Making the Case for Storytelling in Content Marketing

Posted by Brianne Carlon on Jul 12, 2013 7:28:00 AM

storytellingMazda car company decided to forgo its popular “zoom zoom” advertising campaign this year in favor of an ad that tells a great story. And it isn’t even a story about Mazda. It portrays Dick Fosbury who revolutionized the high jump by soaring over the bar backward. Fosbury and other “game changers” portray Mazda’s idea behind “developing new and different ways to build outstanding vehicles.” The ad goes beyond the what to the "why.”

By reaching buyers on a human and emotional level, this simple, 30-second commercial has made the case for storytelling in advertising, marketing and content development.

Let’s take a look at a few other elements that make the case for storytelling.

According to Psychology Today, the influential role of consumer behavior has been proven again and again:

  • fMRI neuro-imagery shows that, when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features and facts).
  • Advertising research reveals emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content—by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads.
  • Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded the emotion of “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
  • Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments, which are based on a brand’s attributes.

In a less formal study, a marketing researcher decided to have each of the students in her class give a 1-minute pitch. Only one in 10 students used a story within his or her pitch. The others stuck to more traditional pitch elements: facts and figures. The woman then asked the class to write down everything they remembered regarding each pitch. Only 5 percent of students cited a statistic, but a whopping 63 percent remembered the story.

However, no one says facts and figures should be completely eliminated from your storytelling. In fact, weaving the two together can have an even greater effect on your buyers. “Studies show that we are wired to remember stories much more than data, facts and figures,” explains Jennifer Aaker, professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “However, when data and story are used together, audiences are moved both emotionally and intellectually.” 

Now you know storytelling is good for your bottom line. But how do you implement it? Marketers are not traditionally skilled in writing prose. Well the truth is, storytelling can be broken down into three acts, each one ultimately leading your buyers down the rabbit hole. To learn more, download the free guide, “Storytelling: How to Acquire Leads in 3 Acts.”


With a degree in journalism, Brianne Carlon has more than seven years of professional writing and content marketing experience. Through web and editorial writing, she reaches target audiences for Fortune 1000 companies, as well as small businesses. She uses her content marketing powers to help Kuno and its clients build their brands. You can connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+


photo credit: Scottish Libraries

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Topics: storytelling, content marketing, kuno creative, brianne carlon

31 Content Marketing KPIs You Should be Measuring

Posted by John McTigue on Jun 11, 2013 7:17:00 AM

You already know you should be offering content marketing services to your clients, as well as heavily producing your own ebooks, guides and blogs. Content marketing increases brand awareness, generates new leads and nurtures those leads into customers. But something we have not quite figured out yet is how to gauge its effectiveness. Wouldn't it be smart to measure the type, frequency and interactivity of our content to measure its effectiveness as a function of outcomes and to keep ourselves on track for achieving performance goals? We think so.

Here, we discuss several content marketing KPIs you should be measuring to do just that. 

Output KPIs

Let's keep track of how often we publish content, our authorship (a new key for Google), and what kind of content we publish on a regular basis. Consider these content marketing KPIs:

  • Number of blog posts published (per month)
  • Number of distinct authors (per month)
  • Number of guest bloggers (per month)
  • Number of syndicated blog posts (per month)
  • Number of blog comments (by us - per month)
  • Number of social media posts (per month)
  • Number of downloads published (ebooks/whitepapers) per quarter
  • Number of videos published (per quarter)
  • Number of webinars hosted (per quarter)
  • Number of press releases (per month)

Interactive KPIs

Now let's measure how good (and conversation-inspiring) our content really is, as indicated by searches, views, likes, shares, comments and links:

  • Blog post views (per month)
  • Blog subscriptions (per month)
  • Blog post comments (other than ours - per month)
  • Blog post inbound links (per month)
  • Blog post visits from organic search (per month)
  • Social media shares (other than ours - per month)
  • Social media likes (per month)
  • Social media +1s (per month)
  • Social media comments (per month)

