tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/content Latest Content content from Econsultancy 2018-05-08T08:56:25+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69849 2018-05-08T08:56:25+01:00 2018-05-08T08:56:25+01:00 A day in the life of... a head of content at a search marketing agency Ben Davis <p><em>Remember to check out the <a href="https://jobs.econsultancy.com/?cmpid=EconBlog">Econsultancy jobs board</a> if you're looking for a new role yourself.</em></p> <h4> <em>Econsultancy:</em> Please describe your job: What do you do?</h4> <p><em><strong>Libby Richfield:</strong></em> I’m Head of Content at Red Hot Penny. We’re a search marketing agency based just outside Reading. I manage our creative team of copywriters and designers and oversee the content strategies, campaigns and assets we produce for clients. This could be anything from ecommerce product content, to bigger campaign landing pages and articles, bespoke infographics or social visuals and graphics. </p> <h4> <em>E: </em>Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?</h4> <p><em><strong>LR: </strong></em>I’m a department head managing the content delivery team, reporting to our Digital Marketing Director.</p> <h4> <em>E: </em>What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?</h4> <p><em><strong>LR: </strong></em>It’s a real mix of creative skills (my background in copywriting and social helps a lot), strategic problem-solving to deliver an effective strategy in the first place and project management skills to make sure everything runs smoothly.</p> <p>Great communication is a given, to work closely with client teams but also to keep your team motivated. Although it’s a content-focused role you also need a really thorough understanding of how content supports search performance and how it crosses over with social/digital PR outreach too.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/4207/Libby_Richfield_615.png" alt="Libby Richfield" width="616" height="309"></p> <h4> <em>E: </em>Tell us about a typical working day… </h4> <p><em><strong>LR: </strong></em>It might start with a team or operations meeting to go through project and client updates and any priority activities for the day, then I could be working on a strategy deck for a new client, reviewing draft articles or infographics that the team have produced before they go to clients for sign off, planning the production process for new content pieces that have been briefed in, or joining a brainstorming session to help generate new campaign angles. It’s really varied.</p> <h4> <em>E: </em>What do you love about your job? What sucks?</h4> <p><em><strong>LR: </strong></em>I love that every day is genuinely different. And I love the process of getting clients excited about our campaigns and ideas and then bringing those campaigns to life.</p> <p>What sucks the most? Occasionally when campaigns don’t perform in the way we hoped or when we come up with a great idea but for whatever reason a client isn’t able to run with it. That’s when we need to regroup and come up with a new approach, but there’s usually always a plan B to move on to.</p> <h4> <em>E: </em>What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success? </h4> <p><em><strong>LR: </strong></em>It depends on the project but ultimately we’re looking to use content to improve visibility and awareness at the top of the funnel – whether targeting new opportunities in SERPs, through linkbuilding or on social. Shorter term KPIs are usually around traffic to site and engagement with the content (on site and off site) while longer term we’d be looking at increases in rankings and ranked keywords.</p> <h4> <em>E: </em>What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?</h4> <p><em><strong>LR: </strong></em>For topic and audience research we use <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69905-a-five-step-planning-process-for-content-marketers-with-eight-useful-tools">AnswerThePublic</a>, Ahrefs and the keyword/data insights we get from BrightEdge and our internal SEO and Insights teams.</p> <p>Design-wise Adobe Creative Suite is great, and in terms of team management and project planning either ResourceGuru or a good old gantt chart.</p> <h4> <em>E: </em>How did you get into this role, and where might you go from here?</h4> <p><em><strong>LR: </strong></em>I started off in a more traditional marketing role, then worked as a copywriter and moved into content and social media as an account manager. Then I moved into a content manager role, which has gradually progressed to Head of Content. Longer-term I’d like to work towards a Creative Director type role.</p> <h4> <em>E: </em>Which brands are creating good content at the moment?</h4> <p><em><strong>LR: </strong></em>We all love SheerLuxe content in the office, especially their video content and podcast. Cards Against Humanity have had some genius campaigns recently, as have Missguided.</p> <p>There’s definitely been a shift towards brands behaving as publishers and investing in really high quality editorial content – two that stand out are stationery brand Papier who have created an online publication called The Fold and luggage brand Away who share inspiring travel content through their online publication called Here.</p> <h4> <em>E: </em>Do you have any advice for people want to work in content for an agency?</h4> <p><em><strong>LR: </strong></em>Be curious and be willing to learn. And pay attention to what other brands are doing, it’s a great way to spot trends. A large part of working in content comes back to the ideas you’re able to come up with, and that inspiration can come from anywhere – online, offline, in work and outside of it. </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69989 2018-05-01T13:30:00+01:00 2018-05-01T13:30:00+01:00 How to position your brand as a knowledge centre through content Simon Swan <h3>Finding your online value proposition through education</h3> <p>Positioning your brand as an educator with deep domain knowledge could be considered your online value proposition (OVP) and help your wider organisation pivot their approach by doing something your competition is not.</p> <p>This starts with your audience, understanding their needs and building your content strategy around their requirements. </p> <p>It could be an opportunity to build something that is unique and remarkable within your industry sector, to become a knowledge centre for your audience.</p> <h3>So, what is a knowledge centre? </h3> <p>The primary aim of transforming your brand into a knowledge centre is to become the go-to destination for information, advice, helpful and relevant content tailored to the audience your brand is wanting to attract. This approach can help build an “anchor brand”, a phrase defined by Forrester in 2016 as a brand built on authority, trust and relevancy.</p> <p>Content provides the platform to help reconnect your brand with your audience needs. </p> <p>To do this requires your brand audit and assess the environment in which they operate. Take a step back from the tactical elements of the content strategy and look at the brand, it’s mission and the content being created. </p> <p>Ask the question: Why do you exist? What do you offer? What is it your audience needs from the industry that you could be providing?</p> <h4>Example: Geek Squad</h4> <p>Geek Squad have built their narrative around answering customer problems through helpful, short videos. Anyone can access Geek Squad video content, whether you are a customer or not. Their view is that positioning themselves as a teacher helps to not only build the authority of the brand but also indirectly, attract new audiences.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ep9TVfHog2Y?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>Organisational theorist David Aaker (<a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Building_Strong_Brands.html?id=hxHeUei4vWgC">Building Strong Brands</a>, 2011) supports the notion that the emergence of websites as knowledge centres has allowed brands to become go-to authorities for the sector in which they operate.</p> <p>This view is also supported by author Mitch Joel, who writes in his book, <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ctrl-Alt-Delete-Business-Depends/dp/1455523321">Ctrl Alt Delete</a> (2013) that many brands fail to realise that “the branding opportunity is not of broadcasting the messages but that the true marketing story is to tell a great brand narrative, a story that takes place over time and through different channels.”</p> <p>And it’s in this narrative, this trusted voice where a content strategy plays a key role in bringing the idea of a knowledge centre to life, meeting the needs of the audience, rather than the organisation. </p> <p>Robert Rose, writing for the Content Advisory, <a href="https://contentadvisory.net/content-strategy-edges/%20">explains</a> that “The better argument for content strategy should be that it creates a process that can move the creation of content as close to the customer as possible. </p> <p>It’s the only way to balance enterprise scalability, and a consistency in brand, customer experience, and effectiveness, while moving the creation of content as close to the customer as possible”.