Archive

Posts Tagged ‘content marketing’

Content Marketing: Harvard Business School’s Michael Norton discusses surprising consumer behavior research

October 7th, 2014 No comments

I am a skeptic. Maybe it’s from my career in marketing, advertising and editorial content, which involves me constantly receiving PR pitches. Maybe I was born that way. Or maybe I’m just your average American consumer.

Whatever the cause, it’s rare for me to have a head-smacking epiphany, but here’s one I want to share with you:

 

People don’t want fast

This subhead likely seems counterintuitive (or perhaps just plain wrong) to you.

After all, if you’ve ever been in traffic, or in a long line at a fast food restaurant, or anywhere in America for the past 30 years, you know – people are impatient.

As Louis C.K. says in his very funny bit about people who don’t appreciate how amazing smartphone technology is, “I never saw a person going, ‘Look at what my phone can do!’ Nobody does that. They all go, ‘This ******* thing sucks. I can’t get it to … ’  Give it a second, would ya? Could ya give it a second? It’s going to space, could you give it a second to get back from space? Is the speed of light too slow for you?”

Even when I search Louis C.K on Google, the search engine brags that is has returned 45,700,000 results in 0.61 seconds.

Wow. The entirety of human knowledge for millennia is at our fingertips and can be delivered within milliseconds, and yet, as Louis so accurately points out, most of your customers do not appreciate it.

Why? More importantly, how can you as a marketer use this lesson to communicate the value of your own products?

 

They want hard work (on their behalf)

This is where Michael Norton’s research gets very interesting for marketers (and, really, all humans). Michael is an associate professor at Harvard, and during his Web Optimization Summit featured session — “Trust Through Transparency” — he showed that, in many cases, people place a higher value on understanding the work involved to create a product or service than they do on sheer speed.

After he got off stage, and right before hopping on the train back to Harvard, Michael was gracious enough to let me pull him aside and ask a few questions to help marketers use his research to better communicate the value of their products and services.

We discussed:

  • How showing the work involved in creating content (for example, email list signup) can make that content more valuable to customers
  • How to make sure customers understand the complexity behind seemingly simple services
  • The power of storytelling

  Read more…

How a B2B Marketing Team Used Zombies to Win Over the C-Suite

September 30th, 2014 No comments

When Christine Nurnberger joined SunGard Availability Services in 2012, Marketing and Sales were clearly out of alignment. Marketing’s contribution to the sales pipeline was less than 3%, even though they executed more than 1,100 marketing tactics over the previous fiscal year.

By the end of 2013, that relationship had shifted dramatically. Marketing’s contribution to new revenue skyrocketed to 40% with the average deal size tripling.

At MarketingsherpaEmail Summit 2014, Christine revealed her secret to success: smart content marketing built on intense research, analysis and creativity. It culminated with chief technology officers preparing for the zombie apocalypse and eager to engage SunGard.

In the video clip below, Christine outlines setting the stage for that success with a two-stage direct mail pilot, targeting 56 CTOs in the later stages of the buying cycle:

  • Part one was a direct-mail piece made up of a  shadow box with a thumb drive, which included a personalized video announcing that, in the coming days, they would receive everything they needed to survive a zombie apocalypse.
  • Part two was a zombie apocalypse survival kit — a backpack that included a copy of World War Z, two tickets to the movie and “zombie repellant,” aka silly string.

 

The response blew the sales team away.

Read more…

Red Bull Media House’s Advice for Successful Content Marketing

September 19th, 2014 1 comment

Red Bull is running circles around every other name in the content marketing game.

Currently, the energy drink company has its wings dipped in a whole gamut of media channels — we’re talking digital, mobile, TV, print and music. People — millions of people — are actually consuming this content. (What a concept, right?)

But audiences aren’t tuning in because the company is marketing its energy drink. In fact, Red Bull continues to rise above the rest in content marketing by doing somewhat of the opposite. The company earned its spot on the content marketing throne by pushing its product to the side and its audience to the front in an extreme way.

Instead of a skinny aluminum can, Red Bull focuses its content on the sports, culture and lifestyle of its adventurous drinkers. In 2007, the company even launched Red Bull Media House — its very own media company that develops all of the company’s content pieces and manages its social media channels. 

Red Bull Media House Website

 

Some of the media house’s highlights? Take a look at Red Bull’s YouTube page (if you haven’t already as one of its 3.7 million subscribers). These sports action videos have views that rank in the thousands — some in the millions.

