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Using Content Marketing to Amplify Your Digital Footprint

How to Use Content Marketing to Amplify Your Digital Footprint

6 Content Marketing Experts Reveal the Inside Track


Content marketing is used by nearly all brands now, large and small. Most have seen the light. It matters not what they’re selling; consulting services (Ok, you got me…), blue widgets, or political aspirations. Today, consumers make their decision only after doing their digital due diligence.

Your website’s the shiniest, newest thing? Fantastic! How do you get your target audience to notice it and exceed their expectations once they’ve arrived? It’s largely the content on both counts.

You’re a big fan of social media for engaging and recruiting new prospects?

Congrats, but social’s effectiveness for outreach is on the wane. “Pay to Play” has largely supplanted organic reach on many leading social platforms, even for the most social media adept. Even if it is still riding high for your brand, success or failure ultimately comes down to the content your audience finds on your digital footprint. That’s true for both organic and paid social.

If you're investing in paid social, your ROI depends on your content. Click To Tweet

It’s only going to move further in that direction. Social media platforms are big money, and consolidation is ensuring that’s only getting bigger. Investors need to see a return, and sooner rather than later. That’s not to say brands can’t get traction with social media. They can, but again, it is largely the content that provides a return on their social media investment.

We’ve noticed it’s not only more difficult to get noticed with even stellar content, the reasons behind it are somewhat troubling. Much has been made recently of content saturation. Barriers to content production are relatively low, and most brands now see value in producing great stuff. The combination has lead to a nearly exponentially growing content pool competing for a linearly growing audience.

It’s a bad situation for brands, as their excellent (and expensive) content increasingly falls on deaf ears and blind eyes. With that in mind, I hit up several of the world’s best content marketers on how to amplify your brand’s digital footprint in this era of content saturation. They’ve built and sustained significant brands, using content as one of their key tools.

 

Andrew J Coate – Facebook’s Community & Content Manager, Global Marketing Solutions

content marketing expert - CoateAndrew’s on Twitter @andrewjcoate

Steve Faber: What are 3 ways brands can overcome increasingly excellent content competition and be heard?

Andrew J Coate:

1. Have a Better Plan.  Every time industry data comes out I’m amazed at how few companies have a documented content strategy. Ah hoc content creation = waste.

2. Have Better Data.  Not only is having a plan still a struggle for marketers, but [actually measuring the effectiveness of content](link: http://resources.kapost.com/blueprint-of-b2b-content-metrics.html?rs=Resources) is lacking. The more you know about how well your various types of content perform against a variety of metrics in a variety of circumstances for a variety of people, the better you can be in creating it in the future.

3. Focus on Your Known Audience.  Many companies do a great job in creating content for “net new”, but forget to continue creating content that resonates through every stage in the buying cycle – including post-sale. Continue to educate and serve your customers.

 

Steve Faber: What are 2 underused content channels brands can use to effectively expand their digital footprint?

Andrew J Coate:

1. Customers  – We often focus simply on “transactional” conversations with our customers as opposed to continuing to develop them and help them thrive. Just because they’re your customer now, doesn’t mean they’re a pro. Continue to educate and share relevant content with them.

2. Paid Social – Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and others provide such robust targeting options. If you know your content resonates with a type of audience, but you’re not sure where to find them, investigate these options.

 

Steve Faber: Do you think email is still a highly useful avenue to distribute content and engage with audiences?

Andrew J Coate:

Absolutely. I’ve read articles declaring email dead for years now. To paraphrase Jason Miller of Linkedin, “The only thing that’s dead is declaring things are dead.

 

Ted Rubin – Leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators.

Ted coined the term ROR: Return on Relationship™ Named by Forbes as a top social media influencer. Connect with content marketing expert : Ted RubinTed on Twitter @TedRubin

 

Steve: Ted, thanks for your input on this. What 3 ways can brands combat the increasingly difficult content environment, rise above the noise, and connect with their target audience?

Ted Rubin:

1. Share Good Content on Multiple Channels – If you’ve only been using one or two online channels to share your content, try expanding your reach by posting it on multiple platforms. While you obviously want to use the social media channels most relevant to your audience, don’t forget about SEO and search results.

For instance, even if your target demographic isn’t typically found on Pinterest, a properly optimized infographic posted there will still appear in search results and may attract traffic. Even the images from your post can be shared there by you and your followers. Be sure to make your blog images “pinable” right from the post with the click of a button that link back to your blog.

Another key to getting more mileage from your content is to repost only good content. How do you know what’s good? Well, audience response is one measurement, so avoid posting content that receives a lukewarm response—or none at all. Lack of response may be a factor of timing, but it may also be that your content didn’t spark interest. Content is more likely to be shared by social audiences if it’s evergreen, popular, valuable, funny, interesting or useable.