</p> <h3>Finding the right narrative</h3> <p>Building a trusted narrative relevant to your audience provides the foundation from which to build your unique content approach. But finding what that narrative should be is tricky. </p> <p>There are many examples of organisations deciding to take a content approach but failing to keep the momentum moving forward in producing relevant content. </p> <p>This could be for a number of reasons – lack of internal support, lack of senior management buy-in, little understanding of how to measured success and tie it back to the business objectives, or treating content as a communications campaign with a start and end date.</p> <p>What’s essential is building a credible narrative, something that not only helps to get organisational buy-in but something you can easily call on for contributors to generate content ideas and activities.</p> <p>All organisations have a topic on which to educate, teach and provide advice – after all isn’t that one of the key reasons why your organisation exists? </p> <p>Your organisation was established to fill a need or desire and just by looking around internal departments there is most likely a pool of people that can contribute or provide support to building a narrative.</p> <h4>Example: River Pools</h4> <p>River Pools - Marcus Sheridan, founder of  River Pools and Spa is the classic example of just this. In the height of the recession he pivoted his approach, building a content narrative by answering customer questions. The company curated customer service calls, questions and insights and turned this into content through blog posts, website content and explainers. </p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fgSxWDSkWT4?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe> </p> <p>This approach positioned River Pools as a teacher brand to help and provide advice and support to would-be customers looking to purchase a swimming pool. Through customer insights and information gathering, the company optimised its content, packaged it and promoted it in the right channels.</p> <p>So, could you see yourself as a teacher? The best teacher in your niche? Content provides you with that opportunity to re-position and market your brand by helping your audience, not by hyping your product.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/content-strategy-best-practice-guide"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3438/Content_Strategy_Best_Practice_Widget.png" alt="learn more about this topic with Econsultancy's content strategy best practice guide (subscriber only)" width="615" height="243"></a></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69971 2018-04-26T09:24:23+01:00 2018-04-26T09:24:23+01:00 How online content could help H&M weather stormy high street conditions Ed Bussey <p><a href="https://in.reuters.com/article/hm-sales/update-2-further-pain-for-hm-as-quarterly-sales-miss-lowered-forecasts-idINL8N1QX1E2">Its latest results</a>, released earlier in March, revealed that the retailer continues to face difficulty, with shares falling 44% over the past year. </p> <p>H&amp;M cited several reasons for its ailing results, including a sub-optimal product mix, reduced footfall in its bricks-and-mortar stores and slower-than-expected growth in online sales, and has announced that it is adjusting its strategy to focus on optimising its ecommerce operations to address the latter issue. </p> <p>But if H&amp;M hopes to drive a meaningful increase in online growth, it will need to concentrate its efforts on <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/andriacheng/2018/02/01/ecommerce-isnt-the-only-thing-hm-needs-to-work-on/#40d2df4e1d55">improving the overall multi-channel customer experience</a>, both through shopping journey enhancements (e.g. by offering the ability to reserve items online for pick-up in-store, a service offered by competitor GAP) and through optimisation of its pre-purchase online content.</p> <p>Although all-too-often a neglected area, a retailer’s online content – particularly that which users engage with near to the point of purchase – is a vital tool for driving organic traffic, increasing conversion rates and basket size, and reducing product return rates. Here are three ways that all retailers (including H&amp;M) can utilise content to maximise online performance – and survive and thrive in today’s ultra-competitive ecommerce market.</p> <h3>1. Best practice product descriptions</h3> <p>The perennial challenge for consumers shopping for apparel online is, of course, the inability to try on, examine and touch the products in question. That’s why online product descriptions (in combination with product photography) are a critical driver of conversions – providing the information the customer needs to make a confident purchase decision.</p> <p>Despite this, many retailers still treat this content as an afterthought, publishing cursory descriptions that lack detail and expansion on the fit, feel and benefits of the garments. </p> <p>Taking H&amp;M as an example, the below description of <a href="http://www2.hm.com/en_gb/productpage.0639374001.html">a summer maxi dress</a> largely discusses basic garment features that are visible from the photography – failing to expand on the tangible benefits of these features, convey any styling tips, or describe the fit and feel of the dress:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3917/hm_dress_description.png" alt="h&amp;m dress description" width="600"></p> <p>Compare the above to <a href="http://www.boden.co.uk/en-gb/womens-dresses/day-dresses/w0126-yel/womens-mimosa-yellow-joyce-dress">an example from Boden</a> (full disclosure: a client of ours at Quill), which describes, in specific terms, the cut and fit of the dress (e.g. ‘cinched waist’, ‘finishes at mid-calf’), whilst also persuasively and evocatively conveying the benefits of the product features (e.g. ‘flattering fit and flare shape’, ‘feminine swish’).</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3918/boden_description.jpg" alt="boden dress description" width="600"> </p> <p>Given that: </p> <ul> <li>Our research at Quill reveals 63% of consumers are more likely to buy a garment http://www.quillcontent.com/2017/07/12/create-product-descriptions-convert/ if the product description describes its cut and fit,</li> <li>90% of shoppers are more likely to buy an item if the product description includes specific dimensions or measurements,</li> <li>and 71% of consumers prefer descriptions that explain the benefits of the product,</li> </ul> <p>This is not an area that online retailers should ignore: it's part of protecting conversion rates and reducing basket abandonment.  </p> <h3>2. Fully optimised category pages  </h3> <p>Against a troubling backdrop of diminishing returns from advertising and increased ad blocker uptake, the importance of maximising organic traffic through search optimisation becomes all the more pronounced.  </p> <p>In particular, improving the search engine results page (SERP) visibility of category pages for high-value, non-branded, long-tail product terms (e.g. ‘women’s cardigans and jumpers’) should be an obvious priority – with Page 1 results on Google still attracting around 95% of all search traffic.</p> <p>Enriching these pages with high-quality, relevant, authoritative content is one of the best ways to boost their visibility (with content being one of Google’s core ranking signals), yet in spite of this, our research at Quill indicates that only 15% of online retailers have implemented fully-optimised category page descriptions across their ecommerce stores – representing a huge missed revenue opportunity. </p> <p>Again, taking H&amp;M as an example, the below <a href="http://www2.hm.com/en_gb/ladies/shop-by-product/skirts.html">category description</a> is unlikely to confer much SEO value, as it lacks detail, a broad range of relevant vocabulary for semantic search and internal links to other category and sub-category pages.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3919/skirts_hm.png" alt="skirts category description h&amp;m" width="615"></p> <p>By introducing more detailed and rich category page content, H&amp;M could increase its rankings and organic traffic to these lucrative pages.</p> <h3>3. Inspirational buying and how-to guides </h3> <p>Engaging buying and how-to guide content serves the dual purpose of being beneficial for SEO – when aligned with commonly searched user queries – and also in emulating the role of the sales assistant in a physical store.</p> <p>Buying and how-to guides, when surfaced at relevant points along the customer’s purchase journey, can help users by providing education around products, narrowing down the available options and offering cross-sell recommendations – all of which are particularly valuable to consumers when browsing in the technology, electricals and home &amp; DIY verticals. </p> <p>A Quill survey of UK consumers found that 22% would be more likely to make a purchase if offered how-to guides that helped them make a decision, and a further 36% would consider a retailer to be more trustworthy if it provided great advice around product ranges.