"></p> <p>By contrast my contention can be easily investigated by using a service such as <a href="https://ahrefs.com">Ahrefs</a> to look at publicly available data to gauge the level of interaction with a given page.</p> <p>Reviewing any major brand publishing effort reveals that, barring a few outliers, the majority of content published to these sites receives next to no links and goes nowhere, receiving few shares.</p> <p>Let's put it to the test by looking at several different branded content destinations and reviewing how many times posts have been shared to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.</p> <p>Clearly one can dispute this data but what's important is that Ahrefs collects this consistently.</p> <p>As such it's useful for making direct comparisons between pages and sites regardless of whether the overall counts are exactly accurate.</p> <h3>B2C publishing examples</h3> <p><a href="https://www.fab-beauty.com/en/">FAB Beauty</a> from L’Oreal, a business with revenues of over £17bn a year and over 78,000 employees, received 1,972 shares for its top post followed by an average of only 66 shares per post for everything subsequent to this.</p> <p>The referring domain data indicates no one is linking here from elsewhere on the web. This site is dead in the water.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0849/FAB_beauty.png" alt="" width="700"></p> <p>Yet here’s <a href="https://contently.com/strategist/2015/11/10/why-loreal-launched-a-beauty-newsroom/">breathless marketer fantasyland commentary</a> from Contently:</p> <blockquote> <p>FAB Beauty is not a commercially-oriented website aimed at advertising products.</p> <p>Rather, its purpose is to shed light on the professional beauty industry as a whole and build an audience of loyal readers, which can, in turn, have an impact on driving foot traffic and sales to salons.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://traveler.marriott.com/">Traveler</a> from Marriott, a business with revenues of £9bn a year and 200,000 employees, received 1,915 shares for its top post.</p> <p>The average for the remaining 319 posts in Ahrefs' index is 83 shares. Yet the commentary from Contently (who worked on the site) would indicate it’s the second coming: '<a href="https://contently.com/strategist/2015/11/05/were-a-media-company-now-inside-marriotts-incredible-money-making-content-studio/">We’re a Media Company Now: Inside Marriott’s Incredible Money-Making Content Studio</a>'.</p> <p>David Beebe of Marriott claims:</p> <blockquote> <p>In its first ninety days, [Marriott Traveler] drove over seventy-two hundred room bookings.</p> </blockquote> <p>How this was attributed is not properly explained. If we took average room price and length of stay and subtracted costs I wonder if what’s leftover could pay for the ‘content studio’ for ninety days.</p> <p>Referring to YouTube and the two short films Marriott produced recently, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOgteFrOKt8">Two Bellmen</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3XVcuO1bx0">French Kiss</a>, we can see from the ‘statistics’ below the videos how views take-off like a rocket then completely flatline.</p> <p>This is usually indicative that paid promotion is behind any 'popularity'.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZOgteFrOKt8?wmode=transparent" width="615" height="346"></iframe></p> <p>Here’s the rub: you pay to create the content and then you actually have to pay again to get it seen.</p> <p>The marketing sector’s <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/how-doves-real-beauty-sketches-became-the-most-viral-ad-video-of-all-time-2013-5">narrative</a> around earned, owned and paid media is largely a fraud: the 'most viral video of all time' may have obtained <a href="https://www.l2inc.com/why-the-viral-video-is-a-myth/2015/blog">75% of its views</a> via paid spend.</p> <p>Beebe says: "We created content, we created community around it, and then we’re actually driving commerce against it." I have reasonable doubts about the 'community' and 'commerce' parts of that statement.</p> <h3>B2B brand publishers</h3> <p><a href="http://newsroom.mastercard.com">The Engagement Bureau</a> from Mastercard received 3,471 shares for its top post. The average for the rest of the posts in Ahrefs' index is 42 shares.</p> <p>This business has revenues of £6.6bn and over 10,000 employees.