5 posts categorized "Marketing" Feed

August 22 Content Chat Recap: How to create account based marketing content that drives revenue growth


How to Create Account Based Marketing Content That Drives Revenue Growth

Last week, Matt Benati, CEO of Lead Gnome, joined #ContentChat to talk about how to create account based marketing (ABM) content that drives revenue growth.

Q1: What is account based marketing (ABM)? How does it differ from inbound marketing?

Continue reading "August 22 Content Chat Recap: How to create account based marketing content that drives revenue growth" »

6 Ways to Grow Your Freelancer Relationships


If freelance writers and designers are a core element to your content marketing strategy, then keeping them happy, to ensure many productive future content engagements, should be one of your top priorities. You know your rock star freelancers have other gigs, so how do you ensure that you’re their employer of choice? Start by committing to these 6 best practices.

1. Mind your scope creep.

Yes, we’ve all had those projects that once underway needed a course correction. But if your projects are consistently changing in scope (without the accompanying Statement of Work and payment schedule increasing accordingly), you may find your proposed projects not making it onto your freelancer’s calendar.

2. Don't change the topic or channel after the agreement is signed.

If you’ve agreed on three content topics with your freelancer, changing one of them after the agreement is signed and your freelancer has gotten to work on them gets things off on the wrong foot. The time they’ve estimated the project will take to complete included any research they’d need to do, and their familiarity with the subject matter. If you switch gears on them, they may end up spending considerably more time than budgeted to complete your project, which isn’t likely to endear you to them. 

3. Be upfront about how the content will be used.

If you plan to take the content the freelancer is creating for one channel, and reuse it without the freelancer’s involvement, let them know that upfront by requesting all rights to the work. Many freelancers charge differently for bylined work than work-made-for-hire content. So make sure you’ve spelled out your intentions before they content is drafted. Further, if they know it’s to be repurposed for a specific channel, it may affect how they write the piece I know that I’ve cringed to see content that worked great as a blog post being repurposed without editing in another channel that it didn’t really work in. Ditto for reusing an image in a channel other than the one it was created for. It pains a freelancer to see an image distorted by being stretched to fit an aspect ratio for which it wasn’t designed.

4. Don't make edits on bylined content without showing the author.

Have you ever had someone take a heavy hand to a piece you’ve written, and inadvertently change the meaning of a quote or your philosophy? Or worse yet, had a typo introduced? If you’re publishing content with the author’s byline on it, always give them a chance to review and approve your edits. And if something does slip through the cracks, be responsive when they reach out to you asking for a correction. Even if you don’t think a typo is a big deal, if your freelancer contacts you about it, make sure to address it in a timely manner. After all, it’s their reputation on the line as well.

5. Give credit where credit is due.

Have you ever sat in a meeting and listened in horror as your boss took personal credit for your work? It sucks! And when you get public kudos or an industry award for a piece a freelancer crafted for you, if you grab all the credit for yourself, don’t think it will slip past unnoticed. Inevitably, that interview you give about writing the piece will make its way back to the freelancer responsible for its awesomeness. Yes, you paid for their work, but if you take public credit for it, without acknowledging you had some help, don’t be surprised if you have one fewer helper.

6. Pay invoices in a timely manner.

No freelancer started working for themselves due to an unfulfilled dream of being a bill collector. In fact, when freelancers sit around having a cocktail, slow paying clients almost always come up— and their names get spread around. Your freelancer relies upon your timely payment for the work they’ve done for you in order to keep their business going. And they don’t appreciate having to follow-up with you multiple times to see when, exactly, that check was put in the mail. Consider using electronic payment options, like bill.com or PayPal, when possible, to give your freelancers a more timely payment schedule.

If you keep these best practices in mind, and treat your freelancers as you’d want to be treated yourself, you should have no problem keeping your content beast fed. What are some of the ways you've nurtured your freelancer relationships? Let me know in the comments!


4 Actionable Insights and Trends from Content Marketing World

my collection of list.ly Content Marketing trading cards from Content Marketing World 2013

I returned from Content Marketing World revved up about content marketing, and with some serious inspiration from all the great examples shared in the sessions I attended. Here are a few of the key insights I gleaned from the two days of sessions, and some trends to keep an eye on.