</p> <p>Whilst the emphasis for fashion brands like H&amp;M may be less around product guidance and more around style inspiration, shoppable editorial (with intelligent product recommendations and optimised around commonly searched terms), product guides could still form a part of the brand’s online content strategy. </p> <p>As H&amp;M’s March 2018 financial results have shown, even the largest global brands can’t afford to rest on their laurels in this increasingly competitive, digital-first retail landscape. Businesses need to fight hard for every sale – because if the online experience they offer to consumers is sub-par, they will simply take their custom elsewhere. </p> <p>Having high-quality website content is critical to capitalising on all marketing investment made further up the funnel (whether through ATL advertising, display ads, paid search or email campaigns),  ensuring that once a customer lands on your site, they are effectively pulled through to purchase, and not simply dropping off at the all-important final stage of the shopping journey. </p> <p>Getting this right – and maximising online sales as a result – will help retailers to stay afloat in the tough conditions many face at present. </p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/ecommerce"><em><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3439/Ecommerce_Best_Practice_Widget.png" alt="ecommerce best practice guide (subscriber only)" width="615" height="243"></strong></em></a> </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4783 2018-04-25T09:34:00+01:00 2018-04-25T09:34:00+01:00 A Guide to the Modern Marketing Model (M3) and Organisational Structures <p>Many marketing leaders have been forced to rethink the structure of their marketing teams in order to take advantage of the new capabilities and tools that are available to the modern marketer. Many have also done so as a result of changes in the wider business landscape. In response to these changes, Econsultancy has published a new unifying framework for modern marketing called the Modern Marketing Model (M3). M3 is designed to reconcile classical and digital marketing and provides a clear reference to help clarify an organisation’s expectations of what the marketing function does.</p> <p>Econsultancy's <strong>'A Guide to the Modern Marketing Model (M3) and Organisational Structures'</strong> report provides insight into the changing structure of the marketing organisation.</p> <p>The report has several objectives:</p> <ul> <li>To understand how companies are structuring their marketing organisations to compete in this accelerated new world. This includes examining the remit of marketing in terms of its influence on leading organisational change.</li> <li>To examine common organisational structures and how these structures might be understood by marketing leaders through the lens of the Modern Marketing Model (M3).</li> <li>To suggest a number of ‘enlightened’ organisational structures that marketing leaders can use as frameworks for leading change within their own organisations.</li> </ul> <p>Econsultancy would like to thank the following people for their contributions to this report: </p> <ul> <li> <strong>Colin Lewis</strong>, CMO, OpenJaw Technologies</li> <li> <strong>Andy Evans</strong>, CMO, Sovrn</li> <li> <strong>Nancy Furber</strong>, Senior Marketing Services Manager, Cancer Research</li> <li> <strong>Neil McKinnon</strong>, Head of Marketing, Infectious Media</li> <li> <strong>Attila Jakab</strong>, CEO, Infectious Media</li> <li> <strong>Tom Daniell</strong>, Retail &amp; Marketing Director, Aviva</li> <li> <strong>Paul Jocelyn</strong>, FLPI, Jocelyn Consulting</li> <li> <strong>Simon Swan</strong>, Head of Digital Strategy &amp; Transformation, The Met Office UK</li> <li> <strong>Chris Dobson</strong>, Chief Executive, The Exchange Lab</li> <li> <strong>Mark Evans</strong>, Marketing Director, Direct Line</li> <li> <strong>Tony Preedy</strong>, Director of Marketing &amp; International Development, Lakeland</li> <li> <strong>Lawrence Mitchell</strong>, Chief Customer &amp; Marketing Officer, SumoSalad</li> <li> <strong>Russell Gould</strong>, CEO, Vesta Property </li> <li> <strong>Alison Lancaster</strong>, Interim Marketing Director, House of Fraser </li> <li> <strong>John Smith</strong>, Former COO, Burberry &amp; CEO, BBC Worldwide (Oystercatchers Club, January 2018) </li> <li> <strong>John Rudaizky</strong>, Partner, Global Brand and Marketing Leader, EY (Oystercatchers Club, January 2018)</li> <li> <strong>Frank Arthofer</strong>, Global Head of Digital and New Business, Formula 1 (Oystercatchers Club, January 2018)</li> <li> <strong>Lindsay Pattison</strong>, Worldwide CEO, Maxus Global &amp; Worldwide Chief Transformation Officer, Group M (Oystercatchers Club, January 2018)</li> <li> <strong>Neil Perkin</strong>, Founder, Only Dead Fish and Co-Author of Building the Agile Business</li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69947 2018-04-16T13:39:46+01:00 2018-04-16T13:39:46+01:00 Five things we learned from Mark Zuckerberg's Capitol Hill testimony Patricio Robles <p>Here's what we learned from Zuckerberg's <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/10/transcript-of-mark-zuckerbergs-senate-hearing/">two days of testimony</a>.</p> <h3>Many lawmakers know very little about technology</h3> <p>It was readily apparent that many of the lawmakers questioning Zuckerberg had, at best, a rudimentary understanding of the digital technologies associated with Facebook. Specifically, lawmakers seemed to struggle to get their heads around digital advertising ecosystem and how data is collected and used to target advertisements to consumers through digital channels.</p> <p>This worked to Zuckerberg's advantage, particularly on the first day of his testimony. Instead of hitting the Facebook CEO with meaningful if not insightful questions, Zuckerberg was able to spend much of his time educating lawmakers on concepts familiar to professionals as well as tech savvy consumers.</p> <h3>There's a lot Mark Zuckerberg claims he doesn't know</h3> <p>While it's clear that many lawmakers could use a digital crash course, it also became clear that there's a lot Facebook's CEO apparently doesn't know about his own company's operations. Zuckerberg told lawmakers “I'll have my team get back to you”, or some variation of that, <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/mark-zuckerberg-will-follow-up/">dozens of times</a>.</p> <p>The Facebook chief's apparent lack of knowledge raised lots of eyebrows and some observers suggested his lack of knowledge was feigned ignorance in some instances.</p> <p>Take, for example, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker's <a href="https://www.news18.com/news/tech/does-facebook-track-your-activities-even-after-you-log-out-zuckerberg-doesnt-know-1714507.html">question</a>, “There have been reports that Facebook can track user's browsing activity even after the user has logged off the Facebook platform. Can you confirm whether or not this is true?”</p> <p>The Facebook chief told Wicker that in the interest of accuracy, “it'll probably be better to have my team follow up with you on this.” Of course, the answer to Wicker's question was <em>yes</em>. In fact, last year, Facebook managed to successfully defend itself against a lawsuit <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/03/facebook-track-browsing-history-california-lawsuit">related to its tracking of users after they had logged out</a>.</p> <h3>Facebook is relying heavily on AI</h3> <p>Investment in AI is booming in lots of industries, including <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67745-15-examples-of-artificial-intelligence-in-marketing">marketing</a>, <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69797-how-ai-is-transforming-healthcare">healthcare</a> and <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69732-td-bank-s-acquisition-of-an-ai-firm-highlights-the-growing-importance-of-ai-in-banking">banking</a>. When it comes to many of the challenges Facebook is facing, such as hate speech and extremist content, both of which have been implicated in brand safety scandals, Zuckerberg's responses revealed that Facebook is betting AI will play a major role in solving them.</p> <p>In one exchange, Zuckerberg stated “building AI tools is going to be the scalable way to identify and root out most of this harmful content.” But he also later acknowledged that AI introduces a plethora of thorny ethical issues.</p> <p>He also admitted that AI isn't perfect, revealing that while Facebook's current AI tech has been successful in identifying terrorist content, hate speech is much more difficult to identify in part because what constitutes hate speech is often subject to debate. While Zuckerberg is obviously optimistic about his company's ability to improve his company's AI tech, the question is what it will do if AI doesn't prove to be as effective as Zuckerberg expects it to be.</p> <h3>It doesn't appear that regulation is imminent</h3> <p>Will Facebook face a regulatory crackdown? Reading between the lines last week would suggest that lawmakers are likely to do something. But there were few indications that slapping new regulations on Facebook will be a top priority.</p> <p>To the contrary, there were many indications that lawmakers would tread carefully and continue their fact-finding efforts. It was also fairly obvious that Facebook will have a warm seat at the table when lawmakers do get down to business drafting legislation, which isn't surprising given that the company, like most its size, has a small army of lobbyists and has contributed funds to many lawmakers.