Think about it. Do you enjoy being marketed to?
As marketers, we love our jobs; we love marketing. But like anyone else, it’s safe to say that we don’t enjoy receiving cold pitch emails, or downloading gated white papers, or spotting that “Request a Demo” ad for the 10th time.
As Mark Bornstein, Vice President of Content Marketing at ON24, said during his Keys to Engagement Driven Webinars session at MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum 2018, we’ve a reached a tipping point.
While the channels have changed, marketers are still very much relying on passive tactics that simply don’t engage. Modern audiences want to learn, but they also want to be inspired. And our professional expectations are very much evolving alongside our personal lives. With the Netflix model, we can choose to consume the content we want, when we want to.
So the question is: How can brands create content that prospects “want” to consume and engage with?
Mark says webinars are the ultimate engagement channel. And as it turns out, 66% of buyers say they prefer webinars to any other content formats, according to the 2018 Content Preferences Survey Report.
Webinars are certainly not new to marketing, but it’s time to re-think how we build them and use them. With these key elements, webinars can go beyond the “talking power point” and drive interactivity, engagement, and conversion.
5 Key Elements of the Engagement Driven Webinar
#1 – Branded Experience
Yes, your webinar slides probably have your logo and use the typical brand sanctioned fonts and color pallette. However, your webinar experience, should integrate with your emails, website, mobile apps, and the list goes on. Mark suggests including campaign images, taglines, and visuals to create a compelling and brand immersive content experience.
#2 – Multimedia Experiences
We’re just beginning to duplicate TV-like experiences with marketing, and webinars are a great way to create conversations over presentations. Think about how many of us tuned in day after day to watch Oprah having conversations on stage. Would we have watched if she was flipping through slides from off camera?
An example of an innovative webinar experience is Live with Marketers from *LinkedIn, a digital talk show experience.
One tip for creating engaging conversations is to build or leverage an existing brand personality. Find someone you can put in front of the camera that the audience can connect with and wants to watch. Then build your series around that individual.
#3 – Human Engagement
In order to drive true brand engagement and affinity, the most important thing you can do is drive audience members to take action while experiencing your content. Calling or incentivizing the audience to ask questions, tweet, download content, or respond to live polls creates a more immersive experience.
Webinars don’t have to require audience members to passively listen in while checking emails. The more you can encourage engagement, the more your audience will connect with your content and brand.
#4 – Multi-Touch Content Experiences
Historically, marketers have found webinars can effectively move a prospect more quickly through the buyer’s journey by creating a multi-touch content experience. But typically, the page where the webinar lives doesn’t offer other types of content for people to engage with.
Creating on-page links to relevant content and via nurtures following the event allows you to engage prospects further. Don’t be afraid to distract your audience from the webinar itself; allowing them to choose the content experience they want to pursue, models the personal experience of on demand content binging.
Types of content you can link to from your webinar page includes:
- Resources (e.g. white papers as supporting content)
- Links to other relevant web pages, blogs, or events
- Other upcoming webinars
#5 – Turning Webinar Engagement into Data That Converts
If you’ve engaged your audience during the webinar via polls, questions, and content downloads, you have some awesome inside info about your audience. And you can turn those webinar insights into email nurtures or they can be passed to the sales team. Knowing a prospects’ hottest questions or pain points, opens the door to a great sales experience for your internal team and the prospect.
What’s Next in Webinar Marketing
For brands where webinars are creating impact, many are already looking toward the next thing. Mark suggests we’ll start to see more brands offering:
- On-demand webinars for content binging: Webinar gateways allow you to get more mileage out of your content and the user to select the content that works the best for them.
- Creating targeted experiences: Account-based marketing (ABM) efforts can be extended to your webinar marketing via recording specific webinars for target accounts or vertical, targeted on-demand landing pages, and so on.
Regardless of the form, content that drives visitors to consume for longer periods of time and meaningfully interact indicates a more enjoyable, persuasive, and ultimately impactful content experience. .
Are you using webinars to connect with your audience now? Tell us in the comments section below.
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There’s little doubt among seasoned B2B content marketers that strategy is the key to success. In fact, according to the 2019 B2B Content Marketing Report produced by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, the most successful content marketers (65%) are far more likely to have a documented strategy than their less successful peers (14%).
