tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/content-management Latest Content management content from Econsultancy 2017-02-22T14:11:00+00:00 tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68827 2017-02-22T14:11:00+00:00 2017-02-22T14:11:00+00:00 19 words and phrases to weed out of your marketing copy Dan Brotzel <p>'More than not, marketers are abuzz about social media and video without comprehending that most of our communication is still text- and story-based. And frankly, most marketers are really bad at writing.’</p> <p>Good writing is about vigilance, among other things. And as marketers, one easy way to improve our writing is to try and weed out some of those bits of boilerplated guff and clichéd collateralese that are always hanging about ready to sneak their way back into our copy the moment we turn our backs. (I’m sure you’ll find some in my copy; but one can but try.)</p> <p>So here’s a dirty near-score of marketing phrases that refuse to die – together with some extra ammunition as to why it’s time to let them go for good…</p> <h3><strong>‘We understand that x’ </strong></h3> <p>As in ‘we understand that getting a mortgage for the first time can be a daunting experience’. Or ‘we understand that your pet is important to you’. Or ‘we understand that your time is valuable.’</p> <p>When you think about it, is there anything good one can say about this time-honoured marketing construction, which comes over as redundant (why would you tell me things you don’t understand?), patronising, questionable (what do you, a bank, really know or remember about the experience of getting a first-time mortgage?) or bland – and often all at once.</p> <p><strong>The fix:</strong> Often you can just remove the wording and immediately improve the sentence. But if you really want to make this point about empathy, find a way to show or prove that you understand x, not just state or tell it, for instance through proof points, testimonial quotes or other credible content that showcases your expertise in the area.</p> <h3><strong>‘Tailored to your specific/individual requirements/your unique circumstances’</strong></h3> <p>...And the whole bundle of messages about bespoke/customised solutions. These time-battered phrases promise much but deliver little, and tend to fall apart on closer inspection.</p> <p>There’s the tautology – why would you tailor things to my <em>non-specific</em> requirements? There’s the lazy promise – is your ‘solution’ really as unique as my circumstances? How do you know my circumstances are unique, come to that? (They aren’t always.) Above all, there is the weary sense that this is just what you say to everyone... which delivers exactly the opposite cookie-cutter effect to what you were apparently shooting for.</p> <p><strong>The fix:</strong> Try and find something fresh to say. Be specific. Demonstrate that you really do ‘bespoke’ your ‘solutions’ (without using either of these words). Or if you don’t really, maybe you don’t need to pretend that you do?</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4066/Siemens.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="203"></p> <h3><strong>‘X will soon be upon us’ (and other tired seasonal hooks)</strong></h3> <p>As in ‘winter will soon be upon us and car safety is essential to avoid emergency situations’ (so you need our executive driving winter kit). Or ‘the picnic season will soon be upon us so why not stock up on some al fresco essentials?’ (which we sell, by the way). Or ‘the festive season will soon be upon us, but don’t worry, we’ve got Christmas all wrapped up’.</p> <p>That last one manages to combine two seasonal clichés in one, of course: ‘all wrapped up’ is for my money right up there with ‘new year, new you’ and the assumption that people (especially men) do nothing but DIY on bank holidays.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4067/National-home-buyers.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="412"></p> <p>Does it matter? Aren’t these messages just conventions that we expect at certain times of the year? Well, they often feel very tired, and that can’t be good for our sales prospects. Plus, endless repetition of the same phrases tends to make readers blind/deaf to their meaning (a phenomenon that can affect the writers of such marketing copy too). </p> <p><strong>The fix:</strong> Say something else. Address the season in an unexpected way. What about single people and divorcees at Valentine’s? What about making a resolution at the start of the Chinese New Year or the tax year?</p> <p>On the other hand, if you have an unexpected event coming up, the use of the mundane cliché actually adds to the impact:  </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4064/Zombie-apocalypse-Zazzles.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="388"></p> <h3><strong>‘Looking for/to do x?’ ‘Need x for your y?’ </strong></h3> <p>As in: ‘Looking to review your postage franking solution in 2017?’ Or: ‘Looking for a new flooring solution for your home?’ Or: ‘Looking to drive business growth?’ Or: ‘Need a new UK hospitality purchase decision-maker database provider?’</p> <p>You get this sort of approach in coldish emails a lot. What they tend to have in common is an absence of sizzle, or benefit, or USP. Such marketing simply states what’s on offer, in the most internally focused and unvarnished way possible, and asks you if you want it. Or else it states the bleeding obvious: What business isn’t interested in growth? (And when are you going to get round to telling me what you do?)</p> <p>Sometimes this may be a sensible way of qualifying out people. If I really have no possible need of a new UK hospitality purchase decision-maker database, no amount of fancy copy can change this. But then again, if there is a chance I might be interested, why would I go for the provider who can’t be bothered to do more than list what they do?</p> <p>What this approach also overlooks is that people often don’t know what they want or need, and it’s the job of the marketing copy to get people feeling otherwise. We get engaged with marketing messages because they chime with something we didn't know we were already thinking, because they show how something might fit into our world, because they work hard to create a little feelgood sensation at the thought of having them in our lives. ‘Looking for a new flooring solution?’ doesn’t quite do it for me.</p> <p><strong>The fix:</strong> Be creative. Think about why someone might care about what you have to offer. Think about scenarios and use cases they might relate to. Tell us stories of other people who’ve benefited from your product or service. Anything but this really.</p> <h3><strong>‘Today’s fast-moving world’ </strong></h3> <p>As in: ‘In today's fast-moving world, any business that fails to keep up with the latest technological trends and developments will be swiftly left behind.’ Or: ‘In today’s fast moving world with its rapid technological advancement, the ability to constantly pivot and see oneself in relation to the larger ecosystem is essential in order to remain relevant.’</p> <p>On Google, a search for ‘today’s fast-moving world’ yields 61,100 results. It’s the sort of phrase that’s especially favoured by consultancies, software providers and personal development outfits. It seems to be a sort of shorthand for our contemporary sense that the world keeps changing in complex ways, what with all the new gadgets and the social media stuff and those disruptive brands and that Donald Trump and drones and AI and loads of the jobs of tomorrow haven’t even been invented yet and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-transformation/">digital transformation</a> and oh God, I don’t know, everything’s just really complicated, it won’t stay still and now I’ve got a headache.</p> <p>Something like that. But because everyone uses the same phrase and you show no signs of having any special insights to bring to bear on this complexity, we sort of just assume that you can’t really get your head round it either. Or maybe you can’t be bothered to say anything more meaningful because the world will probably change again, making your comments obsolete before you’ve even published them. But that’s today’s fast-moving world for you all over, alas.</p> <p><strong>The fix:</strong> Avoid. Be specific instead. Choose a specific topic or issue that your users and prospects might relate to, and that you have something interesting to say about.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4068/Open-genius-website.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="656"></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4065/Aldermore-webpage.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="412"></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4069/Angel-webpage.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="525"></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4070/Key-personnel-webpage.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="412"></p> <h3><strong>'Today, more than ever…'</strong></h3> <p>As in: ‘Today more than ever, you need an effective way to help support a healthy balance of microbes in your gut’ (provider of probiotic supplements). Or: ‘Today, more than ever, we continue to be an industry leader in innovation’ (tool maker). Or: ‘Today more than ever before, our pets have become part of the family […] without asking for anything in return’ (pet urns supplier).</p> <p>Copywriters often invoke this breathless phrase to signal that the thought that comes next is really important. It has to be, because it’s usually the reason they want you to invest in their product or service. Unfortunately, they often don’t have anything of sufficient weight to insert here, and so it all rings a bit hollow. 