Key Insights

  1. Content marketing strategy often neglected in favor of random acts of content.
    In his opening welcome keynote, Joe Pulizzi shared a few nuggets from new Content Marketing Institute research, noting that content marketers cite producing more content and engaging content as two of their top challenges. He went on to share that over 50% do not have a documented content strategy. Having documented content strategy and executed against it successfully, I can assure you those challenges are definitely a lot easier to tackle with a clearly defined strategy in place.
  2. Buyer personas aren't useful without insight into the buyer's journey.
    Buyer personas are often crammed full of demographic data, noted Buyer Persona Institute's Adele Revella, but don't include clear insights into what business conditions triggered looking for a solution, what outcomes will define success, or what this buyer's role is in the decision-making process and what resources they'll need to convince the other stakeholders to go with your solution. Make sure you are focusing your personas on modeling a buying decision you are trying to influence, not on a hypothetical person's likes and dislikes.
  3. The power of big brands is slipping.
    Don E. Schultz of Northwestern University noted that brand preference is decreasing ~1.6% annually past 10 years, while the percent of consumers saying they have no preference for a  brand in surveyed categories is increasing ~1.4% annually. So what's eroding brands? Recession? Product proliferation & commoditization? Growth of online shopping? No, media fragmentation. The rise of social has created fragmented audiences who expect brands to reach them with personalized, targeted content, not a one-size-fits-all message. Brands need to evolve their messaging and marketing strategy to reflect this.
  4. The content marketing honeymoon period is over.
    Your organizational leadership is expecting you to show ROI to justify your content marketing budget. It's a balancing act to make sure you still have room for brand awareness and Youtility as well -- if all your content is focused on demand generation, your customers will tune you out in the sea of personalized, more interesting content competing for their limited attention. In this vein, Jon Weubben's session gave insight into how to use your content dashboard to compare channel performance to see where you have traction, identify which content producers inspire the most engagement(and have them create more of your content) and evaluate which content has generated the most activity to spot keyword trends. 

Trends to Keep an Eye On

  1. Youtility has definitely struck a chord with content marketers.
    For the uninitiated, Youtility is the concept of creating marketing that is truly, inherently useful, not just self-serving, sales focused content. Examples of this include the Hilton Suggests twitter account offering up answers to travelers' questions about key Hilton cities; Lowes How To video series, and the Columbia knot app.  What problem can you solve for your customers with your marketing content? If you haven't heard Jay Baer speak on the topic, or if you have and want a deeper dive, check out his new book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype
  2. By 2017 CMOs will outspend CIOs on IT
     What are they buying? According to Joe Chernov, content creation tools like Uberflip and Percolate, distribution tools like Little Bird, Influitive and Papershare. Scott Abel's session additionally made the case for investing in automated translation and transcription tools and component content management to help scale your content while keeping it consistent across its many implementations. 
  3. Visual content is everywhere, you just need to be open to finding it.
    Marketers can get hung up on budget, logisitics and other concerns and feel like visual content is out of reach. Or that their topic is too boring to lend itself to visual content. Multiple speakers gave great examples of low budget video, crowd-sourced visuals and other low-cost and fast to implement ways to add visual interest to your content mix. The conference itself had a great example of visual content by way of Kelly Kingman's visual sketchnotes of the keynote sessions, like this one she did for William Shatner's presentation:
For more perspectives on the key takeaways from this event, check out the list.ly of articles about Content Marketing World 2013.

3 Reasons I'm Attending Content Marketing World, and You Should Too

It seems like my email inbox receives a pitch for a new marketing conference every week, each at a beautiful destination resort, promising scintillating keynotes and plentiful networking with top notch marketing professionals. But since neither my time nor my professional development budget are limitless, I limit myself to a couple of conferences per year, and usually opt for ones close to home (which is easy to do here in San Francisco).

This week, however, I'm jumping on a plane and heading to Cleveland for Content Marketing World, the 2-day annual conference put on by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). 

