Lesson 3: Marketing

Content marketing isn’t about creating a video that will go viral or a post that will get likes, it’s bigger than that. Content marketing uses all of the disciplines covered in the OMCA exam for a strategic purpose. Content marketing is not about creating posts or articles that get more likes and rank well as an end goal. Rather, the end goal is generating more business. Social posts, blog articles, YouTube videos, email, they’ll all work together in content marketing. To reach potential customers, engage and educate existing customers and develop loyalty and referrals from your best customers. The first step in content marketing is making sure the marketing team understands the company’s business objectives. Content marketing starts at a high level and is the result of an organizational approach to marketing that starts with the business goals. In other words, there is a larger purpose to simply using Facebook. It asks what type of content works best on Facebook and how it should be best used with other channels to further the big picture strategy. The second step is developing the content strategy to market. In most cases, the content is designed to answer questions and solve problems for both prospect and customer at every stage. Marketing teams research the content that is needed and searched for about their product. It then guides everyone in the company in telling the same story. The benefits of aligning marketing content to business goals are clear. First, an organization has direction in developing content. Second, there is a consistency in the theme and purpose of the content. Third, content is planned and scheduled according to an editorial calendar. Fourth, content is modified for distribution across appropriate channels. And finally, the purpose is to drive business so it is measured in terms of Return on Investment based on increased sales or leads. Now, let’s talk about how content marketing relates to different disciplines, like SEO and social media marketing. Content marketing is related to Search Engine Optimization since it guides the content being produced specifically for that channel. Search is typically how people find websites and the SEO strategy is focused on gaining visitors through increasing rankings. Content marketing is similar to social media marketing since it uses social media channels to distribute content to specialized audiences. Content marketing uses social media as a broadcast or distribution channel to extend the reach of content and draw prospects to the website. However, content marketing is different from search and social. Search and social are channels used to distribute content and attract visitors. They’re the mechanisms of how it happens, content marketing is the big picture of why each channel will be used. Instead of focusing on a single discipline, content marketing aligns a company’s marketing communications to the company’s business objectives. That is, producing and distributing content with a specific goal of sales or lead generation.

Too many organizations stumble into social media and simply start pushing content, hoping that it will be effective. Unfortunately, without a plan and a purpose, these efforts fail miserably. I’ll show you how to put together a content marketing plan that will direct your marketing efforts. It will save you time, effort, and frustration in your marketing. The first part of content marketing is to define goals. These goals outline the company’s business objective. The primary goal is what develops the campaign. The next step is to define your audience. This has usually been done through demographics: age, gender, income level, city, or region. But through digital media, we can research and find the need of the user and target the need rather than the demographic. So rather than thinking about the right ad that will reach an 18 to 34 year old female on the west coast, needs based targeting creates content that answers anyone with the need, which expands the potential customer target. The content appeals to anyone who has a need rather than focusing on an audience’s age, gender, or income. The next step is creating the company’s story to communicate to the audience. An example of this is Warby Parker, a company that designs and sells eyeglasses to compete with the larger designer companies. They’re a start-up that makes affordable designer-style glasses. They have also partnered with non-profit organizations, so that when someone buys glasses, they give away a pair to someone in need. This is their primary story. They create content that aligns with their goals of affordability and social consciousness. A good story communicates a unique element of the company that’s memorable and useful. The message of any post, article, video, or image is always consistent and aligns to the story. The next step is to define a process to tell the story. How can this story best be presented? In some cases, it might be through video. In others, an infographic. And sometimes, you need it written in an article. But then where do you publish it? This step defines the type of media and the best places to use it to capture the right audience. Finally, figuring out how to measure effectiveness is the last part of the plan. Since the primary goal is building sales or lead generation, content marketing’s ROI can be measured in very tangible terms: increased business and increased leads. Additional ROIs measure by building the brand’s visibility and enhancing the online presence. Engagement metrics provide insight as to the effectiveness of capturing attention and drawing visitors to the conversion. As you can see, developing a content marketing strategy aligns the purpose of the content, the media created, and the channels used to promote the company, all centered on the goal of developing more business by guiding users with a need to a destination with their answer.