'Today, more than ever, I need you to buy my product.'</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4071/Google-pets.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="235"></p> <p><strong>The fix:</strong> Go for a proof point that’s provable and specific, rather than a general statement that’s as sweeping as it is unconvincing. Or think of a topical reference or a story people will be familiar with, to illustrate your point.</p> <h3><strong>'State of the art'</strong></h3> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4072/State-of-the-art.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="406"></p> <p>As in ‘state-of-the-art conference facilities’, ‘state-of-the-art accounting software’, or (even) ‘state-of-the-art pooper scooper’. I’m sure I’ve used this one in my time, but now that I look at in the cold light of day (cliché), I’m not sure I want to any more.</p> <p>Pretty much everyone claims that what they do or sell is ‘state of the art’. This makes the claim meaningless. Another problem is that the phrase is really just a fancy synonym for ‘up to the minute’ or ‘latest’. So you’re basically claiming that your offering isn’t out of date (duh), or else it looks like you’re trying too hard to pretend that you’re still with it.</p> <p><strong>The fix:</strong> Back to specifics, to showing not telling. Focus on one or a few aspects that genuinely illustrate your state-of-the-artness.</p> <h3><strong>‘Solutions’, ‘global solutions’, ‘global solutions provider’</strong></h3> <p>As in: ‘UK cloud solutions provider’, ‘hotel bookings solutions provider’ or ‘business event solutions provider’. The word ‘solutions’ has been derided so often that satirical magazine <em>Private Eye</em> even ran a regular column in which readers sent in their worst examples of the phrase in action. Someone found a description of cardboard boxes as ‘Christmas Ornament Storage Solutions’. Then there was ‘Lockwoods Mushy Pea Fritters: the frozen versatile meal solution.’</p> <p>But though civilians laughed at the phrase and moved on, in marketing – and especially in B2B and IT – it has refused to die. Google searches show it’s still everywhere. Yet it adds little in terms of meaning or impact, and is often totally redundant.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4061/Ryoden_network_solutions.png" alt="" width="728" height="557"></p> <p><strong>The fix:</strong> Try saying the same thing without mentioning the word ‘solution’ or ‘provider’. It’ll probably read better.</p> <h3><strong>Quick-fire round</strong></h3> <p>Here for your consideration are a few more pet hates from my colleagues, with their comments...</p> <p><strong><em>‘We’ve teamed up with…’ </em></strong>You’re not a superhero!</p> <p><strong><em>‘Meeting the needs of today’s [businesses/global traveller/etc]…’ </em></strong>Bland and meaningless.</p> <p><strong><em>‘It’s up to you…’ </em></strong>As in, ‘Choose x widget, or choose y widget – it’s up to you’. Who else would it be up to??</p> <p><strong><em>‘Whatever you’re looking for/planning etc, we can help/we’ve got you covered’ </em></strong>Really? Anything? Now you’ve just got me thinking of exceptions.</p> <p><strong><em>‘As a [insert audience], you need to [insert product benefit] and that’s why we now offer [insert product feature]’ </em></strong>Formulaic and unimaginative. This is just the brief served up as the execution.</p> <p><strong><em>‘Created by experts’, ‘We're experts in…’ ‘We have the expertise’ etc </em></strong>I hate the 'expert' tag. If you’re really experts, do you have to say it?</p> <p><strong><em>‘[Our event] is fast approaching and it’s going to be the best [thing of its kind] ever’ </em></strong>Don’t believe you.</p> <p><strong><em>‘110%!’ </em></strong>This is simply, mathematically inaccurate.</p> <p><strong><em>‘Something for everyone’ </em></strong>Don't do it. You'll be 'ticking every box' next...</p> <p><strong><em>Unbeatable prices </em></strong>Unless you really do have a price promise.</p> <p><strong><em>‘Your dream x (e.g. your dream kitchen)’ </em></strong>I don’t think I’ve ever dreamt about my ideal kitchen!</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, book yourself onto one of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/copywriting">Econsultancy’s copywriting courses</a>, or check out these other posts:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68583-10-common-traits-of-bad-copywriters/"><em>10 common traits of bad copywriters</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66631-20-banned-words-from-the-econsultancy-blog-and-their-alternatives/"><em>20 banned words from the Econsultancy blog and their alternatives</em></a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68828 2017-02-21T14:06:31+00:00 2017-02-21T14:06:31+00:00 After years of apathy, football clubs are embracing digital transformation David Moth <p>However, it turns out my research for that article was no better than the scouting performed by Southampton when <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/nov/22/ali-dia-story-20-years-on-southampton-souness">they signed Ali Dia</a> back in 1996. While I maintain that <a href="https://southamptonfc.com/">Southampton’s website</a> is still the best the Premier League has to offer, it’s been brought to my attention that other clubs are also doing some excellent digital work. </p> <p>Much has been written about Manchester City’s digital strategy, which includes a strong emphasis on social media, experiments with VR, and hackathons focusing on digital fan engagement.</p> <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FcSnHBZcC4w?ecver=2&amp;wmode=transparent" width="640" height="360"></iframe> <p>And while it’s easy to suggest that City’s digital success is inevitable due to the club’s vast resources, one need only <a href="http://www.manutd.com/Splash-Page.aspx">glance at their local rival’s site</a> to see that having lots of cash doesn’t guarantee that some of it will be invested in digital platforms.</p> <p>But it’s wrong to focus only on what’s happening at the top of the league. Robbie Blackburn, client partner at digital agency <a href="http://www.aqueduct.co.uk/">Aqueduct</a>, said that although Man City are known for being digital innovators, other teams are quietly developing their own digital capabilities as well.</p> <p>“It’s been a big play for City to be seen as leaders in digital. They recently launched their own robot partner, which suggests that some of it is for PR value. But a lot of other clubs are really seeing the value in innovating in digital.”</p> <p>Cast your eye lower down the league table, down to the very bottom in fact. <a href="https://www.safc.com/">Sunderland AFC</a> who, at the time of writing, are in last place, have had a strong focus on digital for many years. This approach is fairly unique for a club with a history of yo-yoing between the Premier League and Championship. </p> <p>Most clubs in the Football League (i.e. the Championship down to League Two) outsource their websites to Football League Interactive (FLI). This is a centralised web platform offered for free to Football League clubs that want to outsource their website in return for giving up the right to any ad revenue. While it’s a useful service for lower league clubs looking to reduce their overheads, the UX of FLI sites is poor and customisation options are limited.</p> <p>Sunderland have never used FLI and during the 2012/13 season launched what was then the first responsive Premier League site built in HTML5. Working with Aqueduct, Sunderland unveiled another new site at the beginning of the current 2016/17 season, with the aim of offering fans a more app-like experience.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4075/sunderland_homepage.png" alt="" width="700" height="416"></p> <p><em>Sunderland's content feed</em></p> <p>Visually the site has a similar layout to Southampton’s, with a content feed that’s frequently updated, as well as a dedicated match day experience. While the range of content and site navigation isn’t quite on par with Southampton’s, plans are afoot to further develop the site in the near future.</p> <p>Despite being a relatively small club compared to some of its Premier League peers, Sunderland is ahead of most teams in terms of its digital capabilities thanks to years of investment by the club’s owners. According to Stuart Vose, Sunderland AFC’s head of digital: “There’s no hard and fast way of getting digital right. What works for one club might not work for another. </p> <p>“The senior management of this club are very ambitious for digital, they realise that it should be at the centre of any modern business, and particularly a sports club where it connects with so many fans around the world plus partners and sponsors.”</p> <p>A common theme among Premier League teams is the desire to use digital both to engage with existing and new fans, and also to open up new sponsorship opportunities. </p> <p>Stuart currently has seven people within his digital team who broadly cover content and digital marketing for the club and the Stadium of Light’s event facilities. One recent example of the club’s in-house capabilities is this #keepthefaith video, which aims to rally support as the club battles relegation.</p> <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lm7tvIP3ndQ?ecver=2&amp;wmode=transparent" width="640" height="360"></iframe> <p>Historically Sunderland’s digital team has acted almost as a service function for other departments, responding to requests and helping with specific projects, but plans are now underway to embed the digital team across the entire club.