3 Reasons Why I'm Going to Content Marketing World

So what was it that got me to commit to spending 4 days (2 days traveling and two days at the conference) and a good amount of my professional development budget for the year on this conference? I've narrowed it down to my top 3 reasons:

  1. It's laser focused on what I do.
    A lot of marketing conferences are trying to appeal to the entire universe of marketers. The thing is, I've worked in marketing communications/content marketing for almost 20 years. So I'm looking for content in specific areas I'm working on, and with a number of intermediate and advanced sessions. I want to have a B2B track to choose from, and to be confident I'll come home with actionable ideas I can implement right away -- and with having made connections with other folks who share my passion for engaging audiences with useful, informative content. This conference is 100% focused on what I do every day, and meets all of the above criteria.
  2. The agenda features a who's who of content marketing experts.
    They have a solid mix of practitioners from top brands and a number of the authors and bloggers I read regularly. But don't just take my word for it -- for more on the awesome line up of speakers at CM World, check out this recent SlideShare:
  3. They're attracting amazing attendees from a wide variety of places. 
    I've gotten a sneak peek at the level of networking and peer interaction through the weekly #CMworld chats, like this one focused on Financial Services content marketing. From those initial conversations, I'm expecting to learn as much from meeting and talking with the attendees as from the speakers. 

Since I'm writing this on Sunday, as I take a break from packing my bags, it's probably too late for you to decide to attend in person this year, unless you happen to live in the greater Cleveland area. But you can still participate online:

  • Watch the #CMworld hashtag for a ton of live tweeting from the sessions
  • You can keep up with the sessions I'm attending by watching my @sferika twitter feed
  • Through a partnership with LinkedIn, keynote sessions are going to be livestreamed and available free of charge, starting on Tuesday, September 10, 8:30 a.m. Eastern

I'm looking forward to connecting with the members of the CMI community I've gotten to know via twitter, and getting some new ideas on where my profession is headed. Hope to see you there!

Are You Putting the Content Cart in Front of the Email Deliverability Horse?

No one ever wants to talk about deliverability of their email newsletters. It's just not as sexy as content marketing or social media. The last time I tried to bring it up in conversation with a marketer --a marketer who had single digit opens and double digit bounces for their newsletter I might add-- I got a frown and a swift topic change back to content.

But the thing is, it doesn't matter what content you are producing if no one reads it.

Start Off on the Right Foot

If you have a huge opt-in email list and a tiny open rate on your email newsletter, that may suggest your list members didn't realize they were signing up for your email newsletter. One way to set that expectation up front is to have a welcome email trigger that sends out the most recent email newsletter and a request that your new subscriber adds you to their safe senders list upon list subscription. 

This welcome email should let new subscribers know how frequently they will be receiving the email newsletter, and what content it contains. Better yet, it should link out to their user profile and have content preferences to allow them to customize what content appears in their newsletter. Ideally, a welcome email will prime them for receiving the newsletters, and help increase the number of them that actually hit their mailbox.

Perform Regular List Hygiene

Email marketers owe it to themselves to set up a business rule to automatically unsubscribe inactive recipients from their newsletter subscriber list after 6 months. Those disenrolled subscribers could be moved into a list that would receive a re-engagement email campaign series, that in the end would ask them to re-subscribe to the newsletter.

Mailing your newsletters over a long-term basis to subscribers who are not interested in your content could, in the worst case scenario, lead to them marking your emails as Spam which in turn could adversely affect your deliverability. Many users will spam report something rather than open and scroll to the bottom of an email to find the unsubscribe link (and many folks don’t believe that clicking that link will actually get them off your email list.)

Test Your Subject Lines

Now that you've gotten your list cleaned up, and a welcome email in place, you can start thinking about your most basic and fundamental piece of content: your subject line. Take a hard look at your most recent email subject line. If you didn't work for your company, from the subject line, would you know what content would be inside your newsletter? Would you be compelled to open?

Many newsletter subject lines try to be playful or witty in the hopes of catching their subscribers' eyes. But the thing is, your subscribers probably get hundreds of other emails each day that are plying those same tactics. Try testing subject lines that vary based upon your subscribers content preferences or their most recent purchase or activity on your website. If you can tailor your subject lines to reflect their relationship with you, and how they can benefit from the content inside, that may help you boost your open rates.

To get a better idea of what's working well, try additionally segmenting your A/B test lists by engaged subscribers (have opened/clicked in past 3 months) versus disengaged subscribers (everybody else) so you can see if different subject lines work better for your most engaged subscribers versus those less likely to open

Additional Reading