Conversion KPIs

Finally, let's specifically measure the impact of our content marketing on lead generation (and ultimately on revenue generation):

  • Leads from blog post CTAs (per month)
  • Leads from blog post links (per month)
  • Leads from blog page CTAs (per month)
  • Leads from social media posts (not ads - per month)
  • Leads from press releases (per month)
  • Leads from all downloads (per month)
  • Leads from webinars (per month)
  • Number of lead nurturing downloads (per month)
  • Conversion rates on all types of landing pages (blog CTAs, social media, etc.)
  • Number of customers whose first touch was content (per month)
  • Number of customers whose last touch (before purchase) was content
  • Revenue sourced from all content marketing activities (per month)

How to Measure Content Marketing KPIs

Some of these are straightforward to measure if you have marketing automation in place or even basic blogging tools, such as Wordpress plug-ins. Others will require some digging, for example isolating the number of customers whose first or last touch was content. Some tools are better than others for putting this data together, and in a future post, we will examine specific methods for tracking these metrics. Ideally, every digital marketing department should have one or more data analysts whose mission (and passion) is figuring out how to glean KPIs from all of the marketing big data you collect.

For now, I would recommend starting with measuring your own output. How often do you blog and create offers for lead generation? Staying accountable for regular production and publication is one of the bastions of inbound marketing success. Tracking those efforts keeps you moving forward and lets your management team know that you are spending those content marketing dollars consistently and following your plan. Measuring the interactivity of your content and some of the conversion KPIs will give them at least some idea of how effective your content marketing program is becoming and help to justify your budget.

PersonalizedContent


With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via TwitterLinkedIn or Google Plus.


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Topics: john mctigue, content marketing kpis, marketing kpis, content marketing

5 Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Budget

Posted by Ryan Malone on Apr 13, 2013 7:56:00 AM

According to an Ad Age survey presented by Marketing Charts, content marketing comprises an average of 12% of overall marketing budgets. A full 10% of marketers spend more than 30% on content marketing, and 9% spend 19-30%. This means that approximately one in five marketers with a budget of $100,000 would spend up to or more than $30,000 per year on content marketing. Also worth noting is that 55% of those surveyed indicated that they would be increasing their content marketing budget for 2013.

The results of the survey are below:

content marketing budget

This many marketers can't be wrong about content marketing. If you're not using this important tactic as part of your marketing strategy, you're potentially missing a major opportunity to reach more new customers.

Why is content marketing so popular?

Consumers find products and services in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular is through Internet searching. The more content you have on your website, blog, and social media pages, the more likely it is that a lead will find you. However, when it comes to content marketing, quality is just as important as quantity. Consumers respond best to content that provides value. Whether it is advice or entertainment, quality content that is regularly updated will attract and retain more leads than simple sales pitches. The best content marketing campaigns build trust, educate the consumer, help you develop a loyal community, and increase sales conversions.

Important factors for creating a content marketing budget

There are many different types of content marketing, including:

  • Blog posts
  • White papers
  • E-books
  • Social media campaigns
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Buyers' guides

The types of content that you should use will depend largely on your target audience, but it's important to use multiple approaches. For example, if you offer professional accounting services, you might create an informative white paper that describes recent tax updates, and a series of blog posts that answer the most common questions about changes to the tax code. On the other hand, if you sell flower arranging kits, a more effective approach might be to write a graphic-rich e-book and create a series of how-to videos.

Either way, the importance of ongoing content updates cannot be understated. After a lead reads your white paper or e-book, you need to create fresh new content that will keep them coming back for more. Factor this into your content marketing budget so you have enough funds to keep it going all year long. Remember, online content provides ongoing benefits beyond the initial attention it receives. A white paper will draw in new leads long after you have seen a return on the investment, and regular blog posts have a cumulative effect of improving search engine rankings.

How do you create a content marketing budget?