The kicker? That same report revealed that just 27% of B2B marketers say their content marketing efforts are very or extremely successful in achieving their organization’s desired results. The next largest chunk, 51%, say their content marketing is only “moderately effective.”
What’s causing the disconnect? The report points to content marketing maturity: The more sophisticated your content marketing efforts become, the more success you’re likely to have.
From our perspective, one of the key things that’s holding marketers back from evolving and growing their level of sophistication is likely in the data-both figuratively and literally.
Every marketer has access to data, but many are often overwhelmed by it all and struggle to uncover meaningful insights to act on. Not too long ago, Forrester reported that companies only use 12% of the data they have at their disposal. Imagine what opportunities you could find hiding in that 82%. Furthermore, only 49% of marketers say they use data to enhance the customer experience.
So, we say that in order for you to level up your content marketing strategy, you need to let data and your analysis of said data lead the way. Here are our suggestions on how you can walk the talk and turn your data-informed content dreams into a reality.
#1 – Data-Informed Benchmarks and Goals
Simply put, there can be no strategy if there’s no end goal. Your objectives are the foundation of your strategy, guiding your decisions and tactical mix so you can drive results.
Your goals might be to increase organic traffic, audience engagement, or website conversions. However, to achieve success, these goals need to be measurable. And that’s where data and the insights you derive from it can help.
To set goals that are reality-based and measurable, analyze your current performance for each of the goals you want to set (e.g. MQLs, organic traffic, etc.). Take a look at the month-over-month and year-over-year results in each area to determine your current monthly and annual growth rates to establish a benchmark. Then make sure your goals and benchmarks are included in your documented content marketing strategy. Ultimately, this will allow you to make more informed, specific goals that are easy to track and, hopefully, achieve.
[bctt tweet=”Without an end-goal, there can be no strategy. @annieleuman #ContentMarketingStrategy” username=”toprank”]
#2 – Data-Informed Audience and Buyer Personas
The success of your content marketing efforts hinges on your ability to empathize and connect with your target audiences. To do that, the content you create needs to resonate. It needs to help your audience solve their problems or get their questions answered.
As a result, you absolutely want to use data insights to develop a more holistic picture of your target buyers-their interests, problems, behaviors, and preferences. Taking the time to do this can help you ensure your strategy is built on data, not gut feel or assumptions.
Get started on defining your target audience(s) by reviewing your company’s website and social analytics with metrics like demographics, interests, age, industry, and behavior. In addition, leverage search analytics. Buyers have questions they’re searching for every day-and you have the opportunity to be the best answer.
Lastly, ask your sales team for insight into the prospects and customers they talk to every day so you can more clearly define who your content needs to reach, what motivates them, where they’re active, what you hope to solve for them, and more. This qualitative data will complement the quantitative numbers you’ll find in Google Analytics (GA) and other data sources.
#3 – Data-Informed Content Mapping
The same CMI and MarketingProfs report revealed that 81% of B2B marketers believe the top benefit of a content strategy is that it makes it easier to determine which types of content to develop. Regardless of where buyers are in the funnel, a successful content strategy is able to provide a roadmap for content that will help move them through the funnel. And data can help you expertly map those pieces of content to the buyer journey.
How should you get started? Take a look at your current content performance in GA and on your social networks. What’s resonating with your audience and what are they ignoring? Which pages and blog posts are converting? What is it about them that converts? Are they videos or blog posts? Diving deep into your current content results and how they help move people through each stage of the buyer journey will help you determine which types of content are the most successful at each stage. This process will also reveal the topics that are most important as well. Together, this provides a clear content journey to include in your strategy.
In addition, data from your site’s in-site search engine can help reveal additional gaps and content opportunities. If your audience isn’t able to find what they’re looking for on your site, they’re going to try and search for it. And the in-site search report in GA reveals the topics they can’t find or questions they need answered.
[bctt tweet=”Regardless of where buyers are in the funnel, a successful #contentstrategy is able to provide a roadmap to help them on their journey. – @annieleuman” username=”toprank”]
#4 – Data-Informed Content Amplification
You know your goals. You know your audience. You know what to content topics and types resonates. But how are people going to find your message? You need to promote your content where your audience will see and engage with it. And data can help you determine where.