</p> <p><a href="https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/explore/">Open Forum</a> from American Express is a site that's been going for a number of years and has had <a href="http://www.zdnet.com/article/american-express-open-keeps-pulse-on-small-business-with-social-media/">plaudits</a> <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/1669407/what-american-expresss-open-can-teach-us-about-social-media">heaped</a> upon it.</p> <p>It manages 17,346 shares for its top performing post but averages a mere 200 shares per post across the 1,310 remaining posts in Ahrefs' index.</p> <p>I could go on and on.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0851/Screen_Shot_2016-01-20_at_10.58.04.png" alt="" width="677" height="475"></p> <p>In the case of each site one or two pieces of content perform significantly better than the rest, but none are exactly stellar performers.</p> <p>Let's remember that these are instantly recognisable brands with huge numbers of employees who invest substantial amounts in advertising.</p> <p>Yet the average amount of sharing occurring is utterly insignificant. This tells us that the claims made by social media and content marketing 'thought leaders' about people wanting to 'engage with brands' is utterly fanciful.</p> <p>Percolate says in <a href="https://blog.percolate.com/2014/07/unilever-percolate-accelerating-global-marketing-organization/">its case study for Unilever</a>: “The hallmark of a great marketer is one who produces regular, predictable success.”</p> <p>The only thing regular and predictable about brand publishing for a client is that posts will get fewer shares than the number of people they hired to create them and be seen by fewer people than they employ.</p> <p>Brands can publish but that doesn't make them media companies.</p> <p>By contrast, The Guardian has half a million entries in Ahrefs' index of content and receives an average of over 77,000 shares across the top 1,000 posts.</p> <p>The Travel section alone gets 4,500 shares on average across its top 1,000 posts.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0854/The_Guardian_Travel.png" alt="" width="800"></p> <p>For a site like Marriott's to compete requires an unsustainable level of quantity and quality in terms of content production, followed by an equally unsustainable amount of promotion; however this still wouldn't guarantee a return.</p> <p>Real people don’t care about this stuff; certainly not enough to become regular readers.</p> <h3>To publish, or not to publish?</h3> <p>Brands are therefore in a Catch-22. Their sites are at best novelties rather than content destinations in their own right.</p> <p>If these spaces are little more than holding places for content with the odd popular piece getting shared elsewhere, then all they’re doing is potentially benefiting one of the major social platforms.</p> <p>Marketers used to talk about 'driving traffic' back to a brand's website from such activity. This doesn't happen.</p> <p>If the pages aren’t being viewed they aren't worth the investment of resources to produce.</p> <p>The web is a complex network that follows certain rules. What marketing agencies generally don’t understand, or ignore because it doesn't fit their business model, is that the web consists of niches all the way down.</p> <p>Each niche, big or small, is dominated by a tiny handful of hubs.</p> <p>This is highly resistant to any ability to ‘broadcast’ a message and reach a lot of people consistently, quickly, and cost-effectively.</p> <p>To infiltrate messaging into more than a few niches becomes prohibitively expensive and is usually ignored; display media as a way of doing this performs terribly.</p> <p>In this winner-takes-all environment where only a few hubs thrive it’s most unlikely any business not solely focused on publishing and promotion could compete for attention.</p> <p>For this to then be a profitable asset is a virtually insurmountable challenge; despite all those page views <a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/guardian-faces-cutbacks-after-difficult-year-media-newspaper-viner/">The Guardian is losing money</a>.</p> <p>This post is certain to draw the ire of those with a vested interest in content marketing, so before they start citing the few successful outliers in the comments I’d like to set a bar for anyone who wants to refute what I’ve said.</p> <p>It’s simply this: if you work for a brand or agency which believes there to be value in these efforts, please compile a list of your top 100 posts from last year that individually received over 1,000 links from more than 100 domains that were shared more than 10,000 times on any combination of social platforms.</p> <p>Then let us all see the URLs for these posts listed below so we can see what regular and predictable success looks like.</p>