If you are introducing content marketing or placing more emphasis on this important component of an effective marketing strategy, you'll need to create a budget. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Decide what percentage of your overall marketing budget will go to content marketing. If you follow the current trend, this will probably be 20-30%.
  2. Decide which types of content marketing you want to do. Remember, it's important to have ongoing content development in addition to the occasional e-book or white paper.
  3. Allocate your resources. Factor in the personnel time and costs (either in-house or outsourced) required for writing, editing, video production, graphics, distribution, and content promotion.
  4. Estimate monthly expenses. Create an annual editorial calendar so you can predict how much you will need each month. For example, if you plan to launch a new product or service in May, you might bolster your content marketing efforts around that time.
  5. Stick to it. A budget is useless if you don't actually use it. Track actual expenses so you can modify the budget as necessary. Don't forget to track successes and failures so you know where to focus your content marketing efforts in the next year.

It's clear that an effective content marketing strategy requires ongoing effort. Unfortunately, not all businesses have the talent or resources to do it on their own. This is why so many small businesses choose to outsource content development to a company that has the expertise and staff to generate quality content. 

How do you use content marketing for your business? What percent of your overall marketing budget is used for content creation and promotion?

About the Author: Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media, a strategic inbound marketing agency and Hubspot Gold Partner based on Southern California. Go Lakers.  

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Topics: content, social media marketing, business blogging, inbound marketing, content marketing, marketing planning, inbound marketing agency, smartbug media, ryan malone, how to generate leads, buyer persona, content creation

Content Marketing for Folks Who Shower AFTER Work

Posted by Ed Marsh on Apr 11, 2013 6:49:00 AM

Hipsters of the world unite!

inbound marketing practitionerWait a minute...they already have.  They teamed up with the programmers, some MBAs and a couple artist types and created an innovative discipline called "content marketing."

The natural base of customers? The types of companies, products, services and business sectors where they feel most comfortable and intuitively understand the business value and buyer persona.

It makes sense - you work within your comfort zone. That's often where you're most effective.

The end result?  
  1. Although hardly ubiquitous, inbound marketing is pretty well recognized and established in areas that were first identified. 
  2. There are huge gaps between Cambridge and Menlo Park and between islands of software and service companies.
"Fly over country" and manufacturing industries haven't yet embraced the potential of inbound marketing. (I know that there are practitioners - both agency and company - that represent geographic and industry diversity. This isn't an absolute, and some may contest the generalization. But there are indisputably huge gaps.)

content marketing powerWorkers of the world unite!

Wait a minute....we've tried that a couple times and it hasn't worked!

But seriously, there are huge swathes of American industry that are slipping between the content marketing cracks. And in many of these cases they have innovative technologies, quality differentiators and effective solutions to real manufacturing problems.

Somehow we've allowed a business "digital divide" to develop - between the SaaS, mobile app hip crowd that showers before work, and the metal bending, hydraulics-using manufacturing workers that shower after work.

This isn't to anyone's benefit. How do we overcome it?

Digital marketing isn't just for digital business

There's fault on both sides. The carefully cultivated, slightly crusty, down home folksy rejection of new fangled stuff is endearing (and those of us slaves to email may be envious), but self-defeating.

Conversely the hyper-caffeinated, buzz word laden, BYOD techy approach tends to dwell in a parallel reality — brilliant, intellectual and creative, but slightly detached from the core.

industrial content marketingBut there's real power in digital marketing even (or perhaps especially) for industries that may be constrained by self-limiting beliefs.

So those of us in the content marketing community have both opportunity and obligation. If we can figure out how to distill the benefits of content marketing into a language and presentation that is sensible for traditional industries, there's gold in them hills. (Not to mention over seas and oceans - the international value of inbound marketing is enormous for American industry as well!)  

And if you believe that American manufacturing can regain its role as the soul of a strong middle class (at least until additive manufacturing/3D printing becomes fully established), then you have an obligation as a practitioner of the inbound marketing discipline to help make it accessible.

Let's take responsibility as a group to figure out how to distill the amazing value of content marketing to a heartland audience. Let's have the discussion. We can all benefit regardless of when we shower!

