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Inbound Marketing: Invest in content to generate leads

December 21st, 2010
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I was digging through last year’s Wisdom Report and found a great quote supporting some recent research I’ve done on inbound marketing. (Today is the deadline to submit to this year’s Wisdom Report. Take a look. It only takes a couple minutes and is totally free.)

Jon Miller, VP, Marketing, Marketo, told us last year that although marketing budgets are in a 10-year shift out of brand advertising and into more measurable channels, he recently saw an uptick in brand-building tactics.

“Instead of mass advertising, today we are investing more in smart ways to build brand such as in social media, search engine optimization, and content marketing,” he said.

‘You need to take baby steps’

Miller’s advice was for marketers to take a portion of their budgets normally spent on trade shows and list purchases and to use it to hire writers to publish and promote content.

“By getting your company’s expertise out there, you create broad awareness and affinity for your brand. Those investments will turn into leads, but they will be very early stage leads. So don’t just send them to sales: be sure to score them to identify the best ones, and nurture and develop the rest with more great content and thought leadership,” Miller said.

This strikes a close resemblance to a conversation I recently had with Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute. Pulizzi noted that a well-planned content marketing strategy can achieve a range of goals — including lead generation. However, marketers just starting out should start small.

“Just because you have a content-marketing focus does not mean that you stop doing traditional media,” Pulizzi says. “Good content marketing takes time. If you completely shut of your other channels, someone is going to get fired. You need to take baby steps… I would never say ‘kill your advertising’ because in a lot of cases it works — it just works differently.”

Make a serious commitment

Taking ‘baby steps’ helps avoid marketing disasters — but you also need a serious commitment for any chance at success. Using high-quality content to attract leads is a strategy that takes time and effort.

Writing one blog post per week and spending 10 minutes per day in social networks is not likely to bear much fruit. Instead, you should set concrete marketing goals and select the best tactics to achieve them. Then you must regularly publish the high-quality content that your audience needs most — whether it’s a series of how-to videos, an e-book series, or something else.

Content creation can be expensive in terms of dollars and time spent — and some tactics are better than others. Here are the most effective tactics for creating content, as reported in MarketingSherpa’s 2011 B2B Benchmark Report:
1. Repurpose and reformat existing content: 64% of respondents
2. Encourage customers to submit testimonials and case studies: 53%
3. Recruit authors internally: 48%
4. Outsource to a consultant or agency: 27%
5. Use social media to encourage brand advocates to produce content: 20%

Creating compelling content is never easy — but more marketers are finding that it is helping them fortify their brands’ credibility and attract prospective customers. Take a look at your budget and schedule for 2011 and see if your team can find the time to give your audience the content it’s looking for.

Related resources:

MarketingSherpa 2011 Wisdom Report: Deadline Today

Content Marketing: How to get your subject matter experts on your corporate blog

Personal Branding: The five elements of being seen as a thought leader through crowdsourcing

2010 MarketingSherpa Wisdom Report

Boost Subscriptions by Testing the Access Model

April 7th, 2009
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It’s easy to say *testing the access model* is a key to making money from content on the web. Most of you know, that’s easier said than done.

After interviewing Rob Grimshaw, Managing Director of FT.com, about the website’s stellar performance of lifting paid subscriptions and registered users last year, that’s the tactic that stuck to my thoughts.

I won’t go into all the details of how FT.com achieved a 9% lift in online subscriptions. You can read about it in an upcoming case study. But I will say that a series of simple tests around access to content was a huge part of the strategy.

Here’s a takeaway that didn’t make it into the article:

-Test the presentation of pricing

I noticed from a former case study about FT.com that the site formerly presented the pricing of subscriptions as per month or per year. And the new model automatically presented pricing as per week. Example: Under “Standard Subscription” the price is $3.49 per week (52 weeks in total).

When asked if the *per week* presentation boosted subscriptions, Rob said that testing it made “a tangible difference in the kind of response that we get.”

What’s In Store For Newspapers?

January 29th, 2009
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While talking to Gary Meo, Senior VP at Scarborough Research, about new metrics for measuring newspaper audiences, I couldn’t help but ask: What are his thoughts about the future of newspapers and what they need to do to survive.

Gary’s job is to oversee consumer behavior surveys in 81 local markets. His company works with 241 major newspapers in the industry to determine audience size and demographics. Read more…

Social Media Strategies: Digg for Instant Gratification, YouTube for Longevity

December 23rd, 2008
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The team at HP Labs’ Social Computing Lab recently released a study that analyzes Digg and YouTube submissions to determine the best time of day to post a link to Digg’s social bookmarking site to maximize exposure and popularity.

The complete report contains lots of formulas and charts for analytics experts to chew on. But we saw a quick takeaway for any publisher looking to use the two sites to promote their content, drive traffic or boost search engine visibility:

Read more…

Power of Celebrity (Still Works)

October 26th, 2008
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Of course, marketers have known forever how a celebrity can impact sales for their companies. My earliest recollection of this idea was of Joe Dimaggio and Mr. Coffee TV spots from the early 1980s.

Well, I happened to call Zappos.com the other day to talk about sending back some shoes I had bought, as they were a half-size too small. Who was I greeted by? None other than CEO Tony Hsieh at first. A CEO making an automated appearance? Big freaking deal, right? I agree. Read more…

SMS Marketing for Impatient Teens

October 24th, 2008
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I’m going over my notes from an interview with Mike Howard, Chief Operating Officer, Kiwibox, today and I’m impressed with his team’s mobile marketing strategy and content management skills. Kiwibox is a teen-based network for user generated content and socializing.

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B-to-B Ad Slump: Time to Supplement Revenue

October 8th, 2008
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The shaky economy looks like it’s having an impact on B-to-B magazines. Revenue declined 6.59% in the first half of 2008, and ad pages fell 9.36%, according to the latest Business Information Network report from American Business Media

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Treat Halloween Like a Shopping Mini-Season in Email

September 23rd, 2008
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Last year, numerous email marketers used Halloween to spike their open and clickthrough rates and drive sales. But the most important thing that industry observers saw in their inboxes was that this mini-season isn’t just for seasonal marketers with tight product niches. Read more…

Cooler Widgets for Social Media Community

August 26th, 2008
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A few months back, I had a chat with Josh Stinchcomb, Publisher, Wired Digital. The company encompasses Wired.com, Ars Technica, Webmonkey and reddit — all of which feature user-generated content to some degree.

Josh and his team strive to build smart ways to engage their sites’ communities. I poked around after our conversation and realized he wasn’t kidding. Conversation is rampant on those sites.

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Plot Twists Continue for Subscription-Based Online Video

July 15th, 2008
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A couple months back, when I rounded up recent news from the online video-on-demand market, I didn’t expect to be revisiting the topic quite so soon. But as summer has rolled on, online video purveyors have continued to make big bets or scale back their ambitions in one of the toughest subscription content markets to crack.

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