How to master the art of content marketing


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How to master the art of content marketing

  1. 1. How to Master the Artof Content MarketingIn this report you will learn best practices, tips, and solutions for making content marketing a powerful part of yourmarketing programs, including:• An overview of content marketing strategies and solutions• Keys to content development success• Must-haves for content publishing and distributionNovember 2011 Share this report:
  2. 2. Harness the Power of Content to Drive Marketing Results As technology, business, and consumer behaviors change, marketing must evolve to meet new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. This report addresses the latest trends in content marketing, while specifically focusing on which principles and tactics have proven most successful among online innovators. Taking a page from the publishing industry, this guide provides insight as well as tips and tricks for both content development and distribution. Learn how to create a sustainable content marketing program with the flexibility to adjust to changing market dynamics, and the passion and power to excite audiences and drive business results. Contents Content Marketing: Common Themes, Proven Tactics, and Helpful Tips Content Development: Five Keys to Success Content Publishing & Distribution: Five Must-HavesHow to Master the Art of Content Marketing Share this report: Page 2
  3. 3. Content Marketing: Common Themes, Proven Tactics, and Helpful Tips Content marketing has been on the rise for several years, but as the trend encounters “ We’re in the story more web-savvy consumers and new tools that make online publishing easier, it is rapidly business.” becoming a de facto part of nearly every strategic marketing plan. In a recent survey of Coca-Cola’s Chief Marketing 24 major consumer brands by marketing automation firm idio, 83 percent of respondents and Commercial Officer said they already use some form of content marketing. A related 2010 study by Junta42 Joseph V. Tripodi, and MarketingProfs found the same was true of 90 percent of business-to-business CES 2011 marketers surveyed, with 51 percent saying they planned a year-over-year increase in content marketing budgets. Common Themes Implementations of content marketing vary widely, but there are common themes worth noting. 1. Storytelling: Content can be used to inform, entertain, and build relationships with customers. While consumer marketing may edge toward the entertainment side, with B2B marketing moving toward thought leadership and education, both types of outreach are geared at engaging audiences and encouraging interaction. Major brands like Coca Cola and Cisco realize they are now in the storytelling business. That may mean sharing and amplifying personal brand experiences online, or providing industry insight through expert commentary. In either case, the goal is to create narratives that help audiences relate to a product or service, persuading them to stay engaged and invest time in learning more. 2. Aggregation: Whatever type of content marketers provide, aggregation is a common tool across multiple platforms. Aggregation can do multiple things: reinforce a message, fill the content pipeline, and introduce third-party insights. By aggregating their own original content, marketers are able to repurpose their own material and feed it through multiple delivery channels. For example, a compilation of blog posts and case study summaries makes a good e-newsletter. Or, a combination of Twitter feeds, an embedded video channel, and recent news announcements can round out a company microsite. On the other side of the coin, by aggregating third-party content, marketers can support their own material with useful information and relevant context. Examples include offering a news feed on a particular topic, providing a selection of curated third-party articles and posts, or leveraging user-generated content. 3. Video: Increasingly, video is another common element in content marketing programs. Part of the reason for this is that the marketing industry has started to reevaluate how it measures success online. A video may get fewer hits than another type of content, but those hits may generate more engagement from users. And because of distribution platforms like iTunes and YouTube, a video can also reach audiences outside a company’s regular marketing channels. Finally, there is the search optimization aspect of video publishing. According to Greg Jarboe, CEO of SEO-PR and a speaker at the 2010 Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo, a video is 50 times more likely to get a first-page Google ranking than a text page. That Google “juice” draws more people into the marketing funnel and significantly increases the value of video content. Content Marketing Vehicles Today’s marketers have a variety of vehicles to choose from when it comes to deploying content. Perhaps most notably, blogs have gained significant credibility and perceived value in a few short years. Based on a 2011 Content Marketing Institute survey in which marketers were asked to pick their top five marketing tactics, blogging ranked number one in relative popularity. There are several likely reasons for this result. Blogging gives a voice and nuance to organizations that might otherwise be viewed as lacking personality.How to Master the Art of Content Marketing Share this report: Page 3