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Topics: inbound marketing, content marketing, b2b marketing, industrial marketing, small business

Building A Winning Lead Nurturing Team with Clients

Posted by Shannon Fuldauer on Mar 12, 2013 7:48:00 AM

Lead nurturing has probably become a major part of the services you offer your clients. Lead nurturing allows marketers to maintain communication with leads who are not yet ready to buy, and your clients understand that. What they may not understand, though, is executing a successful lead nurturing strategy often requires the involvement of several departments within an organization, not just marketing. 

Before embarking on your lead nurturing journey with your clients, here are a few people you may want to consider including on the lead nurturing team.

Sales Managers

Don’t wait until you have a list of leads to engage sales managers in the process — aligning sales and marketing early on is essential. Never assume marketing and sales define qualified leads in the same way—in fact, their definitions are often very different. It is also important to agree at what point a lead will be handed off to sales and the process for getting the leads into the hands of the right sales representatives. Many marketing automation systems, such as HubSpot and Marketo, have built-in lead scoring functionality. Points are assigned to a lead based on a variety of factors, like pages visited, content consumed, job title, company size, etc. Once a lead’s score reaches a defined threshold, it is sent sales.

Sales Representatives

Lead nurturing will most likely be a new concept for your sales team. In my experience, most sales reps are accustomed to cold calling leads from a purchased list or following up on leads that have completed a sample request or sweepstakes form. Prior to launching a lead nurturing program, educate the reps on the process and how better qualified leads will benefit them: according to DemandGen Report, on average, nurtured leads produce a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus nonnurtured leads. It is also important to talk with the reps about the information they need to qualify a lead. Marketing can use this information to build better lead capturing forms.

Legal/Regulatory Team

In working with clients, I have found those that have included the legal/regulatory department early on in the process often face fewer barriers when submitting content for approval. You may find that not all copy may need to go through the same rigorous review process. For example, copy extracted from previously approved documents for use in emails or blogs may be able to bypass some stages of the approval process. But you will only know this if you ask the right people up front!

IT

As marketers, if we could simply measure our success by the number of leads sent to sales, our job would be easy, right? Wishful thinking, I know. Our success is often measured on the revenue generated from the leads. However, without having a complete picture of what happens to the leads once they are handed over to sales, it is difficult to report ROI. In an ideal situation there is a constant flow of data between your CRM and marketing software through the use of an API—this is where your IT team can help. Be sure to include them early in the process rather than frustrating everyone half way through.

Customer/Technical Support

Who knows the common questions and challenges customers face better than your front-line support teams? Your customer service and technical support departments can provide you with valuable insight. For example, in talking with technical support you may learn the three most common questions received. Why not interview a technical service rep to get answers to these questions and use this information to create a download or blog post? 

Final Thought: Remember a successful lead nurturing program often requires the assistance of multiple departments within your company. Before jumping in head first, take the time to meet with and educate key players.

Have you recently embarked on the lead nurturing journey? Share your tips for success or tell us about the challenges you encountered in the comment section below.


Shannon Fuldauer has a B2B and B2C eCommerce Marketing background including roles as Vice President of Marketing & Sales Support, and subsequently Vice President of Public Relations & SEO Services, for CareerBoard.com. She has expertise in digital marketing and advanced email communications.






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Topics: shannon fuldauer, enterprise inbound marketing, content marketing

4 Questions to Create Buyer Personas: A Client Story

Posted by Brianne Carlon on Feb 11, 2013 7:29:00 AM

Developing buyer personas can be time consuming and challenging. While there are expensive options, such as focus groups, sometimes all you need to do is talk to your customers. Recent customers know what your target audience is looking for and the pain points they are experiencing. So start interviewing!