Take advantage of the acquisition reports in GA to see where your audience discovers your content. For example, if social is a big traffic driver for your site, you should include a social amplification plan in your strategy. Plus, you can build out this plan even further by analyzing which social networks bring in the biggest audience. Armed with this information, you can form a content marketing strategy that not only has the right audience and the right message, but also the right channels.
#5 – Data-Informed Optimization
Your content strategy provides a roadmap for success, but as needs change, you may need to take a detour occasionally. As you execute your strategy, you may see shifts in audience behavior or content performance that require you to make adjustments to your approach. And that’s a good thing. You’re adapting and evolving your strategy to meet the needs of your audience. But without routine data analysis, those moves are almost impossible to make.
So test your content ideas. Measure their performance. Optimize based on the initial results. And repeat. A/B testing tools like Google Optimize or Optimizely can help you make those important tests and monitor their results. Depending on what the data reveals went well and what failed, you can apply it to both your past and future content.
Where Will the Data Insights Lead Your Content Marketing Strategy?
Regardless of your content marketing maturity, data insights hold incredible power for unlocking opportunity and building a more successful content strategy.
Remember, the analysis piece has to happen in order to turn raw data into actionable insights. If you’re in the process of forming your content marketing strategy for 2019, let those insights lead your goals and benchmarks, target audiences, content mapping, and amplification plan. And keep reviewing your data on an ongoing basis to ensure your strategy evolves along with your audience’s needs.
Want some more help building your content strategy and want more data to back it up? SEO insights can help. Discover six SEO data insights that can help you form your content strategy.
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You know what they call a shortcut that actually saves time?
That was the wisdom my dad gave me the first time we went hiking together. Sometimes when you look at the map, it looks like there’s a better path. But the route is the route for a reason. Chasing a shortcut feels like making progress – but it might not get you to the trail’s end.
Marketers dig shortcuts. Or, as we call them, “hacks.” It makes sense: We’re usually overworked, understaffed, and expected to work wonders. A content marketing hack promises to cut a straight line through a tedious process, increasing efficiency and boosting results.
While some hacks can absolutely aid success, there are several instances in which you’re better off sticking to the route. Here are five shortcuts that will actually cost you time, resources, or reputation.
#1 – Shady Linkbuilding
Search algorithms consider how many backlinks your content has, right? So why not treat backlinking like another paid channel? There are plenty of entities that will help you out. Their tactics range from moderately shady (groups that exist only to share each other’s links) and incredibly shady (you pay them, they link you on tons of cloned spam sites).
But backlinks only work in your favor if they’re from reputable sites – and if your content is really worth linking to in the first place. If shady sites are linking to your content, that will actually hurt your ranking. And if Google finds out you’re engaging in shady linkbuilding, they might choose to penalize you further. Search engines are fiercely protective against any attempt to game the system.
Link building is possibly the only marketing function for which there isn’t a good paid alternative. It has to be organic, and you have to put in the work. The best way to get quality backlinks is to create amazing content.
Make stuff people will want to link to. Include influencers who will throw you a link. Do some outreach to reputable sites who would find the content relevant. It’s a drawn-out and tedious process, but it’s better than risking Google’s wrath. Plus, even if you don’t earn hundreds of backlinks, you’ll still have quality content to bring people in.
#2 – Copy/Paste Repurposing
As an agency, we’re bullish on repurposing content. It’s a good way to fill out your editorial calendar. It’s great for squeezing every drop of potential from an eBook, a blog post series, or an influencer submission. But proper repurposing takes a little time and effort. So why not just take some old stuff, paste it into a new blog, and call it good? Who’s going to remember that blog post from 2009, anyway?
Short answer: Google. Duplicate content is another ranking factor that can move you down in the SERP. Thoughtless repurposing can get you in trouble with your audience, too: If they catch on that you’re repurposing without updating (those “Call Me Maybe” references are a dead giveaway), you’ll lose credibility. And if you’re just slapping a new image on an old blog post to fill out the content calendar, odds are you haven’t considered whether the content is still relevant to your audience.