</p> <p>According to Stuart: “We want digital to sit across everything and be able to proactively offer digital products and services into other departments to help drive them forward rather than just reacting to things. Not just ‘can we have a tweet’, but how can we innovate and offer products and services to them.”</p> <p>It’s these new products and services – such as new content hubs or digital platforms – that can provide value to both fans and sponsors alike. As Stuart puts it: “Digital is a virtuous circle. The more you invest in it, the better our digital platforms become, which hopefully helps to attract better sponsors, which gives us more money to invest, and so on. It all builds up.”</p> <p>Sunderland is currently working to create a single sign-on for the club’s digital platforms (ticketing, merchandising, content, etc), which will allow for better management of user data and enable personalisation of content using Sitecore. A previous project saw the club work with Sports Alliance to pull together its data from various sources (ticketing, merchandise, hospitality), which doubled the size of the club’s user database. </p> <h3>Digital in the Championship</h3> <p>And it’s not just in the Premier League where clubs are striving to improve their digital platforms. <a href="http://www.wolves.co.uk/">Wolverhampton Wanderers</a>, currently 19th in the Championship, are also in the middle of a website revamp that aims to create a far better user experience for fans.</p> <p>After 17 years of outsourcing its site to FLI, Wolves has decided to bring control of its website back in-house at the end of this season. Head of marketing, Laura Gabbidon, explained that the club is working to create the kind of digital experience that fans want and expect.</p> <p>Laura said: “We’re not looking at our website like a traditional business would, like a brochure, we want it to be an interactive digital experience, a media centre for fans, the first port of call for all things Wolves.</p> <p>“From our perspective that will hopefully improve the on-site engagement but also our relationship with the fans, or their relationship with the club. It’ll provide us commercial support by collecting behavioural and contact data, and also give us more opportunity to commercialize through sponsors.”</p> <p>Wolves have already had some success with increasing revenues thanks to improvements with digital platforms. After redesigning the ticketing part of the website earlier this year, online sales of home tickets increased by 10%.</p> <p>The overall site redesign, which is being worked on with Aqueduct and aims to go live in June, is the first stage of a bigger <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-transformation/">digital transformation project</a>. Laura said that football “isn’t anywhere near up to speed” with digital compared to other industries, and that clubs now have no choice but to play catch up.</p> <p>Wolves haven’t got a clear transformation roadmap in place, and are instead waiting for the website to be complete before deciding what to tackle next. "We want to build the website, get it as good as it can be, and then identify any gaps where we’re not delivering. We don’t want to rush into doing everything at once then end up duplicating things or wasting our efforts,” said Laura.</p> <p>If the site achieves it goals, it will enable the club to make better use of social media and video content, which in turn has required new hires with the right digital content skills. The digital transformation journey is a familiar one, regardless of which league a club plays in.</p> <h3>Luring fans away from fan forums</h3> <p>Will an official club site ever be able to attract fans away from the likes of the BBC, Twitter and Sky? Southampton FC’s research into user behaviour showed that football fans tend to constantly graze on short-form content during the week, skipping between different social networks and publisher sites.</p> <p>Laura admits that it’s a big challenge to insert an official club site into this mix, but hopes that a combination of an improved UX and unique, high quality content will be enough to win fans over. “A lot of our fans like to engage with us using Twitter on match days, and at the same time they’re probably going off to get live scores and updates from other games from the BBC," she explained.</p> <p>“We don’t want to take away any of those experiences, so we’ll look to integrate all of it, offering the same type of experience that you get on Twitter but on the website, as well as giving people similar content that they’d get from the BBC and elsewhere. So you’ll get it all in one place.”</p> <p>More broadly, there has been a concerted effort by the Premier League and top clubs to play catch up with other sports publishers.</p> <p>With <a href="https://www.premierleague.com/">a flashy new website</a> and the launch of a new app, the Premier League itself is aiming to compete with the likes of Opta Sports and the BBC by providing official access to stats, video content and fantasy football leagues.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4076/premier_league_homepage.png" alt="" width="700" height="309"></p> <p><em>The Premier League's new website</em></p> <p>Another noteworthy development is the launch of a new social network called ‘<a href="https://dugout.com/">Dugout</a>’ that enables fans to access exclusive content by following their favourite teams and players. 10 Premier League teams have signed up to the platform, alongside the likes of Juventus, PSG, Barcelona and SC Corinthians Paulista.</p> <p>While it will be difficult to lure fans away from their existing content grazing routine, these new official channels might succeed if they are able to provide unique content and a genuine forum for debate and conversation among fans.</p> <p>Ultimately the user experience will also play a large part. If official club sites, the league’s new app, or Dugout can offer fans a quick, usable, mobile platform then there’s no reason they won’t be able to insert themselves into that mix.</p> <p>And with site traffic comes those new opportunities for lucrative sponsorship deals. As Stuart Vose puts it, investment in digital is a virtuous circle.</p> <p><strong><em>For more on this topic, see:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68445-can-southampton-fc-break-the-hegemony-of-crap-football-websites/"><em>Can Southampton FC break the hegemony of crap football websites?</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63300-why-manchester-city-s-emails-are-premier-league-quality/"><em>Why Manchester City's emails are premier league quality</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67786-10-great-sports-digital-marketing-campaigns/"><em>10 great sports digital marketing campaigns</em></a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68679 2017-01-12T11:22:00+00:00 2017-01-12T11:22:00+00:00 Seven ways Google helps you unlock the secrets to creating killer content Marcus Tober <p>But Google has spent close to 20 years learning how to serve up the best, most relevant content in its search results – now averaging over 3.5bn search queries a day.</p> <p>If content marketers could tap into some of that vast knowledge, wouldn’t that provide some important clues on how to create killer content? </p> <p>Below I’ve listed six areas in which insights from Google can help you develop better, more relevant content that chimes with your target audience.  If you’re a content marketer or content creator, you can get a sense of some of these insights by simply running searches on topics that you’re interested in - and studying what Google throws up in its results. </p> <p>However your SEO or search marketing teams are very likely using specialist tools to track and manage their programmes that can provide more detailed data and insights:</p> <h4><strong>1. What sub-topics should your content include?</strong></h4> <p>Correlation studies suggest content that ranks highly on Google tends to be holistic and comprehensive and generally has a bigger word count - because it covers topics in greater depth.</p> <p>These studies also indicate that the main topic is usually paired with certain other topics. For the overall topic that’s being covered there are usually a number of mentions of some important ‘proof terms’ (which are very closely connected to the main topic) and ‘relevant terms’ (slightly more distant but still relevant). </p> <p>If, for example, you were to analyse the top articles on the topic “Mexico Holidays”, you might see that proof terms such as “Mexico hotels” or “Mexico flights” are common, as well as relevant terms such as “Riviera Maya” or “Cancun sights”. </p> <p>So analysing Google searches can tell you that if you are going to write about A, you should also cover B and C, because those are the things your audience will be interested in. </p> <h4><strong>2. Who is your real competition when it comes to content? </strong></h4> <p>The people and businesses you are competing with when it comes to content marketing, may not be those you compete with directly for sales. When you’re writing about specific topics, Google searches can highlight competitors with similar content that can give you inspiration. </p> <p>For example a UK search for “buying a car” surfaces results (on the first two pages) from the AA breakdown service (providing useful advice on the pitfalls to avoid and a wide range of buying tips), a Gov.co.uk web page (with advice and links to help you avoid buying a stolen vehicle), a couple of banks (including articles that discuss car loans, financing, saving for a car and running costs) as well as pages from the Citizens Advice Bureau, the consumer section of the BBC website, money saving advice sites and several car buying magazine sites which include listings of new and used cars for sale.   </p> <p>Studying high ranking competitive content – even if it’s not from your direct competitors - can provide ideas and also help you spot gaps about areas that are not being covered adequately or can be developed further.</p> <p>Some search tools analyse the content on your website and give you a list of your top content competitors on Google – giving you a sense of who’s writing content similar to yours.  </p> <h4><strong>3. How should content be presented on your site?</strong></h4> <p>Google tracks user signals, such as bounce rates and time on site and uses this data to evaluate the relevance of your content to the search query.</p> <p>These metrics also allow the search engine to get a measure of the user experience of individual pages and websites. </p> <p>An important aspect of this is how information is presented - which means reviewing high ranking content that covers similar topics to you can provide important clues in areas such as the number and quality of images on a page, the presence of video, the readability of text and the use of bullet points, numbers, charts and tables to organise information.  </p> <h4><strong>4. When should you launch fresh content and promote it?</strong></h4> <p>The volume of searches and questions people ask Google and when they do it, can help you plan when to create fresh content pieces and when you should put effort and promotional budget into distributing it (i.e. what time of year, month).</p> <p>Google provides free tools such as the AdWords <a href="https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/6325025?hl=en">keyword planner</a> and <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/trends/">Google Trends</a> which can provide some guidance in this area.</p> <p>However your SEO and search marketing teams may be using other, more sophisticated search tools that provide in-depth analysis of how search volumes on specific topics vary over time.  </p> <h4> <strong>5. What format or media should you choose for your content in the search results?</strong>  </h4> <p>The most appropriate content on a specific topic – or for a specific intention - isn’t always text on a standard web page.</p> <p>Over the years Google has embraced this and is now integrating more and more box-outs (such as video, apps, shopping, direct answers, knowledge graphs etc.) within its organic search results. </p> <p>Analysing these universal and extended search integrations can give you insights about the different media and formats your content strategy should incorporate to address your target's individual requirements. </p> <p>So a UK Google search on “tying a bow tie” throws up a Direct Answer box at the top of the page with numbered instructions. Underneath this are some video integrations followed by a variety of instructional diagrams that appear in image box-outs.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3004/tying.png" alt="" width="800" height="524"></p> <p>Obviously you can get an idea of the integrations/box-outs Google selects by simply performing keyword searches related to the topics you want to cover.</p> <p>If you can manage to get your content appearing in these, then you can potentially boost your traffic. And there are search tools available to help you track the appearance of Google’s universal and extended search integrations for your site to see how your content is performing.</p> <h4><strong>6. How effectively does your content meet the needs of your audience</strong></h4> <p>We’ve already said that Google’s experience of successfully serving up relevant content day in day out, means it has a wealth of experience. </p> <p>So one way of assessing if you’re online content is working, is to track and measure how it performs in search. After all, if Google positions your content highly in searches – then it’s likely doing a good job of answering searchers’ questions.</p> <p>You could even put a monetary value on the ‘power’ of each piece of content by getting your SEO or search marketing team to help you estimate how much you’d have to pay in AdWords advertising to generate the same level of search visibility.</p> <h4><strong>7. When should you repurpose, consolidate or even delete content?</strong></h4> <p>If your content is simply not performing in Google searches (i.e. not ranking well, not getting much traffic with visitors bouncing away quickly when they land on the page), and your SEO team has told you that all the technical and user experience aspects of your page/site (site speed, file size, page structure etc) are fine, it could mean your content is just not right.</p> <p>You may need to rework it completely or consolidate several content pieces into one (maybe it doesn’t cover all the aspects of the topic that people want to learn about) or even delete it. </p> <p>At least: do something. Because if Google doesn’t think it should perform well in searches, maybe it won’t chime with people either.</p> <p>Content marketing and SEO have been coming closer together for many years, and in 2017 we’ll see them getting closer still. </p> <p>Because much of the data and insights that SEOs have been using to optimise web pages for Google can support the creation of better, more compelling content.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, check out these Econsultancy resources:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-future-of-content-marketing/"><em>The Future of Content Marketing</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/implementing-content-strategy-digital-best-practice/"><em>Implementing Content Strategy: Digital Best Practice Guide</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/content-marketing-and-strategy"><em>Content Marketing training courses</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/seo"><em>SEO training courses</em></a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68696 2017-01-11T15:05:00+00:00 2017-01-11T15:05:00+00:00 Digital transformation in the Premier League: Southampton FC's fan-first strategy David Moth <p>So it’s a pleasant surprise to see <a href="https://southamptonfc.com/">Southampton FC</a> buck this trend and create a website that offers a decent UX and interesting content.</p> <p>My colleague Ben Davis has already written <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68445-can-southampton-fc-break-the-hegemony-of-crap-football-websites/">a comprehensive review of the site</a>, but this post looks in more depth at how the website was developed and its role in a larger <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-transformation/">digital transformation</a> project that Southampton is working on with digital agency <a href="http://www.deleteagency.com/">Delete</a>.</p> <h3>The business case</h3> <p>While Southampton FC accepts that it can’t yet compete with mega-clubs like Manchester United and, ahem, Tottenham, it can aim to consistently be among the ‘best of the rest’ in the Premier League.</p> <p>In order to maintain and improve its on-pitch performance, the club needs to increase its sponsorship revenues. And in order to become more attractive to sponsors, it needs to grow a larger group of engaged fans globally.</p> <p>It’s fair to say that few people really dislike Southampton, and it has a reputation for nurturing young talent that could act as its USP if packaged correctly. In marketing speak, the club is a challenger brand.</p> <p>But how can you turn a general feeling of warmth into genuine support for the club? The sense was that a great digital experience would help nudge people towards becoming fans.</p> <p><em>Southampton's club manifesto</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2983/Southampton_s_manifesto.png" alt="" width="800" height="450"></p> <p>However, up until two years ago the club didn’t have a firm understanding of its fan base, so it set about doing some old fashioned marketing.</p> <p>A market sizing exercise revealed that the club’s global potential customer base was around 190m people, but it was only monetizing 11% of that audience.</p> <p>Obviously only a very small percentage of that number will be able to attend a match at Saint Mary’s, so the club needed to find other revenue streams, whether that be from advertising, sponsored content, or a digital membership scheme.</p> <p>All of these potential avenues would require the club to improve its digital platforms and bring in more site traffic. </p> <p>To really make the most of the opportunity the club would also need to vastly improve its data strategy. Until recently the main website, ticketing and club shop all used different databases and none of the systems spoke to each other.</p> <p>One of Southampton’s aspirations is to gain a single customer view so it can deliver a more consistent customer experience, and also maximize revenues. This latter part will take a while longer to come to fruition, but the new website is the start of the process.</p> <h3>New tactics</h3> <p>Southampton is attempting to turn its site into the destination for fans looking for news about the team during the week and live updates on match days.</p> <p>This is a huge challenge, as the club is trying to teach fans a new behaviour, something which many brands have tried and failed to achieve in the past.</p> <p>Delete also recognized that the club is competing for people’s attention with other entertainment brands, such as Netflix, so the user experience is key if it is to stand a chance of success.