After you have interviewed several recent customers, you are ready to get started creating your buyer persona. Here's a Kuno Creative example: 

4 Questions for Understanding Your Customers and Your Product

Who is your ideal buyer? Yes, the first step is that easy. Talk about who your buyer is — as you would describe a friend, and take notes. This does not mean write down demographics and move on. It means understanding what your buyer cares about, what a day in his life is like, how he likes to communicate, what his hobbies are and what drives him to make decisions. Sit down with your team and talk about the details that affect your consumers’ lives.

At Kuno Creative, we have a client called Kendal at Oberlin, a retirement community located in Oberlin, Ohio, for independent adults. After interviewing several current residents, here’s how I would define a likely candidate: John and his wife, Theresa, are retired but are not slowing down. They enjoy traveling, social engagements and physical activities that help them remain fit, and they don’t want to stop learning—ever. Their fear is feeling old, lonely and useless.  John and Theresa are not ignorant of technology—their grandkids got them an iPad for Christmas last year—but they prefer to communicate via phone or in person. Finally, John and Theresa do not want to deal with owning a home anymore: landscaping, paying utilities, cooking and cleaning are just not priorities these days. However, they do not want to give up their independence or living in Ohio where their family also resides.

There are a lot of factors in that one conversation, a lot of which help you understand what drives your buyers’ decision-making process. Your next step should include boiling down your buyers’ problem.

What is their need? John and Theresa want to sell their home and find a retirement community that is filled with life, instead of a nursing home for “old people.” They are not sure this option even exists.

When you get to the root of your persona’s problem, you can really target your marketing in an effective way. Do not skip this step.

How do we solve that problem? This is the step where you figure out why consumers should care about your product or service and what would intrigue them to check you out.

For example, our client provides a vibrant living community located in a college town for active older adults who are seeking independent living and also planning for future health care needs. Now Kendal at Oberlin needs to convince John and Theresa they are a perfect fit.

What is your unique value proposition? In this case, we are a retirement and long-term care community that encourages independence, lifelong learning and a social life without the hassle of owning a home.

What makes your business stand out? What makes your product or service different from your competitors? How does it solve your potential customers’ problems? Once you figure this out, you know how to start marketing.

Write out your persona using complete details. Give the persona a name (such as John or Theresa) and include a picture to really help your team picture this persona as a real person.

Remember, each persona is different and will have a different buying cycle. In our current example, John and Theresa do not want to leave Ohio because that is where their family is located. Their buying experience will be different from Jacki’s, a single retired college professor who wants to move to a retirement community but does not want to give up that college-town vibe, so she is willing to move farther to obtain those goals.

What are your tips for developing buyer personas?


brianne carlonWith a degree in journalism, Brianne has more than six years of professional writing and content marketing experience. Through web and editorial writing, she reaches target audiences for Fortune 1000 companies, as well as small businesses. She uses her content marketing powers to help Kuno and its clients build their brands. You can connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+


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Topics: content marketing, kuno creative, buyer persona, brianne carlon

Case Study: How A Very Small Business Increased Leads 300% with 3 New Landing Pages

Posted by Steve James on Jan 16, 2013 7:31:00 AM

Marketing Challenge

RIDE Adventures is in a unique type of travel business with a dependency on keywords that have relatively low search volume. (For example: “Motorcycle Tours”) In an initiative to increase Top of the Funnel (TOFU) leads through their website, Eric Lange, the owner of RIDE Adventures recognized they would have to gain new visits and contacts through keywords and topics that are more widely searched for by their prospective customers. After thorough keyword research and analysis, he confirmed that not only were keywords like “Motorcycle Gear” and “Motorcycle Travel” pertinent to their customers’ interests, but they also had remarkably higher search volume than keywords directly focused on what RIDE Adventures was selling.