On the day this blog post was published, Danny MacAskill — “Way Back Home” had 32,988,764 views:

 

Read more…

Social Media Marketing: Tools and takeaways to implement today

August 29th, 2014 2 comments

Earlier this year, I was asked to moderate a case study panel at DFW Rocks Social Media Day. It was a fast and furious two days with multiple concurrent tracks and a lot of great information for attendees.

Since so much was happening at once, I wasn’t able to take in all the great content. So I reached out to Lissa Duty, Organizer of DFW Rocks Social Media 2014 and Vice President of Community Management at Advice Interactive Group, for her take on the event to give MarketingSherpa readers the opportunity to learn some of the top takeaways.

 

Insights from the organizerDFW-rocks

From the organizer’s perspective, Lissa said that this year’s event placed a higher importance on live content.

She explained, “This year, I really saw the value in having the live blog to share the conference sessions and highlight the speakers, even after the event, plus the live tweets, which did make for the #DFWRocks2014 hashtag streaming on Twitter at one point.”

What’s Lissa’s quick-hit advice on social media marketing?

“You must start with creating a social media plan,” Lissa said.

She then outlined three key points:

 

Key Point #1. Understand why you’re using social media

It’s not just to “get rich.” Understand why you feel social media is important to you, your customer and your brand.

 

Key Point #2. Research what your customer wants to know about your brand

Discover how you can share that message uniquely in each social space, and then create a plan to give them that message.

Read more…

Content Marketing: How a farm justifies premium pricing

August 19th, 2014 1 comment

“We often feel like we have a sales force of thousands of loyal customers looking out for our best interest.”

We’ll get to how content marketing enabled the example in that quote in just a minute, but first, let’s start with the incredible, edible egg market.

The egg market is a perfect example of how value, and marketing’s role in the communication of that value, can be added to what was previously a commodity in order to produce higher margins.

Take a look at the market for eggs. There’s white. Brown. Hormone free. Antibiotic fee. Vegetarian fed. Grass fed. USDA organic. Free range. The list goes on.

Of course, there is a range of prices for these different attributes, ranging from $2.78 per dozen to $5.49 per dozen in a recent Consumer Reports article, for example.

This creates a dilemma for the consumer and a challenge (and opportunity) for the marketer.

 

The Marketer’s Challenge and Opportunity: Communicating value when markets are filled with choice

This is, after all, the heart of marketing: enabling choice and communicating the value of those choices.

So let’s look back at the egg market. Remember, not too long ago, eggs were just a commodity. Then, all of these product claims came along. One could argue that all of those claims create more value for customers, and thus, justify the higher price. That may in fact be true, but they would miss the point.

The real ability to charge a premium price for having any of those words on an egg carton is the customer’s perception of that value. After all, how many customers really understand what goes into raising an organic egg?

 

It was beauty (the content) that killed the beast (the commodity)

Commodity products are very dangerous for companies. It means their only lever of survival is to focus on operational excellence and cost-cutting to constantly stay one step ahead of expenses and the competition.

This is where content can be so powerful. Companies that really are producing something of greater value (e.g., the organic egg) can use content to show the story of how their products are made so the customer can see for themselves what the value is (e.g., justifying the higher cost for an organic egg).

Effective content marketing isn’t only happening online. Let’s take a look at an example of how one egg company is using content marketing to show this distinguishing value.

 

In-package newsletter

If you buy Country Hen eggs off your grocer’s shelf, when you open the carton, you will see “The Country Hen Farm News.”

country-hen-newsletter

 

Content marketing = show your work

At first glance, it’s easy to miss how profound this in-package newsletter is. After all, the company basically bought a truck. So what?

Surely, customers must assume that their eggs make it from point A to point B to eventually their grocery store shelves in a truck of some sort. How does that add value?

“We like to see people working on our behalf,” Michael Norton, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, explained at Web Optimization Summit 2014. (You can read a 15-second synopsis of his research in Takeaway #2 of Web Optimization Summit 2014 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways to improve your testing and optimization).