</p> <p>Research undertaken by Saints and Delete showed that football fans are constantly grazing on content during the week, jumping from sites like the BBC, to social networks, to sites like Sports Bible, to Sky Sports, and so on.</p> <p>On a match day fans will habitually turn to sports sites like the BBC which give them live updates from every Premier League game. What, then, can Southampton do to get itself included in that list of sites that fans visit each week, rather than just being seen as another boring official club site?</p> <p>The answer was to take a fan-first approach (this is the era of customer-centricity after all). </p> <p><em>Southampton's new website</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2969/Southampton_homepage.png" alt="" width="800" height="462"></p> <p>According to Tom Dougherty, UX director at Delete: “We asked what do the fans want, and then created that experience for them to make sure they keep coming back. If you put business needs first it impacts the fan experience negatively, which then harms the club’s sponsors.”</p> <p>The outcome of the fan-first approach is the new Saints Live broadcast hub, which aims to provide a constant stream of engaging, unique content about the team.</p> <p>There isn't a homepage as such, just a content feed which can be filtered based on different themes. The entire site is built on a single application, meaning it never reloads and navigation is simplified. Again, see <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68445-can-southampton-fc-break-the-hegemony-of-crap-football-websites/">our review for more detail</a>.</p> <h3>Content strategy </h3> <p>During the design phase the club developed seven different audience personas, and everything is created with one of these groups in mind.</p> <p>The content team, headed by Tom Biggs, aims to be constantly refreshing the feed with snackable content such as images, videos and tweets, so there’s always something new for fans to engage with.</p> <p><em>Southampton's content feed</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2972/Saints_Live_feed.png" alt="" width="858" height="677"></p> <p>This involved developing new publishing processes and making content work harder, as the content team of nine people is still relatively small compared to other Premier League teams.</p> <p>Fans are hungry to know what’s going on at their club, so Southampton needed to get better at utilising its existing content assets, such as press conferences, youth teams, player stories, training programmes, diets, etc</p> <p>Rather than publishing one video in its entirety, how can it be chopped up and packaged into different digital formats to extend its shelf life?</p> <p>Also, sports fans love stats, but few teams make good use of the data they hold on players. Southampton's content team realised the value of these stats and is developing new ways of bringing the information to life to tell engaging stories.</p> <p><em>Southampton player stats</em></p> <p><em><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2970/Southampton_player_stats.png" alt="" width="800" height="391"></em></p> <p>Implementing new working processes required a new, slicker CMS, which Delete built using Sitecore.</p> <p>Previously Southampton’s site was built by Football League Interactive, a centralised web platform offered for free to Football League clubs that want to outsource their website in return for giving up the right to any ad revenue.</p> <p>While it’s a useful service for lower league clubs looking to reduce their overheads, the UX is poor and every club in the nation logs into the same CMS, which can cause long publishing delays on busy match days.</p> <p>Southampton’s new CMS is custom built to allow rapid publication of different formats during the week. While the content team don’t have the resource to publish 20 long articles a day, they can easily update the feed with tweets, photos and other social content.</p> <p>All content is given a master tag which dictates where it will eventually live. This tagging system means content is organised around themes rather than formats, and ensures the content is dynamic and readily available in relevant spots around the site.</p> <p>For example, each player has their own content feed, as do matches and club sponsors.</p> <h3>Match days</h3> <p>Match days are obviously the most important day of the week for football fans, so this is where Southampton really wants to stand out.</p> <p>Before a game the site automatically switches to a match day design, reflecting the fact that fans are only interested in one thing.</p> <p>All content at this stage will be related to the upcoming match, and during the game the site switches to a micro-update platform giving detailed, real-time match information.</p> <p><em>The matchday experience</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2996/saints_image.jpg" alt="" width="677" height="474"></p> <p>This format is what fans will be familiar with from other football sites such as the BBC, but as far as I’m aware Southampton is the only football club that has created a similar experience on its own site. </p> <p>Teams will often provide updates via Twitter, but Southampton wants to bring fans to its site rather than providing content for a third-party platform.</p> <p>This is a bold move that bucks the recent trend among publishers for specifically creating content that lives within social platforms. It’s a big challenge to get Saints fans to break from their usual routines and turn to the site on match day, but so far the signs are promising. </p> <p>Since the relaunch the site has seen:</p> <ul> <li>80% year-on-year increase in traffic.</li> <li>101% increase in return visits.</li> <li>362% increase in match day traffic vs. same matches in 2015/16 season.</li> </ul> <h3>The next steps</h3> <p>There’s obviously more to digital transformation than just a flashy new website. The next phase is the somewhat less sexy but equally important overhaul of the backend systems so Southampton can gain a single view of its customers.</p> <p>Until recently the club’s retail and ticketing systems were handled by different third parties, so even regular customers remained largely anonymous. Cross-sales opportunities which should have been a no-brainer were impossible due to data constraints.</p> <p>Delete’s end goal is to simplify the club’s tech stack, bringing it under a centralised system built around Sitecore. A single sign-on will be used to identify fans across the website, content, ticketing and store.</p> <p>Currently fans have to sign up to view video content and listen to live commentary on match days, so there isn’t a huge leap to use this sign on to access other services.</p> <p>There will also be a new digital offering for foreign fans, with the aim of providing a content and membership platform that they’ll be willing to pay for. </p> <p>When seen in these terms, the website seems like a fairly easy challenge compared to building an entirely new CRM and single customer view.</p> <p>You could equally argue that it’s something that should have been done a long time ago. However, in the context of Premier League football, Southampton’s commitment to delivering a fan-first digital experience is praiseworthy.</p> <p>And while it would be silly to suggest that digital transformation will guarantee success on the pitch, in the battle for foreign fans Southampton's culture, commitment to excellence, and digital strategy definitely give it an edge on the competition.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68564 2016-11-28T15:13:35+00:00 2016-11-28T15:13:35+00:00 2016: The good, the bad and the future of digital marketing Blake Cahill <p>However, while some of my “predictions” turned out to be fairly accurate, there have also been more than a few surprises over the last 12 months.</p> <p>Here are a couple of the most unexpected trends that have taken off this year, two of the biggest digital disappointments and my personal trend pick for 2017.</p> <h3>The surprise revival of silent video</h3> <p>One of the most unexpected trends that made a real comeback this year was silent video. Over <a href="http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/">80% of internet users own a smartphone</a>, but average video viewing time is <a href="http://www.campaignlive.com/article/facebooks-everson-agencies-lagging-mobile-creative/1388780">1.7 seconds</a>, meaning consumers are in rapid consumption mode and marketers have had to become even savvier at grabbing their attention.</p> <p>What this means is there’s a real need for content that packs a punch at the beginning of the clip. If you only have a miniscule amount of time to grab a customer’s attention before they scroll past, then the video needs to have an immediate hook.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/glX_vgRCmKE?wmode=transparent" width="640" height="360"></iframe></p> <p>A perfect example of this is the social media clip that Apple pushed out following the release of the new iPhone 7. The advert is completely silent and simplistic in nature, with each frame changing every 0.5 seconds. </p> <p>In an age where most of us have our smartphones on silent, Apple has managed to discover a way to capture our attention in the most straight-forward of ways.</p> <h3>Hail to the community managers</h3> <p>2016 has also become the year of the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-community-management/">community manager</a>. It’s common for brands to think of social as a one trick pony, but the brands that are succeeding on social don’t just have someone schedule 10 tweets a day and like the occasional @ comment. </p> <p>The brands that allow their community managers to become the human face of the company add an extra dimension to their social media capabilities and provide the consumer with a real sense of personality.