</p> <h3>But this is just the beginning</h3> <p>While Zuckerberg managed to leave Washington D.C. largely unscathed thanks in large part to technologically challenged lawmakers, Facebook is not out of the woods. </p> <p>Despite suggestions that Facebook's biggest crisis will blow over, the sentiment around privacy and user data has changed and with the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/hello/gdpr-for-marketers/">GDPR</a> coming into effect in the E.U. and U.K. in a little over a month, as this author <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69935-companies-should-consider-embracing-the-gdpr-even-where-they-don-t-have-to">argued previously</a>, the free-for-all environment that companies have been operating in is going away.</p> <p>Up next: expect lawmakers to expand their scrutiny to other large tech companies, including Google, which might be sitting on an even larger treasure trove of user data than Facebook. In fact, one lawmaker even asked Mark Zuckerberg if he'd offer suggestions for other individuals they should ask to appear. We'll see if Zuckerberg's team gets back to him on that request.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69905 2018-04-01T10:23:00+01:00 2018-04-01T10:23:00+01:00 A five-step planning process for content marketers (with eight useful tools) James Carson <p>Much better to plan out your approach first, and then come back to that on a revolving basis after seeing what worked (and more importantly, what didn’t). Over the years, I’ve become familiar with a process. Each block of this process might seem simple in isolation, but it’s when you put it in the right order that it really works.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/content-strategy-best-practice-guide"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3438/Content_Strategy_Best_Practice_Widget.png" alt="learn more about this topic with Econsultancy's content strategy best practice guide (subscriber only)" width="615" height="243"></a></p> <h3>1. Research… deep research</h3> <p>You may know your focus area inside out. You might not. My advice at either end is to spend some time researching it – no one is going to have ‘completed’ their expertise in an area. Spending time researching will inevitably set off some fireworks and ideas you hadn’t thought of before. I suggest: </p> <ul> <li>Existing industry magazines, books and papers</li> <li>Competitor research – such as reading websites or their blogs</li> <li>The <a href="https://adwords.google.com/intl/en_uk/home/tools/keyword-planner/">keyword planner</a>, <a href="https://soovle.com">Soovle</a> or <a href="https://answerthepublic.com">Answer the Public</a> can also throw up interesting queries. I wouldn’t worry too much about keyword volumes at this stage – you just need to create ideas that people could potentially be interested in.</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3259/Content_Planning_Illustration.png" alt="content planning" width="615" height="399"></p> <p><strong>I feel it’s important that people involved in this research do it as a deep focused individual activity.</strong> After all, you can’t discuss the latest 60-page government paper about a topic without having read it. That sounds obvious, but the deep activity is so often abandoned. Allow the time for deep research, allow it time to gestate, and then come up with ideas. It’s not much use frantically trying to cram some reading in 10 minutes before the next stage.</p> <p>The outcome is really to have rough ideas that you will be able to present to a group. </p> <h3>2. Content brainstorm and mindmapping</h3> <p>Having done the research, bring those initial rough ideas together in the form of a brainstorm. Brainstorms have a bad reputation of being filled with meaningless jargon and not giving clarity. But this is usually because the deep research isn’t done properly – do it properly and they can work well as a collaboration.</p> <p>Someone ultimately must be the arbiter of this process – if you don’t have an editor, you should appoint one (even if not in a literal job sense). You may find conflicts arise without a leader to the process – ie <em>‘Why is that idea being developed and not mine?’ </em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3239/editor.jpg" alt="editor" width="615" height="410"></p> <p>Having a group discussion will allow you to validate certain ideas, and then build them into a more robust plan. One way of doing this is to put them into a hierarchy on a mind map. <a href="https://www.mindmeister.com">Mindmeister.com</a> is a particularly useful group collaboration tool. </p> <h3>3. Data validate ideas using the keyword-based tools</h3> <p>Is there enough online interest in your ideas to return search volumes? One of the best tools to do this is <a href="https://www.semrush.com">SEM Rush</a>, as it returns Google volumes for specific keywords according to your target market. You can also use a free tool with <a href="https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/">Neil Patel’s version of Ubersuggest</a>. </p> <p>You can use the Keyword Planner, Soovle or Answer the Public, but because of the limited data, these may be better used in the first phase. </p> <h3>4. Create groups according to content type</h3> <p>Now you’ve got a mindmap and validated it, it’s important to consider what category and page type they may fulfil – this will help put them into manageable lists in the next phase. </p> <p>There are really three main types of content that we need to consider (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66451-what-is-stock-and-flow-content-and-how-should-you-use-it">H/T to this earlier article on Stock and Flow</a>) </p> <ul> <li> <strong>Flow</strong>: Content that has a short shelf life, but can be written to meet a given topical trend. For instance, news – such articles may give you short, sharp burst of traffic. </li> <li> <strong>Stock</strong>: Content that has a long shelf life but is unlikely to ‘expire’. For instance, evergreen articles that are as relevant in six months as they are today. Product pages could likewise fall into this category. </li> <li> <strong>Curation</strong>: This is content that is curated from elsewhere. For instance, a series of embedded useful resources, like ‘The 5 best YouTube videos for simply explaining blockchain’.  </li> </ul> <p>These each have their own research and production considerations: </p> <ul> <li> <strong>Flow</strong>: Needs to be planned around events and executed in a timely manner around these events. Flow content is typically (although not always) shorter than stock. </li> <li> <strong>Stock</strong>: Normally needs expert advice or commentary. Research times for people who are not experts in the subject matter will be high. </li> <li> <strong>Curation</strong>: The sources need to be researched, but unless people have already seen what they will be including, then the research time could be high. </li> </ul> <p>You will have created a content hierarchy in your mind map but adding in these considerations (possibly by labelling) may help you to better understand the production cost of the content. </p> <h3>5. Create an editorial calendar using Trello </h3> <p>When planning for content, the spreadsheet belongs in the bin. Why? Because it is in no way designed for that purpose. They are uncollaborative (even Google sheets is to this end), inflexible and whoever manages the spreadsheet will almost always end up wasting time formatting it, otherwise the input will be incomprehensible. I feel passionately about <strong><em>not using them</em></strong>. </p> <p>Thankfully, there is a far superior alternative. It’s Trello. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3536/trello.jpg" alt="trello" width="615" height="435"></p> <p>Trello is basically a multi-use project management tool that allows you to create lists of content. This can work well from a subject matter sense. For instance, I have various lists for a travel brand. </p> <p>Each list is made up of a card – essentially a piece of content. You can write a headline in it, put your description in it, assign people to it, discuss it, label it, date it, and on – there are six good reasons already why it is better than using a spreadsheet. You can also attach documents (like the article a freelancer has just written) directly to the card. So… much… better.</p> <h3>Bringing it all together</h3> <p>The outcome here is to get a well-documented content plan that can be flexible. One phase should lead to the next, and once you have the plan laid out in Trello, almost any contributor (whether internal or external) should be able to work according to the brief.</p> <p>If you want more similar tips across the spectrum of content strategy, then see my earlier <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64757-the-24-ingredients-for-a-delicious-content-strategy">24 ingredients for a delicious content strategy.</a></p> <p><em><strong>View Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/content-strategy-best-practice-guide">Content Strategy Best Practice Guide</a> (subscriber only) or check out our variety of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/content-marketing-and-strategy">content marketing training courses</a>.</strong></em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69890 2018-03-21T14:15:00+00:00 2018-03-21T14:15:00+00:00 Saving language: How will the rise of AI affect linguistics? Hannes Ben <p>We often take language for granted. Many people claim they “perfectly” speak their mother tongue. But who defines “perfection”?