  4. 4. Blogs also encourage conversation via commenting and can act as platforms for almost any other type of content, from embedded multimedia, to interactive polls, to integrated social networking. Other content vehicles topping the Content Marketing Institute’s list include e-newsletters, white papers, articles, and e-books. Interestingly, all of these formats require long-form content, which is frontier territory for many marketers. It’s not that the tactics are new, but the high-volume demand for longer content is. The beauty of most content formats used for marketing is that they have parallels in other industries, and increasingly, marketers are replicating best practices from those other media forms. Many blogs and other site-based platforms in particular are now emulating the digital magazine experience. Headlines, feature sections, and media highlights are all common site components, along with navigation tools that open up a greater number of opportunities for user exploration. These elements are effective in attracting visitor interest and extending time on site. Challenges and Solutions As marketers become more like traditional online publishers, there are new content strategy and distribution challenges to tackle. From publishing workflows to cross-platform delivery, marketers face numerous potential technical and content management difficulties. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions available. The key to implementing the right solutions is identifying what the critical issues are ahead of time and learning how to prepare accordingly. • Don’t underestimate the necessary investment. Content marketing is labor intensive. You need talented and passionate content creators, a significant time commitment from those contributors, and the budget to pay for development, production, and distribution. • Create a sustainable workflow. Creating and maintaining a successful publishing workflow requires a combination of standard operating procedures and flexible technology. Assign responsibilities, create deadlines, and choose a publishing platform that can be customized to fit your needs. • Integrate everything. A content marketing program is most valuable when it can be leveraged across broader marketing and sales initiatives. Make sure to distribute content across departments, and consider integrating software tools like your customer relationship management system into your content marketing program. • Target content on multiple levels. Content targeting is both an art and a science, but the better you know your audience, the better chance you have of providing contextually relevant material. Track how different groups behave with your content, and be willing to refine your program as necessary. • Always aim for high performance. With a growing number of devices used to access the Internet, it’s hard to deliver a consistent, high-performance content experience. Be aware of the need to optimize content for multiple platforms—smartphones, tablets, PCs, and more—and seek a partner for any technical aspects of delivery you can’t manage in-house. The Crux of the Matter Content marketing is an evolving discipline, but it’s one that can deliver strong results. To be successful, stay in tune with which strategies and tactics are most likely to be most effective for your business, be willing to invest resources in content development, and be flexible enough to make changes as needed to improve your content marketing program and drive further value for your organization.How to Master the Art of Content Marketing Share this report: Page 4
  5. 5. Content Development: Five Keys to Success 1. Understand the Content Pipeline Create a development strategy based on the type of content you need to produce. Is it long-form or short? Low-frequency or high? Based on that evaluation, decide what skill sets are necessary, how to allocate budget, and what production timelines are realistic. • Find people with the right skill sets for your content needs, and then nurture that talent. Not everyone is suited to writing blog posts, white papers, and articles. By the same token, not everyone has a knack for creating video and other media assets for the web. You may need to combine in-house resources with outsourced services and talent. • Don’t try to fit content development into the margins of the day. It’s unlikely an employee with a full-time job can take on further content development responsibilities and produce good results. Creating a blog post now and then may not sound difficult, but it does require a time commitment and the ability to adjust to a different workflow. • Be aware that content development isn’t free. Don’t underestimate the labor costs involved or the importance of having the right tools—like a content management system or an online video platform—to create a successful product. 2. Get Passionate People on Your Team Passionate people produce results. Your team should be passionate not only about marketing, but also about your product or service and your industry as a whole. • Put together a team that is interested and engaged in the content you need to produce. Content production can be a grind. The more frequently you need content produced, the more of a risk there is that the process will become tedious and the results labored. • Understand your business and your audience. If you and your team are subject matter experts who are passionate about your industry, you will be better equipped to understand what types of content your business can produce that your audience wants to consume. • Let passion lead to exploration. Passionate content creators are naturally inclined to explore. Take advantage of this attribute to generate new content ideas and fresh marketing results. 