</p> <p>Some brands that really know how to do this are Innocent Drinks, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/61946-how-tesco-uses-facebook-twitter-pinterest-and-google/">Tesco</a>, Virgin Trains and <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2015/12/010/10-of-the-most-brilliant-customer-service-exchanges-ever-seen-on/">Oreo</a>. They understand the importance of employing empowered community managers and with any luck, 2017 should see more brands following in their footsteps.</p> <h3>The problem with live content</h3> <p>Of all the successes and surprises in 2016, some of the newer marketing methods are still proving problematic.</p> <p>One of these is live content – it just isn’t working out. Despite the potential, all too many brands still don’t seem to realise how to properly manage live content. </p> <p>Maybe the production value is too low, the content is too tedious, the functionality is broken... Ultimately, without a high value exchange, live content is never going to have any impact with consumers.</p> <p>One example of a brand that has really nailed live content, however, is <a href="http://www.experian.com/blogs/news/about/creditchat/">Experian</a>. It holds straight-forward, weekly chats via YouTube Live, Snapchat and <a href="http://www.experian.com/blogs/news/about/creditscope/">Periscope</a> to talk directly with consumers about their money worries.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FExperianUK%2Fvideos%2F1062124017192953%2F&amp;show_text=1&amp;width=560" width="560" height="665"></iframe></p> <p>Experian understands that for live content to work, companies need to accept that what a brand thinks is interesting for customers is rarely what they will actually spend time watching.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, read about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67808-10-pioneering-examples-of-brands-using-facebook-live/">10 pioneering examples of brands using Facebook Live</a>.</em></p> <h3>Where are the iBeacons?</h3> <p>Back in 2014, I was convinced that retail use of iBeacons would swiftly take centre stage in our marketing strategies. </p> <p>We all <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65221-ibeacon-trials-13-brands-trying-to-find-a-use-case/">saw the </a><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65221-ibeacon-trials-13-brands-trying-to-find-a-use-case/">potential</a> and several big brands got on board – <a href="https://blog.virgin-atlantic.com/t5/Our-Future/Virgin-Atlantic-lights-the-way-with-Apple-s-iBeacon-technology/ba-p/26359">Virgin</a> used them in its Heathrow airport lounges and Macy’s rolled them out in over 800 stores to track customer movements <a href="http://www.zdnet.com/article/macys-taps-ibm-watson-to-improve-in-store-shopping-app/">in-store</a>, push product recommendations and discounts and to inform shoppers about sale items.</p> <p>But despite these examples, they just haven’t made it to the mainstream yet. </p> <p>Despite predictions that 85 of the top 100 retailers would be using them by the end of 2016, only 3% of retailers had implemented beacon technology by 2015 and only 16% had plans to implement them in the near <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-paul-neil/is-ibeacon-marketing-fina_b_10508218.html">future</a>.</p> <p>So what’s the hold up? Well, they can be hard to manage and maintain from a logistical point of view, as all beacon marketing requires user opt-in and customers just aren’t sold on it yet. </p> <p>This could change in 2017 but my bet is that it’ll be a slow process before they start to become a standard part of our marketing efforts.</p> <h3>The democracy of content</h3> <p>Enough about 2016, let’s look to the future.</p> <p>In 2017, brands need to be able to engage and connect with their customers better than ever before (one nice example of this is Philips’ <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBGcW5AtKyg">Every Day Hero</a> campaign). Nowadays however, companies aren’t just competing with another brand’s marketing anymore; they’re competing with the entire internet and this is where it starts to get tricky.</p> <p>Any company hoping to inspire consistent engagement has to accept that consumers now have access to tools (like <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/boomerang-from-instagram/id1041596399?mt=8">Boomerang</a> and <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/hyperlapse-from-instagram/id740146917?mt=8">Hyperlapse)</a> that can result in better, more engaging pieces of video content than the stuff many of the brands are developing themselves.</p> <p>Earlier this year, a survey found that 85% of users find visual user-generated content (UGC) more influential than brand photos or <a href="http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/why-consumers-share-user-generated-content-infographic/639636">videos</a>. Another report found shoppers who interact with UGC are <a href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/278152">97% more likely to convert</a> with a retailer than customers who do not.</p> <p>What this means is we can expect to see a huge surge in marketers working with UGC in 2017. It’s nothing new (Burberry launched its <a href="http://artofthetrench.burberry.com/">Art of Trench</a> website back in 2009 for example), but I wouldn’t be surprised if it quickly becomes a much more common feature of brand campaigns.</p> <p>So roll on 2017. I’m looking forward to finding out if I’m right!</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68459 2016-11-04T10:33:47+00:00 2016-11-04T10:33:47+00:00 Three ways marketers can deal with the abundance of content Glen Hartman <p>As marketers, we know finding the right balance between the creation, distribution and management of content is the key to delivering on a brand promise.</p> <p>But doing things right with content can be as hard as developing it. <a href="https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-digital-content-survey-2015">53%</a> of marketing executives feel they spend way too much time on operational details for content – such as securing legal and leadership approval, content tagging and documentation requirements – than on core marketing and branding activities. </p> <p>These findings from a survey Accenture Interactive launched earlier this year tell me that many marketing organizations have a content velocity issue and might be stuck in a ‘content congestion’ very soon.</p> <p>It’s even more worrying that the majority (92%) say they’re now dealing with more content than two years ago and 83% said there’s no end in sight to the surge in content. If you think this won’t impact the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/creating-superior-customer-experiences/">customer experience</a>, think again.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1208/content_marketing.png" alt="" width="800" height="457"></p> <p>Just consider customers’ growing irritation with advertising, with 74% of consumers saying that online ads don’t match their interests, and 42% would pay to eliminate ad interruptions.</p> <p>If brands don’t start taking creation, distribution, and management of content more seriously, they will start (or continue) to disappoint customers.</p> <p>Marketers can start to effectively manage the abundance of content with the following:</p> <h3>1. View content as an enterprise issue</h3> <p>It doesn’t all fall on just marketing or IT’s shoulders to fix this problem. There is a larger enterprise issue here and companies need to take a step back and look at content from a broader perspective.</p> <p>Content is in everything we do, whether it’s a tweet responding to a customer, a new digital catalogue launching new company products, a Facebook post, even an email to employees.</p> <p>It affects the entire enterprise because it’s the enabler for meaningful customer relationships. </p> <p>Therefore, companies should start by developing and managing content under one centralized model – which only about 5% do today.</p> <p>They should also look to decouple different types of actions, such as content ideation from content production. This will allow them to spend more time on their branding and marketing initiatives than on operational details.</p> <h3>2. Align content marketing and IT teams </h3> <p>More marketers than ever are now recognizing a need for better alignment with IT and they would be wise to do something about it.</p> <p>Marketing continues to become more about digital, requiring even more technology to shape the entire customer experience. Take analytics, which can be applied to the way content is tagged and distributed in real-time.</p> <p>Marketers need to easily collaborate with IT teams to assist with carrying out their messages across multiple platforms in a seamless and efficient way, while IT teams depend on content, which makes up all digital strategies and brand execution.</p> <p>The goal here is to reach your customers in a quick and easy way, while delivering them the right messages tailored to their wants, needs and intent.</p> <p>If your marketing and IT departments are not already on the same page – including identifying new, shared success criteria – it’s critical they get there in order to see this goal through.</p> <h3>3. Ensure you have a clear plan to measure impact</h3> <p>The job isn’t over once content has been produced and delivered to what feels like the right customers.</p> <p>Marketers need to take it a step further and measure the impact from digital content as it pertains to their overall <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/digital-content-strategy/">content strategy</a> and brand objectives.