The Solution

As RIDE Adventures had already been committed to creating resourceful content in blogging and videos, similar topics were also formed into downloadable whitepapers, free for visitors and researchers to enjoy. In some cases these whitepapers already existed, as they were being provided to customers upon bookings for motorcycle tours anyway. The difference in late 2012 was that instead of these whitepapers only being offered to existing customers, they were placed as calls to action (CTAs) throughout the website, as well as built into a specific page dedicated to “Free Motorcycle Travel Information.”  More content, more keywords, and more offers have led not only to an increase in visits to their website, but an amazing spike in TOFU contacts is being enjoyed as well. (Screenshots taken January 10, 2013)

ride adventure solution1

An important point to make note of (shown in the next screenshot below) is how the previous couple of years of blogging and creating content had definitely increased traffic to the web site, but TOFU leads were not increasing at the same rate. As we’re constantly reminded, “content is king,” and especially helpful if your company’s ideal keywords also have high search volume. However, in the event there isn’t high search volume for your ideal keywords, creating pertinent content on “secondary” topics related to what we’re selling is what’s needed in order see such a spike in TOFU leads.

ride adventure solution2

In addition to creating the whitepaper download offers themselves, each click by a visitor was leading them to very specific landing pages made in accordance with Hubspot’s 10 Best Practices For Landing Page development. Whereas many of these best practices had previously been overlooked or ignored by RIDE Adventures, implementation of such key features into these new pages has seen conversion rates as high as 34% as compared to their more antiquated landing pages, which tend to average around 10% conversion rates. The combination of a great offer found through pertinent keywords and a well-designed landing page is proving quite fruitful to RIDE Adventures.

This strategy helps RIDE Adventures not only in gaining more contacts, but also in terms of credibility and content as well. TOFU leads that receive these whitepapers are benefitting from the vast information provided and often coming back for a 2nd, 3rd, or 4thdownload later. Stream Creative had been consulting with RIDE Adventures and reminding them of the importance of being seen as authority on the topics their customers are interested in. As a result, customers keep coming back for more, which sets up the groundwork for workflows to be created that drive more leads to become actual customers.

ride adventure results landing page

It goes without saying that all the content, all the keywords, meta tags, and inbound links that stem from these new offers are contributing to the RIDE Adventures search engine rankings as well. In fact, the content provided in each whitepaper has been offered in short segments on their blog as well and helps the search engines discover each page and therefore each call to action leading them to a landing page.

The Results

Well, you can see them! Not only have unique visits continued to increase for RIDE Adventures, but in the final 3 months of 2012, their contact database actually doubled over what they had accumulated the previous 24 months of being in business. In addition: a) unique visits are reaching all-time highs and at steeper rates than what were typically realized, b) customers are seeing RIDE Adventures as an authority on a subject they’re interested in, and c) inquiries about the actual services RIDE Adventures is in business to provide have risen dramatically as well! Their outlook for 2013 as the 3rd year in business is looking brighter than ever before, and customers are feeling it as well.

 

About the Author: Steve James is a partner and creative director of Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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Topics: keyword research, keyword discovery, measurable marketing, business blogging, inbound marketing, content marketing, stream creative

Why Content Matters: Tips for Effective CTA Copy

Posted by Shannon Fuldauer on Jan 15, 2013 8:50:00 AM

Let's face it—without strong copy, your calls to action and landing pages will not succeed. Within seconds of seeing your call to action (CTA), a visitor should be able to determine exactly why he or she should take action and what they will get in return for their information or money. If your CTA copy is ineffective or confusing, you have already lost the lead. 

The most effective CTAs contain action verbs. Excluding these powerful words from your copy leaves the reader with little to no direction and often hurts your click rate—ultimately affecting your conversion rate.

Think of action verbs as a CTA's best friend—they convey emotion and appeal to the reader’s senses.

A call to action—whether on your website, email or print material—is meant to prompt a person to perform a specific action. There are several factors that contribute to an effective call to action, including copy, design, and placement. Today we will focus specifically on copy.

Here are a few examples of powerful action verbs:

  • Discover
  • Explore
  • Click
  • Learn
  • Examine
  • Download
  • Find
  • Uncover

Why Less is More

You've heard the statement less is more. In the case of most calls to action, this holds true. Fewer words with more robust meaning (that your audience can easily understand) should be the goal when creating your copy. Don't get too wordy that your message gets lost among the vocabulary. Adverbs and adjectives will weigh down your copy. On the other hand, a visitor should not have to dust off the thesaurus or search Google to understand the meaning of a word in your CTA. Additionally, avoid technical terms or internal acronyms that often bore or confuse your audience.