3. Create a Development Workflow Be disciplined in your approach to content development. A casual approach is possible when volume and frequency requirements are low. However, as those demands increase, it becomes more important to establish a workflow and best practices to keep production on track. • Clearly communicate responsibilities. Decide and articulate who is responsible for which tasks in content development, how those tasks will be accomplished, and what the final result of each task should look like. • Create realistic timelines. It’s tempting to be aggressive with deadlines, but being too aggressive can lead to poor-quality results. Assess what’s appropriate for the type of content you need. Consider what input is required, what other projects may overlap, and how long any approval process may take.How to Master the Art of Content Marketing Share this report: Page 5
  6. 6. • Assign an effective administrator. Content creators aren’t necessarily good administrators. If possible, assign someone to manage operational logistics so that administrative details aren’t overlooked. 4. Integrate with Other Marketing Systems Communicate regularly with teams heading up other sales and marketing initiatives. Although people may operate in different departments, it’s to everyone’s advantage to share ideas and resources when possible. • Repurpose content as often as possible. Get creative about reusing content and make others aware of any material you develop. For example, a video demo can fill out a blog post, act as a spotlight feature on your website home page, supplement other materials at a trade show booth, and be embedded in whole or in part in an email newsletter. • Use integration to drive consistency. If you are developing content to speak for your organization, it should match the message and positioning of other sales and marketing materials. If there is no communication between teams, the message you deliver to external audiences will be muddled. • Make the most of your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Many organizations have CRM systems in place. These are typically used to facilitate the sales process, but they are most effective when integrated with marketing initiatives as well. For content marketing purposes, use a CRM system to track which content resonates with which audiences, and to determine when and how to recommend further content as a way to extend the customer dialogue. 5. Target Content Appropriately Targeting is important for any kind of communications outreach, and it’s no less so for content marketing. As is often the case, targeting is part art and part science. • Don’t create in a vacuum. Content is only effective if people want to consume it. Creating content that people want to read, listen to, or watch only happens when you’re engaged with the target audience. Don’t expect good content to come together without ongoing external dialogue. • Be contextually relevant. Users arrive at your content from many different places. They come from different referral websites. They work in different industries. They’re at different points in the purchasing cycle. If a user is valuable to you, make sure to have content that is contextually relevant on multiple levels. • Use targeting to make content easier to digest. It’s unlikely that users are interested in every piece of content you produce. Sorting it by topic and audience is a helpful way of making sure the right users get access to the right material. Particularly when you have large volumes of content, you can make it easier to digest by directing individual users to material that’s really relevant to them.How to Master the Art of Content Marketing Share this report: Page 6
  7. 7. Content Publishing and Distribution: Five Must-Haves 1. Choose a Flexible Publishing Platform Use a content management platform that gives you the most flexibility and control over how you publish and distribute content. Your technology should support your publishing processes. • Ensure your platform supports multiple levels of authorization. Regulations and internal policies mean not everyone should be able to publish content, edit live content, or review archives and analytics reports. Choose a platform that lets you tier user access and authorized functions. • Get scheduling flexibility. Sometimes you know when content needs to be published well in advance, and sometimes multiple assets need to go live at the same time. Automated and advanced scheduling features help you reduce work and the potential for human error. • Share and share alike. To support content reuse and content promotion, choose a publishing platform that makes it easy to share and syndicate material across any website, access platform, or device. This helps fill the content pipeline and drive content visibility. 2. Reach a Global Audience The Internet is global, which means your potential audience is too. Consider how your content is consumed and what you need to do to make sure it is accessible and high-performance for audiences all over the world. • Speak the language. Use a publishing platform that fully supports multilingual distribution. You need tools for translation, content association, and search and sort functionality. Keep in mind that translation applies not only to text, but also to multimedia assets that may need subtitling.How to Master the Art of Content Marketing Share this report: Page 7