</p> <p>AI has made us aware that technology can venture into anything, even challenge us in areas we consider intrinsically human. It compels us to enhance our language capabilities to maintain the edge and keep ahead of machine output.</p> <p>Machines challenge us in all areas, the realm of language is no exception. </p> <p>If future <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neural_machine_translation">neural machine translation</a> (NMT) solutions continue to expand their enormous amounts of constantly updated language data, will language learning become obsolete? </p> <p>Perhaps with the aid of NMT and advanced AI, final translation will improve when not supported by any technology?</p> <p>As technology tries to generate and translate natural language, we will become more sensitive towards what is right or wrong in a final piece of content.</p> <p>As machines begin reaching grammatical perfection, we may accept objective linguistic correctness, but be more critical of quality. We’ll be more protective and purist about our languages. This is already the case in some instances, particularly in those languages and cultures heavily influenced by English and Western culture. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3101/translate.jpg" alt="translate" width="270"></p> <h3>Will humans keep learning languages?</h3> <p>Technology has facilitated language learning. However, where vocabulary and grammar are concerned, future AI may be hard to compete with.</p> <p>AI's ability to quickly and efficiently absorb massive amounts of data and apply it effectively will always surpass human capability. However, humans will continue to have the edge in attaching context and emotions to words. </p> <p>If AI can reliably translate any language content, who will bother learning the basics of a new language? Even through intensive study, a minimum of a year is usually needed to achieve some level of professional proficiency. Regardless of how hard you study, you must take breaks. Just like any muscle, the brain needs down-time to rest and process.</p> <p>Allowing new and complex information to sink in and rewiring your brain takes time, regardless of your ability, and humans often pick the quickest, most convenient way of doing things. Sooner or later, the effort of acquiring a foreign language to professional standards may seem like an unsurmountable task. Especially if we must compete with what machines can provide at the press of a button. </p> <p>Further improvements in AI may see us focusing on our native languages — ensuring they evolve, and developing neologism to satisfy our ambition. However, this could mean that learning a second language will lose importance and become only a hobby for a few.</p> <p>Machine translation may achieve high standards which can only be topped by linguistic experts. Hence, only a few will pursue the mastery of a foreign language for leisure or business purposes</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3100/dictionary.jpg" alt="dictionary" width="300" height="410"></p> <h3>Will AI ever achieve human-level language production and be generally accepted for use?</h3> <p>As we create, nurture, and develop our languages, AI may at some point create its own. These languages could originate from a combination of human languages it considers most ideal to express thoughts and objectives. </p> <p>AI will have its own reasons for choosing one expression over another to best describe a situation. If no relevant existing word is found, it may create new words. The tables may turn. We may study the definitions of words in AI languages, even incorporate them into our own. We may even translate between human and artificially created languages. </p> <p>Regardless of how smart AI becomes, it will need systems and processes to pick up on-going changes in human languages and map them to wordings in its existing database.</p> <p>Future NMT solutions will only be able to match human-level translations once they learn to analyse context and draw from experience. This would involve a better understanding of the people involved in a conversation. </p> <p>For the time being, machines still have a way to go. The processes of current NMT solutions are still far too narrow. To improve, AI must part with the flawed perception of language as but a sequential combination of words to create meaning.</p> <p>The winning technology will be one that can expand its analytical and learning capacity to understand the subconscious language decision-making process of humankind. We should be excited about the future of AI and machine translation.</p> <p>A hybrid solution of NMT and humans will help protect and develop the richness of languages. Who knows, AI may even expand existing languages in ways we cannot yet imagine.</p> <p><em><strong>(N.B. If you're interested in marketing applications of AI, <a href="http://conferences.marketingweek.com/supercharged">Econsultancy's Supercharged conference</a> takes place in London on May 1, 2018 and is chocked full of case studies and advice on how to build out your data science capability. Speakers come from Ikea, Danske Bank, Channel 4, Just Eat, Age UK, RBS and more)</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Related reading</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66929-how-to-overcome-the-difficulties-of-copywriting-for-the-chinese-market/">How to overcome the difficulties of copywriting for the Chinese market</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69543-automated-content-is-a-thing-but-should-it-be">Automated content is a thing – but should it be?</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69882 2018-03-21T09:30:00+00:00 2018-03-21T09:30:00+00:00 How do you market a city? Why place marketers have to be smarter than ever with digital content Matthew Davis <p>I looked at some of the digital advertising tactics of a handful of the world’s most visited cities.</p> <p>(The most visited world cities, according to the 2017 Euromonitor International report, are: Hong Kong, Bangkok, London, Singapore, Macau, Dubai, Paris, New York, Shenzhen, Kuala Lumpur.)</p> <h3>The city as a house of brands</h3> <p>It’s extremely difficult to categorise places in any neat way according to the perceptions of their customers. Each destination usually has a very mixed offering and the value it provides for a visitor depends on his or her preferences and associations. So, places become the equivalent of a house of brands. A Unilever rather than an Apple.</p> <p>There is a 2017 paper from the academic world on this phenomenon and its history (<em>“Questioning a 'one size fits all' city brand: Developing a branded house strategy for place brand management”</em> by Sebastien Zenker and Erik Braun). But it can also been seen played out across many recent place branding campaigns.</p> <p>Watch this video on Singapore with the headline “Passion made Possible”. If you didn’t know the location already it would be difficult to decipher, and that really is the point. </p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BJE3HIkQ4zU?rel=0&amp;start=70&amp;wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>Whilst there’s a ‘young’ feel to the content, everything else about it is generalized to take in all kinds of leisure and tourism activity (“where foodies, explorers, collectors, action seekers, culture shapers, and socialisers meet”).</p> <p>The ‘Passion made Possible’ brand fits over anything and everything.</p> <p>One destination which has truly embraced this house of brands approach is Dubai, and it sets the standard for high volume place branding content. Visit Dubai’s YouTube channel has every type of slick video and is posting as much content as some of the world’s biggest consumer brands. This is a major step forward for the historic marketing of place and the old fashioned view of what a ‘tourist board’ does.</p> <p>Here are some good examples of Visit Dubai video content that have been picked up across international press:</p> <p>Anthony Joshua takes part in the world’s highest boxing match; the ‘Fight in the Sky’ at the Burj Al Arab:</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HQfStz6-j90?rel=0&amp;wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>Andre Agassi played tennis against Roger Federer on the same helipad in 2009 - see how far video production has come in nine years...</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BhZje4B7Px8?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>Something completely different - Shah Rukh Khan, or SRK as he’s known, welcomes a family to come and feel at home in his Dubai. At 17m views in its first two months, this beats Joshua in the early rounds, and most other place marketing content on YouTube.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WvUbjxEU57o?rel=0&amp;wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <h3>There’s no limit for influencers</h3> <p>With a wild west of content, connections and channels for consumers to get their travel inspiration from, using influencers is a sensible tactic that’s become widely adopted in the travel industry. It all but guarantees reach, even if you have to be take care to be authentic.</p> <p>We’ve already touched on Dubai’s approach, but the influencer list is long enough to accommodate all budgets and brands.