Use relevant statistics when possible to back up your statements. Most people are intrigued by statistics, and, in a world of vague claims, actual numbers help validate your offer. For example, HubSpot’s call to action for joining its email list is, “Get the world’s best marketing resources right in your inbox! Join more than 817,000 inbound marketers!”

What We Have Learned So Far

At Kuno Creative, we are constantly A/B testing our own CTAs. Our visitors tend to respond best to phrases such as Free Ebook or Free Cheat Sheet. On the flip side, the phrase Learn More, often coverts lower.

The Takeaway?

It is important to know your audience and be willing to test copy. Rarely will the first CTA you create generate the most conversions. While we can offer best practices in developing strong copy, it is really up to you to constantly test and readjust your CTA's based on the data you gather. Some action verbs will convert better than others depending on your industry, and it is your job to discover what works best. 

Do you have great CTA copy tips you would like to share?  What success have you experienced? Leave us a comment. 


shannon fuldauerAbout the author: Shannon Fuldauer has a B2B and B2C eCommerce Marketing background including roles as Vice President of Marketing & Sales Support, and subsequently Vice President of Public Relations & SEO Services, for CareerBoard.com. She has expertise in digital marketing and advanced email communications and is a senior consultant with Kuno Creative.


 

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Topics: landing pages, calls to action, content marketing

The Age-Old Content Marketing Conundrum: Quality vs. Quantity

Posted by John McTigue on Dec 17, 2012 8:06:00 AM

content marketing balanceWe all know the benefits of writing at least five blog posts per week (higher traffic and leads), but what happens when we don’t have enough time to write them for every client, as well as ourselves? What happens if we outsource them to “blog farms”? Most likely, we will see a decline in readership and shares. Then how do we find a good balance between quality and quantity that sustains our growth without diluting our content? Here are some things to think about.

Let's consider the root cause of the problem using a continuous improvement exercise: the 5 Why's. 

Perceived problem: We don't have the internal resources to write a sufficient number of high-quality blog posts on a consistent basis to increase traffic and leads.

Why? Because we don't have good writers on staff who have the bandwidth for blogging.

Why? Because we don't hire people with those skills in mind and make content a part of their job descriptions.

Why? Because we are just now recognizing the value of content marketing in our overall marketing strategy.

Why? Because we adopted a 'wait and see' policy until the economy recovers and marketing trends become clearer.

Why? Because we have always taken a conservative approach to new directions, and that has always been successful for us.

Continuous improvement is good at uncovering bigger problems that plague the rest of the organization or even hold it back. In this case, because the company is worried about hiring new people and doesn't recognize the value of talented content writers, it is prepared to surrender that advantage to more aggressive competitors. So what's the solution? Higher ups at the organization think, "Let's try some experiments by outsourcing a few blogs a month to some (relatively) cheap bloggers and see what impact that has on our inbound metrics." But there are troubles that come with that:  

  • The inexpensive, outsourced writers don't know you and don't care
  • You're not committed to consistent, high-quality content, and it shows
  • Your most valuable assets, your people, have no voice
  • Your leadership in your market has no voice, and no audience
  • This strategy won't work, so the initiative will die on the vine
     

Is there a better solution?

Take the leap. Hire someone with excellent writing skills. Make blogging an important part of his or her job, and empower them to become an important voice of the company. Get leaders and staffers involved in the process. Your content person can help them express themselves through blogs and social media channels. If you're going to outsource, make sure it's with a firm or freelancer who commits to getting to know everything about your company, your people and your business.

Fear is the No. 1 public enemy of progress. This quality content thing is long past being a trend. It's a reality that isn't going away. Get on board before it is too late.



john mctigue blogAbout the Author: With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John McTigue loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via TwitterLinkedIn or Google Plus.
 