So, how do you generate leads through content marketing? As an example let’s take a business-to-business company that sells software as a service. The company’s primary goal is to generate leads to a free trial. The company has successfully provided free expert webinars in the past as a primary registration tool to gather leads. They promote these webinars through their current email list and also advertise through paid search and display advertising. This is where most companies end their strategy. They typically focus on the immediate need of leads, but they don’t use the content they were already generating. This is where the concept of content curation comes in. All of a company’s content is organized such as by type of content and subject of content and put into a central resource. Many times significant content has already been developed and published, but it is overlooked and not easy for customers or possible customers to find it. Circling back to our B2B company, they’ve started to implement content marketing. With this, they realized they have an amazing amount of content as a resource: they’ve got a dozen webinars which they can use and reuse to create leads. So, just by taking those webinars and creating transcripts of them, they would have text versions of those webinars, then they could break out the visuals and create graphics, infographics, and slides. After evaluating the transcripts from the webinars, content can be grouped and split up into small features like practical how-to content, product features, and walk-throughs, product images, statistics and research, tips and recommendations. Now, you can take these smaller features and create new, lead generating content through different media. You could edit the transcripts to produce website content and blog articles which would be optimized for search traffic, use images and infographics on social sites to push users towards attending a webinar or registering for the free trial, produce the how-to content on video which can be used to create video ads across multiple channels, publish research as a white paper or a research report and offer it as another conversion point and lead mechanism, also, combine portions from the webinars for top expert tips which can be used as website articles, social media content or advertising for the next webinar. All of this smaller feature content would be used to drive interest to landing pages for the free trial registration. In this way, content marketing removes the burden to constantly create new content within an organization. Content already created can be reused, repurposed, and redesigned for use in other channels to push new prospects to become leads.

When you need something, what do you do? If you said google it, you aren’t alone. Billions of people all over the world turn to search engines to find answers for their needs, big and small. We search because we need something. I’ll show you how understanding the intent of a searcher creates opportunity at every stage of the buying process. The first stage is awareness, when someone knows that they need something. We have access to information at our fingertips, and we can get answers at any time. Google calls this the zero moment of truth. It’s the moment that we recognize the need and take action. It could be anything from finding the nearest drugstore to checking the price on a new pair of shoes. In the awareness stage, the searcher usually needs information to learn something but is not ready to make a commitment. Searchers will look at blog posts, social media, infographics, and short how-to or Q&A videos. This content should be developed around the real-life questions that people ask, not pushy sales stuff. The next stage is consideration. Prospective buyers are now gathering information to make a good decision. At this stage, buyers like tips, checklists, customer reviews, and comparison charts. We can help them by offering free downloads, customer spotlights, and short case study videos from our blog articles and social posts, all with links to landing pages, which will move to the next stage: conversion. This is when prospects become customers. Usually they have narrowed their options down to a few choices. Benefit statements and promotions are really effective here, as people are comparing their final choices. Saving money or getting more value can push them to buy. After someone has become a customer, follow-up is important. With some products there may be additional needs afterwards. This is where a company backs up the claims made in the awareness or consideration content. Social media provides social proof that others love your company and how you solved their problems. Following up the purchase with articles, examples, and how-to content in emails is highly effective. One outfitter was able to reduce returns on ski boots by 50% by emailing how-to videos for fitting and wearing after the purchase. Finally, a company can encourage loyalty and advocacy by encouraging their customers to share their stories with others through social media. To plan and schedule content companies use a content calendar. It is an organized schedule of when and where content will be published, the intended outcome, and how it fits each stage of the buying cycle. This way, instead of choosing social platforms simply based on the number of users, we can find which social platforms target the most customers based on need, buying stage, and content. Content marketing reaches them early and moves them to the next stage. This creates a more tactical, directed approach, which results in a more effective campaign.