</p> <p>The Singapore tourist board has recruited Filipino model and actor, Mikael Daez, to front its latest travel videos. He has 150k followers on Facebook and double that number on Instagram and is clearly a personality that attracts coverage in South East Asia. </p> <p>You can find him on Instagram <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc7MaN9FoG0/">posting about food culture</a> in Singapore.</p> <p>There is a health warning here though as wanderlust doesn’t always come with brand exclusivity agreements. Mikael also earns plenty of digital reach with <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=mikael+daez+maldives&amp;oq=mikael+daez+maldives&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57.3592j0j7&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;ie=UTF-8">his adventures in the Maldives</a>, including <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BSvuaTDlpCX/">his honeymoon</a>.</p> <p>Influencers are both content and channel in one package. The range of personalities available for hire is great, from YouTubers to sports stars and national icons, but there are more and more brands competing for their endorsement.</p> <p>The challenge for many destinations without Emirati-sized budgets is picking the right influencer to maximise ROI. There are a very few influencers that have true mass appeal across tourist demographics; families, millennials, businesses, and across all regions. The more creative and focused marketers can be when <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69161-micro-influencers-how-to-find-the-right-fit-for-your-brand">finding an influencer</a>, the more value they’ll create.</p> <h3>Bangkok stands out amongst the ghost cities of Instagram</h3> <p>Another reason why influencers are so important to the marketing of destinations is to help make a place personal. We may admire landscapes but it’s people we relate to and often follow.</p> <p>Browsing the Instagram accounts of the top 10 most visited cities, it’s very hard to spot any actual people. Yes, the colours and composition and scenery are all fantastic…but there’s nobody there. </p> <p>The one exception is Visit Thailand (Bangkok is number 2 on the world cities list). At least one in three images have a prominent person or group and it makes the branding that much stronger.</p> <p>Visit Thailand has about the same follower numbers (150k) as Paris and New York’s official tourism account, although it lags behind Dubai (808k).</p> <p><em>Seagulls or people – @visitlondon vs @tourismthailand, compare their Instagram feeds below...</em></p> <p><em><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3086/Visit_London.jpg" alt="london tourism" width="615" height="406"></em></p> <p><em>London</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3085/Tourism_Thailand.jpg" alt="thailand instagram" width="615" height="407"></p> <p><em>Thailand</em></p> <h3>Quality digital advertising channels are king</h3> <p>Destinations and travel brands competing for footloose, attention-deficient consumers need to bank on reliable marketing channels. But targeting may be even more crucial because, as we’ve seen from the homogeneity of instagram posts and generalist place brands, the content won’t always stand head and shoulders above the market unless you can afford SRK or AJ.</p> <p>It’s clear how competitive the popular travel sites are for international advertising spend. I was only 15 seconds into researching a Paris break and suddenly Tokyo is trying to turn my head.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3087/Paris_TripAdvisor.jpg" alt="tripadvisor search" width="615" height="231"></p> <p>Of course, when I move on to my mobile, ad banners can be more annoying and less effective. It’s also clear how well the major sites are protecting their product with strict creative guidelines that safeguard the user experience; TripAdvisor allows nothing that comes close to their own brand or style, no expansion on mouse-over, nothing flashy (“punch the monkey”), the list goes on.</p> <p>Travel aggregators can though provide powerful advertising services throughout the customer journey. SkyScanner, selling their monthly reach of 60m consumers, work with brands to craft such a range of digital advertising opportunities.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3088/Skyscanner.png" alt="skyscanner ads" width="615" height="267"></p> <p>Much like the influencer market, the challenge here is in running nimble, cost-effective campaigns. Many complimentary brands that are working hard to sell the same destination – cities, hotels, events, major attractions – are also competing for the same ad space, driving up costs.</p> <p>One tactic which has been used widely to increase resources and creative assets is partnership working. Typically this can involve a national or region tourist board and related organisations from the travel industry, for example national airline carriers or major hotel chains.</p> <p>A look at Visit Britain’s current partnership efforts shows how much creativity and investment this strategy can bring. There are targeted campaigns to sell Britain as a destination in China and Australia, and partnerships with film studios to sell Britain as a location from iconic stories like Paddington Bear.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3089/china_great_britain.JPG" alt="great britain china campaign" width="300" height="250"></p> <h3>Google Sidewalk Labs – reimagining place</h3> <p>A final word from Google, which is reimagining the relationship between digital, time and place.</p> <p>Google Sidewalk Labs is creating a whole new district on the Toronto waterfront, using technology to tackle every aspect of urban design. This is legitimate partnership working with a government agency and the local community, seeking to design a neighbourhood ‘from the internet up’.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3090/sidewalk_labs.jpg" alt="sidewalk labs" width="615" height="425"></p> <p>What’s notable is that place branding and marketing has begun in earnest, even before the destination physically exists. This might not be new - all retail developments or major investments in public realm are marketed ‘off-plan’ – but the scale at which Waterfront Toronto will use digital to establish and evolve itself as a destination is impressive in its ambition.</p> <p>What are the implications for the digital marketing of place?</p> <p>For a start, just look at the <a href="https://www.sidewalklabs.com">Sidewalk Labs</a> website. Added to the tech brand look and feel, there is the range of democratic place-making initiatives that Google is operating here – roundtables, pop-up stations, design jams, a kids camp, a fellows programme for 19 to 24 year olds. (See the Future Laboratory for a <a href="https://www.thefuturelaboratory.com/blog/branded-cities">brilliantly written primer on Google Sidewalk Labs</a> and the future of branded cities.)</p> <p>If people queue to visit an Amazon Go store, imagine the possibility for tourism to this Google town. Visitors may be more than happy to trade heritage for innovation and the chance to co-exist with and shape their destination through digital.</p> <p>This would fit with a wider trend of tourists having increasing expectations of the destinations they visit. There is a greater mix than ever of multi-channel, multi-brand campaigns selling locations with something for everyone. And the disparity between destination resources is forcing the hand of marketers.</p> <p>For example, Visit Britain had a budget of around £50m for 2016/17, whilst the Dubai equivalent tourism body (DTCM) spent $20m on a single campaign with Emirates. For most marketers without these resources, the challenge is being increasingly creative and targeted with advertising in order to have impact.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69871 2018-03-15T10:46:00+00:00 2018-03-15T10:46:00+00:00 Five quick content opportunities for time-poor B2B marketers Matthew Davis <p>These can help you create value and make the case for more resource in your content machine. </p> <h3>The Kanban board as storyboard</h3> <p>You don’t need a content whisperer to capture customer-worthy insight from across your business. If you’re using Kanban boards or other project management tools, it’s already happening. </p> <p>The UK’s Government Digital Service has turned project management as content into a fine art. You can read about <a href="https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2017/10/30/building-the-gov-uk-design-system/">how GDS built its digital style guides</a>, for example. </p> <p>By explaining the journey of product development and the finer detail of your organisation’s thought processes, you can add value for the customer, build trust, and directly talk about your offering or soon-to-be-released product or service.</p> <p>You don’t even need to have completed the project because even the requirements capture stage should have enough interest and provides the opportunity to show you understand your customer. (See GDS again for a good example on how they’re trying to <a href="https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2018/03/07/what-we-need-to-do-to-support-end-to-end-services-across-government/">understand ‘joined up’ digital services</a>).