LeanDigital Blog3

photo credit: Carolyn_Sewell

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Topics: john mctigue, quality versus quantity, outsourcing content, content marketing, kuno creative

Our B2B Marketing is solid - we already do all that "content" stuff

Posted by Ed Marsh on Nov 26, 2012 7:30:00 AM

The Paradox of Content Marketing Success

Content marketing is gaining traction.  

In practice that is unalloyed great news for B2B marketers. Those who embrace best practices and diligently craft a fabric woven on a warp of amazing content will generate really remarkable results.

But as a buzzword it has potentially disastrous potential. Well meaning but ignorant interpretations abound and self-anointed experts are being birthed at an alarming rate.

content marketingEach "expert" who fails to effectively structure an inbound marketing program jeopardizes the future viability of a company which will move forward to compete in increasingly competitive markets at a distinct disadvantage. And in each case that will be tragic because the desire was there, but opportunity will have been squandered through poor execution.

Collectively the risk is even greater. A small number of companies that have realized the potential of well crafted inbound marketing will proselytize regarding the benefits of inbound marketing. But a much larger group that casually implemented a poorly conceived or incomplete program, and received commensurate returns, will join in a chorus of frustration - discounting the potential for B2B marketing success.

"We're already doing that"

If you sell to businesses you've certainly heard this before. And you've probably thought to yourself. "No way. You don't even have a clue what I'm talking about."

Now there are two possibilities in that situation. The prospect may be right. Perhaps they're doing something that is similar to what you propose, in a way that is good enough for them. Alternatively, you could be right. They may be just blowing you off, or perhaps they think they are leveraging a similar solution to good effect without really understanding the nuance or even the foundational principles of the concept.  

So assuming you have at least adequate sales skills, and still can't overcome the myopic intransigence of the prospect, what's at play?

If you're selling to huge companies you could simply be bumping into junior execs or administrators who validate the "Peter Principle" or are protecting their turf. But if you're speaking to senior executives in SMBs, you're probably caught in a sensitivity trap!

Extroverts, sensitivity and recognition of threats

What we're really talking about here is a threat. In the case of a company adopting a comprehensive, strategically sound inbound marketing program the threat to which they would respond would be one of diminished marketing effectiveness, stagnating sales and enterprise decay.

But what if......the sort of person most likely to boldly start, grow and manage a business is the sort least likely to intuit or even account for subtle and uncertain threats? That's precisely one of the hypothesis of Susan Cain's (@susancain) book Quiet. Controversial? Certainly. Conclusive? Perhaps not. Make sense based on personal experience? Probably. The hard charging business founder who has launched despite the horrific odds and persevered through situations which would have brought others to their knees simply can't afford to worry about ghosts behind trees. And therefore they overlook potential legitimate threats too, and discount seemingly insignificant differences in approaches to problems.

Inbound marketing's "Achiles' Heel"

Therein lies the biggest risk to inbound marketing success. When executed properly the payoff in B2B marketing success is huge. But if it's not done right, the payoff is negligible. And too many extroverted, 'insensitive' (don't get pissed off, read the book instead to understand) types can point to a couple activities (maybe occasional press releases published on a website under the title of 'blog', or a company LinkedIn page or Twitter handle) and dismissively assert "We already do that."

But you can be different! Seriously! Don't let your hard charging business blinders obscure the seemingly minor details that are critically important. In inbound marketing "the Devil (really) is in the details." 

And a good place to start is with an easy to digest overview of how your business sales and marketing environment is evolving. Understanding where we came from, where we are and where we're going is critical to mapping the route to success. And a step by step strategy goes a long way toward demystifying something that is far more complicated than you imagined.

So change your tune! Instead of "We already do that" try responding with "We have to do that!" and embrace the potential of B2B marketing success.



About the Author: Ed Marsh is co-founder of Consilium Global Business Advisors, an international marketing consulting agency focused on developing strategic global business development and channel programs.
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Topics: small business marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, b2b lead generation

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