</p> <p>This can be done in a number of ways – whether via operational statistics or customer-focused means – and the majority (88%) rely on detailed processes and workflows, but that sometimes doesn’t offer a clear view of how their customers are receiving their content.</p> <p>Every marketing leader we surveyed realizes (digital) content is vital for reaching business objectives. For that, they need to bridge the gap that currently exists in the organization between business units, geographies, and brands.</p> <p>They need to enable an effective governance and re-engineer the content operating model based on customer needs and expectations in order to deliver experiences that help their customers reach their goals.</p> <p>The demand to leverage content to engage customers is growing exponentially as new distribution points arise. </p> <p><em>The author would like to thank Donna Tuths, managing director and content lead at Accenture Interactive, for her contribution to this articl</em>e. </p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68301 2016-09-19T15:40:00+01:00 2016-09-19T15:40:00+01:00 Instant messaging: An introduction to the future of communication Blake Cahill <p>For those of you that don’t know – I’ll assume you must have been trapped on a desert island for the past few years – instant messaging (IM) is a catch-all name for a range of different services that primarily provide users with the opportunity to engage in real-time communication.</p> <p>Typically led by text conversation, messengers often also provide a range of additional functionality that varies wildly from provider to provider.</p> <p>This additional functionality has, on some platforms, led to them being considered as full-blown social media networks, on a par with Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.</p> <p>In 2015, mobile phone messaging apps were used by 1.4bn consumers and eMarketer predicts that, by 2018, the number of chat app users worldwide will reach 2bn, representing 80% of smartphone users worldwide.</p> <p>In a nutshell, it’s only a matter of time before everyone and their granny, in practically every country on the planet, are using IM.</p> <h3>So who are the Big Players?</h3> <p><strong>WhatsApp</strong></p> <p>Owned by Zuckerbeg &amp; Co. and with over 1bn users, most of which are tech savvy millennials, WhatsApp is the clear front-runner in the IM community and the only truly global IM service with any significant uptake in all continents around the world.</p> <p>Offering text chat, voice recording, media sharing, group broadcasts and a robust network, you would surely bet your house on this IM giant being the one to pave the way for the future of IM [insert smiley face emoticon].</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0004/4627/whatsapp-facebook-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="whatsapp" width="300"></p> <p><strong>Facebook Messenger</strong></p> <p>Formed from the online chat function of the social network, Facebook Messenger has made real inroads in the EMEA and US regions with over 800m users.</p> <p>However it’s clear that with certain restrictions in places such as Asia, its move out of these two markets and into the APAC region will be a tough one to tackle. </p> <p><strong>WeChat</strong></p> <p>With 650m users, primarily in the APAC region, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67490-10-things-you-didn-t-know-about-wechat/">WeChat</a> is, significantly, dominant in the Chinese market offering users the chance to chat in a ‘walkie talkie’ style conversation, as well as other typical features such as group chats and video calls.</p> <p>WeChat is also a social network and an extendable transactional platform. It gives its users the opportunity to shop, talk to brands, order taxis (its ‘Didi Dache’ service is essentially China’s Uber) and read the news.</p> <p>WeChat is also the only social platform 80% of Chinese millennials use every day.</p> <p><em>WePay</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1483/wepay.png" alt="wepay" width="615"></p> <p><strong>kik</strong></p> <p>With over 240m users, kik has its biggest presence in the US with an impressive 42% of US users being between 16-24 years old.</p> <p>It’s a promising start, however kik has seen very little uptake out of the US and it’s still dwarfed by the progress of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for the moment at least.</p> <p><strong>Others?</strong></p> <p>Though there are some exceptions to this global picture – KakaoTalk is the most popular chat app in South Korea, for example, while Line dominates in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan – there’s no doubt that it’s Facebook that’s winning the race so far.</p> <p>And before you say, “but what about Snapchat?!”, though this service is doing some serious business with teens in the UK and USA (over 40% use it), one a global level it’s still early days with only 7% market penetration.</p> <h3>The future of IM</h3> <p>With the landscape of IM changing and its scope reaching all aspects of the user's life, both personal and professional, it’s clear to see that IM offers real opportunities for businesses to get involved – but how will this play out? </p> <p>Firstly, IM is not a place to advertise, it’s a place for marketing. It gives us a powerful new space for brands to change the way consumers think about retail and customer service.</p> <p>The promise of IM is that if offers a near perfect form of personal, intimate, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67767-will-conversational-marketing-become-a-reality-in-2016/">direct link between brands and customers</a>.</p> <p>Facebook Messenger has already started to make real inroads in expanding the capabilities of its own IM platform, recently announcing the introduction of so-called <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67894-what-are-chatbots-and-why-should-marketers-care/">chatbots</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7478/kiksephora-blog-flyer.png" alt="sephora chatbot" width="300"></p> <p>Similar (but arguably less advanced AI) has been prevalent in WeChat and other channels previously, but inclusion in Facebook Messenger is likely to see increased quality of functionality.</p> <p>Chatbots will offer the ability for businesses to create bespoke responses based on natural language input. </p> <p>As the use and complexity of chatbots expand, users will find themselves being able to order goods simply by messaging the brand – as users of WeChat are already doing – receive tailored news updates based around your interest and even control connected smart devices.</p> <p>The future of commerce and customer service could well be a hybrid of IM as it steadily becomes our primary way to interact with companies, buy things, provide service and build loyalty.</p> <p>As the big players (and the many smaller innovators) continue to expand and develop the platforms’ potential, it’s safe to say we’re only at the beginning of what looks to be a long and interesting road.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68236 2016-09-14T11:00:00+01:00 2016-09-14T11:00:00+01:00 Three big problems with marketing automation rules (and how to solve them) Andrew Davies <h3>Is marketing automation delivering?</h3> <p>As marketers, we live in a world where the number of choices that we have to make to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time is increasing exponentially.</p> <p>Marketing has moved from mass advertising where you sent one message to everyone, to segments where messages are sent to a limited number of people, to now having to understand individual <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/understanding-the-customer-journey/">customer journeys</a>.</p> <p>Marketing automation has emerged as a supposed panacea to this problem, yet despite years of propaganda from vendors promising the world, many B2B enterprises that have bought <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/marketing-automation-best-practices">marketing automation</a> are finding that it is not quite the silver bullet they expected. </p> <p>The Annuitas 2015 B2B Enterprise survey of over 100 B2B enterprise marketers from organizations with annual revenues that exceed $250m revealed that only 2.8% of respondents believed demand generation campaigns achieve their goals.</p> <p>Similarly, Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/email-census-2016/">Email Marketing Industry census</a> surfaced that only 7% of respondents deemed their in-house automated campaigns to be “very successful”. </p> <p>The truth is that even if you avoid marketing automation mistakes (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67250-seven-avoidable-marketing-automation-mistakes/">such as these</a>), you are still lumbered with the task of using marketing automation rules and decision logic to select and deliver campaign messages.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9143/Screen_Shot_2016-09-14_at_09.19.22.png" alt="marketing automation success" width="615" height="518"></p> <h3>Three big problems with marketing automation rules</h3> <p>At the heart of all marketing automation technology and outputs are the rules used to tell the marketing automation platform which content or message to select and send to which particular contacts in your database.</p> <p>This structure necessarily leads to three big problems for B2B organisations:</p> <p><strong>1) Marketing automation rules cannot cope with complex buyer journeys</strong></p> <p>All marketing automation relies on preset logic (“If this X happens then do Y”, “if X does not happen, then do Z”) and traditional purchase-funnel theory to architect marketing campaigns and trigger communications.