 

The difference between showing and telling

It’s not simply the fact that The Country Hen bought a truck that adds value, but rather, how it uses the newsletter to show product value. The magic is in the writing. This newsletter shows the value in three subtle, but brilliant, ways:

  1. Shows the work – As mentioned above, it shows how these farmers are working hard to get your eggs to you.
  1. Shows the passion – This isn’t some mega-corporation with commodity eggs. These people really care. For example, “Our girls will not have their vital nutrients in the care of a less than reliable vehicle.”
  1. Establishes its place in the market – Again, this isn’t a mega-corporation. They’re the underdog, the little guy. By spending more to buy Country Hen eggs, you are supporting the small farmer. After all, it’s quite charming how proud they are of a used truck: “The truck has only 188,000 miles and is capable of transporting 24,000 pounds of our certified organic cuisine.”

This company could have ran a TV ad campaign with stock farm footage of dewy mornings and hay bales being loaded into trucks and a ruddy-voiced announcer reading lines like, “We’re working a little harder for you.”

That would be telling. It would be hype. I would argue, it wouldn’t have been as effective because it wouldn’t be real. It wouldn’t win over today’s skeptical customer.

Pamela Jesseau, Senior Director of Marketing, MECLABS, is the person who gave me this newsletter and suggested this blog post. She described it like this: “I spend twice as much money on these eggs because they tell me about their truck. I’m never going to buy another egg ever again as long as The Country Hen is on the shelf. I want to find out what is next. I feel like they are my hens, too.”

After reading the newsletter, I wanted to share some insights from The Country Hen with you to help improve your own content marketing. So I reached out to Kathy Moran, the signatory of the newsletter, to get some background and tips for you.

As with any marketing department we write about, they aren’t perfect by any means. They still have work to do on their digital side. But I thought it would be helpful to hear how they create content with a small team and limited budget. Her responses were so good and real, I didn’t even pick up my editing pen.

Read more…

Content Marketing: Encouraging sales and upsells at the point of purchase

August 5th, 2014 1 comment

Many marketers think of content marketing as a top-of-the-funnel activity. This could include a video to build brand awareness, or an e-book to grow the email list.

But what about using content to encourage sales and upsells at the point of purchase?

On a recent trip to Maine, I came across a great example of point-of-purchase content marketing, although I’m not sure the content’s author would have labeled it as such.

 

How to eat a lobster

how-to-eat-lobster

 

This is a great example of where point-of-purchase content marketing can help: when you have a product that novice customers might not know how to use.

For a tourist who has never eaten a lobster, a placemat like this could be the tipping point between:

  • Buying the less expensive (and easier to eat) lobster roll or lobster meat salad or something more familiar like a steak

or

  • Buying the premium-priced product with the higher margin – lobster

No one wants to order a lobster (or any product) and look like a fool because they don’t know how to eat it. They are less likely to order because they don’t see the value in it.

That’s why this placemat is true content marketing, by my definition. This isn’t an overt sales piece; it was executed in a way that teaches someone how to do something.

Even for myself, as I have eaten a lobster before and was going to order one anyway, it helped me enjoy it more as a refresher for exactly how to eat the lobster since it had been a few years since I’ve eaten one.

 

Opportunities for point-of-purchase content marketing

The great opportunity for point-of-purchase content marketing is this:

When a customer needs to be taught about the product to make a
decision that is better for them.

This likely falls into two major buckets: product education and product differentiation.

Read more…

Video Ecommerce: Getting up close and personal with products

July 22nd, 2014 1 comment

Creating an engaging experience for online shoppers is key to increasing conversion. Time and time again, we have seen case studies from in-the-trenches marketers who improved a user experience with engaging content, better catered to their customers’ needs, and ultimately, achieved revenue gains.

Videos are a treasure trove of opportunity for ecommerce marketers. Rather than static product images with bland descriptions, videos convey how a product looks, feels and works much better when a customer physically cannot touch a product.

At this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, MarketingSherpa hosted the official Media Center at the event. Ecommerce marketers and industry experts shared their insights into what works, and what the future of ecommerce will look like.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, CEO and Founder, Joyus, stopped by the Media Center to share her story along with some tips for effective video marketing.

 

Joyus is an ecommerce site where fashion, beauty and health experts find the latest and best products, which can also be purchased directly from the site. The videos are brief, showing  products in action with highlights from the experts on their unique features. Videos are also time stamped, so users can skip ahead to what they want to know about a product, whether it be sizing or color choices.

Here’s an example of one of Joyus’ product videos:

 

But Joyus doesn’t stop there.