</p> <p>With a Kanban board and 30 minutes of your project manager’s time to explain the detail, content awaits. </p> <h3>Curation isn’t new, but it’s quick</h3> <p>Many see content curation as a shiny B2C cousin of the serious thought leadership needed in B2B marketing. But curation isn’t about arresting photography or expensive campaigns to harness user-generated content. At its simplest it can be a quick way to make use of all those high minded links your boss emails you on a weekly basis. </p> <p>If you spend time rooting out articles, videos and comment online, this is time you can save your audience. Don’t be afraid to list three or four links and package it under a headline that matches your brand’s tone; ‘What we’re reading this week’, or ‘Latest insights’. </p> <p>If you’re worried the lo-fi approach won’t impress your customers, try a free curation app to add value. Wakelet, for example, allows you to collect content from around the web in graceful (even beautiful!) collections. You can embed your collections on your site or blog, and seed the story with your own content or campaigns to support lead generation, although shoehorning is not advised. </p> <p><a href="https://wakelet.com/wake/c746f64a-7852-44c7-a5ae-1ef65c70fe86">Here’s an example</a> I created in 180 seconds. I’m sure you can do better with a full 10 minutes. Twitter Moments can be used to the same ends.</p> <p>There are many more quality apps out there to help you curate. An hour spent finding the right one for your brand/site will pay off handsomely when you’re next searching for grist to the content mill.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2953/wakelet.jpg" alt="wakelet" width="500" height="798"></p> <p><em>Wakelet</em></p> <h3>Social selling will drive content, and vice versa</h3> <p>It’s hard to create time to produce content if your business doesn’t value content. Part of any good content marketer’s role is to ensure content is used in the right way and achieves its objectives. For most B2B that usually means linking content directly to revenue generation.</p> <p>Social selling can help.</p> <p>Social selling means putting content into the hands of your salesforce, so that they understand it, use their networks to distribute it, discuss it, and ultimately build relationships with customers. A Hubspot survey from 2017 showed that only 31% of EMEA-based companies prioritise social selling.</p> <p>You can start small by engaging one or two of the keenest in your sales staff to push your content. You should find that the whole team comes back for more as soon as they realise the benefits of having another lead engagement tool to call on.  </p> <p>If you can formalise this relationship with sales, for example using a weekly 30 minute show-and-tell on your latest content pieces, it can also help to inform future content. Your sales team can let you know what landed well, and what the customer base might be interested in next.</p> <p>Even better, create a tag for leads in your CRM that were activated by content sharing and you’re well on your way to bidding for more resource.</p> <h3>Video is easier than you think</h3> <p>Video doesn’t mean committing time, or even specialist expertise. You can get a tripod and mount for either a digital camera or smart phone for less than £50, which will be more than adequate to capture good quality talking heads. </p> <p>Take an hour to find the lightest and least offensive corner of the office and try setting up a simple shot. Sit just off-centre and don’t look directly at the camera. You can save intro and outro slides to preface the topic and point people to your site or lead conversion pages. These can be incorporated easily on plenty of free or cheap editing software (iMovie, QuickTime etc.).</p> <p>The most important thing is insight. Can you provide value on a newsworthy topic in 3 minutes? This is an opportunity to hone the nous and presentation skills within your business, rather than indulge the vanity of senior execs. Done correctly, particularly within B2B service providers, it can mark your business out as one with real, trusted expertise.</p> <h4>Some good examples of talking heads from the HR/Talent sphere: </h4> <p>Law firm CMS have a nice take on the recruitment/employer brand video here, all done with talking head shots and nothing too tightly scripted.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Yb4U7QCCGWk?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe> </p> <p>And if you can find people with this natural passion, put a camera in front of them; a Skanska engineer talks about working in the shadow of George Stephenson.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ecYY9M_UB9U?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <h3>Explain your product because there’s hidden value in the minutiae</h3> <p>It’s easy to get wrapped up in the latest high-flown technical or global policy issues when thinking about B2B content (see Brexit and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69765-ask-the-experts-blockchain-and-its-use-in-marketing">blockchain</a>). Before you dedicate the time, have you covered your own product or service first?</p> <p>It’s easy to overlook aspects of what your business actually does that are ripe for content and interest your customers. Support services are a good example – many businesses have contact centres that are hubs of knowledge about customers, their behaviours, and what they want to buy. </p> <p>So, is the way you work with clients stuck at the end of a brochure somewhere, or have you taken the time to productise it and really sell the benefits? And what are the top 10 questions customers ask when they’re first thinking about buying? </p> <p>It can be worthwhile doing a quick content audit and comparing it to a list of products or services your business provides. The gaps can present quick content opportunities that your sales team can use directly in their business development work.</p> <p><em><strong>Content marketing training:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/content-strategy-editorial-planning-content-calendars-training">Content Strategy &amp; Editorial Planning Training</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/content-marketing-web-mobile-social-media/">Content Marketing for Web, Mobile and Social Training</a></li> </ul> <p><em><strong>Content marketing guides:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/content-strategy-best-practice-guide">Content Strategy Best Practice Guide</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/100-practical-content-marketing-tips-a-how-to-guide">100+ Practical Content Marketing Tips: A how-to guide for editors, writers and content creators</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69868 2018-03-13T13:30:00+00:00 2018-03-13T13:30:00+00:00 Why your headlines are worth almost all your content marketing efforts (and how to improve them) James Carson <p>There are at least five reasons for this: </p> <ol> <li>People don’t generally read webpages and never have done. They scan and react accordingly. This behaviour has likely increased recently due to point 2. </li> <li>There’s too much stuff. No one has time to read and engage with it all.  </li> <li>Social media designs engender responses before deep understanding. For example, retweeting before reading.</li> <li>Infographics got overdone and became less exciting (generally speaking). </li> <li>Mobile makes everything look similar, and rich multimedia less usable.</li> </ol> <p><em>Disclaimer: Before I get comments like, ‘But that’s not true for video!!!’ I’m largely talking about non-moving image formats like articles and infographics. Video headlines and lead-ins are still important (very much so on YouTube), but a monkey video is rather different to an article about monkeys.</em>  </p> <p>What do people see before they click through to a piece of content? On Facebook, you might get a bit of lead-in text, an image and the headline. On a publisher’s website, you might get an image and the headline, but most often just the headline. On Google you will probably get a headline and a text snippet which is likely to be the meta description.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2928/headlines-png.jpg" alt="headlines" width="615"></p> <p><em>Presentation of a clickable area on The Telegraph and Google - both have the headline present.  </em></p> <p>The consistent feature for these different platforms is that the headline will always be shown. You do not have content without the headline being displayed elsewhere. People will only click on the headline if they have a high level of interest and will probably only share it if it gives them a high level of emotional response combined, perhaps, with supporting context from the content itself. </p> <blockquote> <p>On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.</p> </blockquote> <p>That was written in Confessions of an Advertising Man, published in 1967. I’d argue that in a world of scanning and too much stuff, headlines are even more valuable than that. In short, to stand out, your headlines need to be really, really strong. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2929/daivd-ogilvy.jpg" alt="quote about headlines" width="615"></p> <p><em>An excellent quote - accompanied by two very useful books for headlines - from my <a href="https://www.slideshare.net/Branded3/searchleeds-2017-james-carson-head-of-seo-and-social-media-the-telegraph">Search Leeds presentation</a>.