  8. 8. • Think like a local. Language isn’t everything when it comes to reaching global audiences. Content localization is a big challenge, and one that has to be carefully integrated into your publishing workflow. However you set up your business processes around localization, make sure your publishing platform can support your workflow and the multiple domains you may need to manage in order to reach geographically diverse audiences. • Don’t let distance impact performance. Don’t undermine your efforts to develop content for global audiences by letting performance suffer in remote locations. Support global content with global delivery using technologies that accelerate content no matter where users reside. 3. Support Growth and Performance One of the best things that can happen to your content is that more people want to consume it. But whether that content is an article you’ve posted or a video demo you’ve published, you can’t support audience growth if performance suffers as a result. • Plan for peaks. If you’re publishing content on a website, pay attention to user traffic patterns, and be prepared to handle sudden spikes, even if they happen unexpectedly. Nothing drives users away like poor site performance. • Scale for growth. There’s a difference between sudden audience growth spikes and predictable growth over time. Plan for the latter by putting in place a strategy for adding content storage as needed, making sure search and sort tools are adequate as content libraries grow, and supporting increased delivery requirements as user volumes ramp up. • Support dynamic content. As content volumes grow, you will likely need to target content more effectively and support increased user interaction. As you implement web acceleration technologies, be sure the services you choose support dynamic content so you can customize material for different audiences, and make sure your interactive content is highly responsive. 4. Optimize for Mobile Consumer demand for connected devices means your content has to be accessible across mobile platforms. Unfortunately, the mobile ecosystem is growing increasingly complex, and that has a big impact on how you handle content presentation and delivery. • Optimize for mobile screens. You can reach most mobile users by formatting online page layouts and multimedia content for the Apple iOS and Android platforms. The best way to do this is to use a single content repository that feeds into custom templates for each platform. • Optimize for mobile bandwidth. Consumer expectations for online performance are increasing as Internet connections get faster, and that applies to both the PC and the mobile experience. Web acceleration services can improve mobile performance and also customize content delivery based on the speed of a user’s connection.How to Master the Art of Content Marketing Share this report: Page 8
  9. 9. • Know the landscape of mobile platforms. While Apple iOS and Android run the majority of consumer mobile devices, there are still variations in operating system versions and device implementations, as well as other platforms like Windows 7 and BlackBerry to consider. If it’s important to target a wide range of platforms and devices, look for a partner that can optimize content for the broader mobile ecosystem. 5. Measure and Refine It’s not only content itself you need to refine and improve, it’s also your content distribution methods. And the only way to make improvements is to start by measuring the effectiveness of your current strategy. • Keep track of where your content goes. The wide availability of analytics programs means you should be able to keep track of how your content is consumed and shared. Pay attention to how users interact with your content over time and how content changes impact user behavior. • Get detailed about reporting. Make sure the analytics reports you subscribe to provide the type of data that can help you make effective decisions about content and distribution changes. Frequency and duration of content consumption are good measurements of user engagement, as are interaction metrics such as how many times a piece of content is being shared. • Be willing (and able) to change. All the metrics in the world don’t amount to anything if you can’t act on what you find. Stay nimble in the publishing processes you implement and with the publishing technologies you choose to deploy. How Limelight Networks can help you drive content marketing results. Limelight Networks offers cloud-based web content management and media delivery services designed for digital and content marketing professionals. For more information on our solutions, visit our Content Management and Media Delivery pages online, or contact our sales team.© 2011 Limelight Networks, Inc. All rights reserved. Limelight Networks and the Limelight Networks logo are trademarks of Limelight Networks, Inc. Other productsand company names may be trademarks of their respective companies. All services are subject to change or discontinuance without notice. November 2011How to Master the Art of Content Marketing Share this report: Page 9