2. Repurpose Good Content. Another way to get mileage out of good content is to create multiple pieces of related content to piggyback on each other. For example, a slideshow featuring tax-time tips for small businesses can be further explained in a blog post. Individual slides can be posted to Facebook or Twitter, and an accompanying video can be posted to YouTube and then your blog. Repurposing content can help you laser target your prospects and address them with content that accurately connects with where they are in the sales cycle…and it helps you create usable content at scale.

3. Develop a Strategy for Sharing Content. Develop a definitive content sharing strategy that identifies what you will share and how it will be shared. Task your team with identifying the social updates that get the most response and setting up a schedule and tools for re-sharing on different channels and/or in different formats.

By sharing quality content multiple times on multiple channels, you expand the reach of your marketing efforts and make it that much more likely to build a loyal following. In addition, repurposing and syndicating good content will be a powerful new tool that builds on your most successful ideas.

Stay on track by developing a strategy and processes for sharing good content over and over, and you’ll establish better thought leadership and keep your brand top-of-mind.

 

Steve Faber: There are so many content distribution channels brands can use now. What are 2 underused content channels they can use to expand their digital footprint?

Ted:

I am recently becoming enamored of Medium… such a great place to publish and syndicate content. Medium allows you to build an audience of readers , either starting with your existing Facebook and Twitter networks, or independently.

Medium starts with the basic building block of the web — beautiful, readable URLs — and adds prominent sharing options so that readers who like your stories can spread them further on social networks or via email. So much more than just the post is shareable… so it allows your content to spread, create conversation, and build community in so any ways.

LinkedIn is so often overlooked and such a great place to get visibility… especially in the B2B space.

 

Steve Faber: Do you think email is still a highly useful avenue to distribute content and engage with audiences?

Ted:

Email has, and will continue to endure. Smartphones have so many uses, but reading and writing email is the third most popular activity after text messaging access the web, even more so than music and other uses you may imagine take up more time. Studies confirm that more than half of emails are opened on mobile devices.

Steve: I love email too. It’s not shiny and new, but we’ve found it very effective, especially given the relatively low cost. Why do you like it?

Ted:

Email is easily measurable, directly captures users’ attention, and is a place that many look for information that they can easily control, save, and access.

 

 

Michael Brenner – CEO of Marketing Insider Group, Content Marketing Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Author of The Content Formula

Connect with Michael on Twitter: @BrennerMichael  Michael Brenner pic

 

Steve Faber: Content competition has become brutal. What are 3 ways brands can overcome increasingly excellent content competition and be heard?

Michael Brenner:

Brands know their potential customers better than anyone. So they need to use those insights to build an effective content marketing program that consistently publishes useful content.

 

The 3 things they need to do are:

1 – Commit to leaving promotional content to the advertising and sales teams.

2 – Understand the biggest challenges and questions their customers are facing.

3 – Harness all the knowledge and expertise that already sits inside their organization to publish the best answers to those customer questions, every single day!

Steve: So, you’re saying brands need to become publishers and producers, of content consumers want, need, and go looking for? We’ve found the ‘frequent question strategy’ as a content source is effective also. It’s kind of like the iceberg. For everyone who asks the question, there are probably 10 others who had similar questions but didn’t ask. You’re helping them, too, and creating a resource.

Michael Brenner:

Content Marketers must first focus on building a brand-owned content marketing destination, digital property, publisher platform, whatever you want to call it. Once they are regularly and consistently acting like a publisher and delivering customer-focused content, then they should look to see where their customers are consuming content.

 

Steve Faber: Okay, so what are the 2 underused content channels brands can best use to expand their digital footprint?

 

Michael Brenner:

For B2B companies, Slideshare (owned by Linkedin) is one channel where I continually see an opportunity for brand-owned content. For the consumer space, while everyone talks about Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest is actually the 2nd largest driver of traffic for many consumer brands.

 

Steve Faber: Do you think email is still a highly useful avenue to distribute content and engage with audiences?

Michael Brenner:

Yes. Email is in the top 3 channels for content discovery, no matter what industry or topic we are talking about. As consumers, we use search, email and social to find 90% of the content we read and share. Email is roughly responsible for one-third of all the content we consume. So yes, every brand should activate an email newsletter to share their best content and then optimize their content marketing for subscribers.

 

Joe Pulizzi – Founder, Content Marketing Institute – Author

One of the world’s foremost content marketing experts, in 2007 Joe founded the Content Marketing Institute, the content marketing expert : Joe Pulizzileading CM education and training facility, who counts HP, AT&T, Petco, LinkedIn, SAP, the Gates Foundation and many others among their clientele. Joe has written 4 books, with his 2013 release Epic Content Marketing being named to Fortune Magazine’s “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” Joe has some excellent CM insight on Twitter @JoePulizzi

 

Steve Faber: Joe, you’ve seen more than most when it comes to content marketing. It doesn’t seem to be getting any easier for brands. What 3 ways can brands most effectively overcome growing content competition and be heard by their target audiences?