Users can also see what other products were featured in a video, and join the community conversation via a Facebook embedded Q-and-A section.

In a way, Joyus has transcended video marketing and uses videos as content marketing. High-quality, informative videos that are easily sharable engage users incredibly more for Joyus.

All of these efforts have earned impressive results. Joyus reported that its video viewers are buying 4.9 times more than those that do not watch the product videos, according to a news release.

Read more…

Content Marketing: User-generated content tips from Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia

July 15th, 2014 3 comments

At the recently held Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, and Allison Banko, Reporter, both of MECLABS, interviewed event speakers and attendees in the MarketingSherpa Media Center.

In this 11-minute video, watch as Daniel spoke with Wikipedia CEO and Founder Jimmy Wales on how to encourage user-generated content – a powerful element within an overall content marketing strategy. Jimmy also discussed why Wikipedia is the only top 50 website in a Wall Street Journal study covering companies that do not engage in any visitor tracking.

 

Empower people to provide the content they want to provide

Jimmy explained that user-generated content is not free labor for marketers, and that he dislikes the term “crowdsourcing” for that reason.

Retailers think, “I want people to do this work – I want them to write reviews for me.”

He explained, “Instead, they should turn it around and say, ‘What do my customers want to accomplish? What is it they are trying to express, and how can I help them express that?’”

Jimmy continued to say this mindset might lead you in new and different ways. Maybe reviewing products is boring for your customers, but what they are really interested in is discussing your products or services in a more general way in which they can add their expertise to a community.

“That’s the first idea I would give – flip it on its head,” Jimmy said. “Don’t think about the work you would like people to do; think about what it is people want to do and how you can empower them to do that.”

  Read more…

2 Tough Questions to Ask About Your Content Marketing Strategy

June 24th, 2014 No comments

At MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute, shared some of the forgotten strategies for generating epic content.

One of those strategies revealed how creating a mission statement for your content can help you define the desired outcome for your content marketing efforts.

So in today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, I wanted to share two questions every marketer should ask about their mission statement to help craft (or refine) the ultimate purpose for content creation.

 

Question #1. Is our purpose clear?

Content-purpose

 

Here are two examples Joe shared of mission statements that are clear and concise in their purpose and intent. They also have one other unique similarity that’s worth mentioning.

Their focus is exclusively on helping customers instead of trying to sell to them, or as Joe explained:

“It’s not about trying to sell more,” Joe said, “It’s about what is the outcome for my persona.”

 

Question #2. Who does our content serve?

content-mission-statement

 

Joe also explained that creating a mission statement help fill in the strategy gaps is essential to give content a much needed targeted focus.

“This is part of the strategy that most of us don’t have,” Joe explained.

Here are three recommendations Joe had for crafting (or refining) your content marketing mission statement:

  • Core target audience – Who is your persona? What are you talking to?
  • What will be delivered? – Is this information useful?
  • The outcomes for the audience – What will your audience get out of consuming your content?

Read more…

Why Savvy Marketers Establish Affiliate Relationships with Bloggers

June 20th, 2014 No comments

Having in-house bloggers on your marketing team can keep your content flowing, but there are limits to the audience they can reach.

One way to solve this challenge, according to Carolyn Kmet, Chief Marketing Officer, All Inclusive Marketing, is strategically recruiting third-party bloggers outside of your team to help deliver the right mix of credibility and content that can reach new audiences.

At this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, MarketingSherpa hosted the event’s official Media Center. Our team of reporters interviewed marketers from across a variety of business verticals to learn insights on what works in ecommerce marketing.

As Carolyn explained to Allison Banko, Reporter, MECLABS, third-party bloggers can deliver additional exposure opportunities for your brand.

“Bloggers can position brands beyond traditional reach,” Carolyn explained.

 

According to the MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study, less than 40% of all companies surveyed utilize affiliate marketing as a traffic driver to an ecommerce site. Using bloggers as affiliates can help with driving traffic from audiences outside of your reach.

The trick is, as Carolyn explained, is to build relationships with bloggers and offer them content opportunities that make exposing your brand to their audience worthwhile.

To do that, she often recruits third-party bloggers outside of her team as affiliates and helps them access industry thought leaders for interviews that would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain otherwise.

The affiliates create content from those interviews to share with their respective audiences.

“There’s a lot of transparency, Carolyn said. “It gives them fresh content for their audiences.”

Read more…