[bctt tweet=”If you’re just slapping a new image on an old blog post to fill out the #content calendar, odds are you haven’t considered whether the content is still relevant to your audience. @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]
As with all content marketing, repurposing should start with strategy. Make sure the content you want to repurpose is still resonating with your target audience. Update it so it’s superfresh and hyper-relevant. You could even add some influencer quotes (original or curated), or transform the content into another medium entirely.
In short, repurposing is great for putting out content with less effort… but it still requires a little effort to truly rock it.
#3 – Uninspired Curation
Curation is another way to fill out an editorial calendar with low-effort, high-return content. That means list posts, news roundups, lists of stats – anything that’s primarily bringing in third-party content.
You can see uninspired curation posts everywhere. I won’t call anyone out specifically, but try a search for “[subject matter] stats” for one type. You’ll see dozens of articles all listing the same 20 statistics, most of which don’t cite their source (or they’ll cite another stats article as the source).
Lazy curation can also look like a news roundup with nothing but headlines and hyperlinks. Or a “x best books” that’s just a list of titles. Or a quotes roundup with content everyone’s seen a dozen times. There are lots of ways to go quick, easy, and dull.
What sets good curation apart from lazy curation is an intent to provide value. Lazy curation is all about filling blog space. The alternative is to understand your audience and actively seek out stuff they might have missed that would be useful to them.
[bctt tweet=”What sets good #curation apart from lazy curation is an intent to provide value. @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]
Your curated content should also include your brand’s point of view. Anyone can compile a list of links. Stand out by bringing valuable editorial context that only you (and your brand) can provide.
#4 – Single Drafting
It takes work to make sure your content is the best it can be. And look, I know how it goes: Sometimes the deadlines are looming, the creation process was slow, and you just want to click “Publish” on that first draft. It may not be perfect, but it’s something, right? Maybe you can glance over it once before you publish. You do good work; who needs an editor?
Based on some of the content I’ve read recently, publishing without editing is a new favorite content shortcut. But all those typos, awkward sentences, and trailing thoughts can hurt your credibility.
We believe every piece of content needs at least two pairs of eyes on it. Everything gets an edit. Even this blog post by a senior content writer. Ideally, you should write, edit, and have someone else QA before you publish. It’s as simple as that.
#5 – Shallow Influencer Marketing
We all know influencer marketing – working with industry experts and thought leaders to add value and credibility to your content – is a great way to increase amplification, connect with new audiences, and build valuable relationships.
The quick and easy way to do influencer marketing is use a tool to find influencers, pay them for content, then go your separate ways. Like the other shortcuts on this list, it’s quick, and it works – for a while. Until the budget runs out, or your audience gets jaded, or your influencer gets on someone else’s payroll.
Shallow influencer marketing is similar to a celebrity endorsement. There’s no relationship-building, no follow-up, no mutual excitement for the content you’re creating. Of course, some influencers want financial compensation, and that’s fine. But if you want truly effective influencer content, something has to be in it for them beyond the money.
We strive to cultivate relationships with people who are not only influential, but smart, fascinating, and doing cool stuff we want to share with our audience. Over time we have developed a community of influencers who we love working with, and who love working with us.
The True Danger of a Shortcut
All of the above shortcuts seem like they can save time or effort with just a little trade-off in quality. But those little compromises add up, and can actually hurt you in the long run. The real danger, however, is that chasing these shortcuts keeps you from optimizing, improving, and perfecting.
[bctt tweet=”Constantly chasing #contentmarketing shortcuts keeps you from optimizing, improving, and perfecting. – @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]
Definitely keep an eye out for ways you can genuinely increase efficiency. Move faster and get better results over time. But remember that there’s no shortcut for doing it right and doing it well. There’s only the route.
There are no shortcuts in content marketing. But there are ways to increase productivity and efficiency in a strategic way. Check out these posts to find more inspiration:
- 16 Ways to Be More Efficient With Content Creation
- 5 Productivity Hacks to Bring Content Creation from Failing to Flying High
- 6 Quick & Dirty SEO Research Tips for B2B Content Planning
Of if you need help planning your route? Check out our content marketing services.
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