</p> <p>The problem is that the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66322-do-companies-understand-the-customer-journey/">B2B buyer journey is much more complex</a> than marketing automation vendors would have you believe. </p> <p><strong>2) Rules cannot adapt to changing contexts</strong></p> <p>The nature of marketing automation rules is that once they have been activated they remain active until you manually deactivate them.</p> <p>This mean that they are not adaptive and they cannot learn from a campaign’s results, only repeat them.</p> <p>Sure, you can create a rule that says: IF [Marketing Automation score] [increases] [+5] THEN [remove from] [LISTNAME] AND [add to] [NEW LISTNAME], but rules cannot cope with the reality that prospects are continually evolving in their <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67121-the-lead-data-hierarchy-for-busy-sales-people-savvy-b2b-marketers/">interests and needs</a>, not just their sales stage or marketing automation score. </p> <p><strong>3) Marketing automation rules mean more - not less - staff</strong> </p> <p>As counterintuitive as it sounds, marketing automation often means having to bring on more – not less – staff.</p> <p>As well as a marketing manager, a database manager, a demand gen exec, a content strategist, you will most likely need a marketing technologist who is able to help you get the most out of your new system.</p> <p>All of these people have input into creating the rules that are used and the cost of hiring will ultimately prolong the time it takes to see positive ROI on your marketing automation purchase.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9141/marketing_automation_complexity.jpg" alt="complexity of marketing automation" width="615"></p> <p>As soon as you begin to understand the three big problems with marketing automation rules, it all becomes clear why <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66882-how-to-fix-the-50bn-problem-in-b2b-content-marketing/">60% of content in B2B organisations is wasted </a>and why one of the biggest issues in demand generation is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63400-interest-abandonment-coming-to-a-purchase-funnel-near-you/">interest abandonment.</a></p> <h3>What are the solutions to the marketing automation rules problem? </h3> <p>As the co-founder of a B2B technology company, and having spent the past few years refining our demand generation process, I know just how powerful a good marketing automation system and practice can be - but I am also cognisant of the above problems.</p> <p>This has led us to try the following solutions:</p> <p><strong>Create more rules

</strong></p> <p>It’s true - one way to address the problem of imperfect marketing automation rules is to create more marketing automation rules to try and meet every kind of conceivable customer journey, context or need. </p> <p>However, you can only create so many rules. It is perhaps feasible when an organisation has a limited product portfolio or few content assets, but when you are a high-volume publisher with a wide variety of products and customer types (such as a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67419-how-to-make-content-marketing-easy-for-wealth-asset-managers/">wealth and asset management firm</a>) this is impossible.</p> <p>The problem is that although the number of choices is increasing, the number of rules that we can make (to make the decisions to govern those choices that we can create) is very limited. </p> <p><strong>Hire more people

</strong></p> <p>We can only create so many rules whilst retaining the same number of marketers before the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in.</p> <p>The next option then is to increase the number of rules and increase the number of marketing staff to create and manage these rules.</p> <p>The problem here is that number of available marketers is finite and the number of marketers that one can afford is even more finite, so CMOs that are on a hiring spree will still ultimately be faced with this fundamental gap between the number of choices they need to make and the number of marketing automation rules that their team can can create to make those choices. 

</p> <p><strong>No More Rules - use predictive machine-learning

</strong></p> <p>This leaves us with a third option - eschewing marketing automation rules altogether by turning to predictive, machine-learning technologies that use algorithms to make decisions, rather than rules.</p> <p>Although some marketers may baulk at the idea of turning over marketing decisions to artificial intelligence, it is becoming an<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67745-15-examples-of-artificial-intelligence-in-marketing/"> increasingly common and accepted practice</a>.</p> <p>The benefit of using predictive machine-learning is that it can learn from new information and quickly decide what the next best action is for an optimal outcome.</p> <p>Machine learning is well-suited to environments where CMOs face complex buyer journeys, constantly evolving user profiles and myriad pieces of content that need to be categorised and structured before being served across multiple channels.</p> <p>Better yet, these technologies can be integrated <em>with</em> your marketing automation platform. </p> <p>Rather than relying on restrictive rules-based logic, a ‘no more rules’ approach adapts to the unique signals and interactions of each buyer and automatically decides the best message, content or product to send to them.</p> <p>It’s an approach that saves both the prohibitive operational costs of hiring more staff and time-intensive stress of having to create rules that can govern every scenario in the ever-complex B2B buyer journey.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68235 2016-08-31T11:39:44+01:00 2016-08-31T11:39:44+01:00 A closer look at the National Trust's content strategy Nikki Gilliland <p>But how exactly did the organisation manage such a big overhaul of its content? </p> <p>We recently sat down with Tom Barker, Head of Digital for the National Trust, to hear how his team planned and executed <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/digital-content-strategy/">a winning content strategy</a>.</p> <p>You can read a summary of what he said below, or watch these videos to see what he said in full.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fiN494itqa0?list=PL1-kPkZBw50G5af50RWyZQktGWjOkGxLI&amp;wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IAz4146xkO4?list=PL1-kPkZBw50G5af50RWyZQktGWjOkGxLI&amp;wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <h3>Out with the old</h3> <p>The National Trust’s new website launched in November of 2015, but involved months of planning and preparation prior to this.</p> <p>With an old and clunky website consisting of around 50,000 pages, the challenge was finding a way to condense such a large volume of information into a concise and user-friendly amount. </p> <p>Even after stripping out a large portion of the old site, it re-launched with the hefty sum of 9,000 pages. </p> <blockquote> <p>If you think not just about our national cause and the various elements of membership and fundraising, but the sheer number of places we have.</p> <p>So, that’s over 350 properties, 200 more major pieces of outdoor landscape and coastline... it becomes a huge website with lots of content.</p> </blockquote> <h3>Updating the new site</h3> <p>As well as the amount that needed to be included, Tom highlights how the seasonal nature of the Trust requires content to be continuously updated and refreshed. </p> <p>For the launch of its new site, 500 National Trust employees were trained on the content management system to ensure that content would be ready by launch day, as well as updated according to seasonal calendars. </p> <blockquote> <p>We have a distributed marketing model, so for each of the seven regions that the National Trust covers we have a regional digital lead, but also web editors at each of the properties and places.</p> </blockquote> <p>With news featuring heavily on the site, it is imperative that staff are able to update at a property-level as quickly and seamlessly as possible.</p> <h3>How success is measured</h3> <p>With a brand new site, the National Trust now has a far superior analytics set-up. However, despite knowing how it is being used, it is yet to discover who is using it. </p> <p>A new sign-in capability will be added later in the year, and is going to be a big focus in future.</p> <blockquote> <p>Success for me, yes it could be the traditional metrics such as visits to the site and bounce rate etc.</p> <p>But when we are able to see who is using it, we can determine whether the touchpoints match up, which means no longer means having a website or mobile app that exists in silo.</p> </blockquote> <p>For the National Trust, a seamless user experience across all channels is the ultimate sign of success. </p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/2978 2016-08-10T16:43:08+01:00 2016-08-10T16:43:08+01:00 Content Strategy, Editorial Planning & Content Calendars <p>Great content sells – it will build your brand and boost your business.  Our 1-day Content Strategy, Editorial Planning &amp; Content Calendars training course will help you to define and produce the content that will help your organisation succeed!</p> <p>On the day, you’ll learn about our unique 7-step process and  get our exclusive templates for: Strategy Statements, Content Audits, Content Requests, Content Briefs and Content Calendars!</p>