</em> </p> <h3>Headlines aren’t given the attention they deserve</h3> <p>But I’ll get to my great lament. Most headlines on company blogs and articles are not really, really strong. Often they are weak and occasionally really, really bad. I’ve also noticed that more companies are abandoning pursuing a regular article feed lately, probably because they didn’t perform very well – and that’s probably because the headlines were weak or worse. Many company blogs are indeed ghost towns of bad headlines. It doesn’t have to be this way. </p> <p>We might spend hours crafting a 500+ word article with its associated imagery and links but spend only two minutes giving thought to the headline. When headlines are now worth more than the 80% that they were in the 1960s, this is a terrible waste. The article will get published, we’ll post it to social media, and it will get little response. And we’ll move onto the next one. Meh, didn’t work <em>again</em>. This must stop! </p> <p>But what do we need to do?</p> <h3>Eliminating things that never work in headlines</h3> <p>Writing good headlines should have nothing to do with clickbait, which promises more than it delivers. Good headlining means getting people to read your things in a huge ocean of information. It doesn’t mean being disingenuous. </p> <p>I have analysed thousands of headlines and found the golden rule of Jakob Nielsen always held true for the most successful headlines: </p> <blockquote> <p>Headline text has to stand on its own and make sense when the rest of the content is not available</p> </blockquote> <p>If it doesn’t make sense, then people won’t understand it, and they won’t click it. This means on social media, search engines, your own site or any other platform where users could come across your content – essentially anywhere on the web. </p> <p>Getting things to make sense is best served through clarity and the stripping away of any ambiguity. Do I read your headline and instantly feel that I know what I will be getting from the article? If yes, I may well click, and read on. If not, you have made me think outside my impulses, and I may go somewhere else. </p> <p>In the following headlines (which I discovered when writing Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/fashion-ecommerce-and-content-marketing">Fashion Ecommerce and Content Marketing report</a> a couple of years back). Unfortunately, I haven’t got much of a clue what the writer is talking about:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0005/7489/headlines.jpg" alt="headlines" width="599" height="247"></p> <p>Too vague or bafflingly ambiguous. The sort of thing you can get away in print with a large swathe of supporting contextual information. No so online. Be clear, e.g. "10 of the best transitional jackets to transform your Autumnal look."</p> <h4>Prefixes are usually your enemy</h4> <p>Prefixes are nearly always confusing and create ambiguity. Sometimes they can add impetus and helpfully front load keywords, but in my experience they generally cause more harm than good.</p> <p>Firstly, the front loading of keywords can become habitually overdone, and actually less clear than writing the headline out properly. They can look particularly confusing when shared on social media. Worse, they are normally written in as part of a ‘series’ of content (which few, if any, online readers will follow). This sort of sentiment prevails: “We’re creating a new series of articles about ‘Behind the brand’ so on every article needs to be prefixed with Behind the Brand: My reply to this would always be, “No. No. No.” </p> <p>One of the prefixes’ main problems is that they add needless and often meaningless words, which adds complexity. Headlines using them are statistically likely to perform lower. </p> <p>Take for instance:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Celebrity style steal: Suki Waterhouse</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Which is okay – it’s not completely ambiguous. But the prefix ‘Celebrity style steal’ does little but create ambiguity. What exactly is this article telling me? It would be better served by the far more active: </p> <blockquote> <p><em>10 style steals from Suki Waterhouse’s wardrobe</em></p> </blockquote> <p>‘Steal’ is potentially a tricky word here, so we may prefer something more specific like this:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>How to get Suki Waterhouse’s best monochrome looks</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Simpler. Flatter maybe? Why not write out ten different ways you could present this article before publishing it? You may as well spend that time, given its 80% more important than the other time writing your article.</p> <h4>Do this and win more</h4> <p>Losing ambiguity must be the number one goal. There are three rules to follow with rigidity to ensure that it is eliminated:</p> <ol> <li>Omit needless words</li> <li>Remove complexity where there is a possible clearer expression</li> <li>The headline must stand on its own, making sense when the rest of the content is not available</li> </ol> <p>These are not my opinions. They are based upon clear guidelines in books like Confessions of an Advertising Man, The Elements of Style and Tested Advertising Methods. I have taken what they had to say and observed their successes many times over. They work. </p> <h3>Adding things that often improve headlines</h3> <p>We’ve moved through needless words and complexity, but then there are those words you can add which add clarity, momentum and the desire to want to click. What are they? How can we do this at the same time as avoiding disingenuous clickbait?</p> <p>Time and time again, adverbs win online. You are statistically going to win with headlines that state who, what, where, when, how than you would with headlines that don’t include them. Why? Because they add clarity. Because they make headlines make sense when the rest of the content is not available. As stated, these are winning factors.</p> <p>Having waded through multiple statistical analyses of headlines, it is quite clear that the adverbs how and why make headlines perform well. More people click them, more people read the articles, and more people are going to move onto a further action, like share or register for email.</p> <p>Who, what and when are baser adverbs. They still work, they just do not perform as well as how and why. </p> <p>Let’s compare these possible headlines:</p> <blockquote> <p>Why an open economy is good for Britain</p> </blockquote> <p>And:</p> <blockquote> <p>An open economy is good for Britain</p> </blockquote> <p>These could easily be the same article, but the second headline is simply a flat statement. I read it and either nod in agreement or disagree. I do not feel nearly as curious and compelled to click as on the first one. Interestingly, you could switch ‘why’ with ‘how’ for a similar effect. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2930/who-what-where.png" alt="adverbs" width="550"></p> <h4>Adjectives</h4> <p>There are, of course, many more adjectives than there are adverbs, so saying which adjectives generally work best is a little unspecific – it really depends on the subject matter. This could easily run into another long article and I would recommend performing a specific analysis according to your vertical. However, at a very general level, there are some notably consistent performers:</p> <blockquote> <p>Best, good, great(est), best, big(gest), ultimate, new </p> </blockquote> <p>Defining generations in a positive way can also work well: young (exciting and prodigal) and old (when highlighting a sense of mastery). E.g: </p> <blockquote> <p>England’s young centre backs are learning well from the old masters</p> </blockquote> <p>It’s worth taking some advice from John Caples' Tested Advertising Methods on this (see a summary at <a href="http://larslofgren.com/copywriting/the-35-headline-formulas-of-john-caples">The 35 Headline Formulas of John Caples</a>).</p> <h3>TL;DR – what’s the summary? </h3> <p>A long article, but a topic that needs more discussion. If you didn’t read it all, then here are some key points:</p> <ul> <li>Headlines are incredibly important – they demand writers spend more time on them, so they can better attract audience attention </li> <li>The headline must stand on its own, making sense when the rest of the content is not available</li> <li>Avoid prefixes – they create complexity</li> <li>Omit needless words and ambiguity – do not make the reader think about potential double meanings</li> <li>Create more intrigue through using clear adverbs that support proper nouns</li> <li>Read: Confessions of an Advertising Man, The Elements of Style and Tested Advertising Methods. They are excellent books for this topic – particularly the latter if you can get a copy, it’s out of print :(</li> </ul> <p>Now you’re armed with more information on crafting better headlines, it’s time to think about the winning formula for the article copy. I’ll summarise: </p> <ul> <li>Does your article fulfil the reader’s desire for information? </li> <li>Does it make them feel as if you are an authority?</li> <li>Is it error free typo, grammar and web formatting wise? </li> </ul> <p>Simply answering those questions will take you a long way. But more on how to write better long form articles is a whole other article. </p>