Joe Pulizzi:

1.  Tell a different story.  Most businesses create content just like everything else out there.  It’s very hard to cut through the clutter without a differentiated story.

2.  Focus on one content type and one main channel…and consistently deliver content (like a media company would).  So many businesses are creating so much content in so many different channels.  This usually doesn’t work.  Focus works better.

3.  Talk to one audience at a time.  If you are targeting more than one audience at the same time, your content will never be relevant enough.

 

Steve: You hit the nail on the head there. Those last 2 really seem to be a problem many brands face. We’ve seen too many brands take more of a “shotgun” approach, and consequently never get enough traction. Given there’s so much “content saturation” facing marketers today, what are 2 underused content channels brands can use to expand their digital footprint?

Joe:

Podcasts (audio content) – the only media type where the audience can multi-task.

Print (yes, print) – So easy to cut through the clutter today with most media brands abandoning print altogether.

Steve: That’s excellent insight regarding podcasts. Since people are so busy today, most end up multi-tasking. . It’s a way brands can make content consumption easier. Anytime you can make achieving your brand’s objectives easier, it’s a good thing.

 

Steve: Do you think email is still a highly useful channel to distribute content and engage with audiences?

Joe:

It’s THE most important.  Every other place we build an audience (Twitter, FB, YouTube) we don’t control the data.  Email is the only place we actually have control over the communications with our customers (as long as it’s valuable of course)

Steve: You bring up a vital point here. If your brand doesn’t control the data, you’re effectively putting your business asset on someone else’s property. Businesses have always done this with everything from software to real estate, but there are definitely risks there. You do not have the same kind of security and control, or the ability to test and change.

Steve Gibson – Director: Leading online form builder Jotform.com

JotForm.com

Steve echoed Ted Rubin’s Medium attraction.

Gibson:

I work primarily with the Marketing team. We put a lot of effort into content marketing. Our founder, Aytekin Tank, has always pushed our team to build our Medium channel. Medium’s a blogging tool quickly growing in popularity. We have a broad range of articles from marketing, business, development, and design.

Faber: What kind of content have you found does best on Medium?

Gibson:

Far and away our most successful articles are development and design articles, typically sharing a story on how we solved a particular problem. Contributing to Medium has led to multiple articles with over 10,000 views. As is always the case, it’s important to write articles that compelling, relevant, and useful.”

Tim Ahlenius – Director of Experience Marketing at Americaneagle.com

American Eagle is a digital marketing agency serving a broad spectrum of clients, including the Green Bay Packers, Fast Signs, International Paper, and the Connecticut State Dental Association. Catch him on Twitter @tahlenius

Tim:

Content marketing is no longer the cheap stepchild of “real” marketing. Brands make significant content marketing investments, but often don’t receive the return they’re looking for, or can’t measure their ROI.

 

Steve: What are 2 underused content channels brands can use to expand their digital footprint, and why do you like them?

Tim:

The first underused content channel is email. A lot of brands use emails, but they don’t adjust their content or templates.

 

Steve: Why do you like email as a marketing channel so much, why is it effective, and what could brands do differently to increase its effectiveness?

Tim:

I love email as it is one of the fastest ways to increase your digital footprint, with quick signup options, incentive based sign up options, and the ability to segment to all your audiences, not just blast out a single message. Too many brands blast the single message, when their content isn’t targeted enough to increase conversions the way that it could.

 

Steve: What’s the second channel you like to help brands expand their digital presence?

Tim:

The second underused content channel is videos. Content marketing is not just written text. It is any consumable content that is provided on your digital presence as a brand. The videos are what drives a lot of interaction and people prefer to watch rather than read. The text is still needed for SEO, but the video is what can catch people’s eyes and also lead to increased conversions. It is also more easily liked and shared between people, so that is a great additional word of mouth marketing that your brand receives.

 

What The Experts Say About Brands’ Digital Footprint Expansion

What can we learn from this super 6 pack of content marketers? First, they’re unanimous in their opinion that email is still a “must have” in a brand’s marketing mix. Email marketing is simply another content delivery platform, but it’s the content brands deliver there or anywhere else that largely determines success or failure.

Data

Another key point is using data. Use that data to better audience understanding. Use that understanding to ultimately discover and what they want, then continue serving them. One way brands can accomplish this is by leveraging content through multiple delivery channels and formats. They also pointed out that creating useful content for the entire customer lifecycle is vital to content marketing’s ultimate success.

Creating useful content requires identifying with the customer and their problem(s).

Medium

Medium was mentioned more than once as a platform worthy of brands’ attention. It may not pencil out for yours, but could be a high ROI avenue for content delivery.

In the end, brands have finite resources. How they maximize those resources’ effectiveness to create effective content marketing can spell the difference between hemorrhaging one’s marketing budget, and a steady stream of new brand evangelists lining up to buy.

Content marketing creates brand bonds. Does yours?

 

 

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