We are fascinated by celebrities, they have been used to advertise products for hundreds of years. Even Mark Twain endorsed fountain pens. Today, there is another type of celebrity in the digital world, the Influencer. In this video, I’ll walk you through the pros and cons of Influencer marketing. An Influencer is a person who produces content and has a significant following. From a blogger to a YouTube personality with millions of followers to a photographer whose Instagram account reaches a few thousand. There are two primary categories of Influencers. First, is the Macro-Influencer. Macro-Influencers have more than one million followers or subscribers. Typically, the publish content across a variety of subject areas. A great example is Good Mythical Morning, a YouTube based talk show that has over 14 million subscribers. Then, there’s the Micro-Influencer. He or she has between 10,000 and 100,000 followers or subscribers. They tend to be more specialized in content, photography, food, travel, homemaking, crafting, and more. Audiences are more loyal as they also have interests in their specific content. Working with an Influencer can happen a number of ways. At one extreme, the Influencer would create all content, such as a video or post. On the other side, the Influencer may just want the company to give them content to publish on their feed without their input. Either way, the content is promotional and the Influencer is paid for their endorsement. Companies need to research the type of Influencer that best suits their product and message. The ability to influence is a major factor. Because while a Macro-Influencer reaches more people, they may not wield a great deal of influence. But an Instagram micro-celebrity probably has a much closer relationship with their followers, as the content is more specific and personal. The downside of working with influencers is primarily the cost. Companies are competing for the voice of the Influencer, especially the ones who have large audiences. Many times, the cost is based on the number of followers, which should be certified because Influencers sometimes inflate follower numbers. When working with Influencers, it is extremely important to disclose the endorsement relationship. Most countries have laws and regulations requiring that paid endorsements be disclosed. And so, the Influencer is obligated to disclose any payment or free products received. Finally, measurement of influence is vital because it’s notoriously difficult. Key performance indicators, like views, likes, shares, and engagement are helpful, but they don’t provide the full extent of the influence. If the Influencer shares a coupon code or a direct link, then sales or performance is more easily measured. Working with Influencers can extend the brand to additional audiences. But, as with any content, relevance to the audience and finding the right Influencer relationship is key.

If someone comes to your website and reads an article, was that a successful visit? It was if it answered their question. I’ll teach you how to measure the ROI and key performance indicators of content marketing. Most measurements surround the conversion, getting the sale or the lead. This becomes less concrete when measuring the results of content marketing, since it targets intent, when most people are not buying but researching. So, we need to find methods of measuring the target of the intent. Coined by Google, a micro-moment describes a person’s initial need, search, and subsequent answer. For example, if I know that people searched for my business and they clicked on the maps to get directions, it answered their question. It provides them an immediate answer to their micro-moment need. This is considered a micro-conversion, a meaningful, measurable action towards our goal. Measuring micro-conversions in addition to conversions gives us a clearer view of content and channel effectiveness. Many times, in creating content for multiple channels, Facebook, video, email, or articles, so much content is produced that the work of creating the content obscures the effectiveness of that same content. It’s a simple question of how do you know which content worked and why? To answer that question, we use a multi-channel funnel report to show contribution of content marketing pieces and channels towards the goal. Here’s an example: If I published a how-to video on YouTube, I would measure the micro-conversions, which would be views. Obviously, a how-to video is answering someone’s question. If the video is shared, it’s another micro-conversion, as it provides another level of feedback. It reflects on the quality, effectiveness, and presentation of the content in the video. Then, I’ll measure the clicks from the video to a landing page, and then the number of people who converted. I can see how this video, and also YouTube as a channel, have contributed visitors and business. Now, expand this to all of the channels we may be using, blogs, email, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. Typically, social and search drive visitors from awareness to consideration. In consideration, visitors engage more by viewing video, downloading information, and they might provide their email address. Then, after they have purchased, we can track back through their pathway to see which content and which channels were effective in sending visitors and influencing their decision. This funnel is measured by views and engagement; shares or forwards; downloads, directions, calls, and website engagement; click-through rates to landing pages; and finally, leads or sales generated. The next step is determining attribution. This evaluates each channel for effectiveness and influence to determine a contribution value. Ideally, this enables a clear view of which content and content channels are effective for your strategy. Content marketing is, first and foremost, a business-building strategy. So, developing measurement and accountability is a requirement to determine the effectiveness and success of the strategy.

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